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Monday, February 15, 2016

Roman Destruction of 2nd Temple and Judeans

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                                                                                           
From 37 to 100 CE, the land of Judah had been occupied by the Romans.  Romans are about to attack Jerusalem in the picture above.   "When the Romans entered, they slaughtered many Jews  from 66 to 70 CE by putting most on the cross."  As the siege of Jerusalem began in the year 70, the Passover sacrifice was beginning to which naturally many thousands of pilgrims had arrived from all parts of the country.  The number of the besieged was then very great.  Among them were many from beyond the Euphrates and other foreign lands. 

1,100,000 men perished during the siege.  97,000 were taken captive and of these, only 40,000 were saved-all being citizens of Jerusalem.  The rest were sold as slaves.  Some were sent into the mines of Egypt.  Others were distributed among the provinces for the circuses.  The 40,000 found homes nearby and others headed in the direction of Rome, to continue onto France and Germany eventually.  
In the year of 71, Titus marched thousands of Judeans he took as slaves to Rome.  The Arch of Titus commemorates the event.  He became the Roman emperor from 79 to 81 CE.  As the son of Vespasian, he had taken over command of the Roman army in Judea from his father in the year 70, when the Romans burned down the beloved 2nd Temple of the Jews.  Then he destroyed Jerusalem after a 5 month long siege.  Jewish tradition is calling Titus "wicked."  His mistress was Bernice, a Judean princess.  Perhaps because of her, he didn't accede to the demand of the people of Antioch to abolish Jewish privileges there.  
Titus, son of Vespasian, took command of the army from his father in the year 70.
 Battering rams made little progress, but the fighting itself eventually set the walls on fire; a Roman soldier threw a burning stick onto one of the Temple's walls. Destroying the Temple was not among Titus' goals, possibly due in large part to the massive expansions done by Herod the Great mere decades earlier. Titus had wanted to seize it and transform it into a temple dedicated to the Roman Emperor and the Roman pantheon. The fire spread quickly and was soon out of control. The Temple was captured and destroyed on 9/10th of Tisha B'Av,at the end of August, and the flames spread into the residential sections of the city.  Josephus described the scene:Everywhere was slaughter and flight. Most of the victims were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, butchered wherever they were caught. Round the Altar the heaps of corpses grew higher and higher, while down the Sanctuary steps poured a river of blood and the bodies of those killed at the top slithered to the bottom.
Showing  his triumph held in 71 for his successful Sack of Jerusalem.
Details easier to see in black and white.  The seven-branched menorah and trumpets are clearly depicted. It became a symbol of the Jewish diasporaIn a later era, Pope Paul IV made it the place of a yearly oath of submission. Until the modern State of Israel was founded in 1948, many Jews refused to walk under it due to a rabbinical prohibition.  The menorah depicted on the Arch served as the model for the menorah used on the emblem of the state of Israel

The Arch of Titus in Rome was erected by the Senate in honor of Vespasian and Titus.  The present one we can see in Rome dates from the reign of Dimitian who reigned from 81 to 96 CE.  The original structure did not survive till then.

 It shows the goddess of victory crowning Titus.  The march of Jewish captives bearing the Temple vessels, the shewbread table, 7-branched candlesticks and the trumpet; the Jordan River and the sacrificial procession is seen in the Arch.
By the year 72, Vespasian, Roman emperor from 69 to 79,  took 12,,000 Jews as slaves from Judah to Rome to build the Colosseum under himself.  Nero had sent him in 67 to subdue the Judean rebellion and by 68, he had conquered the Galilee, Transjordan and the Judean coast before suspending operations after receiving the news of Nero's death.  Then in 69 he was emperor!  The campaign was ended by his son. 

The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia