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had long ago pacified the West, and made it subject to the Romans; when it had been put into disorder by the Germans. He had also by his arms recovered to them Britain, which had been little known before.* Whereby he procured to his father Claudius to have a triumph bestowed on him, without any exertion or labour of his own.
So Nero esteemed these circumstances as favourable omens : and saw that Vespasian's age gave him sure experience, and great skill; and that be had his sons as hostages for his fidelity to himself; and that the flourishing age they were in would make them fit instruments under their father's prudence. Perhaps also there was some interposition of Providence, which was paving the way for Vespasian's being himself emperor afterward. Upon the whole, he sent a man to take upon him the command of the armies that were in Syria. But this not without great encomiums and flattering compliments, such as necessity required, and such as might mollify him into compliance. So Vespasian sent his son Titus from Achaia, where he had been with Nero to Alexandria ; to bring back with him from thence the fifth and the tenth legions: while himself, when he had passed over the Hellespont, came by land into Syria; where he gathered together the Roman forces; with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighbourhood.
OF A GREAT SLAUGHTER OF THE JEWS ABOUT ASCALON : AND THE
ARRIVAL OF VESPASIAN AT PTOLEMAIS.
NOW the Jews, after they had beaten Cestius, were so much elevated with their unexpected success, that they could not govern their zeal : but like people blown up into a flame by their good fortune, carried the war to remoter places. Accordingly they presently got together a great multitude of all their most hardy soldiers, and marched away for Ascalon. This was an ancient city, distant from Jerusalem five bundred and twenty furlongs; and always at enmity with the Jews. On which account they determined to make their first effort against it; and to make their approaches to it as near as possible. This excursion was led on by three men, who were the chief of them all, both for strength, and sagacity: Niger called the Peraite, Silas of Babylon, and John the Essene. Now Ascalon was strongly walled about; but had almost no assistance to be relied on near them. For the garrison consisted only of one cohort of footmen, and one troop of horsemen ; whose captain was Antonius.
* Take the confirmation of this, in the words of Suetonius, here produced by Dr. Hudson. “In the reign of Claudius," says he, “ Vespasian, for the sake of Narcissus, was sent as a lieutenant of a legion into Germany. Thence he removed into Britain : and fought thirty battles with the enemy." In Vesp. $ 4. We may also here note from Josephus, that Claudius, the emperor, who triumphed for the conquest of Britain, was enabled so to do by Vespasian's conduct and bravery: and that he is here styled the father of Vespasian.
Those Jews, therefore, out of their anger marched faster than ordinary :* and as if they had come but a little way, approached very near the city, and were come even to it. But Antonius, who was not much unapprised of the attack they were going to make upon the city, drew out his horsemen beforehand. And being neither daunted at the multitude, nor at the courage of the enemy, he received their first attacks with great bravery; and when they crowded to the very walls, he beat them off. Now the Jews were unskilful in war, but were to fight with those that were skilful therein ; they were footmen to fight with horsemen; they were in disorder, to fight those that were united together : they were poorly armed, to fight those that were completely so; they were to fight more by their rage, than by sober counsel; and were exposed to soldiers that were exactly obedient, and did every thing they were bidden upon the least intimation. So they were easily beaten. For as soon as ever their first ranks were once in disorder, they were put to flight by the enemy's cavalry; and those of them that came behind such as crowded to the wall, fell upon their own party's weapons; and became one another's enemies. And this so long till they all were forced to give way to the attacks of the horsemen, and were dispersed all the plain over : which plain was wide, and very fit
* As the evil passions give rise to war, at least in most cases, so they predominate in its execution. Mankind is, indeed, reduced to a most deplorable state of degeneracy, when they are so easily and evidently urged to what is evil, and with so much difficulty excited to that which is good. B.
for the cavalry. This circumstance was very commodious for the Romans; and occasioned the slaughter of the greatest number of the Jews. For such as ran away they could overrun them; and made them turn back. And when they had brought them back after their flight, and driven them together, they ran them through, and slew a vast number of them : insomuch that others encompassed others of them, and drove them before them, whithersoever they turned themselves, and slew them easily with their arrows: and the great number there were of the Jews seemned a solitude to themselves, by reason of the distress they were in. While the Romans had such good success, with their small number, that they seemed to themselves to be the greater multitude. And as the former strove zealously under their misfortunes, out of the shame of a sudden flight, and hopes of the change in their success; so did the latter feel no weariness, by reason of their good fortune. Insomnch that the fight lasted till the evening, till ten thousand of the Jews lay dead; with two of their generals, Jolin and Silas : and the greater part of the remainder were wounded, with Niger, their remaining general; who fled away together to a small city of Idumea, called Sallis. Some few also of the Romans were wounded in this battle.
