Containing The Interval Of About One Year
From The Siege Of Gamala To The Coming Of Titus To Besiege Jerusalem.
CONCERNING JOHN OF GISCHALA. CONCERNING THE ZEALOTS AND THE HIGH PRIEST ANANUS; AS ALSO HOW THE JEWS RAISE SEDITIONS ONE AGAINST ANOTHER [IN JERUSALEM].
1. NOW upon John's entry into Jerusalem, the whole body of the people were in an uproar, and ten thousand of them crowded about every one of the fugitives that were come to them, and inquired of them what miseries had happened abroad, when their breath was so short, and hot, and quick, that of itself it declared the great distress they were in; yet did they talk big under their misfortunes, and pretended to say that they had not fled away from the Romans, but came thither in order to fight them with less hazard; for that it would be an unreasonable and a fruitless thing for them to expose themselves to desperate hazards about Gischala, and such weak cities, whereas they ought to lay up their weapons and their zeal, and reserve it for their metropolis. But when they related to them the taking of Gischala, and their decent departure, as they pretended, from that place, many of the people understood it to be no better than a flight; and especially when the people were told of those that were made captives, they were in great confusion, and guessed those things to be plain indications that they should be taken also. But for John, he was very little concerned for those whom he had left behind him, but went about among all the people, and persuaded them to go to war, by the hopes he gave them. He affirmed that the affairs of the Romans were in a weak condition, and extolled his own power. He also jested upon the ignorance of the unskillful, as if those Romans, although they should take to themselves wings, could never fly over the wall of Jerusalem, who found such great difficulties in taking the villages of Galilee, and had broken their engines of war against their walls.
2. These harangues of John's corrupted a great part of the young men, and puffed them up for the war; but as to the more prudent part, and those in years, there was not a man of them but foresaw what was coming, and made lamentation on that account, as if the city was already undone; and in this confusion were the people. But then it must be observed, that the multitude that came out of the country were at discord before the Jerusalem sedition began; for Titus went from Gischala to Cesates, and Vespasian from Cesarea to Jamnia and Azotus, and took them both; and when he had put garrisons into them, he came back with a great number of the people, who were come over to him, upon his giving them his right hand for their preservation. There were besides disorders and civil wars in every city; and all those that were at quiet from the Romans turned their hands one against another.
There was also a bitter contest between those that were fond of war, and those that were desirous for peace. At the first this quarrelsome temper caught hold of private families, who could not agree among themselves; after which those people that were the dearest to one another brake through all restraints with regard to each other, and every one associated with those of his own opinion, and began already to stand in opposition one to another; so that seditions arose every where, while those that were for innovations, and were desirous of war, by their youth and boldness, were too hard for the aged and prudent men. And, in the first place, all the people of every place betook themselves to rapine; after which they got together in bodies, in order to rob the people of the country, insomuch that for barbarity and iniquity those of the same nation did no way differ from the Romans; nay, it seemed to be a much lighter thing to be ruined by the Romans than by themselves.
3. Now the Roman garrisons, which guarded the cities, partly out of their uneasiness to take such trouble upon them, and partly out of the hatred they bare to the Jewish nation, did little or nothing towards relieving the miserable, till the captains of these troops of robbers, being satiated with rapines in the country, got all together from all parts, and became a band of wickedness, and all together crept into Jerusalem, which was now become a city without a governor, and, as the ancient custom was, received without distinction all that belonged to their nation; and these they then received, because all men supposed that those who came so fast into the city came out of kindness, and for their assistance, although these very men, besides the seditions they raised, were otherwise the direct cause of the city's destruction also; for as they were an unprofitable and a useless multitude, they spent those provisions beforehand which might otherwise have been sufficient for the fighting men. Moreover, besides the bringing on of the war, they were the occasions of sedition and famine therein.
4. There were besides these other robbers that came out of the country, and came into the city, and joining to them those that were worse than themselves, omitted no kind of barbarity; for they did not measure their courage by their rapines and plunderings only, but preceded as far as murdering men; and this not in the night time or privately, or with regard to ordinary men, but did it openly in the day time, and began with the most eminent persons in the city; for the first man they meddled with was Antipas, one of the royal lineage, and the most potent man in the whole city, insomuch that the public treasures were committed to his care; him they took and confined; as they did in the next place to Levias, a person of great note, with Sophas, the son of Raguel, both which were of royal lineage also. And besides these, they did the same to the principal men of the country. This caused a terrible consternation among the people, and everyone contented himself with taking care of his own safety, as they would do if the city had been taken in war.
