2014-04-30

The Myth of Judean Exile 70 CE

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by Neil Godfrey

English: Jews in Jerusalem

English: Jews in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While we have “sacred space” and religious violence in our thoughts, it’s high time I posted one more detail I wish the scholars who know better would themselves make more widely known.

The population of Judea was not exiled at the conclusion of the war with Rome when the second temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Nor was it exiled after the second (Bar Kochba) revolt 132-135 CE. The generations following that revolt witnessed the “golden age” of Jewish culture in the Palestine (as it was then called) of Rabbi HaNasi, the legendary compiler of the Mishnah.

In the seventh century an estimated 46,000 Muslim warriors swept through Judea and established liberal policies towards all monotheists. Arabs did not move in from the desert to take over the farmlands and become landowners. The local Jewish population even assisted the Muslims against their hated Byzantine Christian rulers. While the Jews suffered under the Christian rulers, no doubt with some converting to Christianity for their own well-being, many resisted as is evident from the growth in synagogue construction at this time. Under Muslim rule, however, Jews were not harassed as they were under the Christians, yet there appears to have been a decline in Jewish religious presence.

How can we account for this paradox? Given that Muslims were not taxed, it is reasonable to assume that the decline in Jewish religious constructions can be explained by many Jews over time converting to Islam. Certainly David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi in 1918 published their hopes that their Muslim Jewish counterparts in Palestine might be assimilated with their immigrant cousins.

There never was a mass exile of Jews from Judea/Palestine. At least there is no historical record of any such event. Believe me, for years I looked for it. In past years my religious teaching told me it had happened, but when I studied ancient history I had to admit I could not see it. Sometimes historian made vague generalized references to suggest something like it happened, but there was never any evidence cited and the evidence that was cited did not testify to wholesale exile.

Who started the myth?

It was anti-semitic Christian leaders who introduced the myth of exile: the “Wandering Jew” was being punished for his rejection of Christ. Justin Martyr in the mid second century is the first to express this myth.

So where did all the Jews that Justin knew of come from if they were, in his eyes, “a-wandering”?

The answer to that deserves a full length post of its own. In the Hellenistic era Jews were renowned proselytizers. For many reasons Judaism proved attractive to not a few gentiles. And once converted, they were, the evidence of Philo tells us, considered to have augmented the Jewish “ethnos” — what we would probably think of as an ethnic identity.

The one and only original Exile

There was one exile that was recognized as The Exile, the only historical exile of Jews, according to the Babylonian Talmud. That was the exile from Judea under the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. If any Jews later claimed to have had ancestors who once lived in, say, Roman Judea, they would be classified as descendants of the Babylonian Exile since this exile set the train for all later situations in which the Jews found themselves. This was the way it was according to the Babylonian Talmud’s narrative.

What happened in 70 CE?

Titus Destroying Jerusalem by Wilhelm von Kaulbach

Titus Destroying Jerusalem by Wilhelm von Kaulbach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not even the prophecies the authors of the gospels retrojected into the mouth of Jesus spoke of any exile. The destruction of the Temple, yes. Jerusalem surrounded by armies, yes. Trodden down by gentiles, yes. Warnings to flee to escape the enemy, yes. But no exile.

The famous Arch of Titus depicts victorious Romans carrying off the Temple candelabria, not Jewish exiles.

Josephus who wrote of the Jewish War of 66 – 73 CE paints the scene of the end of the war in these words . . .

Now the number of those that were carried captive during this whole war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand; as was the number of those that perished during the whole siege eleven hundred thousand, the greater part of whom were indeed of the same nation [with the citizens of Jerusalem], but not belonging to the city itself; for they were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a sudden shut up by an army, which, at the very first, occasioned so great a straitness among them, that there came a pestilential destruction upon them, and soon afterward such a famine, as destroyed them more suddenly.

NOW as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury, (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done,) Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison, as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.

All historians acknowledge that the figures of ancient historians are wildly exaggerated. Many seem to have some numerological significance. Best estimates of the population of Jerusalem at the time were between sixty and seventy thousand — notwithstanding Josephus’s claim that 1.1 million perished in the city.

So Josephus the Jewish historian of the war of 66-70 CE greatly exaggerated his casualty figures. Archaeological remains tell us that the destruction of Jerusalem was not as complete as he indicated. There were massacres, and no doubt many prisoners were sold as slaves, but the bloodshed was confined to Jerusalem and a few fortified cities. Rome did not uproot and exile the entire population. There are no archaeological indications of communities fleeing wholesale from the land of Judea in or around 70 CE.

Actually not even the Babylonians and Assyrians before the Roman era deported whole populations. Nebuchadnezzar was said to have left the land empty as he took the populace away captive to Babylonia; a few were given the option to migrate to Egypt. But we know from archaeology and reasonable inference that only the administrators and cultural elites were removed. Those who worked the land stayed.

Not even the Assyrians notorious for their mass deportations before them removed the entirety of a population.

But as for the Romans, they never deported any large segment of a populated area. In the Western provinces they did evict local farmers for the benefit of Roman veteran soldiers but this policy was never applied in the East. Rome was able to keep the lid on rebellions well enough through terror without the need for wholesale deportations.

What happened in 135 CE?

English: The Knesset Menorah, Jerusalem (detai...

