Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. on the date in the Jewish calendar 9th of Av, or Tisha B’Av. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans on the same date, Tisha B’Av, in 70 A.D.
Rome’s destruction of the Temple began in 66 A.D., when Roman Emperor Nero appointed General Vespasian to put down a revolt in Judea. Almost immediately, Rome experienced chaos.
Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. His successor, Galba, was assassinated within eight months. His successor, Otho, committed suicide within two months. His successor, Vitellius, was executed within eight months. Vespasian was the next Emperor and his son, Titus, continued the conquest of Judea. Titus surrounded Jerusalem and starved inhabitants for months. Titus ordered Jewish deserters from Jerusalem to be crucified around the walls.
By the end of July, 70 A.D., the Roman Army broke through the walls. Jerusalem was completely conquered by Sept 8, 70 A.D. Historian Josephus recorded that over a million Jews were killed in the siege.
According to historian Eusebius, Romans hunted down and killed all descendants of the royal line of David. The Jewish Temple was so completely destroyed that only the foundation stones were left, which are the bottom rows of the Wailing Wall.
Jewish Temple treasures were carried off to Rome, as shown on the Arch of Titus, and were used to finance the building of Rome’s Colosseum. The Colosseum was so named as it was next to Nero’s 100 foot high bronze Colossus Statue depicting the Roman sun god Apollo, modeled after the 100 foot high bronze Colossus Statue of Rhodes depicting the Greek son god Helios. France’s gift of the Statue of Liberty – the New Colossus was modeled after it.
Emperor Vespasian caught a slight illness in 79 A.D. that led to severe diarrhea and death. His last words were: “Oh dear! I think I’m becoming a god!”
Titus became the next emperor and two months later Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying the Bay of Naples, including the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Thousands of Romans were buried alive under feet volcanic ash. Then, in the spring of 80 A.D., Rome caught fire. Flames burned out of control for three days and nights destroying much of Capitoline Hill, the Temple of Jupiter, Pantheon and Pompey’s Theater. Then followed the worst outbreak of plague that Rome had yet endured.
Titus decided to dedicate the Colosseum to commemorate his victories in the Jewish wars. For 100 days, thousands were killed in executions and gladiatorial fights, in addition to 5,000 animals.
Following the games, Titus died after just two years in office. He is rumored to have been poisoned on orders of his brother, Domitian, who became the next emperor.
In 135 A.D., on the date Tisha B’Av, Roman Emperor Hadrian had another 500,000 Jews massacred at Betar during Bar Kokhba’s revolt. Emperor Hadrian believed the source of Jewish rebellion was their faith, so he executed Jewish scholars, prohibited the Torah and the Hebrew calendar, and burned the sacred scroll on the Temple Mount.
In an attempt to completely erase Jewish history from the land, Emperor Hadrian renamed the province of Judea “Syria Palaestina” and renamed the city Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina.” Jews were banned from entering Jerusalem on pain of death.
Eusebius wrote in his “History of the Church” (ser. II, vol. I, book IV, chapter VI): “The Last Siege of the Jews Under Hadrian – The whole nation was prohibited from this time on by a decree, and by the commands of Hadrian, from ever going up to the country about Jerusalem. For the emperor gave orders that they should not even see from a distance the land of their fathers. Such is the account of Aristo of Pella. And thus, when the city had been emptied of the Jewish nation and had suffered the total destruction of its ancient inhabitants, it was colonized by a different race, and the Roman city which subsequently arose changed its name and was called Aelia, in honor of the emperor Aelius Hadrian.”
Cassius Dio wrote in “Roman History” (69.12): “At Jerusalem Hadrian founded a city in place of the one which had been razed to the ground, naming it Aelia Capitolina, and on the site of the temple of the god he raised a new temple to Jupiter. This brought on a war of no slight importance nor of brief duration, for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there.”
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Eusebius wrote in “Demonstratio Evangelica” (8.3; 405, circa 314 – 318 A.D.): “Jerusalem … is even now like a quarry, all the inhabitants of the city choosing stones from its ruins as they will for private as well as public buildings. And it is sad for the eyes to see stones from the Temple itself, and from its ancient sanctuary and holy place, used for the building of idol temples, and of theatres for the populace.”
Emperor Hadrian’s reign was the beginning of the contraction of the Roman Empire, with Hadrian’s Wall across the whole of Britain marking the Empire’s furthest extent.
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