Revelation Chapter 11


REVELATION 11

Dave: October 8, 2009

Scripture text for this study: Revelation 11

[Notes from Adam were added on November 3rd and 8th, with Dave’s permission, and are in maroon font.]

Verses 1-2: The Two Witnesses
1 Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

David Chilton comments: “Measuring is a symbolic action used in scripture to ‘divide between the holy and the profane’ and thus to indicate divine protection from destruction (see Ezek. 22:26; 40-43; Zech. 2:1-5; cf. Jer. 10:16; 51:19; Rev. 21:15-16)” [Source: Steve Gregg’s book “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary), p. 220]. Some preterists find this text to be one of the strongest indications of an early date. Examples of this can be seen in the following quotes taken from the Preterist Archive:

[1] Johannes Friedrich Bleek (1870): “As to the time of writing, there are several statements which indicate this with tolerable clearness, and to which we have already referred. In the first division (ch. xi. 1-14)… Jerusalem and the temple are spoken of as still standing.” (An Introduction to the New Testament, 2:226.)
[2] James M. Macdonald (1877):
“It is difficult to see how language could more clearly point to Jerusalem, and to Jerusalem as it was before its overthrow.”, (The Life and Writings of St John , p. 159.)
[3] Bernhard Weiss (1889): “The time of the Apocalypse is also definitely fixed by the fact that according to the prophecy in chap. xi. it was manifestly written before the destruction of Jerusalem, which in xi. 1 is only anticipated.” (Bernhard Weiss, A Manual of Introduction to the New Testament, 2:82; 1889.)
[4] John A.T. Robinson (1976): “It is indeed generally agreed that this passage must bespeak a pre-70 situation.. There seems therefore no reason why the oracle should not have been uttered by a Christian prophet as the doom of the city drew nigh.” (Redating the New Testament pp.. 240-242).
[5] Kenneth Gentry (1998): “If John wrote about literal Jerusalem (“where also their Lord was crucified”)  twenty-five years after the destruction of the literal Temple (as per the evangelically formulated late date argument), it would seem most improbable that he would speak of the Temple as if it were still standing. The symbol would be confusing in its blatant anachronism. The Temple is required to be standing for the symbolical action of the vision to have any meaning. John uses the future tense when he speaks of the nations’ treading down the city. As just stated, this is not a reminiscence of a past event, but rather a future expectation.” (Before Jerusalem Fell, p.175)

David S. Clark (1989) is also quoted in this regard by Steve Gregg (p. 222): “Here is so plainly the destruction of Jerusalem that it could hardly be put in plainer words. It seems evident that there is no getting away from the fact that here we are dealing with the fall of Jerusalem in the year 70,–that all that John has said hitherto was leading up to this great fact,–that here we have the culmination of these prophetic seals, and this is where the first half of the book lands us.”

• If Revelation was written in 95 AD, then what temple is being referred to here? Herod’s temple had been long destroyed.
• If the temple here is referring to a temple that is “future” (as futurists believe), why would such a temple be necessary in light of the work of Christ and the new covenant that has replaced temple sacrifices? See Hebrews 9-10. If a new temple is necessary and said to be the “temple of God” in Rev 11:1, this would dangerously minimize the work of Christ.
• Rev 11:2 says that the holy city will be “trampled” for 42 months. This prophecy is remarkably similar to the one spoken by Jesus in Luke 21:24, where it is said that “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” And Luke 21:24 is commonly believed to be referring to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.
• The “holy city” is Jerusalem as described in 11:8 [see below].
• 42 months is the length of time that historians say the Roman army attacked and destroyed the city of Jerusalem. This 42 months covers the period from February 67 AD – August 70 AD, that is, from the time that Rome declared war on Israel (and Vespasian marched into Judea, Galilee, and on toward Jerusalem) until Jerusalem and the Second Temple were destroyed. From Scripture we know that Jerusalem had been known historically as “the holy city” (Nehemiah 11:1; Isaiah 48:2, 52:1; Daniel 9:24; Matthew 4:5; Matthew 27:53), and this was still its historic designation despite the fact that Jesus had pronounced it desolate (Matt. 23:38). In 1851, Moses Stuart (Professor at Andover Theological Seminary) made the following remarks concerning Revelation 11:2 and the trampling of the holy city for 42 months, his point being that the mention of “the holy city” also referred to Israel as a whole:

“Jerusalem, as being the metropolis, is, as often in the Old Testament, made the symbol or representative of the whole country or nation. The reader needs only to be reminded, how often Zion and Jerusalem stand, in prophetic language, as the representatives of the Jewish government, polity, land, and nation, in order to accede to the position, that the capitals in the Apocalypse are to be considered as the symbols of the country and of the government to which they belong.

“When John therefore predicts, in Rev. 11:2, that “the holy city shall be trodden under foot 42 months,” this of course involves the idea, that the country of which the holy city is the capital, is also trodden under foot. To make their way to the capital, a foreign enemy, coming (as the Romans did) from the north, must have overrun a great portion of Palestine antecedently to the capture of Jerusalem. The prediction of course includes both, inasmuch as the holy city is made the representative of the country at large.”

Source: Moses Stuart, Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy, New York: Van Nostrand and Terrett, pp. 115-116; available online at http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/pdf/1851_stuart_hints_interpretation.pdf

Discussion item: read Luke 21:5-33
• My ESV Bible heading, and the accompanying explanation, claim that verses 20-24 refer to AD 70. If so, how could the rest of the text refer to a future “end times”?
• Could the entire passage refer to AD 70?
• What is the significance of verse 32 to the issue?

I have to admit that for some time I’ve been a bit perplexed over the language used in verses 1-2. I can see the basis for saying that this passage is written as if the Second Temple was still standing when John received his vision (and I believe it was), yet the use of the phrase “temple of God” seems to indicate that the Church is also being referred to here (cf. Eph. 2:11-22; II Cor. 6:16; I Cor. 3:16, 6:19). Therefore it may be that John was (symbolically) measuring the Church which would be trampled (persecuted) for 42 months (see Rev. 13:5-7). Given the similarity between this passage and Luke 21:24, the physical temple was also probably being alluded to. It may be that both ideas were being spoken of in this case (more will be said on this later in this post).

