‘Proving Josephus: Research on Roman ballistics confirms Second Temple battle account’

David Robert’s The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem (1850)


In a post a couple of days ago, I had the following from the first century Jewish historian Josephus related to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple:

1 … But when Titus perceived that his endeavors to spare a foreign temple turned to the damage of his soldiers, and then be killed, he gave order to set the gates on fire. (Wars of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter 4, section 1)

1. NOW as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury, (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done,) Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison, as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind. (Josephus. Wars of the Jews, Book VII, Chapter 1, verse 1)

So, there was not one stone left upon the other for the Temple and the related buildings (more on the destruction of Jerusalem can be found in the article Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?).

The second century Greek writer Pausanius wrote that:

The city of Jerusalem, a city which the Roman king destroyed to its foundations. (As cited in Murphy-O’Connor J. The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700. OUP Oxford, 2008, p. 159)

Notice something from what is likely an early third century writing:

But our Master did not prophesy after this fashion; but, as I have already said, being a prophet by an inborn and ever-flowing Spirit, and knowing all things at all times, He confidently set forth, plainly as I said before, sufferings, places, appointed times, manners, limits. Accordingly, therefore, prophesying concerning the temple, He said: ‘See ye these buildings? Verily I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another which shall not be taken away; and this generation shall not pass until the destruction begin. For they shall come, and shall sit here, and shall besiege it, and shall slay your children here.’ And in like manner He spoke in plain words the things that were straightway to happen, which we can now see with our eyes, in order that the accomplishment might be among those to whom the word was spoken. For the Prophet of truth utters the word of proof in order to the faith of His hearers. (Clementine Homilies. Book III, Chapter XV)

While the above has a generational issue, the fact is that this is another apparent eye witness that Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed as prophesied.

As it turns out, some questioned the historical accounts of the destruction. However, yesterday, the Times of Israel reported the following:

Proving Josephus: Research on Roman ballistics confirms Second Temple battle account

August 7, 2022

For the first time in the research of ancient Jerusalem, physical evidence uncovered in recent excavations has proven Jewish historian Josephus Flavius’s account of the 70 CE conquest of the holy city.

Through computer analysis of 2,000-year-old Roman ballistics uncovered in Israel Antiquities Authority excavations in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound near modern Jerusalem’s Municipality building, archaeologist Kfir Arbiv claims he has demonstrated the veracity of Josephus’s narrative charted in his book, “The History of the Jewish War against the Romans.”

“It is extremely exciting to be proving the narrative of Josephus onsite,” Arbiv told The Times of Israel on Sunday, Tisha B’av, the Jewish day of mourning that annually commemorates the conquests of Jerusalem.

All data gathered onsite was compared to Josephus’s contemporary descriptions of a battle near the city’s third line of defense — which were proven accurate, said Arbiv. This is significant because while Josephus’s histories are one of the sole contemporary sources of the fall of Jerusalem, they are treated carefully by scholars due to his colorful personal history. …

“This is not surprising, as whoever controls this spot dominates the whole area and the fate of the city. This aligns with Josephus’ account that Titus commanded to penetrate the city from the northwestern side of the city wall,” Arbiv said in an IAA press release.

“The Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, after a four-month siege and an intensive battle led by the Roman general Titus in order to conquer the city and suppress the revolt initiated by the Jews four years earlier. The Romans had a well-trained massive army, equipped with the best military innovations of their day. It was a ruthless war machine.” https://www.timesofisrael.com/proving-josephus-research-on-roman-ballistics-confirms-second-temple-battle-account/

Let me also add that Josephus wrote about Jesus, and people should accept Jesus.

Related to the timing of Jesus, the Book of Daniel has the following:

25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:25-26)

As it turns out, Jesus came when that prophecy in the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) said the Prince Messiah would come.

