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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 24 - Verse 21

Verse 21. There shall be great tribulation. The word tribulation means calamity, or suffering. Lu 21:24 has specified in what this tribulation should consist. "They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled." That is, until the time allotted for the Gentiles to do it shall be fully accomplished; or as long as God is pleased to suffer them to do it.

The first thing mentioned by Luke is, that they should fall by the edge of the sword. That is, should be slain in war, as the sword was then principally used in war. This was most strikingly fulfilled. Josephus, in describing it, uses almost the very words of our Saviour. All the calamities, says he, which had befallen any nation from the beginning of the world, were but small in comparison with those of the Jews. Jewish Wars, book i., preface, § 4.

He has given the following account of one part of the massacre when the city was taken: "And now rushing into the city, they slew whomsoever they found, without distinction, and burnt the houses and all the people who had fled into them. And when they entered for the sake of plunder, they found whole families of dead persons, and houses full of carcasses destroyed by famine; then they came out with their hands empty. And though they thus pitied the dead, they had not the same emotion for the living, but killed all they met, whereby they filled the lanes with dead bodies. The whole city ran with blood, insomuch that many things which were burning were extinguished by the blood." Jewish Wars, book vi. chap. 8, § 5; chap. 9, § 2, 3. He adds, that in the siege of Jerusalem, not fewer than eleven hundred thousand perished (Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. 9, § 3)—a number almost as great as are in the whole city of London. In the adjacent provinces no fewer than two hundred and fifty thousand are reckoned to have been slain; making in all whose deaths were ascertained, the almost incredible number of one million three hundred and fifty thousand, who were put to death. These were not indeed all slain with the sword. Many were crucified. "Many hundreds," says he, (Jewish Wars, book vi. Chap. xi Chap. xi. §1) "were first whipped, then tormented with various kinds of tortures, and finally crucified: the Roman soldiers nailing them (out of the wrath and hatred they bore to the Jews) one after one way, and another after another, to crosses, by way of jest, until at length the multitude became so great that room was wanting for crosses, and crosses for the bodies." So terribly was their imprecation fulfilled—" His blood be on us, and on our children," Mt 27:25. If it be asked how it was possible for so many people to be slain in a single city, it is answered, that the siege of Jerusalem commenced during the time of the passover, it is estimated that more than three millions were usually assembled. See Josephus, Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. ix., § 3, 4.

A horrible instance of the distress of Jerusalem is related by Josephus. The famine during the siege became so great that they ate what the most sordid animals refused to touch. A woman of distinguished rank, having been plundered by the soldiers, in hunger, rage, and despair, killed and roasted her babe, and had eaten one half of him before the deed was discovered. Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. 3, § 3, 4. This cruel and dreadful act was also in fulfillment of prophecy, De 28:53,56,57.

 

Another thing added by Luke Lu 21:24) was, that "they should be led captive into all nations." Josephus informs us that the captives taken during the whole war amounted to ninety-seven thousand. The tall and handsome young men Titus reserved for triumph; of the rest, many were distributed through the Roman provinces, to be destroyed by wild beasts in theatres; many were sent to the works in Egypt; many, especially those under seventeen years of age, were sold for slaves. Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. 9,. §2,3.

{s} "For then shall be" Da 12:1

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