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. THUS did the miseries of Jerusalem grow worse and worse every day,
and the seditious were still more irritated by the calamities they were
under, even while the famine preyed upon themselves, after it had preyed
upon the people. And indeed the multitude of carcasses that lay in heaps
one upon another was a horrible sight, and produced a pestilential stench,
which was a hinderance to those that would make sallies out of the city,
and fight the enemy: but as those were to go in battle-array, who had been
already used to ten thousand murders, and must tread upon those dead
bodies as they marched along, so were not they terrified, nor did they pity
men as they marched over them; nor did they deem this affront offered to
the deceased to be any ill omen to themselves; but as they had their right
hands already polluted with the murders of their own countrymen, and in
that condition ran out to fight with foreigners, they seem to me to have
cast a reproach upon God himself, as if he were too slow in punishing
them; for the war was not now gone on with as if they had any hope of
victory; for they gloried after a brutish manner in that despair of
deliverance they were already in. And now the Romans, although they
were greatly distressed in getting together their materials, raised their
banks in one and twenty days, after they had cut down all the trees that
were in the country that adjoined to the city, and that for ninety furlongs
round about, as I have already related. And truly the very view itself of
the country was a melancholy thing; for those places which were before
adorned with trees and pleasant gardens were now become a desolate
country every way, and its trees were all cut down: nor could any
foreigner that had formerly seen Judea and the most beautiful suburbs of
the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so
great a change: for the war had laid all the signs of beauty quite waste: nor
if any one that had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it
now, would he have known it again; but though he were at the city itself,
yet would he have inquired for it notwithstanding.
2. And now the banks were finished, they afforded a foundation for fear
both to the Romans and to the Jews; for the Jews expected that the city
would be taken, unless they could burn those banks, as did the Romans
expect that, if these were once burnt down, they should never be able to
take it; for there was a mighty scarcity of materials, and the bodies of the
soldiers began to fail with such hard labors, as did their souls faint with so
many instances of ill success; nay, the very calamities themselves that
were in the city proved a greater discouragement to the Romans than those
within the city; for they found the fighting men of the Jews to be not at all
mollified among such their sore afflictions, while they had themselves
perpetually less and less hopes of success, and their banks were forced to
yield to the stratagems of the enemy, their engines to the firmness of their
wall, and their closest fights to the boldness of their attack; and, what was
their greatest discouragement of all, they found the Jews’ courageous souls
to be superior to the multitude of the miseries they were under, by their
sedition, their famine, and the war itself; insomuch that they were ready to
imagine that the violence of their attacks was invincible, and that the
alacrity they showed would not be discouraged by their calamities; for
what would not those be able to bear if they should be fortunate, who
turned their very misfortunes to the improvement of their valor! These
considerations made the Romans to keep a stronger guard about their
banks than they formerly had done.
3. But now John and his party took care for securing themselves
afterward, even in case this wall should be thrown down, and fell to their
work before the battering rams were brought against them. Yet did they
not compass what they endeavored to do, but as they were gone out with
their torches, they came back under great discouragement before they came
near to the banks; and the reasons were these: that, in the first place, their
conduct did not seem to be unanimous, but they went out in distinct
parties, and at distinct intervals, and after a slow manner, and timorously,
and, to say all in a word, without a Jewish courage; for they were now
defective in what is peculiar to our nation, that is, in boldness, in violence
of assault, and in running upon the enemy all together, and in persevering
in what they go about, though they do not at first succeed in it; but they
now went out in a more languid manner than usual, and at the same time
found the Romans set in array, and more courageous than ordinary, and
that they guarded their banks both with their bodies and their entire armor,
and this to such a degree on all sides, that they left no room for the fire to
get among them, and that every one of their souls was in such good
courage, that they would sooner die than desert their ranks; for besides
their notion that all their hopes were cut off, in case these their works
were once burnt, the soldiers were greatly ashamed that subtlety should
quite be too hard for courage, madness for armor, multitude for skill, and
Jews for Romans. The Romans had now also another advantage, in that
their engines for sieges co-operated with them in throwing darts and stones
as far as the Jews, when they were coming out of the city; whereby the
man that fell became an impediment to him that was next to him, as did the
danger of going farther make them less zealous in their attempts; and for
those that had run under the darts, some of them were terrified by the
good order and closeness of the enemies’ ranks before they came to a close
fight, and others were pricked with their spears, and turned back again; at
length they reproached one another for their cowardice, and retired
without doing any thing. This attack was made upon the first day of the
month Panemus [Tamuz.] So when the Jews were retreated, the Romans
brought their engines, although they had all the while stones thrown at
them from the tower of Antonia, and were assaulted by fire and sword,
and by all sorts of darts, which necessity afforded the Jews to make use
of; for although these had great dependence on their own wall, and a
contempt of the Roman engines, yet did they endeavor to hinder the
Romans from bringing them. Now these Romans struggled hard, on the
contrary, to bring them, as deeming that this zeal of the Jews was in order
to avoid any impression to be made on the tower of Antonia, because its
wall was but weak, and its foundations rotten. However, that tower did
not yield to the blows given it from the engines; yet did the Romans bear
the impressions made by the enemies’ darts which were perpetually cast
at them, and did not give way to any of those dangers that came upon
them from above, and so they brought their engines to bear. But then, as
they were beneath the other, and were sadly wounded by the stones
thrown down upon them, some of them threw their shields over their
bodies, and partly with their hands, and partly with their bodies, and
partly with crows, they undermined its foundations, and with great pains
they removed four of its stones. Then night came upon both sides, and put
an end to this struggle for the present; however, that night the wall was so
shaken by the battering rams in that place where John had used his
stratagem before, and had undermined their banks, that the ground then
gave way, and the wall fell down suddenly.
4. When this accident had unexpectedly happened, the minds of both
parties were variously affected; for though one would expect that the Jews
would be discouraged, because this fall of their wall was unexpected by
them, and they had made no provision in that case, yet did they pull up
their courage, because the tower of Antonia itself was still standing; as was
the unexpected joy of the Romans at this fall of the wall soon quenched by
the sight they had of another wall, which John and his party had built
within it. However, the attack of this second wall appeared to be easier
than that of the former, because it seemed a thing of greater facility to get
up to it through the parts of the former wall that were now thrown down.
This new wall appeared also to be much weaker than the tower of
Antonia, and accordingly the Romans imagined that it had been erected so
much on the sudden, that they should soon overthrow it: yet did not any
body venture now to go up to this wall; for that such as first ventured so
to do must certainly be killed.
5. And now Titus, upon consideration that the alacrity of soldiers in war
is chiefly excited by hopes and by good words, and that exhortations and
promises do frequently make men to forget the hazards they run, nay,
sometimes to despise death itself, got together the most courageous part of
his army, and tried what he could do with his men by these methods. “O
fellow soldiers,” said he, “to make an exhortation to men to do what hath
no peril in it, is on that very account inglorious to such to whom that
exhortation is made; and indeed so it is in him that makes the exhortation,
an argument of his own cowardice also. I therefore think that such
exhortations ought then only to be made use of when affairs are in a
dangerous condition, and yet are worthy of being attempted by every one
themselves; accordingly, I am fully of the same opinion with you, that it is
a difficult task to go up this wall; but that it is proper for those that desire
reputation for their valor to struggle with difficulties in such cases will
then appear, when I have particularly shown that it is a brave thing to die
with glory, and that the courage here necessary shall not go unrewarded in
those that first begin the attempt. And let my first argument to move you
to it be taken from what probably some would think reasonable to
dissuade you, I mean the constancy and patience of these Jews, even
under their ill successes; for it is unbecoming you, who are Romans and
my soldiers, who have in peace been taught how to make wars, and who
have also been used to conquer in those wars, to be inferior to Jews, either
in action of the hand, or in courage of the soul, and this especially when
you are at the conclusion of your victory, and are assisted by God himself;
for as to our misfortunes, they have been owing to the madness of the
Jews, while their sufferings have been owing to your valor, and to the
assistance God hath afforded you; for as to the seditions they have been
in, and the famine they are under, and the siege they now endure, and the
fall of their walls without our engines, what can they all be but
demonstrations of God’s anger against them, and of his assistance afforded
us? It will not therefore be proper for you, either to show yourselves
inferior to those to whom you are really superior, or to betray that Divine
assistance which is afforded you. And, indeed, how can it be esteemed
otherwise than a base and unworthy thing, that while the Jews, who need
not be much ashamed if they be deserted, because they have long learned
to be slaves to others, do yet despise death, that they may be so no longer;
and do make sallies into the very midst of us frequently, no in hopes of
conquering us, but merely for a demonstration of their courage; we, who
have gotten possession of almost all the world that belongs to either land
or sea, to whom it will be a great shame if we do not conquer them, do not
once undertake any attempt against our enemies wherein there is much
danger, but sit still idle, with such brave arms as we have, and only wait
till the famine and fortune do our business themselves, and this when we
have it in our power, with some small hazard, to gain all that we desire!