5. But these were not satisfied with the bonds into which they had put the men forementioned; nor did they think it safe for them to keep them thus in custody long, since they were men very powerful, and had numerous families of their own that were able to avenge them. Nay, they thought the very people would perhaps be so moved at these unjust proceedings, as to rise in a body against them; it was therefore resolved to have them slain accordingly, they sent one John, who was the most bloody-minded of them all, to do that execution: this man was also called "the son of Dorcas," (3) in the language of our country. Ten more men went along with him into the prison, with their swords drawn, and so they cut the throats of those that were in custody there. The grand lying pretence these men made for so flagrant an enormity was this, that these men had had conferences with the Romans for a surrender of Jerusalem to them; and so they said they had slain only such as were traitors to their common liberty. Upon the whole, they grew the more insolent upon this bold prank of theirs, as though they had been the benefactors and saviors of the city.
6. Now the people were come to that degree of meanness and fear, and these robbers to that degree of madness, that these last took upon them to appoint high priests. (4) So when they had disannulled the succession, according to those families out of which the high priests used to be made, they ordained certain unknown and ignoble persons for that office, that they might have their assistance in their wicked undertakings; for such as obtained this highest of all honors, without any desert, were forced to comply with those that bestowed it on them. They also set the principal men at variance one with another, by several sorts of contrivances and tricks, and gained the opportunity of doing what they pleased, by the mutual quarrels of those who might have obstructed their measures; till at length, when they were satiated with the unjust actions they had done towards men, they transferred their contumelious behavior to God himself, and came into the sanctuary with polluted feet.
7. And now the multitude were going to rise against them already; for Ananus, the ancientest of the high priests, persuaded them to it. He was a very prudent man, and had perhaps saved the city if he could but have escaped the hands of those that plotted against him. These men made the temple of God a strong hold for them, and a place whither they might resort, in order to avoid the troubles they feared from the people; the sanctuary was now become a refuge, and a shop of tyranny. They also mixed jesting among the miseries they introduced, which was more intolerable than what they did; for in order to try what surprise the people would be under, and how far their own power extended, they undertook to dispose of the high priesthood by casting lots for it, whereas, as we have said already, it was to descend by succession in a family. The pretense they made for this strange attempt was an ancient practice, while they said that of old it was determined by lot; but in truth, it was no better than a dissolution of an undeniable law, and a cunning contrivance to seize upon the government, derived from those that presumed to appoint governors as they themselves pleased.
8. Hereupon they sent for one of the pontifical tribes, which is called Eniachim, (5) and cast lots which of it should be the high priest. By fortune the lot so fell as to demonstrate their iniquity after the plainest manner, for it fell upon one whose name was Phannias, the son of Samuel, of the village Aphtha. He was a man not only unworthy of the high priesthood, but that did not well know what the high priesthood was, such a mere rustic was he ! yet did they hail this man, without his own consent, out of the country, as if they were acting a play upon the stage, and adorned him with a counterfeit thee; they also put upon him the sacred garments, and upon every occasion instructed him what he was to do. This horrid piece of wickedness was sport and pastime with them, but occasioned the other priests, who at a distance saw their law made a jest of, to shed tears, and sorely lament the dissolution of such a sacred dignity.
9. And now the people could no longer bear the insolence of this procedure, but did all together run zealously, in order to overthrow that tyranny; and indeed they were Gorion the son of Josephus, and Symeon the son of Gamaliel, (6) who encouraged them, by going up and down when they were assembled together in crowds, and as they saw them alone, to bear no longer, but to inflict punishment upon these pests and plagues of their freedom, and to purge the temple of these bloody polluters of it. The best esteemed also of the high priests, Jesus the son of Gamalas, and Ananus the son of Ananus when they were at their assemblies, bitterly reproached the people for their sloth, and excited them against the zealots; for that was the name they went by, as if they were zealous in good undertakings, and were not rather zealous in the worst actions, and extravagant in them beyond the example of others.
