Page images

the others, although the darts which were thrown by the en. gines were carried a great way, and slew many of those that fought for him.



How the Soldiers, both in Judea and Egypt, proclaimed Vef

pasan Emperor. And how Vefpafian released Josephus of

his bonds. $1. NOW about this very time it was that heavy

calami. was come from Germany, with his soldiery, and drew along with him a great multitude of other men besides. And when the spaces alloted for soldiers could not contain them he made all Rome itself his camp, and filled all the houses with his armed men ; which men, when they saw the riches of Rome with those eyes which had never seen such riches before, and found themselves shone round about on all sides with filver and gold, they had much ado to contain their covetous defires, and were ready to betake themselves to plunder, and to the flaughter of such as should stand in their way. And this was the state of affairs in Italy at that time.

2. But when Vespasian had overthrown all the places that were near to Jerufalem, he returned to Celarea, and heard of the troubles that were at Rome, and that Vitellius was empe.

This produced indignation in him, although he well knew how to be governed, as well as to govern, and could not, with any satisfaction, own him for his lord, who acted so madly, and seized upon the government, as if it were absolutely destitute of a governor. And as this sorrow of his was violent, he was not able to support the torments he was under, nor to apply himself farther in other wars, when his native country was laid waste; but then, as much as his paffion excited him to avenge his country, so much was he restrained by the consideration of his distance therefrom; because fortune might prevent him, and do a world of mischiet before he could sail over the sea to Italy, especially as it was still the winter season ; so he restrained his anger, how vehement soever it was, at this time.

3. But now his commanders and foldiers met in several companies, and consulted openly about changing the public affairs, and out of their indignation, cried out, how, “ At Rome there are soldiers that live delicately, and when they have not ventured so much as to hear the fame of war, they ordain whom they please for our governors, and in hopes of gain make them emperors ; while you have gone through so many labours, and are grown into years under your helmets, give leave to others to use such a power, when yet you have


among yourselves one more worthy to rule than any whom they have set up. Now what juster opportunity shall they ev. er have of requiting their generals, if they do not make use of this that is now before them ? while there is so much juster reasons for Vespasian's being emperor than for Vitellius ; as they are themselves more deserving, than those that made the other emperors; for that they have undergone as great wars as have the troops that come from Germany ; nor are they in's terior in war to those that have brought that tyrant to Rome, nor have they undergone smaller labours than they; for that neither will the Roman senate, nor people, bear such a lascivious emperor as Vitellius, if he be compared with their chaste Vefpafian ; nor will they endure a molt barbarous tyrant, instead of a good governor, nor chose one that hath no child, to preside over them, instead of him that is a father; because the advancement of mens own children to dignities is certain. ly the greatest security kings can give for themselves. Whether therefore, we estimate the capacity of governing from the skill of a person in years, we ought to have Vefpafian, or whether from the strength of a young man, we ought to have Titus ; for by this means we all have the advantage of both their ages, for that they will afford strength to thote that shall be made emperors, they having already three legions, besides other auxiliaries from the neighbouring kings, and will have farther all the armies in the east to support them, as also those in Europe, fo far as they are out of the distance and dread of Vitellius, besides such auxiliaries as they may have in Italy itself, that is Vespasian's + brother, and his other son [Domí. tian]; the one of which will bring in a great many of those young men that are of dignity, while the other is entrustedi with the government of the city, which office of his will be no small means of Vespasian's obtaining the government. Upon the whole, the case may be such, that if we ourselves make farther delays, the fenate may choole an emperor whom the soldiers, who are the faviours of the empire, will have in contempt.

4. Thefe were the discourses the soldiers had in their seva eral companies, after which they got together in a great body, and, encouraging one another, they declared Vespasian fem

The Roman authors that now remain, say, Vitellius had children, whereas Josephus introduces here the Roman soldiers in Judea saying, he had none. Which of these assertions was the truth I know not Spanheim thinks he hath given a peculiar reason for calling Vitellius “childless," though he really had children. Disl

. de Num. pages 649 650. to which it appears very difficult to give our assent.

