« PreviousContinue »
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, wlien 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 only 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 clamour, such as so mighty. an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it: and now theyspared 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 à 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 clamour and tumult raised, as was natural upon the disorderly motion of so great an ar. my. Then did Cæsar, both by calling to the soldiers that yere 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 dinned 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 had come near the holy house, they made as if they did not so much as hear Cæsar'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* going up to it ran a great quantity of their blood, whither also the dead berlies that were slain above Lon the altar] fell down.
7. And now, since Cæsar 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 be saved, he came up in haste, and endeavoured to
* These steps to the alter of burnt-offering, seem here either an improper and inaccurate expression of Josephus, since it was unlawful to make ladder steps; (see the description of the temples, chap. xiii. and note on Antiq. B. iv ch. viii. 8 5 Vol. i.) cr else those steps or stairs we now use were invented before the days of Herod the Great, and had been here built by him; though the later Jews always deny it, and say, that even Herod's altar was ascended to by an acclivity only.
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 Cæsar, and the dread they had of him who forbade him, 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 around about it was made of gold. And besides, one of those that went into the place prevented Cæsar, 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 immedi. ately, when the commanders retired and Cæsar with thein, and when nobody any longer forbade those that were without to set fire to it. And thus was the holy house burnt down without Cæsar'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, 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 an one comfort himself with this thought, that it was fate that had 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 obseryed, 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 undur Vespasian, there were six hundred thirty.nine years, and forty-five days.
The great distress the Jews were in upon the conflagration of the holy house. Concerning a false prophet, and the signs that preceded this destruction.
$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 then selvs 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 clamour 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. Perea * did also return the echo, as well as the inountains 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 snch 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 * 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 their 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.
* This Perea, if the word be not mistaken in the copies, cannot well be that Perea which was beyond Jordan, whose mountains were at a cousiderable distance from Jordan, and much too remote from Jerusalem to join this echo at the conflagration of the temple; but Perea must be rather some mountains beyond the brook Cedron, as was the mount of Olives, or some others, about such a distance from Jerusalem: which observation is so obvians, that it is a wonder our commentators bere take no notice of it.
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 mhich 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 Cæsar 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;
* Reland, I think, here judges well, when he interprets these spikes (of those that stood on the top of the holy house) with sharp points: they were fixed into lead to prevent the birds from sitting there, and debling the holy house ; for such spikes there were now upon it, as Josephus himself bath at ready assured us, B. v. ch. v. $6. yod. ri.