Christian Churches of God
War with Rome and the Fall of the Temple
(Edition 1.0 20060902-20060902)
The prophet Daniel was given a vision of the Seventy Weeks of Years. The events of the last week of years were a disaster for Judah and the Edomites. The prophecy can only be understood in relation to the Temple. Christians have generally mistranslated Daniel 9:25-27 for their own ends. The war with Rome and the behaviour of Judah over this time resulted in the dispersion of Judah until the time of the end.
War with Rome and the Fall of the Temple
The prophet Daniel deals with the Seventy Weeks of Years that cover the period from the command to build the Temple at Jerusalem to its destruction in 70 CE. The history is covered in the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13).
Daniel 9:25-27 Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26: And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed. 27: And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator." (RSV)
We know that the first anointed one was Nehemiah, governor of Judah, who constructed the walls and furbished the Temple with Ezra the scribe. That was in the reign of Artaxerxes II. Ezra died in 323 BCE, the same year as Alexander the Great, and the canon was compiled and closed by 321.
The end of the next sixty-two weeks of years saw another anointed one cut off and that was James, Bishop of Jerusalem and the brother of Jesus Christ. After the martyrdom of James in Jerusalem, the Church was placed in the charge of Simon (Simon Jose) the cousin of Jesus Christ and son of Mary and Clophas. Mary was the sister of Maryam (Mariam), the mother of Christ. Clophas became bishop of Jerusalem seemingly between the reign of James the brother of Christ (d ca 64 CE) and the assumption of Simon, son of Clophas and cousin of Christ (see Hippolytus Appendix to Origin of the Christian Church in Britain (No. 266)).
Simon took charge of the Church (after the death of Clophas) and they fled to Pella, being warned by the text of the prophet Daniel. The Church was in dire straits and was generally supported from the churches in Asia Minor.
The text in Daniel says that the prince who is to come shall make a strong covenant with many for the one week; and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease. He goes on to say that upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. The last sentence covers a great deal of time and is not related to the Seventy Weeks of Years, but rather until the system referred to is destroyed.
The week of years referred to is from 62 to 69 CE and the final year is 70 CE.
The culmination was at the end of the 490 years or Seventy Weeks of Years. Before the Passover in 70 CE, reportedly on 1 Abib, the Roman Army surrounded Jerusalem. This was the New Year. It was also at the exact end of the "Forty Years for Repentance" given to Judah from the Passover of 30 CE.
The last week of years was the seven years leading up to this day. In that time the Church fled to Pella at the beginning of the week, after the death of James (and probably that of Clophas). In the middle of that week (or sabbatical period), a whole series of problems occurred for Judea. The two factions of the Jews seized the City of David and the Temple Mount, and began to wage war on each other from those strongholds. Josephus records the disasters. He says the Romans did no worse to them than they did to themselves.
Emile Schürer (History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, Vols. 1–3, T &T Clark, Rev. ed. 1987) gives a detailed history and this paper is based on the accounts of Schürer and Josephus.
The procurator of Judea at the time was Gessius Florus (64-66 CE). He was the most base of the Roman procurators, and Josephus is at a loss for words to describe the baseness of his administration. Albinus was classed a “righteous man” compared to him. Albinus had conducted his infamous deeds in secret but Florus paraded them in public, and not content with the robbery of individuals, “he plundered whole cities and ruined whole communities. As long as the bandits were content to share the spoil with him they could carry on without hindrance” (Schürer, Vol. 1, p. 470, quoting Josephus, Wars of the Jews (B. J.). ii. 14, 2; and Antiq, xx 11, 1). Schürer considers the situation was beyond endurance and it only needed one spark and the explosion that followed was with elemental force.
Florus had until then contented himself with robbing the people, but in the middle of the week of years Florus robbed the Temple treasury in Jerusalem of seventeen talents. This provoked an uproar. Some wits got the idea of passing around baskets for donations to poor Florus, and Florus decided to punish them for their mockery. A great number of citizens, including Roman knights of Jewish birth, were seized at random, scourged and crucified. Queen Berenice happened to be in Jerusalem at the time and even she could not stop the procurator and his soldiers. This act took place on 16 Artemesius, or Iyyar of 66 CE.
This date is of significance to any Bible student. 16 Iyyar (or Iyar) is the 16th day of the Second month and is the day after which the Second Passover has been taken, and the last opportunity for repentance and Passover protection in that year. The Passover is taken from the Lord’s Supper on 14 Abib – or Iyyar for the Second Passover – out of one’s gates until the morning of the 15th, when after the night of the Passover on 15 Iyyar, the faithful repentant are allowed to return to their tents for the remainder of the Holy Day and Feast of Unleavened Bread. The 16th then commences at evening that day (Deut. 16:5-7). God allowed this period of the Second Passover for repentance and then unleashed the dogs of war.
On the following day, Florus ordered the citizens to greet two cohorts of troops on their way back from Caesarea. The troops were greeted, but they ignored the citizens on Florus’ orders. The citizens began to shout abuse at Florus whereon the soldiers began to massacre the citizens. They got back inside the city but a fierce street battle then ensued, and many were massacred. The people succeeded in gaining the Temple Mount and cut the connection to the Antonia fortress. Florus withdrew to Caesarea leaving a cohort in Jerusalem and left the city leaders responsible for order.
Agrippa II was raised and educated in Rome. Claudius granted him the kingdom of his uncle Herod of Chalcis in the Lebanon ca 50 CE, and the same charge of appointing the Temple High Priests as his uncle had enjoyed. He probably stayed in Rome and did not go to Lebanon until after 52 CE, according to Schürer (ibid. p. 472). In 53 CE, in return for surrendering the small kingdom of Chalcis, he was granted the much larger realm of the tetrarchy of Philip consisting of Batanea, Trachonitis, and Gaulanitis, the tetrarchy of Lysanius (Abila) as well as the territory of Varus. After the death of Claudius (d. 54), Nero enlarged this territory still further by adding to it, important parts of Galilee and Peraea, namely the cities of Tiberias and Tarichea with their surrounding districts, and the city of Julius with its fourteen neighbouring villages (ibid. pp. 472-3).
At the time of the rebellion, Agrippa was in Alexandria and hurried back to Jerusalem. His sister, with whom he lived after the death of her husband (his uncle of Chalcis), was a bigoted and dissolute woman and mother of two. She married King Polemon of Cilicia, requiring him to submit to circumcision, but she soon returned to her brother. She was in Jerusalem at the time of the rebellion, as the result of a Nazirite vow of all things (cf. Schürer, ibid. pp. 474-5).