For if we go up to this tower of Antonia, we gain the city; for if there
should be any more occasion for fighting against those within the city,
which I do not suppose there will, since we shall then be upon the top of
the hill 1 and be upon our enemies before they can have taken breath, these
advantages promise us no less than a certain and sudden victory. As for
myself, I shall at present wave any commendation of those who die in
war, 2 and omit to speak of the immortality of those men who are slain in
the midst of their martial bravery; yet cannot I forbear to imprecate upon
those who are of a contrary disposition, that they may die in time of
peace, by some distemper or other, since their souls are condemned to the
grave, together with their bodies. For what man of virtue is there who does
not know, that those souls which are severed from their fleshly bodies in
battles by the sword are received by the ether, that purest of elements, and
joined to that company which are placed among the stars; that they
become good demons, and propitious heroes, and show themselves as such
to their posterity afterwards? while upon those souls that wear away in
and with their distempered bodies comes a subterranean night to dissolve
them to nothing, and a deep oblivion to take away all the remembrance of
them, and this notwithstanding they be clean from all spots and
defilements of this world; so that, in this ease, the soul at the same time
comes to the utmost bounds of its life, and of its body, and of its memorial
also. But since he hath determined that death is to come of necessity upon
all men, a sword is a better instrument for that purpose than any disease
whatsoever. Why is it not then a very mean thing for us not to yield up
that to the public benefit which we must yield up to fate? And this
discourse have I made, upon the supposition that those who at first
attempt to go upon this wall must needs be killed in the attempt, though
still men of true courage have a chance to escape even in the most
hazardous undertakings. For, in the first place, that part of the former wall
that is thrown down is easily to be ascended; and for the new-built wall, it
is easily destroyed. Do you, therefore, many of you, pull up your courage,
and set about this work, and do you mutually encourage and assist one
another; and this your bravery will soon break the hearts of your enemies;
and perhaps such a glorious undertaking as yours is may be accomplished
without bloodshed. For although it be justly to be supposed that the Jews
will try to hinder you at your first beginning to go up to them; yet when
you have once concealed yourselves from them, and driven them away by
force, they will not be able to sustain your efforts against them any longer,
though but a few of you prevent them, and get over the wall. As for that
person who first mounts the wall, I should blush for shame if I did not
make him to be envied of others, by those rewards I would bestow upon
him. If such a one escape with his life, he shall have the command of
others that are now but his equals; although it be true also that the greatest
rewards will accrue to such as die in the attempt.” 3
6. Upon this speech of Titus, the rest of the multitude were aftrighted at
so great a danger. But there was one, whose name was Sabinus, a soldier
that served among the cohorts, and a Syrian by birth, who appeared to be
of very great fortitude, both in the actions he had done, and the courage of
his soul he had shown; although any body would have thought, before he
came to his work, that he was of such a weak constitution of body, that he
was not fit to be a soldier; for his color was black, his flesh was lean and
thin, and lay close together; but there was a certain heroic soul that dwelt
in this small body, which body was indeed much too narrow for that
peculiar courage which was in him. Accordingly he was the first that rose
up, when he thus spake: “I readily surrender up myself to thee, O Caesar;
I first ascend the wall, and I heartily wish that my fortune may follow my
courage and my resolution And if some ill fortune grudge me the success of
my undertaking, take notice that my ill success will not be unexpected, but
that I choose death voluntarily for thy sake.” When he had said this, and
had spread out his sheild over his head with his left hand, and hill, with his
right hand, drawn his sword, he marched up to the wall, just about the
sixth hour of the day. There followed him eleven others, and no more, that
resolved to imitate his bravery; but still this was the principal person of
them all, and went first, as excited by a divine fury. Now those that
guarded the wall shot at them from thence, and cast innumerable darts
upon them from every side; they also rolled very large stones upon them,
which overthrew some of those eleven that were with him. But as for
Sabinus himself, he met the darts that were cast at him and though he was
overwhelmed with them, yet did he not leave off the violence of his attack
before he had gotten up on the top of the wall, and had put the enemy to
flight. For as the Jews were astonished at his great strength, and the
bravery of his soul, and as, withal, they imagined more of them had got
upon the wall than really had, they were put to flight. And now one
cannot but complain here of fortune, as still envious at virtue, and always
hindering the performance of glorious achievements: this was the case of
the man before us, when he had just obtained his purpose; for he then
stumbled at a certain large stone, and fell down upon it headlong, with a
very great noise. Upon which the Jews turned back, and when they saw
him to be alone, and fallen down also, they threw darts at him from every
side. However. be got upon his knee, and covered himself with his shield,
and at the first defended himself against them, and wounded many of those
that came near him; but he was soon forced to relax his right hand, by the
multitude of the wounds that had been given him, till at length he was
quite covered over with darts before he gave up the ghost. He was one
who deserved a better fate, by reason of his bravery; but, as might be
expected, he fell under so vast an attempt. As for the rest of his partners,
the Jews dashed three of them to pieces with stones, and slew them as
they were gotten up to the top of the wall; the other eight being wounded,
were pulled down, and carried back to the camp. These things were done
upon the third day of the month Panemus [Tamuz].
7. Now two days afterward twelve of those men that were on the
forefront, and kept watch upon the banks, got together, and called to them
the standard-bearer of the fifth legion, and two others of a troop of
horsemen, and one trumpeter; these went without noise, about the ninth
hour of the night, through the ruins, to the tower of Antonia; and when
they had cut the throats of the first guards of the place, as they were
asleep, they got possession of the wall, and ordered the trumpeter to
sound his trumpet. Upon which the rest of the guard got up on the
sudden, and ran away, before any body could see how many they were
that were gotten up; for, partly from the fear they were in, and partly
from the sound of the trumpet which they heard, they imagined a great
number of the enemy were gotten up. But as soon as Caesar heard the
signal, he ordered the army to put on their armor immediately, and came
thither with his commanders, and first of all ascended, as did the chosen
men that were with him. And as the Jews were flying away to the temple,
they fell into that mine which John had dug under the Roman banks. Then
did the seditious of both the bodies of the Jewish army, as well that
belonging to John as that belonging to Simon, drive them away; and indeed
were no way wanting as to the highest degree of force and alacrity; for
they esteemed themselves entirely ruined if once the Romans got into the
temple, as did the Romans look upon the same thing as the beginning of
their entire conquest. So a terrible battle was fought at the entrance of the
temple, while the Romans were forcing their way, in order to get
possession of that temple, and the Jews were driving them back to the
tower of Antonia; in which battle the darts were on both sides useless, as
well as the spears, and both sides drew their swords, and fought it out
hand to hand. Now during this struggle the positions of the men were
undistinguished on both sides, and they fought at random, the men being
intermixed one with another, and confounded, by reason of the narrowness
of the place; while the noise that was made fell on the ear after an
indistinct manner, because it was so very loud. Great slaughter was now
made on both sides, and the combatants trod upon the bodies and the
armor of those that were dead, and dashed them to pieces. Accordingly, to
which side soever the battle inclined, those that had the advantage exhorted
one another to go on, as did those that were beaten make great lamentation.
But still there was no room for flight, nor for pursuit, but disorderly
revolutions and retreats, while the armies were intermixed one with
another; but those that were in the first ranks were under the necessity of
killing or being killed, without any way for escaping; for those on both
sides that came behind forced those before them to go on, without leaving
any space between the armies. At length the Jews’ violent zeal was too
hard for the Romans’ skill, and the battle already inclined entirely that
way; for the fight had lasted from the ninth hour of the night till the
seventh hour of the day, While the Jews came on in crowds, and had the
danger the temple was in for their motive; the Romans having no more here
than a part of their army; for those legions, on which the soldiers on that
side depended, were not come up to them. So it was at present thought
sufficient by the Romans to take possession of the tower of Antonia.
8. But there was one Julian, a centurion, that came from Eithynia, a man he
was of great reputation, whom I had formerly seen in that war, and one of
the highest fame, both for his skill in war, his strength of body, and the
courage of his soul. This man, seeing the Romans giving ground, and ill a
sad condition, (for he stood by Titus at the tower of Antonia,) leaped out,
and of himself alone put the Jews to flight, when they were already
conquerors, and made them retire as far as the corner of the inner court of
the temple; from him the multitude fled away in crowds, as supposing that
neither his strength nor his violent attacks could be those of a mere man.
Accordingly, he rushed through the midst of the Jews, as they were
dispersed all abroad, and killed those that he caught. Nor, indeed, was there
any sight that appeared more wonderful in the eyes of Caesar, or more
terrible to others, than this. However, he was himself pursued by fate,
which it all not possible that he, who was but a mortal man, should escape;
for as he had shoes all full of thick and sharp nails 4 as had every one of the
other soldiers, so when he ran on the pavement of the temple, he slipped,
and fell down upon his back with a very great noise, which was made by
his armor. This made those that were running away to turn back;
whereupon those Romans that were in the tower of Antonia set up a great
shout, as they were in fear for the man. But the Jews got about him in
crowds, and struck at him with their spears and with their swords on all
sides. Now he received a great many of the strokes of these iron weapons
upon his shield, and often attempted to get up again, but was thrown
down by those that struck at him; yet did he, as he lay along, stab many of
them with his sword. Nor was he soon killed, as being covered with his
helmet and his breastplate in all those parts of his body where he might be
mortally wounded; he also pulled his neck close to his body, till all his
other limbs were shattered, and nobody durst come to defend him, and
then he yielded to his fate. Now Caesar was deeply affected on account of
this man of so great fortitude, and especially as he was killed in the sight of
so many people; he was desirous himself to come to his assistance, but the
place would not give him leave, while such as could have done it were too
much terrified to attempt it. Thus when Julian had struggled with death a
great while, and had let but few of those that had given him his mortal
wound go off unhurt, he had at last his throat cut, though not without
some difficulty, and left behind him a very great fame, not only among the
Romans, and with Caesar himself, but among his enemies also; then did the
Jews catch up his dead body, and put the Romans to flight again, and shut
them up in the tower of Antonia. Now those that most signalized
themselves, and fought most zealously in this battle of the Jewish side,
were one Alexas and Gyphtheus, of John’s party, and of Simon’s party
were Malachias, and Judas the son of Merto, and James the son of Sosas,
the commander of the Idumeans; and of the zealots, two brethren, Simon
and Judas, the sons of Jairus.
1. AND now Titus gave orders to his soldiers that were with him to dig up
the foundations of the tower of Antonia, and make him a ready passage for
his army to come up; while he himself had Josephus brought to him, (for
he had been informed that on that very day, which was the seventeenth
day 5of Panemus, [Tamuz,] the sacrifice called “the Daily Sacrifice” had
failed, and had not been offered to God, for want of men to offer it, and
that the people were grievously troubled at it,) and commanded him to say
the same things to John that he had said before, that if he had any
malicious inclination for fighting, he might come out with as many of his
men as he pleased, in order to fight, without the danger of destroying
either his city or temple; but that he desired he would not defile the
temple, nor thereby offend against God. That he might, if he pleased, offer
the sacrifices which were now discontinuned by any of the Jews whom he
should pitch upon. Upon this Josephus stood in such a place where he
might be heard, not by John only, but by many more, and then declared to
them what Caesar had given him in charge, and this in the Hebrew
language. 6 So he earnestly prayed them to spare their own city, and to
prevent that fire which was just ready to seize upon the temple, and to
offer their usual sacrifices to God therein. At these words of his a great
sadness and silence were observed among the people. But the tyrant
himself cast many reproaches upon Josephus, with imprecations besides;
and at last added this withal, that he did never fear the taking of the city,
because it was God’s own city. In answer to which Josephus said thus
with a loud voice: “To be sure thou hast kept this city wonderfully pure
for God’s sake; the temple also continues entirely unpolluted! Nor hast
thou been guilty of ally impiety against him for whose assistance thou
hopest! He still receives his accustomed sacrifices! Vile wretch that thou
art! if any one should deprive thee of thy daily food, thou wouldst esteem
him to be an enemy to thee; but thou hopest to have that God for thy
supporter in this war whom thou hast deprived of his everlasting worship;
and thou imputest those sins to the Romans, who to this very time take
care to have our laws observed, and almost compel these sacrifices to be
still offered to God, which have by thy means been intermitted! Who is
there that can avoid groans and lamentations at the amazing change that is
made in this city? since very foreigners and enemies do now correct that
impiety which thou hast occasioned; while thou, who art a Jew, and wast
educated in our laws, art become a greater enemy to them than the others.
