Surviving Dangerous Times Final
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  • 1. Surviving Dangerous Times A choose your own adventure
  • 2. Introduction • We will read through a series of dilemmas that the Jews confronted in the years 1-135 CE. The people in this story did not all live at the same time, although it is presented that way to allow you to see the different options and paths the Jews took during this tumultuous time in their lives. • We will periodically stop to give you the chance to take notes.
  • 3. Setting the Stage • Over 150 years have passed since the successful Maccabbee revolt against the Syrians. Following the revolt, the Jews’ briefly enjoyed political control over Judea. But around 60 BCE two brothers, fighting for power, invited Rome to help decide who should be king. The Romans chose themselves and took control of Judea. It would be over 1900 years before the Jews would again be in charge of their homeland.
  • 4. Setting the Stage • The years under Roman control were tumultuous times in the land of Judea. Rome gradually prohibits certain Jewish practices. The Jews struggle under heavy taxation and corrupt rulers sent by Rome. • The Jews are unsure how to react to this powerful force in their land.
  • 5. Who are you? • You come from a Sadduceean family. Your father is a priest in the Temple, as was his father, and his father before that. • You are well-educated and come from a wealthy family. Your parents expect you to follow in your father’s footsteps. However you have doubts…
  • 6. Who were the Sadducees? • The Sadducees were composed primarily of educated people from the wealthy classes. • They believed in worshipping God through sacrifices at the Temple • They wanted to work with Rome to maintain some control over Jewish life in Judea. • Their challenge was to keep both the Romans and the Jews happy.
  • 7. The Adventure Begins • You hear about a rabbi who is teaching his followers about the importance of ethical laws. He is gathering many followers who believe he might be the next messiah and who look to him to start a revolt against Rome. • (Note: back then the idea of the messiah was not unusual, and it was very different from what we think of today. The messiah was going to be a warrior who led the Jews in the fight to regain control of their homeland)
  • 8. The first decision… • One day you hear that several leading Sadducees are considering arresting this man since they see him as a threat to peace in the area. If Rome hears about the followers who are planning to revolt, it could be bad news for all Jews. • Do you go along with the Sadducee plan or leave and join this teacher’s followers?
  • 9. Go Along with the Sadducees • Unfortunately things do not go as planned. Somehow, this man, also known as Jesus, ends up in the Roman’s hands. They crucify him. Some of his followers claim to see him walking the land after his burial. • One of his followers, Paul, claims to have a vision about Jesus and a new religion-Christianity. He sets out to convert as many people as possible. • 300 years later the Roman emperor adopts Christianity as the empire’s official religion. The problems for the Jews only get worse. • Try again…..
  • 10. Join the Rabbi • Jesus is arrested by the authorities so you can not join his group, but there are a number of rabbis teaching in the area. You hear about a Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai who has received Roman permission to start a school in Yavneh. • Yochanan Ben Zakkai believed the best way to ensure Judaism’s survival was to teach and study the religion. He believed resisting the Romans was useless and would only result in much death. • You head off to Yavneh to go and study.
  • 11. The Pharisees • The Jews who believed in focussing their efforts on study and teaching were called Pharisees. • The Pharisees were mostly educated, middle class Jews. • They believed that Jewish practice consisted of both worship at the Temple but also study and personal practice of the mitzvoth. • Unlike the Sadducees the Pharisees did not work with the Romans, instead they avoided confronting them and focussed on ensuring Judaism’s survival through education.
  • 12. At Yavneh • You spend several years studying at Yavneh….But as you hear about the increasingly active Jewish struggle against the Romans, you question whether you shouldn’t be doing more to ensure Judaism’s survival. • You know there are groups of people who actively resist the Romans. They are called Zealots.
  • 13. Zealots • The Zealots believed that the best course of action to take against Rome was to fight. Some of these men would hide daggers in their cloaks and assassinate prominent Romans and also Jews who worked with the Romans. • The Zealots were mostly middle class people. • They believed the end of the world was near and that God would send a warrior messiah to defeat Rome. Many believed Bar Kochba was that man.
  • 14. The second decision… • On the one hand you want to join Bar Kochba and help drive the Romans from the land. However you also know the odds against Bar Kochba are high. Rome is a giant and powerful empire, the Jews are few and not as well trained in warfare. • By studying at Yavneh you are ensuring that the Jewish traditions and practices will survive. • Do you join Bar Kochba or remain at Yavneh?
  • 15. Remain at Yavneh • You decide to stay at Yavneh and study. History proves your decision was the right one. Of the four groups mentioned in this PowerPoint, the Pharisees were the only ones who survived. • The Judaism we practice today stems from what they believed and taught over 2000 years ago. • But what would have happened if you joined Bar Kochba?
  • 16. With Bar Kochba • You travel to the Judean desert to join Bar Kochba and his men who are actively fighting against the Romans. • At first the revolt goes well. The Jews recapture Jerusalem and actually mint coins commemorating their victory. • But Rome sends more legions to quell the revolt.
  • 17. Doubts • Hadrian sends 12 legions and his two best generals to Judea to end the revolt. • All the violence is beginning to cause you to question the wisdom of fighting. Rome is so much bigger and stronger, is there really any point in resisting them? • You hear about a group of Jews, the Essenes, who live alone in the desert and spend their days studying.
  • 18. The Essenes • The Essenes were a sect of Judaism made up of mostly poor farmer Jews. • These men and women lived a simple life in the caves by the Dead Sea. They wanted to separate themselves from society. • They spent their time studying and preparing for the end of days, when they believed a messiah would come and lead the forces of light in a battle against the forces of darkness. • This group left us the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  • 19. A final decision…. • Do you decide to stay with Bar Kochba and fight the Romans, giving your life for your religion, if necessary. • Or, do you decide to join the Essenes and prepare yourself for the end of days?
  • 20. The Revolt • The tide turns against the Jews. The Romans are recapturing town after town. • The Jews make a final stand at Bethar, but they are no match for the might of Rome. The town’s walls are breached on the 9th of Av. • You, along with many other Jews are sold into slavery and sent to Egypt to work for a Roman family. • Meanwhile, the Romans forbid the Jews to enter Jerusalem. Hadrian changes the country’s name to Palestine. • For the first time in Jewish history, the Jews become a minority in their own homeland.
  • 21. The End • You join the Essenes and spend the rest of your days studying and farming. • It is a peaceful, though not particularly exciting life.