Containing The Interval Of About One Month
From The Great Extremity To Which The Jews Were Reduced
To The Taking Of Jerusalem By Titus.
HOW TITUS GAVE ORDERS TO DEMOLISH THE TOWER OF ANTONIA AND THEN PERSUADED JOSEPHUS TO EXHORT THE JEWS AGAIN [TO A SURRENDER].
1. AND now Titus gave orders to his soldiers that were with him to dig up the foundations of the tower of Antonia, and make him a ready passage for his army to come up; while he himself had Josephus brought to him, (for he had been informed that on that very day, which was the seventeenth day (5) of Panemus, [Tamuz,] the sacrifice called "the Daily Sacrifice" had failed, and had not been offered to God, for want of men to offer it, and that the people were grievously troubled at it,) and commanded him to say the same things to John that he had said before, that if he had any malicious inclination for fighting, he might come out with as many of his men as he pleased, in order to fight, without the danger of destroying either his city or temple; but that he desired he would not defile the temple, nor thereby offend against God. That he might, if he pleased, offer the sacrifices which were now discontinued by any of the Jews whom he should pitch upon.
Upon this Josephus stood in such a place where he might be heard, not by John only, but by many more, and then declared to them what Caesar had given him in charge, and this in the Hebrew language. (6) So he earnestly prayed them to spare their own city, and to prevent that fire which was just ready to seize upon the temple, and to offer their usual sacrifices to God therein. At these words of his a great sadness and silence were observed among the people. But the tyrant himself cast many reproaches upon Josephus, with imprecations besides; and at last added this withal, that he did never fear the taking of the city, because it was God's own city. In answer to which Josephus said thus with a loud voice:
2. As Josephus spoke these words, with groans and tears in his eyes, his voice was intercepted by sobs. However, the Romans could not but pity the affliction he was under, and wonder at his conduct. But for John, and those that were with him, they were but the more exasperated against the Romans on this account, and were desirous to get Josephus also into their power: yet did that discourse influence a great many of the better sort; and truly some of them were so afraid of the guards set by the seditious, that they tarried where they were, but still were satisfied that both they and the city were doomed to destruction. Some also there were who, watching a proper opportunity when they might quietly get away, fled to the Romans, of whom were the high priests Joseph and Jesus, and of the sons of high priests three, whose father was Ishmael, who was beheaded in Cyrene, and four sons of Matthias, as also one son of the other Matthias, who ran away after his father's death, (10) and whose father was slain by Simon the son of Gioras, with three of his sons, as I have already related; many also of the other nobility went over to the Romans, together with the high priests.
Now Caesar not only received these men very kindly in other respects, but, knowing they would not willingly live after the customs of other nations, he sent them to Gophna, and desired them to remain there for the present, and told them, that when he was gotten clear of this war, he would restore each of them to their possessions again; so they cheerfully retired to that small city which was allotted them, without fear of any danger. But as they did not appear, the seditious gave out again that these deserters were slain by the Romans, which was done in order to deter the rest from running away, by fear of the like treatment. This trick of theirs succeeded now for a while, as did the like trick before; for the rest were hereby deterred from deserting, by fear of the like treatment.
3. However, when Titus had recalled those men from Gophna, he gave orders that they should go round the wall, together with Josephus, and show themselves to the people; upon which a great many fled to the Romans. These men also got in a great number together, and stood before the Romans, and besought the seditious, with groans and tears in their eyes, in the first place to receive the Romans entirely into the city, and save that their own place of residence again; but that, if they would not agree to such a proposal, they would at least depart out of the temple, and save the holy house for their own use; for that the Romans would not venture to set the sanctuary on fire but under the most pressing necessity. Yet did the seditious still more and more contradict them; and while they cast loud and bitter reproaches upon these deserters, they also set their engines for throwing of darts, and javelins, and stones upon the sacred gates of the temple, at due distances from one another, insomuch that all the space round about within the temple might be compared to a burying-ground, so great was the number of the dead bodies therein; as might the holy house itself be compared to a citadel.
Accordingly, these men rushed upon these holy places in their armor, that were otherwise unapproachable, and that while their hands were yet warm with the blood of their own people which they had shed; nay, they proceeded to such great transgressions, that the very same indignation which Jews would naturally have against Romans, had they been guilty of such abuses against them, the Romans now had against Jews, for their impiety in regard to their own religious customs. Nay, indeed, there were none of the Roman soldiers who did not look with a sacred horror upon the holy house, and adored it, and wished that the robbers would repent before their miseries became incurable.