David Chilton may be on to something, then, as in the quote above he referred to a division between the holy and the profane. That may very well be what John is seeing contrasted here. In other words, the desolate physical temple (cf. Matthew 23:38) would soon disappear, and only God’s holy temple (His people) would remain standing (cf. Hebrews 8:13, 12:18-29). I also appreciate what David Lowman (a Presbyterian pastor in Colorado) has said concerning these things:

The measuring of the Temple is patterned, like so much of the book of Revelation, after the book of Ezekiel. In Ezekiel we are shown an angel of the Lord measuring the Temple representing the future for Jerusalem and God’s Holy people after a return from exile. Conversely, John measures the temple to determine its soon coming destruction and its being ‘trampled’ for 42 months…

What John does, though, is give us a beautiful, symbolic picture of God’s preserving work, for only the outer courts of the Temple are seen as being trampled, while the Temple Proper (Holy Place and Holy of Holies) is preserved. This would be God’s remnant preserved through the soon coming wrath and destruction. The physical Temple faced the wrath of God and His judgment, but His true Temple – the Church – survived and thrived amidst the persecution and tribulation…

God here, in this interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets, is once again showing His protection of His people. He has measured them out and has determined to protect them through the 3 1/2 year time of judgment set against apostate Israel and the physical representation of the old and obsolete Covenant, the Temple.

Kenneth Gentry (p. 174) writes in a similar manner, saying that “the measuring of the Temple is for the preservation of its innermost aspects, i.e., the…altar, and worshippers within (Rev. 11:1).” He adds,

This seems to refer to the inner-spiritual idea of the Temple in the New Covenant era that supercedes the material Temple of the Old Covenant era. Thus, while judgment is about to be brought upon Israel, Jerusalem, and the literal Temple complex, this prophecy speaks also of the preservation of God’s new Temple, the Church…that had its birth in and was originally headquartered at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8; 8:1; 15:2). Notice that after the holocaust, the altar is seen in heaven (Rev. 11:18), whence Christ’s kingdom originates (John 18:36; Heb. 1:3) and where Christians have their citizenship (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1, 2).

The external court of the Temple complex, however, is not “measured”; it is “cast out”… All the Israelites who refuse the new priesthood of baptism are cast out and their Temple destroyed. The Temple is not destined for preservation, “for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months” (v. 2). The prior prophecy of Christ (Matt. 24:2) absolutely prohibits any expectation of even a partial preservation of the literal Temple. Thus, John reveals both the prophetic certainty of the material Temple’s destruction and the fact of the preservation of His true Temple, His Church, His New Covenant people, His new priesthood [As such, Rev. 11:1, 2 functions in the same way as the “sealing of the 144,000” passage in Rev. 7]. The proper understanding of the passage requires a mixture of the figurative-symbolic and the literal-historical.

Steve Gregg (p. 220) adds these helpful notes,

As at the end of chapter 10, where John’s eating of the book repeats Ezekiel’s action of centuries earlier, here in chapter 11 John is told to do something else that also has a precedent in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 40-47 a man measures the temple with a measuring rod. In Revelation 11 John himself is given a reed for the same purpose. In both cases, the action depicts the defining of the true spiritual temple in view of the impending destruction of the physical structure in Jerusalem (by Babylonians in Ezekiel’s day, by Romans in John’s).

Verses 3-6: 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire…

The two witnesses
• There is all sorts of speculation about the identity of the two witnesses amongst preterists, futurists, and everyone else!
• The reference to the two olive trees and two lampstands is from Zechariah 4:11-14. There the reference is to the high priest, Joshua, and the governor, Zerubbabel. (Read Zech 4)
What do we know about the two witnesses from the text?
• They prophesy for 1260 days (vs. 3)
• They are clothed in sackcloth (vs. 3) (Why? Perhaps because their message is one of impending destruction)
• They have power to harm their adversaries (vs. 5)
• They have power over nature and to strike the earth with plagues (vs. 6)
• They are overcome and killed by the beast in God’s time (vs. 7)
• Their dead bodies will lie in Jerusalem for 3 ½ days (vs. 9)
• Their death will be celebrated (vs. 10)
• They have been a “torment” to those on the earth (vs. 10) How and why?
• God will make them alive again after 3 ½ days! (vs. 11)
• They are taken up to heaven on a cloud! (vs. 12)
• A deadly earthquake fell on the city after their departure (vs. 13)

Explanations given for the identity of the two witnesses:
• Religious and Civic authority (represented by the high priest and governor of Zech 4)
• Moses and Elijah returning to earth
• Elijah and Enoch returning to earth
• James and Peter
• Two people that God raised up for the role

Kenneth Gentry has the following to say regarding their identity and significance:

(1) This is recognized on all hands to be one of the more difficult identifications in Revelation.
(2) Somehow these witnesses relate to Moses and Elijah in that imagery from their ministries appear in the passage (water to blood and drought, v6).
(3) They also related to Zechariah’s prophecy of the gold lampstand and two olive trees in Zech 4:2-3, which speak of the rebuilding of the OT temple under Joshua (priest) and Zerubbabel (governor).
(4) In both allusions we have reference to the original founding of Israel as a nation and the re-establishment of it after the Babylonian exile.
(5) Thus, the two witnesses represent the founding of a new order for Israel upon the ruins of the old, earthly Israel. This is the church of Jesus Christ. Remember: Jesus said he will take the kingdom from Israel and give it to a nation bearing the fruit thereof. (Mt 21:43). Despite the persecution of Christianity it shall arise from apparent defeat.

Tony Denton (www.asiteforthelord.com) offers these interesting thoughts:

Under the Mosaic law, two witnesses were necessary to put any man to death; so, in that sense, God was providing two witnesses against Judah, Jerusalem, and the Temple. These two witnesses would prophesy against Jerusalem and warn the people for 3.5 years.

Not only did sackcloth represent great sadness at an impending disaster due to sin, but also it (typically made of camel’s hair) was traditionally worn by prophets (like John the Immerser); perhaps this was because prophets were practically always warning of these disasters.

The two witnesses comprise one set of two olive trees and one set of two lampstands. So what or who do these trees and stands represent? Briefly…

This is derived from Zechariah 4:1-12 where the reader finds that one olive tree represents the anointed king David, and the other represents the anointed priest Aaron—thus king and priest; the idea here seems to be that Christ’s church (made up of Christians who were/are both kings and priests, Rev. 5:10) would be witnesses of God against Judaism. And…

We already know that individual congregations of the church universal were represented to John as lampstands (Rev. 1:20), they who shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15).

