Thousands of Israelis marched through the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City a week ago (see video above), marking the date of the destruction of the Temple on the 9th of Av in A.D. 70 and the hopes they shared for rebuilding it in the near future.
Though this event has taken place every year since 1994, there was something special about this gathering.
In 2017 so far, five Israeli policemen have been killed in Islamic terrorist attacks on the Temple Mount. And Muslims worldwide have been protesting temporary security provisions put in place after the most recent fatal shootings of Israeli cops, ironically non-Muslim Arabs.
Meanwhile, Muslims continue the charade of denying there ever was a Jewish Temple atop the site now occupied by the Mosque of Omar and the Dome of the Rock.
That’s what one might expect from the ethnic descendants of those who actually burned it to the ground.
Wait a minute! Did I just say the Arabs destroyed the Temple? That’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Everyone knows the Romans destroyed the Temple – at least those who concede the overwhelming historical and archaeological evidence of its existence.
But what do the contemporaneous historical accounts of the destruction of the Temple actually record as to the responsibility for razing it?
That’s actually another story altogether.
Who destroyed the Temple in A.D. 70?
The Temple was destroyed by the forces of Rome, but, interestingly, according to the historian Josephus, not at the command of Rome or the people of Rome.
Did you know that? You do now.
By A.D. 70 the Roman armies in the Middle East were made up largely of men who were not from Europe, not from Italy. They were comprised of provincial soldiers from Syria, Arabia – local forces. While they were under the command of Roman officers, they were not ordered to destroy the Temple. In fact, they were ordered to stop the destruction by Titus, who would later become emperor.
First let me quote from the Roman historian Tacitus who meticulously described the forces that sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.
“Early in this year Titus found in Judea three legions, the 5th, the 10th and the 15th,” he wrote. “To these he added the 12th from Syria and some men belonging to the 18th and 3rd, whom he had withdrawn from Alexandria (Egypt). This force was accompanied by a strong contingent of Arabs, who hated the Jews with the unusual passion of neighbors.”
Jewish historian Josephus wrote that “the greatest part of the Roman garrison was raised out of Syria; and being thus related to the Syrian part, they were ready to assist it.” He wrote that “Vespasian sent his son Titus … into Syria, where he gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighborhood.” Additionally he wrote: “Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides 5,000 footmen.”
Now let’s turn to Josephus to find out what happened at the storming of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
The Jews were holed up within the walled city. It was under siege. The intent was that the Romans would take the city, and especially the Temple, without terrible destruction. They were going to starve out the Jews.
By the time the Jews resorted to cannibalism inside Jerusalem, thousands tried to exit the city and surrender to the Roman-Arab forces.
Josephus reports in his own words: “The multitude of the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came out as supplicants, and searched their bellies (looking for gold they had swallowed). Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night’s time about 2,000 of these deserters were thus dissected.”
Finally, after the Romans and these Middle Eastern provincial forces of Rome broke through the city walls and captured the Temple, it was set on fire.
Here’s Josephus’ account: “Now a certain person came running to Titus, and told him of this fire … 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 of his commanders, and after them followed the several legions, in great astonishment; so there was a great clamor and tumult raised, as was natural upon the disorderly motion of so great an army. Then did Caesar, both by calling to the soldiers that were fighting, with a loud voice, and by giving a signal to them with his right hand, order them to quench the fire.”
In other words, Titus had no desire to see the Temple destroyed. Rome loved its treasures of conquest, and this Temple was one of the greatest prizes ever. The emperor’s son didn’t order the Temple destroyed. He tried desperately to stop it.
Why didn’t that work?
Josephus explains: “Titus supposing that the house itself yet be saved, he came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire. Yet were the regards they had for Caesar, and their dread of him who forbade them, not as hard as their passion and their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them. … And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar’s approbation.”
Why is this significant?
For so many reasons.
- Historical accuracy: Rome didn’t intend to destroy the Temple. Rome tried to save the Temple from destruction. It was destroyed by ethnic Arabs who, even then, hated the Jews and sought to annihilate them and their most holy site.
- Present-day relevance: Who is it that is denying the Temple ever existed and exerting authority over and claims to the Temple Mount? Arabs, and specifically, Muslim Arabs.
- Prophetic significance – which will take more time to explain.
Why is it today that so many Christians believe that the future Antichrist will be from Europe, from a revived Roman Empire?
If you think about it, and correct me if I am wrong, all of our theories about a Roman Antichrist start and pretty much end with the interpretation of Daniel and Revelation, with the cornerstone being Daniel 9:26. That verse reads: “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; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”
“The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” The prince that shall come is the Antichrist. So, naturally, many have concluded that since Rome destroyed the Temple, a Roman prince would have to be the Antichrist.
Yet, Roman authority did not seek to destroy the Temple. It sought to avert it. And the people who destroyed it were not Romans either. They were Arabs whose anti-Israel passions were inflamed. They even disobeyed direct orders from Rome to stop the destruction.
And notice how carefully Daniel’s prophecy is written: “The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
I’ve just quoted from two contemporary historians explaining who those people were – Arabs – and remember, I say this as an Arab-American who has no disdain for my own heritage.
I would have to ask those who care about Bible prophecy: Is it worth considering revising your thoughts about from where and what people this future Antichrist should be expected to emerge?
By the way, who’s making the rules up on the Temple Mount today? Are there any Romans up there? Any Europeans calling the shots? No, it is the Islamic Waqf, and, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, their propaganda following acts of Arab-Muslim terror in 2017, on the same real estate as the A.D. 70 destruction, have won over world political opinion.
No wonder most Arabs, and especially Muslim-Arabs, want to deny the historical reality of the Temple.
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