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Texts on Bar Kochba: Eusebius

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Coin of Bar Kochba, showing the Temple with a star on the roof and the Ark of the Covenant. British Museum, London (Britain). Photo Jona Lendering.
 Coin of Simon ben Kosiba ,showing the Temple with the Messianic star on the roof and the Ark of the Covenant inside (British Museum)
Simon ben Kosiba, surnamed Simon bar Kochba ('son of the star') was a Jewish Messiah. Between 132 and 135, he was the leader of the last resistance against the Romans. After the end of the disastrous rebellion, the rabbis called him 'Bar Koziba', which means 'son of the lie'.

One of the most important texts on the subject can be found in the History of the Church by the Palestinian bishop Eusebius of Caesaraea (260-c.340). In this work, he sometimes quotes older sources, such as Ariston of Pella and Justin, who were both contemporaries of the revolt of Bar Kochba. In a chronographical work, Eusebius treats the subject matter, too. The translations were made by K. Lake.

Midrash Rabba Lamentations
Babylonian Talmud, Gittin
Cassius Dio

Eusebius, History of the Church  4.6.1-4

The rebellion of the Jews once more progressed in character and extent, and Rufus, the governor of Judaea, when military aid had been sent him by the emperor, moved out against them, treating their madness without mercy. He destroyed in heaps thousands of men, women and children, and, under the law of war, enslaved their land.

The Jews were at that time led by a certain Barchochebas, which means 'star' [1], a man who was murderous and a bandit, but relied on his name, as if dealing with slaves, and claimed to be a luminary come from heaven and was magically enlightening those who were in misery.

The war reached its height in the eighteenth year of Hadrian in Betar, which was a strong citadel not very far from Jerusalem. The siege lasted a long time before the rebels were driven to final destruction by famine and thirst and the instigator of their madness paid the penalty he deserved.

Hadrian then commanded that by a legal decree and ordinances the whole nation should be absolutely prevented from entering from thenceforth even the district round Jerusalem, so that it could not even see from a distance its ancestral home.

Ariston of Pella tells the following story: 'Thus when the city came to be bereft of the nation of the Jews, and its ancient inhabitants had completely perished, it was colonized by foreigners, and the Roman city which afterwards arose changed its name, and in honor of the reigning emperor Aelius Hadrian was called Aelia. The Church, too, it was composed of gentiles, and after the Jewish bishops the first who appointed to minister to those was Marcus.'

Justin, First Apology 31.5-6

For in the present war it is only the Christians whom Barchochebas, the leader of the rebellion of the Jews, commanded to be punished severely, if they did not deny Jesus as the Messiah and blaspheme him.

Bust of Hadrian from Italica. Museo Arqueológico, Sevilla (Spain). Photo Jan van Vliet.
Hadrian (Museo Arqueológico, Sevilla)

Eusebius, Chronicle

Hadrian, year 16: The Jews, who took up arms, devastated Palestine during the period in which the governor of the province was Tineus Rufus, to whom Hadrian sent an army in order to crush the rebels.

Hadrian, year 17: Cochebas, the duke of the Jewish sect, killed the Christians with all kinds of persecutions, when they refused to help him against the Roman troops.

Hadrian, year 18: The Jewish war that was conducted in Palestine reached its conclusion, all Jewish problems having been completely suppressed. From that time on, the permission was denied them even to enter Jerusalem; first and foremost because of the commandment of God, as the prophets had prophesied; and secondly by the authority of the interdictions of the Romans.

In Jerusalem the first bishop was appointed from among the gentiles, since bishops ceased to be appointed from among the Jews.

Hadrian, year 19: Aelia was founded by Aelius Hadrian. And before its gate, that of the road by which to go to Betlehem, he set up an idol of a pig in marble, signifying the subjugation of the Jews to Roman authority.

Eusebius, Demonstratio Evangelica 6.13

We have seen in our time Sion once so famous ploughed with yokes of oxen by the Romans, and utterly devastated, and Jerusalem, as the oracle says, deserted like a lodge.[2]

Note 1:
In fact, Bar Kochba means 'son of the star'. The star was a messianic symbol.

Note 2:
Isaiah 1.8.

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