How Titus Got Away With Blasphemy

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    In order for Titus to blaspheme God in the Temple without seriously risking mutiny among his 20,000 local Jewish troops it was necessary that the Jews in Titus’ army be made aware of all the ways the Jewish rebels in the Temple had already defiled the Temple before the arrival of the Romans. This would paint the Zealots as the enemy to the Jews in Titus’ army all while minimizing Titus’ intended blasphemies if rumor ever got out to the Jewish soldiers in the Roman camp concerning them. Thus while petitioning the Jews to surrender, Josephus repeatedly mentions all the ways the Jews had already defiled the city and Temple (Wars 5.9.4 (vs. 380, 381, 393, 394, 397, 401, 402, 403, 406, 411-412)). Josephus’ discourse concerning how the Jewish rebels had already defiled their city and sanctuary appears to have been directed as much to the 20,000 Jewish soldiers in Titus’ army as it was to the Jews in Jerusalem. The 20,000 Jewish soldiers in Titus’ army were not as reliable or loyal as the Roman soldiers and auxiliaries from the neighboring nations. Thus these local troops would have been employed in the Roman camp to free-up other, more reliable soldiers to fight in Jerusalem and its Temple. Thus it was also important that Titus’ army worship the ensigns on the eastern gate in the inside of the Temple rather than on the outside. This way this blasphemous act would be out of the view of the local Jewish troops positioned outside the city in the Roman camp. The fact that the Zealots had already been primed as the enemy due to their repeated sacrilegious acts any rumors concerning Titus’ blasphemies would be mitigated by these prior sacrileges. Furthermore, the fact that Titus’ blasphemies were done on the inside of the Temple away from the view of these Jewish soldiers would have also given this act some degree of plausible deniability.

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