The Temple Destruction from Josephus

I got a question for you.

In 70 AD or let’s say 65 AD before the Temple was destroyed, Judah kept the Sabbath. They kept the Holy Days at the right time according to the crescent moon to begin the month and the barley to begin the year. And I have shown you that they also kept the Sabbatical years and had done so as we can show for at least 100 years before 70 AD.

Here is my question. These are all the very same things we have come to now learn and have restored them in our lives today now that we are being called at the end of this age. This is you and me. We are doing all of these things. So why did Yehovah destroy Judah at that time? And then run them out of the land over the next hundred years? And why did He allow the Temple to be destroyed. WHY?

I searched Josephus to find the following answer.

Why the Almighty Caused Jerusalem and His Temple to be Destroyed

The burning of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 CE/AD created a profound dilemma for faithful Jews of the time. Hadn’t religious observance throughout the land reached new heights in the years preceding the war? Wasn’t the revolt against Rome directly the result of zealous people vowing to have “no master except the Lord?” (Ant. 18.1.6  23). Then why did the Lord allow the Romans to crush the revolt and destroy his Temple?

    Josephus offered a variety of solutions to this problem. His overall goal was to defend the Jews against the accusation that their Lord had deserted them. A further goal, which he only hinted at, was to pave the way for approval by the Roman authorities, at some future time, for the rebuilding of the Temple.

Death of the High Priest

War 4.5.2 318

    I should not be wrong in saying that the capture of the city began with the death of Ananus; and that the overthrow of the walls and the downfall of the Jewish state dated from the day on which the Jews beheld their high priest, the captain of their salvation, butchered in the heart of Jerusalem.
A man on every ground revered and of the highest integrity, Ananus, with all the distinction of his birth, his rank and the honours to which he had attained, had delighted to treat the very humblest as his equals. Unique in his love of liberty and an enthusiast for democracy, he on all occasions put the public welfare above his private interests. To maintain peace was his supreme object.

Comment.
    The revolt in part derived from class warfare. The High Priests had authority over the Temple worship and often acted as representatives of the Jews in dealing with the Roman occupation government. They had an interest in maintaining peace, some of them sincerely for the good of the nation, others no doubt to protect their own wealth and power.
    As a result, many revolutionaries, especially the most extreme group, the Zealots,
considered their priests as the enemy. Although some of the younger and poorer priests joined the revolution, others opposed it and, as a result, were assassinated.
    In the passage quoted above, Josephus explicitly connects Ananus’ murder by the Zealots to the destruction of Jerusalem. This is one of his major themes, which we might call “The Pollution of the City.” No religious motivation, Josephus is saying, can justify the atrocities that the Zealots committed. Not everything can be done for the Divine Name. The Lord destroyed the Holy City because the people had violated the basic principles of His Law and made the Temple unfit for worship.

The Pollution of the City

War 4.5.2 323

I cannot but think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by fire, that he cut off those who clung to them with such tender affection.

Comment
    This explicitly states Josephus’ opinion that the city was destroyed because of its transgressions during the war.

Pollution of the Temple with Blood

Assassins in the Temple

Antiquities 20.8.5 164-166            Certain of these robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments; and, by thus mingling themselves among the multitude, they slew Jonathan [the high priest]; and as this murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time; and having weapons concealed in like manner as before, and mingling themselves among the multitude, they slew certain of their own enemies, and were subservient to other men for money; and slew others not only in remote parts of the city, but in the Temple itself also; for they had the boldness to murder men there, without thinking of the impiety of which they were guilty.
And this seems to me to have been the reason why God, out of his hatred to these men’s wickedness, rejected our city; and as for the Temple, he no longer esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit therein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery – as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities.

