Page images
PDF
EPUB

more insolent, not as deserted by their consederates, but as freed from such men as might hinder their designs, and put fome ftop to their wickedness. Accordingly they made no longer any delay, nor took any deliberation in their enormous practices, but made use of the shortest methods for all their executions, and what they had once resolved upon, they put in practice sooner than any one could imagine. But their thirst was chiefly atter the blood of valiant men, and men of good families; the one fort of which they destroyed out of envy, the other out of tear; for they thought their whole fecurity lay in leaving no potent men alive, on which account they sew Gorion, a person eminent in dignity, and on account of his family allo; he was also for democracy, and of as great boldness and freedom of spirit as were any ot the Jews whatsoever ; the principal thing that ruined him, added to his other advantages, was his free speaking. Nor did Niger of Perea escape their hands ; he had been a man of great valour in their war with the Romans, but was now drawn through the middle of the city, and, as he went, he frequently, cried out and shewed the scars of his wounds; and when he was drawn out of the gates, and despaired ot his preservation, he besought them to grant a burial; but as they had threatened him beforehand not to grant him any spot of earth for a grave, which he chiefly desired of them, fo did they slay him (without permitting him to be buried.] Now when they were Aaying him, he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo both famine and pestilence in this war, and be fides all that, they might come to the mutual flaughter of one another; all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men, and was what came moft justly upon them, when not long a!terward they tasted of their own madness in their mutual leditions one against another. So when this Ni. ger was killed, their fears of being overturned were diminilh. ed; and indeed there was no part of the people but they found out some pretence to destroy them; for some were therefore lain because they had had differences with some of them in times of peace, they watched seasonable opportunities to gain some accusation against them; and if any one did not come near them at all, he was under their suspicion as a proud man; if any one came with boldness, he was esteemned a contemner of them; and if any one came as aiming to oblige them, he was supposed to have lome treacherous plot against them; while the only punishment of crimes, whether they were of the greatest or smallest sort, was death. Nor could any one escape, unless he were very inconsiderable, either on account of the meanness of his birth, or on account of his fortune.

2. And now all the ret of the commanders of the Romans deemed this ledition among their enemies to be of great advantage to them, and were very earnest to march to the city, and they urged Vespasian as their lord and general in all calcs, to make hafte, and said to him, That "the providence of God is on our side, by setting our enemies at variance against one another ; that still the change in such cases may be sudden, and the Jews may quickly be at one again, either becauso they may he tired out with their civil miferies or repent them of such doings.". But Vespasian replied, That “they were greatly miftaken in what they thought fit to be done, as those that, upon the theatre, love to make a Chew of their hands, and of their weapons but do it to their own hazard, without confidering what was for their advantage, and for their security for that if they now go and attack the city immediately, they shall but occafion their enemies to unite together, and thall convert their force, now it is in its height, against themselves. But if they stay a while they hall have fewer enemies, because they will be consumed in this sedition : That God alls as a general of the Romans better than he can do, and is giving the Jews up to them without any pains of their own and granting their army a victory without any danger; that therefore it is their beit way while their enemies are destroying each other with their own hands, and falling into the greatest misfortunes, which is that of sedi'ion, to fit ftill as ipectators of the dangers they run into, raiher than to fight hand to hand with men that love murdering, and are mad one againit another. But if any one imagines that the glory of viciory, when it is gotten without fighting will be more infipid, let him know this much that a glorious luccess quietly obtained, is more profitable than the dangers of a battle ; for we ought to esteem those that do what is agreeable to temperance and prudence, no less glorious than those that have gained great repu, tarion by their actions in war : That he shalĩ lead on his

army with greater force, when their enemies are diminilhed, and his own army refrelhed after the continual labours they had undergone. However, that this is not a proper time to propole to ourselves the glory of victory ; for that the Jews are not now employed in making of armour or building of walls, nor indeed in getting together auxiliaries while the advantage will be on their side who give them such opportunity of delay ; but that the Jews are vexed to pieces every day by their civil wars and dissensions, and are under greater miseries than, if they were once taken could be inflicted on them by us. Whether therefore any one hath regard to what is for our safety, he ought to suffer these Jews to destroy one another, or whether he hath regard to the greater glory of the action, we ought by no means to meddle with those men, now they are afflicted with a diftemper at home ; for should we now conquer them. it would be said the conqueft was not owing to our bravery, bụt to their sedition."