English: The Knesset Menorah, Jerusalem (detail – Simon bar Kokhba) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE the population recovered in time substantially enough to cause even more headaches for emperor Hadrian in the 130s CE. Information about the Bar Kochba rebellion is less abundant, being confined to a few lines by Cassius Dio and the third/fourth century Eusebius. There are also some references in rabbinical religious literature. None mentions a mass exile from the land.

Here is the account of Cassius Dio from his Roman History 69:14

Fifty of their most important outposts and nine hundred and eighty-five of their most famous villages were razed to the ground. Five hundred and eighty thousand men were slain in the various raids and battles, and the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past finding out.

2 Thus nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate, a result of which the people had had forewarning before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, which the Jews regard as an object of veneration, fell to pieces of itself and collapsed, and many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into their cities.

3 Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war. Therefore Hadrian in writing to the senate did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, “If you and our children are in health, it is well; I and the legions are in health.”

Again, historians know these claims are vastly exaggerated. (Recall one of the goals of ancient historians was to demonstrate to their readers the greatness of the topics they wrote about. The wars and the calamities had to be greater in their versions than had been told before.)

Yes, Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina and so was the province renamed Syria Palestinia. Jews were forbidden from entering Jerusalem for a time.

And the grass kept growing

450px-Cave_of_coffins

Traditional burial place of Judah the Prince at Beit She’arim National Park, Israel. (Wikipedia)

But within fifty years we find a Jewish culture flourishing there again under the leadership of Rabbi Judah HaNasi who edited and compiled the Mishnah and is recorded as being on excellent terms with the emperor Antoninus.

The Jewish population of the province is recorded by both Christian and Muslim sources as assisting the Muslim takeover and removal of the Byzantine rules in the seventh century CE.

It is evident from the prima facie historical record that Jews remained the significant proportion of the population of Palestine right through the vicissitudes of wars and invasions. Over time the population no doubt followed the patterns of other populations throughout history: they generally adopted the religion of their rulers and intermarried with the various peoples who came through over the centuries with Arabs, Crusaders, Turks and others.

This is a vast topic and there are many related issues that need to be addressed. I will cover those in due course. These will include a little more detail on the Christian origin of the exiled “wandering Jew” idea and why and when the Jews themselves came to embrace it. We also need to look at the origin of the Jewish messianic and “return to the land” concept that started to become a feature of rabbinic Judaism from late antiquity. Not forgetting the origins of the nationalist-era historiographies and Christian teachings that laid the foundations for the assumption many have today that the Jews were exiled en mass from their homeland by the Romans. Romans simply did not do that sort of thing as we have seen here.

But I have a few other series I hope to finish off first.

 

 

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53 Comments

  • Gingerbaker
    2014-04-30 17:58:10 UTC - 17:58 | Permalink

    Neil, Neil, Neil. Of course there was a Judean exile, despite the lack of any historical evidence. How do we know this? Because of oral tradition. ;>)

  • 2014-04-30 20:00:26 UTC - 20:00 | Permalink

    But we know from archaeology and reasonable inference that only the administrators and cultural elites were removed. Those who worked the land stayed.

    -What archaeological evidence? The archaeological evidence shows a general depopulation of the Shephelah, Beersheba valley, and the Hebron hills. The only area that remained part of Babylonian Yehud was Benjamin. Just like in present-day Syria, years of war took their toll on Judah’s population, leaving most of the population refugees. The Neo-Babylonian rulers had a truly brutal policy of discouraging trade and population growth and encouraging only agriculture outside the core of their empire.
    http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/the-mwshlionearly-yhwd-map/

    • Scot Griffin
      2014-04-30 22:14:11 UTC - 22:14 | Permalink

      Does your evidence really support your conclusions? I don’t think so. See also, http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1357417?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21103720017231

      You can find a shorter version of Barstad’s book (reviewd in the linked JSTOR article) as an article in Judah and the Judeans in the Neo-Babylonian Period

      https://play.google.com/books/reader?printsec=frontcover&output=reader&id=R65fhpcUFcgC&pg=GBS.PA3.w.1.0.0

    • Neil Godfrey
      2014-05-01 10:18:53 UTC - 10:18 | Permalink

      I don’t know of anyone who has disputed a conquest, destruction and significant drop in population of Jerusalem and certain other areas/sites around about. I hope you don’t think I’m saying there was no deportation of any kind.

      • 2014-05-01 19:28:49 UTC - 19:28 | Permalink

        I hope you don’t think I’m saying there was no deportation of any kind.

        -I certainly don’t! My only issue is with the statement of yours that I blockquoted. I find the rest of this post non-news to all but the most obtuse Biblical scholars and interested amateurs and a useful resource to the general public.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2014-05-01 20:50:10 UTC - 20:50 | Permalink

          Thank you. It is for the general public that I am writing. That is why I lamented the fact that our “public intellectuals” don’t do a very good job of informing the wider public of some generally held misconceptions that do have relevance today. Also that is why I have asked you to provide supporting evidence and argument rather than just sweeping assertions in some of your apparent criticisms. I think the general public has a “right to know” the evidence itself. This is not my own specialist area and I myself of course have much to learn.

