Are you a Christian?
PREVIOUS CHAPTER - NEXT CHAPTER - HELP - FACEBOOK - GR FORUMS - GODRULES ON YOUTUBE
THAT WHEREAS THE CITY OF JERUSALEM HAD BEEN FIVE TIMES TAKEN FORMERLY, THIS WAS THE SECOND TIME OF ITS DESOLATION. A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF ITS HISTORY.
1. AND thus was Jerusalem taken, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, on the eighth day of the month Gorpeius [Elul]. It had been taken five (34) times before, though this was the second time of its desolation; for Shishak, the king of Egypt, and after him Antiochus, and after him Pompey, and after them Sosius and Herod, took the city, but still preserved it; but before all these, the king of Babylon conquered it, and made it desolate, one thousand four hundred and sixty-eight years and six months after it was built. But he who first built it. Was a potent man among the Canaanites, and is in our own tongue called [Melchisedek], the Righteous King, for such he really was; on which account he was [there] the first priest of God, and first built a temple [there], and called the city Jerusalem, which was formerly called Salem. However, David, the king of the Jews, ejected the Canaanites, and set-tied his own people therein. It was demolished entirely by the Babylonians, four hundred and seventy-seven years and six months after him. And from king David, who was the first of the Jews who reigned therein, to this destruction under Titus, were one thousand one hundred and seventy-nine years; but from its first building, till this last destruction, were two thousand one hundred and seventy-seven years; yet hath not its great antiquity, nor its vast riches, nor the diffusion of its nation over all the habitable earth, nor the greatness of the veneration paid to it on a religious account, been sufficient to preserve it from being destroyed. And thus ended the siege of Jerusalem.
(1) Reland notes here, very pertinently, that the tower of Antonia stood higher than the floor of the temple or court adjoining to it; and that accordingly they descended thence into the temple, as Josephus elsewhere speaks also. See Book VI. ch. 2. sect. 5. (2) In this speech of Titus we may clearly see the notions which the Romans then had of death, and of the happy state of those who died bravely in war, and the contrary estate of those who died ignobly in their beds by sickness. Reland here also produces two parallel passages, the one out of Atonia Janus Marcellinus, concerning the Alani, lib. 31, that "they judged that man happy who laid down his life in battle ;" the other of Valerius Maximus, lib. 11. ch. 6, who says, "that the Cimbri and Celtiberi exulted for joy in the army, as being to go out of the world gloriously and happily." (3) See the note on p. 809. (4) No wonder that this Julian, who had so many nails in his shoes, slipped upon the pavement of the temple, which was smooth, and laid with marble of different colors. (5) This was a remarkable day indeed, the seventeenth of Paneruns. [Tamuz,] A.D. 70, when, according to Daniel's prediction, six hundred and six years before, the Romans "in half a week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease," Daniel 9:27. For from the month of February, A.D. 66, about which time Vespasian entered on this war, to this very time, was just three years and a half. See Bishop Lloyd's Tables of Chronology, published by Mr. Marshall, on this year. Nor is it to be omitted, what year nearly confirms this duration of the war, that four years before the war begun was somewhat above seven years five months before the destruction of Jerusalem, ch. 5. sect. 3. (6) The same that in the New Testament is always so called, and was then the common language of the Jews in Judea, which was the Syriac dialect. (7) Our present copies of the Old Testament want this encomium upon king Jechoniah or Jehoiachim, which it seems was in Josephus's copy. (8) Of this oracle, see the note on B. IV. ch. 6. sect. 3. Josephus, both here and in many places elsewhere, speaks so, that it is most evident he was fully satisfied that God was on the Romans' side, and made use of them now for the destruction of that wicked nation of the Jews; which was for certain the true state of this matter, as the prophet Daniel first, and our Savior himself afterwards, had clearly foretold. See Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 64, etc. (9) Josephus had before told us, B. V. ch. 13. sect. 1, that this fourth son of Matthias ran away to the Romans "before" his father's and brethren's slaughter, and not "after" it, as here. The former account is, in all probability, the truest; for had not that fourth son escaped before the others were caught and put to death, he had been caught and put to death with them. This last account, therefore, looks like an instance of a small inadvertence of Josephus in the place before us. (10) Of this partition-wall separating Jews and Gentiles, with its pillars and inscription, see the description of