But still, John, it is never dishonorable to repent, and amend what hath
been done amiss, even at the last extremity. Thou hast an instance before
thee in Jechoniah, 7 the king of the Jews, if thou hast a mind to save the
city, who, when the king of Babylon made war against him, did of his own
accord go out of this city before it was taken, and did undergo a voluntary
captivity with his family, that the sanctuary might not be delivered up to
the enemy, and that he might not see the house of God set on fire; on
which account he is celebrated among all the Jews, in their sacred
memorials, and his memory is become immortal, and will be conveyed
fresh down to our posterity through all ages. This, John, is an excellent
example in such a time of danger, and I dare venture to promise that the
Romans shall still forgive thee. And take notice that I, who make this
exhortation to thee, am one of thine own nation; I, who am a Jew, do make
this promise to thee. And it will become thee to consider who I am that
give thee this counsel, and whence I am derived; for while I am alive I shall
never be in such slavery, as to forego my own kindred, or forget the laws
of our forefathers. Thou hast indignation at me again, and makest a clamor
at me, and reproachest me; indeed I cannot deny but I am worthy of worse
treatment than all this amounts to, because, in opposition to fate, I make
this kind invitation to thee, and endeavor to force deliverance upon those
whom God hath condemned. And who is there that does not know what
the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them, — and particularly
that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city?
For they foretold that this city should be then taken when somebody shall
begin the slaughter of his own countrymen. And are not both the city and
the entire temple now full of the dead bodies of your countrymen? It is
God, therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that
city and temple by means of the Romans, 8 and is going to pluck up this
city, which is full of your pollutions.”
2. As Josephus spoke these words, with groans and tears in his eyes, his
voice was intercepted by sobs. However, the Romans could not but pity
the affliction he was under, and wonder at his conduct. But for John, and
those that were with him, they were but the more exasperated against the
Romans on this account, and were desirous to get Josephus also into their
power: yet did that discourse influence a great many of the better sort; and
truly some of them were so afraid of the guards set by the seditious, that
they tarried where they were, but still were satisfied that both they and
the city were doomed to destruction. Some also there were who, watching
a proper opportunity when they might quietly get away, fled to the
Romans, of whom were the high priests Joseph and Jesus, and of the sons
of high priests three, whose father was Ishmael, who was beheaded in
Cyrene, and four sons of Matthias, as also one son of the other Matthias,
who ran away after his father’s death, 9 and whose father was slain by
Simon the son of Gioras, with three of his sons, as I have already related;
many also of the other nobility went over to the Romans, together with
the high priests. Now Caesar not only received these men very kindly in
other respects, but, knowing they would not willingly live after the
customs of other nations, he sent them to Gophna, and desired them to
remain there for the present, and told them, that when he was gotten clear
of this war, he would restore each of them to their possessions again; so
they cheerfully retired to that small city which was allotted them, without
fear of any danger. But as they did not appear, the seditious gave out again
that these deserters were slain by the Romans, which was done in order to
deter the rest from running away, by fear of the like treatment. This trick
of theirs succeeded now for a while, as did the like trick before; for the rest
were hereby deterred from deserting, by fear of the like treatment.
3. However, when Titus had recalled those men from Gophna, he gave
orders that they should go round the wall, together with Josephus, and
show themselves to the people; upon which a great many fled to the
Romans. These men also got in a great number together, and stood before
the Romans, and besought the seditious, with groans and tears in their
eyes, in the first place to receive the Romans entirely into the city, and
save that their own place of residence again; but that, if they would not
agree to such a proposal, they would at least depart out of the temple, and
save the holy house for their own use; for that the Romans would not
venture to set the sanctuary on fire but under the most pressing necessity.
Yet did the seditious still more and more contradict them; and while they
cast loud and bitter reproaches upon these deserters, they also set their
engines for throwing of darts, and javelins, and stones upon the sacred
gates of the temple, at due distances from one another, insomuch that all
the space round about within the temple might be compared to a
burying-ground, so great was the number of the dead bodies therein; as
might the holy house itself be compared to a citadel. Accordingly, these
men rushed upon these holy places in their armor, that were otherwise
unapproachable, and that while their hands were yet warm with the blood
of their own people which they had shed; nay, they proceeded to such
great transgressions, that the very same indignation which Jews would
naturally have against Romans, had they been guilty of such abuses against
them, the Romans now had against Jews, for their impiety in regard to
their own religious customs. Nay, indeed, there were none of the Roman
soldiers who did not look with a sacred horror upon the holy house, and
adored it, and wished that the robbers would repent before their miseries
became incurable.
4. Now Titus was deeply affected with this state of things, and
reproached John and his party, and said to them, “Have not you, vile
wretches that you are, by our permission, put up this partition-wall
before your sanctuary? Have not you been allowed to put up the pillars
thereto belonging, at due distances, and on it to engrave in Greek, and in
your own letters, this prohibition, that no foreigner should go beyond that
wall. 10 Have not we given you leave to kill such as go beyond it, though
he were a Roman? And what do you do now, you pernicious villains?
Why do you trample upon dead bodies in this temple? and why do you
pollute this holy house with the blood of both foreigners and Jews
themselves? I appeal to the gods of my own country, and to every God
that ever had any regard to this place; (for I do not suppose it to be now
regarded by any of them;) I also appeal to my own army, and to those
Jews that are now with me, and even to yourselves, that I do not force
you to defile this your sanctuary; and if you will but change the place
whereon you will fight, no Roman shall either come near your sanctuary,
or offer any affront to it; nay, I will endeavor to preserve you your holy
house, whether you will or not.” 11
5. As Josephus explained these things from the mouth of Caesar, both the
robbers and the tyrant thought that these exhortations proceeded from
Titus’s fear, and not from his good-will to them, and grew insolent upon
it. But when Titus saw that these men were neither to be moved by
commiseration towards themselves, nor had any concern upon them to
have the holy house spared, he proceeded unwillingly to go on again with
the war against them. He could not indeed bring all his army against them,
the place was so narrow; but choosing thirty soldiers of the most valiant
out of every hundred, and committing a thousand to each tribune, and
making Cerealis their commander-in-chief, he gave orders that they should
attack the guards of the temple about the ninth hour of that night. But as
he was now in his armor, and preparing to go down with them, his friends
would not let him go, by reason of the greatness of the danger, and what
the commanders suggested to them; for they said that he would do more
by sitting above in the tower of Antonia, as a dispenser of rewards to
those soldiers that signalized themselves in the fight, than by coming down
and hazarding his own person in the forefront of them; for that they would
all fight stoutly while Caesar looked upon them. With this advice Caesar
complied, and said that the only reason he had for such compliance with
the soldiers was this, that he might be able to judge of their courageous
actions, and that no valiant soldier might lie concealed, and miss of his
reward, and no cowardly soldier might go unpunished; but that he might
himself be an eye-witness, and able to give evidence of all that was done,
who was to be the disposer of punishments and rewards to them. So he
sent the soldiers about their work at the hour forementioned, while he
went out himself to a higher place in the tower of Antonia, whence he
might see what was done, and there waited with impatience to see the
6. However, the soldiers that were sent did not find the guards of the
temple asleep, as they hoped to have done; but were obliged to fight with
them immediately hand to hand, as they rushed with violence upon them
with a great shout. Now as soon as the rest within the temple heard that
shout of those that were upon the watch, they ran out in troops upon
them. Then did the Romans receive the onset of those that came first upon
them; but those that followed them fell upon their own troops, and many
of them treated their own soldiers as if they had been enemies; for the
great confused noise that was made on both sides hindered them from
distinguishing one another’s voices, as did the darkness of the night hinder
them from the like distinction by the sight, besides that blindness which
arose otherwise also from the passion and the fear they were in at the
same time; for which reason it was all one to the soldiers who it was they
struck at. However, this ignorance did less harm to the Romans than to the
Jews, because they were joined together under their shields, and made their
sallies more regularly than the others did, and each of them remembered
their watch-word; while the Jews were perpetually dispersed abroad, and
made their attacks and retreats at random, and so did frequently seem to
one another to be enemies; for every one of them received those of their
own men that came back in the dark as Romans, and made an assault upon
them; so that more of them were wounded by their own men than by the
enemy, till, upon the coming on of the day, the nature of the right was
discerned by the eye afterward. Then did they stand in battle-array in
distinct bodies, and cast their darts regularly, and regularly defended
themselves; nor did either side yield or grow weary. The Romans
contended with each other who should fight the most strenuously, both
single men and entire regiments, as being under the eye of Titus; and every
one concluded that this day would begin his promotion if he fought
bravely. What were the great encouragements of the Jews to act vigorously
were, their fear for themselves and for the temple, and the presence of
their tyrant, who exhorted some, and beat and threatened others, to act
courageously. Now, it so happened, that this fight was for the most part a
stationary one, wherein the soldiers went on and came back in a short
time, and suddenly; for there was no long space of ground for either of
their flights or pursuits. But still there was a tumultuous noise among the
Romans from the tower of Antonia, who loudly cried out upon all
occasions to their own men to press on courageously, when they were too
hard for the Jews, and to stay when they were retiring backward; so that
here was a kind of theater of war; for what was done in this fight could not
be concealed either from Titus, or from those that were about him. At
length it appeared that this fight, which began at the ninth hour of the
night, was not over till past the fifth hour of the day; and that, in the same
place where the battle began, neither party could say they had made the
other to retire; but both the armies left the victory almost in uncertainty
between them; wherein those that signalized themselves on the Roman
side were a great many, but on the Jewish side, and of those that were
with Simon, Judas the son of Merto, and Simon the son of Josas; of the
Idumeans, James and Simon, the latter of whom was the son of Cathlas,
and James was the son of Sosas; of those that were with John, Gyphtheus
and Alexas; and of the zealots, Simon the son of Jairus.
7. In the mean time, the rest of the Roman army had, in seven days’ time,
overthrown [some] foundations of the tower of Antonia, and had made a
ready and broad way to the temple. Then did the legions come near the
first court, 12 and began to raise their banks. The one bank was over against
the north-west corner of the inner temple 13 another was at that northern
edifice which was between the two gates; and of the other two, one was at
the western cloister of the outer court of the temple; the other against its
northern cloister. However, these works were thus far advanced by the
Romans, not without great pains and difficulty, and particularly by being
obliged to bring their materials from the distance of a hundred furlongs.
They had further difficulties also upon them; sometimes by their
over-great security they were in that they should overcome the Jewish
snares laid for them, and by that boldness of the Jews which their despair
of escaping had inspired them withal; for some of their horsemen, when
they went out to gather wood or hay, let their horses feed without having
their bridles on during the time of foraging; upon which horses the Jews
sallied out in whole bodies, and seized them. And when this was
continually done, and Caesar believed what the truth was, that the horses
were stolen more by the negligence of his own men than by the valor of
the Jews, he determined to use greater severity to oblige the rest to take
care of their horses; so he commanded that one of those soldiers who had
lost their horses should be capitally punished; whereby he so terrified the
rest, that they preserved their horses for the time to come; for they did not
any longer let them go from them to feed by themselves, but, as if they
had grown to them, they went always along with them when they wanted
necessaries. Thus did the Romans still continue to make war against the
temple, and to raise their banks against it.
8. Now after one day had been interposed since the Romans ascended the
breach, many of the seditious were so pressed by the famine, upon the
present failure of their ravages, that they got together, and made an attack
on those Roman guards that were upon the Mount of Olives, and this
about the eleventh hour of the day, as supposing, first, that they would
not expect such an onset, and, in the next place, that they were then taking
care of their bodies, and that therefore they should easily beat them. But
the Romans were apprized of their coming to attack them beforehand, and,
running together from the neighboring camps on the sudden, prevented
them from getting over their fortification, or forcing the wall that was built
about them. Upon this came on a sharp fight, and here many great actions
were performed on both sides; while the Romans showed both their
courage and their skill in war, as did the Jews come on them with
immoderate violence and intolerable passion. The one part were urged on
by shame, and the other by necessity; for it seemed a very shameful thing
to the Romans to let the Jews go, now they were taken in a kind of net;
while the Jews had but one hope of saving themselves, and that was in
case they could by violence break through the Roman wall; and one whose
name was Pedanius, belonging to a party of horsemen, when the Jews
were already beaten and forced down into the valley together, spurred his
horse on their flank with great vehemence, and caught up a certain young
man belonging to the enemy by his ankle, as he was running away; the man
was, however, of a robust body, and in his armor; so low did Pedanius
bend himself downward from his horse, even as he was galloping away,
and so great was the strength of his right hand, and of the rest of his body,
as also such skill had he in horsemanship. So this man seized upon that his
prey, as upon a precious treasure, and carried him as his captive to Caesar;
whereupon Titus admired the man that had seized the other for his great
strength, and ordered the man that was caught to be punished [with death]
for his attempt against the Roman wall, but betook himself to the siege of
the temple, and to pressing on the raising of the banks.
9. In the mean time, the Jews were so distressed by the fights they had
been in, as the war advanced higher and higher, and creeping up to the holy
house itself, that they, as it were, cut off those limbs of their body which
were infected, in order to prevent the distemper’s spreading further; for
they set the north-west cloister, which was joined to the tower of
Antonia, on fire, and after that brake off about twenty cubits of that
cloister, and thereby made a beginning in burning the sanctuary; two days
after which, or on the twenty-fourth day of the forenamed month,
[Panemus or Tamuz,] the Romans set fire to the cloister that joined to the
other, when the fire went fifteen cubits farther. The Jews, in like manner,
cut off its roof; nor did they entirely leave off what they were about till
the tower of Antonia was parted from the temple, even when it was in
their power to have stopped the fire; nay, they lay still while the temple
was first set on fire, and deemed this spreading of the fire to be for their
own advantage. However, the armies were still fighting one against another
about the temple, and the war was managed by continual sallies of
particular parties against one another.
10. Now there was at this time a man among the Jews, low of stature he
was, and of a despicable appearance; of no character either as to his family,
or in other respects: his flame was Jonathan. He went out at the high priest
John’s monument, and uttered many other insolent things to the Romans,
a challenged the best of them all to a single combat.But many of those that
stood there in the army huffed him, and many of them (as they might well
be) were afraid of him. Some of them also reasoned thus, and that justly
enough: that it was not fit to fight with a man that desired to die, because
those that utterly despaired of deliverance had, besides other passions, a
violence in attacking men that could not be opposed, and had no regard to
God himself; and that to hazard oneself with a person, whom, if you
overcome, you do no great matter, and by whom it is hazardous that you
may be taken prisoner, would be an instance, not of manly courage, but of
unmanly rashness. So there being nobody that came out to accept the
man’s challenge, and the Jew cutting them with a great number of
reproaches, as cowards, (for he was a very haughty man in himself, and a
great despiser of the Romans,) one whose name was Pudens, of the body
of horsemen, out of his abomination of the other’s words, and of his
impudence withal, and perhaps out of an inconsiderate arrogance, on
account of the other’s lowness of stature, ran out to him, and was too hard
for him in other respects, but was betrayed by his ill fortune; for he fell
down, and as he was down, Jonathan came running to him, and cut his
throat, and then, standing upon his dead body, he brandished his sword,
bloody as it was, and shook his shield with his left hand, and made many
acclamations to the Roman army, and exulted over the dead man, and
jested upon the Romans; till at length one Priscus, a centurion, shot a dart
at him as he was leaping and playing the fool with himself, and thereby
pierced him through; upon which a shout was set up both by the Jews and
the Romans, though on different accounts. So Jonathan grew giddy by the
pain of his wounds, and fell down upon the body of his adversary, as a
plain instance how suddenly vengeance may come upon men that have
success in war, without any just deserving the same.
1. BUT now the seditious that were in the temple did every day openly
endeavor to beat off the soldiers that were upon the banks, and on the
twenty-seventh day of the forenamed month [Panemus or Tamuz]
contrived such a stratagem as this: They filled that part of the western
cloister 14 which was between the beams, and the roof under them, with
dry materials, as also with bitumen and pitch, and then retired from that
place, as though they were tired with the pains they had taken; at which
procedure of theirs, many of the most inconsiderate among the Romans,
who were carried away with violent passions, followed hard after them as
they were retiring, and applied ladders to the cloister, and got up to it
suddenly; but the prudent part of them, when they understood this
unaccountable retreat of the Jews, stood still where they were before.
However, the cloister was full of those that were gone up the ladders; at
which time the Jews set it all on fire; and as the flame burst out every
where on the sudden, the Romans that were out of the danger were seized
with a very great consternation, as were those that were in the midst of the
danger in the utmost distress. So when they perceived themselves
surrounded with the flames, some of them threw themselves down
backwards into the city, and some among their enemies [in the temple]; as
did many leap down to their own men, and broke their limbs to pieces; but
a great number of those that were going to take these violent methods were
prevented by the fire; though some prevented the fire by their own
swords. However, the fire was on the sudden carried so far as to surround
those who would have otherwise perished. As for Caesar himself, he could
not, however, but commiserate those that thus perished, although they got
up thither without any order for so doing, since there was no way of
giving the many relief. Yet was this some comfort to those that were
destroyed, that every body might see that person grieve, for whose sake
they came to their end; for he cried out openly to them, and leaped up, and
exhorted those that were about him to do their utmost to relieve them; So
every one of them died cheerfully, as carrying along with him these words
and this intention of Caesar as a sepulchral monument. Some there were
indeed who retired into the wall of the cloister, which was broad, and were
preserved out of the fire, but were then surrounded by the Jews; and
although they made resistance against the Jews for a long time, yet were
they wounded by them, and at length they all fell down dead.
2. At the last a young man among them, whose name was Longus, became
a decoration to this sad affair, and while every one of them that perished
were worthy of a memorial, this man appeared to deserve it beyond all the
rest. Now the Jews admired this man for his courage, and were further
desirous of having him slain; so they persuaded him to come down to
them, upon security given him for his life. But Cornelius his brother
persuaded him on the contrary, not to tarnish his own glory, nor that of
the Roman army. He complied with this last advice, and lifting up his
sword before both armies, he slew himself. Yet there was one Artorius
among those surrounded by the fire who escaped by his subtlety; for when
he had with a loud voice called to him Lucius, one of his fellow soldiers
that lay with him in the same tent, and said to him, “I do leave thee heir of
all I have, if thou wilt come and receive me.” Upon this he came running to
receive him readily; Artorius then threw himself down upon him, and
saved his own life, while he that received him was dashed so vehemently
against the stone pavement by the other’s weight, that he died
immediately. This melancholy accident made the Romans sad for a while,
but still it made them more upon their guard for the future, and was of
advantage to them against the delusions of the Jews, by which they were
greatly damaged through their unacquaintedness with the places, and with
the nature of the inhabitants. Now this cloister was burnt down as far as
John’s tower, which he built in the war he made against Simon over the
gates that led to the Xystus. The Jews also cut off the rest of that cloister
from the temple, after they had destroyed those that got up to it. But the
next day the Romans burnt down the northern cloister entirely, as far as
the east cloister, whose common angle joined to the valley that was called
Cedron, and was built over it; on which account
the depth was frightful. And this was the state of the temple at that time.
3. Now of those that perished by famine in the city, the number was
prodigious, and the miseries they underwent were unspeakable; for if so
much as the shadow of any kind of food did any where appear, a war was
commenced presently, and the dearest friends fell a fighting one with
another about it, snatching from each other the most miserable supports of
life. Nor would men believe that those who were dying had no food, but
the robbers would search them when they were expiring, lest any one
should have concealed food in their bosoms, and counterfeited dying; nay,
these robbers gaped for want, and ran about stumbling and staggering along
like mad dogs, and reeling against the doors of the houses like drunken
men; they would also, in the great distress they were in, rush into the very
same houses two or three times in one and the same day. Moreover, their
hunger was so intolerable, that it obliged them to chew every thing, while
they gathered such things as the most sordid animals would not touch, and
endured to eat them; nor did they at length abstain from girdles and shoes;
and the very leather which belonged to their shields they pulled off and
gnawed: the very wisps of old hay became food to some; and some
gathered up fibres, and sold a very small weight of them for four Attic
[drachmae]. But why do I describe the shameless impudence that the
famine brought on men in their eating inanimate things, while I am going to
relate a matter of fact, the like to which no history relates, 15 either among
the Greeks or Barbarians? It is horrible to speak of it, and incredible when
heard. I had indeed willingly omitted this calamity of ours, that I might not
seem to deliver what is so portentous to posterity, but that I have
innumerable witnesses to it in my own age; and besides, my country
would have had little reason to thank me for suppressing the miseries that
she underwent at this time.
4. There was a certain woman that dwelt beyond Jordan, her name was
Mary; her father was Eleazar, of the village Bethezob, which signifies the
house of Hyssop. She was eminent for her family and her wealth, and had
fled away to Jerusalem with the rest of the multitude, and was with them
besieged therein at this time. The other effects of this woman had been
already seized upon, such I mean as she had brought with her out of Perea,
and removed to the city. What she had treasured up besides, as also what
food she had contrived to save, had been also carried off by the rapacious
guards, who came every day running into her house for that purpose. This
put the poor woman into a very great passion, and by the frequent
reproaches and imprecations she east at these rapacious villains, she had
provoked them to anger against her; but none of them, either out of the
indignation she had raised against herself, or out of commiseration of her
case, would take away her life; and if she found any food, she perceived
her labors were for others, and not for herself; and it was now become
impossible for her any way to find any more food, while the famine
pierced through her very bowels and marrow, when also her passion was
fired to a degree beyond the famine itself; nor did she consult with any
thing but with her passion and the necessity she was in. She then
attempted a most unnatural thing; and snatching up her son, who was a
child sucking at her breast, she said, “O thou miserable infant! for whom
shall I preserve thee in this war, this famine, and this sedition? As to the
war with the Romans, if they preserve our lives, we must be slaves. This
famine also will destroy us, even before that slavery comes upon us. Yet
are these seditious rogues more terrible than both the other. Come on; be
thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets, and a by-word
to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of
us Jews.” As soon as she had said this, she slew her son, and then roasted
him, and eat the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed.
Upon this the seditious came in presently, and smelling the horrid scent of
this food, they threatened her that they would cut her throat immediately
if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready. She replied that
she had saved a very fine portion of it for them, and withal uncovered
what was left of her son. Hereupon they were seized with a horror and
amazement of mind, and stood astonished at the sight, when she said to
them, “This is mine own son, and what hath been done was mine own
doing! Come, eat of this food; for I have eaten of it myself! Do not you
pretend to be either more tender than a woman, or more compassionate
than a mother; but if you be so scrupulous, and do abominate this my
sacrifice, as I have eaten the one half, let the rest be reserved for me also.”