  • John
    2014-04-30 20:26:49 UTC - 20:26 | Permalink

    I genrally agree with you on this issue, Neil (isn’t that nice for a change ;-). One of my favorite books is Alon’s “The Jews in Their Land in the Talmudic Age,” in which he discusses these matters in depth.

    http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Jews_in_Their_Land_in_the_Talmudic_A.html?id=C_oeAAAAIAAJ

  • 2014-05-01 12:31:25 UTC - 12:31 | Permalink

    No complaints from me on this post, Neil.

    So basically there were still Jews keeping continuity with the land all the way between 135 and 1948?

    So that means the indigenous people were still there.

    That means…Israeli has a case?

    I think Palestinian readers may not like this post much…

    But good on you for writing it.

    There are some thoughts around about Jewish people who stayed in the land and who were forceably converted to Islam…and there are, I believe, some genetic testing that’s supposed to back that up.

    But again…that would still lean in favor of the Jews still being the indigenous inhabitants.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2014-05-01 21:02:22 UTC - 21:02 | Permalink

      So we are agreed then that the Palestinian population of the West Bank are as much the descendants of the ancient Jews as they are of other peoples that have mixed with them over the generations, and as Ben-Gurion himself acknowledged in 1918 when he hoped for a reconciliation of the two branches of Jews regardless of their religious affiliation.

      It is clear that you misled us when you initially told us you began with a completely open mind when you first visited Israel. I would also advise you to get some facts straight and do some serious homework and reflect carefully upon what you are really arguing before you take up the genetic argument.

      • 2014-05-02 04:14:31 UTC - 04:14 | Permalink

        I simply mentioned there had been a genetic study. NOT that I argued for or against it.

        And I think I remember my own thoughts when I first to Israel. Objective is that you start off favoring no one when you examine a situation and you let evidence fall where it lies.

        Hence now, for someone who was of a Christian background originally…I have to consider Jesus a fiction because the evidence fell where it did.

        On the other hand…I keep getting the feeling I’m meant NOT to find in favor of Israelis, WHY? Not to do with evidence, but to do with peer group pressure.

        Let’s face it…what did point a bit more in Israelis’ favor was the fact they only expected me to be objective and weigh up things properly. They only asked of me a neutral starting point.

        On the other hand, any other party expecting me to find differently just because of coercion, or peer group pressure, or anything else…seriously, that’s when I do start to draw a line.

        And that’s when I find more in favor of Israelis because they hold up to more sensible methods of evaluating it. And they don’t threaten me when I disagree with them.

        Neil, you do great stuff in the ancient timeframe.

        But please understand this particular post, you’ve covered the issue of Jews who stayed in the land up to 1948, so you’ve proven Jewish claims more by this post. Whether they stayed as Jewish Jews, or converted Jews, they kept continuity.

        Can you see the point of your own post here?

        Or can you not?

        • 2014-05-02 04:29:49 UTC - 04:29 | Permalink

          And yes, there were Arabs who had been in Palestine hundreds of years…Sheil Haj Amin al-Husseini’s family and that other one I cited on one of the other posts. Going back at least to the Middle Ages and I won’t deny it.

          But under what context? In both cases, the families were effectively local Satraps for the empires from such times right up to WWI. Representing empires which chose NOT to allow a sovereign Palestinian state ever. So both families, one of which numbered, if I remember the wikipedia entry, in the thousands, really were part of the apparatus of ENSURING there was no Palestinian state for those hundreds of years, be it an Arab Palestinian state or a Jewish one. For all the better treatment (relative to that of Christian societies at some points) by Muslims, no Jewish state was ever allowed by them. But neither were any Arab Palestinian states.

          Yes, al-Husseini had severe objections to Jewish emmigration back to Palestine, but while there was no longer an Ottoman empire, what was he doing any differently from when he worked for the Ottomans?

          And if I remember the reading correctly, in the twenties he was more a fan of the idea of attaching Palestine to Syria, so he really wasn’t concerned with Palestine being a sovereign state for anyone.

          He was just being consistent to the role his family had always played. Representatives of empires, not of Palestine.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2014-05-02 05:14:24 UTC - 05:14 | Permalink

          I’m imagining a tribe of crow-people here nearby where I live in Australia. They’ve been here 50,000 years. About 30,000 years ago some of them decided to leave, a few were forced to leave, and find new opportunities along the coasts of Asia. Now they number in the tens of millions overseas but only a few hundred survive in Australia. Now those millions of crow-people descendants living in Asia demand a right of return to Australia. White people of course will have to be relocated or live within a crow-people state. You might say that’s not a good analogy because the Whites have established a State; well, would it make any moral difference if we had maintained direct rule from the British parliament all these 200 years?

          Obviously such claims are not acceptable today. We have international law to abide by for starters.

          The main reason Palestine was decided upon as the new homeland for Jews was because of pressure and strategic support from the Christians of Britain.

          I don’t think you realize that the post is making it clear that the Palestinian Arabs are themselves the descendants of the ancient Jewish inhabitants as much as they are a mix of other races that have mixed with them. Ben-Gurion himself once acknowledged this.

          No people no matter what their history or religion has a right to dispossess another people of whatever race or religion, same or different. The world left that sort of thinking behind in 1945.

          Of course you “just mentioned the genetic study.” The context made it clear you considered this as potentially a valid reason to justify dispossession of Palestinian Arabs.

