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Chapter VII.—The Predictions of Christ.
1. It is fitting to add to these accounts the true prediction of our Saviour in which he foretold these very events.
2. His words are as follows:644644 Matt. xxiv. 19–21 “Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day. For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
3. The historian, reckoning the whole number of the slain, says that eleven hundred thousand persons perished by famine and sword,645645 Josephus, B. J. Bk. VI. chap. 9, §3. Josephus simply says that the whole number of those that perished during the siege was 1,100,000; he does not specify the manner of their death. On the accuracy of the numbers which he gives, see above, chap. 5, note 13. and that the rest of the rioters and robbers, being betrayed by each other after the taking of the city, were slain.646646 Ibid.§2. But the tallest of the youths and those that were distinguished for beauty were preserved for the triumph. Of the rest of the multitude, those that were over seventeen years of age were sent as prisoners to labor in the works of Egypt,647647 εἰς τὰ κατ᾽ ῎Αιγυπτον žργα. The works meant are the great stone quarries of Egypt (commonly called the mines of Egypt), which furnished a considerable part of the finest marble used for building purposes in Rome and elsewhere. The quarries were chiefly in the hands of the Roman government, and the work of quarrying was done largely by captives taken in war, as in the present case. while still more were scattered through the provinces to meet their death in the theaters by the sword and by beasts. Those under seventeen years of age were carried away to be sold as slaves, and of these alone the number reached ninety thousand.648648 Josephus does not say that the number of those sold as slaves was upward of 90,000, as Eusebius asserts, but simply (ibid. §3) that the number of captives taken during the whole war was 97,000, a number which Eusebius, through an error, applies to the one class of prisoners that were sold as slaves.
4. These things took place in this manner in the second year of the reign of Vespasian,649649 In B. J. Bk. VI. 8. 5 and 10. 1 Josephus puts the completion of the siege on the eighth of the month Elul (September), and in the second passage he puts it in the second year of Vespasian. Vespasian was proclaimed emperor in Egypt July 1, 69, so that Sept. 8 of his second year would be Sept. 8, a.d. 70. (Cf. Schürer, N. T. Zeitgesch. p. 347.) in accordance with the prophecies of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who by divine power saw them beforehand as if they were already present, and wept and mourned according to the statement of the holy evangelists, who give the very words which he uttered, when, as if addressing Jerusalem herself, he said:650650 Luke xix. 42–44
5. “If thou hadst known, even thou, in this day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a rampart about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee and thy children even with the ground.”
6. And then, as if speaking concerning the people, he says,651651 Ibid. xxi. 23, 24. “For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And 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 be fulfilled.” And again:652652 Ibid. verse 20. “When ye shall see Jerusalem com142passed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.”
7. If any one compares the words of our Saviour with the other accounts of the historian concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvellously strange.653653 It is but right to remark that not merely the negative school of critics, but even many conservative scholars (e.g. Weiss) put the composition of the Gospel of Luke after the year 70, because its eschatological discourses seem to bear the mark of having been recorded after the fulfillment of the prediction, differing as they do in many minor particulars from the accounts of the same discourses in Matthew and Mark. To cite a single instance: in the passage quoted just above from Luke xxi. 20, the armies encompassing Jerusalem are mentioned, while in parallel passages in the other Gospels (Matt. xxiv. 15 and Mark xiii. 14) not armies, but “the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place” is spoken of as the sign. Compare the various commentaries upon these passages.
8. Concerning those calamities, then, that befell the whole Jewish nation after the Saviour’s passion and after the words which the multitude of the Jews uttered, when they begged the release of the robber and murderer, but besought that the Prince of Life should be taken from their midst,654654 Compare Acts iii. 14, and see Matt. xvii. 20, Mark xv. 11, Luke xxii. 18. it is not necessary to add anything to the account of the historian.
9. But it may be proper to mention also those events which exhibited the graciousness of that all-good Providence which held back their destruction full forty years after their crime against Christ,—during which time many of the apostles and disciples, and James himself the first bishop there, the one who is called the brother of the Lord,655655 See above, Bk. I. chap. 12, note 14. were still alive, and dwelling in Jerusalem itself, remained the surest bulwark of the place. Divine Providence thus still proved itself long-suffering toward them in order to see whether by repentance for what they had done they might obtain pardon and salvation; and in addition to such long-suffering, Providence also furnished wonderful signs of the things which were about to happen to them if they did not repent.
10. Since these matters have been thought worthy of mention by the historian already cited, we cannot do better than to recount them for the benefit of the readers of this work.
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