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Historical Accounts based on the Olivet Discourse

Tim Naab

Matthew 24:1-8

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples (1) came to him for to shew him the buildings (2) of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (3) And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many (4). And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars (5): see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (6): and there shall be famines (7), and pestilences (8), and earthquakes, in divers places (9). All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Mark 13:1-8

And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples (1) saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings (2) are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? (3) And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many (4). And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars(5), be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (6): and there shall be earthquakes in divers places (9), and there shall be famines (7) and troubles (8): these are the beginnings of sorrows.

 Luke 21:5-11

And as some (1) spake of the temple (2), how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? (3) And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them (4). But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions (5), be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (6): And great earthquakes shall be in divers places (9), and famines (7), and pestilences (8);

(1). Note the audience. Jesus was speaking to His disciples. In Luke 21:5 the word “some” is in reference to the beginning of this discourse (see Luke 20:45)

(2) Note that what is being discussed are the buildings and the Temple. This did not include retaining walls or Ft. Antonia, which was connected to the temple mound. "The Wailing Wall". This wall is the western wall of an ancient courtyard and for that reason it is also referred to as "The Western Wall."

"And where is now that great city (Jerusalem), the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about it. . . Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? it is now demolished to the very foundations, and hath nothing left but that monument in it preserved, I mean the camp of those (the Romans) that hath destroyed it, which still dwells upon its ruins; Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Vol. II. 8.7 All that was left was a part of Ft. Antonia, the Roman headquarters in Jerusalem…The Wailing Wall….

(3) Jesus did not teach 3 different Olivet Discourses. This being true, then we need to look at all three statements to glean the essence of their questions. Because many say that they question is different in Matthew we must take the disciples questions in context. In order to do this we need to look at (Matthew 23:37-39  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.) Jesus was talking about His “coming” and the desolation of the city. Also note (Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?) Damanation; krisis (greek) “Judgement”. Hell; geenna (greek) “Place of future punishment” (Ezekiel 7:1-6 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land. Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD; An evil, an only evil, behold, is come. An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come.) (Amos 8:1-3 This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit*. And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass by them. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” declares the Lord God. “So many dead bodies!” “They are thrown everywhere!”  “Silence!”)*Summer fruit--Hebrew, kitz. In Am 8:2 "end" is in Hebrew, keetz. The similarity of sounds implies that, as the summer is the end of the year and the time of the ripeness of fruits, so Israel is ripe for her last punishment, ending her national existence. As the fruit is plucked when ripe from the tree, so Israel from her land. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown on Amos 8:1

This is the “end” of the world, “age” that the disciples were refering to in reference to the judgement and future punishement in Matthew 23:33. So the disciples questions in all three Gospels is the same; “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things (the end) are about to take place?”


 (Acts 5:36 (NKJV) "For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing) Josephus writes; “NOW it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain magician, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem. This was what befell the Jews in the time of Cuspius Fadus's government.” Antiquities of the Jews - Book XX.5.1

“There was also another body of wicked men gotten together, not so impure in their actions, but more wicked in their intentions, which laid waste the happy state of the city no less than did these murderers. These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of Divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty. But Felix thought this procedure was to be the beginning of a revolt; so he sent some horsemen and footmen both armed, who destroyed a great number of them.” War of the Jews- Book II.13.4

“But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.”  War of the Jews- Book II.13.4

"Meantime, at the outset, as soon as he was reckoned among the thirty disciples of Dositheus, he began to depreciate Dositheus himself, saying that he did not teach purely or perfectly, and that this was the result not of ill intention, but. of ignorance. But Dositheus, when he perceived that Simon was depreciating him, fearing lest his reputation among men might be obscured (for he himself was supposed to be the Standing One), moved with rage, when they met as usual at the school, seized a rod, and began to beat Simon; hut suddenly the rod seemed to pass through his body, as if it had been smoke. On which Dositheus, being astonished, says to him, 'Tell me if thou art the Standing One, that I may adore thee.' And when Simon answered that he was, then Dositheus, perceiving that he himself was not the Standing One, fell down and worshipped him, and gave up his own place as chief to Simon, ordering all the rank of thirty men to obey him; himself taking the inferior place which Simon formerly occupied. Not long after this he died.  – Clements Recognitions

(Acts 8:9-10 (NKJV) But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the great power of God.")