Agrippa and Berenice were curious to see and hear Paul (Acts 25:22 ff). His comment at Acts 26:28 indicates to Schürer that he was free from fanaticism and any real involvement in religious questions. The significance was that James was killed in Jerusalem and was a witness to the Kingdom. We have it recorded that Agrippa heard Paul in person. James was killed ca 62 CE at the end of the 69 weeks of years. Paul was beheaded in Rome in 66 CE. Thus, after the martyrdom of two of God’s witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in Rome, God then dealt with the system.
Agrippa had gone to Egypt to pay respects to the Prefect of Egypt, Tiberius Iulius Alexander. Agrippa returned quickly and he and his sister did all they could to avert the revolt. They sided with the peace party and from then on they were unswervingly on the Roman side, and lost a number of cities as a result. He and his troops were in the train of Cestius Gallus on the ill-fated expedition against Jerusalem. He was able to recover his territory by 67 CE after the Romans had recovered all of northern Palestine.
Nero died on 9 June 68 CE. (We know that both Paul, and later Peter were martyred in Nero’s reign). Titus and Agrippa then went to pay homage to the new Emperor Galba, but on the way they received news of Galba’s murder on 15 January 69 CE.
Titus returned to his father Vespasian, and Agrippa went on to Rome. After the election of Vespasian as emperor by the Egyptian and Syrian Legions in July 69 CE he returned to pay homage at the behest of Berenice, who was a strong supporter of the Flavian party. From then on Agrippa was in the continual company of Titus to whom Vespasian had entrusted the conduct of the war. After the fall of Jerusalem, Titus sponsored magnificent games at Agrippa’s capital, Caesarea Philippi. Agrippa’s capital was the centre of Roman rejoicing at the downfall of the Jewish people.
After the war, his lands were extended, and Josephus notes that Arcea in Northern Lebanon, which is north east of Tripolis, was in the kingdom of Agrippa (B. J. vii, 5, 1, see fn. 37 to Schürer, Vol. 1, p. 478). Josephus did not mention them in Wars (B.J. iii, 3, 5), presumably because they had not as yet been awarded to him, and Schürer holds this view (ibid., p. 478).
After the war, in 75 CE, Agrippa and Berenice arrived in Rome and there Berenice resumed the affair she had started with Titus in Palestine. The Jewish Queen lived with Titus on the Palatine while Agrippa was favoured with the rank of praetor. It was expected they would be married, but reaction in Rome was so strong that Titus was forced to send her away.
The Jubilee was in 77 CE. The destruction was completed in Jerusalem in 70 CE and the Romans had consolidated all power by the Seventh Sabbath in 76 CE, before the Jubilee in 77 CE.
After the death of Vespasian, Berenice returned to Rome on 23 June 79 CE, but Titus, as emperor, ignored her. Schürer thinks she returned to Palestine but little is known of her after that time.
Agrippa’s reign of his extended dominion lasted until 85 or 86 CE, when he was deprived of the Jewish colonies. Josephus notes, when he wrote Antiquities (xvii, 2, 2 (28)), that they were no longer part of his dominion. He seems to have reigned at least until the reign of Domitian. Schürer considers he died ca 92/93 CE and that Photius is unreliable in his date of 100 CE (op. cit. p. 481). With no children, his kingdom was incorporated into the province of Syria on his death.
The War with Rome lasted from 66 CE to about 74 CE, but the prophecies are concerned with the destruction of the Temple and the removal of the physical system, which ended in 70 CE.
The Conduct of the War
Agrippa had also made frequent use of the right to appoint the High Priests, and deposed and appointed High Priests until the outbreak of the rebellion in 66 CE.
On his return from Alexandria for the rebellion in 66 CE, Agrippa assembled the people in the Xystus, which was an open square in front of the Palace of the Hasmonaeans where he lived. He tried to get the people to restore order and submit to the hated Florus, but that was the last straw. The people rejected him with scorn and contempt and he returned to his kingdom.
The rebels also then occupied the Masada, the famous fortress adjacent to the Salt Sea in the south (now the Dead Sea).
The climate of rebellion was intense.
At the instigation of Eleazar the son of Ananias the High Priest, the daily sacrifice to the emperor was suspended and no more sacrifices from Gentiles were accepted. This was a reversal of the prayer made to God at the inauguration of the Temple by Solomon, and in effect, was a breach of the covenant undertaking between Israel and God regarding the Gentiles. This aspect is covered in the paper Rule of the Kings: Part III: Solomon and the Key of David (No. 282C) and was to have far- reaching consequences.
The suspension of the sacrifice to the emperor was tantamount to an open declaration of rebellion against Rome. All the persuasion of the leaders, chief priests and Pharisees failed.
The peace party, which consisted of the Chief Priests, Pharisaic notables and the Hasmonaeans, i.e. those related to the Herodian House, saw they had failed. They resorted to force and appealed to King Agrippa for support. He sent a detachment of 3,000 cavalry under Darius and Philippus, and with their aid they gained control of the Upper City while the Rebels retained control of the Temple Mount and the Lower City. However, the king’s forces were forced to evacuate the Upper City, and in vengeance the rebels set fire to the palaces of Ananias the High Priest, and of Agrippa and Berenice. A few days later in Lous or Ab, i.e. July/August, the rebels captured the Antonia fortress and began to lay siege to the upper palace of Herod where the troops of the peace party had taken refuge.
Resistance was impossible and the forces of Agrippa were given safe conduct. The Roman cohorts escaped to the three fortified towers of Herod’s Palace (Hippicus, Phasael and Mariamne). The rest of the palace was set ablaze on 6 Gorpiaeus (Elul). On the following day, the High Priest Ananias was seized in his hiding place and murdered. The Roman cohort in the three towers was forced to yield. The troops were promised safe conduct. However, when they laid down their arms, they were butchered to the last man (Schürer, pp. 486-487).
Jerusalem was thus victorious. In the other cities of Judea and Galilee bloody battles took place. Where the Jews prevailed they slaughtered the Gentiles, and where the Gentiles prevailed they slaughtered the Jews. Josephus says the effects of the revolt in Palestine extended as far as Alexandria (B.J. ii, 18, 1-8 (457-98); see also Schürer, p. 487).
After a long delay reportedly in preparation, Cestius Gallus, governor of Syria, moved in to Judea to put down the revolt.
The force consisted of the 12th Legion and two thousand picked men of other legions, six cohorts and four alae of cavalry together with a large number of auxiliaries supplied under obligation by friendly kings, including Agrippa.
Gallus’ force moved from Alexandria by way of Ptolemais, Caesarea, Antipatris, and Lydda. They arrived at Lydda at the Feast of Tabernacles in Tishri. They marched from there to Jerusalem via Beth Horon, and arrived at Gibeon, fifty stadia from Jerusalem (ibid.).
