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and a cloak for the barbarity which was made use of by them, and to colour over their own avarice : ?which they afterward made evident by their actions. For those that were partners with them in their rebellion, joined also in the war against the Romans : and went farther lengths with them in their impudent undertakings against them. And when they were again convicted of dissembling in their pretences, they still more abased those that justly reproached them for their wickedness. And indeed that was a time most fertile in all manner of wicked practices : insomuch that no kinds of evil deeds were then left undone. Nor could any one so much as devise any bad thing that was new; so deeply were they all infected, and strove with one another in their single capacity, and in their communities, who should run the greatest lengths in impiety towards God, and in unjust actions towards their neighbours ; the men of power oppressing the multitude, and the multitude earnestly labouring to destroy the men of power. The one part were desirous of tyrannizing over others; and the rest of offering violence to others, and of plundering such as were richer than themselves. They were the Sicarii who first began these transgressions; and first became barbarous towards those allied to them; and left no words of reproach unsaid, and no works of perdition untried ; in order to destroy those whom their contrivances affected. Yet did John* demonstrate by his actions, that these Sicarii were more moderate than he was himself. For he not only slew all such as gave him good counsel to do what was right; but treated them worst of all; as the most bitter enemies that he had among all the citizens. Nay, be filled his entire country with ten thousand instances of wickedness: such as a man, who was already hardened sufficiently in his impiety towards God, would naturally do. For the food was unlawful that was set upon his table ; and he rejected those purifications that
the law of his country had ordained. So that it was no longer a .. wonder if he, who was so mad in his impiety towards God, did not
observe any rules of gentleness and common affection towards men. Again, therefore, what mischief was there which Simon, the son of Gioras, did not do? Or what kind of abuses did he
* John of Gischala, Book IV. char. 3.
abstain from as to those very free men who had set him up for a tyrant? What friendship or kindred were there that did not make him more bold in his daily murders ? For they looked upon the doing of mischief to strangers only, as a work beneath their courage: but thought that their barbarity towards their nearest relations would be a glorious demonstration thereof. The Idumeans also strove with these imen, which should be guilty of the greatest madness. For they all, vile wretches as they were, cut the throats of the high-priests : that so no part of a religious regard to God might be preserved. They thence proceeded to destroy utterly the least remains of a political government; and introduced the most complete scene of iniquity, in all instances that were practicable. Under which scene that sort of people that were called zealots grew up: and who indeed corresponded to their name. For they imitated every wicked work. Nor, if their memory suggested any evil thing that had formerly been done, did they avoid zealously to pursue the same. And although they gave themselves that name from their zeal for what was good, yet did it agree to them only by way of irony: on account of those they had unjustly treated by their wild and brutish disposition; or as thinking the greatest mischiefs to be the greatest good. Accordingly they all met with such ends as God deservedly brought upon them, in way of punishment. For all such miseries have been sent upon them as man's nature is capable of undergoing, till the utmost period of their lives; and till death came upon them in various ways of torment. Yet inight one say justly, that they suffered less than they had done : because it was impossible they could be punished according to their deserving. But to make a lamentation according to the deserts of those who fell under these men's barbarity, this is not a proper place for it. I therefore return to the remaining part of the present narration.
It was now that the Roman general came, and led his army against Eleazar, and those Sicarii who held the fortress *Masada together with him. And for the whole country adjoining he presently gained it, and put garrisons into the most proper places. He also built a wall quite round the fortress; that none of the be
o See Book I. chap. 12. Antiq. XIV. 11.
sieged might easily escape: and set his men to guard the several parts of it. He also pitched his camp in such an agreeable place as he had chosen for the siege; and at which place the rock belonging to the fortress did make the nearest approach to the neighbouring mountain : which yet was a place of difficulty for getting plenty of provisions. For it was not only food that was to be brought from a great distance to the army, and this with a great deal of pain to those Jews who were appointed for that purpose ; but water was also to be brought to the camp: because the place afforded no fountain that was near it. When, therefore, Silva had ordered these affairs, he began besieging the place. Which siege was likely to stand in need of a great deal of skill and pains, by reason of the strength of the fortress : the nature of which I will now describe.
