The General Titus was the son of the emperor, so a prince, and later succeeded his father as emperor of Rome. The prophecy “after the threescore and two weeks” uses the noun phrase “the people of the prince that shall come”(Dan.9). Exactly predicting that it would not be the prince (Titus), but his people that would be responsible for the actual destruction of the Jewish Temple.
“While famine continued thus to spread its destructive rage through the city, the Romans, after many ineffectual attempts, at length succeeded in demolishing part of the inner wall, possessed themselves of the great tower of Antonia, and advanced towards the temple, which Titus, in a council of war, had determined to preserve as an ornament to the empire, and as a monument of his success; but the Almighty had determined otherwise; for now, in the revolution of ages, was arrived that fatal day, emphatically called a “day of vengeance,” on which the temple had formerly been destroyed by the king of Babylon. A Roman soldier, urged, as he declaimed, by a divine impulse, regardless of the command of Titus climbed on the shoulders of another, and threw a flaming brand into the golden window of the temple, which instantly set the building on fire. The Jews, anxious above all things to save that sacred edifice, in which they superstitiously trusted for security, with a dreadful outcry, rushed in to extinguish the flames.
Titus also, being informed of the conflagration, hastened to the spot in his chariot, attended by his principal officers and legions, but in vain he waved his hand and raised his voice, commanding his soldiers to extinguish the fire; so great was the uproar and confusion, that no attention was paid even to him. The Romans, willfully deaf, instead of extinguishing the flames, spread them wider and wider. Actuated by the fiercest impulses of rancor and revenge against the Jews, they rushed furiously upon them, slaying some with the sword, trampling others under their feet, or crushing them to death against the walls. Many, falling amongst the smoking ruins of the porches and galleries, were suffocated. The unarmed poor, and even sick persons, were slaughtered without mercy. Of these unhappy people numbers were left weltering in their gore. Multitudes of the dead and dying were heaped round about the altar, to which they had formerly fled for protection, while the steps that led from it into the outer court were literally deluged with their blood.
Finding it impossible to restrain the impetuosity and cruelty of his soldiers the commander in chief proceeded, with some of his superior officers, to take a survey of those parts of the edifice which were still uninjured by the conflagration. It had not, at this time, reached the inner temple, which Titus entered, and viewed with silent admiration. Struck with the magnificence of its decorations, which even surpassed the report of fame concerning them; and perceiving that the sanctuary, had not yet caught fire, he redoubled his efforts to stop the progress of the flames. He condescended even to entreat his soldiers to exert all their strength and activity for this purpose, and appointed a centurion of the guards to punish them, if they again disregarded him; but all was m vain. The delirious rage of the soldiery knew no bounds. Eager for plunder and for slaughter, they alike condemned the solicitations and the menaces of their general. Even while he was thus intent upon the preservation of the sanctuary, one of the soldiers was actually employed in setting fire to the door posts, which caused the conflagration to become general.
Titus and his officers were now compelled to retire, and none remained to check the fury of the soldiers or the flames. The Romans, exasperated to the highest pitch against the Jews, seized every person whom they could find, and, without the least regard to sex, age, or quality, first plundered, and then slew them. The old and the young, the common people and the priests, those who surrendered and those who resisted, were equally involved in this horrible and indiscriminate carnage. Meanwhile the temple continued burning, until at length, vast as was its size, the flames completely enveloped the whole building; which, from the extent of the conflagration, impressed the distant spectator with an idea that the whole city was now on fire.
The tumult and disorder which ensued upon this event it is impossible (says Josephus) for language to describe. The Roman legions made the most horrid outcries; the rebels, finding themselves exposed to the fury of both fire and sword, screamed dreadfully; while the unhappy people who were pent up between the enemy and the flames, deplored their situation in the most pitiable complaints. Those on the hill and those in the city seemed mutually to return the groans of each other. Such as were expiring through famine, were revived by this scene, and seemed to acquire new spirits to deplore their misfortunes. The lamentations from the city were reechoed from the adjacent mountains, and places beyond Jordan.
The flames which enveloped the temple were so violent and impetuous, that the lofty hill on which it stood appeared, even from its deep foundation, as one large fire. The blood of the sufferers flowed in proportion to the rage of this destructive element; and the number of the slain exceeded all calculation. The ground could not be seen for the dead bodies, over which the Romans trampled in pursuit of the fugitives; while the crackling noise of the devouring flames, mingled with the clangor of arms, the groans of the dying, and the shrieks of despair, augmented the tremendous horror of a scene, to which the pages of history can furnish no parallel.”
The Destruction of Jerusalem