          I also note that your views on the entire dispute have been informed by pleasant personal experiences with the Israelis and unpleasant ones with advocates of the other side. I’m reminded of cult propaganda that wins converts by love-bombing and/or telling others to “read the Bible for themselves” and “prove all things” and “don’t believe us because we say so” etc. One of my friends I mentioned earlier spoke with Arafat to tell him that the Palestinians were losing the war for minds of Westerners — they had little idea how negatively they were being perceived and how easily they could turn that around. Arafat didn’t listen of course.

          Sometimes to know a bit of history you need to go beyond the anecdotal and personal experiences with individuals. But your arguments since your description of your visits to Israel are clearly informed by more than personal experiences, anyway. You are displaying a very strong ideological case and sometimes sound so sure of facts that are simply wrong. And your knowledge of the situation is clearly based on one-sided reading.

          • 2014-05-02 11:48:08 UTC - 11:48 | Permalink

            Fair enough to what you’ve said re: moderation and that is your right.

            Just can you really tell me if al-Husseini’s and the other family really did anything to bring about a Palestinian state for all those hundreds of years?

            • Neil Godfrey
              2014-05-02 20:43:03 UTC - 20:43 | Permalink

              George, the question is absurd because it is based on ignorance of history and of the cultural ties of the Palestinians to their land. If you took any notice of the post here you would realize that the Palestinian Arabs today are the descendants of those who created city-states and kingdoms in the past, including the kingdom of Judah before the Babylonian captivity and including the Hasmonean kingdom — as Ben-Gurion himself publicly acknowledged in 1918. But “states” are a historically relatively modern concept and by your logic the Jewish Palestinians (who converted to Islam) are to be blamed for not trying to establish a state when they were the subjects of other Muslim empires.

              If you dug into the history of Palestine without prejudice and to learn both sides of the story you would know of the rich cultural life of the Palestinians — theatres, cafes, libraries, archives, urban centres, their intellectual contributions — and the strong ties that so many had had for generations to the land.

              You only have to read the words of the Zionist leadership that I have been quoting in recent posts here to know there was no doubt in Zionist minds about the strong attachment the Palestinians had to the land as their cultural and economic and self-identifying home. The notion that the Palestinians had no historic attachment to the land is a modern myth propagated to justify past crimes.

              If you knew the history of Judaism a little better then you would know that the “wandering Jews” had no emotional sentiment to the land in any self-identifying sense but only in a metaphysical cosmic sense that it was something that would be inherited in the last days, just as Christians see Heaven as their ultimate home. To begin with most Jews themselves opposed the Zionists because of what they saw as the perversion of “attachment to the land” for personal interest. The attempt to link Jewish nationalism to the land is a modern concept that came from an age of extreme forms of imperialism and nationalism that most nations became disillusioned with after experiencing its consequences by the end of WW2.

              But ALL OF THE ABOVE IS IRRELEVANT and is only said to try to get you to recognize that your views are not so obviously self-evident as you seem to think. IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE what happened millennia ago. What counts is how people treat one another today, now. Nothing in the ancient past can justify ethnic cleansing, dispossession, expulsion, and stealing of other people’s land today, nor even the destruction of a cultural life of a people, the destruction of their libraries and stealing and denial of access to all their books.

              No more comments from this accusatory and ignorant anti-Arab racist Zionist propaganda whose supporters are so nice to agreeable visitors.

              You had one last question and that’s my answer to it. No more.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2014-05-02 06:04:39 UTC - 06:04 | Permalink

          George, I’m withholding your latest six comments because I don’t want this blog to become a forum for arguing propagandas claims for or against any side in any dispute.

          I am trying to post some evidence that is not well known today and that gives an understanding of the background to current events or how the world has worked until now. This post is a bit of historical record; other posts are from official archives and personal diaries. They are the Jewish record itself, one that is lost in the propaganda narratives we hear today.

          What I have asked for is that comments address the points made in the posts, that they address the authenticity of the evidence or any reason to think that the evidence is not truly representative of what it appears to represent or is not making the point claimed.

          Continuing to try to deflect attention from the evidence in these posts with arguments for the evils or wrongs of another side is not constructive.

    • Geoff
      2014-05-01 23:47:37 UTC - 23:47 | Permalink

      “So that means the indigenous people were still there.”

      On all sides though, right, George? Does the fact that some portion of the Jewish population, if not all, maintained a continuous presence in Palestine compel us to accept their right to impose a particular government on the entire population (and I am referring specifically to Israel’s land granted under the UN partition plan). The partition plan called for the compulsory relocation of more than 200,000 Arabs living in the Israeli section. That was the original Arab objection to the partition plan in the first place: it violated the right of self-determination to those Arabs living in the Israeli section, not to mention that the remaining Arab population was to be situated under the authority of Transjordan.

      Would you agree, George, that the U.N. partition plan violated the rights of the 200,000 Arabs (and 1,000 Jewish residents to be moved to the Israeli sector), many indigenous inhabitants? Under what principle do you claim that the rights of indigenous Jews have claim to precedent over the rights of indigenous Arabs?

      Can we agree here?

      • 2014-05-02 04:31:54 UTC - 04:31 | Permalink

        Geoff, you used the word “indigenous,” then you used the word “Arabs.”

        Where are Arabs indigenous to?

        The place we NOW call Saudi Arabia.

        If you’re going to use the word indigenous, please apply it correctly.

