THE MYSTERIOUS EVENTS OF THE YEAR 30 A.D.
In 30 A.D., Jesus Christ was crucified on the 14th of Nisan, the
day of the Passover sacrifice. But several other events happened
that year, recorded in history, which were strange and foreboding
of the future. A remarkable year indeed...
by William F. Dankenbring
In the gospel accounts dealing with the crucifixion of Jesus
Christ, we find that strange events occurred, surrounding the
event of the crucifixion, stamping it in the memory of man and
God. Such a significant year in the history of all mankind would
hardly seem to be allowed to pass without some "sign" or
"wonders." Indeed, although unbelievers continue to deny the
facts, 30 A.D. was a strange, anomalous year.
In the book of Matthew we read: "Now from the sixth hour
there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. Jesus,
when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up thre 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
Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they
feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew
Writes Alfred Edersheim in "The Life and Times of Jesus the
And now a shudder ran through Nature, as its Sun had set. We dare
not do more than follow the rapid outlines of the Evangelistic
narrative. As the first token, it records the rending of the
Temple-Veil in two from the top downward to the bottom; as the
second, the quaking of the eath, the rending of the crocks and
the opening of the graves. . . while the rending of the Veil is
recorded first, as being the most significant token to Israel,
it may have been connected with the earthquake, although this
alone might scarcely account for the tearing of so heavy a Veil
from the top to the bottom. Even the inner circumstance has its
significance. That some great catastrophic, betokening the
impending destruction of the Temple, had occurred in the
Sanctuary about this very time, is confirmed by not less than
four annually independant testimonies: those of Tacitus, of
Josephus, of the Talmud, and of earliest Christian tradition.
The most important of these are, of course, the Talmud and
Josephus. The latter speaks of the mysterious extinction of the
middle and chief light in the Golden Candlestick, forty years
before the destruction the Temple; and both he and the Talmud
refer to a supernatural opening by themselves of the great
Temple-gates that had been previously closed, which was regarded
as a portent of the arming destruction of the Temple" (p.610).
The Temple was destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D. Forty years
before that date would be 30 A.D. -- the year of the crucifixion!
Says Josephus, in his Wars of the Jews:
Thus also, before the Jews' rebellion, and before those
commotion, which preceded the war, when the people were come in
great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day
of the month Xmthicus [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the
night, so great a light shone round the altar and the hody 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
portend 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 bolls fastened very deep into the firm floor, which
was them made of one entire stone, was seem to be opened of as
its own accord about the sixth how 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 greet difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This
also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy podigy, 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 aocord, and that the gate was opened
for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared,
that this signal foreshewed the DESOLATION that was coming up
In early writings of the church fathers, Jerome in a letter
to Hedibia relates that the huge lintel of the Temple was broken
and splintered and fell. He connects this with the rending of the
Veil. Says Edersheim, "it would seem an obvious inference to
connect again this breaking of the lintel with an earthquake"
(p.610,op.cit). The lintel was an enormous stone, being at least
30 feet long and weighing some 30 tons!
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 God's Own Hand
had torn it in two, His Presence thus deserting and leaving that
Says the Jewish Talmud in Yoma 39b of the events which
occurred in 30 A.D.:
"Forty years before the Temple. was destroyed [ie., 40 years
before 70 A.D., or in 30 A.D.] ... the gates of the Hekel [Holy
Place] opened by themselves, until Rabbi Yohanan g. Zakkai
rebuked them [the gates] saying, Hekel, Heket 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.
This same year, 30 A.D., 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 30 A.D. 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
"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).
Forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.
is 30 A.D. -- the very year of the crucifixion of the Messiah!
Why was the Sanhedrin moved in the very year Jesus was crucified?
Could it also have been forced to do so because of damage due to
the earthquake associated with the crucifixion of Jesus -- and be
direct punishment for their complicity in handing Jesus over to
the Romans? Was this evidence of God's official displeasure with
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). What a come-down!
