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Was AD70 The Worst Desolation Ever?

Matthew 24:21 "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will."

Josephus' Wars of the Jews Archive | Significance of AD70 | Demonstratio Evangelica | The Destruction of Jerusalem | The Avenging of the Saviour | Irenaeus | The Signs of the Son of Man's Presence at the Destruction of Jerusalem  | Dissertations on The Destruction of Jerusalem | The Destruction of Jerusalem The Jewish War and Destruction of Jerusalem | Why Was the Second Temple Destroyed? | Matthew 24:21 | The Great Tribulation in not an end-time prophecy | The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation | Mauro on Tribulation | Timeline of the Great Tribulation | Significance of AD70 | The Destruction of Jerusalem | Preterist Timeline of the Great Tribulation | H.C. Heffren | The Great Tribulation | Was the siege at Jerusalem the worst in history?

"The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God."
 C.H. Spurgeon

Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that were ever heard of (1); both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations; while some men who were not concerned in the affair themselves, have gotten together vain and contradictory stories by heresay , and have written them down after a sophistical manner; and while those things that were then present have given false accounts of things, and this either out of a humour of flattery to the Romans, or of a hatred to the Jews; and while their writings contain sometimes accusations, and sometimes ecomiums, but nowhere the accurate truth of the facts, I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our own country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians; I, Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, [am the author of this work.]" (Preface)

"it is almost impossible for any humane person to read the relation of (the calamities) in Josephus without weeping also."


Augustine (c.430)
"In Luke it is thus read, "There shall be great distress upon the earth, and wrath upon this people, and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations." [Luke 21:23]

"And so Josephus [marg. note: B. J. vii], who wrote the Jewish History, relates evils so great happening to this people as to seem hardly credible. Whence it was not unreasonably said, that such tribulation had never been from the beginning of creation, nor should be; for though in the time of Antichrist shall be such, or perhaps greater; yet to the Jews, of whom we must understand this, such shall never more befal. For if they shall be the first and the chief to receive Antichrist, they will then [p. 813] rather inflict than suffer tribulation." (Ep. 199. 30)

Chrysostom (347)
"Note how this speech is directed against the Jews; for when these things were done by Vespasian, the Apostles could neither observe the Sabbath nor fly, seeing most of them were already dead, and those who survived were living in distant countries. And why they should pray for this He adds a reason, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor shall be."

"I ask the Jews, whence came upon them so grievous wrath from heaven more woeful than all that had come upon them before? Plainly it was because of the desperate crime   and the denial of the Cross. But He shews that they deserved still heavier punishment than they received, when He adds, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved;" that is, If the siege by the Romans should be continued longer, all the Jews would perish; for by "all flesh," He means all the Jewish nation, those within and those without; for the Romans were at war not only with those in Judaea, but with the whole race wherever dispersed." (Matthew 24:21, Quoted in Golden Chain)

"Then, to show again the greatness of the calamity, He saith, "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be." Seest thou that His discourse is addressed to the Jews, and that He is speaking of the ills that should overtake them? For the apostles surely were not to keep the Sabbath day, neither to be there, when Vespasian did those things. For indeed the most part of them were already departed this life. And if any was left, he was dwelling then in other parts of the world.

And let not any man suppose this to have been spoken hyperbolically; but let him study the writings of Josephus, and learn the truth of the sayings. For neither can any one say, that the man being a believer, in order to establish Christ's words, hath exaggerated the tragical history. For indeed He was both a Jew, and a determined Jew, and very zealous, and among them that lived after Christ's coming. I should therefore be glad to inquire of the Jews. Whence came there thus upon them wrath from God intolerable, and more sore than all that had befallen aforetime, not in Judaea only, but in any part of the world? Is it not quite clear, that it was for the deed of the cross, and for this rejection? All would say it, and with all and before all the truth of the facts itself."  (Homily LXXVI.)

Eusebius (325)
"It is fitting to add to these accounts the true prediction of our Saviour in which he foretold these very events. His words are as follows: "Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day; For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."

