By September 9, 2019 Read More →

First Century BC – First Century AD: Construction and Destruction

Temple Mount

Evidence of Jewish presence in the Land of Israel in the first century BC and first century AD is plentiful. The Jewish historian, Josephus, describes Jewish life in Israel up until the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. Josephus was a Jewish general who switched sides and supported the Romans. He wrote The Jewish War (circa 75 AD) and The Antiquities of the Jews (circa 94 AD). The historical books he wrote were written in Rome and flattering to the Roman Empire, but archaeological excavations in Israel (including the discovery of coins and water tunnels) have proven the accuracy of much of his writings.

Josephus describes how Herod expanded the Temple Mount and rebuilt the Temple in 19 BC. This was a supreme act of Jewish sovereignty in the land.

Herod’s legacy lives on today in his magnificent building projects. The massive harbor at Caesarea, the biggest in the ancient world, used the most-current underwater technology and was named after Herod’s patron, Caesar Augustus. Herod also built a series of fortresses, with Masada being the best known today. These fortresses were meant to repel invaders, but they had a second purpose as well—in case of internal revolt, Herod could flee to one of them and from there plan a counterattack. One Herod’s fortresses, Herodium, was found, in 2007 and after a long search, to contain his tomb.

But perhaps Herod’s greatest legacy is in his capital, Jerusalem. Herod’s work can still be seen near Jaffa Gate, in the area known as David’s Tower, and on the massive Temple Mount. Herod rebuilt the Jerusalem Temple and greatly expanded the area on which the Temple sits, expanding it to the north, south and west and filling in the area to create a level platform. The Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site, is actually just a portion of the retaining wall Herod built to support his expanded Temple Mount.

  1. Distribution of Jewish Population in Israel in the Herodian Period
  2. 19 B.C. The Temple Mount
  3. 24 – 79 A.D. Pliny the Elder
  4. Destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. – Tisha B’Av
  5. 93 A.D. Jesus, Messiah, Resurrection
  6. 100 A.D. Plutarch (46 C.E. ― 120 C.E.)

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