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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20 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.

  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. 🙂

  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.

  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.

  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!”

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