The Jews attacked the camp at Beth Horon and the Romans were in great danger but eventually repulsed the Jews.
Gallus then moved closer to Jerusalem and camped on Mt. Scopus, some seven stadia from Jerusalem, on 26 Tishri. Four days later, on 30 Tishri (Hyperberetaeus), he occupied the northerly suburb of Bezetha without resistance, and set it on fire.
He then attacked the Temple Mount but failed and so he withdrew. Josephus cannot explain why he did so. He was probably under-equipped and under-manned for the siege.
He retreated, and in a gorge near Beth Horon, the Jews surrounded him completely and attacked him so vehemently they routed the force. In order to escape with the nucleus of his force to Antioch, he was forced to leave his war equipment behind to be later used by the Jews.
The victors returned to Jerusalem on 8 Dius, or Marcheshvan.
The peace party now capitulated entirely and joined the rebels. The methodical preparation began for the inevitable Roman counter-attack. The popular assembly in the Temple elected Joseph ben Gorion and the High Priest Ananus to command the defence of Jerusalem.
Jesus ben Sapphias and Eleazar ben Ananias (both of High Priestly lineage) were sent to Idumea to command its defence. Almost every one of the eleven toparchies, or areas into which Judaea was divided, received its own commander. Josephus ben Matthias, the future historian, was appointed to command Galilee.
This was a difficult command, as the Roman attack would undoubtedly arrive there first with the full brunt of the Roman army against ill-trained citizens. The command reflected the prominent position of Josephus in the aristocratic society of Judea. Although not trained for it, he set about the task with enthusiasm.
He appointed the government in Galilee along the pattern of the Sanhedrin, with a council of seventy to deal with serious legal matters and capital cases.
A council of seven was appointed in every town for lesser disputes.
He was to destroy the Palace of Tiberias, but the rebels had already achieved that task. He fortified all the major towns of Galilee making them more or less defensible. The towns were Jotapata, Tarichea, Tiberias, Sepphoris, Gischala, Mt. Tabor, and Gamala in Gaulanitis and many smaller places. He called up 100,000 men and trained them on the Roman model.
Josephus’ steady and solid preparation for the war was opposed by John of Gischala, a vehement anti-Roman, in Galilee.
Josephus was not fully committed to total opposition, and in Tarichea, where Josephus was quartered there was a serious riot after Josephus was discovered to have reclaimed booty from youths of the village of Dabaritta, who had taken it from an official of Agrippa.
Resentment and mistrust of Josephus rose to open insurrection. Josephus’ life was threatened and only by cunning and self-humiliation was he able to avert the danger. Later in Tiberias he was forced to flee murderers sent to kill him by John of Gischala.
In the end, John of Gischala had Josephus’ appointment revoked, and a force of 2,500 under four dignitaries was sent to Galilee for this purpose. However, Josephus succeeded in having the decree rescinded and the four emissaries recalled. When they refused to comply he had them arrested and sent home.
The inhabitants of Tiberias, who continued to rebel, were put down by force. The city defected a few days later in favour of Agrippa and the Romans, and was again subdued by a ruse. According to Josephus, the city was of mixed population and some supported the revolt and others supported Agrippa and the Romans (B. J. ii, 21, 8-10 and Vita 32-34; 66-68).
Jerusalem used the intervening period to train the young men in the use of weapons and to build weapons and amass supplies to withstand the siege. By Passover 67 CE the city was set to suffer their second and more serious assault.
Nero was in Achaea when news of the defeat of Cestius Gallus reached him. He transferred command of suppressing the Jewish revolt to the experienced Vespasian. The defeated Gallus died shortly afterwards.
Provision for the campaign was made during the winter.
Vespasian marched to Antioch and marshalled his army there, and sent his son Titus to Alexandria to bring him the 15th Legion stationed there.
As soon as possible, at the end of the winter, he marched to Ptolemais where he meant to await Titus, but before Titus arrived emissaries from Sepphoris in Galilee arrived and requested a Roman garrison. Vespasian immediately marched 6,000 troops under Placidus to garrison Sepphoris. Without striking a blow the Romans took over one of the most important and heavily fortified places in Galilee.
With the arrival of Titus, the army now at Vespasian’s command consisted of three complete legions: the 5th, 10th and 15th Legions; twenty-three auxiliary cohorts, six alae of cavalry, and the auxiliaries provided by Kings Agrippa, Antiochus of Commagene, Soaemus of Emesa, and Malchis II of Nabataea, in all some 60,000 men.
Vespasian set out from Ptolemais and camped at the border of Galilee.
The Jewish troops under Josephus had encamped at Garis, 20 stadia from Sepphoris to await the Romans (Vita 71 (395)).
The courage of the Jewish troops failed even before the Romans had appeared, and they scattered. The lowlands of Galilee fell to the Romans without a sword being struck.
Josephus was forced to retreat to Tiberias. Vespasian now simply had to defeat the fortresses piecemeal.
Josephus sent word to Jerusalem for an army of equal quality to the Romans. The plea was too late.
The main part of Josephus’ force occupied Jotapata. Josephus said the Romans had to build the road to get the cavalry across, which they did from 17 to 21 Iyyar. Josephus allegedly arrived there on 21 Artemesius (Iyyar) of 67 CE. (This time was at the end of the Second Passover period of what would have been the section of Unleavened Bread). Vespasian reached the city on the evening of the next day. Josephus says the siege lasted 47 days (B.J. iii, 7, 33 and 8, 9 and ended on 1 Panemus (B.J. iii, 7, 36).
Josephus is quite clear that the city fell on 1 Panemus. He is also quite clear that the siege was 47 days. He also states that the road works were undertaken four days before his arrival on 21 Iyyar. Thus, the Roman advance guard for the siege must have arrived at 14 Iyyar or in time for the Second Passover again. Once the road was constructed the siege engines could be moved forward with Vespasian's main body. The significance of using the Second Passover in Iyyar for both major operations should not be lost on the Bible student. God is allowing this situation to occur to deal with Judah.
The city of Jotapata was taken on the New Moon of Tammuz in 67 CE. It had been a walled city in Israel since the days of Joshua (cf. Mishnah, Arak. 9:6).
The first assault was repulsed. The Romans then commenced the siege. Josephus describes the siege in great detail in Wars of the Jews.
