The Gentiles Trampled Jerusalem for 42 Months (Revelation 11:1-2)


This post continues the series, “The Beast of Revelation Was Zealot-Led Israel.” The introduction and outline to this series can be seen here.

So far in this series we have examined the four kingdoms of Daniel 2, the four beasts of Daniel 7, and the numerous details that Daniel was given about the fourth beast. This included the various roles of the “little horn” that rose up among the 10 horns of the fourth beast.

In Revelation 11:7, the fourth beast of Daniel 7 is introduced for the first time simply as “the beast.” It’s translated this way in all 25 versions at Bible Hub. It’s a very sudden introduction, so this should provoke the reader to look back to Daniel 7 to understand this entity’s background.

The reason for this is a grammatical rule known as “the rule of first mention.” This rule dictates that a writer should only use the article “the” when it’s clear to the reader what is being referred to. When introducing a subject for the first time, “a” is the proper article to use. Here’s an example:

An armed robbery took place this morning at J & M’s Pet Store. About an hour ago the police found a gun in a trashcan near the store. They believe it’s the gun that was used in the robbery.”

John expected his original audience to know the writings of Daniel, who prophesied about the fourth beast whose kingdom would be replaced by the kingdom of God. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary (1882) came to the same conclusion:

“This beast was not mentioned before, yet he is introduced as “the beast,” because he had already been described by Daniel (Da 7:3, 11), and he is fully so in the subsequent part of the Apocalypse, namely, Rev 13:1; 17:8. Thus, John at once appropriates the Old Testament prophecies; and also, viewing his whole subject at a glance, mentions as familiar things (though not yet so to the reader) objects to be described hereafter by himself. It is a proof of the unity that pervades all Scripture.”

In the next post, we will look at Revelation 11:7 in context, but first I’d like to examine Revelation 11:1-2 which speaks of the holy city, Jerusalem, being trampled by “the Gentiles” for 42 months. Just like the beast, this description is often thought to be about the Romans, but that idea doesn’t line up with history.

Gentiles in Revelation 11:1-2

In Revelation 11:1-2 John was told about a 3.5 year period of tragedy that was about to come upon:

Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.’”

The Greek word used here for “Gentiles” is “ethnos,” the counterpart of the Hebrew word “goy” in the Old Testament. In the past, I simply assumed that this must be a reference to the Romans who helped destroy Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. I marked out 3.5 years from the time that Nero dispatched Vespasian as his war general (early 67 AD) until Vespasian’s son, Titus, oversaw the burning of the temple in August 70 AD.

However, the Romans did not trample the city of Jerusalem for 42 months. They only trampled Jerusalem during the 5-month siege of Titus in 70 AD. The Jews successfully kicked the Romans out of Jerusalem in August 66 AD, and they only managed to return to Jerusalem for a few days in November 66 AD when Cestius Gallus unsuccessfully attacked the city. For the next 3.5 years the Romans did not enter Jerusalem.

During the 42 months before the Romans came, Jerusalem was indeed trampled, but it was by a different group of people. In early 68 AD Jesus ben Gamala, one of the former high priests, gave a speech in which he described what was happening to Jerusalem because of the Zealots:

“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” (Wars 4.4.3).

So, according to this testimony, it was the Zealots who trampled Jerusalem, and they had a reputation for behaving like wild beasts. In what sense were they “Gentiles,” though? Consider what [1] The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia and [2] The Jewish Encyclopedia say about the use of the word “goy” in Scripture: 

  1. “The Hebrew word goy (plural goyim) means ‘nation.’ In Biblical usage it is applied also to Israel: ‘Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation’ (goy kadosh; Ex. 19:6).”

Source: “Gentiles,” The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, NY: The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc., 1941); Volume 4, p. 533.

  1. “In the Hebrew of the Bible ‘goi’ and its plural ‘goyyim’ originally meant ‘nation,’ and were applied both to Israelites and to non-Israelites (Gen. xii. 2, xvii. 20; Ex. xiii. 3, xxxii. 10; Deut. iv. 7; viii. 9, 14; Num. xiv. 12; Isa. i. 4, ix. 22; Jer. vii. 28).”

Source: “Gentile,” The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, NY: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1905); Volume 5, p. 615.

There were indeed multiple nations that trampled Jerusalem from the fall of 66 AD until the spring of 70 AD when the Romans were not in the city. Wikipedia gives this summary of those who fought the hardest against the Romans:

“During the Great Rebellion (66-70 CE) the Galileans and Idumeans were the most adamant fighters against Rome; they fought the Romans to the death when many Judeans were ready to accept peace terms.”

Galilee

Galilee was home to many Jews, but it was also associated with “the Gentiles.” When Jesus departed to Galilee after John the Baptist was put in prison, Matthew said that this prophecy from Isaiah was fulfilled:

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned” (Matthew 4:15-16).

The three main Zealot leaders (Eleazar ben Simon, John Levi, and Simon Bar Giora) who orchestrated so much bloodshed in Jerusalem were not from Judea. John was from Gischala (Galilee) and Simon was from Gerasa (Wars 4.9.3), which at the time was one of the cities of the Roman Decapolis and today is in Jordan. By the time that Simon “got possession of Jerusalem” in April 69 AD (Wars 4.9.12), he had an army of more than 40,000 people, including Idumeans, who he had gathered from the countryside.

Eleazar took possession of Jerusalem even earlier, in late 66 AD. According to Wikipedia, he was likely from Galilee:

“Historical evidence of Eleazar arises in 66 CE, when he crushed Cestius Gallus’ Legio XII Fulminata at Beit-Horon. Yet prior to this encounter, little is known about his early life and rise to power. It can be inferred, however, from the geopolitical scene of ancient Israel in the first century CE. that he grew up in Galilee, the center of Zealotry. Zealots were shunned by the High Priesthood in Jerusalem prior to the revolt. This disunity with other sects of Judaism confined Zealotry to its birthplace in Galilee. Yet when the revolt broke out in 66 CE, the Galilean zealots fled the Roman massacres and sought refuge in the last major Jewish stronghold: Jerusalem. Since Eleazar was placed in command of a large army of Jews in the battle against Cestius’ Legio, he had already risen to a position of power in the priesthood prior to his military success.”

In Wars 4.3.2-4, Josephus spoke of large multitudes from various regions that “crept into Jerusalem” as the Jewish-Roman War was about to begin. Josephus said that “the multitude that came out of the country were at discord before the Jerusalem sedition began” (see Revelation 6:4). He added:

There were besides disorders and civil wars in every city; and all those that were at quiet from the Romans turned their hands one against another. There was also a bitter contest between those that were fond of war, and those that were desirous for peace…

[T]he captains of these troops of robbers, being satiated with rapines in the country, got all together from all parts, and became a band of wickedness, and all together crept into Jerusalem… these very men, besides the seditions they raised, were otherwise the direct cause of the city’s destruction also… Moreover, besides the bringing on of the war, they were the occasions of sedition and famine therein. There were besides these other robbers that came out of the country, and came into the city, and joining to them those that were worse than themselves …”

In Wars 4.9.10 Josephus says that John Levi of Gischala corrupted “the body of the Galileans” in Jerusalem, who had given him his authority. Josephus went on to say of these Galileans that “their inclination to plunder was insatiable, as was their zeal in searching the houses of the rich; and for the murdering of the men, and abusing of the women, it was sport to them…”

The negative views that many Judeans had toward Galileans can be seen in the following Scripture verses: Matthew 26:73; Mark 14:70; John 1:46, 7:52.

Idumea

The Idumeans were known as Edomites who descended from Esau. In early 68 AD, the Idumeans were invited by the Zealots to come up to Jerusalem. An army of 20,000 led by four generals responded. Upon their arrival they slaughtered thousands of people within the gates of Jerusalem (Wars 4.5). Josephus referred to their actions as “foreign assistance” to the Zealot cause (Wars 4.4). According to Ezekiel, Amos, and Obadiah, the Edomites did the same thing during past calamities of Israel and Judah:

Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end…” (Ezekiel 35:5).

For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity; his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever” (Amos 1:11).

For your violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever. In the day that strangers carried captive his forces, when foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem – even you were as one of them… You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped; nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained in the day of distress” (Obadiah 10-14).

See this article at the Bible History site for more information on the Edomites and Idumeans.

“Foreigners Appeared to Have Begun the War.”

