« PreviousContinue »
against God, our Creator; nor indeed is there any animal that dies by its own contrivance, or by its own means; for the desire of life is a law engraven in them all; on which account we deem those that openly take it away from us to be our enemies; and those that do it by treachery are punished for so doing. And do not you think that God is very angry when a man does injury to what he hath bestowed on him? for from him it is that we have received our being, and we ought to leave it to his disposal to take that being away from us. The bodies of all men are indeed mortal, and are created out of corruptible matter; but the soul is ever immortal, and is a portion of the divinity that inhabits our bodies. Besides, if any one destroys or abuses a depositum he hath received from a mere man, he is esteemed a wicked and perfidious person; but then, if any one cast out of his body this divine depositum, can we imagine that he who is thereby affronted does not know of it? Moreover, our law justly ordains that slaves who run away from their masters shall be punished, though the masters they run away from may have been wicked masters to them. And shall we endeavour to run away from God, who is the best of all masters, and not think ourselves guilty of impiety? Do not you know that those who depart out of this life according to the law of nature, and pay that debt which was received from God, when he that lent it us is pleased to require it back again, enjoy eternal fame? that their houses and their posterity are sure, that their souls are pure and obedient, and obtain a most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolution of ages, they are again sent into pure bodies; while the souls of those whose hands have acted madly against then selves, are received by the darkest place in Hades, and while God, who is their father, punishes those that offend against either of them in their posterity ; for which reason God hates such doings, and the crime is punished by our most wise Legislator. Accordingly our laws determine that the bodies of such as kill themselves should be exposed till the sun be set, without burial, although at the same time it be allowed by them to be lawful to bury our enemies (sooner). The laws of other nations also enjoin such men's hands to be cut off when they are dead, which had been made use of in destroying themselves when alive, while they reckoned, that as the body is alien from the soul, so is the hand alien from the body. It is therefore, my friends, a right thing to reason justly, and not add to the calamities which men bring upon us, impiety towards our Creator. If we have a mind to preserve ourselves, let us do it; for to be preserved by those our enemies, to whom we have given so many demonstrations of our courage, is no way inglorious į
but if we have a mind to die, it is good to die by the hand of those that have conquered us. For my part, I will not · run over to our enemies' quarters, in order to be a traitor to myself; for certainly I should then be much more foolish than those that deserted to the enemy, since they did it in order to save themselves, and I should do it for destruction, for my own destruction. However, I heartily wish the Romans may prove treacherous in this matter; for if, after their offer of their right hand for security, I be slain by them, I shall die cheerfully, and carry away with me the sense of their perfidiousness, as a consolation greater than victory itself.”
6. Now these and many the like motives did Josephus use to these men, to prevent their murdering themselves; but desperation had shut their ears, as having long ago devoted themselves to die, and they were irritated at Josephus. They then ran upon him with their swords in their hands, one from one quarter, and another from another, and called him a coward, and every one of them appeared openly as if he were ready to smite him; but he, calling to one of them by name, and looking like a general to another, and taking a third by the hand, and making a fourth ashamed of himself, by praying him to forbear, and being in this condition distracted with various passions (as he well might in the great distress he was then in), he kept off every one of their swords from killing him, and was forced to do like such wild beasts as are encompassed about on every side, who always turn themselves against those that last touched them. Nay, some of their right hands were debilitated by the reverence they bare to their general, in these his fatal calamities, and their swords dropped out of their hands; and not a few of them there were who when they aimed to smite him with their swords, they were not thoroughly either willing or able to do it.
7. However, in this extreme distress, he was not destitute of his usual sagacity; but trusting himself to the providence of God, he put his life into hazard [in the manner following]: “And now,” said he, “since it is resolved among you that you will die, come on, let us commit our mutual deaths to determination by lot. He whom the lot falls to first, let him be killed by him that hath the second lot, and thus fortune shall make its progress through us all; nor shall any of us perish by his own right hand, for it would be unfair, if, when the rest are gone, somebody should repent and save himself.” This proposal appeared to them to be very just: and when he had prevailed with them to determine this matter by lots, he drew one of the lots for himself also. He who had the first lot laid his neck bare to him that had the next, as supposing that the general would die among them immediately; for they thought death, if Josephus might but die with them, was sweeter than life: yet was he with another left to the last, whether we must say it happened so by chance, or whether by the providence of God. Aud as he was very desirous neither to be condemned by the lot, nor, if he had been left to the last, to imbrue his right hand in the blood of his countryman, he persuaded him to trust his fidelity to him, and to live as well as himself.
8 Thus Josephus escaped in the war with the Romans, and in this his own war with his friends, and was led by Nicanor to Vespasian. But now all the Romans ran together to see him; and as the multitude pressed one upon another about their general, there was a tumult of a various kind; while some rejoiced that Josephus was taken, and some threatened him, and some crowded to see him very near; but those that were more remote cried out to have this their enemy put to death, while those that were near called to mind the actions he had done, and a deep concern appeared at the change of his fortune. Nor were there any of the Roman commanders, how much soever they had been enraged at him before, but relented when they came to the sight of him. Above all the rest, Titus's own valour, and Josephus's own patience under his afflictions made him pity him, as did also the commisera, tion of his age, when he recalled to mind that but a little while ago he was fighting, but lay now in the hands of his enemies; which made him consider the power of fortune, and how quick is the turn of affairs in war, and how no state of men is sure; for which reason he then made a great many more to be of the same pitiful temper with himself, and induced them to commiserate Josephus. He was also of great weight in persuading his father to preserve him. However, Vespasian gave strict orders that he should be kept with great caution, as though he would, in a very little time send him to Nero.