In the end, despite the use of cunning in sending people out in animal skins to bring in supplies at night, and the use of boiling oil and fenugreek to make the siege engines and bridges slippery and get under the soldiers armour, and the constant brave resistance, the city fell. The bold sorties in this siege even saw Vespasian himself wounded. The city was betrayed by a deserter, who revealed the true state of fatigue to the Romans. The morning watch could barely stay awake. Titus and a small force entered by stealth in the morning watch and slaughtered the guards and the city could not repulse the attackers when inside.
The men were killed and many hid in caves. They were slaughtered by the Romans or took their own lives. Josephus records that he survived, allegedly by drawing the lot to be the last man in his cave to suicide, and then surrendered. He acted as a prophet and it was confirmed by other witnesses that he had indeed foretold the length of the siege. Josephus foretold that Vespasian would assume the throne, and he was therefore treated more leniently.
The Romans killed all the men except a few captives and saved alive only a few children and some women as slaves. They levelled the city. Josephus was left alive to record the events. The city was rediscovered in 1847 by E. G. Schultz at Jefat due north of Sepphoris.
On 4 Panemus, Vespasian marched to Caesarea by way of Ptolemais where he allowed the army to rest while he went to Agrippa at Caesarea Philippi. They had festivities there for twenty days. Titus was then ordered to bring the legions from Caesarea Maritima and they marched on Tiberias. The city surrendered and was treated leniently for the sake of Agrippa.
They marched on Tarichea. A bold stoke by Titus took that city at the beginning of Gorpiaeus or Elul.
New Moons and the Second Passover form significant time events in this war. God is speaking to Judah and they are not listening.
Thus, in Galilee, only Gischala and Mt. Tabor (Itabyrion) now remained to the rebels who also held the important and strongly fortified Gamala in Gaulanitis.
The Romans attacked Gamala next, and at first they appeared successful and entered the city. However, the counter-attacks were so determined and so dreadful that the Romans withdrew with very heavy losses, and it took all Vespasian’s authority to restore order and morale (Schürer, ibid., p. 495).
On 23 Tishri (Hyperberetaeus), Gamala finally fell. Mt Tabor had also been taken by a detachment sent there during the siege at Gamala.
Titus was sent to Gischala with a detachment of 1,000 cavalry. The city surrendered to Titus on the second day. John and his Zealots had escaped the night before and fled to Jerusalem.
Vespasian took the army into winter quarters. He and the 5th and 15th Legions camped at Caesarea. The 10th was stationed at Scythopolis.
Thus, by winter of 67 CE, all of northern Palestine was in the hands of the Romans.
The leaders of the rebels had been at first instance the leaders that had been half-hearted or part of the peace party. The fierce nationalists, called Zealots, blamed them for the disastrous first year of the war. They were accused of not pressing the war vigorously enough. That comment appears justified.
The Zealots then began to seize control and get rid of the former leaders. They would not voluntarily relinquish authority and so the bloody civil war commenced in the winter of 67-68 CE.
John of Gischala was leader of the Zealots. He escaped from Titus and went with his troop to Jerusalem in about the beginning of November.
He rallied the young men and stimulated them to greater action. The militant Zealot refugees from the north were pouring in to Jerusalem as well as volunteers from elsewhere. The Zealots soon had control of Jerusalem.
Their first move was to get rid of all suspect Roman sympathisers. A number of the most prominent, including Antipas of the Herodian House, were locked up and murdered in prison.
Another High Priest was chosen by lot as the previous ones all belonged to the aristocratic party. This was to be a great blow to the Sadducees, and eventually saw the rise of the post-Temple rabbinical system from the Pharisees.
The High Priest chosen was Phannias, from Apthia (also Phanni, Phanasus, Pinhas). Josephus says he had not the least understanding of the High Priestly office, but he was a man of the people and that was the main thing (B. J. iv, 3, 6-8).
The authorities in Jerusalem, Gorion ben Joseph, Simon ben Gamaliel the Pharisee, and the two High Priests, Ananus ben Ananus and Jesus ben Gamaliel tried to rid themselves of the Zealots by force. As they were in the minority they were forced into the inner forecourt of the Temple and, since no one wanted to storm the sacred gates, they were locked in.
The Zealots sent messages to the warlike Idumeans. These sons of Esau had been defeated by John Hyrcanus and converted to Judaism some two and a half centuries before. A large percentage of Judaea was Idumaean, as were the Hasmonaeans themselves.
The Idumeans appeared before the walls of Jerusalem but they were not let in. That night, a fierce storm was used as cover by the Zealots to open the gates and the combined force immediately began robbing and murdering in the city. The establishment was too weak to resist and a reign of terror began. The Zealots directed their murders at the establishment, declaring them to be pro-Roman. The High Priests Ananus and Jesus were murdered.
They even staged the farce of a formal trial to give credibility to the murders, but the court summoned for the trial acquitted the accused Zacharias ben Baruch, and so the Zealots simply killed him with the statement: “We have our vote too” (Schürer, ibid., p. 497-498).
The Idumeans by now realised that the so-called treachery was only implicating law- abiding citizens. They then withdrew.
The Zealots continued the reign of terror with even less restraint. They killed Gorion and the part of the well-to-do, and the authorities were so intimidated that there was no longer resistance. John of Gischala was a tyrant in Jerusalem.
Protection of the Church at Pella
The Church had been warned of this trauma through Daniel. Before the war, and after the death of James, under Simon cousin of Christ it had fled to Pella long before the Passover of 66 CE.
Eusebius records from Josephus (HE III, V-VI) the dreadful details of the actions of the people in the city. The Church had been spared the horror of the Zealots and the dreadful famine that destroyed the city and its moral structure.
The Roman generals considered that Jerusalem should be attacked immediately. With the fighting going on in the city they considered it could be taken with ease.
Vespasian considered that it was wiser to let the city give full vent to its internal hostilities, and allow it to exhaust itself.
God had given Jerusalem 40 years under the Sign of Jonah, and they were going to get every day of the time allotted to them (see the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13)).
They could have repented and God would have saved them, even up until the last minute.
Instead, Vespasian turned his attention to Peraea, which was where Pella was located. The area was Gentile but had anti-Roman elements especially in the city of Gadara.
Gadara had requested a garrison of Roman troops as protection against these elements.
Vespasian marched a force there from Caesarea even before spring had arrived. He arrived there on 4 Dystrus, or Adar of 68 CE and occupied the city. He then returned to Caesarea. Vespasian left a detachment of 3,000 infantry and 500 cavalry under Placidus, and that completed the subjugation of Peraea as far as Machaerus. This had the effect of ensuring that the Church was left in peace and saw none of the dreadful exterminations that took place in Judaea, Galilee and Idumea.
When the spring was fully under way, Vespasian again set off from Caesarea. His objective was to subjugate the entire countryside so that Jerusalem was the last bastion and when destroyed, all resistance would go with it.