James MacDonald, in his 1877 book The Life and Writings of St. John, was of the opinion that we don’t have a historical record of the activity of the two witnesses during the Roman-Jewish War because the historians we rely on from that time were either Jewish (Josephus) or Roman (e.g. Tacitus), and none were Christian:

If we had a Christian history extant, as we have a Pagan one by Tacitus and a Jewish one by Josephus, giving an account of what occurred within that devoted city during that awful period of its history, then we might trace out more distinctly the prophesying of the two witnesses. The great body of Christians, warned by the signs given them by their Lord, according to ancient testimony, appear to have left Palestine on its invasion by the Romans . . . . But it was the will of God that a competent number of witnesses for Christ should remain to preach the Gospel to the very last moment to their deluded, miserable countrymen. It may have been part of their work to reiterate the prophecies respecting the destruction of the city, the temple, and commonwealth… The olive-trees, fresh and vigorous, keep the lamps constantly supplied with oil. These witnesses, amidst the darkness which has settled round Jerusalem, give a steady and unfailing light… If these two prophets were the only Christians in Jerusalem, as both were killed, there was no one to make a record or report in the case, and we have here therefore an example of a prophecy which contains at the same time the only history or notice of the events by which it was fulfilled… There seems to be a peculiar fitness in these witnesses for Christ, men endowed with the highest supernatural gifts, standing to the last in the forsaken city, prophesying its doom, and lamenting over what was once so dear to God (pp. 161-162)

Moses Stuart (Professor of Andover Theological Seminary), in his 1851 work Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy, saw a significance in the number of witnesses chosen by God to prophesy during this time of judgment upon apostate Israel. He remarks, “Two witnesses, and but two, are specified, as we may naturally suppose, because, ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter is established.'” This is a reference to Deuteronomy 19:15 (cf. II Cor. 13:1).

Although history doesn’t seem to record the activities of two witnesses as some might expect if this is a past event (and if it is assumed that they are merely individuals), Josephus does record some interesting details regarding the activity of one man, whose behavior shows that he functioned very much as a prophet in the city of Jerusalem. The following excerpt is taken from a term paper I wrote a few months ago:

Jesus, the son of Ananus and a common Roman citizen, came to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem during a time of great peace and prosperity and began to cry out, “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!” He continued to do this for seven years and five months, day and night, in all the lanes of the city, crying out the loudest during the festivals. He was often whipped until his bones were bare, but witnesses say he never shed a tear, only crying out at every lash, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” He was dismissed by the Roman Procurator as a madman… [In April 70 AD he was] killed by a large stone flung from one of the Roman engines… Just before he was struck, he cried out with great force, “Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house! Woe, woe to myself also!”

In verse 6 we read that the two witnesses have the power to strike “the earth” with every kind of plague. Is their ministry worldwide or local? In our study of Revelation so far, we have suggested that many of the references to “the earth” in the book of Revelation are not meant to be taken as worldwide in scope, but as dealing instead with the land of Israel/Palestine. In a 3-part study on this subject beginning with this post, I have outlined nearly 20 instances where this appears to be the case.

Verse 8: We know that Jerusalem is being spoken of because it is said that this is “where their Lord was crucified.” The following details also come from my same term paper:

It’s worth noting that “Revelation 11:8 suggests that Jerusalem’s streets were intact at the time of John’s writing” (Kenneth Gentry, 1998, p. 236) because the dead bodies of the two witnesses were to lie there for several days. If John wrote this in 95 or 96 AD, Jerusalem would have been a wasteland. As Kathleen M. Kenyon remarked [Jerusalem: Excavating 3000 Years of History, 1967, p. 185], “It was two centuries or more [after 70 AD] before human activity began once more to make its mark in the whole area of ancient Jerusalem.” It’s also significant in Revelation 11:8 that Jerusalem is called “the great city.” This is the same title given to Babylon the Great on at least six occasions (17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21).

To be called “Sodom,” of course, is not a compliment. When Isaiah was instructed to prophesy against Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 1:10), he called the Israelites by the same name because of their apostasy. It would make sense for John to speak of apostate Jerusalem, once known as the holy city, as Sodom, Babylon, and a harlot. Todd Dennis writes, “The image of the unfaithful wife, the harlot, was often used of Israel in the OT. Israel is repeatedly called the wife of God (Jer. 2:2, 3:14, Is. 54:5). But she was an unfaithful wife (Jer. 3:20, Hos. 1:2, Ez. 6:9, Ez. 16, Is. 50:1) behaving as a prostitute (Jer. 3:1-2).

Luke is very clear that Jerusalem was to be the place where Jesus would be crucified. In his account of the Transfiguration, Luke says, “Then behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31).

Kenneth Gentry (Before Jerusalem Fell, p. 171) notes that Jerusalem was great in not only its “covenantal-redemptive [i.e. spiritual] signficance,” but also because of its historical fame. He quotes the Roman historian Tacitus who refers to Jerusalem as “a famous city” (Histories 5:2). Gentry adds,

Jerusalem housed a Temple that, according to Tacitus “was famous beyond all other works of men.” Another Roman historian, Pliny, said of Jerusalem that it was “by far the most famous city of the ancient Orient.” According to Josephus, a certain Agatharchides spoke of Jerusalem thus: “There are a people called Jews, who dwell in a city the strongest of all other cities, which the inhabitants call Jerusalem.” Appian called it “the great city Jerusalem.” …More important, however, is the covenantal significance of Jerusalem. The obvious role of Jerusalem in the history of the covenant should merit it such greatness… Josephus sadly extols Jerusalem’s lost glory after its destruction: “This was the end which Jerusalem came to be the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificance, and of mighty fame among all mankind (Wars 7:1:1)… And where is not 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, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and which had so many tens of thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? It is now demolished to the very foundations” (Wars 7:8:7).

Verses 9-12: Here we read that the dead bodies of the witnesses would lie unburied in the streets of the great city, Jerusalem, for “three and a half days,” before “a breath of life from God” enters them and they’re caught up to heaven in a cloud. A very natural explanation for “those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations” (verse 9) being present in Jerusalem to see these dead bodies is that this would take place during one of the annual festivals. As an example of this, Luke says that on the Day of Pentecost “there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Some of these nations are listed in Acts 2:9-11.

In several places Josephus speaks of dead bodies being left unburied in Jerusalem during the Jewish-Roman War (Wars 4.5.2, 4.6.1, 4.6.3, and 5.13.1). Josephus says this about the death of Niger of Peres which took place in Jerusalem:

“Nor did Niger of Peres escape their hands; he had been a man of great valor in their war with the Romans… he besought them to grant him a burial; but as they had threatened him beforehand not to grant him any spot of earth for a grave, which he chiefly desired of them, so did they slay him [without permitting him to be buried]. Now when they were slaying him, he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo both famine and pestilence in this war, and besides all that, they might come to the mutual slaughter of one another; all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men, and was what came most justly upon them, when not long afterward. they tasted of their own madness in their mutual seditions one against another” (Wars 4.6.1).