About a year into the Jewish-Roman War (66-73 AD), the Roman general Vespasian stated his strong suspicion that “foreigners” had begun the war. Josephus then identified those foreigners and where they came from. It happened when Vespasian captured part of Galilee in the summer of 67 AD. He “sat upon his tribunal at Taricheae, in order to distinguish the foreigners from the old inhabitants; for those foreigners appeared to have begun the war.

Some of those foreigners were from Hippos, which was “a Greco-Roman city” in the Decapolis that was “culturally tied more closely to Greece and Rome than to the Semitic ethnoi around” (Wikipedia). Josephus said that “the greatest part of [those foreigners] were seditious persons and fugitives, who were of such shameful characters that they preferred war before peace.” Most of the other foreigners were from Trachonitis and Gaulanitis, in the region of Batanea near Persia (Wars 3.10.10).

batanea

Photo Source

Josephus said that those “foreigners” were fugitives, which means they were on the run. Who and where were they running from? I don’t know. Did some of them also converge on Jerusalem as Galilee, Perea, and other territories were captured by the Romans?

Pagans and Sons of Hell

There’s another sense in which even the Jews could be described as “the Gentiles.” Among the given meanings for the Greek word “ethnos” are the words “heathens” and “pagans.” In the book of Revelation John certainly describes a great deal of pagan activity happening in Jerusalem. Anyone who reads the descriptions of the Zealots given by Josephus will quickly see that their behavior was lawless, savage, and pagan, to say the least. Several decades earlier, Jesus had denounced the scribes and Pharisees for traveling “land and sea” to win disciples only to make them “twice as much a son of hell” as themselves (Matthew 23:15). Apparently, some of these “sons of hell” made Jerusalem and the temple into their own “shop of tyranny” (Wars 4.3.7).

In summary, it was not the Romans who trampled on Jerusalem for 42 months in 66-70 AD. Instead, Jerusalem was trampled by the Zealots, Galileans, Idumeans, etc. They were the Gentiles spoken of in Revelation 11:1-2. We will see more evidence of their trampling as we progress in this study.

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The next post will examine Revelation 11:3-13 and the two witnesses who were killed by the beast.

All of the posts in this series can be found at this page.

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Daniel 7: The Fourth Beast, 10 Horns, Three Horns, and a Little Horn


This post continues the series, “The Beast of Revelation Was Zealot-Led Israel.” The introduction and outline to this series can be seen here.

The previous post, “Rome Congratulated Israel on Becoming the Fourth Kingdom of Daniel 2,” concluded our study of Daniel 2. Daniel 7 features another prophetic dream, but this time it was Daniel himself who had “a dream and visions” (verse 1). Whereas Nebuchadnezzar saw a statue with four parts, Daniel saw four beasts. The meaning was the same, though, in that Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel were both shown four kingdoms. It’s the fourth beast (kingdom) which plays a significant role in the book of Revelation.

In our study of Daniel 2, a lot of space was given to the progression from the first kingdom to the fourth kingdom. Most of that information will not be repeated in this post, but we will instead focus primarily on the key details that Daniel was given about the fourth beast. Here is Daniel’s vision of the four beasts as recorded in Daniel 7:

Daniel 7:2-8, 11-12, 16-27 (Daniel’s Vision of Four Beasts)

Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

“And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’

“After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words…

11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time…

16 I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kingdoms which arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’

19 “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; 20 and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.

21 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

23 “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.

26 ‘But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. 27 Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

An Overview of the Four Beasts

In Daniel 7:3-8, Daniel saw four beasts which differed in how they appeared and what they represented. Since we already identified and discussed the four kingdoms in our study of Daniel 2, we will only briefly take note of what Daniel sees here:

[1] Babylon was the first beast that was like a lion with eagle’s wings. Babylon was also compared to a lion in Jeremiah 4:7, and compared to an eagle in Ezekiel 17:3, 12. Nebuchadnezzar was specifically called a lion in Jeremiah 50:17 (“Israel is like scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away. First the king of Assyria devoured him; now at last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones”).

The man with the heart who stood on two feet was most likely Nebuchadnezzar, who brought the Babylonian Empire to its highest height. His heart was “changed from that of a man” to “the heart of an animal” (Daniel 4:16) until he regained his reason (verse 36) and once again had a man’s heart. The plucking of the eagle’s wings could refer to the ceasing of Babylon’s conquests and/or to the humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar and his temporary loss of the kingdom (Daniel 4:31-33).

[2] Medo-Persia was the second beast that was like a bear. The fact that it was raised up on one side likely refers to Persia being more dominant than Media. The three ribs could refer to three major territories that this empire conquered: Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt.

[3] Greece/Macedonia was the third beast that was like a leopard with four wings of a bird on its back. The angel Gabriel revealed to Daniel that the male goat was the kingdom of Greece (Daniel 8:21). In Daniel 8:5-6 this goat is seen running with great speed and power (as leopards are known to do, and as Alexander the Great was also known to have done). Jerome (347-420 AD) said,

“Nothing was more swift than the conquest of Alexander, from Illyricum and the Adriatic sea, unto the Indian ocean, and the river Ganges; he rather ran through the world by victories than by battles, and in six years subdued part of Europe, all Asia even unto India” (John Gill’s Commentary on Daniel 7; 1746-1763).

This beast’s four heads represented the four generals (Cassander, Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Lysimachus) who oversaw four parts of the kingdom (Daniel 8:22) after the death of Alexander the Great (verse 21).

[4] Israel was the fourth beast that was exceedingly strong and had huge iron teeth and 10 horns. As we saw in the last post, in 164 BC the Maccabees secured a great victory for Israel over Antiochus Epiphanes and the Macedonian kingdom. In 142 BC Israel was granted full independence, received congratulations from Rome, and its kingdom expanded. Israel enjoyed this independence for the next 79 years, and was then semi-autonomous all the way up to the Jewish-Roman War.

This beast would use its feet to devour, break in pieces, and trample residue. It was different than the three beasts that came before it. A little horn would come up among its 10 horns, would pluck out three of the first horns by the roots, and would have a mouth speaking pompous words.

The Fourth Beast

It’s this fourth beast that we will focus on in the rest of our study of Daniel 7. After this part of Daniel’s vision (Daniel 7:1-8) he goes on to learn that the fourth beast would be a fourth kingdom, and it would be slain “and given to the burning flame” (Daniel 7:11, 23). He also learns that the little horn would make war against the saints and “intend to change times and the law” (Daniel 7:21, 24-25). The little horn would prevail against the saints for 3.5 years until the Ancient of Days would come and the saints would possess the kingdom (Daniel 7:21-22, 25-27). We will examine these details one at a time.

Devouring, Breaking, and Trampling (Daniel 7:7)

The following excerpt comes from the Jewish Virtual Library regarding the strength of the Maccabees, known as “the Jewish Hammer,” in their victory over the Macedonians:

“The family of Mattathias became known as the Maccabees, from the Hebrew word for ‘hammer,’ because they were said to strike hammer blows against their enemies. Jews refer to the Maccabees, but the family is more commonly known as the Hasmoneans.

Like other rulers before him, Antiochus underestimated the will and strength of his Jewish adversaries and sent a small force to put down the rebellion. When that was annihilated, he led a more powerful army into battle only to be defeated. In 164 BCE, Jerusalem was recaptured by the Maccabees and the Temple purified, an event that gave birth to the holiday of Chanukah

It took more than two decades of fighting before the Maccabees forced the Seleucids to retreat from the Land of Israel. By this time Antiochus had died and his successor agreed to the Jews’ demand for independence. In the year 142 BCE, after more than 500 years of subjugation, the Jews were again masters of their own fate…

The kingdom regained boundaries not far short of Solomon’s realm and Jewish life flourished.”

Wikipedia says that the Maccabees “reasserted the Jewish religion, partly by forced conversion” and “expanded the boundaries of Judea by conquest.” Likewise, I Maccabees 14:4-24 says that Simon Maccabee “took Joppe for a haven, and made an entrance to the isles of the sea. And he enlarged the bounds of his nation, and made himself master of the country… the fame of his glory was renowned even to the end of the earth.”

