A Compilation of Scripture, Commentaries, and History on Matthew Chapter 24

Posted: June 3, 2011 in End Times, Prophecy, Shared Thoughts, Study!
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Because of the time in which we are living and because of the many different interpretations being giving of Matthew chapters 24 and 25, I have endeavored to compile some thoughts of some very learned commentators, some excerpts of history recorded by Josephus, as well as  some my own thoughts and reasoning with some scriptural cross references to clarify my present persuasion.

I share this for others considerations and encourage them to be fully persuaded in themselves as to the proper applications of Jesus’ words recorded by Matthew.

Matthew 24

Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

This chapter contains a prediction of the utter destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem, and the subversion of the whole political constitution of the Jews; and is one of the most valuable portions of the new covenant Scriptures, with respect to the evidence which it furnishes of the truth of Christianity. Every thing which our Lord foretold should come on the temple, city, and people of the Jews, has been fulfilled in the most correct and astonishing manner; and witnessed by a writer who was present during the whole, who was himself a Jew, and is acknowledged to be an historian of indisputable veracity in all those transactions which concern the destruction of Jerusalem. Without having designed it, he has written a commentary on our Lord’s words, and shown how every tittle was punctually fulfilled, though he knew nothing of the Scripture which contained this remarkable prophecy.

Christ foretells the destruction of the temple, vers. 1, 2.

His disciples inquire when, what shall be the sign of this  destruction, vers.  3.

Our Lord answers, and enumerates them-false Christs, vers.  5.

Wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, vers.  6-8.

Persecution of his followers, vers.  9.

Apostasy from the truth, vers.  10-13.

General spread of the Gospel, vers.  14.

He foretells the investment of the city by the Romans, vers.  15-18.

The calamities of those times, vers.  19-22.

Warns them against seduction by false prophets, vers.  23-26.

The suddenness of these calamities, vers.  27, 28.

Total destruction of the Jewish polity, vers.  29-31.

The whole illustrated by the parable of the fig-tree, vers.  32, 33.

The certainty of the event, though the time is concealed, vers.  34-36.

Careless state of the people, vers. 37-41.

The necessity of watchfulness and fidelity, illustrated by the parable of the two servants, one faithful, the other wicked, vers.  42-51

Matthew 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple.  2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Cross references:

Mark 13:1 – And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

Josephus – Antiquities of the Jews – Book XV – Chapter 11:

“Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits [FIFTY feet long], their height was eight [SIXTEEN feet in thickness], and their breadth about twelve [TWENTY-FOUR feet broad].”

Matthew 24: 3 And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?

William E Males: In order to understand the answer Jesus gives to the disciples’ questions, we must first establish what the limit of their understanding was and what it was that they were expecting to soon come to pass. Only then might we find some reasonable clarity as to what they were truly asking, for only then could we hope to have some reasonable clarity as to what Jesus meant in His answer to them. The following scriptural references are to show the disciples awareness to the reality of the soon coming events and the reality of the Kingdom of God.

(For those willing to take the time I gave a teaching many years ago call “The Disciples did not understand” which I share here in an mp3 (audio) file. In the teaching I reason that it is important when endeavoring to interpret these verses to make sure we understand the mindset from which the disciples were asking these questions, for as of yet they have no comprehension of a resurrection from the dead or a “second coming.”)

Cross references:

John 13:36  Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow Me afterwards. 37 Peter said unto Him, Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? John 16:16 A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father. 17 Then said some of His disciples among themselves, What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me: and, Because I go to the Father? 18 They said therefore, What is this that He saith, A little while? we cannot tell what He saith. 19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask Him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me?

William E Males: From the above verses we can see that neither Peter nor the other disciples had any awareness of the Lord’s soon coming death, let alone His resurrection. Certainly this was not due to the Lord’s failure to forewarn them. Rather, their apparent incognizant was due to the stronghold of their own selfish preconceived ideas of what was about to take place, as we will see in the following verses.

Cross references:

John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

Mark 8:31 And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He spake that saying openly. And Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Matthew 20: 17  And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, 19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Mark 9: 31 For He taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him. 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house He asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

Luke 9:43  And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, He said unto His disciples, 44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. 45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying. 46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

William E Males: Part of the reason they had argued amongst themselves who should be greatest and had their preconceived ideas about what Jesus was about to accomplish for the Jewish nation was because common thought that the Messiah was going to restore a physical kingdom, as was evident of the incredible praise that had erupted with the people on final His entrance into Jerusalem.

Cross references:

 Luke 13:18 Then said He, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?

