By the end of the Bar Kokhba uprising, when the Roman legions conquered the rebels’ strongholds in Judea and vanquished their settlements, many of the insurgents had been slain in battle and many others were taken prisoner. Only a small number succeeded in fleeing and found refuge in natural caves, most of which are located in the cliffs above the wadis in the Judean Desert. New studies have shown that the refuge caves are scattered far more extensive than that originally thought in the 1950’s and 60’s following the surveys and excavations that were conducted at that time in vicinity of the Dead Sea. In the past twenty five years remains dating from the end of the Bar Kokhba uprising were discovered both in the caves in the region of Jericho and in the upper western part of the Judean Desert, near the frontier desert settlements. The entire phenomenon, along with new information and approaches to the subject, is summarized in the book “Refuge Caves from the Period of the Bar Kokhba Revolt” written by Professor Hanan Eshel and myself. A special chapter in the book is dedicated to the skeletons that were found in the refuge caves. Contrary to the finds that were discovered in regular cemeteries, what is conspicuous in the refuge caves is the fact that no skeletons of infants were found there.

The absence of infants under the age of three should be connected to the fact that the revolt lasted three years (132-135 CE). In other words, during the war years, the residents of Judea that participated in the revolt abstained from the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. Echoes of this custom to abstain from upholding the commandment to be fruitful and multiply are found the writings of Philo of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher of the first century CE, and also in the Talmud Yerushalmi, Taanit 1, 6 (64, Folio 4).