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Josephus: Henry Leeming: Josephus' Jewish War and Its Slavonic Version: A Synoptic Comparison (2003) "This volume presents in English translation the Slavonic version of Josephus Flavius' "Jewish War, long inaccessible to Anglophone readers, according to N.A. Materskej's scholarly edition, together with his erudite and wide-ranging study of literary, historical and philological aspects of the work, a textological apparatus and commentary. The synoptic layout of the Slavonic and Greek versions in parallel columns enables the reader to compare their content in detail. It will be seen that the divergences are far more extensive than those indicated hitherto."

Josephus Pleads Still

Flavius Josephus

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Introductory Essays to the Works of Josephus

By David Chilton

A Biblical Theology of Dominion

Dominion Press Tyler, Texas
© 1st 1985 & 6th 1999



Accordingly it appears to me, that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were….


So wrote Flavius Josephus in the Preface to his classic, The Wars of the Jews, his astonishing record of the Great Tribulation of Israel. Again and again, his history of those terrible years parallels the biblical Prophecies of Jerusalem's destruction. The reader of the following excerpts would do well to become familiar with the basic texts on the judgment of Israel, especially Deuteronomy 28, the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), and the Book of Revelation.

The works of Josephus are available in several editions. I like the four-volume set published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, 1974). Gaalya Cornfeld has edited a beautiful new translation of Josephus: The Jewish War (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), with many photographs and an extensive scholarly commentary; anyone wishing to study Josephus in depth should certainly consult this volume (although it is flawed by numerous typographical errors). The excerpts quoted below are from the standard Whiston translation. I have added my own subheads for each excerpt, and have divided some of the longer passages into paragraphs for easier reading; but the numbering of each section corresponds to the original. I have also inserted some explanatory footnotes. While these do help tie the quotations together, this appendix is not intended to be a continuous narrative, but merely a collection of excerpts illustrating a major argument of this book: that the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy in the Olivet Discourse.

The excerpts begin by describing some of the background to the Jewish Revolt, and end with the suicide at Masada in A.D. 74.


Factions and False Prophets


2. Nero therefore bestowed the kingdom of the Lesser Armenia upon Aristobulus, Herod's(1) son, and he added to Agrippa's kingdom four cities, with the toparchies to them belonging; I mean Abila, and that Julias which is in Perea, Tarichea also, and Tiberias of Galilee; but over the rest of Judea he made Felix procurator. This Felix took Eleazar the arch-robber, and many that were with him, alive, when they had ravaged the country for twenty years together, and sent them to Rome; but as to the number of the robbers whom he caused to be crucified, and of those who were caught among them, and whom he brought to punishment, they were a multitude not to be enumerated.

3. When the country was purged of these, there sprang up another sort of robbers in Jerusalem, which were called Sicarii, who slew men in the day time, and in the midst of the city; this they did chiefly at the festivals, when they mingled themselves among the multitude, and concealed daggers under their garments, with which they stabbed those that were their enemies; and when any fell down dead, the murderers became a part of those that had indignation against them; by which means they appeared persons of such reputation, that they could by no means be discovered. The first man who was slain by them was Jonathan the high priest, after whose death many were slain every day, while the fear men were in of being so served was more afflicting than the calamity itself; and while every body expected death every hour, as men do in war, so men were obliged to look before them, and to take notice of their enemies at a great distance; nor, if their friends were coming to them, durst they trust them any longer; but, in the midst of their suspicions and guarding of themselves, they were slain. Such was the celerity of the plotters against them, and so cunning was their contrivance.

4. There was also another body of wicked men gotten together, not so impure in their actions, but more wicked in their intentions, which laid waste the happy state of the city no less than did these murderers. These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of Divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty. But Felix thought this procedure was to be the beginning of a revolt; so he sent some horsemen and footmen both armed, who destroyed a great number of them.

5. But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.

6. Now when these were quieted, it happened, as it does in a diseased body, that another part was subject to an inflammation; for a company of deceivers and robbers got together, and persuaded the Jews to revolt, and exhorted them to assert their liberty, inflicting death on those that continued in obedience to the Roman government, and saying, that such as willingly chose slavery ought to be forced from such their desired inclinations; for they parted themselves into different bodies, and lay in wait up and down the country, and plundered the houses of the great men, and slew the men themselves, and set the villages on fire; and this till all Judea was filled with the effects of their madness. And thus the flame was every day more and more blown up, till it came to a direct war.

The Tyranny of Gessius Florus (2)


2. And although such was the character of Albinus, yet did Gessius Florus, who succeeded him, demonstrate him to have been a most excellent person, upon the comparison; for the former did the greatest part of his rogueries in private, and with a sort of dissimulation; but Gessius did his unjust actions to the harm of the nation after a pompons manner; and as though he had been sent as an executioner to punish condemned malefactors, he omitted no sort of rapine, or of vexation; where the case was really pitiable, he was most barbarous, and in things of the greatest turpitude he was most impudent. Nor could any one outdo him in disguising the truth; nor could any one contrive more subtle ways of deceit than he did. He indeed thought it but a petty offense to get money out of single persons; so he spoiled whole cities, and ruined entire bodies of men at once, and did almost publicly proclaim it all the country over, that they had liberty given them to turn robbers, upon this condition, that he might go shares with them in the spoils they got. Accordingly, this his greediness of gain was the occasion that entire toparchies were brought to desolation, and a great many of the people left their own country, and fled into foreign provinces.


Massacre in Jerusalem


8. Now at this time Florus took up his quarters at the palace; and on the next day he had his tribunal set before it, and sat upon it, when the high priests, and the men of power, and those of the greatest eminence in the city, came all before that tribunal; upon which Florus commanded them to deliver up to him those that had reproached him, and told them that they should themselves partake of the vengeance to them belonging, if they did not produce the criminals; but these demonstrated that the people were peaceably disposed, and they begged forgiveness for those that had spoken amiss; for that it was no wonder at all that in so great a multitude there should be some more daring than they ought to be, and, by reason of their younger age, foolish also; and that it was impossible to distinguish those that offended from the rest, while every one was sorry for what he had done, and denied it out of fear of what would follow: that he ought, however, to provide for the peace of the nation, and to take such counsels as might preserve the city for the Romans, and rather for the sake of a great number of innocent people to forgive a few that were guilty, than for the sake of a few of the wicked to put so large and good a body of men into disorder.

9. Florus was more provoked at this, and called out aloud to the soldiers to plunder that which was called the Upper Market-place, and to slay such as they met with. So the soldiers, taking this exhortation of their commander in a sense agreeable to their desire of gain, did not only plunder the place they were sent to, but forcing themselves into every house, they slew its inhabitants; so the citizens fled along the narrow lanes, and the soldiers slew those that they caught, and no method of plunder was omitted; they also caught many of the quiet people, and brought them before Florus, whom he first chastised with stripes, and then crucified. Accordingly, the whole number of those that were destroyed that day, with their wives and children, (for they did not spare even the infants themselves,) was about three thousand and six hundred. And what made this calamity the heavier was this new method of Roman barbarity; for Florus ventured then to do what no one had done before, that is, to have men of the equestrian order whipped, and nailed to the cross before his tribunal; who, although they were by birth Jews, yet were they of Roman dignity notwithstanding.(3)



"The Day-Time Was Spent in the Shedding of Blood"(4)


1. NOW the people of Cesarea had slain the Jews that were among them on the very same day and hour [when the soldiers were slain], which one would think must have come to pass by the direction of Providence; insomuch that in one hour's time above twenty thousand Jews were killed, and all Cesarea was emptied of its Jewish inhabitants; for Florus caught such as ran away, and sent them in bonds to the galleys. Upon which stroke that the Jews received at Cesarea, the whole nation was greatly enraged; so they divided themselves into several parties, and laid waste the villages of the Syrians, and their neighboring cities, Philadelphia, and Sebonitis, and Gerasa, and Pella, and Scythopolis, and after them Gadara, and Hippos; and falling upon Gaulonitis, some cities they destroyed there, and some they set on fire, and then went to Kedasa, belonging to the Tyrians, and to Ptolemais, and to Gaba, and to Cesarea; nor was either Sebaste [Samaria] or Askelon able to oppose the violence with which they were attacked; and when they had burnt these to the ground; they entirely demolished Anthedon and Gaza; many also of the villages that were about every one of those cities were plundered, and an immense slaughter was made of the men who were caught in them.