3. And now the commanders joined in their approbation of what Vefpafian had said, and it was toon dulcovered how wife an opinion be bad given. And indeed many there were of the Jews that deserted every day, and fled away from the Zelotes, although their flight was very difficult, since they had guarded every pallage out of the city, and flew every one that was caught at them, as taking it for granted they were going over to the Romans ; yet did he who gave them money get clear off, while he only that gave them none was voted a traitor. So the upshot was this that the rich purchased their flight by money, while none but the poor were flain. Along all the roads also vaft numbers of dead bodies lay on heaps, and even many of those that were io zealous in deserting, at length chose rather to perilh within the ciry; for the hopes of burial made death in their own city appear of the two less terrible to them. But these Zelotes came at last to that degree of barbarity, as not to bellow a burial, either on those Nain in the city, or on those that lay along the roads ; but as if they had made an agreement to cancel both the laws of their country, and the laws of nature, and at the lame time that they defiled men with their wicked actions, they would pollute the Dia vinity itlelf also, they left the dead bodies to putrity under the fun : And the lame punishment was allotted io luch as buried. any, as to thole that deserted, which was no other than death; while he chat granted the favour of a grave to another would presently stand in need of a grave himself. To say all in a word, no other genue passion was fo entirely loft among them as mercy; for what were the greatest objects of pity did most of all irritate these wretches, and they transferred their rage from the living to thote that had been flain, and from the dead to the living Nay, the terror was so great, that he who survived called them that were first dead happy, as being at reft already ; as did those that were under torture in the prisons, declare, that, upon this comparison, those that lay unburied were the happiest. These men, therefore, trampled upon all the laws of men, and laughed at the laws of God; and tor the oracles, of the prophets they ridiculed them as the tricks of jugglers; yet did these prophets foretel many things concerning the rewards of ] virtue, and (punishments of vice, which when these Zelotes violated, they occafioned the tulfilling of those very prophecies belonging to their own country : For there was a certain ancient oracle of thole men, That "the city should then be taken * and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a ledition (bould invade the Jews, and their own

This predi&ion, That" that the city (Jerusalen) [hould then be taken, and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a ledition should invade the Jews, and their own hands (hould pollute that temple ; or, as it is, B Vi, ch, ir ý 1. When any one should begin to slay his countrymen in the city," is wanting in our prelent copies of the Old Testament See Essay on the Old Test. p. 104:

But this prediction, as Jolephus weli remarks here, though, with the other predi&ions of the prophets, it was now laughed at by the leditious, was by their very means soon exa&ly fulfilled. However, I cannot but here take notice of Grotius's positive assertion upon Mat. xxvi. 9 here quoted by Dr. Hudton, That it ought to be makes for granted, as a certain truth, ibật many predictions of the

112

hand should pollute the temple of God.” Now while thefe Zelotes did not squite] disbelieve these predictions, they made themselves the instruments of their accomplishment.

CHAP. VII.

