#68 Great Battles of Jewish History (Part Three)

Beginning in the year 66 CE, the Jewish Revolt in the land of Israel launched a decades-long conflict with the Roman Empire. In this podcast episode, David examines three Roman sieges of Judean fortified towns and cities, culminating in the devastation of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE. He describes the key characters during this period, including the Jewish commander-turned-historian Josephus and the Roman general Vespasian, a master of siege warfare. David also creates a vivid picture of each of the battles, setting the scene, recreating the tensions, and leading us to the inevitable catastrophic end.

For listeners of the podcast, we have provided a series of maps and pictures of the battle locations in pdf as a substitute for David’s illustrations on the whiteboard.

This Jewish history lecture includes discussions on the:

    • historical context leading up to the Jewish Revolt of 66 CE
    • political and geographical necessities for Rome in subduing the Jewish rebellion
    • character and military experience of Vespasian
    • strengths and flaws of the Jewish commanders, including Elazar ben Shimon and Josephus
    • devastation of Jewish factionalism and zealotry
    • military capabilities and technological ingenuity of the various forces, including the importance of engineering
    • role played by the environment and terrain in the sieges
    • use of military intelligence
    • catastrophic destruction and the enormous loss of life
    • implications for Jewish life in the land of Israel.

Maps

Archeological sites

Find more of David Solomon’s podcast, with dozens of lectures on Jewish history, the Bible, Jewish philosophy, and Kabbalah here.

        

This four-part series was recorded at Caulfield Shule in 2019.

#66 Great Battles of Jewish History (Part 1)

The earliest detailed accounts we have of military contests between the Jewish people and their enemies are found in the Bible. In this podcast episode, the first in a four-part series on great battles of Jewish History, David examines three events from the books of Judges and Samuel in which the Jewish people experience war. Beginning with an in-depth exploration of the fundamental role played by the geography and topography of the land, David explains how an understanding of these details can transform our historical picture of the tactics, leadership, and circumstances of those involved. He also discusses other significant elements that led to the success or failure of each military test and how figures like Devorah and Barak, Gidon, and Saul each fared in these critical moments of individual and national survival.

For listeners to the podcast who can not see the maps David draws in this lecture, we have provided a series of graphics that capture the information provided on the whiteboard. In order to gain the most from this lecture, we recommend referring to these maps as you listen.

Continue reading “#66 Great Battles of Jewish History (Part 1)”

#62 Hope in Darkness: Jewish History of the 14th & 15th Centuries (Part One)

In the wake of the global upheaval and transformation of the previous century, Jewish history of the 1300s unfolded as a mix of controversy, uncertainty, and innovation. In this podcast episode, David examines the early years of the 14th century for Jews in Europe and Asia with its many dark episodes – including expulsions, forced conversions, and plagues – occasionally offset by opportunity and reprieve, as well as remarkable intellectual and spiritual contribution. David also highlights an unexpected connection between this historical period and our own.

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#8 From the Rambam to the Zohar: Jewish History of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Part 2: 1150-1200)

The second half of the 12th century is the focus of this podcast episode. David Solomon explores Jewish History through the eyes and contributions of individuals and the broader perspectives of nations. He examines the life and work of towering figures like the Rambam (Maimonides), the significant contributions made by Torah commentators and translators of the period, the observations of a famed Jewish traveller, the rise of a new mystical movement, and the impact of a false messiah. The podcast also discusses the ongoing consequences of the crusader campaigns, the regeneration of Jewish communities in Germany, Jewish life in Bagdad, the establishment of a Jewish presence in China, the forced conversion of the Jews of Yemen, and the consequence of the Third Lateran Council on the status of Jews in the Middle Ages.

Maimonides teaches about the ‘measure of men’ (compared to the earth and the universe, men is very small). Public domain image.

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#6 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 6

Kingship was reinstated in the land of Israel following the return from Babylonian exile. This podcast episode examines the historical background of the period of Second Temple, including the expansion of the Hasmonean kingdom through military annexation and repopulation; the tension between the Sadducees and the Pharisees; and the rise and expansion of Rome. David discusses the characters and reigns of the Hasmonean kings and queens and the rule of the three Herodian monarchs.

Wojciech Stattler – The Maccabees [Public domain]
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#5 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 5

The period of the Josianic kings, from Menasheh to Zedekiah, was the last chapter for the Judean Kingdom before the Babylonian exile. This podcast explores the personalities and actions of these kings and the overall historical setting of their reigns, including the domination and fall of the Assyrian Empire, the defeat of Egypt, and the rise and supremacy of Babylon. David looks at the lead up to the destruction of the Temple, the Babylonian exile, the return to Zion and the project to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

James Tissot – The Flight of the Prisoners [Public domain]

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#4 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 4

The historical period from King Joash (Yehoash) to King Hezekiah (Heskiyahu), exploring the histories, personalities and fates of these kings and all those in between is the focus of this episode. David discusses the House of Jehu and the circumstances that led to the end of the Northern Kingdom. He provides an overall picture of the region at the time, including the kingdoms’ geo-political competition with Aram and the rise of Assyria. Tune in for another action-packed lecture. 

Hezekiah showing off his wealth to envoys of the Babylonian king, oil on canvas by Vicente López Portaña, 1789 [Public domain]

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#3 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 3

The houses of David and Omri in the kingdoms of Judah and Israel are the focus of this episode. David provides a geo-political picture of the region at this time, including what was happening with Aram, Moab, Edom and Assyria as well as the prophets Elijah and Elisha and the spread of the Baalist cults. As he warns, this lecture is complex – with a number of kings of the same name in different kingdoms at different times. It also contains a lot of battles, assassinations, and general bloodshed.

Jezabel-and-Ahab-Meeting-Elijah-in-Naboth-s-Vineyard
Jezabel and Ahab Meeting Elijah in Naboth’s Vineyard Giclee. Print by Sir Frank Dicksee (1853-1928) [Public domain]

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#1 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 1

This episode examines the historical setting that led to the first king of Israel; the Prophet Samuel; and the reign of King Saul.

For more than a thousand years, the nation of Israel was led socially and politically by monarchs. Kings and queens of the Jewish people gained the throne of sovereign power through a wide variety of means: some through Divine selection, some through inheritance, and others through violent rebellion. Most were exceptional, but some were banal; many were wicked, but a few were righteous; most were hated, but some were truly loved. David explores the historical role of Jewish kingship, outlines its main epochs, discusses every monarch in their historical context, delves into remarkable personalities and seeks to understand the dramatic events that drove them or defeated them. Continue reading “#1 Players upon Thrones: Kings and Queens of Israel part 1”