Jewish revolt against Heraclius
|Jewish revolt against Heraclius|
|Part of the Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628|
|Byzantine Empire||Sassanid Empire,
|Commanders and leaders|
Nehemiah ben Hushiel
Benjamin of Tiberias
|Greek contingent of Jerusalem
26,000 Jewish rebels
|Casualties and losses|
|tens of thousands||tens of thousands|
The revolt against Heraclius was a Jewish insurrection against the Byzantine Empire across the Levant, coming to the aid of the Sassanid Persia during the Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628. The revolt began with the Battle of Antioch (613) and culminated with the conquest of Jerusalem in 614 by Persian and Jewish forces and the establishment of Jewish autonomy. The revolt ended with the departure of the Persian troops and an eventual surrender of Jewish rebels to the Byzantines in the year 625 (or 628).
During an early stage of Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628, Khosrau II decided on a tactical move to establish a military alliance with the Jewish population of the Sassanid Empire, with a promise to re-establish Jewish rule over the Land of Israel (Palaestina province of Byzantine Empire at that time). Following Khosrau II's pact with Nehemiah, son of Jewish Exilarch, a Jewish army of about 20,000 was recruited in Persia and marched together with Persian troops towards the Levant.
||The neutrality of this section is disputed. (November 2012)|
Following the victory in Antioch, the joint Sassanid-Jewish army commanded by Shahrbaraz arrived to Palaestina Prima and conquered Caesaria Maritima. The army was then joined by Benjamin of Tiberias (according to Jewish sources a man of immense wealth), who enlisted and armed additional soldiers from Tiberias, Nazareth and from the mountain cities of Galilee. Together they marched on Jerusalem. Later, they were joined by the Jews of the southern parts of the country and supported by a band of Arabs. The united forces took Jerusalem in July 614 after a 20-day siege. According to Antiochus Strategos, whose perspective appears to be that of a Byzantine Greek and shows an antipathy to the Jews, tens of thousands of Christians—the lowest estimate is 30,000—were massacred during the conquest of the city. 37,000 were reportedly deported by the Persians and many more thousands sold as slaves to the Jews. Strategos reports that Jews purchased Christians to kill them, though the allegation is not confirmed. The Jewish community had no time for the monuments attesting the ascendency of Christian orthodox culture in the city, and all monasteries and churches were burned down.
The Sassanid Jewish Commonwealth 
Though there are limited sources on what happened in the following years, it appears Jews were given permission to run the city, and they did so effectively for the next five years. The Jews of Jerusalem gained complete control over the city, and much of Judea and Galilee became an autonomous Jewish province of the Sassanid Empire. At the time, 150,000 Jews were living in 43 settlements throughout the territory.
According to Jewish sources, after the conquest of Jerusalem, Nehemiah ben Hushiel had been appointed the ruler of Jerusalem. He began making arrangements to rebuild the Temple and to sort out genealogies to establish a new High Priesthood. Approximately five years later the Persians gave control of the province to the Christians.
Restoration of Byzantine rule 
The sources greatly diverge on what happened in the aftermath of the revolt. According to some, in 625 the Byzantine army reconquered the territory, and amnesty was granted to Benjamin of Tiberias and the Jews who had joined the Persians. In 628, after the defeat and death of Khosrau II, Heraclius came as victor into Jerusalem. The Jews of Tiberias and Nazareth, under the leadership of Benjamin of Tiberias, changed sides and joined him. It is even claimed that Benjamin accompanied Heraclius himself during his entry into the city.
Invasion by Arab Islamic armies 
After the defeat of the Persian Empire, a new threat, the Arab Islamic Empire, had emerged in the region. Heraclius sought to consolidate and secure his gains. Though he had previously granted the Jews amnesty for their revolt, he would not risk another likely revolt in a war with the Arabs.
Heraclius experienced a most exquisite triumph as he knelt in the rebuilt church to receive the blessings of the patriarch that extraordinary day. Apologists would say afterwards that only because of the adamant demands of the patriarch and the local clergy did the Emperor rescind his pledge of amnesty and reluctantly authorize the forced baptism and massacre of the Empire's Jews.
In literature 
The events of the Persian-Byzantine struggle in the Levant and the consequent Arab conquest inspired several apocalyptic Jewish writings of the early Middle Ages. Among those are the Apocalypse of Zerubbabel, which is partly attributed to the events of the Jewish conquest of Palaestina in 614.
See also 
- Jewish-Roman wars 66–136 CE
- Jewish revolt against Gallus 352 CE
- Samaritan Revolts 484–572 CE
- Yehud Medinata
- List of conflicts in the Near East
- Kohen, Elli (2007). History of the Byzantine Jews: A Microcosmos in the Thousand Year Empire. University Press of America. p. 36. ISBN 0761836233.
- Conybeare, F. C. (1910). "The Capture of Jerusalem by the Persians in 614 AD". English Historical Review 25: 502–517.
- Horowitz, Elliott S. (2006). Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence. Princeton University Press. p. 241. ISBN 0691124914.
- Reinink, G. J.; et al. The Reign of Heraclius: 610–641 crisis and confrontation. p. 103.
- Sharkansky, Ira (1996). Governing Jerusalem: Again on the world's agenda. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 63.
- Lewis, David (2008). God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570–1215. Norton. p. 69. ISBN 9780393064728.