6. As to the DATE of the book, a positive indication of a terminus a quo has been detected in the text by Dr. Colin. He draws attention to a speech of God to Moses (XIX. 7): "I will show thee the place wherein the people shall serve me 850 (MSS. 740) years, and thereafter it shall be delivered into the hands of the enemies, and they shall destroy it, and strangers shall compass it
about; and it shall be on that day like as it was in the day when I brake the tables of the covenant which I made with thee in Horeb: and when they sinned, that which was written thereon vanished away. Now that day was the 17th day of the 4th month." Dr. Cohn's comment is: "These words are meant to signify that Jerusalem was taken on the 17th of Tamuz, on the same day on which the Tables of the Law were broken by Moses. The capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, however, took place on the 9th of Tamuz (Jer. 526; Cf. 2 Kings 253). The . . . 17th of Tamuz can relate only to the second temple (read capture) as it is expressly mentioned in the Talmud (Taanith IV. 6, cf. Seder Olam Rabbah, cap. 6 and 30) that on that date the Tables of the Law were destroyed and Jerusalem was taken by Titus. Thus the author betrays himself by giving as the date of the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians what is really the date of the capture by Titus."
The point is so important that I have felt it only right to present the evidence in some detail. The Mishnah of Taanith IV. 6 says "Five calamities befell our fathers on the 17th of Tamuz and five on the 9th of Ab. On the 17th Tamuz the Tables of the Law were broken: the daily sacrifice ceased to be offered: the city of Jerusalem was broken into: Apostomos burnt the Law and set up an idol in the sanctuary. On the 9th of Ab our fathers were told that they should not enter the holy land (Num. xiv.). The first and the second temple were destroyed; Bethar was taken, and the plough passed over the soil of Jerusalem."
It must be borne in mind that the capture of Jerusalem, and not the destruction of the Temple,
is the event of which the date is important. To establish Dr. Cohn's argument, it is necessary that the capture of the city by Titus, and not the capture by Nebuchadnezzar, should be assigned to the 17th Tamuz.
The Gemara of the Jerusalem Talmud on the Mishnah quoted above attempts to show that there is a confusion in the chronology, and that probably both captures took place on the 17th Tamuz. But that of the Babylonian Talmud, which Mr. I. Abrahams has kindly translated for me, makes the requisite distinction between the dates, in these terms--
The city was broken up on the 17th. Was it indeed so? Is it not written "in the 4th month, on the 9th of the month, the famine was sore" (Jer. 526): and is it not written in the following verse: "then the city was broken up"? Raba replied: There is no difficulty: for the one refers to the first, the other to the second Temple. For there is a baraitha (teaching) which teaches: "On the first occasion the city was broken into on the 9th of Tamuz, and on the second occasion on the 17th."
This clearly justifies Dr. Cohn in taking the 17th of Tamuz as the date primarily associated with the capture by Titus. The attempt of the Jerusalem Talmud to place the Babylonian capture on the same date is of a later complexion, and is made, it seems, in the interests of a factitious symmetry. The baraitha quoted in the Babylonian Talmud is of the same age as the Mishnah (i.e. before A.D. 200).
Thus Philo is indeed referring to the capture by Titus, and is therefore writing at a date later than A.D. 70. But, apart from this piece of positive evidence, the general complexion of the book
strongly supports Dr. Cohn when he holds that it was written after the destruction of the second Temple. There is a singular absence of interest in the Temple services and in the ceremonial Law, whereas the moral Law, and especially the Decalogue, is dwelt upon again and again. Of course we read of sacrifices and the like, and it was impossible for the author to avoid all mention of the Tabernacle and its vessels, and of the yearly feasts. But the space devoted to them is strikingly small. The Passover is twice mentioned by name, and its institution is once referred to, together with that of the Feasts of Weeks, of Trumpets, and of Tabernacles, but no stress is laid upon it. The prescriptions for the observance of the Sabbath mention only synagogal services. When we compare Philo with Jubilees (second cent. B.C.), where the constant effort is to antedate the ceremonial Law in every part, we feel that we are in a wholly different stage of Judaism. Further, the evidence derivable from the resemblances between Philo and other books certainly written after A.D. 70, which will be found collected in another part of this Introduction, points unequivocally in the same direction.
In the portion of the book which we have (and it is important to remember that it is but a fragment) the writer's anticipations of a restoration and his allusions to the desolation of Jerusalem are equally faint and dim. It is probable that as occasion served--e.g. when he came to treat of Solomon's temple--he would have spoken more plainly than he could well do when dealing with the earlier history. If an opinion based upon what we possess of his work is demanded, my own is that an appreciable interval must be placed between the destruction of the city and our
author's time. I should assign him to the closing years of the first Christian century. 1
33:1 It might even be said that the vagueness of his hopes and aspirations points to an even later period, after the crushing of the Bar-Cochba rising in A.D. 135. However, the fact of the acceptance of the book by the Christian Church, which alone has preserved it, and the absence of anti-Christian polemic, forbid us to assign to it a date at all late in the second century.