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Here are books & manuscripts by many different authors revealing that truth. A wonderful introduction to studying the Bible.

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Step 1 - Is the Bible Inspired or Expired?

Step 1 - Is the Bible Inspired or Expired?

Step 2 - The Canons of the Bible

Step 3 - Bible Study Guides

Step 4 - Individuali in Religion

Step 5 - Sign of the End of Time

Step 6 -Prophecies in the BIBLE BOOKS of Danie and Revelation

Step 7 - Facts of Faith
NOTE:     To better appreciate this book study the prophecies of Daniel & Revelation first.

Step 8 -- The Sanctuary Service

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ADDITIONAL STUDIES:

1 - "Another Comforter", study on the Holy Spirit

2 - "Saving Faith"

3 - "What is Man" The Gospel in Creation

4 - "A Convicting Jewish Witness", study on the Godhead

5 - "The Place of the Bible
in Education"
- Vs. - Humanism religion as in the modern school system.

6. Bible As History - by Werner Keller - facts brought to light with relation to the Bible account

7. Three Days and Three Nights In the Tomb - study by Ray Cutts - Study on the timeline of the crucifixion of our Lord.

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May God bless you as you dig for yourself into the treasures of your eternal destiny; into true religion; the truth as it is in Jesus.

2001-2018

 

 

The Bible As History
by Werner Keller

Part 9 of 10


p 357 -- DIGGING UP THE NEW TESTAMENT --

SECTION II -- In the Days of the Apostles --

Chapter 41 -- IN THE STEPS OF ST. PAUL -- The Tentmaker from Tarsus - Triumphal arch in Antioch - Galatia, a Roman province - Wood digs in Ephesus - The temple of Artemis - The ruins of the gateway of Philippi - In ancient Corinth - A meat-market with a cooling system - "The Hebrew Synagogue" - A prisoner on the way Rome.

And ye shall be witness unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth - Acts 1:8.

I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city." Thus Paul, who was by trade a tentmaker (Acts 18:3), describes himself in Acts 21:39. Tersoos, a little town of 20,000 inhabitants lying at the foot of the Taurus mountains in the south of Turkey, has preserved none of its former glory. Paul had every reason to laud his native city to the skies. An inscription calls Tarsus "the great and wondrous metropolis of Cilicia", and the Greek geographer Strabo  1 mentions that Tarsus had a university to match those of Athens and Alexandria. The famous teacher of the emperor Augustus, Athenodorus the philosopher, was one of its sons. All that remains from the past is its tentmaking. As in Paul's day, the material comes from flocks of goats who grow magnificent thick coats among the Taurus mountains where the snow lies right up to the month of May.

Long journeys by sea and land, such as Paul undertook, were in those days nothing out of the ordinary. Roman roads were in their way the finest that even Western Europe knew until the railways began to be built in the 19th century. An inscription on the tombstone of a Phrygian merchant in the heart of modern Turkey proudly proclaims that in his lifetime he made seventy-two journeys to Rome alone. The busy, well maintained Imperial roads were equipped with halts for changing chariots and horses. Inns and hostelries offered rest and refreshment to travellers. A special police force was responsible for the protection of the roads against the attacks of brigands.

The marvellous network of roads throughout the vast empire - a masterpiece of Roman skill and organisation - together with the Greek language which Paul could make use of on all his journeys contributed
1 --
63 B.C.-A.D. 20.

p 358 -- as much to the speedy spread of Christianity as the widely dispersed Jewish communities. "Jerusalem is not only the capital of Judaea," wrote king Herod Agrippa I  1  to the emperor Caligula, "but also of most countries in the world through the colonies which it established in neighbouring lands when it had the opportunity."

Even last century scholars had begun to search for the cities in Asia Minor whose names have become so familiar to the Christian world through the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Paul. Where were the places whose inhabitants received the famous Epistle to the Galatians?