the temples, ch. 15. (11) That these seditious Jews were the direct occasions of their own destruction, and of the conflagration of their city and temple, and that Titus earnestly and constantly labored to save both, is here and every where most evident in Josephus. (12) Court of the Gentiles. (13) Court of Israel. (14) Of the court of the Gentiles. (15) What Josephus observes here, that no parallel examples had been recorded before this time of such sieges, wherein mothers were forced by extremity of famine to eat their own children, as had been threatened to the Jews in the law of Moses, upon obstinate disobedience, and more than once fulfilled, (see my Boyle's Lectures, p. 210-214,) is by Dr. Hudson supposed to have had two or three parallel examples in later ages. He might have had more examples, I suppose, of persons on ship-board, or in a desert island, casting lots for each others' bodies; but all this was only in cases where they knew of no possible way to avoid death themselves but by killing and eating others. Whether such examples come up to the present case may be doubted. The Romans were not only willing, but very desirous, to grant those Jews in Jerusalem both their lives and their liberties, and to save both their city and their temple. But the zealots, the rubbers, and the seditious would hearken to no terms of submission. They voluntarily chose to reduce the citizens to that extremity, as to force mothers to this unnatural barbarity, which, in all its circumstances, has not, I still suppose, been hitherto paralleled among the rest of mankind. (16) These steps to the altar of burnt-offering seem here either an improper and inaccurate expression of Josephus, since it was unlawful to make ladder steps; (see description of the temples, ch. 13., and note on Antiq. B. IV. ch. 8. sect. 5;) or else those steps or stairs we now use were invented before the days of Herod the Great, and had been here built by him; though the later Jews always deny it, and say that even Herod's altar was ascended to by an acclivity only. (17) This Perea, if the word be not mistaken in the copies, cannot well be that Perea which was beyond Jordan, whose mountains were at a considerable distance from Jordan, and much too remote from Jerusalem to join in this echo at the conflagration of the temple; but Perea must be rather some mountains beyond the brook Cedron, as was the Mount of Olives, or some others about such a distance from Jerusalem; which observation is so obvious, that it is a wonder our commentators here take no notice of it. (18) Reland I think here judges well, when he interprets these spikes (of those that stood on the top of the holy house) with sharp points; they were fixed into lead, to prevent the birds from sitting there, and defiling the holy house; for such spikes there were now upon it, as Josephus himself hath already assured us, B. V. ch. 5. sect. 6. (19) Reland here takes notice, that these Jews, who had despised the true Prophet, were deservedly abused and deluded by these false ones. (20) Whether Josephus means that this star was different from that comet which lasted a whole year, I cannot certainly determine. His words most favor their being different one from another. (21) Since Josephus still uses the Syro-Macedonian month Xanthicus for the Jewish month Nisan, this eighth, or, as Nicephorus reads it, this ninth of Xanthicus or Nisan was almost a week before the passover, on the fourteenth; about which time we learn from St. John that many used to go "out of the country to Jerusalem to purify themselves," John 11:55, with 12:1; in agreement with Josephus also, B. V. ch. 3. sect. 1. And it might well be, that in the sight of these this extraordinary light might appear. (22) This here seems to be the court of the priests. (23) Both Reland and Havercamp in this place alter the natural punctuation and sense of Josephus, and this contrary to the opinion of Valesilus and Dr. Hudson, lest Josephus should say that the Jews built booths or tents within the temple at the feast of tabernacles; which the later Rabbins will not allow to have been the ancient practice: but then, since it is expressly told us in Nehemiah, ch. 8:16, that in still elder times "the Jews made booths in the courts of the house of God" at that festival, Josephus may well be permitted to say the same. And indeed the modern Rabbins are of very small authority in all such matters of remote antiquity. (24) Take Havercamp's note here: "This (says he) is a remarkable place; and Tertullian truly says in his Apologetic, ch. 16. p. 162, that the entire religion of the Roman camp almost consisted in worshipping the ensigns, in swearing by the ensigns, and in preferring the ensigns before all the [other] gods." See what Havercamp says upon that place of Tertullian. (25) This declaring Titus imperator by the soldiers, upon such signal success, and the slaughter of such a vast number of enemies, was according to the usual practice of the Romans in like