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Temple in Jerusalem, Scientific Date for Its Destruction in AD 70
- Josephus, a secular Jewish historian, witnessed the temple's
destruction and observed the temple's burning occurred on the
10th day of the 5th Jewish month.
- Josephus also noted that Babylon had burned Solomon's temple
on the same date in prior history. Josephus wrote:
"Titus retired into the tower of
Antonia, and resolved to storm the temple the next day, early in the
morning, with his whole army, and to encamp round about the holy
house; but, as for that house, God had for certain long ago doomed
it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to
the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous
[Av], upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon."(1)
Scientifically Dating Josephus' Words
- In the reference above, Josephus reveals that the Romans set
fire to the temple on the 10th day of the 5th Jewish month. We
must convert Josephus' Hebrew calendar date, which is based on
the moon, to the Julian calendar date. This process will use the
astronomical position of the moon in the year A.D. 70 to
discover that the Julian calendar date of August 5 equates to
the Hebrew calendar date of the 10th day of the 5th Jewish month
(Av 10). I will use charts to simplify this process and to
illustrate how Josephus' Hebrew calendar date converts to the
Julian calendar date.
- The first day of any Hebrew month begins with a new moon.
Since Josephus reveals the temple burned on the 10th day of the
month, we know ten days had passed since the new moon. Since the
5th Hebrew month, Av, contains 30 days, 20 days remained from
the date of the temple's destruction to the end of the month as
shown in the following chart.
- We visually understand by the chart above that the temple
burned 20 days before the next new moon.
- The sixth Jewish month, called Elul, contains 29 days. Let's
add the 20 days left in the 5th Jewish month, Av, to the 29 days
in the 6th Jewish month, Elul. This totals 49 days as shown in
the following chart:
- The chart above illustrates how 49 days are counted in this
- Finally, the Jewish New Year occurs on the 1st day of the 7th
Hebrew month, called Tishri. We add one day to the 49 days
illustrated above to equal 50 total days. This means that the
Romans set fire to the temple 50 days before the new moon in
September, AD 70. (The Jewish month Tishri normally began in
either September or early October). Following is a chart showing
how the temple's burning occurred 50 days before the September
- The chart above illustrates how 50 days are counted in this
manner, showing that the Romans burned the temple 50 days before
the new moon in September, AD 70. We simply find the time of the
new moon on an astronomical chart and subtract 50 days.
- However, Josephus gives us a second detail that reveals the
temple's burning probably occurred on a Sunday. Josephus writes
about the activities of the Jewish people the day before the
"On this day the Jews were so weary,
and under such consternation, that they refrained from any attacks."(2)
- Josephus implies that the day before the temple burned was a
Sabbath or Saturday. This means the Romans set fire to Herod's
temple on a Sunday.
- The 50 day counting and Sunday burning allow us to pinpoint
the day on which the temple burned. When we count back 50 days
from the new moon in September, AD 70, we must come to a Sunday.
- Astronomical charts show that a new moon occurred on Sunday,
September 23, AD 70, at 5:21 a.m.(3) Ideal
times for the first day of the lunar month could have been as
early as Saturday, September 22 to as late as Wednesday,
September 26. However, when we count back 50 days to a Sunday,
there is only one answer. The Jewish New Year occurred on
Monday, September 24. Fifty days before September 24 brings us
to Sunday, August 5, AD 70, as follows:
Astronomy and the secular writings of Josephus enable us to
pinpoint the day Rome set fire to Herod's temple. Astronomy
has a natural relationship to Daniel's "time-oriented"
Scriptural References about Jerusalem's
Destruction in A.D. 70:
- Daniel 9:26 "the
people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city
the sanctuary[the temple]"
- Luke 21:20-24 "When
you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her
desolation is at hand. . . . and they [the
Jewish people] will fall by the
edge of the sword and will be led captive into all the nations."
Secular Witness to the Temple's
- Josephus wrote in detail about the date of the temple's
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