Responsibility For the Witnesses Deaths

17 Oct

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In the context of Revelation 11:8 and the witnesses being slain and their bodies lying in “the” street of the great city, the Angel seems to be identifying those guilty of their slaying (cf. Matthew 23:34-35). Why else would he claim their dead bodies would lie in THE street of the great city? Surely the Angel knew Jerusalem had more than one street. Yet, he reckons it THE street, as though there were only one. Moreover, they wouldn’t be buried for 3 ½ days. If that were literally true, Jerusalem would have been defiled. It was the practice of the Jews to bury the dead on the day they died, and that before sundown. Otherwise, the city would be defiled. Notice:

Deuteronomy 21:22-23  And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is to be put to death, and you hang him on a tree:  (23)  His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accused of God;) that you land does not become defiled, which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance.

This Scripture shows that the land would have become defiled, if the dead lay unburied overnight, so the authorities in Jerusalem would have made every effort to bury the witnesses, no matter how much they hated them, if they had been literally killed in Jerusalem (cf. John 19:31). Moreover, Deuteronomy 21:1-9 shows that the land became defiled with the body of a dead man that lay unburied, and the guilty party was assumed to live in the nearest city to where the dead body was found. The elders or authorities of that city needed to come before the Lord and show, through their obedience to the Law, that their hands were clean, as it pertains to the shedding of the blood of the innocent.

This shows us that the Lord is interested in identifying the guilty party, no matter where the body, itself, was found. Therefore, in the context of Revelation 11:8, it is not that the witnesses’ dead bodies lay in THE street of Jerusalem, but that Jerusalem was the guilty party in their being slain. It was the fact that Jerusalem was guilty of shedding innocent blood all over the Roman Empire that she had become defiled (Matthew 23:34-35), and the only way the land could be cleansed was through the judgment and execution of the guilty party (cf. Numbers 35:33-34).

The Lord had made every reasonable effort to get Jerusalem to repent, so she wouldn’t have to be judged, but she simply refused to do so (Revelation 9:21). As I showed in previous studies of the Apocalypse,[1] the Lord intensified his own discipline of the Jewish nation, just as they intensified their own efforts at destroying his disciples. Nevertheless, the nation as a whole, with its leaders, remained unrepentant. Their persecution of the holy city (Revelation 11:2) puts them in the place of the enemies of God, so much so that they are there referred to as gentiles in the context of how the word is used in Amos 9:7-8.

In Revelation 11:2 Jerusalem  is called the holy city, but, here, in Revelation 11:8 she is referred to as that great city. When the term great city is used in the Bible, it is almost always used for an enemy of God or his people (cf. Joshua 10:2; Jonah 1:2; 3:2-3; 4:11). It is even used of unrepentant Jerusalem after the Lord’s judgment of her in Jeremiah 22:8. In the book of Revelation the term is found ten times and always referring to Jerusalem, nine times as physical Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8; 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21) and once as the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven from God (Revelation 21:10). This final reference is the only time the term is used benevolently.

Jesus said that if a man wished to be great he needed to become the servant of others (Matthew 20:26). On the other hand Simon of Samaria (Acts 8:9) sought to be a great one (same Greek word – G3173), but he bewitched the people in an effort to have them serve him—the opposite of what Jesus calls great. In the context of Revelation 11:8, the authorities at Jerusalem wanted to be considered great, in that they wished others to serve them, i.e. in the context of Simon’s efforts (Acts 8:9; cf. Revelation 9:21). They bewitched the people into turning on the disciples of Jesus for no good reason. It was all done in order to destroy the Gospel. However, in the context of Revelation 21:10, the new Jerusalem serves mankind in the sense that Jesus did (cf. Matthew 20:26-28).


[1] See my earlier studies: The Blowing of the Third Trumpet and A Star Called Wormwood.


Posted by on October 17, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation


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4 responses to “Responsibility For the Witnesses Deaths

  1. Patricia Watkins

    October 18, 2019 at 21:23

    Hi Eddie,

    You mentioned above the curious language John used describing particularly “THE street” in Jerusalem, as though there were only one.

    Just a note about “THE street” in the “great city”. This single street in the city of Jerusalem was notable in the OT as being the one in front of the temple where the people gathered together during the Feast Day celebrations. Remember that Daniel said that “THE street” and the wall would be built, even in troublous times? (Dan. 9:25). He was referring to the location where the people gathered together in front of the entrance gates to the temple. That particular “THE street” would be built again during the post-exilic return, along with restoring the wall around Jerusalem.

    We also have references to “THE street” in Nehemiah 8:1-3 when the seventh month Feast of Tabernacles had come for the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem. “And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into THE street that was before the water gate…” Nehemiah brought out the book of the law to read while he stood in that pulpit of wood above all the assembled worshippers. “And he read therein before THE street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand…” This particular “THE street” in front of the water gate we know was next to the temple, because the water gate was located near the outlet of the Gihon Spring waters that supplied the temple with ritually pure spring water for the service of the temple.

