As Yeshua and his followers were leaving Jerusalem, his disciples marveled at the beauty of the Temple. Jesus responded, “Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matt 24:2 NASB). How could Yeshua know that the Temple would be destroyed?

In 167 BCE, the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV began forcing the local population of Judea to abandon their ancestral ways and to worship pagan gods. The Seleucids defiled the Jerusalem Temple, robbed its treasures, and erected a statue of Zeus in the holy place (1 Macc 1:41-64). Many believe that the book of Daniel speaks of this horrific event when it states, “On the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate” (וְעַל כְּנַף שִׁקּוּצִים מְשֹׁמֵם; Dan 9:27 NASB). In Hebrew, שִׁקּוּץ (shekutz) is something “impure”, “detestable” and “vile” that is often related to idols and the worship of foreign gods (cf. Deut 29:16; Isa 66:3; Zech 9:7; 1 Kgs 11:5; Nah 3:6). According to Daniel, this vile thing brings “destruction” and “desolation”; the Hebrew שָׁמֵם (shamem) carries an idea of “silence” and “quiet” because everything lies in ruin. Indeed, Jewish prayers in the holy place ceased when Antiochus desecrated it — no one sang or sounded the shofar in the Temple.

In those days, a priestly group of Jews known as Maccabees fled to the mountains, revolted against the Seleucids, and fought the invaders for seven years. In 160 BCE they recaptured the Temple, cleansed it from defilement, and resumed sacrifices to Israel’s God (1 Macc 4:52). Today, we remember those events by celebrating Hanukkah (חֲנוּכָּה) the holiday of “dedication.” We light special multi-branched lamps to remember the miracles of those days. Yet while the Maccabees cleansed the Temple, they did not rid Israel of foreign influence. As the Seleucid Empire declined, Rome ascended as the world’s next great power. The Maccabees made a strategic alliance with the Romans, but eventually they would come to exercise the same kind of power over Israel that the Seleucids had before them.

The buildings that impressed Jesus’ disciples so much were erected by Herod the Great, who began expanding the Jerusalem Temple complex in 20 BCE. He did no live to see its completion around 60 CE, and it would be destroyed by the Roman army just a decade later. Yeshua was right: the marvelous buildings would be toppled to the ground by Titus in 70 CE. Jesus warned his disciples, “when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place… flee to the mountains” (Matt 24:15-16).

It seems that the words of Daniel were not just about the desolation of Antiochus in the Maccabean era. Yeshua foresaw the greater desolation of Titus in the Roman period. Sometimes history repeats itself! In every generation there are those who seek to ruin, and attempt to lay waste the holy things of God. But the spirit of holiness that once burned in the Maccabees continues to burn in the hearts of many Jews who light the Hanukkah lamps today. Whatever the future may hold, with or without the Temple, the people and Land of Israel remain, and God continues to work among his children.

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34 COMMENTS

  1. An excellent article Prof Pinchas and of course Jesus being God incarnate as Peter declares knows all things John 21v17 which I’m sure you know. Your article is well presented and very helpful in understanding these matters. Thank You.

  2. Recently I came across an article talking about how 200 years ago protestants and Catholic churches just to name a couple there more as well who decided to leave out 17-19 books out of what is currently our Christian Bible. What was in all those books that made them leave them out? Just curious.

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    • The Roman church includes the apochrypha, uninspired religious writings that teach some antiscriptural doctrines. The council of Trent officially canonized them and pronounced curses upon dissenters. The Greek church adds even more. Proof God was serious about don’t ADD to His Word; they have lost their way.

  3. Yeshuah knew as He is The Word of God made flesh. Again all the prophets had warned Israel about their descent into idolatry and the spiritual pollution it brought to them. Even the temple was polluted and The Holiness of The Ark of the Covenant would be compromised. Hence it’s destruction. The new covenant was to be established in the spirits of men. Thus no need for a physical temple.

  4. When Titus attacked Jerusalem he set fire to the temple and the gold melted and ran down in the joints between the stones. So after it cooled Titus ordered his men to pry apart all the stones to collect the gold. That’s why Jesus “not two stones will be left one on another.”

  5. I enjoy your teachings very much and intend to take some of the courses when financial pressures ease up a bit.
    I’m a bit surprised that you use the modernized CE instead of the more traditional AD.
    As I have seen this move by modern writers it has grieved me as another way the world and the evil one tried to nullify our faith.

    • Dear Lori, I know people make a big deal about this in cultures that are being rapidly secularized. People feel like everything Christian is being erased. And it is true, the dominance of western Christianity is substantially diminished. I use this system because it is the accepted academic standard across many humanities disciplines. The BC and AD letters were invented by the church and utilized in Gregorian and Julian calendars in the 6th century. What did people do before then??? These abbreviations are Latin and most people do not know what Latin words stand behind those, anyway. I think if you read my posts the content will reveal that I am not promoting secularization regardless of which letters I use. 🙂

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  6. Since we see a reoccurring theme in Daniel and in Maccabees, later in Matthew about the abomination of desolation, could you give a brief explanation of the abomination of desolation in the book Revelations? Most Christian scholars in America teach the abomination of desolation as a future event committed by the anti-christ. Has this event in revelation already occurred? Thank you.

    • As you noted, it is a reoccurring phenomenon, so yes it can manifest again and again. But as far as I know (I might shock you) Revelation does not mention antichrist or the abomination of desolation. I know people read all sorts of things into Revelation, but these terms are not a part of John’s heavenly message. If they are in Revelation, it is because we have placed them there.

