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Destruction of Jerusalem 70 A.D and Prophecy

Justin Martyr

That the land of the Jews, then, was to be laid waste, hear what was said by the Spirit of prophecy. And the words were spoken as if from the person of the people wondering at what had happened. They are these: “Sion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. The house of our sanctuary has become a curse, and the glory which our fathers blessed is burned up with fire, and all its glorious things are laid waste: and Thou refrainest Thyself at these things, and hast held Thy peace, and hast humbled us very sore.” And ye are convinced that Jerusalem has been laid waste, as was predicted. And concerning its desolation, and that no one should be permitted to inhabit it, there was the following prophecy by Isaiah: “Their land is desolate, their enemies consume it before them, and none of them shall dwell therein.” And that it is guarded by you lest any one dwell in it, and that death is decreed against a Jew apprehended entering it, you know very well. – First Apology

Irenaeus

Further, also, concerning Jerusalem and the Lord, they venture to assert that, if it had been “the city of the great King,” it would not have been deserted. This is just as if any one should say, that if straw were a creation of God, it would never part company with the wheat; and that the vine twigs, if made by God, never would be lopped away and deprived of the clusters. But as these [vine twigs] have not been originally made for their own sake, but for that of the fruit growing upon them, which being come to maturity and taken away, they are left behind, and those which do not conduce to fructification are lopped off altogether; so also [was it with] Jerusalem, which had in herself borne the yoke of bondage (under which man was reduced, who in former times was not subject to God when death was reigning, and being subdued, became a fit subject for liberty), when the fruit of liberty had come, and reached maturity, and been reaped and stored in the barn, and when those which had the power to produce fruit had been carried away from her [i.e., from Jerusalem], and scattered throughout all the world. Even as Esaias saith, “The children of Jacob shall strike root, and Israel shall flourish, and the whole world shall be filled with his fruit.” The fruit, therefore, having been sown throughout all the world, she (Jerusalem) was deservedly forsaken, and those things which had formerly brought forth fruit abundantly were taken away; for from these, according to the flesh, were Christ and the apostles enabled to bring forth fruit. But now these are no longer useful for bringing forth fruit. For all things which have a beginning in time must of course have an end in time also.

Since, then, the law originated with Moses, it terminated with John as a necessary consequence. Christ had come to fulfil it: wherefore “the law and the prophets were” with them “until John.” And therefore Jerusalem, taking its commencement from David, and fulfilling its own times, must have an end of legislation when the new covenant was revealed. For God does all things by measure and in order; nothing is unmeasured with Him, because nothing is out of order. Well spake he, who said that the unmeasurable Father was Himself subjected to measure in the Son; for the Son is the measure of the Father, since He also comprehends Him. But that the administration of them (the Jews) was temporary, Esaias says: “And the daughter of Zion shall be left as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers.” And when shall these things be left behind? Is it not when the fruit shall be taken away, and the leaves alone shall be left, which now have no power of producing fruit? – Against Heresies, Book IV

Origen

Now in these it is recorded, that “when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then shall ye know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” But at that time there were no armies around Jerusalem, encompassing and enclosing and besieging it; for the siege began in the reign of Nero, and lasted till the government of Vespasian, whose son Titus destroyed Jerusalem, on account, as Josephus says, of James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, but in reality, as the truth makes dear, on account of Jesus Christ the Son of God. – Contra Celsus, Book II

But, according to Celsus, “the Christians, making certain additional statements to those of the Jews, assert that the Son of God has been already sent on account of the sins of the Jews; and that the Jews hating chastised Jesus, and given him gall to drink, have brought upon themselves the divine wrath.” And any one who likes may convict this statement of falsehood, if it be not the case that the whole Jewish nation was overthrown within one single generation after Jesus had undergone these sufferings at their hands. For forty and two years, I think, after the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, did the destruction of Jerusalem take place. Now it has never been recorded, since the Jewish nation began to exist, that they have been expelled for so long a period from their venerable temple-worship and service, and enslaved by more powerful nations; for if at any time they appeared to be abandoned because of their sins, they were notwithstanding visited (by God), and returned to their own country, and recovered their possessions, and performed unhindered the observances of their law. One fact, then, which proves that Jesus was something divine and sacred, is this, that Jews should have suffered on His account now for a lengthened time calamities of such severity. And we say with confidence that they will never be restored to their former condition. For they committed a crime of the most unhallowed kind, in conspiring against the Saviour of the human race in that city where they offered up to God a worship containing the symbols of mighty mysteries. It accordingly behoved that city where Jesus underwent these sufferings to perish utterly, and the Jewish nation to be overthrown, and the invitation to happiness offered them by God to pass to others,–the Christians, I mean, to whom has come the doctrine of a pure and holy worship, and who have obtained new laws, in harmony with the established constitution in all countries; seeing those which were formerly imposed, as on a single nation which was ruled by princes of its own race and of similar manners, could not now be observed in all their entireness. – Contra Celsus, Book IV, Chapter XXII

