« PreviousContinue »
seditious, that they tarried where they were, but still were satisfied that both they and the city were doomed to destruction. Some also there were, who, watching a proper opportunity when they might quietly get away, fled to the Romans, of whom were the high priests Joseph and Jesus, and of the sons of high priests three, whose father was Ishmael, who was beheaded in Cyrene, and four sons of Matthias, as also one son of the other Matthias, who ran away after * his father's death, and whose father was slain by Simon, the son of Gioras, with three of his sons, as I have already related; many also of the other nobility went over to the Romans, together with the high priests. Now Cæsar not only received these men very kindly in other respects, but, knowing they would not willingly live after the customs of other nations, he sent them to Gophna, and desired them to remain there for the present, and told them, that when he was gotten clear of this war, he would restore each of them to their possessions again : so they cheerfully retired to that small city which was allotted them, without fear of any danger. But as they did not appear, the seditious gave out again that these deserters were slain by the Romans, which was done in order to deter the rest from running away, by fear of the like treatment. This trick of theirs succeeded now for a while, as did the like trick before; for the rest were hereby deterred from deserting, by fear of the like treatment.
3. However, when Titus had recalled those men from Gophna, he gave orders that they should go round the wall together with Josephus, and show themselves to the people ; upon which a great many fled to the Romans. These men also got in a great number together, and stood before the Romans, and besought the seditious, with groans and tears in their eyes, in the first place, to receive the Romans entirely into the city, and save that their own place of residence again; but that, if they would not agree to such a proposal, they would at least depart out of the temple, and save the holy house for their own use; for that the Romans would not venture to set the sanctuary on fire, but under the most pressing necessity. Yet did the seditious still more and more contradict them; and while they cast loud and bitter reproaches upon these deserters, they also set their engines for throwing of darts, and javelins, and stones, upon the sacred gates of the temple, at due distances from one another, insomuch that all the space round about within the temple might be
* Josephus had before told us, B. v. ch. xiii. sect. 1. that this fourth son of Matthias ran away to the Romans before his father's and brethren's slaughter, and not after it, as here. The former account is, in all probability, the truest; for had not that fourth son escaped before the others were caught and put to death, he had been caught and put to death with them. This last account, therefore, looks like an instance of a small inadvertence of Josephus in the place before us.
compared to a burying-ground, so great was the number of the dead bodies therein; as might the holy house itself be compared to a citadel. Accordingly, these men rushed upon these holy places in their armour, that were otherwise unapproachable, and that while their hands were yet warm with the blood of their own people, which they had shed : nay, they proceeded to such great transgressions, that the very same indignation which Jews would naturally have against Romans, had they been guilty of such abuses against them, the Romans now had against Jews, for their impiety in regard to their own religious customs. Nay, indeed, there were none of the Roman soldiers who did not look with a sacred horror upon the holy house, and adored it, and wished that the robbers would repent before their miseries became incurable.
4. Now Titus was deeply affected with this state of things, and reproached John and his party, and said to them—“ Have not you, vile wretches that you are, by our permission put up this partition-wall * before your sanctuary? Have not you been allowed to put up the pillars thereto belonging, at due distances, and on it to engrave in Greek, and in your
own letters, this prohibition,—That no foreigner should go beyond that wall? have not we given you leave to kill such as go beyond it, though he were a Roman? And what do you do now, you pernicious villains ? Why do you trample upon dead bodies in this temple? and why do you pollute this holy house with the blood of both foreigners and Jews themselves ? I appeal to the gods of my own country, and to every god that ever had any regard to this place (for I do not suppose it to be now regarded by any of them); I also appeal to my own army, and to those Jews that are now with me, and even to you yourselves, that I do not force you to defile this your sanctuary; and if you will but change the place whereon you will fight, no Roman shall either come near your sanctuary, or offer any affront to it; nay, I will endeavour to preserve you your holy house whether you will or not."
5. As Josephus explained these things from the mouth of Cæsar, both the robbers and the tyrant thought that these exhortations proceeded from Titus's fear, and not from his good will to them, and grew insolent upon it. But when Titus saw that these men were neither to be moved by commiseration to. wards themselves, nor had any concern upon them to have the holy house spared, he proceeded unwillingly to go on with the war again against them. He could not, indeed, bring all his
* Of this partition-wall, separating Jews and Gentiles, with its pillars and inscription, see the description of the temples, ch. xv.
+ That these seditious Jews were the direct occasions of their own destruction, and of the conflagration of their city and temple, and that Titus earnestly and constantly laboured to save both, is here and everywhere most evident in Josephus.
army against them, the place was so narrow; but choosing thirty soldiers of the most valiant out of every hundred, and committing a thousand to each tribune, and making Cerealis their commander in chief, he gave orders that they should attack the guards of the temple about the ninth hour of that night. But as he was now in his armour, and preparing to go down with them, his friends would not let him go, by reason of the greatness of the danger, and what the commanders suggested to them; for they said, that he would do more by sitting above in the tower of Antonia, as a dispenser of rewards to those soldiers that signalized themselves in the fight, than by coming down, and hazarding his own person in the forefront of them; for that they would all fight stoutly, while Cæsar looked upon them.” With this advice Cæsar complied, and said, that “the only reason he had for such compliance with the soldiers was this, that he might be able to judge of their courageous actions, and that no valiant soldier might lie concealed, and miss of his reward, and no cowardly soldier might go unpunished; but that he might himself be an eyewitness, and able to give evidence of all that was done, who was to be the disposer of punishments and rewards to them.” So he sent the soldiers about their work at the hour forementioned, while he went out himself to a higher place in the tower of Antonia, whence he might see what was done, and there waited with impatience to see the event.
