Matthew 23:36-38, The Desolation of Jerusalem

Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.”

//Just as the majority of the Old Testament focused upon the destruction, return to, and rebuilding of Jerusalem, the New Testament was strongly influenced by the desolation of Jerusalem. In today’s verse, Jesus is seen weeping over Jerusalem, because he knows her fate. Within the same generation (forty years is often considered a “generation” in the bible), Jerusalem would be completely destroyed. General (and later Emperor) Vespasian was determined to utterly destroy Jerusalem and the Temple of the Jews.

This happened in 70 AD, and it was not a territorial war. It was a religious matter. Judaism began to be seen as a dangerous spawning bed for militant messianic uprisings, pitting God against Rome. Hence, when Vespasian destroyed the Temple and forbade its rebuilding, he retained the temple tax, forcing Jews to pay the identical tax  to the Temple of Jupiter. Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina, and the name Jerusalem ceased to exist in all official Roman documents by the year 135 AD.

No wonder Jesus wept, contemplating its fate. No wonder this war had such an impact on Christian writings, as Christians sought to make sense of the destruction of Judaism’s temple cult. For more about this topic, see my book on Revelation.

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