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Explain the expulsion/dispersion of the Jews to other lands (referred to as the Diaspora) after the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD/CE, and the renaming of the country by the Romans.

Topics on this page:
Expulsion of the Jews
The Jewish Diaspora

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 2.30.48 PM.pngFor more on world religions, see AP World History Key Concept 2.1

Diaspora Synagogues in Antiquity
Diaspora Synagogues in Antiquity

Focus Question: What was the expulsion of the Jewish people after the destruction of the second temple?

Rome ruled until a revolt in 66-70 AD resulting in:

Destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
Destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

Here is a short explanation of the revolt.

Known as the Great Revolt, or the first Jewish-Roman War , the clash was a result of anti-taxation protests and attacks against Roman citizens by the Jews. The Romans plundered the Temple and executed up to 6,000 Jews over the course of a long war involving several different Roman military leaders. Jerusalem was captured and the Temple was destroyed as the last wall fell in the city. Afterwards, Judea was settled by Greek and Roman colonists and the Jews were exiled, marking the beginning of the Diaspora. Click here for an eyewitness account explaining how the Romans celebrated vanquishing the Jews.

An additional Eyewitness account of Romano-Jewish Historian, Flavius Josephus, can be found here

arch of titus.jpg
The Arch of Titus, celebrating victory over the Jews

A small diorama/model of what the temple in Jerusalem may have looked like with the surrounding city during the time of Christ
A small diorama/model of what the temple in Jerusalem may have looked like with the surrounding city during the time of Christ

For more information on the Diaspora, see the following pages The Jewish Diaspora, The Jewish Diaspora: Rome, and The Jewish Diaspora in the Hellenistic Period.

The Roman government wanted to prevent the political regeneration of the Jewish nation.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, Oil on canvas, 1850
The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, Oil on canvas, 1850

40 years later, the Jews tried to establish settlements in Cyprus, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. The diasporic Jews in these areas revolted in what became known as the Kitos War, the second of the Jewish-Roman wars. The rebels massacred thousands of Roman citizens. According to the 4th century historian Paulus Orosius,
"The Jews ... waged war on the inhabitants throughout Libya in the most savage fashion, and to such an extent was the country wasted that, its cultivators having been slain, its land would have remained utterly depopulated, had not the Emperor Hadrian gathered settlers from other places and sent them thither, for the inhabitants had been wiped out."

Their efforts were suppressed by Trajan, resulting in:
  • reduction of number of Jews in Palestine
  • Jerusalem became a Roman colony and Jews were forbidden to enter
  • 43 Jewish communities in Palestine remained in the sixth century

map-ancient-rome-2.jpgMultimedia.png The Jewish Diaspora, A.D. 70-500 is an helpful interactive map.
Click here for an interactive historical map of ancient Israel, spanning 2500 BCE to modern times.

The City of Jerusalem was destroyed and where it once stood a new Roman city named Aelia Capitolina was built:
a. Initially the rebuilt city was going to be a gift from the Roman Emperor Hadrian to the Jews following the destruction of the city and Second Temple in 70 A.D.
  • Hadrian insisted on building a temple to Jupiter and the Roman Gods in the city.
  • This infuriated the monotheistic Jews and they revolted under the leadership of Bar Kokhva.
  • The Romans put down the rebellion and forbid the Jews from entering the city.
  • They also enslaved many of the Jews and they were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire.
b. The Jews had no homeland to return to and were dispersed throughout the known world which is known as the Diaspora.
c. The country known as Judea was renamed Syria Palestina.

For more information visit Aelia Capitolina: Judaism Expelled , and The Bar-Kokhba Revolt

What happened to the Jews?jewish_diaspora.jpg

a. Jews were sold as slaves or transported as captives
b. Others joined the existing Diaspora (Jews in the Diaspora were generally accepted in the Roman Empire, but with the rise of Christianity restrictions grew)
c. Forced expulsions and persecution
d. Jewish communities were expelled from Judea and sent to various Roman provinces in the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa.
e. During the Middle Ages, Jews divided into distinct regional groups
f. Many Jews fled north and west into Europe.
g. While many Jewish people remained in the Middle East after the destruction of the Second Temple, many more migrated to whatever European territories would have them.
Historically, there are two main groups: the "Ashkenazi" Jews, who settled in northern and eastern Europe, and the "Sephardic" Jews, who settled in Spain and the Mediterranean coast. Click here to read about the differences between "Ashkenazi" and "Sepharic" Jews.

The destruction of the temples (both first and second) is still mourned annually as the Jewish fast Tisha B'Av.

After the destruction of the Second Temple, the center of Jewish life shifted from Jerusalem to Yavneh, where Yochanan ben Zakkai established an academy to train scholars. Meanwhile, the influence of Christianity began to grow in the region, culminating in 330 C.E. with Emperor Constantine's decision to move the capital of the empire from Rome to the city of Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople (now Istanbul).

Visual Timeline of the Jewish Revolts and The Resulting Diaspora in the Years Following Their Expulsion:
The Story of the Jews

Video Format:
Jewish Diaspora Timeline Explanation


New Sources:

The Jewish Diaspora om the Hellenistic Period. Retrieved 31 July 2011: http://classes.maxwell.syr.edu/his301-001/jeishh_diaspora_in_greece.htm.

New images obtained from Wikimedia Commons.