Did Christians flee from Judea before Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 C.E.?
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw.” (Luke 21:20, 21) Jesus gave those instructions to his disciples concerning the destruction to come upon Jerusalem. Is there evidence that the disciples heeded Jesus’ warning?
Several decades after Jesus’ death, a Roman army commanded by Cestius Gallus entered Palestine to put down a revolt. This invasion is confirmed by Jewish historian Josephus, who lived at that time. The legionnaires surrounded Jerusalem and seemed assured of taking it. Suddenly, Gallus ordered a withdrawal. According to church historian Eusebius, Judean Christians seized this opportunity to flee to Pella, a city in a mountainous region of the Decapolis.
Some years later, in 70 C.E., another Roman army, commanded by General Titus, returned and besieged the Jewish capital. This time the soldiers finished the job left undone by Gallus and laid waste to the city. Hundreds of thousands were trapped in Jerusalem and died.
Who were “the sons of the prophets”?
Bible accounts about the prophets Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha refer to men called “the sons of the prophets.” When Elisha had Jehu appointed king of Israel, for example, he dispatched “one of the sons of the prophets” to anoint him.
Scholars believe that the term refers to a school of instruction or a cooperative association rather than the literal offspring of prophets. According to the Journal of Biblical Literature, the members of these groups were probably individuals who “devoted themselves to Yahweh’s [Jehovah’s] service under a prophet who was . . . their spiritual father.” (2 Kings 2:12) The account of Jehu’s anointing, in fact, refers to Elisha’s envoy as “the prophet’s attendant.”
“The sons of the prophets” appear to have lived simple lives. One such group in Elisha’s time is spoken of as constructing their own dwelling place and using a borrowed ax. (2 Kings 6:1-5) That some in these groups were married is shown by the reference to a widow “of the sons of the prophets.” (2 Kings 4:1) Faithful Israelites evidently appreciated the sons of the prophets, and in one recorded instance, they supplied them with gifts of food.