The War of the Jews



By Flavius Josephus


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Josephus: The War of the Jews

Book 1

Book 2

Book 3

Book 4

Book 5

Book 6

Book 7











1. WHEN Nero was informed of the Romans’ ill success in Judea, a
concealed consternation and terror, as is usual in such cases, fell upon him;
although he openly looked very big, and was very angry, and said that
what had happened was rather owing to the negligence of the commander,
than to any valor of the enemy: and as he thought it fit for him, who bare
the burden of the whole empire, to despise such misfortunes, he now
pretended so to do, and to have a soul superior to all such sad accidents
whatsoever. Yet did the disturbance that was in his soul plainly appear by
the solicitude he was in [how to recover his affairs again].
2. And as he was deliberating to whom he should commit the care of the
East, now it was in so great a commotion, and who might be best able to
punish the Jews for their rebellion, and might prevent the same distemper
from seizing upon the neighboring nations also, — he found no one but
Vespasian equal to the task, and able to undergo the great burden of so
mighty a war, seeing he was growing an old man already in the camp, and
from his youth had been exercised in warlike exploits: he was also a man
that had long ago pacified the west, and made it subject to the Romans,
when it had been put into disorder by the Germans; he had also recovered
to them Britain by his arms, which had been little known before 1 whereby
he procured to his father Claudius to have a triumph bestowed on him
without any sweat or labor of his own.
3. So Nero esteemed these circumstances as favorable omens, and saw that
Vespasian’s age gave him sure experience, and great skill, and that he had
his sons as hostages for his fidelity to himself, and that the flourishing age
they were in would make them fit instruments under their father’s
prudence. Perhaps also there was some interposition of Providence, which
was paving the way for Vespasian’s being himself emperor afterwards.
Upon the whole, he sent this man to take upon him the command of the
armies that were in Syria; but this not without great encomiums and
flattering compellations, such as necessity required, and such as might
mollify him into complaisance. So Vespasian sent his son Titus from
Achaia, where he had been with Nero, to Alexandria, to bring back with
him from thence the fifth and. the tenth legions, while he himself, when he
had passed over the Hellespont, came by land into Syria, where he
gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of
auxiliaries from the kings in that neighborhood.
1. Now the Jews, after they had beaten Cestius, were so much elevated
with their unexpected success, that they could not govern their zeal, but,
like people blown up into a flame by their good fortune, carried the war to
remoter places. Accordingly, they presently got together a great multitude
of all their most hardy soldiers, and marched away for Ascalon. This is an
ancient city that is distant from Jerusalem five hundred and twenty
furlongs, and was always an enemy to the Jews; on which account they
determined to make their first effort against it, and to make their
approaches to it as near as possible. This excursion was led on by three
men, who were the chief of them all, both for strength and sagacity; Niger,
called the Persite, Silas of Babylon, and besides them John the Essene.
Now Ascalon was strongly walled about, but had almost no assistance to
be relied on [near them], for the garrison consisted of one cohort of
footmen, and one troop of horsemen, whose captain was Antonius.
2. These Jews, therefore, out of their anger, marched faster than ordinary,
and, as if they had come but a little way, approached very near the city,
and were come even to it; but Antonius, who was not unapprized of the
attack they were going to make upon the city, drew out his horsemen
beforehand, and being neither daunted at the multitude, nor at the courage
of the enemy, received their first attacks with great bravery; and when
they crowded to the very walls, he beat them off. Now the Jews were
unskillful in war, but were to fight with those who were skillful therein;
they were footmen to fight with horsemen; they were in disorder, to fight
those that were united together; they were poorly armed, to fight those
that were completely so; they were to fight more by their rage than by
sober counsel, and were exposed to soldiers that were exactly obedient;
and did every thing they were bidden upon the least intimation. So they
were easily beaten; for as soon as ever their first ranks were once in
disorder, they were put to flight by the enemy’s cavalry, and those of
them that came behind such as crowded to the wall fell upon their own
party’s weapons, and became one another’s enemies; and this so long till
they were all forced to give way to the attacks of the horsemen, and were
dispersed all the plain over, which plain was wide, and all fit for the
horsemen; which circumstance was very commodious for the Romans, and
occasioned the slaughter of the greatest number of the Jews; for such as
ran away, they could overrun them, and make them turn back; and when
they had brought them back after their flight, and driven them together,
they ran them through, and slew a vast number of them, insomuch that
others encompassed others of them, and drove them before them
whithersoever they turned themselves, and slew them easily with their
arrows; and the great number there were of the Jews seemed a solitude to
themselves, by reason of the distress they were in, while the Romans had
such good success with their small number, that they seemed to
themselves to be the greater multitude. And as the former strove zealously
under their misfortunes, out of the shame of a sudden flight, and hopes of
the change in their success, so did the latter feel no weariness by reason of
their good fortune; insomuch that the fight lasted till the evening, till ten
thousand men of the Jews’ side lay dead, with two of their generals, John
and Silas, and the greater part of the remainder were wounded, with Niger,
their remaining general, who fled away together to a small city of Idumea,
called Sallis. Some few also of the Romans were wounded in this battle.
3. Yet were not the spirits of the Jews broken by so great a calamity, but
the losses they had sustained rather quickened their resolution for other
attempts; for, overlooking the dead bodies which lay under their feet, they
were enticed by their former glorious actions to venture on a second
destruction; so when they had lain still so little a while that their wounds
were not yet thoroughly cured, they got together all their forces, and came
with greater fury, and in much greater numbers, to Ascalon. But their
former ill fortune followed them, as the consequence of their unskilfulness,
and other deficiencies in war; for Antonius laid ambushes for them in the
passages they were to go through, where they fell into snares
unexpectedly, and where they were encompassed about with horsemen,
before they could form themselves into a regular body for fighting, and
were above eight thousand of them slain; so all the rest of them ran away,
and with them Niger, who still did a great many bold exploits in his flight.
However, they were driven along together by the enemy, who pressed
hard upon them, into a certain strong tower belonging to a village called
Bezedeh However, Antonius and his party, that they might neither spend
any considerable time about this tower, which was hard to be taken, nor
suffer their commander, and the most courageous man of them all, to
escape from them, they set the wall on fire; and as the tower was burning,
the Romans went away rejoicing, as taking it for granted that Niger was
destroyed; but he leaped out of the tower into a subterraneous cave, in the
innermost part of it, and was preserved; and on the third day afterward he
spake out of the ground to those that with great lamentation were
searching for him, in order to give him a decent funeral; and when he was
come out, he filled all the Jews with an unexpected joy, as though he were
preserved by God’s providence to be their commander for the time to
4. And now Vespasian took along with him his army from Antioch, (which
is the metropolis of Syria, and without dispute deserves the place of the
third city in the habitable earth that was under the Roman empire, 2 both in
magnitude, and other marks of prosperity,) where he found king Agrippa,
with all his forces, waiting for his coming, and marched to Ptolemais. At
this city also the inhabitants of Sepphoris of Galilee met him, who were
for peace with the Romans. These citizens had beforehand taken care of
their own safety, and being sensible of the power of the Romans, they had
been with Cestius Gallus before Vespasian came, and had given their faith
to him, and received the security of his right hand, and had received a
Roman garrison; and at this time withal they received Vespasian, the
Roman general, very kindly, and readily promised that they would assist
him against their own countrymen. Now the general delivered them, at
their desire, as many horsemen and footmen as he thought sufficient to
oppose the incursions of the Jews, if they should come against them. And
indeed the danger of losing Sepphoris would be no small one, in this war
that was now beginning, seeing it was the largest city of Galilee, and built
in a place by nature very strong, and might be a security of the whole
nation’s [fidelity to the Romans].
1. NOW Phoenicia and Syria encompass about the Galilees, which are two,
and called the Upper Galilee and the Lower. They are bounded toward the
sun-setting, with the borders of the territory belonging to Ptolemais, and
by Carmel; which mountain had formerly belonged to the Galileans, but
now belonged to the Tyrians; to which mountain adjoins Gaba, which is
called the City of Horsemen, because those horsemen that were dismissed
by Herod the king dwelt therein; they are bounded on the south with
Samaria and Scythopolis, as far as the river Jordan; on the east with
Hippeae and Gadaris, and also with Ganlonitis, and the borders of the
kingdom of Agrippa; its northern parts are hounded by Tyre, and the
country of the Tyrians. As for that Galilee which is called the Lower, it,
extends in length from Tiberias to Zabulon, and of the maritime places
Ptolemais is its neighbor; its breadth is from the village called Xaloth,
which lies in the great plain, as far as Bersabe, from which beginning also is
taken the breadth of the Upper Galilee, as far as the village Baca, which
divides the land of the Tyrians from it; its length is also from Meloth to
Thella, a village near to Jordan.
2. These two Galilees, of so great largeness, and encompassed with so
many nations of foreigners, have been always able to make a strong
resistance on all occasions of war; for the Galileans are inured to war from
their infancy, and have been always very numerous; nor hath the country
been ever destitute of men of courage, or wanted a numerous set of them;
for their soil is universally rich and fruitful, and full of the plantations of
trees of all sorts, insomuch that it invites the most slothful to take pains in
its cultivation, by its fruitfulness; accordingly, it is all cultivated by its
inhabitants, and no part of it lies idle. Moreover, the cities lie here very
thick, and the very many villages there are here are every where so full of
people, by the richness of their soil, that the very least of them contain
above fifteen thousand inhabitants.
3. In short, if any one will suppose that Galilee is inferior to Perea in
magnitude, he will be obliged to prefer it before it in its strength; for this is
all capable of cultivation, and is every where fruitful; but for Perea, which
is indeed much larger in extent, the greater part of it is desert and rough,
and much less disposed for the production of the milder kinds of fruits;
yet hath it a moist soil [in other parts], and produces all kinds of fruits,
and its plains are planted with trees of all sorts, while yet the olive tree,
the vine, and the palm tree are chiefly cultivated there. It is also
sufficiently watered with torrents, which issue out of the mountains, and
with springs that never fail to run, even when the torrents fail them, as
they do in the dog-days. Now the length of Perea is from Macherus to
Pella, and its breadth from Philadelphia to Jordan; its northern parts are
bounded by Pella, as we have already said, as well as its Western with
Jordan; the land of Moab is its southern border, and its eastern limits reach
to Arabia, and Silbonitis, and besides to Philadelphene and Gerasa.
4. Now as to the country of Samaria, it lies between Judea and Galilee; it
begins at a village that is in the great plain called Ginea, and ends at the
Acrabbene toparchy, and is entirely of the same nature with Judea; for
both countries are made up of hills and valleys, and are moist enough for
agriculture, and are very fruitful. They have abundance of trees, and are
full of autumnal fruit, both that which grows wild, and that which is the
effect of cultivation. They are not naturally watered by many rivers, but
derive their chief moisture from rain-water, of which they have no want;
and for those rivers which they have, all their waters are exceeding sweet:
by reason also of the excellent grass they have, their cattle yield more milk
than do those in other places; and, what is the greatest sign of excellency
and of abundance, they each of them are very full of people.
5. In the limits of Samaria and Judea lies the village Anuath, which is also
named Borceos. This is the northern boundary of Judea. The southern
parts of Judea, if they be measured lengthways, are bounded by a Village
adjoining to the confines of Arabia; the Jews that dwell there call it Jordan.
However, its breadth is extended from the river Jordan to Joppa. The city
Jerusalem is situated in the very middle; on which account some have, with
sagacity enough, called that city the Navel of the country. Nor indeed is
Judea destitute of such delights as come from the sea, since its maritime
places extend as far as Ptolemais: it was parted into eleven portions, of
which the royal city Jerusalem was the supreme, and presided over all the
neighboring country, as the head does over the body. As to the other cities
that were inferior to it, they presided over their several toparchies;
Gophna was the second of those cities, and next to that Acrabatta, after
them Thamna, and Lydda, and Emmaus, and Pella, and Idumea, and
Engaddi, and Herodium, and Jericho; and after them came Jamnia and
Joppa, as presiding over the neighboring people; and besides these there
was the region of Gamala, and Gaulonitis, and Batanea, and Trachonitis,
which are also parts of the kingdom of Agrippa. This [last] country begins
at Mount Libanus, and the fountains of Jordan, and reaches breadthways
to the lake of Tiberias; and in length is extended from a village called
Arpha, as far as Julias. Its inhabitants are a mixture of Jews and Syrians.
And thus have I, with all possible brevity, described the country of Judea,
and those that lie round about it.