10. And now, when the multitude were gotten together to an assembly, and every one was in indignation at these men's seizing upon the sanctuary, at their rapine and murders, but had not yet begun their attacks upon them, (the reason of which was this, that they imagined it to be a difficult thing to suppress these zealots, as indeed the case was,) Ananus stood in the midst of them, and casting his eyes frequently at the temple, and having a flood of tears in his eyes, he said,
11. By these motives Ananus encouraged the multitude to go against the zealots, although he knew how difficult it would be to disperse them, because of their multitude, and their youth, and the courage of their souls; but chiefly because of their consciousness of what they had done, since they would not yield, as not so much as hoping for pardon at the last for those their enormities. However, Ananus resolved to undergo whatever sufferings might come upon him, rather than overlook things, now they were in such great confusion. So the multitude cried out to him, to lead them on against those whom he had described in his exhortation to them, and every one of them was most readily disposed to run any hazard whatsoever on that account.
12. Now while Ananus was choosing out his men, and putting those that were proper for his purpose in array for fighting, the zealots got information of his undertaking, (for there were some who went to them, and told them all that the people were doing,) and were irritated at it, and leaping out of the temple in crowds, and by parties, spared none whom they met with. Upon this Ananus got the populace together on the sudden, who were more numerous indeed than the zealots, but inferior to them in arms, because they had not been regularly put into array for fighting; but the alacrity that every body showed supplied all their defects on both sides, the citizens taking up so great a passion as was stronger than arms, and deriving a degree of courage from the temple more forcible than any multitude whatsoever; and indeed these citizens thought it was not possible for them to dwell in the city, unless they could cut off the robbers that were in it. The zealots also thought that unless they prevailed, there would be no punishment so bad but it would be inflicted on them.
So their conflicts were conducted by their passions; and at the first they only cast stones at each other in the city, and before the temple, and threw their javelins at a distance; but when either of them were too hard for the other, they made use of their swords; and great slaughter was made on both sides, and a great number were wounded. As for the dead bodies of the people, their relations carried them out to their own houses; but when any of the zealots were wounded, he went up into the temple, and defiled that sacred floor with his blood, insomuch that one may say it was their blood alone that polluted our sanctuary. Now in these conflicts the robbers always sallied out of the temple, and were too hard for their enemies; but the populace grew very angry, and became more and more numerous, and reproached those that gave back, and those behind would not afford room to those that were going off, but forced them on again, till at length they made their whole body to turn against their adversaries, and the robbers could no longer oppose them, but were forced gradually to retire into the temple; when Ananus and his party fell into it at the same time together with them. (7)
This horribly affrighted the robbers, because it deprived them of the first court; so they fled into the inner court immediately, and shut the gates. Now Ananus did not think fit to make any attack against the holy gates, although the other threw their stones and darts at them from above. He also deemed it unlawful to introduce the multitude into that court before they were purified; he therefore chose out of them all by lot six thousand armed men, and placed them as guards in the cloisters; so there was a succession of such guards one after another, and every one was forced to attend in his course; although many of the chief of the city were dismissed by those that then took on them the government, upon their hiring some of the poorer sort, and sending them to keep the guard in their stead.
13. Now it was John who, as we told you, ran away from Gischala, and was the occasion of all these being destroyed. He was a man of great craft, and bore about him in his soul a strong passion after tyranny, and at a distance was the adviser in these actions; and indeed at this time he pretended to be of the people's opinion, and went all about with Ananus when he consulted the great men every day, and in the night time also when he went round the watch; but he divulged their secrets to the zealots, and every thing that the people deliberated about was by his means known to their enemies, even before it had been well agreed upon by themselves. And by way of contrivance how he might not be brought into suspicion, he cultivated the greatest friendship possible with Ananus, and with the chief of the people; yet did this overdoing of his turn against him, for he flattered them so extravagantly, that he was but the more suspected; and his constant attendance every where, even when he was not invited to be present, made him strongly suspected of betraying their secrets to the enemy; for they plainly perceived that they understood all the resolutions taken against them at their consultations.