  • Geoff
    2014-05-02 00:04:23 UTC - 00:04 | Permalink

    “There are some thoughts around about Jewish people who stayed in the land and who were forceably converted to Islam”

    This is a loaded statement. As a person of indigenous descent (Mexico, grandmother is indigenous from Zacatecas) and raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I am very curious as to what your take is on this forceable conversion. If some practicing Muslims of Jewish descent are considered to have been forceably converted? Would my grandmother count as having been forceably converted because her ancestors some 400 centuries earlier were forceably converted? And does the level of threatened violence for failure impact what you consider “forceable?”

    • 2014-05-02 00:44:46 UTC - 00:44 | Permalink

      Forced conversions were not the norm under Muslim rule. Why would Muslims forceably convert their tax base and lose a significant portion of their revenue? As with any conquered peoples at any time and place, there are generally incentives for them to adopt the ways, including the religion, of their rulers. I doubt George’s claim has any verifiable basis.

      • Geoff
        2014-05-02 01:10:33 UTC - 01:10 | Permalink

        Yes, it’s his case to make or not make now that he threw out on the table. I am interested in how he thinks it is relevant and under what threats he claims Jews were forced to convert. On what empirical evidence does he base his claim? We have some evidence of this in regard to the forced conversion of indigenous people in the Americas (such as the writings of Bartolome de las Casas).

        I agree with you, Neil. My understanding of Muslim rule was that it was fairly religiously tolerant, especially when compared to Christian rule.

        • 2014-05-02 04:36:50 UTC - 04:36 | Permalink

          “Relative to Christian rule.”

          No disputing that bit.

          But full rights only applied if one coverted to Islam.

          That’s not to say that there would have been times when there was forcible conversion.

          Which, if you look at some sections of, say, the Syrian civil war, IS happening.

          The words “relative to Christian rule” is valid.

          And I have no dispute there.

          • 2014-05-02 04:38:07 UTC - 04:38 | Permalink

            I believe my grammar was skewed a little in one paragraph above…which should read: “that’s not to say there wouldn’t have been times when there was forcible conversion.”

    • Geoff
      2014-05-02 00:46:44 UTC - 00:46 | Permalink

      I did mean 400 years (4 centuries). I want to clarify one thing here:

      The experience of Jewish people through history and particularly in the 19th century does, indeed, justify some sort of special intervention and protection from the international community. There are other groups who can reasonably be said qualify such treatment as well. My criticism, here, is not of the aspirations for an independent state that is culturally “Jewish.” It is of how that process was carried out and who was ultimately victimized by it and what voice they have ever been allowed to have. It was a denial of human rights that I believe was not justifiable and has led to more than six decades of conflict and human suffering. That is not to deny the suffering of the Jewish people. Incomprehensible harm was committed upon a people who, in the face of that, have held in tact their cultural identity and in many ways have thrived.

      Considering what to do about all this now, is a huge, huge question (I support a single democratic state, by the way, with universal sufferage regardless of ethnicity on the principle of self-determination–I know this presents some problems and acknowledge that, but there is precedent for this, such as South Africa).

      • 2014-05-02 04:47:38 UTC - 04:47 | Permalink

        You should perhaps talk to people who’ve lived under South African Apartheid and who’ve also been to Israel. They would enlighten you to the fact that in Israel, citizens are treated equally and without discrimination as much as humanly possible…where you can read road signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English. There are great mixed cities like Tel Aviv-Yafo and Haifa. There are no signage of the type that was prevalent in South Africa under Apartheid.

        Wasn’t it white, South African Christians, by the way, who came up with Apartheid?

        Meantime there are Yemenite Jews, Ethiopian Jews, various looks and shades of Jews…so I really can’t see how with such variation in themselves they can be racist or Apartheid.

        • Geoff
          2014-05-03 04:56:27 UTC - 04:56 | Permalink

          My point in raising South Africa was not to compare apartheid to Israel/Palestine. My point was to support a one state solution with South Africa as an example of the type of reconciliation that can take place. One of the fears of forging a democracy was that “black majority rule” would lead to retaliation against the white minority population.

  • pakeha
    2014-05-02 08:39:58 UTC - 08:39 | Permalink

    Your blog was an eye-opener to me.

    What sources do we have for conditions in Jerusalem and its population from 70 to 132?

    • Neil Godfrey
      2014-05-02 08:47:17 UTC - 08:47 | Permalink

      As far as I am aware, nothing.

      • George Hall
        2015-10-19 10:42:13 UTC - 10:42 | Permalink

        I’m not sure about conditions in Jerusalem or population numbers 70 to 132…

        …but I CAN cite a source in the Talmud Tractate Shabbat 16B as pointing out that the Torah may have been ILLEGAL in the Land after 70-72a.d. “‘Since the day that you were exiled from your land the Law of Moses has been superseded and another book given”

        Specific to this is the idea that when the exile starts…then the Gospel ALSO starts. Basically the Gospel replaced the Torah IN THE LAND.

        That would date Mark to no EARLIER then 70-72a.d.

        Since this citation mentions Gameliel II and Ima Shalom…it’s definitely after 70a.d. and just before the 115a.d. Kitos War.

        This would make the earliest Gospel really a TOOL of the Romans post-70a.d.

