Explain the Underlying and Immediate Causes of the Jewish War Essay

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Explain the Underlying and Immediate Causes of the Jewish War

There were many underlying and immediate causes of the Jewish war. The continued Roman oppression and continued disrespect of the Jewish faith and culture by many Roman key figures of authority such as Pilate, Patronius and Cumanus was an underlying cause of the war. This was joined by the Roman inability to control insurgent groups throughout Palestine, because of the relatively small number of Roman troops controlling Palestine.

It was also the belief of the insurgent groups that a similar outcome to the Maccabean revolt could be achieved again, through a war against the Romans, creating an independent Jewish kingdom and further anti-Roman feeling. The actions of Eleazor, the son of the Jewish high priest and his followers had an immediate effect on the outbreak of war by refusing to let the Jews pay taxes and offerings to the Roman empire, and slaughtering the Roman troops at the Roman garrison. The corrupt and cruel governance of Roman governor Florus and his actions towards the Jews was also an immediate cause of the outbreak of the Jewish war.

To begin with, Roman oppression and continued disrespect of the Jewish faith and culture was an underlying cause of the Jewish war. During the governorship of Pontius Pilate, Pilate installed military standards on a Roman fort next to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which offended the Jews. Jewish law disallows the worship of false deities, and the military standards erected over the fort were seen as going against this law. A similar situation was created when Emperor Caligula ordered statues of himself to be in erected in each Roman province, which occurred under the governorship of Petronius.

Another incident that took place during the governorship of Cumanus also caused great disrespect the Jewish religion. During the Passover, the pivotal religious moment in the Jewish calendar, Jews became offended by a Roman soldier who was sighted mooning the crowd of worshippers from a high. These continued disrespectful actions towards the Jews created anti-Roman feeling and were an underlying cause of the Jewish war. Furthermore, the inability of the Roman troops to control Jewish insurgent groups within Palestine was also an underlying factor of the Jewish war.

Following the completion of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, a very high number of Jewish workers become unemployed and idle. These men then became interested in the in the current political events and began to rebel in small groups to support their religion and culture. With Palestine being a relatively small Roman province, a lesser than usual number of troops was assigned and meant that these insurgent groups could not be immediately contained and controlled. These insurgent groups continued to grow, which was ultimately an underlying cause of the outbreak of the Jewish war.

Additionally, the insurgent’s belief that the same outcome of the Maccabean revolt centuries ago could be achieved through a war against the Roman authority was also another underlying factor of the Jewish war. Through the growing numbers of the insurgent groups, the support for a war against the Romans began to increase and more and more Jews began to desire the freedom from Roman control. This would lead to an independent Jewish Kingdom similar to the one following the Maccabean revolt.

This was considered extremely desirable for the Jews, and the desire for this was hence an underlying cause of the Jewish war. From the writings of Jewish historian Josephus, the actions of Eleazor, son of the high priest and his followers were an immediate cause in triggering the Jewish war. Playing a key role in initiating the hostilities between the Romans and Jews within Jerusalem, Eleazor refused to allow Jews to pay their taxes to Rome and their prayers or offerings to the wellbeing of the Roman state.

Through the eyes of Rome, this is interpreted as an act of war against the Emperor as these were compulsory for all Roman provinces. During the following battle between the insurgents and the Roman troops in Jerusalem, Eleazor and his forces pinned down the last of the Roman troops from the Roman garrison into defensive towers, and slaughtered the remaining men once their weapons had been laid down. These actions of Eleazor had an immediate effect on the Jewish people who either joined him, or wanted to avert a full scale war and hence was an immediate cause of the Jewish war.

Also, the governorship of the Roman governor Florus, and his cruel and corrupt actions to the Jews were also an immediate cause of the Jewish war. The writings of Josephus indicate that many cruel actions were made against the Jews that would have angered them and caused them to protest against him. One particular example was a dispute between the Jews and the Gentiles over a piece of land, where Florus was the judge over which group would gain possession. After accepting a bribe from the Jews and promising them the land, Florus gave the land to the Gentiles claiming that Caesar needed it.

Outraged Jews protested outside the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, where Florus ordered the Romans to attack them, slaughtering nearly four thousand men women and children. This act sparked further anger in the Jews and hence was an immediate cause of the Jewish war. To conclude, there were many underlying and immediate causes of the Jewish war. The continued disrespectful actions by the Romans to the Jews and their culture were an underlying cause of the war.

The rise of insurgent groups following the mass unemployment caused by the completion of the Jewish temple was not controlled by the smaller Roman garrison in Jerusalem, which led to a rise in anti-roman feeling. This was added to by the belief that the outcome of the Maccabean revolt could once again by achieved, and the possibility of a free Jewish state, which were underlying causes of the war. The actions of Eleazor and his followers and the cruel governorship of Florus and his actions towards the Jews had immediate effects on triggering the Jewish war and were therefore immediate causes of the Jewish war.

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  • Date: 22 December 2016

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