« PreviousContinue »
Book V. CHAP. I.
At the beginning of the same year, Titus Cæsar, who was pitched upon by his father to finish the conquest of Judea, and while both he and his father were private persons, was celebrated for his martial conduct, acted now with greater vigour and hopes of reputation, the kind inclinations both of the provinces and of the armies striving one with another who should most encourage him. He was also himself in a disposition to show that he was more than equal to his fortune; and when he appeared in arms, he did all things after such a ready and graceful way, treating all after such an affable manner, and with such kind words, as invited the good will and good wishes of all. He appeared also in his actions and in his place in the troops ; he mixed with the common soldiers, yet without any stain to his honour as a general*. He was received in Judea by three legions, the fifth and the tenth, and the fifteenth, who were Vespasian's old soldiers. Syria also afforded him the twelfth, and Alexandria soldiers out of the twenty-second and twentythird legions. Twenty cohorts t of auxiliaries accompanied him, as also eight troops of horse.
King Agrippa also was there, and King Sohemus, and the auxiliaries of King Antiochus, and a strong body of Arabians, who, as is usual in nations that are neighbours to one another, went with their accustomed hatred against the Jews, with many others out of the city of Rome, as every one's hopes led him of getting early into the general's favour, before others should prevent them.
He entered into the borders of the enemies' country with these forces, in exact order of war: and looking carefully about him, and being ready for battle, he pitched his camp not far from Jerusalem.
Chap. X.] When, therefore, he had pitched his camp, as we said just now, before the walls of Jerusalem, he pompously showed his legions ready for an engagement.
CHAP. XI.] The Jews formed their camp under the very walls $ [of the city]; and if they succeeded, they resolved to venture farther, but if they were beaten back, that was their
* This character of Titus agrees exactly with the history of Josephus upon all occasions.
+ These twenty cohorts and eight troops of horse are not directly enumerated by Josephus, Antiq. B. v. chap. i. sect. 6.
# This word in Tacitus, pompously showed his legions, looks as if that pompous show which was some months afterward, in Josephus, ran in his mind, Antiq. B. v, chap. ix. sect. 1.
& These first bickerings and battles near the walls of Jerusalem are at large in Josephus, Antiq. B. v. chap. ii.
place of refuge. When a body of cavalry* were sent against them, and with them cohorts, that were expedite and nimble, the fight was doubtful; but soon afterwards the enemies gave ground, and on the following days there were frequent skirmishes before the gates, till after many losses they were driven into the city. The Romans then betook themselves to the siege, for it did not seem honourable to stay till the enemies were reduced by, famine t. The soldiers were very eager to expose themselves to dangers, part of them out of true valour, many out of a brutish fierceness, and out of a desire of rewards.
Titus had Rome, and the riches and pleasures of it before his eyes, all which seemed to be too long delayed, unless Jeļusalem could be soon destroyed.
The city I stood on a high elevation, and it had great works and ramparts to secure it, such indeed as were sufficient for its fortification, had it been on plain ground; for there were two hills, of a vast height, which were enclosed by walls made crooked by art, or (naturally] bending inwards, that they might tank the besiegers, and cast darts on them sideways. The extreme parts of the rock were craggy, and the towers, when they had the advantage of the ground, were 60 feet high: when they were built on the plain ground they were not built lower than 120 feet: they were of uncommon beauty, and to those who looked at theni at a great distance, they seemed equal. Other walls there were beneath the royal palace, besides the tower of Antonia, with its top particularly conspicuous. It was called so by Herod, in honour of Marcus Antonius.
CHAP. XII.] The temple was like a citadel, having walls of its own, which had more labour and pains bestowed on them than the rest. The cloisters wherewith the temple was enclosed were an excellent fortification.
They had a fountain of water that ran perpetually; and the mountains were hollowed under ground: they had moreover pools § and cisterns for the preservation of rain water.
