From the Siege of Gamala to the Coming of Titus to besiege Jerusalem
THE SIEGE AND TAKING OF GAMALA.
P>1. NOW all those Galileans who, after the taking of Jotapata, had revolted from the Romans, did, upon the conquest of Taricheae, deliver themselves up to them again. And the Romans received all the fortresses and the cities, excepting Gischala and those that had seized upon Mount Tabor; Gamala also, which is a city ever against Tarichem, but on the other side of the lake, conspired with them. This city lay Upon the borders of Agrippa’s kingdom, as also did Sogana and Scleucia. And these were both parts of Gaulanitis; for Sogana was a part of that called the Upper Gaulanitis, as was Gamala of the Lower; while Selcucia was situated at the lake Semechouitis, which lake is thirty furlongs in breadth, and sixty in length; its marshes reach as far as the place Daphne, which in other respects is a delicious place, and hath such fountains as supply water to what is called Little Jordan, under the temple of the golden calf, (1) where it is sent into Great Jordan. Now Agrippa had united Sogana and Seleucia by leagues to himself, at the very beginning of the revolt from the Romans; yet did not Gamala accede to them, but relied upon the difficulty of the place, which was greater than that of Jotapata, for it was situated upon a rough ridge of a high mountain, with a kind of neck in the middle: where it begins to ascend, it lengthens itself, and declines as much downward before as behind, insomuch that it is like a camel in figure, from whence it is so named, although the people of the country do not pronounce it accurately. Both on the side and the face there are abrupt parts divided from the rest, and ending in vast deep valleys; yet are the parts behind, where they are joined to the mountain, somewhat easier of ascent than the other; but then the people belonging to the place have cut an oblique ditch there, and made that hard to be ascended also. On its acclivity, which is straight, houses are built, and those very thick and close to one another. The city also hangs so strangely, that it looks as if it would fall down upon itself, so sharp is it at the top. It is exposed to the south, and its southern mount, which reaches to an immense height, was in the nature of a citadel to the city; and above that was a precipice, not walled about, but extending itself to an immense depth. There was also a spring of water within the wall, at the utmost limits of the city.
2. As this city was naturally hard to be taken, so had Josephus, by building a wall about it, made it still stronger, as also by ditches and mines under ground. The people that were in it were made more bold by the nature of the place than the people of Jotapata had been, but it had much fewer fighting men in it; and they had such a confidence in the situation of the place, that they thought the enemy could not be too many for them; for the city had been filled with those that had fled to it for safety, on account of its strength; on which account they had been able to resist those whom Agrippa sent to besiege it for seven months together.
3. But Vespasian removed from Emmaus, where he had last pitched his camp before the city Tiberias, (now Emmaus, if it be interpreted, may be rendered “a warm bath,” for therein is a spring of warm water, useful for healing,) and came to Gamala; yet was its situation such that he was not able to encompass it all round with soldiers to watch it; but where the places were practicable, he set men to watch it, and seized upon the mountain which was over it. And as the legions, according to their usual custom, were fortifying their camp upon that mountain, he began to cast up banks at the bottom, at the part towards the east, where the highest tower of the whole city was, and where the fifteenth legion pitched their camp; while the fifth legion did duty over against the midst of the city, and whilst the tenth legion filled up the ditches and the valleys. Now at this time it was that as king Agrippa was come nigh the walls, and was endeavoring to speak to those that were on the walls about a surrender, he was hit with a stone on his right elbow by one of the slingers; he was then immediately surrounded with his own men. But the Romans were excited to set about the siege, by their indignation on the king’s account, and by their fear on their own account, as concluding that those men would omit no kinds of barbarity against foreigners and enemies, who where so enraged against one of their own nation, and one that advised them to nothing but what was for their own advantage.
4. Now when the banks were finished, which was done on the sudden, both by the multitude of hands, and by their being accustomed to such work, they brought the machines; but Chares and Joseph, who were the most potent men in the city, set their armed men in order, though already in a fright, because they did not suppose that the city could hold out long, since they had not a sufficient quantity either of water, or of other necessaries. However, these their leaders encouraged them, and brought them out upon the wall, and for a while indeed they drove away those that were bringing the machines; but when those machines threw darts and stones at them, they retired into the city; then did the Romans bring battering rams to three several places, and made the wall shake [and fall]. They then poured in over the parts of the wall that were thrown down, with a mighty sound of trumpets and noise of armor, and with a shout of the soldiers, and brake in by force upon those that were in the city; but these men fell upon the Romans for some time, at their first entrance, and prevented their going any further, and with great courage beat them back; and the Romans were so overpowered by the greater multitude of the people, who beat them on every side, that they were obliged to run into the upper parts of the city. Whereupon the people turned about, and fell upon their enemies, who had attacked them, and thrust them down to the lower parts, and as they were distressed by the narrowness and difficulty of the place, slew them; and as these Romans could neither beat those back that were above them, nor escape the force of their own men that were forcing their way forward, they were compelled to fly into their enemies’ houses, which were low; but these houses being thus full, of soldiers, whose weight they could not bear, fell down suddenly; and when one house fell, it shook down a great many of those that were under it, as did those do to such as were under them. By this means a vast number of the Romans perished; for they were so terribly distressed, that although they saw the houses subsiding, they were compelled to leap upon the tops of them; so that a great many were ground to powder by these ruins, and a great many of those that got from under them lost some of their limbs, but still a greater number were suffocated by the dust that arose from those ruins. The people of Gamala supposed this to be an assistance afforded them by God, and without regarding what damage they suffered themselves, they pressed forward, and thrust the enemy upon the tops of their houses; and when they stumbled in the sharp and narrow streets, and were perpetually falling down, they threw their stones or darts at them, and slew them. Now the very ruins afforded them stones enow; and for iron weapons, the dead men of the enemies’ side afforded them what they wanted; for drawing the swords of those that were dead, they made use of them to despatch such as were only half dead; nay, there were a great number who, upon their falling down from the tops of the houses, stabbed themselves, and died after that manner; nor indeed was it easy for those that were beaten back to fly away; for they were so unacquainted with the ways, and the dust was so thick, that they wandered about without knowing one another, and fell down dead among the crowd.
5. Those therefore that were able to find the ways out of the city retired. But now Vespasian always staid among those that were hard set; for he was deeply affected with seeing the ruins of the city falling upon his army, and forgot to take care of his own preservation. He went up gradually towards the highest parts of the city before he was aware, and was left in the midst of dangers, having only a very few with him; for even his son Titus was not with him at that time, having been then sent into Syria to Mucianus. However, he thought it not safe to fly, nor did he esteem it a fit thing for him to do; but calling to mind the actions he had done from his youth, and recollecting his courage, as if he had been excited by a divine fury, he covered himself and those that were with him with their shields, and formed a testudo over both their bodies and their armor, and bore up against the enemy’s attacks, who came running down from the top of the city; and without showing any dread at the multitude of the men or of their darts, he endured all, until the enemy took notice of that divine courage that was within him, and remitted of their attacks; and when they pressed less zealously upon him, he retired, though without showing his back to them till he was gotten out of the walls of the city. Now a great number of the Romans fell in this battle, among whom was Ebutius, the decurion, a man who appeared not only in this engagement, wherein he fell, but every where, and in former engagements, to be of the truest courage, and one that had done very great mischief to the Jews. But there was a centurion whose name was Gallus, who, during this disorder, being encompassed about, he and ten other soldiers privately crept into the house of a certain person, where he heard them talking at supper, what the people intended to do against the Romans, or about themselves (for both the man himself and those with him were Syrians). So he got up in the night time, and cut all their throats, and escaped, together with his soldiers, to the Romans.
6. And now Vespasian comforted his army, which was much dejected by reflecting on their ill success, and because they had never before fallen into such a calamity, and besides this, because they were greatly ashamed that they had left their general alone in great dangers. As to what concerned himself, he avoided to say any thing, that he might by no means seem to complain of it; but he said that “we ought to bear manfully what usually falls out in war, and this, by considering what the nature of war is, and how it can never be that we must conquer without bloodshed on our own side; for there stands about us that fortune which is of its own nature mutable; that while they had killed so many ten thousands of the Jews, they had now paid their small share of the reckoning to fate; and as it is the part of weak people to be too much puffed up with good success, so is it the part of cowards to be too much aftrighted at that which is ill; for the change from the one to the other is sudden on both sides; and he is the best warrior who is of a sober mind under misfortunes, that he may continue in that temper, and cheerfully recover what had been lost formerly; and as for what had now happened, it was neither owing to their own effeminacy, nor to the valor of the Jews, but the difficulty of the place was the occasion of their advantage, and of our disappointment. Upon reflecting on which matter one might blame your zeal as perfectly ungovernable; for when the enemy had retired to their highest fastnesses, you ought to have restrained yourselves, and not, by presenting yourselves at the top of the city, to be exposed to dangers; but upon your having obtained the lower parts of the city, you ought to have provoked those that had retired thither to a safe and settled battle; whereas, in rushing so hastily upon victory, you took no care of your safety. But this incautiousness in war, and this madness of zeal, is not a Roman maxim. While we perform all that we attempt by skill and good order, that procedure is the part of barbarians, and is what the Jews chiefly support themselves by. We ought therefore to return to our own virtue, and to be rather angry than any longer dejected at this unlucky misfortune, and let every one seek for his own consolation from his own hand; for by this means he will avenge those that have been destroyed, and punish those that have killed them. For myself, I will endeavor, as I have now done, to go first before you against your enemies in every engagement, and to be the last that retires from it.”
7. So Vespasian encouraged his army by this speech; but for the people of Gamala, it happened that they took courage for a little while, upon such great and unaccountable success as they had had. But when they considered with themselves that they had now no hopes of any terms of accommodation, and reflecting upon it that they could not get away, and that their provisions began already to be short, they were exceedingly cast down, and their courage failed them; yet did they not neglect what might be for their preservation, so far as they were able, but the most courageous among them guarded those parts of the wall that were beaten down, while the more infirm did the same to the rest of the wall that still remained round the city. And as the Romans raised their banks, and attempted to get into the city a second time, a great many of them fled out of the city through impracticable valleys, where no guards were placed, as also through subterraneous caverns; while those that were afraid of being caught, and for that reason staid in the city, perished for want of food; for what food they had was brought together from all quarters, and reserved for the fighting men.
8. And these were the hard circumstances that the people of Gamala were in. But now Vespasian went about other work by the by, during this siege, and that was to subdue those that had seized upon Mount Tabor, a place that lies in the middle between the great plain and Scythopolis, whose top is elevated as high as thirty furlongs (2) and is hardly to be ascended on its north side; its top is a plain of twenty-six furlongs, and all encompassed with a wall. Now Josephus erected this so long a wall in forty days’ time, and furnished it with other materials, and with water from below, for the inhabitants only made use of rain water. As therefore there was a great multitude of people gotten together upon this mountain, Vespasian sent Placidus with six hundred horsemen thither. Now, as it was impossible for him to ascend the mountain, he invited many of them to peace, by the offer of his right hand for their security, and of his intercession for them. Accordingly they came down, but with a treacherous design, as well as he had the like treacherous design upon them on the other side; for Placidus spoke mildly to them, as aiming to take them, when he got them into the plain; they also came down, as complying with his proposals, but it was in order to fall upon him when he was not aware of it: however, Placidus’s stratagem was too hard for theirs; for when the Jews began to fight, he pretended to run away, and when they were in pursuit of the Romans, he enticed them a great way along the plain, and then made his horsemen turn back; whereupon he beat them, and slew a great number of them, and cut off the retreat of the rest of the multitude, and hindered their return. So they left Tabor, and fled to Jerusalem, while the people of the country came to terms with him, for their water failed them, and so they delivered up the mountain and themselves to Placidus.
9. But of the people of Gamala, those that were of the bolder sort fled away and hid themselves, while the more infirm perished by famine; but the men of war sustained the siege till the two and twentieth day of the month Hyperberetmus, [Tisri,] when three soldiers of the fifteenth legion, about the morning watch, got under a high tower that was near them, and undermined it, without making any noise; nor when they either came to it, which was in the night time, nor when they were under it, did those that guarded it perceive them. These soldiers then upon their coming avoided making a noise, and when they had rolled away five of its strongest stones, they went away hastily; whereupon the tower fell down on a sudden, with a very great noise, and its guard fell headlong with it; so that those that kept guard at other places were under such disturbance, that they ran away; the Romans also slew many of those that ventured to oppose them, among whom was Joseph, who was slain by a dart, as he was running away over that part of the wall that was broken down: but as those that were in the city were greatly aftrighted at the noise, they ran hither and thither, and a great consternation fell upon them, as though all the enemy had fallen in at once upon them. Then it was that Chares, who was ill, and under the physician’s hands, gave up the ghost, the fear he was in greatly contributing to make his distemper fatal to him. But the Romans so well remembered their former ill success, that they did not enter the city till the three and twentieth day of the forementioned month.
10. At which time Titus, who was now returned, out of the indignation he had at the destruction the Romans had undergone while he was absent, took two hundred chosen horsemen and some footmen with him, and entered without noise into the city. Now as the watch perceived that he was coming, they made a noise, and betook themselves to their arms; and as that his entrance was presently known to those that were in the city, some of them caught hold of their children and their wives, and drew them after them, and fled away to the citadel, with lamentations and cries, while others of them went to meet Titus, and were killed perpetually; but so many of them as were hindered from running up to the citadel, not knowing what in the world to do, fell among the Roman guards, while the groans of those that were killed were prodigiously great every where, and blood ran down over all the lower parts of the city, from the upper. But then Vespasian himself came to his assistance against those that had fled to the citadel, and brought his whole army with him; now this upper part of the city was every way rocky, and difficult of ascent, and elevated to a vast altitude, and very full of people on all sides, and encompassed with precipices, whereby the Jews cut off those that came up to them, and did much mischief to others by their darts, and the large stones which they rolled down upon them, while they were themselves so high that the enemy’s darts could hardly reach them. However, there arose such a Divine storm against them as was instrumental to their destruction; this carried the Roman darts upon them, and made those which they threw return back, and drove them obliquely away from them; nor could the Jews indeed stand upon their precipices, by reason of the violence of the wind, having nothing that was stable to stand upon, nor could they see those that were ascending up to them; so the Romans got up and surrounded them, and some they slew before they could defend themselves, and others as they were delivering up themselves; and the remembrance of those that were slain at their former entrance into the city increased their rage against them now; a great number also of those that were surrounded on every side, and despaired of escaping, threw their children and their wives, and themselves also, down the precipices, into the valley beneath, which, near the citadel, had been dug hollow to a vast depth; but so it happened, that the anger of the Romans appeared not to be so extravagant as was the madness of those that were now taken, while the Romans slew but four thousand, whereas the number of those that had thrown themselves down was found to be five thousand: nor did any one escape except two women, who were the daughters of Philip, and Philip himself was the son of a certain eminent man called Jacimus, who had been general of king Agrippa’s army; and these did therefore escape, because they lay concealed from the rage of the Romans when the city was taken; for otherwise they spared not so much as the infants, of which many were flung down by them from the citadel. And thus was Gamala taken on the three and twentieth day of the month Hyperberetens, [Tisri,] whereas the city had first revolted on the four and twentieth day of the month Gorpieus [Elul].
THE SURRENDER OF GISCHALA; WHILE JOHN FLIES AWAY FROM IT TO JERUSALEM.
1. NOW no place of Galilee remained to be taken but the small city of Gischala, whose multitude yet were desirous of peace; for they were generally husbandmen, and always applied themselves to cultivate the fruits of the earth. However, there were a great number that belonged to a band of robbers, that were already corrupted, and had crept in among them, and some of the governing part of the citizens were sick of the same distemper. It was John, the son of a certain man whose name was Levi, that drew them into this rebellion, and encouraged them in it. He was a cunning knave, and of a temper that could put on various shapes; very rash in expecting great things, and very sagacious in bringing about what he hoped for. It was known to every body that he was fond of war, in order to thrust himself into authority; and the seditious part of the people of Gischala were under his management, by whose means the populace, who seemed ready to send ambassadors in order to a surrender, waited for the coming of the Romans in battle-array. Vespasian sent against them Titus, with a thousand horsemen, but withdrew the tenth legion to Scythopolis, while he returned to Cesarea with the two other legions, that he might allow them to refresh themselves after their long and hard campaign, thinking withal that the plenty which was in those cities would improve their bodies and their spirits, against the difficulties they were to go through afterwards; for he saw there would be occasion for great pains about Jerusalem, which was not yet taken, because it was the royal city, and the principal city of the whole nation, and because those that had run away from the war in other places got all together thither. It was also naturally strong, and the walls that were built round it made him not a little concerned about it. Moreover, he esteemed the men that were in it to be so courageous and bold, that even without the consideration of the walls, it would be hard to subdue them; for which reason he took care of and exercised his soldiers beforehand for the work, as they do wrestlers before they begin their undertaking.
2. Now Titus, as he rode ut to Gischala, found it would be easy for him to take the city upon the first onset; but knew withal, that if he took it by force, the multitude would be destroyed by the soldiers without mercy. (Now he was already satiated with the shedding of blood, and pitied the major part, who would then perish, without distinction, together with the guilty.) So he was rather desirous the city might be surrendered up to him on terms. Accordingly, when he saw the wall full of those men that were of the corrupted party, he said to them, – That he could not but wonder what it was they depended on, when they alone staid to fight the Romans, after every other city was taken by them, especially when they have seen cities much better fortified than theirs is overthrown by a single attack upon them; while as many as have intrusted themselves to the security of the Romans’ right hands, which he now offers to them, without regarding their former insolence, do enjoy their own possessions in safety; for that while they had hopes of recovering their liberty, they might be pardoned; but that their continuance still in their opposition, when they saw that to be impossible, was inexcusable; for that if they will not comply with such humane offers, and right hands for security, they should have experience of such a war as would spare nobody, and should soon be made sensible that their wall would be but a trifle, when battered by the Roman machines; in depending on which they demonstrate themselves to be the only Galileans that were no better than arrogant slaves and captives.
3. Now none of the populace durst not only make a reply, but durst not so much as get upon the wall, for it was all taken up by the robbers, who were also the guard at the gates, in order to prevent any of the rest from going out, in order to propose terms of submission, and from receiving any of the horsemen into the city. But John returned Titus this answer: That for himself he was content to hearken to his proposals, and that he would either persuade or force those that refused them. Yet he said that Titus ought to have such regard to the Jewish law, as to grant them leave to celebrate that day, which was the seventh day of the week, on which it was unlawful not only to remove their arms, but even to treat of peace also; and that even the Romans were not ignorant how the period of the seventh day was among them a cessation from all labors; and that he who should compel them to transgress the law about that day would be equally guilty with those that were compelled to transgress it: and that this delay could be of no disadvantage to him; for why should any body think of doing any thing in the night, unless it was to fly away? which he might prevent by placing his camp round about them; and that they should think it a great point gained, if they might not be obliged to transgress the laws of their country; and that it would be a right thing for him, who designed to grant them peace, without their expectation of such a favor, to preserve the laws of those they saved inviolable. Thus did this man put a trick upon Titus, not so much out of regard to the seventh day as to his own preservation, for he was afraid lest he should be quite deserted if the city should be taken, and had his hopes of life in that night, and in his flight therein. Now this was the work of God, who therefore preserved this John, that he might bring on the destruction of Jerusalem; as also it was his work that Titus was prevailed with by this pretense for a delay, and that he pitched his camp further off the city at Cydessa. This Cydessa was a strong Mediterranean village of the Tyrians, which always hated and made war against the Jews; it had also a great number of inhabitants, and was well fortified, which made it a proper place for such as were enemies to the Jewish nation.
4. Now, in the night time, when John saw that there was no Roman guard about the city, he seized the opportunity directly, and, taking with him not only the armed men that where about him, but a considerable number of those that had little to do, together with their families, he fled to Jerusalem. And indeed, though the man was making haste to get away, and was tormented with fears of being a captive, or of losing his life, yet did he prevail with himself to take out of the city along with him a multitude of women and children, as far as twenty furlongs; but there he left them as he proceeded further on his journey, where those that were left behind made sad lamentations; for the farther every one of them was come from his own people, the nearer they thought themselves to be to their enemies. They also affrighted themselves with this thought, that those who would carry them into captivity were just at hand, and still turned themselves back at the mere noise they made themselves in this their hasty flight, as if those from whom they fled were just upon them. Many also of them missed their ways, and the earnestness of such as aimed to outgo the rest threw down many of them. And indeed there was a miserable destruction made of the women and children; while some of them took courage to call their husbands and kinsmen back, and to beseech them, with the bitterest lamentations, to stay for them; but John’s exhortation, who cried out to them to save themselves, and fly away, prevailed. He said also, that if the Romans should seize upon those whom they left behind, they would be revenged on them for it. So this multitude that run thus away was dispersed abroad, according as each of them was able to run, one faster or slower than another.
5. Now on the next day Titus came to the wall, to make the agreement; whereupon the people opened their gates to him, and came out to him, with their children and wives, and made acclamations of joy to him, as to one that had been their benefactor, and had delivered the city out of custody; they also informed him of John’s flight, and besought him to spare them, and to come in, and bring the rest of those that were for innovations to punishment. But Titus, not so much regarding the supplications of the people, sent part of his horsemen to pursue after John, but they could not overtake him, for he was gotten to Jerusalem before; they also slew six thousand of the women and children who went out with him, but returned back, and brought with them almost three thousand. However, Titus was greatly displeased that he had not been able to bring this John, who had deluded him, to punishment; yet he had captives enough, as well as the corrupted part of the city, to satisfy his anger, when it missed of John. So he entered the city in the midst of acclamations of joy; and when he had given orders to the soldiers to pull down a small part of the wall, as of a city taken in war, he repressed those that had disturbed the city rather by threatenings than by executions; for he thought that many would accuse innocent persons, out of their own private animosities and quarrels, if he should attempt to distinguish those that were worthy of punishment from the rest; and that it was better to let a guilty person alone in his fears, that to destroy with him any one that did not deserve it; for that probably such a one might be taught prudence, by the fear of the punishment he had deserved, and have a shame upon him for his former offenses, when he had been forgiven; but that the punishment of such as have been once put to death could never be retrieved. However, he placed a garrison in the city for its security, by which means he should restrain those that were for innovations, and should leave those that were peaceably disposed in greater security. And thus was all Galilee taken, but this not till after it had cost the Romans much pains before it could be taken by them.
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, “Certainly it had been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God full of so many abominations, or these sacred places, that ought not to be trodden upon at random, filled with the feet of these blood-shedding villains; yet do I, who am clothed with the vestments of the high priesthood, and am called by that most venerable name [of high priest], still live, and am but too fond of living, and cannot endure to undergo a death which would be the glory of my old age; and if I were the only person concerned, and as it were in a desert, I would give up my life, and that alone for God’s sake; for to what purpose is it to live among a people insensible of their calamities, and where there is no notion remaining of any remedy for the miseries that are upon them? for when you are seized upon, you bear it! and when you are beaten, you are silent! and when the people are murdered, nobody dare so much as send out a groan openly! O bitter tyranny that we are under! But why do I complain of the tyrants? Was it not you, and your sufferance of them, that have nourished them? Was it not you that overlooked those that first of all got together, for they were then but a few, and by your silence made them grow to be many; and by conniving at them when they took arms, in effect armed them against yourselves? You ought to have then prevented their first attempts, when they fell a reproaching your relations; but by neglecting that care in time, you have encouraged these wretches to plunder men. When houses were pillaged, nobody said a word, which was the occasion why they carried off the owners of those houses; and when they were drawn through the midst of the city, nobody came to their assistance. They then proceeded to put those whom you have betrayed into their hands into bonds. I do not say how many and of what characters those men were whom they thus served; but certainly they were such as were accused by none, and condemned by none; and since nobody succored them when they were put into bonds, the consequence was, that you saw the same persons slain. We have seen this also; so that still the best of the herd of brute animals, as it were, have been still led to be sacrificed, when yet nobody said one word, or moved his right hand for their preservation. Will you bear, therefore, will you bear to see your sanctuary trampled on? and will you lay steps for these profane wretches, upon which they may mount to higher degrees of insolence? Will not you pluck them down from their exaltation? for even by this time they had proceeded to higher enormities, if they had been able to overthrow any thing greater than the sanctuary. They have seized upon the strongest place of the whole city; you may call it the temple, if you please, though it be like a citadel or fortress. Now, while you have tyranny in so great a degree walled in, and see your enemies over your heads, to what purpose is it to take counsel? and what have you to support your minds withal? Perhaps you wait for the Romans, that they may protect our holy places: are our matters then brought to that pass? and are we come to that degree of misery, that our enemies themselves are expected to pity us? O wretched creatures! will not you rise up and turn upon those that strike you? which you may observe in wild beasts themselves, that they will avenge themselves on those that strike them. Will you not call to mind, every one of you, the calamities you yourselves have suffered? nor lay before your eyes what afflictions you yourselves have undergone? and will not such things sharpen your souls to revenge? Is therefore that most honorable and most natural of our passions utterly lost, I mean the desire of liberty? Truly we are in love with slavery, and in love with those that lord it over us, as if we had received that principle of subjection from our ancestors; yet did they undergo many and great wars for the sake of liberty, nor were they so far overcome by the power of the Egyptians, or the Medes, but that still they did what they thought fit, notwithstanding their commands to the contrary. And what occasion is there now for a war with the Romans? (I meddle not with determining whether it be an advantageous and profitable war or not.) What pretense is there for it? Is it not that we may enjoy our liberty? Besides, shall we not bear the lords of the habitable earth to be lords over us, and yet bear tyrants of our own country? Although I must say that submission to foreigners may be borne, because fortune hath already doomed us to it, while submission to wicked people of our own nation is too unmanly, and brought upon us by our own consent. However, since I have had occasion to mention the Romans, I will not conceal a thing that, as I am speaking, comes into my mind, and affects me considerably; it is this, that though we should be taken by them, (God forbid the event should be so!) yet can we undergo nothing that will be harder to be borne than what these men have already brought upon us. How then can we avoid shedding of tears, when we see the Roman donations in our temple, while we withal see those of our own nation taking our spoils, and plundering our glorious metropolis, and slaughtering our men, from which enormities those Romans themselves would have abstained? to see those Romans never going beyond the bounds allotted to profane persons, nor venturing to break in upon any of our sacred customs; nay, having a horror on their minds when they view at a distance those sacred walls; while some that have been born in this very country, and brought up in our customs, and called Jews, do walk about in the midst of the holy places, at the very time when their hands are still warm with the slaughter of their own countrymen. Besides, can any one be afraid of a war abroad, and that with such as will have comparatively much greater moderation than our own people have? For truly, if we may suit our words to the things they represent, it is probable one may hereafter find the Romans to be the supporters of our laws, and those within ourselves the subverters of them. And now I am persuaded that every one of you here comes satisfied before I speak that these overthrowers of our liberties deserve to be destroyed, and that nobody can so much as devise a punishment that they have not deserved by what they have done, and that you are all provoked against them by those their wicked actions, whence you have suffered so greatly. But perhaps many of you are aftrighted at the multitude of those zealots, and at their audaciousness, as well as at the advantage they have over us in their being higher in place than we are; for these circumstances, as they have been occasioned by your negligence, so will they become still greater by being still longer neglected; for their multitude is every day augmented, by every ill man’s running away to those that are like to themselves, and their audaciousness is therefore inflamed, because they meet with no obstruction to their designs. And for their higher place, they will make use of it for engines also, if we give them time to do so; but be assured of this, that if we go up to fight them, they will be made tamer by their own consciences, and what advantages they have in the height of their situation they will lose by the opposition of their reason; perhaps also God himself, who hath been affronted by them, will make what they throw at us return against themselves, and these impious wretches will be killed by their own darts: let us but make our appearance before them, and they will come to nothing. However, it is a right thing, if there should be any danger in the attempt, to die before these holy gates, and to spend our very lives, if not for the sake of our children and wives, yet for God’s sake, and for the sake of his sanctuary. I will assist you both with my counsel and with my hand; nor shall any sagacity of ours be wanting for your support; nor shall you see that I will be sparing of my body neither.”
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.
THE IDUMEANS BEING SENT FOR BY THE ZEALOTS, CAME IMMEDIATELY TO JERUSALEM; AND WHEN THEY WERE EXCLUDED OUT OF THE CITY, THEY LAY ALL NIGHT THERE. JESUS ONE OF THE HIGH PRIESTS MAKES A SPEECH TO THEM; AND SIMON THE IDUMEAN MAKES A REPLY TO IT.
1. NOW, by this crafty speech, John made the zealots afraid; yet durst he not directly name what foreign assistance he meant, but in a covert way only intimated at the Idumeans. But now, that he might particularly irritate the leaders of the zealots, he calumniated Ananus, that he was about a piece of barbarity, and did in a special manner threaten them. These leaders were Eleazar, the son of Simon, who seemed the most plausible man of them all, both in considering what was fit to be done, and in the execution of what he had determined upon, and Zacharias, the son of Phalek; both of whom derived their families from the priests. Now when these two men had heard, not only the common threatenings which belonged to them all, but those peculiarly leveled against themselves; and besides, how Artanus and his party, in order to secure their own dominion, had invited the Romans to come to them, for that also was part of John’s lie; they hesitated a great while what they should do, considering the shortness of the time by which they were straitened; because the people were prepared to attack them very soon, and because the suddenness of the plot laid against them had almost cut off all their hopes of getting any foreign assistance; for they might be under the height of their afflictions before any of their confederates could be informed of it. However, it was resolved to call in the Idumeans; so they wrote a short letter to this effect: That Ananus had imposed on the people, and was betraying their metropolis to the Romans; that they themselves had revolted from the rest, and were in custody in the temple, on account of the preservation of their liberty; that there was but a small time left wherein they might hope for their deliverance; and that unless they would come immediately to their assistance, they should themselves be soon in the power of Artanus, and the city would be in the power of the Romans. They also charged the messengers to tell many more circumstances to the rulers of the Idumeans. Now there were two active men proposed for the carrying this message, and such as were able to speak, and to persuade them that things were in this posture, and, what was a qualification still more necessary than the former, they were very swift of foot; for they knew well enough that these would immediately comply with their desires, as being ever a tumultuous and disorderly nation, always on the watch upon every motion, delighting in mutations; and upon your flattering them ever so little, and petitioning them, they soon take their arms, and put themselves into motion, and make haste to a battle, as if it were to a feast. There was indeed occasion for quick despatch in the carrying of this message, in which point the messengers were no way defective. Both their names were Ananias; and they soon came to the rulers of the Idumeans.
2. Now these rulers were greatly surprised at the contents of the letter, and at what those that came with it further told them; whereupon they ran about the nation like madmen, and made proclamation that the people should come to war; so a multitude was suddenly got together, sooner indeed than the time appointed in the proclamation, and every body caught up their arms, in order to maintain the liberty of their metropolis; and twenty thousand of them were put into battle-array, and came to Jerusalem, under four commanders, John, and Jacob the son of Sosas; and besides these were Simon, the son of Cathlas, and Phineas, the son of Clusothus.
3. Now this exit of the messengers was not known either to Ananus or to the guards, but the approach of the Idumeans was known to him; for as he knew of it before they came, he ordered the gates to be shut against them, and that the walls should be guarded. Yet did not he by any means think of fighting against them, but, before they came to blows, to try what persuasions would do. Accordingly, Jesus, the eldest of the high priests next to Artanus, stood upon the tower that was over against them, and said thus: “Many troubles indeed, and those of various kinds, have fallen upon this city, yet in none of them have I so much wondered at her fortune as now, when you are come to assist wicked men, and this after a manner very extraordinary; for I see that you are come to support the vilest of men against us, and this with so great alacrity, as you could hardly put on the like, in case our metropolis had called you to her assistance against barbarians. And if I had perceived that your army was composed of men like unto those who invited them, I had not deemed your attempt so absurd; for nothing does so much cement the minds of men together as the alliance there is between their manners. But now for these men who have invited you, if you were to examine them one by one, every one of them would be found to have deserved ten thousand deaths; for the very rascality and offscouring of the whole country, who have spent in debauchery their own substance, and, by way of trial beforehand, have madly plundered the neighboring villages and cities, in the upshot of all, have privately run together into this holy city. They are robbers, who by their prodigious wickedness have profaned this most sacred floor, and who are to be now seen drinking themselves drunk in the sanctuary, and expending the spoils of those whom they have slaughtered upon their unsatiable bellies. As for the multitude that is with you, one may see them so decently adorned in their armor, as it would become them to be had their metropolis called them to her assistance against foreigners. What can a man call this procedure of yours but the sport of fortune, when he sees a whole nation coming to protect a sink of wicked wretches? I have for a good while been in doubt what it could possibly be that should move you to do this so suddenly; because certainly you would not take on your armor on the behalf of robbers, and against a people of kin to you, without some very great cause for your so doing. But we have an item that the Romans are pretended, and that we are supposed to be going to betray this city to them; for some of your men have lately made a clamor about those matters, and have said they are come to set their metropolis free. Now we cannot but admire at these wretches in their devising such a lie as this against us; for they knew there was no other way to irritate against us men that were naturally desirous of liberty, and on that account the best disposed to fight against foreign enemies, but by framing a tale as if we were going to betray that most desirable thing, liberty. But you ought to consider what sort of people they are that raise this calumny, and against what sort of people that calumny is raised, and to gather the truth of things, not by fictitious speeches, but out of the actions of both parties; for what occasion is there for us to sell ourselves to the Romans, while it was in our power not to have revolted from them at the first, or when we had once revolted, to have returned under their dominion again, and this while the neighboring countries were not yet laid waste? whereas it is not an easy thing to be reconciled to the Romans, if we were desirous of it, now they have subdued Galilee, and are thereby become proud and insolent; and to endeavor to please them at the time when they are so near us, would bring such a reproach upon us as were worse than death. As for myself, indeed, I should have preferred peace with them before death; but now we have once made war upon them, and fought with them, I prefer death, with reputation, before living in captivity under them. But further, whether do they pretend that we, who are the rulers of the people, have sent thus privately to the Romans, or hath it been done by the common suffrages of the people? If it be ourselves only that have done it, let them name those friends of ours that have been sent, as our servants, to manage this treachery. Hath any one been caught as he went out on this errand, or seized upon as he came back? Are they in possession of our letters? How could we be concealed from such a vast number of our fellow citizens, among whom we are conversant every hour, while what is done privately in the country is, it seems, known by the zealots, who are but few in number, and under confinement also, and are not able to come out of the temple into the city. Is this the first time that they are become sensible how they ought to be punished for their insolent actions? For while these men were free from the fear they are now under, there was no suspicion raised that any of us were traitors. But if they lay this charge against the people, this must have been done at a public consultation, and not one of the people must have dissented from the rest of the assembly; in which case the public fame of this matter would have come to you sooner than any particular indication. But how could that be? Must there not then have been ambassadors sent to confirm the agreements? And let them tell us who this ambassador was that was ordained for that purpose. But this is no other than a pretense of such men as are loath to die, and are laboring to escape those punishments that hang over them; for if fate had determined that this city was to be betrayed into its enemies’ hands, no other than these men that accuse us falsely could have the impudence to do it, there being no wickedness wanting to complete their impudent practices but this only, that they become traitors. And now you Idumeans are come hither already with your arms, it is your duty, in the first place, to be assisting to your metropolis, and to join with us in cutting off those tyrants that have infringed the rules of our regular tribunals, that have trampled upon our laws, and made their swords the arbitrators of right and wrong; for they have seized upon men of great eminence, and under no accusation, as they stood in the midst of the market-place, and tortured them with putting them into bonds, and, without bearing to hear what they had to say, or what supplications they made, they destroyed them. You may, if you please, come into the city, though not in the way of war, and take a view of the marks still remaining of what I now say, and may see the houses that have been depopulated by their rapacious hands, with those wives and families that are in black, mourning for their slaughtered relations; as also you may hear their groans and lamentations all the city over; for there is nobody but hath tasted of the incursions of these profane wretches, who have proceeded to that degree of madness, as not only to have transferred their impudent robberies out of the country, and the remote cities, into this city, the very face and head of the whole nation, but out of the city into the temple also; for that is now made their receptacle and refuge, and the fountain-head whence their preparations are made against us. And this place, which is adored by the habitable world, and honored by such as only know it by report, as far as the ends of the earth, is trampled upon by these wild beasts born among ourselves. They now triumph in the desperate condition they are already in, when they hear that one people is going to fight against another people, and one city against another city, and that your nation hath gotten an army together against its own bowels. Instead of which procedure, it were highly fit and reasonable, as I said before, for you to join with us in cutting off these wretches, and in particular to be revenged on them for putting this very cheat upon you; I mean, for having the impudence to invite you to assist them, of whom they ought to have stood in fear, as ready to punish them. But if you have some regard to these men’s invitation of you, yet may you lay aside your arms, and come into the city under the notion of our kindred, and take upon you a middle name between that of auxiliaries and of enemies, and so become judges in this case. However, consider what these men will gain by being called into judgment before you, for such undeniable and such flagrant crimes, who would not vouchsafe to hear such as had no accusations laid against them to speak a word for themselves. However, let them gain this advantage by your coming. But still, if you will neither take our part in that indignation we have at these men, nor judge between us, the third thing I have to propose is this, that you let us both alone, and neither insult upon our calamities, nor abide with these plotters against their metropolis; for though you should have ever so great a suspicion that some of us have discoursed with the Romans, it is in your power to watch the passages into the city; and in case any thing that we have been accused of is brought to light, then to come and defend your metropolis, and to inflict punishment on those that are found guilty; for the enemy cannot prevent you who are so near to the city. But if, after all, none of these proposals seem acceptable and moderate, do not you wonder that the gates are shut against you, while you bear your arms about you.”
4. Thus spake Jesus; yet did not the multitude of the Idumeans give any attention to what he said, but were in a rage, because they did not meet with a ready entrance into the city. The generals also had indignation at the offer of laying down their arms, and looked upon it as equal to a captivity, to throw them away at any man’s injunction whomsoever. But Simon, the son of Cathlas, one of their commanders, with much ado quieted the tumult of his own men, and stood so that the high priests might hear him, and said as follows: “I can no longer wonder that the patrons of liberty are under custody in the temple, since there are those that shut the gates of our common city (8) to their own nation, and at the same time are prepared to admit the Romans into it; nay, perhaps are disposed to crown the gates with garlands at their coming, while they speak to the Idumeans from their own towers, and enjoin them to throw down their arms which they have taken up for the preservation of its liberty. And while they will not intrust the guard of our metropolis to their kindred, profess to make them judges of the differences that are among them; nay, while they accuse some men of having slain others without a legal trial, they do themselves condemn a whole nation after an ignominious manner, and have now walled up that city from their own nation, which used to be open to even all foreigners that came to worship there. We have indeed come in great haste to you, and to a war against our own countrymen; and the reason why we have made such haste is this, that we may preserve that freedom which you are so unhappy as to betray. You have probably been guilty of the like crimes against those whom you keep in custody, and have, I suppose, collected together the like plausible pretenses against them also that you make use of against us; after which you have gotten the mastery of those within the temple, and keep them in custody, while they are only taking care of the public affairs. You have also shut the gates of the city in general against nations that are the most nearly related to you; and while you give such injurious commands to others, you complain that you have been tyrannized over by them, and fix the name of unjust governors upon such as are tyrannized over by yourselves. Who can bear this your abuse of words, while they have a regard to the contrariety of your actions, unless you mean this, that those Idumeans do now exclude you out of your metropolis, whom you exclude from the sacred offices of your own country? One may indeed justly complain of those that are besieged in the temple, that when they had courage enough to punish those tyrants whom you call eminent men, and free from any accusations, because of their being your companions in wickedness, they did not begin with you, and thereby cut off beforehand the most dangerous parts of this treason. But if these men have been more merciful than the public necessity required, we that are Idumeans will preserve this house of God, and will fight for our common country, and will oppose by war as well those that attack them from abroad, as those that betray them from within. Here will we abide before the walls in our armor, until either the Romans grow weary in waiting for you, or you become friends to liberty, and repent of what you have done against it.”
5. And now did the Idumeans make an acclamation to what Simon had said; but Jesus went away sorrowful, as seeing that the Idumeans were against all moderate counsels, and that the city was besieged on both sides. Nor indeed were the minds of the Idumeans at rest; for they were in a rage at the injury that had been offered them by their exclusion out of the city; and when they thought the zealots had been strong, but saw nothing of theirs to support them, they were in doubt about the matter, and many of them repented that they had come thither. But the shame that would attend them in case they returned without doing any thing at all, so far overcame that their repentance, that they lay all night before the wall, though in a very bad encampment; for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.
6. Now the opinion of the Idumeans and of the citizens was one and the same. The Idumeans thought that God was angry at their taking arms, and that they would not escape punishment for their making war upon their metropolis. Ananus and his party thought that they had conquered without fighting, and that God acted as a general for them; but truly they proved both ill conjectures at what was to come, and made those events to be ominous to their enemies, while they were themselves to undergo the ill effects of them; for the Idumeans fenced one another by uniting their bodies into one band, and thereby kept themselves warm, and connecting their shields over their heads, were not so much hurt by the rain. But the zealots were more deeply concerned for the danger these men were in than they were for themselves, and got together, and looked about them to see whether they could devise any means of assisting them. The hotter sort of them thought it best to force their guards with their arms, and after that to fall into the midst of the city, and publicly open the gates to those that came to their assistance; as supposing the guards would be in disorder, and give way at such an unexpected attempt of theirs, especially as the greater part of them were unarmed and unskilled in the affairs of war; and that besides the multitude of the citizens would not be easily gathered together, but confined to their houses by the storm: and that if there were any hazard in their undertaking, it became them to suffer any thing whatsoever themselves, rather than to overlook so great a multitude as were miserably perishing on their account. But the more prudent part of them disapproved of this forcible method, because they saw not only the guards about them very numerous, but the walls of the city itself carefully watched, by reason of the Idumeans. They also supposed that Ananus would be every where, and visit the guards every hour; which indeed was done upon other nights, but was omitted that night, not by reason of any slothfulness of Ananus, but by the overbearing appointment of fate, that so both he might himself perish, and the multitude of the guards might perish with him; for truly, as the night was far gone, and the storm very terrible, Ananus gave the guards in the cloisters leave to go to sleep; while it came into the heads of the zealots to make use of the saws belonging to the temple, and to cut the bars of the gates to pieces. The noise of the wind, and that not inferior sound of the thunder, did here also conspire with their designs, that the noise of the saws was not heard by the others.
7. So they secretly went out of the temple to the wall of the city, and made use of their saws, and opened that gate which was over against the Idumeans. Now at first there came a fear upon the Idumeans themselves, which disturbed them, as imagining that Ananus and his party were coming to attack them, so that every one of them had his right hand upon his sword, in order to defend himself; but they soon came to know who they were that came to them, and were entered the city. And had the Idumeans then fallen upon the city, nothing could have hindered them from destroying the people every man of them, such was the rage they were in at that time; but as they first of all made haste to get the zealots out of custody, which those that brought them in earnestly desired them to do, and not to overlook those for whose sakes they were come, in the midst of their distresses, nor to bring them into a still greater danger; for that when they had once seized upon the guards, it would be easy for them to fall upon the city; but that if the city were once alarmed, they would not then be able to overcome those guards, because as soon as they should perceive they were there, they would put themselves in order to fight them, and would hinder their coming into the temple.
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; 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.
HOW THE ZEALOTS WHEN THEY WERE FREED FROM THE IDUMEANS, SLEW A GREAT MANY MORE OF THE CITIZENS; AND HOW VESPASIAN DISSUADED THE ROMANS WHEN THEY WERE VERY EARNEST TO MARCH AGAINST THE JEWS FROM PROCEEDING IN THE WAR AT THAT TIME.
1. THE Idumeans complied with these persuasions; and, in the first place, they set those that were in the prisons at liberty, being about two thousand of the populace, who thereupon fled away immediately to Simon, one whom we shall speak of presently. After which these Idumeans retired from Jerusalem, and went home; which departure of theirs was a great surprise to both parties; for the people, not knowing of their repentance, pulled up their courage for a while, as eased of so many of their enemies, while the zealots grew more insolent not as deserted by their confederates, but as freed from such men as might hinder their designs, and plat some stop to their wickedness. Accordingly, they made no longer any delay, nor took any deliberation in their enormous practices, but made use of the shortest methods for all their executions and what they had once resolved upon, they put in practice sooner than any one could imagine. But their thirst was chiefly after the blood of valiant men, and men of good families; the one sort of which they destroyed out of envy, the other out of fear; for they thought their whole security lay in leaving no potent men alive; on which account they slew Gorion, a person eminent in dignity, and on account of his family also; he was also for democracy, and of as great boldness and freedom of spirit as were any of the Jews whosoever; the principal thing that ruined him, added to his other advantages, was his free speaking. Nor did Niger of Peres escape their hands; he had been a man of great valor in their war with the Romans, but was now drawn through the middle of the city, and, as he went, he frequently cried out, and showed the scars of his wounds; and when he was drawn out of the gates, and despaired of his preservation, he besought them to grant him a burial; but as they had threatened him beforehand not to grant him any spot of earth for a grave, which he chiefly desired of them, so did they slay him [without permitting him to be buried]. Now when they were slaying him, he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo both famine and pestilence in this war, and besides all that, they might come to the mutual slaughter of one another; all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men, and was what came most justly upon them, when not long afterward. they tasted of their own madness in their mutual seditions one against another. So when this Niger was killed, their fears of being overturned were diminished; and indeed there was no part of the people but they found out some pretense to destroy them; for some were therefore slain, because they had had differences with some of them; and as to those that had not opposed them in times of peace, they watched seasonable opportunities to gain some accusation against them; and if any one did not come near them at all, he was under their suspicion as a proud man; if any one came with boldness, he was esteemed a contemner of them; and if any one came as aiming to oblige them, he was supposed to have some treacherous plot against them; while the only punishment of crimes, whether they were of the greatest or smallest sort, was death. Nor could any one escape, unless he were very inconsiderable, either on account of the meanness of his birth, or on account of his fortune.
2. And now all the rest of the commanders of the Romans deemed this sedition among their enemies to be of great advantage to them, and were very earnest to march to the city, and they urged Vespasian, as their lord and general in all cases, to make haste, and said to him, that “the providence of God is on our side, by setting our enemies at variance against one another; that still the change in such cases may be sudden, and the Jews may quickly be at one again, either because they may be tired out with their civil miseries, or repent them of such doings.” But Vespasian replied, that they were greatly mistaken in what they thought fit to be done, as those that, upon the theater, love to make a show of their hands, and of their weapons, but do it at their own hazard, without considering, what was for their advantage, and for their security; for that if they now go and attack the city immediately, they shall but occasion their enemies to unite together, and shall convert their force, now it is in its height, against themselves. But if they stay a while, they shall have fewer enemies, because they will be consumed in this sedition: that God acts as a general of the Romans better than he can do, and is giving the Jews up to them without any pains of their own, and granting their army a victory without any danger; that therefore it is their best way, while their enemies are destroying each other with their own hands, and falling into the greatest of misfortunes, which is that of sedition, to sit still as spectators of the dangers they run into, rather than to fight hand to hand with men that love murdering, and are mad one against another. But if any one imagines that the glory of victory, when it is gotten without fighting, will be more insipid, let him know this much, that a glorious success, quietly obtained, is more profitable than the dangers of a battle; for we ought to esteem these that do what is agreeable to temperance and prudence no less glorious than those that have gained great reputation by their actions in war: that he shall lead on his army with greater force when their enemies are diminished, and his own army refreshed after the continual labors they had undergone. However, that this is not a proper time to propose to ourselves the glory of victory; for that the Jews are not now employed in making of armor or building of walls, nor indeed in getting together auxiliaries, while the advantage will be on their side who give them such opportunity of delay; but that the Jews are vexed to pieces every day by their civil wars and dissensions, and are under greater miseries than, if they were once taken, could be inflicted on them by us. Whether therefore any one hath regard to what is for our safety, he ought to suffer these Jews to destroy one another; or whether he hath regard to the greater glory of the action, we ought by no means to meddle with those men, now they are afflicted with a distemper at home; for should we now conquer them, it would be said the conquest was not owing to our bravery, but to their sedition.” (10)
3. And now the commanders joined in their approbation of what Vespasian had said, and it was soon discovered how wise an opinion he had given. And indeed many there were of the Jews that deserted every day, and fled away from the zealots, although their flight was very difficult, since they had guarded every passage out of the city, and slew every one that was caught at them, as taking it for granted they were going over to the Romans; yet did he who gave them money get clear off, while he only that gave them none was voted a traitor. So the upshot was this, that the rich purchased their flight by money, while none but the poor were slain. Along all the roads also vast numbers of dead bodies lay in heaps, and even many of those that were so zealous in deserting at length chose rather to perish within the city; for the hopes of burial made death in their own city appear of the two less terrible to them. But these zealots came at last to that degree of barbarity, as not to bestow a burial either on those slain in the city, or on those that lay along the roads; but as if they had made an agreement to cancel both the laws of their country and the laws of nature, and, at the same time that they defiled men with their wicked actions, they would pollute the Divinity itself also, they left the dead bodies to putrefy under the sun; and the same punishment was allotted to such as buried any as to those that deserted, which was no other than death; while he that granted the favor of a grave to another would presently stand in need of a grave himself. To say all in a word, no other gentle passion was so entirely lost among them as mercy; for what were the greatest objects of pity did most of all irritate these wretches, and they transferred their rage from the living to those that had been slain, and from the dead to the living. Nay, the terror was so very great, that he who survived called them that were first dead happy, as being at rest already; as did those that were under torture in the prisons, declare, that, upon this comparison, those that lay unburied were the happiest. These men, therefore, trampled upon all the laws of men, and laughed at the laws of God; and for the oracles of the prophets, they ridiculed them as the tricks of jugglers; yet did these prophets foretell many things concerning [the rewards of] virtue, and [punishments of] vice, which when these zealots violated, they occasioned the fulfilling of those very prophecies belonging to their own country; for there was a certain ancient oracle of those men, that the city should then be taken and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a sedition should invade the Jews, and their own hand should pollute the temple of God. Now while these zealots did not [quite] disbelieve these predictions, they made themselves the instruments of their accomplishment.
HOW JOHN TYRANNIZED OVER THE REST; AND WHAT MISCHIEFS THE ZEALOTS DID AT MASADA. HOW ALSO VESPASIAN TOOK GADARA; AND WHAT ACTIONS WERE PERFORMED BY PLACIDUS.
1. BY this time John was beginning to tyrannize, and thought it beneath him to accept of barely the same honors that others had; and joining to himself by degrees a party of the wickedest of them all, he broke off from the rest of the faction. This was brought about by his still disagreeing with the opinions of others, and giving out injunctions of his own, in a very imperious manner; so that it was evident he was setting up a monarchical power. Now some submitted to him out of their fear of him, and others out of their good-will to him; for he was a shrewd man to entice men to him, both by deluding them and putting cheats upon them. Nay, many there were that thought they should be safer themselves, if the causes of their past insolent actions should now be reduced to one head, and not to a great many. His activity was so great, and that both in action and in counsel, that he had not a few guards about him; yet was there a great party of his antagonists that left him; among whom envy at him weighed a great deal, while they thought it a very heavy thing to be in subjection to one that was formerly their equal. But the main reason that moved men against him was the dread of monarchy, for they could not hope easily to put an end to his power, if he had once obtained it; and yet they knew that he would have this pretense always against them, that they had opposed him when he was first advanced; while every one chose rather to suffer any thing whatsoever in war, than that, when they had been in a voluntary slavery for some time, they should afterward perish. So the sedition was divided into two parts, and John reigned in opposition to his adversaries over one of them: but for their leaders, they watched one another, nor did they at all, or at least very little, meddle with arms in their quarrels; but they fought earnestly against the people, and contended one with another which of them should bring home the greatest prey. But because the city had to struggle with three of the greatest misfortunes, war, and tyranny, and sedition, it appeared, upon the comparison, that the war was the least troublesome to the populace of them all. Accordingly, they ran away from their own houses to foreigners, and obtained that preservation from the Romans which they despaired to obtain among their own people.
2. And now a fourth misfortune arose, in order to bring our nation to destruction. There was a fortress of very great strength not far from Jerusalem, which had been built by our ancient kings, both as a repository for their effects in the hazards of war, and for the preservation of their bodies at the same time. It was called Masada. Those that were called Sicarii had taken possession of it formerly, but at this time they overran the neighboring countries, aiming only to procure to themselves necessaries; for the fear they were then in prevented their further ravages. But when once they were informed that the Roman army lay still, and that the Jews were divided between sedition and tyranny, they boldly undertook greater matters; and at the feast of unleavened bread, which the Jews celebrate in memory of their deliverance from the Egyptian bondage, when they were sent back into the country of their forefathers, they came down by night, without being discovered by those that could have prevented them, and overran a certain small city called Engaddi:–in which expedition they prevented those citizens that could have stopped them, before they could arm themselves, and fight them. They also dispersed them, and cast them out of the city. As for such as could not run away, being women and children, they slew of them above seven hundred. Afterward, when they had carried every thing out of their houses, and had seized upon all the fruits that were in a flourishing condition, they brought them into Masada. And indeed these men laid all the villages that were about the fortress waste, and made the whole country desolate; while there came to them every day, from all parts, not a few men as corrupt as themselves. At that time all the other regions of Judea that had hitherto been at rest were in motion, by means of the robbers. Now as it is in a human body, if the principal part be inflamed, all the members are subject to the same distemper; so, by means of the sedition and disorder that was in the metropolis,. had the wicked men that were in the country opportunity to ravage the same. Accordingly, when every one of them had plundered their own villages, they then retired into the desert; yet were these men that now got together, and joined in the conspiracy by parties, too small for an army, and too many for a gang of thieves: and thus did they fall upon the holy places (11) and the cities; yet did it now so happen that they were sometimes very ill treated by those upon whom they fell with such violence, and were taken by them as men are taken in war: but still they prevented any further punishment as do robbers, who, as soon as their ravages [are discovered], run their way. Nor was there now any part of Judea that was not in a miserable condition, as well as its most eminent city also.
3. These things were told Vespasian by deserters; for although the seditious watched all the passages out of the city, and destroyed all, whosoever they were, that came thither, yet were there some that had concealed themselves, and when they had fled to the Romans, persuaded their general to come to their city’s assistance, and save the remainder of the people; informing him withal, that it was upon account of the people’s good-will to the Romans that many of them were already slain, and the survivors in danger of the same treatment. Vespasian did indeed already pity the calamities these men were in, and arose, in appearance, as though he was going to besiege Jerusalem, but in reality to deliver them from a [worse] siege they were already under. However, he was obliged first to overthrow what remained elsewhere, and to leave nothing out of Jerusalem behind him that might interrupt him in that siege. Accordingly, he marched against Gadara, the metropolis of Perea, which was a place of strength, and entered that city on the fourth day of the month Dystrus [Adar]; for the men of power had sent an embassage to him, without the knowledge of the seditious, to treat about a surrender; which they did out of the desire they had of peace, and for saving their effects, because many of the citizens of Gadara were rich men. This embassy the opposite party knew nothing of, but discovered it as Vespasian was approaching near the city. However, they despaired of keeping possession of the city, as being inferior in number to their enemies who were within the city, and seeing the Romans very near to the city; so they resolved to fly, but thought it dishonorable to do it without shedding some blood, and revenging themselves on the authors of this surrender; so they seized upon Dolesus, (a person not only the first in rank and family in that city, but one that seemed the occasion of sending such an embassy,) and slew him, and treated his dead body after a barbarous manner, so very violent was their anger at him, and then ran out of the city. And as now the Roman army was just upon them, the people of Gadara admitted Vespasian with joyful acclamations, and received from him the security of his right hand, as also a garrison of horsemen and footmen, to guard them against the excursions of the runagates; for as to their wall, they had pulled it down before the Romans desired them so to do, that they might thereby give them assurance that they were lovers of peace, and that, if they had a mind, they could not now make war against them.
4. And now Vespasian sent Placidus against those that had fled from Gadara, with five hundred horsemen, and three thousand footmen, while he returned himself to Cesarea, with the rest of the army. But as soon as these fugitives saw the horsemen that pursued them just upon their backs, and before they came to a close fight, they ran together to a certain village, which was called Bethennabris, where finding a great multitude of young men, and arming them, partly by their own consent, partly by force, they rashly and suddenly assaulted Placidus and the troops that were with him. These horsemen at the first onset gave way a little, as contriving to entice them further off the wall; and when they had drawn them into a place fit for their purpose, they made their horse encompass them round, and threw their darts at them. So the horsemen cut off the flight of the fugitives, while the foot terribly destroyed those that fought against them; for those Jews did no more than show their courage, and then were destroyed; for as they fell upon the Romans when they were joined close together, and, as it were, walled about with their entire armor, they were not able to find any place where the darts could enter, nor were they any way able to break their ranks, while they were themselves run through by the Roman darts, and, like the wildest of wild beasts, rushed upon the point of others’ swords; so some of them were destroyed, as cut with their enemies’ swords upon their faces, and others were dispersed by the horsemen.
5. Now Placidus’s concern was to exclude them in their flight from getting into the village; and causing his horse to march continually on that side of them, he then turned short upon them, and at the same time his men made use of their darts, and easily took their aim at those that were the nearest to them, as they made those that were further off turn back by the terror they were in, till at last the most courageous of them brake through those horsemen and fled to the wall of the village. And now those that guarded the wall were in great doubt what to do; for they could not bear the thoughts of excluding those that came from Gadara, because of their own people that were among them; and yet, if they should admit them, they expected to perish with them, which came to pass accordingly; for as they were crowding together at the wall, the Roman horsemen were just ready to fall in with them. However, the guards prevented them, and shut the gates, when Placidus made an assault upon them, and fighting courageously till it was dark, he got possession of the wall, and of the people that were in the city, when the useless multitude were destroyed; but those that were more potent ran away, and the soldiers plundered the houses, and set the village on fire. As for those that ran out of the village, they stirred up such as were in the country, and exaggerating their own calamities, and telling them that the whole army of the Romans were upon them, they put them into great fear on every side; so they got in great numbers together, and fled to Jericho, for they knew no other place that could afford them any hope of escaping, it being a city that had a strong wall, and a great multitude of inhabitants. But Placidus, relying much upon his horsemen, and his former good success, followed them, and slew all that he overtook, as far as Jordan; and when he had driven the whole multitude to the river-side, where they were stopped by the current, (for it had been augmented lately by rains, and was not fordable,) he put his soldiers in array over against them; so the necessity the others were in provoked them to hazard a battle, because there was no place whither they could flee. They then extended themselves a very great way along the banks of the river, and sustained the darts that were thrown at them, as well as the attacks of the horsemen, who beat many of them, and pushed them into the current. At which fight, hand to hand, fifteen thousand of them were slain, while the number of those that were unwillingly forced to leap into Jordan was prodigious. There were besides two thousand and two hundred taken prisoners. A mighty prey was taken also, consisting of asses, and sheep, and camels, and oxen.
6. Now this destruction that fell upon the Jews, as it was not inferior to any of the rest in itself, so did it still appear greater than it really was; and this, because not only the whole country through which they fled was filled with slaughter, and Jordan could not be passed over, by reason of the dead bodies that were in it, but because the lake Asphaltiris was also full of dead bodies, that were carried down into it by the river. And now Placidus, after this good success that he had, fell violently upon the neighboring smaller cities and villages; when he took Abila, and Julias, and Bezemoth, and all those that lay as far as the lake Asphaltitis, and put such of the deserters into each of them as he thought proper. He then put his soldiers on board the ships, and slew such as had fled to the lake, insomuch that all Perea had either surrendered themselves, or were taken by the Romans, as far as Macherus.
HOW VESPASIAN .UPON HEARING OF SOME COMMOTIONS IN GALL, (12) MADE HASTE TO FINISH THE JEWISH WAR. A DESCRIPTION OF. JERICHO, AND OF THE GREAT PLAIN; WITH AN ACCOUNT BESIDES OF THE LAKE ASPHALTITIS.
1. IN the mean time, an account came that there were commotions in Gall, and that Vindex, together with the men of power in that country, had revolted from Nero; which affair is more accurately described elsewhere. This report, thus related to Vespasian, excited him to go on briskly with the war; for he foresaw already the civil wars which were coming upon them, nay, that the very government was in danger; and he thought, if he could first reduce the eastern parts of the empire to peace, he should make the fears for Italy the lighter; while therefore the winter was his hinderance [from going into the field], he put garrisons into the villages and smaller cities for their security; he put decurions also into the villages, and centurions into the cities: he besides this rebuilt many of the cities that had been laid waste; but at the beginning of the spring he took the greatest part of his army, and led it from Cesarea to Antipatris, where he spent two days in settling the affairs of that city, and then, on the third day, he marched on, laying waste and burning all the neighboring villages. And when he had laid waste all the places about the toparchy of Thamnas, he passed on to Lydda and Jamnia; and when both these cities had come over to him, he placed a great many of those that had come over to him [from other places] as inhabitants therein, and then came to Emmaus, where he seized upon the passage which led thence to their metropolis, and fortified his camp, and leaving the fifth legion therein, he came to the toparchy of Bethletephon. He then destroyed that place, and the neighboring places, by fire, and fortified, at proper places, the strong holds all about Idumea; and when he had seized upon two villages, which were in the very midst of Idumea, Betaris and Caphartobas, he slew above ten thousand of the people, and carried into captivity above a thousand, and drove away the rest of the multitude, and placed no small part of his own forces in them, who overran and laid waste the whole mountainous country; while he, with the rest of his forces, returned to Emmaus, whence he came down through the country of Samaria, and hard by the city, by others called Neapoils, (or Sichem,) but by the people of that country Mabortha, to Corea, where he pitched his camp, on the second day of the month Desius [Sivan]; and on the day following he came to Jericho; on which day Trajan, one of his commanders, joined him with the forces he brought out of Perea, all the places beyond Jordan being subdued already.
2. Hereupon a great multitude prevented their approach, and came out of Jericho, and fled to those mountainous parts that lay over against Jerusalem, while that part which was left behind was in a great measure destroyed; they also found the city desolate. It is situated in a plain; but a naked and barren mountain, of a very great length, hangs over it, which extends itself to the land about Scythopolis northward, but as far as the country of Sodom, and the utmost limits of the lake Asphaltiris, southward. This mountain is all of it very uneven and uninhabited, by reason of its barrenness: there is an opposite mountain that is situated over against it, on the other side of Jordan; this last begins at Julias, and the northern quarters, and extends itself southward as far as Somorrhon, (13) which is the bounds of Petra, in Arabia. In this ridge of mountains there is one called the Iron Mountain, that runs in length as far as Moab. Now the region that lies in the middle between these ridges of mountains is called the Great Plain; it reaches from the village Ginnabris, as far as the lake Asphaltitis; its length is two hundred and thirty furlongs, and its breadth a hundred and twenty, and it is divided in the midst by Jordan. It hath two lakes in it, that of Asphaltitis, and that of Tiberias, whose natures are opposite to each other; for the former is salt and unfruitful, but that of Tiberias is sweet and fruitful. This plain is much burnt up in summer time, and, by reason of the extraordinary heat, contains a very unwholesome air; it is all destitute of water excepting the river Jordan, which water of Jordan is the occasion why those plantations of palm trees that are near its banks are more flourishing, and much more fruitful, as are those that are remote from it not so flourishing, or fruitful.
3. Notwithstanding which, there is a fountain by Jericho, that runs plentifully, and is very fit for watering the ground; it arises near the old city, which Joshua, the son of Naue, the general of the Hebrews, took the first of all the cities of the land of Canaan, by right of war. The report is, that this fountain, at the beginning, caused not only the blasting of the earth and the trees, but of the children born of women, and that it was entirely of a sickly and corruptive nature to all things whatsoever; but that it was made gentle, and very wholesome and fruitful, by the prophet Elisha. This prophet was familiar with Elijah, and was his successor, who, when he once was the guest of the people at Jericho, and the men of the place had treated him very kindly, he both made them amends as well as the country, by a lasting favor; for he went out of the city to this fountain, and threw into the current an earthen vessel full of salt; after which he stretched out his righteous hand unto heaven, and, pouring out a mild drink-offering, he made this supplication, – That the current might be mollified, and that the veins of fresh water might be opened; that God also would bring into the place a more temperate and fertile air for the current, and would bestow upon the people of that country plenty of the fruits of the earth, and a succession of children; and that this prolific water might never fail them, while they continued to he righteous. To these prayers Elisha (14) joined proper operations of his hands, after a skillful manner, and changed the fountain; and that water, which had been the occasion of barrenness and famine before, from that time did supply a numerous posterity, and afforded great abundance to the country. Accordingly, the power of it is so great in watering the ground, that if it do but once touch a country, it affords a sweeter nourishment than other waters do, when they lie so long upon them, till they are satiated with them. For which reason, the advantage gained from other waters, when they flow in great plenty, is but small, while that of this water is great when it flows even in little quantities. Accordingly, it waters a larger space of ground than any other waters do, and passes along a plain of seventy furlongs long, and twenty broad; wherein it affords nourishment to those most excellent gardens that are thick set with trees. There are in it many sorts of palm trees that are watered by it, different from each other in taste and name; the better sort of them, when they are pressed, yield an excellent kind of honey, not much inferior in sweetness to other honey. This country withal produces honey from bees; it also bears that balsam which is the most precious of all the fruits in that place, cypress trees also, and those that bear myrobalanum; so that he who should pronounce this place to be divine would not be mistaken, wherein is such plenty of trees produced as are very rare, and of the must excellent sort. And indeed, if we speak of those other fruits, it will not be easy to light on any climate in the habitable earth that can well be compared to it, – what is here sown comes up in such clusters; the cause of which seems to me to be the warmth of the air, and the fertility of the waters; the warmth calling forth the sprouts, and making them spread, and the moisture making every one of them take root firmly, and supplying that virtue which it stands in need of in summer time. Now this country is then so sadly burnt up, that nobody cares to come at it; and if the water be drawn up before sun-rising, and after that exposed to the air, it becomes exceeding cold, and becomes of a nature quite contrary to the ambient air; as in winter again it becomes warm; and if you go into it, it appears very gentle. The ambient air is here also of so good a temperature, that the people of the country are clothed in linen-only, even when snow covers the rest of Judea. This place is one hundred and fifty furlongs from Jerusalem, and sixty from Jordan. The country, as far as Jerusalem, is desert and stony; but that as far as Jordan and the lake Asphaltitis lies lower indeed, though it be equally desert and barren. But so much shall suffice to have said about Jericho, and of the great happiness of its situation.
4. The nature of the lake Asphaltitis is also worth describing. It is, as I have said already, bitter and unfruitful. It is so light [or thick] that it bears up the heaviest things that are thrown into it; nor is it easy for any one to make things sink therein to the bottom, if he had a mind so to do. Accordingly, when Vespasian went to see it, he commanded that some who could not swim should have their hands tied behind them, and be thrown into the deep, when it so happened that they all swam as if a wind had forced them upwards. Moreover, the change of the color of this lake is wonderful, for it changes its appearance thrice every day; and as the rays of the sun fall differently upon it, the light is variously reflected. However, it casts up black clods of bitumen in many parts of it; these swim at the top of the water, and resemble both in shape and bigness headless bulls; and when the laborers that belong to the lake come to it, and catch hold of it as it hangs together, they draw it into their ships; but when the ship is full, it is not easy to cut off the rest, for it is so tenacious as to make the ship hang upon its clods till they set it loose with the menstrual blood of women, and with urine, to which alone it yields. This bitumen is not only useful for the caulking of ships, but for the cure of men’s bodies; accordingly, it is mixed in a great many medicines. The length of this lake is five hundred and eighty furlongs, where it is extended as far as Zoar in Arabia; and its breadth is a hundred and fifty. The country of Sodom borders upon it. It was of old a most happy land, both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how, for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burnt by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of that Divine fire, and the traces [or shadows] of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits; which fruits have a color as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them with your hands, they dissolve into smoke and ashes. And thus what is related of this land of Sodom hath these marks of credibility which our very sight affords us.
THAT VESPASIAN, AFTER HE HAD TAKEN GADARA MADE PREPARATION FOR THE SIEGE OF JERUSALEM; BUT THAT, UPON HIS HEARING OF THE DEATH OF NERO, HE CHANGED HIS INTENTIONS. AS ALSO CONCERNING SIMON OF GERAS.
1. AND now Vespasian had fortified all the places round about Jerusalem, and erected citadels at Jericho and Adida, and placed garrisons in them both, partly out of his own Romans, and partly out of the body of his auxiliaries. He also sent Lucius Annius to Gerasa, and delivered to him a body of horsemen, and a considerable number of footmen. So when he had taken the city, which he did at the first onset, he slew a thousand of those young men who had not prevented him by flying away; but he took their families captive, and permitted his soldiers to plunder them of their effects; after which he set fire to their houses, and went away to the adjoining villages, while the men of power fled away, and the weaker part were destroyed, and what was remaining was all burnt down. And now the war having gone through all the mountainous country, and all the plain country also, those that were at Jerusalem were deprived of the liberty of going out of the city; for as to such as had a mind to desert, they were watched by the zealots; and as to such as were not yet on the side of the Romans, their army kept them in, by encompassing the city round about on all sides.
2. Now as Vespasian was returned to Cesarea, and was getting ready with all his army to march directly to Jerusalem, he was informed that Nero was dead, after he had reigned thirteen years and eight days. Bnt as to any narration after what manner he abused his power in the government, and committed the management of affairs to those vile wretches, Nymphidius and Tigellinus, his unworthy freed-men; and how he had a plot laid against him by them, and was deserted by all his guards, and ran away with four of his most trusty freed-men, and slew himself in the suburbs of Rome; and how those that occasioned his death were in no long time brought themselves to punishment; how also the war in Gall ended; and how Galba was made emperor (16) and returned out of Spain to Rome; and how he was accused by the soldiers as a pusillanimous person, and slain by treachery in the middle of the market-place at Rome, and Otho was made emperor; with his expedition against the commanders of Vitellius, and his destruction thereupon; and besides what troubles there were under Vitellius, and the fight that was about the capitol; as also how Antonius Primus and Mucianus slew Vitellius, and his German legions, and thereby put an end to that civil war; – I have omitted to give an exact account of them, because they are well known by all, and they are described by a great number of Greek and Roman authors; yet for the sake of the connexion of matters, and that my history may not be incoherent, I have just touched upon every thing briefly. Wherefore Vespasian put off at first his expedition against Jerusalem, and stood waiting whither the empire would be transferred after the death of Nero. Moreover, when he heard that Galba was made emperor, he attempted nothing till he also should send him some directions about the war: however, he sent his son Titus to him, to salute him, and to receive his commands about the Jews. Upon the very same errand did king Agrippa sail along with Titus to Galba; but as they were sailing in their long ships by the coasts of Achaia, for it was winter time, they heard that Galba was slain, before they could get to him, after he had reigned seven months and as many days. After whom Otho took the government, and undertook the management of public affairs. So Agrippa resolved to go on to Rome without any terror; on account of the change in the government; but Titus, by a Divine impulse, sailed back from Greece to Syria, and came in great haste to Cesarea, to his father. And now they were both in suspense about the public affairs, the Roman empire being then in a fluctuating condition, and did not go on with their expedition against the Jews, but thought that to make any attack upon foreigners was now unseasonable, on account of the solicitude they were in for their own country.
3. And now there arose another war at Jerusalem. There was a son of Giora, one Simon, by birth of Gerasa, a young man, not so cunning indeed as John [of Gisehala], who had already seized upon the city, but superior in strength of body and courage; on which account, when he had been driven away from that Acrabattene toparchy, which he once had, by Ananus the high priest, he came to those robbers who had seized upon Masada. At the first they suspected him, and only permitted him to come with the women he brought with him into the lower part of the fortress, while they dwelt in the upper part of it themselves. However, his manner so well agreed with theirs, and he seemed so trusty a man, that he went out with them, and ravaged and destroyed the country with them about Masada; yet when he persuaded them to undertake greater things, he could not prevail with them so to do; for as they were accustomed to dwell in that citadel, they were afraid of going far from that which was their hiding-place; but he affecting to tyrannize, and being fond of greatness, when he had heard of the death of Ananus, he left them, and went into the mountainous part of the country. So he proclaimed liberty to those in slavery, and a reward to those already free, and got together a set of wicked men from all quarters.
4. And as he had now a strong body of men about him, he overran the villages that lay in the mountainous country, and when there were still more and more that came to him, he ventured to go down into the lower parts of the country, and since he was now become formidable to the cities, many of the men of power were corrupted by him; so that his army was no longer composed of slaves and robbers, but a great many of the populace were obedient to him as to their king. He then overran the Acrabattene toparchy, and the places that reached as far as the Great Idumea; for he built a wall at a certain village called Nain, and made use of that as a fortress for his own party’s security; and at the valley called Paran, he enlarged many of the caves, and many others he found ready for his purpose; these he made use of as repositories for his treasures, and receptacles for his prey, and therein he laid up the fruits that he had got by rapine; and many of his partizans had their dwelling in them; and he made no secret of it that he was exercising his men beforehand, and making preparations for the assault of Jerusalem.
5. Whereupon the zealots, out of the dread they were in of his attacking them, and being willing to prevent one that was growing up to oppose them, went out against him with their weapons. Simon met them, and joining battle with them, slew a considerable number of them, and drove the rest before him into the city, but durst not trust so much upon his forces as to make an assault upon the walls; but he resolved first to subdue Idumea, and as he had now twenty thousand armed men, he marched to the borders of their country. Hereupon the rulers of the Idumeans got together on the sudden the most warlike part of their people, about twenty-five thousand in number, and permitted the rest to be a guard to their own country, by reason of the incursions that were made by the Sicarii that were at Masada. Thus they received Simon at their borders, where they fought him, and continued the battle all that day; and the dispute lay whether they had conquered him, or been conquered by him. So he went back to Nain, as did the Idumeans return home. Nor was it long ere Simon came violently again upon their country; when he pitched his camp at a certain village called Thecoe, and sent Eleazar, one of his companions, to those that kept garrison at Herodium, and in order to persuade them to surrender that fortress to him. The garrison received this man readily, while they knew nothing of what he came about; but as soon as he talked of the surrender of the place, they fell upon him with their drawn swords, till he found that he had no place for flight, when he threw himself down from the wall into the valley beneath; so he died immediately: but the Idumeans, who were already much afraid of Simon’s power, thought fit to take a view of the enemy’s army before they hazarded a battle with them.
6. Now there was one of their commanders named Jacob, who offered to serve them readily upon that occasion, but had it in his mind to betray them. He went therefore from the village Alurus, wherein the army of the Idumeans were gotten together, and came to Simon, and at the very first he agreed to betray his country to him, and took assurances upon oath from him that he should always have him in esteem, and then promised him that he would assist him in subduing all Idumea under him; upon which account he was feasted after an obliging manner by Simon, and elevated by his mighty promises; and when he was returned to his own men, he at first belied the army of Simon, and said it was manifold more in number than what it was; after which, he dexterously persuaded the commanders, and by degrees the whole multitude, to receive Simon, and to surrender the whole government up to him without fighting. And as he was doing this, he invited Simon by his messengers, and promised him to disperse the Idumeans, which he performed also; for as soon as their army was nigh them, he first of all got upon his horse, and fled, together with those whom he had corrupted; hereupon a terror fell upon the whole multitude; and before it came to a close fight, they broke their ranks, and every one retired to his own home.
7. Thus did Simon unexpectedly march into Idumea, without bloodshed, and made a sudden attack upon the city Hebron, and took it; wherein he got possession of a great deal of prey, and plundered it of a vast quantity of fruit. Now the people of the country say that it is an ancienter city, not only than any in that country, but than Memphis in Egypt, and accordingly its age is reckoned at two thousand and three hundred years. They also relate that it had been the habitation of Abram, the progenitor of the Jews, after he had removed out of Mesopotamia; and they say that his posterity descended from thence into Egypt, whose monuments are to this very time showed in that small city; the fabric of which monuments are of the most excellent marble, and wrought after the most elegant manner. There is also there showed, at the distance of six furlongs from the city, a very large turpentine tree (17) and the report goes, that this tree has continued ever since the creation of the world. Thence did Simon make his progress over all Idumen, and did not only ravage the cities and villages, but lay waste the whole country; for, besides those that were completely armed, he had forty thousand men that followed him, insomuch that he had not provisions enough to suffice such a multitude. Now, besides this want of provisions that he was in, he was of a barbarous disposition, and bore great anger at this nation, by which means it came to pass that Idumea was greatly depopulated; and as one may see all the woods behind despoiled of their leaves by locusts, after they have been there, so was there nothing left behind Simon’s army but a desert. Some places they burnt down, some they utterly demolished, and whatsoever grew in the country, they either trod it down or fed upon it, and by their marches they made the ground that was cultivated harder and more untractable than that which was barren. In short, there was no sign remaining of those places that had been laid waste, that ever they had had a being.
8. This success of Simon excited the zealots afresh; and though they were afraid to fight him openly in a fair battle, yet did they lay ambushes in the passes, and seized upon his wife, with a considerable number of her attendants; whereupon they came back to the city rejoicing, as if they had taken Simon himself captive, and were in present expectation that he would lay down his arms, and make supplication to them for his wife; but instead of indulging any merciful affection, he grew very angry at them for seizing his beloved wife; so he came to the wall of Jerusalem, and, like wild beasts when they are wounded, and cannot overtake those that wounded them, he vented his spleen upon all persons that he met with. Accordingly, he caught all those that were come out of the city gates, either to gather herbs or sticks, who were unarmed and in years; he then tormented them and destroyed them, out of the immense rage he was in, and was almost ready to taste the very flesh of their dead bodies. He also cut off the hands of a great many, and sent them into the city to astonish his enemies, and in order to make the people fall into a sedition, and desert those that had been the authors of his wife’s seizure. He also enjoined them to tell the people that Simon swore by the God of the universe, who sees all things, that unless they will restore him his wife, he will break down their wall, and inflict the like punishment upon all the citizens, without sparing any age, and without making any distinction between the guilty and the innocent. These threatenings so greatly affrighted, not the people only, but the zealots themselves also, that they sent his wife back to him; when he became a little milder, and left off his perpetual blood-shedding.
9. But now sedition and civil war prevailed, not only over Judea, but in Italy also; for now Galba was slain in the midst of the Roman market-place; then was Otho made emperor, and fought against Vitellius, who set up for emperor also; for the legions in Germany had chosen him. But when he gave battle to Valens and Cecinna, who were Vitellius’s generals, at Betriacum, in Gaul, Otho gained the advantage on the first day, but on the second day Vitellius’s soldiers had the victory; and after much slaughter Otho slew himself, when he had heard of this defeat at Brixia, and after he had managed the public affairs three months and two days. (18) Otho’s army also came over to Vitellius’s generals, and he came himself down to Rome with his army. But in the mean time Vespasian removed from Cesarea, on the fifth day of the month Deasius, [Sivan,] and marched against those places of Judea which were not yet overthrown. So he went up to the mountainous country, and took those two toparchies that were called the Gophnitick and Acrabattene toparchies. After which he took Bethel and Ephraim, two small cities; and when he had put garrisons into them, he rode as far as Jerusalem, in which march he took many prisoners, and many captives; but Cerealis, one of his commanders, took a body of horsemen and footmen, and laid waste that part of Idumea which was called the Upper Idumea, and attacked Caphethra, which pretended to be a small city, and took it at the first onset, and burnt it down. He also attacked Caphatabira, and laid siege to it, for it had a very strong wall; and when he expected to spend a long time in that siege, those that were within opened their gates on the sudden, and came to beg pardon, and surrendered themselves up to him. When Cerealis had conquered them, he went to Hebron, another very ancient city. I have told you already that this city is situated in a mountainous country not far off Jerusalem; and when he had broken into the city by force, what multitude and young men were left therein he slew, and burnt down the city; so that as now all the places were taken, excepting Herodlum, and Masada, and Macherus, which were in the possession of the robbers, so Jerusalem was what the Romans at present aimed at.
10. And now, as soon as Simon had set his wife free, and recovered her from the zealots, he returned back to the remainders of Idumea, and driving the nation all before him from all quarters, he compelled a great number of them to retire to Jerusalem; he followed them himself also to the city, and encompassed the wall all round again; and when he lighted upon any laborers that were coming thither out of the country, he slew them. Now this Simon, who was without the wall, was a greater terror to the people than the Romans themselves, as were the zealots who were within it more heavy upon them than both of the other; and during this time did the mischievous contrivances and courage [of John] corrupt the body of the Galileans; for these Galileans had advanced this John, and made him very potent, who made them suitable requital from the authority he had obtained by their means; for he permitted them to do all things that any of them desired to do, while their inclination to plunder was insatiable, as was their zeal in searching the houses of the rich; and for the murdering of the men, and abusing of the women, it was sport to them. They also devoured what spoils they had taken, together with their blood, and indulged themselves in feminine wantonness, without any disturbance, till they were satiated therewith; while they decked their hair, and put on women’s garments, and were besmeared over with ointments; and that they might appear very comely, they had paints under their eyes, and imitated not only the ornaments, but also the lusts of women, and were guilty of such intolerable uncleanness, that they invented unlawful pleasures of that sort. And thus did they roll themselves up and down the city, as in a brothel-house, and defiled it entirely with their impure actions; nay, while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hands; and when their gait was effeminate, they presently attacked men, and became warriors, and drew their swords from under their finely dyed cloaks, and ran every body through whom they alighted upon. However, Simon waited for such as ran away from John, and was the more bloody of the two; and he who had escaped the tyrant within the wall was destroyed by the other that lay before the gates, so that all attempts of flying and deserting to the Romans were cut off, as to those that had a mind so to do.