Therefore he, also, having separated from her, married, so to speak, another, having given into the hands of the former the bill of divorcement; wherefore they can no longer do the things enjoined on them by the law, because of the bill of divorcement. And a sign that she has received the bill of divorcement is this, that Jerusalem was destroyed along with what they called the sanctuary of the things in it which were believed to be holy, and with the altar of burnt offerings, and all the worship associated with it. And a further sign of the bill of divorcement is this, that they cannot keep their feasts, even though according to the letter of the law designedly commanded them, in the place which the Lord God appointed to them for keeping feasts; but there is this also, that the whole synagogue has become unable to stone those who have committed this or that sin; and thousands of things commanded are a sign of the bill of divorcement; and the fact that “there is no more a prophet,” and that they say, “We no longer see signs;” for the Lord says, “He hath taken away from Judæa and from Jerusalem,” according to the word of Isaiah, “Him that is mighty, and her that is mighty, a powerful giant,” etc., down to the words, “a prudent hearer.”  Now, He who is the Christ may have taken the synagogue to wife and cohabited with her, but it may be that afterwards she found not favour in His sight; and the reason of her not having found favour in His sight was, that there was found in her an unseemly thing; for what was more unseemly than the circumstance that, when it was proposed to them to release one at the feast, they asked for the release of Barabbas the robber, and the condemnation of Jesus? And what was more unseemly than the fact, that they all said in His case, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” and “Away with such a fellow from the earth”? And can this be freed from the charge of unseemliness, “His blood be upon us, and upon our children”? Wherefore, when He was avenged, Jerusalem was compassed with armies, and its desolation was near, 6195 and their house was taken away from it, and “the daughter of Zion was left as a booth in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, and as a besieged city.”  And, about the same time, I think, the husband wrote out a bill of divorcement to his former wife, and gave it into her hands, and sent her away from his own house, and the bond of her who came from the Gentiles has been cancelled about which the Apostle says, “Having blotted out the bond written in ordinances, which was contrary to us, and He hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross;”  for Paul also and others became proselytes of Israel for her who came from the Gentiles. – Commentary on Matthew, Book XIV, The Divorce of Israel

Tertullian

Accordingly the times must be inquired into of the predicted and future nativity of the Christ, and of His passion, and of the extermination of the city of Jerusalem, that is, its devastation. For Daniel says, that “both the holy city and the holy place are exterminated together with the coming Leader, and that the pinnacle is destroyed unto ruin.” And so the times of the coming Christ, the Leader, must be inquired into, which we shall trace in Daniel; and, after computing them, shall prove Him to be come, even on the ground of the times prescribed, and of competent signs and operations of His.

Which matters we prove, again, on the ground of the consequences which were ever announced as to follow His advent; in order that we may believe all to have been as well fulfilled as foreseen.

In such wise, therefore, did Daniel predict concerning Him, as to show both when and in what time He was to set the nations free; and how, after the passion of the Christ, that city had to be exterminated. For he says thus: “In the first year under Darius, son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldees, I Daniel understood in the books the number of the years. …- An Answer to the Jews, Chapter VIII, And of Jerusalem’s Destruction

Vespasian, in the first year of his empire, subdues the Jews in war; and there are made lii years, vi months. For he reigned xi years. And thus, in the day of their storming, the Jews fulfilled the lxx hebdomads predicted in Daniel.

Therefore, when these times also were completed, and the Jews subdued, there afterwards ceased in that place “libations and sacrifices,” which thenceforward have not been able to be in that place celebrated; for “the unction,” too, was “exterminated” in that place after the passion of Christ. For it had been predicted that the unction should be exterminated in that place; as in the Psalms it is prophesied, “They exterminated my hands and feet.” And the suffering of this “extermination” was perfected within the times of the lxx hebdomads, under Tiberius Caesar, in the consulate of Rubellius Geminus and Fufius Geminus, in the month of March, at the times of the passover, on the eighth day before the calends of April, on the first day of unleavened bread, on which they slew the lamb at even, just as had been enjoined by Moses. Accordingly, all the synagogue of Israel did slay Him, saying to Pilate, when he was desirous to dismiss Him, “His blood be upon us, and upon our children;” and, “If thou dismiss him, thou art not a friend of Caesar;” in order that all things might be fulfilled which had been written of Him. – An Answer to the Jews, Chapter VIII, And of Jerusalem’s Destruction

Cyprian

That the Jews should lose Jerusalem, and should leave the land which they had received:
In Isaiah: Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers shall devour it in your sight; and the daughter of Zion shall be left deserted, and overthrown by foreign peoples, as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a keeper’s lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a city which is besieged. And unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we should have been as Sodoma, and we should have been like Gomorrha. Isaiah 1:7-9 Also in the Gospel the Lord says: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stone them that are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house shall be left unto you desolate. Matthew 23:37-38 – Treatises of Cyprian, Treatise XII, Three Books of Testimonies Against the Jews, Book I

Lactantius

But He also opened to them all things which were about to happen, which Peter and Paul preached at Rome; and this preaching being written for the sake of remembrance,(15) became permanent, in which they both declared other wonderful things, and also said that it was about to come to pass, that after a short time God would send against them a king who would subdue(16) the Jews, and level their cities to the ground, and besiege the people themselves, worn out with hunger and thirst. Then it should come to pass that they should feed on the bodies of their own children, and consume one another. Lastly, that they should be taken captive, and come into the hands of their enemies, and should see their wives most cruelly harassed before their eyes, their virgins ravished and polluted, their sons torn in pieces, their little ones dashed to the ground; and lastly, everything laid waste with fire and sword, the captives banished for ever from their own lands, because they had exulted over the well-beloved and most approved Son of God. And so, after their decease, when Nero had put them to death, Vespasian destroyed the name and nation of the Jews, and did all things which they had foretold as about to come to pass. – The Divine Institutes, Book IV

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