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What happened in Jerusalem that resulted in the destruction of the city by Rome in 70 AD?


The siege of Jerusalem during AD 70 marked a defining moment in the first Jewish-Roman War. The city, occupied by Jewish defenders since 66 AD, was conquered by the Roman army led by Titus, the future emperor, and Tiberius Julius Alexander. The fall of Jerusalem led to the destruction of its significant temple, which is still mourned annually during the Jewish holiday Tisha b'Av. The Arch of Titus, standing in Rome, depicts and celebrates the sack of Jerusalem and the Temple's destruction.


This event holds great significance in Jewish history and tradition and is commemorated annually during the fast of Tisha b'Av. It is also crucial for Christian theology. Flavius Josephus, a Jewish leader who later became a historian, provided a detailed account of the event. Since the capture of Jerusalem by Gnaeus Pompey Magnus in 63 AD, the Romans had occupied Judea. They ruled directly through corrupt procurators, causing hostility among the Jews, although the critical Hellenized population supported them.


According to Flavius Josephus, the revolt in 66 was caused by a pagan sacrifice before the entrance to the synagogue of Caesarea Maritima and the diversion of 17 talents from the treasury of the Jerusalem Temple by the procurator Gessius Florus. The decisive act that broke the peace with Rome was the decision of Eleazar ben Hanania, who was responsible for the Temple's care, to stop accepting the daily sacrifice for the emperor. Despite initial success, the revolt was eventually suppressed.


Emperor Nero's assassination in 68 prompted Vespasian to seek imperial dignity, interrupting the war against the Jews. The Jews failed to use the ensuing lull to organize themselves. Vespasian left for Rome, and his son Titus assumed command of the Judean legions. He left Caesarea to besiege Jerusalem shortly before Pesach 70 to initiate negotiations, according to Cassius Dio.





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