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Jewish texts on Bar Kochba: Epiphanius

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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'.

On weights and measures by bishop Epiphanius of Salamis (310-403) is a kind of encyclopedia, and mentions that Aquila was responsible for the building of Aelia Capitolina. He is also known as a translator, who made an Aramaic version of the Hebrew bible (the Onqelos-targum). Epiphanius was translated by J.E. Dean.

Midrash Rabba Lamentations
Babylonian Talmud, Gittin
Cassius Dio

Epiphanius, On weights and measures 14-15

And Hadrian went up to Jerusalem, the famous and illustrious city which Titus, son of Vespasian, had overthrown in the second year of his father's reign. And Hadrian found the temple of God throdden down and the whole city devastated, save for a few houses and the very small church of God, where the disciples, when they had returned after the Savior had ascended from the Mount of Olives, went to the upper room. For there it had been built, that is, in that portion of Zion that escaped destruction, together with blocks of houses in the neighborhood of Zion and the seven synagogues that alone remained standing in Zion, like solitary huts, one of which remained until the time of Maximinus, the bishop and the emperor Constantine, like a booth in a vineyard[1], as it is written.

Therefore, Hadrian made up his mind to rebuild the city, but not the temple. And he took the Aquila mentioned above, who was a Greek interpreter. Now Aquila was related to the emperor by marriage and was from Sinope in Pontus. Hadrian established him there in Jerusalem as overseer if the work of building the city. And he gave to the city that was being built his own name and the appellation of the royal title. For as he was named Aelius Hadrian, so he also called the city Aelia.

So Aquila, while he was in Jerusalem, also saw the disciples of the disciples of the apostles flourishing in the faith and working great signs, healings and other miracles. For they were such as had come back from the city of Pella to Jerusalem [2] [...]. So Aquila, after he had been strongly stirred in mind, believed in Christianity, and after a while, when he asked, he received the seal in Christ.

But according to his former habit, still thinking the things of the heathen, he had been thoroughly trained in vain astrology, so that also after he had become a Christian he never departed from this fault of his, but every day he made calculations on the horoscope of his birth. He was reproved by the teachers, and they rebuked him for this every day, but did not accomplish anything. But instead of standing rebuked, he became bold in disputation and tried to establish things that have no existence, tales about fate. Hence, as one who proved useless and could not be saved, he was expelled from the Church.

But as one who had become embittered in mind over how he had suffered dishonor, he was puffed up with vain jealousy, and having cursed Christianity and renounced his life [after death in Heaven], he became a proselyte and was circumcised as a Jew. And, being painfully ambitious, he dedicated himself to learning the language of the Hebrews and their writings. After he had first been thoroughly trained for it, he made his translation. He was moved not by the right motive, but by the desire to distort certain of the words occurring in the translation of the seventy-two.[3]

Note 1:
Isaiah 1.8.

Note 2:
It was widely believed by ancient Christians that no Christians had been involved in the fighting during the war of 66-70. They would have left Jerusalem and settled in Pella, on the other side of the river Jordan. This tradition is unlikely to the extreme, because it is not likely that the Christians could cross the enemy lines. It is more probable that the Christians -who were still a Jewish sect- took their share in the struggle against the Romans, something that later generations thought better to deny.

Note 3:
The translation of the seventy-two, or Septuagint, was made in the third century BCE. This Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible was necessary because many Jews lived abroad and spoke Greek. Aquila's translation was more literal and is sometimes ununderstable without knowledge of the original. He became a scholar of Aqiba.

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