The Hasmonean kingdom of Israel apparently became oppressive to its subjects. In 63 BC Pompey the Great intervened in a Judean civil war, the Judean kingdom lost some of its land, became semi-autonomous, and some of the cities that had been under Judea became autonomous and formed the Decapolis. According to Wikipedia, “The people of the Decapolis cities welcomed Pompey as a liberator from the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom that had ruled much of the area.”

As we saw in our study of Daniel 2, by 40 BC Herod the Great, the Edomite founder of the Herodian Dynasty in Israel, was doing his own “devouring, breaking, and trampling.” We also saw how Herod divided the land of Israel into five parts, and how after his death his sons divided it further.

When we look at Revelation 13 and 17 later in this series, we will examine how the Zealots did all kinds of “devouring, breaking, and trampling” in the land, in Jerusalem, and in the temple complex.

“Different from All Other Kingdoms” (Daniel 7:7, 23)

How was Israel/Judea, as the fourth kingdom, different than the three kingdoms which preceded it? Like the other kingdoms, the Maccabees (Hasmoneans) expanded their territory by political conquest. Unlike the other kingdoms, the Hasmonean kingdom also expanded through forced religious conversions.

I would speculate, though, that the primary difference between Israel/Judea and the other kingdoms was its widespread religious authority. The high priesthood in Jerusalem held authority over Jews living in “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5), some of whom would travel to Jerusalem three times a year for the major festivals (Passover, Weeks/Pentecost, and Tabernacles).

Ten Horns of the Beast (Daniel 7:7, 20, 24)

Daniel observes that the fourth beast had 10 horns (verse 7). In verse 20 Daniel asked about those 10 horns and it was revealed to him that they “are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom” (verse 24). Daniel wasn’t told anything else about those 10 horns, but in Revelation 17:12-17 John learns that they [1] would “receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast” [2] would “give their power and authority to the beast” [3] would make war with the Lamb but be overcome by the Lamb [4] would “hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire” [5] and would “give their kingdom to the beast until the words of God are fulfilled.” We’ll examine the 10 horns in more depth later in this series when we come to Revelation 17.

In a post I wrote in July 2016 I proposed that the 10 horns were the 10 Jewish generals who were given authority in December 66 AD. After the Jews defeated Cestius Gallus in November 66 AD, these generals were chosen to lead Israel in preparing for the inevitable war with Rome. In Wars 2.20.3-4 Josephus lists 10 generals and the territories they were to oversee in preparation for war with Rome:

1. Joseph, the son of Gorion (Governor of Jerusalem)
2. Ananus, the high priest (Governor of Jerusalem)
3. Jesus, the son of Sapphias, one of the high priests (Idumaea)
4. Eleazar, the son of Ananias, the high priest (Idumaea)
5. Niger of Perea, the then governor of Idumea (Idumaea)
6. Joseph, the son of Simon (Jericho)
7. Manasseh (Perea)
8. John, the Esscue (toparchy of Thamna; “Lydda was also added to his portion, and Joppa, and Emmaus”)
9. John, the son of Matthias (toparchies of Gophnitica and Acrabattene)
10. Josephus, the son of Matthias (both the Galilees; “Gamala also, which was the strongest city in those parts, was put under his command”)

An 11th Horn, “A Little Horn”

In the following sections we will see that Daniel was told a great deal about another character spoken of as “a little horn.” This person is not spoken of in the book of Revelation by this title, but only here in Daniel 7. According to Daniel 7:8, 21-22, 24-27 this person would:

[A] come up among the 10 horns
[B] pluck out three of the first horns
[C] have a mouth speaking pompous words
[D] make war against the saints
[E] be different than the other 10 horns
[F] “intend to change times and the law”
[G] and prevail against the saints for 3.5 years until the coming of the Ancient of Days and the possession of the kingdom by the saints.

A Little Horn Coming Up Among the 10 Horns (Daniel 7:8, 20-21, 24-26)

As Daniel was considering the 10 horns, he saw a little horn coming up among them. He had “eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words” (Daniel 7:8). Even though he was “little,” his “appearance was greater than his fellows” (Daniel 7:20). At this point, I believe this 11th horn was either Eleazar ben Simon (my top choice) or John Levi of Gischala (my second choice). Both were prominent leaders of the Zealots in Jerusalem during the Jewish-Roman War of 66-73 AD. (We will take a closer look at the Zealots in our study of Revelation 13.)

If Eleazar was the 11th horn, how did he “come up among” the 10 horns? Josephus wrote in Wars 2.20.3 that it was surprising that Eleazar was not appointed as one of the 10 generals for the war because he was credited with leading the victory against Cestius Gallus in November 66 AD. However, the reason he was not chosen with the other 10 was because of his “tyrannical temper.” Still the people in Jerusalem submitted to his authority anyway:

“…for they did not ordain Eleazar the son of Simon to that office [as one of the 10 generals], although he had gotten into his possession the prey they had taken from the Romans, and the money they had taken from Cestius, together with a great part of the public treasures, because they saw he was of a tyrannical temper, and that his followers were, in their behavior, like guards about him. However, the want they were in of Eleazar’s money, and the subtle tricks used by him, brought all so about, that the people were circumvented, and submitted themselves to his authority in all public affairs.”

If John of Gischala was the 11th horn, how did he “come up among” the 10 horns? Around this same time, John tried to convince the authorities in Jerusalem to remove Josephus from the position of governor of the Galileans, and to give that position to him instead. Gischala was John Levi’s native city, but it was located in Galilee, and John was displeased when he found out that Josephus had been appointed as the governor of Galilee:

“But the hatred that John, the son of Levi, bore to me, grew now more violent, while he could not bear my prosperity with patience. So he proposed to himself, by all means possible, to make away with me; and built the walls of Gischala, which was the place of his nativity. He then sent his brother Simon, and Jonathan, the son of Sisenna, and about a hundred armed men, to Jerusalem, to Simon, the son of Gamaliel, in order to persuade him to induce the commonalty of Jerusalem to take from me the government over the Galileans, and to give their suffrages for conferring that authority upon him” (Life of Flavius Josephus, 38 [189]).

Soon afterward, though, Josephus had a dream in which he was told that John’s schemes against him would not succeed and that he would live to fight the Romans (Life, 42). John Levi eventually made it to Jerusalem in November 67 AD (Wars 4.2.4), and before long he was able to seize control of part of the city.

Three Horns Plucked Out by the Roots (Daniel 7:8, 20, 24)

Daniel 7:8 states that “before” (i.e. in front of) the little horn “three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots.” Verse 20 says that they “fell,” and verse 24 says that the little horn would “subdue” them.

Josephus records the deaths of three of the 10 generals at the hands of Eleazar ben Simon and John of Gischala. Their deaths took place during the Zealot siege of Jerusalem in February/March 68 AD:

[1] Ananus ben Ananus, governor of Jerusalem and a former high priest
[2] Niger of Perea
[3] Joseph ben Gorion.

Ananus was killed in early 68 AD when the Zealot leaders tricked the Idumeans into coming up to Jerusalem. This happened after John of Gischala first pretended to befriend Ananus, who was vehemently against the Zealots and their war agenda. Ananus was the leader of “the moderates,” those who took a moderate position regarding Rome. With false pretenses, John discussed plans with Ananus and then secretly passed them along to the other Zealot leaders. He also lied to the Zealots and claimed that Ananus was plotting to invite the Roman general Vespasian to take over Jerusalem (Wars 4.3.13-14).

So John convinced Eleazar ben Simon and the other Zealots to help him send a letter to the Idumeans (south of Judea), urging them to come up to Jerusalem and defend the city (Wars 4.4.1). An army of 20,000 Idumeans, led by four commanders (see Revelation 9:13-17) then came up to Jerusalem (Wars 4.4.2). Together with the Zealots, they killed thousands of people, filling the outer court of the temple with blood (Wars 4.5.1). They then specifically hunted down the high priests and killed Ananus, among others (Wars. 4.5.2).

When the Idumeans left Jerusalem, Josephus says that the Zealots thirsted “chiefly after the blood of valiant men, and men of good families; the one sort of which they destroyed out of envy, the other out of fear; for they thought their whole security lay in leaving no potent men alive; on which account they slew Gorion*, a person eminent in dignity, and on account of his family also… Nor did Niger of Peres escape their hands… so did they slay him” (Wars 4.6.1).

