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Saturday, February 4 2012

A History Of Jerusalem: Titus And The Zealots

The complete series of studies for A History Of Jerusalem:
1. In The Beginning
5. The Glory Of Solomon
9. Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids
13. The Herodian Dynasty
17. Constantine and Muhammad
2. Melchizedek's Salem
6. The Temple Of The LORD
10. Abomination Of Desolation
14. The Coming Of The Messiah
18. The British Mandate
3. Jebus Of Canaan
7. The Capital Of Judah
11. The Hasmonean Kingdom
15. Titus And The Zealots
19. Zionism
4. The City Of David
8. Ezra And Nehemiah
12. Pompey And The Caesars
16. Hadrian and Simon bar Kokhba
20. War And Peace

When the people of the nation of Judah (the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi; see A History Of Jerusalem: The Capital Of Judah) returned from their seventy-years Babylonian exile, the Temple, that had been destroyed by the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, was rebuilt under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah (see A History Of Jerusalem: Ezra And Nehemiah). That "Second Temple" existed for about four centuries before it was magnificently renovated and expanded by Herod in the years just before the birth of the Messiah (see A History Of Jerusalem: The Herodian Dynasty). It was that "Herodian Temple" that the Messiah frequented throughout His life, from the week that He was born (see A History Of Jerusalem: The Coming Of The Messiah) until the day that He died. Many of the most-famous events and teachings of His life occurred in or around that Temple (see also What Was Holy About Herod's Temple?).

One day, while at the Temple with His disciples ("disciple" means student), He startled them with a prophecy about the Temple (the photograph below shows some of the actual stones that He was talking about, as they are seen today, as rubble):

"24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.

24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Matthew 24:1-2 KJV)

The Messiah's famous "Olivet Prophecy" (named after the Mount of Olives upon which it was spoken; see also When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin) was delivered as a further explanation of that coming destruction of the Temple, as well as further abominations that would happen there in the far-greater future, at the time of His return.


"24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many [see Is Your Church A Cult?]. 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 24:17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 24:18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 24:19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 24:25 Behold, I have told you before.

24:26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light [see The Blood Moon Prophecy], and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet [see The Feast Of Trumpets Prophecy], and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:3-31 KJV)

The "there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down" part of the prophecy happened, exactly as the Messiah said that it would, in 70 AD. As we will read, a vast number of people of Judah died when the Romans destroyed the city and the Temple at that time, but very few, if any, of Christ's true and obedient followers were killed during that siege of Jerusalem - for two reasons.

Fallen Stones First, the stoning to death of Stephen resulted in most Christians, "except the apostles," leaving Jerusalem during those years.

"7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:59-60 KJV)

"8:1 And Saul [see Straight Street] was consenting unto his death.

And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles." (Acts 8:1 KJV)

While the number of Christians may then have again increased up to 70 AD, they kept Christ's warning, that they heard first-hand, or were taught, in mind. The result?

"Under the reign of Vespasian, Rome declared war against the Jews because of their repeated revolts, and General Titus besieged the city of Jerusalem 70 A.D. It is said that eleven hundred thousand [i.e. one million, one hundred thousand] Jews perished in the six month siege, but the church there escaped the horrors of the siege by following the instruction of Christ in Matthew 24, and fleeing to the mountains beyond the Jordan. This timely retreat was made to the small town of Pella." (Hugh Smith's History)

"In the fall of Jerusalem, few if any Christians perished. From the prophetic utterances of Christ, the Christians received warning, escaped from the doomed city, and found refuge at Pella, in the Jordan valley." (Hurlbut's Story of the Christian Church)

The Zealots and The Great Revolt

According to the historian Josephus (who actually lived at the time, and was present right in Jerusalem when it fell), the Zealots were one of the four major sects in Judah at the time of the birth of the Christ. Unlike the other three (the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes) who were longer-established (see The Origin Of The Essenes, Sadducees And Pharisees) and religious in their function, the Zealots were primarily political and military - they began with a rebellion against the Roman occupation forces around the year 6, led by Judas of Galilee (or "Judas the Gaulonite"), who is also briefly mentioned in the book of Acts.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans

"5:37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed." (Acts 5:37 KJV)

The Zealots nevertheless grew into a formidable rebel, or insurgency (or "terrorist" - then as now, "patriot" or "terrorist" was determined by which side was speaking) force in the land of Judah. It seems obvious what the Messiah thought of them - He chose at least one Zealot as one of the twelve apostles, "Simon called Zelotes" (at least one; the Zealots were also known as the Sicarii, from their use of the sica, the Roman dagger - that the apostle Peter also carried; coincidentally, Peter, and most of the other apostles, were from Galilee, just as was Judas, the founder of the Zealots).