2. However, the Syrians were even with the Jews in the multitude of the men whom they slew; for they killed those whom they caught in their cities, and that not only out of the hatred they bare them, as formerly, but to prevent the danger under which they were from them; so that the disorders in all Syria were terrible, and every city was divided into two armies, encamped one against another, and the preservation of the one party was in the destruction of the other; so the day time was spent in shedding of blood, and the night in fear, which was of the two the more terrible; for when the Syrians thought they had ruined the Jews, they had the Judaizers in suspicion also; and as each side did not care to slay those whom they only suspected on the other, so did they greatly fear them when they were mingled with the other, as if they were certainly foreigners. Moreover, greediness of gain was a provocation to kill the opposite party, even to such as had of old appeared very mild and gentle towards them; for they without fear plundered the effects of the slain, and carried off the spoils of those whom they slew to their own houses, as if they had been gained in a set battle; and he was esteemed a man of honor who got the greatest share, as having prevailed over the greatest number of his enemies. It was then common to see cities filled with dead bodies, still lying unburied, and those of old men, mixed with infants, all dead, and scattered about together; women also lay amongst them, without any covering for their nakedness: you might then see the whole province full of inexpressible calamities, while the dread of still more barbarous practices which were threatened was every where greater than what had been already perpetrated.

3. And thus far the conflict had been between Jews and foreigners; but when they made excursions to Scythopolis, they found Jew that acted as enemies; for as they stood in battle-array with those of Scythopolis, and preferred their own safety before their relation to us, they fought against their own countrymen; nay, their alacrity was so very great, that those of Scythopolis suspected them. These were afraid, therefore, lest they should make an assault upon the city in the night time, and, to their great misfortune, should thereby make an apology for themselves to their own people for their revolt from them. So they commanded them, that in case they would confirm their agreement and demonstrate their fidelity to them, who were of a different nation, they should go out of the city, with their families to a neighboring grove; and when they had done as they were commanded, without suspecting any thing, the people of Scythopolis lay still for the interval of two days, to tempt them to be secure; but on the third night they watched their opportunity, and cut all their throats, some as they lay unguarded, and some as they lay asleep. The number that was slain was above thirteen thousand, and then they plundered them of all that they had.

4. It will deserve our relation what befell Simon; he was the son of one Saul, a man of reputation among the Jews. This man was distinguished from the rest by the strength of his body, and the boldness of his conduct, although he abused them both to the mischieving of his countrymen; for he came every day and slew a great many of the Jews of Scythopolis, and he frequently put them to flight, and became himself alone the cause of his army's conquering. But a just punishment overtook him for the murders he had committed upon those of the same nation with him; for when the people of Scythopolis threw their darts at them in the grove, he drew his sword, but did not attack any of the enemy; for he saw that he could do nothing against such a multitude; but he cried out after a very moving manner, and said, "O you people of Scythopolis, I deservedly suffer for what I have done with relation to you, when I gave you such security of my fidelity to you, by slaying so many of those that were related to me. Wherefore we very justly experience the perfidiousness of foreigners, while we acted after a most wicked manner against our own nation. I will therefore die, polluted wretch as I am, by nine own hands; for it is not fit I should die by the hand of our enemies; and let the same action be to me both a punishment for my great crimes, and a testimony of my courage to my commendation, that so no one of our enemies may have it to brag of, that he it was that slew me, and no one may insult upon me as I fall." Now when he had said this, he looked round about him upon his family with eyes of commiseration and of rage (that family consisted of a wife and children, and his aged parents); so, in the first place, he caught his father by his grey hairs, and ran his sword through him, and after him he did the same to his mother, who willingly received it; and after them he did the like to his wife and children, every one almost offering themselves to his sword, as desirous to prevent being slain by their enemies; so when he had gone over all his family, he stood upon their bodies to be seen by all, and stretching out his right hand, that his action might be observed by all, he sheathed his entire sword into his own bowels. This young man was to be pitied, on account of the strength of his body and the courage of his soul; but since he had assured foreigners of his fidelity [against his own countrymen], he suffered deservedly.

5. Besides this murder at Scythopolis, the other cities rose up against the Jews that were among them; those of Askelon slew two thousand five hundred, and those of Ptolemais two thousand, and put not a few into bonds; those of Tyre also put a great number to death, but kept a greater number in prison; moreover, those of Hippos, and those of Gadara, did the like while they put to death the boldest of the Jews, but kept those of whom they were afraid in custody; as did the rest of the cities of Syria, according as they every one either hated them or were afraid of them; only the Antiochtans the Sidontans, and Apamians spared those that dwelt with them, and would not endure either to kill any of the Jews, or to put them in bonds. And perhaps they spared them, because their own number was so great that they despised their attempts. But I think the greatest part of this favor was owing to their commiseration of those whom they saw to make no innovations. As for the Gerasans, they did no harm to those that abode with them; and for those who had a mind to go away, they conducted them as far as their borders reached.

50,000 Jews Slaughtered in Alexandria (A.D. 66)


8. Now when he(5) perceived that those who were for innovations would not be pacified till some great calamity should overtake them, he sent out upon them those two Roman legions that were in the city, and together with them five thousand other soldiers, who, by chance, were come together out of Libya, to the ruin of the Jews. They were also permitted not only to kill them, but to plunder them of what they had, and to set fire to their houses. These soldiers rushed violently into that part of the city that was called Delta, where the Jewish people lived together, and did as they were bidden, though not without bloodshed on their own side also; for the Jews got together, and set those that were the best armed among them in the forefront, and made a resistance for a great while; but when once they gave back, they were destroyed unmercifully; and this their destruction was complete, some being caught in the open field, and others forced into their houses, which houses were first plundered of what was in them, and then set on fire by the Romans; wherein no mercy was shown to the infants, and no regard had to the aged; but they went on in the slaughter of persons of every age, till all the place was overflowed with blood, and fifty thousand of them lay dead upon heaps; nor had the remainder been preserved, had they not be-taken themselves to supplication. So Alexander commiserated their condition, and gave orders to the Romans to retire; accordingly, these being accustomed to obey orders, left off killing at the first intimation; but the populace of Alexandria bare so very great hatred to the Jews, that it was difficult to recall them, and it was a hard thing to make them leave their dead bodies.


