The Jewish Eye
Story of The Churban - Part 9
Part 9: Misread Omens
On the morning of the ninth of Av, a false prophet told the people that they should gather in the Bais Hamikdash because Hashem was going to save them. Many people believed him and gathered in the inner courtyard of the Bais Hamikdash. These people were mercilessly slaughtered by the Romans, a result of believing a false prophet and ignoring the portentous miracles that had appeared in Yerushalayim in recent years.
One year before Vespasian marched to Yerushalayim, a star appeared over the Bais Hamikdash in the shape of a man holding a sword. This star remained above Yerushalayim for a full year. The Sages told the people that this was an evil omen, but the false prophets claimed that it meant that Hashem would vanquish our enemies.
During Pesach that year, a cow that was about to be slaughtered for a korban gave birth to a sheep. The false prophets claimed that this too was a good sign, that supernatural events will save the nation. The Sages pointed out that a lamb is not better than a cow, and this was not a good omen.
During the same Pesach, the huge bronze doors of the eastern gate, which normally could only be opened by twenty men, opened on their own. Again, the Sages explained that this was not a good sign, and their detractors claimed otherwise.
After Pesach that year, images of moving war chariots appeared over the city. During Succos that year, a ghastly voice was heard saying, "We must escape from the Bais Hamikdash."
Four years before these signs occurred, a Jew named Yehoshua ben Chanan had come up to the Bais Hamikdash during Sukkos. Suddenly, he had screamed, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four directions, a voice against Yerushalayim and her Bais Hamikdash. A voice against the kallah, a voice against the chasan, a voice against the assembled. Woe, woe to Yerushalayim."
This man wandered the streets of Yerushalyaim speaking in a strange voice. He incessantly repeated, "Woe, woe to Yerushalayim." People would become angered by him, and even beat him, but he continued to repeat the same words. People were sure that he was possessed and he was even dragged before the Roman governor. He was tortured to drive out the evil spirit in him, and he didn't even react. When he was asked his name, he said, "Woe, woe to Yerushalayim." Eventually, they released him on grounds of insanity, and he continued wandering the streets. Every Yom Tov, when the Jews would be oleh laregel, they would hear him repeat these words. He continued for seven years and five months. A catapulted Roman stone eventually killed him. As he died, he said, "Woe, woe to Yerushalayim. And now, woe to me."
During that time, an ancient rock was found with an inscription. It said, "When the building of the Bais Hamikdash is complete and it is perfectly square, then it will be destroyed." When the Antonia Fortress was razed by the Romans, the Bais Hamikdash had been damaged. When the Jews had finished repairing it, the Bais Hamikdash formed an exact square, but the Jews did not remember the writing on the rock. Writing had also appeared on the wall of the Kodesh Kodeshim. It read "When the building is square, then a king will rule over Israel. He will rule and dominate the entire world."
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