In 1833, Francis V. J. Arundell, British chaplain in Smyrna, discovered the ancient "Antioch in Pisidia" (Acts 13:14) near the Turkish town of Yalovach. North of the Taurus a great arched aqueduct sweeps down from the majestic scenery of the Sultandagh mountains into the valley. In the early twenties of this century scholars of the University of Michigan stood entranced before the remains of monuments of unique beauty. In the centre of the old city the archaeologists uncovered a broad flight of steps at the top of which stood three triumphal arches. Marvellous reliefs depicted the victories of the emperor Augustus on land, while a frieze with Poseidon, Tritons and dolphins commemorated the naval victory of Augustus at Actium. In the Roman quarters they found the gaming tables where the soldiery whiled away their leisure hours. The archaeologists were looking at the Antioch, so often mentioned, where Paul founded a church on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:21).

And they "came unto Iconium ... unto Lystra and Derbe, ... and unto the region that lieth round about: and there they preached the gospel" (Acts 13:51; 14: 6, 7).

Konia, 60 miles south-east of Antioch and main station on the Anatolian railway, was the Iconium of Paul's missionary activity. In 1885 Professor J. R. Sitlington Sterrett discovered the remains of an altar in the mountains 25 miles farther south. A thick stone slab bore a Latin inscription to the effect that a Roman colony had existed on this site. He was able to decipher the name "Lustra". 2

A day's journey farther on Sterrett also discovered the ancient Derbe. These four cities - Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe - belonged in Paul's day to the Roman province of Galatia, the home of the "Galatians".

On the island of Cyprus near the ancient town of Paphos a Roman inscription came to light. It made mention of Paulus, the proconsul who is described as "a prudent man" in the Book of Acts (13:7), likewise the riot at Ephesus, as the New Testament depicts it, has become a living reality, thanks to the tireless efforts of the archaeologists.

"For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made
1 -- King Agrippa (A.D. 37-44): see Acts 12.
2 -- i.e. Lystra.

p 359 -- silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen: whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said: Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth." He then went on to incite them: "not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people", and graphically described how they would all be reduced to starvation as a result. "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" was the answering cry. "And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught.... Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre" (Acts 19:24 - 29).

This story fired an English architect J. T. Wood with a desire to investigate the Temple of Artemis,  1  which was widely renowned in the ancient world. The British Museum put funds at his disposal for this enterprise, and in the beginning of May 1863 Wood landed on the coast opposite the island of Samos. If he had not been so incredibly persistent and obsessed with his purpose he might well never have achieved it. For six long years he dug down doggedly through layer after layer of what was left of the masonry of the old city - and found nothing. Eventually while digging in the old amphitheatre, the site of the riot, he found a signpost which put him on the right road.

An inscription listed several gold and silver images of Artemis from two to six pounds in weight which were to be offered as a gift to the goddess and placed in the temple. The vanity of that Roman donor showed Wood the way to the fulfilment of his dream without further ado. For in order to ensure that the greatest possible number of people would admire his gifts he had described in detail the exact route along which they were to be borne in solemn procession on the goddess' birthday, from the temple to the ceremony in the amphitheatre and back again.

They were to be carried in through the Magnesian Gate.... Wood searched for the gate and found it, followed the prescribed route and found himself a mile north-east of the city, at the finishing point of the procession which was also the end of his own indefatigable quest.

Under nearly 25 feet of soil and rubble he came upon a magnificent pavement, the bases of massive pillars, and great stone cylinders adorned with sculptures: the Temple of Artemis.

Dinocrates, the famous Alexandrian architect, had designed the shrine; Alexander the Great had been responsible for completing it in such splendour that in olden times the temple was admired as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The foundations measured 390 feet long by 260 feet broad, sheets of white marble covered the roof, and a hundred columns 65 feet high led the way into the interior of the temple, which was extravagantly decorated with sculptures, paintings and gold ornamentation.
1 --
Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting, was called Diana by the Romans. Top

p 360 -- Thirty-five years later one of Wood's countrymen, David G. Hogarth, found under the shattered altar a large collection of statues of the goddess made of bronze, gold, ivory and silver. They had been made by those craftsmen and workers who scented in Paul's preaching of the Gospel at Ephesus a threat to their livelihood and therefore responded to Demetrius with cries of: "Great is Diana of the Ephesians."

Immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas - Acts 16:10, 11.