    (As an aside, this information is helpful to pinpoint with accuracy the location where the temple used to stand, and it WASN’T on the Dome of the Rock location, which has no water supplying that site at all.)

    The two witnesses were left unburied as a final insult to them, and their bodies were literally left in “THE street” of the great city of Jerusalem, in front of the temple. Ordinarily, as you have noted Eddie, the leaders of Jerusalem would have strictly required the burying of a dead body, so as not to defile the city. But if those two witnesses happened themselves to BE two of the Jewish religious leaders of Jerusalem, (as I believe they were), then the act of leaving them unburied takes on an appalling level of insult.

    Josephus regarded the magnitude of this insult as the supreme level of degradation to which his people had sunk. In fact, he said that he supposed a sort of “point of no return” for the nation occurred when the rebellious Zealots and the Idumeans left two of their former high priests, Ananus and Joshua ben Gamaliel, stripped and unburied on THE street of Jerusalem after the Idumean attack on Jerusalem’s high priests and their followers in late AD 67 or early 68.

    (Wars 4.5.2) “…and as soon as they caught them they slew them, and then standing upon their dead bodies, in way of jest, upbraided Ananus with his kindness to the people, and Jesus with his speech made to them from the wall. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun. I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city.”

    I find it more than significant that the former high priest Ananus was killed and left unburied in “THE street” of Jerusalem, just as Ananus had once planned for the murder of Christ’s brother James the Just, who was thrown from a pinnacle of the temple into THE street, and was stoned to death there on the same spot. God remembers the death of the righteous, and avenges them with peculiar justice.

  2. Eddie

    October 19, 2019 at 08:00

    Patricia, greetings and welcome. Thank you for your interest in my studies and for your comment. Lord bless you.

    We have more points which we agree on than not in your comment, concerning which I am glad, because I hate to disagree with folks. First, let me thank you for your stand on “THE street”. I thought your reasoning was excellent, and seems to follow the word of God. I hope to investigate this further, and if we still agree, as I believe we shall, I’ll change my blog with a reference to your comment below. We also agree that the Temple stood near / over the Gihon Spring to the south of what is called the “Temple Mount” today. Dr. Ernest Martin had written an excellent book on this very subject about 20 years ago (The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot).

    I also think your excerpt from Josephus was excellent, but the priests would never have done what the zealots did. The priests would have been very particular to observe the law and bury the bodies before sundown. Therefore, I believe the witnesses lying in THE street has more to do with the guilt of their deaths than the place of their deaths. I identified the “two witnesses” in a study previous to this one–two studies ago… “Who Are the Two Witnesses”. There I argued that the number ‘2’ referred to a valid witness. A valid witness couldn’t be only ‘1’ but it could be any number more than one. The Lord’s ‘2’ or valid witnesses actually numbered 7, and they are the writers of the New Covenant Scriptures. When the Lord’s valid witnesses were killed, ‘witnessing’ was over and judgment began. This occurred in 66 to 70 AD. The witnesses were slain before the beginning of the war.

    One final point, your authority for “James the Just, who was thrown from a pinnacle of the temple into THE street,” I find questionable. I believe it is quoted from Eusebius, but in my opinion he quotes from a questionable authority. While James may have been stoned in THE street, I don’t think he was cast down from the pinnacle of the Temple. Assuming the reference is the Temple building, why would James be permitted there in the first place?

    Thanks again for your comment, Patricia. I enjoyed reading it. Lord bless you.

  3. Patricia Watkins

    October 19, 2019 at 13:11

    Hi again Eddie,

    I don’t have a copy of Dr. Martin’s “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot”, but I’m always glad to see a mention of solid references that dispel the myth of the Dome of the Rock being the supposed temple location. For some reason, God has allowed that deception to persist. I have a rather wry sense of satisfaction that visitors to that Dome of the Rock are required to remove their shoes before entering. If this Dome of the Rock is the actual location of the former Roman-occupied Antonia Fortress (and I believe it is), then Jesus was scourged by the soldiers at this location, with some of His blood spattering the stones. Truly worthy of removing one’s shoes before entering this location where our Savior’s stripes were given to Him on our behalf. The Muslims may be unwittingly giving honor to our Savior’s suffering by their requirement to remove shoes before stepping onto that “holy ground”.

    To quote something you said in your responding comment, “…the priests would never have done what the zealots did. The priests would have been very particular to observe the law and bury the bodies before sundown.”