1. NOW the auxiliaries which were sent to assist the people of Sepphoris,
being a thousand horsemen, and six thousand footmen, under Placidus the
tribune, pitched their camp in two bodies in the great plain. The foot were
put into the city to be a guard to it, but the horse lodged abroad in the
camp. These last, by marching continually one way or other, and
overrunning the parts of the adjoining country, were very troublesome to
Josephus and his men; they also plundered all the places that were out of
the city’s liberty, and intercepted such as durst go abroad. On this account
it was that Josephus marched against the city, as hoping to take what he
had lately encompassed with so strong a wall, before they revolted from
the rest of the Galileans, that the Romans would have much ado to take it;
by which means he proved too weak, and failed of his hopes, both as to
the forcing the place, and as to his prevailing with the people of Sepphoris
to deliver it up to him. By this means he provoked the Romans to treat the
country according to the law of war; nor did the Romans, out of the anger
they bore at this attempt, leave off, either by night or by day, burning the
places in the plain, and stealing away the cattle that were in the country,
and killing whatsoever appeared capable of fighting perpetually, and
leading the weaker people as slaves into captivity; so that Galilee was all
over filled with fire and blood; nor was it exempted from any kind of
misery or calamity, for the only refuge they had was this, that when they
were pursued, they could retire to the cities which had walls built them by
2. But as to Titus, he sailed over from Achaia to Alexandria, and that
sooner than the winter season did usually permit; so he took with him
those forces he was sent for, and marching with great expedition, he came
suddenly to Ptolemais, and there finding his father, together with the two
legions, the fifth and the tenth, which were the most eminent legions of all,
he joined them to that fifteenth legion which was with his father; eighteen
cohorts followed these legions; there came also five cohorts from Cesarea,
with one troop of horsemen, and five other troops of horsemen from Syria.
Now these ten cohorts had severally a thousand footmen, but the other
thirteen cohorts had no more than six hundred footmen apiece, with a
hundred and twenty horsemen. There were also a considerable number of
auxiliaries got together, that came from the kings Antiochus, and Agrippa,
and Sohemus, each of them contributing one thousand footmen that were
archers, and a thousand horsemen. Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a
thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of
which were archers; so that the whole army, including the auxiliaries sent
by the kings, as well horsemen as footmen, when all were united together,
amounted to sixty thousand, besides the servants, who, as they followed
in vast numbers, so because they had been trained up in war with the rest,
ought not to be distinguished from the fighting men; for as they were in
their masters’ service in times of peace, so did they undergo the like
dangers with them in times of war, insomuch that they were inferior to
none, either in skill or in strength, only they were subject to their masters.
1. NOW here one cannot but admire at the precaution of the Romans, in
providing themselves of such household servants, as might not only serve
at other times for the common offices of life, but might also be of
advantage to them in their wars. And, indeed, if any one does but attend to
the other parts of their military discipline, he will be forced to confess that
their obtaining so large a dominion hath been the acquisition of their valor,
and not the bare gift of fortune; for they do not begin to use their weapons
first in time of war, nor do they then put their hands first into motion,
while they avoided so to do in times of peace; but, as if their weapons did
always cling to them, they have never any truce from warlike exercises;
nor do they stay till times of war admonish them to use them; for their
military exercises differ not at all from the real use of their arms, but every
soldier is every day exercised, and that with great diligence, as if it were in
time of war, which is the reason why they bear the fatigue of battles so
easily; for neither can any disorder remove them from their usual
regularity, nor can fear affright them out of it, nor can labor tire them;
which firmness of conduct makes them always to overcome those that
have not the same firmness; nor would he be mistaken that should call
those their exercises unbloody battles, and their battles bloody exercises.
Nor can their enemies easily surprise them with the suddenness of their
incursions; for as soon as they have marched into an enemy’s land, they
do not begin to fight till they have walled their camp about; nor is the
fence they raise rashly made, or uneven; nor do they all abide ill it, nor do
those that are in it take their places at random; but if it happens that the
ground is uneven, it is first leveled: their camp is also four-square by
measure, and carpenters are ready, in great numbers, with their tools, to
erect their buildings for them. 3
2. As for what is within the camp, it is set apart for tents, but the outward
circumference hath the resemblance to a wall, and is adorned with towers
at equal distances, where between the towers stand the engines for
throwing arrows and darts, and for slinging stones, and where they lay all
other engines that can annoy the enemy, all ready for their several
operations. They also erect four gates, one at every side of the
circumference, and those large enough for the entrance of the beasts, and
wide enough for making excursions, if occasion should require. They divide
the camp within into streets, very conveniently, and place the tents of the
commanders in the middle; but in the very midst of all is the general’s own
tent, in the nature of a temple, insomuch, that it appears to be a city built
on the sudden, with its market-place, and place for handicraft trades, and
with seats for the officers superior and inferior, where, if any differences
arise, their causes are heard and determined. The camp, and all that is in it,
is encompassed with a wall round about, and that sooner than one would
imagine, and this by the multitude and the skill of the laborers; and, if
occasion require, a trench is drawn round the whole, whose depth is four
cubits, and its breadth equal.
3. When they have thus secured themselves, they live together by
companies, with quietness and decency, as are all their other affairs
managed with good order and security. Each company hath also their
wood, and their corn, and their water brought them, when they stand in
need of them; for they neither sup nor dine as they please themselves
singly, but all together. Their times also for sleeping, and watching, and
rising are notified beforehand by the sound of trumpets, nor is any thing
done without such a signal; and in the morning the soldiery go every one to
their centurions, and these centurions to their tribunes, to salute them;
with whom all the superior officers go to the general of the whole army,
who then gives them of course the watchword and other orders, to be by
them cared to all that are under their command; which is also observed
when they go to fight, and thereby they turn themselves about on the
sudden, when there is occasion for making sallies, as they come back when
they are recalled in crowds also.
4. Now when they are to go out of their camp, the trumpet gives a sound,
at which time nobody lies still, but at the first intimation they take down
their tents, and all is made ready for their going out; then do the trumpets
sound again, to order them to get ready for the march; then do they lay
their baggage suddenly upon their mules, and other beasts of burden, and
stand, as at the place of starting, ready to march; when also they set fire to
their camp, and this they do because it will be easy for them to erect
another camp, and that it may not ever be of use to their enemies. Then do
the trumpets give a sound the third time, that they are to go out, in order
to excite those that on any account are a little tardy, that so no one may be
out of his rank when the army marches. Then does the crier stand at the
general’s right hand, and asks them thrice, in their own tongue, whether
they be now ready to go out to war or not? To which they reply as often,
with a loud and cheerful voice, saying, “We are ready.” And this they do
almost before the question is asked them: they do this as filled with a kind
of martial fury, and at the same time that they so cry out, they lift up their
right hands also.
5. When, after this, they are gone out of their camp, they all march
without noise, and in a decent manner, and every one keeps his own rank,
as if they were going to war. The footmen are armed with breastplates and
head-pieces, and have swords on each side; but the sword which is upon
their left side is much longer than the other, for that on the right side is not
longer than a span. Those foot-men also that are chosen out from the rest
to be about the general himself have a lance and a buckler, but the rest of
the foot soldiers have a spear and a long buckler, besides a saw and a
basket, a pick-axe and an axe, a thong of leather and a hook, with
provisions for three days, so that a footman hath no great need of a mule
to carry his burdens. The horsemen have a long sword on their right sides,
axed a long pole in their hand; a shield also lies by them obliquely on one
side of their horses, with three or more darts that are borne in their quiver,
having broad points, and not smaller than spears. They have also
head-pieces and breastplates, in like manner as have all the footmen. And
for those that are chosen to be about the general, their armor no way
differs from that of the horsemen belonging to other troops; and he always
leads the legions forth to whom the lot assigns that employment.
6. This is the manner of the marching and resting of the Romans, as also
these are the several sorts of weapons they use. But when they are to
fight, they leave nothing without forecast, nor to be done off-hand, but
counsel is ever first taken before any work is begun, and what hath been
there resolved upon is put in execution presently; for which reason they
seldom commit any errors; and if they have been mistaken at any time,
they easily correct those mistakes. They also esteem any errors they
commit upon taking counsel beforehand to be better than such rash
success as is owing to fortune only; because such a fortuitous advantage
tempts them to be inconsiderate, while consultation, though it may
sometimes fail of success, hath this good in it, that it makes men more
careful hereafter; but for the advantages that arise from chance, they are
not owing to him that gains them; and as to what melancholy accidents
happen unexpectedly, there is this comfort in them, that they had however
taken the best consultations they could to prevent them.
7. Now they so manage their preparatory exercises of their weapons, that
not the bodies of the soldiers only, but their souls may also become
stronger: they are moreover hardened for war by fear; for their laws inflict
capital punishments, not only for soldiers running away from the ranks,
but for slothfulness and inactivity, though it be but in a lesser degree; as
are their generals more severe than their laws, for they prevent any
imputation of cruelty toward those under condemnation, by the great
rewards they bestow on the valiant soldiers; and the readiness of obeying
their commanders is so great, that it is very ornamental in peace; but when
they come to a battle, the whole army is but one body, so well coupled
together are their ranks, so sudden are their turnings about, so sharp their
hearing as to what orders are given them, so quick their sight of the
ensigns, and so nimble are their hands when they set to work; whereby it
comes to pass that what they do is done quickly, and what they suffer
they bear with the greatest patience. Nor can we find any examples where
they have been conquered in battle, when they came to a close fight, either
by the multitude of the enemies, or by their stratagems, or by the
difficulties in the places they were in; no, nor by fortune neither, for their
victories have been surer to them than fortune could have granted them. In
a case, therefore, where counsel still goes before action, and where, after
taking the best advice, that advice is followed by so active an army, what
wonder is it that Euphrates on the east, the ocean on the west, the most
fertile regions of Libya on the south, and the Danube and the Rhine on the
north, are the limits of this empire? One might well say that the Roman
possessions are not inferior to the Romans themselves.
8. This account I have given the reader, not so much with the intention of
commending the Romans, as of comforting those that have been conquered
by them, and for the deterring others from attempting innovations under
their government. This discourse of the Roman military conduct may also
perhaps be of use to such of the curious as are ignorant of it, and yet have
a mind to know it. I return now from this digression.
1. AND now Vespasian, with his son Titus, had tarried some time at
Ptolemais, and had put his army in order. But when Placidus, who had
overrun Galilee, and had besides slain a number of those whom he had
caught, (which were only the weaker part of the Galileans, and such as
were of timorous souls,) saw that the warriors ran always to those cities
whose walls had been built by Josephus, he marched furiously against
Jotapata, which was of them all the strongest, as supposing he should
easily take it by a sudden surprise, and that he should thereby obtain great
honor to himself among the commanders, and bring a great advantage to
them in their future campaign; because if this strongest place of them all
were once taken, the rest would be so aftrighted as to surrender
themselves. But he was mightily mistaken in his undertaking; for the men
of Jotapata were apprized of his coming to attack them, and came out of
the city, and expected him there. So they fought the Romans briskly when
they least expected it, being both many in number, and prepared for
fighting, and of great alacrity, as esteeming their country, their wives, and
their children to be in danger, and easily put the Romans to flight, and
wounded many of them, and slew seven of them; 4 because their retreat
was not made in a disorderly manner, be-cause the strokes only touched
the surface of their bodies, which were covered with their armor in all
parts, and because the Jews did rather throw their weapons upon them
from a great distance, than venture to come hand to hand with them, and
had only light armor on, while the others were completely armed.
However, three men of the Jews’ side were slain, and a few wounded; so
Placidus, finding himself unable to assault the city, ran away.
2. But as Vespasian had a great mind to fall upon Galilee, he marched out
of Ptolemais, having put his army into that order wherein the Romans
used to march. He ordered those auxiliaries which were lightly armed, and
the archers, to march first, that they might prevent any sudden insults
from the enemy, and might search out the woods that looked suspiciously,
and were capable of ambuscades. Next to these followed that part of the
Romans which was completely armed, both footmen,and horsemen. Next
to these followed ten out of every hundred, carrying along with them their
arms, and what was necessary to measure out a camp withal; and after
them, such as were to make the road even and straight, and if it were any
where rough and hard to be passed over, to plane it, and to cut down the
woods that hindered their march, that the army might not be in distress, or
tired with their march. Behind these he set such carriages of the army as
belonged both to himself and to the other commanders, with a considerable
number of their horsemen for their security. After these he marched
himself, having with him a select body of footmen, and horsemen, and
pikemen. After these came the peculiar cavalry of his own legion, for there
were a hundred and twenty horsemen that peculiarly belonged to every
legion. Next to these came the mules that carried the engines for sieges, and
the other warlike machines of that nature. After these came the
commanders of the cohorts and tribunes, having about them soldiers
chosen out of the rest. Then came the ensigns encompassing the eagle,
which is at the head of every Roman legion, the king, and the strongest of
all birds, which seems to them a signal of dominion, and an omen that they
shall conquer all against whom they march; these sacred ensigns are
followed by the trumpeters. Then came the main army in their squadrons
and battalions, with six men in depth, which were followed at last by a
centurion, who, according to custom, observed the rest. As for the
servants of every legion, they all followed the footmen, and led the baggage
of the soldiers, which was borne by the mules and other beasts of burden.
But behind all the legions carne the whole multitude of the mercenaries;
and those that brought up the rear came last of all for the security of the
whole army, being both footmen, and those in their armor also, with a
great number of horsemen.
3. And thus did Vespasian march with his army, and came to the bounds
of Galileo, where he pitched his camp and restrained his soldiers, who
were eager for war; he also showed his army to the enemy, in order to
affright them, and to afford them a season for repentance, to see whether
they would change their minds before it came to a battle, and at the same
time he got things ready for besieging their strong minds. And indeed this
sight of the general brought many to repent of their revolt, and put them all
into a consternation; for those that were in Josephus’s camp, which was at
the city called Garis, not far from Sepphoris, when they heard that the war
was come near them, and that the Romans would suddenly fight them hand
to hand, dispersed themselves and fled, not only before they came to a
battle, but before the enemy ever came in sight, while Josephus and a few
others were left behind; and as he saw that he had not an army sufficient to
engage the enemy, that the spirits of the Jews were sunk, and that the
greater part would willingly come to terms, if they might be credited, he
already despaired of the success of the whole war, and determined to get as
far as he possibly could out of danger; so he took those that staid along
with him, and fled to Tiberias.
1. SO Vespasian marched to the city Gadara, and took it upon the first
onset, because he found it destitute of any considerable number of men
grown up and fit for war. He came then into it, and slew all the youth, the
Romans having no mercy on any age whatsoever; and this was done out of
the hatred they bore the nation, and because of the iniquity they had been
guilty of in the affair of Cestius. He also set fire not only to the city itself,
but to all the villas and small cities that were round about it; some of them
were quite destitute of inhabitants, and out of some of them he carried the
inhabitants as slaves into captivity.
2. As to Josephus, his retiring to that city which he chose as the most fit
for his security, put it into great fear; for the people of Tiberias did not
imagine that he would have run away, unless he had entirely despaired of
the success of the war. And indeed, as to that point, they were not
mistaken about his opinion; for he saw whither the affairs of the Jews
would tend at last, and was sensible that they had but one way of
escaping, and that was by repentance. However, although he expected that
the Romans would forgive him, yet did he chose to die many times over,
rather than to betray his country, and to dishonor that supreme command
of the army which had been intrusted with him, or to live happily under
those against whom he was sent to fight. He determined, therefore, to give
an exact account of affairs to the principal men at Jerusalem by a letter,
that he might not, by too much aggrandizing the power of the enemy,
make them too timorous; nor, by relating that their power beneath the
truth, might encourage them to stand out when they were perhaps
disposed to repentance. He also sent them word, that if they thought of
coming to terms, they must suddenly write him an answer; or if they
resolved upon war, they must send him an army sufficient to fight the
Romans. Accordingly, he wrote these things, and sent messengers
immediately to carry his letter to Jerusalem.
3. Now Vespasian was very desirous of demolishing Jotapata, for he had
gotten intelligence that the greatest part of the enemy had retired thither,
and that it was, on other accounts, a place of great security to them.
Accordingly, he sent both foot-men and horsemen to level the road, which
was mountainous and rocky, not without difficulty to be traveled over by
footmen, but absolutely impracticable for horsemen. Now these workmen
accomplished what they were about in four days’ time, and opened a
broad way for the army. On the fifth day, which was the twenty-first of
the month Artemisius, (Jyar,) Josephus prevented him, and came from
Tiberias, and went into Jotapata, and raised the drooping spirits of the
Jews. And a certain deserter told this good news to Vespasian, that
Josephus had removed himself thither, which made him make haste to the
city, as supposing that with taking that he should take all Judea, in case he
could but withal get Josephus under his power. So he took this news to be
of the vastest advantage to him, and believed it to be brought about by the
providence of God, that he who appeared to be the most prudent man of
all their enemies, had, of his own accord, shut himself up in a place of sure
custody. Accordingly, he sent Placidus with a thousand horsemen, and
Ebutius a decurion, a person that was of eminency both in council and in
action, to encompass the city round, that Josephus might not escape away
4. Vespasian also, the very next day, took his whole army and followed
them, and by marching till late in the evening, arrived then at Jotapata; and
bringing his army to the northern side of the city, he pitched his camp on a
certain small hill which was seven furlongs from the city, and still greatly
endeavored to be well seen by the enemy, to put them into a
consternation; which was indeed so terrible to the Jews immediately, that
no one of them durst go out beyond the wall. Yet did the Romans put off
the attack at that time, because they had marched all the day, although
they placed a double row of battalions round the city, with a third row
beyond them round the whole, which consisted of cavalry, in order to stop
up every way for an exit; which thing making the Jews despair of
escaping, excited them to act more boldly; for nothing makes men fight so
desperately in war as necessity.
5. Now when the next day an assault was made by the Romans, the Jews
at first staid out of the walls and opposed them, and met them, as having
formed themselves a camp before the city walls. But when Vespasian had
set against them the archers and slingers, and the whole multitude that
could throw to a great distance, he permitted them to go to work, while he
himself, with the footmen, got upon an acclivity, whence the city might
easily be taken. Josephus was then in fear for the city, and leaped out, and
all the Jewish multitude with him; these fell together upon the Romans in
great numbers, and drove them away from the wall, and performed a great
many glorious and bold actions. Yet did they suffer as much as they made
the enemy suffer; for as despair of deliverance encouraged the Jews, so did
a sense of shame equally encourage the Romans. These last had skill as
well as strength; the other had only courage, which armed them, and made
them fight furiously. And when the fight had lasted all day, it was put an
end to by the coming on of the night. They had wounded a great many of
the Romans, and killed of them thirteen men; of the Jews’ side seventeen
were slain, and six hundred wounded.
6. On the next day the Jews made another attack upon the Romans, and
went out of the walls and fought a much more desperate battle with them
titan before. For they were now become more courageous than formerly,
and that on account of the unexpected good opposition they had made the
day before, as they found the Romans also to fight more desperately; for a
sense of shame inflamed these into a passion, as esteeming their failure of a
sudden victory to be a kind of defeat. Thus did the Romans try to make an
impression upon the Jews till the fifth day continually, while the people
of Jotapata made sallies out, and fought at the walls most desperately; nor
were the Jews affrighted at the strength of the enemy, nor were the
Romans discouraged at the difficulties they met with in taking the city.
7. Now Jotapata is almost all of it built on a precipice, having on all the
other sides of it every way valleys immensely deep and steep, insomuch
that those who would look down would have their sight fail them before it
reaches to the bottom. It is only to be come at on the north side, where the
utmost part of the city is built on the mountain, as it ends obliquely at a
plain. This mountain Josephus had encompassed with a wall when he
fortified the city, that its top might not be capable of being seized upon by
the enemies. The city is covered all round with other mountains, and can
no way be seen till a man comes just upon it. And this was the strong
situation of Jotapata.
8. Vespasian, therefore, in order to try how he might overcome the natural
strength of the place, as well as the bold defense of the Jews, made a
resolution to prosecute the siege with vigor. To that end he called the
commanders that were under him to a council of war, and consulted with
them which way the assault might be managed to the best advantage. And
when the resolution was there taken to raise a bank against that part of the
wall which was practicable, he sent his whole army abroad to get the
materials together. So when they had cut down all the trees on the
mountains that adjoined to the city, and had gotten together a vast heap of
stones, besides the wood they had cut down, some of them brought
hurdles, in order to avoid the effects of the darts that were shot from
above them. These hurdles they spread over their banks, under cover
whereof they formed their bank, and so were little or nothing hurt by the
darts that were thrown upon them from the wall, while others pulled the
neighboring hillocks to pieces, and perpetually brought earth to them; so
that while they were busy three sorts of ways, nobody was idle.
However, the Jews cast great stones from the walls upon the hurdles
which protected the men, with all sorts of darts also; and the noise of what
could not reach them was yet so terrible, that it was some impediment to
the workmen.
9. Vespasian then set the engines for throwing stones and darts round
about the city. The number of the engines was in all a hundred and sixty,
and bid them fall to work, and dislodge those that were upon the wall. At
the same time such engines as were intended for that purpose threw at
once lances upon them with a great noise, and stones of the weight of a
talent were thrown by the engines that were prepared for that purpose,
together with fire, and a vast multitude of arrows, which made the wall so
dangerous, that the Jews durst not only not come upon it, but durst not
come to those parts within the walls which were reached by the engines;
for the multitude of the Arabian archers, as well also as all those that
threw darts and slung stones, fell to work at the same time with the
engines. Yet did not the otters lie still, when they could not throw at the
Romans from a higher place; for they then made sallies out of the city, like
private robbers, by parties, and pulled away the hurdles that covered the
workmen, and killed them when they were thus naked; and when those
workmen gave way, these cast away the earth that composed the bank,
and burnt the wooden parts of it, together with the hurdles, till at length
Vespasian perceived that the intervals there were between the works were
of disadvantage to him; for those spaces of ground afforded the Jews a
place for assaulting the Romans. So he united the hurdles, and at the same
time joined one part of the army to the other, which prevented the private
excursions of the Jews.
10. And when the bank was now raised, and brought nearer than ever to
the battlements that belonged to the walls, Josephus thought it would be
entirely wrong in him if he could make no contrivances in opposition to
theirs, and that might be for the city’s preservation; so he got together his
workmen, and ordered them to build the wall higher; and while they said
that this was impossible to be done while so many darts were thrown at
them, he invented this sort of cover for them: He bid them fix piles, and
expand before them the raw hides of oxen newly killed, that these hides by
yielding and hollowing themselves when the stones were thrown at them
might receive them, for that the other darts would slide off them, and the
fire that was thrown would be quenched by the moisture that was in them.
And these he set before the workmen, and under them these workmen
went on with their works in safety, and raised the wall higher, and that
both by day and by night, fill it was twenty cubits high. He also built a
good number of towers upon the wall, and fitted it to strong battlements.
This greatly discouraged the Romans, who in their own opinions were
already gotten within the walls, while they were now at once astonished at
Josephus’s contrivance, and at the fortitude of the citizens that were in the
11. And now Vespasian was plainly irritated at the great subtlety of this
stratagem, and at the boldness of the citizens of Jotapata; for taking heart
again upon the building of this wall, they made fresh sallies upon the
Romans, and had every day conflicts with them by parties, together with
all such contrivances, as robbers make use of, and with the plundering of
all that came to hand, as also with the setting fire to all the other works;
and this till Vespasian made his army leave off fighting them, and resolved
to lie round the city, and to starve them into a surrender, as supposing that
either they would be forced to petition him for mercy by want of
provisions, or if they should have the courage to hold out till the last, they
should perish by famine: and he concluded he should conquer them the
more easily in fighting, if he gave them an interval, and then fell upon them
when they were weakened by famine; but still he gave orders that they
should guard against their coming out of the city.
12. Now the besieged had plenty of corn within the city, and indeed of all
necessaries, but they wanted water, because there was no fountain in the
city, the people being there usually satisfied with rain water; yet is it a
rare thing in that country to have rain in summer, and at this season, during
the siege, they were in great distress for some contrivance to satisfy their
thirst; and they were very sad at this time particularly, as if they were
already in want of water entirely, for Josephus seeing that the city
abounded with other necessaries, and that the men were of good courage,
and being desirous to protract the siege to the Romans longer than they
expected, ordered their drink to be given them by measure; but this scanty
distribution of water by measure was deemed by them as a thing more
hard upon them than the want of it; and their not being able to drink as
much as they would made them more desirous of drinking than they
otherwise had been; nay, they were as much disheartened hereby as if they
were come to the last degree of thirst. Nor were the Romans unacquainted
with the state they were in, for when they stood over against them,
beyond the wall, they could see them running together, and taking their
water by measure, which made them throw their javelins thither the place
being within their reach, and kill a great many of them.
13. Hereupon Vespasian hoped that their receptacles of water would in no
long time be emptied, and that they would be forced to deliver up the city
to him; but Josephus being minded to break such his hope, gave command
that they should wet a great many of their clothes, and hang them out
about the battlements, till the entire wall was of a sudden all wet with the
running down of the water. At this sight the Romans were discouraged,
and under consternation, when they saw them able to throw away in sport
so much water, when they supposed them not to have enough to drink
themselves. This made the Roman general despair of taking the city by
their want of necessaries, and to betake himself again to arms, and to try to
force them to surrender, which was what the Jews greatly desired; for as
they despaired of either themselves or their city being able to escape, they
preferred a death in battle before one by hunger and thirst.
14. However, Josephus contrived another stratagem besides the foregoing,
to get plenty of what they wanted. There was a certain rough and uneven
place that could hardly be ascended, and on that account was not guarded
by the soldiers; so Josephus sent out certain persons along the western
parts of the valley, and by them sent letters to whom he pleased of the
Jews that were out of the city, and procured from them what necessaries
soever they wanted in the city in abundance; he enjoined them also to
creep generally along by the watch as they came into the city, and to cover
their backs with such sheep-skins as had their wool upon them, that if any
one should spy them out in the night time, they might be believed to be
dogs. This was done till the watch perceived their contrivance, and
encompassed that rough place about themselves.
15. And now it was that Josephus perceived that the city could not hold
out long, and that his own life would be in doubt if he continued in it; so
he consulted how he and the most potent men of the city might fly out of
it. When the multitude understood this, they came all round about him,
and begged of him not to overlook them while they entirely depended on
him, and him alone; for that there was still hope of the city’s deliverance,
if he would stay with them, because every body would undertake any
pains with great cheerfulness on his account, and in that case there would
be some comfort for them also, though they should be taken: that it
became him neither to fly from his enemies, nor to desert his friends, nor
to leap out of that city, as out of a ship that was sinking in a storm, into
which he came when it was quiet and in a calm; for that by going away he
would be the cause of drowning the city, because nobody would then
venture to oppose the enemy when he was once gone, upon whom they
wholly confided.
16. Hereupon Josephus avoided letting them know that he was to go away
to provide for his own safety, but told them that he would go out of the
city for their sakes; for that if he staid with them, he should be able to do
them little good while they were in a safe condition; and that if they were
once taken, he should only perish with them to no purpose; but that if he
were once gotten free from this siege, he should be able to bring them very
great relief; for that he would then immediately get the Galileans together,
out of the country, in great multitudes, and draw the Romans off their city
by another war. That he did not see what advantge he could bring to them
now, by staying among them, but only provoke the Romans to besiege
them more closely, as esteeming it a most valuable thing to take him; but
that if they were once informed that he was fled out of the city, they
would greatly remit of their eagerness against it. Yet did not this plea move
the people, but inflamed them the more to hang about him. Accordingly,
both the children and the old men, and the women with their infants, came
mourning to him, and fell down before him, and all of them caught hold of
his feet, and held him fast, and besought him, with great lamentations, that
he would take his share with them in their fortune; and I think they did
this, not that they envied his deliverance, but that they hoped for their
own; for they could not think they should suffer any great misfortune,
provided Josephus would but stay with them.
17. Now Josephus thought, that if he resolved to stay, it would be
ascribed to their entreaties; and if he resolved to go away by force, he
should be put into custody. His commiseration also of the people under
their lamentations had much broken that his eagerness to leave them; so he
resolved to stay, and arming himself with the common despair of the
citizens, he said to them, “Now is the time to begin to fight in earnest,
when there is no hope of deliverance left. It is a brave thing to prefer glory
before life, and to set about some such noble undertaking as may be
remembered by late posterity.” Having said this, he fell to work
immediately, and made a sally, and dispersed the enemies’ out-guards, and
ran as far as the Roman camp itself, and pulled the coverings of their tents
to pieces, that were upon their banks, and set fire to their works. And this
was the manner in which he never left off fighting, neither the next day,
nor the day after it, but went on with it for a considerable number of both
days and nights.
18. Upon this, Vespasian, when he saw the Romans distressed by these
sallies, (though they were ashamed to be made to run away by the Jews;
and when at any time they made the Jews run away, their heavy armor
would not let them pursue them far; while the Jews, when they had
performed any action, and before they could be hurt themselves, still
retired into the city,) ordered his armed men to avoid their onset, and not
fight it out with men under desperation, while nothing is more courageous
than despair; but that their violence would be quenched when they saw
they failed of their purposes, as fire is quenched when it wants fuel; and
that it was proper for the Romans to gain their victories as cheap as they
could, since they are not forced to fight, but only to enlarge their own
dominions. So he repelled the Jews in great measure by the Arabian
archers, and the Syrian slingers, and by those that threw stones at them,
nor was there any intermission of the great number of their offensive
engines. Now the Jews suffered greatly by these engines, without being
able to escape from them; and when these engines threw their stones or
javelins a great way, and the Jews were within their reach, they pressed
hard upon the Romans, and fought desperately, without sparing either
soul or body, one part succoring another by turns, when it was tired
19. When, therefore, Vespasian looked upon himself as in a manner
besieged by these sallies of the Jews, and when his banks were now not far
from the walls, he determined to make use of his battering ram. This
battering ram is a vast beam of wood like the mast of a ship, its forepart is
armed with a thick piece of iron at the head of it, which is so carved as to
be like the head of a ram, whence its name is taken. This ram is slung in the
air by ropes passing over its middle, and is hung like the balance in a pair
of scales from another beam, and braced by strong beams that pass on
both sides of it, in the nature of a cross. When this ram is pulled backward
by a great number of men with united force, and then thrust forward by
the same men, with a mighty noise, it batters the walls with that iron part
which is prominent. Nor is there any tower so strong, or walls so broad,
that can resist any more than its first batteries, but all are forced to yield
to it at last. This was the experiment which the Roman general betook
himself to, when he was eagerly bent upon taking the city; but found lying
in the field so long to be to his disadvantage, because the Jews would never
let him be quiet. So these Romans brought the several engines for galling an
enemy nearer to the walls, that they might reach such as were upon the
wall, and endeavored to frustrate their attempts; these threw stones and
javelins at them; in the like manner did the archers and slingers come both
together closer to the wall. This brought matters to such a pass that none
of the Jews durst mount the walls, and then it was that the other Romans
brought the battering ram that was cased with hurdles all over, and in the
tipper part was secured by skins that covered it, and this both for the
security of themselves and of the engine. Now, at the very first stroke of
this engine, the wall was shaken, and a terrible clamor was raised by the
people within the city, as if they were already taken.
20. And now, when Josephus saw this ram still battering the same place,
and that the wall would quickly be thrown down by it, he resolved to
elude for a while the force of the engine. With this design he gave orders to
fill sacks with chaff, and to hang them down before that place where they
saw the ram always battering, that the stroke might be turned aside, or that
the place might feel less of the strokes by the yielding nature of the chaff.
This contrivance very much delayed the attempts of the Romans, because,
let them remove their engine to what part they pleased, those that were
above it removed their sacks, and placed them over against the strokes it
made, insomuch that the wall was no way hurt, and this by diversion of
the strokes, till the Romans made an opposite contrivance of long poles,
and by tying hooks at their ends, cut off the sacks. Now when the
battering ram thus recovered its force, and the wall having been but newly
built, was giving way, Josephus and those about him had afterward
immediate recourse to fire, to defend themselves withal; whereupon they
took what materials soever they had that were but dry, and made a sally
three ways, and set fire to the machines, and the hurdles, and the banks of
the Romans themselves; nor did the Romans well know how to come to
their assistance, being at once under a consternation at the Jews’ boldness,
and being prevented by the flames from coming to their assistance; for the
materials being dry with the bitumen and pitch that were among them, as
was brimstone also, the fire caught hold of every thing immediately, and
what cost the Romans a great deal of pains was in one hour consumed.
21. And here a certain Jew appeared worthy of our relation and
commendation; he was the son of Sameas, and was called Eleazar, and was
born at Saab, in Galilee. This man took up a stone of a vast bigness, and
threw it down from the wall upon the ram, and this with so great a force,
that it broke off the head of the engine. He also leaped down, and took up
the head of the ram from the midst of them, and without any concern
carried it to the top of the wall, and this while he stood as a fit mark to he
pelted by all his enemies. Accordingly, he received the strokes upon his
naked body, and was wounded with five darts; nor did he mind any of
them while he went up to the top of the wall, where he stood in the sight
of them all, as an instance of the greatest boldness; after which he drew
himself on a heap with his wounds upon him, and fell down together with
the head of the ram. Next to him, two brothers showed their courage; their
names were Netir and Philip, both of them of the village Ruma, and both
of them Galileans also; these men leaped upon the soldiers of the tenth
legion, and fell upon the Romans with such a noise and force as to disorder
their ranks, and to put to flight all upon whomsoever they made their
22. After these men’s performances, Josephus, and the rest of the
multitude with him, took a great deal of fire, and burnt both the machines
and their coverings, with the works belonging to the fifth and to the tenth
legion, which they put to flight; when others followed them immediately,
and buried those instruments and all their materials under ground.
However, about the evening, the Romans erected the battering ram again,
against that part of the wall which had suffered before; where a certain Jew
that defended the city from the Romans hit Vespasian with a dart in his
foot, and wounded him a little, the distance being so great, that no mighty
impression could be made by the dart thrown so far off. However, this
caused the greatest disorder among the Romans; for when those who stood
near him saw his blood, they were disturbed at it, and a report went
abroad, through the whole army, that the general was wounded, while the
greatest part left the siege, and came running together with surprise and
fear to the general; and before them all came Titus, out of the concern he
had for his father, insomuch that the multitude were in great confusion,
and this out of the regard they had for their general, and by reason of the
agony that the son was in. Yet did the father soon put an end to the son’s
fear, and to the disorder the army was under, for being superior to his
pains, and endeavoring soon to be seen by all that had been in a fright
about him, he excited them to fight the Jews more briskly; for now every
body was willing to expose himself to danger immediately, in order to
avenge their general; and then they encouraged one another with loud
voices, and ran hastily to the walls.
23. But still Josephus and those with him, although they fell down dead
one upon another by the darts and stones which the engines threw upon
them, yet did not they desert the wall, but fell upon those who managed
the ram, under the protection of the hurdles, with fire, and iron weapons,
and stones; and these could do little or nothing, but fell themselves
perpetually, while they were seen by those whom they could not see, for
the light of their own flame shone about them, and made them a most
visible mark to the enemy, as they were in the day time, while the engines
could not be seen at a great distance, and so what was thrown at them was
hard to be avoided; for the force with which these engines threw stones
and darts made them hurt several at a time, and the violent noise of the
stones that were cast by the engines was so great, that they carried away
the pinnacles of the wall, and broke off the corners of the towers; for no
body of men could be so strong as not to be overthrown to the last rank
by the largeness of the stones. And any one may learn the force of the
engines by what happened this very night; for as one of those that stood
round about Josephus was near the wall, his head was carried away by
such a stone, and his skull was flung as far as three furlongs. In the day
time also, a woman with child had her belly so violently struck, as she was
just come out of her house, that the infant was carried to the distance of
half a furlong, so great was the force of that engine. The noise of the
instruments themselves was very terrible, the sound of the darts and
stones that were thrown by them was so also; of the same sort was that
noise the dead bodies made, when they were dashed against the wall; and
indeed dreadful was the clamor which these things raised in the women
within the city, which was echoed back at the same time by the cries of
such as were slain; while the whole space of ground whereon they fought
ran with blood, and the wall might have been ascended over by the bodies
of the dead carcasses; the mountains also contributed to increase the noise
by their echoes; nor was there on that night any thing of terror wanting
that could either affect the hearing or the sight: yet did a great part of those
that fought so hard for Jotapata fall manfully, as were a great part of them
wounded. However, the morning watch was come ere the wall yielded to
the machines employed against it, though it had been battered without
intermission. However, those within covered their bodies with their armor,
and raised works over against that part which was thrown down, before
those machines were laid by which the Romans were to ascend into the
24. In the morning Vespasian got his army together, in order to take the
city [by storm], after a little recreation upon the hard pains they had been
at the night before; and as he was desirous to draw off those that opposed
him from the places where the wall had been thrown down, he made the
most courageous of the horsemen get off their horses, and placed them in
three ranks over against those ruins of the wall, but covered with their
armor on every side, and with poles in their hands, that so these might
begin their ascent as soon as the instruments for such ascent were laid;
behind them he placed the flower of the footmen; but for the rest of the
horse, he ordered them to extend themselves over against the wall, upon
the whole hilly country, in order to prevent any from escaping out of the
city when it should be taken; and behind these he placed the archers round
about, and commanded them to have their darts ready to shoot. The same
command he gave to the slingers, and to those that managed the engines,
and bid them to take up other ladders, and have them ready to lay upon
those parts of the wall which were yet untouched, that the besieged might
be engaged in trying to hinder their ascent by them, and leave the guard of
the parts that were thrown down, while the rest of them should be
overborne by the darts cast at them, and might afford his men an entrance
into the city.
25. But Josephus, understanding the meaning of Vespasian’s contrivance,
set the old men, together with those that were tired out, at the sound parts
of the wall, as expecting no harm from those quarters, but set the strongest
of his men at the place where the wall was broken down, and before them
all six men by themselves, among whom he took his share of the first and
greatest danger. He also gave orders, that when the legions made a shout,
they should stop their ears, that they might not be affrighted at it, and
that, to avoid the multitude of the enemy’s darts, they should bend down
on their knees, and cover themselves with their shields, and that they
should retreat a little backward for a while, till the archers should have
emptied their quivers; but that When the Romans should lay their
instruments for ascending the walls, they should leap out on the sudden,
and with their own instruments should meet the enemy, and that every
one should strive to do his best, in order not to defend his own city, as if it
were possible to be preserved, but in order to revenge it, when it was
already destroyed; and that they should set before their eyes how their old
men were to be slain, and their children and wives were to be killed
immediately by the enemy; and that they would beforehand spend all their
fury, on account of the calamities just coming upon them, and pour it out
on the actors.
26. And thus did Josephus dispose of both his bodies of men; but then for
the useless part of the citizens, the women and children, when they saw
their city encompassed by a threefold army, (for none of the usual guards
that had been fighting before were removed,) when they also saw, not only
the walls thrown down, but their enemies with swords in their hands, as
also the hilly country above them shining with their weapons, d the darts
in the hands of the Arabian archers, they made a final and lamentable
outcry of the destruction, as if the misery were not only threatened, but
actually come upon them already. But Josephus ordered the women to be
shut up in their houses, lest they should render the warlike actions of the
men too effeminate, by making them commiserate their condition, and
commanded them to hold their peace, and threatened them if they did not,
while he came himself before the breach, where his allotment was; for all
those who brought ladders to the other places, he took no notice of them,
but earnestly waited for the shower of arrows that was coming.
27. And now the trumpeters of the several Roman legions sounded
together, and the army made a terrible shout; and the darts, as by order,
flew so last, that they intercepted the light. However, Josephus’s men
remembered the charges he had given them, they stopped their ears at the
sounds, and covered their bodies against the darts; and as to the engines
that were set ready to go to work, the Jews ran out upon them, before
those that should have used them were gotten upon them. And now, on
the ascending of the soldiers, there was a great conflict, and many actions
of the hands and of the soul were exhibited; while the Jews did earnestly
endeavor, in the extreme danger they were in, not to show less courage
than those who, without being in danger, fought so stoutly against them;
nor did they leave struggling with the Romans till they either fell down
dead themselves, or killed their antagonists. But the Jews grew weary with
defending themselves continually, and had not enough to come in their
places, and succor them; while, on the side of the Romans, fresh men still
succeeded those that were tired; and still new men soon got upon the
machines for ascent, in the room of those that were thrust down; those
encouraging one another, and joining side to side with their shields, which
were a protection to them, they became a body of men not to be broken;
and as this band thrust away the Jews, as though they were themselves
but one body, they began already to get upon the wall.
28. Then did Josephus take necessity for his counselor in this utmost
distress, (which necessity is very sagacious in invention when it is irritated
by despair,) and gave orders to pour scalding oil upon those whose shields
protected them. Whereupon they soon got it ready, being many that
brought it, and what they brought being a great quantity also, and poured
it on all sides upon the Romans, and threw down upon them their vessels
as they were still hissing from the heat of the fire: this so burnt the
Romans, that it dispersed that united band, who now tumbled clown from
the wall with horrid pains, for the oil did easily run down the whole body
from head to foot, under their entire armor, and fed upon their flesh like
flame itself, its fat and unctuous nature rendering it soon heated and
slowly cooled; and as the men were cooped up in their head-pieces and
breastplates, they could no way get free from this burning oil; they could
only leap and roll about in their pains, as they fell down from the bridges
they had laid. And as they thus were beaten back, and retired to their own
party, who still pressed them forward, they were easily wounded by
those that were behind them.
29. However, in this ill success of the Romans, their courage did not fail
them, nor did the Jews want prudence to oppose them; for the Romans,
although they saw their own men thrown down, and in a miserable
condition, yet were they vehemently bent against those that poured the oil
upon them; while every one reproached the man before him as a coward,
and one that hindered him from exerting himself; and while the Jews made
use of another stratagem to prevent their ascent, and poured boiling
fenugreek upon the boards, in order to make them slip and fall down; by
which means neither could those that were coming up, nor those that were
going down, stand on their feet; but some of them fell backward upon the
machines on which they ascended, and were trodden upon; many of them
fell down upon the bank they had raised, and when they were fallen upon
it were slain by the Jews; for when the Romans could not keep their feet,
the Jews being freed from fighting hand to hand, had leisure to throw their
darts at them. So the general called off those soldiers in the evening that
had suffered so sorely, of whom the number of the slain was not a few,
while that of the wounded was still greater; but of the people of Jotapata
no more than six men were killed, although more than three hundred were
carried off wounded. This fight happened on the twentieth day of the
month Desius [Sivan].
30. Hereupon Vespasian comforted his army on occasion of what
happened, and as he found them angry indeed, but rather wanting
somewhat to do than any further exhortations, he gave orders to raise the
banks still higher, and to erect three towers, each fifty feet high, and that
they should cover them with plates of iron on every side, that they might
be both firm by their weight, and not easily liable to be set on fire. These
towers he set upon the banks, and placed upon them such as could shoot
darts and arrows, with the lighter engines for throwing stones and darts
also; and besides these, he set upon them the stoutest men among the
slingers, who not being to be seen by reason of the height they stood
upon, and the battlements that protected them, might throw their weapons
at those that were upon the wall, and were easily seen by them. Hereupon
the Jews, not being easily able to escape those darts that were thrown
down upon their heads, nor to avenge themselves on those whom they
could not see, and perceiving that the height of the towers was so great,
that a dart which they threw with their hand could hardly reach it, and that
the iron plates about them made it very hard to come at them by fire, they
ran away from the walls, and fled hastily out of the city, and fell upon
those that shot at them. And thus did the people of Jotapata resist the
Romans, while a great number of them were every day killed, without their
being able to retort the evil upon their enemies; nor could they keep them
out of the city without danger to themselves.
31. About this time it was that Vespasian sent out Trajan against a city
called Japha, that lay near to Jotapata, and that desired innovations, and
was puffed up with the unexpected length of the opposition of Jotapata.
This Trajan was the commander of the tenth legion, and to him Vespasian
committed one thousand horsemen, and two thousand footmen. When
Trajan came to the city, he found it hard to be taken, for besides the
natural strength of its situation, it was also secured by a double wall; but
when he saw the people of this city coming out of it, and ready to fight
him, he joined battle with them, and after a short resistance which they
made, he pursued after them; and as they fled to their first wall, the
Romans followed them so closely, that they fell in together with them: but
when the Jews were endeavoring to get again within their second wall,
their fellow citizens shut them out, as being afraid that the Romans would
force themselves in with them. It was certainly God therefore who brought
the Romans to punish the Galileans, and did then expose the people of the
city every one of them manifestly to be destroyed by their bloody
enemies; for they fell upon the gates in great crowds, and earnestly calling
to those that kept them, and that by their names also, yet had they their
throats cut in the very midst of their supplications; for the enemy shut the
gates of the first wall, and their own citizens shut the gates of the second,
so they were enclosed between two walls, and were slain in great numbers
together; many of them were run through by swords of their own men, and
many by their own swords, besides an immense number that were slain by
the Romans. Nor had they any courage to revenge themselves; for there
was added to the consternation they were in from the enemy, their being
betrayed by their own friends, which quite broke their spirits; and at last
they died, cursing not the Romans, but their own citizens, till they were all
destroyed, being in number twelve thousand. So Trajan gathered that the
city was empty of people that could fight, and although there should a few
of them be therein, he supposed that they would be too timorous to
venture upon any opposition; so he reserved the taking of the city to the
general. Accordingly, he sent messengers to Vespasian, and desired him to
send his son Titus to finish the victory he had gained. Vespasian hereupon
imagining there might be some pains still necessary, sent his son with an
army of five hundred horsemen, and one thousand footmen. So he came
quickly to the city, and put his army in order, and set Trajan over the left
wing, while he had the right himself, and led them to the siege: and when
the soldiers brought ladders to be laid against the wall on every side, the
Galileans opposed them from above for a while; but soon afterward they
left the walls. Then did Titus’s men leap into the city, and seized upon it
presently; but when those that were in it were gotten together, there was a
fierce battle between them; for the men of power fell upon the Romans in
the narrow streets, and the women threw whatsoever came next to hand at
them, and sustained a fight with them for six hours’ time; but when the
fighting men were spent, the rest of the multitude had their throats cut,
partly in the open air, and partly in their own houses, both young and old
together. So there were no males now remaining, besides infants, which,
with the women, were carried as slaves into captivity; so that the number
of the slain, both now in the city and at the former fight, was fifteen
thousand, and the captives were two thousand one hundred and thirty.
This calamity befell the Galileans on the twenty-fifth day of the month
Desius [Sivan.]
32. Nor did the Samaritans escape their share of misfortunes at this time;
for they assembled themselves together upon file mountain called
Gerizzim, which is with them a holy mountain, and there they remained;
which collection of theirs, as well as the courageous minds they showed,
could not but threaten somewhat of war; nor were they rendered wiser by
the miseries that had come upon their neighboring cities. They also,
notwithstanding the great success the Romans had, marched on in an
unreasonable manner, depending on their own weakness, and were
disposed for any tumult upon its first appearance. Vespasian therefore
thought it best to prevent their motions, and to cut off the foundation of
their attempts. For although all Samaria had ever garrisons settled among
them, yet did the number of those that were come to Mount Gerizzim,
and their conspiracy together, give ground for fear what they would be at;
he therefore sent I thither Cerealis, the commander of the fifth legion, with
six hundred horsemen, and three thousand footmen, who did not think it
safe to go up to the mountain, and give them battle, because many of the
enemy were on the higher part of the ground; so he encompassed all the
lower part of the mountain with his army, and watched them all that day.
Now it happened that the Samaritans, who were now destitute of water,
were inflamed with a violent heat, (for it was summer time, and the
multitude had not provided themselves with necessaries,) insomuch that
some of them died that very day with heat, while others of them preferred
slavery before such a death as that was, and fled to the Romans; by whom
Cerealis understood that those which still staid there were very much
broken by their misfortunes. So he went up to the mountain, and having
placed his forces round about the enemy, he, in the first place, exhorted
them to take the security of his right hand, and come to terms with him,
and thereby save themselves; and assured them, that if they would lay
down their arms, he would secure them from any harm; but when he could
not prevail with them, he fell upon them and slew them all, being in
number eleven thousand and six hundred. This was done on the
twenty-seventh day of the month Desius [Sivan]. And these were the
calamities that befell the Samaritans at this time.
33. But as the people of Jotapata still held out manfully, and bore up
tinder their miseries beyond all that could be hoped for, on the
forty-seventh day [of the siege] the banks cast up by the Romans were
become higher than the wall; on which day a certain deserter went to
Vespasian, and told him how few were left in the city, and how weak they
were, and that they had been so worn out with perpetual watching, and as
perpetual fighting, that they could not now oppose any force that came
against them, and that they might he taken by stratagem, if any one would
attack them; for that about the last watch of the night, when they thought
they might have some rest from the hardships they were under, and when
a morning sleep used to come upon them, as they were thoroughly weary,
he said the watch used to fall asleep; accordingly his advice was, that they
should make their attack at that hour. But Vespasian had a suspicion about
this deserter, as knowing how faithful the Jews were to one another, and
how much they despised any punishments that could be inflicted on them;
this last because one of the people of Jotapata had undergone all sorts of
torments, and though they made him pass through a fiery trial of his
enemies in his examination, yet would he inform them nothing of the
affairs within the city, and as he was crucified, smiled at them. However,
the probability there was in the relation itself did partly confirm the truth
of what the deserter told them, and they thought he might probably speak
truth. However, Vespasian thought they should be no great sufferers if the
report was a sham; so he commanded them to keep the man in custody,
and prepared the army for taking the city.
34. According to which resolution they marched without noise, at the hour
that had been told them, to the wall; and it was Titus himself that first got
upon it, with one of his tribunes, Domitius Sabinus, and had a few of the
fifteenth legion along with him. So they cut the throats of the watch, and
entered the city very quietly. After these came Cerealis the tribune, and
Placidus, and led on those that were tinder them. Now when the citadel
was taken, and the enemy were in the very midst of the city, and when it
was already day, yet was not the taking of the city known by those that
held it; for a great many of them were fast asleep, and a great mist, which
then by chance fell upon the city, hindered those that got up from
distinctly seeing the case they were in, till the whole Roman army was
gotten in, and they were raised up only to find the miseries they were
under; and as they were slaying, they perceived the city was taken. And
for the Romans, they so well remembered what they had suffered during
the siege, that they spared none, nor pitied any, but drove the people
down the precipice from the citadel, and slew them as they drove them
down; at which time the difficulties of the place hindered those that were
still able to fight from defending themselves; for as they were distressed in
the narrow streets, and could not keep their feet sure along the precipice,
they were overpowered with the crowd of those that came fighting them
down from the citadel. This provoked a great many, even of those chosen
men that were about Josephus, to kill themselves with their own hands;
for when they saw that they could kill none of the Romans, they resolved
to prevent being killed by the Romans, and got together in great numbers
in the utmost parts of the city, and killed themselves.
35. However, such of the watch as at the first perceived they were taken,
and ran away as fast as they could, went up into one of the towers on the
north side of the city, and for a while defended themselves there; but as
they were encompassed with a multitude of enemies, they tried to use
their right hands when it was too late, and at length they cheerfully offered
their necks to be cut off by those that stood over them. And the Romans
might have boasted that the conclusion of that siege was without blood [on
their side] if there had not been a centurion, Antonius, who was slain at
the taking of the city. His death was occasioned by the following
treachery; for there was one of those that were fled into the caverns, which
were a great number, who desired that this Antonius would reach him his
right hand for his security, and would assure him that he would preserve
him, and give him his assistance in getting up out of the cavern;
accordingly, he incautiously reached him his right hand, when the other
man prevented him, and stabbed him under his loins with a spear, and
killed him immediately.
36. And on this day it was that the Romans slew all the multitude that
appeared openly; but on the following days they searched the
hiding-places, and fell upon those that were under ground, and in the
caverns, and went thus through every age, excepting the infants and the
women, and of these there were gathered together as captives twelve
hundred; and as for those that were slain at the taking of the city, and in
the former fights, they were numbered to be forty thousand. So Vespasian
gave order that the city should be entirely demolished, and all the
fortifications burnt down. And thus was Jotapata taken, in the thirteenth
year of the reign of Nero, on the first day of the month Panemus [Tamuz].
1. AND now the Romans searched for Josephus, both out of the hatred
they bore him, and because their general was very desirous to have him
taken; for he reckoned that if he were once taken, the greatest part of the
war would be over. They then searched among the dead, and looked into
the most concealed recesses of the city; but as the city was first taken, he
was assisted by a certain supernatural providence; for he withdrew himself
from the enemy when he was in the midst of them, and leaped into a
certain deep pit, whereto there adjoined a large den at one side of it, which
den could not be seen by those that were above ground; and there he met
with forty persons of eminency that had concealed themselves, and with
provisions enough to satisfy them for not a few days. So in the day time
he hid himself from the enemy, who had seized upon all places, and in the
night time he got up out of the den and looked about for some way of
escaping, and took exact notice of the watch; but as all places were guarded
every where on his account, that there was no way of getting off unseen,
he went down again into the den. Thus he concealed himself two days; but
on the third day, when they had taken a woman who had been with them,
he was discovered. Whereupon Vespasian sent immediately and zealously
two tribunes, Paulinus and Gallicanus, and ordered them to give Josephus
their right hands as a security for his life, and to exhort him to come up.
2. So they came and invited the man to come up, and gave him assurances
that his life should be preserved: but they did not prevail with him; for he
gathered suspicions from the probability there was that one who had done
so many things against the Romans must suffer for it, though not from the
mild temper of those that invited him. However, he was afraid that he was
invited to come up in order to be punished, until Vespasian sent besides
these a third tribune, Nicanor, to him; he was one that was well known to
Josephus, and had been his familiar acquaintance in old time. When he was
come, he enlarged upon the natural mildness of the Romans towards those
they have once conquered; and told him that he had behaved himself so
valiantly, that the commanders rather admired than hated him; that the
general was very desirous to have him brought to him, not in order to
punish him, for that he could do though he should not come voluntarily,
but that he was determined to preserve a man of his courage. He moreover
added this, that Vespasian, had he been resolved to impose upon him,
would not have sent to him a friend of his own, nor put the fairest color
upon the vilest action, by pretending friendship and meaning
perfidiousness; nor would he have himself acquiesced, or come to him, had
it been to deceive him.
3. Now as Josephus began to hesitate with himself about Nicanor’s
proposal, the soldiery were so angry, that they ran hastily to set fire to
the den; but the tribune would not permit them so to do, as being very
desirous to take the man alive. And now, as Nicanor lay hard at Josephus
to comply, and he understood how the multitude of the enemies
threatened him, he called to mind the dreams which he had dreamed in the
night time, whereby God had signified to him beforehand both the future
calamities of the Jews, and the events that concerned the Roman emperors.
Now Josephus was able to give shrewd conjectures about the
interpretation of such dreams as have been ambiguously delivered by God.
Moreover, he was not unacquainted with the prophecies contained in the
sacred books, as being a priest himself, and of the posterity of priests: and
just then was he in an ecstasy; and setting before him the tremendous
images of the dreams he had lately had, he put up a secret prayer to God,
and said, “Since it pleaseth thee, who hast created the Jewish nation, to
depress the same, and since all their good fortune is gone over to the
Romans, and since thou hast made choice of this soul of mine to foretell
what is to come to pass hereafter, I willingly give them my hands, and am
content to live. And I protest openly that I do not go over to the Romans
as a deserter of the Jews, but as a minister from thee.”
4. When he had said this, he complied with Nicanor’s invitation. But when
those Jews who had fled with him understood that he yielded to those that
invited him to come up, they came about him in a body, and cried out,
“Nay, indeed, now may the laws of our forefathers, which God ordained
himself, well groan to purpose; that God we mean who hath created the
souls of the Jews of such a temper, that they despise death. O Josephus!
art thou still fond of life? and canst thou bear to see the light in a state of
slavery? How soon hast thou forgotten thyself! How many hast thou
persuaded to lose their lives for liberty! Thou hast therefore had a false
reputation for manhood, and a like false reputation for wisdom, if thou
canst hope for preservation from those against whom thou hast fought so
zealously, and art however willing to be preserved by them, if they be in
earnest. But although the good fortune of the Romans hath made thee
forget thyself, we ought to take care that the glory of our forefathers may
not be tarnished. We will lend thee our right hand and a sword; and if thou
wilt die willingly, thou wilt die as general of the Jews; but if unwillingly,
thou wilt die as a traitor to them.” As soon as they said this, they began to
thrust their swords at him, and threatened they would kill him, if he
thought of yielding himself to the Romans.
5. Upon this Josephus was afraid of their attacking him, and yet thought
he should be a betrayer of the commands of God, if he died before they
were delivered. So he began to talk like a philosopher to them in the
distress he was then in, when he said thus to them: “O my friends, why
are we so earnest to kill ourselves? and why do we set our soul and body,
which are such dear companions, at such variance? Can any one pretend
that I am not the man I was formerly? Nay, the Romans are sensible how
that matter stands well enough. It is a brave thin to die in war; but so that
it be according to the law of war, by the hand of conquerors. If, therefore, I
avoid death from the sword of the Romans, I am truly worthy to be killed
by my own sword, and my own hand; but if they admit of mercy, and
would spare their enemy, how much more ought we to have mercy upon
ourselves, and to spare ourselves? For it is certainly a foolish thing to do
that to ourselves which we quarrel with them for doing to us. I confess
freely that it is a brave thing to die for liberty; but still so that it be in war,
and done by those who take that liberty from us; but in the present case
our enemies do neither meet us in battle, nor do they kill us. Now he is
equally a coward who will not die when he is obliged to die, and he who
will die when he is not obliged so to do. What are we afraid of, when we
will not go up to the Romans? Is it death? If so, what we are afraid of,
when we but suspect our enemies will inflict it on us, shall we inflict it on
ourselves for certain? But it may be said we must be slaves. And are we
then in a clear state of liberty at present? It may also be said that it is a
manly act for one to kill himself. No, certainly, but a most unmanly one;
as I should esteem that pilot to be an arrant coward, who, out of fear of a
storm, should sink his ship of his own accord. Now self-murder is a crime
most remote from the common nature of all animals, and an instance of
impiety against God our Creator; nor indeed is there any animal that dies
by its own contrivance, or by its own means, for the desire of life is a law
engraven in them all; on which account we deem those that openly take it
away from us to be our enemies, and those that do it by treachery are
punished for so doing. And do not you think that God is very angry when
a man does injury to what he hath bestowed on him? For from him it is
that we have received our being, and we ought to leave it to his disposal to
take that being away from us. The bodies of all men are indeed mortal, and
are created out of corruptible matter; but the soul is ever immortal, and is a
portion of the divinity that inhabits our bodies. Besides, if any one
destroys or abuses a depositum he hath received from a mere man, he is
esteemed a wicked and perfidious person; but then if any one cast out of
his body this Divine depositum, can we imagine that he who is thereby
affronted does not know of it? Moreover, our law justly ordains that
slaves which run away from their master shall be punished, though the
masters they run away from may have been wicked masters to them. And
shall we endeavor to run away from God, who is the best of all masters,
and not guilty of impeity? Do not you know that those who depart out of
this life according to the law of nature, and pay that debt which was
received from God, when he that lent it us is pleased to require it back
again, enjoy eternal fame; that their houses and their posterity are sure,
that their souls are pure and obedient, and obtain a most holy place in
heaven, from whence, in the revolutions of ages, they are again sent into
pure bodies; while the souls of those whose hands have acted madly
against themselves are received by the darkest place in Hades, and while
God, who is their Father, punishes those that offend against either of them
in their posterity? for which reason God hates such doings, and the crime
is punished by our most wise legislator. Accordingly, our laws determine
that the bodies of such as kill themselves should be exposed till the sun be
set, without burial, although at the same time it be allowed by them to be
lawful to bury our enemies [sooner]. The laws of other nations also enjoin
such men’s hands to be cut off when they are dead, which had been made
use of in destroying themselves when alive, while they reckoned that as
the body is alien from the soul, so is the hand alien from the body. It is
therefore, my friends, a right thing to reason justly, and not add to the
calamities which men bring upon us impiety towards our Creator. If we
have a mind to preserve ourselves, let us do it; for to be preserved by
those our enemies, to whom we have given so many demonstrations of our
courage, is no way inglorious; but if we have a mind to die, it is good to die
by the hand of those that have conquered us. For nay part, I will not run
over to our enemies’ quarters, in order to be a traitor to myself; for
certainly I should then be much more foolish than those that deserted to
the enemy, since they did it in order to save themselves, and I should do it
for destruction, for my own destruction. However, I heartily wish the
Romans may prove treacherous in this matter; for if, after their offer of
their right hand for security, I be slain by them, I shall die cheerfully, and
carry away with me the sense of their perfidiousness, as a consolation
greater than victory itself.”
6. Now these and many the like motives did Josephus use to these men to
prevent their murdering themselves; but desperation had shut their ears, as
having long ago devoted themselves to die, and they were irritated at
Josephus. They then ran upon him with their swords in their hands, one
from one quarter, and another from another, and called him a coward, and
everyone of them appeared openly as if he were ready to smite him; but
he calling to one of them by name, and looking like a general to another,
and taking a third by the hand, and making a fourth ashamed of himself, by
praying him to forbear, and being in this condition distracted with various
passions, (as he well might in the great distress he was then in,) he kept
off every one of their swords from killing him, and was forced to do like
such wild beasts as are encompassed about on every side, who always
turn themselves against those that last touched them. Nay, some of their
right hands were debilitated by the reverence they bare to their general in
these his fatal calamities, and their swords dropped out of their hands; and
not a few of them there were, who, when they aimed to smite him with
their swords, they were not thoroughly either willing or able to do it.
7. However, in this extreme distress, he was not destitute of his usual
sagacity; but trusting himself to the providence of God, he put his life into
hazard [in the manner following]: “And now,” said he, “since it is resolved
among you that you will die, come on, let us commit our mutual deaths to
determination by lot. He whom the lot falls to first, let him be killed by
him that hath the second lot, and thus fortune shall make its progress
through us all; nor shall any of us perish by his own right hand, for it
would be unfair if, when the rest are gone, somebody should repent and
save himself.” This proposal appeared to them to be very just; and when
he had prevailed with them to determine this matter by lots, he drew one
of the lots for himself also. He who had the first lot laid his neck bare to
him that had the next, as supposing that the general would die among them
immediately; for they thought death, if Josephus might but die with them,
was sweeter than life; yet was he with another left to the last, whether we
must say it happened so by chance, or whether by the providence of God.
And as he was very desirous neither to be condemned by the lot, nor, if he
had been left to the last, to imbrue his right hand in the blood of his
countrymen, he persuaded him to trust his fidelity to him, and to live as
well as himself.
8. Thus Josephus escaped in the war with the Romans, and in this his own
war with his friends, and was led by Nicanor to Vespasian. But now all
the Romans ran together to see him; and as the multitude pressed one
upon another about their general, there was a tumult of a various kind;
while some rejoiced that Josephus was taken, and some threatened him,
and some crowded to see him very near; but those that were more remote
cried out to have this their enemy put to death, while those that were near
called to mind the actions he had done, and a deep concern appeared at the
change of his fortune. Nor were there any of the Roman commanders, how
much soever they had been enraged at him before, but relented when they
came to the sight of him. Above all the rest, Titus’s own valor, and
Josephus’s own patience under his afflictions, made him pity him, as did
also the commiseration of his age, when he recalled to mind that but a little
while ago he was fighting, but lay now in the hands of his enemies, which
made him consider the power of fortune, and how quick is the turn of
affairs in war, and how no state of men is sure; for which reason he then
made a great many more to be of the same pitiful temper with himself, and
induced them to commiserate Josephus. He was also of great weight in
persuading his father to preserve him. However, Vespasian gave strict
orders that he should be kept with great caution, as though he would in a
very little time send him to Nero. 5
9. When Josephus heard him give those orders, he said that he had
somewhat in his mind that he would willingly say to himself alone. When
therefore they were all ordered to withdraw, excepting Titus and two of
their friends, he said, “Thou, O Vespasian, thinkest no more than that thou
hast taken Josephus himself captive; but I come to thee as a messenger of
greater tidings; for had not I been sent by God to thee, I knew what was
the law of the Jews in this case? and how it becomes generals to die. Dost
thou send me to Nero? For why? Are Nero’s successors till they come to
thee still alive? Thou, O Vespasian, art Caesar and emperor, thou, and this
thy son. Bind me now still faster, and keep me for thyself, for thou, O
Caesar, are not only Lord over me, but over the land and the sea, and all
mankind; and certainly I deserve to be kept in closer custody than I now
am in, in order to be punished, if I rashly affirm any thing of God.” When
he had said this, Vespasian at present did not believe him, but supposed
that Josephus said this as a cunning trick, in order to his own preservation;
but in a little time he was convinced, and believed what he said to be true,
God himself erecting his expectations, so as to think of obtaining the
empire, and by other signs fore-showing his advancement. He also found
Josephus to have spoken truth on other occasions; for one of those friends
that were present at that secret conference said to Josephus, “I cannot but
wonder how thou couldst not foretell to the people of Jotapata that they
should be taken, nor couldst foretell this captivity which hath happened to
thyself, unless what thou now sayest be a vain thing, in order to avoid the
rage that is risen against thyself.” To which Josephus replied, “I did
foretell to the people of Jotapata that they would be taken on the
forty-seventh day, and that I should be caught alive by the Romans.” Now
when Vespasian had inquired of the captives privately about these
predictions, he found them to be true, and then he began to believe those
that concerned himself. Yet did he not set Josephus at liberty from his
hands, but bestowed on him suits of clothes, and other precious gifts; he
treated him also in a very obliging manner, and continued so to do, Titus
still joining his interest ill the honors that were done him.
1. NOW Vespasian returned to Ptolemais on the fourth day of the month
Panemus, [Tamus] and from thence he came to Cesarea, which lay by the
sea-side. This was a very great city of Judea, and for the greatest part
inhabited by Greeks: the citizens here received both the Roman army and
its general, with all sorts of acclamations and rejoicings, and this partly out
of the good-will they bore to the Romans, but principally out of the hatred
they bore to those that were conquered by them; on which account they
came clamoring against Josephus in crowds, and desired he might be put to
death. But Vespasian passed over this petition concerning him, as offered
by the injudicious multitude, with a bare silence. Two of the legions also
he placed at Cesarea, that they might there take their winter-quarters, as
perceiving the city very fit for such a purpose; but he placed the tenth and
the fifth at Scythopolis, that he might not distress Cesarea with the entire
army. This place was warm even in winter, as it was suffocating hot in the
summer time, by reason of its situation in a plain, and near to the sea [of
2. In the mean time, there were gathered together as well such as had
seditiously got out from among their enemies, as those that had escaped
out of the demolished cities, which were in all a great number, and repaired
Joppa, which had been left desolate by Cestius, that it might serve them
for a place of refuge; and because the adjoining region had been laid waste
in the war, and was not capable of supporting them, they determined to go
off to sea. They also built themselves a great many piratical ships, and
turned pirates upon the seas near to Syria, and Phoenicia, and Egypt, and
made those seas unnavigable to all men. Now as soon as Vespasian knew
of their conspiracy, he sent both footmen and horsemen to Joppa, which
was unguarded in the night time; however, those that were in it perceived
that they should be attacked, and were afraid of it; yet did they not
endeavor to keep the Romans out, but fled to their ships, and lay at sea all
night, out of the reach of their darts.
3. Now Joppa is not naturally a haven, for it ends in a rough shore, where
all the rest of it is straight, but the two ends bend towards each other,
where there are deep precipices, and great stones that jut out into the sea,
and where the chains wherewith Andromeda was bound have left their
footsteps, which attest to the antiquity of that fable. But the north wind
opposes and beats upon the shore, and dashes mighty waves against the
rocks which receive them, and renders the haven more dangerous than the
country they had deserted. Now as those people of Joppa were floating
about in this sea, in the morning there fell a violent wind upon them; it is
called by those that sail there “the black north wind,” and there dashed
their ships one against another, and dashed some of them against the rocks,
and carried many of them by force, while they strove against the opposite
waves, into the main sea; for the shore was so rocky, and had so many of
the enemy upon it, that they were afraid to come to land; nay, the waves
rose so very high, that they drowned them; nor was there any place
whither they could fly, nor any way to save themselves; while they were
thrust out of the sea, by the violence of the wind, if they staid where they
were, and out of the city by the violence of the Romans. And much
lamentation there was when the ships were dashed against one another,
and a terrible noise when they were broken to pieces; and some of the
multitude that were in them were covered with waves, and so perished,
and a great many were embarrassed with shipwrecks. But some of them
thought that to die by their own swords was lighter than by the sea, and
so they killed themselves before they were drowned; although the greatest
part of them were carried by the waves, and dashed to pieces against the
abrupt parts of the rocks, insomuch that the sea was bloody a long way,
and the maritime parts were full of dead bodies; for the Romans came
upon those that were carried to the shore, and destroyed them; and the
number of the bodies that were thus thrown out of the sea was four
thousand and two hundred. The Romans also took the city without
opposition, and utterly demolished it.
4. And thus was Joppa taken twice by the Romans in a little time; but
Vespasian, in order to prevent these pirates from coming thither any more,
erected a camp there, where the citadel of Joppa had been, and left a body
of horse in it, with a few footmen, that these last might stay there and
guard the camp, and the horsemen might spoil the country that lay round
it, and might destroy the neighboring villages and smaller cities. So these
troops overran the country, as they were ordered to do, and every day cut
to pieces and laid desolate the whole region.
5. But now, when the fate of Jotapata was related at Jerusalem, a great
many at the first disbelieved it, on account of the vastness of the calamity,
and because they had no eye-witness to attest the truth of what was
related about it; for not one person was saved to be a messenger of that
news, but a fame was spread abroad at random that the city was taken, as
such fame usually spreads bad news about. However, the truth was
known by degrees, from the places near Jotapata, and appeared to all to be
too true. Yet were there fictitious stories added to what was really done;
for it was reported that Josephus was slain at the taking of the city, which
piece of news filled Jerusalem full of sorrow. In every house also, and
among all to whom any of the slain were allied, there was a lamentation for
them; but the mourning for the commander was a public one; and some
mourned for those that had lived with them, others for their kindred,
others for their friends, and others for their brethren, but all mourned for
Josephus; insomuch that the lamentation did not cease in the city before
the thirtieth day; and a great many hired mourners,5 with their pipes, who
should begin the melancholy ditties for them.
6. But as the truth came out in time, it appeared how the affairs of
Jotapata really stood; yet was it found that the death of Josephus was a
fiction; and when they understood that he was alive, and was among the
Romans, and that the commanders treated him at another rate than they
treated captives, they were as vehemently angry at him now as they had
showed their good-will before, when he appeared to have been dead. He
was also abused by some as having been a coward, and by others as a
deserter; and the city was full of indignation at him, and of reproaches cast
upon him; their rage was also aggravated by their afflictions, and more
inflamed by their ill success; and what usually becomes an occasion of
caution to wise men, I mean affliction, became a spur to them to venture
on further calamities, and the end of one misery became still the beginning
of another; they therefore resolved to fall on the Romans the more
vehemently, as resolving to be revenged on him in revenging themselves on
the Romans. And this was the state of Jerusalem as to the troubles which
now came upon it.
7. But Vespasian, in order to see the kingdom of Agrippa, while the king
persuaded himself so to do, (partly in order to his treating the general and
his army in the best and most splendid manner his private affairs would
enable him to do, and partly that he might, by their means, correct such
things as were amiss in his government,) he removed from that Cesarea
which was by the sea-side, and went to that which is called Cesarea
Philippi 6 and there he refreshed his army for twenty days, and was
himself feasted by king Agrippa, where he also returned public thanks to
God for the good success he had had in his undertakings. But as soon as he
was informed that Tiberias was fond of innovations, and that Tarichere
had revolted, both which cities were parts of the kingdom of Agrippa, and
was satisfied within himself that the Jews were every where perverted
[from their obedience to their governors], he thought it seasonable to make
an expedition against these cities, and that for the sake of Agrippa, and in
order to bring his cities to reason. So he sent away his son Titus to [the
other] Cesarea, that he might bring the army that lay there to Seythopous,
which is the largest city of Decapolis, and in the neighborhood of Tiberias,
whither he came, and where he waited for his son. He then came with three
legions, and pitched his camp thirty furlongs off Tiberias, at a certain
station easily seen by the innovators; it is named Sennabris. He also sent
Valerian, a decurion, with fifty horsemen, to speak peaceably to those that
were in the city, and to exhort them to give him assurances of their
fidelity; for he had heard that the people were desirous of peace, but were
obliged by some of the seditious part to join with them, and so were
forced to fight for them. When Valerian had marched up to the place, and
was near the wall, he alighted off his horse, and made those that were with
him to do the same, that they might not be thought to come to skirmish
with them; but before they could come to a discourse one with another,
the most potent men among the seditious made a sally upon them armed;
their leader was one whose name was Jesus, the son of Shaphat, the
principal head of a band of robbers. Now Valerian, neither thinking it safe
to fight contrary to the commands of the general, though he were secure of
a victory, and knowing that it was a very hazardous undertaking for a few
to fight with many, for those that were unprovided to fight those that
were ready, and being on other accounts surprised at this unexpected onset
of the Jews, he ran away on foot, as did five of the rest in like manner, and
left their horses behind them; which horses Jesus led away into the city,
and rejoiced as if they had taken them in battle, and not by treachery.
8. Now the seniors of the people, and such as were of principal authority
among them, fearing what would be the issue of this matter, fled to the
camp of the Romans; they then took their king along with them, and fell
down before Vespasian, to supplicate his favor, and besought him not to
overlook them, nor to impute the madness of a few to the whole city, to
spare a people that have been ever civil and obliging to the Romans; but to
bring the authors of this revolt to due punishment, who had hitherto so
watched them, that though they were zealous to give them the security of
their right hands of a long time, yet could they not accomplish the same.
With these supplications the general complied, although he were very
angry at the whole city about the carrying off his horses, and this because
he saw that Agrippa was under a great concern for them. So when
Vespasian and Agrippa had accepted of their right hands by way of
security, Jesus and his party thought it not safe for them to continue at
Tiberias, so they ran away to Tarichete. The next day Vespasian sent
Trajan before with some horsemen to the citadel, to make trial of the
multitude, whether they were all disposed for peace; and as soon as he
knew that the people were of the same mind with the petitioner, he took
his army, and went to the city; upon which the citizens opened to him
their gates, and met him with acclamations of joy, and called him their
savior and benefactor. But as the army was a great while in getting in at the
gates, they were so narrow, Vespasian commanded the south wall to be
broken down, and so made a broad passage for their entrance. However, he
charged them to abstain from rapine and injustice, in order to gratify the
king; and on his account spared the rest of the wall, while the king
undertook for them that they should continue [faithful to the Romans] for
the time to come. And thus did he restore this city to a quiet state, after it
had been grievously afflicted by the sedition.
