Saturday, August 2, 2014
How The War Of The Jews With The Romans Began.
Titus Flavius Vespasianus in the picture to the left led the siege that razed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., then went on to succeed his father Vespasian as Roman emperor. Titus was the eldest son of Vespasian, who ruled as emperor from 69-79. Titus spent his early career on military campaigns in Britain and Germany, but he became a Roman hero after he destroyed Jerusalem and put down the Jewish revolt.
The Jewish War began in 66 AD and culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. When under the proconsul Gessius Florus in the injustice, oppression and tyranny had reached a climax. The Jews were confident that God would come to their rescue and vindicate their cause. There is no doubt that this Zealot rebellion movement was filled with a theocratic ideal and fervent Messianic hope. By dissatisfaction turned into open rebellion.
Rome did not initiate the war against Jerusalem. Jerusalem was already under the authority and control of Rome. Headstrong men in Jerusalem who thought the (time was right to throw off the Roman yoke) kept irritating the and inciting them to rebel against Rome. They believed the (time had come for God to establish his earthly kingdom in Palestine) and thus the people quit paying their taxes and removed the connecting “cloisters” from between the Temple and the tower of Antonia where Roman soldiers were stationed. This would have been sufficient in itself to cause Rome to go against Jerusalem.
The conflict started up in Caesarea and above all in Jerusalem. In November of 66 Jewish Zealots had driven all Roman forces from Jerusalem and had actually slain more than 600 Roman troops. The Roman occupation forces, but also the high priest who tried to smother the rebellion, were no longer equal to the situation and were slaughtered.
The bull-necked emperor Nero gave two simple commands - destroy Jerusalem - level the temple. Nero picked the fifty seven year old commoner, Vespasian, who would be assisted by his energetic son Titus. The conquered nations comprising the Roman Empire watched with incredulity as the Jews, single-handed, fought the Roman Goliath. Josephus was given the task to command the Jewish forces.
The Jews were so close to winning the war that Rome was forced to use her full military weight against them to insure victory. The Romans knew the world was watching and knew that the stakes were high. If the Jews were to win their independence the whole empire would be in revolt.
The extreme Jewish patriots were not satisfied with the tame manner in which Josephus conducted his preparations; they had grounds to suspect that the aristocrat, who had formally belonged to the peace party, had not his heart in the undertaking. The bloody business of massacre and counter-massacre succeeded one another with unrelenting horror. Jews were killed in Caesarea, Scythopolis, Ascolon, Tyre, Alexandri. Josephus ends up turning collaborationist for the Romans.
Josephus tells us that when Cestius Gallus had earlier come with his army against Jerusalem, after some time he raised the siege. After he had left, many of the oldest of the Jews went out from Jerusalem as from a sinking ship. He says that a few years later, when Vespasian come with his troops against Jerusalem, a great multitude fled from Jerusalem to the mountains for security.
It is reasonable to suppose that some Christians were among these. When Jerusalem was surrounded, the Christians were to think of their safety, and seize the first opportunity for flight. Jesus had warned them when these things started happening to flee into the mountains
Luke 21:20-22 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
After the entire land had been subdued by Vespasian, the siege of Jerusalem itself was finally under-taken in the spring of 70 by his son Titus to end the war and destroy them. The Temple swam with the blood of more than 8000 Zealots. Suffice it to say, that the Jews, deceived by false prophets who promised them a temporal deliverer, persevered in their rebellion long after reasonable chance of success had disappeared; they were divided into hostile factions, who fought against each other in the streets of Jerusalem, while the walls of the city quivered under the battering engines of the common enemy.
The temple was leveled to the ground and utterly destroyed. Jesus had warned His followers "Verily, I say unto you, There shall not be left here (Temple) one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
After bitter fighting and frightful massacres, in September of 70, after a stubborn and desperate resistance, the city fell and the national existence of the Jews came to an end. The Holy City was taken and burned, and the Tenth Legion encamped in the ruined temple.
After the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, the Sadducees disappear - no temple meant no sacrifices, no place, therefore for a priestly class; total national humiliation.