Wall of Jerusalem breached by the Romans

Prof. Aren Maeir, director of the Tel es-Safi/Gath archaeological excavation, explains why some of his team is not working today.

Today, part of the team was not working in the field, since it is the Jewish fast day of the 17th of Tammuz, which commemorates the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem by the Romans, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (and according to some traditions, during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 586 BCE as well). Others though were in the field and had a very good day.

Titus, Roman commander at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, was later Emperor (A.D. 79-81). Bust in British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Titus, Roman commander at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, was later Emperor (A.D. 79-81). Bust in British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Whatever the exact day of the event, the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans was a traumatic event. Christians, and perhaps others, understand it as a judgment upon the corrupt nation at that time (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). I use judgment in the sense of repeated judgments upon cities and nations as we see it used in the Old Testament prophets. We believe that Jesus predicted the destruction of the city of Jerusalem about 40 years prior the the actual destruction by the Romans.

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. (Luke 21:20 ESV)

There is much archaeological evidence in Jerusalem of the Roman occupation of the city and of the destruction in A.D. 70. In the excavations conducted in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem following 1967, archaeologists uncovered evidence of the destruction and burning of the city. The Herodian Mansion and the Burnt House are two places that are especially interesting to Bible students who visit the Old City. Here is a photo of the exhibit at the Burnt House. The Burnt House is known to be the priestly House of Kathros.

The Burnt House in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Burnt House in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In this photo you see furniture, stone vessels, and clear evidence of the burning of the building in A.D. 70. A larger image, suitable for use in teaching, is available by clicking on the photo.

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