He occupied Antipatris, captured Lydda and Jamnia. He posted the 5th Legion outside of Emmaeus. He then made incursions throughout Idumaea. Turning northwards, by way of Emmaeus, he marched through Samaria to Neapolis (Shechem) via Corea. He arrived in Corea on 2 Sivan (Daisius) and then went on to Jericho. He garrisoned Jericho and Adida. He completely destroyed Gerasa with a detachment under Lucius Annius.
Judea was completely subjugated. Vespasian could now turn his attention on Jerusalem (cf. Schürer, ibid., pp. 498-499). He turned back to Caesarea and started preparations, but the death of Nero on 9 June 68 CE forced a complete revision of plans. The whole empire might be in chaos and so he had to turn his attention there. In that way God dealt with the situation, forcing Judah to evaluate itself for the complete period of forty years.
Vespasian waited for news, and in the winter of 68/9 CE news came that Galba had been proclaimed emperor. He sent his son Titus to Rome to pay homage to the new emperor and await commands. However, Titus only reached as far as Corinth when he was informed of Galba’s assassination on 15 January 69 CE.
Titus then returned to his father in Caesarea. Vespasian continued to play a waiting game.
Events forced Vespasian to again move into Judaea when a Simon Bar-Giora (son of the proselyte) who behaved in a very similar way to John of Gischala – fiercely intolerant and a Zealot – began to assemble a band of followers in the cease-fire. He and his followers then began to roam southern Palestine, robbing and looting wherever they went.
Like locusts, they destroyed everything in their path. After making a surprise attack on Hebron, they made away with a valuable haul of plunder (Schürer, ibid., p. 499 cf. B. J. iv, 9, 3-8).
Vespasian was forced to act. On 5 Daisius, or Sivan 69 CE, after a full year of rest, he set off again from Caesarea. He subjugated the districts of Gophna and Acrabata and the towns of Bethel and Ephraim. He approached Jerusalem while his tribune Cerealis conquered and destroyed Hebron, after they resisted. With the exception of Jerusalem, and the three fortresses of Herodium, Masada and Machaerus, all Palestine was subject to Rome (ibid., pp. 499-500).
Jerusalem had grown very tired of John of Gischala, and in Simon Bar-Giora they saw a means of ridding themselves of John. Thus, even before Vespasian had subjugated the south, Simon turned to Jerusalem and was invited in to Jerusalem on the suggestion of the High Priest, Matthias. He entered Jerusalem in Xanthicus, or Nisan of 69 CE.
Instead of being freed of the tyranny of John, they now had two tyrants who both saw anyone with money as a common enemy.
God again acted to give Jerusalem its full period of time and give Judah an opportunity to be spared.
On Vespasian's return to Caesarea, news reached him that the legions in the West had proclaimed Vitellius as emperor. The legions in the East decided that they would rather have Vespasian than the gourmandising Vitellius.
On 1 July 69 CE, Vespasian was proclaimed emperor in Egypt. A few days later the Palestinian and Syrian Legions followed suit. Before mid-July he was recognised as emperor throughout the East.
Vespasian was then forced to consolidate his power and had to leave the rebellious Jews until later. The time was to be in accordance with God’s purpose and His calendar.
Vespasian received embassies at Berytus and then went to Antioch. From there he sent Mucianus overland to Rome with an army and he went to Alexandria. Whilst there he received word that he had triumphed in Rome and Vitellius had been murdered on 20 December 69 CE.
He stayed in Alexandria until the beginning of summer 70 CE, but sent Titus with an army to Palestine to finish the Jewish war.
In the year’s interim the situation in Jerusalem had actually become worse, if that was possible.
Instead of two parties of Tyrants there were now three. Eleazar, Simon’s son, had split off from John’s party of Zealots. The city was now split into three sections. Simon dominated the Upper City and a large part of the Lower City. John dominated the Temple Mount, and Eleazar the inner forecourt of the Temple. The three were in continuous conflict and the whole city was a ceaseless battlefield.
Rather than allow the prospect of each one gaining access to the food supplies at the expense of the other, they set on fire the enormous stores of grain in Jerusalem and plunged the city into starvation. They made sure that the city could not survive the coming Roman siege out of a mindless, petty internecine conflict.
They deserved to be put to the sword each and every one of them, and that sword was soon to descend on them in the form of Titus and his army.
The army under Titus was comprised of four legions. Apart from Vespasian’s 5th, 10th and 15th Legions, he also had the 12th Legion, which had been the legion in Syria under Cestius that started the first siege.
Commanders of Vespasian’s Legions were:
Sextus Vettulenus Cerealis 5th Legion
A. Larcius Lepidus Sulpicianus 10th Legion
M. Tittius Frugi 15th Legion
Commander of the 12th is unknown.
The former procurator of Judaea, Tiberius Iulius Alexander, assisted Titus.
He gave orders for the remainder of the army to meet him at Jerusalem and he and the main body set out from Caesarea. The 5th went by Emmaus and the 10th went by way of Jericho. As well as the entire force of allied auxiliaries, which had been strengthened, Titus had with him 2,000 men from Egypt and 3,000 drawn from the army on the Euphrates.
Schürer says Titus reached the walls of Jerusalem a few days before Passover 70 CE (ibid., p. 502); other authorities say on 1 Abib 70 CE. That accords with the time-frame. It is of no real consequence if it was 1 or 13 Abib. The Passover was the judgment of God.
Titus had gone ahead with a cavalry force of 600 and came under serious threat of capture by the Jews, and only his own bravery saved him.
The fanatical bravery of the Jews was well respected by the Romans. The 10th Legion arrived and set up camp on the Mount of Olives. In the process it was attacked with such ferocity that it almost suffered total defeat. The personal intervention of Titus saw it stand its ground and it fought off the attack.
The internal fighting continued unabated in the city. With the Romans at the gates, another massacre took place at Passover 70 CE in Jerusalem. Eleazar’s men opened the gates of the Temple forecourt to worshippers for the Passover. John of Gischala’s men used this opportunity to smuggle in arms and killed Eleazar’s men and took over the entire Temple Mount. This action returned the status quo to the two parties of John and Simon.