Comment
Josephus here seems to make a distinction between two concepts. First, the wickedness of these assassins, some ten years before the war, caused the divine rejection of Jerusalem; but furthermore, the Temple was no longer “pure” enough for the Lord to inhabit. In Jewish Law, ritual uncleanness caused by contact with blood can be removed by purification with fire. So beyond simply abandoning Jerusalem and its people, the area is purified so that it can again become fit for heavenly contact. The people are not rejected, but only made wiser by these calamities.
    This may indicate why all the people were punished, and not just the murderers. Ritual impurity needed to be dealt with, regardless of its source. And the people as a whole did not work hard enough to keep the criminals from defiling the Temple – Josephus states the murder of Jonathan “was never avenged,” thus emboldening them –  everyone had a share in the impurity.

The Slaughter of the Guards
War 4.5.1 305-313

The Idumaeans ascended through the city to the Temple. The Zealots were also in great expectation of their coming, and earnestly waited for them. When therefore these were entering, they also came boldly out of the inner Temple, and mixing themselves with the Idumaeans, they attacked the guards; and those that were upon the watch, but were fallen asleep, they killed as they were asleep; but as those that were now awakened made a cry, the whole multitude arose, and in the amazement they were in, caught hold of their arms immediately, and betook themselves to their own defence. So long as they thought they were only the Zealots that attacked them, they went on boldly, as hoping to overpower them by their number; but when they saw others pressing in upon them also, they perceived the Idumaeans were got in; and the greater part of them laid aside their arms, together with their courage, and betook themselves to lamentations. But some  few of the younger guards covered themselves with their armor and valiantly received the Idumaeans, and for a while protected the weaker people. Others, indeed, gave a signal to those that were in the city of the calamities they were in; but when these were also made sensible that the Idumaeans were come in, none of them durst come to their assistance; only they returned the terrible echo of wailing, and lamenting their misfortunes. A great howling of the women was excited also, every one having a relative in the guards who was in danger of being killed.
The Zealots also joined the the shouts raised by the Idumaeans; and the storm itself rendered the cry more terrible; nor did the Idumaeans spare anybody…and acted in the same manner as to those that supplicated for their lives, as to those that fought them, insomuch that they ran those through with their swords who desired them to remember the kinship there was between them and begged of them to have regard to their common Temple. There was no place for flight nor any hope for preservation; they were driven one upon another in heaps, so were they slain. Thus the greater part were driven together by force, as there was now no place of retreat, and the murderers were upon them, and having no other way, they threw themselves down headlong into the city, undergoing a more miserable destruction, in my opinion, than that which they avoided, because it was voluntary. And now the outer Temple was all of it overflowed with blood; and that day, as it dawned, saw eight thousand five hundred dead there.

Comment
    This massacre of their countrymen on the part of the revolutionary extremists and their allies occurred within the court of the Temple itself. These and other murders, such as that of Jonathan, are associated by Josephus with the irrevocable pollution of the Temple. In Jewish Law, human blood and corpses cause ritual uncleanness; add to this that the blood was shed in the atrocity of mass murder, and the implication  is that the Temple could never be cleansed.
    The Idumaeans were descendants of the Biblical Edomites and had been forcibly converted to Judaism by the Hasmonean kings. The revolutionary party, the Zealots, manipulated them to increase their forces during the revolt.

