Page images

ers aforehand, that their darts might come from higher places, one at the north-east corner of the court, one above the Xystus, the third at another corner, over against the lower city, and the last was erected above the top of the Pastoplioria, where one of the priests stood of course, and gave * a signal beforehand, with a trumpet, at the beginning of every seventh day, in the evening twilight, as also at the evening when that day was finished, as giving notice to the people when they were to leave off work, and when they were te go to work again. These men also set their engines to cast darts and stones withal, upon those towers, with their archers and slingers. And now Simon made his assault upon the temple more faintly, by reason that the greatest part of his men grew weary of that work; yet did not he leave off his opposition, because his army was superior to the others, al. though the darts which were thrown by the engines were carried a great way, and slew many of those that fought for him.

CHAP. X. How the soldiers, both in Judea and Egypt, proclaimed Vespasian

emperor. And how Vespasian released Josephus of his bonds.

$1. Now about this very time it was that heavy calamities came about Rome on all sides; for Vitellius was come from Germany, with his soldiery, and drew along with him a great multitude of other men besides. And when the spa. ces allotted for soldiers could not contain them, he made all Rome itself his camp, and filled all the houses with his arm, ed men; which men, when they saw the riches of Rome with those eyes which had never seen such riches before, and found themselves shone round about on all sides with silver and gold, they had much ado to contain their covetous dem sires, and were ready to betake themselves to plunder, and to the slaughter of such as should stand in tbeir way. And this was the state of affairs in Italy at that time.

* This beginning and ending the observation of the Jewish sea venth day, or Sabbath, with a priest's blowing of a trumpet, is remarkable and no where else mentioned, that I know of. Nor is Reland's conjecture here improbable, that this was the very place that has puzzled our commentators so long, called Musach Sab. butti, the Covert of the Sabbath, if that be the true reading, 2 Kings xvi. 18. because here the proper priest stood dry, under a covering, to proclaim the beginning and ending of every Jewish Sabbinala.


2. But when Vespasian had overthrown all the places that were dear to Jerusalem, he returned to Cæsarea, and heard of the troubles that were at Rome, and that Vitellius was emperor. This produced indignation in him, although he well knew how to be governed, as well as to govern, and could not with any satisfaction, own him for his lord, who acted so madly, andi seized upon the government, as if it were absolutely destitute of a governor. And as this sor. row of his was violent, he was not able to support the torments he was under, nor to apply himself farther in other wars, when his native country was laid waste; but then, as much as his passion excited bim to avenge his country, so much was he restrained by the consideration of his distance therefrom : because fortune might prevent him, and do a world of mischief before he could himself sail over the sea to Italy, especially as it was still the winter season; so he restrained his anger, how vehement soever it was at this time.

3. But now his commanders and soldiers met in several Companies, and consulted openly about changing the public affairs, and out of their indignation, cried out, how, “ At ** Rome there are soldiers that live delicately, and when

they have not ventured so much as to hear the fame of # war, they ordain whom they please for our governors, and W in hopes of gain make them emperors; while you have * gone through so many labours and have growu into years * under your helmets, give leave to others to use such' a * power, when yet you have among yourselves one more

worthy to rule than any whom they have set up. Now in what juster opportunity shall they ever have of requiting

their generals, if they do not make use of this that is DOR 65 before them ? while there is so much juster reasons for

Vespasian's being emperor, than for Vitellius; as they are themselves more deserving, than those that made the other

emperors; for that they have undergone as great wars as # have the troops that came from Germany : nor are they * inferior in war to those that have brought that tyrant to « Rome, nor have they undergone smaller labours than they; o for that neither will the Roman senate, nor people, bear $ such a lascivious emperor as Vitellius, if he be compared « with their chaste Vespasian; nor will they endure a most

barbarous ty rapt instead of a good governor, nor choose

6 one that liath * no child, to preside over them, instead of “ him that is a father; because the advancement of men's Có own children to dignities is certainly the greatest security " kings can have for themselves. Whether, therefore, we “ estimate the capacity of governing from the skill of a per “ son in years, we ought to have Vespasian, or whether from " the strength of a young man, we ought to have Titus ; for " by this means we shall have the advantage of both their “s ages, for that they will afford strength to those that shall “ be made emperors, they having already three legions, be“ sides other auxiliaries from the neighbouring kings, and 66 will have farther all the armies in the east to support then, 66 as also those in Europe, so far as they are out of the dis* tance and dread of Vitellius, besides such auxiliaries as " they may have in Italy itself, that is Vespasian's f brother, ti and his other son [Domitian]; the one of which will bring " in a great many of those young men that are of dignity, " while the other is intrusted with the government of the ci« ty, which office of his will be no small means of Vespa. si sian's obtaining the government. Upon the whole, the " case may be such, that if we ourselves make farther delays, " the senate may choose an emperor whom the soldiers, who 6 are the saviours of the empire, will have in contempt.”

