15 Aug 2022

The 10th Roman Legion

I remember once visiting an antique shop near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. At the time, if I’d had a lot of money, I would have bought a slab of stone bearing the inscription of the 10th Roman Legion, the infamous fighting force that destroyed Jerusalem and murdered thousands of Jews in AD 70. The white stone was chiseled with that “Roman” font, a stark reminder of one of history’s darkest days—the destruction of the Temple.

(In one sense though, we can look at that day as a remarkable, detailed fulfilled prophecy given by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 24; the Lord predicted the destruction of the Temple, at that time an unthinkable occurrence.)

After the Six Day War in 1967, Israeli archaeologists began removing dirt and debris that had accumulated around the Temple Mount, much of it dumped there by the Jordanians. Today, a gleaming archaeological park is there and the walls have been almost fully exposed. One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen is the pile of gigantic stones lying at the bottom of the Western Wall; they were pushed over the side by Roman soldiers, almost possessed by a demonic energy as they destroyed the Temple in a frenzied effort of fire and blood.

We know what happened due to a few historical accounts, the most important being that of Josephus, a Jewish historian that had been captured by the Romans and taken to Rome. Upon his return, he was camped with the legionnaires as they laid siege to the city.

Four years before, the Jews had revolted against Rome, wanting to throw off the oppression and rule. Nero was the emperor and Vespasian the general that commanded the troops in Judea. Nero would die and Vespasian would go back to Rome as emperor. It was in this era that the famous Masada siege also took place; Jewish scribes just down the road were setting to writing what would become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Titus would eventually replace his father, Vespasian, as commander of the forces in Judea; they would spend five months laying siege to the fabled city.

All this to say…archaeologists have now uncovered proof of the Roman siege of Jerusalem, and it’s a fascinating story. From a Jerusalem Post report:

“Over the course of many years, archaeological excavations were able to uncover a significant number of Roman military equipment in the city. Many of these were found by Arbiv and fellow researcher Dr. Rina Avner in the Russian Compound near the Jerusalem Municipality.

“So far, the excavated equipment consists of anything from ballista stones, sling stones, spears, arrowheads, swords and catapults.”

I’ve seen various Roman and Babylonian ballista stones, arrowheads, etc., in various parts of the city. But these latest discoveries show a widespread and well-coordinated attack. As the Romans squeezed the city’s inhabitants even more, starvation and suicide took place on a wide scale.

These large, ballista stones were launched from a platform that also employed springs that would send the heavy stones over great distances, at great speed.

These stones were used with brutal effectiveness:

“This lines up with the Siege of Jerusalem, with the ballista stones found being of varying weight and size, able to be launched in an effort to break through the walls or to hit people and prevent the defenders from trying to come out from cover to strike back.”

The story of this siege is fascinating:

“Much of the battle itself was described by the famed Jewish historian Josephus in his landmark work The History of the Jewish War against the Romans.

“With this information, Arbiv was able to match it up with his own findings. These were gained through the locations of where the ballistae stones were found and, from there, he calculated where they must have been fired from.

“This complex series of calculations had to factor in everything from the location of the city walls, the angles used to launch each stone and what their ranges were and the local topography.

“From here, Arbiv helped discover two things: Where much of the Roman artillery was located, and where the Romans probably managed to breach the city.”

It seems the artillery was in what is now the center of modern Jerusalem, to the west of the Old City. And the Romans breached the walls in the area of today’s Russian Compound.

Still to be discovered are the towers and siege rams that were also used.

We wait with great anticipation for these and other discoveries!










8 Aug 2022

Gaza Boiling Again

Ever since Samson wrangled with the Philistines, Gaza has been a hotbed of death and mayhem. Would that there would be peace for all the people in that region, but so long as Hamas and the PLO are in charge, misery will follow.

Modern Gaza has been a thorn in the side of not only Israel, but Egypt as well. The area with the sea as its border on the west has been used as a training ground for terrorism launched against Israel.

When the “Palestinians” were being invented as a propaganda tool against Israel, in the 1960s, mass immigration from Arab countries was key. By 1951, after the War of Independence, Gaza had only around 80,000 “natives” but today there are more than a million!

In the book Gideon’s Spies, we learn how the resources flow today:

“The money comes from Iran. It is laundered through the central banks from Damascus to Athens. From there it is electronically transferred to an account in Cairo. Then it is couriered to Gaza City for distribution by the Jihad Committee.”

On Monday of this week, the Israelis arrested a senior official with Islamic Jihad, Bassam al-Sa’adi. According to a report with the JNS:

“Khaled al-Batsh, head of the politburo of PIJ in Gaza, said on Wednesday: ‘We have every right to bomb Israel with our most advanced weapons and make the occupier pay a heavy price. We will not settle for attacking around Gaza, but we will bomb the center of the so-called State of Israel,’ according to The Media Line.”

Well, today, Islamic Jihad fired 100 rockets from Gaza into Israel.

This came after a senior terrorist with Islamic Jihad was killed in an IDF airstrike. Operation Breaking Dawn achieved a good degree of success for the Israelis including the elimination of terrorist leader Tayseer al-Jabari.”

Remember, “caretaker” PM Yair Lapid is running the show (he has the support of Benjamin Netanyahu), along with Defense Minister Benny Gantz. The operation was launched after intel confirmed a major terror attack was in the offing.

Gantz has called up 25,000 reservists after Jabari was suspected of masterminding an attack.

A report also this week from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center gives some insight into just how the terrorists have contempt even for their own people, often using them as shields and cannon fodder:

“On July 27, 2022, the IDF published a list of Hamas terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip operating in the heart of the civilian population and near civilian facilities. One of them was a terrorist tunnel discovered during Operation Guardian of the Walls. The tunnel shaft is near the Islamic University in Gaza City, which has about 20,000 students, and the tunnel path runs close to UNRWA’s main offices. Another was a site for manufacturing and repairing weapons, located in a residential building about 55 meters (about 60 feet) from UNRWA’s clinics and the Shifaa Hospital. There were also a terrorist tunnel in the al-Tufah neighborhood of Gaza City, whose path runs near an elementary school which serves as an emergency civilian shelter, and a weapons storehouse inside a mosque where activities for children and adolescents take place; the mosque is in the heart of a civilian neighborhood (IDF spokesman, July 27, 2022).”

For a long time now, Gaza has been fairly unpredictable with regard to rocket attacks. When Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided in 2005 to pull out of Gaza, it was seen as a goodwill gesture by the West. In fact, one could argue it was a strategic mistake, since Hamas filled the leadership vacuum.

It appears Israel’s intention is simply to maintain relative stability. They know that they periodically will have to go in and put down Hamas, but for now, the terrorists can’t come close to matching IDF capabilities.

That is true, but what a sad reality to watch citizens be killed by their own Arab leadership. “Cleaning-out” Gaza would be a monumental operation. So for now it remains “merely” a powder keg.