Schürer gives a description of the city in Volume 1 on page 503 and using also Josephus (B. J. v 4) as follows:
“To understand the siege which now followed, it is necessary to possess a general idea of the layout of the city. [B. J. v 4] Jerusalem lay on two hills, a higher western one, and a smaller one to the east, divided by a deep ravine running from north to south, the so-called Tyropoeon. On the larger western hill stood the upper city, on the smaller eastern hill, the lower city. The latter was also called the ‘Acra’ because it was here that the fortress of Jerusalem built by Antiochus Epiphanes had formerly stood. [c.f. Schürer pp. 154-5] North of the Acra lay the site of the Temple, the extent of which had been considerably enlarged by Herod the Great. Adjoining the Temple area on its northern side was the Antonia fortress. The Temple site was surrounded on all four sides by a strong wall and thus constituted a small fort in its own right. The upper and lower cities were enclosed by a common wall which joined the western wall of the Temple area, then ran westward, swept around the upper and lower cities in a great southern curve, and finally came to an end at the south-eastern corner of the Temple site. Furthermore, the upper city must have been separated from the lower city by a wall running from north to south along the Tyropoeon. For Titus, when already in possession of the lower city, still had to direct his battering rams against the wall of the upper city. On the west, south and east, the outer wall stood on high precipices; only to the north was the ground reasonably level. Here, there was a second wall forming a northerly curve and enclosing the older suburb; and then, in a still wider northerly sweep, a third wall begun by Agrippa I and only completed during the revolt when necessity demanded it. This third wall enclosed the so-called New City or suburb of Bezetha.93 [The reader will recall Bezetha was burnt by the Romans earlier in the first action of Cestius. cf Schürer p. 488] As the city’s layout itself demanded, Titus directed his offensive against the northern side, hence against the outermost third, or from the standpoint of the attackers, first wall. It was only then, as the battering rams began their work at some three points, that the internal fighting ended and both parties, those of John of Gischala and Simon Bar-Giora, joined forces. In one of their attacks they fought with such success that it was due only to the intervention of Titus (who himself shot down twelve of the enemy) that the machines were saved. [B. J. v 6, 2-5] After fifteen days’ work, one of the powerful battering rams knocked a hole in the wall, the Romans broke in, and on 7 Artemisius (Iyyar, April/May) obtained a control of the first wall. [cf. Josephus B. J. v,7,2] ”
Five days after the capture of the first wall, the second wall gave way to the Roman battering ram. Titus moved in with select force but was repulsed by the Jews.
Four days later he took it again and this time held it permanently. Again we have 12 and 16 Iyyar as decisive dates around the Second Passover sequence.
Titus’ next step was to throw up two ramparts against the city and two against the Antonia.
Each of the four legions was tasked to build one of the ramparts. Simon Bar-Giora commanded defence of the Upper City and John of Gischala commanded the Antonia (B. J. v 9,2).
The Romans then tasked Josephus with calling on the city to surrender, with no result.
Food was short and the poor who went searching for food were captured and crucified in full view of the city. Some were mutilated and driven back into the city (B. J. v 10, 2-5).
The Romans completed the ramparts on 29 Iyyar 70 CE.
The Jews, under John and Simon, had been biding their time until the ramparts were finished before demolishing them.
John had dug a tunnel under the ramparts against the Antonia and then set fire to the posts at the opportune time. The result was that the tunnel collapsed and the ramparts fell into the blaze and were destroyed. Two days later Simon Bar-Giora fired and destroyed the ramparts against the Upper City (B. J. v 11, 4-6).
Titus then ringed the city with a continuous stone wall before he started on new ramparts. This was to cut off the city from all re-supply and starve it into submission. It was completed in the amazing time of three days and continual armed guard prevented any escape (B. J. v 12, 1-32)
The horrors of starvation descended on the city as God had foretold (Lev. 26:29; Deut. 28:29; Jer. 19:9; Ezek. 5:10) and as historically recorded (2Kgs. 6:28-29; Lam. 2:20; 4:10; Bar. 2:3). Maria of Beth-Ezob is one of those recorded as devouring her own child (B. J. vi 3, 4; Euseb. HE iii, 6; & Jerome ad Joel 1:9 ff (CCL lxxvi, p. 170; cf. Schürer fn. 102, p. 504).
The sacred oil and wine from the “Chamber of the House of Oil” situated in the southwest corner of the Court of the Women was then forced to be used for profane purposes. Josephus criticises this act but it is perfectly understandable (B. J. v 13, 6).
In twenty-one days new ramparts had been built and this time four were constructed against the Antonia. The timber this time had to be carried some 90 stadia (4.5 hrs journey) to the site as the area had been denuded.
John of Gischala attacked them on 1 Panemus or the New Moon of Tammuz but the attack failed due to a lack of vigour in the execution and the Romans being doubly vigilant (B. J. vi 1, 1-3).
The Jews withdrew and the battering rams began. At first this was without success but the wall later collapsed of its own accord, being so badly damaged. However, John of Gischala had already erected a second wall behind the section that was damaged and it was thus very difficult to scale.
On 3 Panemus (Tammuz) Titus exhorted the troops to action, and a Syrian soldier named Sabinus and eleven comrades scaled the wall but Sabinus and three comrades fell (B. J. vi, 1, 3-6). On 5 Panemus, between twenty and thirty soldiers scaled the wall at night and killed the first sentries. Titus pressed on quickly after them and drove the Jews back to the Temple zone.
The Romans were driven back again but they captured the Antonia and immediately set about razing it to the ground (B. J. vi 1, 7-8).
The Jews had been able to maintain the daily morning and evening sacrifice even though they ceased sacrifice for Gentiles in 66 CE at the start of the revolt.
On the 17th day of the Fourth month, Panemus or Tammuz, there were not enough men to continue the sacrifice and, coupled with the shortages of the famine, the sacrifice was suspended. Despite an attempt to revive it in the Bar Kochba revolt, it has never been effectively reintroduced.
God removed the sacrifice and the physical Temple, as it was fulfilled in Messiah and the Church. The process of ritually killing animals will be recommenced in Jerusalem after the Messiah restores Jerusalem, and the Temple is reconstructed in accordance with the Key of David (see also the paper Commentary on Zechariah (No. 021K)).
Josephus was ordered to make a further plea for surrender, which bore no result.
A further night’s assault on the Temple failed and Titus was left with no choice but to make an all-out assault.
The Temple was a well-constructed virtual fort, which was basically a square with colonnaded thick walls. The inner forecourt was also surrounded by thick walls, and formed a second line of defence after the outer court had fallen.
Titus commenced by constructing four ramparts on the outer walls. This time the materials had to be brought over 100 stadia from Jerusalem.
The Jews were not idle in the work. They stacked the western colonnade on the wall with combustible material and made it appear to be deserted. The Romans climbed the colonnade. When they were on the top the Jews set fire to it. The Romans were unable to escape and died in the flames (B. J. vi 3, 1-2).
The ramparts were finished on 8 Ab or Lous. The rams were brought forward and the siege work began. The walls were too thick and Titus was forced to fire the gates to gain access to the Outer Court. One might ask why he did not try that first.
