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"As the subject of the Lord's discourse was the destruction of the city and the temple, with the dissolution of the civil nationality of the Jews, and as all the other circumstances of the prophecy refer to these events, it is in keeping with unity to apply this prediction (son of man coming in clouds) to the same."
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Table of Contents
O, Jerusalem, Jerusa!em,
MATT. xxiii. 37, 38.
1 The mountain of the land of Moriah, spoken of in Gen. xxii. 2, where Abraham was to offer Isaac, Josephus says, was the mountain on which Solomon built the temple.2 When Salem fell into the hands of the Jebusites, it was by them named Jebus. Jerusalem, or "Habitation of Peace," most probably is a compound of Jebus and Salem, softened or euphonized. This name first occurs in Josh. x. I, where Adonizedec is named as its king. After the death of Joshua, Judah is directed to fight against the Canaanites.3 They, with Benjamin, took Jerusalem, and set it on fire. From Judg. i. 21, we learn that "the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem." This statement has reference to the lower city, and not to the upper city, afterwards called Mount Zion, which the Jebusites then held, and which was not conquered until it was taken by David.4
When David reigned over Judah alone he dwelt in Hebron. But when called to be king over all the tribes, he led his forces against the Jebusites, and conquered Mount Zion, or the upper city. Here he fixed his abode, and called it the City of David. Thus all Jerusalem belonged to Israel, and became the religious centre and political capital of the nation.
1. Psa. lxxvi. 2
2. Judges i. 1-8.
3. 2 Chron. iii. 1.
4. 2 Sam. v. 6, 7.
In its most flourishing state it consisted of four parts, built upon four hills, viz.: Zion, Acra, Moriah, and Bezetha. Of these, Zion was the highest, being 200 feet higher than Moriah. The whole foundation was a high rock with four summits. It was surrounded on three sides with deep valleys. " All around it," says the Rev. Dr. Edersheim, "on three sides, like a natural fosse, ran the deep ravines of the Valley of Hinnom and of the Black Valley, or Kedron, which merged to the south of the city, descending in such steep declivity that where the two meet is 670 feet below the point whence each had started. Only on the north-west was the city, as it were, bound to the main land. And, as if to give it yet more the character of a series of fortress islands, a deep natural cleft-the Tyropoeon-ran south and north through the middle of the city, then turned sharply westwards, separating Mount Zion from Mount Acra. Similarly, Acra was divided from Mount Moriah; and the latter again by an artificial valley from Bezetha, or the new town. Sheer up from these encircling ravines rose the city of marble and cedar-covered palaces. Up that middle cleft, down in the valley, and along the slopes of the hills, crept the busy town, with its streets, markets, and bazaars; but alone and isolated in its grandeur, stood the Temple-mount."
Beyond the high and massive walls were still higher mountains. The situation of the city was picturesque, as seen from the surrounding hill-tops. Hence the descriptive language of David: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion; on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." " Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces." "Zion the perfection of beauty."1 After the division of the tribes it continued the capital of the kingdom of Judah. Its destiny was shaped by the character of its rulers. It prospered under the good, and was desolated under the bad, kings. Under Rehoboam (973 B.C.), it was conquered, by Shishak, king of Egypt.2 Under Amaziah it was taken by Jehoash, king of Israel, who broke down 400 cubits, or about 600 feet, of the wall of the city, and took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the temple.3
After the death of Josiah, the people made Jehoahaz, his son, king, early in whose reign Necho, the king of Egypt, conquered Jerusalem, dispossessed him, and imposed upon the land an annual tribute of goId and silver.4 At a later period, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, "burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof." 5 .
The city and temple being rebuilt under the edict of Cyrus, were again taken by Ptolemy of Egypt.
In 170 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes gained possession of the city. He slew, in three days, 40,000 persons, and sold as many more into slavery. He razed its walls, forced his way into the holy of holies,
1. Psa. xlviii. 2, 12, 13; I. 2.
2 .2 Chron. xii. 9.
3. 2 Kings xiv. 13, 14.
4. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 1-4.
5 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13-19.
and set up in the temple the image of Jupiter, and by the most tyrannical measures endeavoured to force the Jews into open idolatry. In 163 B. C., under the Maccabees, the Jews recovered and repaired the city. They purified and furnished the temple. One hundred years after this, or 63 B.C., during the. contentions of the Maccabees, it was conquered by the Romans, under Pompey. In the year 43 B.C., the walls, which Pompey had destroyed, were rebuilt by Antipater, the father of Herod the Great. Under this Herod, vast sums were expended to fortify and embellish the city. The building of this city was the work of ages, and perhaps furnishes the most illustrious example of what human ingenuity and perseverance, with patriotic zeal, can accomplish.
Jerusalem was not only a city of great beauty, but was a walled fortress of wonderful strength. The whole base was a high rock, with four bold jutting eminences. The ascent was steep and difficult. Josephus says: "On the outside, these hills are surrounded by deep valleys, and by reason of the precipices on both sides, they are everywhere unpassable."1 Dr. Robinson, who in 1838 made personal and careful admeasurements of the elevations of Mount Zion above the valleys, thus states them: " At the Jaffa Gate (Hippicus), 44 feet; at the southwest corner, 104 feet; at the south, 154 feet; at the south-east, 300 feet." He adds, "The rock is in its natural state, and probably presents the same appearance as it did in the days of Josephus; though the
1 Wars, book v., c. 4, § I.
adjacent valley has doubtless been greatly filled up with rubbish."1 This is confirmed by the labours of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
In addition to this elevated position, insulated by deep and precipitous valleys, the city was further fortified with three massive, high walls. "Now, of these three walls," says Josephus, "the old one was hard to be taken, both by reason of the valleys, and of that hill (Zion) on which it was built." "It was also built very strong, because David and Solomon, and the following kings, were very zealous about the work." Upon the same authority we learn that the first wall completely surrounded Mount Zion. " It began at the north-western angle of Zion, at the tower of Hippicus, and ran along the northern brow of Zion, where it crossed the cleft, and joined the western colonnade of the temple. It also inclosed Zion along the west and the south, and was continued eastward around Ophel, till it merged in the south-eastern angle of the temple. Thus the first wall would defend Zion, Ophel, and, along with the temple-walls, Moriah also." On the northern part of this were the famous towers of Phasalus and Mariamne. Dr. Robinson found distinct traces of this wall for a distance of 630 yards.
The second wall was built by Jotham, Hezekiah, and Manasseh, about 700 B.C. From 2 Chron. xxxii. 5, we learn that Hezekiah "built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without." This one inclosed Mount
1 Biblical Researches, vol. i., pp. 387 and 390.
Acra, on which the lower city was built. Commencing at Hippicus, it ran north and a little east, to the present Damascus Gate; and from thence it rounded towards the east and south until it reached the tower of Antonia: thus the whole of the lower city and the temple were amply protected. Traces of this wall have been found by Dr. Robinson and modern travellers, with some bevelled stones 7-1/2 feet long by 3-1/2 high.
The third wall, according to Josephus, was built mainly by Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, twelve years after the crucifixion, and inclosed Bezetha, or the new city. This also started at the tower of Hippicus, and extended northward to the tower of Psephinus; then sweeping round towards the north-east and east to the sepulchres of the kings, thence easterly and south to the north-east corner of the temple area. The description of this wall, built by Herod, will give us some idea of the massive strength of the others. "Its parts were connected together with stones 30 feet long by 15 feet broad. This wall was 15 feet wide, and it would probably have had a height greater than that, had not his zeal who began it been hindered." After this, it was erected with great diligence by the Jews, as high as 30 feet, above which it had battlements of 3 feet, and turrets 4-1/2 feet in altitude, so that altogether the wall was 37-1/2 feet in height. In addition we further learn, "that the towers that were upon it were 30 feet in breadth, and 30 feet in height. They were square and solid, as was the wall itself." "Of these towers the third wall had ninety, and the spaces between them were each 300 feet. But in the middle wall there were forty towers, and the old wall had sixty; while the whole compass of the city was thirty-three furlongs', or about four miles."
lt may be well to notice more in detail the principal towers, since they were points of great strength.
The Tower of Hippicus.-This in some respects is the most important, as Josephus makes it the starting place in all his descriptions of the three walls. It stood at the north-west corner of Mount Zion, or the upper city. It was built by the first Herod, and named after a valued friend slain in battle. It was 372- feet square, and for 45 feet it was built up solid.
Above this was a reservoir 30 feet deep. Above this again was a house 372- feet, of two stories, containing chambers. And still above this were breastworks 42- feet, with turrets, making the whole height of this tower 120 feet. The stones of which it was built were "very large and wonderful." They were of white marble 'cut out of the rock. Each stone was 30 feet in length, 15 feet in breadth, and 7! feet in depth. The Rev. Dr. Robinson, in 1838, found a portion of this tower still standing.
The Tower of Phasalus was built by Herod, and named after his brother. It was situated not far from Hippicus, on that part of the first wall which ran along the northern brow of Zion, from Hippicus to the temple. According to Josephus, "the breadth and height were each 60 feet." Over this a cloister went round 15 feet high. It was covered by breastworks and bulwarks. Above this cloister there was another tower, divided into rooms, with a place for bathing. It was also surmounted with battlements and turrets. The entire altitude was about 135 feet. It was this tower that Simon, the cruel leader of one of the factions, made his head-quarters.
The Tower of Mariamne was also built by Herod, and named after his queen. It stood on the same wall as the preceding, but nearer the temple. "It was solid for 30 feet. Its breadth and its length were each 30 feet." The upper apartments, built upon this solid foundation, "were more magnificent, and had greater variety than the other towers," as it was fitted up for his wife. The entire height was 75 feet.
The Tower of Psephinus was built by Agrippa, and was situated at the north-west corner of the third wall. It was eight-sided and 105 feet high, and commanded a most extensive prospect. It was of great strength; and as the north furnished the easiest approach to the city, this tower was regarded of the utmost importance. It had large cisterns for water.
The Tower or Citadel of Antonia.-In some respects this was the most considerable of all the towers, if indeed it may be called a tower. It occupied a large space, and embraced several buildings. Of it Josephus says: "Now on the north side of the temple was built a citadel whose walls were square and strong, and of exquisite firmness." It was built by the kings of the Asmonean race, and was first called Baris. Herod fortified it still more strongly, and in honour of his friend Antonius gave it the name of the Tower of Antonia. "It was situated at the north-west corner of two cloisters of the court of the temple, being erected upon a rock, and on the edge of a great precipice, and was 75 feet high." Josephus further states that "the rock on which it was built was itself covered over with smooth pieces of stone, from its foundation, both for ornament, and that anyone who would either try to get up or go down might not be able to hold his feet upon it." "Next to this (on the brow of this precipice), and before you come to the edifice of the tower itself, there was a wall 4-1/2 feet high. But within that wall, all the space of the tower of Antonia itself was built upon to the height of 60 feet. The inward parts had the largeness and form of a palace, it being parted into all kinds of rooms and other conveniences, such as courts and places for bathing, and broad spaces for camps." The dimensions of this plot of ground was about 573 feet from north to south, and 955 feet from east to west. The historian adds: "As the entire structure resembled that of a tower, it contained also four other distinct towers at its four corners, Three of these were 75 feet high; but that which lay upon the south-east corner was 105 feet high, that from thence the whole temple might be viewed," On the southwest corner, where it joined to the two cloisters, it had passages to the temple, through which the guards of the Roman legion stationed here passed. It was into this tower, through one of these passages, that Paul was carried by the soldiers from the temple.
"There was also a secret passage built for Herod, from Antonia to the inner temple, at its eastern gate, over which he erected for himself a tower, that he might have a subterranean ascent to the temple, in order to guard against any sedition which might be made by the people against their kings."
This tower was separated from Bezetha, on the north, by a deep artificial trench, to prevent any approach from that quarter. It is the opinion of Dr. Robinson that the rock on which this fortress stood was a prolongation of the hill Bezetha towards the south, which was cut through and separated from that hill by the trench above named. He supposes that the main fortress of Antonia lay upon this rock or ridge; whilst the remaining part, comprising the halls and palace-like apartments, and the barracks, extended along the northern wall of the temple area quite to its north-east corner, adjacent to the Valley of Kedron. On the north it was protected by this deep trench.
There is another element of strength in the valleys within the city, and which, within the walls, completely separated its different sections from each other. Besides the wall all round Mount Zion, or the upper city, there was a deep valley on the north side, called the Tyropoeon, or the Valley of the Cheesemongers. This also separated Zion from Mount Moriah; over this a bridge was built from Zion to the temple. This also shut off Acra, or the lower city, from Zion, as also in part from Moriah. Dr. E. Robinson remarks that "the Tyropoeon as it comes down from the wall, near the great mosque, is also steep, and forms a deep ravine, with banks almost precipitous." Without and around, on three sides of the city, are the vaIleys of Gihon, Hinnom, and Jehoshaphat. Opposite these surrounding valleys rise mountains, which are more elevated than the city. On the east is the Mount of Olives. On the south-east is the Mount of Offence. On the south is the Hill of Evil Counsel, and on the west is Mount Gihon. This explains the language of David: "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people, from henceforth even for ever."1 Thus the approach to the city of an invading army, with their cumbrous implements of war, would be both tardy and difficult.
Such is a very rapid glimpse of the situation and strength of Jerusalem. Perhaps there never was a city so strongly fortified by natural position, and by walls and towers of almost incredible massiveness and magnitude. Altogether it would seem impossible to take it by any power which man, with the then implements of war, could bring against it.
1. Psa. cxxv. 2.
“ And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." MARK xiii. x, 2.
In order to appreciate the force of the prediction and the terribleness of its fulfilment, it is necessary that we should form some accurate idea of the position and structure of the temple, with its walls, courts, and towers. Only thus can we trace out the course of the siege, and understand the aggravated miseries which the people endured from the assaults of the foes without and the turbulence of the factions within Jerusalem.
Many persons mislead themselves by supposing that the temple, designed for the worship of God, resembled the massive structures of Egypt and Greece, devoted to idol worship; or, if not built after these ancient models, that, perhaps, it more nearly resembled the splendid cathedrals of modern times. The description given us in the Old Testament, as well as that of Josephus, will correct all such imaginings.
The tabernacle erected by Moses in the Arabian desert was not formed after the device or arrangement of man. It was unfolded in its entire plan by God Himself. He gave to Moses, at Sinai, minute directions as to the form and size of the structure, the materials to be employed, and the sacred utensils that were to belong to it. During all the journeyings of the Israelites in the wilderness, and for several centuries after their settlement in Canaan, the tabernacle continued to be the place of public worship, though its location was changed several times. When the nation became consolidated and prosperous, it seemed proper that a more permanent structure should be reared. The first person who conceived the thought of the erection of a massive permanent edifice for the worship of God was King David. Though for the reasons clearly stated he was forbidden to carry out his design, he nevertheless made preparations for it by the accumulation of treasures and materials. The plan was fully carried out by Solomon.
It was modelled after the tabernacle, though twice as large, being I05 feet long, 35 feet broad, and 52-1/2 feet high. Thus the temple had no human architect. It was unlike any other structure for religious uses that had ever been built. Nor has it ever been copied by architects of any succeeding age. It stood unique and alone during all the ages of its diversified history.
Its magnificence did not consist in the size of the principal building, but in the preciousness of the materials, the richness of the ornaments, the excellency of the workmanship, and the number, extent, grandeur, and substantial masonry of its surrounding courts, corridors, chambers, walls, and towers. The uaos, or shrine, distinctively the temple, in which was the holy place and the holy of holies, occupied only a small part of the large inclosure of courts and cloisters and buildings to which the general designation of temple has been given.
The temple, with its ample and massive inclosures, stood upon the rocky summit of Mount Moriah, the spot where Abraham was directed to offer up Isaac in sacrifice. Josephus tells us that the "plain on the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the temple, for the ground about it was very uneven, and like a precipice." In order to secure a more extended surface it became necessary to lay the foundations deep in the valley below. This was done by Solomon in the following manner. He first built up a wall on the east side, which was filled in with earth to a level with the top of the hill. On this he erected cloisters. But as this left the temple naked and exposed on the other parts, other walls were erected, and the inclosure filled up, which greatly enlarged the summit of Mount Moriah. These walls on the north, the east, and the south were built up from the bottom of the hill, and were of immense strength as well as height. They reached to the height of 450 feet from the deep foundations in the valley, and in some places more.
Yet did not the depth of the entire foundations appear, for they brought earth, and filled up the valleys. In the construction of these foundations, immense rocks were laid together, and firmly bound to each other, and by iron were fastened to the sides of the mountain. They were so morticed into each other, and so wedged into the mountain, that the strength of the basis was not less admirable than the superstructure. Josephus states that "the stones used in the walls were not only of the largest size, being 60 feet long, 30 feet thick, and 24 feet wide, but they were hard and firm enough to endure all weather." Dr. Robinson intimates that, as Josephus wrote his history at Rome, and at considerable time after the destruction of Jerusalem, he could not give the exact measurements of heights and magnitudes. He says that "Josephus certainly never took the length and breadth and height of the buildings." How he arrives at this certainty he does not state. That Dr. Robinson was not present, and did not see Josephus apply the measuring-tape, is certainly true; but this does not prove that Josephus did not accurately ascertain the dimensions of the walls, the temple, and the stones above ground, for he was long a resident of Jerusalem, a Pharisee, and a prominent man in the nation. As a priest he had access to all places and documents; and we know him to have been of a curious and observing turn of mind. Dr. Robinson thinks that the statements of Josephus as to the size of the stones are only matters of estimate and conjecture. But we have other and corroborative testimony. "In the, sub-basement of the great temple at Baaldek, there is one stone 60 feet in length by I2 in breadth and thickness, with others of not greatly inferior size; while in a neighbouring quarry are stones of equal and greater dimensions, cut and ready for use, one of them being no less than 70 feet in length, by 14 feet 5 inches in thickness." The following extract from M. Volney, in relation to Baalbek, will help the credibility of Josephus: "What is still more astonishing is the enormous stones which compose the sloping wall. To the west the second layer is formed of stones which are from 28 to 35 feet long, by about 9 feet in height. Over this layer, on the north-west angle, there are three stones, which alone occupy a space of 175-1/2 feet: viz., the first, 58 feet 7 inches; the second 58 feet 11 inches; and the third exactly 58 feet; and each of these is 12 feet thick. These stones are of white granite, with large shining flakes, like gypsum. There is a quarry of this kind of stone under the whole city, and another in the adjacent mountains, which is open in several places. On the right as we approach the city, there is still lying there a stone hewn on three sides, which is 69 feet 2 inches long; 12 feet 10 inches broad; and 13 feet 3 inches in thickness."
At Sais, on the Nile, is a colossus dedicated to Amasis, who commenced the new dynasty in Egypt, 75 feet long. Pompey's Pillar, at Alexandria, "is a single piece of granite 73 feet high, and 28 feet 8 inches in circumference, is raised on a pedestal 20 feet high, and is surmounted by a vast Corinthian capital." At Heliopolis, near Cairo, is the obelisk of On, which is more than 68 feet above the pavement. It is standing in its original place, where it has stood 4000 years. At Assouan the old builders have left unfinished, in the quarry, a huge granite obelisk 95 feet long. The Egyptian obelisk at Rome is a shaft of red granite, 85 feet high, and 9 feet square.
As late as 1838 Dr. Robinson, after all the overturnings and rebuildings of Jerusalem and its walls, and the debris of ages, found some very large stones. One he measured was 24 feet long, by 3 feet high, and 6-1/2 feet broad. Another was 30 feet 10 inches long, by 6-1/2 feet broad. The doctor admits that the valleys have the appearance of having been filled up with rubbish. From the Palestine Exploration Fund we learn that at the north-east corner they sunk a shaft 80 feet before they reached the original rock on which the foundation-stones were laid. In other localities their shafts varied from 50 to 100 feet. From these excavations they reached the original foundations. The debris was unequal, in some places being 120 feet deep, consisting of loam, shingle, or broken pieces of cut stone, potsherds, lamps, and other rubbish thrown out from the city, or the deposits of investing armies.
The space secured for the temple-plot was 955 feet from east to west, and the same from north to south. Including the tower of Antonia, it was 1528 feet from north to south, and 955 from east to west. Upon this platform were erected the structures generally known as the temple. "They were not all on a level, but rose terrace upon terrace, till the sacred edifice itself was reached, its porch protruding, shoulder-like, on either side, --perhaps rising into two flanking towers and covering the holy and most holy places." "Alone, and isolated in its grandeur, stood the temple-mount. Terrace upon terrace its courts rose, tiIl high above the city, within the enclosure of marble cloisters, cedar-roofed, and richly ornamented, the temple itself stood out a mass of snowy marble and of gold, glittering in the sunlight against the half encircling green background of Olivet." "Thus, must the golden fane have been clearly visible from all parts; the smoke of its sacrifices slowly curling up against the blue eastern sky, and the music of its service3 wafted across the busy city; while the sunlight glittered from its gilt roofs, or shone from its pavement of tesselated marble."1 This graphic description of the Rev. Dr. Edersheim makes vivid the temple in its grandeur.
The first temple was built by Solomon 1005 years B.C., in the fourth year of his reign. It was completed in about seven years. One hundred and eighty-three thousand persons were employed. Of these one hundred and fifty-three thousand were Canaanites, being the bearers of burdens, hewers of wood, and overseers. There were thirty thousand Jews who also rendered service. These were divided into companies of ten thousand each, and served in rotation. As all the materials were prepared away from the site of the temple, these immense structures were put together without the sound of any tool.2
1. The Temple, its Ministry and Services at the Time of Jesus Christ.
2. 1 Kings vi. 7.
These buildings remained undisturbed in their pristine splendour only thirty-three years. At that time the temple was plundered and damaged by Shishak, king of Egypt.1 This temple stood 424 years before its final destruction by the king of Babylon, B.C. 588.
About 539 B.C., Cyrus gave permission to the Jews to return from their captivity to their own country, and to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Under the superintendence of Zerubbabel, the Jewish governor, and Joshua the high-priest, the work was commenced and vigorously prosecuted. This building was erected on the site and foundations of the first temple, and on the same plan, though inferior in grandeur and in beauty.2 During the twelve years' wars, which raged between 175 and 163 B.C., it was pillaged and desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes, who introduced into it idolatrous rites, dedicating the temple to Jupiter Olympus. This temple became so desolate that it was overgrown with vegetation. Judas Maccabeus, having expelled the Syrians, restored the sanctuary, and erected new fortifications against future attacks. During the contentions among the later Maccabees, Pompey, 63 B.C., attacked and took the temple, massacred 12,000 Jews in its courts, and entered the holy of holies.3 In 37 B.C., Herod the Great, with his Roman troops, stormed the temple, destroyed some of the surrounding halls, and damaged others.
1 1 Kings xiv. 25; 2 Chron. xii. 9.
2 Ezra iii. I2; Hag. ii. 3.
3 Antiquities, book xiv. c. 4.
THE TEMPLE OF HEROD. -- Herod the Great was an Idumean, and high in the favour of Julius Caesar. He obtained the kingdom of Judea from the Romans, to whom Palestine with all the neighbouring country was subject. He was the most distinguished of his family for talent, success, and magnificence. By reason of his cruelties he became exceedingly unpopular among the Jews. Finding it for his interest to propitiate them, he undertook the work of repairing, or rather of rebuilding the temple. Josephus says that Herod did not at once take down the temple of Zerubbabel to make room for the more splendid one he purposed to build, because of the jealous fear of the Jews, lest when he had pulled down the whole edifice he would not be able to rebuild it. He promised them that he would not remove their temple until all things were made ready for building it entire. He got ready one thousand wagons to bring stones; he employed ten thousand skilful workmen, beside stone-cutters and carpenters; then he began to tear down and build up. Eighteen thousand men were employed. The work was commenced in the eighteenth year of Herod's reign, which was B.C.21. It was so far completed as to be fit for use in nine years. The successors of Herod continued building operations, to carry out more perfectly the desig'n of Herod the Great. So it was correct for the Jews to say that forty-six years had been occupied in its building.1 A more particular description of the internal arrangements, especially of the walls and gates, with the
1 John ii. 20.
successive elevations, will be necessary, so as to understand its strength as a fortress, and the fearful scenes which took place within its sacred enclosures.
From 2 Chron. iii. I, we know that the temple was built upon the Mount Moriah. The outer wall was of great height and thickness, and was built up more than thirty feet above the top of the mountain. Upon this wall, but extending within, were built cloisters, or covered colonnades. These rested on the wall and rows of pillars 37-1/2 feet high, and "the thickness of each was such that three men might with their arms extended reach around them." Each of these pillars was of one entire stone of white marble. On the north, east, and west there were three rows, forty pillars in each row, making two aisles or walks between; but on the south there were four rows of forty pillars, being 15 feet from centre to centre, making three aisles or walks, that is, two of 30 feet wide, and one of 45 feet wide, giving a space of 105 feet on this side, which was the royal porch. The middle one of the three was twice as high, so that its roof was raised as much as 37-1/2 feet above the roofs of the common walks, and spread itself out on high at the distance of 75 feet from the broad and beautiful pavement beneath. When a person stood above on the roof of this middle walk, he could hardly look down into the valley on the outside of the wall without becoming dizzy, the distance to the bottom of it was so fearfully great. "The view from the top of this colonnade," says Rev. Dr. Edersheim, "into Kedron was the stupendous depth of 450 feet. Here some have placed that pinnacle of the temple, to which the tempter brought our Saviour." It was from this that He was urged to precipitate Himself.1
The pavements were laid with flat variegated stones. "The natural magnificence and excellent polish, and the harmony of the joints in the cloisters, afforded a prospect that was very remarkable. Nor was it on the outside adorned with any work of the painter or engraver."2 This court, sometimes denominated the "outer court," and also "the mountain of the house," but more generally the "court of the Gentiles," was reached from the outer wall by a flight of eight steps. This court was a favourite resort of the Jews. It became a place of trade, where the money-changers sat, and the various birds and animals for sacrifice were sold. From this Christ expelled the money-changers. It was here also that the Christians could daily assemble with one accord.3
These extensive cloisters, besides being pleasant retreats in warm and rainy weather, also furnished very large accommodations for many and various purposes. Here the Levites resided. Here also was a synagogue where the Talmudic doctors, or expositors of the law, might be questioned, and where their disciples might be heard. It was here that Jesus, at the age of twelve years, was found "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions."4 Here were halls, or apartments, where the rabbis addressed and
1 Matt. iv. 5-7.
3 Acts ii. 46.
4 Luke ii. 46.
disputed with their hearers. In these it was that Christ improved His opportunities for addressing the people, and of refuting the cavillers who sought to entrap Him. In the southern portion were the royal halls, which were more spacious than those on the other three sides. The principal gate of entrance was on the east side, and was reached by a flight of many steps from the valley below. This is generally supposed to be the one which in Acts iii. 2, 10, is called the Beautiful Gate. By this the worshipper entered the court of the Gentiles.
