The Israelites were warned that if they did not keep the Torah they would be punished (Deuteronomy 28:58) with a host of calamities. These calamities included an attack by an enemy from a distant country who was compared to an eagle.
[Deuteronomy 28:49] THE LORD SHALL BRING A NATION AGAINST THEE FROM FAR, FROM THE END OF THE EARTH, AS SWIFT AS THE EAGLE FLIETH; A NATION WHOSE TONGUE THOU SHALT NOT UNDERSTAND.
The Romans used the Eagle as their symbol and as the sacred emblem of their legions. After the Ten Tribes were exiled it was as if they were temporarily suspended from membership in Spiritual Israel and for the time being not obligated by the Law (Jeremiah 3:8, Hosea 1:9, Isaiah 11:13). Judah however remained under the obligation to Keep all the Commandments and obey the Sages . If Judah would not so act then they were to be liable for punishments that included being taken captive, transported in ships, and sold as slaves into Egypt.
[Deuteronomy 28:68] AND THE LORD SHALL BRING THEE INTO EGYPT AGAIN WITH SHIPS, BY THE WAY WHEREOF I SPAKE UNTO THEE, THOU SHALT SEE IT NO MORE AGAIN: AND THERE YE SHALL BE SOLD UNTO YOUR ENEMIES FOR BONDMEN AND SHALL BUY YOU.
The Aramaic Translation known as “Targum Yonatan ben Uziel” paraphrases the above verse as saying:
# And Hashem will exile you hack to Egypt in ships by way of the Reed Sea that you once crossed and concerning which I said: You shall not see it again! And there you will be sold into servitude to your enemies for large sums of money as crafts-men. And afterwards (you will be sold) cheaply as slaves and maidservants, until you will be cheapened (and try) to sell yourselves for nothing, and no one will take you in # (Deuteronomy 28:68).
This punishment happened to the Jews at least twice, one at the fall of the Second Temple (ca. 66-70 CE) and again after the Rebellion of Bar Cochba.
After the Fall of the Second Temple (70 CE) Josephus reports:
# Because the soldiers were now growing weary of bloodshed, and survivors appeared constantly, Caesar orders to kill only those who offered armed resistance and to take alive all the rest. (415) The troops, in addition to those covered by their orders, slaughtered the aged and infirm; people to their prime who might be useful they herded into the Temple area and shut up in the Court of the Women (lcl. (416) Caesar appointed one of his freedmen as their guard, his friend Fronto, to decide the fate appropriate to each. (417) All those who had taken part in sedition and brigandage (they informed against other) he executed. He picked out the tallest and handsomest of the lot and reserved them for the Triumph (418). Of the rest, those who were over seventeen he put in chains and sent to hard labor in Egypt while greet numbers were presented by Titus to the provinces to perish in the theaters by sword or by wild beasts; those under seventeen were sold. #
Josephus, “The Jewish Wars”; Book vi 9:2.
After the Fall of Betar (135 CE)
Cassius (150-235 C.E.), a Roman historian, tells us,
“Few Jews remained alive, 50 of their strongest fortified cities and 985 of the best towns and villages were demolished; 580,000 died on the battlefield, besides countless others who perished of hunger and pestilence .. the entire land of Judea was almost transformed into a barren wasteland.”
Munter — Roman Historian
# Now that Betar had been captured, everything came under Human control, while Palestine [Judah] was reduced to a desolate mound. Captives were sold into slavery in numbers too great to count. First they were brought to the grand annual market at the Terebinth-Eloh tree in Hebron, or in the words of Hyranumous, to the Tent-Ohel of Abraham near Hebron. Each slave sold for the price of a horse. Those captives who were not sold there were brought to the market place in Azza [Gaza] which, because of the great multitudes of slaves who were sold there, was called Hadrian’s market place. And those who were still not sold there were herded into ships and were taken to Egypt. Many died in transit, whether by starvation or by shipwreck, while many also were killed by cruel masters.
Munter, Primordia Eccl. Africanae, pp. 85f.,113.
The toll of the Bar Kochba uprising was devastating both on the population and on the places of habitation. The numbers of dead were awesome, while multitudes of Jews were taken captive to fill the slave markets near and far. The slave market of the Terebinth of Hebron was particuIarly famous as a center where Jewish slaves, sent into captivity by Hadrian were sold. So many Jewish slaves were available that, recording to one report, a Jew was sold for as little as the price of a portion of horse feed. #
History of Am Yisrael in Ancient Days (Hebrew, Devir), 1971, p.321.
#Innumerable was the multitude of those who were sold away as slaves. At the Annual market at Terehinth of Hebron they were offered fur sale in such numbers that a Jewish slave was of no more value then a horse. What could not be disposed of there was brought to Gaza and there sold or sent to Egypt, on the way to which many died of hunger, or of shipwreck. #
Emil Schurer, ” A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ”, Edinburgh, 1896, p.11.