Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

vals there were between the works were of disadvantage to him. For those spaces of ground afforded the Jews a place for assaulting the Romans. So he united the hurdles; and at the same time joined one part of the army to the other : which prevented the private excursions of the Jews.

And when the bank was now raised, and brought nearer than ever to the battlements that belonged to the walls, Josephus thought it would be entirely wrong in him if he could make no contrivances in opposition to theirs, and that might be for the preservation of the city. So he got together his workmen, and ordered them to build the wall higher. And when they said that this was impossible to be done while so many darts were thrown at them, he invented this sort of cover for them. He bade them fix piles, and expand them before the raw bides of oxen, newly killed : that these hides by yielding and hollowing themselves when the stones were thrown at them, might receive them. For that the other darts would slide off them; and the fire that was thrown would be quenched by the moisture that was in them. And these he set before the workmen. And under them these workmen went on with their works in safety, and raised the wall higher, and that both by day, and by night, till it was twenty cabits high. He also built a good number of towers upon the wall, and fitted to it strong battlements. This greatly discouraged the Romans, who in their own opinions were already gotten within the walls: while they were now at once astonished at Josephus's contrivance, and at the fortitude of the citizens that were in the city.

And now Vespasian was plainly irritated at the great subtilty of this stratagem, and at the boldness of the citizens of Jotapata. For taking heart again, upon the building of this wall, they made fresh sallies upon the Romans, and had every day conflicts with them by parties : together with all such contrivances as robbers made use of, and with the plundering of all that came to hand, as also with the setting fire to all the other works. And this till Vespasian made his army leave off fighting them; and resolved to lie round the city, and to starve them into a surrender. As supposing that either they would be forced to petition him for mercy, by want of provisions : or if they should have the courage to hold out to the last, they would perish by famine. And he concluded he should conquer them the more easily in fighting, if he gave them an interval, and then fell upon them when they were weakened by famine. But still he gave orders that they should guard against their coming out of the city.

Now the besieged had plenty of corn within the city, and indeed of all other necessaries. But they wanted water, because there was no fountain in the city : the people being there usually satisfied with rain water. Yet is it a rare thing in that country to have rain in summer.* And at this season, during the siege, they were in great distress for some contrivance to satisfy their thirst. And they were very sad at this time particularly, as if they were already in want of water entirely. For Josephus seeing that the city abounded with other necessaries, and that the men were of good courage; and being desirous to protract the siege to the Romans longer than they expected, ordered their drink to be given them by measure. But this scanty distribution of water, was deemed by them as a thing more hard than the want of it. And their not being able to drink as much as they would, made them more desirous of drivking than they had otherwise been. Nay, they were as much disheartened hereby, as if they were come to the last degree of thirst. Nor were the Romans unacquainted with the state they were in. For when they stood over against them, beyond the wall, they could see them running together, and taking their water by measure : which made them throw their javelins thither, the place being within their reach, and kill a great many of them.

Herenpon Vespasian hoped that their receptacles of water would in no long time be emptied, and that they would be forced to deliver up the city to him. But Josephus being desirous of frustrating that hope, gave command, that they should wet a great many of their clothes, and hang them round the battlements, till the entire wall was of a sudden all wet with the running down of the water. At this sight the Romans were discouraged, and under consternation, when they saw them able to throw away in

* The Eastern countries are so frequently and copiously replenished with dew, that rain is not essential to their fertility. B.

sport so much water, when they supposed them not to have enough to drink themselves. This made the Roman general despair of taking the city by their want of necessaries; and to betake himself again to arms, and to try to force them to surrender: which was what the Jews greatly desired. For as they despaired of either themselves or their city's being able to escape, they preferred a death in battle, before one by hunger and thirst.

However, Josephus contrived another stratagem besides the foregoing, to get plenty of what they wanted. There was a certain rough and uneven place that could hardly be ascended; and on that account was not guarded by the soldiers. So Josephus sent out certain persons along the western parts of the valley, and by them sent letters to whom he pleased of the Jews that were out of the city, and procured from them abundance of what necessaries they wanted in the city; he enjoined them also to creep generally along by the watch as they came into the city, and to cover their backs with such sheepskins as had their wool upon them; that if any one should spy them out in the night time, they might be believed to be dogs. This was done till the watch perceived the contrivance, and encompassed that rough place about themselves.

And now it was that Josephus perceived that the city could not hold out long; and that his own life would be in doubt, if he continued in it. So he consulted how he, and the most potent men of the city might flee out of it. When the multitude understood this, they came all round about him, and begged of him not to overlook them while they entirely depended on hiin, and him alone. For that there was still hopes of the city's deliverance, if he would stay with them : because every body would undertake any pains with great cheerfulness on his account; and in that case there would be some comfort, though they should be taken. That it became him neither to flee from his enemies, vor to desert his friends; nor to leap out of that city, as out of a ship that was sinking in a storm, into which he came when it was quiet and in a calm. For that by going away, he would be the cause of drowning the city: because nobody would then venture to oppose the enemy, when he was once gone upon whom they wholly confided.

Vol. IV.

« PreviousContinue »