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Bar-Cocheba

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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(Chal. בִּר כּוֹכְבָאּ, son of the star), or SIMEON BAR-COCHBA, a Jewish impostor, who applied to himself the prophecy of Balaam (Numbers 24:17), and incited the Jews to revolt against the emperor Hadrian (A.D. 130). He passed himself off for the Messiah, and his pretensions were supported by Akiba (q.v.), the chief of the Sanhedrim. The better to deceive the credulous Jews, according to Jerome, he pretended to vomit flames, by means of a piece of lighted tow which he kept in his mouth. Bar- cocheba profited by the seditious state in which he found the Jews, and took Jerusalem, A.D. 132. He issued coins having on one side his own name, and on the other "Freedom of Jerusalem." In the British Museum is a coin ascribed by some to Simon the Maccabee (q.v.), after some of whose it appears to have been modelled, corresponding to the description given by Tychsen and others of a coin of Bar-cocheba. One side of this coin represents a portion of four columns, in the midst of which is a lyre; a serpentine stroke below is said to represent the brook of Kedron, and a star seems to allude to Numbers 24:17. The other side has a vessel of manna and a leaf. Munter concluded, from a similar coin, that Bar-cocheba had commenced the rebuilding of the Temple; but Nicephorus Callist. (Hist. Ecclesiastes 3, c. 24) and Cedrenus (Script. Byz. 12:249) say only that the Jews intended to rebuild the Temple. All the thieves, murderers, and disorderly characters in the country quickly repaired to his standard, and he was soon strong enough to vanquish, in several engagements, J. Annius Rufus, the Roman commandant in Judaea. On this the emperor Hadrian ordered his most able commander, Julius Severus, to leave his post in Britain and repair to Palestine; but the time which elapsed during his journey was favorable to the rebels. After his arrival, Julius Severus prudently avoided battles, but took a number of fortified places before he marched against Jerusalem, which he took and destroyed after sustaining great losses. The Jews, after the capture of the city, concentrated their forces in the mountain-fortress of Bethar, in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. While Julius Severus was gradually reconquering the country, Bar-cocheba still played the king in Bethar for three years, and, on the unfounded suspicion of treason, executed the learned Eleazar of Modain, who, having prayed for the welfare of the fortress, was slandered by a Cuthite (that is, a Samaritan), as if he intended to betray Bethar to Hadrian. According to Talmudical statements, Bethar was taken in 135 by the Romans, on the 9th day of the month of Ab, the anniversary of the burning of the Temple under Titus. It has been stated that on this occasion 580,000 Jews perished, but this must be greatly exaggerated. Bar-cocheba fell in the combat, and his head was brought into the Roman camp. Akiba (according to most accounts), and many rabbins, who were considered authors of the rebellion, were put to a cruel death. The new city, Elia Capitolina (q.v.), was founded on the site of Jerusalem. Jost, Gesch. d. Isr. Volkes, vol. 2; Mosheim, Ch. Hist. cent. 2, pt. 1, ch. 1, § 11; Gibbon, Roman Empire, ch. 16. (See BETHER).

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Bar-Cocheba'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​b/bar-cocheba.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.