MATTHEW 24:22 And except those days were shortened. Those days of tribulation connected with the siege and storming of Jerusalem. Shortened, brought more speedily to a termination than might have been expected. Instead of shortened Wycliffe has the corresponding word breggid, that is abridged. Fritzsche strangely supposes, as if he had been in quest of the grotesque, that the abridging referred to is not in the number of the days, but in their diurnal length. There should be no flesh saved: Or, Nobody should be saved, that is, nobody in the sphere referred to, the sphere of Jerusalem and the Jews. "By no flesh here," says Chrysostom, "He means no Jewish flesh." (Comp.Luke xxi 23.) Josephus mentions that there were eleven hundred thousand who perished in connection with the siege; and he computes that ninety seven thousand were carried into captivity. (Wars, vi. 9: 3.) Although his estimate should have been unwittingly exaggerated to a large degree, yet we may rest assured that the destruction of life was, comparatively speaking, enormous. If the siege had been protracted to a much greater length, and if consequently the vengeful feelings of the besiegers in general, and of Titus and his father Vespasian in particular, had been intensified and inflamed, there would probably have been an utter extinction of the Jewish people. The Romans at the time had it in their power, 'humanly speaking,' to have swept the whole race clean away. But for the elect's sake: For the sake of the Christian element in the population, the Christians who then were, and the Christiana who, as God foresaw, were yet and are yet to be (see Rom.xi. 12-29). These Christians were the elect of the Jewish people. They were chosen or picked out from among all the rest to enjoy the peculiar blessings, and to discharge the peculiar duties, of the true Israel of God, the true kingdom of heaven. But the Romans were not capable, in their peculiar circumstances, of distinguishing nicely, if at all, between them and the rest of the Jews. Still less were they capable of foreseeing the future blessings which would be showered far and wide over mankind, in connection with the ultimate conversion to Christianity of the "remnant of the people". And hence, if their animosity and hatred had been stirred to the depth, so that they should have resolved to sweep out of existence the whole community of the Jews, the Jewish Christiana would inevitably have been involved in the war of extirpation. There would thus have been no provision left for the future "grafting in again" of the Jewish element into that glorious theocratic tree, whose branches are to overshadow the earth. If such had been the case, the loss to the world would have been irreparable. Those days shall be shortened: Viz. by a gracious overruling of the Divine hand, though in the midst of a marvellous tanglement of human schemes and sins. Many events, thus graciously overruled, contributed to the shortening of the days of tribulation. Vespasian's attention, after he had been for some time engaged in the war, was, in consequence of the unpopularity and degrading vices of the emperor Vitellius, turned toward the throne in Rome. His interests were thus more than divided. Revolts and inroads moreover, elsewhere, and particularly in the north of Europe, made it desirable not to expend extremely protracted efforts upon the prosecution of the Jewish war. Then Vespasian's son, Titus, to whom in the end the Jewish campaign was entrusted by his father, was of a generous disposition. Josephus besides, the Jewish historian, was a favourite both with him and with his father, and had much influence in mollifying their exasperated feelings. Bernice moreover, the sister of Agrippa, was beloved by Titus, and had a great control over his feelings. And then also Titus was desirous of prosecuting the campaign with speed, that he might accompany his father to Rome and share in the triumphal entry and the consequent festivities. In the infatuated dissensions moreover of the Jews themselves there was a penal element of things that was Divinely wielded, in an overruling way, for the merciful shortening of the siege. In these, and as we need not doubt, in many other ways, would it be open to the Divine Will to put forth the Divine Hand, in order to shorten graciously the days of tribulation.
- from pages 472-473, A Practical Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Matthew