        And propaganda.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-10-19 12:48:48 UTC - 12:48 | Permalink

          If such a statement existed in the Talmud with the meaning you suggest one would expect it to have been the centre of a host of studies in Christian origins and Gospel provenance. It would also contradict the many other Talmudic references to rabbinic debates in the land of Palestine post 70 ce. But here is the passage from https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Talmud/shabbat16.html

          Ema Shalom, the wife of R. Eliezer, who was also a sister of R. Gamaliel the Second, encountered a philosopher in her neighborhood who was a judge, and had the reputation of being inaccessible to bribery. R. Gamaliel and his sister wished to ridicule him and prove that he was accessible to bribery. Ema Shalom brought him a golden candle. He asked her what she wanted, so she answered: “My father is dead, and I wish to inherit some of his possessions.” The judge said: “Go, I will order that you be given your share.” Said she: “Thou canst not order it so, because our law decrees, that wherever there is a son a daughter cannot inherit.” Answered the judge: “Since you Israelites are in exile, your law given you by Moses has been revoked, and a new law was given you by which daughters may inherit equally with sons.” On the morrow came R. Gamaliel and brought him a Libyan ass, and told him that he did not wish to let his sister inherit. Said the judge: “After thy sister left I consulted the law again, and found that the new law said: ‘I did not come to abolish the Mosaic law, neither to increase nor to diminish it.’ Hence it must remain as in the old law, that where a son is left a sister must not inherit.” Said Ema Shalom to the judge: “May God make thy light as bright as a candle.” Said R. Gamaliel to her (in the presence of the judge): “An ass came along and extinguished thy candle.”

          • George Hall
            2015-10-19 23:14:02 UTC - 23:14 | Permalink

            Admittedly, we know there were still things like the academy of R. Yohan b. Zakkai at Yavneh…but then, Yavheh wasn’t Judea proper or Jerusalem. We know there was still rabbinical activity in the Land regardless. That’s NOT to say that around Jerusalem and the Judean base area there wasn’t an effort to degrade the importance of Torah.

            About 25-30 years ago I wouldn’t have drawn such an inference from that reading…but over the past year or two, I’m less likely to believe the New Testament as it currently stands.

            Below the red writing, you have quoted “I have not come to abolish the Mosaic Law, etc.” You notice that’s NOT a direct quote from Matthew? Similar yes, identical, no. So what CAN we draw from the discussion? A document CONTAINING that (or maybe not, since it looks like the judge took the better bribe of the Libyan ass–probably worth more than the golden candle…) is mentioned by the judge.

            Let’s assume for a minute we have NOT heard 1900 years of Christianity.

            What then does the quote tell us?

            Someone trying to push a document other than the Torah. A law in the land (or Judea proper) that supercedes the Torah. That WOULD be consistent with politics, even Roman politics.

            What else does it tell us?

            “Since you Israelites are in exile, the law given you by moses has been REVOKED.”

            NOT by the Torah-observant themselves, obviously.

            But the words “since you Israelites are in exile” tell us ONLY since.

            Exile from Jerusalem? Exile from Judea proper?

            But still AFTER.

            Ironically…I’ve told Orthodox-backgrounded Jewish friends this interpretation recently…and they seem to think I’ve actually got this right.

            I also tend to group this with two OTHER Talmudic references…to do with Herod Agrippa (II) Herod Agrippa (II) in one STANDING to listen to a reading (and effectively being the STANDING ONE of Simonian thought)…the other at a much later time effectively no longer being in tune with Monotheism and being “Two Powers in Heaven.” Looking to be just after 70a.d. as well. Now, a few Jewish friends have pointed out that the first manifestation of Christianity Judaism faced was intimately tied to “Two Powers in Heaven.” Very much Gnostic and I’m still veering to a Gnostic-first idea of Christianity as the origin.

  • pakeha
    2014-05-02 15:27:14 UTC - 15:27 | Permalink

    I was afraid that would be the case, but hoping otherwise.

  • Tim Kearns
    2014-05-02 19:44:15 UTC - 19:44 | Permalink

    I thought this 3 minute video fit our topic well. Who’s land is it really? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-evIyrrjTTY

  • Wentham
    2014-05-03 12:46:44 UTC - 12:46 | Permalink

    My understanding has been that it was not the whole population of Jews in Judah or Israel that was banished or exiled. But only that Jews were forbidden to live in specifically and only, the city of Jerusalem. On official decree from Hadrian and others.

    Is that correct?

    • Neil Godfrey
      2014-05-03 13:56:22 UTC - 13:56 | Permalink

      According to Eusebius, yes, that is correct. In Ecclesiastical History Book 4 he writes:

      When the siege had lasted a long time, and the rebels had been driven to the last extremity by hunger and thirst, and the instigator of the rebellion had suffered his just punishment, the whole nation was prohibited from this time on by a decree, and by the commands of Adrian, from ever going up to the country about Jerusalem. For the emperor gave orders that they should not even see from a distance the land of their fathers. Such is the account of Aristo of Pella.

      And thus, when the city had been emptied of the Jewish nation and had suffered the total destruction of its ancient inhabitants, it was colonized by a different race, and the Roman city which subsequently arose changed its name and was called Ælia, in honor of the emperor Ælius Adrian.