Luke 17:20  And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 19:11 And as they heard these things, He added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Matthew 21:1  And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto Me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. (Isa 62:11, Zec 9:9) 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set Him thereon. (2 Kings 9:13) 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. (Ps 118:25-26) 10 And when He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? (Mr 11:15; Lu 19:45; Joh 2:13,15) 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

Albert Barnes’ NT Commentary

Verse 9.  Hosanna to the Son of David etc. The word hosanna means, “Save now,” or, “Save, I beseech thee.” It is a Syriac word, and was the form of acclamation used among the Jews. It was probably used in the celebration of their great festivals. During those festivals they sang the 115th, 116th, 117th, and 118th psalms. In the chanting or singing of those psalms, the Jewish writers inform us, that the people responded frequently hallelujah or hosanna. Their use of it on this occasion was a joyful acclamation, and an invocation of a Divine blessing by the Messiah.

Son of David. The Messiah.

Blessed is he, etc. That is, blessed be the Messiah. This passage is taken from Ps 118:25,26. To come in the name of the Lord, is to come by the authority of the Lord; to come commissioned by him to reveal his will. The Jews had commonly applied this to the Messiah.

Hosanna in the highest. This may mean either “Hosanna in the highest, loftiest strains;” or it may mean a prayer to God, “Save now, O thou that dwellest in the highest heaven, or among the highest angels.” Perhaps the whole song of hosanna may be a prayer to the Supreme God, as well as a note of triumphant acclamation: “Save now, O thou supremely great and glorious God; save by the Messiah that comes in thy name.”

William E Males: This grand entrance into the city has a tremendous impact on the disciples and everybody. This was the entrance of a King coming. Immediately after entering the city Jesus went straight to the temple and condemned the condition and practices of the then present  religious system.

 Cross references:

Matthew21:12  And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of hem that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple; and He healed them. 15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 And said unto Him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (Ps 8:2)

William E Males: All these things worked together to cause the disciples and others  to believe Jesus was going to soon be the new King over Jerusalem. This perception was founded upon their misunderstanding of Old Testament prophesies concerning the Messiah and Jerusalem. It was also this perception that enable the religious leaders to compel Palate to have Jesus crucified and post upon the cross the title “King of the Jews.”

Cross references:

Matthew 27:11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked Him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

27:29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

27:37 And set up over His head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

27:42 He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.

John 12:13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

12:15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

18:39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

19:3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote Him with their hands.

19:12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.

19:14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

19:19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

19:21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

 William E Males: After his crucifixion and resurrection we see how Jesus needed to instruct His disciples as to what the scriptures really meant in order to open their understanding.

Cross references:

Luke 24:13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him. 17 And He said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And He said unto them, What things? And they said unto Him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him. 21 But we trusted that it had been He WHICH SHOULD HAVE REDEEMED Israel [from Roman/Gentile rule] and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 25 Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

William E Males: Still even forty days later after his resurrection and up to just prior to His acsension, the disciples still were clouded with their own carnal perception of what was going to happen to Jerusalem. They would not fully understand until after the Holy Ghost would be given to them.

Cross references:

Acts 1:2 Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: 3 To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

John 14: 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28  Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for My Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.

John 16:4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go My way to Him that sent Me; and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.

William E Males: The importance of submitting  all these references was to establish the fact that the disciples had no idea or comprehension at all of a Second Coming of Christ for  “they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear,” (Luke 19:11).

Therefore, what was it they were really wanting to know when they asked the questions of Jesus, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” If we can figure that part out then we can begin to rightly divide Jesus’ answer to them.

What  we must remember that they asked the questions due to Jesus’ statement, “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Therefore the first part of the disciples question, “when shall these things be?” deals with the destruction of the Herodian Temple. This was accomplish in 70 A.D. when as recorded in  Josephus, War, book vii. c. 1: “Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the whole city and temple.

Now the disciples,  knowing that Jesus was of God and a promoter of true religion,  would certainly expect that if the Temple was going to be destroyed, as Jesus said, and if Jesus truly was going to be made “King of the Jews,” then the new King must be intending to put, as it were,  “new wine [system of religious worship] into new bottles [or a new temple].” Certainly none of this could not be accomplished under the present Roman/Herodian rule, Jesus must first come into power, hence the question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”

Matthew24:3 And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming . . .

 Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 3.   Tell us, when shall these things be?]  There appear to be three questions asked here by the disciples.  1st. When shall these things be? viz. the destruction of the city, temple, and Jewish state.  2dly. What shall be the sign of Thy coming? viz. to execute these judgments upon them, and to establish thy own Church: and 3dly. When shall this world end?  When wilt thou come to judge the quick and the dead?  But there are some who maintain that these are but three parts of the same question, and that our Lord’s answers only refer to the destruction of the Jewish state, and that nothing is spoken here concerning the LAST or judgment day.

William E Males: Finally, the 3rd part of the question, “Tell us, . . .  what shall be the sign of  the end of the world?

Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

End of the world; or, of the age, viz. the Jewish economy, which is a frequent accommodated meaning of the word aiwn, the proper meaning of which is, as Aristotle (De Caelo) observes, ETERNAL  continual being: and no words can more forcibly point out eternity than these.