"These things took place in this manner in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, in accordance with the prophecies of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who by divine power saw them beforehand as if they were already present, and wept and mourned according to the statement of the holy evangelists, who give the very words which be uttered, when, as if addressing Jerusalem herself, he said: "If thou hadst known, even thou, in this day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a rampart about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee and thy children even with the ground."(History)

"But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella." (Book III, Ch. 5)


Lorraine Boettner (1998)
One reason that it is so difficult for some people to realize that the Great Tribulation had its fulfillment in the siege and fall of Jerusalem is what a landmark in history the break-up and abolition of the Old Testament economy really was.  For a period of 1500 years God had worked with and through the Jewish people exclusively in matters pertaining to salvation." (The Millennium, rev. ed., Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, [1957] 1984, p.201)

Alfred Edersheim
"The Lord proceeds, in the third part of this discourse, to advertise the disciples of the great historic fact immediately before them, and of the dangers which would spring from it. In truth we have here His answer to their question 'when shall these things be?' And with this He conjoins the (then) present application of His warning regarding false Christs (given in verses 4, 5). The fact of which He now advertises them is the destruction of Jerusalem. It will be observed that the question, When shall these things be? is directly answered by the words, When ye shall see" (#Mt 24:15 Lu. 21:20).

"This, together with tribulation to Israel, unparalleled in the terrible past of its history, and unequalled even in its bloody future was about to befall them. Nay, so dreadful would be the persecution that, if Divine mercy had not interposed for the sake of the followers of Christ, the whole Jewish race that inhabited the land would have been swept away. There should have been no flesh saved."

James Farquarson (1837)
"Our Saviour certainly referred to the tribulations attendant on the fearful destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people by the Roman arms under Titus; and when we understand Daniel's time of trouble as belonging to the same events, . . . then the whole of his prophecy in this twelfth chapter can be easily demonstrated to have received a signal and complete fulfilment in the Advent of Christ, in the deliverance wrought by Him, . . . in the awakening of men from the death of sin, . . . in the prophecy itself not being understood until explained by Christ (and then not understood by the unbelieving Jews, but understood by the Christian converts), in the continued impenitence and increasing wickedness of the unbelieving Jews, in the judgments at last sent upon them in the Roman war, in the duration of that war, and in the immediate abatement of the sufferings attending it upon Titus' getting unexpected possession of the last strongholds of Jerusalem." (Daniel's Last Vision and Prophecy)

Fourfold Gospel (1914)
21 for then {bthose days} ashall be great tribulation, bsuch as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation {athe world} bwhich God created until now, and never, {ano, nor ever} shall be.
[These words spoken before the event are strikingly verified by the statements of Josephus written after it. "No other city," says he, "ever suffered miseries, nor did any age, from the beginning of the world, ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness that this was." And again: "If the miseries of all mankind from the creation were compared with those which the Jews then suffered, they would appear inferior." The promise that there shall be no days like it of course excludes the terrors and miseries of the judgment day, since it belongs to celestial rather than terrestrial history. Having now the whole paragraph before us, we are ready to discuss the phrase "abomination of desolation" mentioned in Matt. xxiv. 15 (p. 624). Taking it in connection with the entire paragraph, we can readily see, 1. That it was a sign practically simultaneous with the compassing of Jerusalem by the Roman army. 2. That it was a clearly marked sign which was to be followed by [626] immediate flight, even if the day of its appearing should chance to be the Sabbath--a flight so sudden that a man must not stop to enter his house or get his coat. Now, some translate the phrase "abomination of desolation" (or abomination that causeth desolation, for it may be so translated) as referring to the crimes of the zealots, a faction in Jerusalem, who took possession of the temple and profaned its sanctuary by using it as a fort, thus making themselves an abomination in the eyes of the Jews by polluting God's house and entering where they had no right to enter. But a long interval intervened between this evil deed of theirs and the coming of the Romans, during any day of which a Christian might have taken his departure after the most leisurely manner. Others take the phrase as referring to the entrance of the triumphant Roman army upon the temple courts; but as this was one of the last scenes of the prolonged siege, it could not properly be coupled with the encompassing Roman army. Meyer, aware of this difficulty, takes the position that there were two flights prescribed by Jesus, one from Jerusalem at the time when the Romans appeared, and the other from JudŠa at the time when the temple fell. But the language used by Luke (Luke xxi. 20, 21) forbids us to make the flight from JudŠa subsequent to the flight from Jerusalem, for both flights were to begin when the Romans appeared. Again it should be noted that the phrase "the holy place" is apt to mislead, especially when coupled with Mark's "where it ought not." The words when seen in English cause us to think of some person or thing polluting the sanctuary of the temple by standing in its holy place. But it is evident that the words do not refer to the temple at all. When the New Testament speaks of the holy place in the temple it styles it en too hagioo (in the holy), while the words here are en topoo hagioo (in a place holy). Moreover, after a careful perusal of the LXX. we are persuaded that they used the two terms to distinguish between the holy place in the sanctuary and other holy places, a distinction which the Revised Version recognizes (Lev. vi. 16, 26, 27, etc.). As none but priests could enter [627] the holy place, it is evident that another is meant at Ps. xxiv. 3; but in this place the Septuagint gives us en topoo hagioo. We, therefore, conclude that in this place Matthew uses the term "holy place" to designate the holy territory round about the Holy City, and that the combined expression of Matthew and Mark signifies the investiture of the city by the Roman armies and is equivalent to the plainer statement made by Luke. The Roman armies were fittingly called the abomination of desolation, because, being heathen armies, they were an abomination to the Jews, and because they brought desolation upon the country. The sight of them, therefore, became the appointed sign for Christians to quit the city.] " (The Destruction of Jerusalem Foretold)

