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Texts on Bar Kochba: Other texts

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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'.

The following texts were written by two Greek and a Roman author. They are not very valuable sources, although the last one may give us the real cause of the revolt of Bar Kochba.

Midrash Rabba Lamentations
Babylonian Talmud, Gittin
Eusebius
Epiphanius
Cassius Dio
Jerome
Letters
Appian
Fronto




Appian, Syrian wars 8.50

The Jewish nation alone resisted, and Pompey conquered them, sent their king, Aristobulus, to Rome, and destroyed their greatest and to them holiest city Jerusalem, as Ptolemy, the first king of Egypt, had formerly done. It was afterward rebuilt and Vespasian destroyed it again, and Hadrian did the same in my time.
[translation H.White]

Fronto, Letter to Marcus Aurelius

The god who begat the great Roman race has no compunction in suffering us to faint at times and be defeated and wounded. [...] But always and everywhere he turned our sorrows into successes and our terrors into triumphs. But not to hark back too far into ancient times, I will take instances from your own family. [...] Under the rule of your grandfather Hadrian, what a significant number of soldiers were killed by the Jews.
[translation C.R. Haines]
The interesting aspect about this letter, that was written in 162, is that it presents the war against Bar Kochba as a military defeat.

Historia Augusta, Hadrian, 14.2

At this time also the Jews began a war, because they were forbidden to mutilate their genitals.

The text of this law has survived in the Digests (D. 48.8.4.2 (Ulpian)):

4. Ulpianus, On the Duties of Proconsul, Book VII.

... (2) The Divine Hadrian also stated the following in a Rescript: "It is forbidden by the Imperial Constitutions that eunuchs should be made, and they provide that persons who are convicted of this crime are liable to the penalty of the Cornelian Law, and that their property shall with good reason be confiscated by the Treasury. But with reference to slaves who have made eunuchs, they should be punished capitally, and those who are liable to this public crime and do not appear, shall, even when absent, be sentenced under the Cornelian Law. It is clear that if persons who have suffered this injury demand justice, the Governor of the province should hear those who have lost their virility; for no one has a right to castrate a freeman or a slave, either against his consent or with it, and no one can voluntarily offer himself to be castrated. If anyone should violate my Edict, the physician who performed the operation shall be punished with death, as well as anyone who willingly offered himself for emasculation."
[translation S.P. Scott]




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