The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73), sometimes called the Great Revolt (Hebrew: המרד הגדול‎‎ ha-Mered Ha-Gadol), was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews of the Province of Judea (Iudaea) against the Roman Empire. The second was the Kitos War in 115–117, which took place mainly in the diaspora, that is, the scattering that occurred because of the First Jewish War. The third was Bar Kochba's revolt of 132–136.

The Roman province of Judea (Hebrew: יהודה, Standard Yehuda Tiberian Yehûḏāh; Arabic: يهودا‎‎; Greek: Ἰουδαία; Latin: Iūdaea), sometimes spelled in its original Latin forms of Judæa, Judaea or Iudaea to distinguish it from the geographical region of Judea, incorporated the regions of Judea, Samaria and Idumea, and extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel. It was named after Herod Archelaus's Tetrarchy of Judea, but the Roman province encompassed a much larger territory. The name "Judea" was derived from the Kingdom of Judah of the 6th century BC.

Judea province was the scene of unrest at its founding in 6 during the Census of Quirinius and several wars were fought in its history, known as the Jewish–Roman wars. The Temple was destroyed in 70 as part of the Great Jewish Revolt resulting in the institution of the Fiscus Judaicus, and after Bar Kokhba's revolt (132–135), the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of the province to Syria Palaestina and Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, which certain scholars conclude was an attempt to remove the relationship of the Jewish people to the region.

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The Great Revolt began in the year 66, but first we will look at a a bit of the historical background.

The Roman general Pompey took Jerusalem and began the occupation of Israel in 63 BC, he set up the Hasmonean prince John Hyrcanus II as ethnarch (political ruler of the area) and High Priest. Although Hyrcanus was denied the title of King, he provided a bridge between the Hasmonean dynasty of which he was a part and Roman occupation. In about 47 BC, Julius Caesar appointed Antipater the Idumaean, also known as Antipas, as the first Roman Procurator. This is the beginning of Herodian Dynasty. Herod the Great (son of Antipas) was designated "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate in 40 BC. During his reign the last of the Hasmoneans were removed from political power, although there were some that married into Herod's family.

Over time Roman rule grew more and more onerous. Taxes being one of the main issues, but religion also played a role. The Herodians were not strictly speaking Jewish but sometimes sympathetic to the Jewish cause. From the beginning of Roman rule the Roman procurators and governors chief responsibility was to collect and deliver an annual tax to the empire. Whatever the procurators raised beyond the quota assigned by Rome, they could keep. Not surprisingly, they often imposed high taxes.

Rome also took over the appointment of the High Priest (a turn of events that the ancient Jews appreciated even less than the taxation). As a result, the High Priests generally came from the ranks of Jews who collaborated with Rome.  A bunch who were generally not appreciated by most of the folks. During this time a group known as the Zealots (in Hebrew, Ka-na-im) were organized. These anti-Roman rebels were active for more than six decades. We recall that Simon the Zealot (Acts 1.13)  was among Jesus' disciples. Their most basic belief was that all means were justified to attain political and religious liberty.

Then there is Caligula Gaius Caesar, the Emperor from 37–41, whose claim of divinity ran afoul of the Jewish notion of one God. The story goes that several client kings came to Rome to pay their respects to Caligula, they argued about their nobility of descent, he is said to have cried out the Homeric line: "Let there be one lord, one king" which is thought to be the beginning of his claim of deity. By AD 40, Caligula began appearing in public dressed as various gods and demigods such as Hercules, Mercury, Venus and Apollo. Reportedly, he began referring to himself as a god when meeting with politicians and he was referred to as "Jupiter" on occasion in public documents. The Jews were not pleased with this mixing of emperor worship into the religions of the time and less impressed when Caligula ordered his statue to be set up at every temple in the Roman Empire. The Jews, of course refused not wanting to defile their temple. Most say they were the only people in the Empire to refuse the command.

Caligula then threatened to destroy the Temple, so a delegation of Jews was sent to pacify him. To no avail. Caligula raged at them, "So you are the enemies of the gods, the only people who refuse to recognize my divinity." Only the emperor's assassination at the Palatine Games in 41 saved the Jews.

Harod Agrippa (King of Judah 41-44) seems to have played a role in keeping Emperor worship out of Judah. He did pursue Orthodox Judaism and was quite popular among the Jews. The Jews were not so fortunate with Agrippa II.