How John tyrannized over the reft; and what mischiefs the

Zelotes did at Masada. How also Vefpapan took Gadara : And what Adions were performed by Placidus. . BY

Y this time John was beginning to tyrannize, and

thought it beneath him to accept of barely the same honours that others had ; and joining to himself by degrees a party of the wickedest of them all, he broke off from the rest of the faction. This was brougbt about by his still disagreeing with the opinions of others, and giving out injunctions of his own, in a very imperious manner, so that it was evident he was setting up a monarchical power. Now some submite ted to him out of their fear of him, and others out of their good-will to him ; for he was a shrewd man to entice men to him, both by deluding them and putting cheats upon them. Nay, many there were that thought they should be later them. felves, it the causes of their paft infolent actions should now be reduced to one head, and not to a great many. His activi. ty was so great, and that both in action and in counsel, that he • had not a few guards about him ; yet was there a great party of his antagonilts that left him; among whom envy at him weighed a great deal, while they thought it a very heavy thing to be in subjection to one that was formerly their equal. But the main reason that moved men against him was the dread of monarchy, for they could not hope easily to put an end to his power, if he had once obtained it; and yet they knew that he would have this pretence always against them, that they opposed him when he was first advanced; while every one chose rather to suffer any thing whatsoever in war, than that when they had been in a voluntary Bavery for some time, they should afterward perish. So the sedition was divided into iwo parts, and John reigned in opposition to his adversaries over one of them : But for their leaders they watched one another, nor did they at all, or at least very little meddle with arms in their quarrels; but they fought earnestly against the people, and contended one with another which of them should bring home the greatest prey. But because the city had to struggle with three of the greatest misiortunes, war, and tyranny, and ledition, it appeared, on the compar. Jewish prophets were preserved, not in writing, but by memory." Whereas, ic seems to me lo far from certain, that I think it bas no evidence, 'nor probability at

[ocr errors]

ifon, that the war was the least troublefome to the populace of them all. Accordingly they ran away from their own houses to foreigners, and obtained that preservation from the Romans, which they despaired to obtain among their own people.

2. And now a fourth misfortune arose, in order to bring our nation to destruction. There was a fortress of very great ftrength not far from Jerusalem, which had been built by our ancient kings, both as a repository for their effects in the hazards of war, and for the preservation of their bodies at the same time. It was called Masada. Those that were called Sicarii had taken poffeffion of it formerly, but at this time they over ran the countries, aiming only to procure to them. selves necessaries; for the fear they were then in prevented their further ravages. But when once they were informed that the Roman army lay still, and that the Jews were divided by ledition and tyranny, they boldly undertook greater matters; and at the feast of unleavened bread, which the Jews celebrate in memory of their deliverance from the Egyptian bondage, when they were fent back into the country of their forefathers, they came down by night, without being discove ered by those that could have prevented them, and over-ran a certain small city called Engaddi. In which expedition they prevented those citizens that could have stopped them, before they could arm themselves, and fight them. They also difpersed them, and cast them out of the city: As for such as could not run away being women and children, they slew of them above leven hundred. Afterward, when they had carried every thing out of their houses, and had seized upon all the fruits that were in a flourishing condition, they brought them into Matada. And indeed thele men laid all the villages that were about the fortress waste, and made the whole country desolate; while there came to them every day, from all parts, not a few men as corrupt as themselves. At that time all the other regions of Judea that had hitherto been at reft were in motion, by means of the robbers. Now as it is in a human body, if the principal part be inflamed, all the members are subject to the fame distemper, lo by means of the disorder that was in the metropolis, had the wicked men that were in the country opportunity to ravage the same. Accordingly when every one of them bad plundered their own villages, they then retired into the deferi : Yet were these men that now got together and joined in the conspiracy by parties, too small for an army, and too many for a gang of thieves: And thus did they fall upon the * holy places, and the cities; yet

By these as Gæ or " holy places," as distinct from cities, must be meant "profeuchæ,” or “ houses of prayer” out of cities ; of which we find mention made in the New Testament and other authors, See Luke vi. 19. Acts xvi. 13, 16. Antiq. B. XIV. ch. § 23. Vol. II. his Life, 54. Vol 11. “ In qua te quero proleucba ?" Juvenal, Šat. III. ver. 196. They were Atuated sometimes by the

« PreviousContinue »