4. These were the discourses the soldiers had in their several companies, after which they got together in a great body, and, encouraging one another, they declared Vespa. sian I emperor, and exhorted him to save the government which was now in danger. Now Vespasian's concern was for a considerable time about the public, yet did he not in

* The Roman authors that now remain, say Vitellius had chil. dren, whereas Josephus introduces here the Roman soldiers in Ju. clea, saying, he had none. Which of these assertions was the truth I know not. Spanheim thinks he hath given a peculiar reason for calling Vitellius childless, though be really had children. Diss. de Num. page 649, 659, to which it appears very difficult to give our assent,

+ This brother of Vespasian was Flavius Sabinus, as Suetonius informs us, in Vitell. § 15. and ir Vespas. § 2. He is also named by Josephus presently, chap. xi. 4.

# It is plain by the nature of the thing, as well as by Josephus and Eutropius, ihat Vespasian was first of all saluted emperor in Judea, and not till some time afterward in Egypt. Whence Taci. tus and Suetonius' present copies must be corrected, when they both say, that he was first proclaimed in Egypt, and that on the kalends of July, while they still say, it was the fifth of the nones

tend to set up for governor himself, though his actious shewcd him to deserve it, while he preferred that safety which is in a private life, before the dangers in a state of such diguity : but when he refused the empire, the commanders insisted the more earnestly upon his acceptance, and the sol. diers came about him, with their drawn swords in their hands, and threatened to kill him, unless he would now live according to his dignity. And when he had shewed his reluctance a great while, and had endeavoured to thrust away this dominion from him, he at length not being able to per. suade them, yielded to their solicitations that would salute him einperor.

5. So upou the exhortations of Mucianus, and the other commanders, that he would accept of the empire, and upon that of the rest of the army, who cried out, that they were willing to be led against all his opposers, he was in the first place, intent upon gaining the dominion over Alexandria, as knowing that Egypt was of the greatest consequence in order to ohtain the entire government, because of its supplying coru (to Rome, which corn if he could be master of, he hoped to dethrone Vitellius, supposing he should aim to keep the empire by force, (for he would not be able to support himself, if the multitude at Rome should once be in want of food ;) and because he was desirous to join the two legions that were at Alexandria to the other legions that were with bim. He also considered with himself, that he should then have that country for a defence to himself against the uncertainty of fortune. For * Egypt is hard to be entered by land, and hath no good haseus by sea. It hath on the west the dry deserts of Libya, and on the south, Siene, that divides it from Ethiopia, as well as the cataracts of the Nile, that cannot be sailed over, and on the east the Red Sea, extending as far as Coptus, and it is fortified on the north by the land that reaches to Syria, together with that called the Egyptian Sea, having no havens in it for ships. And thus is Egypt walled about on every side. Is length between Pelusium and Siene is two thousand furlongs, and the passage by sea, from Plinthide to Pelusium,

er ldes of the same July before he was proclaimed in Judea. I sup. pose the month they there intended was June, and not July, as the copies not have it; nor does Tacitus' coherence imply less. See Essay on the Revelation, page 136.

* Herr rollave an authentic description of the bounds and circumstances of Egypt, in the days of Vespasian and Titus.

is three thousand six hundred furlongs. Its river Nile is pavi. gable as far as the city called Elephantine, the forenamed cataracts hindering ships from going any farther. The havens also of Alexandria is not entered by the mariners without dif. ficulty, even in times of peace; for the passage inward is parrow and full of rocks, that lie under the water, which obliges the mariners to turn from a straight direction : its left side is blocked up by works made by men's hands on both sides; on its right side lies the island called Pharus, which is situated just before the entrance, and supports a very great tower, that affords the sight of a fire to such as sail within three hundred furlougs of it, that ships may cast anchor a great way off in the night time, by reason of the difficulty of sailing nearer. About this island are built very great peers, by handy-work of men, against which, when the sea dashes itself, and its waves are broken against those boundaries, the navigation becomes very troublesome, and the entrance through so narrow a passage is rendered dangerous; yet is the haven itself, when you are got into it, a very safe one, and of thirty furlongs in largeness : into which is brought what the country wants in order to its happiness as also what abundance the country af fords, more than it wants itself, is hence distributed into all the habitable earth.

6. Justly, therefore, did Vespasian desire to obtain that government, in order to corroborate his attempts upon the whole empire; so he immediately sent to Tiberius Alexander, who was then governor of Egypt, and of Alexandria, and informed him what the army had put him upon, and how he being forced to accept of the burden of the government, was desirous to have him for his confederate and supporter. Now as soon as ever Alexander had read this letter, he readily obliged the legions and the multitude to take the oath of lidelity to Vespasian, both which willivgly complied with him, as already acquainted with the courage of the man, from that his .conduct in their veighbourhood. Accordingly Vespasian looking upon bimself as already intrusted with the government, got all things ready for his journey [to Rome.] Now fame carried this news abroad, more suddenly than one could have thought, that he was einperor over the east, upon which every city kept festivals, and celebrated sacrifices and oblations for such good news: the legions also that were in Mysia and Pannonia, who had been in commotion a little before, ob accouut of this jasolent attempt of Vitellius were very glad

« PreviousContinue »