"6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 6:14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 6:15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 6:16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor." (Luke 6:13-16 KJV)

The Zealots were fierce and ruthless, targeting not only Roman troops and political leaders, but anyone among their own people who willingly collaborated with the occupiers.

The Zealots were the primary leaders of the Jewish Revolt against the Romans in 66 AD. They took Jerusalem, and held it for about four years, before the city fell to the Roman siege under the command of Titus in 70 AD.

After the fall of Jerusalem, nearly 1,000 of the remaining Zealots under the leadership of Elazar ben Yair captured and took refuge in the now-famous fortress of Masada. After a three-year siege, the Romans finally broke through the defenses - only to find that nearly all of the Zealots had committed mass suicide rather than being captured.


Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus (more commonly known as Titus) was the son of the Roman Emperor Vespasian. Prior to succeeding his father as Emperor in 79 AD, Titus served as a Roman military commander, of the Praetorian Guard, as well as battlefield assignments.

Titus Titus began his siege of Jerusalem in the spring of 70 AD; despite his four legions surrounding the city (see also Legions Of Men And Angels), Titus permitted many thousands of people to enter Jerusalem for Passover, with the goal of bringing starvation to the city much more quickly when he closed the city entirely. It was exactly what Jesus Christ told people not to do, in His dual prophecy of "when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies":

"21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto." (Luke 21:20-21 KJV)

The city fell. According to the historian Josephus (who was personally present), over 1 million people of Judah were killed by the Romans. The city was destroyed. The Temple was also destroyed, exactly as the Messiah prophesied would happen.

The result may have been another "glorious victory" for Titus, but it was absolutely horrendous for the people of Judah, the city of Jerusalem, and the Temple. Excerpts, as recorded in Josephus' The Wars Of The Jews:

"Now of those that perished by famine in the city, the number was prodigious, and the miseries they underwent were unspeakable ; for if so much as the shadow of any kind of food did anywhere appear , a war was commenced presently; and the dearest friends fell a-fighting one with another about it , snatching from each other the most miserable supports of life. Nor would men believe that those who were dying had no food; but the robbers would search them when they were expiring, lest any one should have concealed food in their bosoms, and counterfeited dying: nay, these robbers gaped for want, and ran about stumbling and staggering along like mad dogs, and reeling against the doors of the houses like drunken men; they would also, in the great distress they were in, rush into the very same houses two or three times in one and the same day. Moreover, their hunger was so intolerable, that it obliged them to chew everything, while they gathered such things as the most sordid animals would not touch, and endured to eat them; nor did they at length abstain from girdles and shoes; and the very leather which belonged to their shields they pulled off and gnawed : the very wisps of old hay became food to some; and some gathered up fibres, and sold a very small weight of them for four Attic, [drachmae.] But why should I describe the shameless impudence that the famine brought on men in their eating inanimate things, while I am going to relate matter of fact, the like to which no history relates, either among the Greeks or Barbarians! It is horrible to speak of it, and incredible when heard. I had indeed willingly omitted this calamity of ours, that I might not seem to deliver what is so portentous to posterity, but that I have innumerable witnesses to it in my own age; and besides, my country would have had little reason to thank me for suppressing the miseries that she underwent at this time." (Book VI, Chapter III, Section 3)

Further, the fire and destruction, as recorded by the eyewitness, Josephus:

