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 therefore Titus had marched over that desert which lies between
Egypt and Syria, in the manner forementioned, he came to Cesarea, having
resolved to set his forces in order at that place, before he began the war.
Nay, indeed, while he was assisting his father at Alexandria, in settling that
government which had been newly conferred upon them by God, it so
happened that the sedition at Jerusalem was revived, and parted into three
factions, and that one faction fought against the other; which partition in
such evil cases may be said to be a good thing, and the effect of Divine
justice. Now as to the attack the zealots made upon the people, and which
I esteem the beginning of the city’s destruction, it hath been already
explained after an accurate manner; as also whence it arose, and to how
great a mischief it was increased. But for the present sedition, one should
not mistake if he called it a sedition begotten by another sedition, and to be
like a wild beast grown mad, which, for want of food from abroad, fell now
upon eating its own flesh.
2. For Eleazar, the son of Simon, who made the first separation of the
zealots from the people, and made them retire into the temple, appeared
very angry at John’s insolent attempts, which he made everyday upon the
people; for this man never left off murdering; but the truth was, that he
could not bear to submit to a tyrant who set up after him. So he being
desirous of gaining the entire power and dominion to himself, revolted
from John, and took to his assistance Judas the son of Chelcias, and Simon
the son of Ezron, who were among the men of greatest power. There was
also with him Hezekiah, the son of Chobar, a person of eminence. Each of
these were followed by a great many of the zealots; these seized upon the
inner court of the temple 1 and laid their arms upon the holy gates, and
over the holy fronts of that court. And because they had plenty of
provisions, they were of good courage, for there was a great abundance of
what was consecrated to sacred uses, and they scrupled not the making
use of them; yet were they afraid, on account of their small number; and
when they had laid up their arms there, they did not stir from the place
they were in. Now as to John, what advantage he had above Eleazar in the
multitude of his followers, the like disadvantage he had in the situation he
was in, since he had his enemies over his head; and as he could not make
any assault upon them without some terror, so was his anger too great to
let them be at rest; nay, although he suffered more mischief from Eleazar
and his party than he could inflict upon them, yet would he not leave off
assaulting them, insomuch that there were continual sallies made one
against another, as well as darts thrown at one another, and the temple was
defiled every where with murders.
3. But now the tyrant Simon, the son of Gioras, whom the people had
invited in, out of the hopes they had of his assistance in the great
distresses they were in, having in his power the upper city, and a great
part of the lower, did now make more vehement assaults upon John and
his party, because they were fought against from above also; yet was he
beneath their situation when he attacked them, as they were beneath the
attacks of the others above them. Whereby it came to pass that John did
both receive and inflict great damage, and that easily, as he was fought
against on both sides; and the same advantage that Eleazar and his party
had over him, since he was beneath them, the same advantage had he, by
his higher situation, over Simon. On which account he easily repelled the
attacks that were made from beneath, by the weapons thrown from their
hands only; but was obliged to repel those that threw their darts from the
temple above him, by his engines of war; for he had such engines as threw
darts, and javelins, and stones, and that in no small number, by which he
did not only defend himself from such as fought against him, but slew
moreover many of the priests, as they were about their sacred
ministrations. For notwithstanding these men were mad with all sorts of
impiety, yet did they still admit those that desired to offer their sacrifices,
although they took care to search the people of their own country
beforehand, and both suspected and watched them; while they were not so
much afraid of strangers, who, although they had gotten leave of them,
how cruel soever they were, to come into that court, were yet often
destroyed by this sedition; for those darts that were thrown by the
engines came with that force, that they went over all the buildings, and
reached as far as the altar, and the temple itself, and fell upon the priests,
and those 2 that were about the sacred offices; insomuch that many
persons who came thither with great zeal from the ends of the earth, to
offer sacrifices at this celebrated place, which was esteemed holy by all
mankind, fell down before their own sacrifices themselves, and sprinkled
that altar which was venerable among all men, both Greeks and Barbarians,
with their own blood; till the dead bodies of strangers were mingled
together with those of their own country, and those of profane persons
with those of the priests, and the blood of all sorts of dead carcasses stood
in lakes in the holy courts themselves. And now, “O must wretched city,
what misery so great as this didst thou suffer from the Romans, when
they came to purify thee from thy intestine hatred! ‘For thou couldst be
no longer a place fit for God, nor couldst thou long continue in being, after
thou hadst been a sepulcher for the bodies of thy own people, and hadst
made the holy house itself a burying-place in this civil war of thine. Yet
mayst thou again grow better, if perchance thou wilt hereafter appease the
anger of that God who is the author of thy destruction.” But I must
restrain myself from these passions by the rules of history, since this is
not a proper time for domestical lamentations, but for historical narrations;
I therefore return to the operations that follow in this sedition. 3
4. And now there were three treacherous factions in the city, the one
parted from the other. Eleazar and his party, that kept the sacred
first-fruits, came against John in their cups. Those that were with John
plundered the populace, and went out with zeal against Simon. This Simon
had his supply of provisions from the city, in opposition to the seditious.
When, therefore, John was assaulted on both sides, he made his men turn
about, throwing his darts upon those citizens that came up against him,
from the cloisters he had in his possession, while he opposed those that
attacked him from the temple by his engines of war. And if at any time he
was freed from those that were above him, which happened frequently,
from their being drunk and tired, he sallied out with a great number upon
Simon and his party; and this he did always in such parts of the city as he
could come at, till he set on fire those houses that were full of corn, and of
all other provisions. 4 The same thing was done by Simon, when, upon the
other’s retreat, he attacked the city also; as if they had, on purpose, done
it to serve the Romans, by destroying what the city had laid up against the
siege, and by thus cutting off the nerves of their own power. Accordingly,
it so came to pass, that all the places that were about the temple were
burnt down, and were become an intermediate desert space, ready for
fighting on both sides of it; and that almost all that corn was burnt, which
would have been sufficient for a siege of many years. So they were taken
by the means of the famine, which it was impossible they should have
been, unless they had thus prepared the way for it by this procedure.
5. And now, as the city was engaged in a war on all sides, from these
treacherous crowds of wicked men, the people of the city, between them,
were like a great body torn in pieces. The aged men and the women were in
such distress by their internal calamities, that they wished for the Romans,
and earnestly hoped for an external war, in order to their delivery from
their domestical miseries. The citizens themselves were under a terrible
consternation and fear; nor had they any opportunity of taking counsel,
and of changing their conduct; nor were there any hopes of coming to an
agreement with their enemies; nor could such as had a mind flee away; for
guards were set at all places, and the heads of the robbers, although they
were seditious one against another in other respects, yet did they agree in
killing those that were for peace with the Romans, or were suspected of an
inclination to desert them, as their common enemies. They agreed in
nothing but this, to kill those that were innocent. The noise also of those
that were fighting was incessant, both by day and by night; but the
lamentations of those that mourned exceeded the other; nor was there ever
any occasion for them to leave off their lamentations, because their
calamities came perpetually one upon another, although the deep
consternation they were in prevented their outward wailing; but being
constrained by their fear to conceal their inward passions, they were
inwardly tormented, without daring to open their lips in groans. Nor was
any regard paid to those that were still alive, by their relations; nor was
there any care taken of burial for those that were dead; the occasion of
both which was this, that every one despaired of himself; for those that
were not among the seditious had no great desires of any thing, as
expecting for certain that they should very soon be destroyed; but for the
seditious themselves, they fought against each other, while they trod upon
the dead bodies as they lay heaped one upon another, and taking up a mad
rage from those dead bodies that were under their feet, became the fiercer
thereupon. They, moreover, were still inventing somewhat or other that
was pernicious against themselves; and when they had resolved upon any
thing, they executed it without mercy, and omitted no method of torment
or of barbarity. Nay, John abused the sacred materials, 5 and employed
them in the construction of his engines of war; for the people and the
priests had formerly determined to support the temple, and raise the holy
house twenty cubits higher; for king Agrippa had at a very great expense,
and with very great pains, brought thither such materials as were proper
for that purpose, being pieces of timber very well worth seeing, both for
their straightness and their largeness; but the war coming on, and
interrupting the work, John had them cut, and prepared for the building
him towers, he finding them long enough to oppose from them those his
adversaries that thought him from the temple that was above him. He also
had them brought and erected behind the inner court over against the west
end of the cloisters, where alone he could erect them; whereas the other
sides of that court had so many steps as would not let them come nigh
enough the cloisters.
6. Thus did John hope to be too hard for his enemies by these engines
constructed by his impiety; but God himself demonstrated that his pains
would prove of no use to him, by bringing the Romans upon him, before
he had reared any of his towers; for Titus, when he had gotten together
part of his forces about him, and had ordered the rest to meet him at
Jerusalem, marched out of Cesarea. He had with him those three legions
that had accompanied his father when he laid Judea waste, together with
that twelfth legion which had been formerly beaten with Cestius; which
legion, as it was otherwise remarkable for its valor, so did it march on now
with greater alacrity to avenge themselves on the Jews, as remembering
what they had formerly suffered from them. Of these legions he ordered
the fifth to meet him, by going through Emmaus, and the tenth to go up by
Jericho; he also moved himself, together with the rest; besides whom,
marched those auxiliaries that came from the kings, being now more in
number than before, together with a considerable number that came to his
assistance from Syria. Those also that had been selected out of these four
legions, and sent with Mucianus to Italy, had their places filled up out of
these soldiers that came out of Egypt with Titus; who were two thousand
men, chosen out of the armies at Alexandria. There followed him also three
thousand drawn from those that guarded the river Euphrates; as also there
came Tiberius Alexander, who was a friend of his, most valuable, both for
his good-will to him, and for his prudence. He had formerly been governor
of Alexandria, but was now thought worthy to be general of the army
[under Titus]. The reason of this was, that he had been the first who
encouraged Vespasian very lately to accept this his new dominion, and
joined himself to him with great fidelity, when things were uncertain, and
fortune had not yet declared for him. He also followed Titus as a
counselor, very useful to him in this war, both by his age and skill in such
1. NOW, as Titus was upon his march into the enemy’s country, the
auxiliaries that were sent by the kings marched first, having all the other
auxiliaries with them; after whom followed those that were to prepare the
roads and measure out the camp; then came the commander’s baggage, and
after that the other soldiers, who were completely armed to support them;
then came Titus himself, having with him another select body; and then
came the pikemen; after whom came the horse belonging to that legion. All
these came before the engines; and after these engines came the tribunes
and the leaders of the cohorts, with their select bodies; after these came the
ensigns, with the eagle; and before those ensigns came the trumpeters
belonging to them; next these came the main body of the army in their
ranks, every rank being six deep; the servants belonging to every legion
came after these; and before these last their baggage; the mercenaries came
last, and those that guarded them brought up the rear. Now Titus,
according to the Roman usage, went in the front of the army after a decent
manner, and marched through Samaria to Gophna, a city that had been
formerly taken by his father, and was then garrisoned by Roman soldiers;
and when he had lodged there one night, he marched on in the morning; and
when he had gone as far as a day’s march, he pitched his camp at that
valley which the Jews, in their own tongue, call “the Valley of Thorns,”
near a certain village called Gabaothsath, which signifies “the Hill of Saul,”
being distant from Jerusalem about thirty furlongs. 6 There it was that he
chose out six hundred select horsemen, and went to take a view of the city,
to observe what strength it was of, and how courageous the Jews were;
whether, when they saw him, and before they came to a direct battle, they
would be affrighted and submit; for he had been informed what was really
true, that the people who were fallen under the power of the seditious and
the robbers were greatly desirous of peace; but being too weak to rise up
against the rest, they lay still.
2. Now, so long as he rode along the straight road which led to the wall of
the city, nobody appeared out of the gates; but when he went out of that
road, and declined towards the tower Psephinus, and led the band of
horsemen obliquely, an immense number of the Jews leaped out suddenly
at the towers called the “Women’s Towers,” through that gate which was
over against the monuments of queen Helena, and intercepted his horse;
and standing directly opposite to those that still ran along the road,
hindered them from joining those that had declined out of it. They
intercepted Titus also, with a few other. Now it was here impossible for
him to go forward, because all the places had trenches dug in them from
the wall, to preserve the gardens round about, and were full of gardens
obliquely situated, and of many hedges; and to return back to his own
men, he saw it was also impossible, by reason of the multitude of the
enemies that lay between them; many of whom did not so much as know
that the king was in any danger, but supposed him still among them. So he
perceived that his preservation must be wholly owing to his own courage,
and turned his horse about, and cried out aloud to those that were about
him to follow him, and ran with violence into the midst of his enemies, in
order to force his way through them to his own men. And hence we may
principally learn, that both the success of wars, and the dangers that kings
7 are in, are under the providence of God; for while such a number of darts
were thrown at Titus, when he had neither his head-piece on, nor his
breastplate, (for, as I told you, he went out not to fight, but to view the
city,) none of them touched his body, but went aside without hurting him;
as if all of them missed him on purpose, and only made a noise as they
passed by him. So he diverted those perpetually with his sword that came
on his side, and overturned many of those that directly met him, and made
his horse ride over those that were overthrown. The enemy indeed made a
shout at the boldness of Caesar, and exhorted one another to rush upon
him. Yet did these against whom he marched fly away, and go off from
him in great numbers; while those that were in the same danger with him
kept up close to him, though they were wounded both on their backs and
on their sides; for they had each of them but this one hope of escaping, if
they could assist Titus in opening himself a way, that he might not be
encompassed round by his enemies before he got away from them. Now
there were two of those that were with him, but at some distance; the one
of which the enemy compassed round, and slew him with their darts, and
his horse also; but the other they slew as he leaped down from his horse,
and carried off his horse with them. But Titus escaped with the rest, and
came safe to the camp. So this success of the Jews’ first attack raised their
minds, and gave them an ill-grounded hope; and this short inclination of
fortune, on their side, made them very courageous for the future.
3. But now, as soon as that legion that had been at Emmaus was joined to
Caesar at night, he removed thence, when it was day, and came to a place
called Seopus; from whence the city began already to be seen, and a plain
view might be taken of the great temple. Accordingly, this place, on the
north quarter of the city, and joining thereto, was a plain, and very
properly named Scopus, [the prospect,] and was no more than seven
furlongs distant from it. And here it was that Titus ordered a camp to be
fortified for two legions that were to be together; but ordered another
camp to be fortified, at three furlongs farther distance behind them, for the
fifth legion; for he thought that, by marching in the night, they might be
tired, and might deserve to be covered from the enemy, and with less fear
might fortify themselves; and as these were now beginning to build, the
tenth legion, who came through Jericho, was already come to the place,
where a certain party of armed men had formerly lain, to guard that pass
into the city, and had been taken before by Vespasian. These legions had
orders to encamp at the distance of six furlongs from Jerusalem, at the
mount called the Mount of Olives 8 which lies over against the city on the
east side, and is parted from it by a deep valley, interposed between them,
which is named Cedron.