As the visitor passed through this court toward the second one, he found on all sides an elegantly ornamented wall or balustrade, 4-1/2 feet high. On this stood pillars, at equal distances, declaring, some in Greek, and some in Roman letters, the law of purity, that no foreigner nor unclean person could come within that sanctuary. The ascent from the wall of separation to the inner smaller enclosure was by fourteen steps. Next, and still higher, we find a wall 60 feet high from its foundation on the outer side, and 37-1/2 feet high on the inner side. Through a gateway and by a flight of fifteen steps the court of the women was reached. This wall must have been of great thickness to have required so many steps, and must have been erected on a precipitous slope, as indicated by the difference of 22-1/2 feet in the height of the outer and the inner wall. Again, fifteen steps higher up was the principal entrance to the court of the Israelites. On the other sides-north, south, and west-only five steps led up from the court of the women to that of the men. This shows the inequality of the surface. Over the gates were structures more than 60 feet high. Each gate was adorned with two columns, which were 18 feet in circumference. "In these gates were folding doors, each of which were 45 feet high and 20 feet wide, and were plated with gold and silver. The eastern was the principal gate. It was of Corinthian brass, and was higher and larger, and more adorned with precious metal than the rest."
The court of the priests, or the most sacred enclosure, into which none but the priests were permitted to enter, was separated from that of the Israelites by a stone balustrade, and was reached by an ascent of five steps. The whole space occupied by this court, including the "Naos," or temple proper, was from east to west 277-1/2 feet, and from north to south 197-1/2 feet, or 132,881 square feet. Massive and spacious buildings surrounded this enclosure except on the west side. These buildings were used as magazines, in which were stored wine, oil, corn, salt, wood, water, lambs for sacrifice, garments, musical and other instruments. There were spacious accommodations for the priests and Levites when engaged in their course of duty. On the south side was a large hall for the meetings of the Sanhedrin. In the large open court within these buildings, and in front of the temple, was the great altar and the brazen sea.
The Naos, or the temple proper, was on a still higher elevation, reached by twelve steps. It had a court on the north and south sides. Upon this high summit of Moriah the temple was situated, not quite in the centre, but rather to the north-western corner, and thus was visible from all parts of the city, as well as the surrounding country. As the innermost court was higher up than all the others, the temple could be seen high up and glorious from every place within the vast enclosure. This temple was oblong, being 90 feet long, 30 feet broad, and 45 feet high. Including the thickness of the walls, with the side chambers and the porch, its front was 150 feet, and its depth 75 feet. The porch, or vestibule, in front was 180 feet high, 30 feet broad, and 15 feet deep. This porch was open in front, and had near the entrance two massive pillars called Jachin and Boaz,-each I8 feet in circumference, and 54 feet high.
The main building was 54 feet high, except the holy of holies, which was only 30 feet high. The interior was divided into two parts, viz., the holy place, in which was the altar of incense, the golden candlestick, and the table of shewbread. The second was the holy of holies, in which was the ark of the covenant. The internal finish was the most elaborate and ornamental. Gold and silver and precious woods were lavishly used. The floor was of cedar overlaid with planks of fir. The door which opened to the sanctuary was covered with gold, and turned upon hinges of gold.
A topographical plan exhibits five or six elevations, with walls of great thickness and massive gates. If the outer wall was either broken through, or its gates battered down, the invaders would find in front of them a narrower standing-place and another wall high and strong. When this was penetrated, still other defences must be demolished. This series of fortresses extended clear up to the Naos or temple proper, at the summit, which was in some respects the most impregnable and the hardest to be taken.
From this rapid outline of the plan of the temple, with its cloisters, its various courts and massive walls which enclosed them, it must be plain that it was immensely strong, and formed perhaps the most impregnable of all the fortresses.
This is the structure to which the disciples referred: "Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here." It was of these that Christ said, "Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." No wonder that to the disciples it appeared impossible for this prediction ever to be fulfilled. No wonder that they who could not distrust the words of their Lord, supposed that their fulfilment could only be when the deep foundations of the earth should be upheaved, and when the fires of the judgment should burn up this world. "When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world ?"
How true it is that the security of nations does not lie in their wealth, in the strength of their bulwarks, or the magnificence of their religious establishments. Probably no place was stronger in natural position, in massive walls and towers, than Jerusalem. No religious observances were more grand and imposing, and no temple so gorgeous and so costly in treasures of gold and silver and precious stones and woods; and withal a fortress so compact and impregnable. And no city, by reason of its granaries and reservoirs of water, was more capable of successful resistance to any siege. So also its wealth could secure all needful supplies; for at no time or place was gold and silver so abundant. Still Jerusalem was to be destroyed, for "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." The reason why this city could not stand was sin, unrepented of, and persevered in with delight. As certainly as sin will sting any man to death, so also sin wiII sting a nation to death. The sins of a nation are the combined sins of individuals. Where the corrupt acts of the lawmaking power are approved and sustained by the people, they become national. When the wrong is persisted in without repentance, then the nation becomes so corrupt that the vials of destruction are emptied upon them. Of the Jewish nation, Josephus says "that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were but smaIl in comparison of those the Jews were guilty of, so that they were ripe for destruction. If the Roman army had not come when it did, I do verily believe that either an earthquake would have swallowed up the city, or a deluge overflowed them, or fire from heaven have consumed them."
When the temple became an object of idolatrous regard, and the people showed more respect for it than for the Divine commands, when the spirit of true worship was displaced by a superstitious devotion to and reliance upon mere ritual services, so that the punctilious observance of external rites and ceremonies was regarded as religion, -then God treats with loathing and abhorrence the most costly and magnificent demonstrations of worship. As the soul of true devotion is gone, He regards as worthless the temple itself, and all its splendid ritual. The Jewish nation were corrupt beyond recovery in their civil and their ecclesiastical organizations, and these must needs be wiped out.
In what God has done with the ancient nations we may be admonished, and learn that the stability of a country rests upon the virtue of the people, in their intelligence, their reverence, and their inflexible determination to do right. "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."
" And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to show Him the buildings of the temple. 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.” MATT. xxiv. I, 2.
“And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." MARK xiii. I, 2.
“And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, He said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." LUKE xxi. 5, 6.
About fifteen hundred years before the Roman armies conquered Jerusalem, Moses uttered words of solemn warning: "The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the ends of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young: . . . and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates until the high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst."1
1 Deut. xxviii. 49-52
Before the utterance of this warning, Moses had assured the people that rich and permanent blessings would be their portion, if they should hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord their God, to observe and to do all His commandments; then the Lord would set them on high above all nations of the earth, and bless them in all their relations. Obedience would make them a virtuous and reverential people, would be a perfect protection against their enemies and national sufferings, and secure to them the continued protection and favour of the Lord. Only one thing could stay the blessings, and draw upon them the manifestations of the Divine anger. This one thing was sin, habitual and persevering disobedience, - this made their wickedness to be corrupting and destructive. Other prophets threatened them with sword, famine, and pestilence; with slavery and the ploughing up of their holy city like a field.
With a perfect knowledge of all the prophetic warnings, with an unerring estimate of the moral character of the nation, and with a full knowledge of the massiveness of the temple, as well as the number and strength of the walls encircling the city, our Lord boldly uttered His most wonderful prediction. He seizes upon the destiny of a proud people, and fearlessly tells them of their certain and speedy overthrow. Although everything in the then political condition of the Jews, as well as in the structure of the temple and the city, forbad almost the possibility of the speedy fulfilment of this prophecy, still He fixed the time for its fulfilment as not distant, but near at hand, before that generation should pass.1
1 Matt. xxiv. 34; Mark xiii. 30; Luke xxi. 32.
He staked all His claim to be the Messiah upon its perfect fulfilment: "Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass ye may believe that I am He," that is, the promised Messiah. He not only uttered this prediction, but designated the signs which, with unerring certainty, would precede and foreshadow the coming doom.
The time when this prophecy was uttered.-It was not until God had borne with the Jews with great long-suffering,-not until He had exhausted all practicable means for their recovery,-not until they had slain the prophets who were His messengers,-not until they had despised and rejected the Redeemer, God's only Son, and had with murderous intent determined upon His death, and had thus filled up the cup of their iniquity,-then, and not till then, did He with heart-felt lamentations pronounce the dread sentence: “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."1 "And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground,
1 Matt. xxiii. 37,38; Luke xiii. 34.
and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation,"1 He wept, because He saw "the clouds of heaven gathering over it from every quarter, fraught with materials of destruction such as none but a Divine hand could collect,"-He saw "His own blood, by which He had graciously meant to wash away their guilt, calling with a voice not to be denied, for the ministers of justice to arm,"-He wept, for "He saw all things on earth and in heaven mustering and disposing for their doom." "He looked, and lo! the city was beleaguered and lost; Jerusalem lay bleeding at His feet; the harpy nations had taken their prey; her dwellings of holiness were laid waste; and the sound of her expiring lament, drowning even the voice of justice itself, pierced His heart." He stood and wept over it. "Like the thunder-cloud, which, having discharged its bolt at the earth, weeps itself away, exhausting itself in the healing shower, which closes the rent it has made; so His pity commiserates and pours itself forth over those whom in the same breath He had felt himself called upon to sentence."
Christ had paid His last visit to the temple, and with His disciples had left the city, and passed over the brook Kidron and up the slope of Olivet. Here, He sat down with Jerusalem and the temple full in view; when the disciples asked Him, "When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?"2 They could not
1 Luke xix. 41-44.
2 Mark xiii. 4.
doubt His word, "there shall not be left one stone (of the temple) upon another that shall not be thrown down;" but they were perplexed when they looked upon the massive walls, the towers and ramparts of the city, and the immense and solid buildings of the temple. Here, where He had so recently wept, He made mention of the signs which were to precede, as well as the circumstances of misery which were to attend the destruction. This prediction was written and published to the world many years before its fulfilment. It is recorded by Matthew. Of this Gospel the Rev. Dr. Eadie says,1 "It is supposed to have been written five years after Christ's ascension, or about the year 38. Some hold that it existed at a very early period both in the Hebrew and Greek languages." If this date be accepted as accurate, the prophecy was published and circulated in Palestine full thirty years before its accomplishment. It was also recorded by both Mark and Luke, who wrote their Gospels fifteen years before the Roman armies besieged the sacred city. Matthew, Mark, and Luke suffered martyrdom under Nero, and thus were dead before the destruction took place. The fact is evident that for many years prior to its fulfilment this remarkable prophecy was published in Palestine, and soon afterwards was diffused throughout the world.
The time of the fulfilment was fixed.-When His disciples said, "Tell us when shall these things be?" He said, "The time draweth near." "This generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled."2 He then
1 Biblical Cyclopedia.
2 Luke xxi. 8, 32.
names the specific signs which must precede, saying, “When ye shall see all these things (signs), know that it is near, even at the doors." When on His way to Calvary, He said to the great company of people and women who followed Him bewailing and lamenting, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children; for behold the days are coming in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps that never gave suck." He thus told them that they would be the witnesses, and some of them the participants of these miseries. Within the natural lifetime of some of those who heard Him all that He had predicted would certainly come to pass.
The Witness.-It is a matter of devout gratitude that the principal witness for the fulfilment of this remarkable prophecy is Flavius Josephus, a trustworthy Jewish historian. He was born A.D. 37, and died A.D. 93, thus living through the whole of the siege. He was from his childhood intimately acquainted with the localities, -with the position, the walls, the towers, the bulwarks, and all the defences of the city. Being a priest, of the sect of the Pharisees, he was familiar with the views and expectations of the Jews. He had a thorough knowledge of the temple,-its extent, its various buildings, and their uses, --the massiveness of its structure, and its immense strength as a defensive fortress. Thus, as no other historian, he was competent intelligently to know and to record the facts. His advantages for knowing what took place were peculiar, for he was in the favour of Vespasian, the Roman emperor. He accompanied him during part of the war, and was present at the siege. He continued with the army when Titus took the command. He was employed in several important embassies, and strove by all proper means to save the city and his countrymen from ruin. Soon after the destruction of the city and the temple, he returned with Titus to Rome, and there published his history of the Jewish wars. In this is found the most minute and circumstantial account of the siege, and the destruction of the city and the temple. This history was written virtually in the presence of the army of Titus, who had been with him on the spot, were personally acquainted with the localities, and were competent to detect any misstatements. This history supplies the most ample materials. Under the influence of patriotism he may have exaggerated some of his statements. Still, in no instance would he be tempted to understate the facts. It formed no part of his purpose to confirm the prediction made by Christ. Yet in his account of the siege his testimony is ample that our Lord's prediction was in every particular perfectly fulfilled. This is done, not by referring to the prophecy, or tracing out its accomplishment, but simply by a circumstantial record of the facts. He tells us who were the leaders, how the different factions arose,-how the provisions, sufficient for a siege of three years, were destroyed, -how the inhabitants were plundered,-how the miseries of famine and pestilence, superadded to the war, intensified their sufferings,-how the fightings by day and by night wore out the people,-how the corridors and other structures, with the tempIe, were burnt, despite all the efforts to save them, and how the city lay in ruins. These, and many more incidents, fill up his history. As we gather them up, and place them in order alongside the multiplied and various items of the prediction, we notice how they fit into each other, the history answering to the prophecy.
Had such a history been written by a Christian, there would have been room for suspicion that friendly feelings gave a colouring to the facts. But when a Jew, a priest, and a Pharisee writes the history of his own nation, and states the facts which confirm the prophecy, we cannot see how evidence of a more unquestionable character could be secured.
Concerning Josephus, Dr. Robinson makes the following statement: "Having sketched the progress of the Roman conqueror in his advance to the very gates, and recounted his disposition for the siege, this writer stops short in his narration, in order to lay before his readers a topographical sketch of the city and temple, as they then existed, before the tremendous overthrow to which they were soon subjected. This account is to us invaluable, and could not be supplied from any other sources."1
It is from the writings of this historian, whose knowledge was so ample and complete, and whose testimony is so free from suspicion, that we shall draw our narrative of the fulfilment of prophecy in the siege of Jerusalem.
1 Biblical Researches, vol. i. p. 409.
The Causes of the War
THE SAFETY OF THE CHRISTIANS.
“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:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: let him which is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." MATT. xxiv. 15-20.
“But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls. And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea 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. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." LUKE xxi. 18-22.
The causes of the war which issued in the destruction of Jerusalem had been accumulating for a long time. The pride of the nation was deeply wounded by the presence in Judea and Jerusalem of a Roman governor, attended with a strong military force. They were restive also under the exaction of taxes levied upon them by the Romans. They doubted whether their submission, and their payment of taxes, was not unlawful for them, and whether the assertion of their independence was not a duty. Hence the question, "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?" The influence of Pilate, who came to Judea as procurator A.D. 26, and continued twelve years, was not calculated to allay their irritation. He was a man of stern temperament, and careless of the peculiar characteristics of the people. By his utter disregard for their religious feelings he gave much offence, and frequently disturbed the repose of the country.
How the causes for revolt were thus intensified, a few facts may illustrate. When he sent troops to winter at Jerusalem, he caused their ensigns, on which were the idolatrous images of the emperor, to be carried into the city. .This no previous governor had allowed, through fear of exasperating the people, who regarded the presence of such idolatrous symbols as an insult to their religion. The ensigns, being covered, were brought in by night. Being discovered the next day, many of the Jews hastened to Caesarea to entreat Pilate to withdraw them. He kept them waiting five days and nights before his palace. On the sixth he sent for them, when he caused them to be surrounded by soldiers, and threatened them with instant death unless they returned home. Throwing themselves upon the ground, and baring their necks, they declared that they would sooner die than that the idolatrous standards should remain in the holy city, contrary to the law. Pilate, astonished at the firmness and determination of their resolution, and fearing the consequences of a revolt, gave an order for the standards to be brought back to Caesarea.
On another occasion a great tumult arose when Pilate made a demand upon the sacred treasury of the temple to meet the expenses of an aqueduct to Jerusalem from a fountain twenty miles off. Many of the Jews were then killed by disguised soldiers, who were sent by him among the crowd with daggers and bludgeons concealed under their garments.
When he undertook the consecration of golden bucklers to Tiberius, in the palace of Herod, the Jews were shocked and alarmed. Headed by their magistrates, and accompanied by the four sons of Herod, they entreated him not to persist in a matter so contrary to their law. He was neither influenced by their entreaties, nor by the threats of complaining of him to the emperor.
A quick succession of unjust, tyrannical governors, who aimed at enriching themselves by all practicable means, greatly vexed the people, until it brought them to the very verge of despair. The cruel oppressions and the shameless rapacity of Gessius Florus, the procurator of Judea, kindled into a general blaze the fire which had long been smouldering. He was appointed by Nero, and was unquestionably the worst Roman governor the Jews ever had. "There were no means at which he scrupled in order to fill his coffers." The robbers committed their depredations with impunity, so long as they gave him a portion. Thus life and property became so insecure that multitudes emigrated to foreign countries. In the year A.D. 66, an edict from the emperor was received at Caesarea, by which the Greek and Syrian inhabitants were placed in the first rank of citizens above the Jews, who had hitherto enjoyed that privilege. This was followed by gross insults from Greeks and Syrians upon the religion of the Jews, producing commotions which were only quelled by the Roman arms. The Jews withdrew their sacred books from the synagogue, and carried them to Narbata, two miles from Caesarea. When several of the principal Jews came to lay their grievances before him, he threw them into prison. This violent act produced a great sensation throughout Judea, and particularly in Jerusalem. At the same time he demanded seventeen talents from the treasury of the temple. This raised a tumult in the city, and strong denunciations were uttered against the governor. Gessius Florus came in person to enforce his demand, and required that all who had spoken against him should be delivered to him. He would listen to no explanations, and in revenge gave his soldiers permission to plunder the upper market, which was on Mount Zion. They further pillaged many private houses, and slew their inhabitants. Many of the best citizens were scourged and crucified. Next Florus attempted to enter the temple with his soldiers. This the people resisted with such bravery that the Romans were compelled to retire into the royal castle for safety. Having thus kindled the flame of rebellion he withdrew, sending information of the state of affairs to his superior Cestius Gallus, the prefect of Syria.
The war, which lasted five years, began A.D. 66, at Masada, a fortress near the Dead Sea, where a party of Jewish warriors surprised the Roman garrison, and put all the soldiers to the sword. Following this up, the leaders of the nation at Jerusalem openly threw off their allegiance, the priests refused to offer up the usual sacrifices for the prosperity of the emperor, and the popular party slew the Roman garrison. This produced a general insurrection. The Jews on the one side, and the Romans and Syrians on the other, in every town attacked each other with the greatest fury. The Jews mustered in great numbers, pillaging and devastatiqg the towns chiefly occupied by the Syrians on both sides of the Jordan. The Syrians in revenge massacred the Jews whenever they fell into their hands. Thus the whole country streamed with blood. When Cestius Gallus, the prefect of Syria, heard of this general revolt, he marched with a strong army into Judea. He hastened towards Jerusalem, and surrounding the city, laid siege to it.
We must here glance for a moment at one circumstance which points out the time for the fulfilment of the prophecy of Daniel, uttered more than 500 years before. "After threescore and two weeks," says the prophet, "shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined."1 Of this Christ says, "'vVhen ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let him that readeth understand)." 2 "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed
1 Dan. ix. 26.
2 Mark xiii. 14.
with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh."1 The "abomination of desolation" is a Hebrew expression, signifying "abominable, or hateful destroyer." Where Daniel uses the word abominations, Christ adds the word "desolation," because it was to make Jerusalem utterly desolate. As Luke in this connection speaks of the compassing of Jerusalem with armies, I think it clear that, by the abomination of desolation, the Saviour meant to designate the Roman armies. These were composed of soldiers who were idolaters. They carried in front of their legions ensigns or standards upon which were painted the images of eagles and of their emperors. These, Suetonius informs us, the Romans worshipped; whilst Tacitus calls them "the gods of war." Chrysostom says, "that every idol and every image of a man was by the Jews called an abomination." An illustration is mentioned by Josephus: that "when Vitellius, the governor of Syria, was conducting his army through Judea, against Aretas, the king of the Arabians, the principal Jews, on account of their strong abhorrence of the ensigns of the soldiers, on which were eagles and the images of the emperors, earnestly entreated him to lead his army some other way, and that he greatly obliged them by complying with their request." In corroboration of the fact that the Romans worshipped these standards, Josephus adds, "that after the city was taken, the Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them opposite
1 Luke xxi. 20.
the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them in that place." The Roman armies are properly called the abomination of desolation, as desolation marked their advances through all the provinces and nations they had subdued, and as by them the holy city, and its more holy temple, were to be utterly destroyed.
The besieging of Jerusalem by these armies is called the "standing where it ought not," and "standing in the holy place." The entire city, and all the land for several furlongs around it, was regarded as holy. The Saviour here particularly refers to the surrounding of the city by the armies of Cestius Gallus. They soon obtained full possession of Bezetha, or the new city, and were favourably situated for aggressive movements. Thus it would seem that the Christians, equaIIy with the Jews, were shut up in the city to certain destruction. This, which was the beginning of the days of vengeance, still was to be the signal for the safety of the Christians. They were admonished "to possess their souls in patience," -"not to be troubled or terrified," -"for all these things must first come to pass." They were assured that "not a hair of their head should perish," and that this besieging was the evidence that their deliverance was near. To human vision this was the time of their extremity, but it was the time of God's opportunity. Connected with this siege by Cestius Gallus, we shall have occasion to consider the remarkable providence which demonstrates how certainly God will overrule events so as to accomplish His purposes of mercy toward those who love and trust Him. Josephus states that if Cestius Gallus had assaulted the upper city (Zion), he could easily have taken it, and ended the war; but he adds, "For the wickedness of the people God suffered not the war to end at that time." For some reason which historians have not explained, Cestius Gallus, instead of following up his victory by a resolute advance, withdrew his troops from the city to their encampment. This strange movement emboldened the Jews; and being animated with the wildest enthusiasm and the intensest hatred, they seized their weapons, and rushed out with such impetuosity and numbers that they compelled the Romans to give way, and betake themselves to flight.
For three days they pursued the retreating army with great slaughter; they got possession of many engines of war, and large supplies. This enabled them to prolong the defence of the city. Agrippa, at the request of Cestius Gallus, sent ambassadors to entreat them to lay down their arms, promising forgiveness for all the past. Elated by their recent success, they rejected with scorn these overtures; they seized the ambassadors, slew one, and wounded the other. Such conduct was in opposition to the earnest counsel of the more respectable citizens, who formed a very powerful body. They clearly saw that such conduct would exasperate the emperor, and bring against them the whole Roman power. They were not mistaken. The Roman armies, in larger force, soon came, and unrelentingly went on with their work of conquest and ruin.
Flight of the Christians.- Those who forget that God holds in His hands the heart of kings and rulers, and through their instrumentality works out His own designs, are at a loss to account for the retreat of Cestius Gallus, the Roman general. But those who recognize God as the moral governor will understand this strange retreat when the city was ready to surrender. Such will remember that, more than thirty years before, Christ had said to His disciples, " When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains."
Before or during the siege the Christians could not safely flee. Had they attempted it they would have been destroyed, either by the Jews within the city or by the Romans without. The only way of escape was for the general to raise the siege. This was done. The armed Jews in great numbers rushed out, and pursued the retreating army. It was during this time, when the gates were thrown open, that the Christians found their only opportunity for leaving the city and fleeing to a place of safety.
The advice "in patience possess ye your souls,” evidently denotes that the Christians were to watch for and seize upon the crisis the moment it should arrive. Also that their flight was to be with great suddenness, and with such haste as to forsake all worldly property. We notice the three specific items in this advice.
(I) All in Judea were to flee to the mountains - Judea was the southern portion of Palestine, including the tribes of Judah, Simeon, Dan, and Benjamin. Jerusalem was a little north of the centre of this territory. This whole region, as well as Jerusalem, would feel the scourge of this war, and all its inhabitants be exposed to its fearful ravages. The mountains to which they were to flee are those of Perea, a mountainous region on the east side of the river Jordan, and considerably north of Jerusalem. This whole territory, including a part of Galilee, was under the government of Agrippa the Younger. As these countries remained obedient to the Roman power, and took no part in the rebellion, they were consequently not disturbed by the war. This, in itself, was a sufficient reason why the Christians should flee thither. In the midst of these mountains were deep secluded ravines and extensive caves, which would be places of refuge should persecution or other troubles invade this region.
What but Omniscience could thirty years ahead foretell, with such minute accuracy, the scenes of the war, and that the mountainous country would be at peace, whilst all around should be terribly convulsed, and that rapine should rage with horrors unparalleled? What but the faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God would have preserved these mountains in peace, as a covert from the tempest and a shelter from the storm? Who but God would have thus placed His saints on high, and made their defence the munition of rocks?
(2) Their flight 'Was to be too sudden to admit of any delay, and hasty to permit the carrying anything away with them.- “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes!"1 Great emphasis is given to this advice when we remember that "the Jewish houses were flat-roofed, and commonly had two stairs, one within and the other without the house, by which they went up to the roof." Thus a continued terrace was formed from one end of the city to the other, and terminating at the gates. Dr. Shaw, in his Travels in the East, says, "The top of the house, which is always flat, is covered with strong plaster; upon these terraces several offices of the family are performed, such as the drying of linen and flax, - the preparing of figs and raisins, - where likewise they enjoy the cool refreshing breeze of the evening, converse with each other, and offer up their devotions. . . . One may pass along the tops of the houses from one end of the city to the other without coming down into the street." The counsel is that if any Christian should be on the housetop when the signal for flight should be given, he must speed his way with all possible dispatch. He must not tarry long enough to go down into the house to take any article, even the most necessary. And if any are in the fields, they must instantly leave the plough in the furrrow, and take the nearest way to the mountains; they must not go back to take with them the outer garments laid aside when they commenced their work. But every man, just as he was, no matter
1 Matt. xxiv. 17, 18.
where found, or in what business employed, must flee for his life, and consider himself fortunate if he can only escape; for the days of vengeance had come. In this advice there was great wisdom as well as mercy. They were to seize upon the time when the Roman army was retreating, and when the multitudes of the armed Jews, with their desperate leaders, were passing out of the city in hot and eager pursuit. To leave the city at this period would be easy, and would excite no suspicion. If they collected their valuable effects they would draw upon them the attention of the robbers, who would fall upon them. Besides, if thus burdened, it would have so retarded their flight as to prevent their escape before the return of the Jews and the closing of the gates; for then the fierce ravages of war and pestilence and famine would commence.
(3) They were to pray that their flight might not be either in the winter, or on the Sabbath.-" But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day."1 Since the doom of Jerusalem was decreed and proclaimed, its preservation was no longer a proper subject of prayer. Thus saith the Lord, " Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to Me: for I wiII not hear thee." 2 "Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto Me for their trouble."3 Yea, "though Moses and Samuel stood before Me,
1 Matt. xxiv. 20. (missing footnote 2)
3 Jer. xi. 14.
yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth.. . . Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity."1 How terrible is the condition of that people when an intercessor may not stand up between God and them!- when the voice of pleading and the incense of prayer is forbidden, and they are left to the retributions of incensed justice!