1. AND now Vespasian pitched his camp between this city and Taricheae,
but fortified his camp more strongly, as suspecting that he should be
forced to stay there, and have a long war; for all the innovators had gotten
together at Taricheae, as relying upon the strength of the city, and on the
lake that lay by it. This lake is called by the people of the country the
Lake of Gennesareth. The city itself is situated like Tiberias, at the bottom
of a mountain, and on those sides which are not washed by the sea, had
been strongly fortified by Josephus, though not so strongly as Tiberias;
for the wall of Tiberias had been built at the beginning of the Jews’ revolt,
when he had great plenty of money, and great power, but Tarichese
partook only the remains of that liberality, Yet had they a great number of
ships gotten ready upon the lake, that, in case they were beaten at land,
they might retire to them; and they were so fitted up, that they might
undertake a Sea-fight also. But as the Romans were building a wall about
their camp, Jesu and his party were neither affrighted at their number, nor
at the good order they were in, but made a sally upon them; and at the
very first onset the builders of the wall were dispersed; and these pulled
what little they had before built to pieces; but as soon as they saw the
armed men getting together, and before they had suffered any thing
themselves, they retired to their own men. But then the Romans pursued
them, and drove them into their ships, where they launched out as far as
might give them the opportunity of reaching the Romans with what they
threw at them, and then cast anchor, and brought their ships close, as in a
line of battle, and thence fought the enemy from the sea, who were
themselves at land. But Vespasian hearing that a great multitude of them
were gotten together in the plain that was before the city, he thereupon
sent his son, with six hundred chosen horsemen, to disperse
2. But when Titus perceived that the enemy was very numerous, he sent
to his father, and informed him that he should want more forces. But as he
saw a great many of the horsemen eager to fight, and that before any
succors could come to them, and that yet some of them were privately
under a sort of consternation at the multitude of the Jews, he stood in a
place whence he might be heard, and said to them, “My brave Romans! for
it is right for me to put you in mind of what nation you are, in the
beginning of my speech, that so you may not be ignorant who you are, and
who they are against whom we are going to fight. For as to us, Romans, no
part of the habitable earth hath been able to escape our hands hitherto; but
as for the Jews, that I may speak of them too, though they have been
already beaten, yet do they not give up the cause; and a sad thing it would
be for us to grow wealthy under good success, when they bear up under
their misfortunes. As to the alacrity which you show publicly, I see it, and
rejoice at it; yet am I afraid lest the multitude of the enemy should bring a
concealed fright upon some of you: let such a one consider again, who we
are that are to fight, and who those are against whom we are to fight. Now
these Jews, though they be very bold and great despisers of death, are but
a disorderly body, and unskillful in war, and may rather be called a rout
than an army; while I need say nothing of our skill and our good order; for
this is the reason why we Romans alone are exercised for war in time of
peace, that we may not think of number for number when we come to
fight with our enemies: for what advantage should we reap by our
continual sort of warfare, if we must still be equal in number to such as
have not been used to war. Consider further, that you are to have a conflict
with men in effect unarmed, while you are well armed; with footmen,
while you are horsemen; with those that have no good general, while you
have one; and as these advantages make you in effect manifold more than
you are, so do their disadvantages mightily diminish their number. Now it
is not the multitude of men, though they be soldiers, that manages wars
with success, but it is their bravery that does it, though they be but a few;
for a few are easily set in battle-array, and can easily assist one another,
while over-numerous armies are more hurt by themselves than by their
enemies. It is boldness and rashness, the effects of madness, that conduct
the Jews. Those passions indeed make a great figure when they succeed,
but are quite extinguished upon the least ill success; but we are led on by
courage, and obedience, and fortitude, which shows itself indeed in our
good fortune, but still does not for ever desert us in our ill fortune. Nay,
indeed, your fighting is to be on greater motives than those of the Jews; for
although they run the hazard of war for liberty, and for their country, yet
what can be a greater motive to us than glory? and that. it may never be
said, that after we have got dominion of the habitable earth, the Jews are
able to confront us. We must also reflect upon this, that there is no fear of
our suffering any incurable disaster in the present case; for those that are
ready to assist us are many, and at hand also; yet it is in our power to
seize upon this victory ourselves; and I think we ought to prevent the
coming of those my father is sending to us for our assistance, that our
success may be peculiar to ourselves, and of greater reputation to us. And
I cannot but think this an opportunity wherein my father, and I, and you
shall be all put to the trial, whether he be worthy of his former glorious
performances, whether I be his son in reality, and whether you be really
my soldiers; for it is usual for my father to conquer; and for myself, I
should not bear the thoughts of returning to him if I were once taken by
the enemy. And how will you be able to avoid being ashamed, if you do
not show equal courage with your commander, when he goes before you
into danger? For you know very well that I shall go into the danger first,
and make the first attack upon the enemy. Do not you therefore desert me,
but persuade yourselves that God will be assisting to my onset. Know
this also before we begin, that we shall now have better success than we
should have, if we were to fight at a distance.”
3. As Titus was saying this, an extraordinary fury fell upon the men; and
as Trajan was already come before the fight began, with four hundred
horsemen, they were uneasy at it, because the reputation of the victory
would be diminished by being common to so many. Vespasian had also
sent both Antonius and Silo, with two thousand archers, and had given it
them in charge to seize upon the mountain that was over against the city,
and repel those that were upon the wall; which archers did as they were
commanded, and prevented those that attempted to assist them that way;
And now Titus made his own horse march first against the enemy, as did
the others with a great noise after him, and extended themselves upon the
plain as wide as the enemy which confronted them; by which means they
appeared much more numerous than they really were. Now the Jews,
although they were surprised at their onset, and at their good order, made
resistance against their attacks for a little while; but when they were
pricked with their long poles, and overborne by the violent noise of the
horsemen, they came to be trampled under their feet; many also of them
were slain on every side, which made them disperse themselves, and run to
the city, as fast as every one of them were able. So Titus pressed upon the
hindmost, and slew them; and of the rest, some he fell upon as they stood
on heaps, and some he prevented, and met them in the mouth, and run
them through; many also he leaped upon as they fell one upon another,
and trod them down, and cut off all the retreat they had to the wall, and
turned them back into the plain, till at last they forced a passage by their
multitude, and got away, and ran into the city.
4. But now there fell out a terrible sedition among them within the city; for
the inhabitants themselves, who had possessions there, and to whom the
city belonged, were not disposed to fight from the very beginning; and
now the less so, because they had been beaten; but the foreigners, which
were very numerous, would force them to fight so much the more,
insomuch that there was a clamor and a tumult among them, as all
mutually angry one at another. And when Titus heard this tumult, for he
was not far from the wall, he cried out,” Fellow soldiers, now is the time;
and why do we make any delay, when God is giving up the Jews to us?
Take the victory which is given you: do not you hear what a noise they
make? Those that have escaped our hands are ill an uproar against one
another. We have the city if we make haste; but besides haste, we must
undergo some labor, and use some courage; for no great thing uses to be
accomplished without danger: accordingly, we must not only prevent their
uniting again, which necessity will soon compel them to do, but we must
also prevent the coming of our own men to our assistance, that, as few as
we are, we may conquer so great a multitude, and may ourselves alone take
the city:”
5. As soon as ever Titus had said this, he leaped upon his horse, and rode
apace down to the lake; by which lake he marched, and entered into the
city the first of them all, as did the others soon after him. Hereupon those
that were upon the walls were seized with a terror at the boldness of the
attempt, nor durst any one venture to fight with him, or to hinder him; so
they left guarding the city, and some of those that were about Jesus fled
over the country, while others of them ran down to the lake, and met the
enemy in the teeth, and some were slain as they were getting up into the
ships, but others of them as they attempted to overtake those that were
already gone aboard. There was also a great slaughter made in the city,
while those foreigners that had not fled away already made opposition;
but the natural inhabitants were killed without fighting: for in hopes of
Titus’s giving them his right hand for their security, and out of a
consciousness that they had not given any consent to the war, they
avoided fighting, till Titus had slain the authors of this revolt, and then put
a stop to any further slaughters, out of commiseration of these inhabitants
of the place. But for those that had fled to the lake, upon seeing the city
taken, they sailed as far as they possibly could from the enemy.
6. Hereupon Titus sent one of his horsemen to his father, and let him
know the good news of what he had done; at which, as was natural, he was
very joyful, both on account of the courage and glorious actions of his son;
for he thought that now the greatest part of the war was over. He then
came thither himself, and set men to guard the city, and gave them
command to take care that nobody got privately out of it, but to kill such
as attempted so to do. And on the next day he went down to the lake, and
commanded that vessels should be fitted up, in order to pursue those that
had escaped in the ships. These vessels were quickly gotten ready
accordingly, because there was great plenty of materials, and a great
number of artificers also.
7. Now this lake of Gennesareth is so called from the country adjoining to
it. Its breadth is forty furlongs, and its length one hundred and forty; its
waters are sweet, and very agreeable for drinking, for they are finer than
the thick waters of other fens; the lake is also pure, and on every side ends
directly at the shores, and at the sand; it is also of a temperate nature when
you draw it up, and of a more gentle nature than river or fountain water,
and yet always cooler than one could expect in so diffuse a place as this is.
Now when this water is kept in the open air, it is as cold as that snow
which the country people are accustomed to make by night in summer.
There are several kinds of fish in it, different both to the taste and the sight
from those elsewhere. It is divided into two parts by the river Jordan.
Now Panium is thought to be the fountain of Jordan, but in reality it is
carried thither after an occult manner from the place called Phiala: this
place lies as you go up to Trachonitis, and is a hundred and twenty
furlongs from Cesarea, and is not far out of the road on the right hand; and
indeed it hath its name of Phiala [vial or bowl] very justly, from the
roundness of its circumference, as being round like a wheel; its water
continues always up to its edges, without either sinking or running over.
And as this origin of Jordan was formerly not known, it was discovered so
to be when Philip was tetrarch of Trachonitis; for he had chaff thrown into
Phiala, and it was found at Paninto, where the ancients thought the
fountain-head of the river was, whither it had been therefore carried [by
the waters]. As for Panium itself, its natural beauty had been improved by
the royal liberality of Agrippa, and adorned at his expenses. Now Jordan’s
visible stream arises from this cavern, and divides the marshes and fens of
the lake Semechonitis; when it hath run another hundred and twenty
furlongs, it first passes by the city Julias, and then passes through the
middle of the lake Gennesareth; after which it runs a long way over a
desert, and then makes its exit into the lake Asphaltitis.
8. The country also that lies over against this lake hath the same name of
Gennesareth; its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty; its soil is so
fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants
accordingly plant all sorts of trees there; for the temper of the air is so well
mixed, that it agrees very well with those several sorts, particularly
walnuts, which require the coldest air, flourish there in vast plenty; there
are palm trees also, which grow best in hot air; fig trees also and olives
grow near them, which yet require an air that is more temperate. One may
call this place the ambition of nature, where it forces those plants that are
naturally enemies to one another to agree together; it is a happy contention
of the seasons, as if every one of them laid claim to this country; for it not
only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruit beyond men’s expectation,
but preserves them a great while; it supplies men with the principal fruits,
with grapes and figs continually, during ten months of the year 7 and the
rest of the fruits as they become ripe together through the whole year; for
besides the good temperature of the air, it is also watered from a most
fertile fountain. The people of the country call it Capharnaum. Some have
thought it to be a vein of the Nile, because it produces the Coracin fish as
well as that lake does which is near to Alexandria. The length of this
country extends itself along the banks of this lake that bears the same
name for thirty furlongs, and is in breadth twenty, And this is the nature
of that place.
9. But now, when the vessels were gotten ready, Vespasian put upon
ship-board as many of his forces as he thought sufficient to be too hard for
those that were upon the lake, and set sail after them. Now these which
were driven into the lake could neither fly to the land, where all was in
their enemies’ hand, and in war against them; nor could they fight upon the
level by sea, for their ships were small and fitted only for piracy; they
were too weak to fight with Vespasian’s vessels, and the mariners that
were in them were so few, that they were afraid to come near the Romans,
who attacked them in great numbers. However, as they sailed round about
the vessels, and sometimes as they came near them, they threw stones at
the Romans when they were a good way off, or came closer and fought
them; yet did they receive the greatest harm themselves in both cases. As
for the stones they threw at the Romans, they only made a sound one
after another, for they threw them against such as were in their armor,
while the Roman darts could reach the Jews themselves; and when they
ventured to come near the Romans, they became sufferers themselves
before they could do any harm to the ether, and were drowned, they and
their ships together. As for those that endeavored to come to an actual
fight, the Romans ran many of them through with their long poles.
Sometimes the Romans leaped into their ships, with swords in their hands,
and slew them; but when some of them met the vessels, the Romans
caught them by the middle, and destroyed at once their ships and
themselves who were taken in them. And for such as were drowning in the
sea, if they lifted their heads up above the water, they were either killed
by darts, or caught by the vessels; but if, in the desperate case they were
in, they attempted to swim to their enemies, the Romans cut off either
their heads or their hands; and indeed they were destroyed after various
manners every where, till the rest being put to flight, were forced to get
upon the land, while the vessels encompassed them about [on the sea]: but
as many of these were repulsed when they were getting ashore, they were
killed by the darts upon the lake; and the Romans leaped out of their
vessels, and destroyed a great many more upon the land: one might then
see the lake all bloody, and full of dead bodies, for not one of them
escaped. And a terrible stink, and a very sad sight there was on the
following days over that country; for as for the shores, they were full of
shipwrecks, and of dead bodies all swelled; and as the dead bodies were
inflamed by the sun, and putrefied, they corrupted the air, insomuch that
the misery was not only the object of commiseration to the Jews, but to
those that hated them, and had been the authors of that misery. This was
the upshot of the sea-fight. The number of the slain, including those that
were killed in the city before, was six thousand and five hundred.
10. After this fight was over, Vespasian sat upon his tribunal at Taricheae,
in order to distinguish the foreigners from the old inhabitants; for those
foreigners appear to have begun the war. So he deliberated with the other
commanders, whether he ought to save those old inhabitants or not. And
when those commanders alleged that the dismission of them would be to
his own disadvantage, because, when they were once set at liberty, they
would not be at rest, since they would be people destitute of proper
habitations, and would he able to compel such as they fled to fight against
us, Vespasian acknowledged that they did not deserve to be saved, and
that if they had leave given them to fly away, they would make use of it
against those that gave them that leave. But still he considered with himself
after what manner they should be slain 8 for if he had them slain there, he
suspected the people of the country would thereby become his enemies;
for that to be sure they would never bear it, that so many that had been
supplicants to him should be killed; and to offer violence to them, after he
had given them assurances of their lives, he could not himself bear to do it.
However, his friends were too hard for him, and pretended that nothing
against Jews could be any impiety, and that he ought to prefer what was
profitable before what was fit to be done, where both could not be made
consistent. So he gave them an ambiguous liberty to do as they advised,
and permitted the prisoners to go along no other road than that which led
to Tiberias only. So they readily believed what they desired to be true, and
went along securely, with their effects, the way which was allowed them,
while the Romans seized upon all the road that led to Tiberias, that none
of them might go out of it, and shut them up in the city. Then came
Vespasian, and ordered them all to stand in the stadium, and commanded
them to kill the old men, together with the others that were useless, which
were in number a thousand and two hundred. Out of the young men he
chose six thousand of the strongest, and sent them to Nero, to dig through