They that built this city foresaw, that, from the difference of their conduct of life from their neighbours, they should have frequent wars; thence it came to pass that they had provisions
* Josephus distinctly mentions these horsemen or cavalry, 600 in number, among whom Titus bad like to have been slain or taken prisoner, Antiq. B. v. chap. ii. sect. 1-3.
† Such a deliberation and resolution, with this very reason, that it would be dishonourable to stay till the Jews were starved out by famine, is in Josephus, Antiq. B. v. chap. xii. sect. 1.
# This description of the city of Jerusalem, its two hills, its three walls, and four towers, &c. are in this place at large in Josephus, Antiq. B. v. ch. iv. See also Pompey's siege, B. xiv. ch. iv. sect. 2.
Of these pools, see Josephus, B. v. ch. xi. sect. 4. The cisterns are not mentioned by him here, though they be mentioned by travellers. See Reland' Palestine, tom. i. p. 304.
for a long siege. After Pompey's conquest also, their fear and experience had taught them generally what they should want*.
Moreover, the covetous temper that prevailed under Claudius gave the Jews an opportunity of purchasing for money leave t to fortify Jerusalem; so they built walls in time of peace, as if they were going to war, they being augmented in number by those rude multitudes of people that retired thither on the ruin of the other cities; for every obstinate fellow ran away thither, and there became more seditious than before.
There were three captains, and as many armies. Simon had the remotest and the largest parts of the walls under him. John, who was also called Bar Gioras (the son of Gioras], had the middle parts of the city under him: and Eleazar had fortified the temple itself. John and Simon were superior in multitude and strength of arms, Eleazar was superior by his situation; but battles, factions, and burnings were common to them all; and a great quantity of corn was consumed by fire. After a while John sent some who, under the pretence of offering sacrifice, might slay Eleazar, and bis body of troops, which they did, and got the temple under their power. So the city now was parted into two factions, until, upon the coming of the Romans, this war abroad produced peace between these that were at home.
CHAP. XIII.] Such prodigies I had happened as this nation, which is superstitious enough in its own way, would not agree to expiate by the ceremonies of the Roman religion, nor would they atone the gods by sacrifices and vows, as these used to do on the like occasions. Armies were seen to fight in the sky, and their armour looked of a bright red colour, and the temple shone with sudden flashes of fire out of the clouds. The doors of the temple were opened on a sudden, and a voice greater than human was heard, that the gods were retiring; and at the same time was there a great motion perceived, as if they were going out of it, which some esteemed to be causes of ter
The greater part had a firm belief that it was contained in the old sacerdotal books, that at this very time the east would prevail, and that some that came out of Judea should obtain the empire of the world, which obscure oracle foretold Vespa
* This is Tacitus's or the Romans own hypothesis, unsupported by Josephus.
+ This sale of leave for the Jews to build the walls of Jerusalem for money is also Tacitus's or the Romans own hypothesis, unsupported by Josephus. Nor is Josephus's character of Claudius near so bad, as to other things also, as it is in Tacitus and Suetonius. Dio says, he was far from covetousness in particular. The others seem to have misrepresented his meek and quiet temper and learning, but without ambition, and his great kindness to the Jews, as the most contemptible folly. See Antiq. B. xix. ch. iv. sect. 4. He was, indeed, much ruled at first by a very bad minister, Pallas; and at last was ruled and poisoned by a very bad wife, Agrippina.
# These prodigies, and more, are at large in Josephus, Antiq. B. vi. chap. v. sect. 3.
sian and Titus ; but the generality of the common people, as usual, indulged their own inclinations, and when they had once interpreted all to forebode grandeur to themselves, adversity itself could not persuade them to change their minds, though it were from falsehood to truth *.
We have been informed that the number of the besieged, of every age, and of both sexes, male and female, was six hundred thousandt. There were weapons for all that could carry them, and more than could be expected, for their number were bold enough to do so. The men and the women were equally obstinate; and when they supposed they were to be carried captive, they were more afraid of life than of death.
