Page images
PDF
EPUB

tured, that their bodies were not able to sustain their torments : till at length, and with difficulty, they had the favour to be slain. Those whom they caught in the day time were slain in the night; and then their dead bodies were carried out, and thrown away; that there might be room for other prisoners. And the terror that was upon the people was so great, that no one had courage either openly to weep for the dead man that was related to him, or to bury him : but those that were shut up in their own houses, could only shed tears in secret ; and durst not even groan, without great caution, lest any of their enemies should hear them. For if they did, those that mourned for others soon underwent the same death with those whom they mourned for. Only, in the night time, they would take up a little dust, and throw it upon their bodies; and even some that were the most ready to expose themselves to danger, would do it in the day time. And there were twelve thousand of the better sort, who perished in this manner.

When these zealots and Idumeans were quite weary of barely killing men, they had the impudence of setting up fictitious tribunals and judicatures for that purpose. And as they intended to have *Zacharias, the son of Baruch, one of the most eminent of the citizens slain ; so what provoked them against him was, that hatred of wickedness, and love of liberty, which were so eminent

* Some commentators are ready to suppose, that this Zacharias the son of Baruch here most unjustly slain by the Jews in the temple, was the very same person with Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom our Saviour says the Jews slew between the temple and the altar: Matt. xxiii. 35. This is a somewhat strange exposition, since Zachariah the prophet was really the son of Barachiah and grandson of Iddo : Zech. i. 1. and how he died, we have no other account than that before us in St. Matthew : while this Zacharias was the son of Baruch. Since the slaughter was past when our Saviour spake those words, the Jews had then already slain him : whereas his slaughter of Zacharias the son of Baruch, in Josephus, was then about 34 years future. And since that slaughter was between the temple and the altar, in the court of the priests, one of the most sacred and remote parts of the whole temple ; while this was, in Josephus's own words, in the middle of the temple, and much the most probable in the court of Israel only: (for we have had ne intimation that the zealots had at this time profaned the court of the priests. See v. 1.) Nor do I believe, that our Josephus, who always insists on the peculiar sacredness of that inmost court, And of the holy house that was in it, would have omitted so material an aggravation of this barbarous murder, as perpetrated in a place so very holy, had that been the 'rna place of it. See Antiquities, XI. 7, and the note here on v. 1.

in him. He was also a rich man : so that by taking him off, they did not only hope to seize his effects, but also to get rid of a man that had great power to destroy them. So they called together, by a public proclamation, seventy of the principal men of the populace, for a show, as if they were real judges ; while they had no proper authority. Before these was Zacharias accused, of a design to betray their polity to the Romans; and of having treacherously sent to Vespasian for that purpose. Now there appeared no proof or sign of what he was accused; but they affirmed themselves, that they were well persuaded that so it was, and desired that their affirmation might be taken for sufficient evidence. Now when Zacharias clearly saw that there was no way remaining for his escape, as having been treacherously called before them, and then put in prison, but not with any intention of a legal trial, he took great liberty of speech in that despair of his life that he was under. Accordingly he stood up, and laughed at their pretended accusation ; and in a few words confuted the crimes laid to his charge. After which he turned his speech to his accusers, and went over distinctly all their transgressions of the law; and made heavy lamentation upon the confusion they had brought public affairs to. In the mean time the zealots grew tumultuous, and had much ado to abstain from drawing their swords : although they designed to preserve the appearance of a judicature to the end. They were also desirous, on other accounts, to try the judges, whether they would be mindful of what was just, at their own peril. Now the seventy judge's brought in their verdict, that the person accused was not guilty : as choosing rather to die themselves with him, than to have his death laid at their doors. Hereupon there arose a great clamour of the zealots upon his acquittal : and they all had indignation at the judges, for not understanding that the authority that was given them was but in jest. So two of the boldest of them fell upon Zacharias in the middle of the temple, and slew bim. And as he fell down dead, they bantered him, and said, “ Thou hast also our verdict : and this will prove a more sure acquittal to thee than the other.” They also threw him down from the temple immediately into the valley beneath it. Moreover they struck the judges with the backs of their swords, by way of abuse; and thrust them out of the court of the temple ; and spared their

Voc. iv.