After which those men went out trembling, being never so much aftrighted
at any thing as they were at this, and with some difficulty they left the
rest of that meat to the mother. Upon which the whole city was full of
this horrid action immediately; and while every body laid this miserable
case before their own eyes, they trembled, as if this unheard of action had
been done by themselves. So those that were thus distressed by the famine
were very desirous to die, and those already dead were esteemed happy,
because they had not lived long enough either to hear or to see such
5. This sad instance was quickly told to the Romans, some of whom could
not believe it, and others pitied the distress which the Jews were under;
but there were many of them who were hereby induced to a more bitter
hatred than ordinary against our nation. But for Caesar, he excused himself
before God as to this matter, and said that he had proposed peace and
liberty to the Jews, as well as an oblivion of all their former insolent
practices; but that they, instead of concord, had chosen sedition; instead of
peace, war; and before satiety and abundance, a famine. That they had
begun with their own hands to burn down that temple which we have
preserved hitherto; and that therefore they deserved to eat such food as
this was. That, however, this horrid action of eating an own child ought to
be covered with the overthrow of their very country itself, and men ought
not to leave such a city upon the habitable earth to be seen by the sun,
wherein mothers are thus fed, although such food be fitter for the fathers
than for the mothers to eat of, since it is they that continue still in a state
of war against us, after they have undergone such miseries as these. And at
the same time that he said this, he reflected on the desperate condition
these men must be in; nor could he expect that such men could be
recovered to sobriety of mind, after they had endured those very
sufferings, for the avoiding whereof it only was probable they might have
1. AND now two of the legions had completed their banks on the eighth
day of the month Lous [Ab]. Whereupon Titus gave orders that the
battering rams should be brought, and set over against the western edifice
of the inner temple; for before these were brought, the firmest of all the
other engines had battered the wall for six days together without ceasing,
without making any impression upon it; but the vast largeness and strong
connexion of the stones were superior to that engine, and to the other
battering rams also. Other Romans did indeed undermine the foundations
of the northern gate, and after a world of pains removed the outermost
stones, yet was the gate still upheld by the inner stones, and stood still
unhurt; till the workmen, despairing of all such attempts by engines and
crows, brought their ladders to the cloisters. Now the Jews did not
interrupt them in so doing; but when they were gotten up, they fell upon
them, and fought with them; some of them they thrust down, and threw
them backwards headlong; others of them they met and slew; they also
beat many of those that went down the ladders again, and slew them with
their swords before they could bring their shields to protect them; nay,
some of the ladders they threw down from above when they were full of
armed men; a great slaughter was made of the Jews also at the same time,
while those that bare the ensigns fought hard for them, as deeming it a
terrible thing, and what would tend to their great shame, if they permitted
them to be stolen away. Yet did the Jews at length get possession of these
engines, and destroyed those that had gone up the ladders, while the rest
were so intimidated by what those suffered who were slain, that they
retired; although none of the Romans died without having done good
service before his death. Of the seditious, those that had fought bravely in
the former battles did the like now, as besides them did Eleazar, the
brother’s son of Simon the tyrant. But when Titus perceived that his
endeavors to spare a foreign temple turned to the damage of his soldiers,
and then be killed, he gave order to set the gates on fire.
2. In the mean time, there deserted to him Ananus, who came from
Emmaus, the most bloody of all Simon’s guards, and Archelaus, the son of
Magadatus, they hoping to be still forgiven, because they left the Jews at a
time when they were the conquerors. Titus objected this to these men, as a
cunning trick of theirs; and as he had been informed of their other
barbarities towards the Jews, he was going in all haste to have them both
slain. He told them that they were only driven to this desertion because of
the utmost distress they were in, and did not come away of their own
good disposition; and that those did not deserve to be preserved, by whom
their own city was already set on fire, out of which fire they now hurried
themselves away. However, the security he had promised deserters
overcame his resentments, and he dismissed them accordingly, though he
did not give them the same privileges that he had afforded to others. And
now the soldiers had already put fire to the gates, and the silver that was
over them quickly carried the flames to the wood that was within it,
whence it spread itself all on the sudden, and caught hold on the cloisters.
Upon the Jews seeing this fire all about them, their spirits sunk together
with their bodies, and they were under such astonishment, that not one of
them made any haste, either to defend himself or to quench the fire, but
they stood as mute spectators of it only. However, they did not so grieve
at the loss of what was now burning, as to grow wiser thereby for the time
to come; but as though the holy house itself had been on fire already, they
whetted their passions against the Romans. This fire prevailed during that
day and the next also; for the soldiers were not able to burn all the cloisters
that were round about together at one time, but only by pieces.
3. But then, on the next day, Titus commanded part of his army to quench
the fire, and to make a road for the more easy marching up of the legions,
while he himself gathered the commanders together. Of those there were
assembled the six principal persons: Tiberius Alexander, the commander
[under the general] of the whole army; with Sextus Cerealis, the
commander of the fifth legion; and Larcius Lepidus, the commander of the
tenth legion; and Titus Frigius, the commander of the fifteenth legion: there
was also with them Eternius, the leader of the two legions that came from
Alexandria; and Marcus Antonius Julianus, procurator of Judea: after
these came together all the rest of the procurators and tribunes. Titus
proposed to these that they should give him their advice what should be
done about the holy house. Now some of these thought it would be the
best way to act according to the rules of war, [and demolish it,] because
the Jews would never leave off rebelling while that house was standing; at
which house it was that they used to get all together. Others of them were
of opinion, that in case the Jews would leave it, and none of them would
lay their arms up in it, he might save it; but that in case they got upon it,
and fought any more, he might burn it; because it must then be looked
upon not as a holy house, but as a citadel; and that the impiety of burning
it would then belong to those that forced this to be done, and not to them.
But Titus said, that “although the Jews should get upon that holy house,
and fight us thence, yet ought we not to revenge ourselves on things that
are inanimate, instead of the men themselves;” and that he was not in any
case for burning down so vast a work as that was, because this would be a
mischief to the Romans themselves, as it would be an ornament to their
government while it continued. So Fronto, and Alexander, and Cerealis
grew bold upon that declaration, and agreed to the opinion of Titus. Then
was this assembly dissolved, when Titus had given orders to the
commanders that the rest of their forces should lie still; but that they
should make use of such as were most courageous in this attack. So he
commanded that the chosen men that were taken out of the cohorts should
make their way through the ruins, and quench the fire.
4. Now it is true that on this day the Jews were so weary, and under such
consternation, that they refrained from any attacks. But on the next day
they gathered their whole force together, and ran upon those that guarded
the outward court of the temple very boldly, through the east gate, and
this about the second hour of the day. These guards received that their
attack with great bravery, and by covering themselves with their shields
before, as if it were with a wall, they drew their squadron close together;
yet was it evident that they could not abide there very long, but would be
overborne by the multitude of those that sallied out upon them, and by the
heat of their passion. However, Caesar seeing, from the tower of Antonia,
that this squadron was likely to give way, he sent some chosen horsemen
to support them. Hereupon the Jews found themselves not able to sustain
their onset, and upon the slaughter of those in the forefront, many of the
rest were put to flight. But as the Romans were going off, the Jews turned
upon them, and fought them; and as those Romans came back upon them,
they retreated again, until about the fifth hour of the day they were
overborne, and shut themselves up in the inner [court of the] temple.
5. So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the
temple the next day, early in the morning, with his whole army, and to
encamp round about the holy house. But as for that house, God had, for
certain, long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come,
according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month
Lous, [Ab,] upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon;
although these flames took their rise from the Jews themselves, and were
occasioned by them; for upon Titus’s retiring, the seditious lay still for a
little while, and then attacked the Romans again, when those that guarded
the holy house fought with those that quenched the fire that was burning
the inner [court of the] temple; but these Romans put the Jews to flight,
and proceeded as far as the holy house itself. At which time one of the
soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread
upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain
divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and
being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through
which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy
house, on the north side of it. As the flames went upward, the Jews made
a great clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to
prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered
any thing to restrain their force, since that holy house was perishing, for
whose sake it was that they kept such a guard about it.
6. And now a certain person came running to Titus, and told him of this
fire, as he was resting himself in his tent after the last battle; whereupon he
rose up in great haste, and, as he was, ran to the holy house, in order to
have a stop put to the fire; after him followed all his commanders, and
after them followed the several legions, in great astonishment; so there was
a great clamor and tumult raised, as was natural upon the disorderly
motion of so great an army. Then did Caesar, both by calling to the
soldiers that were fighting, with a loud voice, and by giving a signal to
them with his right hand, order them to quench the fire. But they did not
hear what he said, though he spake so loud, having their ears already
dimmed by a greater noise another way; nor did they attend to the signal
he made with his hand neither, as still some of them were distracted with
fighting, and others with passion. But as for the legions that came running
thither, neither any persuasions nor any threatenings could restrain their
violence, but each one’s own passion was his commander at this time; and
as they were crowding into the temple together, many of them were
trampled on by one another, while a great number fell among the ruins of
the cloisters, which were still hot and smoking, and were destroyed in the
same miserable way with those whom they had conquered; and when they
were come near the holy house, they made as if they did not so much as
hear Caesar’s orders to the contrary; but they encouraged those that were
before them to set it on fire. As for the seditious, they were in too great
distress already to afford their assistance [towards quenching the fire];
they were every where slain, and every where beaten; and as for a great
part of the people, they were weak and without arms, and had their
throats cut wherever they were caught. Now round about the altar lay
dead bodies heaped one upon another, as at the steps 16 going up to it ran a
great quantity of their blood, whither also the dead bodies that were slain
above [on the altar] fell down.
7. And now, since Caesar was no way able to restrain the enthusiastic fury
of the soldiers, and the fire proceeded on more and more, he went into the
holy place of the temple, with his commanders, and saw it, with what was
in it, which he found to be far superior to what the relations of foreigners
contained, and not inferior to what we ourselves boasted of and believed
about it. But as the flame had not as yet reached to its inward parts, but
was still consuming the rooms that were about the holy house, and Titus
supposing what the fact was, that the house itself might yet he saved, he
came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire,
and gave order to Liberalius the centurion, and one of those spearmen that
were about him, to beat the soldiers that were refractory with their staves,
and to restrain them; yet were their passions too hard for the regards they
had for Caesar, and the dread they had of him who forbade them, as was
their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them,
too hard for them also. Moreover, the hope of plunder induced many to go
on, as having this opinion, that all the places within were full of money,
and as seeing that all round about it was made of gold. And besides, one of
those that went into the place prevented Caesar, when he ran so hastily
out to restrain the soldiers, and threw the fire upon the hinges of the gate,
in the dark; whereby the flame burst out from within the holy house itself
immediately, when the commanders retired, and Caesar with them, and
when nobody any longer forbade those that were without to set fire to it.
And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar’s approbation.