G.A. Henty
"In all history there is no drama of more terrible interest than that which terminated with the total destruction of Jerusalem. Had the whole Jewish nation joined in the desperate resistance made by a section of it to the overwhelming strength of Rome, the world would have had no record of truer patriotism than that displayed by this small people in their resistance to the forces of the mistress of the world. Unhappily the reverse of this was the case. Except in the defense of Jotapata and Gamala, it can scarcely be said the the Jewish people as a body offered any serious resistance to the arms of Rome. The defenders of Jerusalem were a mere fraction of its population, a fraction composed almost entirely of turbulent characters and robber bands, who fought with the fury of desperation, after having placed themselves beyond the pale of forgiveness or mercy by the deeds of unutterable cruelty with which they had desolated the city before its siege by the Romans. They fought, it is true, with unflinching courage, a courage never surpassed in history, but it was the courage of despair, and its result was to bring destruction upon the whole population as well as upon themselves. Fortunately the narrative of Josephus, an eye-witness of the events which he describes, has come down to us, and it is the store-house from which all subsequent histories of the events have been drawn. It is no doubt tinged throughout by the desire to stand well with his patrons Vespasian and Titus, but there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of his descriptions. I have endeavoured to present you with as vivid a picture as possible of the events of the war without encumbering the story with details, and except as regards the exploits of John of Gamala, of whom Josephus says nothing, have strictly followed in every particular the narrative of the historian." (Introduction: For the Temple)

Wayne Jackson
"Matthew 24:21 does not refer to the end of time. It’s application, based upon all contextual considerations, was to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70."

B.W. Johnson (1891)
"21. Great tribulation. The account given by Josephus, the Jewish historian who witnessed and recorded the war, is almost an echo of the predictions of Christ. Women ate their own children from starvation; the Jews within the city fought each other as well as the Roman army; on August 10, A.D. 70, the city was stormed and there was a universal massacre; 1,100,00 persons perished, and 100,000 survivors were sold into slavery."

Philip Mauro (1922)
"Another feature of the modern doctrine of Judaistic nationalism should receive brief attention. I refer to the idea of many modern dispensationalists that the supposed national conversion of the Jews is to take place not actually in the millennium itself, but at the interval between the coming of Christ for His saved people and His coming to the earth with them. Those who make the "great tribulation" (Matt. 24:21) a yet future event locate it in this interval, which they commonly refer to as "the tribulation period," and they who are saved in that period (with a salvation much inferior to that now offered through the gospel) are termed "tribulation saints." Hence, according to this view, the supposed conversion and restoration of the Jewish nation is to take place not in the millennium but, in a special "tribulation period," which is to intervene between this present day of grace and the millennial day." (The Hope of Israel)

Thomas Newton (1754)
"In the preceding verses, our Saviour had warned his disciples to fly, as soon as ever they saw Jerusalem besieged by the Romans; and now he assigns the reason of his giving them this caution and 'For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be,'-- ver. 21. St. Mark expresseth it much in the same manner: 'For in those, lays shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created, unto this time, neither shall be,'-- xiii 19. This seemeth to be a proverbial form of expression, as in Exodus, 'And the locusts were very grievous, before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such,' -- x. 14: and again in Joel, 'A great people and a strong, there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations,' -- ii. 2. Of the same kind is that in Daniel, 'There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time,'-- xii. 1 : and that in the first book of Maccabees, 'There was great affliction in Israel, the like whereof was not since the time that a prophet was not seen amongst them,'-- ix. 27. Our Saviour therefore might fitly apply the same manner of speaking upon the present occasion : but he doth not make use of proverbial expressions without a proper meaning, and this may be understood even literally. For indeed all history cannot furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the Jews ; rapine and murder, famine and pestilence within ; fire and sword, and all the terrors of war without. Our Saviour wept at the foresight of these calamities, and it is almost impossible for persons of any humanity to read the relation of them in Josephus without weeping too." (The Prophecy of Matthew 24)