Let’s look at an explanation from the old Radio Church of God about the Daniel 9 prophecy:

At the time of Jesus’ life on this earth, Herod — the king in Judea — the wise men from the nations to the east, and many of the priests, scribes, and elders, as well as the common people, realized that the seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 was nearing its completion. The Messiah, the Prince, was eagerly looked forward to, to free them from the yoke of Roman oppression. The Messiah was expected because of an understanding of this prophecy. But He was misunderstood when He appeared in the fulfillment of this prophecy, because they refused to recognize the first portion of the prophecy and hung their hope only on the last portion. …

Here, very plainly, is listed the exact time at which the prophesied Messiah would appear to begin to do the work mentioned in verse 24. The command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. Much of the book of Ezra and the entire book of Nehemiah cover this particular event. Seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks equal sixty-nine weeks. So the prophecies show that from the going forth of the command to rebuild Jerusalem in 457 B. C. it would be 483 years until the appearance of the prophesied Messiah to begin fulfilling the works of verse 24. (Hill DJ. HERE’S WHY Jews Reject Jesus and Christians Reject Christ! Plain Truth, April 1962)

Adding 483 to the year 457 B.C. brings the year 27 A.D. (there was no year “zero” between B.C. and A.D.). That brings us to the time that Jesus began His ministry (apparently in the Fall of the year). His ministry is believed to have lasted 3 ½ years, hence the veil would have been torn in the Spring of 31 A.D.

Now in the Talmud (Shabbat 119b), rabbis gave reasons for the destruction of the Temple, such as Jewish disobedience related to the Sabbath, drinking parties, not properly teaching their children, lack of trustworthy Jews, and Jews disparaging Torah scholars—they did not tie it in with Daniel 9. They quoted scriptures including Jeremiah 5:1, 6:11,15, 17:27; Ezekiel 22:26; Isaiah 5:11-13; 1 Chronicles 16:22; and 2 Chronicles 36:16.

Let’s look at part of the Talmud that discusses some of this:

Rabbi Yehuda said: Jerusalem was destroyed only because they disparaged the Torah scholars in it, as it is stated: “And they mocked the messengers of God and disdained His words and taunted His prophets, until the wrath of God arose against His people, until it could not be healed” (II Chronicles 36:16). What is the meaning of: Until it could not be healed? Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: It means that anyone who disparages Torah scholars cannot be healed from his wound.

Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Do not touch My anointed ones and do My prophets no harm” (I Chronicles 16:22)? “Do not touch My anointed ones,” these are the schoolchildren, who are as precious and important as kings and priests (Maharsha); “and do not harm My prophets,” these are Torah scholars. (Shabbat 119b, vs. 9-10)

Despite the rabbinical interpretation, the Old Testament did NOT say this destruction would come related to the rejection of Jewish “Torah scholars.” The type of Torah scholars the Talmud referred to were not directly sent by God nor were they prophets. If those cited in the Talmud would have been more accepting of the literal meaning of the Hebrew scriptures, they easily could have seen this.

Understand that the New Testament does show that the Jews did taunt God’s anointed prophets like John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul. Early Jewish writings show that they also taunted those the Jews called Minim (Minim were Jews that rejected aspects of Judaism, like accepting Jesus). Hence, Talmudic scholars should have had a clue that the Jewish rejection of Jesus and others was part of the reason for the destruction of the Temple (which also, after the sacrifice of Jesus, was essentially obsolete for the need of animal sacrifices during the church age per Hebrews 9 & 10).

The Jews should have accepted Jesus, but as prophesied in the Bible, most rejected Him:

3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3)

21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” 23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!” (Matthew 27:21-23)

The Jews expected Jesus to come as a king. But on His first coming He came as a Prince.

Some may think that the Temple perhaps would have gotten destroyed upon Jesus’ death–but the prophecy in Daniel 9 does not so state.

Now, notice something else that Josephus wrote:

  1. When therefore the generals of Antiochus’s armies had been beaten so often, Judas assembled the people together, and told them, that after these many victories which God had given them, they ought to go up to Jerusalem, and purify the temple, and offer the appointed sacrifices. But as soon as he, with the whole multitude, was come to Jerusalem, and found the temple deserted, and its gates burnt down, and plants growing in the temple of their own accord, on account of its desertion, he and those that were with him began to lament, and were quite confounded at the sight of the temple; so he chose out some of his soldiers, and gave them order to fight against those guards that were in the citadel, until he should have purified the temple. When therefore he had carefully purged it, and had brought in new vessels, the candlestick, the table [of shew-bread], and the altar [of incense], which were made of gold, he hung up the veils at the gates, and added doors to them. He also took down the altar [of burnt-offering], and built a new one of stones that he gathered together, and not of such as were hewn with iron tools. So on the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, which the Macedonians call Apeliens, they lighted the lamps that were on the candlestick, and offered incense upon the altar [of incense], and laid the loaves upon the table [of shew-bread], and offered burnt-offerings upon the new altar [of burnt-offering]. Now it so fell out, that these things were done on the very same day on which their Divine worship had fallen off, and was reduced to a profane and common use, after three years” time; for so it was, that the temple was made desolate by Antiochus, and so continued for three years. This desolation happened to the temple in the hundred forty and fifth year, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Apeliens, and on the hundred fifty and third olympiad: but it was dedicated anew, on the same day, the twenty-fifth of the month Apeliens, on the hundred and forty-eighth year, and on the hundred and fifty-fourth olympiad. And this desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel, which was given four hundred and eight years before; for he declared that the Macedonians would dissolve that worship [for some time]. (Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. Book XII, Chapter 7, Verse 6).