In Wars 4.6.3 Josephus describes the fate of many Jews who “deserted every day, and fled away from the zealots, although their flight was very difficult, since they [the Zealots] had guarded every passage out of the city, and slew every one that was caught at them, as taking it for granted they were going over to the Romans.” Josephus adds this:

“Along all the roads also vast numbers of dead bodies lay in heaps, and even many of those that were so zealous in deserting at length chose rather to perish within the city; for the hopes of burial made death in their own city appear of the two less terrible to them. But these zealots came at last to that degree of barbarity, as not to bestow a burial either on those slain in the city, or on those that lay along the roads; but as if they had made an agreement to cancel both the laws of their country and the laws of nature, and, at the same time that they defiled men with their wicked actions, they would pollute the Divinity itself also, they left the dead bodies to putrefy under the sun; and the same punishment was allotted to such as buried any as to those that deserted, which was no other than death; while he that granted the favor of a grave to another would presently stand in need of a grave himself.”

Verse 13: We are told that a great earthquake takes place, causing a tenth of the city of Jerusalem [identified as such in verse 8] to fall, and 7000 to be killed as a direct result of the earthquake. This is said to occur in the same hour as the end of the ministry of the two witnesses. This account from Josephus, (said to take place during the first half of 68 AD, appears to be the fulfillment of this event:

There broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming (Wars 4:4:5). [Taking advantage of the noise of the storm, some of the Jewish zealots cut the bars of the temple gates with temple saws, allowing the Idumaeans to come in and join them in slaughtering some of the people]. The din from all quarters was rendered more terrific by the howling of the storm. And by daybreak they saw 8,500 dead bodies there (Wars 4:4:7-4:5:1).

Josephus does not attribute a certain number of deaths to the earthquake, and a certain number of deaths to the warfare which took place, but only notes that a total of 8500 dead bodies were discovered the morning after this earthquake. This is remarkably close to the Biblical account. Estimates of Jerusalem’s population prior to its destruction (at non-feast times) range as high as 200,000. This number in 68 AD, however, should have been lower considering that the Christians had fled and the city was in the throes of civil war. Josephus then records that the Idumaeans and the Jewish zealots succeeded in killing Ananus the high priest and his next-in-command, Jesus son of Gamalas (also known as Joshua), showing them much dishonor:

“Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial. I should not make a mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city [when the Jews] beheld their high priest, the captain of their salvation, butchered in the heart of Jerusalem” (Wars 4:5:2).

This is not to suggest that Ananus and Joshua were the two witnesses, but it sheds further light on verse 9 which indicates that the two witnesses were also not to be buried (cf. Psalm 79:1-4, where very similar conditions were described by Asaph).

Verses 14-15: 14 The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come. The Seventh Trumpet 15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. 18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” 19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

There is much discussion about the meaning of v. 15. Within the Preterist view, in what way can it be said that “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of His Christ”? One response is that, with the trampling of the great city and the destruction of the temple, the kingdom of God is clearly shown that it is not a “national theocracy” limited to the Jewish people. The kingdom of Christ is available to all people (as demonstrated by Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles). The Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46) is most interesting in this regard. It speaks of the pattern of national Israel and its religious leaders throughout the Old Testament in killing God’s prophets and servants. At last they killed God’s Son, Jesus. When Jesus asked what would be done to the tenants of this vineyard, the chief priests, elders, and Pharisees (vss. 23, 45) rightfully answered, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruit in their seasons” (verse 41). Jesus then speaks of their rejection of Him (verse 42), and declares that the kingdom of God would be taken away from national Israel “and given to a people producing its fruits” (verse 43).

Who is this people? Of course, it’s the Church, made up of Jewish and Gentile believers, among whom there is no distinction made (Galatians 3:28, 5:6, 6:15; Colossians 3:11; I Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:13-17). When did this happen, though, that the kingdom was taken away from national Israel and given exclusively to the Church? It can be said that this transaction took place at the time of Christ’s death and resurrection, even at Pentecost when the Church was born. However, the physical manifestation of national Israel being taken out of the way, and the final consumation of the Jewish age, took place when Jerusalem and the Second Temple were destroyed in 70 AD. It’s quite possible that this event was on Jesus’ mind when He said, “And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him” (verse 45). The old covenant was in the process of vanishing away when Hebrews was written (see Heb. 8:13), but at this time it completely vanished away, and remains no more. Now to the Church belongs the kingdom (cf. Daniel 7:13-27).

In the Futurist view, the proclamation in verse 15 heralds the return of Christ and the end of the world. They point to verse 18 as the commencement of the final judgment.

Verse 19: As we saw in Rev. 4:5 and 8:5, the cosmic phenomena in verse 19 mirrors the phenomena that occurred when Moses delivered the Law to the Israelites on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16). The significance of this parallel is that Jerusalem’s destruction (along with the temple) completed the transition from Judaism (the Old Covenant) to the New Covenant.

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Our study of Revelation 11 (Part 2: Historicist View) continues here. Our Revelation 12 study can be found here.

All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.

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12 thoughts on “Revelation Chapter 11

  1. PJ Miller (whose excellent site provides spiritual encouragement, Scriptural and topical devotions, and warnings against various apostasies in the Church today) created a post on Revelation 11 a couple days ago. It’s mainly a discussion regarding the two witnesses, with various viewpoints considered. To check out the information and discussion there, follow this link:

    http://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/revelation-11-the-two-witnesses/

    There is also now a second post as a follow-up to this one, in which the Historicist viewpoint as presented by Sam Storms is considered:

    https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/revelation-11-part-2-historicist-view/

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  2. Having come to believe myself that the two witnesses represent the Church in the first century (prior to 70 AD), I’m intrigued by one person’s answer to this question. I’ll post the source immediately below, and then quote this person’s answer in its entirety after that:

    http://www.preteristcosmos.com/questionsandanswers3.html#note45

    QUESTION 45: According to preterists, who are the two witnesses? Please be more specific than answers I have received in the past.

    ANSWER: I don’t think there is a consensus among preterists as to who “the two witnesses” were. I personally believe the “two witnesses” were symbolic of the Church in the last days. Here are seven reasons why I believe this:

    1. God gave His “two witnesses” authority to lock up heaven so that there would be no rain while they prophesied, to turn the waters into blood and to smite the Land with every calamity. (Rev. 11:6)

    These judgments against Israel were the judgments of the saints, apostles and prophets, in Rev. 18:20. In Rev. 16:2-12 these judgments were “poured out” on the wicked by means of the Church (in the symbol of the “seven angels”). Compare Rev. 15:6 and Rev. 19:8,14; and compare Rev. 21:9 and Rev. 22:8,9.