* The Gorion family was wealthy and well-known, and Nicodemus (John 3) was from this family. In Wars 2.17.10 Josephus specifically mentions “Gorion the son of Nicodemus.” In Wars 2.20.3 Josephus states that “Joseph the son of Gorion” was a governor of Jerusalem and one of the 10 generals for the war against Rome. A footnote for this section says,

“From this name of Joseph the son of Gorion, or Gorion the son of Joseph, as B. IV. ch. 3. sect. 9, one of the governors of Jerusalem, who was slain at the beginning of the tumults by the zealots…”

In Wars 4.3.9 we read about “Gorion the son of Josephus” growing tired of the Zealots and opposing them. The footnote above states that this is the same person. This makes sense because Josephus had already named Nicodemus as the actual father of Gorion. According to Martin Hengel, author of “The Zealots” (p. 367), Josephus had a habit of stating names differently and changing them around in his works.

Then in Wars 4.6.1 he speaks of the death of “Gorion” at the hands of the Zealots. As the footnote states, this must be the same Gorion (or “Joseph the son of Gorion”) mentioned just a little bit earlier in Wars 4.3.9.

In the October 1993 – January 1994 edition of the Jewish Quarterly Review (University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 189-208), Tal Ilan and Jonathan J. Price published an article titled “Seven Onomastic Problems in Josephus’ “Bellum Judaicum [Wars of the Jews]. Ilan and Price highlighted this same problem (#6) and seemed to come to the same conclusion.

So far, outside of Wars 4.6.1 and the footnote for Wars 2.20.3, I have been unable to find any other record of how or when Joseph ben Gorion, the governor of Jerusalem, died. If anyone has such information, please do share it. It would be good to have an even stronger confirmation that Josephus was speaking of the same person, despite the name getting switched around.

So, from the list of 10 generals (10 horns) above, the three horns who were killed by the Zealots were #1, #2, and #5. All three were killed in Jerusalem.

A Mouth Speaking Pompous Words (Daniel 7:8, 11, 20)

According to Daniel 7:8, 11, and 20, the little horn would speak “pompous words.” This likely corresponds with Revelation 13:5, which says that the beast “was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.” Concerning Eleazar ben Simon, Josephus says that he “was of a tyrannical temper” (Wars 2.20.3), but Josephus doesn’t seem to say much else about the way Eleazar spoke. Concerning John of Gischala, Josephus does include an example of John boasting and talking big. This was when John escaped from Gischala (of Galilee) when that city was captured by the Roman general Titus in November 67 AD:

“Now upon John’s entry into Jerusalem, the whole body of the people were in an uproar, and ten thousand of them crowded about every one of the fugitives that were come to them, and inquired of them what miseries had happened abroad, when their breath was so short, and hot, and quick, that of itself it declared the great distress they were in; yet did they talk big under their misfortunes, and pretended to say that they had not fled away from the Romans, but came thither in order to fight them with less hazard; for that it would be an unreasonable and a fruitless thing for them to expose themselves to desperate hazards about Gischala, and such weak cities, whereas they ought to lay up their weapons and their zeal, and reserve it for their metropolis. But when they related to them the taking of Gischala, and their decent departure, as they pretended, from that place, many of the people understood it to be no better than a flight; and especially when the people were told of those that were made captives, they were in great confusion, and guessed those things to be plain indications that they should be taken also. But for John, he was very little concerned for those whom he had left behind him, but went about among all the people, and persuaded them to go to war, by the hopes he gave them. He affirmed that the affairs of the Romans were in a weak condition, and extolled his own power. He also jested upon the ignorance of the unskillful, as if those Romans, although they should take to themselves wings, could never fly over the wall of Jerusalem, who found such great difficulties in taking the villages of Galilee, and had broken their engines of war against their walls.

These harangues of John’s corrupted a great part of the young men, and puffed them up for the war; but as to the more prudent part, and those in years, there was not a man of them but foresaw what was coming, and made lamentation on that account, as if the city was already undone; and in this confusion were the people” (Wars 4.3.1-2).

On this point, there seems to be more evidence pointing toward John as the little horn. As we consider all the points collectively, each reader can look at the evidence and decide whether Eleazar, John, or even another individual best fits the descriptions that Daniel was given.

In the next post, we will continue to look at Daniel 7 and other details concerning the little horn.

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All of the posts in this series can be found at this page.

Josephus and Revelation 6:5-6 (Wheat, Barley, Oil, and Wine)


Several days ago I presented nine case studies showing parallels between “The Wars of the Jews” by Josephus and the Book of Revelation. We noted that John wrote Revelation before the Jewish-Roman War of 66-73 AD, and that Josephus wrote “The Wars of the Jews” in 75 AD.

One person who listened to my presentation (Jeff Good) later pointed out two different parallels between Revelation 6:5-6 and “The Wars of the Jews.” I’d like to discuss that double parallel in this post.

When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come and see.’ And I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine’” (Rev. 6:5-6).

This description of the third seal is clearly about famine conditions, and it references a time when a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley would cost as much as the average worker earned in a day (a denarius). Consider this description by Josephus of the famine which took place around May 70 AD during the Roman siege of Jerusalem:

“Many there were indeed who sold what they had for one measure; it was of wheat, if they were of the richer sort; but of barley, if they were poorer. When these had so done, they shut themselves up in the inmost rooms of their houses, and ate the corn they had gotten; some did it without grinding it, by reason of the extremity of the want they were in, and others baked bread of it, according as necessity and fear dictated to them: a table was nowhere laid for a distinct meal, but they snatched the bread out of the fire, half-baked, and ate it very hastily” (Wars 5.10.2).

So both John and Josephus spoke of the great difficulty that people had, during the famine of 70 AD, just to obtain wheat and barley. They had to spend a day’s wage, or sell all that they had, just to obtain one measure. Notice that both John and Josephus singled out these same two food items.

As another listener, Chad Kennow, pointed out, by July 70 AD the famine conditions in Jerusalem became so bad that a mother cooked and ate her own child. Her name was Mary of Bethezub, and her story is recorded in Wars 6.3.4. This fulfilled what Deuteronomy 28:53, 56-57 said would happen to a perverse generation (Deut. 32:20) during a siege in Israel’s latter days (Deut. 31:29).

Josephus also described a sacrilegious act involving oil and wine. It was carried out by one of the Zealot leaders, John Levi of Gischala:

“But as for John, when he could no longer plunder the people, he betook himself to sacrilege, and melted down many of the sacred utensils, which had been given to the temple; as also many of those vessels which were necessary for such as ministered about holy things, the caldrons, the dishes, and the tables; nay, he did not abstain from those pouring vessels that were sent them by Augustus and his wife; for the Roman emperors did ever both honor and adorn this temple; whereas this man, who was a Jew, seized upon what were the donations of foreigners, and said to those that were with him, that it was proper for them to use Divine things, while they were fighting for the Divinity, without fear, and that such whose warfare is for the temple should live of the temple; on which account he emptied the vessels of that sacred wine and oil, which the priests kept to be poured on the burnt-offerings, and which lay in the inner court of the temple, and distributed it among the multitude, who, in their anointing themselves and drinking, used [each of them] above an hin of them” (Wars 5.13.6).

So one of the four living creatures in John’s vision said, “Do not harm the oil and the wine,” and Josephus recorded how a Zealot leader abused the “sacred wine and oil” used by the priests for their work in the temple.

In summary, here is a simple chart showing these two parallels between Josephus and Revelation 6:5-6.

John (Revelation)

Josephus (The Wars of the Jews)

“A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius…” (Revelation 6:6). “Many there were indeed who sold what they had for one measure; it was of wheat, if they were of the richer sort; but of barley, if they were poorer…” (Wars 5.10.2).
“…and do not harm the oil and the wine…” (Revelation 6:6). “…he betook himself to sacrilege… he emptied the vessels of that sacred wine and oil…” (Wars 5.13.6).

