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Fall of Jerusalem In 70 AD
by Wayne Blank
About 40 years later, exactly as prophesied by Jesus Christ, the magnificent "Herod's Temple" was completely destroyed. It was an event long in coming, but certain to happen.
With the decline of the Greek empire (see Ancient Empires - Greece) during the first century B.C. (again, exactly as prophesied by another prophet long before - see Daniel's Statue and Prophecy), the Romans began to expand their territorial holdings (see Ancient Empires - Rome). In 63 B.C., Roman forces under Pompey, a highly successful general and son-in-law of Julius Caesar, captured Jerusalem.
In 40 B.C., the Roman senate appointed Herod, later known as Herod The Great, as the "client king" of Judea. Herod had previously served as the governor of Galilee, and was a personal friend of Mark Antony, before Antony was defeated by Octavian at Actium in 31 B.C., and then later a friend with Octavian himself. Octavian became the first Roman emperor as "Caesar Augustus" (see New Testament Roman Emperors), a man famous in Bible History for ordering the tax census that caused Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem (see also Bethlehem Fact File) where The Messiah was born: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed." (Luke 2:1 KJV)
Herod the Great ruled Judea for the next 36 years, during which he oversaw many grand building projects, including the magnificent Temple (referred to as "Herod's Temple"), and the fortress of Masada, among others. He is most infamous to Christians for his attempt to have the infant Christ killed, and failing that, then slaughtering all of the male children, 2 years of age and under, in the Bethlehem vicinity (Matthew 2:1-28). Herod the Great died not long after, upon which Joseph brought his family back from Egypt and settled in Nazareth
Despite being under Roman occupation, the Jews, or rather the religious leadership of that time, the Pharisees and Sadducees, were given near autonomy in religious matters. After the death of Herod the Great, Judea was reduced to a Roman province under a procurator. It was under the fifth procurator, Pontius Pilate, that Jesus Christ was crucified.
In 41 A.D. Herod the Great's kingdom was temporarily re-established (for about 3 years) for his grandson Herod Agrippa I (see The Herods). It was this Herod that had James, the brother of John, executed (Acts 12:1-2). He then imprisoned Peter with the intention of killing him also (Acts 12:3-5), but God had an angel go in and get him out (Acts 12:6-10).
Like all of the rest, Herod Agrippa I had a very high opinion of himself. One day, about 44 A.D., he went so far as to, in effect, claim to be divine - a blasphemous act for which God struck him down: "And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms." (Acts 12:21-23 KJV)
After the death of Herod Agrippa I, the procurators were put back in charge, however in 66 A.D. the Jews rebelled against Roman rule. In 70 A.D., after a 143 day siege which began at Passover, a Roman military force consisting of about 30,000 troops under the command of Titus battered the walls and entered the city. They destroyed everything, including Herod's Temple - exactly as spoken by Jesus Christ 40 years earlier. The population and the great number of Passover visitors who had been trapped there were brutally slaughtered, with an estimated 600,000 people killed.
The Roman army then moved over to Caesarea on the coast of The Mediterranean Sea where a great many more were killed. Over 90,000 were taken captive, including the historian Flavius Josephus who recorded the events in his Wars of The Jews.
By 70 A.D., Jerusalem and Judea were left desolate, the people killed or in captivity. All that remained was the defiant little garrison atop Masada.
Fact Finder: Did Jesus Christ say that Jerusalem would again see great troubles just before His Return?