Nor was there any one whom they had so much reason to suspect of that discovery as this John; yet was it not easy to get quit of him, so potent was he grown by his wicked practices. He was also supported by many of those eminent men, who were to be consulted upon all considerable affairs; it was therefore thought reasonable to oblige him to give them assurance of his good-will upon oath; accordingly John took such an oath readily, that he would be on the people's side, and would not betray any of their counsels or practices to their enemies, and would assist them in overthrowing those that attacked them, and that both by his hand and his advice. So Ananus and his party believed his oath, and did now receive him to their consultations without further suspicion; nay, so far did they believe him, that they sent him as their ambassador into the temple to the zealots, with proposals of accommodation; for they were very desirous to avoid the pollution of the temple as much as they possibly could, and that no one of their nation should be slain therein.
14. But now this John, as if his oath had been made to the zealots, and for confirmation of his good-will to them, and not against them, went into the temple, and stood in the midst of them, and spake as follows: That he had run many hazards o, their accounts, and in order to let them know of every thing that was secretly contrived against them by Ananus and his party; but that both he and they should be cast into the most imminent danger, unless some providential assistance were afforded them; for that Ananus made no longer delay, but had prevailed with the people to send ambassadors to Vespasian, to invite him to come presently and take the city; and that he had appointed a fast for the next day against them, that they might obtain admission into the temple on a religious account, or gain it by force, and fight with them there; that he did not see how long they could either endure a siege, or how they could fight against so many enemies.
He added further, that it was by the providence of God he was himself sent as an ambassador to them for an accommodation; for that Artanus did therefore offer them such proposals, that he might come upon them when they were unarmed; that they ought to choose one of these two methods, either to intercede with those that guarded them, to save their lives, or to provide some foreign assistance for themselves; that if they fostered themselves with the hopes of pardon, in case they were subdued, they had forgotten what desperate things they had done, or could suppose, that as soon as the actors repented, those that had suffered by them must be presently reconciled to them; while those that have done injuries, though they pretend to repent of them, are frequently hated by the others for that sort of repentance; and that the sufferers, when they get the power into their hands, are usually still more severe upon the actors; that the friends and kindred of those that had been destroyed would always be laying plots against them; and that a large body of people were very angry on account of their gross breaches of their laws, and [illegal] judicatures, insomuch that although some part might commiserate them, those would be quite overborne by the majority.
(3) This name Dorcas in Greek, was Tabitha in Hebrew or Syriac, as Acts 9:36. Accordingly, some of the manuscripts set it down here Tabetha or Tabeta. Nor can the context in Josephus be made out by supposing the reading to have been this:
"The son of Tabitha; which, in the language of our country, denotes Dorcas" [or a doe].
(4) Here we may discover the utter disgrace and ruin of the high priesthood among the Jews, when undeserving, ignoble, and vile persons were advanced to that holy office by the seditious; which sort of high priests, as Josephus well remarks here, were thereupon obliged to comply with and assist those that advanced them in their impious practices. The names of these high priests, or rather ridiculous and profane persons, were Jesus the son of Damneus, Jesus the son of Gamaliel, Matthias the son of Theophilus, and that prodigious ignoramus Phannias, the son of Samuel; all whom we shall meet with in Josephus's future history of this war; nor do we meet with any other so much as pretended high priest after Phannias, till Jerusalem was taken and destroyed.
(5) This tribe or course of the high priests, or priests, here called Eniachim, seems to the learned Mr. Lowth, one well versed in Josephus, to be that 1 Chronicles 24:12, "the course of Jakim," where some copies have" the course of Eliakim;" and I think this to be by no means an improbable conjecture.
(6) This Symeon, the son of Gamaliel, is mentioned as the president of the Jewish sanhedrim, and one that perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, by the Jewish Rabbins, as Reland observes on this place. He also tells us that those Rabbins mention one Jesus the son of Gamala, as once a high priest, but this long before the destruction of Jerusalem; so that if he were the same person with this Jesus the son of Gamala, Josephus, he must have lived to be very old, or they have been very bad chronologers.
(7) It is worth noting here, that this Ananus, the best of the Jews at this time, and the high priest, who was so very uneasy at the profanation of the Jewish courts of the temple by the zealots, did not however scruple the profanation of the "court of the Gentiles;" as in our Savior's days it was very much profaned by the Jews; and made a market-place, nay, a "den of thieves," without scruple, Matthew 21:12, 13; Mark 11:15-17. Accordingly Josephus himself, when he speaks of the two inner courts, calls them both hagia or holy places; but, so far as I remember, never gives that character of the court of the Gentiles. See B. V. ch. 9. sect. 2.