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The Jewish Revolt

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" The Jewish revolt of 66 AD., which had its culmination four years later in the sacking of Jerusalem, the burning of its Temple, and the widespread extermination and humiliation of the Jewish people. As is historically well attested, in 70 AD. the Roman general Titus returned in triumph to Rome, parading through the streets such Jewish treasures as the 'menorah' (the huge seven-branched candelabrum of the Temple), and enacting tableaux demonstrating how he and his armies had overcome savage, ill-advised resistance from this renegade group of the Empire's subjects, many of whom he had to crucify wholesale. At the height of the celebrations the captured Jewish leader, Simon bar Giora, was dragged to the Forum, abused and executed. n Titus' honour Rome's mints crashed out sestertii with the inscription 'Judaea Capta', and within a few years a magnificent triumphal arch was erected next to the Temple of Venus. from 'Jesus the Evidence

...Sadly, because of inadequate and one-sided documentation.. we know almost nothing, for example, of the fate of those followers of Jesus who remained faithful to the Jewish Law, variously labelled 'Nazarenes' and Jewish-Christians'. One tradition associates them with settling at Pella on the east coast of the Jordan. The lack of such documentation is often attributed to the centuries of persecution -Nero 54-68 AD, Domitian 81-96 AD, Decius 249-51 AD." from 'Jesus the Evidence



"Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." - Luke 21:20-24

"That the so-called 'Zealot' movement was also permeated by Messianism is confirmed by Josephus at the end of the Jewish War, when he contends that the thing that most moved the Jews to revolt against Rome in C.E. 66-70 was an obscure and ambiguous prophecy .... that a World Ruler would come out of Palestine, i.e. the Star Prophecy (6.312-14)." - Robert Eisman and Michael Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered

"What more than all else incited them to the war [even as the Temple burned] was an ambiguous oracle ... found in their sacred scriptures, to the effect that at that time one from their country would become ruler of the world. This they understood to mean someone of their own race, and many of their wise men went astray in their interpretation of it. The oracle, however, in reality signified the sovereignty of Vespasian who was proclaimed Emperor in Jewish soil." - Josephus, Jewish War 6.312-313

Roman historians such as Suetonius and Tacitus also reported the prophesy.

"From Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world." - Tacitus, The Histories, V, xiii

"Suetonius, in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars (Vespasian 4, 5), recounts the belief, widespread in the Orient, of world-rulers who were to come from Judea. The Jews mistakenly took the prophecy to refer to themselves, when it actually pointed to Vespasian, who paradoxically was in Judea at the time to put down the Jewish rebellion. In a passage that is difficult to interpret, Suetonius tells us that, when Vespasian consulted the oracle of the god of Carmel in Judea, the lots were very favourable (Vespasian 6, 6). Suetonitus then repeats Josephus' story of his prophecy of Vespasian's rise to the imperial throne. This agreed with omens that supposedly had been observed in Rome. Legitimacy was on its way." - John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew - Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol. 2.

"Under Albinius [the governor of Judaea appointed by Nero] law and order eventually collapsed. Nero tried to correct matters by sending out a strict authoritarian, Gessius Florus, a 'hanger and a flogger' who believed in putting down the slightest disturbance with the utmost severity .... Florus sent to Jerusalem to withdraw money from the Temple treasury, claiming it was needed for public works. No one believed him. There was much grumbling and some young wags carried round baskets collecting 'pennies for poor Florus'. In anger the governor advanced on the city with his forces. The action provoked an escalating cycle of repression and demonstrations. To prevent a full-scale uprising both sides wrote to Cestius Gallus the governor of Syria who sent a tribune to investigate. When he and the young king Agrippa, son a Agrippa Herod I, attempted to reconcile the two sides and were expelled from Jerusalem."