William E Males: The sign of the end of the world, refers to the end of this “age” of the existing governmental rule, the “the end of the world” as world then was. For if Jesus was going to be King, then Herod was going  to have be replaced. But Herod was but one of a lineage of “Herods,”1. King of Judah (Herod the Great)  Mt 2:1-23; 2nd.Tetrarch of Galilee (Herod Antipas)   Lu 3:1; 23:7; 3rd.  Son of Aristobulus (Herod Agrippa I)   Ac 12:1-23; 4. Herod Agrippa major or I, Acts 12.1-25; 23.35; 5. Herod Agrippa minor or II, Ac 25:1-26:32.

Therefore, if Herod was to be replace by Jesus as the new King, then the Government which put Herod into place would have to be overthrown as well, which was the Romans. Herod himself is shown to acknowledge their rule over him in the writings of Josephus.

Josephus Wars book XV – chapter 11;

“I am now, by God’s will, your governor, and I have had peace a long time, and have gained great riches and large revenues, and, what is the principal filing of all, I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world.”

 Matthew 24:4  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

 William E Males: Many come in the name of “Jesus,” but still preach,  “another Jesus, whom we have not preached, . . . another spirit, . . .  another gospel, . . .” II Corinthians 11:4.

Matthew 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

 FAMINES

Cross references:

Ac 7:11 Now there came a dearth [Famine] over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.

Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth [Famine] throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

Josephus – Wars Book 4 -Chap. 1  – para. 9 -THE SIEGE AND TAKING OF GAMALA;

But of the people of Gamala, those that were of the bolder sort fled away and hid themselves, while the more infirm perished by famine; but the men of war sustained the siege till the two and twentieth day of the month Hyperberetmus . . .

Josephus – Wars Book 4 -Chap. 3 – para. 3 – HOW THE JEWS RAISE SEDITIONS ONE AGAINST ANOTHER [IN JERUSALEM];

. . . the captains of these troops of [Jewish] robbers, being satiated with rapines in the country, got all together from all parts, and became a band of wickedness, and all together crept into Jerusalem, which was now become a city without a governor . . . besides the seditions they raised, were otherwise the direct cause of the city’s destruction also; for as they were an unprofitable and a useless multitude, they spent those provisions beforehand [destroyed their own stored food] which might otherwise have been sufficient for the fighting men. Moreover, besides the bringing on of the war, they were the occasions of sedition and famine therein.

Josephus – Wars book 4 -Chap. 6 – para. 9 – HOW THE ZEALOTS WHEN THEY WERE FREED FROM THE IDUMEANS, SLEW A GREAT MANY MORE OF THE CITIZENS; AND HOW VESPASIAN DISSUADED THE ROMANS WHEN THEY WERE VERY EARNEST TO MARCH AGAINST THE JEWS FROM PROCEEDING IN THE WAR AT THAT TIME;

 . . . as freed from such men as might hinder their designs, and plat some stop to their wickedness. Accordingly, they made no longer any delay, nor took any deliberation in their enormous practices, but made use of the shortest methods for all their executions and what they had once resolved upon, they put in practice sooner than any one could imagine. But their thirst was chiefly after the blood of valiant men, and men of good families; the one sort of which they destroyed out of envy, the other out of fear; for they thought their whole security lay in leaving no potent men alive . . . Nor did Niger of Peres escape their hands; he had been a man of great valor in their war with the Romans, but was now drawn through the middle of the city, and, as he went, he frequently cried out, and showed the scars of his wounds; and when he was drawn out of the gates, and despaired of his preservation, he besought them to grant him a burial; but as they had threatened him beforehand not to grant him any spot of earth for a grave, which he chiefly desired of them, so did they slay him [without permitting him to be buried]. Now when they were slaying him, he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo bothfamine and pestilence in this war, and besides all that, they might come to the mutual slaughter of one another; all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men, and was what came most justly upon them, when not long afterward. they tasted of their own madness in their mutual seditions one against another.

Josephus – Wars Book5 -Chap. 1 – para 4 – CONCERNING THE SEDITIONS AT JERUSALEM AND WHAT TERRIBLE MISERIES AFFLICTED THE CITY BY THEIR MEANS;

And now there were three treacherous factions in the city, the one parted from the other. Eleazar and his party, that kept the sacred first-fruits, came against John in their cups. Those that were with John plundered the populace, and went out with zeal against Simon. This Simon had his supply of provisions from the city, in opposition to the seditious. When, therefore, John was assaulted on both sides, he made his men turn about, throwing his darts upon those citizens that came up against him, from the cloisters he had in his possession, while he opposed those that attacked him from the temple by his engines of war. And if at any time he was freed from those that were above him, which happened frequently, from their being drunk and tired, he sallied out with a great number upon Simon and his party; and this he did always in such parts of the city as he could come at, till he set on fire those houses that were full of corn, and of all other provisions.  The same thing was done by Simon, when, upon the other’s retreat, he attacked the city also; as if they had, on purpose, done it to serve the Romans, by destroying what the city had laid up against the siege, and by thus cutting off the nerves of their own power. Accordingly, it so came to pass, that all the [storage] places that were about the temple were burnt down, and were become an intermediate desert space, ready for fighting on both sides of it; and that almost all that corn was burnt, which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years. So they were taken by the means of the famine, which it was impossible they should have been, unless they had thus prepared the way for it by this procedure.

