Page images




Containing an Interval of about one Month.






THUS did the miseries of Jerusalem grow worse and worse every day; and the seditious were still more irritated by the calamities they were under, even while the famine preyed upon themselves, after it had preyed upon the people.And indeed the multitude of carcasses that lay in heaps one upon another was a horrible sight, and produced a pestilential stench, which was a hinderance to those that would make sallies out of the city, and fight the enemy. But as those were to go in battle array, who had been already used to ten thousand murders, and must tread upon those dead bodies as they marched along, so were not they terrified, nor did they pity men as they marched over them. Nor did they deem this affront offered to the deceased to be any ill omen to themselves. But as they bad their right hands already polluted with the murders of their own countrymen, and in that condition ran out to fight with foreigners, they seem to me to have cast a reproach upon God himself, as if he were too slow in punishing them. For the war was not now gone on with, as if they had any hope of victory; for they gloried after a brutish manner in that despair of deliverance they were already in. And now the Romans, although they were greatly distressed in getting together their materials, raised their banks in twenty-one days; after they had cut down all the trees that were in the country that adjoined to the city, and for ninety furlongs round about; as I have *already related. And indeed the very view of the country was a melancholy thing.For those places which were before adorned with trees, and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate every way; and their trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judea, and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all the signs of beauty quite waste. Nor if any one that had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he liave known it again : but though he were at the city itself, yet would he bave inquired for it notwithstanding.

And now the banks were finished, they afforded a foundation for fear, both to the Romans and to the Jews. For the Jews expected that the city would be taken, unless they could burn those banks; as did the Romans expect that if these were once burnt down, they should never be able to take it. For there was a great scarcity of materials, and the bodies of the soldiers began to fail with such hard labours, as did their souls faint with so many instances of ill success. Nay, the very calamities themselves that were in the city proved a greater discouragement to the Romans than to those within the city. For they found the fighting men of the Jews to be not at all mollified among their sore afflictions ; *while they had themselves perpetually less and less hopes of success, and their banks were forced to yield to the stratageins of the enemy, their engines to the firmness of their wall, and their closest fights to the boldness of their attacks. And, what was their greatest discouragement of all, they found the courageous souls of the Jews to be superior to the multitude of the miseries they were under by their sedition, their famine, and the war itself. Insomuch that they were ready to imagine, that the violence of their attacks was invincible ; and that the alacrity they showed would not be discouraged by their calamities. For what would not those be able to bear, if they should be fortunate, who turned their very misfortunes to the improvement of their valour? These considerations made the Romans to keep a stronger guard about their banks than they formerly had done.

* See Chap. 12.

+ The obduracy of the Jews was judicial. God had given them up to hardness and insensibility of heart. It is not, therefore, to be expected, that outward danger or difficulties would make any impression upon them ; but rather, as was actu«Hy the case, render them desperate. B.

But now, John and his party took care for securing themselves afterward, even in case this wall should be thrown down : and fell to work before the battering rams were brought against them.Yed did they not compass what they endeavoured to do; but, as they were gone out with their torches, they came back under great discouragement, before they came near to the banks. And the reasons were these ; that, in the first place, their conduct did not seem to be unanimous; but they went out in distinct parties, and at distinct intervals, and after a slow manner, and timorously; and to say all in a word, without a Jewish courage. For they were now defective in what is peculiar to our nation, that is, in boldness, in violence of assault, in running upon the enemy all together, and in persevering in what they go about, though they do not at first succeed in it. But they now went out in a more languid manner than usual ; and, at the same time, found the Romans set in array, and more courageous than ordinary; and that they guarded their banks both with their bodies, and their entire armour; and this to such a degree on all sides, that they left no room for the fire to get among them; and that every one of their men were in such good courage, that they would sooner die than desert their ranks. For besides their notion that all their hopes were cut off, in case these works were once burnt, the soldiers were greatly ashamed that subtility should be too hard for courage, madness for armour, multitude for skill, and Jews for Romans. The Romans had now also another advantage, iu that their engines for sieges co-operated with them in throwing darts and stones, as far as the Jews, when they were coming out of the city. Whereby the man that fell became an impediment to him that was next to him ; as did the danger of going farther make them less zealous in their attempts. And for those that had run under the darts, some of them were terrified by the good order and closeness of the enemies' ranks, before they came to a close fight; and others were pricked with their spears, and turned back again. Al length they reproached one another for their cowardice, and retired, without doing any thing. This attack was made upon the first day of the mouth Panemus, or Tamuz. So when the Jews were retreated, the Romans brought their engines, although they had all the while thrown stones at them froin the tower of Antonia, and were assaulted by fire and sword, and by all sorts of darts which necessity afforded the Jews to make use of. For although these had great dependence on their own wall, and a contempt of the Roman engines, yet did they endeavour to hinder the Romans from bringing them. Now these Romans struggled hard, on the contrary, to bring them: as deeming that this zeal of the Jews was in order to avoid any impression to be made on the tower of Antonia ; because its walls were but weak, and its foundations rotten. However, that tower did not yield to the blows given it from the engines. Yet did the Romans bear the impressions made by the enemies' darts, which were perpetually cast at them, and did not give way to any of those dangers that came upon them from above ; and so they brought their engines to bear. But then, as they were beneath the other, and were sadly wounded by ihe stones thrown down upon them, some of them threw their shields over their bodies, and partly with their hands, partly with their bodies, and partly with crows, they undermined its foundations : and with great pains they removed four of its stones. Then night came upon both sides, and put an end to this struggle for the present. However, that night, the wall was so shaken by the battering rams, in that place where John had used bis stratagem before, and bad undermined their banks, that the ground then gave way, and the wall fell down suddenly.

When this accident had unexpectedly happened, the minds of both parties were variously affected. For though one would expect that the Jews would be discouraged, because this fall of their wall was unexpected by them, and they had made no provision in that case ; yet did they raise their courage, because the tower of Antonia itself was still standing: as was the unexpected joy of the Romans at this fall of the wall soon quenched by the sight they had of another wall, which John and his party had built within it. However, the attack of this second wall appeared to be easier than that of the former. Because it seemed a thing of greater facility to get up to it through the parts of the former wall that were now throwy down. This new wall appeared also to be much weaker than the tower of Antonia : and accordingly the Romans imagined that it had been erected so much on the sudden, that they should soon overthrow it. Yet did not any body venture now to go up to this wall: as seeing that such as first ventured so to do must certainly be killed.

Now Titus, upon consideration that the alacrity of soldiers in war is chiefly excited by hopes, and by good words; and that exhortations and promises frequently make men forget the hazards they run; nay, sometimes induce them to despise death itself; got together the most courageous part of his army, and tried what he could do with his men by these methods. “O fellow soldiers," said he,“ to make an exhortation to men to do what hath no peril in it, is on that very account inglorious to those to whom that exhortation is made: and indeed so it is in hin that makes the exhortation an argument of his own cowardice also. I therefore think that such exhortations ought then only to be made use of, when affairs are in a dangerous condition, and yet are worthy of being attempted by every one themselves. Accordingly I am fully of the same opinion with you, that it is a difficult task to go up this wall. But that it is proper for those that desire reputation for their valour, to struggle with difficulties in such cases, will then appear, when I have particularly shown, that it is a brave thing to die with glory: and that the courage necessary shall not go unrewarded in those that first begin the attempt. And let my first argument to move you to it, be taken from what probably some would think reasonable to dissuade you, I mean the constancy and patience of these Jews, even under their ill successes. For it is unbecoming you who are Romans, and my soldiers, who have in peace been taught how to make wars, and who have also been used to conquer in those wars, to be inferior to Jews, either in action of the hand, or in courage of the soul: and this especially

« PreviousContinue »