Containing The Interval Of About One Year
From The Siege Of Gamala To The Coming Of Titus To Besiege Jerusalem.
THE CRUELTY OF THE IDUMEANS WHEN THEY WERE GOTTEN INTO THE TEMPLE DURING THE STORM; AND OF THE ZEALOTS. CONCERNING THE SLAUGHTER OF ANANUS, AND JESUS, AND ZACHARIAS; AND HOW THE IDUMEANS RETIRED HOME.
1. THIS advice pleased the Idumeans, and they ascended through the city to the temple. The zealots were also in great expectation of their coming, and earnestly waited for them. When therefore these were entering, they also came boldly out of the inner temple, and mixing themselves among the Idumeans, they attacked the guards; and some of those that were upon the watch, but were fallen asleep, they killed as they were asleep; but as those that were now awakened made a cry, the whole multitude arose, and in the amazement they were in caught hold of their arms immediately, and betook themselves to their own defense; and so long as they thought they were only the zealots who attacked them, they went on boldly, as hoping to overpower them by their numbers; but when they saw others pressing in upon them also, they perceived the Idumeans were got in; and the greatest part of them laid aside their arms, together with their courage, and betook themselves to lamentations. But some few of the younger sort covered themselves with their armor, and valiantly received the Idumeans, and for a while protected the multitude of old men. Others, indeed, gave a signal to those that were in the city of the calamities they were in; but when these were also made sensible that the Idumeans were come in, none of them durst come to their assistance, only they returned the terrible echo of wailing, and lamented their misfortunes.
A great howling of the women was excited also, and every one of the guards were in danger of being killed. The zealots also joined in the shouts raised by the Idumeans; and the storm itself rendered the cry more terrible; nor did the Idumeans spare any body; for as they are naturally a most barbarous and bloody nation, and had been distressed by the tempest, they made use of their weapons against those that had shut the gates against them, and acted in the same manner as to those that supplicated for their lives, and to those that fought them, insomuch that they ran through those with their swords who desired them to remember the relation there was between them, and begged of them to have regard to their common temple. Now there was at present neither any place for flight, nor any hope of preservation; but as they were driven one upon another in heaps, so were they slain. Thus the greater part were driven together by force, as there was now no place of retirement, and the murderers were upon them; and, having no other way, threw themselves down headlong into the city; whereby, in my opinion, they underwent a more miserable destruction than that which they avoided, because that was a voluntary one. And now the outer temple was all of it overflowed with blood; and that day, as it came on, they saw eight thousand five hundred dead bodies there.
2. But the rage of the Idumeans was not satiated by these slaughters; but they now betook themselves to the city, and plundered every house, and slew every one they met; and for the other multitude, they esteemed it needless to go on with killing them, but they sought for the high priests, and the generality went with the greatest zeal against them; and as soon as they caught them they slew them, and then standing upon their dead bodies, in way of jest, upbraided Ananus with his kindness to the people, and Jesus with his speech made to them from the wall. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun. I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city. He was on other accounts also a venerable, and a very just man; and besides the grandeur of that nobility, and dignity, and honor of which he was possessed, he had been a lover of a kind of parity, even with regard to the meanest of the people; he was a prodigious lover of liberty, and an admirer of a democracy in government; and did ever prefer the public welfare before his own advantage, and preferred peace above all things; for he was thoroughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered.
He also foresaw that of necessity a war would follow, and that unless the Jews made up matters with them very dexterously, they would be destroyed; to say all in a word, if Ananus had survived, they had certainly compounded matters; for he was a shrewd man in speaking and persuading the people, and had already gotten the mastery of those that opposed his designs, or were for the war. And the Jews had then put abundance of delays in the way of the Romans, if they had had such a general as he was. Jesus was also joined with him; and although he was inferior to him upon the comparison, he was superior to the rest; and I cannot but think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by fire, that he cut off these their great defenders and well-wishers, while those that a little before had worn the sacred garments, and had presided over the public worship, (8b) and had been esteemed venerable by those that dwelt on the whole habitable earth when they came into our city, were cast out naked, and seen to be the food of dogs and wild beasts. And I cannot but imagine that virtue itself groaned at these men's case, and lamented that she was here so terribly conquered by wickedness. And this at last was the end of Ananus and Jesus.
3. Now after these were slain, the zealots and the multitude of the Idumeans fell upon the people as upon a flock of profane animals, and cut their throats; and for the ordinary sort, they were destroyed in what place soever they caught them. But for the noblemen and the youth, they first caught them and bound them, and shut them up in prison, and put off their slaughter, in hopes that some of them would turn over to their party; but not one of them would comply with their desires, but all of them preferred death before being enrolled among such wicked wretches as acted against their own country. But this refusal of theirs brought upon them terrible torments; for they were so scourged and tortured, that their bodies were not able to sustain their torments, till at length, and with difficulty, they had the favor to be slain. Those whom they caught in the day time were slain in the night, and then their bodies were carried out and thrown away, that there might be room for other prisoners; and the terror that was upon the people was so great, that no one had courage enough either to weep openly for the dead man that was related to him, or to bury him; but those that were shut up in their own houses could only shed tears in secret, and durst not even groan without great caution, lest any of their enemies should hear them; for if they did, those that mourned for others soon underwent the same death with those whom they mourned for. Only in the night time they would take up a little dust, and throw it upon their bodies; and even some that were the most ready to expose themselves to danger would do it in the day time: and there were twelve thousand of the better sort who perished in this manner.