There was a rock, not small in circumference, and very high. It was encompassed with valleys of such vast depth downward, that the eye could not reach their bottoms. They were abrupt; and such as no animal could walk upon ; excepting at two places of the rock where it subsides, in order to afford a passage for ascent; though not without difficulty. Now of the ways that led to it, one is that from the lake Asphaltites, towards suprising; and another on the west, where the ascent is easier. The one of these ways is called the serpent ; as resembling that animal in its narrowness, and its perpetual windings. For it is broken off at the prominent precipices of the rock, and returns frequently into itself, and lengthening again by little and little, proceeds forward. And be that would walk along it must first go on one leg, and then on the other. There is also nothing but destruction in case the feet slip. For on each side there is a vastly deep chasm, and precipice; sufficient to quell the courage of every body, by the terror it infuses into the mind. When, therefore, a man bath gone along this way for thirty furlongs, the rest is the top of the hill; not ending at a small point; but a plain upon the highest part of the mountain. Upon this top of the bill Jonathan the high-priest first of all built a fortress, and called it Masada. After which the rebuilding of this place employed the care of king Herod to a great degree. He also built a wall round about the entire top of the bill, seven furlongs long. It was composed of white stone. Its height was twelve, and its breadth eight cubits: there were also erected upon that wall thirty-eight towers, each of them fifty cubits high. Out of which you might pass into lesser edifices, which were built on the inside, round the entire wall. For the king reserved the top of the hill, which was of a rich soil, and better mould than any valley, for agriculture : that such as committed themselves to this fortress for their preservation might not even there be quite destitute of food, in case they should ever be in want of it from abroad. Moreover, be built a palace therein, at the western ascent. It was within, and beneath the walls of the citadel; but inclined to its north side. Now the wall of this palace was very high, and strong; and had at its four corners towers sixty cubits high. The furniture also of the edifices, and of the cloisters, and of the baths, was of great variety, and very costly: and these buildings were supported by pillars of single stones on every side. The walls also, and the floors of the edifices were paved with stones of several colours. He also had cut, many and great pits, as reservoirs for water, out of the rocks, at every one of the places that were inhabited, both above, and round about the palace, and before the wall : and by this contrivance he endeavoured to have water for several uses, as if there had been fountains there. Here was also a road dug from the palace, and leading to the very top of the mountain : which yet could not be seen by such as were without the walls. Nor, indeed, could enemies easily make use of the plain roads. For the road on the east side, as we have already taken notice, could not be walked upon, by reason of its nature. And for the western road, he built a large tower at its narrowest place; at no less a distance from the top of the hill than a thousand cubits. Which tower could not possibly be passed by; nor could it be easily taken. Nor, indeed, could those that walked along it without any fear, (such was its contrivance,) easily get to the end of it. And after such a manner was this citadel fortified, both by nature, and by the hands of men : in order to frustrate the attacks of enemies.
As for the furniture that was within this fortress, it was still more wonderful on account of its splendour, and long continuance. For here was laid up corn in large quantities, and such as would subsist men for a long time. Here were also wine and oil in
abundanee; with all kinds of pulse and dates heaped up together. All which Eleazar found there, when he and his Sicarii got possession of the fortress by treachery. These fruits were also fresh and ripe; and no way inferior to such fruits newly laid in: although they were little short of *a hundred years from the laying in these provisions, by Herod, till the place was taken by the Ro. mans. Nay, indeed, when the Romans got possession of those fruits that were left, they found them not corrupted all that while. Nor should we be mistaken if we suppose, that the air was here the cause of their enduring so long. This fortress being so high, and so free from the mixture of all terrene and muddy particles of matter. There was also found here a large quantity of all sorts of weapons of war; which had been treasured up by that king; and were sufficient for ten thousand men. There were cast iron, and brass, and tin. Which show that he had taken much pains to have all things here ready for the greatest occasions. For it is reported that Herod thus prepared this fortress on his own account, as a refuge against two kinds of danger. The one for fear of the multitude of the Jews; lest they should depose him, and restore their former kings to the government. The other danger was greater and more terrible; which arose from tCleopatra, queen of Egypt: who did not conceal her intentions ; but spake often to Antony, and desired him to cut off Herod; and entreated him to bestow the kingdom of Judea upon her. And certainly it is a great wonder that Antony did never comply with her commands in this point : as he was so miserably enslaved by his passion for her. Nor should any one have been surprised if she had been gratified in such her request. So the fear of these dangers made Herod rebuild Masada; and thereby leave it for the finishing stroke of the Romans, in this Jewish war.
Since, therefore, the Roman commander, Silva, had now built a wall on the outside, round about this whole place, as we have said already; and had thereby made a most accurate provision to
* Pliay, and others, confirm this strange paradox; that some provisions, laid up against sieges, will continue good a hundred years: as Spanheim notes upon this place.
† See Book I. chap. 19.