 "The Zealots knew that their time had come. They seized Masada and slaughtered the Roman garrison there. In Jerusalem they gained control for the priests and the daily sacrifice that was offered for the emperor ceased. It was the final act of defiance. Zealots massacred the high priest and the Roman troops in the Antonia fortress, palace and citadel towers. "The revolt at Jerusalem released all the old pent up hatred. All over the country Jews and gentiles slaughtered each other. Towns were sacked and burned. Populations were wiped out. In Alexandria the legions had to be brought in to protect the Greeks. This of course resulted in a massacre of the Jews." - Peter Connolly, Living in the Time of Jesus of Nazareth

"The revolt against Rome was also a social revolution in may ways. The debt-ridden and landless lower classes together with refugees from the border areas provided the backbone of the rebel forces. There were also some extremist groups, ardent revolutionaries whose leaders (posing as kings or Messiahs) regarded the revolt as a war not only against the Romans but also against those members of the upper classes who had collaborated with the authorities. The extremists pursued these definite ends from the beginning of the revolt, setting fire to the archives of Jerusalem in order to destroy loan contracts, and using terrorist tactics against the leading representatives of the upper classes." "When it became clear that the auxiliary forces in the country were quite unable to suppress the Jewish forces, the governor of Syria was forced to intervene personally at the head of his legions. His forces were routed in the hills of Judaea near Beit-Horon." - The Jews in Their Land David Ben-Gurion Editor

"In its early days, when the revolt still promised to be successful, Menahem [the zealot leader] is described as making a triumphal entry into Jerusalem, 'in the state of a king' - another manifestation of messianic dynastic ambitions." - Baigent and Leigh, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception

"In 67 C.E. Vespasian [sent by Emperor Nero] entered Galilee, his first objective, at the head of a tremendous army. The most sturdy resistance was put up by the fortress of Jotapata, where the best fighters of Galilee, under the command of Josephus, managed to hold off the major part of Vespasian's forces for 47 days. But, despite the heroism of the defenders, the fortress was taken, and in a comparatively short time the whole of western Galilee was in Roman hands." Jaffa, Tiberius, Gamala and Mount Tabot fell to the Romans and "the only Galileans to continue fighting were the refugees who somehow escaped to Jerusalem." "These early defeats dealt a heavy blow to the official leadership, and the zealots of Jerusalem tried to take command. Civil war developed, and almost the whole country, including Transjordan, was occupied by the Romans .... Civil war in Rome held up further operations against Jerusalem, but at the beginning of July 69 C.E. Vespasian was crowned emperor by the legions in the east, and in the spring of the following year his eldest son Titus was able to lead the Roman forces against the capital. "The rebels had failed to exploit this golden opportunity to set up a united leadership and strengthen their military position. There had been constant disagreement between the three leaders, Yohanan of Gush Halav, Ele'azar Ben Shim'on (a priest), and Shim'on Bar Giora (the zealot leader who controlled the upper city), and no joint defence plan had been worked out before the siege began." - The Jews in Their Land (David Ben-Gurion Editor}

"And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, 'Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation'." - Luke 19:41-44

Roman Catapult - airbrush illustration by Les Still

Roman Catapult- airbrush illustration by Les Still

"Titus' siege operations started in the early spring of the year 70 C.E. and were completed only five months later, in the late summer .... The fall of Antonia (the citadel defended by Yohanan) opened the way for a direct assault against the Temple Mount, and during the first half of the Hebrew month of Av (July - August) the Romans succeeded in overcoming its defenders. Titus ordered his troops to burn the Temple to the ground, intending by this action to destroy the main root of Jewish strength and inspiration." - The Jews in Their Land (David Ben-Gurion Editor}

"Caesar shouted and waved to the combatants to put out the fire; but his shouts were unheard as their ears were deafened with a greater din, and his hand-signals went unheeded amidst the distractions of battle and bloodshed. As the legions charged in, neither persuasion nor threat could check their impetuosity: passion alone was in command ... Most of the victims were peaceful citizens, weak, and unarmed, butchered wherever they were caught. Around the Altar the heap of corpses grew higher and higher, while down the Sanctuary steps poured a river of blood and the bodies of those killed at the top slithered to the bottom. The soldiers were like men possessed and there was no holding them, nor was there any arguing with the fire. Caesar therefore led his staff inside the building and viewed the Holy Place of the sanctuary with its furnishings, which went far beyond the accounts circulating in foreign countries, and fully justified their splendid reputation in our own." - Josephus Flavius, The Jewish War