John of Gischala(6)


1. Now, as Josephus was thus engaged in the administration of the affairs of Galilee, there arose a treacherous person, a man of Gischala, the son of Levi, "whose name was John. His character was that of a very cunning and very knavish person, beyond the ordinary rate of the other men of eminence there, and for wicked practices he had not his fellow any where. Poor he was at first, and for a long time his wants were a hinderance to him in his wicked designs. He was a ready liar, and yet very sharp in gaining credit to his fictions: he thought it a point of virtue to delude people, and would delude even such as were the dearest to him. He was a hypocritical pretender to humanity, but where he had hopes of gain, he spared not the shedding of blood: his desires were ever carried to great things, and he encouraged his hopes from those mean wicked tricks which he was the author of. He had a peculiar knack at thieving; but in some time he got certain companions in his impudent practices; at first they were but few, but as he proceeded on in his evil course, they became still more and more numerous. He took care that none of his partners should be easily caught in their rogueries, but chose such out of the rest as had the strongest constitutions of body, and the greatest courage of soul, together with great skill in martial affairs; as he got together a band of four hundred men, who came principally out of the country of Tyre, and were vagabonds that had run away from its villages; and by the means of these he laid waste all Galilee, and irritated a considerable number, who were in great expectation of a war then suddenly to arise among them.


Galilee "Filled With Fire and Blood"(7)


1. …nor did the Romans, out of the anger they bore at this attempt, leave off, either by night or by day, burning the places in the plain, and stealing away the cattle that were in the country, and killing whatsoever appeared capable of fighting perpetually, and leading the weaker people as slaves into captivity; so that Galilee was all over filled with fire and blood…


The Destruction of Jotapata(8)


36. And on this day it was that the Romans slew all the multitude that appeared openly; but on the following days they searched the hiding-places, and fell upon those that were under ground, and in the caverns, and went thus through every age, excepting the infants and the women, and of these there were gathered together as captives twelve hundred; and as for those that were slain at the taking of the city, and in the former fights, they were numbered to be forty thousand. So Vespasian(9) gave order that the city should be entirely demolished, and all the fortifications burnt down. And thus was Jotapata taken, in the thirteenth year of the reign of Nero, on the first day of the month Panemus [Tamuz].

The Sea Turns to Blood


2. In the mean time, there were gathered together as well such as had seditiously got out from among their enemies, as those that had escaped out of the demolished cities, which were in all a great number, and repaired Joppa, which had been left desolate by Cestius, that it might serve them for a place of refuge; and because the adjoining region had been laid waste in the war, and was not capable of supporting them, they determined to go off to sea. They also built themselves a great many piratical ships, and turned pirates upon the seas near to Syria, and Phoenicia, and Egypt, and made those seas unnavigable to all men. Now as soon as Vespasian knew of their conspiracy, he sent both footmen and horsemen to Joppa, which was unguarded in the night time; however, those that were in it perceived that they should be attacked, and were afraid of it; yet did they not endeavor to keep the Romans out, but fled to their ships, and lay at sea all night, out of the reach of their darts.

3. Now Joppa is not naturally a haven, for it ends in a rough shore, where all the rest of it is straight, but the two ends bend towards each other, where there are deep precipices, and great stones that jut out into the sea, and where the chains wherewith Andromeda(10) was bound have left their footsteps, which attest to the antiquity of that fable. But the north wind opposes and beats upon the shore, and dashes mighty waves against the rocks which receive them, and renders the haven more dangerous than the country they had deserted. Now as those people of Joppa were floating about in this sea, in the morning there fell a violent wind upon them; it is called by those that sail there "the black north wind," and there dashed their ships one against another, and dashed some of them against the rocks, and carried many of them by force, while they strove against the opposite waves, into the main sea; for the shore was so rocky, and had so many of the enemy upon it, that they were afraid to come to land; nay, the waves rose so very high, that they drowned them; nor was there any place whither they could fly, nor any way to save themselves; while they were thrust out of the sea, by the violence of the wind, if they staid where they were, and out of the city by the violence of the Romans. And much lamentation there was when the ships were dashed against one another, and a terrible noise when they were broken to pieces; and some of the multitude that were in them were covered with waves, and so perished, and a great many were embarrassed with shipwrecks. But some of them thought that to die by their own swords was lighter than by the sea, and so they killed themselves before they were drowned; although the greatest part of them were carried by the waves, and dashed to pieces against the abrupt parts of the rocks, insomuch that the sea was bloody a long way, and the maritime parts were full of dead bodies; for the Romans came upon those that were carried to the shore, and destroyed them; and the number of the bodies that were thus thrown out of the sea was four thousand and two hundred. The Romans also took the city without opposition, and utterly demolished it.

4. And thus was Joppa taken twice by the Romans in a little time; but Vespasian, in order to prevent these pirates from coming thither any more, erected a camp there, where the citadel of Joppa had been, and left a body of horse in it, with a few footmen, that these last might stay there and guard the camp, and the horsemen might spoil the country that lay round it, and might destroy the neighboring villages and smaller cities. So these troops overran the country, as they were ordered to do, and every day cut to pieces and laid desolate the whole region.

"Slain on Every Side"


3. …Vespasian had also sent both Antonius and Silo, with two thousand archers, and had given it them in charge to seize upon the mountain that was over against the city,(11) and repel those that were upon the wall; which archers did as they were commanded, and prevented those that attempted to assist them that way; And now Titus(12) made his own horse march first against the enemy, as did the others with a great noise after him, and extended themselves upon the plain as wide as the enemy which confronted them; by which means they appeared much more numerous than they really were. Now the Jews, although they were surprised at their onset, and at their good order, made resistance against their attacks for a little while; but when they were pricked with their long poles, and overborne by the violent noise of the horsemen, they came to be trampled under their feet; many also of them were slain on every side, which made them disperse themselves, and run to the city, as fast as every one of them were able. So Titus pressed upon the hindmost, and slew them; and of the rest, some he fell upon as they stood on heaps, and some he prevented, and met them in the mouth, and run them through; many also he leaped upon as they fell one upon another, and trod them down, and cut off all the retreat they had to the wall, and turned them back into the plain, till at last they forced a passage by their multitude, and got away, and ran into the city.

The Son of Galilee "Full of Dead Bodies"(13)


9. …Now these which were driven into the lake could neither fly to the land, where all was in their enemies' hand, and in war against them; nor could they fight upon the level by sea, for their ships were small and fitted only for piracy; they were too weak to fight with Vespasian's vessels, and the mariners that were in them were so few, that they were afraid to come near the Romans, who attacked them in great numbers. However, as they sailed round about the vessels, and sometimes as they came near them, they threw stones at the Romans when they were a good way off, or came closer and fought them; yet did they receive the greatest harm themselves in both cases. As for the stones they threw at the Romans, they only made a sound one after another, for they threw them against such as were in their armor, while the Roman darts could reach the Jews themselves; and when they ventured to come near the Romans, they became sufferers themselves before they could do any harm to the ether, and were drowned, they and their ships together.

As for those that endeavored to come to an actual fight, the Romans ran many of them through with their long poles. Sometimes the Romans leaped into their ships, with swords in their hands, and slew them; but when some of them met the vessels, the Romans caught them by the middle, and destroyed at once their ships and themselves who were taken in them. And for such as were drowning in the sea, if they lifted their heads up above the water, they were either killed by darts, or caught by the vessels; but if, in the desperate case they were in, they attempted to swim to their enemies, the Romans cut off either their heads or their hands; and indeed they were destroyed after various manners every where, till the rest being put to flight, were forced to get upon the land, while the vessels encompassed them about [on the sea]: but as many of these were repulsed when they were getting ashore, they were killed by the darts upon the lake; and the Romans leaped out of their vessels, and destroyed a great many more upon the land: one might then see the lake all bloody, and full of dead bodies, for not one of them escaped.

And a terrible stink, and a very sad sight there was on the following days over that country; for as for the shores, they were full of shipwrecks, and of dead bodies all swelled; and as the dead bodies were inflamed by the sun, and putrefied, they corrupted the air, insomuch that the misery was not only the object of commiseration to the Jews, but to those that hated them, and had been the authors of that misery. This was the upshot of the sea-fight. The number of the slain, including those that were killed in the city before, was six thousand and five hundred.

The Edomites Desolate the Temple(14)


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.(15)

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(16) with his kindness to the people, and Jesus(17) 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(18) 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.


How the Zealots Fulfilled Prophecy(19)


3. …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.

Simon's "Perpetual Bloodshedding"(20)


7. …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.

"God Turned Their Opinions to the Worst Advise"


10. …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.

11. Yet did the army that was under John raise a sedition against him, and all the Idumeans separated themselves from the tyrant, and attempted to destroy him, and this out of their envy at his power, and hatred of his cruelty; so they got together, and slew many of the zealots, and drove the rest before them into that royal palace that was built by Grapte, who was a relation of Izates, the king of Adiabene; the Idumeans fell in with them, and drove the zealots out thence into the temple, and betook themselves to plunder John's effects; for both he himself was in that palace, and therein had he laid up the spoils he had acquired by his tyranny. In the mean time, the multitude of those zealots that were dispersed over the city ran together to the temple unto those that fled thither, and John prepared to bring them down against the people and the Idumeans, who were not so much afraid of being attacked by them (because they were themselves better soldiers than they) as at their madness, lest they should privately sally out of the temple and get among them, and not only destroy them, but set the city on fire also. So they assembled themselves together, and the high priests with them, and took counsel after what manner they should avoid their assault.

Now it was God who turned their opinions to the worst advice, and thence they devised such a remedy to get themselves free as was worse than the disease itself. Accordingly, in order to overthrow John, they determined to admit Simon, and earnestly to desire the introduction of a second tyrant into the city; which resolution they brought to perfection, and sent Matthias, the high priest, to beseech this Simon to come ill to them, of whom they had so often been afraid. Those also that had fled from the zealots in Jerusalem joined in this request to him, out of the desire they had of preserving their houses and their effects. Accordingly he, in an arrogant manner, granted them his lordly protection, and came into the city, in order to deliver it from the zealots. The people also made joyful acclamations to him, as their savior and their preserver; but when he was come in, with his army, he took care to secure his own authority, and looked upon those that had invited him in to be no less his enemies than those against whom the invitation was intended.

Lakes of Blood in the Temple


3. But now the tyrant Simon, the son of Gioras, whom the people had invited in, out of the hopes they had of his assistance in the great distresses they were in, having in his power the upper city, and a great part of the lower, did now make more vehement assaults upon John and his party, because they were fought against from above also; yet was he beneath their situation when he attacked them, as they were beneath the attacks of the others above them. Whereby it came to pass that John did both receive and inflict great damage, and that easily, as he was fought against on both sides; and the same advantage that Eleazar and his party had over him, since he was beneath them, the same advantage had he, by his higher situation, over Simon.

On which account he easily repelled the attacks that were made from beneath, by the weapons thrown from their hands only; but was obliged to repel those that threw their darts from the temple above him, by his engines of war; for he had such engines as threw darts, and javelins, and stones, and that in no small number, by which he did not only defend himself from such as fought against him, but slew moreover many of the priests, as they were about their sacred ministrations. For notwithstanding these men were mad with all sorts of impiety, yet did they still admit those that desired to offer their sacrifices, although they took care to search the people of their own country beforehand, and both suspected and watched them; while they were not so much afraid of strangers, who, although they had gotten leave of them, how cruel soever they were, to come into that court, were yet often destroyed by this sedition; for those darts that were thrown by the engines came with that force, that they went over all the buildings, and reached as far as the altar, and the temple itself, and fell upon the priests, and those that were about the sacred offices; insomuch that many persons who came thither with great zeal from the ends of the earth, to offer sacrifices at this celebrated place, which was esteemed holy by all mankind,(21) fell down before their own sacrifices themselves, and sprinkled that altar which was venerable among all men, both Greeks and Barbarians, with their own blood; till the dead bodies of strangers were mingled together with those of their own country, and those of profane persons with those of the priests, and the blood of all sorts of dead carcasses stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves.(22)

And now, "O must wretched city, what misery so great as this didst thou suffer from the Romans, when they came to purify thee from thy intestine hatred! 'For thou couldst be no longer a place fit for God, nor couldst thou long continue in being, after thou hadst been a sepulcher for the bodies of thy own people, and hadst made the holy house itself a burying-place in this civil war of thine. Yet mayst thou again grow better, if perchance thou wilt hereafter appease the anger of that God who is the author of thy destruction." But I must restrain myself from these passions by the rules of history, since this is not a proper time for domestical lamentations, but for historical narrations; I therefore return to the operations that follow in this sedition.

4. And now there were three treacherous factions in the city, the one parted from the other.(23) Eleazar and his party, that kept the sacred first-fruits, came against John in their cups. Those that were with John plundered the populace, and went out with zeal against Simon. This Simon had his supply of provisions from the city, in opposition to the seditious. When, therefore, John was assaulted on both sides, he made his men turn about, throwing his darts upon those citizens that came up against him, from the cloisters he had in his possession, while he opposed those that attacked him from the temple by his engines of war. And if at any time he was freed from those that were above him, which happened frequently, from their being drunk and tired, he sallied out with a great number upon Simon and his party; and this he did always in such parts of the city as he could come at, till he set on fire those houses that were full of corn, and of all other provisions. The same thing was done by Simon, when, upon the other's retreat, he attacked the city also; as if they had, on purpose, done it to serve the Romans, by destroying what the city had laid up against the siege, and by thus cutting off the nerves of their own power.

Accordingly, it so came to pass, that all the places that were about the temple were burnt down, and were become an intermediate desert space, ready for fighting on both sides of it; and that almost all that corn was burnt, which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years. So they were taken by the means of the famine, which it was impossible they should have been, unless they had thus prepared the way for it by this procedure.

5. And now, as the city was engaged in a war on all sides, from these treacherous crowds of wicked men, the people of the city, between them, were like a great body torn in pieces. The aged men and the women were in such distress by their internal calamities, that they wished for the Romans, and earnestly hoped for an external war, in order to their delivery from their domestical miseries. The citizens themselves were under a terrible consternation and fear; nor had they any opportunity of taking counsel, and of changing their conduct; nor were there any hopes of coming to an agreement with their enemies; nor could such as had a mind flee away; for guards were set at all places, and the heads of the robbers, although they were seditious one against another in other respects, yet did they agree in killing those that were for peace with the Romans, or were suspected of an inclination to desert them, as their common enemies. They agreed in nothing but this, to kill those that were innocent.

The noise also of those that were fighting was incessant, both by day and by night; but the lamentations of those that mourned exceeded the other; nor was there ever any occasion for them to leave off their lamentations, because their calamities came perpetually one upon another, although the deep consternation they were in prevented their outward wailing; but being constrained by their fear to conceal their inward passions, they were inwardly tormented, without daring to open their lips in groans. :Nor was any regard paid to those that were still alive, by their relations; nor was there any care taken of burial for those that were dead; the occasion of both which was this, that every one despaired of himself; for those that were not among the seditious had no great desires of any thing, as expecting for certain that they should very soon be destroyed; but for the seditious themselves, they fought against each other, while they trod upon the dead bodies as they lay heaped one upon another, and taking up a mad rage from those dead bodies that were under their feet, became the fiercer thereupon. They, moreover, were still inventing somewhat or other that was pernicious against themselves; and when they had resolved upon any thing, they executed it without mercy, and omitted no method of torment or of barbarity….


