History in the Bible Podcast

The Three Judean-Roman Wars

Podcast Episodes: 3.5 to 3.15.

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Native Revolts in the Empire

This map shows all the native uprisings and revolts in the Roman empire from the time of the death of Herod the Great (4 BC, and about the time of the birth of Jesus) to the year 200 AD. By far the most troubled regions were Judea, Egypt, and north Africa.

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Native revolts in the Roman empire

Native Revolts in the Empire. Click the map to enlarge. The base map for this and other maps on this page is by Tatyrn, and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

First Judean-Roman War 66–73: The Great Revolt

The Great Revolt was not a rebellion against Roman tyranny. The Judeans initially protested against a Roman decision to restructure the geopolitics of the region against themselves. That quickly escalated into a rebellion. By the end of the war, the Temple lay in ruins, and the walls of Jerusalem in rubble.

Dramatis Personae


  • Gessius Florus. Procurator of Judea. Inflamed passions against the Romans.
  • Cestius Gallus. Governor of Syria. Replaced Florus. Failed to suppress the rebellion with his legions.
  • Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Vespasian). Roman general who replaced Gallus. Later emperor.
  • Titus Caesar Vespasianus (Titus). General and son of Vespasian. Completed the suppression of the revolt. Later emperor.


  • Herod Agrippa II. King of various territories once ruled by his great-grandfather Herod the Great. Responsible for the Temple. Pro-Roman.
  • Ananus ben Ananus. Former high priest who ordered the unpopular execution of John the Baptist. An old man by the time of the Great Revolt, he led a moderate government. Assassinated by the radicals.
  • Eleazar ben Simon. Zealot warlord.
  • John of Giscala. Zealot warlord and opponent of Josephus the historian.
  • Simon bar Giroa. Sicariot warlord from Galilee.
  • Rabban Simon ben Gamaliel the Elder. Respected rabbi mentioned in Acts. Supporter of John of Giscala.


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First Jewish-Roman War

The First Judean-Roman War.

Second Judean-Roman War 115–117: The Kitos War

In Jewish sources, this is also called the War of the Diaspora or the War of the Exiles. In some Roman sources it is known as the Tumult of the Jews.

Prelude to the War: Trajan in Parthia (114–116)

The war erupted when the emperor Trajan was in the middle of an invasion of Parthia.

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Trajan in Parthia

Trajan's War in Parthia.

The Kitos War

Revolts erupted in Trajan's rear amongst large Jewish communities living in Parthia who were very happy with their Persian overlords.

The Kitos War was largely fought outside the Judean homeland. Judeans throughout the eastern Mediterranean turned on their pagan neighbors. They murdered thousands of gentiles and despoiled the land in north Africa, Cyprus, and Egypt. By the end of the revolt, the once respected Judean communities were regarded with suspicion and hostility. When they might again decide to burn down a neighbor's house?

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The Kitos War

The Kitos War.

Third Judean-Roman War 132–136: The Revolt of Bar Kosiba

The final revolt against the Romans was launched by one Simon Bar Kosiba or Bar Kochba. For all its impact, we know little of the course of the war. We do not know Bar Kosiba's goals. We are not certain if Bar Kosiba ever managed to capture Jerusalem.

The best attested fact is that the Romans brought to bear a full one-third of the entire Roman army to suppress it, much more than in the Great Revolt. We are also sure that the war was waged over an area a third the size of the Great Revolt. Neither Samaria nor Galilee were involved.

Bar Kosiba was by far the ablest military commander the Judeans ever fielded. He failed spectacularly. The Great Revolt ended with the destruction of the Temple. Bar Kosiba's revolt ended with the depopulation of the entire region of his campaign.

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The Revolt of Bar Kosiba

The Revolt of Bar Kosiba.

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