"Nearly all the Samaritans, but few among the rest of the nations, confess him [Simon Magus] to be the first god and worship him." Justin Martyr, Apology, I.26

"They have a statue of Simon in the form of Zeus, and one of Helen in the form of Athena [the Virgin], which they worship, calling the former Lord and the latter Lady. And if any among them on seeing the images, calls them by the name Simon or Helen, he is cast out as one ignorant of the mysteries." Hippolytus, Philosophumena, VI.20

"He [Simon Magus] was glorified by many as a god; and he taught that it was he himself who, forsooth, appeared among the Jews as the Son, while in Samaria he descended as the Father, and the rest of the world he came as the Holy Spirit. That he was the highest power, to wit, the Father over all, and that he allowed himself to be called by whatever name men pleased." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, I.23.1

" and so on; whereas it has been proclaimed to the entire world that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God who visited the human race: for those who, like Celsus, have supposed that (the acts of Jesus) were a series of prodigies, and who for that reason wished to perform acts of the same kind, that they, too, might gain a similar mastery over the minds of men, were convicted of being utter nonentities. Such were Simon, the Magus of Samaria, and Dositheus, who was a native of the same place; since the former gave out that he was the power of God that is called great, and the latter that he was the Son of God. Now Simonians are found nowhere throughout the world; and yet, in order to gain over to himself many followers, Simon freed his disciples from the danger of death, which the Christians were taught to prefer, by teaching them to regard idolatry as a matter of indifference. But even at the beginning of their existence the followers of Simon were not exposed to persecution. For that wicked demon who was conspiring against the doctrine of Jesus, was well aware that none of his own maxims would be weakened by the teaching of Simon. The Dositheans, again, even in former times, did not rise to any eminence, and now they are completely extinguished, so that it is said their whole number does not amount to thirty. Judas of Galilee also, as Luke relates in the Acts of the Apostles, wished to call himself some great personage, as did Theudas before him; but as their doctrine was not of God, they were destroyed, and all who obeyed them were immediately dispersed. Origen: Contra Celsus VI.11

    And besides this, the sons of Judas of Galilee were now slain. This was the Judas who caused the people to revolt against the Romans when Quirinius came to take an account of Judea, as we have showed in a foregoing book. The names of those sons were James and Simon, who were crucified by order of Alexander. Antiquities of the Jews – Book XX.5.2

But the nation of the Samaritans also did not escape without tumults. A man excited them who thought lying a thing of little consequence and who contrived everything that would please the crowds. So he bid them to gather together upon Mount Gerizzim, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them that he would show them those sacred vessels which were buried in that place, where Moses had put them. So, armed, they went there, as they thought the man's statement was plausible, and while they stayed at a certain village called Tirathaba they welcomed the others as they assembled there, as they desired to go up the mountain in a great multitude together. But Pilate prevented their going up by blockading the way with a great band of horsemen and foot-men, who fell upon those that had first gotten together in the village; some of them they slew, and others of them they put to flight, and a great many they took alive, the leaders of whom and also the most influential of those that had fled, Pilate killed.  Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII.4.1

“Now as for the affairs of the Jews, they grew worse and worse continually, for the country was again filled with robbers and impostors, who deluded the multitude. Yet did Felix catch and put to death many of those impostors every day, together with the robbers” Antiquities of the Jews, XX.8

“..while many of these false Messiahs appeared in the interval between our Lord's Ascension and the Jewish war, there is no evidence that any one arose claiming this title before the beginning of His ministry.“ GRESWELL, Exposition of the Parables (Oxford, 1834)

"A false prophet was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get up upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now, there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now, a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such deliverance." The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem Book VI, Chapter V, Section 2).

(1 John 2:18 (NKJV) Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour)

(5)  Wars and rumors of wars:

“I am entering on the history of a period rich in disasters, frightful in its wars, torn by civil strife, and even in peace full of horrors. Four emperors perished by the sword. There were three civil wars; there were more with foreign enemies; there were often wars that had both characters at once. There was success in the East, and disaster in the West. There were disturbances in Illyricum; Gaul wavered in its allegiance; Britain was thoroughly subdued and immediately abandoned; the tribes of the Suevi and the Sarmatae rose in concert against us; the Dacians had the glory of inflicting as well as suffering defeat; the armies of Parthia were all but set in motion by the cheat of a counterfeit Nero. Now too Italy was prostrated by disasters either entirely novel, or that recurred only after a long succession of ages; cities in Campania's richest plains were swallowed up and overwhelmed; Rome was wasted by conflagrations, its oldest temples consumed, and the Capitol itself fired by the hands of citizens. Sacred rites were profaned; there was profligacy in the highest ranks; the sea was crowded with exiles, and its rocks polluted with bloody deeds. In the capital there were yet worse horrors.” The Histories by Publius Cornelius Tacitus Book 1.2