The Looting Of The Temple In 70 AD

"While the holy house was on fire, everything was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain; nor was there a commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity; but children, and old men, and profane persons, and priests, were all slain in the same manner; so that this war went round all sorts of men, and brought them to destruction, and as well those that made supplication for their lives, as those that defended themselves by fighting. The flame was also carried a long way, and made an echo, together with the groans of those that were slain ; and because this hill was high , and the works at the temple were very great, one would have thought that the whole city had been on fire. Nor can one imagine anything either greater or more terrible than this noise; for there was at once a shout of the Roman legions, who were marching all together, and a sad clamour of the seditious, who were now surrounded with fire and sword. The people also that were left above were beaten back upon the enemy, and under a great consternation, and made sad moans at the calamity they were under; the multitude also that was in the city joined in this outcry with those that were upon the hill; and besides many of those that were worn away by the famine, and their mouths almost closed when they saw the fire of the holy house, they exerted their utmost strength, and brake out into groans and outcries again: Perea did also return he echo, as well as the mountains round about, [the city,] and augmented the force of the entire noise. Yet was the misery itself more terrible than this disorder; for one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething-hot , as full of fire on every part of it, that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number that those that slew them; for the ground did nowhere appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it; but the soldiers went over the heaps of these bodies, as they ran upon such as fled from them.

And now it was that the multitude of the robbers were thrust out [of the inner court of the temple] by the Romans, and had much ado to get into the outer court, and from thence into the city, while the remainder of the populace fled into the cloister of that outer court. As for the priests, some of them plucked up from the holy house the spikes that were upon it, with their bases, which were made of lead, and shot them at the Romans instead of darts. But then as they gained nothing by so doing, and as the fire burst out upon them, they retired to the wall that was eight cubits broad, and there they tarried; yet did two of these of eminence among them, who might have saved themselves by going over to the Romans, or have borne up with courage, and taken their fortune with the others, throw themselves into the fire, and were burnt together with the holy house; their names were Merius to son of Belgas, and Joseph the son of Daleus." (Book VI, Chapter V, Section 1)

Fact Finder: What happened to the Temple Vessels that were plundered by Titus in 70 AD? What evidence is there, in Rome, that they were plundered?
See The Temple Vessel Prophecies Today

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This Day In History, February 4

211: Accession of Geta, the 22nd Roman emperor.

1194: Richard I ("Richard Lion Heart") of England was freed from captivity in Germany where he had been held as the prisoner of Holy Roman Emperor Heinreich ("Henry") VI (see also Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Euro!).

1441: Pope Eugene IV published the encyclical Cantante domino. It proclaimed that the Bible of the Roman Catholic Church contains the 66 protocanonical books (i.e. the complete "Protestant" Bible) and 12 deuterocanonical ("apocryphal") books (see also Apocryphal Means Not Authoritative).

1783: An earthquake killed 50,000 people in Italy.

1783: England officially proclaimed an end to hostilities with its rebellious colonies in New England.

1787: Shay's Rebellion, an uprising of debt-ridden Massachusetts farmers, failed.

1797: An earthquake killed 40,000 people in Ecuador.

1861: After some of his relatives were lynched, Chief Cochise began the 25 year Apache war with the US Army.

1904: The Russo-Japanese War began when Japan laid siege to Port Arthur.

1915: At the beginning of the First World War, the first Canadian troops arrived in Europe and entered battle at Flanders. Among them was a Canadian Army doctor, John McCrae (1872-1918), who while serving on the front lines, wrote In Flanders Fields, a poem made famous after the war (McCrae did not survive the war and ironically became among those that he wrote about in his poem).

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

1924: Mahatma Gandhi was released after spending 2 years in jail in Bombay.

1945: Near the end of the Second World War, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Josef Stalin began meetings at the Soviet Black Sea port of Yalta; they agreed to demand Germany's unconditional surrender, to try its leaders as war criminals, and to share the occupation of Germany with France.

1974: Patricia Hearst, granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by the "Symbionese Liberation Army" in California.

1976: An earthquake killed 23,000 people in Guatemala; 1,500,000 homes were destroyed.

1997: 73 Israeli soldiers were killed when 2 Sikorsky transport helicopters collided while ferrying troops to Lebanon. It was Israel's worst military aircraft disaster.


Copyright © Wayne Blank