By 9 Ab the gates were completely burned. Josephus alleges that Titus held a council of War and it was decided to spare the Temple itself (B. J. vi 4, 3).
On 10 Ab the Jews made two counter-attacks from the Inner Forecourt of the Temple.
In repulsing the second attack, one of the Roman soldiers who had been busy quelling the fire in the colonnade threw a brand into the Temple proper.
Josephus alleges that Titus, when informed, rushed with the commanders and troops to try and save the Temple. In the mêlée his commands were ignored and the fire took hold.
He reportedly wanted to save the Temple but the enraged soldiers not only ignored his commands, they also threw in new firebrands. Titus was just able to inspect the interior before it was destroyed (B. J. vi 4, 6-7).
Josephus gives the date of the destruction of the Temple at 10 Ab (B. J. vi 4, 5). However, the rabbinical traditions date the destruction at the beginning of the 9 Ab (m Taan. 4:6) in the evening (b Taan. 29a) at the end of the Sabbath day.
The truth is, more probably, that Josephus wanted to whitewash Titus of the act of barbarism. Sulpicius Severus (Chron, ii 30, 6-7) gives an alternative view and Orosius (vii 9, 5-6) also ascribes the destruction to Titus, while Schürer notes that W. Weber upholds this view.
Schürer notes that Valeton has criticised the false view of Josephus in failing to record the details of the War Council’s express decision to occupy the Temple and take it by force and thus destroy it if necessary. Valeton claimed that a direction of Vespasian had been issued but the council would have then been superfluous.
The Roman ensigns were brought in to the Temple and placed against the East Gate. The soldiers offered sacrifice to them. Josephus records that Titus was proclaimed Imperator after the great sacrifice.
The chambers in the walls of the Temple housed the priests. They were forced to come down out of hiding through thirst and were all put to death.
Titus spoke with the Jews who enraged him by trying to dictate terms, and he ordered the destruction of Jerusalem. The Romans set fire to the archives and the Acra, to the council house and the Ophlas.
The aristocracy pleaded with him again and he allowed some to be taken to Rome as security (B. J. vi. 6, 1-3).
Josephus records the intense barbarity of the Jewish rebels in the city at this time. The Zealots had fled to the Upper City. The city had been plundered and the spoils taken to the Upper City and the Romans were annoyed that the plunder was concentrated there.
The Zealots, too weak to fight the Romans, lay in hiding and slaughtered everyone that sought to escape to the Romans. There was nowhere in the city that was not littered with the corpses of those who died from the famine or the slaughter. They tried to hide in the caverns under the city and they set more places on fire than did the Romans themselves. The people who fled out of the houses from the fires, were killed by the Zealots without mercy. They swallowed food taken with their blood and fought over the plunder. Josephus says that he thinks that, if they had not been destroyed, they would have eaten the dead bodies themselves (B. J. vi 7, 1-3).
On 20 Ab Titus gave orders for the raising of siege banks against the Upper City of Mt. Zion.
The four legions erected their banks on the West side of the city against the Royal Palace. The auxiliaries and their levies erected from the Xystus to the bridge and the tower that Simon had fortified against John.
An attempt by the Idumeans to defect was agreed on by Titus, but Simon intercepted the five emissaries on their return and they were killed and the leaders put in custody. However, the deserters continued to grow.
They deserted with their families. The price of slaves was so low they had little value as the captives were so many and the buyers were so few. The priest Jesus son of Thebuthus obtained security from Caesar, and with Phineas the treasurer delivered up a deal of the treasure of the Temple including candlesticks of gold as well as cloth of purple and scarlet for the veils and other expensive items. However, they were given the same pardon as those who deserted empty handed (B. J. vi 8, 1-3). The gold taken in plunder was so great that it halved the value of gold in Syria after the siege.
The siege banks were finished on the Seventh day of Elul or Gorpieus in eighteen days. Many had deserted and hid. The tyrants and the force that resisted the Romans collapsed through weakness and terror, and they left the towers that were themselves too strong to be overcome by siege engines.
Josephus considers that God Himself ejected them out of the towers after all they had done in the city. They fled immediately to the valley that was under Siloam. They counter-attacked the Romans but were weak and were repulsed by the guards.
The Romans then went into the city killing and burning everyone in it. Their plunder was hampered by the fact that the upper rooms of the houses were stacked with the bodies of the dead through famine. The city was burning as 8 Elul commenced and was completely in Roman hands (B. J. vi, 8, 4-5).
The survivors were either executed, or sent to the mines or they were reserved for gladiatorial combat.
The mines were in Egypt and thus the promise of God to send them back into Egypt for breach of His covenant was fulfilled. The handsomest and strongest of the men were selected for the triumph. John of Gischala was driven by hunger from the caves and was spared with life imprisonment. Simon Bar-Goria, arrested some time later, was kept for the triumph.
As we observed at the beginning, only the three towers of Herod’s palace (Hippicus, Phasael and Mariamne) and one part of the wall was left standing.
Titus celebrated with rewards for valour, sacrifices and festive banquets.
The Sequel to the War from 71 to 74 CE
Titus left the 10th Legion to garrison Jerusalem.
He marched the rest of the army to Caesarea Maritima, where the booty and the prisoners were deposited in safe custody.
Titus then went to Caesarea Philippi, seat of Agrippa, where some of the prisoners were forced to fight wild animals, or take part in gladiatorial games. He returned to Maritima and celebrated his brother Domitian’s birthday (24 October) with more games and on 17 November at Berytus he celebrated his father Vespasian’s birthday in like manner.
The Jewish prisoners were forced to kill each other in gladiatorial combat in cities over the entire march to Antioch. They then marched to Zeugma on the Euphrates and back to Antioch. They then returned to Egypt and discharged the legions at Alexandria (Schürer, Vol. I, p. 509).
Seven hundred choice prisoners and Simon and John were reserved for the triumph. Although they had been granted a triumph each, Vespasian, Domitian and Titus shared the one triumph in 71 CE. Simon, in accordance with ancient custom, was carried from the triumph to prison and then executed.
Among the prizes of war carried in the triumph, the two golden objects from the Temple formed the major prizes (in the eyes of the Jews at least). These were the Table of the Shewbread and the Seven-branched lampstand (B.J. vii 5,5).
Vespasian placed it in the Temple of the Goddess of Peace (Pax) which he had rebuilt but which was later burned down under Commodus (Herodian i 14, 2, cf. Schürer, p. 510, fn. 132).
