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BAR GIORA, SIMON (called also Simon Giora):

Jewish leader in the revolt against Rome; born about the year 50, at Gerasa. To judge from his name he was the son of a proselyte. The date of his birth is determined by the fact that he wasvery young at the time of the war with Nero. He was distinguished for bodily strength and reckless courage. After Cestius had been put to flight he surrounded himself with a band of men and devastated the lands of the Idumeans about Akrabattene; but, being pursued by troops from Jerusalem, he threw himself into the fortress of Masada (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 22, § 2; iv. 9, § 3). He kept up his guerrilla warfare, however, gradually increasing his troops until they numbered many thousand Sicarii; and, after fortifying Nain, he encamped in the valley of Paran. Having conquered the Idumeans and mastered Hebron, he swept up to the very gates of Jerusalem. Here an ambush was laid by the Jews of the city, and his wife and some of his soldiers were seized; but Bar Giora compelled them to be delivered up to him (ib. iv. 9, §§ 8, 10). In the mean time the Idumeans and the Zealots in Jerusalem came into conflict (April, 68); and the Idumeans, suffering defeat, called Bar Giora into the city. Though Matthias, high priest at the time, had been instrumental in summoning him, Bar Giora later put him to death (ib. iv. 9, § 11; v. 13, § 1), henceforth considering himself lord of the city, and maintaining constant strife with John of Gischala, leader of the Zealots, the latter being outdone in their frenzy by Bar Giora's followers, the Sicarii.

The Idumeans, though formerly oppressed by Bar Giora, now joined their forces to his. From his strong fortification at Phaselis—in which he garrisoned his ten thousand soldiers—he could command the whole of Jerusalem (ib. v. 3, § 1; 6, § 1). When Titus moved up to the walls of Jerusalem, Bar Giora made peace with John and the Zealots, and in a number of sallies inflicted serious losses on the Romans (ib. v. 2, § 4; vi. 1, § 7). After Jerusalem had been almost entirely taken and the Temple had been burned down (on the Ninth of Ab), Bar Giora and other fearless men withdrew to the upper city, from which they negotiated with Titus, offering to surrender on condition that they should be allowed to go free under oath not to draw their weapons. The Romans refused, and the struggle broke out afresh. On the eighth of Elul the upper city also fell a prey to the flames. John surrendered, but Bar Giora, resisting to the last, took flight through subterranean passages. Hunger, however, drove him to come forth. He startled the Roman soldiers by his sudden appearance in a white shroud; but they quickly recovered from their fright, seized him, and led him to Titus. He was kept for the emperor's triumph at Rome, where he was dragged through the streets and then hurled from the Tarpeian rock (Josephus, "B. J." vii. 2, § 1; vii. 5, § 6; 8, § 1).

Bibliography:
  • Dio Cassius, lxvi. 7;
  • Tacitus, Hist. v. 12;
  • Egesippus, iv. 22, v. 49;
  • Schürer, Gesch. i. 521 et seq.
  • A passage in Pesiḳ. R. seems to refer to the subject (Monatsschrift, xli. 563), also a passage in Ab. R. N., B, c. vii. (Jerusalem vi. 15).
G. S. Kr.
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