8. Now although any one would justly lament the destruction of such a
work as this was, since it was the most admirable of all the works that we
have seen or heard of, both for its curious structure and its magnitude, and
also for the vast wealth bestowed upon it, as well as for the glorious
reputation it had for its holiness; yet might such a one comfort himself
with this thought, that it was fate that decreed it so to be, which is
inevitable, both as to living creatures, and as to works and places also.
However, one cannot but wonder at the accuracy of this period thereto
relating; for the same month and day were now observed, as I said before,
wherein the holy house was burnt formerly by the Babylonians. Now the
number of years that passed from its first foundation, which was laid by
king Solomon, till this its destruction, which happened in the second year
of the reign of Vespasian, are collected to be one thousand one hundred and
thirty, besides seven months and fifteen days; and from the second
building of it, which was done by Haggai, in the second year of Cyrus the
king, till its destruction under Vespasian, there were six hundred and
thirty-nine years and forty-five days.
1. WHILE the holy house was on fire, every thing was plundered that came
to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain; nor was
there a commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity, but children,
and old men, and profane persons, and priests were all slain in the same
manner; so that this war went round all sorts of men, and brought them to
destruction, and as well those that made supplication for their lives, as
those that defended themselves by fighting. The flame was also carried a
long way, and made an echo, together with the groans of those that were
slain; and because this hill was high, and the works at the temple were
very great, one would have thought the whole city had been on fire. Nor
can one imagine any thing either greater or more terrible than this noise; for
there was at once a shout of the Roman legions, who were marching all
together, and a sad clamor of the seditious, who were now surrounded
with fire and sword. The people also that were left above were beaten
back upon the enemy, and under a great consternation, and made sad
moans at the calamity they were under; the multitude also that was in the
city joined in this outcry with those that were upon the hill. And besides,
many of those that were worn away by the famine, and their mouths
almost closed, when they saw the fire of the holy house, they exerted their
utmost strength, and brake out into groans and outcries again: Pera 17 did
also return the echo, as well as the mountains round about [the city,] and
augmented the force of the entire noise. Yet was the misery itself more
terrible than this disorder; for one would have thought that the hill itself,
on which the temple stood, was seething hot, as full of fire on every part
of it, that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that
were slain more in number than those that slew them; for the ground did
no where appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it; but the soldiers
went over heaps of those bodies, as they ran upon such as fled from them.
And now it was that the multitude of the robbers were thrust out [of the
inner court of the temple by the Romans,] and had much ado to get into
the outward court, and from thence into the city, while the remainder of
the populace fled into the cloister of that outer court. As for the priests,
some of them plucked up from the holy house the spikes 18 that were
upon it, with their bases, which were made of lead, and shot them at the
Romans instead of darts. But then as they gained nothing by so doing, and
as the fire burst out upon them, they retired to the wall that was eight
cubits broad, and there they tarried; yet did two of these of eminence
among them, who might have saved themselves by going over to the
Romans, or have borne up with courage, and taken their fortune with the
others, throw themselves into the fire, and were burnt together with the
holy house; their names were Meirus the son of Belgas, and Joseph the
son of Daleus.
2. And now the Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was
round about the holy house, burnt all those places, as also the remains of
the cloisters and the gates, two excepted; the one on the east side, and the
other on the south; both which, however, they burnt afterward. They also
burnt down the treasury chambers, in which was an immense quantity of
money, and an immense number of garments, and other precious goods
there reposited; and, to speak all in a few words, there it was that the
entire riches of the Jews were heaped up together, while the rich people
had there built themselves chambers [to contain such furniture]. The
soldiers also came to the rest of the cloisters that were in the outer [court
of the] temple, whither the women and children, and a great mixed
multitude of the people, fled, in number about six thousand. But before
Caesar had determined any thing about these people, or given the
commanders any orders relating to them, the soldiers were in such a rage,
that they set that cloister on fire; by which means it came to pass that
some of these were destroyed by throwing themselves down headlong, and
some were burnt in the cloisters themselves. Nor did any one of them
escape with his life. A false prophet 19 was the occasion of these people’s
destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day,
that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they
should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a
great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the
people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance
from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that
they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man
that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such
a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries
which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his
3. Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such
as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs
that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation,
but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider,
did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a
star 20 resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that
continued a whole year. Thus also before the Jews’ rebellion, and before
those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in
great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the
month Xanthicus, 21 [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a
light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright
day time; which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign
to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to
portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same
festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed,
brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. Moreover, the eastern gate
of the inner 22 [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy,
and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis
armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor,
which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its
own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch
in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told
him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was
able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very
happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness.
But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house
was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the
advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that the signal
foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a
few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month
Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon
appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not
related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so
considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting,
chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about
among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which
we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court
of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations,
they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great
noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying,
“Let us remove hence.” But, what is still more terrible, there was one
Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years
before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace
and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one
to make tabernacles to God in the temple, 23 began on a sudden to cry
aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four
winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the
bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!” This
was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the
city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great
indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a
great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for
himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on
with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers,
supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in
the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till
his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself,
nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone
possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, “Woe, woe to
Jerusalem!” And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked
him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words?
he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his
melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed
him. Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man
did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so;
but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his
premeditated vow, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” Nor did he give ill words to
any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave
him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a
melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest
at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five
months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very
time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it
ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his
utmost force, “Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the
holy house!” And just as he added at the last, “Woe, woe to myself also!”
there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him
immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the
4. Now if any one consider these things, he will find that God takes care of
mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their
preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and
voluntarily bring upon themselves; for the Jews, by demolishing the tower
of Antonia, had made their temple four-square, while at the same time they
had it written in their sacred oracles, “That then should their city be taken,
as well as their holy house, when once their temple should become
four-square.” But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this
war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings,
how,” about that time, one from their country should become governor of
the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves
in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their
determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of
Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea. However, it is not
possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand. But these
men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure, and
some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was
demonstrated, both by the taking of their city and their own destruction.
1. AND now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and
upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round
about it, brought their ensigns to the temple 24 and set them over against
its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did
they make Titus imperator 25 with the greatest acclamations of joy. And
now all the soldiers had such vast quantities of the spoils which they had
gotten by plunder, that in Syria a pound weight of gold was sold for half
its former value. But as for those priests that kept themselves still upon
the wall of the holy house,26 there was a boy that, out of the thirst he was
in, desired some of the Roman guards to give him their right hands as a
security for his life, and confessed he was very thirsty. These guards
commiserated his age, and the distress he was in, and gave him their right
hands accordingly. So he came down himself, and drank some water, and
filled the vessel he had with him when he came to them with water, and
then went off, and fled away to his own friends; nor could any of those
guards overtake him; but still they reproached him for his perfidiousness.
To which he made this answer: “I have not broken the agreement; for the
security I had given me was not in order to my staying with you, but only
in order to my coming down safely, and taking up some water; both which
things I have performed, and thereupon think myself to have been faithful
to my engagement.” Hereupon those whom the child had imposed upon
admired at his cunning, and that on account of his age. On the fifth day
afterward, the priests that were pined with the famine came down, and
when they were brought to Titus by the guards, they begged for their
lives; but he replied, that the time of pardon was over as to them, and that
this very holy house, on whose account only they could justly hope to be
preserved, was destroyed; and that it was agreeable to their office that
priests should perish with the house itself to which they belonged. So he
ordered them to be put to death.
2. But as for the tyrants themselves, and those that were with them, when
they found that they were encompassed on every side, and, as it were,
walled round, without any method of escaping, they desired to treat with
Titus by word of mouth. Accordingly, such was the kindness of his
nature, and his desire of preserving the city from destruction, joined to the
advice of his friends, who now thought the robbers were come to a temper,
that he placed himself on the western side of the outer [court of the]
temple; for there were gates on that side above the Xystus, and a bridge
that connected the upper city to the temple. This bridge it was that lay
between the tyrants and Caesar, and parted them; while the multitude
stood on each side; those of the Jewish nation about Sinran and John, with
great hopes of pardon; and the Romans about Caesar, in great expectation
how Titus would receive their supplication. So Titus charged his soldiers
to restrain their rage, and to let their darts alone, and appointed an
interpreter between them, which was a sign that he was the conqueror, and
first began the discourse, and said, “I hope you, sirs, are now satiated with
the miseries of your country, who have not bad any just notions, either of
our great power, or of your own great weakness, but have, like madmen,
after a violent and inconsiderate manner, made such attempts, as have
brought your people, your city, and your holy house to destruction. You
have been the men that have never left off rebelling since Pompey first
conquered you, and have, since that time, made open war with the
Romans. Have you depended on your multitude, while a very small part
of the Roman soldiery have been strong enough for you? Have you relied
on the fidelity of your confederates? And what nations are there, out of
the limits of our dominion, that would choose to assist the Jews before the
Romans? Are your bodies stronger than ours? nay, you know that the
[strong] Germans themselves are our servants. Have you stronger walls
than we have? Pray, what greater obstacle is there than the wall of the
ocean, with which the Britons are encompassed, and yet do adore the arms
of the Romans. Do you exceed us in courage of soul, and in the sagacity of
your commanders? Nay, indeed, you cannot but know that the very
Carthaginians have been conquered by us. It can therefore be nothing
certainly but the kindness of us Romans which hath excited you against
us; who, in the first place, have given you this land to possess; and, in the
next place, have set over you kings of your own nation; and, in the third
place, have preserved the laws of your forefathers to you, and have withal
permitted you to live, either by yourselves, or among others, as it should
please you: and, what is our chief favor of all we have given you leave to
gather up that tribute which is paid to God 27 with such other gifts that are
dedicated to him; nor have we called those that carried these donations to
account, nor prohibited them; till at length you became richer than we
ourselves, even when you were our enemies; and you made preparations
for war against us with our own money; nay, after all, when you were in
the enjoyment of all these advantages, you turned your too great plenty
against those that gave it you, and, like merciless serpents, have thrown
out your poison against those that treated you kindly. I suppose,
therefore, that you might despise the slothfulness of Nero, and, like limbs
of the body that are broken or dislocated, you did then lie quiet, waiting
for some other time, though still with a malicious intention, and have now
showed your distemper to be greater than ever, and have extended your
desires as far as your impudent and immense hopes would enable you to
do it. At this time my father came into this country, not with a design to
punish you for what you had done under Cestius, but to admonish you;
for had he come to overthrow your nation, he had run directly to your
fountain-head, and had immediately laid this city waste; whereas he went
and burnt Galilee and the neighboring parts, and thereby gave you time for
repentance; which instance of humanity you took for an argument of his
weakness, and nourished up your impudence by our mildness. When Nero
was gone out of the world, you did as the wickedest wretches would have
done, and encouraged yourselves to act against us by our civil dissensions,
and abused that time, when both I and my father were gone away to
Egypt, to make preparations for this war. Nor were you ashamed to raise
disturbances against us when we were made emperors, and this while you
had experienced how mild we had been, when we were no more than
generals of the army. But when the government was devolved upon us,
and all other people did thereupon lie quiet, and even foreign nations sent
embassies, and congratulated our access to the government, then did you
Jews show yourselves to be our enemies. You sent embassies to those of
your nation that are beyond Euphrates to assist you in your raising
disturbances; new walls were built by you round your city, seditions
arose, and one tyrant contended against another, and a civil war broke out
among you; such indeed as became none but so wicked a people as you
are. I then came to this city, as unwillingly sent by my father, and received
melancholy injunctions from him. When I heard that the people were
disposed to peace, I rejoiced at it; I exhorted you to leave off these
proceedings before I began this war; I spared you even when you had
fought against me a great while; I gave my right hand as security to the
deserters; I observed what I had promised faithfully. When they fled to
me, I had compassion on many of those that I had taken captive; I tortured
those that were eager for war, in order to restrain them. It was unwillingly
that I brought my engines of war against your walls; I always prohibited
my soldiers, when they were set upon your slaughter, from their severity
against you. After every victory I persuaded you to peace, as though I had
been myself conquered. When I came near your temple, I again departed
from the laws of war, and exhorted you to spare your own sanctuary, and
to preserve your holy house to yourselves. I allowed you a quiet exit out
of it, and security for your preservation; nay, if you had a mind, I gave
you leave to fight in another place. Yet have you still despised every one
of my proposals, and have set fire to your holy house with your own
hands. And now, vile wretches, do you desire to treat with me by word of
mouth? To what purpose is it that you would save such a holy house as
this was, which is now destroyed? What preservation can you now desire
after the destruction of your temple? Yet do you stand still at this very
time in your armor; nor can you bring yourselves so much as to pretend to
be supplicants even in this your utmost extremity. O miserable creatures!
