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TEMPLE in Jerusalem Destroyed 70AD

jerusalem-under-siege-70
Temple in Jerusalem destroyed by the Romans.

Featured Image above: The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus, A.D. 70  by David Roberts of Britain’s Royal Academy; mid-19th century.  The following from Sixty Generations from Christ: Volume One (a servant; original 2008; 2017):

Vespasian became the fourth emperor.  Imperator Titus Caesar Vespasianus Augustus was at Alexandria waiting out the winter and for the rebels in Jerusalem to be put down.  He arrived in Rome October, 70 AD.  During Vitellius’ reign, Vespasian held his army from attacking Jerusalem and left the Jews to their own quarrels.  He commanded his eldest son, Titus, to control Judea.

About seven years earlier, in 62, the Jews were being denied citizenship in Caesarea.  In 66, the Greeks gained control of Caesarea and began building a factory blocking the local synagogue.  Soon afterward, in response to a pagan sacrifice that was deliberately preformed in front of the synagogue, a delegation of Jews protested to Governor Florus.  Florus had them arrested, mocked the Jews and began to extort the Temple treasury.  Then he ordered Roman troops to raid the markets in Jerusalem, in which about 3,600 Jewish men, women and children were slaughtered.  They were struck with clubs and trampled down by horses.  Many Jews, led in part by the Zealots (‘dagger men’) took up arms against the Romans.  They assassinated several Roman collaborators.

After Vespasian had been appointed governor of Judea by Nero in 67, he went to Antioch, Syria and prepared the 5th and 10th Roman Legions for the campaign against the Jews.  He sent his son, Titus, to Alexandria, in order that he might also have the support of the 15th Legion.  In Spring Vespasian marched from Antioch, Syria to the Mediterranean port town of Ptolemais, called Acco or Acre, where he sought to wait for Titus.  Before Titus arrived, Jewish ambassadors from Sepphoris appeared before Vespasian and surrendered their garrison to the Romans.  A detachment of 6,000 soldiers were sent to the garrison where it was taken without the sword.  This was one of the most important strongholds in Galilee.  Shortly afterwards, Titus arrived with his well armed Roman troops.

At this time, Joseph ben Mattathias, who the Romans called Josephus Flavius, commander of the Jews in the Galilee region, was in conflict with the zealot John of Giscala, who accused him of being too weak.  Nevertheless, about 60,000 Jews who were under the command of these two men put up a stout resistance in Galilee.  After a two month siege that summer of 67, the northern town of Jodepath fell under Roman control.  Also, by the end of the year, the Jewish resistance at Tiberias and most other villages in northern Judea were overcome by Romans.

The following June, in 68, Vespasian had marched south suppressing Jewish resistance.  He fortified Jericho and other cities around Jerusalem and was preparing to siege Jerusalem when he heard that Nero committed suicide and that the Roman army in the East was backing him to succeed the throne.  Vespasian held off on attacking Jerusalem and traveled to Alexandria to focus on what would be needed to control Rome.  In 69, before leaving Alexandria for Rome, Emperor Vespasian appointed Titus as Caesar and Commander of the campaign in Judea.

Early the next year, 70, great conflict was within Jerusalem, as the Zealot John of Gischala had escaped Titus in the north and came down to Jerusalem seeking recruits and preparing to engage the Romans.  Those following the high-priest Ananus opposed many zealots to the point of death.  And while many Jews hoped for peace, the zealots added to the resistance by welcoming thousands of war-loving Idumeans (between the Jordan and Dead Sea).  Though the Idumeans aided the zealots, they murdered and robbed from many others in the city.

About that time, Christians in Jerusalem, remembering Jesus’ prophesy of the destruction of the Temple (Matt. 24:2), and Christ saying, ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its destruction is near.  Let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart… for these are the days of vengeance… of great tribulation (Luke 21:20-22; Matt. 24:16, 21),’ fled to the city of Pella in Perea, and to other such cities undisturbed by the war.

Now with troops left to control the cities and garrisons taken, Commander Titus, with his Chief of Staff, Tiberius Alexander, prepared to siege Jerusalem.  Titus had the 5th, 10th and 15th Legions of his father, and also the 12th Legion which was in Syria, as well as numerous auxiliary troops and siege weapons.  Titus, with the main body of his forces which had come from Caesarea, arrived before the great walls of the Holy City a few days before the Passover, 14 Nisan 70 (April 70).

Auxiliaries went before him to prepare the roads and measure out the camp; then came Titus himself with a select group; and then came pikemen and afterwards horsemen of that legion, all six deep.  Then came siege engines, tribunes, banners, trumpeters and servants and mercenaries.  Now when Titus first arrived near the walls ahead of his armies with only about 600 horsemen to view the city, many courageous Jews burst forth from the gates hurling darts at Titus and his men.  Many Romans were killed, but Titus and most of his horsemen escaped back to their camp.

The Roman army numbered in the tens of thousands – more than 80,000 soldiers were encamped about Jerusalem.  The Jews numbered as many as three million, including women, children, elderly and others that came for the Feast of Tabernacles (as in Acts 2:1, 5-9).  The city might have stood if they were united, but the population was divided and militant factions withstood those that would have surrendered. And the storehouses had limited resources because most had been destroyed by the rebels within.  Thus, when the Romans severed Jerusalem’s supply routes, a famine resulted in which many under great pains of hunger would go out the city’s walls at night to gather wild plants.   Hundreds were caught each night and crucified in the morning.

Crosses and blood covered nearly every ten feet of the Valley of Jehoshaphat and near Golgotha, where Christ was crucified and near where hundreds of Jews had said concerning Jesus, ‘Let Him be crucified… Let His blood be on us and on our children (Matt. 27:23, 25, 33).’   This went on until there was not enough wood left for crosses.  So thousands starved to death and thousands were captured and tortured to death.  Yet the cries of mothers and babies would not move the fanatics, the zealots and those that would rather die than see Romans occupy the Temple.

Now the Romans had formed camps outside the walls of the city.  The 10th Legion, which had advanced from Jericho to Jerusalem, set up camp northeast of Jerusalem pass the Kedron (or Kidron) Valley on the Mount of Olives which was about six furlongs (3/4 mile) from the eastern gates.   In addition, the 12th and 15th Legions set up camps north of the city, on Mount Scopus near the Damascus Road which was about seven furlongs from the north wall; and west of the city in the Valley of Gihon off the roads to Galilee and Bethlehem.  The 5th Legion set up behind troops to the north, for they had marched a great distance and Titus wanted to protect them.  Thus, the Romans set up their encampments; some troops set up tents as others stood guard, and others built great wheeled battering rams with iron head-plates and covered roofs, and also siege towers – some 75 feet with platforms sheathed in iron plates to prevent fires and protect those below.

The time had come that the prophecy of the Temple spoken by Christ would be fulfilled: ‘Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another…’ (Matthew 24:2)

SOURCES:  Josephus; The Wars of the Jews; Book 4; etc.

Arch of Titus Relief Panel in Rome.jpg

 Relief on the Arch of Titus in Rome (by a servant; 2012) showing Romans with Jewish slaves carrying treasures of the Temple back to Rome.

City of Jerusalem walls 70 AD.jpg

 

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