The Murder of Zacharias

War 4.5.4 335-344

And now these Zealots and Idumaeans were quite weary of simple massacre, so they had the audacity to set up mock trials and courts of justice for that purpose. They intended to have Zacharias, the son of Baris, one of the most eminent of the citizens, slain. What provoked them against him was that hatred of wickedness and love of liberty which were so eminent in him; he was also a rich man, so that by taking him off, they did not only hope to seize his effects, but also to get rid of a man that had great power to destroy them.
So they called together, by a public proclamation, seventy of the principal men of the populace, for a show trial, as if they were real judges, although they had no proper authority. In front of  these citizens Zacharias was accused of a design to betray their city to the Romans and to have traitorously sent to Vespasian for that purpose. Now there appeared no proof or sign of what he was accused; but they affirmed themselves that they were well persuaded that so it was, and desired that such their affirmation might be taken for sufficient evidence.
Now when Zacharias clearly saw that there was no way remaining for his escape from them, as having been treacherously called before them and imprisoned, but with no intention of a legal trial, he took great liberty of speech in that despair of life he was under. Accordingly he stood up, and laughed at their pretended accusation, and in a few words confuted the crimes laid to his charge; after which he turned his speech to his accusers, and went over distinctly all their transgressions of the Law, and made heavy lamentations upon the confusion they had brought public affairs into.
In the meantime the Zealots grew tumultuous, and could scarce refrain from drawing their swords, although they designed to preserve the appearance and show of judicature to the end. They were also desirous, on other accounts, to try the judges, whether they would be mindful of what was just at their own peril.
Now the seventy judges brought in their verdict, that the person accused was not guilty — choosing rather to die themselves with him, than to have his death laid at their doors.
Hereupon there arose a great clamor by the Zealots upon his acquittal, and they were all indignant at the judges for not having understood that the authority that was given them was but in jest. So two of the boldest of them fell upon Zacharias in the middle of the Temple, and slew him. And as he fell down dead they bantered him, and said, “Now you have our verdict also, and a surer release.” They then threw him down out of the Temple into the valley beneath it.

Comment
     The Zealots add the sin of bearing false witness to the crime of murder in the Temple.
    As a side note: This passage has an intriguing parallel with the Book of Matthew: “…upon you [is] all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.” (Matt. 23:35) Can this last victim,  murdered in the Temple, be the same as the “Zecharias son of Baris” referred to above?
    If so, it would be counted either as a prophecy that became fulfilled or a confusion on the part of  Matthew. However, in this case, the resemblance seems to be mere coincidence. As Thackeray points out in his translation (Loeb edition), Matthew can be read as referring to Zecharias son of  Jehoiada, who was stoned to death in the Temple court (2 Chronicles 24:21); Matthew had confused his name with Zechariach son of Berechiah. This is a reasonable explanation; still, the coincidence is quite curious.

 The Lamentation of Josephus

War 5.1.4 19-20The darts that were thrown by the engines [of the seditious factions] came with that force, that they went over all the buildings and the Temple itself, and fell upon the priests and those that were about the sacred offices; insomuch that many persons who came thither with great zeal from the ends of the earth to offer sacrifices at this celebrated place, which was esteemed holy by all mankind, fell down before their own sacrifices themselves, and sprinkled that altar which was venerable among all men, both Greeks and barbarians, with their own blood. The dead bodies of strangers were mingled together with those of their own country, and those of profane persons with those of the priests, and the blood of all sorts of dead carcasses stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves.
Oh most wretched city, what misery so great as this didst thou suffer from the Romans, when they came to purify thee from thy internal pollutions! For thou couldst be no longer a place fit for God, nor couldst thou longer survive, after thou hadst been a sepulchre for the bodies of thine own people, and hast made the Holy House itself a burying-place in this civil war of thine. Yet mayst thou again grow better, if perchance thou wilt hereafter appease the anger of that God who is the author of thy destruction.
But I must restrain myself from these passions by the rules of History, since this is not a proper time for domestic lamentation, but for historical narrations.

Comment
    The revolt fell apart into factions vying for power. The actions of the Jews against the Temple during this civil war, Josephus here asserts, were more terrible than that inflicted by the Romans. Again emphasizing the unclean blood in the Temple, Josephus laments that the later destruction by the Romans was necessary, and that these conquerors were acting as agents of the Lord — almost as priests — in their role as purifiers.
    There is also a hint here, hidden in the form of an emotional outburst, that the Temple should be allowed to be rebuilt. “Mayst thou again grow better,” he asks, pointing toward a return to its former state, and expects this after the Jews “appease” the author of their destruction, indicating that they act peacefully both toward heaven and its agents of destruction, the Romans. But it is too soon after the war, which greatly angered the Roman populace, for Josephus to make an explicit appeal to the Emperor that the Temple be rebuilt.

 The Fulfillment of Ancient Prophecies

War 4.6.3 381-388    But these Zealots came at last to that degree of barbarity as not to bestow a burial either on those slain in the city, or on those that lay along the roads; but as if they had made  an agreement to cancel both the laws of their country and the laws of nature, an, at the same time that they defiled men with their wicked action, they would pollute the Divinity itself also, they left the dead bodies to putrify under the sun.

