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The Jewish War


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I was wondering if anyone might be able to answer a detail regarding the Jewish War. I know that the temple was destroyed in 70 ad and at that time all sacrifices stopped. But, is it possible that a majority of the sacrifices may have stopped before that? I know that in 66ad, major uprisings were occurring but it looks like some of the official celebrations and sacrifices were still done. However, after that, due to all the sieges and scirmishes, were the Jews even able to participate in Passover and atonement ceremonies? If anyone can help answer this question, I would sure appreciate it!

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To make this question a little more specific-- I am asking mostly about the Day of Atonement sacrifice.  Since this was done in months around September, I am pretty sure that the last time this was actually completed was in 69ad, since the temple was gone in July 70ad.  But, was wondering about the years prior 66-69.  I understand that the zealots took over the temple and designated a high priest who did not meet the usual requirements based on what Josephus has to say, but did they also do all of the temple rituals as well.  It appears that passover was completed, since in 70ad, while all of the people were in Jerusalem for the passover time, they were surrounded by the Roman armies and then systematically starved by their own people because the zealots burned the grain supplies, etc.  So, I know that ritual appears to have taken place or was at least in the process of taking place-- but wanted to know more specifically about the atonement ritual and whether it appears that this might have been ceased due to all of the madness taking place.

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Hm, hard to say. What exact use would this knowledge have?

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     The short answer is there's no way to really know.

 

     The slightly longer answer is that invading forces could offer supplies for sacrifices even in the situation described by Josephus (I'm too lazy to look right now for examples but I believe Josephus offers examples from earlier in his writings).  In addition he specifically mentions that the daily sacrifices fail due to a lack of people to perform them not from a lack of other resources.  I believe the priests are still alive around the seventh month (Tishri) but get killed off (or mostly so) not long after which could explain this.  This leads into the final year and the fall of the temple.

 

     So it appears the priests are around, have the resources and perform the rituals but ultimately get killed off and the whole thing grinds to a halt.  But there's no knowing for certain.

 

          mwc

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MWC-- when you talk about the priests being alive in the seventh month but then getting killed off, what year are you refering to-- as after you state this, you then say that this leads into teh final year and the fall of the temple.   It appeared that things were getting really rough in Jerusalem, so I was wondering if this caused a suspension of some of the regularly performed rituals.  The atonement ritual is of particlar importances because of a discussion that I had with someone who stated that god showed disfavor with the atonement rituals after Jesus came along-- this was evidenced for 40 years prior to the temple destruction (Yoma 39b in the Talmud) . (beginning 30ad, when jesus supposedly died).  I was just trying to show them that most likely, you can't count an atonement sacrifice in 70ad, since there was no temple, and was wondering if there were even sacrifices made in the years prior due to all the madness going on.  So 40 years-- of bad sacrifices would then take you to 29ad-- not a year when Jesus supposedly died.  Just trying to reason with a christian.  Anyway, just thought I would check to see if anyone knew of resources that could help with this. 

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     Okay.  Here's from Wars:

 

     Back in 1.1.1. he says this:

 


He [Antiochus] also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.

 

     In 1.7.4., about a different time, he says:

 


Now here it was that, upon the many hardships which the Romans underwent, Pompey could not but admire not only at the other instances of the Jews' fortitude, but especially that they did not at all intermit their religious services, even when they were encompassed with darts on all sides; for, as if the city were in full peace, their daily sacrifices and purifications, and every branch of their religious worship, was still performed to God with the utmost exactness.

     So with these two we can see an instance of these specific (the daily offerings) being interrupted and another where it is not.  This is also why Antiochus was seen as quite evil in Daniel.

 

     So in 6.2.1. we're told:

 


while he himself had Josephus brought to him, (for he had been informed that on that very day, which was the seventeenth day (5)of Panemus, [Tamuz,] the sacrifice called "the Daily Sacrifice" had failed, and had not been offered to God, for want of men to offer it, and that the people were grievously troubled at it,)

     That in Tamuz, which is the month just prior to Av, these same daily sacrifices have now ceased.  This is a bad sign.  And later on 10 Av the temple falls.  The time is very short.  Less than a month.  But it's not because they don't have resources to offer but don't have anyone to make the offering.  The daily sacrifice must have been working on 9 Av for it to have an absolute cessation date of 10 Av.  You see?  It worked the day before.  And it would have worked that day too but it lacked the men to do it not the material.

 

     Now, from Antiquities this is the daily sacrifice:

 


1. The law requires, that out of the public expenses a lamb of the first year be killed every day, at the beginning and at the ending of the day; but on the seventh day, which is called the Sabbath, they kill two, and sacrifice them in the same manner.