Ten Case Studies So Far

With this new case study on Revelation 6:5-6 added (#3 below), here’s an updated chart comparing Josephus and the Book of Revelation:

Case Study  Reference by John  Reference by Josephus  Approximate Date(s)
 #1  Revelation 6:4
 (2nd Seal)
Civil War: Wars 4.3.2
Sword: Wars 2.18.34.4.3,

4.5.35.8.1, and 5.10.1.
August 66 AD;
Feb./ March 68 AD;

May 70 AD
#2  Revelation 6:5-6

 (3rd Seal)

Wars 5.10.2

Wars 5.13.6

May 70 AD
 #3  Revelation 6:15-16
 (6th Seal)
Wars 6.7.3 August 70 AD
 #4  Revelation 8:7-9
 (1st and 2nd Trumpets)
Wars 3.4.1
Wars 3.9.3
Wars 3.10.9
March – August 67 AD
 #5  Revelation 9:13-16
 (6th Trumpet)
Wars 4.4.2 February 68 AD
 #6  Revelation 11:7-13
 (6th Trumpet)
Wars 4.4.5
Wars 4.5.1-2
February 68 AD
 #7  Revelation 16:3-6
 (2nd and 3rd Bowls)
Wars 4.7.5-6 April-May 68 AD
 #8  Revelation 16:19
 (7th Bowl)
Cities of the nations fell:
Wars 3 (Galilee)
Wars 4.7 (Perea)
Wars 4.9 (Idumea & Judea)
Jerusalem divided:
Wars 5.1.1 and 5.1.4
(67 AD)
(Spring 68 AD)
Mid-68 AD – 69 ADDecember  69 AD
 #9  Revelation 16:21
 (7th Bowl)
Wars 5.6.3 May 70 AD
 #10  Revelation 17:12-17 Wars 2.20.3-4 Dec. 66 AD – Aug. 70 AD

The other nine case studies can be seen in this post.

PP17: The Historical Events Leading Up to 70 AD (Part 1)


This is now the seventeenth post in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. All the previous posts can be found here, and it’s recommended that they be read in order before reading this post:

[1] Brief Explanation of Preterism
[2] References
[3] External Evidence for An Early Date for the Writing of Revelation
[4] Internal Evidence for An Early Date for the Writing of Revelation (Part 1)
[5] Internal Evidence for An Early Date for the Writing of Revelation (Part 2)
[6] Internal Evidence for An Early Date for the Writing of Revelation (Part 3)
[7] Internal Evidence for An Early Date for the Writing of Revelation (Part 4)
[8] Daniel’s 70 Week Prophecy (Part 1)
[9] Daniel’s 70 Week Prophecy (Part 2)
[10] Jerusalem’s Destruction Foretold in the Olivet Discourse
[11] Did Jesus Come in 70 AD? (Part 1)
[12] Did Jesus Come in 70 AD? (Part 2)
[13] Signs of the Close of the Age
[14] Abomination of Desolation
[15] The Man of Lawlessness – II Thessalonians 2 (Part 1)
[16] The Man of Lawlessness – II Thessalonians 2 (Part 2)

We will now turn to a discussion of the historical events which led up to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD. In this first post we will see a fascinating timeline of these events, beginning with the martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus. It’s not really practical to break up this timeline, so take a deep breath because this will be the longest post yet.

Adam Maarschalk

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G. The Historical Events Leading Up to 70 AD (Part 1)

A number of historical events belonging to this time period have already been enumerated in previous sections, but here further details will be added. Some are of a gory nature, but it should be remembered that one purpose of this judgment was to advance the kingdom of God. Jesus said as much in Luke 21:31 when He stated, “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” John Wesley, in his commentary on this passage, said, “The destruction of the Jewish city, temple, and religion” occurred in order “to make way for the advancement of [God’s] kingdom” (Todd Dennis [10], 2009).

In order to see a basic framework for the historical events leading up to 70 AD, the following is a timeline derived from dates given by Josephus (Todd Dennis [11], 2009),[1] and combined with information from sources referenced in this paper. Some commentary is included, as well as related Scripture references as inferred by Preterist sources:

