Temple Destruction in AD 70 In Context

As someone sitting in the 21st Century, reading that Jesus forecasted (in ~ AD 33) the destruction of the Temple (see Olivet Discourse Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) probably doesn't conjure up the full impact of the event that took place in AD 70.

The picture in my head would be of a temple for any number of Asian Eastern Religions found in Chinatowns in any large city in the USA. These buildings can be quite well built but they probably don't match up to the size and grandeur of the Temple of Jerusalem. Additionally, for the Jews of the ancient world, beyond the sheer size and grandeur of the Temple of Jerusalem, it was a singular structure, truly at the center of their religious beliefs and practices and identity as a people.

Of course, if one extends the search for religious structures worldwide, one can find some pretty spectacular structures. A Google search for Buddhist temples yields this tourism web page that has wonderful photos of what they consider the 10 most spectacular Buddhist temples. While at it, the same tourism web page has fantastic photos of the 10 most notable Hindu temples.  An architect offers his opinion of the 10 cathedrals you should see before you die and here is a list of 10 mosques.

However, relative to the Temple of Jerusalem which was the HEART of the people of Israel's faith, these don't compare. They may compare in terms of beauty and the grand scale of a structure but in terms of significance to an entire group of people there would be no comparison.

What did the Temple look like?

Since it was destroyed, one can only attempt to recreate it based on Biblical and historical documents that described it. And a model was built that resides at the Israel Museum. See photo below from Wikipedia.

Jerusalem Modell BW 3

Does all this context help us understand how traumatic Jesus' prediction of the Temple destruction would be to those who heard it?

However, it was more than just the destruction of a building. The events surrounding it also meant the ending of the Jewish nation of that time and was accompanied by deaths that may have exceed one million.