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When was the Second Temple Destroyed? Chronology and Ideology in Josephus and in Rabbinic Literature

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Jewish tradition holds that both the first and second Jerusalem temples were destroyed on the 9th of Av (m. Taʿan. 4:6). According to Josephus both temples were destroyed on the 10th of Av (J.W. 6.250). Although Josephus proffers an elaborately detailed chronology of the temple’s final days, an attentive reading reveals that he in fact delayed the destruction of the temple by one day. Ideological motives impelled Josephus to defer the date of the destruction of the Second Temple to the date he had for the destruction of the First Temple (the 10th of Av). He proposes an analogy between the two in support of his position that God was punishing the rebels for their sins. Finally, the article suggests that the Jewish tradition that establishes the 9th of Av as the date for the destruction of both temples, derives from a mythical conception of history.

Affiliations: 1: The Department of History of the Jewish People and Contemporary Jewry, Shaʾanan College, Hebrew University of


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