Philip Schaff (1877)
"The forbearance of God with his covenant people, who had crucified their own Saviour, reached it last its limit. As many as could be saved in the usual way, were rescued. The mass of the people had obstinately set themselves against all improvement. James the Just, the man who was fitted, if any could be, to reconcile the Jews to the Christian religion, had been stoned by his hardened brethren, for whom he daily interceded in the temple; and with him the Christian community in Jerusalem had lost its importance for that city. The hour of the "great tribulation" and fearful judgment drew near. The prophecy of the Lord approached its literal fulfilment: Jerusalem was razed to the ground, the temple burned, and not one stone was left upon another. (History of the Christian Church p. 397-398)"

C.H. Spurgeon (1888)
For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." Read the record written by Josephus of the destruction of Jerusalem, and see how truly our Lord’s words were fulfilled. The Jews impiously said, concerning the death of Christ, "His blood be on us, and on our children." Never did any other people invoke such an awlful curse upon themselves, and upon no other nation did such a judgment ever fall. We read of Jews crucified till there was no more wood for making crosses; of thousands of the people slaying one another in their fierce faction fights within the city; of so many of them being sold for slaves that they became a drug in the market, and all but valueless; and of the fearful carnage when the Romans at length entered the doomed capital; and the blood-curdling story exactly bears out the Savior’s statement uttered nearly forty years before the terrible events occurred."

"The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God." (Commentary on Matthew, p. 412,413)

William Whiston (1737)
"That these calamities of the Jews, who were our Savior’s murderers, were to be the greatest that had ever been s nee the beginning of the world, our Savior had directly foretold, Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19; Luke 21:23, 24; and that they proved to be such accordingly, Josephus is here a most authentic witness." (Wars Preface, Footnotes, 5)


Adam Clarke (1837)
"Verse 21. For then shall be great tribulation— No history can furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the Jews:-rapine, murder, famine, and pestilence within: fire and sword, and all the horrors of war, without. Our Lord wept at the foresight of these calamities; and it is almost impossible for any humane person to read the relation of them in Josephus without weeping also." (Matthew 24, quoting Newton)

Gary DeMar (1996)
"Any tribulation the Jews experience in other countries is not in view here.  The death of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis did not take place in the land of Israel.  The great tribulation is a description of what happened to Jews living in Israel in the first century.  Over one million Jews died at the hands of the Romans.  Nothing will ever compare to it because of Israel's special covenantal status.  Her sin was great, therefore her judgment was great."  (Last Days Madness, p. 129, n 22.)

"The tribulation period cannot be global because all one has to do to escape is flee to the mountains.  Notice that Jesus says "let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Matt 24:16).  Judea is not the world; it's not even the nation of Israel!" (ibid., p. 121)

F.W. Farrar (1882)
To minds already glowing with expectations of the Coming of Christ, and the close of the ages, the signs of the times must have worn a portentous aspect.  The sunset sky of the ancient dispensation was red and lowering with the prophecy of storm.  The "woes of the Messiah" -- the travail throes of the Future Age -- the pangs which were to accompany the new birth of the Messianic kingdom -- were already shaking the world. [20]  There were wars and rumours of wars.  There were famines and earthquakes.  The Church had barely passed through the anguish of the great tribulation. " (The Apocalypse)

Kenneth Gentry
"Of the "great tribulation," which is a topic for both John (Rev. 7:14) and Jesus (Matt. 24:21), Jesus informs His listeners: "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away until all these things are fulfilled" (Matt. 24:34). This may explain Peter's concern that his Pentecostal hearers save themselves from their "perverse generation" (Acts 2:41), which was about to erupt in "blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke" (Acts 2:19). And Paul's discouragement of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:26-31, during the "present distress" while "the time is short." Other inspired writers seem to anticipate a looming judgment compatible with Revelation's (Heb. 10:25, 37; Jas. 5:8-9; 1 Pet. 4:5, 7; 1 Jn. 2:17, 18)." (Apocalypse Then)

Bishop Newcome
"The calamities undergone by the Jews were unparallel'd in their history, and will remain so. The many and great evils arising from their own distractions and intestine madness, were peculiar to this time. And Josephus asserts in general that no other city underwent such sufferings. In particular he says, that the number of captives, throughout the whole war was 97 thousand and that one million one hundred thousand perished in the course of the siege: To these must be added 237,490 of whom express mention is due by this historian, as being destroyed in other places; besides innumerable others, not subject to calculation, who were swept away by fatigue, famine, disease and every kind of wretchedness and violence. Thus did the awakened vengeance of heaven require of that generation, the blood of all the prophets, which had been shed from the foundation of the world." (Harmony, p. 246.)

