In the fall of AD 131 the Jews in Israel declared war against the tyranny of Rome for the second time. Their military leader was Simon Bar Kochba, and their spiritual leader Rabbi Akiba. Learning from the Romans, Simon used his coinage as propaganda for their cause, with inscriptions that were meant to keep hope alive and call for “The Redemption of Israel,” “The Freedom of Jerusalem,” and some declare Simon Bar Kochba the “Prince of Israel.”
Equally symbolic was the way they were made: they were overstruck on Roman coins, thus obscuring the images of Rome with symbols of a free Israel. Following three years of grueling warfare, the might and persistence of Rome, finally, prevailed over the zealous warriors of Israel. Ultimately the war was disastrous for the people of Israel, as ancient sources tell us more than one million people died, and nearly one thousand villages were burned to the ground. The site of the final confrontation was the fortress of Bethar and a terrible slaughter ended the conflict. Simon was among the thousands who perished.