"Soldiers commanded by him will desecrate the sanctuary and the citadel. They will abolish the regular offerings and will erect 'the devastating desecration'." - Daniel 11:31

"But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." - Mark 13:14 ("Little Apocalypse")


"The term desolation-inducing sacrilege had been coined by Fourth Daniel, and referred to the pollution of the Temple by Antiokhos IV in 168 B. C. E. (Daniel 9:27; 12:11, 1 Maccabees 1:20-21). Antiokhos's act had lead to a war that, although ultimately successful (from the Jewish viewpoint), had taken many Jewish lives. In 66 C.E. the Temple was again polluted, this time by the presence of Zealot warmongers who would start a War of Independence without waiting for the return of the Nazirite messiah to lead it." - William Harwood, Mythologies Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus


_"There is no evidence that the altar that stood before the temple was similarly desecrated in Jesus' time. After the temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., however, Roman soldiers celebrated their victory by raising their standards, which bore the image of the emperor, on the holy place. Scholars are inclined to the view that Mark 13:14 was inspired by the Roman event, although it employs the language of Daniel and Maccabees, which has been occasioned by the earlier event." - Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels

Mark 13:14 could also refer to Emperor Caligula's attempt to set up a statue of himself in the Temple of Jerusalem in 40 C.E. Since other portions of Mark's "Little Apocalypse" refer specifically to the Jewish War, however, the more likely hypothesis is that the "desolating sacrilege" refers to the Roman event. The warning to "flee into the mountains" then becomes particularly relevant.

"The destruction of Jerusalem brought bitter suffering to the Jews. Tens of thousands had been killed in battle, tens of thousands had been taken captive; large areas of land had been confiscated. Some of the Jewish land was taken over by the Roman state, which either leased it out or used it to settle newcomers. Many of the Jews remained as tenants on land that had previously belonged to them. Taxation was heavy - particularly the tax for Capitoline Jupiter, principal god of the empire." "...Judaea was made an ordinary imperial province, to be governed by a member of the senatorial order. Under his command was a force of regular soldiers, the Tenth Legion (Legio X Fretensis), established in the ruins of Jerusalem. The regiments of auxiliary troops (composed of men from Sebaste and Caesarea), whose conduct had been largely responsible for the unrest were removed" - The Jews in Their Land (David Ben-Gurion Editor}


Around C.E. 62, James, the leader of the 'Jerusalem Community' was attacked in the Temple at Jerusalem.

"Much blood is shed; there is a confused flight, in the midst of which that enemy attacked James, and threw him headlong from the top of the steps; and supposing him to be dead, he cared not to inflict further violence upon him." - Recognitions of Clement" (3rd Century)



Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews "reports that the Sanhedrin, the religious high court, called before them James, 'the brother of Jesus who was called Christ'. Accused (most improbably) of breaking the Law, James and certain of his companions are found guilty and accordingly stoned to death .... The incumbent procurator had just died. His successor, Lucceius Albinus, was still en route to Palestine from Rome. During the interregnum, effective power in Jerusalem was wielded by the high priest, an unpopular man named Ananas. This allows the account of James death to be dated at around C.E. 62..." - Baigent and Leigh, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception

"Being therefore this kind of person [i.e., a heartless Sadducees], Ananas, thinking that he had a favourable opportunity because Festus had died and Albinus was still on his way, called a meeting [literally, 'sanhedrin'] of judges and brought into it the brother of Jesus -who -is -called -Messiah [tonadelphon lesou tou legonmenou Christou], James by name, and some others. He made the accusation that they had transgressed the law, and he handed them over to be stoned." - Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.9

"So they went up and threw down the Righteous one. They said to each other 'let us stone James the Righteous', and began to stone him, as in spite of his fall [from a parapet of the Temple] he was still alive. While they pelted him with stones ... [a member of a particular priestly family] called out: 'Stop What are you doing...' Then one of them, a fuller, took the club which he used to beat clothes, and brought it down on the head of the Righteous one. Such was his martyrdom ... Immediately after this Vespasian began to besiege them." - Eusebius, The History of the Church 2,23





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