On this date, four historical events occurred: (1) the Jews of the Exodus generation stopped dying in the desert, (2) intertribal marriage was permitted to post-Exodus generations, (3) the tribe of Benjamin was saved from extinction, (4) the Romans permitted the burial of Jews killed in the Beitar revolt (138 CE). After the Romans had destroyed the Second Holy Temple, the emperor Hadrian planned to transform Jerusalem into a pagan city-state with a shrine to Jupiter on the site of the Temple. This led to the great Jewish revolt of Simon Bar Kosiba (Bar Kochba), whose guerilla army succeeded in actually throwing the Romans out of Israel and establishing, albeit for a brief period, an independent Jewish state. It required large numbers of Roman troops to crush the revolt. Bar Kochba made his final stand in the city of Beitar, located southwest of Jerusalem. It was estimated that hundreds of thousands of Jews lived in Beitar, and they were all massacred "until their blood flowed into the Mediterranean Sea." Further, the Romans did not allow the Jewish bodies to be buried. According to Jewish tradition, the bodies lay in the open but did not rot, until three years later on the 15th of Av, burial was finally permitted. Today, the standard "Grace After Meals" includes a special blessing recalling this event in Beitar.
Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.