Jerusalem AD 69
Eliakim swept into his modest house with barely contained excitement.
Two small children ran into his arms, exclaiming, “Papa, you are home early today!”
Upon seeing his diminutive wife only a step behind his children, he stood and said, “I am indeed – I have great news! Simon Bar Giora has just entered the city leading a large army. The priests and people have proclaimed him both King and Messiah!”
He faltered upon seeing his wife’s expression. “What is it, Dinah? Why do you frown? I was thinking we could go to watch Simon and his army drive that monster John of Giscala from the Temple.”
“Husband, we need to talk,” Dinah began carefully. “Jachin and Martha, our neighbours, visited me this morning.”
“I told you to stay away from those half-baked Christians,” Eliakim hissed.
Undaunted, Dinah continued, “They said that all the Christians are leaving Jerusalem today. They asked us to come with them.”
“It is because of some prophecies spoken by Jesus of Nazareth – prophecies that describe this very situation,” she hesitated. “Husband, my heart is troubled.”
“What exactly did they say, wife?”
“Apparently, Jesus prophesied that prior to Jerusalem’s destruction, many self appointed messiahs would arise – such as Simon Bar Giora and John Giscala. He warned that we must not follow them.”
“Be careful, Dinah, you speak treason!” Eliakim spoke in alarm, glancing over his shoulder.
“There is more, husband. Jesus is also reported as saying that when we see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, we will know that its desolation is at hand. All in the city must flee with utmost haste.”
Eliakim was not impressed, “You cannot possibly believe this nonsense, Dinah!”
“What if they speak the truth, Eliakim? What if Simon Bar Giora is not the Messiah? What if God does not support this revolt? Because if you are wrong, the Romans will overcome this city and enslave us all - or worse.”
“I’m sure it won’t come to that, Dinah. God has already shown us His support for our cause by helping us to defeat Legate Cestius Gallus and smash the Twelfth Roman Legion. Its Aquila standard even now sits in the Sanhedrin chambers.”
“Husband, that was but one legion. General Vespasian who now approaches Jerusalem is said to have brought two Roman legions and many auxiliary cohorts.” Dinah stopped and picked up their children. She gave one to Eliakim and placed the other on her hip. “Husband, look at them. Look!”
Eliakim sighed, “What is your point, woman?”
“I want you to know what it is you gamble by following this Simon. It is not just your life, but the lives of these two precious little ones, as well as my own. Are we not enough for you?”
Conflicting emotions warred across Eliakim’s features, but he spoke with conviction, “Wife, you know how much you and the children mean to me, but I want more. We must look beyond ourselves. This is our chance to throw off the yoke of our Roman oppressors. I would risk all to achieve this end!”
“Please, Eliakim, let us join the Christians and flee Jerusalem.”
“Enough, Dinah! Today I will join Simon’s army. This is the time to fight, not run!”
Jerusalem AD 70
Dinah met Eliakim at the door when he slipped quietly into the house just after midnight. “You were right, Dinah. Simon Bar Giora is not the Messiah. Not only are we are losing this war, but today Simon himself torched the city’s last stockpiles of food.”
“To motivate us to fight harder,” Eliakim lamented.
“What are we going to do?”
“Quickly, gather the children. I saw a gap in the Roman lines today, so we are going to try to escape,” Eliakim instructed.
“Husband, the Romans crucify all they catch trying to escape the city. Have you not seen those thousands of crosses they have set before the walls?”
“Trust me, Dinah, we can do this.”
Eliakim and Dinah froze in terror when Roman soldiers surrounded them in the moonlight outside the city walls.
“Orders, Centurion?” barked one legionary.
“Crucify the man and woman. Sell the children to the Syrian slave traders,” the Centurion spat.
Around AD 69, Jerusalem’s Christians fled to Pella in response to Christ’s prophetic words. In AD 70 Vespasian’s son, Titus, besieged Jerusalem. Thousands attempting to flee were crucified before the city walls. The Romans soon broke into the city. Those not slaughtered were sold into slavery. Simon Bar Giora was captured alive and later thrown off a cliff.
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