Page images
PDF
EPUB

2. But as for the Acrabbene toparchy, Simon, the son of Gioras, got a great number of those that were fond of innovations together, and betook himself to ravage the country ; por did he only harass the rich men's houses, but tormented their bodies, and appeared openly and beforehand to affect ty ranuy in his government. And when an army was sent against him by Anapus, and the other rulers, he and his band retired to the robbers that were at Masada, and staid there, and plundered the country of Idumea with them till both Anapus, and his other adversaries were slain, and until the rulers of that country were so afflicted with the multitude of those that were slaio, and with the continual ravage of what they had, that they raised an army, and put garrisons into the villa. ges, to secure them from those insults; and in this state were the affairs of Judea at that time.

BOOK III. CONTAINING THE INTERVAL OF ABOUT ONE

YEAR.

From Vespasian's coming to subdue the Jews,

to the taking of Gamala.]

CHAP. I.

Vespasian is sent into Syria by Nero, in order to make war with the

Jews.

8 1. When Nero was informed of the Romans' ill success in Judea, a concealed consternation and terror, as is usual in such cases, fell upon him; although he openly looked very big, and was very angry, and said, that what had happened was rather owing to the negligence of the commander, than to any valour of the enemy : aod as he thought it fit for him, who bare the burden of the whole empire, to despise such misfortunes, he now pretended so to do, and to have a soul superior to all such sad accidents whatsoever. Yet did the disturbance that was in his soul plainly appear by the solicitude he was in [how to recover his affairs again.]

2. And as he was deliberating to whom he should commit the care of the east, now it was in so great a commotion, and who might be best able to punish the Jews for their rebellion, and might prevent the same distemper from seizing upon the neighbouring nations also; he found no one but Vespasian equal to the task, and able to undergo the great burden of so mighty a war, seeing he was grown an old man already in the camp, and from bis youth had been exercised in warlike exploits : he was also a man that had long ago pacified the west, and made it subject to the Romans, when it had been put into disorder by the Germans; he had also recovered to them Britain by his arms, which had been little known be.

fore ;* whereby he procured to his father Claudius to have a triumph bestowed on bim, without any sweat or labour of his own.

3. So Nero esteemed these circumstances as favourable omens, and saw that Vespasiau's age gave him sure experi. ence, and great skill, and that he had his sons as hostages for his fidelity to himself, and that the flourishing age they were in would make them fit instruments under their father's prudence. Perhaps also there was some interposition of providence, which was paving the way for Vespasian's being em. peror himiself afterwards. Upon the whole, he sent this man to take upon him the command of the armies that were in Syria; but this not without great encomiums and flattering compellations, such as necessity required, and such as might mollify him into compliance. So Vespasian sent his son Titus from Achaia, where he had been with Nero, to Alexandria, to bring back with him from thence the fifth and the tenth legions, while he himself, when he had passed over the Hellespont, caine by land into Syria, wliere le gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighbourhood.

СНАР. ІІ. A great slaughter of the Jews about Ascalon. Vespasian comes to

Ptolemais. $ 1. Now the Jews, after they had beaten Cestius, were so much elevated at their unexpected success, that they could not govern their zeal, but like people blown up into a flame by their good fortune, carried the war to remoter places. Accordingly they presently got together a great multitude of all their most hardy soldiers, and marched away for Ascalon.

This is an ancient city that is distant from Jerusalem five hundred and twenty furlongs, and was always an enemy to the Jews; on which account they determined to make their

Take the confirmation of this in the words of Suetonius, bere produced by Dr. Hudson. “In the reign of Claudius,” says he,

Vespasian, for the sake of Narcissus, was sent as a lieutenant of a “ legion into Germany Thence he removed into Britain, and fought " thirty battles with the enemy.” In Vesp. $ 4. We may also here note from Josephus, that Claudius the emperor, who triumphed for the conquest of Britain, was enabled so to do by Vespasian's con. duct and bravery, and that he is here styled the the father of Vespa sinn,

first effort against it, and to make their approaches to it as pear as possible. This excursion was led on by three men, who were the chief of them all, both for strength and sagacity. Niger called the Peraite, Silas of Babylon, and besides them John the Essene. Now Ascalon was strongly walled about, but bad almost no assistance to be relied on near them, for the garrison consisted of one cohort of footmen, and one troop of horsemen, whose captain was Antonius.