    That’s precisely my point. The Zealot factions then present in Jerusalem from AD 66 onward were so insanely intent on advancing a rebellion against Rome that they were willing to discard any rule of Jewish law if it suited their purpose – even the laws concerning the burial of the dead bodies of their former high priests. There were CIVIL WAR conditions between 3 factions prevailing in Jerusalem at that point – Eleazar, John of Gischala, and Ananus the former high priest. The moderate party of high priests (that until then were trying to preserve Mosaic law and order in the city) became overwhelmed when the Idumeans came to give their aid to the lawless Zealot factions. THAT was when the 1260-days term of the 2 witnesses ended. After the Idumeans helped the Zealots to eliminate the 2 former high priest leaders of the moderate party (Ananus and Joshua), the Zealots rejoiced (Rev. 11:10) because they were free to oppress the inhabitants of the city without any restriction whatever from the former high priests and their moderate party of supporters who had held them in check until then.

    The civil discord influence in Israel was growing even in Christ’s days on earth. Remember when Christ warned in Luke 12:52 that “…FROM HENCEFORTH there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father;…” This civil discord was inflamed to a critical level in AD 66, and the murder of the 2 former high priests leaders, Ananus and Joshua, was the inevitable result of that civil discord among the Jews.

    Eddie, I’ve read your previous post “The 2 Witnesses of Revelation”, where you have discussed how scripture mentions the TWO witnesses/candlesticks of Rev. 11, and the ONE candlestick in Zechariah, and the SEVEN candlesticks of Revelation 1. The symbol of the pure golden “candlestick” (the Menorah in the OT temple) is more or less meant to represent the pure, light-manifesting presence of God’s Spirit among His people. The olive tree branches are meant to represent the human leadership method God utilizes to transfer that illumination to His people.

    Under the Old Testament with its Old Covenant, there was a high priest and his “sagan”, the backup priest who could stand in for the ruling high priest, in case he became incapable of serving in his role on the Day of Atonement by any sort of accidental uncleanness (as actually did happen on one occasion that was recorded). That second backup priest was an “understudy” for the high priest, if you will. Having TWO witnesses provided assurance that God’s truth was being verified by the mouth of at least two. They both “STOOD BEFORE THE GOD OF THE EARTH”, which was the way God described the particular role of the Zadok high priesthood in Ezekiel 44:13. “…they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and THEY SHALL STAND BEFORE ME to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God; They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.”

    Under the New Testament with its superior New Covenant, the number of SEVEN candlesticks as shown in Revelation 1 is symbolic of the perfectly complete quality of the church’s intimate fellowship with God. SEVEN is superior to TWO, just as the NEW Covenant was superior to the OLD Covenant. The seven churches with their candlesticks in Revelation, (while still being seven actual churches John was addressing), was also meant to picture the totality and the completeness of God’s church under the New Covenant by the illuminating presence of God’s Spirit among them all.

    God’s two witnesses of Rev. 11 that were symbolic of the inferior conditions under the Old Covenant, HAD to be eliminated, so that the superiority of the New Covenant could then stand alone without any distracting competition by the “weak and beggarly elements”. It was going to be “lights out” for the Old Covenant temple when those last vestiges of the Old Covenant high priest system were put to death. They had served God’s purposes back under the Old Covenant, but once Christ had set up the New Covenant at His ascension, the Old Covenant system needed to be set aside.

    Because the majority of the Jews refused to acknowledge Christ as that high priest fulfillment, an actual physical elimination of that high priesthood had to be openly displayed for all to see for those 3 1/2 days when the two witnesses’ bodies lay obviously unburied in THE street of Jerusalem. This is what the murder of the two former high priests Ananus and Joshua accomplished: a highly-visible demonstration of those TWO representative members of the Old Covenant high priesthood being physically eliminated, so that the superiority of Christ’s high priesthood with its SEVEN candlesticks representation was emphasized.

  4. Eddie

    October 19, 2019 at 13:53

    Greetings Patricia, and thank you for your comment to my reply to you. Lord bless you.

    We will have to remain in disagreement here. I do not consider Ananus and / or Joshua witnesses for the Lord. I believe the mention of **two** witnesses in Revelation refers to a valid witness rather than the actual number of witnesses. In such a case the seven writers of the New Testament were the valid witness of the Lord; they wrote down for posterity all that the Lord wanted to say to his people. When they were slain–all seven of them–the witness for the Lord ended. The guilt for their deaths was laid at the feet of the Jewish authorities who persecuted them from city to city throughout the Roman Empire. So, their dead bodies lay in the street of Jerusalem (Jerusalem was guilty — cp. Deuteronomy 21:1-9). Jesus was slain just outside the eastern gate of Jerusalem on Mount Olives. The guilty city was Jerusalem. All those slain in Christ have the same persecutor and the same slayer, and the Lord judged their persecutors as he promised to do (Matthew 16:27-28; 23:29-38).

    Concerning the present “Temple” mount, we are in agreement. As for the “rock” within the mosque on the mount, it is where Jesus would have been required to stand as Pilate judged him. It is, indeed, ironical that all Jews, today, wail before that wall of the Antonia. They believe they wail over the destruction of the Temple, but in reality, they wail before the true Temple of God, whom they destroyed (John 2:19).

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