"The SON Is Coming!"(24)


3. …The engines, that all the legions had ready prepared for them, were admirably contrived; but still more extraordinary ones belonged to the tenth legion: those that threw darts and those that threw stones were more forcible and larger than the rest, by which they not only repelled the excursions of the Jews, but drove those away that were upon the walls also. Now the stones that were cast were of the weight of a talent,(25) and were carried two furlongs(26) and further. The blow they gave was no way to be sustained, not only by those that stood first in the way, but by those that were beyond them for a great space. As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white color, and could therefore not only be perceived by the great noise it made, but could be seen also before it came by its brightness; accordingly the watchmen that sat upon the towers gave them notice when the engine was let go, and the stone came from it, and cried out aloud, in their own country language, "THE SON COMETH:"(27) so those that were in its way stood off, and threw themselves down upon the ground; by which means, and by their thus guarding themselves, the stone fell down and did them no harm. But the Romans contrived how to prevent that by blacking the stone, who then could aim at them with success, when the stone was not discerned beforehand, as it had been till then; and so they destroyed many of them at one blow…


Josephus Rebukes the Jews(28)


4. While Josephus was making this exhortation to the Jews, many of them jested upon him from the wall, and many reproached him; nay, some threw their darts at him: but when he could not himself persuade them by such open good advice, he betook himself to the histories belonging to their own nation, and cried out aloud, "O miserable creatures! are you so unmindful of those that used to assist you, that you will fight by your weapons and by your hands against the Romans? When did we ever conquer any other nation by such means? and when was it that God, who is the Creator of the Jewish people, did not avenge them when they had been injured? Will not you turn again, and look back, and consider whence it is that you fight with such violence, and how great a Supporter you have profanely abused? Will not you recall to mind the prodigious things done for your forefathers and this holy place, and how great enemies of yours were by him subdued under you? I even tremble myself in declaring the works of God before your ears, that are unworthy to hear them; however, hearken to me, that you may be informed how you fight not only against the Romans, but against God himself.

In old times there was one Necao, king of Egypt, who was also called Pharaoh; he came with a prodigious army of soldiers, and seized queen Sarah, the mother of our nation. What did Abraham our progenitor then do? Did he defend himself from this injurious person by war, although he had three hundred and eighteen captains under him, and an immense army under each of them? Indeed he deemed them to be no number at all without God's assistance, and only spread out his hands towards this holy place, which you have now polluted, and reckoned upon him as upon his invincible supporter, instead of his own army. Was not our queen sent back, without any defilement, to her husband, the very next evening?—while the king of Egypt fled away, adoring this place which you have defiled by shedding thereon the blood of your own countrymen; and he also trembled at those visions which he saw in the night season, and bestowed both silver and gold on the Hebrews, as on a people beloved by God.

Shall I say nothing, or shall I mention the removal of our fathers into Egypt, who, when they were used tyrannically, and were fallen under the power of foreign kings for four hundred ears together, and might have defended themselves by war and by fighting, did yet do nothing but commit themselves to God! Who is there that does not know that Egypt was overrun with all sorts of wild beasts, and consumed by all sorts of distempers? how their land did not bring forth its fruit? how the Nile failed of water? how the ten plagues of Egypt followed one upon another? and how by those means our fathers were sent away under a guard, without any bloodshed, and without running any dangers, because God conducted them as his peculiar servants?

Moreover, did not Palestine groan under the ravage the Assyrians made, when they carried away our sacred ark? as did their idol Dagon, and as also did that entire nation of those that carried it away, how they were smitten with a loathsome distemper in the secret parts of their bodies, when their very bowels came down together with what they had eaten, till those hands that stole it away were obliged to bring it back again, and that with the sound of cymbals and timbrels, and other oblations, in order to appease the anger of God for their violation of his holy ark. It was God who then became our General, and accomplished these great things for our fathers, and this because they did not meddle with war and fighting, but committed it to him to judge about their affairs.

When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, brought along with him all Asia, and encompassed this city round with his army, did he fall by the hands of men? were not those hands lifted up to God in prayers, without meddling with their arms, when an angel of God destroyed that prodigious army in one night? when the Assyrian king, as he rose the next day, found a hundred fourscore and five thousand dead bodies, and when he, with the remainder of his army, fled away from the Hebrews, though they were unarmed, and did not pursue them. You are also acquainted with the slavery we were under at Babylon, where the people were captives for seventy years; yet were they not delivered into freedom again before God made Cyrus his gracious instrument in bringing it about; accordingly they were set free by him, and did again restore the worship of their Deliverer at his temple.

And, to speak in general, we can produce no example wherein our fathers got any success by war, or failed of success when without war they committed themselves to God. When they staid at home, they conquered, as pleased their Judge; but when they went out to fight, they were always disappointed: for example, when the king of Babylon besieged this very city, and our king Zedekiah fought against him, contrary to what predictions were made to him by Jeremiah the prophet, he was at once taken prisoner, and saw the city and the temple demolished. Yet how much greater was the moderation of that king, than is that of your present governors, and that of the people then under him, than is that of you at this time! for when Jeremiah cried out aloud, how very angry God was at them, because of their transgressions, and told them they should be taken prisoners, unless they would surrender up their city, neither did the king nor the people put him to death; but for you, (to pass over what you have done within the city, which I am not able to describe as your wickedness deserves,) you abuse me, and throw darts at me, who only exhort you to save yourselves, as being provoked when you are put in mind of your sins, and cannot bear the very mention of those crimes which you every day perpetrate. For another example, when Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, lay before this city, and had been guilty of many indignities against God, and our forefathers met him in arms, they then were slain in the battle, this city was plundered by our enemies, and our sanctuary made desolate for three years and six months.(29)

And what need I bring any more examples? Indeed what can it be that hath stirred up an army of the Romans against our nation? Is it not the impiety of the inhabitants? Whence did our servitude commence? Was it not derived from the seditions that were among our forefathers, when the madness of Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, and our mutual quarrels, brought Pompey upon this city, and when God reduced those under subjection to the Romans who were unworthy of the liberty they had enjoyed? After a siege, therefore, of three months, they were forced to surrender themselves, although they had not been guilty of such offenses, with regard to our sanctuary and our laws, as you have; and this while they had much greater advantages to go to war than you have. Do not we know what end Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, came to, under whose reign God provided that this city should be taken again upon account of the people's offenses? When Herod, the son of Antipater, brought upon us Sosius, and Sosius brought upon us the Roman army, they were then encompassed and besieged for six months, till, as a punishment for their sins, they were taken, and the city was plundered by the enemy.

Thus it appears that arms were never given to our nation, but that we are always given up to be fought against, and to be taken; for I suppose that such as inhabit this holy place ought to commit the disposal of all things to God, and then only to disregard the assistance of men when they resign themselves up to their Arbitrator, who is above. As for you, what have you done of those things that are recommended by our legislator? and what have you not done of those things that he hath condemned? How much more impious are you than those who were so quickly taken! You have not avoided so much as those sins that are usually done in secret; I mean thefts, and treacherous plots against men, and adulteries. You are quarrelling about rapines and murders, and invent strange ways of wickedness. Nay, the temple itself is become the receptacle of all, and this Divine place is polluted by the hands of those of our own country; which place hath yet been reverenced by the Romans when it was at a distance from them, when they have suffered many of their own customs to give place to our law.(30)

And, after all this, do you expect Him whom you have so impiously abused to be your supporter? To be sure then you have a right to be petitioners, and to call upon Him to assist you, so pure are your hands! Did your king [Hezekiah] lift up such hands in prayer to God against the king of Assyria, when he destroyed that great army in one night? And do the Romans commit such wickedness as did the king of Assyria, that you may have reason to hope for the like vengeance upon them? Did not that king accept of money from our king on this condition, that he should not destroy the city, and yet, contrary to the oath he had taken, he came down to burn the temple? while the Romans do demand no more than that accustomed tribute which our fathers paid to their fathers; and if they may but once obtain that, they neither aim to destroy this city, nor to touch this sanctuary; nay, they will grant you besides, that your posterity shall be free, and your possessions secured to you, and will preserve our holy laws inviolate to you.