18

lives with no other design than that, when they were dispersed among the people in the city, they might become their messengers, to let them know they were no better than slaves.

But by this time the Idumeans repented of their coming ; and were displeased at what had been done. And when they were assembled together by one of the zealots, who had come privately to them, he declared to them, what a number of wicked pranks they had themselves done in conjunction with those that invited them : and gave a particular account of what mischiefs had been done against their metropolis. He said, that “ They had taken arms, as though the high-priests were betraying their metropolis to the Romans ; but had found no indication of any such treachery: but that they had succoured those that had pretended to believe such a thing, wbile they did themselves the works of war and tyranny, after an insolent manner. It had been indeed their business to have hindered them from such proceedings at the first : but seeing they had once been partners with them in shedding the blood of their own countrymen, it was high time to put a stop tv such crimes, and not continue to afford any more assistance to such as were subverting the laws of their forefathers. For that isany bad taken it ill that the gates had been shut against them, and they had not been permitted to come into the city; yet that those who had excluded them had been punished, and Ananus was dead : and that almost all those people had been destroyed in one night's time. That one might perceive many of themselves repenting for what they had done ; and might see the horrid barbarity of those that had invited them : and that they had no regard to such as bad saved them : that they were so impudent as to perpetrate the vilest things, under the eyes of those that had supported them : and that their wicked actions would be laid to the charge of the Idumeans : and would be so laid to their charge till somebody should obstruct their proceedings, or separate himself from the same wicked action : that they therefore ought to retire home, since the imputation of treason appeared to be a calumny : and that there was no expectation of the coming of the Romans at this time, and that the government of the city was secured by such walls as could not easily be thrown down. And, by avoiding any farther fellowship with these bad men, to make some excuse for themselves, as to what they had been so far deluded, as to have been partners with them hitherto."

CHAP. VI.

OF THE CONTINUED CRUELTIES OF THE ZEALOTS TOWARDS THE

CITIZENS. AND THE ARGUMENTS USED BY VESPASIAN TO DISSUADE THE ROMANS FROM PROCEEDING IN THE WAR AT THAT TIME

THE Idumeans complied with these persuasions, and in the first place, they set those that were in the prisons at liberty; being about two thousand of the populace : who thereupon fled away immediately to Simon; one of whom we shall speak of presently. After which these Idumeans retired from Jerusalem, and went home. Which departure of theirs was a great surprise to both parties. For the people, not knowing of their repentance, raised their courage for a while, as being eased of so many of their enemies. While the zealots grew more insolent; not as deserted by their confederates, but as freed from such men as might hinder their designs, and put some stop 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 after the blood of valiant men, and men of good families; the one sort of which they destroyed out of envy, the other out of fear. For they thought their whole security lay in leaving no potent men alive. On which account they slew Gorion, a person eminent in dignity, and on account of his family also. He was also for a democracy, and of as great boldness and freedom of spirit as were any of the Jews whatsoever. The principal thing that ruined bim, 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 called out, and showed the scars of his

* See Book ii, chap. 20.

wounds. And when he was drawn out of the gates, and despaired of his preservation, he besought them to grant him 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, so did they slay him without permitting him to be buried. Now when they were slaying him, he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo both famine and pestilence in this war; and besides all, that they might come to the mutual slaughter of one another : all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men : and which came most justly upon them, when not long afterward they tasted of their own madness in their mutual seditions one against another. So when this Niger was killed, their fears of being overturned were diminished. And indeed there was no part of the people but they found out some pretence to destroy them. For some were therefore slain, because they had had differences with some of them. And as to those that had not opposed 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 esteemed a contemner of them. And if any one came as aiming to oblige them, he was supposed to have some 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.

Now all the rest of the commanders of the Romans deemed this sedition 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 cases, to make haste; and said they to him, “ The providence of God is on our side, by setting our enemies at variance against one another: but still the change in such cases may be sudden, and the Jews may quickly be reconciled again : either because they may be tired out with their civil miseries, or repent of such doings.” But Vespasian replied, They were greatly mistaken in what they thought fit to be done : as those that, upon the theatre, love to make a show of their hands, and of their weapons ; but do it to their own hazard :

« PreviousContinue »