    Through the faith and prayers of the Church, the destroying Mountain of Israel was violently cast into the sea, turning the waters into blood. (Jer. 51:25; Matt. 21:21; Rev. 8:8)

    2. Fire came out of the mouth of the “two witnesses,” and it devoured their enemies. (Rev. 11:5)

    This symbol was taken from Jer. 5:14:

    “…Behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it will consume them.”

    The prophetic words of the Church consumed the people in the Last Days, just as the prophetic words of Jeremiah consumed the people in his day.

    Utterance and wisdom was “given” to believers that none of their enemies were able to resist or refute. (Matt. 10:19-20; Mk. 13:11; Lk. 21:15)

    3. No one could harm the two witnesses. (Rev. 11:5) In Lk. 10:19, Jesus gave believers “authority” to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, so that nothing could injure them.

    4. The two witnesses were the “two olive trees and the two lampstands.” (Rev. 11:4)

    In Zech. 3-4, these symbols represented Joshua the priest and Zerubbabel the king. In the New Testament, the Church is God’s “kingdom and priesthood.” (I Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6)

    5. The beast made war with the two witnesses, conquered them and killed them. (Rev. 11:7)

    This parallels Rev. 13:7-9, where the beast made war with the saints, conquered them and killed them.

    6. The two prophets “stood on their feet” after “a breath of God” entered them, and they ascended into Heaven. In that very hour, their enemies became terrified and Jerusalem’s downfall began. (Rev. 11:12-13)

    This parallels Eze. 37, where the house of Israel was symbolized as “a valley of dry bones.” The “breath of God” entered the slain of Israel and “they stood on their feet” and became a vast, conquering army. (Eze. 37:9-14)

    The Church was persecuted and martyred, until God raised her up, when He came and paid back affliction to those Jews who were afflicting her. (I Thess. 2:14-16; 4:13-18; II Thess. 1:6-10; Rev. 6:10-17)

    7. The peoples “rejoiced” and made merry and gave presents to one another when the two prophets (witnesses) who had prophesied in sackcloth were killed, (Rev. 11:3,9-10) but the two prophets were later raised up. (Rev. 11:12)

    This is a reiteration of Jesus’ words concerning the Church:

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.” (Jn. 16:20).

    I believe the symbol of the “two witnesses” is based on Deut. 17:6; Matt. 18:16:

    “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death…..”

    The prophetic witness of the Church against fleshly Israel was faithful and true.

    “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony [witness]. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all on account of My name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand.” (Lk. 21:12-20)

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  3. Concerning the Moses and Elijah interpretation I reminded of the fact that Moses and Elijah show up at the transfiguration of Jesus. Luke 9:30 says that they talked to Jesus about the Exodus (Greek) which is to come. Revelation talks about a call for the righteous to leave Jerusalem–an exodus before the judgment falls upon her. Just a thought.

    The text requires those who can work miracle. So Apostles work as do Moses and Elijah. If they showed up for the transfiguration why not for the Day of Lord upon Jerusalem?

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  4. Hi – I’m enjoying the commentary on Revelation. May I ask; when one first views the bible it appears to start with the beginning of the world and conclude with the end of the world. If we accept realised eschatology, what does God expect us to understand as still to come / the end of creation as we’ve known it? Your thoughts appreciated – Philip

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  5. Hi Adam,

    Could I throw in my long-winded two cents worth of comments on one possible interpretation for the two witnesses’ identities? I know of at least one theologian from around 1800, (Eichhorn), that proposed the same idea.

    In your post, you have already briefly touched on this option that I think deserves a closer examination. The pair you mentioned in passing was Ananus ben Ananus and Joshua ben Gamaliel/Gamla. As you know, these two were both former high priests, and were murdered in AD 67 during the Idumean nighttime attack. (Ussher’s “Annals” dates this attack in AD 67, not AD 68, a date I have previously used when citing other sources, and as you have also mentioned in your post above.)

    Under Mosaic law, only a high priest was qualified to stand in the Holy of holies in the temple “before the God of the earth”, just as these two witnesses were said to do in Rev. 11:4. As others mentioned above in your post, the candlestick / olive trees metaphor in Rev. 11:4 was intended to duplicate Zech. 3:1 and 4:14’s depiction of Joshua as the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. In Zechariah 4:14, the olive trees represent “anointed ones” – high priests anointed to serve. This “anointed” status fits both Ananus and Joshua perfectly as former high priests.

    The olive trees were also meant to illustrate an unending source of oil for the candlestick that illuminated the holy place. When these two witnesses / high priests were murdered, this symbolically eliminated the source of fuel for the candlestick in the temple – indicating its imminent destruction. It was going to be “lights out” for the temple. If I remember correctly, there was always supposed to be an alternate high priest available to serve on the Day of Atonement, should the high priest serving become ritually unclean by any means, thus becoming unable to fulfill his duties. That would explain why there are two witnesses in Rev. 11, as well as satisfying the requirement to have at least two witnesses in any judicial case.

    The term of their testimony (1,260 days) also fits perfectly for Ananus and Joshua. This period ran from AD 64 when Joshua ben Gamaliel was installed in office until AD 67 when he and Ananus ben Ananus were killed by the Idumeans – an attack instigated and participated in by their Zealot rivals in Jerusalem. Josephus says that the seeds of civil war in Judea and Jerusalem were planted (in AD 64) at this time when Joshua ben Gamaliel replaced his predecessor, Joshua ben Damnaeus. (Antiq. 20.9.4 – 213-214, Wars 2.14.1 – 275-276) Each man had a following, and Joshua ben Damnaeus and his adherents resented his removal from office. It would have rankled that Martha, the rich wife of Joshua ben Gamaliel had bribed her husband’s way into getting the appointment. This 1,260 days of testimony was the “last gasp”, as it were, of the remnant of high priests operating in Jerusalem.