Where once the proud stronghold of Priam's Troy held sway, St. Paul boarded a sailing ship for his first journey to Europe. Near the fishing village of Kavalla  1   he set foot on European soil and set out on the ancient Via Egnatia which climbed up into the wild mountains of Macedonia to Philippi.

Can anyone hear the name of this city without thinking of the ominous words: "Thou shalt see me at Philippi"? For it was here in 42 B.C. that the legions of Antony and young Octavian won a brilliant victory over Brutus and Cassius, who had assassinated Caesar in an attempt to save the republic of Rome from dictatorship. But who reflects that it was outside the walls of Philippi that St. Paul won for Christianity its first congregation on European soil?

French archaeologists on the strength of the concrete evidence in the Book of Acts excavated the Roman colony. They found the old forum, the temples and public buildings, the pillared arcades, the paved streets and squares with their rain-gutters still intact. At the western exit of the city a great colonial archway spanned the Via Egnatia which soon afterwards crossed the swift narrow river Gangites. "And on the sabbath day we went forth without the gate by a river side where we supposed there was a place of prayer" (Acts 16:13 - R.V.). On the banks of the Gangites Paul's first convert was Lydia, the seller of purple.

By way of Thessalonica   2   and Athens, where he preached only for a short time, St. Paul turned his steps towards Corinth.

In 1893 dredgers cut a narrow channel through the isthmus which joined the Peloponnese with the mainland and thus realised a plan which was already in the minds of notable figures in the ancient world, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. In A.D. 63 Nero had indeed begun to put the plan into effect. After a song in praise of Neptune in which he accompanied himself on the harp, he dug the first sod with a golden spade. Six thousand Jews had been commandeered from Pales-
1 -- One of the many towns called Neapolis (new town) in Classical Antiquity.
2 -- Now Salonika.

p 361 -- tine to cut the canal, which was however very quickly filled in again when the suspicion was voiced that a breach in the land might wash away the Peloponnese.

Three years after the first ship passed through the new canal the American School of Classical Studies began to search for the renowned and important trading and packing centre of Corinth, where the wares of the ancient orient met those of Europe. Here too the archaeologists followed the footsteps of St. Paul to the places which if they could only speak could tell so much about his activities.

The road from Lechaeum, the west harbour, led into the heart of the old city of Corinth. Through the great marble arch of the Propylaeum it debouched into the market place, the agora. In those days the business quarter lay to the west of Lechaeum street, and colonnades led past its shops and up to the steps of the Temple of Apollo. What aroused genuine admiration among the hygienically-minded Americans was the ingenious system of water mains which they found immediately under the houses which fronted the broad and handsomely paved market place. It obviously provided the shops with a constant supply of fresh mountain water to keep fresh such foodstuffs as were liable to perish quickly. An inscription at this place dating from the last years of the reign of Augustus actually mentioned a " meat-market". The Christians in Corinth were allowed to make their purchases in these shops without scruple. "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat", is Paul's advice to the church in I Cor. 10:25.

At the marble steps of the Propylaeum the excavators found a heavy stone lintel on which they were able to decipher the words "Hebrew Synagogue", clearly cut out in Greek letters. The house in which Paul proclaimed the new doctrine must have stood beyond the colonnade in the region of Lechaeum street. For "he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks" (Acts 18:4). Among the ruins of the numerous dwelling houses in the same quarter of the city must certainly be those of the house of the Justus with whom Paul lodged, "whose house joined hard to the synagogue" (Acts 18:7).

Finally the archaeologists found in the market place a raised platform, on which a Latin inscription indicated that it had been the rostra, the judgement-seat. "And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgement-seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law." Gallio however declined to intervene "and drave them from the judgement seat" (Acts 18:12-16).

The detailed reproduction of the trial scene made it possible to establish the exact time that Paul spent in Corinth. Lucius Junius Annaeus Novatus Gallio - which was the governor's full name - was the worthy offspring of a highly respected family. His brother, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the great Roman philosopher and tutor of Nero,

p 362 -- dedicated two books to him.  1   And the poet Statius called him the "beloved Gallio".


