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Dan Snow's History Hit

Bar Kokhba: Hadrian's Worst Nightmare

In AD132 began the bloody struggle over who would rule a nation. The clash of two ancient cultures was fought between two strong-willed leaders, Hadrian, the cosmopolitan ruler of the vast Roman Empire, and Shim’on, a Jewish military leader who some believed to be the ‘King Messiah’.


During 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) and established an independent nation, 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.


Having journeyed across three continents to establish the facts, historical detective Lindsay Powell draws on archaeology, art, coins, inscriptions, militaria, as well as secular and religious documents, to detail the people and events at a crucial time in world history.


Author of Bar Kokhba: The Jew Who Defied Hadrian and Challenged the Might of Rome, Lindsay joins Dan to discuss who Shim’on (known today as ‘Bar Kokhba’) was, how Hadrian, the Roman emperor who built the famous Wall in northern Britain, responded to the challenge and how, in later ages, ‘Bar Kokhba’ became a hero for the Jews in the Diaspora.

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