[1.61] After the army of Britain had joined him, Vitellius, who had now a prodigious force and vast resources, determined that there should be two generals and two lines of march for the contemplated war. Fabius Valens was ordered to win over, if possible, or, if they refused his overtures, to ravage the provinces of Gaul and to invade Italy by way of the Cottian Alps; Caecina to take the nearer route, and to march down from the Penine range. To Valens were entrusted the picked troops of the army of Lower Germany with the eagle of the 5th legion and the auxiliary infantry and cavalry, to the number of 40,000 armed men; Caecina commanded 30,000 from Upper Germany, the strength of his force being one legion, the 21st. Both had also some German auxiliaries, and from this source Vitellius, who was to follow with his whole military strength, completed his own forces. The Histories by Publius Cornelius Tacitus Book 1.61

(The wars and rumors of wars as recorded by Tacitus from 60ad to 70ad are far to numerous to mention.) Tacitus wrote of "Disturbances in Germany," "commotions in Africa," "commotions in Thrace," "insurrections in Gaul," "intrigues among the Parthians," "the war in Britain," "war in Armenia." All this following between the death, burial and resurrection of Christ to 70ad.

“NOW the people of Cesarea had slain the Jews that were among them on the very same day and hour [when the soldiers were slain], which one would think must have come to pass by the direction of Providence; insomuch that in one hour's time above twenty thousand Jews were killed, and all Cesarea was emptied of its Jewish inhabitants; for Florus caught such as ran away, and sent them in bonds to the galleys. Upon which stroke that the Jews received at Cesarea, the whole nation was greatly enraged; so they divided themselves into several parties, and laid waste the villages of the Syrians, and their neighboring cities, Philadelphia, and Sebonitis, and Gerasa, and Pella, and Scythopolis, and after them Gadara, and Hippos; and falling upon Gaulonitis, some cities they destroyed there, and some they set on fire, and then went to Kedasa, belonging to the Tyrians, and to Ptolemais, and to Gaba, and to Cesarea; nor was either Sebaste [Samaria] or Askelon able to oppose the violence with which they were attacked; and when they had burnt these to the ground; they entirely demolished Anthedon and Gaza; many also of the villages that were about every one of those cities were plundered, and an immense slaughter was made of the men who were caught in them. War of the Jews- Book II.18.1

“In the mean time, the people of Damascus, when they were informed of the destruction of the Romans, set about the slaughter of those Jews that were among them; and as they had them already cooped up together in the place of public exercises, which they had done out of the suspicion they had of them, they thought they should meet with no difficulty in the attempt; yet did they distrust their own wives, which were almost all of them addicted to the Jewish religion; on which account it was that their greatest concern was, how they might conceal these things from them; so they came upon the Jews, and cut their throats, as being in a narrow place, in number ten thousand, and all of them unarmed, and this in one hour's time, without any body to disturb them.” War of the Jews- Book II.20.2

“they (Jews) were destroyed (in Alexandria) unmercifully; and this their destruction was complete, some being caught in the open field, and others forced into their houses, which houses were first plundered of what was in them, and then set on fire by the Romans; wherein no mercy was shown to the infants, and no regard had to the aged; but they went on in the slaughter of persons of every age, till all the place was overflowed with blood, and fifty thousand of them lay dead upon heaps;…” War of the Jews- Book II.18.7

“Thus they continued firm in their resolution, and proposed to themselves to die willingly, rather than to see the dedication of the statue. When matters were in this state, Aristobulus, king Agrippa's brother, and Heleias the Great, and the other principal men of that family with them, went in unto Petronius, and besought him, that since he saw the resolution of the multitude, he would not make any alteration, and thereby drive them to despair; but would write to Caius, that the Jews had an insuperable aversion to the reception of the statue, and how they continued with him, and left of the tillage off their ground: that they were not willing to go to war with him…” Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII.8.5b-4 (Because of the rumor of war the Jews did not plant their fields)

(6) Nation against Nation

(Greek word “Nations” ethnos, race) "At Caesarea in AD 59 the Jews and Syrians contended about the right to the city, and 20,000 Jews were slain." At Scythopolis, over 13,000 Jews were killed. Thousands were killed in other places, and at Alexandria 50,000 were killed. At Damascus, 10,000 were killed in an hour's time….(see above quotes (5))


(Ac 11:28  And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.)