cases, as Reland assures us on this place. (26) The Jews of later times agree with Josephus, that there were hiding-places or secret chambers about the holy house, as Reland here informs us, where he thinks he has found these very walls described by them. (27) Spanheim notes here, that the Romans used to permit the Jews to collect their sacred tribute, and send it to Jerusalem; of which we have had abundant evidence in Josephus already on other occasions. (28) This innumerable multitude of Jews that were "sold" by the Romans was an eminent completion of God's ancient threatening by Moses, that if they apostatized from the obedience to his laws, they should be "sold unto their enemies for bond-men and bond- women," Deuteronomy 28;68. See more especially the note on ch. 9. sect. 2. But one thing is here peculiarly remarkable, that Moses adds, Though they should be "sold" for slaves, yet "no man should buy them;" i.e. either they should have none to redeem them from this sale into slavery; or rather, that the slaves to be sold should be more than were the purchasers for them, and so they should be sold for little or nothing; which is what Josephus here affirms to have been the case at this time. (29) What became of these spoils of the temple that escaped the fire, see Josephus himself hereafter, B. VII. ch. 5. sect. 5, and Reland de Spoliis Templi, p. 129-138. (30) These various sorts of spices, even more than those four which Moses prescribed, Exodus 31:34, we see were used in their public worship under Herod's temple, particularly cinnamon and cassia; which Reland takes particular notice of, as agreeing with the latter testimony of the Talmudists. (31) See the several predictions that the Jews, if they became obstinate in their idolatry and wickedness, should be sent again or sold into Egypt for their punishment, Deuteronomy 28:68; Jeremiah 44:7; Hosea 8:13; 9:3; 9:4, 5; 2 Samuel 15:10-13; with Authentic Records, Part I. p. 49, 121; and Reland Painest And, tom. II. p. 715. (32) The whole multitude of the Jews that were destroyed during the entire seven years before this time, in all the countries of and bordering on Judea, is summed up by Archbishop Usher, from Lipsius, out of Josephus, at the year of Christ 70, and amounts to 1,337,490. Nor could there have been that number of Jews in Jerusalem to be destroyed in this siege, as will be presently set down by Josephus, but that both Jews and convert of justice were just then come up out of the other countries of Galilee, Samaria, Judea, and Perea and other remoter regions, to the passover, in vast numbers, and therein cooped up, as in a prison, by the Roman army, as Josephus himself well observes in this and the next section, and as is exactly related elsewhere, B. V. ch. 3. sect. 1 and ch. 13. sect. 7. (33) This number of a company for one passover lamb, between ten and twenty, agrees exactly with the number thirteen, at our Savior's last passover. As to the whole number of the Jews that used to come up to the passover, and eat of it at Jerusalem, see the note on B. II. ch. 14. sect. 3. This number ought to be here indeed just ten times the number of the lambs, or just 2,565,(D0, by Josephus's own reasoning; whereas it is, in his present copies, no less than 2,700,(D0, which last number is, however, nearest the other number in the place now cited, which is 3,000,000. But what is here chiefly remarkable is this, that no foreign nation ever came thus to destroy the Jews at any of their solemn festivals, from the days of Moses till this time, but came now upon their apostasy from God, and from obedience to him. Nor is it possible, in the nature of things, that in any other nation such vast numbers should be gotten together, and perish in the siege of any one city whatever, as now happened in Jerusalem. (34) This is the proper place for such as have closely attended to these latter books of the War to peruse, and that with equal attention, those distinct and plain predictions of Jesus of Nazareth, in the Gospels thereto relating, as compared with their exact completions in Josephus's history; upon which completions, as Dr: Whitby well observes, Annot. on Matthew 24:2, no small part of the evidence for the truth of the Christian religion does depend; and as I have step by step compared them together in my Literal Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies. The reader is to observe further, that the true reason why I have so seldom taken notice of those completions in the course of these notes, nevertheless their being so very remarkable, and frequently so very obvious, is this, that I had entirely prevented myself in that treatise beforehand; to which therefore I must here, once for all, seriously refer every inquisitive reader. Besides these five here enumerated, who had taken Jerusalem of old, Josephus, upon further recollection, reckons a sixth, Antiq. B. XII. ch. 1. sect. 1, who should have been here inserted in the second place; I mean Ptolemy, the son of Lagus.