2. These Jews therefore, out of their anger, marched faster than ordinary, and, as if they had come but a little way, approached very near the city, and were come even to it; but Antonius, who was not unapprized of the attack they were going to make on the city, drew out his horsemen beforehand, and being neither daunted at the multitude, nor at the courage of the enemy, received their first attacks with great bravery; and when they crowded to the very walls, he beat them off. Now the Jews were unskilful in war, but were to fight with those that were skilful therein; they were footmen to fight with horsemen; they were in disorder, to fight those that were united together; they were poorly armed to fight those that were completely so; they were to fight more by their rage than by sober counsel, and were exposed to soldiers, that were exactly obedient, and did every thing they were bidden upon the least intimation. So they were easily beaten; for as soon as ever their first ranks were once in disorder, they were put to fight by the enemy's cavalry, and those of them that came behind such as crowded to the wall, fell upon their own party's weapons, and became one another's enemies; and this so long till they were all forced to give way to the attacks of the horsemen, and were disperged all over the plain, which plain was wide, and all fit for the horsenien; which circumstance was very commodious for the Romans, and occasioned the slaughter of the greatest tumber of the Jews; for such as ran away they could overrun them, and make them turn back; and when they had brought them back after their flight, and driven them together, they ran them through, and slew a vast number of them, insomuch that others enconipassed others of them, and droye them before them whithersoever they turned themselves, and slew them easily with their arrows; and the great number there were of the Jews seemed a solitude to themselves, by reason of the distress they were in, while the Romans bad

Vol, VI.

M

such good success with their small number, that they seemed to themselves to be the greater multitude. And as the former strove zealously under their misfortunes, out of the shame of a sudden flight, and hopes of the change in their success, so did the latter feel no weariness, by reason of their good fortube ; josomuch that the fight lasted till the evening, till ten thousand men of the Jews' side lay dead with two of their genera s, John and Silas, and the greater part of the remainder were wounde, with Niger, their remaining general, who fled away together to a small city of Idumea, called Sallis ; some few also of the Romans were wounded in this battle.

3. Yet were not the spirits of the Jews broken by so great a calamity, but the losses they had sustained rather quickened their resolution for other attempts; for, overlooking the dead bodies which lay under their feet, they were enticed by their former glorious actions to venture on a second destruction ; so when they bad lain still so little a while that their wounds were not yet thoroughly cured, they got together all their forces, and came with greater fury, and in much greater numbers to Ascalon. But tlieir former ill fortune followed them, as the consequence of their unskilfulness, and other deficiencies in war; for Antonius laid ambushes for them in the passages they were to go through, where they fell into spares unexpectedly, and where they were compassed about with horsemen, before they could form themselves into a regular body for fighting, and were above eight thousand of them slain : so all the rest of them ran away, and with theni Niger, who still did a great many bold exploits in his flight. Hoirever, they were driven along together by the enemy, who pressed hard upon them, into a certain strong tower belong. ing to a village called Bezedel. However, Antonius and his party, that they might neither spend any considerable time about this tower, which was hard to be taken, nor suffer their commander, and the most courageous man of them all, to escape from them, they set the wall on fire; and as the tower was burning, the Romans went away rejoicing, as taking it for granted that Niger was destroyed; but he leaped out of the tower into a subterraneous cave, in the innermost part of it, and was preserved ; and on the third day afterward he spake out of the ground to those that, with great lamentation, were searching for him, in order to give him a decent funeral: and when he was come out, lie filled all the Jews with an un

« PreviousContinue »