4. Now Titus was deeply affected with this state of things, and reproached John and his party, and said to them,
"Have not you, vile wretches that you are, by our permission, put up this partition-wall (11) before your sanctuary? Have not you been allowed to put up the pillars thereto belonging, at due distances, and on it to engrave in Greek, and in your own letters, this prohibition, that no foreigner should go beyond that wall. Have not we given you leave to kill such as go beyond it, though he were a Roman? And what do you do now, you pernicious villains? Why do you trample upon dead bodies in this temple? and why do you pollute this holy house with the blood of both foreigners and Jews themselves? I appeal to the gods of my own country, and to every god that ever had any regard to this place; (for I do not suppose it to be now regarded by any of them;) I also appeal to my own army, and to those Jews that are now with me, and even to yourselves, that I do not force you to defile this your sanctuary; and if you will but change the place whereon you will fight, no Roman shall either come near your sanctuary, or offer any affront to it; nay, I will endeavor to preserve you your holy house, whether you will or not." (12)
5. As Josephus explained these things from the mouth of Caesar, both the robbers and the tyrant thought that these exhortations proceeded from Titus's fear, and not from his good-will to them, and grew insolent upon it. But when Titus saw that these men were neither to be moved by commiseration towards themselves, nor had any concern upon them to have the holy house spared, he proceeded unwillingly to go on again with the war against them. He could not indeed bring all his army against them, the place was so narrow; but choosing thirty soldiers of the most valiant out of every hundred, and committing a thousand to each tribune, and making Cerealis their commander-in-chief, he gave orders that they should attack the guards of the temple about the ninth hour of that night. But as he was now in his armor, and preparing to go down with them, his friends would not let him go, by reason of the greatness of the danger, and what the commanders suggested to them; for they said that he would do more by sitting above in the tower of Antonia, as a dispenser of rewards to those soldiers that signalized themselves in the fight, than by coming down and hazarding his own person in the forefront of them; for that they would all fight stoutly while Caesar looked upon them.
With this advice Caesar complied, and said that the only reason he had for such compliance with the soldiers was this, that he might be able to judge of their courageous actions, and that no valiant soldier might lie concealed, and miss of his reward, and no cowardly soldier might go unpunished; but that he might himself be an eye-witness, and able to give evidence of all that was done, who was to be the disposer of punishments and rewards to them. So he sent the soldiers about their work at the hour forementioned, while he went out himself to a higher place in the tower of Antonia, whence he might see what was done, and there waited with impatience to see the event.
6. However, the soldiers that were sent did not find the guards of the temple asleep, as they hoped to have done; but were obliged to fight with them immediately hand to hand, as they rushed with violence upon them with a great shout. Now as soon as the rest within the temple heard that shout of those that were upon the watch, they ran out in troops upon them. Then did the Romans receive the onset of those that came first upon them; but those that followed them fell upon their own troops, and many of them treated their own soldiers as if they had been enemies; for the great confused noise that was made on both sides hindered them from distinguishing one another's voices, as did the darkness of the night hinder them from the like distinction by the sight, besides that blindness which arose otherwise also from the passion and the fear they were in at the same time; for which reason it was all one to the soldiers who it was they struck at.
However, this ignorance did less harm to the Romans than to the Jews, because they were joined together under their shields, and made their sallies more regularly than the others did, and each of them remembered their watch-word; while the Jews were perpetually dispersed abroad, and made their attacks and retreats at random, and so did frequently seem to one another to be enemies; for every one of them received those of their own men that came back in the dark as Romans, and made an assault upon them; so that more of them were wounded by their own men than by the enemy, till, upon the coming on of the day, the nature of the right was discerned by the eye afterward. Then did they stand in battle-array in distinct bodies, and cast their darts regularly, and regularly defended themselves; nor did either side yield or grow weary. The Romans contended with each other who should fight the most strenuously, both single men and entire regiments, as being under the eye of Titus; and every one concluded that this day would begin his promotion if he fought bravely. What were the great encouragements of the Jews to act vigorously were, their fear for themselves and for the temple, and the presence of their tyrant, who exhorted some, and beat and threatened others, to act courageously.