But it was proper for those who were to escape to plead for every mitigating circumstance. Hence that their flight might not be in the winter. Then the hardness of the season, the badness of the roads, the shortness of the days, the severity of the atmosphere, the scarcity of provisions, and the scantiness of clothing would greatly aggravate the miseries of their flight. The winter would cause great suffering to all, but especially to the aged, to the women, and the children. How continued would be their sufferings, if, after reaching the mountains, they should be compelled in their impoverished condition to dwell in the caverns and dens of the earth, as their only refuge from the rude blasts of winter.
Neither on the Sabbath day. - If this refers to the Jewish Sabbath, how wise and merciful the petition. For such was the adherence of the Jews to its mere outward observance, whilst they violated its hallowed spirit, that if the Christians should flee on that day they would arouse the fierce jealousy of the Jews,
1 Jer. xv. r, 2.
and involve themselves in serious delays, if not positive sufferings. If the Christian Sabbath was also included, which I think was the case, then here too there is mercy and wisdom in the prayer. Christ would not, if practicable, have its peace and sanctity disturbed even by such a work of necessity. Besides, many would linger in doubt, - many would fly doubting. Every way it would harass and perplex the conscientious, and that too at a time of such peculiar peril.
Here we must recall the fact that, when Cestius Gallus, the Roman general, had actually taken Bezetha, the new town, he precipitately withdrew his army. It will be well to notice here a few of the facts. When the new town was taken, the principal men were persuaded by Ananus to open the gates to him -they actually invited him into the city, to settle the terms of the surrender. "But," says Josephus, "he overlooked this offer, partly out of his anger at the Jews, and partly because he did not thoroughly believe they were in earnest. Thus, when he had the city in his power, and could have ended the war in a single day, without any assignable reason, he suddenly raised the siege, and commenced a rapid retreat, in which a great portion of his army was slain, and large supplies of provisions and munitions of war fell into the hands of the Jews." The gates of the city were opened, whilst the pursuit was continued for three days. Then the gates were again closed, and the most zealous and active preparations made for defence. Thus, in this most remarkable manner, three days were granted to the Christians in which to flee to the mountains. These were not wintry days. This defeat, says Josephus, took place on the 8th day of the month Marchesvan, which corresponds with the latter part of our September and the early part of October. This was a lovely season of the year. The harvest of corn, and the gathering of grapes, pomegranates, and other fruits was completed. Thus available provisions were abundant.
That their flight was not on the Sabbath may be fairly gathered from the narrative of the historian; for he tells us that during the same siege, only a few days before the retreat of Cestius Gallus, "the Jews left the feast, and betook themselves to their arms without any consideration of the rest of the seventh day, although the Sabbath was the day for which they had the greatest regard." He notices this one occasion as peculiar. But when the defeat of Cestius Gallus is recorded as occurring on the 8th of Marchesvan, not the slightest intimation is given that it was on the Sabbath. The evidence, I think, is clear that their prayer, as advised by their Lord, was heard and answered, and that their flight was neither in the winter nor on the Sabbath.
That they actually fled in haste is evident. Josephus says, "And now it was that a horrible fear seized upon the seditious, insomuch that many of them ran out of the city as though it were to be taken immediately." Again," Many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away from the city as from a ship when it was going to sink." What language can be more expressive of haste? Still again he tells us, that when Titus was drawing his forces towards Jerusalem, "a great multitude fled from Jericho into the mountainous country for security." Jericho lay north and east from Jerusalem, and was directly in the way from the city to the mountains in Perea. It may be that many Christians who had fled from Jerusalem took up a temporary lodgment in Jericho, but on the approach of the army under Titus they fled directly to the mountains. The historian Eusebius says,' "The people of the church in Jerusalem being ordered by an oracle given to the faithful in that place, by revelation left the city, and dwelt in a city of Perea, the name of which is Pella." Epiphanius says that the Christians in Jerusalem were admonished of its destruction by an angel. It was during this critical interval of three days that the Christians made their escape. Bishop Newton remarks, "We do not read anywhere that so much as one of them perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. Certainly not when Christ promised, "Not a hair of your head shall perish." "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies."1 Well then hath the psalmist said, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ... He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou
1 Psa. xxv.. 10.
shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon-day. . . . Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, Thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee. . . . For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."1 And the apostle has said, "AIl things work together for good to them that love God." Blessed Jesus! how tender! how faithful is Thine heart! Whom Thou lovest Thou lovest always, and as the apple of Thine eye; and though earth and hell should combine their rage, and earth and heaven pass away, none shall be able to pluck them out of Thine hand. They are safe, absolutely and for ever,-and only they.
The safety of those who put their confidence in God is beautifully illustrated in all the circumstances attending the flight of the Christians from Jerusalem. Their Lord told them not to be terrified or troubled by all the strange and desolating events which should awaken alarm, and which threatened the certain destruction of the city. They must possess their souls in patience, and not prematurely attempt to escape the terrors of that day; no, not when they saw the Roman armies encamped around the city; no, not when the work of desolation had begun, and they saw the new city a heap of ruins, because He would keep them, and at the proper time make the way plain
1 Psa. xci. I-II.
and safe for their escape. Such was the confidence which the Christians reposed in this word of their Lord that they strictly obeyed His directions. We have seen how Cestius Gallus besieged the city, and had it in his power; but that, at an unexpected moment, and without any assignable reason, he raised the siege, and precipitately fled. Then the Jews threw open the gates and rushed out, and for three days victoriously pursued. It was at this critical, this wholly unexpected opportunity of only three days that the Christians fled without danger either from the Romans or the Jews. Immediately on the return of the Jews the gates were closed. The sentinel was there at every gate holding his ceaseless, jealous vigils. Thus a way of escape was made for the Christians. Flushed by their success, the Jews were emboldened in their determined resistance, and were shut in to the famine, the pestilence, and the sword,-to sufferings the most fearful and to deaths most strange and terrible.
Who can thoughtfully ponder the prediction and its fulfilment, and not feel that the hand of God was in them, and that God does govern in all the affairs of men; a protection and a reward to all who serve, and a ruin to all those who follow their own hearts?
Even now I seem to hear the kind whispers of His love saying, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."1 Methinks I can now hear the swelling shouts of joyful gratitude bursting from the Christian bands as they again come forth from their hiding-places, singing, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. . . . The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge." 2
But three days were given to the Christians to secure their safety by flight. Can there be any doubt that, if after all the instruction and admonition they had received, they had hesitated, doubted, lingered, and thus consumed the three days, that they too would have been shut in, and made to partake, as the reward of their unbelief, of the miseries and plagues which befel the unbelieving Jews? God had forewarned them' and provided the way of escape. Can anyone doubt that, if they had lingered in order to secure some worldly interest, to finish some plan or work, or to secure treasures, that they would have miserably and foolishly lost their lives? True faith works promptly, -works with energy, and is ready for any sacrifices. Is it not plain that unless the Christians, and such of the Jews as may have accompanied them, had made the matter of their escape the one present and absorbing interest, to which every
1 Isa. xxvi. 20, 21.
2 Psa, xlvi. 1-3, 7.
other interest must instantly give way, that they could not have been saved from the impending ruin? And what does all this teach impenitent men, whose dangers are a thousandfold more terrible and threatening than those which gathered in massive clouds of blackness over Jerusalem? How many days has any man in which to escape? Who can fix the number? How many hours in which to escape? Who can certainly number them? Why do men linger? What plan, what work, what treasure-making detains them? What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
The Six Signs
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars. . . . There shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, i.n divers places. . . . 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. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. . . . And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. . . . 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. 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:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." MATT. xxiv. 4-16.
" And fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." LUKE xxi. II.
It will be noticed that our blessed Lord not only predicts the utter destruction of the temple, but points out six specific signs which were to precede that event. He refers to the prophecy of Daniel, which was having its fulfilment in Himself as the promised Messiah, and as also fixing the time of the destruction of the city in perfect harmony with His own prophetic words.
(1) The first sign: false Christs. -Josephus calls Daniel the greatest of prophets, because he fixed the time of the fulfilment of his predictions. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression." "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks. . . . And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary."1 In prophetic language a day stands for a year;2 and the seventy weeks determined would equal 490 years. The command to rebuild was in the seventh year of Artaxerxes, or 457 B.C. Add to this the 33 for the earthly life of Christ, and it completes the 490 years. It is a well-authenticated fact that, guided by this and other accredited prophecies, learned men were expecting the appearance of the promised Messiah at the very time that our Lord made His appearance: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king. behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him." Herod demanded of the chief priests and scribes where Christ should be born. “And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of ]udea: for thus it is written by the prophet."3 Just here the testimony of Josephus is very explicit: "Now there was about this
1 Dan. ix. 24-26.
2 Lev. xxv. 8; Num. xiv. 34; Ezek. iv. 5. 6; Dan. iv. 32, 34; Luke xiii. 32.
3 See Matt. ii. 1-5.
time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the Divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."1
As the men then in authority expected a conquering king to deliver them from the Roman yoke, and to elevate their nation to the highest place; and as Christ made no pretensions to civil authority, but was "a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," He was therefore to them "as a root out .of a dry ground," and "having no comeliness nor beauty that they should desire Him," they rejected and crucified Him. This expectation made it the more easy for false Christs to impose themselves upon the people. The fulfilment of this sign commenced soon after the crucifixion. Josephus makes mention that "Theudas, about twelve years after the death of
1 Antiquities, b. xviii. c. 3, § 3. I am aware that suspicion has been thrown upon this remarkable testimony by certain authorities. An examination and vindication of this passage may be found in the Appendix to the Works of Josephus, translated and edited by Professor William Whiston, A.M., of Cambridge.
Christ, being a sorcerer, deceived many. He persuaded a great multitude to bring their goods and follow him to the river Jordan, promising that he would divide the waters. Whilst on his way he and his followers were taken by the forces of Fadus and destroyed." This case is referred to by Gamaliel in Acts v. 36. Josephus further tells us that about ten years after, when Felix was governor of Judea, these impostors drew great multitudes after them into the wilderness, promising to work great signs and wonders before them. He makes particular mention of the Egyptian prophet, who came to Jerusalem and persuaded the people to follow him to Mount Olivet, declaring that from thence they should see the walls of Jerusalem fall. Felix sent his soldiers, slew many, and dispersed the rest. He informs us that, three years later, when Festus Portius was procurator, an impostor appeared who deceived great multitudes with promises of deliverance from the Roman oppression, if they would only follow him into the wilderness. But Festus sent forth his army and destroyed this impostor, with most of his company.
It is worthy of notice that the language employed by Josephus, in setting forth the claims and conduct of these impostors, is the very same which our Saviour used in the prediction that they would arise and "deceive many." "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 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. Behold, I have told you before. 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."1 In view of this prophecy and the facts fulfilling it, how striking that saying of Jesus Christ when He was rejected of the Jews: "I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive."2
(2) The second sign is wars and rumours of wars and commotions.3 -By reason of the violent struggles among the competitors for the imperial throne, the whole Roman empire was thrown into the greatest commotion. The conflicts were sudden, frequent, and severe, and were attended with a vast expenditure of blood and treasure. It was literally a period of wars and rumours of wars, for no less than four emperors (Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius) suffered violent deaths in the short space of eighteen months. The very foundations of the civil structure were shaken when the Emperor Caligula commanded his statue to be placed in the temple at Jerusalem. The Jews. with unflinching steadfastness, refused to comply, and to every threat of invasion and destruction replied that they were ready to be slain rather than witness the setting up of this statue in the holy place. Being in constant expectation of assault, they were in such consternation, the historian informs us, that they neglected the tilling of their lands. The
1 Matt. xxiv. 23-26.
2 John v. 43.
3 Matt. xxiv. 6, 7; Mark xiii. 7, 8; Luke xxi. 9-11.
death of the emperor prevented the gathering storm from bursting upon them.
" Nation shall rise up against nation."1- This, says Grotius, means "that the Jews and the people of other nations, dwelling in the same cities, should kill one another." This was fulfilled at Caesarea, where the Jews and Syrians contended about the right of the city, and more than 20,000 Jews were slain, and the city entirely cleared of them. This exasperated the whole nation, and, forming themselves into companies, they burnt and plundered the cities and villages of the Syrians, and slaughtered great numbers of the inhabitants. The Syrians, in return, slaughtered great numbers of the Jews, -at Scythopolis, 13,000; at Ascalon, 2,500; at Damascus, 10,000; and at Alexandria, 50,000. So desperate was the hostility that Josephus says "every city was divided into two armies."
It is added, "kingdom against kingdom." This found its fulfilment in the wars of the tetrarchate and the provinces against one another; in the wars of the Jews in Perea against the people of Philadelphia; in that of the Jews and Galileans against the Samaritans, occasioned by the murder of some Galileans going to the feast at Jerusalem; and especially in that of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans. The language of Josephus is, "There was not only sedition and civil war throughout Judea, but likewise in Italy: Otho and Vitellius contending for the empire." It will be borne in mind that when
1 Matt. xxiv. 7.
Christ uttered His prediction the temple of Janus was shut, because there was peace all over the Roman empire. The wars which for ages had been waged had come to a close. The Roman legions were victorious, and Rome was the acknowledged mistress of the world. It would seem that the various kingdoms would seek repose, and not soon plunge again into the exhausting horrors of war. Contrary to these probabilities, wars, and rumours of wars, and dire commotions soon extensively prevailed.
(3) The third sign: famine and pestilence and earthquakes.1 -During the reign of Claudius there was an extensive and distressing famine in Judea. It is spoken of in Acts xi. 28. It was to relieve the saints at Jerusalem, suffering from this famine, that Paul urges the Christians to make contributions on their behalf. Suetonius and other writers refer to this famine. Josephus says that it was so severe at Jerusalem that many perished, and that Queen Helena sent to Alexandria and Cyprus, and bought a great quantity of corn and dried figs, and thus saved the lives of many. Connected with the famine was pestilence. Scarcity and bad provision invariably produce some fatal sickness. But in this case the pestilence came first, and was aggravated by the famine and the want of attention to the sick and dying. Josephus writes: "Being assembled together from all parts to the feast of unleavened bread, presently, and on a sudden, they were environed with war. And first of all a plague fell among them, and immediately a
1 Matt. xxiv. 7; Mark xiii. 8; Luke xxi. II.
famine worse than it. The dead lay unburied, and, the air becoming loaded with the exhalations from the putrid bodies, added great virulence to the pestilence.
The prediction says, "And earthquakes in divers places." History fully confirms this. Philostratus tells of an earthquake in Crete in the reign of Claudius. Also of earthquakes at Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, and Samos. Tacitus describes the great earthquake which happened at Rome in the days of Nero; also at Laodicea, at Hierapolis, and Colosse, which cities were overthrown. Seneca mentions that the celebrated city of Pompeii, in Campania, was almost demolished by an earthquake. Suetonius tells of another earthquake at Rome in the reign of Galba. Josephus declares that in Judea there were terrible earthquakes and commotions. His language is peculiar and emphatic: "For by night there broke out a most dreadful tempest and violent strong winds, with the most vehement showers and continual lightning, and horrid thunderings and amazing concussions, and prodigious bellowings of the shaken earth; and it was manifest that the constitution of the universe was confounded for the destruction of man; and anyone might easily conjecture that these things portended no common calamity. All these convulsions of the solid earth," he adds, occurred "in rapid succession, and but a short time before the destruction of the sacred city."
(4) The fourth sign: "fearful sights and great signs from heaven."1 -In his preface to the Jewish Wars,
1 Luke xxi. II.
Josephus says: "Nor shall I omit to mention how the temple was burnt; the destruction also of the entire city, with the signs and wonders that went before it." Accordingly, in the fifth chapter of his sixth book, we have a full and circumstantial account of seven distinct prodigies which, he says, were indeed fearful and portending evil. He tells of a strange light at midnight: "Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus (Nisan), and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright daytime, which lasted for half an hour... Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner court of the temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the solid floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord, about the sixth hour of the night." It was not without great difficulty that the captain of the temple, with his men, were able again to shut the gate. He tells us that the vulgar interpreted this as a sign that God would throw open the way of deliverance; whilst the learned understood it that "The security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies."
He tells of strange sights of chariots and armies in the heavens: "A few days after the feast, on the twenty-first of the month Artemisius, a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; . . . for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding cities." He tells us also of an unusual voice heard in the temple: "Moreover at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner court of the temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence!' "
He records the solemn, oft-repeated, and singular warning of a man named Jesus: "But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for everyone to make tabernacles to God in the temple, and began on a sudden to cry aloud, 'A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!' This was his cry, as he went about by day and night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the people had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did he not either say anything for himself, or anything peculiar to those that chastised him; but still he went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing that this was a kind of Divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator; where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet did he not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, 'Woe! woe to Jerusalem!' . . During all the time that passed before the war began, he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, 'Woe! woe to Jerusalem!' . . .This cry of his was loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty….until the very time he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased. For as he was going round upon the wall he cried out with his utmost force, 'Woe! woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!' and just as he added at the last, 'Woe! woe to myself also!' there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately." “Thus," adds this historian, "the miserable people, persuaded by their deceivers, did not attend, nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretel their future desolations; but, like men infuriated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them."
These incidents are narrated by Josephus with great simplicity, with the consciousness of their truth, and that they were matters of public notoriety. They are confirmed by other writers. Tacitus, the Roman historian, in speaking of the remarkable things which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, says, " Prodigies fell out,-armies were seen to engage in different parts of the sky,'-glittering armies appeared,- the temple shone by the sudden fire of the clouds,-the doors of the temple were suddenly thrown wide open, -a voice, more than human, was heard that the gods were departing, and at the same time a great motion as if departing."
(5) Fifth sign: the persecution of Christians and the apostacy of professed disciples.-" But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake."1 "And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. . . . And because
1 Mark xiii. 9.13.
iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."1
Under this general prediction, Christ specifies a series of particulars. He also points out the time of their fulfilment, saying, "Before all these;" that is, previously to and during the progress of the four preceding signs, "they shall lay hands on you, and persecute you." History records the fact that no small share of all their sufferings was in consequence of the pestilence, the famine, the earthquakes, and other calamities, which their enemies imagined were judgments sent upon them by the gods because of the existence of Christians among them. As the prediction is specific, so the fulfilment is specific. It is written that "Saul of Tarsus," after consenting to the stoning of Stephen, "yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high-priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem."2 In his defence before Agrippa he said, " I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison. . . . And being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities."3 When he became a Christian, the persecution turned against him. Its intensity and determined hostility is illustrated by the fact that forty persons bound them-
1 Matt. xxiv. 10, 12.
2 Acts ix. 1, 2.
3 Acts xxvi. 9-1I.
selves with an oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.1
The prediction is very specific. It says, "Delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons."2 We have this answering record: "And as they (Peter and John) spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them. . . . And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold (or prison) unto the next day. . . . On the morrow, their rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas the high-priest, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high-priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them (Peter and John) in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? (healing the lame man). . . . And commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus."3 When Peter and John continued to preach in the name of Jesus, "the high-priest rose up, and all they that were with him, and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison."4 Herod also "stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church,"5 for when he had apprehended Peter he put him in prison. Thus the disciples were delivered up to councils and to prisons.
Still more specific is the prediction; for it says, "And in the synagogues shall ye be beaten." The answering record is, When the high-priest, with the
1 Acts xxiii. 12.
2 Luke xxi. 12.
3 Acts iv. 1-7, 8.
4 Acts v. 17, 18.
5 Acts xii. 1-4.
council, and all the senate of the children of Israel, were assembled in the synagogue, having "called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus."1 Paul testifies: "I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed."2 Here was the infliction of stripes in the house of God. Of Paul and Silas it is recorded: "And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison."3 Paul's experience was, "in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned."4 It is probable that when five times he received of the Jews thirty-nine stripes, and thrice was beaten with rods, it was in the synagogues, as they found him there preaching in the name of Jesus.5
Another specification is: "Ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake."6 It is a fact that James and Peter were both of them brought before Herod; that Paul pleaded before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, and finally before Nero at Rome. It was for Christ's sake that Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedri. Herod apprehended Peter that he might please the Jews. Festus declared unto Agrippa that Paul was charged
1 Acts v. 40.
2 Acts xxii. 19.
3 Acts xvi. 23.
4 2 Cor. xi. 23-25.
5 Each synagogue was a separate community, with its rulers (Mark v. 22). These could punish by beating (Matt. x. 17; Acts xxvi. II); or they could expel (John ix. 34). The councils were local tribunals attached to the synagogue; their judges could punish by scourging (Acts xxii. 19).
6 Mark xiii. 9.
by the Jews with no crime, but "certain questions of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive."1 Thus it was for Christ's name that they stood before rulers and kings.
Still another item in the prediction is that special wisdom was to be given the saints.- “Settle therefore in your hearts not to meditate what ye shall answer: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."2 "For it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost."3 To this the record answers that when Peter and John stood arraigned before the Sanhedrim, they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and so spake that their accusers "could say nothing against it." 4 Again, when certain of the synagogue of the Libertines and Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputed with Stephen, who was full of the Holy Ghost, "they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake."5 Again, when Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment, Felix trembled. When he pleaded before Agrippa, narrated the manner of his conversion, and manifested his unyielding devotion to Christ, Agrippa cried out, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."6 Thus their defence, and the spirit with which it was made, confounded their adversaries, and demonstrated their innocence, and the truth of the religion for which they suffered. It
1 Acts xxv. 19.
2 Luke xxi. 12-15.
3 Mark xiii. II.
4 Acts iv. 14.
5 Acts vi. 10.
6 Acts xxvi. 28.
also so impressed multitudes that from persecutors they became the open and staunch friends of Christ. The apostle assured his fellow saints that the things which happened unto him had fallen out unto the furtherance of the Gospel; because many of the brethren, waxing confident by his bonds, became much more bold to speak the word without fear.1
Another item of the prediction was that they were to be hated of all nations for Christ's sake.2- That the apostles and primitive Christians were more hated and persecuted than any other religious sect is an evident fact of history, both sacred and profane. They were persecuted not because they opposed idolatry, for this the Jews did, but simply because of the name of Christ. The Jews united with the heathen in persecuting the Christians, so that "this sect was everywhere spoken against." Tertullian, speaking of the universality of this hostility, says, "It is a war against the very name." All that was asked of the martyr, to save himself from death, was to renounce the name of Christ. When Nero set fire to Rome, he turned away the indignation of the people from himself by charging it upon the Christians. The heathen historian Tacitus says, "But neither the emperor's donations, nor the atonements offered to the gods, could remove the scandal of this report, but it was still believed that the city had been burnt by his instigation. Nero, therefore, to put a stop to this rumour, charged the fact, and inflicted the severest punishment upon the Christians, as they
1 Phil. i. 12, 14.
2 Matt. xxiv. 9.
were commonly called. Some who confessed themselves Christians were first apprehended, and a vast multitude afterwards upon their impeachment, who were condemned, not so much for burning the city, as for being the objects of universal hatred." Tertullian informs us "that though a man was kind and honest, and possessed every human virtue, yet it was crime enough to cast him forth to popular fury if he was a Christian." How true to the prediction were the words of Paul: "For we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. . . . We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day."1
The apostacy of professed disciples is another part of this sign.2 -Four items are particularly mentioned:
Abounding iniquity. -The moral character of the heathen was, as appears from Rom. i. 23-32, low and degraded. Of the Jews, Josephus remarks, "they abounded with all manner of iniquity, so that none was left undone. Yea, though one endeavoured to invent some new villany, yet could he invent none that was not then practised." We learn from the Epistles that this iniquity extended even to the church itself.3
False prophets.-These are not the same as the false Christs mentioned in the first sign,-these were false teachers. We know that Judaising teachers early entered the churches planted by Paul, and caused great trouble. He calls them "false apostles,
1 1 Cor. iv. 9, 13.
2 Matt. xxiv. 10; Mark xiii. 12; Luke xxi. 16.
3 See especially 1 Cor. v. ; xi. 21.
deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ, . . . which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts. . . . And their word will eat as doth a canker, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus, who overthrow the faith of some."
Many were to be offended, and the love of many to wax cold. -Says the apostle John,
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."1 "This thou knowest," saith Paul, "that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes."2 Again, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." Again, "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil; of whom be thou ware also." "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me."3 A time of persecution is always a time of apostacy.
They were to betray one another unto death. This is one of the dreadful fruits of apostacy; for when a man through shame or fear denies the Lord who died for him, and sunders the bonds which bind him to his Saviour, he will also rupture all the ties of blood and relationship. Paul's experience says, " In perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false
1 1 John ii. 19.
2 2 Tim. i. 15.
3 2 Tim. iv. 10, 14-16.
brethren."1 The historian Tacitus says that in the persecution under Nero, "At first a few were laid hold of, who confessed; and by their evidence great multitudes were afterwards convicted. . . . Their sufferings were heightened by mockery and derision. Some were enclosed in the skins of wild beasts, that they might be torn in pieces by the dogs; others were crucified; and others, being covered with inflammable matter, were lightened up as torches at the close of the day." So great sas the fear and dread that parents gave up their children, and children their parents to such cruel deaths. Such deliberately led forth their own child, or their aged father, or their own mother, saying, "This one is a Christian!" To cheer and encourage the suffering disciples, the Lord assured them "he that shall endure to the end shall be saved." Both worlds are to be taken into the account. Eternal blessedness must be set over against temporary sufferings.
(6) The sixth sign: that the Gospel should be published among all nations.2 -This was the most incredible of all the signs. Every circumstance seemed, with stern emphasis, to forbid it. The Founder was a Jew, despised of His own nation, and ignominiously put to death. His followers were few, and His apostles unlearned men. This religion did not claim a place among the other religions, but claimed to be the only true one. It called upon men to abandon their former modes or objects of worship. It made no appeals to worldly and selfish interests; it made no
1 2 Cor. xi. 26.
2 Malt. xxiv. 14; Mark xiii. 10.
promises of ease and honour in this life, but required self-denial and daily cross-bearing, -the enduring of hardness, and the forsaking of every form of sin; it required that this new religion should be openly professed, and that by a heavenly life its truth should be commended to every man's conscience. It made no appeal to arms, made no alliance with the state, but for its successful spread depended upon the preaching of this Gospel and the invisible agency of the Holy Ghost. Under these circumstances, to look for its rapid and wide diffusion, and that, too, when in the crucifixion of its Founder the enmity of the natural heart to it was illustrated, was indeed the most improbable of all the signs. Yet even this was so literally fulfilled that in a single generation it was preached in all the nations then known. We have two independent sources of evidence.
Sacred history.-A few days after the ascension of Christ there were at Jerusalem one hundred and twenty disciples. About one week after, on the day of Pentecost, there were added to them three thousand souls. A few days after this, "the number of the men was about five thousand." It is written also "that multitudes of believers, both men and women, were added to the Lord;" "that the number of the disciples were multiplied in Jerusalem greatly, and that a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith;" and that "the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." This rapid spread among the Jews took place within two years from the crucifixion. The many strangers and foreigners gathered at Jerusalem, and converted on the day of Pentecost, returning to their distant homes, carried with them and made known the Gospel. In the course of seven years the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles at Ceasarea. The next year at Antioch, where, under the preaching of Barnabas, "much people were added to the Lord." When Herod died, it is written, "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."1
When Paul was at Iconium, "a great multitude both of Jews and also Greeks believed." Sixteen years after the ascension, Paul found that the Gentile converts at Antioch, in Syria, and in Cilicia were "established in the faith and increasing in number daily."
