Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, February 07, 2005

If Jewish hands defile the Temple, God will destroy the Temple

One in a series about the relationship between Luke and Josephus.

On January 31, 2005 I wrote: “In another instance in War, Josephus does say that if Jewish hands defile the Temple, God will destroy the Temple.” Today I wonder if this prophecy is somehow related to the warning inscriptions in Greek and Latin prominently posted in the Temple.[i] Two of these tablets in Greek have been found. They read as follows: “No alien may enter within the balustrade around the sanctuary and the enclosure. Whoever is caught, on himself shall be put the blame for the death which will ensue.”

According to Josephus, the whole nation would suffer for the sin of trespassing upon sacred ground, if the culprit was not “destroyed”.[ii] Numbers 1:51 prescribe that the common man who comes near the Tabernacle should be put to death.[iii]

There are two passages in Acts that may be relevant to the understanding of the inscription. Paul was assaulted and beaten by the crowd for the alleged violation of the law against bringing pagans into the Temple but he was rescued by Roman soldiers and presented to the Roman tribunal for decision.[iv] At Ephesus, Paul’s friends were seized by a heathen crowd and brought into a popular assembly in the theatre as guilty of sacrilege against Artemis, the goddess of Ephesus.[v]

The idea of the fear of pollution is one that is present in the writings of Josephus and Luke.

[i] Jos. Ant. XV, 417; War V. 193; VI, 124.
[ii] Cf. War I, 229, 354; IV, 201, 205, 215, 218; Ant. III, 318: XIV, 285.
[iii] See also Num. 3:38; Lev. 15:31; Num 19:13 and 20.
[iv] Acts 21.
[v] Acts 19.

copyrighted 2005


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