 Josephus – Wars Book5 -Chap. 8 – para 2 – HOW THE ROMANS TOOK THE SECOND WALL TWICE, AND GOT ALL READY FOR TAKING THE THIRD WALL;

For God had blinded their minds for the transgressions they had been guilty of, nor could they see how much greater forces the Romans had than those that were now expelled, no more than they could discern how a famine was creeping upon them; for hitherto they had fed themselves out of the public miseries, and drank the blood of the city. But now poverty had for a long time seized upon the better part, and a great many had died already for want of necessaries

Josephus – Wars Book5 -Chap. 9 – para 3 – HOW THE ROMANS TOOK THE SECOND WALL TWICE, AND GOT ALL READY FOR TAKING THE THIRD WALL;

For that the Romans are not unacquainted with that famine which is in the city, whereby the people are already consumed, and the fighting men will in a little time be so too . . . And though their fortifications should prove too strong for the Romans to break through them, yet would the famine fight for the Romans against them.

Josephus – Wars Book5 -Chap. 10 – para 2, 3, 4,& 5 – WHAT INTOLERABLE THINGS THOSE THAT STAID BEHIND SUFFERED BY FAMINE, AND THE SAD CONSEQUENCES THEREOF;

2. The madness of the seditious did also increase together with their famine, and both those miseries were every day inflamed more and more; for there was no corn which any where appeared publicly, but the robbers came running into, and searched men’s private houses; and then, if they found any, they tormented them, because they had denied they had any; and if they found none, they tormented them worse, because they supposed they had more carefully concealed it

3. It was now a miserable case, and a sight that would justly bring tears into our eyes, how men stood as to their food, while the more powerful had more than enough, and the weaker were lamenting [for want of it.] But the famine was too hard for all other passions, and it is destructive to nothing so much as to modesty; for what was otherwise worthy of reverence was in this case despised; insomuch that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths, and what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants; and when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might preserve their lives: and while they ate after this manner, yet were they not concealed in so doing; but the seditious every where came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in, and took pieces of what they were eating almost up out of their very throats, and this by force: the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten; and if the women hid what they had within their hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration shown either to the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor. But still they were more barbarously cruel to those that had prevented their coming in, and had actually swallowed down what they were going to seize upon, as if they had been unjustly defrauded of their right. They also invented terrible methods of torments to discover where any food was, and they were these to stop up the passages of the privy parts of the miserable wretches, and to drive sharp stakes up their fundaments; and a man was forced to bear what it is terrible even to hear, in order to make him confess that he had but one loaf of bread, or that he might discover a handful of barley-meal that was concealed; and this was done when these tormentors were not themselves hungry . . .

4. These were the afflictions which the lower sort of people suffered from these tyrants’ guards; but for the men that were in dignity, and withal were rich, they were carried before the tyrants themselves; some of whom were falsely accused of laying treacherous plots, and so were destroyed; others of them were charged with designs of betraying the city to the Romans; but the readiest way of all was this, to suborn somebody to affirm that they were resolved to desert to the enemy. And he who was utterly despoiled of what he had by Simon was sent back again to John, as of those who had been already plundered by Jotre, Simon got what remained; insomuch that they drank the blood of the populace to one another, and divided the dead bodies of the poor creatures between them; so that although, on account of their ambition after dominion, they contended with each other, yet did they very well agree in their wicked practices; for he that did not communicate what he got by the miseries of others to the other tyrant seemed to be too little guilty, and in one respect only; and he that did not partake of what was so communicated to him grieved at this, as at the loss of what was a valuable thing, that he had no share in such barbarity.

5. It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men’s iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly: – That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world. Finally, they brought the Hebrew nation into contempt, that they might themselves appear comparatively less impious with regard to strangers. They confessed what was true, that they were the slaves, the scum, and the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation, while they overthrew the city themselves, and forced the Romans, whether they would or no, to gain a melancholy reputation, by acting gloriously against them, and did almost draw that fire upon the temple, which they seemed to think came too slowly; and indeed when they saw that temple burning from the upper city, they were neither troubled at it, nor did they shed any tears on that account, while yet these passions were discovered among the Romans themselves; which circumstances we shall speak of hereafter in their proper place, when we come to treat of such matters.

 Earthquakes

Josephus – Wars book 4 -Chapter 4 – paragraph 5;

And now did the Idumeans make an acclamation to what Simon had said; but Jesus went away sorrowful, as seeing that the Idumeans were against all moderate counsels, and that the city was  besieged on both sides. Nor indeed were the minds of the Idumeans at rest; for they were in a rage at the injury that had been offered them by their exclusion out of the city; and when they thought the zealots had been strong, but saw nothing of theirs to support them, they were in doubt about the matter, and many of them repented that they had come thither. But the shame that would attend them in case they returned without doing any thing at all, so far overcame that their repentance, that they lay all night before the wall, though in a very bad encampment; for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.