  • Wentham
    2014-05-04 13:49:28 UTC - 13:49 | Permalink

    Thanks. No doubt to be sure too, the banning of Jews from Jerusalem was not permanent in practical effect. Likely it was gradually forgotten, or even officially ended.

    Popular misunderstandings of this and other similar banishments might explain where the larger banishment rumors came from.

  • Shorespirit
    2014-05-06 18:27:49 UTC - 18:27 | Permalink

    Judah HaNasi (late second/early third century) did not live in Judea, but in Galilee. From Wikipedia: “When Iudaea became a Roman province, formed from a merger of Judea, Samaria and Idumea, Galilee was briefly a part of it, then separated from it for two to three centuries.” While you may be correct that there continued to be Jewish inhabitants of Judea after 135, there were far fewer than before, and Judah HaNasi was not one of them.

  • 2014-05-11 01:14:21 UTC - 01:14 | Permalink

    In the Hellenistic era Jews were renowned proselytizers.

    Actually, this too may be a modern myth. Miriam S. Taylor has certainly challenged this view in her book “Anti-Judaism and Early Christian Identity: A Critique of the Scholarly Consensus.”

    • John
      2014-05-11 03:52:31 UTC - 03:52 | Permalink

      Blood,

      I haven’t read this book, but I searched what is available of it on googlebooks, and didn’t see the examples of Jewish proselytism that I can think of off the top of my head in it.

      Does the book address the converts Flavius Clemens and Flavia Domitilla? Dio Cassius says that a charge of “atheism” was brought against them both, and that this was “a charge on which many others who drifted into Jewish ways were condemned” (Rom. Hist. 67.14).

      Or Queen Helena of Adiabene? She is mentioned in Josephus and rabbinic writings:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena_of_Adiabene

      Or Helena’s son Izates? Josephus says a Jewish merchant named Ananias had “got among the women that belonged to [Izates] and taught them to worship God according to the Jewish religion. He, moreover, by these means, became known to Izates, and persuaded him, in like manner, to embrace that religion” (Ant. 20.2.3).

      Izates was also taught by Eleazar from Galilee (Ant. 20.2.4).

      Regarding Helena’s conversion, Josephus says that she had been “instructed by a certain other Jew and went over to them” (Ant. 20.2.4).

      I didn’t search for this in the book, but the Dead Sea Scrolls mention a class of people they call “joiners” (nilvim), and the Damascus Document even alters an underlying biblical passage in order to force an interpretation to include them along with the other members of their sect. Does Taylor’s book discuss the evidence of prosyletism in the DSS?

      I’ll take a closer look at Taylor’s book when I get more time, but these are some examples of Jewish prosyletism that occured to me when I saw your comment.

      • John
        2014-05-14 19:24:52 UTC - 19:24 | Permalink

        Blood,

        I had a chance to look more closely at what is available of Taylor’s book on googlebooks, and while only a few pages are viewable, I think there is enough to at least get the gist of her thesis (though I still can’t tell if she discusses the examples I gave above)

        I think the thesis may be flawed if her focus is on the proselytism of post-70 CE Rabbinic Judaism to the exclusion of pre-70 Hellenistic era sects.

        It’s a different world post-70, and Rabbinic Judaism is a different kind of animal than the more apocalyptic and messianic ones like the Fourth Philosophy and the Dead Sea Scrolls sect. The Pharisees were already generally pro-Roman and against the 66-70 CE war, and afterwards lived in a world of continued persecution against the apocalyptic and messianic Jews that started the Kitos and Bar Kochba wars that culminated in the banning of circumcision and of Jews from entering renamed Jersusalem.

        Pharisaic Judaism more than likely left major writings from (or about) these times because of its anti-messianic position, which continued down to the Bar Kochba war. And with circumcision being banned and Jerusalem being off limits to Jews (however briefly), it’s not surprising if Rabbinic Judaism did not encourage proselytism in this era.

        What is surprising is that even during these times there are examples of famous converts, like Flavius Clemens, Aquila and Onkelos (the latter, if they aren’t the same person, even made well-regarded Greek and Aramaic translations of the OT), and all (or both) of them (or at least people like them, so the point of there being high ranking converts is still valid) are discussed in rabbinic writings.

        Add to this the rise and eventual Roman adoption of Christianity, and it’s no surprise that rabbinic proselytism (which may never have been very urgent to begin with, given its general anti-messianic stance) was not more enthusiastic.

        So I think the general, lukewarm stance of post-70 Rabbinic Judaism towards proselytism shouldn’t necessarily be seen as the position of “Judaism” or supercede the proselytizing efforts of pre-70 sects.

        Since I doubt I’ll find Taylor’s book anytime soon, I wouldn’t mind knowing if you think I’m getting the wrong impression about it, or if you think I’m looking at this issue in general wrong.

  • David Ashton
    2015-02-22 22:46:40 UTC - 22:46 | Permalink

    It is most important to establish historical facts with accuracy and precision, and to disentangle them from propaganda by interested parties, although of course past propaganda itself appears in the historical records, and the effects of propaganda upon political decisions are themselves a fact of history. The “Holy” Land is one of the most difficult with respect to the prime historical task, whose tentative conclusions may undermine established political positions and the “comfort zone of entire peoples”.

    There is a further responsibility to avoid using words like “racist” and “anti-Semite” as mere abuse against serious participants in research or debate. Even as “terms” they are nowadays too loosely defined.

