The Jewish Eye
Story of The Churban - Part 1
Part 1: The Second Bais HaMikdash - A Long Downward Spiral
The era of the second Bais Hamikdash lasted for 420 years ending with the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash by the Romans in 70 C.E. This era was not a peaceful era -it was plagued by foreign domination of Judea and political dissent. (Judea refers to the part of Eretz Yisroel inhabited by those who returned from Bavel. This was the territory of the tribes of Yehudah and Binyamin, with Jerusalem as its capital.) Internally, there was constant religious strife between the Saducees (Tzedukim), those who denied the divine origin of the Oral Law and freed themselves from the yoke of mitzvohs, and the Pharisees (Perushim), or the Sages, who remained true to the laws of the Torah.
There was one period of calm before the final storm - the ten- year reign of Queen Shlomis Alexandra (76-66 b.c.e.). Queen Shlomis restored political and religious peace to Judea, and her brother Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach restored the authority of Torah to the land. When Queen Alexandra died, an era of unparalleled disaster began, which culminated in the loss of Judea's independence, the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, and the seemingly endless exile of the Jews from their homeland which has lasted until the present day.
When Queen Shlomis died, civil war erupted between her two sons, Aristobulus and Hyrkanus, over who would succeed her. Eventually, the two brothers decided to mediate their case before the Roman general Pompey. Pompey chose the weak and submissive Hyrkanus as king, hoping to use him as a puppet to eventually impose Roman rule over Judea. When the Jews who were loyal to Aristobulus refused to accept Pompey's decision, Roman troops marched in Jerusalem to quell the rebellion. Eventually, Judea was placed under the authority of the Roman proconsul of Syria and was heavily taxed by Rome. This was the beginning of the end- over 100 years before the actual Churban the two brothers ended Judean independence by involving Rome in their personal dispute. A Roman governor was placed over Judea, Judea was divided into five states, and the Sanhedrin was banned.
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