Map - Spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire. 45 A.D.-325 A.D. Top

In old Delphi a letter of the emperor Claudius came to light from which it appeared that Gallio must have been in Corinth from A.D. 51-52. The letter contains the words: "As Lucius Junius Gallio, my friend the proconsul of Achaia,   2   wrote ... "and is dated at the beginning of the year 52. According to a decree of Claudius newly appointed officials had to leave Rome for their provinces on June 1. Gallio must therefore have arrived in Achaia about July 1, A.D-51 . Paul "continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them" (Acts 18:11) until the Jews became incensed and dragged him before the governor. Thus it is highly probable that the apostle went to Corinth at the beginning of A.D 50.

Two years after the crucifixion of Christ the fanatical persecutor of the Christians, Saul of Tarsus, was converted to Christianity (Acts 6:3ff). Almost exactly thirty years later the great missionary and evangelist embarked upon his last journey, this time as a prisoner. In Judaea Festus had been procurator since A.D. 61. He sent Paul to Rome to face a serious charge in the custody of the centurion Julius (Acts 27:1). There Paul was allowed "to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him" (Acts 28:16).

"And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all
1 --
De Ira and De Vita Beata.
2 -- The Peloponnese was in Roman times the province of Achaia.

p 363 -- confidence, no man forbidding him." With these words St. Luke concludes his narrative in the Book of Acts.

In the persecution of the Christians which took place under Nero, Paul died a martyr's death. As a Roman citizen he did not die on a cross like Peter but was beheaded. Top

p 364 -- Chapter 42 -- THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM -- Rebellion - The Jewish War - Fighting in Galilee - General Titus - -80,000 Romans advance - Order to attack - Parade outside the gates - 500 crucifixions daily - Jerusalem sealed off - The spectre of famine - Castle of Antonia taken - The Temple in flames - The city is raised - Triumph in Rome.

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.... And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.... For there shall be great distress upon the land and wrath upon this people. 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 by the Gentiles.- .Luke 21:5, 6, 20, 23, 24.

Countless royal palaces and castles, cities, mansions and temples, buildings whose foundations were laid in the first, second or even third millennium before Christ, have been wrested from the past. Archaeology has used its spades and the sharp wits of its experts to free them from the dust in which they have been buried at a cost of untold effort. But the city and Temple of Jerusalem, whose importance for posterity cannot be rated too highly, have eluded the endeavours of the archaeologists: they have been blotted out for ever from this earth. For barely within a generation after the crucifixion of Jesus they suffered in "the days of vengeance" (Luke 21, 22) the fate that Jesus prophesied for them.

Old Israel, whose history no longer included the words and works of Jesus, the religious community of Jerusalem which condemned and crucified Jesus, was extinguished in an inferno which is almost unparalleled in history - the "Jewish War" of A.D. 66-70.

Louder and louder grew the protests against the hated Romans. In the party of the "Zealots" fanatics and rebels banded themselves together, demanding incessantly the removal of the foreign power. Every one of them carried a dagger concealed under his cloak. Their deeds of violence disturbed the country. Autocratic encroachment by the Roman procurator heightened the tension. More and more supporters flocked to the side of the radicals.

p 365 -- This mounting anger broke into open revolt in May 66, when the procurator, Florus, demanded 17 talents from the Temple treasury. The Roman garrison was overrun. Jerusalem fell into the hands of the rebels. The prohibition of the daily sacrifices to the emperor meant an open declaration of war against the Roman world empire. Tiny Jerusalem threw down the gauntlet at Rome's feet and challenged the great Imperium Romanum.

This was the signal for the whole country. Rebellion flared up everywhere. Florus was no longer in command of the situation. The governor of the province of Syria, C. Cestius Gallus, marched to the rescue with one legion and a large number of auxiliary troops, but was forced to retire with heavy losses. The rebels controlled the country.

Being certain that Rome would strike back with all its might, they hastened to fortify the cities. They repaired the old defence walls and appointed military commandants. Joseph, later known as Josephus the historian, was appointed commander-in-chief of Galilee. On the Roman side, the Emperor Nero entrusted the command to General Titus Flavius Vespasianus, who had proved himself a brilliant soldier and distinguished himself during the conquest of Britain.

Accompanied by his son Titus, three of the best legions in the army and numerous auxiliaries, he attacked Galilee from the north.