And it is plain madness to expect that God should appear as well disposed towards the wicked as towards the righteous, since he knows when it is proper to punish men for their sins immediately; accordingly he brake the power of the Assyrians the very first night that they pitched their camp. Wherefore, had he judged that our nation was worthy of freedom, or the Romans of punishment, he had immediately inflicted punishment upon those Romans, as he did upon the Assyrians, when Pompey began to meddle with our nation, or when after him Sosius came up against us, or when Vespasian laid waste Galilee, or, lastly, when Titus came first of all near to this city; although Magnus and Sosius did not only suffer nothing, but took the city by force; as did Vespasian go from the war he made against you to receive the empire; and as for Titus, those springs that were formerly almost dried up when they were under your power since he is come, run more plentifully than they did before; accordingly, you know that Siloam, as well as all the other springs that were without the city, did so far fail, that water was sold by distinct measures; whereas they now have such a great quantity of water for your enemies, as is sufficient not only for drink both for themselves and their cattle, but for watering their gardens also. The same wonderful sign you had also experience of formerly, when the forementioned king of Babylon made war against us, and when he took the city, and burnt the temple; while yet I believe the Jews of that age were not so impious as you are.

Wherefore I cannot but suppose that God is fled out of his sanctuary, and stands on the side of those against whom you fight. Now even a man, if he be but a good man, will fly from an impure house, and will hate those that are in it; and do you persuade yourselves that God will abide with you in your iniquities, who sees all secret things, and hears what is kept most private? Now what crime is there, I pray you, that is so much as kept secret among you, or is concealed by you? nay, what is there that is not open to your very enemies? for you show your transgressions after a pompous manner, and contend one with another which of you shall be more wicked than another; and you make a public demonstration of your injustice, as if it were virtue.

However, there is a place left for your preservation, if you be willing to accept of it; and God is easily reconciled to those that confess their faults, and repent of them. O hard-hearted wretches as you are! cast away all your arms, and take pity of your country already going to ruin; return from your wicked ways, and have regard to the excellency of that city which you are going to betray, to that excellent temple with the donations of so many countries in it. Who could bear to be the first that should set that temple on fire? who could be willing that these things should be no more? and what is there that can better deserve to be preserved? O insensible creatures, and more stupid than are the stones themselves!

And if you cannot look at these things with discerning eyes, yet, however, have pity upon your families, and set before every one of your eyes your children, and wives, and parents, who will be gradually consumed either by famine or by war. I am sensible that this danger will extend to my mother, and wife, and to that family of mine who have been by no means ignoble, and indeed to one that hath been very eminent in old time; and perhaps you may imagine that it is on their account only that I give you this advice; if that be all, kill them; nay, take my own blood as a reward, if it may but procure your preservation; for I am ready to die, in case you will but return to a sound mind after my death."

The Horrors of Famine


3. It was now a miserable case, and a sight that would justly bring tears into our eyes, how men stood as to their food, while the more powerful had more than enough, and the weaker were lamenting [for want of it.] But the famine was too hard for all other passions, and it is destructive to nothing so much as to modesty; for what was otherwise worthy of reverence was in this case despised; insomuch that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths, and what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants; and when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might preserve their lives: and while they ate after this manner, yet were they not concealed in so doing; but the seditious every where came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in, and took pieces of what they were eating almost up out of their very throats, and this by force: the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten; and if the women hid what they had within their hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration shown either to the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor. But still they were more barbarously cruel to those that had prevented their coming in, and had actually swallowed down what they were going to seize upon, as if they had been unjustly defrauded of their right.

They also invented terrible methods of torments to discover where any food was, and they were these to stop up the passages of the privy parts of the miserable wretches, and to drive sharp stakes up their fundaments; and a man was forced to bear what it is terrible even to hear, in order to make him confess that he had but one loaf of bread, or that he might discover a handful of barley-meal that was concealed; and this was done when these tormentors were not themselves hungry; for the thing had been less barbarous had necessity forced them to it; but this was done to keep their madness in exercise, and as making preparation of provisions for themselves for the following days.

These men went also to meet those that had crept out of the city by night, as far as the Roman guards, to gather some plants and herbs that grew wild; and when those people thought they had got clear of the enemy, they snatched from them what they had brought with them, even while they had frequently entreated them, and that by calling upon the tremendous name of God, to give them back some part of what they had brought; though these would not give them the least crumb, and they were to be well contented that they were only spoiled, and not slain at the same time.


The Worst Generation


5. It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men's iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly:—That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world….


The Rate of Crucifixions: 500 Per Day


1. So now Titus's banks were advanced a great way, notwithstanding his soldiers had been very much distressed from the wall. He then sent a party of horsemen, and ordered they should lay ambushes for those that went out into the valleys to gather food. Some of these were indeed fighting men, who were not contented with what they got by rapine; but the greater part of them were poor people, who were deterred from deserting by the concern they were under for their own relations; for they could not hope to escape away, together with their wives and children, without the knowledge of the seditious; nor could they think of leaving these relations to be slain by the robbers on their account; nay, the severity of the famine made them bold in thus going out; so nothing remained but that, when they were concealed from the robbers, they should be taken by the enemy; and when they were going to be taken, they were forced to defend themselves for fear of being punished; as after they had fought, they thought it too late to make any supplications for mercy; so they were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures, before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city.

This miserable procedure made Titus greatly to pity them, while they caught every day five hundred Jews; nay, some days they caught more: yet it did not appear to be safe for him to let those that were taken by force go their way, and to set a guard over so many he saw would be to make such as great deal them useless to him. The main reason why he did not forbid that cruelty was this, that he hoped the Jews might perhaps yield at that sight, out of fear lest they might themselves afterwards be liable to the same cruel treatment. So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest, when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies.

2. But so far were the seditious from repenting at this sad sight, that, on the contrary, they made the rest of the multitude believe otherwise; for they brought the relations of those that had deserted upon the wall, with such of the populace as were very eager to go over upon the security offered them, and showed them what miseries those underwent who fled to the Romans; and told them that those who were caught were supplicants to them, and not such as were taken prisoners. This sight kept many of those within the city who were so eager to desert, till the truth was known; yet did some of them run away immediately as unto certain punishment, esteeming death from their enemies to be a quiet departure, if compared with that by famine….


"With Their Eyes Fixed Upon the Temple"


3. So all hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with their liberty of going out of the city. Then did the famine widen its progress, and devoured the people by whole houses and families; the upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying by famine, and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged; the children also and the young men wandered about the market-places like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead, wheresoever their misery seized them. As for burying them, those that were sick themselves were not able to do it; and those that were hearty and well were deterred from doing it by the great multitude of those dead bodies, and by the uncertainty there was how soon they should die themselves; for many died as they were burying others, and many went to their coffins before that fatal hour was come. Nor was there any lamentations made under these calamities, nor were heard any mournful complaints; but the famine confounded all natural passions; for those who were just going to die looked upon those that were gone to rest before them with dry eyes and open mouths.