Thus, in the first century, at least one Jewish scholar said part of Daniel 9:26 was fulfilled in the 1st century and a period of time of 408 years elapsed from a prophecy of Daniel (probably Daniel 9:1-2) from the time that Antiochus desecrated the Temple.

Yet, Jews reject that the Messiah came then (and the Messiah was to come BEFORE the temple was destroyed according to the sequence of Daniel 9:25-26). Furthermore, the LATER Jewish document called the Seder Olam used a much shorter amount of years for the span of history than was correct.

Even Jewish scholars recognize this time issue. Notice:

In Summary, Josephus … is working from a different chronology then Seder Olam. (Shulman M. Daniel 9 – Its Chronology and Meaning. © Moshe Shulman 2010, p. 22)

According to the date assigned to the reign of Darius the Mede as beginning 374 B.C. (per the interpretation of Pierce L, Pierce M, editors. The Annals of the World. Master Books. Copyright 2003, p. 932), and since Antiochus is well known to have made that destruction in 167 B.C., there is over a 200 year difference here. And although Josephus may himself have too much time (that is hard to determine as the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede is debated, though more often presumed to be in the 6th century B.C. instead of the 4th century B.C. as the Seder Olam seems to point to), this reduction of time seems intentional in the Seder Olam. It likely is related to the rise of Christianity as the Seder Olam did not come out until a generation after Josephus.

Speaking of Josephus, it has been speculated that one of his writings (Contra Apion, I, 8) supports the view that the Jews tried to minimize the importance of the Book of Daniel because it pointed to Jesus as the Messiah (Derstine T. Anti-Messianic Basis of Jewish Chronology

Here are translations of passages attributed to Josephus:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross {stauros}, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. (Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Chapter 3, section 3)

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man (Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Chapter 5, section 2).

Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; (Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews, Book XX, Chapter 9, section 1)

Note: While many scholars believe that the first citation was changed by Greco-Roman Catholic supporters after Josephus’ death, there is evidence that many parts of that were in Josephus’ original writing (Holden, pp. 296-297).

Now, also related to that first Josephus citation, there was an Arabic version in the 10th century in Orthodox Bishop Agapius’ Book of the Title, that has been translated into English by the 20th century Israeli scholar Schlomo Pines as follows:

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good, and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after the crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders. (Kirby P. Josephus and Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Question. EarlyChristianWritings.com accessed 07/06/18).

Notice the following comment:

Some scholars, notably Charlesworth, have been quick to receive this passage as being an important textual witness, as much or even more so than the earlier Greek quoted by Eusebius. Charlesworth declares: “What is immediately obvious — when one compares the Arabic and the Greek recensions — is that the blatantly Christian phrases are conspicuously absent in the Arabic version.” (p. 95). Of course, it must be acknowledged by everyone there is some redaction in the Arabic recension: “The possibility that anyone, including Jesus, was the Messiah, was not a proposition that could be taken lightly by any Jew, especially one with the experiences and credentials of Josephus. But it is even more apparent that no Christian could have originated such words as “he was perhaps the Messiah…” It is best to assume that what Josephus wrote is not accurately preserved in any extant recension (Greek, Slavic, or Arabic); it has been at least slightly altered by Christian scribes.” (p. 95) (Ibid).

While one or more of the Greco-Romans may have altered some of what Josephus wrote, the historical evidence shows that he did write about Jesus and John the Baptist in the first century. As far as John the Baptist goes, there are references to him in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the Book of Acts in the New Testament.

