by Evropa Soberana
Consequences of the Palestinian revolt
The revolt had paramount consequences both for Rome and for Jewry. To begin with, the Roman losses were such that, in addition to Hadrian’s refusing to say in the military offices to the Senate that everything was going well, he was the only Roman leader in history who, after a great victory, refused to return to Rome celebrating a triumph. Titus Vespasianus had only rejected a crown of laurels in his day; Hadrian took it to the next step.
However, if the Roman losses were considerable, the Jewish losses were huge. According to Cassius Dio, 580,000 Jews were killed, 50 cities and 985 Jewish villages were completely destroyed—and they were not rebuilt—and hundreds of thousands of Jews sold as slaves throughout the Empire.
It is not surprising that the Talmud called this process ‘the war of extermination’, and that it even made outrageous statements to mythologize the conflict, such as ‘Sixteen million Jews were wrapped in parchments and burned alive by the Romans’ (Gittin, 58-A). The Jews, in any case, were definitively deprived of the will to rise against Rome by force of arms. On the other hand the Jewish threat, which had caused so many headaches to Rome, was going to increase throughout the Mediterranean due to the greater extension of the Diaspora and the ideal breeding ground that this meant for the expansion of another anti-Roman rebellion: Christianity.
The conditions of the defeat imposed on the Jews were even harsher than the triumph of Titus in the year 70. As measures against the Jewish religion, Hadrian prohibited the Jewish courts, the meetings in synagogues, the Jewish calendar, the study of the religious writings and Judaism itself as a religion! He executed numerous rabbis and burned masses of sacred scrolls at a ceremony on the Temple Mount. He tried to eradicate the very Jewish identity and Judaism itself, sending them into exile, enslaving them and dispersing them away from Judea. This persecution against all forms of Jewish religiosity, including Christianity, would continue until the death of the emperor in 138.
Furthermore, in another attempt to obliterate Jewish identity and dismantle its centre of power, the eastern provinces were restructured, forming three Syrian provinces: Syria Palestina (named in honour of the Philistines: a people of European origin and enemies of Jewry who had inhabited the area); Phoenicia under Roman rule and Coele-Syria.
In the new territorial order decreed by Hadrian, Judea became Syria Palestina, and Jerusalem was turned into Aelia Capitolina: a Greek and Roman city in which the Jews were proscribed. The three Syrias form the Levant: an extremely active and conflictive strip in history, to this day. From there came the Neolithic, the Phoenicians, Judaism and Christianity, and practically all the civilizations of antiquity, creating an ethnic chaos that always ended up in conflicts. Centuries later, these areas would see the establishment of European Crusader States.
As for the city of Jerusalem, Hadrian carried out with it the plans that had unleashed the revolt: the Jewish capital was demolished and destroyed, and the Romans ploughed over the ruins to symbolize its ‘purification’ and its return to the earth. Hadrian finally built the projected Aelia Capitolina over the ruins, introducing a new urban planning, so that even today the old city of Jerusalem coincides with the one built by the Romans.
In the centre of the city a forum was established, which contained a temple dedicated to Venus. In the place of the temple Hadrian had two statues erected, one of Jupiter and another of himself, although he respected the Wailing Wall.
Also, next to Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, Hadrian placed a statue of Aphrodite. This was intended to symbolize the triumph of Rome over Orthodox Judaism and over Christianity, considered a Jewish sect like so many: another sect that in Rome was persecuted without distinguishing it from official Judaism. For the Greeks and Romans, the statues of their gods were representatives of the divine, solar, luminous and Olympic spirit on earth, while for the Jews, including the Christians, nothing stirred their stomach more than a naked, strong statue, beautiful, of Nordic features and invincible aspect.
To top off the de-Judaization of the city, Hadrian prohibited any Jew from settling in Aelia Capitolina, on pain of death. (This law would only be revoked two centuries later by Constantine, the first Christian emperor.)