…These men, therefore, trampled upon all the laws of man, and laughed at the Laws of God; and for the oracles of the prophets, they ridiculed them as the tricks of jugglers. Yet did these prophets foretell many things concerning virtue and vice, by the transgression of which these Zealots occasioned the fulfilling of those very prophecies belonging to their country.
For there was a certain ancient oracle of those men, that the city should then be taken and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a sedition should invade the Jews and their own hands should pollute the Temple of God. Now, while these Zealots did not disbelieve these predictions, they made themselves the instruments of their accomplishment.

Comment
    This passage segues into a different explanation of the destruction: that it had been prophesied in advance. The theme of prophecy is quite important to Josephus — indeed, he owed his life to one — and throughout his work he stresses that the observable fulfillment of  prophecy is proof of the truth of the Jewish Bible.
    Yet the idea that Jerusalem was destroyed as the fulfillment of a prophecy is not manifestly the same as stating it was destroyed because of the sins of the people. In the above passage, Josephus tries to link the two concepts. The prophecy is not that the Temple is destined to be destroyed, but that it would be destroyed due to a war started by the Jews that would pollute the Temple. This is an interesting sliding between two concepts. If it was ordained in advance that the Jews would pollute the Temple, how can they be held accountable? Did the Lord cause the destruction to fulfill a pre-ordained plan or instead  to punish contemporary sins?
    Josephus either wants it both ways, or else oscillates between them as events dictate. In a similar fashion, he notes elsewhere that the Pharisees, with whom he aligned himself, believed in free will but also that some things, although not all, were decreed by fate (War 2.8.14).  The two concepts of the destruction pose the old question, are humans predestined or do they have free will?
    Incidentally, the “certain ancient oracle” cited by Josephus in this passage is unknown to present scholars.

 The Temple is Set on Fire

Introductory Comment
    Here is Josephus’ description of the moment when the first flame is put to the Temple. The agent of destruction is an anonymous Roman soldier, acting impulsively against the orders of the commander, Titus — but obeying the orders, Josephus implies, of the highest authority.

War 6.4.5249-253    So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the Temple the next day, early in the morning, with his whole army, and to encamp round about the Holy House; but, as for that House, God had for certain long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of the ages: it was the tenth day of the month Lous, [Av,] upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon; although these flames took their rise from the Jews themselves, and were occasioned by them; for upon Titus’s retiring, the seditious lay still for a little while, and then attacked the Romans again, when those that guarded the Holy House fought with those that quenched the fire that was burning in the inner court of the Temple; but these Romans put the Jews to flight, and proceeded as far as the Holy House itself.
At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the Holy House, on the north side of it. As the flames went upward the Jews made a great clamour, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered anything to restrain their force, since that Holy House was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard upon it.

Comment
    We have here all three possible explanations for the Temple destruction: that it was a chance act of war, that it was a Divine response to the murderous actions of the seditious party, or that it was fated according to some vast and mysterious plan.
    The aspect of fate is stated by Josephus in saying that “God for certain long ago doomed it to the fire,” and then pointing out that the Second Temple was set on fire by the Romans on the same day that the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. (Thackeray notes that this date accords with Jeremiah 53:12 but not with the seventh of Av in 2 Kings 25:8, and that Jewish tradition memorializes both on the Ninth of Av.) This would seem to indicate a design greater than a direct response to freely committed sin. This was, says Josephus, “according to the revolution of the ages” — again, not due to specific human actions.
    Josephus says rather directly that is was the Lord who started the flames by directing the activity of the anonymous Roman soldier. For this soldier set the fire “without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking,” as though he had the authority to do what he was doing. When he put the fire to the golden window he was “being hurried on by a certain divine fury.” The Greek is daimnoioi horme tini chromenos, which can be translated also as in Thackeray’s version “moved by some supernatural impulse.” The soldier is an agent of heaven, and his impulsive attack may reflect divine anger at the people for their pollution of the Temple. The emotional “fury” is different from the cool, mathematical “revolution of the ages” that calendrically pre-determined the fate of the Temple. Josephus has jumped from one explanation to the other. Can they be joined into one?