+ This brother of Vespasian was Flavius Sabinus, ás Suetonius informs us, in Vitell. $ 15. and in Velpal. $ 2.

He is also named by jofephus presently, chap # It is plain by the nature of the thing, as well as by Josephus and Eutropius, that Vespalan was first of all Saluted emperor in Judea, and not till some time af terward in Egypt Whence Tacitus's ard Suetonius's present copies must be corrected, when they both say, that he was first proclaimed in Egypt, and that oa

xi. $4.

peror, and exhorted him to save the government which was now in danger. Now Vespasian's concern had been for a considerable time about the public, yet did he not intend to set up for governor himself. though his actions shewed him to deserve it, while he preterred that safety which is in a private life, before the dangers in a Itate of such dignity : But he refused the empire, the commanders insisted the more earnestly upon his acceptance, and the soldiers came about him, with their drawn swords in their hands, and threatened to kill him, unless he would now live according to his dignity. And when he had shewed his reluctance a great while, and had endeavoured to thrust away this dominion from him, he at length being not able to persuade them, yielded to their solicitations that would salute him emperor.

5. So upon the exhortations of Mucianus, and the other commanders, that he would accept of the empire, and upon that of the rest of the army, who cried out, that they were willing to be led against all his opposers, he was in the first place intent upon gaining the dominion over Alexandria, as knowing that Egypt was of the greatest consequence, in order to obtain the entire government, because of its fupplying of corn [to Rome), which corn if he could be master ot, he hoped to dethrone Vitellius supposing he should aim to keep the empire by force (for he would not be able to support himself, it the multitude at Rome should once be in want ot food); and because he was desirous to join the two legions that were at Alexandria to the other legions that were with him. He allo considered with himself, that he should then have that country for a defence to himselt against the uncertainty of fortune. For * Egypt is hard to be entered by land, and hath no good havens by sea. It hath on the west the dry deserts of Lybia, and on the south Siene, that divides it from Ethiopia, as well as the cataracts of the Nile, that cannot be failed over, and on the east the Red Sea, extended as far as Coptus, and it is fortified on the north by the land that reaches to Syria, together with that called the Egyptian Sea, having no havens in it for ships. And thus is Egypt walled about on every side. Its length between Pelusium and Siene is two thousand furlongs, and the passage by sea from Plinthine to Pelufium, is three thousand fix hundred turlongs. Its river Nile is navigable as far as the city called Elephantine, the forenamed cataracts hindering ships from going any farther. The haven allo of Alexandria is not entered by the.mariners without difficulty, even in times of peace ; for the passage inward is narrow, and

the kalends of July, while they ftill say, it was the fifth of the nones or ides of the same July before he was proclaimed in Judea. I suppose the month they there ine tended was June, and not July, as copies now have it ; nor does Tacitus's coherence imply less. See Essay on the Revelation, page 136.

* Here we have an authentic description of the bounds and circu mstances of Egypt, in the days of Vespasian and Titus.

Vol. III.

[ocr errors]

full of rocks, that lie under the water, which obliges the mar. iners to turn from a straight direction: Its left Gde is blocked up by works made by mens hands on both sides ; on its right side lies the island called Pharus, which is situated just before the entrance, and supports a very great tower, that affords the fight of a fire to such as fail within three hundred furlongs of it, that fhips may cast anchor a great way off in the night time, by reason of the difficulty of sailing nearer. About this island are built very great peers, the handy work of men, against which, when the sea dashes itself, and its waves are broken against those boundaries, the navigation becomes very troublelone and the entrance through lo narrow a passage is render. ed dangerous ; yet is the haven itself, when you are got into it, a very safe one, and of thirty furlongs in largenels; into which is brought what the country wants in order to its hap. piness, as also what abundance the country affords more than it wants itself, is hence distributed into all the habitable earth.