4. Now when hitherto the several parties in the city had been dashing one
against another perpetually, this foreign war, now suddenly come upon
them after a violent manner, put the first stop to their contentions one
against another; and as the seditious now saw with astonishment the
Romans pitching three several camps, they began to think of an awkward
sort of concord, and said one to another, “What do we here, and what do
we mean, when we suffer three fortified walls to be built to coop us in,
that we shall not be able to breathe freely? while the enemy is securely
building a kind of city in opposition to us, and while we sit still within our
own walls, and become spectators only of what they are doing, with our
hands idle, and our armor laid by, as if they were about somewhat that
was for our good and advantage. We are, it seems, (so did they cry out,)
only courageous against ourselves, while the Romans are likely to gain the
city without bloodshed by our sedition.” Thus did they encourage one
another when they were gotten together, and took their armor
immediately, and ran out upon the tenth legion, and fell upon the Romans
with great eagerness, and with a prodigious shout, as they were fortifying
their camp. These Romans were caught in different parties, and this in
order to perform their several works, and on that account had in great
measure laid aside their arms; for they thought the Jews would not have
ventured to make a sally upon them; and had they been disposed so to do,
they supposed their sedition would have distracted them. So they were
put into disorder unexpectedly; when some of hem left their works they
were about, and immediately marched off, while many ran to their arms,
but were smitten and slain before they could turn back upon the enemy.
The Jews became still more and more in number, as encouraged by the
good success of those that first made the attack; and while they had such
good fortune, they seemed both to themselves and to the enemy to be
many more than they really were. The disorderly way of their fighting at
first put the Romans also to a stand, who had been constantly used to
fight skillfully in good order, and with keeping their ranks, and obeying the
orders that were given them; for which reason the Romans were caught
unexpectedly, and were obliged to give way to the assaults that were made
upon them. Now when these Romans were overtaken, and turned back
upon the Jews, they put a stop to their career; yet when they did not take
care enough of themselves through the vehemency of their pursuit, they
were wounded by them; but as still more and more Jews sallied out of the
city, the Romans were at length brought into confusion, and put to fight,
and ran away from their camp. Nay, things looked as though the entire
legion would have been in danger, unless Titus had been informed of the
case they were in, and had sent them succors immediately. So he
reproached them for their cowardice, and brought those back that were
running away, and fell himself upon the Jews on their flank, with those
select troops that were with him, and slew a considerable number, and
wounded more of them, and put them all to flight, and made them run
away hastily down the valley. Now as these Jews suffered greatly in the
declivity of the valley, so when they were gotten over it, they turned
about, and stood over against the Romans, having the valley between
them, and there fought with them. Thus did they continue the fight till
noon; but when it was already a little after noon, Titus set those that came
to the assistance of the Romans with him, and those that belonged to the
cohorts, to prevent the Jews from making any more sallies, and then sent
the rest of the legion to the upper part of the mountain, to fortify their
5. This march of the Romans seemed to the Jews to be a flight; and as the
watchman who was placed upon the wall gave a signal by shaking his
garment, there came out a fresh multitude of Jews, and that with such
mighty violence, that one might compare it to the running of the most
terrible wild beasts. To say the truth, none of those that opposed them
could sustain the fury with which they made their attacks; but, as if they
had been cast out of an engine, they brake the enemies’ ranks to pieces,
who were put to flight, and ran away to the mountain; none but Titus
himself, and a few others with him, being left in the midst of the acclivity.
Now these others, who were his friends, despised the danger they were in,
and were ashamed to leave their general, earnestly exhorting him to give
way to these Jews that are fond of dying, and not to run into such dangers
before those that ought to stay before him; to consider what his fortune
was, and not, by supplying the place of a common soldier, to venture to
turn back upon the enemy so suddenly; and this because he was general in
the war, and Lord of the habitable earth, on whose preservation the public
affairs do all depend. These persuasions Titus seemed not so much as to
hear, but opposed those that ran upon him, and smote them on the face;
and when he had forced them to go back, he slew them: he also fell upon
great numbers as they marched down the hill, and thrust them forward;
while those men were so amazed at his courage and his strength, that they
could not fly directly to the city, but declined from him on both sides, and
pressed after those that fled up the hill; yet did he still fall upon their
flank, and put a stop to their fury. In the mean time, a disorder and a terror
fell again upon those that were fortifying their camp at the top of the hill,
upon their seeing those beneath them running away; insomuch that the
whole legion was dispersed, while they thought that the sallies of the Jews
upon them were plainly insupportable, and that Titus was himself put to
flight; because they took it for granted, that, if he had staid, the rest would
never have fled for it. Thus were they encompassed on every side by a
kind of panic fear, and some dispersed themselves one way, and some
another, till certain of them saw their general in the very midst of an action,
and being under great concern for him, they loudly proclaimed the danger
he was in to the entire legion; and now shame made them turn back, and
they reproached one another that they did worse than run away, by
deserting Caesar. So they used their utmost force against the Jews, and
declining from the straight declivity, they drove them on heaps into the
bottom of the valley. Then did the Jews turn about and fight them; but as
they were themselves retiring, and now, because the Romans had the
advantage of the ground, and were above the Jews, they drove them all into
the valley. Titus also pressed upon those that were near him, and sent the
legion again to fortify their camp; while he, and those that were with him
before, opposed the enemy, and kept them from doing further mischief;
insomuch that, if I may be allowed neither to add any thing out of flattery,
nor to diminish any thing out of envy, but to speak the plain truth, Caesar
did twice deliver that entire legion when it was in jeopardy, and gave them
a quiet opportunity of fortifying their camp.
1. AS now the war abroad ceased for a while, the sedition within was
revived; and on the feast of unleavened bread, which was now come, it
being the fourteenth day of the month Xanthicus, [Nisan,] when it is
believed the Jews were first freed from the Egyptians, Eleazar and his
party opened the gates of this [inmost court of the] temple, and admitted
such of the people as were desirous to worship God into it. 9 But John
made use of this festival as a cloak for his treacherous designs, and armed
the most inconsiderable of his own party, the greater part of whom were
not purified, with weapons concealed under their garments, and sent them
with great zeal into the temple, in order to seize upon it; which armed
men, when they were gotten in, threw their garments away, and presently
appeared in their armor. Upon which there was a very great disorder and
disturbance about the holy house; while the people, who had no concern in
the sedition, supposed that this assault was made against all without
distinction, as the zealots thought it was made against themselves only. So
these left off guarding the gates any longer, and leaped down from their
battlements before they came to an engagement, and fled away into the
subterranean caverns of the temple; while the people that stood trembling
at the altar, and about the holy house, were rolled on heaps together, and
trampled upon, and were beaten both with wooden and with iron weapons
without mercy. Such also as had differences with others slew many
persons that were quiet, out of their own private enmity and hatred, as if
they were opposite to the seditious; and all those that had formerly
offended any of these plotters were now known, and were now led away
to the slaughter; and when they had done abundance of horrid mischief to
the guiltless, they granted a truce to the guilty, and let those go off that
came cut of the caverns. These followers of John also did now seize upon
this inner temple, and upon all the warlike engines therein, and then
ventured to oppose Simon. And thus that sedition, which had been divided
into three factions, was now reduced to two.
2. But Titus, intending to pitch his camp nearer to the city than Scopus,
placed as many of his choice horsemen and footmen as he thought
sufficient opposite to the Jews, to prevent their sallying out upon them,
while he gave orders for the whole army to level the distance, as far as the
wall of the city. So they threw down all the hedges and walls which the
inhabitants had made about their gardens and groves of trees, and cut down
all the fruit trees that lay between them and the wall of the city, and filled
up all the hollow places and the chasms, and demolished the rocky
precipices with iron instruments; and thereby made all the place level from
Scopus to Herod’s monuments, which adjoined to the pool called the
Serpent’s Pool.
3. Now at this very time the Jews contrived the following stratagem
against the Romans. The bolder sort of the seditious went out at the
towers, called the Women’s Towers, as if they had been ejected out of the
city by those who were for peace, and rambled about as if they were afraid
of being assaulted by the Romans, and were in fear of one another; while
those that stood upon the wall, and seemed to be of the people’s side,
cried out aloud for peace, and entreated they might have security for their
lives given them, and called for the Romans, promising to open the gates to
them; and as they cried out after that manner, they threw stones at their
own people, as though they would drive them away from the gates. These
also pretended that they were excluded by force, and that they petitioned
those that were within to let them in; and rushing upon the Romans
perpetually, with violence, they then came back, and seemed to be in great
disorder. Now the Roman soldiers thought this cunning stratagem of theirs
was to be believed real, and thinking they had the one party under their
power, and could punish them as they pleased, and hoping that the other
party would open their gates to them, set to the execution of their designs
accordingly. But for Titus himself, he had this surprising conduct of the
Jews in suspicion; for whereas he had invited them to come to terms of
accommodation, by Josephus, but one day before, he could then receive no
civil answer from them; so he ordered the soldiers to stay where they
were. However, some of them that were set in the front of the works
prevented him, and catching up their arms ran to the gates; whereupon
those that seemed to have been ejected at the first retired; but as soon as
the soldiers were gotten between the towers on each side of the gate, the
Jews ran out and encompassed them round, and fell upon them behind,
while that multitude which stood upon the wall threw a heap of stones
and darts of all kinds at them, insomuch that they slew a considerable
number, and wounded many more; for it was not easy for the Romans to
escape, by reason those behind them pressed them forward; besides
which, the shame they were under for being mistaken, and the fear they
were in of their commanders, engaged them to persevere in their mistake;
wherefore they fought with their spears a great while, and received many
blows from the Jews, though indeed they gave them as many blows again,
and at last repelled those that had encompassed them about, while the
Jews pursued them as they retired, and followed them, and threw darts at
them as far as the monuments of queen Helena.
4. After this these Jews, without keeping any decorum, grew insolent
upon their good fortune, and jested upon the Romans for being deluded by
the trick they bad put upon them, and making a noise with beating their
shields, leaped for gladness, and made joyful exclamations; while these
soldiers were received with threatenings by their officers, and with
indignation by Caesar himself, [who spake to them thus]: These Jews,
who are only conducted by their madness, do every thing with care and
circumspection; they contrive stratagems, and lay ambushes, and fortune
gives success to their stratagems, because they are obedient, and preserve
their goodwill and fidelity to one another; while the Romans, to whom
fortune uses to be ever subservient, by reason of their good order, and
ready submission to their commanders, have now had ill success by their
contrary behavior, and by not being able to restrain their hands from
action, they have been caught; and that which is the most to their
reproach, they have gone on without their commanders, in the very
presence of Caesar. “Truly,” says Titus, “the laws of war cannot but
groan heavily, as will my father also himself, when he shall be informed of
this wound that hath been given us, since he who is grown old in wars did
never make so great a mistake. Our laws of war do also ever inflict capital
punishment on those that in the least break into good order, while at this
time they have seen an entire army run into disorder. However, those that
have been so insolent shall be made immediately sensible, that even they
who conquer among the Romans without orders for fighting are to be
under disgrace.” When Titus had enlarged upon this matter before the
commanders, it appeared evident that he would execute the law against all
those that were concerned; so these soldiers’ minds sunk down in despair,
as expecting to be put to death, and that justly and quickly. However, the
other legions came round about Titus, and entreated his favor to these their
fellow soldiers, and made supplication to him, that he would pardon the
rashness of a few, on account of the better obedience of all the rest; and
promised for them that they should make amends for their present fault,
by their more virtuous behavior for the time to come.
5. So Caesar complied with their desires, and with what prudence dictated
to him also; for he esteemed it fit to punish single persons by real
executions, but that the punishment of great multitudes should proceed no
further than reproofs; so he was reconciled to the soldiers, but gave them a
special charge to act more wisely for the future; and he considered with
himself how he might be even with the Jews for their stratagem. And now
when the space between the Romans and the wall had been leveled, which
was done in four days, and as he was desirous to bring the baggage of the
army, with the rest of the multitude that followed him, safely to the camp,
he set the strongest part of his army over against that wall which lay on
the north quarter of the city, and over against the western part of it, and
made his army seven deep, with the foot-men placed before them, and the
horsemen behind them, each of the last in three ranks, whilst the archers
stood in the midst in seven ranks. And now as the Jews were prohibited,
by so great a body of men, from making sallies upon the Romans, both the
beasts that bare the burdens, and belonged to the three legions, and the rest
of the multitude, marched on without any fear. But as for Titus himself, he
was but about two furlongs distant from the wall, at that part of it where
was the corner 10 and over against that tower which was called Psephinus,
at which tower the compass of the wall belonging to the north bended, and
extended itself over against the west; but the other part of the army
fortified itself at the tower called Hippicus, and was distant, in like
manner, by two furlongs from the city. However, the tenth legion
continued in its own place, upon the Mount of Olives.
1. THE city of Jerusalem was fortified with three walls, on such parts as
were not encompassed with unpassable valleys; for in such places it had
but one wall. The city was built upon two hills, which are opposite to one
another, and have a valley to divide them asunder; at which valley the
corresponding rows of houses on both hills end. Of these hills, that which
contains the upper city is much higher, and in length more direct.
Accordingly, it was called the “Citadel,” by king David; he was the father
of that Solomon who built this temple at the first; but it is by us called the
“Upper Market-place.” But the other hill, which was called “Acra,” and
sustains the lower city, is of the shape of a moon when she is horned; over
against this there was a third hill, but naturally lower than Acra, and
parted formerly from the other by a broad valley. However, in those times
when the Asamoneans reigned, they filled up that valley with earth, and
had a mind to join the city to the temple. They then took off part of the
height of Acra, and reduced it to be of less elevation than it was before,
that the temple might be superior to it. Now the Valley of the
Cheesemongers, as it was called, and was that which we told you before
distinguished the hill of the upper city from that of the lower, extended as
far as Siloam; for that is the name of a fountain which hath sweet water in
it, and this in great plenty also. But on the outsides, these hills are
surrounded by deep valleys, and by reason of the precipices to them
belonging on both sides they are every where unpassable.
2. Now, of these three walls, the old one was hard to be taken, both by
reason of the valleys, and of that hill on which it was built, and which was
above them. But besides that great advantage, as to the place where they
were situated, it was also built very strong; because David and Solomon,
and the following kings, were very zealous about this work. Now that wall
began on the north, at the tower called “Hippicus,” and extended as far as
the “Xistus,” a place so called, and then, joining to the council-house,
ended at the west cloister of the temple. But if we go the other way
westward, it began at the same place, and extended through a place called
“Bethso,” to the gate of the Essens; and after that it went southward,
having its bending above the fountain Siloam, where it also bends again
towards the east at Solomon’s pool, and reaches as far as a certain place
which they called “Ophlas,” where it was joined to the eastern cloister of
the temple. The second wall took its beginning from that gate which they
called “Gennath,” which belonged to the first wall; it only encompassed
the northern quarter of the city, and reached as far as the tower Antonia.
The beginning of the third wall was at the tower Hippicus, whence it
reached as far as the north quarter of the city, and the tower Psephinus,
and then was so far extended till it came over against the monuments of
Helena, which Helena was queen of Adiabene, the daughter of Izates; it
then extended further to a great length, and passed by the sepulchral
caverns of the kings, and bent again at the tower of the corner, at the
monument which is called the “Monument of the Fuller,” and joined to the
old wall at the valley called the “Valley of Cedron.” It was Agrippa who
encompassed the parts added to the old city with this wall, which had
been all naked before; for as the city grew more populous, it gradually
crept beyond its old limits, and those parts of it that stood northward of
the temple, and joined that hill to the city, made it considerably larger, and
occasioned that hill, which is in number the fourth, and is called
“Bezetha,” to be inhabited also. It lies over against the tower Antonia, but
is divided from it by a deep valley, which was dug on purpose, and that in
order to hinder the foundations of the tower of Antonia from joining to
this hill, and thereby affording an opportunity for getting to it with ease,
and hindering the security that arose from its superior elevation; for which
reason also that depth of the ditch made the elevation of the towers more
remarkable. This new-built part of the city was called “Bezetha,” in our
language, which, if interpreted in the Grecian language, may be called “the
New City.” Since, therefore, its inhabitants stood in need of a covering, the
father of the present king, and of the same name with him, Agrippa, began
that wall we spoke of; but he left off building it when he had only laid the
foundations, out of the fear he was in of Claudius Caesar, lest he should
suspect that so strong a wall was built in order to make some innovation in
public affairs; for the city could no way have been taken if that wall had
been finished in the manner it was begun; as its parts were connected
together by stones twenty cubits long, and ten cubits broad, which could
never have been either easily undermined by any iron tools, or shaken by
any engines. The wall was, however, ten cubits wide, and it would
probably have had a height greater than that, had not his zeal who began it
been hindered from exerting itself. After this, it was erected with great
diligence by the Jews, as high as twenty cubits, above which it had
battlements of two cubits, and turrets of three cubits altitude, insomuch
that the entire altitude extended as far as twenty-five cubits.
3. Now the towers that were upon it were twenty cubits in breadth, and
twenty cubits in height; they were square and solid, as was the wall itself,
wherein the niceness of the joints, and the beauty of the stones, were no
way inferior to those of the holy house itself. Above this solid altitude of
the towers, which was twenty cubits, there were rooms of great
magnificence, and over them upper rooms, and cisterns to receive
rain-water. They were many in number, and the steps by which you
ascended up to them were every one broad: of these towers then the third
wall had ninety, and the spaces between them were each two hundred
cubits; but in the middle wall were forty towers, and the old wall was
parted into sixty, while the whole compass of the city was thirty-three
furlongs. Now the third wall was all of it wonderful; yet was the tower
Psephinus elevated above it at the north-west corner, and there Titus
pitched his own tent; for being seventy cubits high it both afforded a
prospect of Arabia at sun-rising, as well as it did of the utmost limits of
the Hebrew possessions at the sea westward. Moreover, it was an
octagon, and over against it was the tower Hipplicus, and hard by two
others were erected by king Herod, in the old wall. These were for
largeness, beauty, and strength beyond all that were in the habitable earth;
for besides the magnanimity of his nature, and his magnificence towards
the city on other occasions, he built these after such an extraordinary
manner, to gratify his own private affections, and dedicated these towers
to the memory of those three persons who had been the dearest to him,
and from whom he named them. They were his brother, his friend, and his
wife. This wife he had slain, out of his love [and jealousy], as we have
already related; the other two he lost in war, as they were courageously
fighting. Hippicus, so named from his friend, was square; its length and
breadth were each twenty-five cubits, and its height thirty, and it had no
vacuity in it. Over this solid building, which was composed of great stones
united together, there was a reservoir twenty cubits deep, over which there
was a house of two stories, whose height was twenty-five cubits, and
divided into several parts; over which were battlements of two cubits, and
turrets all round of three cubits high, insomuch that the entire height added
together amounted to fourscore cubits. The second tower, which he named
from his brother Phasaelus, had its breadth and its height equal, each of
them forty cubits; over which was its solid height of forty cubits; over
which a cloister went round about, whose height was ten cubits, and it was
covered from enemies by breast-works and bulwarks. There was also built
over that cloister another tower, parted into magnificent rooms, and a
place for bathing; so that this tower wanted nothing that might make it
appear to be a royal palace. It was also adorned with battlements and
turrets, more than was the foregoing, and the entire altitude was about
ninety cubits; the appearance of it resembled the tower of Pharus, which
exhibited a fire to such as sailed to Alexandria, but was much larger than it
in compass. This was now converted to a house, wherein Simon exercised
his tyrannical authority. The third tower was Mariamne, for that was his
queen’s name; it was solid as high as twenty cubits; its breadth and its
length were twenty cubits, and were equal to each other; its upper
buildings were more magnificent, and had greater variety, than the other
towers had; for the king thought it most proper for him to adorn that
which was denominated from his wife, better than those denominated from
men, as those were built stronger than this that bore his wife’s name. The
entire height of this tower was fifty cubits.
4. Now as these towers were so very tall, they appeared much taller by
the place on which they stood; for that very old wall wherein they were
was built on a high hill, and was itself a kind of elevation that was still
thirty cubits taller; over which were the towers situated, and thereby were
made much higher to appearance. The largeness also of the stones was
wonderful; for they were not made of common small stones, nor of such
large ones only as men could carry, but they were of white marble, cut out
of the rock; each stone was twenty cubits in length, and ten in breadth, and
five in depth. They were so exactly united to one another, that each tower
looked like one entire rock of stone, so growing naturally, and afterward
cut by the hand of the artificers into their present shape and corners; so
little, or not at all, did their joints or connexion appear. low as these towers
were themselves on the north side of the wall, the king had a palace
inwardly thereto adjoined, which exceeds all my ability to describe it; for it
was so very curious as to want no cost nor skill in its construction, but
was entirely walled about to the height of thirty cubits, and was adorned
with towers at equal distances, and with large bed-chambers, that would
contain beds for a hundred guests a-piece, in which the variety of the
stones is not to be expressed; for a large quantity of those that were rare of
that kind was collected together. Their roofs were also wonderful, both for
the length of the beams, and the splendor of their ornaments. The number
of the rooms was also very great, and the variety of the figures that were
about them was prodigious; their furniture was complete, and the greatest
part of the vessels that were put in them was of silver and gold. There
were besides many porticoes, one beyond another, round about, and in
each of those porticoes curious pillars; yet were all the courts that were
exposed to the air every where green. There were, moreover, several groves
of trees, and long walks through them, with deep canals, and cisterns, that
in several parts were filled with brazen statues, through which the water
ran out. There were withal many dove-courts 11 of tame pigeons about the
canals. But indeed it is not possible to give a complete description of these
palaces; and the very remembrance of them is a torment to one, as putting
one in mind what vastly rich buildings that fire which was kindled by the
robbers hath consumed; for these were not burnt by the Romans, but by
these internal plotters, as we have already related, in the beginning of their
rebellion. That fire began at the tower of Antonia, and went on to the
palaces, and consumed the upper parts of the three towers themselves.
1. NOW this temple, as I have already said, was built upon a strong hill. At
first the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the
altar, for the ground about it was very uneven, and like a precipice; but
when king Solomon, who was the person that built the temple, had built a
wall to it on its east side, there was then added one cloister founded on a
bank cast up for it, and on the other parts the holy house stood naked. But
in future ages the people added new banks, 12 and the hill became a larger
plain. They then broke down the wall on the north side, and took in as
much as sufficed afterward for the compass of the entire temple. And
when they had built walls on three sides of the temple round about, from
the bottom of the hill, and had performed a work that was greater than
could be hoped for, (in which work long ages were spent by them, as well
as all their sacred treasures were exhausted, which were still replenished
by those tributes which were sent to God from the whole habitable earth,)
they then encompassed their upper courts with cloisters, as well as they
[afterward] did the lowest [court of the] temple. The lowest part of this
was erected to the height of three hundred cubits, and in some places more;
yet did not the entire depth of the foundations appear, for they brought
earth, and filled up the valleys, as being desirous to make them on a level
with the narrow streets of the city; wherein they made use of stones of
forty cubits in magnitude; for the great plenty of money they then had,
and the liberality of the people, made this attempt of theirs to succeed to
an incredible degree; and what could not be so much as hoped for as ever
to be accomplished, was, by perseverance and length of time, brought to
2. Now for the works that were above these foundations, these were not
unworthy of such foundations; for all the cloisters were double, and the
pillars to them belonging were twenty-five cubits in height, and supported
the cloisters. These pillars were of one entire stone each of them, and that
stone was white marble; and the roofs were adorned with cedar, curiously
graven. The natural magnificence, and excellent polish, and the harmony of
the joints in these cloisters, afforded a prospect that was very remarkable;
nor was it on the outside adorned with any work of the painter or
engraver. The cloisters [of the outmost court] were in breadth thirty
cubits, while the entire compass of it was by measure six furlongs,
including the tower of Antonia; those entire courts that were exposed to
the air were laid with stones of all sorts. When you go through these [first]
cloisters, unto the second [court of the] temple, there was a partition made
of stone all round, whose height was three cubits: its construction was
very elegant; upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another,
declaring the law of purity, some in Greek, and some in Roman letters,
that “no foreigner should go within that sanctuary” for that second [court
of the] temple was called “the Sanctuary,” and was ascended to by
fourteen steps from the first court. This court was four-square, and had a
wall about it peculiar to itself; the height of its buildings, although it were
on the outside forty cubits, 13 was hidden by the steps, and on the inside
that height was but twenty-five cubits; for it being built over against a
higher part of the hill with steps, it was no further to be entirely discerned
within, being covered by the hill itself. Beyond these thirteen steps there
was the distance of ten cubits; this was all plain; whence there were other
steps, each of five cubits a-piece, that led to the gates, which gates on the
north and south sides were eight, on each of those sides four, and of
necessity two on the east. For since there was a partition built for the
women on that side, as the proper place wherein they were to worship,
there was a necessity for a second gate for them: this gate was cut out of
its wall, over against the first gate. There was also on the other sides one
southern and one northern gate, through which was a passage into the
court of the women; for as to the other gates, the women were not allowed
to pass through them; nor when they went through their own gate could
they go beyond their own wall. This place was allotted to the women of
our own country, and of other countries, provided they were of the same
nation, and that equally. The western part of this court had no gate at all,
but the wall was built entire on that side. But then the cloisters which
were betwixt the gates extended from the wall inward, before the
chambers; for they were supported by very fine and large pillars. These
cloisters were single, and, excepting their magnitude, were no way inferior
to those of the lower court.
3. Now nine of these gates were on every side covered over with gold and
silver, as were the jambs of their doors and their lintels; but there was one
gate that was without the [inward court of the] holy house, which was of
Corinthian brass, and greatly excelled those that were only covered over
with silver and gold. Each gate had two doors, whose height was severally
thirty cubits, and their breadth fifteen. However, they had large spaces
within of thirty cubits, and had on each side rooms, and those, both in
breadth and in length, built like towers, and their height was above forty
cubits. Two pillars did also support these rooms, and were in
circumference twelve cubits. Now the magnitudes of the other gates were
equal one to another; but that over the Corinthian gate, which opened on
the east over against the gate of the holy house itself, was much larger; for
its height was fifty cubits; and its doors were forty cubits; and it was
adorned after a most costly manner, as having much richer and thicker
plates of silver and gold upon them than the other. These nine gates had
that silver and gold poured upon them by Alexander, the father of
Tiberius. Now there were fifteen steps, which led away from the wall of
the court of the women to this greater gate; whereas those that led thither
from the other gates were five steps shorter.
4. As to the holy house itself, which was placed in the midst [of the
inmost court], that most sacred part of the temple, it was ascended to by
twelve steps; and in front its height and its breadth were equal, and each a
hundred cubits, though it was behind forty cubits narrower; for on its
front it had what may be styled shoulders on each side, that passed
twenty cubits further. Its first gate was seventy cubits high, and
twenty-five cubits broad; but this gate had no doors; for it represented the
universal visibility of heaven, and that it cannot be excluded from any
place. Its front was covered with gold all over, and through it the first part
of the house, that was more inward, did all of it appear; which, as it was
very large, so did all the parts about the more inward gate appear to shine
to those that saw them; but then, as the entire house was divided into two
parts within, it was only the first part of it that was open to our view. Its
height extended all along to ninety cubits in height, and its length was fifty
cubits, and its breadth twenty. But that gate which was at this end of the
first part of the house was, as we have already observed, all over covered
with gold, as was its whole wall about it; it had also golden vines above it,
from which clusters of grapes hung as tall as a man’s height. But then this
house, as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the
appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of fifty-five cubits altitude,
and sixteen in breadth; but before these doors there was a veil of equal
largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with
blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was
truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical
interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet
there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by
the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors
the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have
their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the
sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was
mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing
living creatures.
5. When any persons entered into the temple, its floor received them. This
part of the temple therefore was in height sixty cubits, and its length the
same; whereas its breadth was but twenty cubits: but still that sixty cubits
in length was divided again, and the first part of it was cut off at forty
cubits, and had in it three things that were very wonderful and famous
among all mankind, the candlestick, the table [of shew-bread], and the altar
of incense. Now the seven lamps signified the seven planets; for so many
there were springing out of the candlestick. Now the twelve loaves that
were upon the table signified the circle of the zodiac and the year; but the
altar of incense, by its thirteen kinds of sweet-smelling spices with which
the sea replenished it, signified that God is the possessor of all things that
are both in the uninhabitable and habitable parts of the earth, and that they
are all to be dedicated to his use. But the inmost part of the temple of all
was of twenty cubits. This was also separated from the outer part by a
veil. In this there was nothing at all. It was inaccessible and inviolable, and
not to be seen by any; and was called the Holy of Holies. Now, about the
sides of the lower part of the temple, there were little houses, with
passages out of one into another; there were a great many of them, and
they were of three stories high; there were also entrances on each side into
them from the gate of the temple. But the superior part of the temple had
no such little houses any further, because the temple was there narrower,
and forty cubits higher, and of a smaller body than the lower parts of it.
Thus we collect that the whole height, including the sixty cubits from the
floor, amounted to a hundred cubits.
6. Now the outward face of the temple in its front wanted nothing that
was likely to surprise either men’s minds or their eyes; for it was covered
all over with plates of gold of great weight, and, at the first rising of the
sun, reflected back a very fiery splendor, and made those who forced
themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away, just as they would
have done at the sun’s own rays. But this temple appeared to strangers,
when they were coming to it at a distance, like a mountain covered with
snow; for as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were exceeding
white. On its top it had spikes with sharp points, to prevent any
pollution of it by birds sitting upon it. Of its stones, some of them were
forty-five cubits in length, five in height, and six in breadth. Before this
temple stood the altar, fifteen cubits high, and equal both in length and
breadth; each of which dimensions was fifty cubits. The figure it was built
in was a square, and it had corners like horns; and the passage up to it was
by an insensible acclivity. It was formed without any iron tool, nor did
any such iron tool so much as touch it at any time. There was also a wall
of partition, about a cubit in height, made of fine stones, and so as to be
grateful to the sight; this encompassed the holy house and the altar, and
kept the people that were on the outside off from the priests. Moreover,
those that had the gonorrhea and the leprosy were excluded out of the city
entirely; women also, when their courses were upon them, were shut out
of the temple; nor when they were free from that impurity, were they
allowed to go beyond the limit before-mentioned; men also, that were not
thoroughly pure, were prohibited to come into the inner [court of the]
temple; nay, the priests themselves that were not pure were prohibited to
come into it also.
7. Now all those of the stock of the priests that could not minister by
reason of some defect in their bodies, came within the partition, together
with those that had no such imperfection, and had their share with them
by reason of their stock, but still made use of none except their own
private garments; for nobody but he that officiated had on his sacred
garments; but then those priests that were without any blemish upon them
went up to the altar clothed in fine linen. They abstained chiefly from
wine, out of this fear, lest otherwise they should transgress some rules of
their ministration. The high priest did also go up with them; not always
indeed, but on the seventh days and new moons, and if any festivals
belonging to our nation, which we celebrate every year, happened. When
he officiated, he had on a pair of breeches that reached beneath his privy
parts to his thighs, and had on an inner garment of linen, together with a
blue garment, round, without seam, with fringe work, and reaching to the
feet. There were also golden bells that hung upon the fringes, and
pomegranates intermixed among them. The bells signified thunder, and the
pomegranates lightning. But that girdle that tied the garment to the breast
was embroidered with five rows of various colors, of gold, and purple, and
scarlet, as also of fine linen and blue, with which colors we told you before
the veils of the temple were embroidered also. The like embroidery was
upon the ephod; but the quantity of gold therein was greater. Its figure
was that of a stomacher for the breast. There were upon it two golden
buttons like small shields, which buttoned the ephod to the garment; in
these buttons were enclosed two very large and very excellent sardonyxes,
having the names of the tribes of that nation engraved upon them: on the
other part there hung twelve stones, three in a row one way, and four in
the other; a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; a carbuncle, a jasper, and a
sapphire; an agate, an amethyst, and a ligure; an onyx, a beryl, and a
chrysolite; upon every one of which was again engraved one of the
forementioned names of the tribes. A mitre also of fine linen encompassed
his head, which was tied by a blue ribbon, about which there was another
golden crown, in which was engraven the sacred name [of God]: it consists
of four vowels. However, the high priest did not wear these garments at
other times, but a more plain habit; he only did it when he went into the
most sacred part of the temple, which he did but once in a year, on that
day when our custom is for all of us to keep a fast to God. And thus much
concerning the city and the temple; but for the customs and laws hereto
relating, we shall speak more accurately another time; for there remain a
great many things thereto relating which have not been here touched upon.
8. Now as to the tower of Antonia, it was situated at the corner of two
cloisters of the court of the temple; of that on the west, and that on the
north; it was erected upon a rock of fifty cubits in height, and was on a
great precipice; it was the work of king Herod, wherein he demonstrated
his natural magnanimity. In the first place, the rock itself was covered over
with smooth pieces of stone, from its foundation, both for ornament, and
that any one who would either try to get up or to go down it might not be
able to hold his feet upon it. Next to this, and before you come to the
edifice of the tower itself, there was a wall three cubits high; but within
that wall all the space of the tower of Antonia itself was built upon, to the
height of forty cubits. The inward parts had the largeness and form of a
palace, it being parted into all kinds of rooms and other conveniences, such
as courts, and places for bathing, and broad spaces for camps; insomuch
that, by having all conveniences that cities wanted, it might seem to be
composed of several cities, but by its magnificence it seemed a palace. And
as the entire structure resembled that of a tower, it contained also four
other distinct towers at its four corners; whereof the others were but fifty
cubits high; whereas that which lay upon the southeast corner was seventy
cubits high, that from thence the whole temple might be viewed; but on the
corner where it joined to the two cloisters of the temple, it had passages
down to them both, through which the guard (for there always lay in this
tower a Roman legion) went several ways among the cloisters, with their
arms, on the Jewish festivals, in order to watch the people, that they might
not there attempt to make any innovations; for the temple was a fortress
that guarded the city, as was the tower of Antonia a guard to the temple;
and in that tower were the guards of those three 14. There was also a
peculiar fortress belonging to the upper city, which was Herod’s palace;
but for the hill Bezetha, it was divided from the tower Antonia, as we have
already told you; and as that hill on which the tower of Antonia stood was
the highest of these three, so did it adjoin to the new city, and was the
only place that hindered the sight of the temple on the north. And this
shall suffice at present to have spoken about the city and the walls about
it, because I have proposed to myself to make a more accurate description
of it elsewhere.
1. NOW the warlike men that were in the city, and the multitude of the
seditious that were with Simon, were ten thousand, besides the Idumeans.
Those ten thousand had fifty commanders, over whom this Simon was
supreme. The Idumeans that paid him homage were five thousand, and had
eight commanders, among whom those of greatest fame were Jacob the son
of Sosas, and Simon the son of Cathlas. Jotre, who had seized upon the
temple, had six thousand armed men under twenty commanders; the
zealots also that had come over to him, and left off their opposition, were
two thousand four hundred, and had the same commander that they had
formerly, Eleazar, together with Simon the son of Arinus. Now, while
these factions fought one against another, the people were their prey on
both sides, as we have said already; and that part of the people who would
not join with them in their wicked practices were plundered by both
factions. Simon held the upper city, and the great wall as far as Cedron,
and as much of the old wall as bent from Siloam to the east, and which
went down to the palace of Monobazus, who was king of the Adiabeni,
beyond Euphrates; he also held that fountain, and the Acra, which was no
other than the lower city; he also held all that reached to the palace of
queen Helena, the mother of Monobazus. But John held the temple, and
the parts thereto adjoining, for a great way, as also Ophla, and the valley
called “the Valley of Cedron;” and when the parts that were interposed
between their possessions were burnt by them, they left a space wherein
they might fight with each other; for this internal sedition did not cease
even when the Romans were encamped near their very wall. But although
they had grown wiser at the first onset the Romans made upon them, this
lasted but a while; for they returned to their former madness, and
separated one from another, and fought it out, and did everything that the
besiegers could desire them to do; for they never suffered any thing that
was worse from the Romans than they made each other suffer; nor was
there any misery endured by the city after these men’s actions that could
be esteemed new. But it was most of all unhappy before it was
overthrown, while those that took it did it a greater kindness for I venture
to affirm that the sedition destroyed the city, and the Romans destroyed
the sedition, which it was a much harder thing to do than to destroy the
walls; so that we may justly ascribe our misfortunes to our own people,
and the just vengeance taken on them to the Romans; as to which matter
let every one determine by the actions on both sides.
2. Now when affairs within the city were in this posture, Titus went
round the city on the outside with some chosen horsemen, and looked
about for a proper place where he might make an impression upon the
walls; but as he was in doubt where he could possibly make an attack on
any side, (for the place was no way accessible where the valleys were, and
on the other side the first wall appeared too strong to be shaken by the
engines,) he thereupon thought it best to make his assault upon the
monument of John the high priest; for there it was that the first
fortification was lower, and the second was not joined to it, the builders
neglecting to build strong where the new city was not much inhabited; here
also was an easy passage to the third wall, through which he thought to
take the upper city, and, through the tower of Antonia, the temple itself
But at this time, as he was going round about the city, one of his friends,
whose name was Nicanor, was wounded with a dart on his left shoulder,
as he approached, together with Josephus, too near the wall, and
attempted to discourse to those that were upon the wall, about terms of
peace; for he was a person known by them. On this account it was that
Caesar, as soon as he knew their vehemence, that they would not hear
even such as approached them to persuade them to what tended to their
own preservation, was provoked to press on the siege. He also at the same
time gave his soldiers leave to set the suburbs on fire, and ordered that
they should bring timber together, and raise banks against the city; and
when he had parted his army into three parts, in order to set about those
works, he placed those that shot darts and the archers in the midst of the
banks that were then raising; before whom he placed those engines that
threw javelins, and darts, and stones, that he might prevent the enemy
from sallying out upon their works, and might hinder those that were upon
the wall from being able to obstruct them. So the trees were now cut down
immediately, and the suburbs left naked. But now while the timber was
carrying to raise the banks, and the whole army was earnestly engaged in
their works, the Jews were not, however, quiet; and it happened that the
people of Jerusalem, who had been hitherto plundered and murdered, were
now of good courage, and supposed they should have a breathing time,
while the others were very busy in opposing their enemies without the
city, and that they should now be avenged on those that had been the
authors of their miseries, in case the Romans did but get the victory.
3. However, John staid behind, out of his fear of Simon, even while his
own men were earnest in making a sally upon their enemies without. Yet
did not Simon lie still, for he lay near the place of the siege; he brought his
engines of war, and disposed of them at due distances upon the wall, both
those which they took from Cestius formerly, and those which they got
when they seized the garrison that lay in the tower Antonia. But though
they had these engines in their possession, they had so little skill in using
them, that they were in great measure useless to them; but a few there
were who had been taught by deserters how to use them, which they did
use, though after an awkward manner. So they cast stones and arrows at
those that were making the banks; they also ran out upon them by
companies, and fought with them. Now those that were at work covered
themselves with hurdles spread over their banks, and their engines were
opposed to them when they made their excursions. The engines, that all
the legions had ready prepared for them, were admirably contrived; but
still more extraordinary ones belonged to the tenth legion: those that threw
darts and those that threw stones were more forcible and larger than the
rest, by which they not only repelled the excursions of the Jews, but
drove those away that were upon the walls also. Now the stones that were
cast were of the weight of a talent, and were carried two furlongs and
further. The blow they gave was no way to be sustained, not only by
those that stood first in the way, but by those that were beyond them for
a great space. As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the
stone, for it was of a white color, and could therefore not only be
perceived by the great noise it made, but could be seen also before it came
by its brightness; accordingly the watchmen that sat upon the towers gave
them notice when the engine was let go, and the stone came from it, and
cried out aloud, in their own country language, THE STONE COMETH 15 so
those that were in its way stood off, and threw themselves down upon the
ground; by which means, and by their thus guarding themselves, the stone
fell down and did them no harm. But the Romans contrived how to
prevent that by blacking the stone, who then could aim at them with
success, when the stone was not discerned beforehand, as it had been till
then; and so they destroyed many of them at one blow. Yet did not the
Jews, under all this distress, permit the Romans to raise their banks in
quiet; but they shrewdly and boldly exerted themselves, and repelled them
both by night and by day.
4. And now, upon the finishing the Roman works, the workmen measured
the distance there was from the wall, and this by lead and a line, which
they threw to it from their banks; for they could not measure it any
otherwise, because the Jews would shoot at them, if they came to measure
it themselves; and when they found that the engines could reach the wall,
they brought them thither. Then did Titus set his engines at proper
distances, so much nearer to the wall, that the Jews might not be able to
repel them, and gave orders they should go to work; and when thereupon a
prodigious noise echoed round about from three places, and that on the
sudden there was a great noise made by the citizens that were within the
city, and no less a terror fell upon the seditious themselves; whereupon
both sorts, seeing the common danger they were in, contrived to make a
like defense. So those of different factions cried out one to another, that
they acted entirely as in concert with their enemies; whereas they ought
however, notwithstanding God did not grant them a lasting concord, in
their present circumstances, to lay aside their enmities one against another,
and to unite together against the Romans. Accordingly, Simon gave those
that came from the temple leave, by proclamation, to go upon the wall;
John also himself, though he could not believe Simon was in earnest, gave
them the same leave. So on both sides they laid aside their hatred and their
peculiar quarrels, and formed themselves into one body; they then ran
round the walls, and having a vast number of torches with them, they
threw them at the machines, and shot darts perpetually upon those that
impelled those engines which battered the wall; nay, the bolder sort leaped
out by troops upon the hurdles that covered the machines, and pulled
them to pieces, and fell upon those that belonged to them, and beat them,
not so much by any skill they had, as principally by the boldness of their
attacks. However, Titus himself still sent assistance to those that were the
hardest set, and placed both horsemen and archers on the several sides of
the engines, and thereby beat off those that brought the fire to them; he
also thereby repelled those that shot stones or darts from the towers, and
then set the engines to work in good earnest; yet did not the wall yield to
these blows, excepting where the battering ram of the fifteenth legion
moved the corner of a tower, while the wall itself continued unhurt; for the
wall was not presently in the same danger with the tower, which was
extant far above it; nor could the fall of that part of the tower easily break
down any part of the wall itself together with it.
5. And now the Jews intermitted their sallies for a while; but when they
observed the Romans dispersed all abroad at their works, and in their
several camps, (for they thought the Jews had retired out of weariness and
fear,) they all at once made a sally at the tower Hippicus, through an
obscure gate, and at the same time brought fire to burn the works, and
went boldly up to the Romans, and to their very fortifications themselves,
where, at the cry they made, those that were near them came presently to
their assistance, and those farther off came running after them; and here the
boldness of the Jews was too hard for the good order of the Romans; and
as they beat those whom they first fell upon, so they pressed upon those
that were now gotten together. So this fight about the machines was very
hot, while the one side tried hard to set them on fire, and the other side to
prevent it; on both sides there was a confused cry made, and many of
those in the forefront of the battle were slain. However, the Jews were
now too hard for the Romans, by the furious assaults they made like
madmen; and the fire caught hold of the works, and both all those works,
and the engines themselves, had been in danger of being burnt, had not
many of these select soldiers that came from Alexandria opposed
themselves to prevent it, and had they not behaved themselves with
greater courage than they themselves supposed they could have done; for
they outdid those in this fight that had greater reputation than themselves
before. This was the state of things till Caesar took the stoutest of his
horsemen, and attacked the enemy, while he himself slew twelve of those
that were in the forefront of the Jews; which death of these men, when the
rest of the multitude saw, they gave way, and he pursued them, and drove
them all into the city, and saved the works from the fire. Now it happened
at this fight that a certain Jew was taken alive, who, by Titus’s order, was
crucified before the wall, to see whether the rest of them would be
aftrighted, and abate of their obstinacy. But after the Jews were retired,
John, who was commander of the Idumeans, and was talking to a certain
soldier of his acquaintance before the wall, was wounded by a dart shot at
him by an Arabian, and died immediately, leaving the greatest lamentation
to the Jews, and sorrow to the seditious. For he was a man of great
eminence, both for his actions and his conduct also.
1. NOW, on the next night, a surprising disturbance fell upon the Romans;
for whereas Titus had given orders for the erection of three towers of fifty
cubits high, that by setting men upon them at every bank, he might from
thence drive those away who were upon the wall, it so happened that one
of these towers fell down about midnight; and as its fall made a very great
noise, fear fell upon the army, and they, supposing that the enemy was
coming to attack them, ran all to their arms. Whereupon a disturbance and
a tumult arose among the legions, and as nobody could tell what had
happened, they went on after a disconsolate manner; and seeing no enemy
appear, they were afraid one of another, and every one demanded of his
neighbor the watchword with great earnestness, as though the Jews had
invaded their camp. And now were they like people under a panic fear, till
Titus was informed of what had happened, and gave orders that all should
be acquainted with it; and then, though with some difficulty, they got clear
of the disturbance they had been under.
2. Now these towers were very troublesome to the Jews, who otherwise
opposed the Romans very courageously; for they shot at them out of their
lighter engines from those towers, as they did also by those that threw
darts, and the archers, and those that flung stones. For neither could the
Jews reach those that were over them, by reason of their height; and it was
not practicable to take them, nor to overturn them, they were so heavy,
nor to set them on fire, because they were covered with plates of iron. So
they retired out of the reach of the darts, and did no longer endeavor to
hinder the impression of their rams, which, by continually beating upon
the wall, did gradually prevail against it; so that the wall already gave way
to the Nico, for by that name did the Jews themselves call the greatest of
their engines, because it conquered all things. And now they were for a
long while grown weary of fighting, and of keeping guards, and were
retired to lodge in the night time at a distance from the wall. It was on
other accounts also thought by them to be superfluous to guard the wall,
there being besides that two other fortifications still remaining, and they
being slothful, and their counsels having been ill concerted on all occasions;
so a great many grew lazy and retired. Then the Romans mounted the
breach, where Nico had made one, and all the Jews left the guarding that
wall, and retreated to the second wall; so those that had gotten over that
wall opened the gates, and received all the army within it. And thus did the
Romans get possession of this first wall, on the fifteenth day of the siege,
which was the seventh day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] when they
demolished a great part of it, as well as they did of the northern parts of
the city, which had been demolished also by Cestius formerly.
3. And now Titus pitched his camp within the city, at that place which
was called “the Camp of the Assyrians,” having seized upon all that lay as
far as Cedron, but took care to be out of the reach of the Jews’ darts. He
then presently began his attacks, upon which the Jews divided themselves
into several bodies, and courageously defended that wall; while John and
his faction did it from the tower of Antonia, and from the northern cloister
of the temple, and fought the Romans before the monuments of king
Alexander; and Sireoh’s army also took for their share the spot of ground
that was near John’s monument, and fortified it as far as to that gate where
water was brought in to the tower Hippicus. However, the Jews made
violent sallies, and that frequently also, and in bodies together out of the
gates, and there fought the Romans; and when they were pursued all
together to the wall, they were beaten in those fights, as wanting the skill
of the Romans. But when they fought them from the walls, they were too
hard for them; the Romans being encouraged by their power, joined to
their skill, as were the Jews by their boldness, which was nourished by the
fear they were in, and that hardiness which is natural to our nation under
calamities; they were also encouraged still by the hope of deliverance, as
were the Romans by their hopes of subduing them in a little time. Nor did
either side grow weary; but attacks and rightings upon the wall, and
perpetual sallies out in bodies, were there all the day long; nor were there
any sort of warlike engagements that were not then put in use. And the
night itself had much ado to part them, when they began to fight in the
morning; nay, the night itself was passed without sleep on both sides, and
was more uneasy than the day to them, while the one was afraid lest the
wall should be taken, and the other lest the Jews should make sallies upon
their camps; both sides also lay in their armor during the night time, and
thereby were ready at the first appearance of light to go to the battle. Now
among the Jews the ambition was who should undergo the first dangers,
and thereby gratify their commanders. Above all, they had a great
veneration and dread of Simon; and to that degree was he regarded by
every one of those that were under him, that at his command they were
very ready to kill themselves with their own hands. What made the
Romans so courageous was their usual custom of conquering and disuse of
being defeated, their constant wars, and perpetual warlike exercises, and
the grandeur of their dominion; and what was now their chief
encouragement —Titus who was present every where with them all; for it
appeared a terrible thing to grow weary while Caesar was there, and fought
bravely as well as they did, and was himself at once an eye-witness of
such as behaved themselves valiantly, and he who was to reward them
also. It was, besides, esteemed an advantage at present to have any one’s
valor known by Caesar; on which account many of them appeared to have
more alacrity than strength to answer it. And now, as the Jews were about
this time standing in array before the wall, and that in a strong body, and
while both parties were throwing their darts at each other, Longinus, one
of the equestrian order, leaped out of the army of the Romans, and leaped
into the very midst of the army of the Jews; and as they dispersed
themselves upon the attack, he slew two of their men of the greatest
courage; one of them he struck in his mouth as he was coming to meet him,
the other was slain by him by that very dart which he drew out of the
body of the other, with which he ran this man through his side as he was
running away from him; and when he had done this, he first of all ran out
of the midst of his enemies to his own side. So this man signalized himself
for his valor, and many there were who were ambitious of gaining the like
reputation. And now the Jews were unconcerned at what they suffered
themselves from the Romans, and were only solicitous about what
mischief they could do them; and death itself seemed a small matter to
them, if at the same time they could but kill any one of their enemies. But
Titus took care to secure his own soldiers from harm, as well as to have
them overcome their enemies. He also said that inconsiderate violence was
madness, and that this alone was the true courage that was joined with
good conduct. He therefore commanded his men to take care, when they
fought their enemies, that they received no harm from them at the same
time, and thereby show themselves to be truly valiant men.
4. And now Titus brought one of his engines to the middle tower of the
north part of the wall, in which a certain crafty Jew, whose name was
Castor, lay in ambush, with ten others like himself, the rest being fled
away by reason of the archers. These men lay still for a while, as in great
fear, under their breastplates; but when the tower was shaken, they arose,
and Castor did then stretch out his hand, as a petitioner, and called for
Caesar, and by his voice moved his compassion, and begged of him to have
mercy upon them; and Titus, in the innocency of his heart, believing him
to be in earnest, and hoping that the Jews did now repent, stopped the
working of the battering ram, and forbade them to shoot at the petitioners,
and bid Castor say what he had a mind to say to him. He said that he
would come down, if he would give him his right hand for his security. To
which Titus replied, that he was well pleased with such his agreeable
conduct, and would be well pleased if all the Jews would be of his mind,
and that he was ready to give the like security to the city. Now five of the
ten dissembled with him, and pretended to beg for mercy, while the rest
cried out aloud that they would never be slaves to the Romans, while it
was in their power to die in a state of freedom. Now while these men were
quarrelling for a long while, the attack was delayed; Castor also sent to
Simon, and told him that they might take some time for consultation about
what was to be done, because he would elude the power of the Romans for
a considerable time. And at the same time that he sent thus to him, he
appeared openly to exhort those that were obstinate to accept of Titus’s
hand for their security; but they seemed very angry at it, and brandished
their naked swords upon the breast-works, and struck themselves upon
their breast, and fell down as if they had been slain. Hereupon Titus, and
those with him, were amazed at the courage of the men; and as they were
not able to see exactly what was done, they admired at their great
fortitude, and pitied their calamity. During this interval, a certain person
shot a dart at Castor, and wounded him in his nose; whereupon he
presently pulled out the dart, and showed it to Titus, and complained that
this was unfair treatment; so Caesar reproved him that shot the dart, and
sent Josephus, who then stood by him, to give his right hand to Castor.
But Josephus said that he would not go to him, because these pretended
petitioners meant nothing that was good; he also restrained those friends of
his who were zealous to go to him. But still there was one Eneas, a
deserter, who said he would go to him. Castor also called to them, that
somebody should come and receive the money which he had with him; this
made Eneas the more earnestly to run to him with his bosom open. Then
did Castor take up a great stone, and threw it at him, which missed him,
because he guarded himself against it; but still it wounded another soldier
that was coining to him. When Caesar understood that this was a delusion,
he perceived that mercy in war is a pernicious thing, because such cunning
tricks have less place under the exercise of greater severity. So he caused
the engine to work more strongly than before, on account of his anger at
the deceit put upon him. But Castor and his companions set the tower on
fire when it began to give way, and leaped through the flame into a hidden
vault that was under it, which made the Romans further suppose that they
were men of great courage, as having cast themselves into the fire.
1. NOW Caesar took this wall there on the fifth day after he had taken the
first; and when the Jews had fled from him, he entered into it with a
thousand armed men, and those of his choice troops, and this at a place
where were the merchants of wool, the braziers, and the market for cloth,
and where the narrow streets led obliquely to the wall. Wherefore, if Titus
had either demolished a larger part of the wall immediately, or had come in,
and, according to the law of war, had laid waste what was left, his victory
would not, I suppose, have been mixed with any loss to himself. But now,
out of the hope he had that he should make the Jews ashamed of their
obstinacy, by not being willing, when he was able, to afflict them more
than he needed to do, he did not widen the breach of the wall, in order to
make a safer retreat upon occasion; for he did not think they would lay
snares for him that did them such a kindness. When therefore he came in,
he did not permit his soldiers to kill any of those they caught, nor to set
fire to their houses neither; nay, he gave leave to the seditious, if they had
a mind, to fight without any harm to the people, and promised to restore
the people’s effects to them; for he was very desirous to preserve the city
for his own sake, and the temple for the sake of the city. As to the people,
he had them of a long time ready to comply with his proposals; but as to
the fighting men, this humanity of his seemed a mark of his weakness, and
they imagined that he made these proposals because he was not able to
take the rest of the city. They also threatened death to the people, if they
should any one of them say a word about a surrender. They moreover cut
the throats of such as talked of a peace, and then attacked those Romans
that were come within the wall. Some of them they met in the narrow
streets, and some they fought against from their houses, while they made a
sudden sally out at the upper gates, and assaulted such Romans as were
beyond the wall, till those that guarded the wall were so aftrighted, that
they leaped down from their towers, and retired to their several camps:
upon which a great noise was made by the Romans that were within,
because they were encompassed round on every side by their enemies; as
also by them that were without, because they were in fear for those that
were left in the city. Thus did the Jews grow more numerous perpetually,
and had great advantages over the Romans, by their full knowledge of
those narrow lanes; and they wounded a great many of them, and fell upon
them, and drove them out of the city. Now these Romans were at present
forced to make the best resistance they could; for they were not able, in
great numbers, to get out at the breach in the wall, it was so narrow. It is
also probable that all those that were gotten within had been cut to pieces,
if Titus had not sent them succors; for he ordered the archers to stand at
the upper ends of these narrow lakes, and he stood himself where was the
greatest multitude of his enemies, and with his darts he put a stop to them;
as with him did Domitius Sabinus also, a valiant man, and one that in this
battle appeared so to be. Thus did Caesar continue to shoot darts at the
Jews continually, and to hinder them from coming upon his men, and this
until all his soldiers had retreated out of the city.
2. And thus were the Romans driven out, after they had possessed
themselves of the second wall. Whereupon the fighting men that were in
the city were lifted up in their minds, and were elevated upon this their
good success, and began to think that the Romans would never venture to
come into the city any more; and that if they kept within it themselves,
they should not be any more conquered. For God had blinded their minds
for the transgressions they had been guilty of, nor could they see how
much greater forces the Romans had than those that were now expelled, no
more than they could discern how a famine was creeping upon them; for
hitherto they had fed themselves out of the public miseries, and drank the
blood of the city. But now poverty had for a long time seized upon the
better part, and a great many had died already for want of necessaries;
although the seditious indeed supposed the destruction of the people to be
an easement to themselves; for they desired that none others might be
preserved but such as were against a peace with the Romans, and were
resolved to live in opposition to them, and they were pleased when the
multitude of those of a contrary opinion were consumed, as being then
freed from a heavy burden. And this was their disposition of mind with
regard to those that were within the city, while they covered themselves
with their armor, and prevented the Romans, when they were trying to get
into the city again, and made a wall of their own bodies over against that
part of the wall that was cast down. Thus did they valiantly defend
themselves for three days; but on the fourth day they could not support
themselves against the vehement assaults of Titus but were compelled by
force to fly whither they had fled before; so he quietly possessed himself
again of that wall, and demolished it entirely. And when he had put a
garrison into the towers that were on the south parts of the city, he
contrived how he might assault the third wall.
1. A RESOLUTION was now taken by Titus to relax the siege for a little
while, and to afford the seditious an interval for consideration, and to see
whether the demolishing of their second wall would not make them a little
more compliant, or whether they were not somewhat afraid of a famine,
because the spoils they had gotten by rapine would not be sufficient for
them long; so he made use of this relaxation in order to compass his own
designs. Accordingly, as the usual appointed time when he must distribute
subsistence money to the soldiers was now come, he gave orders that the
commanders should put the army into battle-array, in the face of the
enemy, and then give every one of the soldiers their pay. So the soldiers,
according to custom, opened the cases wherein their arms before lay
covered, and marched with their breastplates on, as did the horsemen lead
their horses in their fine trappings. Then did the places that were before
the city shine very splendidly for a great way; nor was there any thing so
grateful to Titus’s own men, or so terrible to the enemy, as that sight. For
the whole old wall, and the north side of the temple, were full of
spectators, and one might see the houses full of such as looked at them;
nor was there any part of the city which was not covered over with their
multitudes; nay, a very great consternation seized upon the hardiest of the
Jews themselves, when they saw all the army in the same place, together
with the fineness of their arms, and the good order of their men. And I
cannot but think that the seditious would have changed their minds at that
sight, unless the crimes they had committed against the people had been so
horrid, that they despaired of forgiveness from the Romans; but as they
believed death with torments must be their punishment, if they did not go
on in the defense of the city, they thought it much better to die in war.
Fate also prevailed so far over them, that the innocent were to perish with
the guilty, and the city was to be destroyed with the seditious that were in
2. Thus did the Romans spend four days in bringing this
subsistence-money to the several legions. But on the fifth day, when no
signs of peace appeared to come from the Jews, Titus divided his legions,
and began to raise banks, both at the tower of Antonia and at John’s
monument. Now his designs were to take the upper city at that
monument, and the temple at the tower of Antonia; for if the temple were
not taken, it would be dangerous to keep the city itself; so at each of these
parts he raised him banks, each legion raising one. As for those that
wrought at John’s monument, the Idumeans, and those that were in arms
with Simon, made sallies upon them, and put some stop to them; while
John’s party, and the multitude of zealots with them, did the like to those
that were before the tower of Antonia. These Jews were now too hard for
the Romans, not only in direct fighting, because they stood upon the
higher ground, but because they had now learned to use their own engines;
for their continual use of them one day after another did by degrees
improve their skill about them; for of one sort of engines for darts they
had three hundred, and forty for stones; by the means of which they made
it more tedious for the Romans to raise their banks. But then Titus,
knowing that the city would be either saved or destroyed for himself, did
not only proceed earnestly in the siege, but did not omit to have the Jews
exhorted to repentance; so he mixed good counsel with his works for the
siege. And being sensible that exhortations are frequently more effectual
than arms, he persuaded them to surrender the city, now in a manner
already taken, and thereby to save themselves, and sent Josephus to speak
to them in their own language; for he imagined they might yield to the
persuasion of a countryman of their own.
