The Destruction of Jerusalem
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One of his first imperial acts was to appoint his son Titus to conduct the Jewish War. To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access. Sections Home. Prayer Abortion Fatherhood. Subscribe Subscriber Benefits Give a Gift. Subscribers receive full access to the archives. Home Featured Holidays. Home Featured People.
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The Destruction of Jerusalem
What happens when you plant a church only for Walt Disney World employees? Higher Education. Finally they let him go, as a madman. But he continued for seven years and five months, till the outbreak of the war, especially at the three great feasts, to proclaim the approaching fall of Jerusalem. During the siege he was singing his dirge, for the last time, from the wall. Suddenly he added: "Woe, woe also to me! Under the last governors, Felix, Festus, Albinus, and Florus, moral corruption and the dissolution of all social ties, but at the same time the oppressiveness of the Roman yoke, increased every year.
After the accession of Felix, assassins, called "Sicarians" from sica, a dagger , armed with daggers and purchasable for any crime, endangering safety in city and country, roamed over Palestine. Besides this, the party spirit among the Jews themselves, and their hatred of their heathen oppressors, rose to the most insolent political and religious fanaticism, and was continually inflamed by false prophets and Messiahs, one of whom, for example, according to Josephus, drew after him thirty thousand men. Thus came to pass what our Lord had predicted: "There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall lead many astray.
The Destruction of Jerusalem
The ferocious party of the Zealots had all the fire and energy which religious and patriotic fanaticism could inspire; they have been justly compared with the Montagnards of the French Revolution. They gained the ascendancy in the progress of the war, took forcible possession of the city and the temple and introduced a reign of terror. They kept up the Messianic expectations of the people and hailed every step towards destruction as a step towards deliverance. Reports of comets, meteors, and all sorts of fearful omens and prodigies were interpreted as signs of the common of the Messiah and his reign over the heathen.
The Romans recognized the Messiah in Vespasian and Titus. To defy Rome in that age, without a single ally, was to defy the world in arms; but religious fanaticism, inspired by the recollection of the heroic achievements of the Maccabees, blinded the Jews against the inevitable failure of this mad and desperate revolt.
The Roman Invasion. The emperor Nero, informed of the rebellion, sent his most famous general, Vespasian, with a large force to Palestine Vespasian opened the campaign in the year 67 from the Syrian port-town, Ptolemais Acco , and against a stout resistance overran Galilee with an army of sixty thousand men.
But events in Rome hindered him from completing the victory, and required him to return thither. Nero had killed himself. The emperors, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius followed one another in rapid succession. The latter was taken out of a dog's kennel in Rome while drunk, dragged through the streets, and shamefully put to death. Vespasian, in the year 69, was universally proclaimed emperor, and restored order and prosperity. His son, Titus, who himself ten years after became emperor, and highly distinguished himself by his mildness and philanthropy,  then undertook the prosecution of the Jewish war, and became the instrument in the hand of God of destroying the holy city and the temple.
He had an army of not less than eighty thousand trained soldiers, and planted his camp on Mount Scopus and the adjoining Mount Olivet, in full view of the city and the temple, which from this height show to the best advantage. The valley of the Kedron divided the besiegers from the besieged. In April, a. The zealots rejected, with sneering defiance, the repeated proposals of Titus and the prayers of Josephus, who accompanied him as interpreter and mediator; and they struck down every one who spoke of surrender.
They made sorties down the valley of the Kedron and tip the mountain, and inflicted great loss oil the Romans. As the difficulties multiplied their courage increased. The crucifixion of hundreds of prisoners as many as five hundred a day only enraged them the more. Even the famine which began to rage and sweep away thousands daily, and forced a woman to roast her own child,  the cries of mothers and babes, the most pitiable scenes of misery around them, could not move the crazy fanatics.
History records no other instance of such obstinate resistance, such desperate bravery and contempt of death. The Jews fought, not only for civil liberty, life, and their native land, but for that which constituted their national pride and glory, and gave their whole history its significance -- for their religion, which, even in this state of horrible degeneracy, infused into them an almost superhuman power of endurance.
The Destruction of the City and the Temple. At last, in July, the castle of Antonia was surprised and taken by night. This prepared the way for the destruction of the Temple in which the tragedy culminated. The daily sacrifices ceased July 17th, because the hands were all needed for defence. The last and the bloodiest sacrifice at the altar of burnt offerings was the slaughter of thousands of Jews who had crowded around it. Titus according to Josephus intended at first to save that magnificent work of architecture, as a trophy of victory, and perhaps from some superstitious fear; and when the flames threatened to reach the Holy of Holies he forced his way through flame and smoke, over the dead and dying, to arrest the fire.
His own soldiers, roused to madness by the stubborn resistance, and greedy of the golden treasures, could not be restrained from the work of destruction. At first the halls around the temple were set on fire. Then a firebrand was hurled through the golden gate. When the flames arose the Jews raised a hideous yell and tried to put out the fire; while others, clinging with a last convulsive grasp to their Messianic hopes, rested in the declaration of a false prophet, that God in the midst of the conflagration of the Temple would give a signal for the deliverance of his people.
The legions vied with each other in feeding the flames, and made the unhappy people feel the full force of their unchained rage. Soon the whole prodigious structure was in a blaze and illuminated the skies. It was burned on the tenth of August, a. The shout of victory and the jubilee of the legions sounded through the wailings of the people, now surrounded with fire and sword, upon the mountain, and throughout the city. The echo from all the mountains around, even to Peraea? Yet the misery itself was more terrible than this disorder.
The hill on which the temple stood was seething hot, and seemed enveloped to its base in one sheet of flame.
The Temple and its Destruction
The blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number than those that slew them. The ground was nowhere visible. All was covered with corpses; over these heaps the soldiers pursued the fugitives. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy concerning the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.
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