rebuild the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline in Rome, its extension to women and children, and its harsh exactions by the emperor Domitian in the early years, was a collective punishment. Domitian's successor, Nerva, announced in 97 ce some alleviation of the abuses, but the exaction continued into late antiquity.
In 115/16 ce, the Jews of the diaspora revolted in waves, against both their pagan neighbours and the Roman authorities, in Cyrenaica, in Egypt and in Cyprus (Cass. Dio 68.32; Euseb. HE 4.2.4; Oros. Hist. 7.12.6-7). The background was the aftermath of the revolt in Palestine, and there were perhaps messianic overtones. A little earlier than the main revolt (it seems), the Jews of Babylonia had become involved in the successful rebellion of Trajan's newly conquered Mesopotamian province. The Jewish uprisings were suppressed by Roman forces only with considerable effort. The Alexandrian community took many years to recover and some rural communities disappeared altogether. These uprisings were followed, very soon after Trajan's death, by a dramatic uprising in Palestine against his successor, Hadrian, under the leadership of Bar Kochba, 'prince of Israel', apparently supported by some rabbinic leaders. The historical record is poor, but if the emperor's prohibition on circumcision (whatever its purpose) was indeed the trigger for this last major outburst of resistance, as alleged by the Historia Augusta (Hadrian 14.2), then diaspora Jews will have been hit just as hard as the Jews of Palestine.49 The ban was allegedly revoked by Antoninus Pius.50 The diaspora will surely also have experienced the full misery of the aftermath, when the Roman colony of Aelia Capitolina rose on the ruins of Jerusalem and the cult of Jupiter Capitolinus was established on the temple site itself. Babatha, whose papers have been found in the Dead Sea cave where she presumably took refuge from the revolt and perished, was a diaspora Jewish woman who had been living among the Nabateans and owning land (and litigating) in the Roman province of Arabia.51
It was only after a century which must be rated as one of its low points that Jewish history perhaps entered, in the second half of the second century, a less turbulent era. To this era belong most of the excavated remains of diaspora synagogues and the inscriptions. In Sardis, a large-scale synagogue adjoining the city's main baths-gymnasium complex was probably a former civic building, somehow acquired in the second or third century ce, and elaborately
49 The historicity of this ban is rejected by Oppenheimer, 'Ban on circumcision' and Abusch, 'Negotiating difference'; see ch. 3, below.
50 Linder, Jews in Roman imperial legislation, 99-102.
51 Texts in Lewis etal., Documents from the Bar Kochba period; discussion in Kraemer, 'Typical and atypical family dynamics'.
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