DATE EVENT(S)
62 AD James, the brother of Jesus, is martyred in Jerusalem. According to Hegesippus [110-180 AD], the Scribes and Pharisees confronted James and said to him, “We entreat thee, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christ.” However, James used his last words on earth to say, “Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.” At that statement, James was thrown off the temple and stoned to death. The believers among the crowd, seeing and hearing his testimony, shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” This prompted the Pharisees to say, “We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus.”
Late 62 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.
June 64 Nero reportedly sets fire to Rome, watching the “beauty of the flames” with delight from Mecena’s Tower while dressed in actor’s clothes and singing of the destruction of Troy. When he is pinned down as guilty by rumors, he places the blame for this fire on the Christians.
November 64 Nero launches an imperial persecution against Christians throughout the empire, and against anyone who would not declare allegiance to him. This proves to be the first and the most intense persecution in Rome’s history. Some are covered with the skins of wild beasts and sent into arenas to be torn apart by dogs, while others are crucified. Many others are burned, their bodies first clothed with pitch, paper, and wax, and then fastened to stakes through their throats. At night their bodies are lit up as torches to give light, especially to provide light in Nero’s garden so that he could put on circus shows. This time of persecution lasts until Nero’s death in June 68, a period of 42 months (cf. Revelation 13:5-7).
65 The elaborate temple renovations begun by Herod the Great in 20 BC are finally completed.
Spring 66 Cestius Gallus reports to Nero on the strength and status of Jerusalem. On Passover 256,500 sacrifices were made, so based on estimates of how many individuals were fed by each lamb Gallus reports that 2.7 million were present for the feast.
April 66 [1] On the 8th day of Nisan, when great crowds are gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a tremendous light begins to shine around “the altar and the holy house.” This happens at 3:00 AM, lasting for half an hour, and it appears to be “bright day time.” Many interpret this to be a good sign, perhaps God’s favor. [2] At this same festival, a heifer, led by the (false and blasphemous) high priest to be sacrificed, suddenly gives birth to a lamb in the midst of the temple. [3] One night at midnight the eastern gate of the inner court of the temple opens of its own accord. This gate, made of very heavy brass, normally requires the strength of 20 men to open and shut it, and it “had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor.” Writes Josephus, “This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness.” [4] A few days after the feast, seen and recorded by multiple witnesses, just before sunset “chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor are seen running about among the clouds,” surrounding the cities.
June 66 At the Feast of Pentecost, the priests who are going at night into the inner court of the temple to perform the sacred duties feel a quaking and hear a great noise. Then they hear “a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence.’”
Fall 66 [1] Zealots and Revolutionaries (against Rome) take control of the Jerusalem temple. [2] The Jewish/Roman War begins in October with a revolt at Caesarea due to a group of Greeks sacrificing birds in front of a local synagogue. The revolt occurred because the Jews were frustrated that the local Roman garrison did not intervene. [3] The High Priest successfully leads a massacre of the Roman garrison stationed in Jerusalem, the 12th Legion led by Cestius Gallus of Syria. [4] The Romans in Caesarea slaughter 20,000 Jews. [5] About 13,000 more Jews are put to death in Damascus, Syria.
Late 66/Early 67 [1] Cestius Gallus, the Roman governor of Syria, takes the Twelfth Legion to put down the Jewish rebellion. He plunders and burns the city of Zebulon in Galilee, then moves south to surround Jerusalem. He arrives when most of Judea is gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. Surprisingly, his army is defeated and driven away, with the Romans suffering about 5700 deaths. This gives many Jews confidence that they could overcome any Roman army, and the moderates who advocated maintaining peace with Rome are scorned all the more. [2] Thousands of Christian believers, however, recalling the warnings Jesus gave (e.g. Luke 21:20-21, Matthew 24:15-20-23, Mark 13:14-18), and also collectively being instructed by a divine oracle, flee to Pella beyond the Jordan River.*** It’s recorded that not one single believer perished in the siege that would come later. [3] The Jews cease to offer prayers and sacrifices at the temple for Nero, the Roman Emperor.
Early February 67 Rome officially declares war on Israel, and Nero formally commissions Vespasian as his general to lead this war (Revelation 6:2).
Early spring 67 Vespasian marches into Judea with an army of 60,000 men. At least 150,000 Jewish inhabitants of Galilee and Judea are killed in the coming months. Josephus describes Galilee at one point as “filled with fire and blood,” and writes that the sea turned to blood near Joppa after a brutal slaughter there, recording also that the Sea of Galilee was filled with dead bodies.
June 29, 67 Paul the Apostle is beheaded in Rome on this day, according to Chrysostom and later records of the eastern and western church. Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, affirms in a letter that Peter is martyred with him, crucified upside down as Christ had foretold (John 21:18-19).
August 67 Josephus is captured by the Romans when Yotapata falls. He surrenders, thus receiving the label of traitor by the Zealots. Josephus is held in Caesaria until 69 AD, and returns with Titus to Jerusalem in 70 AD as an eye-witness to the final siege there.
Fall/Winter 67 Civil War breaks out in Judea between the revolutionaries and those who want peace with Rome. Jerusalem is eventually divided into three factions led by [1] Eleazar, who was over the Zealots [2] John of Gischala, who was over the Galileans, and [3] Simon, who was over the Idumeans. It remains this way until the city is destroyed.[2] Numerous earthquakes occur at this time..
November 67 [1] Gischala was the last city in all of Galilee to be taken by Vespasian and his son, Titus, because it was a farming community. However, John, who was fond of war and most corrupt, had built a wall around it. When Titus arrived with 1000 horsemen, John pretended that he cared about honoring the Sabbath day and persuaded Titus to retreat until the Sabbath was over. However he escaped during the night with all the armed men and many families. The next day Titus the remaining inhabitants came out of the city and embraced Titus as if he was a deliverer, so their lives were spared but they were taken captive. Titus could not catch John before he reached Jerusalem, so in his anger he slew 6000 of the women and children who had followed behind him in the escape. [2] John of Gischala, the enemy of Josephus, arrives in Jerusalem with numerous followers; he proves to be a false prophet as he repeatedly assures everyone that Rome lacks the power to take Jerusalem. He is also the cause of much division and fighting.
Winter 67/68 [1] Guerilla groups make their way to Jerusalem and are welcomed by the populace; [2] Relatives of King Agrippa and other Royalists are executed by the Zealots for supposed treason; [3] The Zealots appoint their own High Priest, Phannias, annulling the previous succession of the high priesthood. Phannias, in the months to come, commits what, to Judaism, are lawless acts of false worship. [4] The people are incited to rebel against the Zealots by prominent men (including Ananus, the former High Priest), but the Zealots, hearing of the plan, strike first. When the people retaliate much bloodshed occurs and the Zealots fall back into the Inner Court and bar themselves inside. [5] Certain Zealot leaders escape and, using deceitful means, persuade 20,000 Idumeans to march on Jerusalem.  [6] The Idumeans are kept shut outside the city gates, but a verbal war ensues. Overnight a terrible storm takes place, along with a great earthquake, which Josephus described as “amazing concussions and bellowing of the earth” (Wars 4.4.5). Certain Zealots take advantage of the awful noise to cut through the gates unnoticed. The Idumeans enter, and the Zealots fight from within, and by daybreak 8,500 are dead. The outer temple is said to be “overflowing with blood.” Houses are then looted and their inhabitants killed. The corpses are cast outside the city without burial.
February 68 [1] The Zealots and Idumeans murder 12,000 of their opponents who will not join them, including Ananus and Jesus son of Gamaliel, two former High Priests who had been popular with many people. The Idumeans discover that they were duped by John of Gischala numerous times and decide to leave Jerusalem. Unchecked, the Zealots continue to murder all possible opponents and persons of authority. [2] Vespasian of Rome decides not to attack Jerusalem yet, giving time for the dissension to weaken its inhabitants first. [3] The Zealots ridicule “every dictate of religion” and “scoffed at the oracles of the [Old Testament] prophets as impostor’s tales.” [4] Simon, son of Gioras, leaves Masada, gains a following, and comes to Jerusalem to “proclaim liberty for the slaves and rewards for the free.”
Feb./March 68 Vespasian attacks Gadara before moving on toward Jerusalem.
March/April 68 The Sicarii (assassins) at Masada conduct raids on Judea, including a Passover attack on En Gedi.
June 68 [1] Vespasian reaches the walls of Jerusalem. [2] Nero’s reign ends when he commits suicide. Vespasian, unnerved by this news, loosens his grip on Jerusalem. He is forced to return to Rome to deal with the outbreaks of civil war there. Numerous false prophets in Jerusalem and Judea proclaim God’s favor and deliverance for the Jews. [3] The “Year of Four Emperors” begins, as Nero is succeeded by Galba, Ortho, Vitellius, and finally Vespasian. Rome is in political disarray during this time and teeters on the brink of total collapse. [4] Simon takes control of parts of Judea and clashes with the Zealots. With 20,000 troops he overcomes Idumaea, takes Hebron and begins to ravage the country. When his wife is kidnapped by the Zealots, he attacks Jerusalem in a rage until they give her back.
April 69 Simon drives many Idumean refugees back into Jerusalem.
Spring 69 [1] The Galilean followers of John dress like women (probably during the festival of Purim) and “indulge themselves in feminine wantoness,” while attacking men at random and running them through with swords kept under their gowns. [2] The Idumeans gather together against John and his followers, but the Zealots rush to John’s defense. [3] The chief priests, Idumaeans, and the wealthy in Jerusalem invite Simon to Jerusalem to overthrow John, and Simon is hailed as “their Savior and Protector.” [4] Simon becomes the Master of Jerusalem and attacks the Zealots in the temple. The part of the temple deemed as the Holy Court is filled with lakes of blood and dead carcasses.
June 69 Vespasian resumes his attack on Judea and Jerusalem, retaking areas conquered by Simon as he makes his advance.
Summer 69 A star and a comet, both resembling a sword, appear over the city of Jerusalem, and remain there stationary for a full year, until Jerusalem’s destruction is final.
December 69 [1] Vespasian is declared Emperor in Rome. He dispatches his son Titus to crush Jerusalem. [2] Eleazar the son of Simon breaks from the Zealots, and takes over the Inner temple, planting weapons on top of the gates. [3] The parties of Eleazar, Simon, and John exchange missile fire, making victims of the “worshippers who still come to the Temple from all corners of the Earth,” and “the blood of all manner of corpses formed pools in the courts of God.” [4] John of Gischala foolishly sets fire to the supply warehouses, and nearly all the grain supplies are burned, which would have lasted the city for years. This sets up a massive famine that will prove to be Jerusalem’s undoing. [5] As Titus advances on Jerusalem with four legions of the Roman army (more than 80,000 men), some of the Jews launch successful guerilla warfare-type attacks on his men, attacking quickly and then retreating. [6] Titus arrives and camps with his army at the Mount of Olives. The factions in Jerusalem temporarily stop fighting, only to resume later while under the final siege.
April 70 [1] Titus suddenly closes in on Jerusalem and the final siege of begins in full fury, 40 years to the week from the crucifixion of Christ, according to Josephus. This siege is to last for five months. Many had come up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and were unable to escape because they were trapped by the Roman armies. [2] The 10th Legion of the Romans begins to launch white boulders as heavy as 100 pounds over the city walls into Jerusalem. They are cast by catapults from Roman engines from a distance of up to two furlongs (a quarter mile) away. Josephus records that the watchmen on the wall, if they saw them coming, would shout, “The Son cometh!”[3] After a while the Romans learned to blacken the stones so that they couldn’t as easily be detected, and thus many were crushed by these stones. [3] Jesus, the son of Ananus, is killed by a large stone flung from one of the Roman engines. He had loudly and repeatedly prophesied Jerusalem’s destruction throughout the city for seven years and five months. 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!”
April 10-14, 70 The Roman armies, situated some distance outside of Jerusalem, begin leveling the ground between them and the city walls. This is completed in four days.
Mid-late April 70 The Romans begin to bombard the city with missiles, shot from their siege towers. Titus begins to pound the third (outer) wall with his battering rams.
April 29, 70 One of the Roman battering rams breaches the third wall.
May 25, 70 The Romans completely bypass the third wall and capture the New City northwest of the temple.
May/June 70 [1] The Romans bypass the second wall; the Jews retreat behind the first wall. [2] Titus divides his army and they try to attack the first wall and the Fortress of Antonia at the same time, but fail. [3] Within three days Titus and his army cast a trench around Jerusalem, and the entire city is enclosed with a new wall, nine miles in length. All available timber within a 10-mile radius around Jerusalem is used, and the entire area is stripped bare of foliage. [4] Titus challenges the Jewish fanatics to let the citizens go, promising that they would receive their houses back in time, but the fanatics instead begin to execute any caught discussing the idea of surrender. Their bodies are mutilated and thrown over the wall to the Romans. [5] Titus, making his rounds, sees the valleys full of dead bodies and groans with his hands spread toward the sky, calling heaven as a witness that these deaths were not his doing but “were the sad case of the city itself.”
Summer 70 [1] In the city, dead bodies are piled up in heaps, the result of famine and civil war. Some of the mansion houses are used as body depositories. The stench of decomposing bodies fills the city. [2] Robbers plunder the city houses at will, thrusting some of the starving ones through with their swords for sheer pleasure. However, writes Josephus, those who asked to be killed in order to escape their misery were laughed at and left alone to suffer. Most of them died with their eyes fixed on the temple, as if they hoped until the end that the temple itself could save them. [3] During the siege many desperate Jews tried to escape Jerusalem, mostly men who left behind their wives and children thinking they alone could escape unnoticed. However, writes Josephus (Jewish Wars, Book 5, Chapter 6), they were caught by the thousands, whipped, tortured by various means, and crucified just outside the city walls at a rate of 500 crucifixions per day. Titus took pity on these victims, but didn’t interfere because he hoped that the inhabitants (who could see this going on) would surrender in order to avoid a similar fate. In the end, being that there weren’t enough crosses and scarcely room for all of them in any case, more than one Jew was often nailed to the same cross.
Late June/July 70 [1] The Romans breach part of the first (inner) wall with their battering rams, but discover to their dismay that the rebel forces under John have built another inner wall behind it. [2] The Romans take their fight all the way to the temple gates, but meet fierce resistance and are forced to retreat. [3] On July 18th, the Jews set a fire trap in the walkway connecting the temple and the Fortress of Antonia. These Jews pretend to retreat, luring the Roman soldiers into the walkway and into the fire trap. Many Roman troops are burned.
July 22, 70 [1] The Fortress of Antonia falls to Titus. [2] Around this time (the 17th of Tammuz) the daily sacrifice of the Jews fails, as recorded by Josephus in Wars, VI, 2.1., greatly troubling the Jewish people: “[T]he last lamb was gone and not even a handful of flour was left in the city. Thus the sacrifice ended and the fire on the altar was extinguished.”
July 29, 70 Earthworks are completed, and Titus and his troops approach the temple outer courtyard from the west. The Romans try to scale the temple walls with ladders, but fail. As a last resort, Titus orders his troops to set fire to the temple gates, but to spare the temple itself. [2] Since the time of the initial invasion and withdrawal of Cestius Gallus at the end of 66 AD, a time period of roughly three years and seven months has transpired, or 1,290 days if each year is reckoned as 360 days (cf. Daniel 12:12).
August 10, 70 [1] The Romans burn the gates and enter the temple courtyards. Despite the orders of Titus to spare the temple, it is burnt to the ground on the exact same day and month as the previous temple had been burnt by the Babylonians in 586 BC (Josephus, Antiquities 2.11.8). The flames are so great that from a distance, the entire city of Jerusalem appears to be on fire. [2] Old Covenant Judaism ceases to be intact from this point forward. History records that Judaism has never been the same since, and that religious Jews, having no central temple, have ever since been unable to obey the stipulations which required the presence of the temple. [3] Surviving Jews flee the temple and go into the city to continue the fight from there or to search for hiding places. [4] The victorious Romans carry the idolatrous standards of their legions into the temple courtyards and make sacrifices to them there.
Aug/Sept 70 [1] Surviving Jews retreat to the Upper City of Jerusalem, where many continue to plunder, ambush, and assault their fellow Jews. The victims are too weakened by famine to resist, and quite a few are killed senselessly. Josephus tries to persuade them to surrender to the Romans and spare what is left of the city, but he is laughed at. Josephus records that some put on happy faces “in expectation, as they said, of death to end their miseries.” [2] Many Jews seek refuge in the caves and underground caverns, hoping to remain hidden once the Romans would reach the Upper City. However, Josephus records: “This was no better than a dream of theirs; for they were not able to lie hid either from God or from the Romans” (cf. Revelation 6:15-17). [3] The Romans burn the Lower City, assault Herod’s Palace, and prepare to enter the Upper City. They are once again forced to build earth ramps, which are completed on August 27. The next day the whole city is burning. Josephus estimates the death toll in Jerusalem to be 1,197,000. Most of the surviving Jews are sold into international slavery (cf. Luke 21:24), a total of 97,000.
September 14, 70 [1] With all resistance ended, and cleanup complete, Titus leaves Jerusalem for Caesarea. [2] Since the time of the initial invasion and withdrawal of Cestius Gallus, a time period of three years, eight months, and 15 days has transpired, or 1,335 days (cf. Daniel 12:12).
Late 70-Early 73 [1] Those who had managed to escape from Jerusalem during its final overthrow create pockets of resistance around the Dead Sea areas, including at the hill fortress of Masada. [2] Titus throws two birthday parties, one for his brother (Domitian) and one for his father. As entertainment, Jewish captives are forced to fight beasts or each other, and others are burnt. At least 2500 are killed in this manner in the first party, and an even greater “multitude” in the second party.
April 8, 73 Masada is taken by the Romans and the last of the Jewish refugees, 960 individuals, commit mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans. This is accomplished by the men first killing their own wives and children, then killing all but 10 among themselves, according to the lots they had cast. Nine of the final 10 are killed by one last man, who sets fire to the palace and then plunges himself through with a sword. This account is related to Josephus by two woman who survive by hiding inside a cistern with five children.
May 20, 73 The last of the territories of Israel is sold off, leaving no trace of the Jewish homeland, its territories, or its temple in Jewish hands. Since the initial invasion and withdrawal of Cestius Gallus, a time period of just over six years and four months has transpired (cf. Daniel 8:14, regarding “2,300 evenings and mornings”).