Says Ernest Martin in his book "Secrets of Golgatha,"
"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 Christ'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, though the evidence is
cucumstantial, that the Chamber of Hew 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).
Martin is right! They would not have made such a humiliating
move -- voluntarily! It had to be forced upon them by
circumstance. There is no record of the Roman government
compelling such a move -- they stayed out of Jewish religious
life. Nor would Herod the king have been responsible -- to offend
the entire Sanhedrin would have been a disastrous political
mistake. Only a "natural cause" which men could not remedy would
seem plausible for causing such a move. Martin goes on:
"If this is actually what happened (and I have no doubt that it
did), we then have a most remarkable witness that God the Father
engineered every action happening on the day of Christ's trial
and crucifixion. It means that the judgment made by the official
Sanhedrin against Jesus within the Chamber of Hewn Stones, was
'THE LAST JUDGMENT' ever given by the official Sanhedrin in their
majestic chambers within the Templet. It would show that God the
Father demonstrated by the earthquake at Christ's death that the
sentence of the Sanhedrin against Jesus would be the last
judgment it would ever make in that authorized placed" (p.231).
But this is not all. The events of the year 30 A.D. are
amazing, when viewed from the perspective of almost 2,000 years
later. Why did so many anomalous events occur during that one
single year? Why did so many "curses" begin that very year? Why
was the Sanhedrin so obviously rebuked by God that year, by being
forced to "relocate" to a much lesser station than that which
they previously held?
Writes Rabbi Leibel Reznick in "The Holy Temple Revisited":
"Although this was the largest structure on top of the entire
Temple Mount, the purpose and function of the Basilica is not
recorded anywhere. The TALMUD tells us that when the Sanhedrin
(Supreme Court) CEASED TO JUDGE CAPITAL OFFENCES, they MOVED from
the Supreme Court chambers to the 'shopping mall' (Rosh HaShana
31a). This shopping man was located on the Temple Mount (Rashi)
... Perhaps this shopping man was located within the Royal
Basilica because this area was built on Herod's extension, it did
not have the sanctity of the Temple itself, and commerce would
have been permitted" (Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, New Jersey,
Notice! The year the Sanhedrin was moved was 30 A.D., the
year Christ was crucified. This was also the year they CEASED to
judge capital offences! This "authority" was thenceforth removed
from their purview, denied to them -- another withering rebuke to
the sages of the Court which so injudiciously and intemperately
MISJUDGED the Messiah Himself!
Writes Craig Blomberg of this event:
" ... the claim that the Romans retained the sole right of
capital punishment (John 18:31) has often been termed a Johanine
error, especially in view of the counter-example in the stoning
of Stephen (Acts 7:58). But this right is strikingly confirmed by
a passage in the Talmud, which says that capital punishment had
been taken from the Jews FORTY YEARS before the destruction of
the temple in AD.70 (pSanh.l:1,7:2). Stephen s stoning reads more
like mob action which defied technical legalities" (The
Historical Reliability of the Gospels, by Craig Blomberg,
Inter-Varsity Press, 1987, p.179)."
It was the very year of the crucifixion that the Jews were
denied the right to perform capital punishment by the Romans,
When the members of the Jewish Supreme Court brought Jesus to
Pilate, he told them, "Take him and judge him according to your
law." But they replied, "It is not lawful for as to put any man
to death" (John 18:31). Yet they connived and pressured Pilate
and stirred up the crowd to demand the crucifxion of Christ the
Messiah, the Anointed One of God (John 18:32-40; 19:1-16).
Great trouble and trial has come upon the Jewish nation ever
since this moment frozen in time in 30 A.D. As He was led away to
be crucified, Jesus warned the women of Jerusalem, "Daughters of
Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your
children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they
shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the the wombs that never
bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin
to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done
in the dry?" (Luke 23:28-31 1).
Truly, that was a memorable year of infamy!
Entered on this Website October 2007