A deep silence also, and a kind of deadly night, had seized upon the city; while yet the robbers were still more terrible than these miseries were themselves; for they brake open those houses which were no other than graves of dead bodies, and plundered them of what they had; and carrying off the coverings of their bodies, went out laughing, and tried the points of their swords in their dead bodies; and, in order to prove what metal they were made of they thrust some of those through that still lay alive upon the ground; but for those that entreated them to lend them their right hand and their sword to despatch them, they were too proud to grant their requests, and left them to be consumed by the famine. Now every one of these died with their eyes fixed upon the temple, and left the seditious alive behind them. Now the seditious at first gave orders that the dead should be buried out of the public treasury, as not enduring the stench of their dead bodies. But afterwards, when they could not do that, they had them cast down from the walls into the valleys beneath.

4. However, when Titus, in going his rounds along those valleys, saw them full of dead bodies, and the thick putrefaction running about them, he gave a groan; and, spreading out his hands to heaven, called God to witness that this was not his doing; and such was the sad case of the city itself. But the Romans were very joyful, since none of the seditious could now make sallies out of the city, because they were themselves disconsolate, and the famine already touched them also. These Romans besides had great plenty of corn and other necessaries out of Syria, and out of the neighboring provinces; many of whom would stand near to the wall of the city, and show the people what great quantities of provisions they had, and so make the enemy more sensible of their famine, by the great plenty, even to satiety, which they had themselves.

However, when the seditious still showed no inclinations of yielding, Titus, out of his commiseration of the people that remained, and out of his earnest desire of rescuing what was still left out of these miseries, began to raise his banks again, although materials for them were hard to he come at; for all the trees that were about the city had been already cut down for the making of the former banks. Yet did the soldiers bring with them other materials from the distance of ninety furlongs, and thereby raised banks in four parts, much greater than the former, though this was done only at the tower of Antonia….


The Murder of the Chief Priest


1. Accordingly Simon would not suffer Matthias, by whose means he got possession of the city, to go off without torment. This Matthias was the son of Boethus, and was one of the high priests, one that had been very faithful to the people, and in great esteem with them; he, when the multitude were distressed by the zealots, among whom John was numbered, persuaded the people to admit this Simon to come in to assist them, while he had made no terms with him, nor expected any thing that was evil from him. But when Simon was come in, and had gotten the city under his power, he esteemed him that had advised them to admit him as his enemy equally with the rest, as looking upon that advice as a piece of his simplicity only; so he had him then brought before him, and condemned to die for being on the side of the Romans, without giving him leave to make his defense. He condemned also his three sons to die with him; for as to the fourth, he prevented him by running away to Titus before. And when he begged for this, that he might be slain before his sons, and that as a favor, on account that he had procured the gates of the city to be opened to him, he gave order that he should be slain the last of them all; so he was not slain till he had seen his sons slain before his eyes, and that by being produced over against the Romans; for such a charge had Simon given to Artanus, the son of Bamadus, who was the most barbarous of all his guards. He also jested upon him, and told him that he might now see whether those to whom he intended to go over would send him any succors or not; but still he forbade their dead bodies should be buried.

After the slaughter of these, a certain priest, Ananias, the son of Masambalus, a person of eminency, as also Aristens, the scribe of the anhedrim, and born at Emmaus, and with them fifteen men of figure among the people, were slain. They also kept Josephus's father in prison, and made public proclamation, that no citizen whosoever should either speak to him himself, or go into his company among others, for fear he should betray them. They also slew such as joined in lamenting these men, without any further examination.


"It Wad God Who Condemned the Whole Nation"


4. Hereupon some of the deserters, having no other way, leaped down from the wall immediately, while others of them went out of the city with stones, as if they would fight them; but thereupon they fled away to the Romans. But here a worse fate accompanied these than what they had found within the city; and they met with a quicker despatch from the too great abundance they had among the Romans, than they could have done from the famine among the Jews; for when they came first to the Romans, they were puffed up by the famine, and swelled like men in a dropsy; after which they all on the sudden overfilled those bodies that were before empty, and so burst asunder, excepting such only as were skillful enough to restrain their appetites, and by degrees took in their food into bodies unaccustomed thereto.

Yet did another plague seize upon those that were thus preserved; for there was found among the Syrian deserters a certain person who was caught gathering pieces of gold out of the excrements of the Jews' bellies; for the deserters used to swallow such pieces of gold, as we told you before, when they came out, and for these did the seditious search them all; for there was a great quantity of gold in the city, insomuch that as much was now sold [in the Roman camp] for twelve Attic [drams], as was sold before for twenty-five. But when this contrivance was discovered in one instance, the fame of it filled their several camps, that the deserters came to them full of gold. So the multitude of the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night's time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected.

5. When Titus came to the knowledge of this wicked practice, he had like to have surrounded those that had been guilty of it with his horse, and have shot them dead; and he had done it, had not their number been so very great, and those that were liable to this punishment would have been manifold more than those whom they had slain. However, he called together the commanders of the auxiliary troops he had with him, as well as the commanders of the Roman legions, (for some of his own soldiers had been also guilty herein, as he had been informed,) and had great indignation against both sorts of them, and said to them, "What! have any of my own soldiers done such things as this out of the uncertain hope of gain, without regarding their own weapons, which are made of silver and gold? Moreover, do the Arabians and Syrians now first of all begin to govern themselves as they please, and to indulge their appetites in a foreign war, and then, out of their barbarity in murdering men, and out of their hatred to the Jews, get it ascribed to the Romans?" for this infamous practice was said to be spread among some of his own soldiers also. Titus then threatened that he would put such men to death, if any of them were discovered to be so insolent as to do so again; moreover, he gave it in charge to the legions, that they should make a search after such as were suspected, and should bring them to him. But it appeared that the love of money was too hard for all their dread of punishment, and a vehement desire of gain is natural to men, and no passion is so venturesome as covetousness; otherwise such passions have certain bounds, and are subordinate to fear. But in reality it was God who condemned the whole nation, and turned every course that was taken for their preservation to their destruction.

This, therefore, which was forbidden by Caesar under such a threatening, was ventured upon privately against the deserters, and these barbarians would go out still, and meet those that ran away before any saw them, and looking about them to see that no Roman spied them, they dissected them, and pulled this polluted money out of their bowels; which money was still found in a few of them, while yet a great many were destroyed by the bare hope there was of thus getting by them, which miserable treatment made many that were deserting to return back again into the city.

6. But as for John, when he could no longer plunder the people, he betook himself to sacrilege, and melted down many of the sacred utensils, which had been given to the temple; as also many of those vessels which were necessary for such as ministered about holy things, the caldrons, the dishes, and the tables; nay, he did not abstain from those pouring vessels that were sent them by Augustus and his wife; for the Roman emperors did ever both honor and adorn this temple; whereas this man, who was a Jew, seized upon what were the donations of foreigners, and said to those that were with him, that it was proper for them to use Divine things, while they were fighting for the Divinity, without fear, and that such whose warfare is for the temple should live of the temple; on which account he emptied the vessels of that sacred wine and oil, which the priests kept to be poured on the burnt-offerings, and which lay in the inner court of the temple, and distributed it among the multitude, who, in their anointing themselves and drinking, used [each of them] above an hin of them. And here I cannot but speak my mind, and what the concern I am under dictates to me, and it is this:

I suppose, that had the Romans made any longer delay in coming against these villains, that the city would either have been swallowed up by the ground opening upon them, or been overflowed by water, or else been destroyed by such thunder as the country of Sodom perished by, for it had brought forth a generation of men much more atheistical than were those that suffered such punishments; for by their madness it was that all the people came to be destroyed.