    There are also time indicators in the Rev. 11 account, (and also in the Rev. 9 account of the four angels being loosed), that all point an identifying finger at Ananus and Joshua as the two witnesses in question. You have already included above the excerpt from Josephus that describes the “prodigious storm” that broke out in the night during which the Idumeans broke into Jerusalem with the Zealots’ help (Rev. 11:13). This SAME HOUR of the storm and the earthquake is when the two witnesses were killed, which matches with Ananus and Joshua’s fate. The Zealots were exuberant that the Idumeans had taken out their two leading opponents that had been laboring against them in efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the Jewish/Roman conflict. They did not allow a burial for the bodies of Ananus and Joshua, just as Rev. 11:9 states for the two witnesses. (Wars 4.5.2 – 314-318)

    What pinpoints this event in time is the identity of the agent that contrives their deaths by using the Idumean forces. The agent behind the Idumean attack was the “beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit” (Rev. 11:7). There is only one other place in Revelation that uses this particular phrase (Rev. 17:8) and it refers to the scarlet colored wilderness beast who would go into destruction. It then stands to reason that the two witnesses’ deaths MUST have taken place BEFORE the scarlet, wilderness beast itself went into destruction. This eliminates a future-to-us fulfillment of the two witnesses, or any kind of ongoing fulfillment, such as proposed by the Historicist position.

    On this Scarlet Beast are the TEN HORNS, who you have accurately identified as the TEN GENERALS selected in Jerusalem after Cestius Gallus’ defeat. One of these ten horns was the leader of the Zealots – Eleazar ben Ananias – the former governor of the temple in AD 66 who was violently opposed to Roman authority, even though his father Ananias ben Nebedius was one of the moderates. Eleazar’s Zealot followers were in constant conflict with the moderate party, which was led by Ananus ben Ananus. This former high priest did his utmost to squash the radicals’ rebellious intentions. This was the “torment” experienced by the Zealots (Rev. 11:10), and was the reason they rejoiced once Ananus and Joshua were killed.

    During this period, there were essentially THREE FACTIONS in the city: Ananus and the moderates, the Zealots and their leaders, and John of Gischala lurking in the background with his followers, deceptively playing both ends against the middle for his own benefit. Once Ananus and his moderates were out of the picture, that reduced the factions by ONE THIRD. (Wars 4.7.1 – 395) After that, Josephus says, “So the sedition was divided into two parts and John reigned in opposition to his adversaries over one of them.”

    Put a red flag beside this “one-third-being-eliminated” idea. With that idea in mind, go to Rev. 9:15 – Interlinear. The context is the beginning of the sixth trumpet / (second woe) which is still under discussion in Rev. 11. “And were loosed the FOUR ANGELS (or messengers) who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year THAT THEY MIGHT KILL THE THIRD OF MEN.” I maintain that this “third of men” killed is Ananus’ party within Jerusalem that comprised one of the three factions existing at that time. In addition, I believe the four angels / messengers that were “loosed”, whose boundary extended no farther than the Euphrates (Rev. 9:14), were none other than the four Idumean commanders who responded immediately to the Zealots’ message requesting their assistance in fighting against Ananus in Jerusalem. John of Gischala had managed to deceive the Zealotes into believing that Ananus was going to surrender the city into Roman hands. The Zealots’ message to the Idumeans repeated this misinformation when they pleaded for assistance in countering this perceived threat.

    (Wars 4.4.2)
    “Now, these rulers were greatly surprised at the contents of the letter, and at what those that came with it further told them; whereupon they ran about the nation like madmen, and made proclamation that the people should come to war; so a multitude was suddenly got together, sooner indeed than the time appointed in the proclamation, and everybody caught up their arms, in order to maintain the liberty of their metropolis; and twenty thousand of them were put into battle array, and came to Jerusalem, under FOUR COMMANDERS, John, and Jacob the son of Sosas; and besides these were Simon, the son of Cathlas, and Phineas, the son of Clusothus.”

    Sounds like the four angels / messengers to me. And look at their number. It’s “twenty thousand” according to Josephus. That’s two myriads by definition, since 10,000 is equal to a myriad. My Interlinear for Rev. 9:16 for the number of horsemen coming with the four angels / messengers reads, “two myriads of myriads.” That just means two myriads that are composed of myriads – not made up of something else, such as two myriads of ordinary citizens who aren’t warriors, for example. Other translations mistakenly multiply these numbers together, resulting in a number of 200 thousand thousand, or 200 million. Rev. 9:16 says that John heard the number of them, which indicates that this is a literal number – not a symbolic one – which I believe is meant to be a total of twenty thousand.

    These twenty thousand Idumean horsemen kill one-third of men (Rev. 9:15, 18), which means Ananus’ one faction (out of the three factions in Jerusalem at that time) is eliminated. The rest of the men not killed by this Idumean plague – the other two factions in Jerusalem – did not repent of their murders, sorceries, fornications, or thefts, or idol worship (Rev. 9:20-21).

    It’s also interesting that these four angels / messengers / commanders were prepared for a VERY particular date on God’s calendar – “THE hour, and day, and month, and year” (Rev. 9:15). God had designed this warmongering nation with its military readiness, its proximity, and its numbers to accomplish a very definite purpose. That purpose was the highly visible, final elimination of the high priestly House of Annas, and along with them, the removal of the last moderate, restraining influence that had held the radical factions in check. It’s the same particular “hour” in Rev. 9:15 that is also mentioned in Rev. 11:13 – the “hour” when the two witnesses are killed and a tenth of the city falls during the earthquake. The number of slain men, (7,000 according to Rev. 11:13) is actually not much different than Josephus’ records of 8,500 killed by Idumeans and Zealots by the morning after the earthquake and the storm recorded by Josephus.

    One really needs to thoroughly read both speeches by Ananus to his fellow Jews, and Joshua’s speech to the Idumeans as they eloquently pleaded for a return to reason in order to preserve their nation. (Wars 4.3.10 – 163-192, and Wars 4.4.3 – 238-269) Both these speeches in defense of the city are a written token of the “testimony” of the two witnesses. Joshua’s speech is the last one given over the walls of Jerusalem to the Idumeans below, just outside the locked gates. When this speech is scornfully rejected, the testimony of the two witnesses is finished, and before the next day is over, both Ananus and Joshua have been slain.

    One particular sentence in Joshua’s speech stands out ( 4.4.3 – 263) “And this place, which is adored by the habitable world, and honored by such as only know it by report, as far as the ends of the earth, IS TRAMPLED UPON by these wild beasts born among ourselves.” It reminds me of the Zech. 12:3 LXX verse, “And it shall come to pass in that day that I will make Jerusalem a trodden stone to all the nations; every one that tramples on it shall utterly mock at it, and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it.” This phraseology is also repeated in Rev. 11:2 – Interlinear, “And the court which is within the temple cast out, and not it measure; because it was given [up] to the nations, and the city holy shall they trample upon months forty two.” All these seem to be linked together as to when they were fulfilled.