[1] One of the best sources containing the complete works of Josephus, including his “War of the Jews” and “Antiquities of the Jews,” can be found in the translated work of William Whiston, located here: http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/JOSEPHUS.HTM. A chronology based on Josephus’ writings has been compiled by G. J. Goldberg and can be seen here: http://www.josephus.org/warChronologyIntro.htm.

[2] Kurt Simmons (2009 [2]) sees this fact as a fulfillment of Revelation 16:19; “The great city was split into three parts…”

[3] J. Stuart Russell, in his 1878 book titled The Parousia, offers this explanation (p. 482): “It could not but be well known to the Jews that the great hope and faith of the Christians was the speedy coming of the Son. It was about this very time, according to Hegesippus [110-180 AD], that St. James, the brother of our Lord, publicly testified in the temple that ‘the Son of man was about to come in the clouds of heaven,’ and then sealed his testimony with his blood [in 62 AD]. It seems highly probable that the Jews, in their defiant and desperate blasphemy, when they saw the white mass hurtling though the air, raised the ribald cry, ‘The Son is coming,’ in mockery of the Christian hope of the Parousia” (Todd Dennis [23], 2009).

***The timing of this event is based on the testimonies of Eusebius (263-339 AD) and Remigius (437-533 AD), who said that the Christians dwelling in Jerusalem and the surrounding regions fled to Pella beyond the Jordan “on the approach of the Roman army” (See post 14 entitled, “Abomination of Desolation”). There are some who suggest that the believers may not have fled during the first approach of the Roman army in late 66/early 67 AD, but rather during the Roman army’s second approach in 69/70 AD. They note correctly that Vespasian, having swept through Galilee and Judea and having closed in on Jerusalem by early 68 AD, upon learning of Nero’s death in 68 AD then retreated to Rome to deal with the sudden civil war there. It was then his son, Titus, who led the Roman army’s second march toward Jerusalem, arriving by April 70 AD. The contention is that the last of the believers may have only fled during this second approach led by Titus.

PP16: The Man of Lawlessness (II Thess. 2) Part 2


This is now the sixteenth post in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. All the previous posts can be found here, and it’s recommended that they be read in order before reading this post:

[1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/brief-explanation-of-partial-preterism/
[2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp2-references/
[3] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp3-external-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation/
[4] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp4-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-1/
[5] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp5-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-2/
[6] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp6-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-3/
[7] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp7-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-4/
[8] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp8-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-1/
[9] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp9-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-2/
[10] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp10-jerusalems-destruction-foretold-in-the-olivet-discourse/
[11] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp11-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-1/
[12] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp12-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-2/
[13] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp13-signs-of-the-close-of-the-age/
[14] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp14-abomination-of-desolation/
[15] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp15-the-man-of-lawlessness-ii-thess-2-part-1/

In the last post we turned to a discussion of the man of lawlessness spoken of in II Thessalonians 2. This  is a two-part study in which we are considering the relevance to the first-century Church of Paul’s prediction of a coming man of lawlessness and a rebellion to the first-century Church. We’re also considering the identity of this man of sin.

