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The third Roman Jewish war happened 'because Hadrian put Jupiter's statue in Beith Hamikdash' (Temple in Jerusalem).

Why would he do so?

I've heard that originally his relationship with his Jewish subjects were not that bad.

Hadrian, on other cases, was seen as a reasonably peaceful emperor that seemed to care about the prosperity of his subjects.

So why would he provoke the Jews to rebell?

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    I note that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed in 70 AD. So the temple that Hadrian put Jupiter's statue in would have been one built by the Romans on the site of the Jewish temple, no tthe long gone Jewish temple itself.
    – MAGolding
    Apr 15, 2022 at 18:12
  • Ah. Same location. And we don't know exactly where that is?
    – obfuscated
    Apr 16, 2022 at 10:20
  • From what I know, the temple of Jupiter was built on the Temple Mount. Whether it was built exactly where the Jewish Temple was is not known, I think, as we are unable to properly excavate the site in question.
    – Harel13
    Apr 16, 2022 at 18:48

1 Answer 1

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An interesting suggestion was put forward by David Golan in his essay "Hadrian's Decision to supplant "Jerusalem" by "Aelia Capitolina"". According to him, Hadrian was part of an imperial movement that wished to return the greatness of the Roman culture, legal system and religion to the shining status it held in the days of yore. This movement came about because of the danger the blossoming Christian movement posed to all of these things throughout the Roman Empire. Hadrian concluded that the best way to quell the Christian movement was by a kick to the face: Building a Roman colony - Aelia Capitolina - in the city chosen by the Christian savior (Jesus) to deliver his heavenly message and erecting a temple for Jupiter Capitolinos to symbolize the strength of the Roman Empire and the superiority of its religion.

In the addendum, Golan discusses whether Hadrian realized that what he was doing would likely incite the Jews to revolt and concludes that Hadrian was probably aware of this, having lived through the Kitos War a couple of decades prior. Nevertheless, he was willing to risk another revolt, not minding delivering another cruel blow to the Jewish People.

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    This strikes me as unlikely for two reasons. (1) No more than twenty years earlier in the reign of Trajan, Christians were seen more as a nuisance than anything else, and (2) Hadrian's main policy was to pull back from Trajan's wars of conquest, purely out of pragmatism and not out of fear. I can see him being willing to kick sand in the Jews' faces, but not to take a serious risk of an expensive revolt to do it. A blunder due to his intolerant Hellenism seems more likely.
    – Mark Olson
    Apr 15, 2022 at 14:27
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    @MarkOlson I don't understand what point 2 has to do with this. Judea was long under Roman rule, so it wasn't about conquering. And I don't think I said anything about fear. On the other hand, putting it down to a blunder makes him out to have been very, very foolish or completely ignorant of the area's history. On point 1, the question is what their level of influence was during Hadrian's time. A lot can change in a couple of decades. Besides, eastern religions in general had been threatening the imperial religion for many decades before Hadrian's time.
    – Harel13
    Apr 15, 2022 at 14:46

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