When the Roman governor, Gessius Florus (Roman procurator of Judea from 64 until 66), plundered the Jewish Temple, claiming the money was for the Emperor and then launched a raid on the city, arresting numerous senior Jewish figures. A large-scale rebellion ensued. The Roman military garrison of Judea was quickly overrun by the rebels, while the pro-Roman king Agrippa II, together with Roman officials, fled Jerusalem. As it was clear the rebellion was getting out of control, Cestius Gallus, the commander of the Syrian army brought in hes army along with auxiliary troops to reinforce the Roman position and restore order. Despite initial advances and conquest of Jaffa, the Syrian Legion was ambushed and defeated by Jewish rebels at the Battle of Beth Horon with 6,000 Romans massacred and the Legion's aquila lost – a result that shocked the Roman leadership.

A splinter group of the Zealots, known as the Sicarii (dagger-men), under the leadership of Menahem ben Yehuda tried to take control of the city but failed. He was executed and the remaining Sicarii were ejected from the city. Simon bar Giora, a charismatic, but radical peasant leader, was also expelled by the new Judean government and Ananus ben Ananus began reinforcing the city. Yosef ben Matityahu was appointed the rebel commander in Galilee and Elazar ben Hananiya as the commander in Edom.

Enter Vespasian, general who would eventually become Emperor but at this point he was general. He was unable to crush the rebellion completely. His son Titus (also known as Titus Vespasian) was appointed as second-in-command. Given four legions and assisted by forces of King Agrippa II, Vespasian invaded Galilee in 67. Avoiding a direct attack on the reinforced city of Jerusalem, which was defended by the main rebel force, the Romans launched a persistent campaign to eradicate rebel strongholds and punish the population. Within several months Vespasian and Titus took over the major Jewish strongholds of Galilee and finally overran Jodapatha, which was under the command of Yosef ben Matitiyahu, after a 47-day siege. Driven from Galilee, Zealot rebels and thousands of refugees arrived in Judea, creating political turmoil in Jerusalem. Confrontation between the mainly Sadducee Jerusalemites and the mainly Zealot factions of the Northern Revolt under the command of John of Giscala and Eleazar ben Simon, erupted into bloody violence. With Idumeans entering the city and fighting by the side of the Zealots, the former high priest, Ananus ben Ananus, was killed and his faction suffered severe casualties. Simon Bar Giora, commanding 15,000 troops, was then invited into Jerusalem by the Sadducee leaders to stand against the Zealots, and quickly took control over much of the city. Bitter infighting between factions of Bar-Giora, John and Eleazar followed through the year 69.

Vespasian was called to Rome and appointed as Emperor in 69. With Vespasian's departure, Titus moved to besiege the center of rebel resistance in Jerusalem in early 70. The first two walls of Jerusalem were breached within three weeks, but a stubborn rebel standoff prevented the Roman Army from breaking the third and thickest wall. Following a brutal seven-month siege, during which Zealot infighting resulted in burning of the entire food supplies of the city, the Romans finally succeeded in breaching the defenses of the weakened Jewish forces in the summer of 70. The Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, one of the events commemorated on Tisha B'Av. Following the fall of Jerusalem, Titus left for Rome, leaving Legion X Fretensis to defeat the remaining Jewish strongholds, finalizing the Roman campaign in Masada in 73–74.

It is estimated that as many as one million Jews died in the Great Revolt against Rome. Most Jews date the beginning of the almost two-thousand-year span of Jewish homelessness and exile as starting with this revold, This is certainly the date of the destruction of the second (Herod's) temple. Indeed, the Great Revolt of 66-70, followed some sixty years later by the Bar Kokhba revolt, were the greatest calamities in Jewish history prior to the Holocaust. In addition to the more than one million Jews killed, these failed rebellions led to the total loss of Jewish political authority in Israel until 1948. This loss in itself exacerbated the magnitude of later Jewish catastrophes, since it precluded Israel from being used as a refuge for the large numbers of Jews fleeing persecutions elsewhere.

Jews today often say that this rebellion led to one of the greatest catastrophes in Jewish life and, in retrospect, might well have been a terrible mistake. 1/23/17 1/23/17 1/23/17 1/23/17 1/23/17