    There remains the burning question whether people who call themselves Jews were justified for any reason in seeking to establish a distinctive “national homeland” for themselves during the 19th and 20th centuries. If so, the next question would be its possible territorial location(s). As you know, opinions about its desirability, compared to alternative accommodations, divided Jews, and others who considered the question. Various “Territorialists” proposed spacious locations other than those “around Jerusalem”, to which Jewish traditions and sentiments remained and still remain attached, mistakenly or not. Herzl himself “mentioned” Argentina, and there was of course the “Uganda” proposal. A reasonable prewar solution, for Jews who wished neither to assimilate nor to remain as separate minorities within other countries, might have been a small zone for Jews already in Palestine plus a sufficient area in fertile temperate north-east Africa, with the Holy Places internationally protected for access by all three Abrahamic faiths.

    However, the Zionist “experiment” of the State of Israel, rushed in post-WW2 desperation, was in my opinion foredoomed because of population problems, if for no other reason; and it has provided neither the Israeli Jews nor the so-called Diaspora the security that was expected. Whatever the “solution” or outcome, it will hardly arise in the short term from the effective disappearance of the religions of Judaism, Christianity or Islam.

    • 2015-10-16 14:45:30 UTC - 14:45 | Permalink

      ” plus a sufficient area in fertile temperate north-east Africa”

      I have to ask you – do you think that the Africans living here would have been any more accepting than the Palestinians of this idea?

      I ‘m not asking this to be confrontational or wave any agenda flag. I’m merely surprised at the wide acceptance of the handing over of other people’s lands without their consent to other people by a third party.

      • Neil Godfrey
        2015-10-17 02:20:37 UTC - 02:20 | Permalink

        I understand at one time the Kimberley region in Australia (north-west) was offered as an option for a new homeland. “No-one there” but “a few aboriginal tribes” and their sacred sites, after all.

        • David Ashton
          2015-10-17 21:56:16 UTC - 21:56 | Permalink

          I was born after the prewar schemes for a “Jewish National Home” other than Palestine were proposed, so it has been water and blood under the bridge so far as what I might have wanted. In the circumstances of territorial development and the population densities of that area, an occupation in the vicinity of northern Kenya would not then have seemed unreasonable, even to the sparsely scattered migrant tribes in the area; and, if it had occurred, the wartime massacres in the east European “bloodlands” would have been avoided. However, the Zionists insisted on the Middle East, and supported American entry into WW1 to that end, but they are no longer likely to get it from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, even if anyone would still want to do so.

          • 2015-10-18 01:10:27 UTC - 01:10 | Permalink

            “In the circumstances of territorial development and the population densities of that area, an occupation in the vicinity of northern Kenya would not then have seemed unreasonable, even to the sparsely scattered migrant tribes in the area; and, if it had occurred, the wartime massacres in the east European “bloodlands” would have been avoided.”

            The forced eviction of the pastoralist ethnic groups from their lands in Northern Kenya by the white colonial settlers is one of the reasons why there is still continuing conflict in the region in the present day.

            So, no, the locals probably would not have found it reasonable to have the Zionists move in too.

            • David Ashton
              2015-10-18 22:12:47 UTC - 22:12 | Permalink

              The wicked white man can and will be blamed for most problems in the world today, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, maybe even for the UN-projected black African population explosion in contrast to our demographic decline in our lands of current overseas-migratory first choice.

              Incidentally, as Israel is a topic here and I have not trawled the archives to locate Neil’s earlier request about Comrade Corbyn’s view of 9/11, I quote from today’s “Sunday Times” (October 18, p.4) that his shadow chancellor and close political ally, John McDonnell, once hosted a parliamentary event with campaigners who have posted on their website a reference to “overwhelming evidence for the controlled demolition of all three World Trade Center buildings”. However, a spokesman said he was not “aware of their views at the time given that the meeting had nothing to do with such matters” and “utterly condemns such opinions”. So a media mountain out of a molehill, unlike the unprecedented parallel collapse of all three buildings, in common ownership, into their own footprint.

              • Tim Widowfield
                2015-10-19 00:11:05 UTC - 00:11 | Permalink

                It’s a rare thing to see trolling and trawling in a single comment. Kudos.

              • David Ashton
                2015-10-19 18:02:27 UTC - 18:02 | Permalink

                You’re welcome! Superlative exegesis.

    • Greg Pandatshang
      2015-10-17 04:59:08 UTC - 04:59 | Permalink

      In hindsight, it’s too bad that a Jewish state wasn’t created in western Europe after World War II … however, I can understand that, in 1945, western Europe didn’t seem like the safest place in the world to be.

  • Malcolm Clarke
    2015-07-08 20:26:38 UTC - 20:26 | Permalink

    Fascinating. I love reading about this era and look forwardto reading more.

  • Will Wood
    2016-08-17 02:17:23 UTC - 02:17 | Permalink

    I was watching the Denver Seminar; The Dead Sea Scrolls on YouTube and they mention how Eusibius and Josephus are both unreliable sources. Anyway, I suspect your correct. Most Jews were probably in Egypt during the 1st Century anyway. They may have been scattered by the Roman armies after the cruel outrages the Jews committed against the native populations during the Parthian wars.. Anyway, I enjoyed the article.

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