 Matthew 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows [birthpangs].

Cross references:

I Thess. 5:1 – But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (Note: “travail” is the same greek word as “sorrows”  above)

Heb. 8:13 – In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. 9:1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary [The Temple] .

Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

Cross references:

Heb 10: 32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

Cross references: 

Acts 8:9 – But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

Matt 24:24 – For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

Cross references:

Gal 1: 6 – I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

II Tim1:15 – This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

4:16  At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

 Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 13. But he that shall endure]  The persecutions that shall come-unto the end; to the destruction of the Jewish polity, without growing cold or apostatizing-shall be saved, shall be delivered in all imminent dangers, and have his soul at last brought to an eternal glory.  It is very remarkable that not a single Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, though there were many there when Cestius Gallus invested the city; and, had he persevered in the siege, he would soon have rendered himself master of it; but, when he unexpectedly and unaccountably raised the siege, the Christians took that opportunity to escape. See Eusebius, Hist. Eccles lib. iii. c. 5

Cross references:

I Thess. 5:6 – Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath [the coming destruction of Jerusalem], but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Heb 10:35 –  Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise [God hath not appointed us to wrath – I Thess. 5:9] 37 For yet a little while, and he [Titus the Roman general] that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Rev 18: 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Matthew 24: 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 14.   And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world]  But, notwithstanding these persecutions, there should be a universal publication of the glad tidings of the kingdom, for a testimony to all nations.  God would have the iniquity of the Jews published every where, before the heavy stroke of his judgments should fall upon them; that all mankind, as it were, might be brought as witnesses against their cruelty and obstinacy in crucifying and rejecting the Lord Jesus.

 In all the worlden olh th oikoumenh.  Perhaps no more is meant here than the Roman empire; for it is beyond controversy that pasan thn oikoumenhnLu 2:1 – “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that ALL THE WORLD should be taxed,” means no more than the whole Roman empire: as a decree for taxation or enrolment from Augustus Caesar could have no influence but in the Roman dominions; but see on Lu 2:1. Tacitus informs us, Annal. l. xv., that, as early as the reign of Nero, the Christians were grown so numerous at Rome as to excite the jealousy of the government; and in other parts they were in proportion.  However, we are under no necessity to restrain the phrase to the Roman empire, as, previously to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Gospel was not only preached in the lesser Asia, and Greece, and Italy, the greatest theatres of action then in the world; but was likewise propagated as far north as SCYTHIA; as far south as ETHIOPIA; as far east as PARTHIA and INDIA; and as far west as SPAIN and BRITAIN.

St. Paul himself speaks, Col 1:6,23, of the Gospel’s being come into ALL THE WORLD, and preached TO EVERY CREATURE under heaven.  And in his Epistle to the Romans, Ro 10:18, he very elegantly applies to the lights of the Church, what the psalmist said of the lights of heaven.  Their sound went into ALL THE EARTH, and their words unto the END of the WORLD.  What but the wisdom of God could foretell this? and what but the power of God could accomplish it?

 Then shall the end come.]  When this general publication of the Gospel shall have taken place, then a period shall be put to the whole Jewish economy, by the utter destruction of their city and temple.

Cross references: “preached in all the world

Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

Col. 1:6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.

Cross references: for a witness unto all nations

Matt 24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Matthew 24: 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand)

 Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 15.   The abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel] This abomination of desolation, St. Luke, (Lu 21:20,21,) refers to the Roman army; and this abomination standing in the holy place is the Roman army besieging Jerusalem; this, our Lord says, is what was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in the ninth and eleventh chapters of his prophecy; and so let every one who reads these prophecies understand them; and in reference to this very event they are understood by the rabbins.  The Roman army is called an abomination, for its ensigns and images, which were so to the Jews.  Josephus says, (War, b. vi. chap. 6,) the *Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them over against the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there.  The Roman army is therefore fitly called the abomination, and the abomination which maketh desolate, as it was to desolate and lay waste Jerusalem; and this army besieging Jerusalem is called by St. Mark, Mr 13:14, standing where it ought not, that is, as in the text here, the holy place; as not only the city, but a considerable compass of ground about it, was deemed holy, and consequently no profane persons should stand on it.

*Havercamp’s note here: “This (says he) is a remarkable place; and Tertullian truly says in his Apologetic, ch. 16. p. 162, that the entire religion of the Roman camp almost consisted in worshipping the ensigns, in swearing by the ensigns, and in preferring the ensigns before all the [other] gods.”