In Thessalonica, "of the devout Greeks a great multitude believed." The very titles to the apostolical epistles show that the gospel had wonderfully spread. Paul wrote to the saints at Rome, Philippi, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Colosse, and Thessalonica. Peter directs his letter to the elect scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Paul renders thanks to God because the faith of the Roman Christians" is spoken of throughout the whole world," and their "obedience is come abroad unto all men."2
Profane history.-Tacitus, the Roman historian, says, "This pestilent superstition spread itself not only through Judea, but even into the city of Rome, and vast multitudes of Christians were seized and put to
1 Acts ix. 31.
2 Rom. xvi. 19.
death by the emperor" (Nero). Clement, who was contemporary with Paul, when speaking of him, says, "He was a preacher both to the East and the West; he taught the whole world righteousness, and travelled as far as the utmost borders of the west." The record of Eusebius is "that the apostles preached the Gospel in all the world, and some of them passed beyond the ocean to the Britannic isles." Theodoret declares "that the apostles had induced every nation and kind of men to embrace the Gospel;" and among the converted nations he records particularly the Britons. The wonderful spread of this religion was all accomplished in about thirty years. The testimony of Pliny the Younger, in his letter to the Emperor Trajan, though written a few years after the destruction of Jerusalem, demonstrates how rapid and extensive the publication of the Gospel must have been. We learn that during his pro-consulate in Pontus and Bithynia, the Christians abounded in these provinces; that information had been lodged against many on this account; and that he had made diligent inquiry, even by torture, into the nature of the charge against them; but could not discover any crime of which they were guilty besides an evil and excessive superstition. He says "that he thought it necessary to consult the emperor especially on account of the great number of persons who are in danger of suffering: for many of all ages and of every rank, of both sexes, are accused and will be accused. Nor has the contagion of this superstition seized cities only, but the lesser towns also, and the open country." He adds, "the idol temples had been almost deserted, the sacred solemnities discontinued, and that the victims for sacrifice had met with but few purchasers."
Nothing but the unerring spirit of prophecy could so accurately have foretold so many and so improbable things as are contained in this prediction of Christ. A man well read in history and the principles of human nature may at times, with singular accuracy, forecast the general result of affairs then in progress; but it is beyond the reach of all human sagacity to foretell, in minute detail, what shall happen in the next thirty years. More especially is this impracticable if the events predicted were at the time improbable, and with causes then operating in the opposite direction. Who but God, in Christ, could have foreseen and predicted that when the true Christ was crucified, false Christs would arise? and that there would be wars, and rumours of wars, and commotions, with famine, and pestilence, and earthquakes, and fearful sights from heaven? and that the followers of Christ should everywhere be persecuted? Who but Christ would have dared to predict the rapid and extended spread of this unpopular religion, under persecutions the most fierce and protracted? Yet all these Christ did predict; and the honest conviction must be that He had the spirit of prophecy. This He claimed as the evidence of His Divine mission; and when everything comes to pass exactly as He predicted, how can the evidence be resisted that He is what He claimed to be-the Son of God, the true Messiah?
In the rapid and extended spread of Christianity we have the evidence of its truth and power.- The testimony of both sacred and profane history agrees that, in thirty years from the death of Christ, His religion was published over the then known world. That a work effecting such radical revolutions in prejudice, sentiment, interest, and habit should be accomplished in so short a time, under the most favourable circumstances, would be amazing. But when it had to push its way through fire, and blood, and persecution, the conviction is firm that this religion is true and from God. There is no parallel to this on the page of history. It stands alone, yet is it as certainly true and Divine as it is peculiar. .
It cannot, then, be a matter of indifference whether or not men cordially receive this religion. It is the voice of God that speaks in it. The Jews would not receive this message from God by His beloved Son; they rejected both Christ and His Gospel of peace; and how sad, how unspeakably sad the result! This great fact lifts up its warning voice to men of every generation, lest, with the accumulated light which blazes around them, they also reject God, speaking by His Son. There is peril, fearful peril, in the habitual neglect of this Gospel. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost?"1
1 Heb. ii. 3, 4.
The Trench around the City
" For the days shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side." LUKE xix. 43.
When the report of the retreat of Cestius Gallus, with the loss of men, provisions, and engines of war, reached Rome, the emperor was greatly incensed. He determined to wipe out this disgrace, and promptly sent Vespasian, the ablest of all his generals, to Jerusalem, with an army of sixty thousand men. Vespasian commenced his operations in the spring of A.D. 67, by recovering the fortresses which lay in his way, which the Jews had seized. These were held with the most desperate courage by the Jews. At a place called Jotapata the Roman army was successfully opposed for forty-seven days. It was defended by Josephus, a priest of the Asmonean descent, whom the Jews had appointed governor of Galilee. He was taken prisoner. Being convinced of the hopelessness of the revolt, he gave up all opposition, and on various occasions endeavoured to induce his countrymen to spare the further shedding of blood by returning to their allegiance, but without success. Having secured the personal friendship of Vespasian, and of Titus, his successor, he became the eye-witness and historian of the terrible overthrow of the city and the nation. Though the Jews defended the remaining towns and fortresses with the most determined bravery, still the defeat of Cestius Gallus was fearfully avenged by the capture of the towns and the merciless slaughter of the inhabitants.
The winter and spring of A.D. 68-9 were spent in subduing Idumea and the regions south of Judea. Vespasian made no haste to approach Jerusalem, knowing that the Jews were seriously divided into factions, who were wasting their strength and exhausting their resources by their bloody conflicts. He remarked to his generals that it was better to let the Jews destroy one another. The events happening at Rome made it necessary for him to return there, when he soon became emperor. He committed the conduct of the war to his son Titus, who immediately pressed on, and began the siege of Jerusalem at the time of the feast of the Passover A.D. 70, when the city was densely crowded with people from all parts of the country. After a careful survey of the situation, he decided that to succeed he must surround the entire city with a wall.
That any general should deem it indispensable to build a wall or trench around this city could hardly have been expected. Such was the nature of the ground and of the surrounding country so precipitous and broken - that to build this wall would not only be at the expense of almost inconceivable labour, but also an immense loss of life. The prediction that such a work would be undertaken and carried to completion was one not at all likely to be fulfilled. Josephus informs us that when the Romans had made several unsuccessful assaults upon the city, and had suffered considerable loss, Titus held a consultation with his generals. "Those that were of the warmest tempers thought he should bring the whole army against the city, and storm the walls." "But of those that were for a more cautious management, some were for raising their banks (platforms for their battering-rams) again. Others advised to let the banks alone, but to lie still before the city, to guard against the coming out of the Jews, and against their carrying provisions into the city, and so to leave the enemy to the famine. . . . However, Titus did not think it fit for so great an army to lie entirely idle." He also showed them "how impracticable it was to cast up any more banks, for want of materials, and to guard against the Jews coming out still more impracticable; as also to encompass the whole city round with his army was not very easy, by reason of its magnitude and the difficulty of the situation, and on other accounts dangerous from the sallies which the Jews might make out of the city. For although they might guard the known passes out of the place, yet would the Jews, when they found themselves under the greatest distress, contrive secret passages out, as being well acquainted with all such places; and if any provisions were carried in by stealth, the siege would thereby be longer delayed. He also owned that he was afraid that the length of time thus to be spent would diminish the glory of his success. Therefore his opinion was that, if they aimed at quickness, joined with security, they must build a wall round about the whole city, which was, he thought, the only way to prevent the Jews from coming out, and that then they would either entirely despair of saving the city, and so surrender it up to him, or be still more easily conquered when the famine had further weakened them. . . . But if anyone should think such a work to be too great, and not to be finished without much difficulty, he ought to consider that it is not fit for Romans to undertake any small work, and that none but God Himself could with ease accomplish any great thing whatever. . . . So Titus gave order that the army should be distributed to their several shares of the work; and indeed there now came upon the soldiers a certain divine fury, so that they did not only part (divide) the whole wall that was to be built among them, nor did only one legion strive with another, but the lesser divisions of the army did the same, insomuch that each soldier was ambitious to please his officer. . . . Now the length of the wall was forty furlongs, one only abated;" that is, about five miles. Connected with this wall "were thirteen places to keep garrisons in, and whose circumference put together amounted to ten furlongs;" that is, about one mile and a half, - making the length of this whole structure about six and one half miles. Josephus further tells us that this entire wall, with its ten towers, or places for garrisons, was completed in the short space of three days!
The word translated "trench" means a military palisade, or rampart, made from the earth thrown out of the ditch, and stuck with sharp stakes. The time spent is not incredible when we remember that it was not a stone wall, but an earthen structure, and that Titus employed the whole army of sixty thousand men. We learn from Nehemiah vi. 15 that the stone wall, then built in troublous times, was completed in fifty-two days.
By means of the wall thus constructed, the city could be easily guarded by a small force, for what were sixty thousand Roman soldiers against the immense masses of the Jews! It was so completely closed in on every side that no persons could escape out of it, and no provisions could be brought into it. The boldness of this project, and the suddenness with which it was executed, are very remarkable. It was done in three days, when, Josephus says, " many were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a sudden shut up by an army." “This vast multitude," he adds, "was indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in a prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants, who by the law were required thrice a year to come to Jerusalem." By “entire nation" he means the males.
There is one fact connected with this transaction which is worthy of particular notice.
From the days of Moses, through all the wars in which the Jews were engaged, for a period of more than fifteen hundred years, no nation ever came to attack them at any of their religious festivals. The days of their solemn convocations were days of peace; for "when a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." Through all these centuries the promise of the Lord was made sure: "Neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the Lord thy God thrice in the year."1 But when this nation, which God had chosen for Himself, to whom He gave the keeping of His law and the revelations of His will; this nation, for which He had wrought such wonders and deliverances, and over whom the shield of His protection had been spread, apostatised and rejected Jesus, the true Messiah, and declared to be the Son of God by miracles on earth and answering voices from heaven, then the protective power of every promise is withheld, then all restraints are taken off, and then the harpy nation rushes upon them, and at the very time of their solemnities are erecting a strong wall, and shuts them up to miseries unparalleled, and to deaths the most fearful.
What awful preparation is here for the fulfilment of the remaining predictions, loaded as they are with vengeance and terror! The abomination of desolation is now firmly planted on holy ground. The Roman standards wave insultingly to the breeze. Their wall throws its arm around the doomed city,
1 Exod. xxxiv. 24.
and shuts in her crowded people to famine and pestilence, to fire and sword. This is the predicted day of vengeance, when all the fearful things which God hath written concerning this nation must be fulfilled in agony and blood; "for these be the days of vengeance, for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon the people."
The Sufferings of the Besieged Jews.
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time; no, nor ever shall be. . . . Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 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. Behold, I have told you before." MATT. xxiv. 21, 23-25.
Christians of all nations are deeply interested in the fate and condition of the Jews. For the sacred Scriptures they are indebted, under God, to Jews,- Jews wrote them, Jews for ages preserved the Old Testament, and, for a time, Jews also not only were instrumentally the authors, but also the custodians of the New. This nation was God's peculiar people, and on its behalf He worked many wonders, and has still large purposes of grace in store for it. "Our Lord sprang out of Judah." Over the country of this people He trod many weary footsteps; in its villages and towns and capital, as well as in its "deserts" or pasture lands and sea-shores, He delivered His marvellous discourses and performed His mighty miracles. Here He "suffered for sin," and died “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God," and it was from here that He rose to His throne. Although He was "of the seed of David according to the flesh," His countrymen, the Jews, were they who "crucified the Lord of glory." His compassionate prayer for them, "Father, forgive them," will not be forgotten. "A remnant" has already been saved; and "blindness in part is happened to Israel" only "until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved." Christians everywhere ought, therefore, to be deeply interested in the Jews. On account of their unfaithfulness, and of the cruel deed which they ruthlessly did, as they clamoured for the life of Him who had come to save, and exclaimed, "His blood be on us, and on our children!" their beloved Jerusalem was razed to its foundation. In the following pages it is attempted to depict the miseries which preceded and accompanied that solemn event. Josephus, himself a Jew, is the historical authority here relied upon, though not always formally quoted. In certain parts of his great work, Josephus betrays prejudice and exaggeration; but his alleged facts in respect to the ruin of his nation, and the overthrow and destruction of its capital city, are worthy of the utmost confidence. It was "beautiful for situation," and "the joy of the whole earth," and thither "the tribes went up" to worship in the earthly courts of "the King of kings;" but “the Lord hath done that which He had devised; He hath thrown down, and not pitied; He hath swallowed up Israel, He hath swallowed up alI his palaces; He hath destroyed his strongholds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation."
The miseries of which it is here intended to speak are those which preceded and accompanied the destruction of Jerusalem; and, sad as it is to have to allude to "miseries" in connection with the ancient and chosen people of God, the term is not too strong in connection with the facts of the case; for, in speaking of the sufferings endured by the Jews at this time, their own historian uses the very words of our Lord. He says: "For truly it happened to our city, of all them that came under the power of the Romans, that it was advanced to the greatest happiness, and afterwards sunk into the greatest misery; for if the calamities of all, from the beginning of the world, were to be compared to those of the Jews, in my opinion they would appear less. The multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world." For "no city ever suffered such things, nor any generation, from the beginning of time, has ever been more fruitful in sickness."
To understand the force and justice of such language, as also the exact fulfilment of the fearful prediction, we must enter somewhat minutely into the facts, and consider them in detail. Over some of these facts, however, we must throw a veil; they are too horrid, as well as too shameless and abominable, to be repeated.
The miseries of the Jews arose mainly from two sources, "from themselves-from resolute and desperate robbers, from abandoned and cruel factions within the city, and from the Romans as a besieging army, without." It is the former which is here considered. To understand this part of the subject, it must be borne in mind that the city was infested with the most resolute and desperate robbers, who had gathered in from all parts of the country. The city was also divided into factions, led on by the most abandoned and cruel leaders. It was also visited by a most wasting and heart-rending famine.
And first we would speak of the robbers. " The captains of these troops of robbers, being satiated with rapine in the country, got together from all parts desperadoes like themselves, and they became a band of wickedness, and all crept together into Jerusalem, and joining to them those that were worse than themselves, omitted no kind of barbarity; for they did not measure their courage by their rapine and plundering only, but proceeded as far as murdering men, and this not in the night time or privately, or with regard to ordinary men; but openly, in the daytime, and began with the most eminent persons in the city. The first man they meddled with was Antipas, one of royal lineage, and the most potent man in the whole city, insomuch that the public treasures were committed to his care. Him they took and confined, as they did Levias and Sophas, both also of royal lineage, and many other principal men." Not thinking it safe to keep persons of such influence in custody, by reason of their numerous and powerful friends, "it was resolved to have them slain. Accordingly, they sent one John, the most bloodyminded of them all, to do that execution. Ten more went along with him into the prison, with their swords drawn, and so they cut the throats of these men that were in custody there." "This caused a terrible consternation among the people, and every one contented himself with taking care of his own safety, as they would do if the city had been taken in war."
Again: "Now the people had come to that degree of meanness and fear, and these robbers to that degree of madness, that these last took upon them to appoint high-priests. So, when they had disannulled the succession according to those families from which the high-priest used to be appointed, they ordained certain unknown and ignoble persons for that office, that they might have their assistance in their wicked undertakings; for such as obtained this highest of all honours, without any desert, were forced to comply with those who bestowed it upon them." "They also set the principal men at variance one with another, and thus gained the opportunity of doing what they pleased by the mutual quarrels of those who might have obstructed their measures; till, at length, they transferred their contumelious behaviour to God Himself, and came into the sanctuary (holy place) with polluted feet." “These men made the temple a stronghold for themselves:" "The sanctuary was now become a refuge and a shop of tyranny."
"And now," continues the same author, "when everyone was in indignation at the men seizing upon the sanctuary, at their rapine and murders, Ananus, the oldest of the high-priests, stood in the midst of them, and casting his eyes frequently at the temple with a flood of tears he said, "Certainly it had been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God full of so many abominations, or these sacred places filled with the feet of these blood-shedding villains." Then in a powerful and persuasive speech recapitulating the tyranny, the sacrilege, the treachery, the cruelty and abominations practised by the robbers, he urged the multitude to go at once against them. He admitted that it would be difficult to disperse them, "because of their multitude and their courage, but chiefly because they did not hope for pardons for their enormities."
A desperate and bloody battle ensued. "Their conflicts were conducted by their passions; and at the first they only cast stones at each other in the city and before the temple, and threw their javelins at a distance; but when either of them was too hard for the other, they made use of their swords, and great slaughter was made on both sides, and a vast number were wounded. As for the dead bodies of the people, their relatives carried them to their own houses; but when any robber was wounded, he went up into the temple and defiled that sacred floor with his blood."
"In these conflicts the robbers always sallied out of the temple (that is, the wall enclosing Mount Moriah), and were too hard for their enemies; but the populace grew very angry, and became more and more numerous, and reproached those that gave back (retreated), and those behind would not afford room to those that were going off, but forced them on again; till at length they made their whole body to turn against their adversaries; and the robbers were forced to retire again into the temple."
"As Ananus did not think fit to make any attack upon the holy gates, he purified six thousand men, and placed them as guards in the cloisters." "Thus shut in, they (the robbers) were in great perplexity; but, in a secret manner, they despatched two messengers to the Idumeans, imploring them to come immediately to their rescue."
In a short time a multitude of these desperate men crowded up before the walls. Ananus harangued them, and endeavoured to disperse them, but in vain. Whilst the Idumeans remained excluded from the city, a terrific storm arose. Taking advantage, of the consequent noise and confusion, the zealots, of whom we shall speak afterwards as factions, sawed open one of the temple gates, stole past the guards, and opened the gates of the upper city (Zion), when the hosts of the Idumeans rushed in, and crowded their way to the temple for the rescue of the robbers. This was done by crossing the bridge which connected Mount Zion with Moriah. The robbers being apprised of their approach, came boldly out of the inner temple (court of the Israelites), rushed upon the guards, and slew them. Immediately a fierce encounter took place. As there was neither any place for flight, nor any hope of preservation, they were driven one upon another in heaps, and a fearful slaughter took place, Ananus being put to death. There was no way of escape, and the murderers were hard upon them. They threw themselves headlong into the lower city (Acra), and underwent a miserable destruction. The outer temple (court of the Gentiles) was overflowed with blood, and that day saw 8,500 dead bodies; for the people were hopelessly given up to the violence and rapine of those evil men.
But the rage was not satiated by these slaughters. The robbers betook themselves to the city, and plundered every house; and as soon as they caught the citizens, slew them; and then, standing upon their dead bodies, in way of jest, upbraided them for their kindness to the people, and cast away their dead bodies without burial. "After this they fell upon the people, as upon a flock of profane animals, and mercilessly slew them. The nobleman and the youth first caught they, and bound them, and shut them up in prison; then they were so scourged and tortured that their bodies were not able to sustain their torments, till at length, and with difficulty, they had the favour to be slain. Those whom they caught in the daytime were slain in the night, and were carried out and thrown away, that there might be room for other prisoners. And the terror that was upon the people was so great, that no one had courage enough either openly to weep for the dead man that was related to him, or to bury him; and those that were shut up in their houses could only shed tears in secret, and durst not even groan without great caution, lest any of their enemies should hear them, for if they did, those who mourned for others soon underwent the same death," "There were twelve thousand of the better sort who perished in this manner,"
"These robbers having seized upon one of noble birth and courage, called Niger of Perea, they dragged him through the city. When he was drawn out of the gates, and despaired of life, he besought them to grant him a burial, which, when they insultingly denied him, he made this imprecation on them,-that they might undergo both famine and pestilence in this war; and, besides all this, might come to the mutual slaughter of one another; all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men. Not long afterwards they tasted of their own madness in their mutual seditions one against another; for they were incapable of repenting of the wickedness of which they had been guilty. No gentle affection could touch their souls, nor could any pain affect their bodies, since they could still tear the dead bodies of the people as dogs do."
In connection with abandoned and cruel factions, seditions early made their appearance. Josephus says, "At the first this quarrelsome temper caught hold of private families, who could not agree among themselves. After which, those people that were the dearest to one another brake through all restraints, and everyone associated with those of his own opinions, and already began to stand in opposition to one another, so that sedition arose everywhere. But these seditions did not become such terrible scourges until the robbers became divided among themselves, and assumed the most hostile attitude. Then it was that misery unmixed, and terror without alleviation, began to be poured upon the wretched inhabitants of Jerusalem."
Terrible as were these scenes of living horror, still such were only the beginning of sorrows, only the pouring out of the first vial. These only introduce us to scenes of deeper confusion, and woe, and despair.
There were three treacherous factions: each had an unprincipled and cruel leader. Their names were Eleazar, the son of Simon; John of Gischala, the son of Levi; and Simon of Gerasa, the son of Gioras. Each of these played conspicuous parts in this fearful tragedy of real life. We notice them in their order.
Eleazar, the son of Simon, was the most plausible and insinuating. He broke off from John of Gischala, of whom he became jealous. He won over a band of two thousand four hundred men, among whom were many of the most powerful and desperate; They seized upon the inner court of the temple, i. e., court of the priests, wherein the altar stood, "and because they had plenty of provisions, they were of good courage; for there was great abundance of what had been consecrated to sacred uses, and they scrupled not in making use of it. His position was one of great strength, as this part of the temple stood upon higher ground than the outer courts, which were occupied by John." This, we are told, was the first time that the factions ventured to pollute the holy place. John, who had the control of the outer courts, allowed the people to come up to where the altar stood; and where the priests officiated, that they might present their sacrificial offerings, as it was on these offerings that he continued to sustain his men. At all other times the avenues were most strictly guarded.
John of Gischala, the son of Levi, was the leader of the zealots, as they were called,-a faction who perpetrated all their wickedness in the name of religion. His character was that of a very cunning and very knavish person beyond the ordinary rate of men, and for wicked practices he had not his fellow anywhere. He was a ready liar, and very sharp in gaining credit for his faction. He was an hypocritical pretender to humanity; but, where he had hopes of gain, he spared not the shedding of blood. He was a man of great craft, and bore about him a strong passion after tyranny. At first he collected a band of four hundred men, chosen for their strength of constitution, their great courage of soul, and their great skill in martial affairs. This band was afterwards increased to six thousand men. Amid all the overturnings and dreadful carnage, - amid all the distress and destruction arising from famine and pIague, -he continued in his command through all the siege, until the Romans had completely subdued the city. When he began this course of wickedness he was poor, and for some time his wants were a great hindrance to his designs, and restrained him in his ambition after command. But forcing his way by the most bold and daring villanies, and being foremost in treachery, he gained many followers of a similar spirit. When thus sustained, wherever he led his troops he struck terror, and caused that the most abject and servile homage should be paid to him. Such was the terror of his name, that when he entered Jerusalem with his followers, the whole body of the people were in an uproar. But, by his artful harangues, he corrupted the young men and strongly enlisted them in his favour. During the conflicts which the people had with robbers, of which I have already spoken, this John, during the daytime, went with Ananus, the high-priest, and was in consultation with the men of the city as to the best plans of subduing the robbers; but every night he divulged to the robbers the secrets he had thus learned; so that everything which the people determined about was by his means known to the robbers. When he fell under suspicion, they called upon him to give them assurance of his fidelity upon oath. Accordingly he immediately took the oath that he would be on the people's side, and would not betray any of their counsels and practices, and would assist them in overthrowing the robbers by his hand and his advice. So they received him to their consultations without further suspicion, and sent him to the robbers with proposals for accommodation. Notwithstanding his oath he went into the temple, and by his speech inflamed the robbers still more against Ananus and the chief men, and thus made them strong in their work of desperate wickedness. Strange as it may appear, for such was the blindness and infatuation with which the people were smitten, this unprincipled and treacherous man steadily gained in influence. He seized upon every advantage until he could control the great body of desperate men who lived by the outrages they perpetrated.
At first John had possession of the whole city, and ruthlessly carried on his work of plunder and destruction. The inhabitants, driven to desperation by the violence and horrible outrages of John, invited Simon of Gerasa, who, with his twenty thousand followers, prowled around the city, to enter, thus hoping to keep John in check. John was now driven from the city into the outer enclosures of the temple (court of the Gentiles), where he was blockaded by the people. Simon had possession of Zion, or the upper city, as well as a considerable portion of Acra, or the lower town. His head-quarters was the strong tower of Phasaelis, which divided the upper from the lower city.
These fierce factions jealously watched one another. In their quarrels they very seldom made use of their weapons; yet they fought fiercely against the people, and contended which of them should bring home the greatest amount of plunder. And he who was utterly despoiled by Simon was sent back again to John; as also were those who had been already plundered by John, so that Simon got what remained of John's exactions. This is a most remarkable feature. Opposing factions usually contend with each other with invincible hatred, but in this case all the ordinary principles of human action are reversed. Whilst the factions, led by the most unprincipled and bloody leaders, cannot dwell together, and whilst they have continued quarrels, still they lend their united strength against the people, and make it a matter of ambitious rivalry which can inflict upon them the heaviest calamities. How plain it is that God thus permitted these terrible agencies, as instruments for executing upon the Jews the just punishment of their iniquities. So terrible was this scourge that the people thought that the tyranny and the sedition were far worse than the horrors of war.
I will notice only two illustrations of the violence of John. On one occasion, at the Passover, when Eleazar and his party, who had possession of the inner temple (court of the priests), had opened the gates, and admitted such of the people as were desirous to worship God in it, John made use of this festival as a cloak for his treacherous designs. He sent his men, with weapons concealed under their garments, professedly for the purpose of worship. As soon as they thus secured their entrance, they threw off their disguises, and appeared in their armour. This produced the greatest disorder. Terrified by this sudden and bold demonstration, the people whom Ananus had stationed to guard against John left their positions at the gates and leaped down from their battlements and fled away into the subterranean caverns of the temple. The people who stood trembling before the altar were rolled in heaps together, were trampled upon, were beaten with iron weapons without mercy, and great numbers were slaughtered. Having thus struck terror into every mind, John seized the inner temple with all its provisions and the warlike engines gathered there. This gave him the complete possession of the temple and its surroundings.
This is the second illustration: John permitted his followers to do all things that any of them desired to do. Their inclination to plunder was insatiable, as was their zeal in searching the houses of the rich; and the murdering of men, and the abusing of women, were sport to them. They devoured the spoils, together with the blood of those to whom they had belonged, and indulged themselves in the utmost wantonness without any disturbance till they were satiated. They fantastically decked their hair, and put on women's garments; they were besmeared over with ointments; and, that they might appear very comely, they had painting under their eyes. They not only imitated the ornaments of women, but were guilty of intolerable uncleanness; and here the veil must be drawn, for there were scenes which cannot be described: they were desperately wicked, and cruel beyond all parallel. Thus did they roll themselves up and down in the city, as in a brothel house, and defiled it with their speech and their behaviour. Nay, while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hand; and when their walk was effeminate, they presently attacked men, became warriors, drew their swords from under their finely dyed cloaks, and ran everyone through whom they lighted upon. Such are samples of what this leader of a faction did with the pent-up inhabitants of Jerusalem. And John was only one of their tormentors.