     There's just no way they could get all this without outside help.

 

     Here's a similar situation from 14.6.2:

 


but now fearing lest the Romans should hinder them from offering their daily sacrifices to God, they sent an embassage, and desired that they would only permit them to bring in beasts for sacrifices, which Herod granted, hoping they were going to yield; but when he saw that they did nothing of what he supposed, but bitterly opposed him, in order to preserve the kingdom to Antigonus, he made an assault upon the city, and took it by storm;

 

     Anyhow, back to Wars.

 

     Back in 5.13.1 we see that there were priests alive at the end of the year (or beginning depending on which calendar your using).

 


This Matthias was the son of Boethus, and was one of the high priests, one that had been very faithful to the people, and in great esteem with them...

     And they are killed pretty quickly.  And there seems to be no issues noted at the Passover celebration which is when the city gets the large influx of people right before it is closed off.  So even if Passover is a bust there still seems to be a high priest at around the time of the fast but the time frame is really hard to pin down.

 

     All I can tell you is that the sacrifices appear to all take place with no real problems, even with the killings of the priests, until not long before the temple actually falls.

 

          mwc

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     A specific set of dates?  Well, there is some debate but if you insist then I'll say this all happened during 69-70CE with the end of sacrifices happening around mid-July and the fall of the temple early August.  That is probably not what Josephus intends since it really doesn't line up with his other dates when the temple falls but that's what he writes.  He likely intends for the temple to actually fall on the 10th of the 7th month as judgment (since that is literally judgment day).

 

          mwc

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MWC-- forgive me if I seem to be acting dense-- I have no doubt that I am, but just to clarify a bit further, is it then safe to say that Atonement Sacrifiices did not take place in 70ad, as there was no temple and basically everything was utterly destroyed-- and then is it also possible that there may not have even been an Atonement sacrifice in 69ad-- due to all of the calamities,etc ensuing? 

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MWC-- forgive me if I seem to be acting dense-- I have no doubt that I am, but just to clarify a bit further, is it then safe to say that Atonement Sacrifiices did not take place in 70ad, as there was no temple and basically everything was utterly destroyed--

      I would say this is a safe bet given the information we have.  Basically you're looking at temple being taking in late-July/early-August and the whole of Jerusalem falling about a month later (late-August/early-September).  Precise conversion of dates are tricky but those should suffice.  We're still, at this time, about a month (using the appropriate calendar) from the new year and the Romans are busy pulling things apart and doing mop-up (killing any resistance, rounding up and shipping off slaves, getting their rewards...not to mention the continuing war elsewhere).  They, the Romans, are done playing nice.  They're doing their own sacrifices here and setting up shop.  The Jews are being dealt with.  No Jewish high priests are left alive to perform the rituals.  They've been killed.  The low level priests are around and just because they're assisting the Romans.  It's over.  Nothing will happen when 10 Tishri rolls around except for a lot of very miserable Jews.  Maybe some guy tried something somewhere?  There's always some possibility of something.  But nothing official took place at the ex-temple in Jerusalem.

 

and then is it also possible that there may not have even been an Atonement sacrifice in 69ad-- due to all of the calamities,etc ensuing?

     Is it possible?  Anything is possible.  Is it likely?  I don't think so.  I think it probably occurred.  There's no reason not to think it.  They had priests and the other sacrifices appeared to be taking place.  Things didn't get truly rotten until after that next Passover once they had the huge influx of people and the Romans got their walls in-place which really made sure no one came in or out.  Once all that happened it ended very quickly.

 

          mwc

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Ok thanks-- I am still arguing with someone regarding the Yoma 39b story being proof of Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice and god showing his disfavor with the Jews by not giving them miracles from the time of his death in 30ad until the destruction of the temple in 70ad.  According to Yoma, this went on for 40 years.  But if that is the case, the 40 years ended in 69ad, not 70ad, so the cessaction of the miracles would have started in 29ad-- not 30ad, when Jesus was supposedly crucified for our sins.  I know that this is a bit of semantics perhaps, but the argument seems plausible to me.  I doubt that the Yoma story even really happened-- it appears to be a story to explain why the temple was ultimately destroyed-- because the priests were bad and god was not happy and showed it.  Earlier in the story, there is a time when god showed favor for 40 years to a good priest.  None of this appears to have anything to do directly with Jesus-- but christians have been latching on to this-- perhaps it is one of the internet email things where people read about something that seems to validate christianity in some weird way.  Anyhow, I am trying to combat it with logic first.  So, my thought is unless Jesus was crucified in 29ad, there is absolutely no connection.  Since 29ad is not one on the popular dates for the crucifixion, I am hoping it will shut my friend up!!

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