James Stuart Russell (1878)
That the 'great tribulation' (Matt. xxiv. 21) has express reference to the dreadful calamities attending the siege of Jerusalem, which bore With such peculiar severity on the female sex, is too evident to be questioned. That those calamities were literally unparalleled, can easily be believed by al1 who have read the ghastly narrative in the pages of Josephus. It is remarkable that the historian begins his account of the Jewish war with the affirmation, 'that the aggregate of human woes from the beginning of the world, would, in his opinion, be light in comparison with those of the Jews." (The Parousia)

R.C. Sproul (1998)
"Russell and Calvin agree that the language employed in biblical prophecy is not always cold and logical as is common in the Western world, but adopts a kind of fervor common to the East.  Scripture commonly describes the visitation of God's judgment with images of convulsion and cataclysms." (The Last Days According to Jesus, 45)

Milton Terry (1898)
"Immediately after the great tribulation which is to accompany the catastrophe, or in those very days, the Son of man is to be seen coming in the clouds with great power and glory. His coming is described according to the Hebrew apocalyptic style; and then it is solemnly affirmed with an emphatic Amen or Verily, "This generation shall not pass away till all these things be accomplished " (Mark xiii, 30; Matt. xxiv, 34; Luke xxi, 32). It would seem from all this that the occasion and scope of this prophecy are clear beyond controversy. It was preceded by many a word of rebuke and warning to the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, and a terrible woe pronounced against Jerusalem, the murderess of saints and prophets. The time-limit so emphatically asserted accords perfectly with the assurance given on another occasion that some of those who listened to the great Teacher should not die till they had seen the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Apocalypse of the Gospels)



Dr. D.A. Carson (1984)
"There have been greater number of deaths - six million in the Nazi death camps, mostly Jews, and an estimated twenty million under Stalin - but never so high a percentage of a great city's population so thoroughly and painfully exterminated and enslaved as during the fall of Jerusalem." ("Matthew," in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, gen. ed Frank E. Gaebelein, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984. 8:501)

H.A. Ironside
"The Preterists maintain that the Great Tribulation took place at the time of the trouble which the Jewish people passed through when the Roman armies, under Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and wrought havoc throughout Palestine.  The Great Tribulation, according to them, began in A.D. 70 and ended a very short time afterward." (The Tribulation)

Stanley Paher (1996)
"Consistent with the context, the tribulation was fulfilled during the time of the Jewish wars, AD 66-70, when Jerusalem under lengthy attack was 'trodden down' (Luke 21:24)." (Matthew 24: First Century Fulfillment or End-Time Expectations?, Las Vegas, NV: Nevada Publications, pp 104-105)

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Date: 27 Nov 2009
Time: 10:30:04

Your Comments:

The statement by Matthew has thus far been proven true, the CITY of JERUSALEM has NOT seen a destuction on the scale of 70 A.D.since.


Date: 28 Nov 2009
Time: 22:18:47

Your Comments:

I believe the Jewish Tribulation started in Jerusalem in 70 AD (1.1 million Jews died) and was stopped in the 1940s, when the allies put a stop to Hitler's inhumane killings of 6 million Jews.

An event that was as barbaric as when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and killed 1.1 million Jews. And let's don't forget the Inquisitions where millions of Jews were killed.

The Tribulation event doesn't have any well defined period of time. However, I agree that it involves only the suffering of the Jews and their physical extermination. Many nations have tried like the Assyrians (Took the Northern Kingdom), Babylonians (Took the Southern Kingdom), Greeks, Islam, etc. But God always made sure a remnant of Jews will continue to exist.

Without the US involvement in WWII, more Jews would have been killed and maybe exterminated. Remember that Islamic troops were about to join a German squadron to help with the Jewish extermination. But this action was stopped too.

We can't forget the suffering of the Jews from Spain, France, Germany all the way Russia, afflicted by the Vatican and Communism.

The term "..the beginning of the world" of course refers to the KNOWN world and back then it was basically the Middle East, Rome, etc. So the Tribulation doesn't have to be in Jerusalem, but any location mentioned in the Bible. i.e India, China, South and North America are not really mentioned.

The next time the Jews are threatened with extermination, Jesus will put a stop to the situation. An event that we are waiting to be fulfilled soon.

Dan from Penn



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