Josephus – Wars Book 5 -Chap.1  – para. 1 – THE SEDITIONS AT JERUSALEM AND WHAT TERRIBLE MISERIES AFFLICTED THE CITY BY THEIR MEANS;

Now as to the attack the zealots made upon the people, and which I esteem the beginning of the city’s destruction, it hath been already explained after an accurate manner; as also whence it arose, and to how great a mischief it was increased. But for the present sedition, one should not mistake if he called it a sedition begotten by another sedition, and to be like a wild beast grown mad, which, for want of food from abroad, fell now upon eating its own flesh.

para. 3 – . . . slew moreover many of the priests, as they were about their sacred ministrations. For notwithstanding these men were mad with all sorts of impiety, yet did they still admit those that desired to offer their sacrifices, although they took care to search the people of their own country beforehand, and both suspected and watched them; while they were not so much afraid of strangers, who, although they had gotten leave of them, how cruel soever they were, to come into that court, were yet often destroyed by this sedition; for those darts that were thrown by the engines came with that force, that they went over all the buildings, and reached as far as the altar, and the temple itself, and fell upon the priests, and those that were about the sacred offices; insomuch that many persons who came thither with great zeal from the ends of the earth, to offer sacrifices at this celebrated place, which was esteemed holy by all mankind, fell down before their own sacrifices themselves, and sprinkled that altar which was venerable among all men, both Greeks and Barbarians, with their own blood; till the dead bodies of strangers were mingled together with those of their own country, and those of profane persons with those of the priests, and the blood of all sorts of dead carcasses stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves. And now, “O must wretched city, what misery so great as this didst thou suffer from the Romans, when they came to purify thee from thy intestine hatred! ‘For thou couldst be no longer a place fit for God, nor couldst thou long continue in being, after thou hadst been a sepulcher for the bodies of thy own people, and hadst made the holy house itself a burying-place in this civil war of thine. Yet mayst thou again grow better, if perchance thou wilt hereafter appease the anger of that God who is the author of thy destruction.” But I must restrain myself from these passions by the rules of history, since this is not a proper time for domestical lamentations, but for historical narrations; I therefore return to the operations that follow in this sedition.

Cross references:

Luke 13:1 –  There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

 Josephus – Wars Book 5 -Chap.1  – para. 5

They agreed in nothing but this, to kill those that were innocent. The noise also of those that were fighting was incessant, both by day and by night; but the lamentations of those that mourned exceeded the other; nor was there ever any occasion for them to leave off their lamentations, because their calamities came perpetually one upon another, although the deep consternation they were in prevented their outward wailing; but being constrained by their fear to conceal their inward passions, they were inwardly tormented, without daring to open their lips in groans. Nor was any regard paid to those that were still alive, by their relations; nor was there any care taken of burial for those that were dead; the occasion of both which was this, that every one despaired of himself; for those that were not among the seditious had no great desires of any thing, as expecting for certain that they should very soon be destroyed; but for the seditious themselves, they fought against each other, while they trod upon the dead bodies as they lay heaped one upon another, and taking up a mad rage from those dead bodies that were under their feet, became the fiercer thereupon. They, moreover, were still inventing somewhat or other that was pernicious against themselves; and when they had resolved upon any thing, they executed it without mercy, and omitted no method of torment or of barbarity.

Josephus – Wars Book 6 -Chap.2  – para. 1 – HOW TITUS . . . PERSUADED JOSEPHUS TO EXHORT THE JEWS AGAIN [TO A SURRENDER].

And WHO IS THERE THAT DOES NOT KNOW what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them, – and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city? For they foretold that this city should be then taken when somebody shall begin the slaughter of his own countrymen. And are not both the city and the entire temple now full of the dead bodies of your countrymen? It is God, therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans,  and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions.”

 Matthew 24: 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

 Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 16.   Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains]  This counsel was remembered and wisely followed by the Christians afterwards.  Eusebius and Epiphanius say, that at this juncture, after Cestius Gallus had raised the siege, and Vespasian was approaching with his army, all who believed in Christ left Jerusalem and fled to Pella, and other places beyond the river Jordan; and so they all marvellously escaped the general shipwreck of their country: not one of them perished.

  Matthew 24: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:

Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 17.   Let him which is on the house top]  The houses of the Jews, as well as those of the ancient Greeks and Romans, were flat-roofed, and had stairs on the outside, by which persons might ascend and descend without coming into the house.  In the eastern walled cities, these flat-roofed houses usually formed continued terraces from one end of the city to the other; which terraces terminated at the gates.  He, therefore, who is walking on the house top, let him not come down to take any thing out of his house; but let him instantly pursue his course along the tops of the houses, and escape out at the city gate as fast as he can.

Matthew 24: 18  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 18.   Neither let him which is in the field return back] Because when once the army of the Romans sits down before the city, there shall be no more any possibility of escape, as they shall never remove till Jerusalem be destroyed.

Matthew 24: 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

 Cross references:

Deut. 28:53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:

Deut. 28:55 So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.

Deut. 28:57 And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.

