Biblical Battles: 12 Ancient Wars Lifted from the Bible

Jewish revolt against Rome

Dead Sea Scroll

(Image credit: Keystone/Getty)

The Roman Empire took over what was Israel and Judah during the first century B.C. They tried to rule the territory using a series of client kings of which King Herod (73 B.C. – 4 B.C.) was the most famous. As the client kings grew weaker and as Rome’s taxation demands mounted tensions between the Jews and their Roman rulers grew.

In A.D. 66, these tensions burst into a full scale revolt. At first the rebels captured some territory but in AD 70 Jerusalem fell to a Roman army and the second temple, that had been built by King Herod, was destroyed. The last major fortified position held by the Jewish rebels, Masada, fell to a Roman force in A.D. 73 or 74. During this period of revolt many of the Dead Sea Scrolls were placed in caves near the site of Qumran.   

Sheshonq I's campaigns against Israel and Judah

Sheshonq I's campaigns against Israel and Judah

(Image credit: Olaf Tausch)

The Hebrew Bible claims that around the time Israel and Judah were breaking up, the Egyptian pharaoh Shishak (who scholars generally agree is Sheshonq I) launched a campaign into the eastern Mediterranean, taking Jerusalem and sacking the royal palace before returning to Egypt.

The Hebrew Bible claims that after looting King Rehoboam's palace, the Egyptian force left and returned home; Rehoboam resumed his rule over Jerusalem.

Sheshonq I left a lengthy hieroglyphic inscription at Karnak, which describes his campaign into the eastern Mediterranean. While Sheshonq I claims to have captured many cities and territories in the region he never mentions capturing Jerusalem leaving scholars to questions whether that particular event actually took place. 

Owen Jarus
Live Science Contributor

Owen Jarus is a regular contributor to Live Science who writes about archaeology and humans' past. He has also written for The Independent (UK), The Canadian Press (CP) and The Associated Press (AP), among others. Owen has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from Ryerson University.