The villages on the Lake of Galilee, where but a few years earlier Jesus had been preaching to the fishermen, saw the first of the bloody butchery. The whole of Galilee was subdued by October 67. Among the crowds of prisoners marched Josephus, the commander-in-chief. He was put in chains and conveyed to headquarters at Vespasian's orders. From then on he saw the Jewish War from inside the enemy's camp. Six thousand Jews went as slaves to build the Corinth canal.

In the following spring the suppression of the rebels in Jjudaea was resumed. In the midst of the fighting news came which for the time being halted the campaign - Nero had committed suicide.

Civil war broke out in Rome. Vespasian awaited developments. One after another three insignificant emperors lost their thrones and their lives. At last the legions in the east stepped in. A year after Nero's death the cry went up in Egypt, in Syria, in Palestine, throughout the whole of the orient: "Vivat Caesar". Vespasian became master of the Roman empire. From Caesarea on the coast of Palestine, where the news reached him, he embarked without delay for Rome, leaving his son Titus to finish the last act of the Jewish War.

Shortly before the full moon in the spring of 70 Titus appeared with an enormous army outside Jerusalem. Marching columns filled the highways and byways leading to the city such as Judaea had never seen before. They were made up of the 5th, 10th, 12th and 15th Legions, accompanied by cavalry, engineers and other auxiliary troops, almost 80,000 men.

p 366 -- The Holy City was swarming with people: pilgrims had come from far and near to celebrate the Passover. Disputes between the extremists among the Zealots and the moderate party interrupted the devotions: the wounded and the dead remained untended.

Meantime the Romans moved into their camps in the environs of the city. A call to surrender was met with derisive laughter. Titus replied with the command to attack. The Roman artillery, "scorpiones", quick-firing siege engines and "ballistae", stone throwers, closed in. Every one of these heavy weapons could throw stones weighing a hundredweight a distance of 600 feet. On the north side the engineers were cracking open the Achilles heel of the fortress. On the south, east and west sharp precipices protected the ramparts. The north side was however unusually strongly fortified by three massive walls. Battering rams and siege engines began to crack and thunder as they attacked the foundations. Only when an incessant hail of great stones came hurtling into the city, and when night and day the heavy thud of the battering rams could be heard, did civil war end within the fortress. The rival factions came to terms. Simon bar Giora, leader of the moderates, took over the defence of the north side, John of Gischala, leader of the Zealots, took over the defence of the Temple area and the Tower of Antonia. Top


Roman siege technique during the conquest of Jerusalem.
Top

By the beginning of May the siege engines had in the space of two weeks made a gaping hole in the most northerly wall. In five more days the Romans were through the second wall. A determined counterattack put the defenders once more in possession of the wall and it took the Romans several days before they could recapture it. With that the northern suburb was firmly in Roman hands.

p 367 -- Convinced that in view of this situation Jerusalem would surrender, Titus called off the attack. The grandiose spectacle of a great parade of his forces immediately under the eyes of the beleagured people would surely bring them to their senses.

The Romans doffed their battledress and polished their full-dress uniform until it shone. The legionaries put on their armour, their coats of mail and their helmets. The cavalry decked their horses with the richest caparisons, and amid loud blasts from the trumpets tens of thousands of warriors marched past Titus and received their pay and ample rations in full view of the garrison. For four days from early morn till dusk the sound of the tramping feet of these unbeaten Roman columns echoed in the air.

It achieved nothing. Packed tight along the old wall, on the north side of the Temple, on every roof, the people spat hatred down at the Romans. The demonstration had been useless - the beleagured garrison had no thought of surrender.

Titus made one last attempt to win them round. He sent their captive countryman Flavius Josephus, the Jewish commander-in-chief in Galilee, to harangue them under the fortress walls.

Josephus' voice hailed them from below: "0 hard hearted men, throw away your weapons, have pity on your country that stands on the edge of the abyss. Look round and behold the beauty of all that you are ready to betray. What a city! What a Temple! What gifts from so many nations! Who would dare to let all of this be given to the flames? Is there one of you who can wish for all this to be no more? What more precious treasure could have been given to man to preserve - You obdurate creatures, more unfeeling than these very stones!."