 Josephus – Wars Book 6 -Chap.3  – para. 3,4,& 5 – . . . ANOTHER DESCRIPTION OF THE TERRIBLE FAMINE THAT WAS IN THE CITY;

3. Now of those that perished by famine in the city, the number was prodigious, and the miseries they underwent were unspeakable; for if so much as the shadow of any kind of food did any where appear, a war was commenced presently, and the dearest friends fell a fighting one with another about it, snatching from each other the most miserable supports of life. Nor would men believe that those who were dying had no food, but the robbers would search them when they were expiring, lest any one should have concealed food in their bosoms, and counterfeited dying; nay, these robbers gaped for want, and ran about stumbling and staggering along like mad dogs, and reeling against the doors of the houses like drunken men; they would also, in the great distress they were in, rush into the very same houses two or three times in one and the same day. Moreover, their hunger was so intolerable, that it obliged them to chew every thing, while they gathered such things as the most sordid animals would not touch, and endured to eat them; nor did they at length abstain from girdles and shoes; and the very leather which belonged to their shields they pulled off and gnawed: the very wisps of old hay became food to some; and some gathered up fibres, and sold a very small weight of them for four Attic [drachmae]. But why do I describe the shameless impudence that the famine brought on men in their eating inanimate things, while I am going to relate A MATTER OF FACT, the like to which no history relates, either among the Greeks or Barbarians . . .

4. There was a certain woman that dwelt beyond Jordan, her name was Mary; her father was Eleazar, of the village Bethezob, which signifies the house of Hyssop. She was eminent for her family and her wealth, and had fled away to Jerusalem with the rest of the multitude, and was with them besieged therein at this time. The other effects of this woman had been already seized upon, such I mean as she had brought with her out of Perea, and removed to the city. What she had treasured up besides, as also what food she had contrived to save, had been also carried off by the rapacious guards, who came every day running into her house for that purpose. This put the poor woman into a very great passion, and by the frequent reproaches and imprecations she east at these rapacious villains, she had provoked them to anger against her; but none of them, either out of the indignation she had raised against herself, or out of commiseration of her case, would take away her life; and if she found any food, she perceived her labors were for others, and not for herself; and it was now become impossible for her any way to find any more food, while the famine pierced through her very bowels and marrow, when also her passion was fired to a degree beyond the famine itself; nor did she consult with any thing but with her passion and the necessity she was in. She then attempted a most unnatural thing; and snatching up her son, who was a child SUCKING AT HER BREAST, she said, “O thou miserable infant! for whom shall I preserve thee in this war, this famine, and this sedition? As to the war with the Romans, if they preserve our lives, we must be slaves. This famine also will destroy us, even before that slavery comes upon us. Yet are these seditious rogues more terrible than both the other.Come on; be thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets, and a by-word to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of us Jews.” As soon as she had said this, she slew her son, and then roasted him, and eat the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed. Upon this the seditious came in presently, and smelling the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready. She replied that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them, and withal uncovered what was left of her son. Hereupon they were seized with a horror and amazement of mind, and stood astonished at the sight, when she said to them, “This is mine own son, and what hath been done was mine own doing! Come, eat of this food; for I have eaten of it myself! Do not you pretend to be either more tender than a woman, or more compassionate than a mother; but if you be so scrupulous, and do abominate this my sacrifice, as I have eaten the one half, let the rest be reserved for me also.” After which those men went out trembling, being never so much aftrighted at any thing as they were at this, and with some difficulty they left the rest of that meat to the mother. Upon which the whole city was full of this horrid action immediately; and while every body laid this miserable case before their own eyes, they trembled, as if this unheard of action had been done by themselves. So those that were thus distressed by the famine were very desirous to die, and those already dead were esteemed happy, because they had not lived long enough either to hear or to see such miseries.

5. This sad instance was quickly told to the Romans, some of whom could not believe it, and others pitied the distress which the Jews were under; but there were many of them who were hereby induced to a more bitter hatred than ordinary against our nation. But for Caesar, he excused himself before God as to this matter, and said that he had proposed peace and liberty to the Jews, as well as an oblivion of all their former insolent practices; but that they, instead of concord, had chosen sedition; instead of peace, war; and before satiety and abundance, a famine. That they had begun with their own hands to burn down that temple which we have preserved hitherto; and that therefore they deserved to eat such food as this was. That, however, this horrid action of eating an own child ought to be covered with the overthrow of their very country itself, and men ought not to leave such a city upon the habitable earth to be seen by the sun, wherein mothers are thus fed, although such food be fitter for the fathers than for the mothers to eat of, since it is they that continue still in a state of war against us, after they have undergone such miseries as these. And at the same time that he said this, he reflected on the desperate condition these men must be in; nor could he expect that such men could be recovered to sobriety of mind, after they had endured those very sufferings, for the avoiding whereof it only was probable they might have repented.

Matthew 24: 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

 Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 20.   But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter] For the hardness of the season, the badness of the roads, the shortness of the days, and the length of the nights, will all be great impediments to your flight.  Rabbi Tanchum observes, “that the favour of God was particularly manifested in the destruction of the first temple, in not obliging the Jews to go out in the winter, but in the summer.”