4. And now these zealots and Idumeans were quite weary of barely killing men, so they had the impudence of setting up fictitious tribunals and judicatures for that purpose; and as they intended to have Zacharias (9) the son of Baruch, one of the most eminent of the citizens, slain, - so what provoked them against him was, that hatred of wickedness and love of liberty which were so eminent in him: he was also a rich man, so that by taking him off, they did not only hope to seize his effects, but also to get rid of a mall that had great power to destroy them. So they called together, by a public proclamation, seventy of the principal men of the populace, for a show, as if they were real judges, while they had no proper authority. Before these was Zacharias accused of a design to betray their polity to the Romans, and having traitorously sent to Vespasian for that purpose. Now there appeared no proof or sign of what he was accused; but they affirmed themselves that they were well persuaded that so it was, and desired that such their affirmation might he taken for sufficient evidence. Now when Zacharias clearly saw that there was no way remaining for his escape from them, as having been treacherously called before them, and then put in prison, but not with any intention of a legal trial, he took great liberty of speech in that despair of his life he was under.
Accordingly he stood up, and laughed at their pretended accusation, and in a few words confuted the crimes laid to his charge; after which he turned his speech to his accusers, and went over distinctly all their transgressions of the law, and made heavy lamentation upon the confusion they had brought public affairs to: in the mean time, the zealots grew tumultuous, and had much ado to abstain from drawing their swords, although they designed to preserve the appearance and show of judicature to the end. They were also desirous, on other accounts, to try the judges, whether they would be mindful of what was just at their own peril. Now the seventy judges brought in their verdict that the person accused was not guilty, as choosing rather to die themselves with him, than to have his death laid at their doors; hereupon there arose a great clamor of the zealots upon his acquittal, and they all had indignation at the judges for not understanding that the authority that was given them was but in jest. So two of the boldest of them fell upon Zacharias in the middle of the temple, and slew him; and as he fell down dead, they bantered him, and said,
"Thou hast also our verdict, and this will prove a more sure acquittal to thee than the other."
They also threw him down from the temple immediately into the valley beneath it. Moreover, they struck the judges with the backs of their swords, by way of abuse, and thrust them out of the court of the temple, and spared their lives with no other design than that, when they were dispersed among the people in the city, they might become their messengers, to let them know they were no better than slaves.
5. But by this time the Idumeans repented of their coming, and were displeased at what had been done; and when they were assembled together by one of the zealots, who had come privately to them, he declared to them what a number of wicked pranks they had themselves done in conjunction with those that invited them, and gave a particular account of what mischiefs had been done against their metropolis. - He said that they had taken arms, as though the high priests were betraying their metropolis to the Romans, but had found no indication of any such treachery; but that they had succored those that had pretended to believe such a thing, while they did themselves the works of war and tyranny, after an insolent manner. It had been indeed their business to have hindered them from such their proceedings at the first, but seeing they had once been partners with them in shedding the blood of their own countrymen, it was high time to put a stop to such crimes, and not continue to afford any more assistance to such as are subverting the laws of their forefathers; for that if any had taken it ill that the gates had been shut against them, and they had not been permitted to come into the city, yet that those who had excluded them have been punished, and Ananus is dead, and that almost all those people had been destroyed in one night's time.
That one may perceive many of themselves now repenting for what they had done, and might see the horrid barbarity of those that had invited them, and that they had no regard to such as had saved them; that they were so impudent as to perpetrate the vilest things, under the eyes of those that had supported them, and that their wicked actions would be laid to the charge of the Idumeans, and would be so laid to their charge till somebody obstructs their proceedings, or separates himself from the same wicked action; that they therefore ought to retire home, since the imputation of treason appears to be a Calumny, and that there was no expectation of the coming of the Romans at this time, and that the government of the city was secured by such walls as cannot easily be thrown down; and, by avoiding any further fellowship with these bad men, to make some excuse for themselves, as to what they had been so far deluded, as to have been partners with them hitherto.
(8b) Kosmike threskeia, or "worldly worship," as the author to the Hebrews calls the sanctuary, hagion kosmikon, "a worldly sanctuary."
(9) Some commentators are ready to suppose that this " Zacharias, the son of Baruch," here most unjustly slain by the Jews in the temple, was the very same person with "Zacharias, the son of Barachias," whom our Savior says the Jews
" slew between the temple and the altar," (Matthew 23:35)
This is a somewhat strange exposition; since Zechariah the prophet was really "the son of Barachiah," and "grandson of Iddo", (Zechariah 1:1); and how he died, we have no other account than that before us in St. Matthew: while this "Zacharias" was "the son of Baruch." Since the slaughter was past when our Savior spake these words, the Jews had then already slain him; whereas this slaughter of "Zacharias, the son of Baruch," in Josephus, was then about thirty-four years future. And since the slaughter was "between the temple and the altar," in the court of the priests, one of the most sacred and remote parts of the whole temple; while this was, in Josephus's own words, in the middle of the temple, and much the most probably in the court of Israel only (for we have had no intimation that the zealots had at this time profaned the court of the priests. See B. V. ch. 1. sect. 2). Nor do I believe that our Josephus, who always insists on the peculiar sacredness of the inmost court, and of the holy house that was in it, would have omitted so material an aggravation of this barbarous murder, as perpetrated in. a place so very holy, had that been the true place of it. See Antiq. B. XI. ch. 7. sect. 1, and the note here on B. V. ch. 1. sect. 2.