I once read that Rav Akiva had a falling out with Bar Kochba before the revolt ended due to the latter refusing to accept the Samaritans as friends. Others say it was because of R. Elazar HaModii's supposed betrayal.

Which is the real reason, if indeed it ever happened at all?

  • Regarding the second theory (originating from PT Taanit 4:5) it’s worth calling attention to the remark by the historian of the second commonwealth, Prof. Joshua Brand (Kle Zkhukhit Be’sifrut Ha’talmud, p. 278) that “it is a tale/fabrication” and (p. 271) it was the Samaritan who relayed secret information to the Romans.
    – Oliver
    Aug 29, 2019 at 21:39
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    I fail to see how this question is on topic on this site.
    – msh210
    Aug 30, 2019 at 4:29
  • The story is that the Samaritan pretended to whisper in Rabbi Elazar's ear, who did not notice this as he was concentrating on his learning. When the Samaritan was caught, he blamed Rabbi Elazar. I think that your first sentence may be in error (not accepting?) but I cannot think of a reference as you write it. Aug 30, 2019 at 14:43
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    @msh210, since the historical behavior of Rabbi Akiva is what the Rambam relies on to understand the nature of Moshiach, discussing that behavior would seem to be on topic. Another example of judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5175/…
    – Yishai
    Aug 30, 2019 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


Yes, as the pressure of Rome bore down upon Bar Kochba he began to suspect that the sages had turned on him and were looking to make peace with the Romans. This occurred after he became very arrogant and the sages began to lose faith in his piety.

After it appeared Beitar would be lost to the Romans, Bar Kochba accused Rabbi Elazar of being a spy and executed him. He then completely lost the support of all of the sages including Rabbi Akiva and they began calling him, “Bar Koziba” (the son of a lie) instead of “Bar Kochba”.

I am not aware of the Samaritans playing a role in the deterioration of the relationship between the sages and Bar Kochba other than the legend that it was a Samaritan who accused Rabbi Elazar of being a spy. There are records and papers written that support the view that the Samaritans too were forbidden to perform circumcisions, and that a pagan temple was built on Mount Gerizim. It’s unlikely that Samaritans would have been at Beitar the last stronghold of Bar Kochba if he hadn’t accepted them as part of his revolt and armies.

  • Thank you so much!
    – Rivka
    Aug 29, 2019 at 17:17
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    What are your sources? Aug 29, 2019 at 19:26
  • @MauriceMizrahi I’ll look for the paper that I read on this. It was written by a secular professor of history at an Israeli college if I recall correctly.
    – Akiva___
    Aug 29, 2019 at 21:03
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    @Akiva___ The part about Bar Koziba has been conclusively disproven with the revelation of the Judean Desert caves; cf. Prof. Yadin’s essay here pp. 58. Besides, Rabbi Akiva’s epithet for BK was not meant disparagingly, PT (Taanit 4:5).
    – Oliver
    Aug 29, 2019 at 21:28
  • @oliver I’ll need to look into this and see if it really has been disproven.
    – Akiva___
    Aug 29, 2019 at 23:12

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