Consider also that the Talmud teaches:

it was taught: On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. … a herald went forth and cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostacy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” (Sanhedrin 43a)

Yeshu is a reference to the one commonly called Jesus. The above shows that some type of supernatural power was attributed to Him by a Jewish source. Some have distanced themselves from this Talmudic reference because of the hanged part and other reasons, but Jesus was, according to the Apostle Peter, “murdered by hanging on a tree” (Acts 5:30).

Anyway, since Josephus’ account of the fall of Jerusalem is now being accepted as verified, the Jews and others should consider that his accounts of the chronology and Jesus should be accepted as true as well.

As far as Jews and others accepting Jesus as the Messiah goes, there is additional information and proof as why all should in our free online book: Proof Jesus is the Messiah.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Is God Calling You? This booklet discusses topics including calling, election, and selection. If God is calling you, how will you respond? Here is are links to related sermons: Christian Election: Is God Calling YOU? and Predestination and Your Selection. A short animation is also available: Is God Calling You?
Proof Jesus is the Messiah This free book has over 200 Hebrew prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. Plus, His arrival was consistent with specific prophecies and even Jewish interpretations of prophecy. Here are links to seven related sermons: Proof Jesus is the Messiah, Prophecies of Jesus’ birth, timing, and death, Jesus’ prophesied divinity, 200+ OT prophecies Jesus filled; Plus prophecies He made, Why Don’t Jews Accept Jesus?, Daniel 9, Jews, and Jesus, and Facts and Atheists’ Delusions About Jesus. Plus the links to two sermonettes: Luke’s census: Any historical evidence? and Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah, but … These videos cover nearly all of the book, plus have some information not in the book.
Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is also available titled: Real Christian Repentance.
Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required? Although people like Timothy LaHaye teach a third Jewish temple is required, who is ‘the temple of God” in the New Testament? Does the Bible require a rebuilt Jewish Temple? Here is a related item in the Spanish language ¿Por qué no se requiere un templo judío en Jerusalén? Here is a link to a sermon titled The Temple, Prophecy, and the Work.Nascent Sanhedrin and Prophecy The reconstituted Sanhedrin wants the reimplementation of animal sacrifices. A related video is titled Sanhedrin pushing animal sacrifices. And a newer one is: Sanhedrin makes burnt offering to dedicate altar!
The Red Heifer, Jewish Beliefs, and the End of the World The Temple Institute is watching a ‘red heifer.’ Why might this be important in the sequence of end time events? Here is a related link in the Spanish language Novilla roja descubierta en EE.UU. e Instituto del Templo está interesado en ella. Here are links to two related videos in English: Red Heifers and the Fate of the World and The Red Heifer and the End of the World.
Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill Could this building, often referred to as the Cenacle, which is located on a Mount Zion, possibly have been the oldest actual Christian church building?
Does the ‘Cenacle’ deal have prophetic ramifications? After a 20 year negotiation, the Church of Rome has negotiated the right to have Catholic mass in the building known as the Cenacle. It is in the area where the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill once stood. This is believed to be the location of the earliest Christian church building. How does the Bible define the ‘temple of God’ in the New Testament? Could this be the area where the ‘man of sin’ will sit in the “temple of God’ that Bible prophecy discusses in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4? This is a YouTube video.
The ‘Peace Deal’ of Daniel 9:27 This prophecy could give up to 3 1/2 years advance notice of the coming Great Tribulation. Will most ignore or misunderstand its fulfillment? Here is a link to a related sermon video Daniel 9:27 and the Start of the Great Tribulation.
Jerusalem: Past, Present, and Future What does the Bible say about Jerusalem and its future? Is Jerusalem going to be divided and eliminated? Is Jesus returning to the area of Jerusalem? There is also a related YouTube video you can watch titled Jerusalem To be divided and eliminated.
Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? Is this the King of the North, the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13:1-11, or the two-horned Beast of Revelation 13:12-16? Some rely on traditions, but what does the Bible teach? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quién es el Hombre de Pecado de 2 Tesalonicenses 2?; here is a link to a video in Spanish: ¿Quién es el ‘hombre de pecado’? Here is a version in Mandarin: N;ÿ Œf/’Y’jNº’ÿ Here is a link to a related English sermon video titled: The Man of Sin will deceive most ‘Christians’.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo (non-Dutch) Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem and the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first? Here is a link to the Spanish version of this article:

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