(Ac 11:29  Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea)

“The customary rains and showers of the winter season ceased to fall in their wonted abundance upon the earth and an unexpected famine made its appearance,…” Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius Book IX.8

“….to the people of Jerusalem; for whereas a famine did oppress them at that time, and many people died for want of what was necessary to procure food withal…” Antiquities of the Jews, XX.2.5

“Then came Tiberius Alexander as successor to Fadus; he was the son of Alexander the alabarch of Alexandria, which Alexander was a principal person among all his contemporaries, both for his family and wealth: he was also more eminent for his piety than this his son Alexander, for he did not continue in the religion of his country. Under these procurators that great famine happened in Judea…” Antiquities of the Jews, XX.5.2

“But an alarm greater than all, because it connected immediate loss with fears for the future, arose from a sudden inundation of the Tiber. The river became vastly swollen, broke down the wooden bridge, was checked by the heap of ruins across the current, and overflowed not only the low and level districts of the capital, but also much that had been thought safe from such casualties. Many were swept away in the streets, many more were cut off in their shops and chambers. The want of employment and the scarcity of provisions caused a famine among the populace.” The Histories by Publius Cornelius Tacitus 1.1.86

“Vocula added to his force a thousand picked men from the fifth and fifteenth legions besieged in the Old Camp, a body of troops undisciplined and ill-affected to their officers. But more than the number specified came forward, and openly protested, as they marched, that they would not endure any longer the hardships of famine and the treachery of the legates.” Publius Cornelius Tacitus 4.4.35

“At this very moment our legions at the Old Camp are suffering the horrors of famine and of siege,” Publius Cornelius Tacitus 4.4.58

“During the following days they fought a series of engagements in front of the gates, till they were driven within the walls by continual defeats. The Romans then began to prepare for an assault. It seemed beneath them to await the result of famine.” Publius Cornelius Tacitus 5.5.11

“This was not the only source of trouble to the Romans; for there was also a severe famine. In consequence of this, the gladiators, and the slaves who were for sale, were banished to a distance of one hundred miles, Augustus and the other officials dismissed the greater part of their retinues, a recess of the courts was taken, and senators were permitted to leave the city and to proceed wherever they pleased.” Dion 55.26.1-3

“Once, after a series of droughts had caused a scarcity of grain, a mob stopped Claudius in the Forum and pelted him so hard with curses and stale crusts that he had difficulty in regaining the Palace by a side-door” Suetonius: De Vita Caesarum--Divus Claudius XVIII

“During the same consulship a high price of corn almost brought on an insurrection. For several days there were many clamorous demands made in the theatre with an unusual freedom of language towards the emperor [Tiberius]” Publius Cornelius Tacitus 6.13

The fifth century historian Orosius mentions this famine in Syria which occurred in 46 and 47 A.D.  A  translation of Orosius was later made by King Alfred of England during the middle ages and was quoted in what is known as 'The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Chapter 1'. The Chronicle lists British history from 1 A.D. to 1154 A.D. and contains the following remarks: “A.D. 46 . In this year, Claudius, the second Roman emperor to invade Britain, put much of the island under his control and added the Orkneys to Rome’s kingdom. This took place in the fourth year of his rule. In this same year, a great famine in Syria took place which Luke mentions in his book, “The Acts of the Apostles.” Due to his incompetence, The Emperor Claudius Nero almost lost control of the British isle.

And lastly, but far from the worst, Josephus records this horrid tale.

“It was now a miserable case, and a sight that would justly bring tears into our eyes, how men stood as to their food, while the more powerful had more than enough, and the weaker were lamenting [for want of it.] But the famine was too hard for all other passions, and it is destructive to nothing so much as to modesty; for what was otherwise worthy of reverence was in this case despised; insomuch that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths, and what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants; and when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might preserve their lives: and while they ate after this manner, yet were they not concealed in so doing; but the seditious every where came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in, and took pieces of what they were eating almost up out of their very throats, and this by force: the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten; and if the women hid what they had within their hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration shown either to the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor.” War of the Jews- BookV.10.3

 (8) Pestilence and Plagues

“To all the disasters and abuses thus caused bu the princeps there were added certain accidents of fortune; a plague which in a single autumn entered thirty thousand deaths in the accounts of Libitina” Suetonius: De Vita Caesarum—Nero XXXIX