3. So Josephus went round about the wall, and tried to find a place that
was out of the reach of their darts, and yet within their hearing, and
besought them, in many words, to spare themselves, to spare their
country and their temple, and not to be more obdurate in these cases than
foreigners themselves; for that the Romans, who had no relation to those
things, had a reverence for their sacred rites and places, although they
belonged to their enemies, and had till now kept their hands off from
meddling with them; while such as were brought up under them, and, if
they be preserved, will be the only people that will reap the benefit of
them, hurry on to have them destroyed. That certainly they have seen
their strongest walls demolished, and that the wall still remaining was
weaker than those that were already taken. That they must know the
Roman power was invincible, and that they had been used to serve them;
for, that in case it be allowed a right thing to fight for liberty, that ought to
have been done at first; but for them that have once fallen under the power
of the Romans, and have now submitted to them for so many long years,
to pretend to shake off that yoke afterward, was the work of such as had a
mind to die miserably, not of such as were lovers of liberty. Besides, men
may well enough grudge at the dishonor of owning ignoble masters over
them, but ought not to do so to those who have all things under their
command; for what part of the world is there that hath escaped the
Romans, unless it be such as are of no use for violent heat, or for violent
cold? And evident it is that fortune is on all hands gone over to them; and
that God, when he had gone round the nations with this dominion, is now
settled in Italy. That, moreover, it is a strong and fixed law, even among
brute beasts, as well as among men, to yield to those that are too strong
for them; and to stiffer those to have the dominion who are too hard for
the rest in war; for which reason it was that their forefathers, who were far
superior to them, both in their souls and bodies, and other advantages, did
yet submit to the Romans, which they would not have suffered, had they
not known that God was with them. As for themselves, what can they
depend on in this their opposition, when the greatest part of their city is
already taken? and when those that are within it are under greater miseries
than if they were taken, although their walls be still standing? For that the
Romans are not unacquainted with that famine which is in the city,
whereby the people are already consumed, and the fighting men will in a
little time be so too; for although the Romans should leave off the siege,
and not fall upon the city with their swords in their hands, yet was there
an insuperable war that beset them within, and was augmented every hour,
unless they were able to wage war with famine, and fight against it, or
could alone conquer their natural appetites. He added this further, how
right a thing it was to change their conduct before their calamities were
become incurable, and to have recourse to such advice as might preserve
them, while opportunity was offered them for so doing; for that the
Romans would not be mindful of their past actions to their disadvantage,
unless they persevered in their insolent behavior to the end; because they
were naturally mild in their conquests, and preferred what was profitable,
before what their passions dictated to them; which profit of theirs lay not
in leaving the city empty of inhabitants, nor the country a desert; on
which account Caesar did now offer them his right hand for their security.
Whereas, if he took the city by force, he would not save any of them, and
this especially, if they rejected his offers in these their utmost distresses;
for the walls that were already taken could not but assure them that the
third wall would quickly be taken also. And though their fortifications
should prove too strong for the Romans to break through them, yet would
the famine fight for the Romans against them.
4. While Josephus was making this exhortation to the Jews, many of them
jested upon him from the wall, and many reproached him; nay, some threw
their darts at him: but when he could not himself persuade them by such
open good advice, he betook himself to the histories belonging to their own
nation, and cried out aloud, “O miserable creatures! are you so unmindful
of those that used to assist you, that you will fight by your weapons and
by your hands against the Romans? When did we ever conquer any other
nation by such means? and when was it that God, who is the Creator of
the Jewish people, did not avenge them when they had been injured? Will
not you turn again, and look back, and consider whence it is that you fight
with such violence, and how great a Supporter you have profanely abused?
Will not you recall to mind the prodigious things done for your forefathers
and this holy place, and how great enemies of yours were by him subdued
under you? I even tremble myself in declaring the works of God before
your ears, that are unworthy to hear them; however, hearken to me, that
you may be informed how you fight not only against the Romans, but
against God himself. In old times there was one Necao, king of Egypt, who
was also called Pharaoh; he came with a prodigious army of soldiers, and
seized queen Sarah, the mother of our nation. What did Abraham our
progenitor then do? Did he defend himself from this injurious person by
war, although he had three hundred and eighteen captains under him, and
an immense army under each of them? Indeed he deemed them to be no
number at all without God’s assistance, and only spread out his hands
towards this holy place, 16 which you have now polluted, and reckoned
upon him as upon his invincible supporter, instead of his own army. Was
not our queen sent back, without any defilement, to her husband, the very
next evening? — while the king of Egypt fled away, adoring this place
which you have defiled by shedding thereon the blood of your own
countrymen; and he also trembled at those visions which he saw in the
night season, and bestowed both silver and gold on the Hebrews, as on a
people beloved by God. Shall I say nothing, or shall I mention the removal
of our fathers into Egypt, who, 17 when they were used tyrannically, and
were fallen under the power of foreign kings for four hundred ears together,
and might have defended themselves by war and by fighting, did yet do
nothing but commit themselves to God! Who is there that does not know
that Egypt was overrun with all sorts of wild beasts, and consumed by all
sorts of distempers? how their land did not bring forth its fruit? how the
Nile failed of water? how the ten plagues of Egypt followed one upon
another? and how by those means our fathers were sent away under a
guard, without any bloodshed, and without running any dangers, because
God conducted them as his peculiar servants? Moreover, did not Palestine
groan under the ravage the Assyrians made, when they carried away our
sacred ark? as did their idol Dagon, and as also did that entire nation of
those that carried it away, how they were smitten with a loathsome
distemper in the secret parts of their bodies, when their very bowels came
down together with what they had eaten, till those hands that stole it away
were obliged to bring it back again, and that with the sound of cymbals and
timbrels, and other oblations, in order to appease the anger of God for their
violation of his holy ark. It was God who then became our General, and
accomplished these great things for our fathers, and this because they did
not meddle with war and fighting, but committed it to him to judge about
their affairs. When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, brought along with him all
Asia, and encompassed this city round with his army, did he fall by the
hands of men? were not those hands lifted up to God in prayers, without
meddling with their arms, when an angel of God destroyed that prodigious
army in one night? when the Assyrian king, as he rose the next day, found
a hundred fourscore and five thousand dead bodies, and when he, with the
remainder of his army, fled away from the Hebrews, though they were
unarmed, and did not pursue them. You are also acquainted with the
slavery we were under at Babylon, where the people were captives for
seventy years; yet were they not delivered into freedom again before God
made Cyrus his gracious instrument in bringing it about; accordingly they
were set free by him, and did again restore the worship of their Deliverer at
his temple. And, to speak in general, we can produce no example wherein
our fathers got any success by war, or failed of success when without war
they committed themselves to God. When they staid at home, they
conquered, as pleased their Judge; but when they went out to fight, they
were always disappointed: for example, when the king of Babylon
besieged this very city, and our king Zedekiah fought against him, contrary
to what predictions were made to him by Jeremiah the prophet, he was at
once taken prisoner, and saw the city and the temple demolished. Yet how
much greater was the moderation of that king, than is that of your present
governors, and that of the people then under him, than is that of you at
this time! for when Jeremiah cried out aloud, how very angry God was at
them, because of their transgressions, and told them they should be taken
prisoners, unless they would surrender up their city, neither did the king
nor the people put him to death; but for you, (to pass over what you have
done within the city, which I am not able to describe as your wickedness
deserves,) you abuse me, and throw darts at me, who only exhort you to
save yourselves, as being provoked when you are put in mind of your sins,
and cannot bear the very mention of those crimes which you every day
perpetrate. For another example, when Antiochus, who was called
Epiphanes, lay before this city, and had been guilty of many indignities
against God, and our forefathers met him in arms, they then were slain in
the battle, this city was plundered by our enemies, and our sanctuary made
desolate for three years and six months. And what need I bring any more
examples? Indeed what can it be that hath stirred up an army of the
Romans against our nation? Is it not the impiety of the inhabitants?
Whence did our servitude commence? Was it not derived from the
seditions that were among our forefathers, when the madness of
Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, and our mutual quarrels, brought Pompey
upon this city, and when God reduced those under subjection to the
Romans who were unworthy of the liberty they had enjoyed? After a
siege, therefore, of three months, they were forced to surrender
themselves, although they had not been guilty of such offenses, with
regard to our sanctuary and our laws, as you have; and this while they had
much greater advantages to go to war than you have. Do not we know
what end Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, came to, under whose reign
God provided that this city should be taken again upon account of the
people’s offenses? When Herod, the son of Antipater, brought upon us
Sosius, and Sosius brought upon us the Roman army, they were then
encompassed and besieged for six months, till, as a punishment for their
sins, they were taken, and the city was plundered by the enemy. Thus it
appears that arms were never given to our nation, but that we are always
given up to be fought against, and to be taken; for I suppose that such as
inhabit this holy place ought to commit the disposal of all things to God,
and then only to disregard the assistance of men when they resign
themselves up to their Arbitrator, who is above. As for you, what have
you done of those things that are recommended by our legislator? and what
have you not done of those things that he hath condemned? How much
more impious are you than those who were so quickly taken! You have
not avoided so much as those sins that are usually done in secret; I mean
thefts, and treacherous plots against men, and adulteries. You are
quarrelling about rapines and murders, and invent strange ways of
wickedness. Nay, the temple itself is become the receptacle of all, and this
Divine place is polluted by the hands of those of our own country; which
place hath yet been reverenced by the Romans when it was at a distance
from them, when they have suffered many of their own customs to give
place to our law. And, after all this, do you expect Him whom you have so
impiously abused to be your supporter? To be sure then you have a right
to be petitioners, and to call upon Him to assist you, so pure are your
hands! Did your king [Hezekiah] lift up such hands in prayer to God
against the king of Assyria, when he destroyed that great army in one
night? And do the Romans commit such wickedness as did the king of
Assyria, that you may have reason to hope for the like vengeance upon
them? Did not that king accept of money from our king on this condition,
that he should not destroy the city, and yet, contrary to the oath he had
taken, he came down to burn the temple? while the Romans do demand no
more than that accustomed tribute which our fathers paid to their fathers;
and if they may but once obtain that, they neither aim to destroy this city,
nor to touch this sanctuary; nay, they will grant you besides, that your
posterity shall be free, and your possessions secured to you, and will
preserve our holy laws inviolate to you. And it is plain madness to expect
that God should appear as well disposed towards the wicked as towards
the righteous, since he knows when it is proper to punish men for their
sins immediately; accordingly he brake the power of the Assyrians the
very first night that they pitched their camp. Wherefore, had he judged
that our nation was worthy of freedom, or the Romans of punishment, he
had immediately inflicted punishment upon those Romans, as he did upon
the Assyrians, when Pompey began to meddle with our nation, or when
after him Sosius came up against us, or when Vespasian laid waste Galilee,
or, lastly, when Titus came first of all near to this city; although Magnus
and Sosius did not only suffer nothing, but took the city by force; as did
Vespasian go from the war he made against you to receive the empire; and
as for Titus, those springs that were formerly almost dried up when they
were under your power 18 since he is come, run more plentifully than they
did before; accordingly, you know that Siloam, as well as all the other
springs that were without the city, did so far fail, that water was sold by
distinct measures; whereas they now have such a great quantity of water
for your enemies, as is sufficient not only for drink both for themselves
and their cattle, but for watering their gardens also. The same wonderful
sign you had also experience of formerly, when the forementioned king of
Babylon made war against us, and when he took the city, and burnt the
temple; while yet I believe the Jews of that age were not so impious as
you are. Wherefore I cannot but suppose that God is fled out of his
sanctuary, and stands on the side of those against whom you fight. Now
even a man, if he be but a good man, will fly from an impure house, and
will hate those that are in it; and do you persuade yourselves that God will
abide with you in your iniquities, who sees all secret things, and hears
what is kept most private? Now what crime is there, I pray you, that is so
much as kept secret among you, or is concealed by you? nay, what is there
that is not open to your very enemies? for you show your transgressions
after a pompous manner, and contend one with another which of you shall
be more wicked than another; and you make a public demonstration of
your injustice, as if it were virtue. However, there is a place left for your
preservation, if you be willing to accept of it; and God is easily reconciled
to those that confess their faults, and repent of them. O hard-hearted
wretches as you are! cast away all your arms, and take pity of your
country already going to ruin; return from your wicked ways, and have
regard to the excellency of that city which you are going to betray, to that
excellent temple with the donations of so many countries in it. Who could
bear to be the first that should set that temple on fire? who could be
willing that these things should be no more? and what is there that can
better deserve to be preserved? O insensible creatures, and more stupid
than are the stones themselves! And if you cannot look at these things
with discerning eyes, yet, however, have pity upon your families, and set
before every one of your eyes your children, and wives, and parents, who
will be gradually consumed either by famine or by war. I am sensible that
this danger will extend to my mother, and wife, and to that family of mine
who have been by no means ignoble, and indeed to one that hath been very
eminent in old time; and perhaps you may imagine that it is on their
account only that I give you this advice; if that be all, kill them; nay, take
my own blood as a reward, if it may but procure your preservation; for I
am ready to die, in case you will but return to a sound mind after my
1. AS Josephus was speaking thus with a loud voice, the seditious would
neither yield to what he said, nor did they deem it safe for them to alter
their conduct; but as for the people, they had a great inclination to desert
to the Romans; accordingly, some of them sold what they had, and even
the most precious things that had been laid up as treasures by them, for
every small matter, and swallowed down pieces of gold, that they might
not be found out by the robbers; and when they had escaped to the
Romans, went to stool, and had wherewithal to provide plentifully for
themselves; for Titus let a great number of them go away into the country,
whither they pleased. And the main reasons why they were so ready to
desert were these: That now they should be freed from those miseries
which they had endured in that city, and yet should not be in slavery to
the Romans: however, John and Simon, with their factions, did more
carefully watch these men’s going out than they did the coming in of the
Romans; and if any one did but afford the least shadow of suspicion of
such an intention, his throat was cut immediately.
2. But as for the richer sort, it proved all one to them whether they staid in
the city, or attempted to get out of it; for they were equally destroyed in
both cases; for every such person was put to death under this pretense,
that they were going to desert, but in reality that the robbers might get
what they had. The madness of the seditious did also increase together
with their famine, and both those miseries were every day inflamed more
and more; for there was no corn which any where appeared publicly, but
the robbers came running into, and searched men’s private houses; and
then, if they found any, they tormented them, because they had denied
they had any; and if they found none, they tormented them worse,
because they supposed they had more carefully concealed it. The
indication they made use of whether they had any or not was taken from
the bodies of these miserable wretches; which, if they were in good case,
they supposed they were in no want at all of food; but if they were
wasted away, they walked off without searching any further; nor did they
think it proper to kill such as these, because they saw they would very
soon die of themselves for want of food. Many there were indeed who
sold what they had for one measure; it was of wheat, if they were of the
richer sort; but of barley, if they were poorer. When these had so done,
they shut themselves up in the inmost rooms of their houses, and ate the
corn they had gotten; some did it without grinding it, by reason of the
extremity of the want they were in, and others baked bread of it, according
as necessity and fear dictated to them: a table was no where laid for a
distinct meal, but they snatched the bread out of the fire, half-baked, and
ate it very hastily.
3. It was now a miserable case, and a sight that would justly bring tears
into our eyes, how men stood as to their food, while the more powerful
had more than enough, and the weaker were lamenting [for want of it.] But
the famine was too hard for all other passions, and it is destructive to
nothing so much as to modesty; for what was otherwise worthy of
reverence was in this case despised; insomuch that children pulled the very
morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths, and what
was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants; and
when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they
were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might
preserve their lives: and while they ate after this manner, yet were they
not concealed in so doing; but the seditious every where came upon them
immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from
others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal
that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open
the doors, and ran in, and took pieces of what they were eating almost up
out of their very throats, and this by force: the old men, who held their
food fast, were beaten; and if the women hid what they had within their
hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration
shown either to the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from
the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook
them down upon the floor. But still they were more barbarously cruel to
those that had prevented their coming in, and had actually swallowed
down what they were going to seize upon, as if they had been unjustly
defrauded of their right. They also invented terrible methods of torments
to discover where any food was, and they were these to stop up the
passages of the privy parts of the miserable wretches, and to drive sharp
stakes up their fundaments; and a man was forced to bear what it is
terrible even to hear, in order to make him confess that he had but one loaf
of bread, or that he might discover a handful of barley-meal that was
concealed; and this was done when these tormentors were not themselves
hungry; for the thing had been less barbarous had necessity forced them to
it; but this was done to keep their madness in exercise, and as making
preparation of provisions for themselves for the following days. These
men went also to meet those that had crept out of the city by night, as far
as the Roman guards, to gather some plants and herbs that grew wild; and
when those people thought they had got clear of the enemy, they snatched
from them what they had brought with them, even while they had
frequently entreated them, and that by calling upon the tremendous name
of God, to give them back some part of what they had brought; though
these would not give them the least crumb, and they were to be well
contented that they were only spoiled, and not slain at the same time.
4. These were the afflictions which the lower sort of people suffered from
these tyrants’ guards; but for the men that were in dignity, and withal
were rich, they were carried before the tyrants themselves; some of whom
were falsely accused of laying treacherous plots, and so were destroyed;
others of them were charged with designs of betraying the city to the
Romans; but the readiest way of all was this, to suborn somebody to
affirm that they were resolved to desert to the enemy. And he who was
utterly despoiled of what he had by Simon was sent back again to John, as
of those who had been already plundered by Jotre, Simon got what
remained; insomuch that they drank the blood of the populace to one
another, and divided the dead bodies of the poor creatures between them;
so that although, on account of their ambition after dominion, they
contended with each other, yet did they very well agree in their wicked
practices; for he that did not communicate what he got by the miseries of
others to the other tyrant seemed to be too little guilty, and in one respect
only; and he that did not partake of what was so communicated to him
grieved at this, as at the loss of what was a valuable thing, that he had no
share in such barbarity.
5. It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these
men’s iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly: —
That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age
ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the
beginning of the world. Finally, they brought the Hebrew nation into
contempt, that they might themselves appear comparatively less impious
with regard to strangers. They confessed what was true, that they were the
slaves, the scum, and the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation,
while they overthrew the city themselves, and forced the Romans, whether
they would or no, to gain a melancholy reputation, by acting gloriously
against them, and did almost draw that fire upon the temple, which they
seemed to think came too slowly; and indeed when they saw that temple
burning from the upper city, they were neither troubled at it, nor did they
shed any tears on that account, while yet these passions were discovered
among the Romans themselves; which circumstances we shall speak of
hereafter in their proper place, when we come to treat of such matters.
1. SO now Titus’s banks were advanced a great way, notwithstanding his
soldiers had been very much distressed from the wall. He then sent a party
of horsemen, and ordered they should lay ambushes for those that went
out into the valleys to gather food. Some of these were indeed fighting
men, who were not contented with what they got by rapine; but the
greater part of them were poor people, who were deterred from deserting
by the concern they were under for their own relations; for they could not
hope to escape away, together with their wives and children, without the
knowledge of the seditious; nor could they think of leaving these relations
to be slain by the robbers on their account; nay, the severity of the famine
made them bold in thus going out; so nothing remained but that, when they
were concealed from the robbers, they should be taken by the enemy; and
when they were going to be taken, they were forced to defend themselves
for fear of being punished; as after they had fought, they thought it too
late to make any supplications for mercy; so they were first whipped, and
then tormented with all sorts of tortures, before they died, and were then
crucified before the wall of the city. This miserable procedure made Titus
greatly to pity them, while they caught every day five hundred Jews; nay,
some days they caught more: yet it did not appear to be safe for him to let
those that were taken by force go their way, and to set a guard over so
many he saw would be to make such as great deal them useless to him.
The main reason why he did not forbid that cruelty was this, that he
hoped the Jews might perhaps yield at that sight, out of fear lest they
might themselves afterwards be liable to the same cruel treatment. So the
soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they
caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by
way of jest, when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for
the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies. 19
2. But so far were the seditious from repenting at this sad sight, that, on
the contrary, they made the rest of the multitude believe otherwise; for
they brought the relations of those that had deserted upon the wall, with
such of the populace as were very eager to go over upon the security
offered them, and showed them what miseries those underwent who fled
to the Romans; and told them that those who were caught were
supplicants to them, and not such as were taken prisoners. This sight kept
many of those within the city who were so eager to desert, till the truth
was known; yet did some of them run away immediately as unto certain
punishment, esteeming death from their enemies to be a quiet departure, if
compared with that by famine. So Titus commanded that the hands of
many of those that were caught should be cut off, that they might not be
thought deserters, and might be credited on account of the calamity they
were under, and sent them in to John and Simon, with this exhortation,
that they would now at length leave off [their madness], and not force him
to destroy the city, whereby they would have those advantages of
repentance, even in their utmost distress, that they would preserve their
own lives, and so find a city of their own, and that temple which was their
peculiar. He then went round about the banks that were cast up, and
hastened them, in order to show that his words should in no long time be
followed by his deeds. In answer to which the seditious cast reproaches
upon Caesar himself, and upon his father also, and cried out, with a loud
voice, that they contemned death, and did well in preferring it before
slavery; that they would do all the mischief to the Romans they could
while they had breath in them; and that for their own city, since they
were, as he said, to be destroyed, they had no concern about it, and that
the world itself was a better temple to God than this. That yet this temple
would be preserved by him that inhabited therein, whom they still had for
their assistant in this war, and did therefore laugh at all his threatenings,
which would come to nothing, because the conclusion of the whole
depended upon God only. These words were mixed with reproaches, and
with them they made a mighty clamor.
3. In the mean time Antiochus Epiphanes came to the city, having with
him a considerable number of other armed men, and a band called the
Macedonian band about him, all of the same age, tall, and just past their
childhood, armed, and instructed after the Macedonian manner, whence it
was that they took that name. Yet were many of them unworthy of so
famous a nation; for it had so happened, that the king of Commagene had
flourished more than any other kings that were under the power of the
Romans, till a change happened in his condition; and when he was become
an old man, he declared plainly that we ought not to call any man happy
before he is dead. But this son of his, who was then come thither before
his father was decaying, said that he could not but wonder what made the
Romans so tardy in making their attacks upon the wall. Now he was a
warlike man, and naturally bold in exposing himself to dangers; he was also
so strong a man, that his boldness seldom failed of having success. Upon
this Titus smiled, and said he would share the pains of an attack with him.
However, Antiochus went as he then was, and with his Macedonians
made a sudden assault upon the wall; and, indeed, for his own part, his
strength and skill were so great, that he guarded himself from the Jewish
darts, and yet shot his darts at them, while yet the young men with him
were almost all sorely galled; for they had so great a regard to the promises
that had been made of their courage, that they would needs persevere in
their fighting, and at length many of them retired, but not till they were
wounded; and then they perceived that true Macedonians, if they were to
be conquerors, must have Alexander’s good fortune also.
4. Now as the Romans began to raise their banks on the twelfth day of the
month Artemisius, [Jyar,] so had they much ado to finish them by the
twenty-ninth day of the same month, after they had labored hard for
seventeen days continually. For there were now four great banks raised,
one of which was at the tower Antonia; this was raised by the fifth legion,
over against the middle of that pool which was called Struthius. Another
was cast up by the twelfth legion, at the distance of about twenty cubits
from the other. But the labors of the tenth legion, which lay a great way
off these, were on the north quarter, and at the pool called Amygdalon; as
was that of the fifteenth legion about thirty cubits from it, and at the high
priest’s monument. And now, when the engines were brought, John had
from within undermined the space that was over against the tower of
Antonia, as far as the banks themselves, and had supported the ground
over the mine with beams laid across one another, whereby the Roman
works stood upon an uncertain foundation. Then did he order such
materials to be brought in as were daubed over with pitch and bitumen,
and set them on fire; and as the cross beams that supported the banks
were burning, the ditch yielded on the sudden, and the banks were shaken
down, and fell into the ditch with a prodigious noise. Now at the first
there arose a very thick smoke and dust, as the fire was choked with the
fall of the bank; but as the suffocated materials were now gradually
consumed, a plain flame brake out; on which sudden appearance of the
flame a consternation fell upon the Romans, and the shrewdness of the
contrivance discouraged them; and indeed this accident coming upon them
at a time when they thought they had already gained their point, cooled
their hopes for the time to come. They also thought it would be to no
purpose to take the pains to extinguish the fire, since if it were
extinguished, the banks were swallowed up already [and become useless to
5. Two days after this, Simon and his party made an attempt to destroy
the other banks; for the Romans had brought their engines to bear there,
and began already to make the wall shake. And here one Tephtheus, of
Garsis, a city of Galilee, and Megassarus, one who was derived from some
of queen Mariamne’s servants, and with them one from Adiabene, he was
the son of Nabateus, and called by the name of Chagiras, from the ill
fortune he had, the word signifying “a lame man,” snatched some torches,
and ran suddenly upon the engines. Nor were there during this war any
men that ever sallied out of the city who were their superiors, either in
their boldness, or in the terror they struck into their enemies. For they ran
out upon the Romans, not as if they were enemies, but friends, without
fear or delay; nor did they leave their enemies till they had rushed
violently through the midst of them, and set their machines on fire. And
though they had darts thrown at them on every side, and were on every
side assaulted with their enemies’ swords, yet did they not withdraw
themselves out of the dangers they were in, till the fire had caught hold of
the instruments; but when the flame went up, the Romans came running
from their camp to save their engines. Then did the Jews hinder their
succors from the wall, and fought with those that endeavored to quench
the fire, without any regard to the danger their bodies were in. So the
Romans pulled the engines out of the fire, while the hurdles that covered
them were on fire; but the Jews caught hold of the battering rams through
the flame itself, and held them fast, although the iron upon them was
become red hot; and now the fire spread itself from the engines to the
banks, and prevented those that came to defend them; and all this while
the Romans were encompassed round about with the flame; and,
despairing of saying their works from it, they retired to their camp. Then
did the Jews become still more and more in number by the coming of those
that were within the city to their assistance; and as they were very bold
upon the good success they had had, their violent assaults were almost
irresistible; nay, they proceeded as far as the fortifications of the enemies’
camp, and fought with their guards. Now there stood a body of soldiers in
array before that camp, which succeeded one another by turns in their
armor; and as to those, the law of the Romans was terrible, that he who
left his post there, let the occasion be whatsoever it might be, he was to
die for it; so that body of soldiers, preferring rather to die in fighting
courageously, than as a punishment for their cowardice, stood firm; and at
the necessity these men were in of standing to it, many of the others that
had run away, out of shame, turned back again; and when they had set the
engines against the wall, they put the multitude from coming more of them
out of the city, [which they could the more easily do] because they had
made no provision for preserving or guarding their bodies at this time; for
the Jews fought now hand to hand with all that came in their way, and,
without any caution, fell against the points of their enemies’ spears, and
attacked them bodies against bodies; for they were now too hard for the
Romans, not so much by their other warlike actions, as by these
courageous assaults they made upon them; and the Romans gave way
more to their boldness than they did to the sense of the harm they had
received from them.
6. And now Titus was come from the tower of Antonia, whither he was
gone to look out for a place for raising other banks, and reproached the
soldiers greatly for permitting their own walls to be in danger, when they
had taken the wails of their enemies, and sustained the fortune of men
besieged, while the Jews were allowed to sally out against them, though
they were already in a sort of prison. He then went round about the enemy
with some chosen troops, and fell upon their flank himself; so the Jews,
who had been before assaulted in their faces, wheeled about to Titus, and
continued the fight. The armies also were now mixed one among another,
and the dust that was raised so far hindered them from seeing one another,
and the noise that was made so far hindered them from hearing one
another, that neither side could discern an enemy from a friend. However,
the Jews did not flinch, though not so much from their real strength, as
from their despair of deliverance. The Romans also would not yield, by
reason of the regard they had to glory, and to their reputation in war, and
because Caesar himself went into the danger before them; insomuch that I
cannot but think the Romans would in the conclusion have now taken even
the whole multitude of the Jews, so very angry were they at them, had
these not prevented the upshot of the battle, and retired into the city.
However, seeing the banks of the Romans were demolished, these Romans
were very much east down upon the loss of what had cost them so long
pains, and this in one hour’s time. And many indeed despaired of taking
the city with their usual engines of war only.
1. AND now did Titus consult with his commanders what was to be done.
Those that were of the warmest tempers thought he should bring the
whole army against the city and storm the wall; for that hitherto no more
than a part of their army had fought with the Jews; but that in case the
entire army was to come at once, they would not be able to sustain their
attacks, but would be overwhelmed by their darts. But of those that were
for a more cautious management, some were for raising their banks again;
and others advised to let the banks alone, but to lie still before the city, to
guard against the coming out of the Jews, and against their carrying
provisions into the city, and so to leave the enemy to the famine, and this
without direct fighting with them; for that despair was not to be
conquered, especially as to those who are desirous to die by the sword,
while a more terrible misery than that is reserved for them. However,
Titus did not think it fit for so great an army to lie entirely idle, and that
yet it was in vain to fight with those that would be destroyed one by
another; he also showed them how impracticable it was to cast up any
more banks, for want of materials, and to guard against the Jews coming
out still more impracticable; as also, that to encompass the whole city
round with his army was not very easy, by reason of its magnitude, and
the difficulty of the situation, and on other accounts dangerous, upon the
sallies the Jews might make out of the city. For although they might guard
the known passages out of the place, yet would they, when they found
themselves under the greatest distress, contrive secret passages out, as
being well acquainted with all such places; and if any provisions were
carried in by stealth, the siege would thereby be longer delayed. He also
owned that he was afraid that the length of time thus to be spent would
diminish the glory of his success; for though it be true that length of time
will perfect every thing, yet that to do what we do in a little time is still
necessary to the gaining reputation. That therefore his opinion was, that if
they aimed at quickness joined with security, they must build a wall round
about the whole city; which was, he thought, the only way to prevent the
Jews from coming out any way, and that then they would either entirely
despair of saving the city, and so would surrender it up to him, or be still
the more easily conquered when the famine had further weakened them;
for that besides this wall, he would not lie entirely at rest afterward, but
would take care then to have banks raised again, when those that would
oppose them were become weaker. But that if any one should think such a
work to be too great, and not to be finished without much difficulty, he
ought to consider that it is not fit for Romans to undertake any small
work, and that none but God himself could with ease accomplish any great
thing whatsoever.