I have read many explanations as to why Yehovah did this to the Jews and many of them claim it was because they killed Jesus 40 years before. Although that may have some traction, I think the answer is as a few wrote;

The reason the Temple was destroyed and the Jews thrust out of the land was because they did not have a love for one another. And the more I think about that the more terrified I become. Do we today as brethren in this walk love one another? If we can say yes to the that then Do we love others who are still in sin? Do we love those who do not yet know this walk or way of life?

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

Luk 18:1  And He also spoke a parable to them to teach it is always right to pray, and not to faint,

Luk 18:2  saying, A certain judge was in a certain city, not fearing God, nor respecting man.

Luk 18:3  And a widow was in that city. And she came to Him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary.

Luk 18:4  And he would not do so for a time. But afterward he said within himself, Though I do not fear God nor regard man,

Luk 18:5  yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, that she not wear me down in the end.

Luk 18:6  And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge says.

Luk 18:7  And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night to Him, though He has been long-suffering over them?

Luk 18:8  I say to you that He will avenge them speedily. Yet when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Luk 18:9  And He spoke this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and despised others:

Luk 18:10  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-collector.

Luk 18:11  The Pharisee stood and prayed within himself in this way: God, I thank You that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector.

Luk 18:12  I fast twice on the Sabbath, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Luk 18:13  And standing afar off, the tax-collector would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but struck on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner!

Luk 18:14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

Godlessness in the Last Days

2Ti 3:1  Know this also, that in the last days grievous times will be at hand.

2Ti 3:2  For men will be self-lovers, money-lovers, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

2Ti 3:3  without natural affection, unyielding, false accusers, without self-control, savage, despisers of good,

2Ti 3:4  traitors, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

2Ti 3:5  having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it; even turn away from these.

2Ti 3:6  For of these are those who creep into houses and lead captive silly women loaded with sins, led away with different kinds of lusts,

2Ti 3:7  ever learning and never able to come to the full knowledge of the truth.

2Ti 3:8  But as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so these also resist the truth, men of corrupt mind, reprobate concerning the faith.

2Ti 3:9  But they shall proceed no further. For their foolishness shall be plain to all, as theirs also became.The Answer

What the zealots could not do was to forgive those who were not as righteous as they were. They did not love those who were not at their level of understanding.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

Mat 18:21  Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Until seven times?

Mat 18:22  Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven.

Mat 18:23  Therefore the kingdom of Heaven has been compared to a certain king who desired to make an accounting with his servants.

Mat 18:24  And when he had begun to count, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.

Mat 18:25  But as he had nothing to pay, his lord commanded that he, and his wife and children, and all that he had, be sold, and payment be made.

Mat 18:26  Then the servant fell down and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me and I will pay you all.

Mat 18:27  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.

Mat 18:28  But the same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. And he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe.

Mat 18:29  And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, Have patience with me and I will pay you all.

Mat 18:30  And he would not, but went and cast him into prison until he should pay the debt.

Mat 18:31  So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry. And they came and told their lord all that was done.

Mat 18:32  Then his lord, after he had called him, said to him, O wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.

Mat 18:33  Should you not also have pitied your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you?

Mat 18:34  And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to him.

Mat 18:35  So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also to you, unless each one of you from your hearts forgive his brother their trespasses.

What about you? Do you love those who hate you?

Can you love those who have hurt you in the past. An incestual relationship? Someone who abused you or beat you or mistreated you?

Can you love that person who committed adultery on you?

Can you love your parents even when they have hurt you?

Do you love those in the LGBT movement?

What about those in the Islamic faith?

What about those liberals that are way out to lunch and have no hope in this life, they are that far gone?

Or maybe they are the ultra conservative that you hate, can you love them?

Do you or can you love any of them?

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