“The customary rains and showers of the winter season ceased to fall in their wonted abundance upon the earth and an unexpected famine made its appearance, and in addition to this a pestilence, and another severe disease consisting of an ulcer, which on account of its fiery appearance was appropriately called a carbuncle. This, spreading over the whole body, greatly endangered the lives of those who suffered from it; but as it chiefly attacked the eyes, it deprived multitudes of men, women, and children of their sight.” Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius Book IX.8

But still worse was the pestilence which consumed entire houses and families, and especially those whom the famine was not able to destroy because of their abundance of food. Thus men of wealth, rulers and governors and multitudes in office, as if left by the famine on purpose for the pestilence, suffered swift and speedy death. Every place therefore was full of lamentation; in every lane and market-place and street there was nothing else to be seen or heard than tears, with the customary instruments and the voices of the mourners. (5) In this way death, waging war with these two weapons, pestilence and famine, destroyed whole families in a short time, so that one could see two or three dead bodies carried out at once. Such were the rewards of the boasting of Maximinus and of the measures of the cities against us.  Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius Book IX.8

“Now too Italy was prostrated by disasters either entirely novel, or that recurred only after a long succession of ages; cities in Campania's richest plains were swallowed up and overwhelmed; Rome was wasted by conflagrations” Publius Cornelius Tacitus Book I - January - March, A.D. 69

“A year of shame and of so many evil deeds heaven also marked by storms and pestilence. Campania was devastated by a hurricane, which destroyed everywhere countryhouses, plantations and crops, and carried its fury to the neighbourhood of Rome, where a terrible plague was sweeping away all classes of human beings without any such derangement of the atmosphere as to be visibly apparent. Yet the houses were filled with lifeless forms and the streets with funerals. Neither age nor sex was exempt from peril. Slaves and the free-born populace alike were suddenly cut off, amid the wailings of wives and children, who were often consumed on the very funeral pile of their friends by whom they had been sitting and shedding tears. Knights and senators perished indiscriminately, and yet their deaths were less deplored because they seemed to forestal the emperor's cruelty by an ordinary death.” Publius Cornelius Tacitus 16.13

(9) Earthquakes

“Tiberius meanwhile, who did not relax his attention to business, and found solace in his work, occupied himself with the causes of citizens at Rome and with petitions from allies. Decrees of the Senate were passed at his proposal for relieving the cities of Cibyra and Aegium in Asia and Achaia, which had suffered from earthquakes” Publius Cornelius Tacitus 4.13

“That same year twelve famous cities of Asia fell by an earthquake in the night, so that the destruction was all the more unforeseen and fearful. Nor were there the means of escape usual in, such a disaster,by rushing out into the open country, for there people were swallowed up by the yawning earth. Vast mountains, it is said, collapsed; what had been level ground seemed to be raised aloft, and fires blazed out amid the ruin. The calamity fell most fatally on the inhabitants of Sardis, and it attracted to them the largest share of sympathy. The emperor promised ten million sesterces, and remitted for five years all they paid to the exchequer or to the emperor’s purse. Magnesia, under Mount Sipylus, was considered to come next in loss and in need of help. The people of Temnus, Philadelpheia, Aegae, Apollonis, the Mostenians, and Hyrcanian Macedonians, as they were called, with the towns of Hierocaesarea, Myrina, Cyme, and Tmolus, were; it was decided, to be exempted from tribute for the same time, and some one was to be sent from the Senate to examine their actual condition and to relieve them.” Publius Cornelius Tacitus 1.16

“Decrees of the Senate were passed at his proposal for relieving the cities of Cibyra and Aegium in Asia and Achaia, which had suffered from earthquakes, by a remission of three years' tribute.” Publius Cornelius Tacitus 4.13

Tacitus, Annals 16:13 says 65 A.D. was marled by storms, pestilence, hurricane, plague. Tacitus also reports other-earthquakes in the years 51, 53 and 62 A.D., in Annals 12:43; 12:58; 15:22); persecutions (there were many for the church before 70 A.D.)

Seneca, writing in the year 58 A. D., said, "How often have cities of Asia and Achaea fallen with one fatal shock! How many cities have been swallowed up in Syria! How many in Macedonia! How often has Cyprus been wasted by this calamity ! How often has Paphos become a ruin! News has often been brought us of the demolition of whole cities at once." In 60 A.D., Hierapous, Colosse, and Laodicea were overthrown from earthquakes. There were earthquakes in Crete, Apamea, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, and Judea. Earthquakes in diverse places!

“But the shame that would attend them in case they returned without doing any thing at all, so far overcame that their repentance, that they lay all night before the wall, though in a very bad encampment; for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.” Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 4, Paragraph 5 (4:285)

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