Schürer considers that Geiseric took them to Africa after the Vandals sacked Rome in 455 CE, and then they were transported to Constantinople by Belisarius after he destroyed the Vandal empire in 534 CE (ibid.).
Palestine was not as yet completely subdued even though Jerusalem and the north had been virtually destroyed.
The fortresses of Herodium, Machaerus and the now famous Masada were still in rebel hands.
Lucilius Bassus, the governor of Palestine, was assigned with the task of their reduction.
Josephus indicates that the siege and defeat of Herodium was accomplished without much difficulty (B. J. vii 6, 1). Machaerus took longer but it surrendered also before the final attack took place. Machaerus was situated on the southern border of Peraea next to Nabataean territory. It is the present day Khirbet el Mukawer. Originally fortified by Alexander Jannaeus, it was demolished by Gabinus (Antiq., xiv 5, 4). It was refortified by Herod the Great (B. J. vii 6, 2 cf. also Schürer 1, p. 511, fn. 135, re Pliny NH v 16 and its importance).
A young man named Eleazar distinguished himself in the defence but was captured. The Romans threatened to crucify him in full view of the fortress and the fortress decided to surrender. That was a strange reaction, but the fortress was completely isolated now with Masada in the south as the only other rebel stronghold and so it may have been a prudent decision (B. J. vii 6, 1-4).
Lucilius Bassus died over the campaign and it was left to his successor Flavius Silva to reduce Masada.
The Masada (lit. mountain stronghold) was reduced after a long campaign. The siege works of 73 CE are still evident (see plates). It could only be approached from this one direction (see also Strabo xvi 2, 44 and Schürer ibid., fn. 137).
The Masada had been held since the very beginning of the War when the Sicarii under Eleazar son of Yair, who was a descendent of Judas the Galilean, fortified it.
The side facing the Salt Sea is precipitous and cannot be approached by siege weapons. Only in one place at the ramp could a battering ram be employed, and the defenders had already anticipated the breach and erected a mound of wood and earth, which was of such elasticity that the ram was ineffective against it (Schürer, ibid.).
The Romans managed to reduce this obstacle by fire.
Eleazar saw that the Romans would inevitably overcome them. He advised them in a speech that the entire garrison kill their own families and then themselves (cf. B. J. vii, 8, 6).
This was done and the Romans entered the dead mountain stronghold to find the entire garrison of men, women and children dead. There was no butchery left for them to do.
Josephus records that the mass suicide of Masada occurred on 15 Xanthicus, or Abib of 74 CE. Thus, on the First Holy Day of the Passover the entire garrison took their own lives.
The symbolism is absolute. Instead of the Death Angel passing over Judah on this Passover in 15 Nisan they had rejected Christ and the Sacrifice. The people were given forty years to repent. They did not do so and the last half of the last weeks of years saw the war begin. By 70 CE the north had been reduced. By 10 Ab the Temple had been destroyed. By Passover 74 CE the entire resistance in Judaea had been quelled and the nation was in dispersion.
What was inexcusable was that the nations round about took the occasion of the revolt to allege grievances against the Jews and then began to slaughter Jews everywhere. In Damascus, the Syrians began the slaughter, but there was not one Syrian city that did not slay its Jewish inhabitants. Damascus slit the throats of eighteen thousand Jewish men, women and children. Egypt slew over sixty thousand Jews (B. J. vii, 8, 7).
Jews were tortured to death by fire and rack. Some were fed to wild beasts but saved alive, only half eaten, and then fed to the beasts a second time to afford more sport and derision to the crowds (B. J. ibid.). In this way they were further dehumanised. God has specific direction concerning these acts, and Zechariah covers the prophecies among others (see the paper Commentary on Zechariah (No. 021K)).
After the fall of the Masada there was still a place of sacrifice operating and that was in Leontopolis. Vespasian ordered it closed in 71 CE but resistance still occurred into 74 CE there at Alexandria and also in Cyrene. Schürer quotes Josephus (B. J. vii 10, 1-3) stating that the disturbances in Alexandria led to the closure of the Temple at Leontopolis, which had been built by the High Priest Onias IV ca 160 CE, fulfilling Isaiah 19:18-23. Josephus says that the Temple was in operation there for three hundred and forty three years (B. J. vii, 10, 4). He says that Lupus, governor of Alexandria, went there on Caesar’s orders and removed some of the donations there, and shut it up. The duration of the Temple, according to Josephus, places the construction of the Temple at some 270-272 BCE. That date is before Onias IV. Thus there must have been some basis for the existence of a Temple there before Onias IV went there, or Josephus is entirely in error.
The Sicarii had fled to Alexandria and, not content with having raised Palestine to insurrection, incited revolt in Alexandria and killed the Jewish leaders that opposed them. The object of their refusal was that they were required to name Caesar as Lord when only God was the Lord. The Alexandrians turned on them, as did the Thebans turn on those who had escaped to Thebes and handed them over to torture. Josephus records how stoically the adults and most amazingly the children endured the torture without confessing Caesar as Lord (B. J. vii 10, 1).
The Sicarii, under a man named Jonathan, also stirred up revolts in Cyrene among the poor and credulous. Catallus the governor of the Libyan Pentapolis heard of the inducement of the poor to march into the desert under Jonathan to see the signs and wonders he promised them. Catallus sent a body of troops, both cavalry and foot, and intercepted them. They slaughtered a great many of the unarmed civilians. Jonathan escaped but was recaptured after an extensive search. He then blamed the rich Jews for his actions and Catallus was able then to plunder the Jewish populace. He had the Sicarii falsely accuse wealthy Jews, and three thousand of them were killed and their property added to Caesar’s revenues. To avoid retribution for these crimes he then had Jonathan and the Sicarii give false witness against the wealthy Jews both at Alexandria and at Rome, so that he extended the persecution to Jews in the most prominent cities of the Mediterranean (B. J. vii, 11, 2-3).
Catallus went to Rome, taking Jonathan and his followers with him – all bound. He hoped to cover the crime but Vespasian conducted an inquiry into the matter and acquitted the Jews accused by Catallus and Jonathan. Jonathan was then tortured and burnt alive. Vespasian did not discipline Catallus, but Catallus fell ill and died miserably shortly thereafter, disturbed in both body and mind. His entrails were corrupted and extruded from his body and he died (B. J. vii, 11, 3-4). Josephus holds this to be an example of divine providence punishing wicked men.
The Jewish Wars thus ended in disaster for Judah, and the nation was dispersed. Every attempt to restore the nation and the physical Temple was thwarted. The Church was also persecuted but from this time existed in the wilderness for two thousand years.
The restoration and conversion of Judah is underway and this period of the Last Days will see the restoration of the system under Messiah at Jerusalem.