6. However, the soldiers that were sent did not find the guards of the temple asleep, as they hoped to have done, but were obliged to fight with them immediately hand to hand, as they rushed with violence upon them with a great shout. Now, as soon as the rest within the temple heard that shout of those that were upon the watch, they ran out in troops upon them. Then did the Romans receive the onset of those that came first upon them; but those that followed them fell upon
their own troops, and many of them treated their own soldiers as if they had been enemies; for the great confused noise that was made on both sides hindered them from distinguishing one another's voices, as did the darkness of the night hinder them from the like distinction by the sight; besides that blindness which arose otherwise also from the passion and the fear they were in at the same time: for which reason it was all one to the soldiers who it was they struck at. However, this ignorance did less harm to the Romans than to the Jews, because they were joined together under their shields, and made their sallies more regularly than the others did, and each of them remembered their watchword; while the Jews were perpetually dispersed abroad, and made their attacks and retreats at random, and so did frequently seem to one another to be enemies; for every one of them received those of their own men that came back in the dark as Romans,
and made an assault upon them; so that more of them were wounded by their own men than by the enemy, till, upon the coming on of the day, the nature of the fight was discerned by the eye afterward. Then did they stand in battle-array in distinct bodies, and cast their darts regularly, and regularly defended themselves. Nor did either side yield or grow weary. The Romans contended with each other who should fight the most strenuously, both single men and entire regiments, as being under the eye of Titus : and every one concluded that this day would begin his promotion, if he fought bravely. What were the great encouragements of the Jews to act vigorously, were their fear for themselves and for the temple, and the presence of their tyrant, who exhorted some, and beat and threatened others, to act courageously. Now, it so happened that this fight was for the most part a stationary one, wherein the soldiers went on and came back in a short time and suddenly; for there was no long space of ground for either of their flights or pursuits. But still there was a tumultuous noise among the Romans from the tower of Antonia, who loudly cried out upon all occasions to their own men to press on courageously, when they were too hard for the Jews, and to stay, when they were retiring backward ; so that here was a kind of theatre of war; for what was done in this fight could not be concealed either from Titus or from those that were about him. At length it appeared that this fight, which began at the ninth hour of the night, was not over till past the fifth hour of the day, and that in the same place where the battle began neither party could say they had made the other to retire ; but both the armies left the victory almost in uncertainty between them; wherein those that signalized themselves on the Roman side were a great many, but on the Jewish side, and of those that were with Simon, Judas the son of Merto, and Simon the son of Josias ; of the Idumeans, James and Simon, the latter of whom was the son of Cathlas, and James was the son of Sosas; of those that were with John, Gyptheus and Alexas, and of the zealots Simon the son of Jairus.
7. In the mean time, the rest of the Roman army had, in seven days' time, overthrown (some] foundations of the tower of Antonia, and had made a ready and broad way to the temple. Then did the legions come near the first court*, and began to raise their banks. The one bank was over against the northwest corner of the inner templet; another was at that northern edifice which was between the two gates: of the other two, one was at the western cloister of the outer court of the temple; the other against its northern cloister. However, these works were thus far advanced by the Romans, not without great pains
* Court of the Gentiles. + Court of Israel. # Court of the Gentiles.
and difficulty, and particularly by being obliged to bring their materials from the distance of a hundred furlongs. They had farther difficulties also upon them; sometimes by their overgreat security they were in that they should overcome the Jewish snares laid for them, and by that boldness of the Jews which their despair of escaping had inspired them withal; for some of their horsemen, when they went out to gather wood or hay, let their horses feed, without having their bridles on, during the time of foraging; upon which horses the Jews sallied out in whole bodies, and seized them. And when this was continually done, and Cæsar believed, what the truth was, that the horses were stolen more by the negligence of his own men than by the valour of the Jews, he determined to use greater severity to oblige the rest to take care of their horses : so he commanded that one of those soldiers who had lost their horses should be capitally punished; whereby he so terrified the rest, that they preserved their horses for the time to come; for they did not any longer let them go from them to feed by themselves, but, as if they had grown to them, they went always along with them when they wanted necessaries. Thus did the Romans still continue to make war against the temple, and to raise their banks against it.
8. Now, after one day had been interposed since the Romans ascended the breach, many of the seditious were so pressed by the famine upon the present failure of their ravages, that they got together, and made an attack on those Roman guards that were upon the mount of Olives, and this about the eleventh hour of the day, as supposing, first, that they would not expect an opset, and, in the next place, that they were then taking care of their bodies, and that, therefore, they should easily beat them. But the Romans were apprized of their coming to attack them beforehand, and running together from the neighbouring camps on the sudden, prevented them from getting over their fortification, or forcing the wall that was built about them. Upon this came on a sharp fight, and here many great actions were performed on both sides; while the Romans showed both their courage and their skill in war, as did the Jews come on them with immoderate violence and intolerable passion. The one party were urged on by shame, and the other by necessity; for it seemed a very shameful thing to the Romans to let the Jews go, now they were taken in a kind of net; while the Jews had but one hope of saving themselves, and that was in case they could by violence break through the Roman wall; and one, whose name was Pedanius, belonging to a party of horsemen, when the Jews were already beaten and forced down into the valley together, spurred his horse on their flank with great vehemence, and caught up a certain young man belonging to the