Found this looking through old emails last week...the historical records included below could be useful in witnessing to Jewish people. Especially in showing that because Jesus is the Messiah, who came first as the Suffering Servant, after HIs death and resurrection things dramatically changed in regard to temple worship, etc...
"THE MYSTERIOUS EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE IN JERUSALEM 40 YEARS BEFORE THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SECOND TEMPLE (By Daniel & Drienie, in Israel)
Yesterday a wonderful friend visited me and we touched on the extraordinary events that took place in Jerusalem at another period of the life of Yeshua, namely the time of His crucifixion and death. As with the death of Herod, Josephus also mentioned these events very clearly! But not just Josephus, a number of others, too. I was really astonished to read them!
Let's look at the Bible first and then what some major Jewish scholars of that time wrote.
In the book of Matthew we read: “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. . . . Yeshua, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit. And, behold, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks were split; and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that slept were raised, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now, when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Yeshua, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God’” (Matthew 27:45-54).
RENDING OF THE VEIL
While the rending of the Veil in the Temple is recorded first, as being the most significant token to Israel, it may have been connected with the earthquake, which actually caused the heavy veil to be torn from the top to the bottom. Jewish scholars agree that some great catastrophe, foreshadowing the destruction of the Temple 40 years later, had occurred in the Sanctuary about this very time! This is confirmed by not less than four mutually independent Jewish testimonies: those of Tacitus, of Josephus, of the Talmud, and of earliest Christian tradition.
The Temple was destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D. Forty years before that date (using the Jewish method of inclusive counting) would be the year of the crucifixion.
The Temple Veils were 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and the thickness of the palm of a man's hand, wrought in 72 squares. They were so heavy that we are told 300 priests were needed to manipulate each one. The Veil being rent from top to bottom was such a terrible portent because it indicated that YHVH God's Own Hand had torn it in two, His Presence thus deserting and leaving that Holy Place.
GATES OF THE HOLY PLACE
The following is related in the Jewish Talmud in Yoma 39b of the events which occurred in this year in the Temple:
“Forty years before the Temple was destroyed the gates of the Hekel [Holy Place] opened by themselves, until Rabbi Yohanan B. Zakkai rebuked them [the gates] saying, ‘Hekel, Hekel, why alarmist thou us? We know that thou art destined to be destroyed . . ."
For the huge doors of the Temple behind the Veil to open, of their own accord, or in association with the great earthquake, would cause them to pull powerfully against the Veil, and with the lintel falling, at the same time, could have torn it in two from top to bottom.
BANISHMENT OF THE SANHEDRIN
This same year, the Sanhedrin had to abandon the Chamber of Hewn Stones, near the Holy Place in the Temple, which was its official seat or location. This was about 40 yards southeast of the entrance to the Holy Place. In this year the Sanhedrin had to move to another location, called “The Trading Place,” farther to the east and a much less significant spot. To be forced to move from a beautiful, gorgeous, awesome location in the Temple to a spot much less beautiful, esteemed, and reverential, must have seemed a terrible “put down.”
Says the Talmud: "Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the Sanhedrin was BANISHED (from the Chamber of Hewn Stone) and sat in the trading- station (on the Temple Mount)" (Shabbat 15a).
Why was the Sanhedrin moved in the very year Yeshua was crucified? Could it also have been forced to do so because of damage due to the earthquake associated with the crucifixion of Yeshua?
Prior to the War with Rome, Josephus tells us that the Sanhedrin had to move once again. This time they moved to an area outside the Temple complex, in an ordinary part of Jerusalem – actually a place west of the Temple near a building called the Xystus (see Josephus' Wars of the Jews, V,4, 2).
"If an earthquake of the magnitude capable of breaking the stone lintel at the top of the entrance to the Holy Place was occurring at the exact time of the Messiah's death, then what would such an earthquake have done to the Chamber of Hewn Stones (a vaulted and columned structure) no more than 40 yards away from where the stone lintel fell and the curtain torn in two?
“There is every reason to believe that the Chamber of Hewn Stones was so damaged in the same earthquake that it became structurally unsafe from that time forward. Something like this had to have happened because the Sanhedrin would not have left this majestic chamber (to take up residence in the insignificant ‘Trading Place’ unless something approaching this explanation took place” (p.230-231).
JOSEPHUS' RECORD OF THE STRANGE LIGHT
Flavius Josephus writes in his Wars of the Jews: "..... when the great crowds of people were come (prior to) to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus (Nisan), and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day-time; which light lasted for half and hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to prepare those events that followed immediately upon it.
“At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was being led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple.
“Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner, [court of the temple,] which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now, those that kept watch in the temple came thereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again.
“This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared, that this signal foreshadowed the DESOLATION that was coming upon them" (IV,5,3).
THE CRIMSON THREAD,
THE LOT, THE TEMPLE GATES
We read in the Jerusalem Talmud: "Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the western light (of the Lamp-stand, the Menorah) went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the LORD always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open" (Jacob Neusner, The Yerushalmi, p.156-157).
A similar passage in the Babylonian Talmud states: “Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ['For the Lord'] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves" (Soncino version, Yoma 39b).