In heartrending words, Josephus reminded them of the great deeds of the past, of their forefathers, of their history, of the mission of Israel - his exhortations and pleas fell on deaf ears.

The battle began anew from the second wall and surged against the castle of Antonia. The front was pushed forward through the streets of the suburbs to the Temple area and the upper part of the city. The engineers built ramps and auxiliaries dragged trees for this purpose from far and near. The Romans proceeded with all their tried methods of siege warfare. Their preparations were constantly being sorely hampered by the determined efforts of the defenders to upset them. Apart from wild sorties, no sooner were their wooden ramparts in position than they went up in flames. When darkness set in, the Roman camp was surrounded by swarms of figures who had crept out of their hiding places or through subterranean passages or over the walls.

Titus ordered reprisals to be made against these half starved ghostly figures and against deserters. Anyone caught outside - deserters, raiders or foragers - was to be crucified. Mercenaries nailed 500 of them every day to crosses just outside the city. Gradually a whole forest of

p 368 -- crosses sprang up on the hillsides till the lack of wood called a halt to the frightful practice.

Tree after tree was sacrificed for crosses, siege ramps, scaling ladders and camp fires. The Romans had come into a flourishing countryside. Now the vineyards had disappeared as had the market gardens, the wealth of fig-trees and olive-trees; even the Mount of Olives no longer provided shade. An unbearable stench hung over the bare and desolate countryside. The corpses of those who had died of starvation and of those who had died in battle, thrown over the ramparts by the beleaguered garrison, were piled beneath the walls by the thousand. Who had the strength to bury them in the traditional way?


Map. Jerusalem during the siege by Titus, A.D. 70. Top

"No stranger who had seen Judaea of old, and the lovely suburbs of its capital, and now saw this devastation," mourned Josephus, "could have restrained his tears and lamentations at the hideous change. For the war had turned all that beauty into a wilderness. And no man who knew these places of old and suddenly saw them again could possibly have recognised them."

To seal off the city hermetically Titus ordered the erection of a "circumvallatio". Working night and day they constructed a massive high wall of earthwork in a wide circle round Jerusalem, strengthened by thirteen fortified strong points and guarded by a close chain of pickets. If so far it had been possible to smuggle supplies and provisions into the city by night by way of secret paths through tunnels or ditches, the "circumvallatio" stopped even this last meagre reinforcement.

p 369 -- The spectre of famine haunted the city, which was filled to overflowing with pilgrims, and death mowed them down in a dread harvest. The craving for food, no matter of what sort, drove men beyond all bounds and killed all normal feeling.

"The terrible famine that increased in frightfulness daily annihilated whole families of the people. The terraces were full of women and children who had collapsed from hunger, the alleys were piled high with the bodies of the aged. Children and young people, swollen with lack of food, wandered around like ghosts until they fell. They were so far spent that they could no longer bury anyone, and if they did they fell dead upon the very corpses they were burying. The misery was unspeakable. For as soon as even the shadow of anything eatable appeared anywhere, a fight began over it, and the best of friends fought each other and tore from each other the most miserable trifles. No one would believe that the dying had no provisions stored away. Robbers threw themselves upon those who were drawing their last breath and ransacked their clothing. These robbers ran about reeling and staggering like mad dogs and hammered on the doors of houses like drunk men. In their despair they often plunged into the same house two or three times in the one day. Their hunger was so unbearable that they were forced to chew anything and everything. They laid hands on things that even the meanest of animals would not touch, far less eat. They had long since eaten their belts and shoes and even their leather jerkins were torn to shreds and chewed. Many of them fed on old hay and there were some who collected stalks of corn and sold a small quantity of it for four Attic drachmas. - But why should I describe the shame and indignity that famine brought upon men, making them eat such unnatural things?" asks Josephus in his history of the Wars of the Jews.

"Because I tell of things unknown to history, whether Greek or barbarian. It is frightful to speak of it and unbelievable to hear of it. I should gladly have passed over this disaster in silence, so that I might not get the reputation of recording something which must appear to posterity wholly degrading. But there were too many eye-witnesses in my time. Apart from that my country would have little cause to be grateful to me were I to be silent about the misery which it endured at this time."