6. Juftly, therefore, did Vespasian desire to obtain that gov. ernment, in order to corroborace his attempts upon the whole empire ; so he immediately sent to Tiberius Alexander, who was then governor of Egypt and of Alexandria, and informed him what the army had put hirr upon, and how he, being forc. ed to accept of the burden of the overnment, was desirous to have him for his confederate and supporter. Now as foon as ever Alexander had read this letter, he readily obliged the le. gions and the multitude to take the oath of fidelity to Velpafian, both which willingly complied with him, as already ac. quainted with the courage of the man, from that his conduct in their neighbourhood. Accordingly. Velpafian looking upon himlelt as already entrufted with the government, got all things ready for his journey (to Rome). Now fame carried this news abroad more suddenly than one could have thought, that he was emperor over the eaft, upon which every city kept festivals, and celebrated facrifices and oblations for such good news ; the legions also that were in Mysia and Pannonia, who had been in commotion a little before, on account of this infolent attempt of Vitellius, were very glad to take the oath of fidelity to Vespasian, upon his coming to the empire. Ves. pasian then removed from Celarea to Berytus, where many amballages came to him from Syria, and many from other provinces, bringing with them from every city crowns, and ihe congratulations of the people. Mucianus came also, who was the president of the province, and told him with what a. lacrity the people (received the news of his advancement), and how the people of every city had taken the oath of fideli

7. So Vespasian's good fortune succeeded to his wifhes everywhere, and the public affairs were, for the greatest part, already in his hands ; upon which he confidered that he had not arrived at the government without divine Providence, but

ty to him.

that a righteous kind of fate had brought the empire under his power ; for as he called to mind the other signals, which had been a great many every where, that foretold he should obtain the government, so did he remember what Jofephus had said to him when he ventured to foretel his coming to the empire while Nero was alive ; so he was much concerned that ihis man was still in bonds with him. He then called for Mucianus, together with his other commanders and friends, and, in the first place, he informed them what a valiant man Josephus had been, and what great hardlhips he had made him undergo in the fiege of Jotapata. After that he related those * predic. tions of his which he had then suspected as fictions, suggested out of the fear he was in, but which had by time been demonstrated to be divine. “It is a shameful thing (faid he) that this man who had foretold my coming to the empire beforehand, and been the minister of a divine message to me, should still be retained in the condition of a captive or prisoner." So he called tor Jolephus, and commanded that he should be set at liberty ; whereupon the commanders promised themselves glorious things, from this requital Vespasian made to a stranger. Titus was then present with his father, and said, " 0 father, it is but just that the scandal (of a prisoner should be taken off Josephus, together with his iron chain.

For if we do not barely loose his bonds, but cut them to pieces, he will be like a man that had never been bound at all." For that is the ulual method as to such as have been bound without a caule. This advice was agreed to by Vefpafian also; so there came a man in, and cut the chain to pieces, while Josephus received this testimony of his integrity for a reward, and was moreover elteemed a person of credit as to futurities also.

C H A P. XI.

That upon the Conquest and Slaughter of Vitellius, Vespahan

hastened his Journey to Rome, but Titus his Son returned to

Jerusalem. $1. ND now, when Vespasian had given answers to the

ambassages, and had disposed of the places of pow• As Daniel was preferred by Darius and Cyrus, on account of his having fore. told the destruction of the Babylonian monarchy by their means, and the conle. quent exaltation of the Medes and Perlians, Dan. v. vi or rather, as Jeremiah, when he was a prisoner, was let at liberty, and honourably treated by Nebuzaradan, at the command of Nebuchadnezzar, on account of his having foretold the deftruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, Jer. xl. 1.-7. so was our Josephus fet at liberty, and honourably created, on account of his having forecold the advancement of Veís palian and Titus to the Roman empire. All these are most eminent instances of the interposition of divine Providence, and of the certainty of divine predictions in the great revolutions of the four monarchies. Several such like examples there are, both in the sacred and other histories ; as in the case of Jofeph in Egypt, and of Jaddua the high-priest, in the days of Alexander the Great, &c.

« PreviousContinue »