Neither on the Sabbath-day]  That you may not raise the indignation of the Jews by travelling on that day, and so suffer that death out of the city which you had endeavoured to escape from within.  Besides, on the Sabbath-days the Jews not only kept within doors, but the gates of all the cities and towns in every place were kept shut and barred; so that their flight should be on a Sabbath, they could not expect admission into any place of security in the land.

Cross references:

Neh. 13:18 –  Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. 19 And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. 20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. 21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.

Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sakethose days shall be shortened.

Josephus – Wars Book5 -Chap. 10 – para 5 – WHAT INTOLERABLE THINGS THOSE THAT STAYED BEHIND SUFFERED. . .

5. It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men’s iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly: – That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 21.   For then shall be great tribulation]  No history can furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the Jews:-rapine, murder, famine, and pestilence within: fire and sword, and all the horrors of war, without.  Our Lord wept at the foresight of these calamities; and it is almost impossible for any humane person to read the relation of them in Josephus without weeping also.

William E Males: The famine, the seditions and the potential spread of the disease would have soon killed the Jews altogether, and this apart from the and war with Rome.  A quote from Titus, the Roman general, “We have certainly had God for our assistant in this war, and it was no other than God who ejected the Jews out of these fortifications; for what could the hands of men or any machines do towards overthrowing these towers?”

Matthew 24: 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.  24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.  25 Behold, I have told you before.  26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

Josephus WAR- Book 2 – Chap. 13;

But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.

Cross references:

Acts21:38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?

Josephus WAR Book 6- Chap 5 – para 2;

And now the Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was round about the holy house, burnt all those places, as also the remains of the cloisters and the gates, two excepted; the one on the east side, and the other on the south; both which, however, they burnt afterward. They also burnt down the treasury chambers, in which was an immense quantity of money, and an immense number of garments, and other precious goods there reposited; and, to speak all in a few words, there it was that the entire riches of the Jews were heaped up together, while the rich people had there built themselves chambers [to contain such furniture]. The soldiers also came to the rest of the cloisters that were in the outer [court of the] temple, whither the women and children, and a great mixed multitude of the people, fled, in number about six thousand. But before Caesar had determined any thing about these people, or given the commanders any orders relating to them, the soldiers were in such a rage, that they set that cloister on fire; by which means it came to pass that some of these were destroyed by throwing themselves down headlong, and some were burnt in the cloisters themselves. Nor did any one of them escape with his life. A false prophet was the occasion of these people’s destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance.

Matthew 24: 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall  also the coming of the Son of man be.  28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

 Cross reference:

Deut. 28:49 The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;

Josephus – Wars Book 6 -Chap.2  – para. 1 – HOW TITUS MARCHED TO JERUSALEM, AND HOW HE WAS IN DANGER AS HE WAS TAKING A VIEW O THE CITY OF THE PLACE ALSO WHERE HE PITCHED HIS CAMP

NOW, as Titus was upon his march into the enemy’s country, the auxiliaries that were sent by the kings marched first, having all the other auxiliaries with them; after whom followed those that were to prepare the roads and measure out the camp; then came the commander’s baggage, and after that the other soldiers, who were completely armed to support them; then came Titus himself, having with him another select body; and then came the pikemen; after whom came the horse belonging to that legion. All these came before the engines; and after these engines came the tribunes and the leaders of the cohorts, with their select bodies; after these came the ensigns, with THE EAGLE; and before those ensigns came the trumpeters belonging to them; next these came the main body of the army in their ranks, every rank being six deep; the servants belonging to every legion came after these; and before these last their baggage; the mercenaries came last, and those that guarded them brought up the rear.

 Matthew 24: 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

 Josephus WARS Book 6 Chap. 6 – para 2&3;

Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance.

3. Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them.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 those 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 of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon 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, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and 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 be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open 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 the signal foreshowed 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 that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, 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.”

 Matthew 24:31 And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

 Josephus WARS Book 6 – Chap 5 – para 3

Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, [I Thess. 5:13 – For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.]came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, A VOICE FROM THE FOUR WINDS, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!” This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, “Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!” And just as he added at the last, “Woe, woe to myself also!” there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.

Matthew 24:32  Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:  33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.  34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.  35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.  36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,  39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

 William E Males:  Rome came, judgement came, like a flood.

Matthew 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Cross references

Luke 17:36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

Job 39:27 Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? 28 She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place.  29 From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.  30 Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.

Mt 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

Verse 37.  Where, Lord?] In what place shall all these dreadful evils fall? The answer our Lord gives in a figure, the application of which they are to make themselves. Where the dead carcass is, there will be the birds of prey-where the sin is, there will the punishment be. See ACC for Mt 24:28. Thither will the eagles (or vultures) be gathered together. The jackal or chakal is a devourer of dead bodies; and the vulture is not less so: it is very remarkable how suddenly these birds appear after the death of an animal in the open field, though a single one may not have been seen on the spot for a long period before.

 Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.  43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.  44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.  45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?  46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.  47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.  48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;  49 And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;  50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,  51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

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