Adam Maarschalk

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F. The Man of Lawlessness (II Thessalonians 2) [Part 2]

Regarding the identity of the man of lawlessness, also known as the “man of sin” and the “son of perdition,” there has been no end of speculation in history. Aside from 20th and 21st century figures, and various Catholic Popes, more than one 1st century personality has also been tagged as the man of lawlessness. Not all Preterists assume that the man of lawlessness and the beast of Revelation are one and the same. One reason for this is because of the language used in II Thess. 2:4, which says that the man of lawlessness “opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” Nero, who is generally regarded within Preterism as the beast of Revelation, certainly proclaimed himself to be God, but some question whether he was the man of sin because he is not known to have physically entered into the Jerusalem temple.

On the other hand, some have interpreted the phrase “temple of God” to refer to the Church (e.g. Ephesians 2:11-22) rather than to any physical temple. In other words, the man of lawlessness would attempt to usurp the place of God as the object of supreme worship within the Church. This Nero did, of course, but this alone perhaps isn’t proof that Paul wasn’t referring to a physical temple. He could just as well have been referring to the physical temple which still stood in his day, that is, except for one other point of truth. God had already rejected that temple as His own. As Jesus said, “See, your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Keeping this statement by Jesus in mind, why would God then refer to the Jerusalem temple as the “temple of God”? This interpretation then, of a spiritual temple rather than a physical one, has solid ground to stand upon. Kurt Simmons points out that similar language to that used by Paul is used in the Old Testament, as in this instance regarding the prince of Tyre: “Thus says the Lord God: Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas…’” (Ezekiel 28:2).

Dispensationalism is surely wrong in saying that Paul had in mind a physical temple which, in our time, has not yet been rebuilt. For one thing, the Thessalonian believers had the ability to know from Jesus’ own prophecies that the temple they were acquainted with would be destroyed in their generation (Matthew 23:29-24:1, 24:3, 24:34; Luke 19:41-44, Luke 21:5-33, etc.). How strange it would have been for them to consider that this temple would later be replaced for the purpose of granting a momentary seat to a lawless individual, one whom they didn’t need to be concerned about because he was generations away from appearing. Also, as noted earlier, any future temple which may still be rebuilt for the purpose of resuming Old Covenant sacrifices would in no sense be God’s temple, but would be the ultimate symbol of apostasy and an outright rejection of Christ. It’s a tragedy that many believers today are passionate about seeing such a project come to pass in modern Israel, even to the point of sending millions of dollars to see it happen.

Nero does seem to have been the candidate of choice, though, among many early church writers, as the man of lawlessness spoken of by Paul. Aside from Victorino and Augustine, Chrysostom (347-407 AD) also wrote: “‘For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work.’ He speaks here of Nero… But he did not also wish to point him out plainly: and this not from cowardice, but instructing us not to bring upon ourselves unnecessary enmities, when there is nothing to call for it” (Kurt Simmons [2] , 2009). Lactantius (260-330 AD), embracing the viewpoint that by “temple of God” Paul was referring to the Church, said that Nero became enraged by the “faithful and steadfast temple of the Lord” built through the evangelism of Peter, Paul, and the early Church. So Nero “sprung forward to raze the heavenly temple and destroy the true faith” (emphasis added).

Aside from Claudius, the emperor who preceded Nero, another figure who has been suggested as the restrainer[1] is Ananus, the high priest who opposed the Zealot-led rebellion against Rome. He is seen to have restrained the Zealots as long as he was in his position. Within a couple months from the time he was removed from his position and replaced by Phannias, who was one of the Zealots’ own men, the Zealots and the Idumeans together slaughtered 12,000 Jews who would not join their cause. Around the same time, they also caused the temple to “overflow with blood” in one particular civil war in which 8,500 were killed in one night. This view either regards the Zealots as a corporate “lawless one,” or their leader, John of Gischala, as the man of lawlessness.

As will be seen in the final section, John led a faction in Jerusalem during the Roman/Jewish War which occupied the Jerusalem temple and turned it into a military fortress. John personally melted down the sacred temple vessels and dishes, poured out the wine and oil which was meant to be poured on the burnt-offerings, and caused the Jews to become drunk from the wine. His behavior provoked Josephus to exclaim that Jerusalem was more worthy of judgment than Sodom ever was, and that such madness was the true cause of the people’s destruction. This was terrible sacrilege from the standpoint of Judaism, of course, but the temple ceremonies were invalid in God’s eyes anyway because Christ had already gone to the cross. This view of Ananus as the restrainer and John and/or the Zealots as the “man of sin” seems highly unlikely, though, for the simple reason that there is no record of John or any of the other zealots claiming to be God. John also fails as the candidate for the man of lawlessness, in any case, because he survived the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and instead spent the rest of his life in a Roman prison. The true lawless one, Paul said, would be killed by the appearance of Christ’s coming in vengeance (II Thess. 1:8): “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of His mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of His coming” (II Thess. 2:8). Of this language, James Stuart Russell said:

In this significant expression we have a note of the time when the man of sin is destined to perish, marked with singular exactitude. It is the coming of the Lord, the Parousia, which is to be the signal of his destruction; yet not the full splendour of that event so much as the first appearance or dawn of it. Alford (after Bengel) very properly points out that the rendering ‘brightness of his coming’ should be ‘the appearance of his coming,’ and he quotes the sublime expression of Milton, —‘far off His coming shone.’ Bengel, with fine discrimination, remarks, ‘Here the appearance of His coming, or, at all events, the first glimmerings of His coming, are prior to the coming itself.’ This evidently implies that the man of sin was destined to perish, not in the full blaze of the Parousia, but at its first dawn or beginning. Now what do we actually find? Remembering how the Parousia is connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, we find that the death of Nero preceded the event. It took place in June A.D. 68, in the very midst of the Jewish war which ended in the capture and destruction of the city and the temple. It might therefore be justly said that ‘the appearance, or dawn, of the Parousia was the signal for the tyrant’s destruction (Todd Dennis [26], 2009).

David Lowman (2009 [1]) points out that the Greek word for the phrase “gathered together,” episunagoge, used in II Thess. 2:1, appears three times in the New Testament[2]: [1] in Matthew 24:31 (“…and He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”), [2] here in this passage, [3] and in Hebrews 10:25 (“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”). In each of these cases the term denotes the fellowship of believers or the gathering of the Church in terms of the spread of the gospel. Lowman notes that, where this term was used in the Olivet Discourse, it was the fall of the temple and Jerusalem that enabled the gospel to be released apart from infringement[3] by Jewish authorities. It also accomplished the official separation of Christians and Jews in the eyes of the Roman world.[4]

Before this gathering to Christ was to occur, there was one more event, not yet discussed in any detail, that Paul said had to happen first. There had to be a rebellion. David Lowman again comments:

The Greek word “apostasia” is used here. It can mean rebellion or falling away. Most modern translations have properly identified the proper usage as “rebellion.” This is not to be seen necessarily as a spiritual falling away, but rather a social or political rebellion. It is quite probable that Paul is making the argument that the Day of the Lord’s judgment against Judea will not happen until the rebellion of the zealots has already occurred. We know this began taking place some 15 years or so after the writing of this letter (David Lowman [2], 2009).

The Jewish rebellion against the Romans played a large role in ensuring that Jerusalem would be crushed. This and other related historical events will be examined in the following section.


[1] Dispensationalists often assert that the restrainer (II Thess. 2:6-7) is the Holy Spirit, who will be taken out of the way when the Rapture snatches away the Church before a future Tribulation. This creates a dilemma, though, because Dispensationalism also says that there will be a revival during the 7-year Tribulation Period led by 144,000 Jewish evangelists. It’s impossible that such a spiritual harvest, or any salvation at all, could be accomplished without the work of the Holy Spirit.

[2] It can be argued, though, that a different form of the same root (Greek) word is used several more times in other instances.

[3] Whether or not this interpretation is accepted, such infringement is certainly in view in I Thessalonians 2:14-16, where Paul says the Jews “oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last!”

[4] Some full preterists believe that this “gathering together” was a physical resurrection of Old Testament saints as well as the faithful who had died in Christ up until that point, as a parallel to Revelation 14:13 and Revelation 20:4-6.