Josephus, whose own family suffered with the defenders, was not afraid to describe an inhuman occurrence which proves that the raging famine had begun to cloud the brains of the blockaded citizens.

Zealots were foraging through the lanes of the city in quest of food. From one house came the smell of roast meat. The men plunged into the house at once and were confronted by Maria, daughter of the noble line of Beth-Ezob in Transjordan, an extremely wealthy family. She had come to Jerusalem on pilgrimage for the Passover. The Zealots threatened her with death unless she handed over the roast meat to

p 370 -- them. With a wild look she gave them what they asked for. Aghast, they found themselves looking at a half consumed infant-Maria's own child.

Soon not only the whole city learned of this, but the news also seeped out through the walls to the Roman camp. Titus swore that he would bury this dreadful deed under the ruins of the whole city.

Many fled from death by starvation under cover of darkness and ran into the arms of an equally cruel fate. The story had got around among the Romans' auxiliaries that fugitives from within the walls always carried gold and jewels, which they had swallowed in the hope of preserving them from being seized by strangers. If any of these unsuspecting people were caught they were felled to the ground and their bodies slit open in the endless quest for plunder. In one night 2,000 alone lost their lives in this way. Titus was furious. Without mercy he got his cavalry to decimate an auxiliary unit. An order of the day made the crime punishable by death. But it was of little avail, the slaughter continued secretly.

Meantime day and night the battering rams were hammering on the suburbs of Jerusalem. New ramps were laid down. Titus was in a hurry. He wanted to end this frightful nightmare as quickly as possible.

At the beginning of July his soldiers stormed the Tower of Antonia. The castle, on whose "Pavement" Jesus of Nazareth had been sentenced to death, was razed to its foundations. Its walls abutted on the north wall of the Temple.

It was now the turn of the Temple, that powerful and extremely well fortified complex of galleries, balustrades and forecourts. The commander-in-chief discussed the situation with his officers. Many of them wanted to treat the Temple like a fortress. Titus opposed them. He wanted if possible to spare this famous sanctuary which was known throughout the empire. For the last time his heralds demanded that the rebels should surrender. Once more the answer was a refusal. Titus then finally embarked upon the attack against the sacred precincts.

An incessant hail of heavy stones and a rain of arrows showered down upon its courts. The Jews fought like men possessed and did not yield an inch. They relied on Yahweh hastening to their aid at the last moment and protecting his shrine. More than once legionaries on scaling ladders reached the perimeter wall. Every time they were thrown back. Rams and siege engines were powerless against these walls. It was impossible to shatter the vast stone blocks of which Herod had built the Temple. In order to force an entry Titus set fire to the wooden Temple gates.

Hardly were they consumed when he gave instructions to put out the flames and make a passage for the legionaries to attack. Titus' order of the day read "Spare the sanctuary". But during the night the fire had reached the inner court and the Romans had their hands full to put it

p 371 -- out. The beleaguered rebels profited by this favourable opportunity to make a violent attack. With remorseless slaughter the legionaries drove the Jews back, and pursued. them through the courts. In wild tumult the battle raged round the sanctuary. Carried away by excitement, "one of the soldiers, without waiting for orders and without any sense of the horror of his deed, or rather being driven by some evil spirit, seized a blazing torch and, hoisted on the shoulders of one of his comrades, flung it through the Golden Window that opened into the rooms which lay beside the Holy of Holies". Top

These rooms were panelled with old wood and contained, as well as highly inflammable materials for the sacrifices, jars of holy oil. The flaming torch found instantaneous and ample fodder. Titus saw the flames springing up and tried to check the spread of the fire.