what is it you depend on? Are not your people dead? is not your holy
house gone? is not your city in my power? and are not your own very
lives in my hands? And do you still deem it a part of valor to die?
However, I will not imitate your madness. If you throw down your arms,
and deliver up your bodies to me, I grant you your lives; and I will act like
a mild master of a family; what cannot be healed shall be punished, and the
rest I will preserve for my own use.”
3. To that offer of Titus they made this reply: That they could not accept
of it, because they had sworn never to do so; but they desired they might
have leave to go through the wall that had been made about them, with
their wives and children; for that they would go into the desert, and leave
the city to him. At this Titus had great indignation, that when they were in
the case of men already taken captives, they should pretend to make their
own terms with him, as if they had been conquerors. So he ordered this
proclamation to be made to them, That they should no more come out to
him as deserters, nor hope for any further security; for that he would
henceforth spare nobody, but fight them with his whole army; and that
they must save themselves as well as they could; for that he would from
henceforth treat them according to the laws of war. So he gave orders to
the soldiers both to burn and to plunder the city; who did nothing indeed
that day; but on the next day they set fire to the repository of the
archives, to Acra, to the council-house, and to the place called Ophlas; at
which time the fire proceeded as far as the palace of queen Helena, which
was in the middle of Acra; the lanes also were burnt down, as were also
those houses that were full of the dead bodies of such as were destroyed
by famine.
4. On the same day it was that the sons and brethren of Izates the king,
together with many others of the eminent men of the populace, got
together there, and besought Caesar to give them his right hand for their
security; upon which, though he was very angry at all that were now
remaining, yet did he not lay aside his old moderation, but received these
men. At that time, indeed, he kept them all in custody, but still bound the
king’s sons and kinsmen, and led them with him to Rome, in order to make
them hostages for their country’s fidelity to the Romans.
1. AND now the seditious rushed into the royal palace, into which many
had put their effects, because it was so strong, and drove the Romans
away from it. They also slew all the people that had crowded into it, who
were in number about eight thousand four hundred, and plundered them of
what they had. They also took two of the Romans alive; the one was a
horseman, and the other a footman. They then cut the throat of the
footman, and immediately had him drawn through the whole city, as
revenging themselves upon the whole body of the Romans by this one
instance. But the horseman said he had somewhat to suggest to them in
order to their preservation; whereupon he was brought before Simon; but
he having nothing to say when he was there, he was delivered to Ardalas,
one of his commanders, to be punished, who bound his hands behind him,
and put a riband over his eyes, and then brought him out over against the
Romans, as intending to cut off his head. But the man prevented that
execution, and ran away to the Romans, and this while the Jewish
executioner was drawing out his sword. Now when he was gotten away
from the enemy, Titus could not think of putting him to death; but
because he deemed him unworthy of being a Roman soldier any longer, on
account that he had been taken alive by the enemy, he took away his arms,
and ejected him out of the legion whereto he had belonged; which, to one
that had a sense of shame, was a penalty severer than death itself.
2. On the next day the Romans drove the robbers out of the lower city,
and set all on fire as far as Siloam. These soldiers were indeed glad to see
the city destroyed. But they missed the plunder, because the seditious had
carried off all their effects, and were retired into the upper city; for they
did not yet at all repent of the mischiefs they had done, but were insolent,
as if they had done well; for, as they saw the city on fire, they appeared
cheerful, and put on joyful countenances, in expectation, as they said, of
death to end their miseries. Accordingly, as the people were now slain, the
holy house was burnt down, and the city was on fire, there was nothing
further left for the enemy to do. Yet did not Josephus grow weary, even in
this utmost extremity, to beg of them to spare what was left of the city; he
spake largely to them about their barbarity and impiety, and gave them his
advice in order to their escape; though he gained nothing thereby more than
to be laughed at by them; and as they could not think of surrendering
themselves up, because of the oath they had taken, nor were strong enough
to fight with the Romans any longer upon the square, as being surrounded
on all sides, and a kind of prisoners already, yet were they so accustomed
to kill people, that they could not restrain their right hands from acting
accordingly. So they dispersed themselves before the city, and laid
themselves in ambush among its ruins, to catch those that attempted to
desert to the Romans; accordingly many such deserters were caught by
them, and were all slain; for these were too weak, by reason of their want
of food, to fly away from them; so their dead bodies were thrown to the
dogs. Now every other sort of death was thought more tolerable than the
famine, insomuch that, though the Jews despaired now of mercy, yet
would they fly to the Romans, and would themselves, even of their own
accord, fall among the murderous rebels also. Nor was there any place in
the city that had no dead bodies in it, but what was entirely covered with
those that were killed either by the famine or the rebellion; and all was full
of the dead bodies of such as had perished, either by that sedition or by
that famine.
3. So now the last hope which supported the tyrants, and that crew of
robbers who were with them, was in the caves and caverns under ground;
whither, if they could once fly, they did not expect to be searched for; but
endeavored, that after the whole city should be destroyed, and the Romans
gone away, they might come out again, and escape from them. This was no
better than a dream of theirs; for they were not able to lie hid either from
God or from the Romans. However, they depended on these under-ground
subterfuges, and set more places on fire than did the Romans themselves;
and those that fled out of their houses thus set on fire into the ditches,
they killed without mercy, and pillaged them also; and if they discovered
food belonging to any one, they seized upon it and swallowed it down,
together with their blood also; nay, they were now come to fight one with
another about their plunder; and I cannot but think that, had not their
destruction prevented it, their barbarity would have made them taste of
even the dead bodies themselves.
1. NOW when Caesar perceived that the upper city was so steep that it
could not possibly be taken without raising banks against it, he distributed
the several parts of that work among his army, and this on the twentieth
day of the month Lous [Ab]. Now the carriage of the materials was a
difficult task, since all the trees, as I have already told you, that were
about the city, within the distance of a hundred furlongs, had their
branches cut off already, in order to make the former banks. The works
that belonged to the four legions were erected on the west side of the city,
over against the royal palace; but the whole body of the auxiliary troops,
with the rest of the multitude that were with them, [erected their banks] at
the Xystus, whence they reached to the bridge, and that tower of Simon
which he had built as a citadel for himself against John, when they were at
war one with another.
2. It was at this time that the commanders of the Idumeans got together
privately, and took counsel about surrendering up themselves to the
Romans. Accordingly, they sent five men to Titus, and entreated him to
give them his right hand for their security. So Titus thinking that the
tyrants would yield, if the Idumeans, upon whom a great part of the war
depended, were once withdrawn from them, after some reluctancy and
delay, complied with them, and gave them security for their lives, and sent
the five men back. But as these Idumeans were preparing to march out,
Simon perceived it, and immediately slew the five men that had gone to
Titus, and took their commanders, and put them in prison, of whom the
most eminent was Jacob, the son of Sosas; but as for the multitude of the
Idumeans, who did not at all know what to do, now their commanders
were taken from them, he had them watched, and secured the walls by a
more numerous garrison, Yet could not that garrison resist those that were
deserting; for although a great number of them were slain, yet were the
deserters many more in number. They were all received by the Romans,
because Titus himself grew negligent as to his former orders for killing
them, and because the very soldiers grew weary of killing them, and
because they hoped to get some money by sparing them; for they left only
the populace, and sold the rest of the multitude, 28 with their wives and
children, and every one of them at a very low price, and that because such
as were sold were very many, and the buyers were few: and although
Titus had made proclamation beforehand, that no deserter should come
alone by himself, that so they might bring out their families with them, yet
did he receive such as these also. However, he set over them such as were
to distinguish some from others, in order to see if any of them deserved to
be punished. And indeed the number of those that were sold was immense;
but of the populace above forty thousand were saved, whom Caesar let go
whither every one of them pleased.
3. But now at this time it was that one of the priests, the son of
Thebuthus, whose name was Jesus, upon his having security given him,
by the oath of Caesar, that he should be preserved, upon condition that he
should deliver to him certain of the precious things that had been reposited
in the temple 29 came out of it, and delivered him from the wall of the holy
house two candlesticks, like to those that lay in the holy house, with
tables, and cisterns, and vials, all made of solid gold, and very heavy. He
also delivered to him the veils and the garments, with the precious stones,
and a great number of other precious vessels that belonged to their sacred
worship. The treasurer of the temple also, whose name was Phineas, was
seized on, and showed Titus the coats and girdles of the priests, with a
great quantity of purple and scarlet, which were there reposited for the
uses of the veil, as also a great deal of cinnamon and cassia, with a large
quantity of other sweet spices, 30 which used to be mixed together, and
offered as incense to God every day. A great many other treasures were
also delivered to him, with sacred ornaments of the temple not a few;
which things thus delivered to Titus obtained of him for this man the same
pardon that he had allowed to such as deserted of their own accord.
4. And now were the banks finished on the seventh day of the month
Gorpieus, [Elul,] in eighteen days’ time, when the Romans brought their
machines against the wall. But for the seditious, some of them, as
despairing of saving the city, retired from the wall to the citadel; others of
them went down into the subterranean vaults, though still a great many of
them defended themselves against those that brought the engines for the
battery; yet did the Romans overcome them by their number and by their
strength; and, what was the principal thing of all, by going cheerfully
about their work, while the Jews were quite dejected, and become weak.
Now as soon as a part of the wall was battered down, and certain of the
towers yielded to the impression of the battering rams, those that opposed
themselves fled away, and such a terror fell upon the tyrants, as was much
greater than the occasion required; for before the enemy got over the
breach they were quite stunned, and were immediately for flying away.
