Holy Temple Destruction - Jerusalem
The Biblical narrative revealed many instances of the temple, a most famous landmark in the city of Jerusalem, and the pride of the Jewish people, being plundered and destroyed through out the course of the nation’s history. The first book of kings’ chapter 14 alluded to invasion of the country by king Shishak of Egypt approximately 933 BC looting and pillaging the temple. Chapter fifteen of first kings gives evidence about Asa king of Judah, as he tried to form an alliance with Ben-Hadad king of Damascus against king Baasha of Israel around 900 BC. The second book of King chapter 12 gives record ofJehoash king of Judah around 825 BC raiding hi9s own temple in order to pay King Hazael of Damascus, who was besieging the city of Jerusalem. Around 790 BC King Joash of Israel looted the temple as well (2 Kings 14). The temple was looted again by King Ahaz of Judah, approximately 734 BC, in trying to persuade Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria to join him against Pekah King of Israel and Rezin II of Damascus (2 Kings 16). King Hezekiah of Judah, around 712 BC is also guilty of raiding the temple, to pay king Sennacherib of Assyria, who was besieging the city of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18). Chapter 24 of 2 Kings and chapter 36 of 2 Chronicles give evidence of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II looting the temple on two separate occasions approximately 597 BC, and 586 BC however, he utterly destroyed the temple. Nebuchadnezzar burned it and took all temple treasures to Babylon (2 Kings 25; 2 Chr. 36; Isaiah 64). Approximately 538 BCE, after fifty years of Babylonian captivity, the Persians became the dominant world ruling power. The Persian king Cyrus authorized Ezra and Nehemiah after him with others to return and rebuild the city and temple. After the return and the construction were completed Jerusalem once again became the capital City of Judah and the center of Jewish worship. However this was not the final episode in the life of the Jewish people, their city and their temple.
Daniel the prophet (chap 2-11), then prophesied many more earth shattering events taking place that would affect the people of Jerusalem, in interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’ dream of an image and the vision of animals. As fulfillment to this prophecy history records that the Babylonian kingdom was the first world ruling power, followed by the second world ruling power, the Medes and Persians, then the third world power the Greeks under ruler Alexander the Great. The Romans became the fourth dominant world ruling power after the Greeks Daniel’s prophecy and the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s image dream, coming to pass. The city of Jerusalem experienced one of their worst period in history under the third world power, the Grecian kingdom, surpassed only by the Romans. At the death of Alexander the Macedonian empire was split into separate kingdoms of four hostile generals. General Cassander ruled in Macedon, General Lysimachus ruled in Thrace, General Seleucus ruled in Mesopotamia and Persia, and General Ptolemy I Soter ruled in the Levant and Egypt. The city of Jerusalem fell under the realm of the Ptolemaic dynasty under General Ptolemy I ruling from Egypt. The city of Jerusalem and Judea was captured from General Ptolemy V by the Seleucids under Antiochus III, around 198 BC. Antiochus Epiphanes (so called) became ruler of the Seleucids Empire around 175BC and instantly stamped his authority issuing decrees and by bringing in Hellenistic policies. He removed the sitting High Priests of Jerusalem, and appointed a political stooge in his place. One such Antiochus decree forbid Jewish sacrifice, Sabbaths and feasts days were banned and circumcision outlawed around 167 BC. He ordered the erection of altars to Greek gods on Jewish holy sites and unclean animals forbidden to Jews worship were sacrificed on them. Antiochus ordered that a stature of Zeus be placed on the altar of the Temple, one of the biggest insults to Jewish pride and their God, and to add insult to injury he ruled that possession of the Jewish scriptures to be a criminal offence. The attempts to change the image of Jerusalem from a Jewish city to a Hellenized city-state under the Seleucid led by Antiochus Epiphanes came to a head in 168 BC. Known as the Maccabean revolt Mattathias the High Priest and his five sons raged guerrilla warfare against the Seleucid Empire defeating and driving out Antiochus and his army from the city. The Maccabean family with other Jews rebuilt and cleansed the temple, and reestablish Jerusalem as a Jewish capital.
The Roman influence took centre stage, becoming the dominant world force after the fall of the Greeks and seen by bible scholars as proof of prophecy being fulfilled. Daniels interpretation of the king’s dream representing the four world ruling kingdoms, of Babylon, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks and the Romans the last of the four would prove to be more vicious than all its predecessors. Archeologist, history and bible students agree on the accuracy of Scripture and Daniel’s prophetic delineation but, differ wildly on the specific dates which marked the important transitions between the powers. Around the 1st century BC, the expanding Roman nation absorbed the whole of the Eastern Mediterranean region, and its influence spread to parts of the Middle East, uniting with most of Europe and North Africa in a single political and economic building block. Strongly influencing areas not captured by the Empire and becoming the most powerful political and cultural component. The Latin culture spread into the regions, but the powerful Greek culture and language which was first established under the Macedonian Empire continued to dominate. Around the 6 BC, the city of Jerusalem, as well as much of the surrounding areas, came under Roman influence and Herod's descendants through king Agrippa II remained client kings of Judea until 96 AD. Under the Roman influence Herod (the great) 73BC – 4AD was installed as the Jewish king of Judea, and he devoted himself to developing and beautifying the city of Jerusalem. Herod built walls, towers and palaces, and expanded the Temple Mount, reinforcing the courtyard with blocks of stones, under his leadership the area of the Temple Mount doubled in size.
The Jews an independent minded people objected to Roman rule over Jerusalem and the region began to challenged them launching guerrilla warfare against them, known in history as the Great Jewish Revolt. This revolt resulted in the Second Temple being destroyed by Roman army general Titus in 70 AD. The series of Jewish revolts were seen as an objection to the intolerable conditions the people faced under the Romans. History records other revolts, i.e. (1) Jewish-Roman War (66–73) and (2) the Bar Kokhba revolt of (132-135) among others. However Hadrian 130 AD affected the most brutal changes, completely transforming the city to a Roman one, and renaming it “Aelia Capitolina” and banished all Jews. The Jews recaptured the city and Jerusalem once again served as the capital of Judea during the three-year rebellion (132-135AD), known as the Bar Kockhba revolt according to Josephus a Jewish historian. However in 135 AD, the Romans recaptured Jerusalem and as a punitive measure Hadrian banned the Jews from entering the city. Jerusalem was transformed entirely into a pagan city, and Hadrian took the decision to punish the rebellious Jews by renaming the entire Judean Province as “Syria Palaestina”. This name is from the Biblical “Philistines” and was Hadrian attempt to put a stop to any future rebellion and remove all Jewish influence over Jerusalem.
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