Thursday, August 27, 2009

Josephus-Jewish Wars

Josephus was a Jewish general that was captured by the Romans in the war that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70.A.D. This is his chronicle of that war.

Of course, Josephus makes himself look better than he should. After all, he was the one who lost his entire army and city. Some 40,000 under his charge were killed by the Romans. Finally, Josephus tried to convince the last 40 soldiers to surrender. They refused, preferring to die. Josephus convinced the men that it would be more honorable to kill one another rather than let the Romans kill them. So, each of the remaining forty men killed each other. Finally, only Josephus was left and promptly surrendered himself to the Romans. No amount of re-writing of that history can bring him into a good light.

That being said, we are immensely thankful Josephus surrendered and then wrote. Furthermore, the wickedness of the rebelling Jews is so stark, that we have some empathy for the Romans and for any Jews that thought it honorable to surrender.

While the Romans were the conquering and domineering power, they were exceedingly provoked by the various factions among the Jews themselves. There were so many factions and such cruelty from Jew to Jew, that a pax Romana ought to have been a welcome sight to the entire Jewish nation. The Romans mostly waited while the Jews wiped each other out.

Even in the final assault on Jerusalem, the Jewish factions had almost completely annihilated one another before the Romans entered the city. According to Josephus, the Romans finally entered the city in an attempt to save the temple. But, alas, a conflagration had begun that burnt it entirely to the ground.

This is an important background in understanding the utter devastation that came upon the Jews as a direct result of rejecting the Lord Jesus as the Messiah. Josephus does not interpret these events in this manner. However, as we look at the dire predictions of Matt.24, Luke 21 and Mark 13, we can see how they come to fruition in this devastating war.

Furthermore, we see that it was not simply the Romans that caused this. The Jews, themselves, repeatedly bring the curse upon themselves by the way that they treated one another. They proved that they did not love God because they did not love one another. In fact, they showed an abject hatred for their own brotherhood. These Jews were descendants of Cain and not Abel. There were dangerous Jewish warlords who repeatedly attacked Jewish cities, killing tens of thousands of fellow covenant members.

In the seige of Jersusalem, there were three main factions seeking the ascendancy, that, even up to the end, hoarded food from a starving populace. The result was that at least one mother even ate her own child. They continued to steal from and kill one another until the very moment when the Romans entered the city. The tens of thousands of dead inside the city were piled high upon the inside of the city walls, long before any Roman ever stood inside the gates.

How could God not punish such wickedness? And how could such wickedness even be perpetrated without God's judgment? God's judgment was to leave them to their own devices and sin since they rejected His remedy for their forgiveness, the Lord Jesus, the rejected Messiah.

No comments: