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Scriptures, which he has so frequently, though tacitly, contributed to illustrate and explain.
Cestius having sent to Nero, then in Achaia, an account of the disturbances in Judea, laying the whole blame of them upon Florus ; died soon after, either through disease or chagrin. And the Emperor appointed Vespasian, (who was then with him,) an experienced officer, of high reputation, president of Syria, and gave him the conduct of the Jewish war *.
About spring, A.D. 67, Vespasian marched a great army of Roman and auxiliary troops, from Syria into Galilee ; took their principal fortresses, Gadara and Jotapata, and in the latter, Josephus the historian, who commanded there; and ravaged and destroyed their cities, towns, and villages; shewing no mercy, at first, to any age or sex, in revenge for the defeat of Cestius. He next chastised the Samaritans. Then he invaded Judea, and took the fortresses of Joppa, Taricheas, and Gamala, the last, after a most obstinate resistance, 23d of October. Enraged at which, the Roman army massacred the inhabitants, and even sluny the infants from the walls ! Only two women survived of all the inhabitants; for those that escaped the Romans, destroyed themselves.
Meanwhile sedition raged within the walls of Jerusalem. The city was oppressed by three turbulent factions; the first, under John, held the lower city, containing the ancient quarter of Salem and Mount Acra, westward ; the second, under Eleazar, occupied the temple quarter, and Mount Moriah ; the third, under Simon, the upper city, or city of David, on Mount Sion, southward.
These factions were afterwards reduced to two; for at the last passover, A.D. 70, John, under pretext of sacrificing in the Temple, sent a band who destroyed Eleazar and his faction, and possessed themselves of the temple quarter. All these miscreants, from the beginning, harassed, plundered, and massacred the nobles and richer inhabitants, and multitudes of the better sort, who were peaceably disposed, and wished to submit to the Romans. And to spite each other, they wasted the stores, and destroyed the storehouses, containing corn, provisions,
Cestium Gallum Syriæ legatum varia prælia, et sæpius adversa, excepere. Qui, ubi fato aut tædio occidit ; missu Neronis, Vespasianus, fortunâ famâque et egregiis ministris, intra duas æstates, (A.D. 67, 68,) cuncta camporum, omnesque, præter Hierosolyma, urbes, victore exercitu tenebat. Tacit. Hist. v. 10.
and necessaries for supporting a siege of many years, and thereby produced themselves a premature scarcity, and a wanton famine.
When Vespasian was advised by his officers to hasten the attack on the city, he wisely refused, and said, “it is far better to let the Jews destroy each other.” Bell. Jud. III. 6, 2.
From Judea, therefore, passing by Jerusalem, Vespasian marched into Perea, beyond Jordan, eastward, and entered its capital, March 4, A.D. 68, and afterwards reduced the whole country, with great slaughter of the inhabitants, in the course of that campaign.
The following year, A.D. 69, produced a cessation of hostilities on the part of the Romans; in consequence of the massacre of Nero, June 9, A.D. 68, and the ensuing civil war which broke out in Italy, between the contending parties of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, which raged until the decisive battle of Cremona secured the empire to Vespasian, October 18, A.D. 69, who had been first saluted emperor by his army in Judea, July 3, upon which he went to Alexandria, and from thence sailed to Rome, leaving his son Titus to carry on the war *.
Next year, A.D. 70, Titus advanced with an arm of sixty thousand Romans and auxiliaries to besiege Jerusalem, at the time of the Passover, which began that year April 14; thus unintentionally fulfilling the sign of the Prophet Jonah, given by Christ, A.D. 30, forty years before. He probably chose this season, expecting that the concourse of Jews, from all parts, would produce a scarcity of provisions, and enable him to reduce, more speedily, by famine, this impregnable city, which now was most strongly fortified with a triple wall. For though Pompey had dismantled the walls when he took the city, B.C. 63, (see Vol. II. p. 583,) Herod Agrippa, during his reign, repaired the foundations, but then stopped short, for fear of ex-citing the jealousy of the Roman government; however, after his death, the Jews, during the venal reign of Claudius, purchased the privilege of fortifying the city t, and completed the
Proximus annus, (A.D. 69,) civili bello intentus, quantum ad Judæos, per otium transiit. Pace per Italiam partâ, et externæ curæ rediere. Augebat iras, quod soli Judæi non cessissent. Simul, manere apud exercitus Titum, ad omnes principalus novi (Vespasiani) eventus casusve, utilius videbatur. Tacit. ibid.
+ Per avaritiam Claudianorum temporum Judæi, empto jure muniendi, struxere muros in pace, tanquam ad bellum. Tacit. Hist. v. 12.
wall and battlements, to the height of twenty-five cubits, and breadth of ten cubits, built with great stones, twenty cubits long, and ten broad; so as that they could not be easily undermined, nor shaken by military engines. Bell. Jud. v. 4, 2.
SIEGE OF JERUSALEM. Titus approached with his army close to the city, and made an ostentatious display of his legions in battle array *, in three divisions; the first and principal encamped on the eminence, Scopuś, northward, about seven stadia from the city ; the second, about three stadia behind; and the third, on Mount Olivet, eastward, six stadia from the city. Bell. Jud. v. 2, 3.
Warned by the disaster of Cestius, who had attacked the city on a Sabbath day, and was defeated by the Jews, Bell. Jud. II. 19, 1, 2, (for they were allowed, from the time of the Maccabees, to resist an assailing enemy, on that day, in self defence, but not to attack them, if otherwise employed ;) Ant. XIV. 4, 2; (See Vol. II. p. 551,) and adopting Pompey's policy, who employed the Sabbath days in constructing military machines, raising mounts, undermining the walls, without molestation, previous to his attacks on Sundays; in the last of which he took the city, Ant. XIV. 4, 3. Titus employed the Paschal week in making preparations, and made his first assault the day after it ended, Sunday, April 22. He made a breach in the first wall, and got possession of a part of the lower city, on Sunday, May 6, and took the rest the following week, May 16. In order to confine the multitude, and prevent their escaping, he found it necessary to build a wall of circumvallation, all round the city, fortified with towers, at proper intervals, which stupendous works he finished in three days, without obstruction from the besieged; taking advantage of the Sabbath, and two following days of the feast of weeks, or Pentecost, June 2, 3, and 4. The temple was burnt, Sunday, Aug. 5; and Titus, having prepared his machines for the attack of the upper city, on Saturday, Sept. 1, took and burnt it on the following day, Sunday, Sept. 2 t.
It is truly remarkable, that at the commencement of the insur
Igitur Titus castris ante mænia Hierosolymorum positis, instructas legiones ostentavit. Tacit. ibid.
+ This curious and valuable adjustment of the chronology of Josephus, during the siege of Jerusalem, we owe to the learned Brotier, in his excelent quarto edition of Tacitus. Note, Vol. III. p. 588.
rection, King Agrippa," the almost Christian," forewarned the Jewish embassy, who came to complain to him of the oppressions of Florus, of this very circumstance, in his admirable dissuasive to them against provoking a most unequal contest with the Romans, without hope of assistance from God. “ If ye rigidly observe the rites of the Sabbath day, and abstain from any manner of work thereon, ye will be easily taken, as your ancestors were by Pompey; who was most actively employed in preparing for the siege on those days, during which the besieged were inactive; but if, in the course of the war, ye transgress the law of your country, the war is absurd, for what else is left worth fighting for? And if ye wilfully violate your duty to God, it is impious, and how then can ye call upon Him for assistance ?” Bell. Jud. II. 16, 4, p. 1089. Hudson.
Thus, by the righteous judgments of God, were their Sabbaths, which they really profaned, made the instruments of their fall; and the Lord's days, which they despised and rejected, the instruments of their punishment !
The frightful calamities of this war were foretold by Moses above sixteen hundred years before; and the horrors of this siege in particular, detailed with all the minuteness of Josephus himself, the eye witness. See the foregoing pages, Vol.II.209,&c. Some of a very peculiar kind remain to be noticed in this place.
1. Multitudes of fugitive Jews were crucified during the siege within sight of the walls, either to strike terror into the besieged, or to glut the rage and hatred of the besiegers; so that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses were wanting for the bodies *. Bell. Jud. V. 11, 1. Thus resembling themselves that CRUCIFIED SAVIOUR, whose“ blood they had imprecated upon themselves and upon their children,” in his cruel and ig. nominious punishment !
2. Some of the deserters had swallowed gold, and were detected searching for it afterwards in their excrements. Hence the avarice of the soldiers, Romans as well as auxiliary, was excited; concluding that all the deserters were full of gold. This led them to rip up the bellies, and search the entrails of two
After the siege Josephus observed, among several Jews crucified at Tekoa, a neighbouring village, three of his former acquaintances still alive; and besought Titus, with tears, that they might be taken down ; who immediately granted his request, and gave orders that care should be taken of their recovery. Two of them died, the third survived. Josephi Vita, $ 75.
thousand of them in one night! Titus, when he heard of this horrible deed, was greatly displeased, and gave orders to put to death all, in future, who should repeat it. But the love of money overpowered the dread of punishment, and it was still practised, until put an end to by repeated disappointments. Bell. Jud. V. 13, 4, 5. Such was the dreadful but appropriate punishment of the lovers of Mammon, and haters of God!
3. The practice of burying their money and other precious things in troublesome times, among the Jews, made the avaricious conquerors, after the capture of the city, raze it to the foundations, and even to plow up the ground, in order to discover the hidden treasures, quite contrary to Roman usage. Titus himself was most anxious to save the Temple, but in vain ; and lamented the destruction of the city afterwards, when he saw it on his way from Antioch to Egypt; execrating the authors of the rebellion. Bell. Jud. VII. 5, 2. Thus signally was accomplished the prophecy of Micah, iii. 12.
“ Therefore shall Sion, for your sakes, be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem become heaps (of stones,) and the Temple-mount as the heights of the forest,” [which are usually waste and barren.]
These calamities were confined to the unbelieving Jews ; for the Christians, listening to the prophetic warnings of their divine Master, quitted the city devoted to destruction, on the first appearances of the hostile armies of Cestius and Titus approaching to the city.