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
Thirty-six years after the death of Christ the Temple was destroyed, and the words of Christ and of the Prophet Daniel fulfilled. When the Jewish people rose in rebellion against Rome, Vespasian, with his son Titus, began in the north the invasion of Judea. Josephus, who wrote the account, was captured with the city he defended. He told Vespasian and his son they would be emperors, and his life was spared to write the terrible details of the destruction of the Holy City, and the scattering of the Hebrew people to the ends of the earth.
The Roman army had gained the walls of Jerusalem and were about to storm the city. Titus had assumed command when his father returned to Rome after the army had elected him emperor, and Titus had given ex press orders to spare the Temple, then the glory of the Jews, famed in all the earth. Let us quote the words of Josephus:
"So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and re solved to storm the Temple. The next day, early in the morning, with his whole army he encamped round about the holy house. But as for that house, God had for certain long ago doomed it to the fire, and now that fatal day was come according to the revolution of ages. It was the tenth day of the month Lous, Ab, upon which it was burned formerly by the King of Babylon, although these flames took their rise from the Jews themselves, and were occasioned by them. For upon Titus retiring, the seditious lay still for a little while, and then attacked the Romans again, when those who guarded the holy house fought with those who quenched the fire that was burning in the inner court of the Temple. But these Romans put the Jews to flight, and proceeded as far as the holy house itself.
"At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the mate rials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to the golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house on the north side of it. As the flames went upwards, the Jews made a great clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it. And now they spared not their own lives any longer, nor suffered anything to restrain their force, since that holy house was perishing, for whose sake they kept such a guard about it.
"Now a certain person came running to Titus, and told him of this fire, as he was resting himself in his tent, after the last battle. Whereupon he rose up in great haste, and, as he was, ran to the holy house in order to have a stop put to the fire. After him followed all his commanders, and after them followed the several legions in great astonishment. So there was a great clamor and tumult raised, as was natural upon the dis orderly motion of so great an army.
"Then did Caesar, both by calling to the soldiers that were fighting with a loud voice, and by giving a signal to them with his right hand, ordered them to quench the fire. But they did not hear what he said, though he spoke so loud, having their ears already dinned by a great noise another way. Nor did they attend to the signal he made with his right hand, either, as still some of them were distracted with fighting, and others with passion. But as for the legions that came running thither, neither any threatenings could restrain their violence, but each one's passion was his commander at this time. And as they were crowding into the Temple together many of them were trampled on by another, while a great number fell among the ruins of the cloisters, which were still hot and smoking, and were destroyed the same miserable way, with those whom they had conquered. And when they had come near the holy house, they made as though they did not hear Caesar's orders to the contrary, but they encouraged those that were before them to set it on fire.
"As for the seditious, they were in too great straits already to offer their assistance towards quenching the lire. They were everywhere slain, and everywhere beaten. And as for a great part of the people, they were weak, and without arms, and had their throats cut wherever they were caught. Now round about the altar lay dead bodies, heaped one upon another, as at the steps going up to it, ran a great quantity of their blood, whither also the dead bodies of those slain above fell down.
"And now since Caesar was no way able to restrain the enthusiastic fury of the soldiers, and the fire proceeded on more and more, he went into the Holy of Holies of the Temple with his commanders, and saw it with what was in it, which he found to be superior to what the accounts of foreigners contained, and not inferior to what we ourselves boasted of and believed about it. But as the flames had not as yet reached to its inner parts, but was still consuming the rooms that were about the holy house, and Titus supposing, what the fact was, that the house itself might yet be saved, he came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire, and gave orders to Liberalius, the centurion, and one of those spearmen that were about him to beat the soldiers that were about him.
"Yet their passions were too hard for the regard they had for Caesar, and the dread they had for him, who forbade them, as was their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them. Moreover the hope of plunder made many to go on as having this opinion, that all places were filled with money, and as seeing that all round about it was made of gold, and besides, one of those that went into the place prevented Caesar, when he ran so hastily out to restrain the soldiers, and he threw the fire upon the hinges of the gate in the dark, whereby the flames burst out from within the holy house itself immediately. Then the commanders retired and Caesar with them, and when nobody any longer forbade those that were about to set fire to it. And thus was the holy house burned down without Caesar's approbation." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book vi., Cap. iv., n. 5, 6, 7.)