Simon of Gerasa, the son of Gioras.- Josephus says of this man, who has already been spoken of, that he was "not so cunning indeed as John, but was superior in strength and bodily courage." He got together a number of persons who were fond of novelties, and betook himself to ravage. Nor did he only harass the rich men's houses, but tormented their bodies, and appeared openly to affect tyranny in his government. In the early part of his career he dwelt at Masada, and pillaged the surrounding country. There he became so formidable that many men of influence were corrupted by him, and numbers of the populace were obedient to him as to their king. Having overrun many places, he directed his way to Jerusalem, where he slaughtered multitudes of the people. He caught all who came out of the gates, and tormented and destroyed them. He cut off the hands of a great many, and sent them into the city. He thus affrighted his enemies, declaring that he had 'been appointed by God, and that he would break down the wall of Jerusalem, and inflict the like punishment upon all the citizens without sparing any age. "This Simon," adds the historian, "who was without the walls, was a greater terror than the Romans; as were also the zealots under John, who were inside the city; and between them they were the means of great distress to the people. For John at this time was executing all the bloody and abominable things of which we have already spoken. Yet Simon was the more bloody of the two."
So oppressive, however, was the wrath with which John afflicted the people, that in their desperation, and with the hope of curbing his insolent cruelties, they took counsel and determined to throw themselves upon Simon for protection. Accordingly they resolved to admit him. Thus, with the hope of escaping one tyrant, they madly introduced another. They sent Matthias, the high-priest, to beseech Simon to come in. In an arrogant manner he granted them their request, and marched his forces within the gates. Thus it was that God turned their counsel into foolishness, and caused that the remedy which they sought should prove far worse than the disease itself. For no sooner had he entered with his army, than he took care to secure his own authority, and regarded those who had invited him in as his chief enemies.
Having possession of Zion, or the upper city, as well as a great part of Acra, or the lower town, he exercised his authority in the most tyrannical and abusive manner. He attacked the city as if he were in league with the Romans. He burnt the houses, especially those that were filled with provisions, so that almost all the corn, which had been enough for years, was destroyed. Many of the places about the temple he also burned, and the temple itself was filled with dead bodies. The strong language of Josephus is: "And the blood of all sorts of dead carcases stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves."
The city was engaged in a war on all sides from these crowds of wicked men, whereby the great body of the people were torn in pieces. The aged men and women were in such distress, by their internal calamities, that they even wished for the Romans. The citizens were under terrible consternation. Nor had they any opportunity of taking counsel; neither were there any hopes of coming to an agreement; while none could flee away, and so escape. The leaders of the factions agreed in nothing but to kill those who were innocent. The noise also of those who were fighting was incessant both by day and by night. There was no opportunity for them to leave off their lamentations, for their calamities came perpetually one upon another. In their distress they had, however, to cease from outward wailing; for being constrained by their fear to conceal their inward passions, they were tormented without daring to open their lips even in groans. Nor was any regard paid by their relatives to those still alive. There was no care taken of the burial of those who were dead. The factions even trod upon the dead bodies as they lay heaped up; and, taking up a mad rage from these dead bodies, became the fiercer. They were still inventing, by some means or other, what was pernicious. And when they had resolved upon anything, they executed it without mercy,-omitting no method of torment or of barbarity.
I will not proceed in the recital of this man's wickedness. Recall what I have stated of John, and let it suffice to know that Simon was, if possible, more bloody, more treacherous, more unbridled, and more tyrannical. Truly may we exclaim with the prophet: "I have heard the voice. . . of the daughter of Zion. . . that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers."1 "A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to His enemies."2 How clearly do these passages depict the confusion and horrors which prevailed in Jerusalem, and even in the temple, during this siege by the Romans!
Of the fearful career of these factions Josephus remarks: "Neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this from the beginning of the world. They confessed what was true, that they were the slaves, the scum, and the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation, while they overthrew the city themselves, and forced the Romans to gain a melancholy reputation by acting gloriously against them. They did almost draw that fire upon the temple which they seemed to think came too slowly; and, indeed, when they saw the holy place burning, they were neither troubled at it nor did they shed any tears on that account."
1 Jer. iv. 31.
2 Isa. lxvi. 6.
What we have seen, terrible and cruel as it is, is only the beginning of sorrows. It yet remains to disclose what was endured from the operations of the famine, self-induced, and more terrible than is anywhere else recorded upon the page of history.
We have in part seen what the people suffered from the robbers, zealots, and fanatics among themselves. There yet remain three other scourges which filled up the bitter cup of their wretchedness. These were the false Christs or prophets, the visitation of famine, and miseries from the Romans.
False Christs and Prophets.- The prediction made by our Lord names three distinct appearances of false Christs or prophets. The first was one of the six signs which were to foretell the approach of the day of destruction. The second had reference to the false teachers who infested the primitive church, causing the apostasy of many. The third and last was during the siege, when famine and other calamities were upon them. The leaders of the zealots, who perpetrated all their crimes in the name of religion, and who were determined to reject all compromises with the enemy, made efficient use of the false prophets. The design of their appearance at this time was to prevent the moderate party from abandoning the defence of the city, and submitting to the Romans. Before Titus built his wall around the city, these deceivers led the people out into the wilderness as the place where wonders were to be wrought, and the deliverance from the Roman yoke was to be effected.
We know that Christ, the true Messiah, did fulfil the ancient prophecies, and performed some of His remarkable miracles in the desert. He fed the multitude there upon the five loaves, and took up twelve baskets of fragments. There a great multitude came unto Him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and He healed them. After the wall around the city was built by Titus, these false prophets could no longer go out of the gates. Then, when Titus was plying his battering-rams, and the city was shaken with intestine commotions, then when the hearts of men were failing them, the historian says that "impostors and deceivers, under the pretence of inspiration, made the common people mad, promising that God would show them signs of liberty." He adds, "that the tyrannical zealots, who ruled the city, suborned many false prophets to declare that aid would be given to the people from heaven." Thus they either stimulated the multitude to greater desperation whilst fighting, or else they led them into the temple, affirming that there and then God would grant them singular deliverance.
It is stated that when the soldiers set fire to the cloisters of the outer court of the temple, six thousand women and children, and a mixed multitude, perished there. A false prophet was the occasion of their gathering and destruction. He had made a public proclamation in the city, that God commanded them to go up to the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs and deliverance. Thus, by means of these false prophets, who proclaimed that the people should wait for a miraculous deliverance from God, were the miseries multiplied, and the zealots enabled to keep the people under their tyrannical control.
From the appearance of these false Christs, and the readiness of the people to follow after them, it is plain that the Messiah was strongly expected at that very time. The Jews were then carefully studying and looking for the fulfilment of the remarkable prophecy of Daniel, to which reference has been made in a preceding chapter. We there saw that it found its perfect fulfilment and accurate completion in the very year that Christ was put to death as an atoning sacrifice, for it was written that "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself." His was to be a vicarious sacrifice.
The appearing of false Christs at this time is demonstrative of the fact that the Jews then expected the true Christ. There cannot be a counterfeit unless there is something real which it professes to be. A counterfeit bank-note is evidence that there is a genuine one. Spurious coin is the surest testimony that there are true coins. So when we read of false Christs appearing at the period of the ending of the seventy weeks of Daniel's prophecy, we cannot escape the conviction that there was the true Christ who, according to the prediction, was to be cut off, but not for Himself. Our Lord did appear at the precise time predicted. He wrought supernatural works, not in the name of God, as did the prophets, but in His own name and by His own power. He was arraigned before Pilate, and though pronounced innocent, was given up to be crucified. He was publicly crucified, and was buried. He arose from the dead on the third day. No other Christ has come whom the Jews have recognized as fulfilling the predictions. The seventy weeks of Daniel, according to all Jewish calculations, have long since ended. But where else is the true Messiah promised by Daniel?
The learned among the modern Jews find themselves compelled either to give up their confidence in their prophetic Scriptures, or abandon the expectation of a personal Messiah. The former they cannot do without throwing suspicion upon all their sacred books. Hence they adopt the latter expedient, and deny that a personal Messiah was intended by Daniel and other prophets. But, to meet the predictions, they contend that a spiritual Messiah or influence was what the prophets foretold. This state or influence, not specially located as to time, they judge, saves the veracity of the prophets, and delivers themselves from looking for a personal Messiah.
The visitation of famine intensified all the sufferings of the people. Considering the exhaustless supply of water, furnished by the fountains and the rains of heaven, collected in vast reservoirs and cisterns, and the very abundant stores of provisions, it would seem that early and severe distress from famine could hardly have been expected. We were told that John and Simon "burned the houses filled with provisions, so that all the corn which had been stored up, and which had been enough for years, was destroyed." This destruction was the direct occasion of the terrible famine. Had there been an efficient government, which regulated with economy the use of their stores, and had the people been united and of one mind, it is not probable that the Romans could have subdued the city. But nothing can stand against the Divine purpose. Jerusalem was to be destroyed, and the Jews themselves are made the principal instruments in its ruin.
The historian says, "The madness of the seditions increased with the famine. For there was no corn which anywhere appeared publicly, but the robbers ran into and searched private houses. If they found any, they tormented the people because they had denied that they had any; and if they found none, they tormented them worse, because they supposed they had more carefully concealed it." Whenever they saw anyone whose appearance indicated that he had enough to eat, they watched him, and fell upon his home and there searched for food. So heavily did the famine begin to press upon the people, that many sold all they possessed for a single measure of wheat or barley. And when they had so done, they shut themselves up in the innermost rooms of their houses, and ate the corn they had husbanded. Some ate it without grinding it, by reason of the extremity of the want they were in. A table was nowhere laid for a distinct meal, but the bread was snatched out of the fire, half baked, and eaten hastily. The case was a miserable one, and presented a sight that might justly bring tears into the eyes of those who beheld it. While the more powerful had more than enough, the weaker were lamenting for want of it. Famine is hard for all. It is destructive of nothing so much as modesty. What was otherwise worthy of reverence was, in this case, despised, insomuch that "children pulled the morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths; and, what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants. And when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drop that might preserve their lives. And while they ate after this manner, yet were they not able to do so in secret, for the seditious everywhere came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten. When they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in and took by force what they could lay their hands upon. The old men who held their food fast were beaten; and if the women hid what they had within their hand, their hair was torn for so doing. They lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor. But still they were more barbarously cruel to those that had prevented their coming in, and had actually swallowed down what they were going to seize upon, as if they had been unjustly defrauded of their rights. They also invented terrible methods of torments to discover where any food was."
The historian specifies some of the methods of torture, but they are such as cannot be described. Their cruelty is only one and the least objectionable of their deeds. Human nature recoils shuddering, and hurries away from the sight. In order to make them confess that they had but one loaf of bread, or a handful of meal, the Jews were forced to bear what it is a shame to record.
One of the most cruel features of this system of torture was, that the tormentors were not impelled by their own hunger; for they had enough, and revelIed in luxury. It was done to keep their madness in exercise, and as making preparation of provisions for themselves for following days. How plain that God had withdrawn all restraints, and had given them up to the full sway of their depraved hearts. "He gave them over to a reprobate mind." They were filled with "all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, . . . covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful."1 Such is the fruit of sin when restraints are taken off.
How plain that God was using this terrible instrumentality for hastening on these scenes of terror, and that all the solemn things written against that people were hastening on to be accomplished!
1 Rom. i. 29, 31.
The famine widened its progress and devoured the people by whole houses and families. The upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying; and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged. The children also, and the young men, wandered .about the market-places like shadows, and fell down dead wherever their misery seized them. As for burying them, those that were sick themselves were not able to do it, and those that were hearty and well were deterred from doing it by the great multitude of those dead bodies. Nor were there any lamentations made under these calamities, neither were heard any mournful complaints; but the famine confounded all natural passions; for those who were just going to die looked upon those who were gone to their rest before them with dry eyes. A deep silence also, and a kind of deadly night, had seized upon the city. Thus was fulfilled the saying of the prophet Amos (viii. 3): "The songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord God: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence."
Of those who perished by famine in the city, the number was prodigious, and the miseries they underwent were unspeakable. In the space of two and a half months there were carried out of the gate 115,880 dead bodies! This number was reported to Titus by the officer who was appointed to pay the public stipend for carrying these bodies out, and so was obliged to number them. The rest were buried by their relatives, though all their burial was but this, to bring them away and cast them out of the city. In addition to the testimony of the officer, many of the eminent citizens told Titus that the entire number of the poor who were thrown out of the city was no fewer than 600,000! They told him further that when they were no longer able to carry out the dead bodies, they laid the corpses in heaps in very large houses, and shut them up therein.
The greatness of these numbers staggers us, until we recall the fact that just before the siege, in addition to the males required by the law to be present in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, vast multitudes of proselytes of the gate from all parts of Palestine and other countries, also large troops of the most turbulent and abandoned characters, who had been the terror of the country, swarmed into the city. Most of these designed only to be in the city a few days; but they were suddenly cooped up as in a prison by the besieging army of Titus.
In the progress of the famine the provisions were so far exhausted that even the robbers and the armed factions began severely to feel it. This but enraged them, and made them more brutal. If so much as the shadow of any kind of food did anywhere appear, a war was commenced presently, and the dearest friends fell 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, lest any should have food concealed in their bosoms and counterfeit dying. Nay, these robbers gasped for want, and ran about stumbling and staggering along like mad dogs, and reeling against the doors of the houses like drunken men. In their distress they rushed into the same houses two or three times a day. Their hunger was so intolerable that they ate things which the most sordid animals would not touch. They fed upon their girdles, shoes, and the covering of their shields. They searched the dung-hills of the cattle, and ate the carrion which they found there.
From very much more which Josephus has recorded I select only one case, which will illustrate how severe and frightful was this famine: There was a certain woman named Mary, eminent for her family and her wealth. She was by robbery reduced to the greatest extremity of want. It now became impossible for her to procure any food, so that the famine pierced into her very soul; and thus her passion was fired, and driven on by her terrible gnawing necessity, she snatched up her son, whom she was nursing, and said, " 0 thou miserable infant! for whom shall I preserve thee in this war, this famine, and this sedition? As to the war with the Romans, if they preserve our lives, we must be slaves. This famine also will destroy us, even before that slavery comes upon us. Yet are these seditious rogues more terrible than both the others. Come on: be thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets and a byword to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of the Jews." As soon as she had said this she slew her son, and then roasted him, and ate one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed. Upon this the seditious came in, and smelling this horrid food, they threatened that they would kill her immediately if she did not show them what food she had got ready. She replied that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them, and withal uncovered what was left of her son. Hereupon they were seized with a horror and amazement of mind, and stood astonished at the sight, when she said unto them, "This is mine own son, and what has been done was my own doing. Come, eat of this food, for I have eaten of it myself. Do not you pretend to be either more tender than a woman, or more compassionate than a mother. But if ye be so scrupulous, and do abominate this my sacrifice, as I have eaten the one half, let the rest be reserved for me also." The knowledge of this horrid transaction immediately spread all over the city, and filled all the miserable inhabitants with consternation and fearful apprehensions of the Divine wrath. So sore was this famine, that the living were very desirous to die, and esteemed those already dead as happy.
No wonder that the compassionate Saviour wept when He pronounced the doom of this guilty city. No wonder that, in the uttering of His prediction, He said, “Woe unto them who are with child, and to them that give suck in those days." No wonder that, when on His way to Calvary, He turned His thoughts away from His own death to the weeping train that followed Him, saying, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck."1 No wonder that the whole city was horror-stricken, for the words of the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled: "The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people."2 "These," said our Lord, "be the days of vengeance;" for all the accumulated predictions of terrible wrath were now to be realized. The words of every prophet were to be made true, and the veracity of God's threatenings was to be proved with fearful distinctness. Fifteen hundred years before Christ it was written, "The Lord shall bring against thee a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young:. . . and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst. . . . And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee. . . . The tender and delicate woman. . . shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, and toward her young one: . . . for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the
1 Luke xxiii. 28, 29.
2 Lam. iv. 10.
siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates."1
Again, six hundred years before Christ it was predicted: "Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets."2 The records of authentic history show that all these things were, in the most literal manner, fulfilled in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem.
Before the Roman armies under Titus appeared before Jerusalem its devoted inhabitants had become the prey of civil discord. Their ample resources were wasted by internal dissensions. But when Titus advanced, and pitched his camp near the northern wall, then the factions within the city were compelled to cease their contentions, and to unite their counsels, and forces for the common defence. To John was confided the defence of the tower of Antonia, and to Simon the defence of the outer or third wall, built around Bezetha.
Notwithstanding the horrible barbarities and infamous wickedness practised by these zealots and factions, still we cannot but admire their daring and determined valour in defending the city from the foreign foe. Step by step they disputed the progress of the enemy. Though often defeated, they returned with invincible courage to the breach, and with won-
1 Deut. xxviii. 49-57.
2 Lam. ii. 20, 21.
derful skill and endurance they defied the utmost power of the emperor. Jerusalem was to them the city of God, endeared by associations patriotic and religious. Under these influences they fought, and fought desperately. In the darkest hour they not only had hope, but a confidence that God would, in some glorious manner, appear for their deliverance. This made them resolute in rejecting with scorn and contempt all the appeals of Titus to surrender, and thus end the war. Titus was urgent to save the city and the temple from destruction. Though baffled in all his efforts, he did not at once assault the walls: he proceeded slowly with the war. He had to defend himself, however, against the sudden and furious assaults of the Jews as they rushed out of the gates. Though driven back with the loss of many killed and more taken prisoners, still they were stubborn in their determination to reject all terms of surrender. To protect himself, and to cut off all possible supplies of provisions, Titus built the wall or trench around the city: he thus hoped that famine would compel the Jews to surrender. During these conflicts many prisoners were taken by the Romans. Upon these the soldiers practised the most shameful cruelties: they cut off the hands of a great many. This was done by the order of Titus, who then sent them back into Jerusalem, with the exhortation that they would now at length leave off, and not force him to destroy the city; but that they would surrender, and thus preserve their own lives and so fine a city as their own, and that temple which was their peculiar glory."
They tormented and crucified great multitudes. The prisoners were first whipped and then tormented with all sorts of tortures, and then they were crucified before the walls of the city. The main reason why Titus did not forbid this cruelty was that he hoped the Jews would yield at such sights out of fear, lest they might themselves be liable to the same cruel treatment. So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest, and the multitude of sufferers at last became so great that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies.
They cut open the prisoners and deserters to search for gold. The historian says: "Yet did another plague seize upon them that were preserved, for there was found among the Syrian deserters a certain person who was caught gathering pieces of gold out of the excrement of the Jews, that he might swallow it. As soon as this became known to the Roman soldiers, they cut up those who came as suppliants and searched them. Nor,"continues the historian, "does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected. Titus forbade this upon the penalty of death; but the love of money was too great for their dread of punishment. This, therefore, which was forbidden, was ventured upon privately. The soldiers would go out and meet the deserters, and looking about to see that no Roman spied them, they dissected them, that thus they might rob them. In this manner a great many were destroyed."
There were many other forms of cruelty which were heaped upon the Jews by the Romans. It is not necessary to mention them in order to complete the evidence that they endured such tribulation as never had been witnessed up to that time. Nor does history record anything since which bears any comparison with it. Every candid mind must admit the truth of those Scriptures which foretold the things which have come to pass. These predictions enter into very great minuteness of detail, and tell of events quite improbable, and seemingly against all the acknowledged principles of human action. Yet they have all come to pass with perfect accuracy. Could any other than God, who knoweth the end from the beginning, reveal with such minute particularity the strange and terrible events which were to precede, and which happened in, the siege of Jerusalem? Not only did the prophets rest their claims for truth upon the actual fulfilment of their word, but God Himself does thus challenge the scrutiny of His creatures, saying, “Remember this, and show yourselves men: bring it again to mind. Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure: calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I wiII also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it."1 When God declares what He will do, and His declaration comes to pass with all the minuteness of the prediction, - although this is accomplished through the agency of men, as they pursue their own chosen way, in the prosecution of their own plans,-we cannot escape the conviction that God is carrying out His own purposes, and that all the resources of power are perfectly at His command.
We may also know that every man is in the hands of God, and that as certainly as His word concerning things on the earth have been fulfilled, so certainly wiII all that He has spoken of the judgment, of heaven, and of hell, be fulfilled perfectly. Can any candid mind hesitate to receive and act upon what the Bible reveals on these subjects? Can it be safe for any man to refuse or to neglect to give earnest and immediate attention to the interest of the soul and of eternity? For eternity and the judgment are not so far off from any man as was the destruction of Jerusalem from the prophets who spake of its certain ruin. God now declares that without repentance for sin and faith in the Lord Jesus, no man can see the kingdom of God, but must be cast off, and made for ever to endure His wrath. The Lord Jesus speaks of the judgment, in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem, that all men may know of the certainty of a future day of reckoning.
1 Isa. xlvi. 8-II.
As nations have no existence beyond the grave, they are only accountable in this world, and must here be punished for their sins.
God is the governor of nations. He promised the Jews national blessings when obedient to his commands. But "if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you, according to your sins."1 It is the teaching of ll history that God gives to every nation the opportunity to redress their evil courses by the peaceful operation of their laws. If they persevere in their evil ways, He brings upon them the discipline of his providence, sending floods, famine, pestilence, fire, tornado, war. If they repent, he forgives and blesses them. If they harden themselves in iniquity, He "wipes them as a dish is wiped, and turneth them upside down." Knowing that God hates and will punish the sins of nations, it is not difficult to account for their disappearance from the face of the globe. The proud empire of Babylon; the strong empire of the Medes and Persians; the mighty empire of Greece; and the iron, all-conquering empire of Rome, are all gone- blotted out because they held on to their sins.
So also have great cities been utterly wiped out. Sodom and Gomorrah, Babylon and Nineveh, Tyre and Sidon, Pompeii and Herculaneum, and ancient Rome. The dug-up or standing ruins are to this day the monuments which proclaim the great truth that God governs among men. It was the sin of rejecting God that changed the Hebrew republic into a
1 Lev- xxvi. 21.
monarchy. "I gave them a king in my anger."1 It was sin that divided the Jewish people into two kingdoms. It was sin that blotted out the kingdom of Israel. It was sin that caused the divine anger to burn with devouring flame against the kingdom of Judah, and which destroyed their holy city and their nationality.
Sin is always and everywhere destructive. "The sting of death is sin." Sin will sting any man and any nation to death. As an illustration, the scriptures single out the desecration of the Sabbath, and charge to the account of this sin the calamities threatened. Not that this was the only sin of which they were guilty, but that, where this germinating sin prevailed, a fearful number of the worst crimes inevitably followed. For what can hold back the nation that has cast off the fear of God, and set at defiance his threatened judgments. And how can the nation that fears God and reverences his word and his holy day be a people given up to work iniquity.
The Sabbath is the great moral pulse of the nation.- To keep the Sabbath is a command binding upon corporations, states, and nations, equally as upon individuals. Obedience recognizes God's authority, promotes reverence, and secures the conscientious observance of every command. When the Sabbath is blotted out, as it was once in France, then the moral character is gone. To throw off the authority of God, to set at naught anyone of his commands, necessarily loosens the regard for every other command. Thus, under the dominion of selfish wicked-
1 Hosea xiii. II, and 1 Samuel viii. 4-22.
ness, the respect for the rights and the property of others, and every corrupt and debasing influence gains strength, and leads to outrage and ruin It is my firm conviction that, with us, the growing disregard of the Sabbath is the prolific cause of the demoralization which makes itself known in the frauds and gigantic schemes of plunder, in the violation of sacred trusts, and other ways, by which property is stolen from its legitimate owners. The making the Sabbath a day of pleasure, using it for travelling and business purposes, violates a command of God, hardens the conscience, and prepares the way for other crimes.
The history of the Jewish nation, as written on the sacred page, is instructive. When they esteemed "the Sabbath of the Lord as honorable and a delight," then they were a happy and prosperous nation. But when they "wearied of his Sabbath," then they fell off into idolatry, and all the forms of debasing iniquity which brought upon them the judgments of the Lord. It is the unvarying law of God, in his government of nations, to prosper them when they are obedient to his commands, and to punish, even unto utter extinction, when they will hold on to their wicked ways. This is not an arbitrary arrangement, but the necessary and inevitable connection between sin and ruin.
It is "righteousness that exalteth a nation, whilst sin is a reproach to any people." "For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish: yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted." " Happy is that people whose God is the Lord,"
The Taking of the City.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 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. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you. This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. MATT. xxiv. 29-34.
Before entering upon the taking and destruction of the city and the temple, it is important that we have a clear understanding of the meaning of this remarkable statement of our Lord, which forms the motto of this chapter. There are mainly three interpretations of this passage:
1. That it refers to the final judgment, and has no necessary application to the destruction of the city and temple.
2. That it has reference only subordinately to the city, but mainly to the general judgment, the destruction of the city being only emblematic of the final judgment.
3. That the language is primarily and emphatically applicable to the overthrow of the city the burning of the temple, the destruction of the civil polity of the Jews, and the closing up of the old dispensation.
It seems probable to my mind that the third is the true interpretation. As the subject of the Lord's discourse was the destruction of the city and the temple, with the dissolution of the civil nationality of the Jews, and as all the other circumstances of the prophecy refer to these events, it is in keeping with unity to apply this prediction to the same. The strong language of Christ, with its bold and commanding figures, is not more energetic than is usual in prophetic writings. When Isaiah foretold the ruin of Babylon, he employed very bold figurative language, saying, "For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine."1 Also, when predicting the overthrow of Idumea, the same prophet used similar language, saying, "And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig-tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment."2 When the prophet Ezekiel proclaimed the coming wrath for Egypt he uses this
1 Isa. xiii. 10.
2 Isa. xxxiv. 4, 5.
bold imagery: "And when I shall put thee out I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God."1 Daniel, when speaking of the conquering power of the little horn, says, “And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them."2
These illustrations demonstrate that, in prophetic language, great earthly revolutions and commotions, such as the overthrow of a nation, or the signal judgments of God upon men, are represented by unexpected changes in the heavens, as the darkening of the sun and the moon, or the falling of the stars. Inspired authority, then, sustains this principle of interpretation. The prophet Joel, when speaking of the wonderful things which should precede and attend the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the consequent changes which should be wrought in the closing up of the Jewish dispensation and the inauguration of the Christian, uses this energetic language: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. . . .And I will show wonders in the heavens and in earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come."3 On the day of Pentecost the apostle
1 Ezek. xxxii. 7, 8.
2 Dan. viii. 10.
3 Joel ii. 28-31.
Peter declared that the scenes previously witnessed in Jerusalem, and on that day, were the fulfilment of that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. Thus is justified the application of figurative commotions in the heavens to illustrate important events on earth. Our Saviour adopted the same bold and highly figurative style, it being the established language of prophecy. So when He would foreshadow the destruction of Jerusalem, He says, "The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken."1
It is no valid objection to this view that the disciples said, "Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Because the disciples in their ignorance blended the destruction of the temple with the day of judgment, it does not follow that Christ in His prediction had other than a figurative and secondary reference to the last judgment. Their questions cannot be the rule of interpretation. It was quite natural for them to feel that the day of judgment would come whenever that massive temple should be destroyed. From their earliest childhood they imagined that the temple would stand to the end of time. They felt that the foundations of the universe must also be dissolved, if the massive structures of the temple were so upheaved that "not one stone should remain that was not thrown down." In the peculiar language of the prediction there are
1 Mark xiii. 24, 25.
several items which lead me to think that Christ does not refer primarily to the judgment. In Matt. xxiv. 29 it is written, "lmmediately after the tribulation of those days." In Mark xiii. 24, "But in those days, after that tribulation, shall the sun be darkened," etc. These, without some special interpretation, very naturally fix the reference to the besieging of Jerusalem by Titus, as the period when all the remaining predictions should be fulfilled. The page of history records no event but the destruction of Jerusalem, with the dissolution of the commonwealth and scattering of the Jewish nation, which at all meets the prediction. We seem compelled, then, by the laws of evidence, to fix upon that great event as the thing clearly intended by Christ.