Yet were not the spirits of the Jews broken by so great a calamity, but the losses they had sustained rather quickened their resolution for other attempts. For overlooking the dead bodies which lay under their feet, they were enticed by their former glorious actions, to venture on a second destruction. So when they had lain still so little a while that their wounds were not yet thoroughly cured, they got together all their forces, and came with greater fury, and in much greater numbers to Ascalon. But their former ill fortune followed them; as the consequence of their unskilfulness, and other deficiencies in war. For Antonius laid ambushes for them in the passages they were to go through : where they fell into snares unexpectedly: and where they were compassed about with horsemen, before they could form themselves into a regular body for fighting: and were above eight thousand of them slain. So all the rest of them ran away; and with them Niger : who still did a great many bold exploits in his flight. However, they were driven along together by the enemy, who pressed hard upon them, into a certain strong tower, belonging to a village called Bezedel. However, Antonius and his party, that they might neither spend any considerable time about this tower, which was hard to be taken ; nor suffer their commander, and the most courageous man of them all, to escape from them, they set the wall on fire. And as the tower was burning, the Romans went away rejoicing; as taking it for granted that Niger was destroyed. But he leaped out of the tower in a subterraneous cave, in the innermost part of it, and was preserved. And on the third day afterward he spake out of the ground to those that, with great lamentation, were searching for him, in order to give him a decent funeral. And when he was come out, he filled all the Jews with an unexpected joy; as though he were preserved by God's providence, to be their commander for the time to come.
Now Vespasian took along with him his army from Antioch, (which is the metropolis of Syria, and, without dispute, deserves the place of the *third city in the habitable earth that was under the Roman empire, both in magnitude and other marks of prosperity,) where he found king Agrippa, with all his forces, waiting for his coming; and marched to Ptolemais. At this city also the inhabitants of Sepphoris of Galilee met him, who were for peace with the Romans. These citizens had beforehand taken care of their own safety: and being sensible of the power of the Romans, 'they had been with Cestius Gallus, before Vespasian came; and had given their faith to him, and received the security of his right hand : and had received a Roman garrison. And at this time they received Vespasian, the Roman general, very kindly; and readily promised that they would assist him against their own countrymen. Now the general delivered them, at their desire, as many horsemen and footmen as he thought sufficient to oppose the incursions of the Jews, if they should come against them. And, indeed, the danger of losing Sepphoris would be no small one, in this war, that was now beginning; seeing it was the largest city of Galilee, and built in a place by nature very strong; and might be a security of the whole nation's fidelity to the Romans.
* Spanheim and Reland both agree, that the two cities here esteemed greater than Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, were Rome and Alexandria. Nor is there any occasion for doubt in so plain a case.
CONTAINING A DESCRIPTION OF GALILEE, SAMARIA, AND JUDEA.
NOW Phænicia and Syria encompass about the Galilees; which are two, and called the Upper Galilee, and the Lower. They are bounded towards the sun-setting with the borders of the territory belonging to Ptolemais, and by Carmel: wbich mountain had formerly belonged to the Galileans, but now belonged to the Tyrians. To this mountain adjoins Gaba, which is called the city of horsemen : because those horsemen that were dismissed by Herod the king dwelt therein. They are bounded on the south with Samaria, and Scythopolis; as far as the river Jordan. Oli the east with Hippene, and Gadaris : and also with Gaulanitis, and the borders of the kingdom of Agrippa. Its northern parts are bounded by Tyre, and the country of the Tyrians. As for that Galilee wbich is called the Lower, it extends in length from Tiberias to Zebulon; and of the maritime places *Ptolemais is its neighbour. Its breadth is from the village called Xaloth, which lies in the great plain, as far as Bersabe. From which beginning also is taken the breadth of the Upper Galilee, as far as the village Baca : which divides the land of the Tyrians from it. Its length is also from Meroth to Thella, a village near to Jordan.
These two Galilees, of so great largeness, and encompassed with so many nations of foreigners, have been always able to make a strong resistance on all occasions of war. For the Galileans are inured to war from their infancy; and have been always very numerous. Nor has the country been ever destitute of men of courage; or wanted a numerous set of them. For their soil is universally rich, and fruitful, and full of plantations of trees of all sorts. Insomuch that it invites the most slothful to take pains in its cultivation, by its fruitfulness. Accordingly it is all cultivated by its inhabitants; and no part of it lies waste. The cities also lie here very thick; and the many villages there are here, are every where so full of people, by the richness of their soil, that
* Once belonging to the tribe of Aser; but afterward a sort of Gentile city,