06 August 2006

Simon Bar Gjora- Jerusalem

SIMON "BAR GJOR[A]" was Judea's last king. His mother was an Herodian princess, called "The Idumean" or "The Proselyte", while his Jewish father was a royal Davidic prince. He resided in the town of Gerasa, which was headquarters of his war-band of patriots, and entered Jerusalem on the invitation of the city’s elders and was crowned “King of The Jews” by the High-Priest Matthias III. He appointed the country’s last High-Priest, Phannias (69-70). His coins bore a religious aspect to Simon's claim to the throne. The fact that he wore a royal robe in the temple indicates that he had been anointed king. His whole reign was occupied with the 1st Jewish War against the Romans.
In May, 70, Titus placed Jerusalem under siege, and on August 28th, after Jerusalem had been weakened by famine, it was taken and the Second Temple was destroyed after six centuries of existence, and a thousand years after Solomon had constructed the first. There was never to be a third. Other parts of the city held out for another month and some fortresses in Judea held out still longer. The last stand was the town of Masda on the western shores of the Dead Sea, 35 miles southeast of Jerusalem, which held out till AD 73.
He could not breakout of the besieged city, however, he put up an heroic defense against the Romans. Vespasian, as one of the Roman Emperor Nero’s generals, began the siege of Jerusalem in 69, but upon the news of the suicide of Nero after the Roman Senate had deposed him (68) and that there was a struggle for the imperial throne going on in Rome among a series of usurpers, Galba (68-69), Otho (69), and Vitellius (69). Vespasian turned the command of the Roman Army in Israel over to his son, Titus, to continue Jerusalem’s siege, while he took off for Rome. He overthrew the usurper Vitellius, and Vespasion established himself on the imperial throne (AD69), ending the chaos which followed Nero’s deposition by the Roman Senate, which had sought to restore the old Roman republic, however, the Roman Army did not support the Senate and nominated its own candidates for the imperial throne, and cowed the Senate into accepting them. The siege of Jerusalem proper began in the spring of Year 70, before “Passover“. The city’s gates were eventually battered open on the 9th of August AD 70 and the Romans poured into the city and fought the Jewish Army in street-to-street fighting, massacred its citizens whole-sale, plundered the city of its wealth, and put to the torch the city’s great buildings, among which the “Second” Temple was destroyed as well as the royal palace, and also the mausoleum which housed King David’s Tomb. David's Tomb survives and still may be seen today. It had been the royal crypt of the ancient Jewish kings, and contains today their mangled bones. By September AD 70 the city had been taken. Simon and the high-ranking government-ministers, officials, and agents, the army-generals, and the royal household staff, with the household-guard [the royal body-guard] for protection, took refuge in the city's subterranean passages, while the Romans laid the city waste. Hunger, however, drove him to come forth. He startled the Roman soldiers by his sudden appearance and that of his entourage. Simon Bar Gjora [King Simon V] formally surrendered the Jewish Nation to Terentius Rufus, who was left to command of the army there. He sent the Jewish king and his entourage to Titus, who had Simon scourged, put in chains, and paraded naked through the streets of Rome at the head of a train of about 70,000 naked former Jewish soldiers in his “triumph” at Rome, with Titus ceremoniously entering Rome at the head of the Roman Army, to the cheers of the city’s citizens, some soldiers carrying the spoils of the sack of Jerusalem including the Temple furniture, in AD73 following the conclusion of the "Jewish War". The Romans captured the last stronghold of Jewish patriots, who held-out at Fort Masada, where 960 men, women, and children killed themselves rather than surrender. And, Simon "Bar Gjora" was executed by crucifixion as "King of The Jews", following the victory procession of Titus’ “Triumph” in Rome. His ceremonial surrender and execution shows that the Romans recognized him as the king of his nation. The whole entourage of Simon’s government-ministers and military officers were executed also, that is, all except for the royal household servants who were released and all of them went their separate ways. The Jewish Exiles whom Titus had gathered for mass deportation were re-settled in Province, France, governed by a Roman prefect, who was usually a Jewish prince in Roman service.

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