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The Creation Of A Jewish Homeland: A Two Thousand Year Struggle

1855 words - 7 pages

While the independent nation of Israel was officially created in 1948, the foundation for the creation of a Jewish homeland can be traced as far back as two thousand years ago. During this period, AD 47, Israel was called Judea and it was governed by a Roman governor, who was concerned strictly with Roman interests, as it had become a province of the Roman was being . While under Roman occupation, the Jewish people were allowed to practice Judaism, but at the same time they experienced countless acts of intolerance and discrimination at the hands of the Romans. This combination of having the freedom to practice their religion but at the same time being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs was the impetus for a growing awareness of Jewish nationalism and the desire for the creation of their own Jewish homeland. In 66 AD, the desire for independence from Rome became so great that the Jewish people started what were later to be called the Jewish Wars as they revolted against Roman authority. This revolt is considered to be one of the most significant proceedings in Jewish history. Motivated by the ignorance and discrimination of the Roman government a rebellious Jewish cult named the Zealots and many of their followers began to rebel against their foreign occupiers by creating riots. The intensity of the revolt was exasperated by the teachings of many Jewish prophets which preached the divine deliverance of Israel. Many of the poor relied heavily on the Messianic Hope which not only expressed anti-Roman sentiment and encouraged Jewish autonomy but also foretold a reversal in roles between the Romans and the Jews. No other group of people had such a great religious desire for independence and the Roman government was not quick to realize that they had a very difficult challenge on their hands. Two attempts to suppress the Jewish revolt were made by Cestius Gallus in AD 66 and Vespasian in AD 67 . Gallus was soundly defeated and returned to Rome in disgrace. However, Vespasian came relatively close to ceasing the rebellion until news came of Emperor Nero's death. Vespasian then decided to delay his plans to take Jerusalem and returned home to become emperor of Rome. It wasn't for another three years before Vespasian's son, General Titus, returned to Jerusalem to take the city. It took Titus, and his some fifty thousand men, six months to finally surpass all three city walls, destroy the city, and end the rebellion. In excess of one million Jews were slaughtered while a remaining ninety-seven thousand were taken into imprisonment and/or slavery. Furthermore, Titus purposefully destroyed 'the Temple', which had become the Jewish people's spiritual center, demolished and disbanded the high priest hood in order to deprive the Jews of their own governing body while under Roman jurisdiction. Even so, the Jews were still recognized as a separate people and religion, were still exempted from any military service, and...

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