Chapter Four of Akiva and Ephraim
'The numerous journeys which, according to Rabbinical Sources, R. Akiva is said to have made, cannot have been in any way connected with politics. In 95-96 a.c. R. Akiva traveled to Rome, and some time before 110 a.c. he was in Nehardea (Yebamoth xvi. 7), which journeys cannot be made to coincide with revolutionary plans', says Wikipedia.
Here we go again. With enviable persistence Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, and multiple Jewish publishers and authors have tried to convey a false and one sided image of R. Akiva, completely exonerating and justifying his actions in the rebellion, making us believe that his proclamation of Bar Kokhba as the Jewish Messiah is the only proven fact of his involvement in the Revolt. We are going to show that this is not the case.
Â Â R. Akiva extensively traveled around the Roman world and beyond to persuade Jewish and Israelite communities of his belief in military Revolt against the Romans for the liberation and independence of Judaea, and for the coming of the long awaited Messiah and Messianic Age. The purpose of his travels also included recruiting freedom fighters among Jewish and Israelite communities, and collecting money, weapons and supplies for revolutionary needs.
The Jewish Encyclopedia is of the same opinion. In the Article 'Bar Kokhba and Bar Kokhba War' it says:
'It is thought that the travels of the celebrated teacher of the Law, Rabbi Akiva, were made with the intention of interesting the Jews of the most remote countries in the coming struggle; and these travels extended through Parthia, Asia Minor, Cappadocia, and Phrygia, and perhaps even to Europe and Africa. Preparations devised on so large a scale could hardly have been instituted without organization, and it may therefore be assumed that the leader, Bar Kokhba, was already quietly preparing for this war in the first years of the reign of Hadrian'.
What is of interest to us in this comment is the suggestion that 'preparations devised on so large a scale could hardly have been instituted without organization'. Indeed, to recruit and organize an army of freedom fighters, to appoint regional commanders, to conduct training and impose discipline; to prepare caves, hideouts with the underground passages; to accumulate weapons, military supplies and create emergency stock of foods; to keep regular communications inside Judaea and abroad; to collect money and propagate their ideas of the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic Age which will bring liberation and independence not only to Judeans but to all nations under the Roman's yoke and many other things necessary for successful Revolt, - all of this would have been impossible without the well operated organization of purposeful and dedicated people. Bar Kokhba alone, with all his popularity and growing fame, could not have coped with such a grandiose task. He needed the help of many brave and ideologically reliable comrades-in-arms and likeminded people united with the same ideas, to fight against the Romans to achieve victory, freedom, and independence. And he found such devoted people in the personality of a great authority of the Jewish Law and Tradition, Head of all the Sages, R. Akiva, who was a sincere patriot and a very strong nationalistic Jew, along with the numerous spiritually-inspired legions of his disciples.
We have already explained elsewhere that 24,000 students of R. Akiva did not perish as a result of a mysterious plague named 'askera'. As the spiritual freedom fighters of Bar Kokhba's army they were killed by the Roman sword in the course of the bloody battles of the Jewish Revolt for Judaean independence. That is why Jewish People have mourned for thirty two days from the first day of Passover to the thirty third day of Omer, which is the holiday of Lag Ba'Omer, in memory of the heroism of 24,000 R. Akiva's disciples.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â R. Akiva was also an experienced politician who traveled a lot. During his trip to Rome to defend the case of the Palestinian Jews in front of Emperor Domitian (Journey of the Elders, 95-96 CE) he had learned a lot of politics from meetings with Roman Senators, Jewish authorities in Rome, and many other influential people of various backgrounds and political platforms. Before the revolt he went to Arabia, North Africa, Egypt, Libya, Cyrenaica, Mesopotamia, Cyprus, - to many Jewish and Israelite (Ten Tribes) communities to propagate his ideas, mainly that it was a Messianic Age, that the Third Temple must be rebuilt, that Bar Kokhba was the RedeemerÂ sent by God, and that he would bring freedom and independence to Judea by military victory over the ruthless Roman Empire and that the Messianic Age was at hand. R. Akiva presented the ideological views of the Bar Kokhba rebellion to Jewish and Israelite communities and to the public at large and gave to the revolutionary movement a sense of spiritual approval and legitimacy.
R. Akiva requested the Jewish and Israelite communities and their leaders to join the Bar Kokhba armed Revolt against the Romans. He was stunned and utterly surprised by their indifference and refusal. Especially his outrage and anger was turned against the Israelites of Parthia who had a strong army and huge resources and which he hoped would be a decisive factor in the fight against the Roman Empire. He knew that without the help ofÂ Jewish communities in the Diaspora and their kinsmen in Parthia, the Judean Revolt would not have much chance of success. With this in mind, when his hopes and aspirations, ideals and visions of a free and independent Judaea, of a magnificent Third Temple in Jerusalem and the Messianic Era for the World about to stumble and collapse, R. Akiva cursed the Ten Tribes of Israel: 'They will never return and they will not merit life in the World-To-Come'.
We find another renowned Talmudic scholar, Professor Joseph Klausner, in his work 'The Messianic Idea in Israel' supporting our concept: 'Rabbi Akiva, as great a sage as he was, was forced into his position on the Tribes by the failure of Bar-Kokhba as Messiah coupled with his knowledge that the descendants of the Ten Tribes were unwilling to return to Palestine in his day'.
It had been known that some of the Rabbis were not in support of Bar Kokhba and were against military confrontation with the mighty Roman Empire. They warned their colleagues of the sad experiences of the two previous Roman-Jewish wars and predicted catastrophic results for the Revolt in preparation. They had insisted that the Messianic Time had not been prophesied by God's prophets for then. The signs and conditions for the revealing of the Messiah were not in evidence. The timing was premature and the world was not ready. That generation was not 'ripe' for Redemption. R. Akiva however with the new generation of colleagues and Sages of the Sanhedrin, the Academy of Yavneh, persuaded multitudes of his followers to accept his ideas of political involvement and military fight against Rome. He won over a majority to his point of view. Since then, the organizational preparations for upcoming Revolt had steamed ahead at full capacity.