In AD132 the bloody struggle between two strong-willed leaders over who would rule a nation began.
One was Hadrian, the cosmopolitan ruler of the vast Roman Empire, then at its zenith, who some regarded as divine; the other was Shim’on, a Jewish military leader in a district of a minor province, who some believed to be the ‘King Messiah’.
It is also the tale of the clash of two ancient cultures. One was the conqueror, seeking to maintain control of its hard-won dominion; the other was the conquered, seeking to break free and establish a new nation: Israel.
During the ensuing conflict – the ‘Second Jewish War’ – the highly motivated Jewish militia sorely tested the highly trained professional Roman army. The rebels withstood the Roman onslaught for three-and-a-half years (AD132–136).
They established an independent nation with its own administration, headed by Shim’on as its president. The outcome of that David and Goliath contest was of great consequence, both for the people of Judaea and for Judaism itself.
Who was this insurgent Shim’on known today as ‘Bar Kokhba’? How did Hadrian, the Roman emperor who built the famous Wall in northern Britain, respond to the challenger?
And how, in later ages, did this rebel with a cause become a hero for the Jews in the Diaspora longing for the foundation of a new Israel in modern times?
This book describes the author’s personal journey across three continents to establish the facts.
Bar Kokhba: The Jew Who Defied Hadrian and Challenged the Might of Rome by Lindsay Powell is published on 12 October, 2021.
Read Lindsay’s feature about his search for Bar Kokhba and the journey it took him on in On the trail of an emperor, a rebel, and a lion.