    When looking at the colorful descriptive language related to the abilities of these two men, an explanation of at least one of them comes readily to mind – the “authority over the waters, to turn them to blood”. “The waters”, associated with the location of Jerusalem in Rev. 18:15, are equated with “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues”. Certainly Ananus, as the selected governor of the city at the end of AD 66 exercised executive power over the lives of those multitudes with the city at that time – able to have his enemies put to death. As to the “rain” withheld, the “fire” from their mouth destroying their enemies, the smiting the earth (land of Israel) with “plagues” – all these terms have been used before in scripture with metaphoric implications that do not necessitate a literal interpretation for Ananus and Joshua to fulfill them. The sackcloth they are dressed in, as mentioned in some of the comments above, was meant to indicate national distress, just as Mordecai did in Esther 4:1.

    We have no extra-biblical record of these two men being resurrected, but if this event was prophesied and recorded by John, I am willing to believe God was capable of literally raising their dead bodies to life again in the streets of Jerusalem, just as Christ and His disciples had raised many others during His earthly ministry.

    Once again, I have to offer apologies for the length of a comment, but I thought there were too many detailed similarities that shouldn’t be overlooked between the two witnesses and the story behind Ananus and Joshua’s actions and their eventual murder. And as always, please feel free to point out any inconsistencies or mistakes that may be included here. Thanks for your patience, Adam.

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    • Hi Patricia,

      Thank you very much for these thoughts. In recent weeks I have also been strongly considering Ananus II and Joshua as candidates for being the two witnesses. Just the other day I read the speeches they gave and found them to be significant.

      I’ve been seeing great importance in the earthquake and the Idumean attack that same night. The text is clear that this happened “in the same hour” as the death of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:13).

      As to whether that happened in 67 AD or 68 AD, I will have to look closer. Unless I can clearly see otherwise, I’m leaning toward 68 AD because as Josephus continues on from that account in Wars Book 4 it’s not much later at all that he says that Vespasian heard of the death of Nero. The earthquake and Idumean attack happened in February, from what I’ve learned. Nero died in June. So there would be a difference of 16 months if the earthquake/Idumean attack happened in 67 AD, but only a difference of four months if it happened in 68 AD.

      By the way, Revelation 11:10 sounds like a description of the Feast of Purim. “And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.” If so, I did find out that the Feast of Purim took place on the 15th of Adar (March 23rd) in 68 AD. That would have been only a month, maybe less, from the time that Ananus II and Joshua were killed:

      https://books.google.com/books?id=9OcCAAAAQAAJ&pg=PR191&lpg=PR191&dq=15th+of+Adar+68+AD&source=bl&ots=5tVPMXuI3Y&sig=Dyl0Ob0OZJB9KacBWGkUbxAxkFY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwio4PmlrpTOAhVQpIMKHUNwA7AQ6AEIPTAE#v=onepage&q=15th%20of%20Adar%2068%20AD&f=false

      In addition to what I’ve seen recently, you’ve given me more details and more things to also consider. Thank you. I do agree that the four Idumean commanders appear to be a solid match for the four horsemen mentioned in Revelation 9.

      I had also noticed that the phrase “the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit” is only found in Revelation 11:7 and 17:8. I’ve been gradually preparing a study on the beasts of Revelation, looking at all 29 verses where they are mentioned. Within the next few weeks I plan to post this study, probably in several parts. I have to say that I’m only seeing two beasts rather than three. This may be shocking, but I’m becoming convinced that “the beast from the sea” was not Rome/Nero, but was actually Israel (characterized by the Zealot leaders in the way that I used to think it was characterized by Nero), and that this beast from the sea was one and the same with the scarlet beast. I’ll, of course, present more detailed reasoning a little later when I have more prepared.

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      • Hi Adam,

        Much appreciation for your taking the time to chew on this subject. If you still happen to be reviewing a choice between AD 67 and AD 68 for the Idumean attack at Jerusalem, I’ve tried to check the timeline of events for this in Josephus by noting every mention of a recognizable feast day, or a season, or a particular month around this time that might help pin down the month that the Idumean attack took place.

        The only reason I belabor this point is for the sake of confirming the beginning and ending months for the 1260-day term that the two witnesses prophesy. The startup point would necessarily have to include BOTH Joshua and Ananus having attained the status of an appointed high priest, which tells us that the 1260 days could not have started until Joshua ben Gamaliel had also achieved that appointment (in AD 64). I haven’t encountered the month for Joshua’s appointment yet in my studies – just the year of AD 64 – but if we can identify the ENDING month of the 1260 days, that would help us.

        One reason I tend to believe the Idumean attack occurred in maybe very early November of AD 67 instead of the February AD 68 date you mention is because of the “prodigious storm” that broke out in the night. It would align perfectly with the very predictable start of the winter rainy season, which inevitably arrives like clockwork around November, and lasts until March / April when the rains typically shut down completely from May – September. (This is not to say that God could not have providentially produced a storm out of the ordinary timing, of course.)

        Another reason I favor an early-November AD 67 date for the Idumean attack is that it would mean there was literally no rain for the five months of the May – September summer season just prior to November of AD 67. This five months would have been the time when the intensity of these two witnesses’ prophecy was the most urgent to their fellow-countrymen in Jerusalem. Hmmm – no rain during these days of their prophecy. It sounds like a possible connection to one of the actions performed by the two witnesses in Rev. 11:16. The five dry months would have been immediately followed by the “prodigious storm” when the winter rainy season was launched in November AD 67, coinciding with the death of the two witnesses in that same hour.

        Here is a progression of events that followed the Idumean attack, as far as I understand them. With particular notice paid to Josephus’ references to feast days, seasons, and months, we can use this information to map out a likely date for the death of the two witnesses.

        #1) First of all we have Josephus’ record of the Idumean attack on Ananus and Joshua in Wars 4.5.2.

        #2) Then we have the rise of John of Gischala’s tyranny in Jerusalem after the Idumeans had left (Wars 4.7.1) At the same time, we have Vespasian being notified of this increase of hostility between the two remaining factions in Jerusalem (John and the Zealots). (Wars 4.6. 2, 3)

        #3) As a result of Vespasian’s delay in coming against Jerusalem (in order to let the Jewish factions battle each other and save the Romans the trouble), a number of the Sicarii around Jerusalem were emboldened at this delay and made a nighttime attack on the small city of Engeddi, pillaging that city and its surrounding villages for supplies. They wanted to obtain provisions for themselves to stockpile at the stronghold of Masada. (Wars 4.7.2) The Sicarii attack on Engeddi was at the FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD (Wars 4.7.2, 402), which had to be in March / April of AD 68.

