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of Jericho, and filed to those mountainous parts that lay over against Jerusalem, while that part which was left behind was in a great measure de. stroyed ; they also found the city desolate. It is situated in a plain, but a naked and barren mountain, of a very great length, hangs over it, which extends itself to the land about Scythopolis northward, but as far as the country of Sodom, and the utmost limits of the lake Asphaltitis southward, This mountain is all of it very uneven and uninhabited, by reason of its barrenness; there is an opposite mountain that is situated over against it, on the other side of Jordan : this last begins at Julias, and the northern quarters, and extends itself southward as far as Somorrhon,* which is the bounds of Petra in Arabia. In this ridge of mountains there is one called the Iron Mountain, that runs in length as far as Moab. Now the region that lies in the middle between this ridge of mountains is called the Great Plaid; it reaches from the village of Ginnabris, as far as the lake Asphaltitis ; its length is two hundred and thirty furlongs, and its breadth a hundred and twenty, and it is divided in the midst by Jordan. It hath two lakes in it, that of Asphaltitis and that of Tiberias, whose natures are opposite to each other; for the former is salt and unfruitful, but that of Tiberias is sweet and fruitful. This plain is much burnt up in summer-time, and, by reason of the extraordinary heat, contains a very unwholesome air; it is all destitute of water excepting the river Jordan, which water of Jordan is the occasion why those plantations of palm-trees that are near its banks are more flourishing and much more fruitful, as are those that are remote from it not so flourishing or fruitful.
3. Notwithstanding wbich, there is a fountain by Jericho, that runs plentifully, and is very fit for watering the ground; it arises near the old city, which Joshua, the son of Nun, the general of the Hebrews, took the first of all the cities of the land of Canaan, by right of war. The report is, that this fountain, at the beginning, caused not only the blasting of the earth and the trees, but of the children born of women, and that it was entirely of a sickly and corruptive nature to all things whatsoever, but that it was made gentle and very wholesome and fruitful by the prophet Elisha. This prophet was familiar with Elijah, and was his successor, who, when he once was the guest of the people at Jericho, and the men of the place had treated him very kindly, he both made them amends as well as the country, by a lasting favour; for he went out of the city to this fountain, and threw into the current an earthen vessel full of salt; after which he stretched out bis righteous hand unto heaven, and, pouring out a mild drink-offering, he made this supplication, that “the current might be mol. lified, and that the veins of fresh water might be opened ; that God also would bring into the place a more temperate and fertile air for the current, and would bestow upon the people of that country plenty of the fruits of the earth, and a succession of children ; and that this prolific water might never fail them while they continued to be righteous.”+ To these prayers Elisha joined proper operations of his hands, after a skilful manner, and changed the fountain ; and that water, which had been the occasion of har
• Whether this Somorrhon, or Somorrha, ought not to be here written Gomorrha, as some MSS. in a manner have it, (for the place meant by Josephus seems to be near Segor, or Zoar, at the very south of the Dead Sea, hard by which stood Sodom and Gomorrha,) cannot now be certainly determined, but seems by no means iniprobable.
† This excellent prayer of Elisha is wantiug in our copies, 2 Kings ii. 21, 22, though it be referred to also in the Apostolical Constitutions, b. vii. chap. xxxvii.; and the suc. cess of it is mentioned in them all.
renness and famine before, from that time did supply a numerous posterity, and afford great abundance to the country. Accordingly, the power of it is so great in watering the ground, that if it do but once touch a country, it affords a sweeter nourishment than other waters do, when they lie so long upon them till they are satiated with them. For which reason, the advantage gained from other waters, when they flow in great plenty, is but small; while that of this water is great, when it flows even in little quantities : accordingly, it waters a larger space of ground than any other waters do, and passes along a plain of seventy furlongs long and twenty broad; wherein it affords nourishment to those most excellent gardens, that are thick set with trees. There are in it many sorts of palm-trees that are watered by it, different from each other in taste and name; the better sort of them, when they are pressed, yield an excellent kind of honey, not much inferior in sweetness to other honey. This country withal produces honey from bees; it also bears that balsam which is the most precious of all the fruits in that place, cypress trees also, and those that bear myrobalanum ; so that he who should pronounce this place to be divine, would not he mistaken, wherein is such plenty of trees produced, as are very rare, and of the most excellent sort. And, indeed, if we speak of those other fruits, it will not be easy to light on any climate in the habitable earth that can well be compared to it, what is here sowed comes up in such clusters ; the cause of which seems to me to be the warmth of the air, and the fertility of the waters: the warmth calling forth the sprouts, and making them spread, and the moisture making every one of them take root firmly, and supplying that virtue which it stands in need of in summer tiine. Now this country is then so sadly burnt up, that nobody cares to come at it; and if the water be drawn up before sun-rising, and after that exposed to the air, it becomes exceeding cold, and becomes of a nature quite contrary to the ambient air ; as in winter again it becomes warm, and if you go into it, it appears very gentle. The ambient air is here also of so good a temperature, that the people of the country are clothed in linen only, even when snow covers the rest of Judea. This place is one hundred and fifty furlongs from Jerusalem, and sixty from Jordan. The country as far as Jerusalem is desert and stony ; but that as far as Jordan and the lake Asphaltitis lies lower indeed, though it be equally desert and barren. But so much shall suffice to have been said about Jericho, and of the great happiness of its situation.
4. The nature of the lake Asphaltitis is also worth describing. It is, as I have said already, bitter and unfruitful. It is so light for thick,] that it bears up the heaviest things that are thrown into it; nor is it easy for any one to make things sink therein to the bottom, if he had a mind so to do. Accordingly, when Vespasian went to see it, he commanded that some who could not swim should have their hands tied behind them, and be thrown into the deep, when it so happened that they all swam as if a wind had forced them upwards. Moreover, the change of the colour of this lake is wonderful, for it changes its appearance thrice every day, and as the rays of the sun fall differently upon it, the light is variously reflected. However, it casts up black clods of bitumen in many parts of it; these swim at the top of the water, and resemble both in shape and bigness headless bulls; and when the labourers that belong to the lake come to it, and catch hold of it as it hangs together, they draw it into their ships; but when the ship is full, it is not easy to cut off the rest, for it is so tenacious as to make
the ship hang upon its clods till they set it loose with the menstrual blood of women, and with urine, to which alone it yields. This bitumen is not only useful for the caulking of ships, but for the care of men's bodies ; accordingly it is mixed in a great many medicines. The length of this lake is five hundred and eighty furlongs, where it is extended as far as Zoar in Arabia, and its breadth is a hundred and fifty. The country of Sodom bor. ders upon it.* It was of old a most happy land, both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how, for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burnt by lightning ; in consequence of which there are still the remaiders of that divine fire, and the traces (or shadows) of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits, which fruits have a colour as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them with your hands, they dissolve into smoke and ashes. And thus what is related of this land of Sodom hath these marks of credibility which our very sight affords us.
CHAP. IX. That Vespasian, after he had taken Gadara, made Preparation for the Siege
of Jerusalem ; but that, upon his hearing of the Death of Nero, he changed his Intentions. As also concerning Simon of Gerasa.
$1. And now Vespasian had fortified all the places round about Jerusalem, and erected citadels at Jericho and Adida, and placed garrisons in them both, partly out of his own Romans, and partly out of the body of his auxiliaries. He also sent Lucius Annius to Gerasa, and delivered to him a body of horsemen, and a considerable number of footmen. So, when he had taken the city, which he did at the first onset, he slew a thousand of those young men who had not prevented him by flying away; but he took their families captive, and permitted his soldiers to plunder them of their effects; after which he set fire to their houses, and went away to the adjoining villages, while the men of power fled away, and the weaker part were destroyed, and what was remaining was all burnt down. And now the war having gone through all the mountainous country, and all the plain coun. try also, those that were at Jerusalem were deprived of the liberty of going out of the city: for as to such as had a mind to desert, they were watched by the Zealots; and to such as were not yet on the side of the Romans, their army kept them in, by encompassing the city round about on all sides.
2. Now as Vespasian was returned to Cesarea, and was getting ready with all his army to march directly to Jerusalem, he was informed that Nero was dead, after he had reigned thirteen years and eight days; but as to any narration after what manner he abused his power in the govern. ment, and committed the management of affairs to those vile wretches, Nymphidius and Tigellinus, his unworthy freed-men ; and how he had a plot laid against him by them, and was deserted by all his guards, and ran away with four of his most trusty freed-men, and slew himself in the suburbs of Rome; and hew those that occasioned his death were in no long time brought themselves to punishment ; how also the war in Gaul ended, and how Galba was made emperort and returned out of Spain to Rome;
• See note on b. v. chap. xiii. 6 6.
+ Of these Roman affairs and tumults under Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, here only touched upon by Josephus, see Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dio, more largely. However, we may observe with Oitius, that Josephur writes the name of the second of then not Otto, with many others, but Otbo, with the coins. See also the gote on clap. xi. $ 4.
and how he was accused by the soldiers as a pusillanimous person, and slain by treachery in the middle of the market-place at Rome, and Otho was made emperor; with his expedition against the commanders of Vitellius, and his destruction thereupon; and, besides, what troubles there were under Vitellius, and the fight that was about the capitol; as also how Antonius Primus and Mucianus slew Vitellius, and his German legions, and thereby put an end to that civil war; I have omitted to give an exact account of them, because they are well known by all, and they are described by a great number of Greek and Roman authors; yet, for the sake of the connexion of matters, and that my history may not be incoherent, I have just touched upon every thing briefly. Wherefore Vespasian put off at first his expedition against Jerusalem, and stood waiting whither the empire would be transferred after the death of Nero. Moreover, when he heard that Galba was made emperor, he attempted nothing till he also should send him some directions about the war ; however, he sent his son Titus to him, to salute him, and to receive his commands about the Jews. Upon the very same errand did king Agrippa sail along with Titus to Galba; but as they were sailing in their long ships by the coasts of Achaia, for it was winter time, they heard that Galba was slain, before they could get to him, after he had reigned seven months and as many days. After whom Otho took the government, and undertook the management of public affairs. So Agrippa resolved to go on to Rome, without any terror on account of the change in the government; but Titus, by a divine impulse, sailed back from Greece to Syria, and came in great haste to Cesarea, to his father. And now they were both in suspense about the public affairs, the Roman empire being then in a fluctuating condition, and did not go on with their expedition against the Jews, but thought that to make any attack upon foreigners was now unseasonable, on account of the solicitude they were in for their own country.
3. And now there arose another war in Jerusalem. There was a son of Giora, one Simon, by birth of Gerasa, a young man, not so cunning indeed as John (of Gischala,] who had already seized upon the city, but superior in strength of body and courage; on which account, when he had been driven away from that Acrabattene toparchy which he once had, by Ananus the high priest, he came to those robbers who had seized upon Masada. At the first they suspected him, and only permitted him to come, with the woman he brought with him, into the lower part of the fortress, while they dwelt in the upper part of it themselves. However, his manner so well agreed with theirs, and he seemed so trusty a man, that he went out with them, and ravaged and destroyed the country with them about Masada ; yet when he persuaded them to undertake greater things, he could not prevail with them so to do; for, as they were accustomed to dwell in that citadel, they were afraid of going far from that which was their hiding-place; but he, affecting to tyrannize, and being fond of greatness, when he had heard of the death of Ananus, he left them, and went into the mountainous part of the country. So he proclaimed liberty to those in slavery, and a reward to those already free, and got together a set of wicked men from all quarters.
4. And as he had now a strong body of men about him, he over-ran the villages that lay in the mountainous country, and when there were still more and more that came to him, he ventured to go down into the lower parts of the country, and, since he was now become formidable to the cities, many of the men of power were corrupted by bim ; so that his army was no longer composed of slaves and robbers, but a great many of the populace were obedient to him as to their king. He then over-ran the Acrabattene toparchy, and the places that reached as far as the Great Idumea ; for he built a wall at a certain village called Nain, and made use of that as a fortress for his own party's security; and at the valley called Paran he enlarged many of the caves, and many others he found ready for his pur. pose; these he made use of as repositories for his treasures, and receptacles for his prev, and therein he laid up the fruits that he had got by rapine; and many of his partisans had their dwelling in them, and he made no secret of it, that he was exercising his men beforehand, and making prepa. rations for the assault of Jerusalem.
5. Whereupon the Zealots, out of the dread they were in of his attacking them, and being willing to prevent one that was growing up to oppose them, went out against him with their weapons. Simon met them, and, joining battle with them, slew a considerable number of them, and drove the rest before him into the city, but durst not trust so much upon his forces, as to make an assault upon the walls; but he resolved first to subdue Idumea, and as he had now twenty thousand armed men, he marched to the borders of their country. Hereupon the rulers of the Idumeans got together on the sudden the most warlike part of their people, about twentyfive thousand in number, and permitted the rest to be a guard to their own country, by reason of the incursions that were made by the Sicarii that were at Masada. Thus they received Simon at their borders, where they fought him, and continued the battle all that day, and the dispute lay whether they had conquered him or been conquered by him. So he went back to Nain, as did the Idumeans return home. Nor was it long ere Simon came violently again upon their country; when he pitched his camp at a certain village called Thecoe, and sent Eleazar, one of his companions, to those that kept garrison at Herodium, and in order to persuade them to surrender that fortress to him. The garrison received this man readily, while they knew nothing of what he came about; but as soon as he talked of the surrender of the place, they fell upon him with their drawn swords, till he found that he had no place for flight, when he threw himself down from the wall into the valley beneath; so he died immediately : but the Idumeans, who were already much afraid of Simon's power, thought fit to take a view of the enemy's army before they hazarded a battle with them.
6. Now there was one of their commanders named Jacob, who offered to serve them readily upon that occasion, but had it in his mind to betrav them. He went therefore from the village Alurus, wherein the army of the Idumeans were gotten together, and came to Simon; and at the very first he agreed to betrav his country to him, and took assurances upon oath from him that he should always bave him in esteem, and then promised him that he would assist him in subduing all Idumea under him ; upon which account he was feasted after an obliging manner by Simon, and elevated by his mighty promises ; and when he was returned to his own men he at first belied the army of Simon, and said it was manifold more in num. ber than what it was; after which he dexterously persuaded the commanders, and by degrees the whole multitude, to receive Simon, and to surrender the whole government up to him without fighting. And as he was doing this, he invited Simon by his messengers, and promised him to dis. perse tne Idumeans, which he performed also; for as soon as their army