And now one might see these men, who had hitherto been so insolent and
arrogant in their wicked practices, to be cast down and to tremble,
insomuch that it would pity one’s heart to observe the change that was
made in those vile persons. Accordingly, they ran with great violence upon
the Roman wall that encompassed them, in order to force away those that
guarded it, and to break through it, and get away. But when they saw that
those who had formerly been faithful to them had gone away, (as indeed
they were fled whithersoever the great distress they were in persuaded
them to flee,) as also when those that came running before the rest told
them that the western wall was entirely overthrown, while others said the
Romans were gotten in, and others that they were near, and looking out for
them, which were only the dictates of their fear, which imposed upon their
sight, they fell upon their face, and greatly lamented their own mad
conduct; and their nerves were so terribly loosed, that they could not flee
away. And here one may chiefly reflect on the power of God exercised
upon these wicked wretches, and on the good fortune of the Romans; for
these tyrants did now wholly deprive themselves of the security they had
in their own power, and came down from those very towers of their own
accord, wherein they could have never been taken by force, nor indeed by
any other way than by famine. And thus did the Romans, when they had
taken such great pains about weaker walls, get by good fortune what they
could never have gotten by their engines; for three of these towers were
too strong for all mechanical engines whatsoever, concerning which we
have treated above.
5. So they now left these towers of themselves, or rather they were ejected
out of them by God himself, and fled immediately to that valley which
was under Siloam, where they again recovered themselves out of the dread
they were in for a while, and ran violently against that part of the Roman
wall which lay on that side; but as their courage was too much depressed
to make their attacks with sufficient force, and their power was now
broken with fear and affliction, they were repulsed by the guards, and
dispersing themselves at distances from each other, went down into the
subterranean caverns. So the Romans being now become masters of the
walls, they both placed their ensigns upon the towers, and made joyful
acclamations for the victory they had gained, as having found the end of
this war much lighter than its beginning; for when they had gotten upon
the last wall, without any bloodshed, they could hardly believe what they
found to be true; but seeing nobody to oppose them, they stood in doubt
what such an unusual solitude could mean. But when they went in
numbers into the lanes of the city with their swords drawn, they slew
those whom they overtook without and set fire to the houses whither the
Jews were fled, and burnt every soul in them, and laid waste a great many
of the rest; and when they were come to the houses to plunder them, they
found in them entire families of dead men, and the upper rooms full of
dead corpses, that is, of such as died by the famine; they then stood in a
horror at this sight, and went out without touching any thing. But although
they had this commiseration for such as were destroyed in that manner,
yet had they not the same for those that were still alive, but they ran every
one through whom they met with, and obstructed the very lanes with their
dead bodies, and made the whole city run down with blood, to such a
degree indeed that the fire of many of the houses was quenched with these
men’s blood. And truly so it happened, that though the slayers left off at
the evening, yet did the fire greatly prevail in the night; and as all was
burning, came that eighth day of the month Gorpieus [Elul] upon
Jerusalem, a city that had been liable to so many miseries during this siege,
that, had it always enjoyed as much happiness from its first foundation, it
would certainly have been the envy of the world. Nor did it on any other
account so much deserve these sore misfortunes, as by producing such a
generation of men as were the occasions of this its overthrow.
1. Now when Titus was come into this [upper] city, he admired not only
some other places of strength in it, but particularly those strong towers
which the tyrants in their mad conduct had relinquished; for when he saw
their solid altitude, and the largeness of their several stones, and the
exactness of their joints, as also how great was their breadth, and how
extensive their length, he expressed himself after the manner following:
“We have certainly had God for our assistant in this war, and it was no
other than God who ejected the Jews out of these fortifications; for what
could the hands of men or any machines do towards overthrowing these
towers?” At which time he had many such discourses to his friends; he
also let such go free as had been bound by the tyrants, and were left in the
prisons. To conclude, when he entirely demolished the rest of the city, and
overthrew its walls, he left these towers as a monument of his good
fortune, which had proved his auxiliaries, and enabled him to take what
could not otherwise have been taken by him.
2. And now, since his soldiers were already quite tired with killing men,
and yet there appeared to be a vast multitude still remaining alive, Caesar
gave orders that they should kill none but those that were in arms, and
opposed them, but should take the rest alive. But, together with those
whom they had orders to slay, they slew the aged and the infirm; but for
those that were in their flourishing age, and who might be useful to them,
they drove them together into the temple, and shut them up within the
walls of the court of the women; over which Caesar set one of his
freed-men, as also Fronto, one of his own friends; which last was to
determine every one’s fate, according to his merits. So this Fronto slew all
those that had been seditious and robbers, who were impeached one by
another; but of the young men he chose out the tallest and most beautiful,
and reserved them for the triumph; and as for the rest of the multitude that
were above seventeen years old, he put them into bonds, and sent them to
the Egyptian mines 31 Titus also sent a great number into the provinces, as
a present to them, that they might be destroyed upon their theatres, by
the sword and by the wild beasts; but those that were under seventeen
years of age were sold for slaves. Now during the days wherein Fronto
was distinguishing these men, there perished, for want of food, eleven
thousand; some of whom did not taste any food, through the hatred their
guards bore to them; and others would not take in any when it was given
them. The multitude also was so very great, that they were in want even
of corn for their sustenance.
3. Now the number 32 of those that were carried captive during this whole
war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand; as was the number of
those that perished during the whole siege eleven hundred thousand, the
greater part of whom were indeed of the same nation [with the citizens of
Jerusalem], but not belonging to the city itself; for they were come up
from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a
sudden shut up by an army, which, at the very first, occasioned so great a
straitness among them, that there came a pestilential destruction upon
them, and soon afterward such a famine, as destroyed them more
suddenly. And that this city could contain so many people in it, is
manifest by that number of them which was taken under Cestius, who
being desirous of informing Nero of the power of the city, who otherwise
was disposed to contemn that nation, entreated the high priests, if the
thing were possible, to take the number of their whole multitude. So these
high priests, upon the coming of that feast which is called the Passover,
when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour till the eleventh, but so
that a company not less than ten 33 belong to every sacrifice, (for it is not
lawful for them to feast singly by themselves,) and many of us are twenty
in a company, found the number of sacrifices was two hundred and
fifty-six thousand five hundred; which, upon the allowance of no more
than ten that feast together, amounts to two millions seven hundred
thousand and two hundred persons that were pure and holy; for as to
those that have the leprosy, or the gonorrhea, or women that have their
monthly courses, or such as are otherwise polluted, it is not lawful for
them to be partakers of this sacrifice; nor indeed for any foreigners neither,
who come hither to worship.
4. Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the
entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army
encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. Accordingly,
the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions
that either men or God ever brought upon the world; for, to speak only of
what was publicly known, the Romans slew some of them, some they
carried captives, and others they made a search for under ground, and when
they found where they were, they broke up the ground and slew all they
met with. There were also found slain there above two thousand persons,
partly by their own hands, and partly by one another, but chiefly
destroyed by the famine; but then the ill savor of the dead bodies was
most offensive to those that lighted upon them, insomuch that some were
obliged to get away immediately, while others were so greedy of gain, that
they would go in among the dead bodies that lay on heaps, and tread upon
them; for a great deal of treasure was found in these caverns, and the hope
of gain made every way of getting it to be esteemed lawful. Many also of
those that had been put in prison by the tyrants were now brought out; for
they did not leave off their barbarous cruelty at the very last: yet did God
avenge himself upon them both, in a manner agreeable to justice. As for
John, he wanted food, together with his brethren, in these caverns, and
begged that the Romans would now give him their right hand for his
security, which he had often proudly rejected before; but for Simon, he
struggled hard with the distress he was in, fill he was forced to surrender
himself, as we shall relate hereafter; so he was reserved for the triumph,
and to be then slain; as was John condemned to perpetual imprisonment.
And now the Romans set fire to the extreme parts of the city, and burnt
them down, and entirely demolished its walls.
1. AND thus was Jerusalem taken, in the second year of the reign of
Vespasian, on the eighth day of the month Gorpeius [Elul]. It had been
taken five 34 times before, though this was the second time of its
desolation; for Shishak, the king of Egypt, and after him Antiochus, and
after him Pompey, and after them Sosius and Herod, took the city, but
still preserved it; but before all these, the king of Babylon conquered it,
and made it desolate, one thousand four hundred and sixty-eight years and
six months after it was built. But he who first built it. Was a potent man
among the Canaanites, and is in our own tongue called [Melchisedek], the
Righteous King, for such he really was; on which account he was [there]
the first priest of God, and first built a temple [there], and called the city
Jerusalem, which was formerly called Salem. However, David, the king of
the Jews, ejected the Canaanites, and

1. AND thus was Jerusalem taken, in the second year of the reign of
Vespasian, on the eighth day of the month Gorpeius [Elul]. It had been
taken five 34 times before, though this was the second time of its
desolation; for Shishak, the king of Egypt, and after him Antiochus, and
after him Pompey, and after them Sosius and Herod, took the city, but
still preserved it; but before all these, the king of Babylon conquered it,
and made it desolate, one thousand four hundred and sixty-eight years and
six months after it was built. But he who first built it. Was a potent man
among the Canaanites, and is in our own tongue called [Melchisedek], the
Righteous King, for such he really was; on which account he was [there]
the first priest of God, and first built a temple [there], and called the city
Jerusalem, which was formerly called Salem. However, David, the king of
the Jews, ejected the Canaanites, and set-tied his own people therein. It
was demolished entirely by the Babylonians, four hundred and
seventy-seven years and six months after him. And from king David, who
was the first of the Jews who reigned therein, to this destruction under
Titus, were one thousand one hundred and seventy-nine years; but from
its first building, till this last destruction, were two thousand one hundred
and seventy-seven years; yet hath not its great antiquity, nor its vast
riches, nor the diffusion of its nation over all the habitable earth, nor the
greatness of the veneration paid to it on a religious account, been sufficient
to preserve it from being destroyed. And thus ended the siege of
N. B. This is the proper place for such as have closely attended to these latter
books of the War to peruse, and that with equal attention, those distinct and
plain predictions of Jesus of Nazareth, in the Gospels thereto relating, as
compared with their exact completions in Josephus’s history; upon which
completions, as Dr: Whitby well observes, Annot. on Matthew 24:2, no small
part of the evidence for the truth of the Christian religion does depend; and as
I have step by step compared them together in my Literal Accomplishment
of Scripture Prophecies. The reader is to observe further, that the true reason
why I have so seldom taken notice of those completions in the course of
these notes, notwithstanding their being so very remarkable, and frequently so
very obvious, is this, that I had entirely prevented myself in that treatise
beforehand; to which therefore I must here, once for all, seriously refer every
inquisitive reader. Besides these five here enumerated, who had taken
Jerusalem of old, Josephus, upon further recollection, reckons a sixth, Antiq.
B. XII. ch. 1. sect. 1, who should have been here inserted in the second place;
I mean Ptolemy, the son of Lagus.