        #4) At the same season, we have Vespasian (instead of choosing to attack Jerusalem immediately) deciding to eliminate a future threat to his plans to take Jerusalem by sending Placidus to the strong city of Gadara on the 4th day of the month of ADAR. (Wars 4.7.3 – 413-418) This had to have been in February / March of Ad 68.

        #5) This Gadara attack resulted in refugees from the city fleeing toward Jericho, the nearest defensible city. Vespasian had gone to Caesarea himself, but had sent Placidus and his troops to eliminate these Gadara refugees and those that joined them. Coming to the River Jordan, these refugees and the multitude with them were caught between Placidus and his horsemen and the River Jordan which was not fordable because of Jordan “being augmented lately by rains”. This had to be right at the end of the rainy season, which stops completely in May. We see the same scenario in Joshua’s day, (Joshua 3:15, 4:19), when Jordan overflowed all its banks all the time of harvest – which at that time of the exodus was the 10th day of the first month of Abib / NISAN, or our March / April. Instead of God drying up the River Jordan for the sake of the Jews at this time, however, He had “dried up the Euphrates” for the benefit of the kings of the East to come AGAINST the Jews. I doubt the Jews appreciated the irony of this at that moment, pinned down with their backs against the swollen River Jordan and with Placidus and his horsemen in front of them.

        #6) In the meantime, in Caesarea, Vespasian had received reports that the country of Gaul had revolted from Nero, and that Roman civil wars were likely to endanger the empire. He decided to renew his efforts to subjugate Judea in order to relieve Rome of at least one of its worries. Consequently, IN THE SPRING of AD 68 (Wars 4.8.1, 443), which would be that brief period of three weeks or so in March / April, Vespasian started a campaign against a number of cities and villages mentioned in Wars 4.8.1, 443-450. One of the last of these cities Vespasian came to was in the month SIVAN, which is in May / June. (Wars 4.8.1, 449) With most of Judea’s cities subjugated for the moment, Vespasian was finally about to turn his attention to Jerusalem, but was only restrained from carrying out this plan when he heard of Nero’s death (which happened in June of AD 68).

        All of this step-by-step progression of events shows me that the date for the Idumean attack on Jerusalem could not have occurred in February of AD 68, but was at the very beginning of the winter rainy season back around November of AD 67. If Josephus’ record of events can be trusted, that is.

        If it really was around November of AD 67, then we can back up the calendar those 1260 days prior to November AD 67 for a probable date when Joshua ben Gamaliel was appointed as high priest. It would then necessarily have had to be around the spring or Passover period of AD 64. This sounds plausible to me, since Ananus ben Ananus had been put into office around that season of the year when he served his brief three months before being abruptly dismissed. (He had James the Just killed at Passover, according to Eusebius quoting Hegesippus’ Memoirs, Book 5)

        The remainder of Ananus’ term would have been filled in by Joshua Ben Damneus, probably. This man would then be justifiably provoked that he only got to serve an abbreviated term of approximately nine months instead of at least a year. This irritation might have been enough to provide the seeds of hatred that Josephus said sprang up between Joshua ben Damneus and Joshua ben Gamaliel who succeeded him, along with other party loyalties present in Jerusalem at that time. These seeds were the incipient cause of the civil wars that followed. (Antiq. 20.9.4, 213-214) “And from that time it principally came to pass that our city was greatly disordered, and that all things grew worse and worse among us.”

        This is the best I can do at identifying a terminus a quo and a terminus ad quem for that 1260-day period of the two witnesses testimony. Can you see any obvious holes in this, Adam, that need alteration?

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      • Hi Patricia,

        Yes, I am still interested in sorting out when the Idumean attack took place. Thanks for this further input and for that list of events which took place after the Idumean attack. The Josephus.org website has a chronological list of events during this time and, as a matter of interest, it lists quite a few things that happened before the Idumean attack – after John of Gischala arrived in Jerusalem (when Titus captured the town of Gischala):

        http://www.josephus.org/FlJosephus2/warChronology6Factions.htm

        About a third of the way down this page they state that it was in November of 67 AD that John escaped Gischala and made his way to Jerusalem. They then list 18 things which took place before that terrible storm, earthquake, 8500 deaths, and the murder of Ananus and Joshua. If John’s arrival in Jerusalem did indeed take place in November 67 AD, it’s hard (for me) to see that all of those other things took place first and that it was still early November when the great storm took place. It seems like several weeks passed by in the meantime. I say this to give the other perspective for why it’s hard to fit so many events in between John’s arrival in Jerusalem in November 67 AD and the Idumean attack, if that attack were to also have happened in November 67 AD (the early part of that month, no less).

        Wikipedia lists the death of Annas II as being in 68 AD, but I can’t quite tell how that date was determined:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ananus_ben_Ananus

        Wikipedia also says that the Zealot temple siege took place in 68 AD:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zealot_Temple_Siege

        Ed Stevens has recently written a book (which I have) titled, “The Final Decade Before the End,” where he carefully chronicled the events of this time using various sources. In his pre-publication manuscript, “First Century Events in Chronological Order,” which I also have, he says it was in January 68 AD that Annas II trusted John of Gischala to be his ambassador to the Zealots, that John betrayed him by falsely claiming that Annas had invited Vespasian to take the city, and that the Zealots sent messengers to the Idumeans to beg them to come to Jerusalem. In February 68 AD, Ed says, the Idumeans arrived.

        There is one source I found who seemed to say that the Idumeans attacked Jerusalem in 67 AD (he lists this event as one of several that happened after October 23, 67 AD, before moving on to a general “68 AD” date heading). This was James Ussher’s “Annals of the World” written in the 1600’s. You can find it in Point #6956 here:

        http://www.studylight.org/history/annals/view.cgi?e=21

        However, Ussher gave less details and covered less events around this particular time than Josephus did in Wars of the Jews, and he also claimed that the Idumeans killed 80,000 people (whereas Josephus said it was 8,500). So his accuracy may be questionable.

        Concerning Joshua the high priest and his possible identity as one of the two witnesses, is it important to show that he was currently serving as high priest when the 1260 days of Revelation 11:3 began? Or could he have been a former high priest at that point just like Annas II was? Or could he have been several months into his reign when their witness began? If Annas II and Joshua were the two witnesses, and if they were killed in February 68 AD, then the 1260 days would have begun around August 64 AD.

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