9. When Josephus heard him give those orders, he said, that he had somewhat in his mind that he would willingly say to himself alone. When, therefore, they were all ordered to withdraw, excepting Titus and two of their friends, he said, “Thou, O Vespasiau, thinkest no more than that thou hast taken Josephus himself captive; but I am come to thee as a messenger of great tidings; for had not I been sent by God to thee, I knew what was the law * of the Jews in this
• I do not know where to find the law of Moses here mentioned by Josephus, and afterward by Eleazar, B. vii. ch. viji. sect. 7, vol. iv. and almost implied in B. i. ch. xiii. sect. 10, vol. iji. by Josephus's commendation of Phasaelus for doing so; I mean, whereby Jewish generals and people were
case, and how it becomes generals to die. Dost thou send me to Nero? For why? Are Nero's successors till they come to thee still alive? Thou, O Vespasian, art Cæsar, and emperor, thou, and this thy son. Bind me now still faster, and keep me for thyself; for thou, O Cæsar, art not only lord over me, but over the land and the sea, and all mankind; and certainly I deserve to be kept in closer custody than I now am in, in order to be punished, if I rashly affirm any thing of God.” When he had said this, Vespasian at present did not believe him, but supposed that Josephus said this as a cunning trick in order to his own preservation; but in a little time he was convinced, and believed what he said to be true, God himself erecting his expectations, so as to think of obtaining the empire, and by other signs foreshowing his advancement. He also found Josephus to have spoken truth on other occasions; for one of those friends that were present at that secret conference said to Josephus, “I cannot but wonder how thou couldst not foretell to the people of Jotapata, that they should be taken, nor couldst foretell this captivity which hath happened to thyself, unless what thou now sayst be a vain thing in order to avoid the rage that is risen against thyself.” To which Josephus replied, “I did foretell to the people of Jotapata that they would be taken on the forty-seventh day, and that I should be caught alive by the Romans.” Now when Vespasian had inquired of the captives privately about these predictions, he found them to be true, and then he began to believe those that concerned himself. Yet did he not set Josephus at liberty from his bands, but bestowed on him suits of clothes, and other precious gifts; he treated him also in a very obliging manner, and continued so to do, Titus still joining his interest in the honours that were done him.
· CHAP. IX. How Joppa was taken, and Tiberias delivered up. § 1. Now Vespasian returned to Ptolemais on the fourth day of the month Panemus [Tamuz], and from thence he came to Cæsarea, which lay by the seaside. This was a very great city of Judea, and for the greatest part inhabited by Greeks; the citizens here received both the Roman army and its general, with all sorts of acclamations and rejoicings, and this partly out of the good will they bore to the Romans, but principally out of the hatred they bore to those that were conquered by them; on which account they came clamouring against Josephus in crowds, and desired he might be put to death. But Vespasian passed over this petition concerning him, as offered by the injudicious multitude, with a bare silence. Two of the legions also he placed at Cesarea, that they might there take their winter quarters, as perceiving the city very fit for such a purpose; but he placed the tenth and the fifth at Scythopolis, that he might not distress Cæsarea with the entire army. This place was warm even in winter, as it was suffocating hot in the summer time, by reason of its situation in a plain, and near to the sea [of Galilee].
obliged to kill themselves, rather than go into slavery under heathens. I doubt this would have been no better than self-murder; and I believe it was rather some vain doctrine, or interpretation of the rigid Pharisees, or Essens, or Herodians, than a just consequence from any law of God delivered by Moses.
2. In the meantime there were gathered together, as well such as bad seditiously got out from among their enemies, as those that had escaped out of the demolished cities, which were in all a great number, and repaired Joppa, which had been left desolate by Cestius, that it might serve them for a place of refuge; and because the adjoining region had been laid waste in the war, and was not capable of supporting them, they determined to go off to sea. They also built themselves a great many piratical ships, and turned pirates upon the seas near to Syria, and Phenicia, and Egypt, and made those seas unnavigable to all men. Now as soon as Vespasian knew of their conspiracy, he sent both footmen and horsemen to Joppa, who entered the city, which was unguarded, in the nighttime; however, those that were in it perceived that they should be attacked, and were afraid of it; yet did they not endeavour to keep the Romans out, but fled. to their ships, and lay at sea all night, out of the reach of their darts.
3. Now Joppa is not naturally a haven, for it ends in a rough shore, where all the rest of it is strait, but the two ends bent towards each other, where there are deep precipices, and great stones that jet out into the sea, and where the chains wherewith Andromeda was bound, have left their footsteps, which attest to the antiquity of that fable. But the north wind opposes and beats upon the shore, and dashes mighty waves against the rocks which receive them, and renders the haven more dangerous than the country they had deserted. Now as these people of Joppa were floating about in this sea, in the morning there fell a violent wind upon them; it is called by those that sail there, the black north wind, and there dashed their 'ships one against another, and dashed some of them against the rocks, and carried many of them by force, while they strove against the opposite waves, into