In confirmation of this view, the Saviour introduces an illustration from the fig-tree to show that the time was near, saying, "When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: so ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors."1 The context tells what things, viz. the six signs which were to precede and the miseries which were to attend the siege. The meaning appears to be this, that, as surely as the putting forth of leaves by the tree renders it certain that the summer is close by, so certainly when the forewarning signs have passed, and when the siege and the attendant miseries have arrived, then know that the time of the destruction of the city, of the temple,
1 Mark xiii. 28, 29.
and the Jewish polity is nigh, even at the very door. Then the Lord adds: "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be done." The language is not till a part of these things, but until "all these things."1
The things, then, included in the bold language of the prediction were to be realized and perfectly fulfilled within the lifetime of a single generation as generally understood.
History distinctly mentions that John and Philip were alive after the destruction. The prophet Amos spake of the destruction of the Jewish city and polity, saying, " And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day: and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day."2 So when our Saviour speaks of the sun, and moon, and stars, as darkened, shaken, and fallen,-of the Son of man coming in clouds, and all the tribes of the earth mourning,-He uses the approved prophetic style, and tells that the destruction of Jerusalem should be so remarkable a demonstration of the Divine vengeance, and that such sorrows should attend upon it, as to spread general mourning and lamentation. So when
1 I am aware that some contend that the words "this generation" mean either the Jewish nation or the human race. This seems strained, and not in keeping with the usual meaning of the phrase.
2 Amos viii. 9, 10.
He speaks of sending His angels, with a great sound of a trumpet, to gather His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost parts of the earth, He gives the joyful assurance that, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish dispensation, all restrictions shall be taken away, and that a free and full gospel, through the instrumentality of His ministers, under the new dispensation, caIled the "angels of the churches," shall be published over the whole earth. Thus, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit upon the preaching of the gospel, the commission of the Lord, "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem," will be accomplished,-and thus a glorious church of His elect will be gathered out of all nations.
When Titus had collected and arranged his forces, he proceeded to within three miles and three quarters of the city, where he encamped at a place called the Valley of Thorns. Having selected six hundred choice horsemen he proceeded to survey the city, with the hope that the Jews would surrender; for he had heard that the citizens were desirous of peace, being sorely oppressed with the robbers. "So long as he rode along the straight road, which led to the wall of the city, nohody appeared out of the gates; but when he went out of that road, and declined towards the tower of Psephinus, and led the band of horsemen obliquely, an immense number of the Jews leaped out suddenly through the gate, and intercepted his horse, and cut him and a few others off from the main body of his horsemen. By surprising personal courage he cut his way through the masses; and though several of his men were killed, and many darts thrown at him, still, shielded by the providence of God, he escaped unhurt, notwithstanding he had on neither his head-piece nor his breastplate."
Titus now divided his army into three portions. He stationed two legions in a fortified camp at the north, at a place called Scopus,1 less than a mile from the city. The fifth legion was stationed half a mile from them. The tenth legion he stationed on the Mount of Olives,-on the east side, about three quarters of a mile from the city.
Seeing these determined preparations, the factions within the city were now compelled to cease their strifes, and unite for the common defence. They immediately put on their armour, and ran out upon the tenth legion, who were fortifying their camp, and fell upon them with eagerness. The Romans, having laid aside their arms in order to perform their work, were taken at disadvantage and in different parties, and were consequently thrown into great confusion. The success of this onset drew larger numbers from the city, who so pressed upon the tenth legion that they were put to flight. Titus now ordered that the space between Scopus and the wall of the city should be levelled.
In four days they finished the work, cutting down the hedges and the trees, filling up the hollow places,
1 Wars, b. v., C. 2, § 3.
and demolishing the rocky precipices, thus making a level place suitable for an encampment. Titus with the strongest part of his army encamped over against the wall on the north and western quarter, near the tower of Psephinus. Another portion fortified itself near the tower of Hippicus; whilst the tenth legion stilI continued on the Mount of Olives.
Titus, in company with a few chosen men, made another survey of the walls, to fix upon the points of attack. In the valleys the walls were inaccessible for the engines. The first, or old wall around Zion, appeared too strong to be shaken. The place he finally fixed upon was where there was a gap, the first fortification being lower than the second, and not joined to it, the builders neglecting to build the wall strong where the new city was not much inhabited.
Before making the attack he determined again to propose terms of peace. In company with Josephus and Nicanor, he approached near the wall. Instead of listening to proposals, they hurled darts at the messengers, and severely wounded Nicanor in his left shoulder. This so incensed Titus, that he gave orders to set fire to the suburbs, also to bring forward timber to raise the banks or platforms, and to set the engines against the wall. This they did with great despatch, but not without serious annoyance from the Jews, who made frequent sallies both by night and by day, and did much injury to the Romans. The banks, however, were prepared, and the engines, seventy-five feet high, placed thereon, and brought to the wall. For awhile they plied their battering-rams without any serious hindrance from the Jews. Suddenly the Jews sallied forth, through an obscure gate at the tower of Hippicus, for the purpose of burning the engines and destroying the banks; and, with the courage of desperation, they went up to the very fortifications of the Romans. The conflict was fearful, -the Romans were driven back, and fire was applied to the engines and the banks. But as fresh legions, led on by Titus in person, came up, the Jews were forced to retreat within their walls. On the fifteenth day the Romans, by the incessant application of their battering-rams, succeeded in making a breach in the wall of the city at Bezetha. The troops immediately mounted this breach, and poured into the narrow and crowded streets. They were attacked from the roofs and side alleys with such fury, that with considerable loss they were compelled to retreat without the wall. It was some days before Titus could regain what he had thus lost, and again enter the streets of Bezetha. When he did return, the Jews fled from the outer wall, and entrenched themselves within the second one, which enclosed Acra. There being no armed force to resist, the gates were thrown open, when the army entered and demolished the wall and a large portion of the city.
Titus, having now removed his camp within the city, immediately commenced his attacks upon the second wall around Acra. The Jews divided themselves into several bodies, and in the most courageous manner defended this wall. John and his troops occupied the tower of Antonia and the northern cloisters of the temple. Simon, to whom was committed the defence of the wall, placed himself near the tower of Hippicus. The Jews made many violent sallies from the walls, and with the most determined boldness attacked the Romans. "Nor did either side grow weary, but all day long there were attacks and fightings on the wall, and perpetual sallies from the gates. And the night had much ado to part them, when they began to fight in the morning. The night was passed without sleep on both sides, and was more uneasy than the day to them. The one was afraid lest the wall should be taken, and the other lest the Jews should make sallies upon their camps. Both sides lay in their armour, and were ready at the first appearance of light to go to the battle."
This continued for several days. But when the engines were doing great execution upon the middle tower of the northern part of the wall, around Acra, and a breach was wellnigh effected, a portion of the Jews, under the guidance of one Castor,1 by a remarkable stratagem, diverted the attention of Titus, and thus gained considerable time, for those within the city to repair the breach, or rather to throw up stronger defences at this place. When Titus perceived how he had been deceived, he renewed the attack with greater vigour, and causing the engines to work more strongly, the fort was breached and
1 Wars, b. v., c. 7, § 4.
the wall taken, but not until Castor had set fire to the tower, when it gave way. The Jews were worn out by their unremitted exertions. One night, as they lay in their armour in troubled sleep, they were aroused by the stirring notes of the trumpet, when the Romans poured through the breach. "A terrific conflict took place-friend and foe were indiscriminately hewed down in the darkness." The Jews were compelled to abandon Acra, and retreat within the shelter of the temple court.
This victory took place on the fifth day after the taking of the first wall. This gave Titus an entrance into Acra, or the lower city. He entered with a thousand of his picked troops. He did not demolish this second wall, nor did he widen the breach or destroy this part of the city, as he was unwilling to cause any more ruin than was absolutely necessary. By a sudden, violent, and desperate assault, the Jews succeeded in driving the Romans out of Acra, or the lower city, and -thus regained entire possession of the second wall. This success wonderfully animated and encouraged them, for they supposed that Titus would not venture again within the second wall, having been driven out with such a fearful sacrifice of his troops. They piled up the dead bodies of the Romans in the breach which had been made. But the Romans returned with increased numbers. For three days. the Jews defended this wall with the most unflinching fortitude and determined bravery. But on the fourth day they could not support themselves against the vehement assaults of Titus. They were compelled to fly, and take refuge again in the temple and in Zion, or the upper city. Thus Titus regained possession of this second wall, which he immediately and entirely destroyed. He put garrisons in the towers on the south part of the city, and then devised his plan for the assault on the third wall.
Having gained the control of Acra, or the lower city, he decided not to proceed immediately, but to relax the siege a little, to allow the citizens time for consideration, supposing that his successes and demonstrations of power would decide them to surrender. To impress their minds the more deeply, he had his whole army drawn up in battle array in the face of the enemy, and for four days publicly distributed subsistence money among them. The historian adds, "The whole old wall and the north side of the temple was full of spectators; nor was there any part of the city which was not covered over with their multitudes, nay, a very great consternation seized upon the hardest of the Jews themselves, when they saw all the army in the same place, together with the fineness of their arms, and the good order of their men. And I cannot but think that the seditious would have changed their minds at that sight, unless the crimes they had committed against the people had been so horrid that they despaired of forgiveness from the Romans; but as they believed death with torments must be their punishment if they did not go on in the defence of the city, they thought it much better to die in the war."1
1 Wars, b. v., c. 9, § I.
This interval lasted four days. "But on the fifth, when no signs of peace came from the Jews, Titus divided his legions, and began to raise banks both at the tower of Antonia and at John's monument. His design was to take Zion, or the upper city, at that monument, and the temple at the tower of Antonia; for if the temple were not taken it would be dangerous to keep the city itself. So, at each of these parts, he raised his banks, each legion raising one." The conflict at these two points was exceedingly sanguinary, and for a time proved too much for the Romans. The determination of Titus to conquer became more settled and firm. Before proceeding to more extreme measures, he sent Josephus again to exhort the people to surrender. The Jews only ridiculed his exhortation, and by throwing stones and darts defied the utmost power of the Romans. Josephus was struck on the head with a missile, and carried to the camp insensible. At this time many of the people endeavoured to escape from the city, but they were either killed by the seditious, or destroyed by the Roman soldiers for the sake of the gold which they had swallowed.
In order to bring the battering-rams and other engines to bear upon the walls, it became necessary, by means of timber and other materials, to erect new banks. For the wall on the brow of Zion was on a precipice thirty feet high, whilst a deep trench defended the tower of Antonia. For seventeen days they were employed in raising these banks. There were now four great mounds. One at the tower of Antonia. raised by the fifth legion. Another, cast up by the twelfth legion, at the distance of about thirty feet from the first. The third, erected by the tenth legion, was on the north quarter of the old wall. The fourth, built by the fifteenth legion, was about thirty feet from the third. On all these banks immensely powerful battering-rams were placed.
John, who had possession of Antonia, carefully watched the operations of Titus, and was busy in excavating from within the wall at Antonia, so as to undermine and destroy the foundations upon which the engines of the Romans rested. Having supported the excavated ground, under the engines, with beams laid across, he brought in the most combustible materials, which he set on fire. So that while the Romans were working the engines, the materials beneath were burning, until the beams were burnt through, when the. engines suddenly fell into the mine, and with many men were destroyed. This happened just as the Romans were in hopes of forcing the wall, and it very much cooled their ardour.
Two days after this, Simon made an attempt to destroy the other banks on the north side of Zion, for the Romans had begun to make the wall shake. They ran out suddenly, with lighted torches, and violently rushing through those who were working the engines, set these machines on fire. Although assaulted on every side with darts and swords, yet did they not give way, but caught hold of the machines. When the Romans saw the flames, multitudes hurried from the camp to save their engines. Then the Jews fought with those who endeavoured to quench the fires. When the Romans endeavoured to pull the battering-rams out of the fire, the Jews caught hold of them through the flames, and held them fast, although the iron upon them became red hot. The flames extended also to the banks. Many more rushed out from the city, and the Jews becoming still more bold1 drove back the Romans, pursuing them to the very fortifications of their camp, and there fought most desperately. This assault was concluded by Titus, with a body of troops, attacking the Jews in the rear. They immediately wheeled about, and attacked the new enemy. Here the conflict was terrific and bloody. The Jews were driven into the city, but the Romans lost their banks and battering-rams.
The Romans spent twenty-one days in reconstructing new mounds, when they again brought forward their engines. Those in the city felt that unless they could succeed in burning these also, it would be impossible longer to resist. The Romans felt that if these were destroyed it would be exceedingly difficult to construct others, as materials had become very scarce, owing to the fact that the trees2 about the city had already been cut down within the distance of a hundred furlongs, in order to make the former banks. This historical fact, that Titus had thus stripped the trees for a circuit of more than twelve miles, disproves the superstitious legend that the trees now standing in the so-called garden
I Wars, b. v., c. II, § 5.
2 Wars, b. vi., C. I, § I.
of Gethsemane are the same which witnessed the agony of our Lord. We cannot suppose that Titus felt any particular regard for that spot, or that in his great want of timber he spared the trees which then stood there.
The attack on Antonia was renewed, and the conflict continued with the utmost desperation on both sides. The engines were worked with wonderful power. The resistance and strategies of the Jews were perplexing and distressing to the army of Titus. The wall by night was so shaken by the battering-rams, in the place where John had undermined it for the purpose of burning the banks, as already stated, that it gave way and fell suddenly. This encouraged the Romans. But the Jews felt confident, as the tower of Antonia still stood. The Romans pressed on through this breach; but they found another wall within, which John had built up to protect the spot, weakened by his own excavations. This, however, was more easily thrown down than the other. Titus encouraged his soldiers to advance, and take the tower of Antonia, saying, "If we go up to this tower of Antonia, we gain the city." The attack was renewed on the third day, and continued for fourteen days, when it was carried by the following bold stratagem.1 Twelve of the Roman guards upon the banks called to them the standard-bearer of the fifth legion and two others of a troop of horsemen and one trumpeter. These went, without noise, about the ninth hour of the night (i.e., about three o'clock
1 Wars, b. vi., c. 1, § 7.
in the morning), through the ruins to the tower of Antonia; and when they had killed the first guards of the place, as they were asleep, they got possession of the wall, and ordered the trumpeter to sound his trumpet. Upon this the rest of the Jewish guards fled, before anybody could see how many had entered, for they imagined that the number of the enemy must be great. Titus, hearing the signal trumpet, crowded forward his men, and entered through the breach. John and Simon rallied their forces, and attacked the Romans with the most determined courage and zeal; "for they esteemed themselves entirely ruined if once the Romans got into the temple, as did the Romans look upon the same thing as the beginning of their entire conquest. A terrible battle was fought at the very entrance of the temple," and great slaughter was made on both sides. The contending forces had alternate success and defeat. “At length the Jews' violent zeal was too much for the Romans' skill, and the battle already inclined entirely that way; for the fight had lasted from the ninth hour of the night (i.e., 3 a.m.), till the seventh hour of the day (i.e., 1 p.m.); that is, ten full hours." Here occurred one of the most extraordinary displays of valour of the whole siege. "For there was one Julian, a centurion, famed for his skill in arms, bodily strength, and courage of soul, seeing the Romans giving ground and in a sad condition, leaped out, and of himself alone put the Jews to flight, when they were already conquerors, and made them retire as far as the corner of the inner court of the temple. From him the multitude fled away in crowds, supposing that neither his strength nor his violent attacks were those of a mere man. He rushed through the midst of them, killing those whom he caught. As he ran he slipped upon the bloody pavement of the court, and fell upon his back. Immediately the Jews surrounded him, striking at him with their spears and swords. For a considerable time he defended himself with his shield, but being overpowered by the multitude, he cut his own throat and died." The Jews caught up his dead body, bore it with them as a trophy, put the Romans to flight, driving them from the temple area, and shut them up in the tower of Antonia, which they had gained by stratagem, and at a vast expense of time, and labour, and life.
Titus now gave orders to his soldiers to make a breach in the foundations of Antonia, except such portions as were needed for the garrison, and to make a ready passage for his army to come up. While these orders were being executed, he learned that on the seventeenth day of the month Panemus the daily sacrifice had failed to be offered to God for want of men to offer it, and that the people were grievously troubled at it. Seizing upon this incident, he determined to make still another effort to end the war. He accordingly sent Josephus with this message to John, "that if he had any malicious inclination for fighting, he might come out, with as many of his men as he pleased, in order to fight, without the danger of destroying either his city or temple; but that he desired that he would not defile the temple, nor thereby offend against God. That he might, if he pleased, offer the sacrifices, which were now discontinued, by any of the Jews whom he should pitch upon." Certainly there was generosity in this offer; it also shows how his heart was set upon preserving the temple, which stood before him in all the magnificence of its splendour.
This ceasing of the daily sacrifice is an item in the fulfilling of prophecy. This 17th day of Panemus (A. D. 70) is a most significant day, for it marks the closing years of the prediction of Daniel: "And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."1 "In the midst," that is, half way in the week. This prophecy was uttered 606 years before the Roman siege caused the daily sacrifice to cease. From the month of February A.D. 66, when Vespasian took the command and entered upon this war, to the seventeenth of Panemus A.D. 70, was just three and a half years. Half a week is three and a half days, and in prophetic calculation a day counts for a year, which makes three and a half years. How unerringly accurate are the movements of Providence to guard, to complete, and to register the uttered words of prophecy!
Retributive justice is an essential element in the govermnent of God.- This principle is frequently and with great prominence illustrated in the inspired
1 Dan. ix. 27.
page. It was by deceit that Jacob obtained the birthright; in after life he was often and soreJy deceived by Laban, and by his own children. When the thumbs and great toes of Adonibezek were cut off, he acknowledged the justice of his punishment because threescore and ten kings had thus been treated by him. Haman erected a gallows fifty cubits high, that Mordecai might be hung thereon, but it was upon this same gallows that Haman, in retribution, was himself hung. "His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate."1 It is as true in the moral as in the natural world that, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap;" hence they who sow to the wind must reap the whirlwind.
Jerusalem is also an illustration. The Jews had not only shed the blood of Christ, but said; “His blood be upon us, and upon our children." Retributive justice gave them blood until it stood in pools in the temple enclosures. They desired a robber and a murderer, and retributive justice gave them robbers and murderers until they loathed life, and their souls were in the deepest anguish. They took our Lord and scourged Him, and in various ways tormented Him. So the Roman soldiers first whipped and then tormented the Jewish prisoners. When our Lord hung upon the cross they passed by, wagging their heads, and railing on Him. The Roman soldiers "nailed those they caught to the crosses by way of jest."
1 Psa. vii. 16.
Retributive justice, though sometimes slow, is always certain. When the Divine forbearance no longer holds it back, then it comes with no stinted measure. For the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, "nailed those they caught, one after one way and another after another, to the crosses by way of jest, when the multitude was so great that room was wanting for the crosses and crosses wanting for the bodies."
It is impossible for us in this connection to forget that the same principle of retributive justice is stili in operation. We may not crucify Christ as did the Jews, but we may by our own sins" crucify Him afresh, and put Him to an open shame." We may draw down upon ourselves the Divine displeasure by our neglect and rejection of His dear Son. We may slight His mercy, and turn a deaf ear to His words of warning and of invitation. If so, we must prepare for a retribution upon our sins like that which punished the guilty of the ancient world. Nay, rather, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."1
1 Heb. x. 29-31.
The Temple Destroyed
"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled... Heaven and shall earth pass away: but My words shall not pass away." LUKE xxi. 24, 33.
Titus, by the most indomitable exertions, had gained possession of Bezetha, which he destroyed, had also subdued Acra, and levelled its walls, had forced his way up, through the breach, into the tower of Antonia, which he partially demolished. He was driven back with great slaughter when he advanced to the taking of the temple. It was in the enclosures of Antonia that we left him making preparations for another assault upon the temple. Before making this last attack he sent Josephus again to speak to the people, and persuade them to submit, so as to end the war, and thus save their beautiful house and the remaining portion of the city. Josephus carried to John the permission for the Jews to offer undisturbed the daily sacrifice, which had been suspended. Speaking in the Hebrew language, he urged upon the people a variety of considerations why they should, without any further shedding of blood, submit, and throw themselves upon the clemency of Titus, and thus save the temple from the fire just ready to seize upon it. His manner was very earnest and sorrowful, speaking with groans and sobs which interrupted his words. This moved the people; but John cast reproaches and imprecations upon Josephus, and defied the power of the Romans, because this was God's city, and He would take care of it.
John and his followers became the more exasperated at this speech of Josephus, and endeavoured to get him into their power. Some of the principal men, with the high-priests, fled from the city, and were kindly received by Titus. Next he caused Josephus, in company with a large force, to march round the walls, and show themselves to the people. This induced numbers to desert to the Romans. These also joined their entreaties that the Romans should be admitted, or at least that the Jews should depart from the temple, and thus save the holy house. But all in vain, for the seditious "set their engines for throwing darts and javelins and stones at due distances from one another, insomuch that all the space round about, within the temple and the holy house itself became a citadel."
Having failed to make any arrangement with the Jews, Titus prepared his forces for an attack upon the temple, which he prosecuted with spirit and determination. As he could not bring all his army into action, the place being so narrow, he chose thirty soldiers of the most valiant out of every hundred, and committing one thousand to each tribune, he ordered them to attack the guards of the temple about the ninth hour of the night (i. e., 3 a.m.). They did not find the guards asleep, as they hoped, but were compelled to fight with them hand to hand, as with shoutings and great violence they rushed upon them. Those in the temple ran to the help of the guards. By reason of the darkness there was great confusion, and many of the Jews were slain by mistake by their own friends. The fight continued from 3 a.m. until 11 a.m. in the same place where it began, for neither party could say that they had made the other retire, so neither could claim the victory.
For the next seven days the Roman army was employed in throwing down some of the walls of Antonia, that a ready and a broad way might be made to the temple, that thus a much larger force might be brought into action. When this was accomplished, then the legions came near the first court (court of the Gentiles), and began to raise their banks. One bank was stationed at the north-west (corner of the inner temple, that is, of the court of Israel); another was at the northern edifice, which was between the two gates. Of the other two, one was at the western cloister of the outer Court (i. e., of the Gentiles), the other against its northern cloister. The Romans did not plant these engines without great pains and difficulties, as they were obliged to bring all their materials from a great distance. They were continually assailed by the Jews, who, as they noticed these preparations, became more bold and desperate. So great was the pressure of the famine, that the seditious suddenly hurried out of the city, and assaulted the Roman guards on the Mount of Olives, with the hope of forcing the wall that was built about them, and thus escape to the open country. The conflict was desperate, the Romans feeling that it would be an unpardonable shame to allow them to escape, now that they were taken in a kind of net; and the Jews seeing this to be their only hope. They were at last driven back with fearful loss of life.
Thus defeated in their attempt to escape, and seeing the enemy advancing higher and higher, and creeping up to the holy house itself, in their desperation they set fire to the north-west cloister, which was joined to the tower of Antonia, and thus broke off thirty feet of that cloister, and thereby made a beginning in burning the sanctuary. Two days after this, on the twenty-fourth of Panemus, the Romans set fire to the cloister that joined to the other, when the fire went twenty-two and a half feet farther. Nor was the work of destruction in this quarter ended until the tower of Antonia was parted from the temple, even though it was in the power of the Jews to have stopped the fire.
When two of the legions had completed their banks, Titus gave orders that the battering-rams should be brought and set over against the western edifice of the inner temple; for before these were brought, the most powerful of all the other engines had battered the wall for six days together without ceasing, without making any impression upon it; the largeness of the stones and strong masonry of the walls was superior to the powers of the engines. Others undermined the foundation of the northern gate, and after a world of pains removed the outermost stones; yet was the gate upheld by the inner stones, and stood still unhurt. The soldiers now brought their ladders to the walls to scale the place; but the Jews fell upon them, threw them back headlong, and got possession of the engines and destroyed them.
Next the Jews filled a portion of the western cloister, in the court of the Gentiles, with bitumen and pitch and dry materials, and retired, as though driven back by the soldiers; these, following hard after the retreating Jews, brought forth their ladders and mounted to the cloisters; but suddenly the flames burst out everywhere, when the utmost consternation ensued. Many of the soldiers threw themselves into the city below; others slew themselves with their own swords; and many, very many more, perished in the flames. Titus, perceiving that his endeavours to spare the temple turned to the damage of his soldiers, that the walls of the inner temple were too strong for the battering-rams, and that the foundations of the gates could not be undermined, gave the order to set them on fire, which being done, the flames spread and seized upon the cloisters. Though this fire continued for two days, the soldiers were not able to burn all the cloisters which were round about the inner temple.
Titus the next day ordered the soldiers to quench the fire, whilst he called a council of his generals to decide what should be done with the holy house. Some were for demolishing it; others would preserve it if the Jews would surrender, if not then to burn it. But Titus said "that he was not, in any case, for burning down so vast a work as that was,-it would be an ornament to the Roman empire; and that it should be spared, even though the Jews should fight from it." But the historian adds, "God had for certain long ago doomed it to the fire, and now that fatal day had come."
The consultation having ended, "Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, resolved to storm the temple the next day early in the morning." The more effectually to succeed, he determined to bring his whole army and encamp round about the holy house. When Titus thus retired, the seditious for a little while lay still; then suddenly they attacked the Romans who were quenching the fire, which had reached and was burning the inner court of the temple. But the Jews "were put to flight, and the Romans 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."
