The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken from prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
The Jewish historian Josephus gives a rapid sketch as follows : " Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet that continued a whole year. Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before these commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, Nisan, and at the ninth hour so great a light shone round the altar and the Holy House, that it appeared to be bright daytime, which light lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskilful, but was so interpreted by the sacred Scribes as to foretell the events that followed immediately on it.
"At the same festival, also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the Temple. Moreover the eastern gate of the inner court of the Temple, which was of brass and vastly heavy, had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to open of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch in the Temple came thereupon running to the captain of the Temple, and told him of it, who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty were they able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very prodigy, as if God did thereby open to them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their Holy House was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that this signal foreshadowed the desolation that was coming upon them.
"Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one-and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, Jyar, a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared. I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those who saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals. For before the setting sun, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding cities. Moreover at that feast, as the priests were going by night into the inner court of the Temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministration, they said that in the first place they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude saying. " Let us remove hence." 1 With these words the Shekina, the Holy Ghost, left the Holy of Holies the moment Christ died. The great seven branched candlestick of solid gold, weighing one hundred pounds, called Chinchares: "made with knots, and lilies, and pomegranates, and bowls, which ornaments amounted to seventy in all," as Josephus tells us, 2 had been trimmed that day. But the moment the Lord died the central lamp went out. 3 St. Jerome mentions how the huge lintel of the Temple was broken. Jewish traditions tell that when the veil was rent blood flowed down. The Talmud and Maimonides says that there was a space of one cubit between the two veils hanging before the entrance to the Holy of Holies, and that there was no wall between them. According to the ancient traditions of the Jews, there were thirteen veils hung in various parts of the Temple, two being made each year.
Wonders happened then in other parts of the world. A ship passing the Island of Corfu that day heard a mighty voice saying: " Great Pan in dead," and a multitude of voices mourned his decease. Pan means the All—that is, All there is, is a part of God. It is the foundation of pantheism, that nature and all which it forms, is God. From that sprung paganism with all its degradation, as we find it still in barbaric Asia, in the worship of the forces of nature. Before the time of Christ man adored demons under the shape of idols, and at the Saviour's death the demons thus proclaimed that their empire of error over man's mind was at an end.
From remotest times in many parts of the world, Sibyls gave forth oracles, guided armies, directed rulers, and under inspiration foretold the future, even prophesying the sufferings and death of Christ. One of these directed the Romans, and gave them prophetic books, in which their future wonderful history was written. When laying the foundations of the city of Rome they found the head of a horse, and the oracles said the city would be come the head of the world. When they named the mountains on which the city was built, the Sibyl called one the Vatican: "The Teacher's Hill." When they asked her what that meant, in the trance she said, there in future ages would reside the Teacher who instruct the the world in religion.
When building the Capital, they asked her how long it would last, and the reply came forth in her ecstasy. " Till the Virgin conceives and brings forth." Long the Senate debated on this question, how can a Virgin bring forth ? and they concluded that it would never happen, the city would last as long as the Capital, it would remain forever, and they called Rome " the eternal city." When Christ died the earthquake shattered that temple in Rome, from the walls of which a fountain of oil had burst forth the night he was born and flowed down to the Tiber. At Tivoli, Cumae, Erethrea, Babylon, Delphi and other places, these women lived, as prophets of the Gentile nations. From the moment Christ died they spoke no more by divine impulse, their oracles were now fulfilled. Since that time witches, fortune-tellers, etc., have tried to foretell the future like them.
1 Josephus, Wars, Book vi.. C. v., n. 3.
2 Antiq., iii., vi., 7.
3 Edersheim, Vol. III., p. 610.