Now, it so happened, that this fight was for the most part a stationary one, wherein the soldiers went on and came back in a short time, and suddenly; for there was no long space of ground for either of their flights or pursuits. But still there was a tumultuous noise among the Romans from the tower of Antonia, who loudly cried out upon all occasions to their own men to press on courageously, when they were too hard for the Jews, and to stay when they were retiring backward; so that here was a kind of theater of war; for what was done in this fight could not be concealed either from Titus, or from those that were about him. At length it appeared that this fight, which began at the ninth hour of the night, was not over till past the fifth hour of the day; and that, in the same place where the battle began, neither party could say they had made the other to retire; but both the armies left the victory almost in uncertainty between them; wherein those that signalized themselves on the Roman side were a great many, but on the Jewish side, and of those that were with Simon, Judas the son of Merto, and Simon the son of Josas; of the Idumeans, James and Simon, the latter of whom was the son of Cathlas, and James was the son of Sosas; of those that were with John, Gyphtheus and Alexas; and of the zealots, Simon the son of Jairus.
7. In the mean time, the rest of the Roman army had, in seven days' time, overthrown [some] foundations of the tower of Antonia, and had made a ready and broad way to the temple. Then did the legions come near the first court, (13) and began to raise their banks. The one bank was over against the north-west corner of the inner temple, (13b) another was at that northern edifice which was between the two gates; and of the other two, one was at the western cloister of the outer court of the temple; the other against its northern cloister. However, these works were thus far advanced by the Romans, not without great pains and difficulty, and particularly by being obliged to bring their materials from the distance of a hundred furlongs. They had further difficulties also upon them; sometimes by their over-great security they were in that they should overcome the Jewish snares laid for them, and by that boldness of the Jews which their despair of escaping had inspired them withal; for some of their horsemen, when they went out to gather wood or hay, let their horses feed without having their bridles on during the time of foraging; upon which horses the Jews sallied out in whole bodies, and seized them.
And when this was continually done, and Caesar believed what the truth was, that the horses were stolen more by the negligence of his own men than by the valor of the Jews, he determined to use greater severity to oblige the rest to take care of their horses; so he commanded that one of those soldiers who had lost their horses should be capitally punished; whereby he so terrified the rest, that they preserved their horses for the time to come; for they did not any longer let them go from them to feed by themselves, but, as if they had grown to them, they went always along with them when they wanted necessaries. Thus did the Romans still continue to make war against the temple, and to raise their banks against it.
8. Now after one day had been interposed since the Romans ascended the breach, many of the seditious were so pressed by the famine, upon the present failure of their ravages, that they got together, and made an attack on those Roman guards that were upon the Mount of Olives, and this about the eleventh hour of the day, as supposing, first, that they would not expect such an onset, and, in the next place, that they were then taking care of their bodies, and that therefore they should easily beat them. But the Romans were apprized of their coming to attack them beforehand, and, running together from the neighboring camps on the sudden, prevented them from getting over their fortification, or forcing the wall that was built about them. Upon this came on a sharp fight, and here many great actions were performed on both sides; while the Romans showed both their courage and their skill in war, as did the Jews come on them with immoderate violence and intolerable passion.
The one part were urged on by shame, and the other by necessity; for it seemed a very shameful thing to the Romans to let the Jews go, now they were taken in a kind of net; while the Jews had but one hope of saving themselves, and that was in case they could by violence break through the Roman wall; and one whose name was Pedanius, belonging to a party of horsemen, when the Jews were already beaten and forced down into the valley together, spurred his horse on their flank with great vehemence, and caught up a certain young man belonging to the enemy by his ankle, as he was running away; the man was, however, of a robust body, and in his armor; so low did Pedanius bend himself downward from his horse, even as he was galloping away, and so great was the strength of his right hand, and of the rest of his body, as also such skill had he in horsemanship. So this man seized upon that his prey, as upon a precious treasure, and carried him as his captive to Caesar; whereupon Titus admired the man that had seized the other for his great strength, and ordered the man that was caught to be punished [with death] for his attempt against the Roman wall, but betook himself to the siege of the temple, and to pressing on the raising of the banks.