It will be remembered that the interior of the temple was richly furnished with the choicest woods, that the floors were of cedar, covered with fir; consequently the flames spread with great rapidity. "As the flames went upward, the Jews made a great clamour, . . . and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered anything to restrain their force, since the holy house was perishing." A messenger ran to the tent of Titus, who was resting himself after the last battIe, and told him, "whereupon he rose up in great haste, and as he was ran to the holy house in order to have a stop put to the fire. After him followed all his commanders and several legions. Then, both by calling with a loud voice to the soldiers, who were fighting, and by giving a signal to them with his right hand, he ordered them to quench the fire. But they did not hear what he said, having their ears dinned by the greater noise another way; nor did they attend to the signal he made with his hand. But as for the legions that came running thither, neither any persuasions nor any threatenings could restrain their violence; but each one's own passion was his commander at this time; and as they were crowding into the temple, many of them were trampled to death, whilst a great number fell among the ruins of the cloisters, which were still hot and smoking, and were destroyed; and those who came near the holy house made as if they did not hear Titus' orders, but encouraged those who were before them to set it on fire. As for the seditious, they were in too great distress to afford their assistance to quench the fire, and they were everywhere beaten or slain. The mass of the people, who were weak and without arms, had their throats cut wherever they were caught. Now round about the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another, and at the steps going up to it ran a great quantity of their blood."1
As Titus was unable to restrain the mad fury of the soldiers, and as the fire spread yet more and more, he went, with his commanders, into the holy of holies, and saw what was in it, viz., the golden censer, the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, and the tables of the covenant, and over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat.2 The sight he found to be far superior to what he had previously heard. "As the flames had not yet reached to its inward parts, but was consuming the rooms about the holy house, supposing that the house itself might yet be saved, he came up in haste, and endeavoured to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire. He ordered the refractory to be beaten and restrained; yet were their passions too fierce for their regard for Titus, or their dread for those who forbade them. The hope of plunder induced many to go on, as having this opinion that all the places within were full of money, and as seeing that all round about it was made of gold." One of those who went into the place prevented Titus, when he ran out so hastily to restrain the soldiers, and threw the fire upon the hinges of the gate in the dark;
1 Wars, b. vi., c. 4. § 6.
2 Heb. ix. 4, 5.
whereby the flames immediately burst out from within the holy house itself. When Titus and his commanders retired, nobody any longer forbade those that were without to set fire to it. Thus was the holy house burnt down against the will of Titus. "The flame was carried a long way, and together with the groans of the dying made an echo reverberating from the surrounding mountains." "Because the hill was high, and the works at the temple were very great, one would have thought that the whole city had been on fire."
The Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was about the holy house, burnt all these places, as also the remains of the cloisters and the gates, also the treasury chamber, in which there was an immense quantity of money, garments, and precious goods. Thus total and thorough was the destruction by fire. Josephus tells us that the "number of years that passed from its first foundation, which was laid by King Solomon, till this its destruction, which happened in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, August 15, A.D. 73, are eleven hundred and thirty years, seven months, and fifteen days. And from the second building, by Haggai, in the second year of Cyrus, till its destruction by Titus, were six hundred and thirty-nine years and forty-five days. It is a singular coincidence that the first temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar on the same day of the month, August 15th, just six hundred and sixty-one years previously.
How signal the overruling providence of God! How marked the destruction! It was accomplished notwithstanding the strong desires of the Jews and their enemies to preserve it, The decree had gone forth, therefore all human counsels and efforts availed nothing. No lightning-bolt of heaven struck it; no quaking of the earth shook down its towering turrets and massive walls, or upturned its deep-laid and adamantine foundations. Yet was the work of destruction fully accomplished. The Jews themselves, and Titus through his soldiers, were the instruments employed for carrying out all that the prophets had written, and all that Jesus Christ had spoken concerning the overthrow and utter ruin of the city and the temple. Well may we adopt the language of the Lamentations (iv. 11): "The Lord hath accomplished His fury; He hath poured out His fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof."
The new city, Bezetha, the lower city Acra, and the temple on Moriah being in utter ruin, the only remaining portion of Jerusalem was Mount Zion, the upper city, or the city of David. This was connected with the temple by a bridge already described, which spanned the Tyropoeon valley. Before proceeding against Zion, Titus made one more attempt to end the war by inducing the Jews to surrender. Standing upon the bridge, he, through an interpreter, addressed the people who were under the command of Simon and John. He closed his speech thus: "If you will throw down your arms, and deliver up your bodies to me, I grant you your lives, and I will act like a mild master of a family: what cannot be healed shall be punished, and the rest I will preserve for my own use." The only reply was to require that they, with their wives and children, might go through the wall he had made about them into the desert, and leave the city to him. Titus was indignant that those whom he had conquered should make their own terms as if they were the conquerors. He told them "that they should no more come out to him as deserters, nor hope for any further security; for that he would henceforth spare nobody, but fight them with his whole army; and that they must save themselves as well as they could, for that he would from henceforth treat them according to the laws of war."
Now when Titus perceived that Zion, or the upper city, was so steep that it could not be taken without raising banks against it, he distributed the work among his army. The carriage of the materials was difficult, since all the trees within a distance of twelve miles had been cut down to make the former banks. The banks of the four legions, however, were raised on the west side of the city, over against the royal palace. The banks erected by the other troops were at the Xystus, an immense open place on the extreme east, surrounded by a covered colonnade, where the people often assembled, and from whence they reached the bridge. Whilst these preparations were advancing, the commanders of the Idumeans, whom the people had formerly received into the city to defend them against the seditious, surrendered themselves. They were received as prisoners by Titus, and were sold into slavery by his soldiers.
In eighteen days the banks were finished, and the battering-rams brought against the wall. Despairing of saving the city, many of the Jews fled from the wall, and took refuge in the citadel; whilst others went down into the subterranean vaults. Still a great many defended themselves against those who brought the engines. The numbers of the Romans prevailed. As soon as a part of the wall was battered down, and certain of the towers yielded, a great terror fell upon the Jews; and, before the Romans got over the breach they had made, they betook themselves to flight.
Thus becoming master of the wall, Titus placed his ensigns upon the towers, and made joyful acclamation for the victory they had gained, as having found the end of the war much lighter than its beginning. For when they had possession of the last wall without any bloodshed, they could hardly believe what they found to be true. Seeing nobody to oppose them, they stood in doubt as to what it meant. But when they went in numbers into the lanes of the city, with their swords drawn, they slew those whom they overtook without mercy, and set fire to the houses whither the Jews were fled, and burnt every soul in them. And when they entered the houses to plunder them, they found in them entire families of dead men, and the upper rooms full of corpses of those who died by famine.
" When Titus saw the solid altitude and the largeness of the several stones, and the exactness of their joints, as also how great was their breadth, and how extensive their length, he said, “We have certainly had God for our assistant in this war, and it was no other than God who ejected the Jews out of these fortifications, for what could the hands of man, or any machines, do towards overthrowing these towers?' "1 He gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city, leaving the towers of Phasaelis, Hippicus, and Mariamne, and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared to afford an encampment for those who were to remain in garrison, and the towers to demonstrate to posterity what kind of a city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valour had subdued. All the rest of the wall was so thoroughly laid even with the ground that there was left nothing to make those who came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. "This," adds the historian, "was the end to which Jerusalem came,- a city of great magnificence and of mighty fame among all mankind."
The gold and silver which adorned the temple, and that which was deposited in the treasury, were melted by the conflagration, and ran down amid the ruins. It was the opinion, also, that the Jews had secreted in vaults and caverns, or buried in the earth, large amounts of the precious metals and stones; accordingly the soldiers dug up the ruins, and thoroughly searched every spot. Thus it was that the very foundations of the temple and surrounding cloisters
1 Wars, b. vi., c. 9, § I.
were upturned, and the immense stones thrown down.
It is written in the Jewish Talmud that Terentius Rufus, whom Titus left in command, did with a ploughshare tear up the foundations of the temple. And Eleazar, in his address to the Jews besieged in the fortress of Masada, said, " And where is now that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, and which had so many ten thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God Himself inhabiting therein? It was demolished to the very foundations. And I cannot but wish that we had all died before we had seen that holy city demolished by the hands of our enemies, or the foundations of our holy temple dug up after so profane a manner." Eusebius also says that Jerusalem "was ploughed-up by the Romans, and that he saw it in ruins." Thus it was that the prediction of Micah, made more than seven hundred years before Christ, found its fulfilment: "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest."1 To this fatal end was Jerusalem reduced after a siege of about five months, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, and thirty-eight years after the crucifixion of our Lord. Such was the end of this city and the Jewish polity. The sceptre had de-
1 Micah iii. 12.
parted,-the daily sacrifices had ceased,-the day of vengeance had come, and in its mighty ruins it stands forth the monumental proof that "heaven and earth shall pass away" before one jot or tittle of all that God hath spoken shall fail.
It was further predicted by the Lord Jesus: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
Shall fall by the sword.- The facts already narrated prove the exact fulfilment of these words. The historian says, "The very soldiers grew weary of killing." He records the slain in twenty-four places during the seven years' war as amounting to 249,690, which, added to those who perished in Jerusalem by famine, pestilence, and sword, makes the whole number 1,337,490. This is independent of the unascertained numbers who perished in vaults and sewers, in caves, woods, and wildernesses, and those who were sent to the theatres to be destroyed by wild beasts. The number, 1,100,000 slain, assigned to Jerusalem seems incredible, did we not recollect the vast concourse which, at the commencement of the siege, had assembled to the passover from Judea, Galilee, Samaria, Perea, Idumea, and other regions. Josephus does not arbitrarily assume that more than two and a half million persons were then in the city; but from the calculation of the lambs consumed at the passover, and of ten persons to each lamb, reaches his estimate of the population then collected. Well might Josephus say that the destruction at Jerusalem exceeded all the destructions which God or man had ever brought upon the world.
Led away into captivity into all nations. - The number of Jews taken prisoners was 97,000. Some of the youngest, tallest, and handsomest were carried to Rome to adorn the triumph of Titus. Those under seventeen years were sold for slaves. So also the men of distinction and consideration, with their wives and children, were sold at a very low price, because the numbers were great and the buyers were few. About 40,000 of the lower orders, for whom no price could be had, Titus let go whither any of them pleased. Many were distributed to the several cities of Syria, and were destroyed in their theatres by the sword and by wild beasts. Multitudes were sent to labour in the Egyptian mines, and into all the provinces of the Roman empire. The emperor, to make his own triumph at Rome the more imposing, in addition to the display of immense treasures, and the sacred utensils taken from the temple, reserved seven hundred captives of great stature and beauty, also the captains and generals, and particularly Simon and John, who were the principal leaders of the factions. Simon was led among the captives, with a rope around his neck, tormented by those who drew him along to the Forum, where, being further tormented, he was slain." 1
To commemorate this victory of Titus, the Roman senate, after his death, erected a magnificent tri-
1 .Wars, b. vii., c. 5, § 6.
triumphal arch, which to this day stands on the highest point of the Via Sacra, not far from the Colosseum. The two carved tablets are the best known of all Roman remains. One represents Titus on a triumphal car; the other the Jewish captives, the golden table, the seven-branched golden candlestick, silver trumpets, and other spoils from the temple. Whilst the Colosseum, the temples, the Forum, and the palace of the Caesars are in ruins, this arch stands. When dilapidated by the "tooth of time" and the wars of centuries it has been repaired, and thus by a careful Providence perpetuated to the present time.
Trodden down of the Gentiles.- We have already seen how entire was the possession of Jerusalem by the Romans. The emperor gave orders to the procurator of Judea that all Judea should be exposed for sale, for he did not intend to found any city there. Such was the impoverished condition of the Jews, that they were unable to purchase any of the land. Thus it all fell into the ownership of the Gentiles; for what was unsold the emperor claimed as still belonging to the crown by conquest. Though some poor buildings were erected, yet for fifty years no attempt was made to restore the city. A.D. 131, the emperor AElius Adrianus determined to rebuild it. He changed the location by leaving out Moriah, Zion, and Bezetha. This new city he called AElia, in his own honour. He ordered the marble statue of a hog to be set up over the gate facing towards Bethlehem. He erected a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus. These acts so incensed the Jews, who had multiplied and increased in power, that they broke out into open rebellion, and made a desperate effort to recover the city. At first they were successful, but it was speedily besieged and taken and consumed. The rebellion extended through the land, but was put down with a great loss of life on the side of the Jews.
The emperor now proceeded to rebuild the city, and passed an edict forbidding any Jew, upon the penalty of death, either to enter it, or even so much as to look upon it from a distance.
In A.D. 323 Constantine, the first Christian emperor, restored the ancient name, and by his munificence, and that of his mother Helena, Jerusalem was enlarged and adorned with churches and stately edifices. About this time the Jews made another attempt to recover the city, that they might rebuild the temple. They failed; and the emperor, "having caused their ears to be cut off, and their bodies branded as rebels, dispersed them over all the provinces of the empire as fugitives and slaves."
About A. D. 358, the Emperor Julian, nephew of Constantine, but an apostate from the Christian faith, relaxed the edicts against the Jews. Perceiving that the accomplishment of the prophecy concerning Jerusalem and the Jewish nation was a strong argument in favour of Christianity, he avowed his determination to defeat the prophecy by bringing the Jews to occupy their own land, to the exercise of their religion, and their form of civil government. He resolved to restore the city, to people it with Jews, and to rear the temple with the greatest magnificence, on its ancient foundations. Having assigned immense funds for this purpose, he immediately commenced, and employed great numbers of workmen to clear the foundations of the temple. The workmen went resolutely to work, but "terrible balls of fire bursting forth, near the foundation, with frequent explosions, burning the workmen, rendered the place inaccessible. The fire continually driving them away, the work ceased." This strange fact is fully authenticated by several reliable authorities.1 For three hundred years the stones of the temple had lain quiet; the storms of three centuries drenched and bleached them, but no noise was heard, no fire shot forth,-all reposed in the deep solitude of majestic ruin, until the enemy of God came, proudly boastful that he would defeat the prophecy; then the voice of God was heard in the fire.
Early in the seventh century, A.D. 614, the city was taken by storm by Chrosroes, king of Persia. He plundered it, and inflicted many cruelties upon the inhabitants. In about a year it was recovered by the Emperor Heraclius, who banished all the Jews, forbidding them to come within three miles of the
1 "Ammianus Marcellinus, an heathen; Zemuch David, a Jew, who confessed that Julian was (Divinitus impeditus) hindered by God in this attempt; Nazianzen and Chrysostom among the Greeks; St. Ambrose and Rufinus among the Latins, who flourished at the very time when this was done:" all confirm the statement. The History of the Jews, just published in New York by the Jewish Publication Society, p. 279, admits the fact of bursting forth of flames from the ruins, the death of several workmen, and ceasing of the work.
city. In the year 636 Omar, a Mussulman caliph, the third in succession from Mohammed, after a siege of four months, took the city. Then Jerusalem passed into the hands of the Saracens.
During the next two centuries the country was frequently convulsed by the struggles between rival chiefs. The caliph of Egypt, taking advantage of the divisions of the Turks, obtained possession of the city. The Fatimite caliphs again retook and kept possession of Jerusalem until the arrival of the Crusaders, A.D. 1099, who, after a siege of forty days, took it by storm. These Gentile Christians kept possession of it for eighty-eight years. In 1187 the famous Sultan Saladdin wrested it from their hands; and from that day to the present, with only a few slight interruptions, it has remained in their possession,-literally trodden down of the Gentiles. In the hands of the Gentiles it must remain until their fulness be come in.
We have now gone over all the details of this wonderful prophecy. We have traced no fanciful analogies, -we have adduced no fanciful interpretations, -we have relied upon no merely probable evidence; but have demonstrated, by undoubted facts from authentic history, the perfect and minute fulfilment of every prediction. And wherefore is all this? The answer is thus recorded: "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." 1
1 John xx. 31.
Every word concerning Jerusalem has stood immovable. The mightiest earthly powers united to save the doomed temple; yet the flames mocked their puny efforts. Again, the mightiest earthly powers, stimulated by the most determined hatred, strove to rebuild that temple, when the fire of the Lord beat them back. The honour and the veracity and the omnipotence of God are pledged to sustain and accomplish His word. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but no word of God can possibly fail. Here is joy - fulness of joy - to the man whose confidence is in God. But here is sadness and despair to all the enemies of God. God has written it in His Book, He has charged His ministers to speak it in the hearing of all men, "He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." This is a decree as firm as that which called for the destruction of Jerusalem. History will yet record the fulfilment concerning each human being. It will be read either amid the glories of the upper world, or amid the agonies of the pit; for God is true.
It is the glory of the Divine government that God accomplishes His purposes through the agency of men who are carrying out their own chosen plans. The Roman emperor-ambitious of conquest-chose to subjugate Judea. Titus arranged all the plans of the siege, the assaults, and the victories. The robbers and the leaders of the factions chose for themselves their methods of plunder and tyranny. For who so free as the men whom God has given up, and who work iniquity with greediness? It is a principle of the Divine government to execute judgments in the way of man's chosen wickedness. The apostle Paul tells us that the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their prophets, and have persecuted us, "have filled up their sins, and wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." But in what manner? The facts are instructive. Briefly recall them. It was at the passover that Christ was crucified. It was at the passover that Titus built a wall around the city, and shut them in to death. They preferred a robber who was seditious and a murderer to Christ. It was by robbers and the seditious and murderers that their lives were made bitter unto death. They rejected the true Messiah; and false Christs led them on to destruction. They sold and bought Christ, and carried Him away bound; so they were sold for money, and carried away by force. They put Christ, the King of the Jews, to death, lest the Romans should come and take their place and their nation. The Romans did come and take their place and their nation. They crucified Christ before the walls, -they were crucified there in great numbers. Every actor in this strangely diversified drama acted freely. The Jews, the robbers, the murderers, the seditious, and the Romans; all did as they chose and planned. Yet were they the Divine instrumentalities by which the predicted destruction was accomplished. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain;" "but for the elect's sake these days shall be shortened."
That sin was the cause of the destruction of Jerusalem is certain, for thus saith the Lord: "And the people shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword, and they shall have none to bury them, . . . for I will pour their wickedness upon them." Again: "For who shall have pity upon thee, 0 Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? Thou hast forsaken me, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out My hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. . . . Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in Mine anger, which shall burn upon you."1 Scenes such as the sun never saw before, nor the curtains of midnight ever shrouded,-scenes such as the earth shall never witness again, were enacted in Jerusalem.
These are the evidences of the ruinous power of sin. Beginning at the time when David took the city, and following its history through Absalom's rebellion, its taking by Nebuchadnezzar, its destruction by Titus, its conquest by the Saracens, the Franks, and the Turks, to the present hour, we find there is no other spot on the globe against which the wrath of Heaven has so terribly and continuously burned, no spot so struck and scathed by the lightnings of Heaven. The old world by one flood was drowned. Sodom and Gomorrah filled up
1 Jer. xv. 5, 6, 13, 14.
the cup of their iniquity, and one rain of fire and brimstone swallowed them up. But Jerusalem for succeeding centuries has been the great standing monument of Divine judgments. Its inhabitants enjoyed long intervals of unprecedented mercies, thus proving that their sin was subdued by neither love nor vengeance. What must be the character of sin when the benevolent God is forced thus to deal with men; when the loving Saviour with tears pronounced the doom of the sacred city: "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Oh, it was sin that forced such an heart of tenderness to speak the doom of Jerusalem.
Subsequent History of the Jews
“I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them: because they have not hearkened to My words, saith the Lord." JER. xxix. 18,19.
“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days." HOSEA iii, 4, 5.
“ For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, .. . that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." ROM. xi. 25-27.
The Scriptures speak not only of the degradation, sufferings, and dispersion, but also of the final restoration of the Jews. The singularly exact fulfilIment of the prediction of the Saviour relative to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans, as well as the possession of their land by the Gentiles for eighteen hundred years, are fully chronicled in history. But what has become of the people? If it be asked where are the Parthians, the Medes, the Elamites, the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and other ancient nations, the reply is that they have been thrown upon the waters, and like kindred drops have commingled and disappeared. The Jews also have been thrown upon the agitated waters by the strong hand of power: they have been driven to and fro, as in a boiling cauldron, yet they have never commingled; they have sunk, it is true, degraded and dishonoured, but still they are to be found separate and distinct. They are a chosen race, and still beloved for their fathers' sake. Nor will God ever break His covenant. Though without a nationality, or a country, though scattered among the nations, they are still a distinct people; and when the fulness of the Gentiles is accomplished, they will be brought forth as the trophies of the victorious love of Christ Jesus, their Lord and Messiah, their Redeemer and ours.
Whilst the promises are abundant that prosperity and happiness should be their portion, so long as they were obedient to the commands which the Lord gave unto them, they were also threatened with punishments proportioned to their sins. The first predictions were delivered by Moses more than three thousand years ago, as found in Lev. xxvi. 36-39, 44; Deut. iv. 27; xxviii. 29-68. Similar declarations were made by various prophets all along the track of their history. Particularly was it foretold that they should be scattered and removed to the uttermost parts of the earth. "And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth."1
1 Jer. xv. 4-
"Thus saith the Lord God; I will bring up a company upon them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled."1 "My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations."2 These may serve as a sufficient sample of the character of the denunciations.
Their Dispersion.- They were to be scattered far and wide. Not a voluntary emigration to other lands, but a forcible and painful expulsion from their own country. Not to the regions surrounding Palestine, but to the uttermost parts of the earth. History tells us how oppressive and compulsory were the laws which Adrian, Constantine, and other Roman emperors made against them, forbidding them, under the penalty of death, to enter Jerusalem, or to come within three miles of it. By Vespasian and Constantine they were scattered over the empire. They were sold as slaves into Egypt, thus fulfilling the prediction, "And the Lord shall bring thee unto Egypt with ships, and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen." It is true today that this unique people are found among all nations, in every part of the habitable globe. Yea, in lands unknown to the prophets, who said, "They shall be scattered among the heathen (Gentiles) whom neither they nor their fathers have known."
The English, Scotch, and Irish, whose restricted territory, crowded population, and commercial intercourse with other lands prompt to emigration, have
1 Ezek. xxiii. 46.
2 Hosea ix. 17.
scattered themselves widely. But they afford no parallel to the Jews. They have no country, and yet inhabit all lands; they were not constrained by restricted territory, or by over-population to leave; they were not enticed away by mercantile enterprise, for their vocation was agricultural; but they were driven about by the caprice of kings and governors, until their residence is among all the tribes and kindreds of the earth.
They were to find no rest among the nations. - Among those nations," says Moses, "shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind."1 The history of nations is greatly diversified in their rise and fall, their days of darkness and their days of light. They have been raised from their prostration, and made victorious, or they have been blotted out. But the history of the Jews for eighteen hundred years, though varied, has still been uniform. The diversities have often only marked a deeper degradation and a more oppressive bondage. It has all been disquietude and sorrow. Other nations, crushed by adversity, have perished; but the Jews could not be exterminated.
During the first century Jerusalem was laid in ashes, the temple utterly destroyed, their country sold to the Gentiles; whilst the people were driven to and fro, and sold into slavery.
In the second century the Roman emperors enacted
1 Deut. xxviii. 65-
severe and oppressive laws against them. Under the reign of one emperor not less than half a million of the Jews were slain.
Through the third century their persecutions were so severe that they found no resting-place.
In the fourth century, Constantine scattered them as fugitives over all the empire. Before banishing them from Rome he caused the ears of many to be cut off, and their persons to be branded as vagabonds.
In the fifth century they were expelled from Alexandria. Throughout the Persian dominions they were persecuted with terrible cruelty. In the sixth century, allured and deceived by false Messiahs, they rose in rebellion against the government, but were defeated with fearful and cruel slaughter. In Africa, whither multitudes fled for refuge, they were denied the right to worship, and were forbidden to exercise their religion even in the caves of the earth.
In the seventh century they were expelled from Antioch, from Jerusalem, and from Spain. In France they were compelled either to renounce their religion, or be despoiled of all their property. In Arabia, being conquered by Mohammed, they were put under heavy tribute, and then expelled from the kingdom.
In the eighth century a law was enforced throughout all the nations professing Mohammedanism, that any child who should renounce Judaism and become a Mohammedan, should become the sole inheritor of all the family property. In Spain they were seized and sold into slavery.
During the ninth and tenth centuries, the Mohammedan caliphs extended their conquests from Spain to India. Within these boundaries the great mass of the Jews resided. They were repeatedly deprived of their property, -they were imprisoned, and external marks of infamy put upon them. So persecuted and oppressed were they, that they fled to the deserts of Arabia. For a little season they had comparative rest, a respite from the more oppressive forms of cruelty, still, however, suffering private indignities.
At the close of the thirteenth century they were banished from England by Edward I; nor were they permitted to return until the time of Oliver Cromwell.
Towards the close of the fourteenth century they were banished from France for the seventh time by Charles VI; most of the time since they have only been tolerated there.
In the fifteenth century Ferdinand and Isabella banished them from Spain. Mariana says there were 170,000 families banished; whilst others say 800,000 persons left the kingdom. Most of these fled to Portugal,, and at a great price bought refuge from John II. But soon they were banished from Portugal by Emanuel, the successor of John.
This narrative of their unrest among the nations might be brought down to later periods; but sufficient proof has now been given to confirm the prediction. Says Dr. Keith: "Nor can any tongue of man tell, or pen write, what trembling of heart and failing of eyes were theirs, or what sorrow of mind, what sore sickness of soul, were the portion of this family among the nations, whither they were driven; in the oppressions and banishments, the miseries and the massacres which time after time were relentlessly inflicted upon them throughout Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Hungary, Turkey, Italy, and England."
They were to be spoiled not only of property, but of their children.-" Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people."1 In Mohammedan countries, as already shown, their children were bribed to renounce their religion, and to forsake their parents, by the promise of thus securing the entire estate of the family. In Spain and Portugal their children, by order of the government, were forcibly taken from them, to be educated in the popish religion. "The fourth council of Toledo ordered that all their children should be taken from them, for fear they should partake of their errors, and that they should be shut up in monasteries, to be instructed in Christian truths." When they were banished from Portugal, the king ordered all their children under fourteen years of age to be taken from them and baptised. Sir Walter Scott says, "They were alike detested by the credulous and the prejudiced vulgar, and persecuted by the greedy and rapacious nobility. Except perhaps the flying-fish, there was no race existing on the earth, in the air, or the waters who were the objects of such unremitted, general, and relentless persecution
1 Deut. xxviii. 32.
as the Jews. Their persons and their property were exposed to every turn of popular fury."
They were to be driven to madness and desperation.- "And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning!" "So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see."1 " And death shall be chosen rather than life."2 "After the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, some of the worst of the Jews took refuge in the castle of Masada, where, being closely besieged by the Romans, they, at the persuasion of Eleazar, their leader, first murdered their wives and children;
then ten were chosen by lot to slay the rest; this being done, one of the ten was chosen in like manner to kill the other nine, which having executed, he set fire to the place, and then stabbed himself: There were nine hundred and sixty who perished in this miserable manner, and only two women and five boys escaped by hiding themselves in the aqueducts under ground."
"During the massacres in Germany, multitudes barricaded their houses, and precipitated themselves, their families, and their wealth into the rivers or the flames." "During the reign of Richard I, of England, fifteen hundred Jews seized part of the city of York, to defend themselves from the massacres. Being besieged, they offered to capitulate and to ransom their lives
.1 Deut. xxviii. 66, 67, 34.
2 Jer. viii. 3.
with money. The offer being refused, one of them cried, in despair, that it was better to die courageously for the law, than to fall into the hands of the Christians. Everyone immediately took his knife, and stabbed his wife and children. The men afterwards retired into the king's palace, which they set on fire; in which they consumed themselves with the palace and furniture." Thus indeed were they driven to desperation, and preferred death rather than life.
