Bar-Giora, Simeon

(1st century)
   Leader of first Jewish revolt, 66–70. According to JOSEPHUS, Simeon bar-Giora came from Gerasa, which may have been either the Hellenic city of that name near the Sea of Galilee, or Jerash in the lowlands of Judea. When the insurrection against Roman rule spread through Judea in 66, Bar-Giora emerged as a daring and skilful guerrilla leader. The governor of Syria, Sestus Gaius, marched into Judea with a relief force and reached Jerusalem, but retreated when he failed to capture the Temple. In the pass of Beth Horon, leading down to the coastal plain, his force was ambushed and routed. Bar-Giora played a leading part in this startling success against seasoned Roman troops. However, he was far too militant to be welcome in Jerusalem, where control was in the hands of the moderate party, still anxious to come to terms with the Roman authorities and to avoid an outright conflict. Bar- Giora gathered together a rebel band and continued to operate against those Jewish elements that he regarded as collaborationists. Josephus later scornfully dismissed these activities as brigandage, but then Josephus was hardly objective concerning the activist leaders among the Jews.
   Hard pressed by the counter-attacks of the government in Jerusalem, Bar- Giora took refuge for a while in the rock fortress of Masada, captured from the Romans by another partisan group. He resumed his operations in southern Judea and gained control of that region, including Hebron. From there he advanced towards the capital with a force that had by now swelled to some fifteen thousand men. His sympathizers opened the gates of Jerusalem to him, and not long after he entered the city, he had occupied the Temple area and other strategic points.
   Alarmed at these grave developments in his Judean province, the Emperor Trajan had in 67 dispatched his top general VESPASIAN with a substantial force to subdue the rebellion. By 69, Roman authority had been restored over nearly all Judea, with the countryside devastated and the towns starved into submission. Having been proclaimed emperor by his troops, Vespasian departed for Egypt, leaving his son TITUS to finish the Judean campaign. Only Jerusalem was still held by the Jews, together with a few other pockets of resistance to the south and east, such as Herodium and Masada.
   Jerusalem itself was going through one of the least edifying periods in Jewish history. There was constant in-fighting among the different factions, and a power struggle among the commanders. The two most prominent of them were Simeon bar-Giora and JOHN OF GISCALA, who had escaped from the Galilee when the Roman forces had crushed the revolt in that region. The internal quarrels were set aside only when the Roman legions appeared and the defences had to be manned.
   The siege lasted from April to August. Having taken part of the city, Titus ordered the rest to be encircled by a siege wall, behind which the defenders were weakened by starvation before the assault was resumed. The Temple itself was taken and burnt down on 28 August, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. During the following month, the rest of the city was occupied, all the surviving inhabitants taken captive and Jerusalem deliberately destroyed. Bar-Giora and a few of his comrades had hidden themselves in an underground passage, but emerged and surrendered when escape was clearly impossible. Josephus relates that Bar-Giora struck fear into the hearts of the Roman soldiers by suddenly appearing before them in a white robe and a purple mantle. He was taken in chains to Rome and executed at the climax of the victory procession of Vespasian and Titus, since he was regarded by the Romans as the main leader of the revolt.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • BAR GIORA, SIMEON — BAR GIORA, SIMEON, Jewish military leader in the war against Rome (66–70 C.E.). Simeon was born, according to Josephus, in gerasa , a large Hellenistic city in Transjordan, where the Jews lived in peace with the city s non Jewish population. Some …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • SIMÉON BAR GIORA — ou BAR GHIORA (Ier s.) Chef militaire des Juifs dans la guerre contre les Romains (66 70). Probablement fils d’un prosélyte, ce qui explique son surnom de Bar Giora (en araméen, fils de prosélyte), Siméon était originaire de la cité hellénistique …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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