"Caesar   1   then commanded that the fire should be put out, calling in a loud voice to the soldiers who were in the thick of the fighting and giving them a signal with his right hand. But they did not hear what he said for all his shouting. . . . And since Caesar was unable to restrain the hot rage of the soldiery, and since the flames were spreading further and further, he entered the Holy Place in the Temple together with his commander and viewed it and all its contents.... But since the flames had not yet reached the inner rooms, and were still devouring the rooms that surrounded the Tabernacle, Titus, assuming, as was indeed the case, that the Tabernacle itself could still be saved, hurried away and made every effort to get the soldiers to put out the fire, giving orders to Liberalius, the centurion and to one of his own body guard, to beat the soldiers with staves if they refused and by every means to restrain them. But however great their enthusiasm for Caesar and their dread of what he had forbidden them to do, their hatred of the Jews and their eagerness to fight them was equally great.

"In addition the hope of booty spurred many of them on. They had the impression that all these rooms within were full of gold, and they saw that all around them was made of pure gold.... Thus the Holy Place was burnt down without Caesar's approbation."

In August A.D. 70 Roman legionaries erected their banners in the sacred precincts and sacrificed before them. Although half of Jerusalem was in the hands of the enemy, although ominous black columns of smoke rose from the burning Temple, the Zealots would not surrender.

John of Gischala escaped with quite a large band from the Temple area into the upper part of the city on the western hill. Others fled into the strong towers of Herod's palace. Once again Titus had to deploy his engineers, artillery, siege engines and all his brilliant technical skill. In September these walls too were forced, and the last bastions conquered. Resistance was finally at an end.

Murdering and plundering, the victors took possession of the city
1 -- Titus became Emperor in 79. Top

p 372 -- that had so fiercely and bitterly resisted them and cost them so much blood and time. "Caesar ordered the whole city and the Temple to be razed to the ground. He left standing only the towers of Phasael, Hippicus, and Mariamne and part of the city wall on the west side. This was to provide quarters for the garrison that was to remain behind."

The legion that occupied the garrison in this dreadful place for sixty long years bore the symbol "Leg XF", which meant "Tenth Fretensian Legion". Their home station was on the "Fretum Siciliense", the straits of Messina. They left behind them in and around Jerusalem thousands upon thousands of indications of their presence. Gardeners and peasants still find occasionally small tiles with the legion's number and its emblems of a galley and a boar.

The loss of life among the Jews was unimaginably high. During the siege, according to Tacitus, there were 600,000 people in the city. Josephus gives the number of prisoners as 97,000, not counting those crucified or ripped open, and adds that within a period of three months 115,800 corpses were taken out of one of the city gates alone by the Jews.

In the year 71 Titus paraded his great victory over Jerusalem in a gigantic triumphal procession through Rome. Among 700 Jewish prisoners John of Gischala and Simon bar Giora were marched past in chains. Amid great rejoicing two other costly trophies of pure gold were born in procession, the seven branched candlestick and the table of the shewbread from the Temple at Jerusalem. They found a new home in the Temple of Peace in Rome. Both these accessories of Jewish ritual can still be seen on the great arch of Titus which was erected to commemorate his successful campaign.

On top of these desolate and cheerless ruins, on which neitherjews nor Christians were allowed to set foot on pain of death, the emperor Hadrian 1   built a new Roman colony: Aelia Capitolina. The sight of a foreign settlement on this sacred Jewish soil provoked yet another open rebellion. Julius Severus was summoned to Judaea from his governorship in Britain and smashed the last desperate attempt of the Jews to regain their freedom. But it took him three years to do so. The emperor Hadrian then erected a race-course, two baths, and a large theatre. A statue of Jupiter was enthroned above the ruins of the Jewish Temple as if in derision, and on the site which Christian tradition believed to be that of the Holy Sepulchre, strangers climbed the terraced steps to do homage at a shrine of the pagan goddess Venus.

The greatest part of the population of the Promised Land, which was not massacred in the bloody Jewish War of 66-70 and in the Bar Kokhba rebellion of 132-135, was sold into slavery: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword and shall be led away captive into all nations."

Archaeologists have found no material evidence of Israel's existence
1 -- A.D. 117-138. Top

p 373 -- in Palestine after the year 70, not even a tombstone with a Jewish inscription. The synagogues were destroyed, even the house of God in quiet Capernaum was reduced to ruins. The inexorable hand of destiny had drawn a line through Israel's part in the concert of nations.

But by then the teaching of Jesus was well started on its irresistible and victorious journey, uniting and giving new life to the nations.

To Part 10

 

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