June 24, 2020 at 3:25 am #14817adminKeymaster
At first it seems contradictory that Titus would blaspheme God in the Talmud (Gittin 56b) and also give credit to God for destroying Jerusalem (Wars 6.9.1). Yet there appears to be a very good self-serving motive why Titus may have done both. In his later work, Josephus recounts how the Jews averted a military disaster by showing Alexander the Great the Book of Daniel which predicted he would conquer Persia:
And when the book of Daniel was showed him [Alexander the Great], wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present, but the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favors they pleased him: whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired[.] (Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 11.337-338.)
Recalling how the Jews of Jerusalem not only avoided a military conquest by an angry Greek army intent on destroying them but even turned this around to gain special favors from Alexander the Great by showing him a prophecy about his future successes in the Book of Daniel, perhaps this bit of history gave Josephus an idea on how to get out of prison and even win the war with Rome at the same time? Josephus predicted that Vespasian and Titus would become emperors of Rome (Wars 18.104.22.1681). Josephus was a Jewish priest so he knew the Book of Daniel well–after all he writes about Biblical history at length in Antiquities of the Jews.
Not only did Josephus’ prediction increase his chances of gaining his freedom by ingratiating himself with his captors this prediction may have also been a cunning military strategy to defeat the Romans. If Josephus’ prediction that Vespasian and Titus would become emperor was based on the Book of Daniel, Josephus may have also saw in this book an opportunity to bate the Flavians with the promise of power and by doing so seal their fate in the process. Dan 9:26-27 reads,
The people of the prince who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. [Emphasis mine.]
Here we see that whoever destroys “the city [Jerusalem] and sanctuary [the Temple]” will become king as this figure is a “prince” according to Dan 9:26. This future king would also “set up an abomination that causes desolation” in “the temple.” Then after doing all these things “the end” is “poured out on him.” Hiding this final part from his captors, did Josephus think in making this prediction known to Titus and Vespasian that he could bate Titus and Vespasian to fulfill this prediction and by doing so force God’s hand to destroy his captors and in the process not only win the war with the Romans but also be freed once “the end” was “poured out” on his enemies? Speaking about this figure who “set up an abomination that causes desolation” “at the temple,” Daniel 7:25 says that he would “speak against the Most High.” If Josephus showed Vespasian and Titus these predictions—and Josephus certainly knew about them and had strong selfish motives to do so—this would certainly explain why Titus would blaspheme God in the Talmud and at the same time credit God for his success in Wars as Titus needed to blaspheme God to fulfill these ancient prophecies that promised that if he did all these things this same God would then make him emperor.
Of course, these seemingly contradictory behaviors are predicated on Titus having been exposed to Daniel 7 and 9 by Josephus or one of his other Jewish soldiers or generals. And the likelihood that Titus had been educated concerning Daniel 7 and 9 is made all the more likely by the fact that Titus’ knowledge of this text also explains the other seemingly contradictory testimony that Titus both desired to destroy the Temple (Sulpitius Severus Chronica 2.30.7) and yet ostentatiously tried to get his soldiers to extinguish the flames when the Temple was set on fire (Wars 6.4.6). (See Both Severus AND Josephus are correct: How Titus BOTH did and did not order the Temple to be Destroyed.) In light of the fact that Titus’ knowledge of Daniel 7 and 9 explains and reconciles all the seemingly contradictory historical testimony concerning Titus’ actions during this war it seems very probable that Titus was somehow made aware of this text and actively sought to fulfill these prophecies so as to take advantage of this favorable omen that promised to make him emperor.
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