What are these passages talking about? Since both Talmuds recount the same information, this indicates the knowledge of these events was accepted by the widespread Jewish community.
The Miracle of the “Lot"
The first of these miracles concerns a random choosing of the “lot” which was cast on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The lot chosen determined which of two goats would be “for the LORD” and which goat would be the “Azazel” or “scapegoat.” During the two hundred years before the crucifixion, when the High Priest picked one of two stones (this selection being governed by “chance”) the result was that the priest would select a black stone as often as a white stone interchangeably. But for forty years in a row, after that fateful year of crucifixion, the High Priest would always pick the black stone! The odds against this happening are astronomical (2 to the 40th power). In other words, the chances of this occurring are 1 in approximately 5,479,548,800 – or about 5.5 billion to one!
The lot for Azazel, the black stone, contrary to all the laws of chance, came up 40 times in a row from 30 to 70 AD! This was considered a dire event and signified something had fundamentally changed in this Yom Kippur ritual. This casting of lots is also accompanied by yet another miracle which is described next.
The Miracle of the Red Strip
The second miracle concerns the crimson strip or cloth tied to the Azazel goat. A portion of this red cloth was also removed from the goat and tied to the Temple door. Each year the red cloth on the Temple door turned white as if to signify the atonement of another Yom Kippur was acceptable to the Lord. This annual event happened until that year when the cloth then remained crimson each year to the time of the Temple's destruction. This undoubtedly caused much stir and consternation among the Jews. This traditional practice is linked to Israel confessing its sins and ceremonially placing this nation's sin upon the Azazel goat. The sin was then removed by this goat's death. Sin was represented by the red color of the cloth (the color of blood). But the cloth remained crimson - that is, Israel's sins were not being pardoned and “made white.”
As God told Israel through Isaiah the prophet: “Come, let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet [crimson], they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as [white] wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
The clear indication is that the whole community had lost the Lord's attention in relation to something that occurred in that year! The yearly atonement achieved through the typical Yom Kippur observance was not being realized as expected. Atonement apparently was to be gained in some other way. Who or what would provide the atonement for another year?
SIMON THE RIGHTEOUS
In the Bible we read in Luke 2: 25-26, “And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.”
During the 40 years Simon the Righteous was High Priest, a crimson thread which was associated with his person always turned white when he entered the Temple's innermost Holy of Holies. The people noticed this. Also, they noted that "the lot of the LORD" (the white lot) came up for 40 straight years during Simon's priesthood.
They noticed that the “lot” picked by the priests after Simon would sometimes be black, and sometimes white, and that the crimson thread would sometimes turn white, and sometimes not. The Jews came to believe that if the crimson thread turned white, that God approved of the Day of Atonement rituals and that Israel could be assured that God forgave their sins. But after 30 CE, the crimson thread never turned white again for 40 years, till the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of all Temple rituals!
What did the Jewish nation do in that year to merit such a change at Yom Kippur?
The Miracle of the Temple Doors
The next miracle, which the Jewish authorities acknowledged, was that the Temple doors swung open every night of their own accord. This also occurred for forty years, beginning in 30 CE. The leading Jewish authority of that time, Yohanan ben Zakkai, declared that this was a sign of impending doom, that the Temple itself would be destroyed.
The Jerusalem Talmud states: “Said Rabban Yohanan Ben Zakkai to the Temple, ‘O Temple, why do you frighten us? We know that you will end up destroyed. For it has been said, Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars’” (Zechariah 11:1) (Sota 6:3).
Yohanan Ben Zakkai was the leader of the Jewish community during the time following the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, when the Jewish government was transferred to Javne, some thirty miles west of Jerusalem.
Might the doors have opened to also signify that all may now enter the Temple, even to its innermost holy sections? The evidence supported by the miracles described above suggests the Lord's presence had departed from the Temple. This was no longer just a place for High Priests alone, but the doors swung open for all to enter the Lord's house of worship.
The Miracle of the Temple Menorah
The fourth miracle was that the most important lamp of the seven-candle-stick Menorah in the Temple went out, and would not shine. Every night for 40 years (over 12,500 nights in a row) the main lamp of the Temple lampstand (menorah) went out of its own accord – no matter what attempts and precautions the priests took to safeguard against this event!
In fact, we are told in the Talmud that at dusk the lamps that were unlit in the daytime (the middle four lamps remained unlit, while the two eastern lamps normally stayed lit during the day) were to be re-lit from the flames of the western lamp (which was a lamp that was supposed to stay lit all the time – it was like the ‘eternal flame’ that we see today in some national monuments) . . .
This ‘western lamp’ was to be kept lit at all times. For that reason, the priests kept extra reservoirs of olive oil and other implements in ready supply to make sure that the 'western lamp' (under all circumstances) would stay lit. But what happened in the forty years from the very year Messiah said the physical Temple would be destroyed? Every night for forty years the western lamp went out, and this in spite of the priests each evening preparing in a special way the western lamp so that it would remain constantly burning all night!
Again, the odds against the lamp continually going out are astronomical. Something out of the ordinary was going on. The “light” of the Menorah-representing contact with God, His Spirit, and His Presence – was now removed. This special demonstration occurred starting with the crucifixion of the Messiah"