Containing The Interval Of About One Year
From Vespasian's Coming To Subdue The Jews To The Taking Of Gamala.
PLACIDUS ATTEMPTS TO TAKE JOTAPATA AND IS BEATEN OFF. VESPASIAN MARCHES INTO GALILEE.
1. AND now Vespasian, with his son Titus, had tarried some time at Ptolemais, and had put his army in order. But when Placidus, who had overrun Galilee, and had besides slain a number of those whom he had caught, (which were only the weaker part of the Galileans, and such as were of timorous souls,) saw that the warriors ran always to those cities whose walls had been built by Josephus, he marched furiously against Jotapata, which was of them all the strongest, as supposing he should easily take it by a sudden surprise, and that he should thereby obtain great honor to himself among the commanders, and bring a great advantage to them in their future campaign; because if this strongest place of them all were once taken, the rest would be so affrighted as to surrender themselves. But he was mightily mistaken in his undertaking; for the men of Jotapata were apprized of his coming to attack them, and came out of the city, and expected him there.
So they fought the Romans briskly when they least expected it, being both many in number, and prepared for fighting, and of great alacrity, as esteeming their country, their wives, and their children to be in danger, and easily put the Romans to flight, and wounded many of them, and slew seven of them; (4) because their retreat was not made in a disorderly manner, be-cause the strokes only touched the surface of their bodies, which were covered with their armor in all parts, and because the Jews did rather throw their weapons upon them from a great distance, than venture to come hand to hand with them, and had only light armor on, while the others were completely armed. However, three men of the Jews' side were slain, and a few wounded; so Placidus, finding himself unable to assault the city, ran away.
2. But as Vespasian had a great mind to fall upon Galilee, he marched out of Ptolemais, having put his army into that order wherein the Romans used to march. He ordered those auxiliaries which were lightly armed, and the archers, to march first, that they might prevent any sudden insults from the enemy, and might search out the woods that looked suspiciously, and were capable of ambuscades. Next to these followed that part of the Romans which was completely armed, both footmen ,and horsemen. Next to these followed ten out of every hundred, carrying along with them their arms, and what was necessary to measure out a camp withal; and after them, such as were to make the road even and straight, and if it were any where rough and hard to be passed over, to plane it, and to cut down the woods that hindered their march, that the army might not be in distress, or tired with their march. Behind these he set such carriages of the army as belonged both to himself and to the other commanders, with a considerable number of their horsemen for their security. After these he marched himself, having with him a select body of footmen, and horsemen, and pikemen.
After these came the peculiar cavalry of his own legion, for there were a hundred and twenty horsemen that peculiarly belonged to every legion. Next to these came the mules that carried the engines for sieges, and the other warlike machines of that nature. After these came the commanders of the cohorts and tribunes, having about them soldiers chosen out of the rest. Then came the ensigns encompassing the eagle, which is at the head of every Roman legion, the king, and the strongest of all birds, which seems to them a signal of dominion, and an omen that they shall conquer all against whom they march; these sacred ensigns are followed by the trumpeters. Then came the main army in their squadrons and battalions, with six men in depth, which were followed at last by a centurion, who, according to custom, observed the rest. As for the servants of every legion, they all followed the footmen, and led the baggage of the soldiers, which was borne by the mules and other beasts of burden. But behind all the legions carne the whole multitude of the mercenaries; and those that brought up the rear came last of all for the security of the whole army, being both footmen, and those in their armor also, with a great number of horsemen.
3. And thus did Vespasian march with his army, and came to the bounds of Galileo, where he pitched his camp and restrained his soldiers, who were eager for war; he also showed his army to the enemy, in order to affright them, and to afford them a season for repentance, to see whether they would change their minds before it came to a battle, and at the same time he got things ready for besieging their strong minds. And indeed this sight of the general brought many to repent of their revolt, and put them all into a consternation; for those that were in Josephus's camp, which was at the city called Garis, not far from Sepphoris, when they heard that the war was come near them, and that the Romans would suddenly fight them hand to hand, dispersed themselves and fled, not only before they came to a battle, but before the enemy ever came in sight, while Josephus and a few others were left behind; and as he saw that he had not an army sufficient to engage the enemy, that the spirits of the Jews were sunk, and that the greater part would willingly come to terms, if they might be credited, he already despaired of the success of the whole war, and determined to get as far as he possibly could out of danger; so he took those that staid along with him, and fled to Tiberias.
(4) I cannot but here observe an Eastern way of speaking, frequent among them, but not usual among us, where the word "only" or "alone" is not set down, but perhaps some way supplied in the pronunciation. Thus Josephus here says, that those of Jotapata slew seven of the Romans as they were marching off, because the Romans' retreat was regular, their bodies were covered over with their armor, and the Jews fought at some distance; his meaning is clear, that these were the reasons why they slew only, or no more than seven. I have met with many the like examples in the Scriptures, in Josephus, etc.; but did not note down the particular places. This observation ought to be borne in mind upon many occasions.