David Harris

FROM “SHIMEON BAR KOSIBA, PEACE! To Yehonathan son of Be’aya.” This papyrus letter, found in the Cave of Letters in the Nahal Hever, was among several other letters stashed in a goat skin with many items belonging to a woman. Yigael Yadin, the excavator, believed the woman to be Yeho-nathan’s wife. The letters do not reflect kindly on Yehonathan, however, and seem to show him as shirking his duties and hiding away in a cave.

From the Roman reaction to the rebellion, however, Yehonathan could not have been the norm. Bar Kokhba had enough of the population loyal to him and fighting against the Romans that Hadrian had to go to extraordinary measures to defeat him.