Against this city and nation Titus Cæsar resolved to fight, by ramparts and ditches, since the situation of the place did not admit of taking it by storm or surprise. He parted the daty among the legions; and there were no farther engagements, until whatever had been invented for the taking of cities by the ancients, or by the ingenuity of the moderns, was got ready.
ANNAL. Book XV. NERO, in order to stifle the rumour [as if he had himself set Rome on fire], ascribed it to those people who were hated for their wicked practices, and called by the vulgar Christians; these he punished exquisitely. The author of this name was Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, was brought to punishment by Pontius Pilate the procurator . For the present this pernicious superstition was in part suppressed, but it brake out again, not only over Judea, whence this mischief first sprang, but in the city of Rome also, whither do run from every quarter and make a noise, all the flagrant and shameful enormities. At first, therefore, those were seized who confessed, afterward a vast multitude were detected by them, and were convicted, not so much as really guilty of setting the city on fire, but as hating all mankind; nay, they made a mock of them as they perished, and destroyed them by putting them into the skins of wild beasts, and setting dogs upon them to tear them to pieces. Some were nailed to crosses, and others flamed to death : they were also used in the night time instead of torches, for illumina
* This interpretation and reflections are in Josephus, Antiq. B. vi, chap. v.
+ The number, 600,000 for the besieged is nowhere in Josephus, but is there for the poor buried at the public charge, Antiq. B. v. chap. xiii. sect. 7, which might be about the number of the besieged under Cestius Gallus, though they were many more afterward at Titus's siege, as Josephus implies, Antiq. B. vi.
# This passage seems to have been directly taken from Josephus's famous testimony concerniog Christ, and the Christians, Antiq. B. xviii. ch. iii. sect. 3, of which Dissert. I. before.
ch. ix. sect. 3.
tion.' Nero had offered his own gardens for this spectacle. He also gave themn Circensian games, and dressed himself like a driver of a chariot, sometimes appearing among the common people, sometimes in the circle itself; whence a commiseration arose, though the punishments were levelled at guilty persons, and such as deserve to be made the most flagrant examples, as if these people were destroyed, not for the public advantage, but to satisfy the barbarous humour of one man.
N. B. Since I have set down all the vile calumnies of Tacitus upon the Christians as well as the Jews, it will be proper, before I come to my observations, to set down two heathen records in their favour, and those hardly inferior in antiquity, and of much greater authority, than Tacitus, I mean Pliny's epistle to Trajan, when he was proconsul of Bithynia, with Trajan's answer or rescript to Pliny, cited by Tertullian, Eusebius, and Jerom. These are records of so great esteem with Havercamp, the last editor of Josephus, that he thinks they not only deserve to be read, but almost to be learned by heart also.
PLINY'S EPISTLE TO TRAJAN.
ABOUT A. D. 112.
Sir, It is my constant method to apply myself to you for the resolution of all my doubts; for who can better govern my
dilatory way of proceeding, or instruct my ignorance? I have never been present at the examination of the Christians [by others), on which account I am unacquainted with what uses to be inquired into, and what and how far they used to be punished : nor are my doubts small, whether there be not a distinction to be made between the ages [of the accused], and whether tender youth ought to have the same punishment with strong men ? whether there be not room for pardon upon repentance *? or whether it may not be an advantage to one that had been a Christian, that he has forsaken Christianity? whether the bare name t, without any crimes besides, or the crimes adhering to that name,
ne, be to be punished? In the meantime, I have taken this course about those who have been brought before me as Christians.- I asked them whether they were Christians or not? If they confessed that they were Christians, I asked them again, and a third time, intermixing threatenings with the questions : if they persevered in their confession, I ordered them to be
* Till now it seems repentance was not commonly allowed those that had been once Christians, but though they recanted, and returned to idolatry, yet were they commonly put to death. This was persecution in perfection!
+ This was the just and heavy complaint of the ancient Christians, that they commonly suffered for that bare name, without the pretence of any crimes they could prove against them. This was also persecution in perfection!