9. In the mean time, the Jews were so distressed by the fights they had been in, as the war advanced higher and higher, and creeping up to the holy house itself, that they, as it were, cut off those limbs of their body which were infected, in order to prevent the distemper's spreading further; for they set the north-west cloister, which was joined to the tower of Antonia, on fire, and after that brake off about twenty cubits of that cloister, and thereby made a beginning in burning the sanctuary; two days after which, or on the twenty-fourth day of the forenamed month, [Panemus or Tamuz,] the Romans set fire to the cloister that joined to the other, when the fire went fifteen cubits farther. The Jews, in like manner, cut off its roof; nor did they entirely leave off what they were about till the tower of Antonia was parted from the temple, even when it was in their power to have stopped the fire; nay, they lay still while the temple was first set on fire, and deemed this spreading of the fire to be for their own advantage. However, the armies were still fighting one against another about the temple, and the war was managed by continual sallies of particular parties against one another.
10. Now there was at this time a man among the Jews, low of stature he was, and of a despicable appearance; of no character either as to his family, or in other respects: his flame was Jonathan. He went out at the high priest John's monument, and uttered many other insolent things to the Romans, a challenged the best of them all to a single combat. But many of those that stood there in the army huffed him, and many of them (as they might well be) were afraid of him. Some of them also reasoned thus, and that justly enough: that it was not fit to fight with a man that desired to die, because those that utterly despaired of deliverance had, besides other passions, a violence in attacking men that could not be opposed, and had no regard to God himself; and that to hazard oneself with a person, whom, if you overcome, you do no great matter, and by whom it is hazardous that you may be taken prisoner, would be an instance, not of manly courage, but of unmanly rashness.
So there being nobody that came out to accept the man's challenge, and the Jew cutting them with a great number of reproaches, as cowards, (for he was a very haughty man in himself, and a great despiser of the Romans,) one whose name was Pudens, of the body of horsemen, out of his abomination of the other's words, and of his impudence withal, and perhaps out of an inconsiderate arrogance, on account of the other's lowness of stature, ran out to him, and was too hard for him in other respects, but was betrayed by his ill fortune; for he fell down, and as he was down, Jonathan came running to him, and cut his throat, and then, standing upon his dead body, he brandished his sword, bloody as it was, and shook his shield with his left hand, and made many acclamations to the Roman army, and exulted over the dead man, and jested upon the Romans; till at length one Priscus, a centurion, shot a dart at him as he was leaping and playing the fool with himself, and thereby pierced him through; upon which a shout was set up both by the Jews and the Romans, though on different accounts. So Jonathan grew giddy by the pain of his wounds, and fell down upon the body of his adversary, as a plain instance how suddenly vengeance may come upon men that have success in war, without any just deserving the same.
(5) This was a remarkable day indeed, the seventeenth of Paneruns [Tamuz,] A.D. 70, when, according to Daniel's prediction, six hundred and six years before, the Romans
" in half a week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease," Daniel 9:27
for from the month of February, A.D. 66, about which time Vespasian entered on this war, to this very time, was just three years and a half. See Bishop Lloyd's Tables of Chronology, published by Mr. Marshall, on this year. Nor is it to be omitted, what year nearly confirms this duration of the war, that four years before the war begun was somewhat above seven years five months before the destruction of Jerusalem, ch. 5. sect. 3.
(6) The same that in the New Testament is always so called, and was then the common language of the Jews in Judea, which was the Syriac dialect.
(7) Our present copies of the Old Testament want this encomium upon king Jechoniah or Jehoiachim, which it seems was in Josephus's copy.
(8) Of this oracle, see the note on B. IV. ch. 6. sect. 3.
(9) Josephus, both here and in many places elsewhere, speaks so, that it is most evident he was fully satisfied that God was on the Romans' side, and made use of them now for the destruction of that wicked nation of the Jews; which was for certain the true state of this matter, as the prophet Daniel first, and our Savior himself afterwards, had clearly foretold. See Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 64, etc.
(10) Josephus had before told us, B. V. ch. 13. sect. 1, that this fourth son of Matthias ran away to the Romans "before" his father's and brethren's slaughter, and not "after" it, as here. The former account is, in all probability, the truest; for had not that fourth son escaped before the others were caught and put to death, he had been caught and put to death with them. This last account, therefore, looks like an instance of a small inadvertence of Josephus in the place before us.
(11) Of this partition-wall separating Jews and Gentiles, with its pillars and inscription, see the description of the temples, ch. 15.
(12) That these seditious Jews were the direct occasions of their own destruction, and of the conflagration of their city and temple, and that Titus earnestly and constantly labored to save both, is here and every where most evident in Josephus.
(13) The Court of the Gentiles.
(13b) The Court of Israel.