2. These arguments prevailed with the commanders. So Titus gave orders
that the army should be distributed to their several shares of this work;
and indeed there now came upon the soldiers a certain divine fury, so that
they did not only part the whole wall that was to be built among them, nor
did only one legion strive with another, but the lesser divisions of the
army did the same; insomuch that each soldier was ambitious to please his
decurion, each decurion his centurion, each centurion his tribune, and the
ambition of the tribunes was to please their superior commanders, while
Caesar himself took notice of and rewarded the like contention in those
commanders; for he went round about the works many times every day,
and took a view of what was done. Titus began the wall from the camp of
the Assyrians, where his own camp was pitched, and drew it down to the
lower parts of Cenopolis; thence it went along the valley of Cedron, to the
Mount of Olives; it then bent towards the south, and encompassed the
mountain as far as the rock called Peristereon, and that other hill which lies
next it, and is over the valley which reaches to Siloam; whence it bended
again to the west, and went down to the valley of the Fountain, beyond
which it went up again at the monument of Ananus the high priest, and
encompassing that mountain where Pompey had formerly pitched his
camp, it returned back to the north side of the city, and was carried on as
far as a certain village called “The House of the Erebinthi;” after which it
encompassed Herod’s monument, and there, on the east, was joined to
Titus’s own camp, where it began. Now the length of this wall was forty
furlongs, one only abated. Now at this wall without were erected thirteen
places to keep garrison in, whose circumferences, put together, amounted
to ten furlongs; the whole was completed in three days; so that what
would naturally have required some months was done in so short an
interval as is incredible. When Titus had therefore encompassed the city
with this wall, and put garrisons into proper places, be went round the
wall, at the first watch of the night, and observed how the guard was kept;
the second watch he allotted to Alexander; the commanders of legions took
the third watch. They also cast lots among themselves who should be
upon the watch in the night time, and who should go all night long round
the spaces that were interposed between the garrisons.
3. So all hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with
their liberty of going out of the city. Then did the famine widen its
progress, and devoured the people by whole houses and families; the
upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying by famine,
and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged; the
children also and the young men wandered about the market-places like
shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead, wheresoever
their misery seized them. As for burying them, those that were sick
themselves were not able to do it; and those that were hearty and well
were deterred from doing it by the great multitude of those dead bodies,
and by the uncertainty there was how soon they should die themselves;
for many died as they were burying others, and many went to their coffins
before that fatal hour was come. Nor was there any lamentations made
under these calamities, nor were heard any mournful complaints; but the
famine confounded all natural passions; for those who were just going to
die looked upon those that were gone to rest before them with dry eyes
and open mouths. A deep silence also, and a kind of deadly night, had
seized upon the city; while yet the robbers were still more terrible than
these miseries were themselves; for they brake open those houses which
were no other than graves of dead bodies, and plundered them of what
they had; and carrying off the coverings of their bodies, went out laughing,
and tried the points of their swords in their dead bodies; and, in order to
prove what metal they were made of they thrust some of those through
that still lay alive upon the ground; but for those that entreated them to
lend them their right hand and their sword to despatch them, they were
too proud to grant their requests, and left them to be consumed by the
famine. Now every one of these died with their eyes fixed upon the
temple, and left the seditious alive behind them. Now the seditious at first
gave orders that the dead should be buried out of the public treasury, as
not enduring the stench of their dead bodies. But afterwards, when they
could not do that, they had them cast down from the walls into the valleys
4. However, when Titus, in going his rounds along those valleys, saw them
full of dead bodies, and the thick putrefaction running about them, he gave
a groan; and, spreading out his hands to heaven, called God to witness that
this was not his doing; and such was the sad case of the city itself. But the
Romans were very joyful, since none of the seditious could now make
sallies out of the city, because they were themselves disconsolate, and the
famine already touched them also. These Romans besides had great plenty
of corn and other necessaries out of Syria, and out of the neighboring
provinces; many of whom would stand near to the wall of the city, and
show the people what great quantities of provisions they had, and so make
the enemy more sensible of their famine, by the great plenty, even to
satiety, which they had themselves. However, when the seditious still
showed no inclinations of yielding, Titus, out of his commiseration of the
people that remained, and out of his earnest desire of rescuing what was
still left out of these miseries, began to raise his banks again, although
materials for them were hard to he come at; for all the trees that were about
the city had been already cut down for the making of the former banks. Yet
did the soldiers bring with them other materials from the distance of ninety
furlongs, and thereby raised banks in four parts, much greater than the
former, though this was done only at the tower of Antonia. So Caesar
went his rounds through the legions, and hastened on the works, and
showed the robbers that they were now in his hands. But these men, and
these only, were incapable of repenting of the wickednesses they had been
guilty of; and separating their souls from their bodies, they used them both
as if they belonged to other folks, and not to themselves. For no gentle
affection could touch their souls, nor could any pain affect their bodies,
since they could still tear the dead bodies of the people as dogs do, and fill
the prisons with those that were sick.
1. ACCORDINGLY Simon would not suffer Matthias, by whose means he
got possession of the city, to go off without torment. This Matthias was
the son of Boethus, and was one of the high priests, one that had been
very faithful to the people, and in great esteem with them; he, when the
multitude were distressed by the zealots, among whom John was
numbered, persuaded the people to admit this Simon to come in to assist
them, while he had made no terms with him, nor expected any thing that
was evil from him. But when Simon was come in, and had gotten the city
under his power, he esteemed him that had advised them to admit him as
his enemy equally with the rest, as looking upon that advice as a piece of
his simplicity only; so he had him then brought before him, and
condemned to die for being on the side of the Romans, without giving him
leave to make his defense. He condemned also his three sons to die with
him; for as to the fourth, he prevented him by running away to Titus
before. And when he begged for this, that he might be slain before his sons,
and that as a favor, on account that he had procured the gates of the city to
be opened to him, he gave order that he should be slain the last of them all;
so he was not slain till he had seen his sons slain before his eyes, and that
by being produced over against the Romans; for such a charge had Simon
given to Artanus, the son of Bamadus, who was the most barbarous of all
his guards. He also jested upon him, and told him that he might now see
whether those to whom he intended to go over would send him any
succors or not; but still he forbade their dead bodies should be buried.
After the slaughter of these, a certain priest, Ananias, the son of
Masambalus, a person of eminency, as also Aristens, the scribe of the
sanhedrim, and born at Emmaus, and with them fifteen men of figure
among the people, were slain. They also kept Josephus’s father in prison,
and made public proclamation, that no citizen whosoever should either
speak to him himself, or go into his company among others, for fear he
should betray them. They also slew such as joined in lamenting these men,
without any further examination.
2. Now when Judas, the son of Judas, who was one of Simon’s under
officers, and a person intrusted by him to keep one of the towers, saw this
procedure of Simon, he called together ten of those under him, that were
most faithful to him, (perhaps this was done partly out of pity to those
that had so barbarously been put to death, but principally in order to
provide for his own safety,) and spoke thus to them: “How long shall we
bear these miseries? or what hopes have we of deliverance by thus
continuing faithful to such wicked wretches? Is not the famine already
come against us? Are not the Romans in a manner gotten within the city?
Is not Simon become unfaithful to his benefactors? and is there not reason
to fear he will very soon bring us to the like punishment, while the
security the Romans offer us is sure? Come on, let us surrender up this
wall, and save ourselves and the city. Nor will Simon be very much hurt,
if, now he despairs of deliverance, he be brought to justice a little sooner
than he thinks on.” Now these ten were prevailed upon by those
arguments; so he sent the rest of those that were under him, some one
way, and some another, that no discovery might be made of what they had
resolved upon. Accordingly, he called to the Romans from the tower about
the third hour; but they, some of them out of pride, despised what he said,
and others of them did not believe him to be in earnest, though the greatest
number delayed the matter, as believing they should get possession of the
city in a little time, without any hazard. But when Titus was just coming
thither with his armed men, Simon was acquainted with the matter before
he came, and presently took the tower into his own custody, before it was
surrendered, and seized upon these men, and put them to death in the sight
of the Romans themselves; and when he had mangled their dead bodies, he
threw them down before the wall of the city.
3. In the mean time, Josephus, as he was going round the city, had his head
wounded by a stone that was thrown at him; upon which he fell down as
giddy. Upon which fall of his the Jews made a sally, and he had been
hurried away into the city, if Caesar had not sent men to protect him
immediately; and as these men were fighting, Josephus was taken up,
though he heard little of what was done. So the seditious supposed they
had now slain that man whom they were the most desirous of killing, and
made thereupon a great noise, in way of rejoicing. This accident was told
in the city, and the multitude that remained became very disconsolate at
the news, as being persuaded that he was really dead, on whose account
alone they could venture to desert to the Romans. But when Josephus’s
mother heard in prison that her son was dead, she said to those that
watched about her, That she had always been of opinion, since the siege of
Jotapata, [that he would be slain,] and she should never enjoy him alive
any more. She also made great lamentation privately to the maid-servants
that were about her, and said, That this was all the advantage she had of
bringing so extraordinary a person as this son into the world; that she
should not be able even to bury that son of hers, by whom she expected to
have been buried herself. However, this false report did not put his mother
to pain, nor afford merriment to the robbers, long; for Josephus soon
recovered of his wound, and came out, and cried out aloud, That it would
not be long ere they should be punished for this wound they had given
him. He also made a fresh exhortation to the people to come out upon the
security that would be given them. This sight of Josephus encouraged the
people greatly, and brought a great consternation upon the seditious.
4. Hereupon some of the deserters, having no other way, leaped down
from the wall immediately, while others of them went out of the city with
stones, as if they would fight them; but thereupon they fled away to the
Romans. But here a worse fate accompanied these than what they had
found within the city; and they met with a quicker despatch from the too
great abundance they had among the Romans, than they could have done
from the famine among the Jews; for when they came first to the Romans,
they were puffed up by the famine, and swelled like men in a dropsy; after
which they all on the sudden overfilled those bodies that were before
empty, and so burst asunder, excepting such only as were skillful enough
to restrain their appetites, and by degrees took in their food into bodies
unaccustomed thereto. Yet did another plague seize upon those that were
thus preserved; for there was found among the Syrian deserters a certain
person who was caught gathering pieces of gold out of the excrements of
the Jews’ bellies; for the deserters used to swallow such pieces of gold, as
we told you before, when they came out, and for these did the seditious
search them all; for there was a great quantity of gold in the city, insomuch
that as much was now sold [in the Roman camp] for twelve Attic [drams],
as was sold before for twenty-five. But when this contrivance was
discovered in one instance, the fame of it filled their several camps, that
the deserters came to them full of gold. So the multitude of the Arabians,
with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their
bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was
more terrible than this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of
these deserters were thus dissected.
5. When Titus came to the knowledge of this wicked practice, he had like
to have surrounded those that had been guilty of it with his horse, and
have shot them dead; and he had done it, had not their number been so
very great, and those that were liable to this punishment would have been
manifold more than those whom they had slain. However, he called
together the commanders of the auxiliary troops he had with him, as well
as the commanders of the Roman legions, (for some of his own soldiers
had been also guilty herein, as he had been informed,) and had great
indignation against both sorts of them, and said to them, “What! have any
of my own soldiers done such things as this out of the uncertain hope of
gain, without regarding their own weapons, which are made of silver and
gold? Moreover, do the Arabians and Syrians now first of all begin to
govern themselves as they please, and to indulge their appetites in a
foreign war, and then, out of their barbarity in murdering men, and out of
their hatred to the Jews, get it ascribed to the Romans?” for this infamous
practice was said to be spread among some of his own soldiers also. Titus
then threatened that he would put such men to death, if any of them were
discovered to be so insolent as to do so again; moreover, he gave it in
charge to the legions, that they should make a search after such as were
suspected, and should bring them to him. But it appeared that the love of
money was too hard for all their dread of punishment, and a vehement
desire of gain is natural to men, and no passion is so venturesome as
covetousness; otherwise such passions have certain bounds, and are
subordinate to fear. But in reality it was God who condemned the whole
nation, and turned every course that was taken for their preservation to
their destruction. This, therefore, which was forbidden by Caesar under
such a threatening, was ventured upon privately against the deserters, and
these barbarians would go out still, and meet those that ran away before
any saw them, and looking about them to see that no Roman spied them,
they dissected them, and pulled this polluted money out of their bowels;
which money was still found in a few of them, while yet a great many
were destroyed by the bare hope there was of thus getting by them, which
miserable treatment made many that were deserting to return back again
into the city.
6. But as for John, when he could no longer plunder the people, he betook
himself to sacrilege, and melted down many of the sacred utensils, which
had been given to the temple; as also many of those vessels which were
necessary for such as ministered about holy things, the caldrons, the
dishes, and the tables; nay, he did not abstain from those pouring vessels
that were sent them by Augustus and his wife; for the Roman emperors
did ever both honor and adorn this temple; whereas this man, who was a
Jew, seized upon what were the donations of foreigners, and said to those
that were with him, that it was proper for them to use Divine things, while
they were fighting for the Divinity, without fear, and that such whose
warfare is for the temple should live of the temple; on which account he
emptied the vessels of that sacred wine and oil, which the priests kept to
be poured on the burnt-offerings, and which lay in the inner court of the
temple, and distributed it among the multitude, who, in their anointing
themselves and drinking, used [each of them] above an hin of them. And
here I cannot but speak my mind, and what the concern I am under
dictates to me, and it is this: I suppose, that had the Romans made any
longer delay in coming against these villains, that the city would either
have been swallowed up by the ground opening upon them, or been
overflowed by water, or else been destroyed by such thunder as the
country of Sodom 20 perished by, for it had brought forth a generation of
men much more atheistical than were those that suffered such
punishments; for by their madness it was that all the people came to be
7. And, indeed, why do I relate these particular calamities? while
Manneus, the son of Lazarus, came running to Titus at this very time, and
told him that there had been carried out through that one gate, which was
intrusted to his care, no fewer than a hundred and fifteen thousand eight
hundred and eighty dead bodies, in the interval between the fourteenth day
of the month Xanthieus, [Nisan,] when the Romans pitched their camp by
the city, and the first day of the month Panemus [Tamuz]. This was itself
a prodigious multitude; and though this man was not himself set as a
governor at that gate, yet was he appointed to pay the public stipend for
carrying these bodies out, and so was obliged of necessity to number them,
while the rest were buried by their relations; though all their burial was but
this, to bring them away, and cast them out of the city. After this man
there ran away to Titus many of the eminent citizens, and told him the
entire number of the poor that were dead, and that no fewer than six
hundred thousand were thrown out at the gates, though still the number of
the rest could not be discovered; and they told him further, that when they
were no longer able to carry out the dead bodies of the poor, they laid their
corpses on heaps in very large houses, and shut them up therein; as also
that a medimnus of wheat was sold for a talent; and that when, a while
afterward, it was not possible to gather herbs, by reason the city was all
walled about, some persons were driven to that terrible distress as to
search the common sewers and old dunghills of cattle, and to eat the dung
which they got there; and what they of old could not endure so much as to
see they now used for food. When the Romans barely heard all this, they
commiserated their case; while the seditious, who saw it also, did not
repent, but suffered the same distress to come upon themselves; for they
were blinded by that fate which was already coming upon the city, and
upon themselves also.