They were to dissemble, and serve other gods.- "And there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone."1 " And there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not show you favour."2 These passages have reference to the times when they should be scattered among the nations. When the Israelites were carried away captives by the Assyrians, many became incorporated with the nations, and gave themselves up to their idolatrous worship. In later periods, since the destruction of their sacred city, we learn from Basnage that "the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition reduced them to the dilemma of being either hypocrites or burnt." He adds, "The number of these dissemblers are very considerable, and it ought not to be concluded that there are no Jews in Spain or Portugal because they are not known. They are so much the more dangerous, for not only being very numerous, but confounded with the ecclesiastics, and entering into all ecclesiastical dignities." "The most surprising thing is, that this religion spreads from generation to generation, and still sub-
1 Deut. xxviii. 36.
2 Jer. xvi. 13.
sists in the persons of dissemblers in a remote posterity. In vain the great lords of Spain make alliances, change their names, and take ancient escutcheons; they are still known to be of Jewish race, and Jews themselves. The convents, not a few of the canons, inquisitors, and bishops proceed from this nation." This same writer furnishes the evidence that there were in the synagogues of Amsterdam, brothers and sisters and near relations to good families in Spain and Portugal, and even Franciscan monks; Dominicans, and Jesuits, who came to do penance and make amends for the crime they had committed in dissembling. .
They were to be a curse and astonishment, a byword and a proverb among all nations.-“And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee."1 “To be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them."2 The proof of this remarkable prediction, which is true of no other people, is so abundant and personal, and within the cognizance of almost everyone, as scarcely to need an illustration. Verily the Jew, all the world over, and through all the ages, has become a proverb, a byword, and a scorn. They have been held forth for contempt by external marks. At times they were to be designated by a leathern girdle; again, by a piece of cloth of a specified colour, conspicuously worn; again, by a clog fastened to their body, and dragged about with
1 Deut. xxviii. 37.
2 Jer. xxix. 18.
them. Other equally degrading marks were put upon them, which continually exposed them to scorn and contempt. Though the heathen, the Mohammedan, and the Christian differed essentially in their religious views, still they were agreed in pouring abusive contempt upon the Jews. When Shakespeare, that great master of human nature, would draw a character so detestable as to command the prompt and universal abhorrence of mankind, he produced Shylock, the Jew of Venice, pleading for the pound of flesh. Almost every man may be summoned as a witness to prove that he has often made use of the Jew as a byword and a proverb, and has personally, though unwittingly, carried out this Divine prediction.
Another prediction was that the kingdom-the body politic-was to be destroyed, and the people sifted through the nations yet the seed was not to perish, whilst their enemies should be destroyed.- "And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God."1 "I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I wilI not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure."2 "I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord. For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth."3 Says Bishop Newton, "The Jewish
1 Lev. xxvi. 44.
2 ] er. xlvi. 28.
8 Amos ix. 8, 9.
nation, like the bush of Moses, has been always burning, but is never consumed." The preservation of the Jews as a distinct people through so many wars and fires,-through such wasting famines and pestilences,-through such rebellions, massacres, and persecutions, is the most striking and illustrious exhibition of Divine Providence, and of the most literal fulfilment of this prophecy. Whilst they have been, and now are dispersed among all nations, yet they are not confounded with any. Though they have mixed with all, still they remain a separate people. Though worldly inducements strongly urged them to abandon their religion, still they have held on to their law. When the northern tribes of Europe poured forth their swarms upon the more genial south, they soon became so mingled in and incorporated with the nations as not to be distinguished. In most civilised countries the distinctive marks of foreign nationalities are soon lost by intermarriages and commingling. But the Jew does not commingle, and through many generations preserves his lineage, and is easily known as a son of Abraham.
Their preservation is the more remarkable when we inquire after their ancient persecutors. The Egyptians, who detained them in severe and degrading bondage, the Assyrians and Babylonians, who carried them away captive and evil entreated them, the Macedonians, who used them with cruelty, and the Romans, who destroyed their city and their temple, and sold them for slaves throughout the empire, are gone, all gone, -their power is utterly broken. How wonderful that the mighty and the conquering nations should be lost in oblivion, whilst the vanquished and the oppressed should survive and spread all over the earth,-a strong nation without a king, or prince, or governor, nay, without a government or portion of land! Yet such is the fact.
Not only have nations thus felt the power of the prediction, but prominent rulers have been strangely dealt with. The firstborn of Pharaoh was destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar was stricken with madness, and his crown given to strangers. Haman was hung upon the gallows he prepared for Mordecai. Antiochus Epiphanes and Herod both died in the most miserable manner. Flaccus, the governor of Egypt, who plundered the Jews at Alexandria, was banished and slain. Caligula, who persecuted them for refusing to honour his statue in the temple, was murdered in the prime of life. Truly, "though scattered and persecuted, they have been a people terrible from their beginning hitherto."
By reason of their blindness to the true Messias their sufferings were to continue for a long time.- "Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sickness, and of long continuance."1 "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And He
1 Deut. xxviii. 59.
answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land."1 These passages, in addition to the predictions of external and long-continued sufferings, speak of the inward workings of the mind. Of this predicted unbelief the prophet Isaiah thus upbraids his people: "Who hath believed our report (or doctrine)? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ?"2 The reason of their rejection of the Messias is stated to be His humble and afflicted condition. To them He was "as a root out of a dry ground," having neither "form nor comeliness" nor beauty that He should be desired. Consequently, "He was despised and rejected;" being "a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."
In the Gospel by John we find this prediction explicitly applied to the Jews: "Though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled."3 So Paul also makes the same application: "But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?"4 "Blindness (or hardness) in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."5 And our Lord says, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."6 The language of Paul in his
1 Isa. vi. 10-12.
2 Isa. Iiii. 1.
3 John xii. 37, 38.
4 Rom. x. 16.
5 Rom. xi. 25.
6 Luke xxi. 24.
second letter to the Corinthians is true now: "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart."1 How wonderful and explicit the fulfilment! Every civilised nation believes in Christ,-the Messiah of whom the prophets spake. But the Jews, though perpetuated as living witnesses of the truth of the Scriptures,-though for so long a time without a Prince, without a sacrifice or temple, without ephod or teraphim, and without their looked-for Messiah, still reject Christ as the Messiah. Blinded by their prejudice, they grope at noonday, as doth the blind man for the wall. For eighteen hundred years their cities have been wasted, and themselves wanderers and persecuted. Thus their plagues and sufferings have been of "long continuance," and for "a very long time." How long this blindness will continue no man can tell. All we know is that it will continue "until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." When that shall be God has not revealed.
There are at the present time certain indications that the Jewish mind is in a state of inquiry. In some lands even now they find the most rigid laws oppressing them in their temporal and religious interests, denying the rights of citizenship, and confining them to particular and crowded sections of cities. In England they are now respected in alI
1 2 Cor. iii. 14, 15.
their rights. In the United States they never found any disabilities, civil or religious,-all their interests from the beginning were sacredly guarded, they enjoyed perfect liberty and equal privileges with other citizens. This was a new feature in their history, and it met them in a Christian land, and as the outworking of true Christian principles. It cannot be otherwise than that the reflecting portion will notice these facts, and feel their generous influence. The fact is patent that the Jews dwelling in the United States and other Protestant countries no longer speak contemptuously and malignantly of Christ. Whilst they do not receive Him as the promised Messiah, they admit that He was a good and wise man. Dr. Raphael, the learned and distinguished rabbi residing in New York, thus publicly spake of Christ: "I, as a Jew, do say, that it appears to me that Jesus Christ became the victim of fanaticism, combined with jealousy and lust of power in Jewish hierarchs, even as in later ages Huss and Jerome of Prague, Latimer and Ridley became the victims of fanaticism, combined with jealousy and lust of power in Christian hierarchs; and while I and the Jews of the present day protest against being identified with the zealots who were concerned in the proceedings against Jesus of Nazareth, we are far from reviling His character or deriding His precepts." It is an interesting fact that this same learned rabbi, in his public lectures, delivered to mixed audiences of Jews and Christians, did freely and with approbation quote from the evangelists the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Another indication of an ameliorating influence is the fact that Dr. Wechler, a learned Jewish rabbi of New Haven, Connecticut, regularly attends the weekly meeting of ministers, takes part with them in their discussions, often leading them in prayer. He manifests great interest in these meetings, and is among the most punctual. He uniformly speaks most respectfully of Jesus Christ and of His teachings. These are signs of the times which may foretell the dawning of a brighter day upon the sons of Abraham.
Whilst often despoiled and always oppressed and punished for their covetousness, they were to possess the riches of the Gentiles.- "For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him."1 "They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumbling-block of their iniquity."2 "The ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them."3 Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves."4 The covetousness of the Jew has passed into a proverb. None thinks it strange that a Jew should demand exorbitant interest. How often are hardhearted Gentile money-lenders, who fatten upon the distresses of their fellow-men, called, by way of distinctive and marked emphasis, ‘as usurious as a Jew”.
1 Isa. lvii. 17.
2 Ezek. vii. 19.
3 Isa. Ix. 9.
4 Isa. lxi. 6.
That the Jews are the possessors of great wealth is established by the most abundant evidence. But for their riches they never would have suffered such repeated and extensive spoliations in the days of despotic kings. Notwithstanding all that they have endured, the promise is that they shall be notorious for the abundance of their wealth. Whilst it is true, even down to the present time, that ever since the dispersion the Jews in Palestine have been and are poor, still, in almost every other country, they ply their occupations with eminent success. . The laws of the nations among whom they were scattered, forbidding them to hold landed property, have, by necessity, driven them to accumulate gold and silver and precious stones,-a kind of property valuable in every part of the world. They have a large share of the funds of every kingdom of Europe. We know that the richest bankers of England and the Continent are Jews; that the Rothschilds and the Goldsmidts control such wealth as to determine the loans needed by governments.
They are yet to be advanced to great prosperity, temporal and spiritual.-" The Lord. . . will have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee, . . . and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers."1 "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice. . . .Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek
1 Dent. xxx. 3, 5.
the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days."1 "And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in My wrath I smote thee, but in My favour have I had mercy on thee."2 "The vail is upon their heart. … Nevertheless… the vail shall be taken away."3 "And they. . . shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. . . . And so all Israel shall be saved."4 "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips."5
The striking fulfilment of the varied predictions already considered may well assure us that what remains to this wonderful people of favour and temporal advancement, and especially of spiritual enlargement and blessedness, will be perfectly carried out. It is a fact worthy of particular attention that, with all the changes among the kingdoms during so many centuries, nothing has occurred which renders impracticable the fulfilment of these prophecies. On the contrary, the condition of the Jewish people, as well as of Christian and other nations, at the present time, with the facilities of travel and intercourse, is such as to render them easily capable of a complete accomplishment. And when these predictions of their conversion to Christ shall be fulfilled, it will be a sign and a wonder to all nations, and the prelude to the universal spread of Christianity.
How, in what manner, at what time, and through
1 Hosea. iii. 4, 5.
2 Isa. Ix. 10.
3 2 Cor. iii. 15, 16.
4 Rom. xi. 23, 26.
5 Psa. lxxxix. 34.
what agencies all will be accomplished, we know not. As all prophecies are to be fulfilled by the voluntary doings of men pushing forward their own personal plans, we doubt whether the men who shall fulfil them will have any consciousness that they are thus engaged, any more than did the Jews when they crucified the Lord of glory. When the prophecy is completed, then the facts will come to the front and prove the fulfilment. I have thought that unfulfilled prophecy was not unlike to the pillar of cloud, which, though it led the people, was still obscure and dark;
and that fulfilled prophecy was not unlike to the pillar of fire, by means of whose light all things were clearly to be perceived. Whether Christ shall in His bodily presence reign upon this earth or not, whether the Jews shall return to Palestine, and abide there, or continue to occupy other countries, are matters about which men honestly differ. But one thing is certain,-that blessings rich and large are in reserve for the children of Abraham; blessings which will not only enrich them spiritually, but be also to the Gentiles as life from the dead.1 That these days may be hastened, I am confident, is the hearty prayer of Christians.
"The long era of dispersion, lasting seventeen centuries, is characterised by unprecedented sufferings, an uninterrupted martyrdom, and constantly aggravated degradation and humiliation, unparalleled in history,-but also by mental activity, unremitting intellectual efforts, and indefatigable research. A
1 Rom. xi. 15.
graphic, adequate image of this era could only be portrayed by representing it in two pictures,-the one representing subjugated Judah, with the pilgrim staff in hand, the pilgrim pack on his back, with a mournful eye addressed towards heaven, surrounded by prison walls, implements of torture, and red-hot branding irons; the other exhibiting the same figure with the earnest of the thinker upon the placid brow, with the air of the scholar in the bright features, seated in a hall of learning, which is filled with a colossal library in all the languages spoken by man, and on all the branches of Divine and human lore,-the figure of a servant with the proud independence of the thinker,-the one representing the external history of this era, a history of suffering, the like of which no other people has endured to such an aggravated degree, and to such an immense extent; the other exhibiting the inward history, a comprehensive history of the mind, which, like an immense river, springing from the knowledge of God, appropriates and binds all the tributary sciences,-again a history peculiar to this people only. Studying and wandering, thinking and enduring, learning and suffering fill the long space of this era. . . .
"There is scarcely a science, an art, an intellectual province in which Jews have not taken a part, for which Jews have not manifested an equal aptitude. To think was as much a characteristic feature of the Jew as to suffer. In consequence of the chiefly compulsory, seldom voluntary, migrations of the Jews, the Jewish history of this era comprises the entire habitable globe, extending to the snow region of the north, the tropical heat of the south, crossing every ocean, and settling in the remotest corners of the earth. Through these migrations the Jewish people gathered new experiences, and the eye of the homeless became practised and keen. Thus even the accumulated sufferings were instrumental in extending the horizon of Jewish thinkers. . . . The Jewish people became a cosmopolitan people, which, because nowhere, was, on that very account, at home everywhere. What has prevented this constantly migrating people, this veritable wandering Jew, from degenerating into brutalized vagabonds, into vagrant hordes of gipsies? The answer is at hand. In its journey through the desert of life, for eighteen centuries the Jewish people carried along the ark of the covenant, which breathed into its heart ideal aspirations, and even illuminated the badge of disgrace affixed to its garment with an apostolic glory. The proscribed, outlawed, universally-persecuted Jew felt a sublime, noble pride in being singled out to perpetuate and suffer for a religion which reflects eternity, by which the nations of the earth were gradually educated to a knowledge of God and morality, and from which is to spring the salvation and redemption of the world. The consciousness of his glorious apostolic office sustained the sufferer, and even stamped the sufferings as a portion of his sublime mission. Such a people, which disdains its present, but has the eye steadily fixed on the future, which lives, as it were, on hope, is on that very account
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eternal, like hope. The law and the hope of the Messiah were two angels of protection and comfort, upholding the humbled, and guarding from despair, degeneracy, and national suicide." 1
The more our Jewish brethren study their own history in their own Scriptures, as it stands related to prophecies, as also those recorded in the New Testament, their conviction of the truth of Christianity must become fixed and settled. How overwhelming to all men will be the evidence when the vail which now clouds their vision shall be taken away, and the Jews, as they read in Moses of Christ, shall, with warm and generous hearts, acknowledge Him as their Lord and Redeemer. What, then, can the unbelieving world do when they see the long-disinherited Jew openly wending his way to the Messiah, and weeping as he goes? They must acknowledge that there is a God in heaven, and that all His words are true. Then both Jew and Gentile shall bow down and reverence the Son even as the Father. Thus indeed the conversion of the Jews will be to the Gentiles as " life from the dead."
The existence of the Jewish people is an unanswerable argument for the truth of the Bible. Look at them. Where is there a parallel case to be found? Read the many predictions of the Bible concerning them; then read their history as written and delineated by their own and Gentile historians, and note the exact fulfilment. Emphatically they are
1 I make the preceding quotations from The History of The Jews, issued by the American Jewish Publication Society.
" the nation that living shall die, and dying shall live; that trampled on by all, shall trample on all; that bleeding from a thousand wounds shall be unhurt; that beggared shall wield the wealth of nations; that without a name shall sway the councils of kings; that without a city shall dwell in all kingdoms; that scattered like the dust shall be bound together like the rock; that perishing by the sword, by the chain, by the famine, shall be imperishable, unnumbered, and glorious as the stars of heaven." Such is the prophetic and the retrospective history of this wonderful people. As they are scattered over the earth, and are a distinct people among all nations, so they are the imperishable monument to all the world of the truth of the Bible. Nay, more, they are the imperishable though "involuntary monuments of the truth of Christianity, and of the Divinity of the Messiah whom their fathers crucified."
No man can read what the Bible says of the Jews, and with candour collect the testimonies of history, and of facts all around him, and remain an unbeliever. He must admit the truth of the Bible. If true, how momentous are its teachings to every individual! For it is not more certain that the Word of God concerning the Jews has been fulfilled than that every declaration of God will be accomplished. The truths of history, of philosophy, and of science men may neglect with but little harm; but the eternal destiny of every man is fastened, with more than adamantine chains, to the great truth of salvation revealed in the Bible. For, saith the Lord God, "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." 1
It must be obvious to every student of the past that God has held forth the Jewish nation as the model from which other people are to learn the principles of His moral government. In them He shows that natural causes are only instrumentalities in His hands for the development of the principles of His government. "Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers?" saith the prophet Isaiah. The response is specific, "Did not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in His ways, neither were they obedient unto His law."2 And by the prophet Jeremiah He saith, "a house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the cIay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in Mine hand, O house of IsraeL" "Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, . . Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good." 3 "And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them."4
Secular historians rest in natural and political
1 John xii. 48.
2 Isa. xlii. 24.
3 Jer. xviii. 6, II.
4 Jer. xxii. 8, 9.
causes to account for the fall of nations. The true causes lie farther back. The natural and visible ones are only the instrumentalities which God uses to consummate His own purposes. The fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was not the original cause, but only the instrumentality, for the Lord has told us that the true cause was their wickedness. It is thus that God teaches that the true cause of extinction of nations is their sin. The historian who goes no farther back than visible natural agencies, has failed to state the true and efficient cause for the ruin of nations.
From the treatment which the Jews have received all nations may learn their danger. They were the people of God's choice, and with them He made a covenant; but remember His treatment of them when they sinned. Though in the progress of the ages they "have been spoiled," "hid in prison-houses," and" for a prey" and "a spoil," still they are not wholly destroyed, because of God's covenant. Why have they been cast off for these eighteen hundred years? The Apostle Paul replies, "Because of unbelief they were broken off;"1 not annihilated, because of the covenant and the promise of their restoration.
Now look at the nations where the gospel was first published. What has become of them? They sinned, and they are wiped out. Other nations will also disappear. This is the danger which threatens the people proud of their power, or wealth, or freedom. All are in the hands of God.
1 Rom. Xi. 20.
The question naturally arises, why did God thus severely treat the Jews? He has dealt so with no other people. When the old world, by reason of its great wickedness, was doomed to destruction, the flood was the executioner, and the sufferings endured were not protracted. When Sodom and Gomorrah were blotted out, fire made short work with the guilty city. When Babylon and Nineveh, Tyre and ancient Rome were destroyed, mercy was mingled with the judgment. Why this difference of treatment, for they all have sinned? Christ has clearly laid down the principle which justifies this discrimination: "Then began He to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida ! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." 1 The principle thus emphatically stated is that men are responsible in proportion to their advantages, and that consequently their guilt and their punish-
Matt. xi. 20-24.
ment must be in proportion to the privileges they have neglected or misused. The Jews had privileges arid advantages given to no other nation. God was pleased to enter into covenant with them, promising the highest prosperity and happiness to them whilst they were obedient to His laws, and threatening the severest punishment in case of their disobedience. From the beginning of their nationality He did more for them than for any, or for all other nations. He established them in the land promised to Abraham, their progenitor, as a theocratic commonwealth, giving to them the privilege of self - government, under judges of His appointment or of their own choice. He revealed unto them, through His prophets, His wiII, chastened them when they rebeIIed, and when penitent restored them to favour. He gave them the knowledge of the true God, and made them the depositaries of His law. His Providence was ever vigilant over them,-they were His constant care. The same sin in them was far more criminal and aggravated than it possibly could be in any other people. Hence the severity as the just recompense.
But why should it fall on that generation? As the light and privileges increased from generation to generation, so the sin became more intense and cumulative. This last generation, instead of condemning the sins of the past, approved of and practised them. Said our Lord: "Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed kiIIed them (the prophets), and ye build their sephIchres."1 That sin roIls with accumulative power,
1 Luke xi. 48.
and concentrates itself upon the last approving generation, our Lord thus asserts: "Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." God had borne with them for many ages; all proper methods for their reformation had been tried. They waxed worse and worse, until the cup of their iniquity was full; then forbearance could do no more, and the Saviour closes up this statement of their accumulated sin with this memorable lamentation: "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."1
They had resisted all the evidence which Christ gave of His Messiahship,-they ascnbed His miracles to satanic agency,-they persistently rejected Him, they hated Him with murderous hatred,-they had deliberately determined upon His death by crucifixion. This for the time sundered the strong bonds of the covenant, and placed them beyond its pro-
1 Matt. xxiii 34-38.
tecting shield; it left them to the awards of justice, and the execution of that ancient threatening,
"And I will bring a sword upon you that shall avenge the quarrel of My covenant." How avenge it? The immediate context adds, "And when ye are together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you, and ye shall be delivered into the hands of the enemy." The Saviour, knowing that the time for the avenging of "the quarrel of the covenant" was nigh again, wept over Jerusalem as He lifted His voice in lamentation, saying, " If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes."
It is often asked why is this beautiful world the theatre of so much and such intense suffering? How is it consistent with the benevolence of God? Until we are so situated as to gather up and comprehend the results of God's government of this world, we cannot, by reason of our short experience and limited knowledge, accurately judge. At present we see only a part of God's ways, and that through a glass darkly. A time will come when we shall see the results, and shall understand how all the suffering is consistent with the benevolence of God. Even now we know that in every well-regulated human commonwealth, law with its penalty must be supreme.
It is benevolence that forms and executes right laws, for justice is one form and outgrowth of benevolence. I t is benevolence which builds the strong massive walls of the prison, and shuts up there those who outrage the rights and happiness of the virtuous., It is the province of benevolence, in the form of justice, to protect the good and obedient. If this works wisely and truly among men, imperfect as our laws are, how more perfectly must it work in the unerring hand of God!
This world, be it remembered, is hardly a speck in the vast material universe; and that all the inhabitants, from the beginning to the end, are scarcely an item in the countless myriads upon myriads of intelligent and accountable creatures whom God has called into being. Yet every intelligent being in the universe is personally and eternally interested in manifestations of Divine justice which are being here displayed. Hath not God so revealed: "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (or truth), which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." 1
Here it is the avowed eternal purpose of God, by means of the church, gathered out of this sinful world, and purged from sin by the blood of Christ, to make known His manifold wisdom to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. Why make this manifestation? Not for His own gratification, but their benefit. For here in this world, as nowhere else,
1 Eph. iii. 9-11.
is the true and unalterable nature of sin demonstrated. When the rebel angels were cast forth from heaven, the holy ones saw the meanness and the baseness of sin, also the deep abhorrence of God. But they could not then know its virulent malignity. They could not then know what might be the effect of forbearance on the part of God. Who could tell that they would not repent and return to allegiance if a solitary ray of mercy had lighted their intense darkness?
All these and many other things are settled by the demonstrations made on this earth. God has shown to these holy ones that He was not cruel when He hurled the devils into their prison. He means to settle for ever the true nature of sin by demonstrating, through ages of diversified treatment, that it takes advantage of the patience and long-suffering of God to do still more wickedly; nay, worse than that, it pushes its way on with increasing determination through mercies planted thick along its pathway. Even at the cross, when God in mercy is offering up the sacrifice of His only-begotten and dearly-beloved Son, that He might save the guilty, then the deep and horrible malignity of sin was manifested in the sneers and taunts and mockery of the illustrious Sufferer. Such is sin. It takes advantage of the patience, the forbearance, the love, the mercy of God to go on to deeper depths of malignity and hatred.
All this lies open to the view of the heavenly principalities and powers, and they can have no misgivings as to the certainty of the malignant nature of sin, as to the degraded and viciously-selfish character it always involves, and of the inevitable misery which it produces. They must see, and with adoring wonder acknowledge, the manifold wisdom and benevolence of God in His treatment and final disposition of the incorrigibly wicked. And when the grand consummation shall come, and the redeemed from all time are gathered to the realms of the blessed, then it will be found that "where sin abounded grace did much more abound;" that, counting in all who have died in infancy, and including the long ages of the millennium, when the whole world will be densely populated, then I think it will be found that the overwhelming mass of all the earth's inhabitants will have been saved from the penalty and power of sin by faith in "the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;" whilst, on the other side, the number of the impenitent and incorrigibly wicked, though great in themselves, is so comparatively small as only to illustrate the malignant character of sin and of necessary punishment. Then will the Lord say to His redeemed multitude, so great that no man can number them, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."1 The victory over sin will be complete and eternal. The principalities and powers in heavenly places, who watched and aided in the conflict, will share in the joy of the victory. And all the servants of God will be confirmed in holiness for ever.
1 Matt. xxv. 34.
But what, on the other hand, must be said of those reiterated declarations, so common in the present day, of the Fatherhood of God, as though He were so weakly merciful that He will not maintain His law or punish sin? God, as the moral Governor of the universe, must assert the claims of justice. And that He will do so the history we have passed in review establishes beyond the possibility of doubt. To whom does the Fatherhood of God apply? In its strict and full sense only to those who have entered into covenant with Him. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God." It is only those who "have received the Spirit of adoption" who can cry," Abba, Father, . . . and if children then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ."1 With them the covenant is sure, and cannot be broken. But no such words are spoken to the wicked. Our Lord said to such, "Ye are of your father the devil."2 They are "the children of the wicked one." And again, "He that committeth sin is of the devil." From their moral unlikeness to God, they cannot, in any true or real sense, be His children. Having chosen their part with His enemies, they must hear the terrible sentence, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."3 The terrible doom which overwhelmed the ungodly and impenitent amongst the Jews may convince us that this is no empty threatening, no unmeaning menace.
Out of Christ there is no possibility of hope for
1 Rom. viii. 14-17.
2 John viii. 44.
3 Matt. xxv. 41.
any human being. Only in Him can we escape from the curse of a broken law and the ruin of sin,-a curse and a ruin more fearful far than that which came upon the doomed and guilty city. In Christ the atoning Saviour, the risen and interceding High-Priest, we escape from eternal death, and rise to heavenly blessedness. "Turn ye to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope," and flee at once, before the judgment overtake you. " Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." 1
1 Psa. ii. 12
What do YOU think ?
Seems that the last chapter (10) is the most interesting and controversial. I would be interested in getting some good preterest commentary on the verses the author introduces chapter 10 with -- especially: “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days." HOSEA iii, 4, 5. “ For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, .. . that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." ROM. xi. 25-27. DBS
Date: 13 Apr 2005