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Legions of Titus
by Wayne Blank
The destruction of the Herodian Temple (see Temples) occurred about 40 years later, in 70 A.D., just as Jesus Christ said that it would. The commander of the Roman forces that committed the devastation was Titus, who later became the Roman emperor in 79 A.D. His likeness is shown on the Roman coin in the photograph.
Humble Beginnings, Rise To Power
Titus was born on December 30, 39 A.D. in Rome, a child of Vespasian, who was Roman emperor from 69-79 A.D. (see New Testament Roman Emperors). Although of relatively modest station in Roman society, their situation steadily advanced during the reign of Emperor Claudius.
As a young man Titus served as a military tribune in Upper Germany and Britain. He returned to Rome in early 64 and married Arrecina Tertulla, who died within a year. He then married Marcia Furnilla, however that marriage ended in divorce, for political reasons, after her family became vigorous opponents of Emperor Nero. Titus did not remarry, and he had only one known child, a daughter, Julia, who is said to have died in her early twenties.
In 66 A.D., when Nero appointed Vespasian as commander of seven Roman legions that were sent to put down the Jewish revolt in Judea, Titus was given command of the Fifteen Legion under his father. When Vespasian became emperor on July 1, 69 A.D., Titus replaced his father as commander of all Roman forces in the Jewish War.
The siege of Jerusalem was perhaps what Titus is best known for. With a combined force of four legions, Titus began the attack on the city in early 70. Within a month, his forces had breached the outer walls, and by August the siege ended when the remainder of the city was taken. The people were slaughtered, and the Temple was destroyed, exactly as Jesus prophesied.
Titus succeeded his father as emperor on June 24, 79 A.D. Although many at first feared that he would turn out to be another Nero, he became generally regarded as a relatively good man, at least as far as Roman emperors were concerned.
Titus reigned just a little over two years before dying suddenly on September 13, 81 A.D at age 42. The cause of death, a fever, was perhaps caused by malaria. The meaning of his final words, "I have made but one mistake," is unknown.
Fact Finder: Did Jesus Christ say that Jerusalem would again be surrounded by armies, just before His return?