  7. I see two problems with the text. 1) the Abomination of Desolation which Jesus spoke of is presented in the future tense. It was and did not refer to the past tense, as traditionally taught. 2) I doubt that Jesus ‘misquoted’ Daniel, as it is that Daniel speaks also of an ‘Abomination that makes Desolate.’ which is quite different from that which tradition dictates as the interpretation of a past tense. 3) The conclusion being that this Abomination that makes Desolate was portrayed as ‘when you see’, a future event at the time of Jesus.

  8. Proffesor ,
    Many Christians believe this cyclical fulfilment of prophecy will have its ultimate fulfilment in the 7 year rule of Anti Christ and the ultimate cleansing by the King of Kings.Your take on this please.

    • If one believes in cyclical, then how can one be sure about the final or ultimate fulfillment, unless it trully the end of the road. And when does that exactly happen?

    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The First Commandment: Deuteronomy in the Gospels and . Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

      • At the rapture. The context of this prophecy is clarified in verse 24. The finality of these words are staggering. I hope 2020 will be a year of clear vision (Father’s humor) with this book being unsealed- “whoso readeth, let him understand.”. How can Matt.24:21 be cyclical?

  9. One finds it strange that people often see prophecy in the bible as simply a kind of “fortune telling” & every crisis is pointing to the “imminent” 2nd coming!
    How many prediction have been made to this &to no avail, the world still carried on.Remember Y2J prodition? The bible is not sum kind of ” mores almanac!”

  10. Jesus was talking about the Apocalypse, not the Seige of Jerusalem. He didn’t care about the temple at all, He was there to overthrow it and make it irrelevant Himself, which He did. This is why God rejected the post-Crucifixion sacrifices made at the temple as long as it remained.

  11. Shalom Prof. Pinchas,

    I have begun the process of implementing Hanukkah this year and that has prompted me to study more about this subject and the intertestamental period.

    In relation to the Prophecy of Daniel 11, are we able to make the leap to say that Daniel was indeed speaking about Antiochus and the historical battle that would take place between the Seleucid (King of the North) and Ptolemaic (King of the South) empires?

    All of the commentaries on this subject seem to be pointing in this direction.

    Secondly, the way the scripture reads it appears that Daniel is speaking to King Darius I and saying that there would be four kings from his reign til the time of Alexander the Great. But, historically there were more than 4 kings after Darius.

    Commentaries seem to be pointing to Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, Darius I and Xerxes.

    Is it a reach to interpret Daniel 11 this way?

    I do believe the prophecy was layered. Daniel seems to be speaking to a near approaching set of events as well as the latter times. If anything we can see a picture of the end times by looking at history. The assimilation that occurred as the result of the Hellenistic Period and the forceful attempts to make everyone think the same way, meanwhile Israel is caught in the middle.

    Great article!

    • The prophecy could be tricky. You are right about being careful and asking questions. Daniel and Aniochus IV is quite reasonable… The reasons not all kings are mentioned is because the ones that need to be mentioned are the most significant ones. Remember ancient people did not catalog history as modern historians do. They did not follow the same rules even. They are much more concerned with impact and the story itself then the sequence and precision. It’s a different culture.

      • Got it!

        Your response makes me think about the statue that Nebuchadnezzar dreamt about and the kingdoms that would succeed his.

        Not that there weren’t other kingdoms, but the ones that were significant leading to the one mixed of iron and clay are the ones that should be in focus.

        The difference is that in the dream interpretation of Daniel 2 , it is widely accepted that the statue was of the Babylonian Empire and the world powers that followed.

        Whereas the accepted interpretation of Daniel 11 is of 4 kings including Darius 1with the 4th being Xerxes.

        Is it typical to have seemingly two separate methods of counting time?
        Could there have been two different scribes writing for Daniel?

        I appreciate the dialogue and engagement!

        • Two scribes or two editors are possible. Daniel is segmented into narrative and prophecy and they speak with very different voices and very divergent in both style and content. It could also be the same writer but writing at two different times. Maybe the parts of the book were not meant to be one cohesive book but somehow were compiled under one name. Hard to tell for sure. This can explain for the two methods of seeing the time, two ways of expressing the sequence and different priorities. One can still argue for one author, but these nuances have to be taken into account.

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  12. Shalom Prof. Pinchas,

    Do you have an idea of the arrangements from the Daniel, Matthew, 1 Thessalonians, Revelation, etc, will happen in the end times. Because, I do not believe in the Dispensational Theology doctrines that creeps into the church.

    • I am not entirely sure to what you refer to, but dispensetionalism is an exegetical attempt to make sense of the end times. I cannot accept its notions simply because it is built on the premise of separating “Israel” and “church” into something that is completely foreign and unrelated to each other. I don’t see that in Tanakh. God has one people…

  13. Continuation:

    Like the Pre-Trib, Mid-trib, Post-Trib, Pre-Millenial, and the like. I don’t believe all of this. I just want the scriptures interpret by itself and also the Jewish perspective of this. Maybe you can help.

    Blessings and Shalom Aleichem.

    • I study apocalyptic Jewish thought but this whole idea of figuring things out, the sequence the timing, the identities of who, what, when, where, and how is not my preoccupation. Perfectly fine to have theories, but build the life on what I know and not merely “hope” to be true. Eschatology does not shape my daily life.

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