Jerusalem Becomes a Wilderness


1. Thus did the miseries of Jerusalem grow worse and worse every day, and the seditious were still more irritated by the calamities they were under, even while the famine preyed upon themselves, after it had preyed upon the people. And indeed the multitude of carcasses that lay in heaps one upon another was a horrible sight, and produced a pestilential stench, which was a hinderance to those that would make sallies out of the city, and fight the enemy: but as those were to go in battle-array, who had been already used to ten thousand murders, and must tread upon those dead bodies as they marched along, so were not they terrified, nor did they pity men as they marched over them; nor did they deem this affront offered to the deceased to be any ill omen to themselves; but as they had their right hands already polluted with the murders of their own countrymen, and in that condition ran out to fight with foreigners, they seem to me to have cast a reproach upon God himself, as if he were too slow in punishing them; for the war was not now gone on with as if they had any hope of victory; for they gloried after a brutish manner in that despair of deliverance they were already in.

And now the Romans, although they were greatly distressed in getting together their materials, raised their banks in one and twenty days, after they had cut down all the trees that were in the country that adjoined to the city, and that for ninety furlongs round about, as I have already related. And truly the very view itself of the country was a melancholy thing; for those places which were before adorned with trees and pleasant gardens were now become a desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down: nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change: for the war had laid all the signs of beauty quite waste: nor if any one that had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again; but though he were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it notwithstanding.

"It Is God Himself Who IS Bringing This Fire"


1. And now Titus gave orders to his soldiers that were with him to dig up the foundations of the tower of Antonia, and make him a ready passage for his army to come up; while he himself had Josephus brought to him, (for he had been informed that on that very day, which was the seventeenth day of Panemus, [Tamuz,] the sacrifice called "the Daily Sacrifice" had failed, and had not been offered to God, for want of men to offer it, and that the people were grievously troubled at it,) and commanded him to say the same things to John that he had said before, that if he had any malicious inclination for fighting, he might come out with as many of his men as he pleased, in order to fight, without the danger of destroying either his city or temple; but that he desired he would not defile the temple, nor thereby offend against God. That he might, if he pleased, offer the sacrifices which were now discontinuned by any of the Jews whom he should pitch upon. Upon this Josephus stood in such a place where he might be heard, not by John only, but by many more, and then declared to them what Caesar had given him in charge, and this in the Hebrew language. So he earnestly prayed them to spare their own city, and to prevent that fire which was just ready to seize upon the temple, and to offer their usual sacrifices to God therein. At these words of his a great sadness and silence were observed among the people. But the tyrant himself cast many reproaches upon Josephus, with imprecations besides; and at last added this withal, that he did never fear the taking of the city, because it was God's own city.

In answer to which Josephus said thus with a loud voice:—"To be sure thou hast kept this city wonderfully pure for God's sake; the temple also continues entirely unpolluted! Nor hast thou been guilty of ally impiety against him for whose assistance thou hopest! He still receives his accustomed sacrifices! Vile wretch that thou art! if any one should deprive thee of thy daily food, thou wouldst esteem him to be an enemy to thee; but thou hopest to have that God for thy supporter in this war whom thou hast deprived of his everlasting worship; and thou imputest those sins to the Romans, who to this very time take care to have our laws observed, and almost compel these sacrifices to be still offered to God, which have by thy means been intermitted! Who is there that can avoid groans and lamentations at the amazing change that is made in this city? since very foreigners and enemies do now correct that impiety which thou hast occasioned; while thou, who art a Jew, and wast educated in our laws, art become a greater enemy to them than the others. But still, John, it is never dishonorable to repent, and amend what hath been done amiss, even at the last extremity. Thou hast an instance before thee in Jechoniah, the king of the Jews, if thou hast a mind to save the city, who, when the king of Babylon made war against him, did of his own accord go out of this city before it was taken, and did undergo a voluntary captivity with his family, that the sanctuary might not be delivered up to the enemy, and that he might not see the house of God set on fire; on which account he is celebrated among all the Jews, in their sacred memorials, and his memory is become immortal, and will be conveyed fresh down to our posterity through all ages. This, John, is an excellent example in such a time of danger, and I dare venture to promise that the Romans shall still forgive thee.

And take notice that I, who make this exhortation to thee, am one of thine own nation; I, who am a Jew, do make this promise to thee. And it will become thee to consider who I am that give thee this counsel, and whence I am derived; for while I am alive I shall never be in such slavery, as to forego my own kindred, or forget the laws of our forefathers. Thou hast indignation at me again, and makest a clamor at me, and reproachest me; indeed I cannot deny but I am worthy of worse treatment than all this amounts to, because, in opposition to fate, I make this kind invitation to thee, and endeavor to force deliverance upon those whom God hath condemned.

And who is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them,—and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city—for they foretold that this city should be then taken when somebody shall begin the slaughter of his own countrymen. And are not both the city and the entire temple now full of the dead bodies of your countrymen? It is God, therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans, and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions."

A Mother Becomes a Cannibal(31)


3. Now of those that perished by famine in the city, the number was prodigious, and the miseries they underwent were unspeakable; for if so much as the shadow of any kind of food did any where appear, a war was commenced presently, and the dearest friends fell a fighting one with another about it, snatching from each other the most miserable supports of life. Nor would men believe that those who were dying had no food, but the robbers would search them when they were expiring, lest any one should have concealed food in their bosoms, and counterfeited dying; nay, these robbers gaped for want, and ran about stumbling and staggering along like mad dogs, and reeling against the doors of the houses like drunken men; they would also, in the great distress they were in, rush into the very same houses two or three times in one and the same day. Moreover, their hunger was so intolerable, that it obliged them to chew every thing, while they gathered such things as the most sordid animals would not touch, and endured to eat them; nor did they at length abstain from girdles and shoes; and the very leather which belonged to their shields they pulled off and gnawed: the very wisps of old hay became food to some; and some gathered up fibres, and sold a very small weight of them for four Attic [drachmae].

But why do I describe the shameless impudence that the famine brought on men in their eating inanimate things, while I am going to relate a matter of fact, the like to which no history relates, either among the Greeks or Barbarians? It is horrible to speak of it, and incredible when heard. I had indeed willingly omitted this calamity of ours, that I might not seem to deliver what is so portentous to posterity, but that I have innumerable witnesses to it in my own age; and besides, my country would have had little reason to thank me for suppressing the miseries that she underwent at this time.

4. There was a certain woman that dwelt beyond Jordan, her name was Mary; her father was Eleazar, of the village Bethezob, which signifies the house of Hyssop. She was eminent for her family and her wealth, and had fled away to Jerusalem with the rest of the multitude, and was with them besieged therein at this time. The other effects of this woman had been already seized upon, such I mean as she had brought with her out of Perea, and removed to the city. What she had treasured up besides, as also what food she had contrived to save, had been also carried off by the rapacious guards, who came every day running into her house for that purpose. This put the poor woman into a very great passion, and by the frequent reproaches and imprecations she east at these rapacious villains, she had provoked them to anger against her; but none of them, either out of the indignation she had raised against herself, or out of commiseration of her case, would take away her life; and if she found any food, she perceived her labors were for others, and not for herself; and it was now become impossible for her any way to find any more food, while the famine pierced through her very bowels and marrow, when also her passion was fired to a degree beyond the famine itself; nor did she consult with any thing but with her passion and the necessity she was in.

She then attempted a most unnatural thing; and snatching up her son, who was a child sucking at her breast, she said, "O thou miserable infant! For whom shall I preserve thee in this war, this famine, and this sedition? As to the war with the Romans, if they preserve our lives, we must be slaves. This famine also will destroy us, even before that slavery comes upon us. Yet are these seditious rogues more terrible than both the other. Come on; be thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets, and a by-word to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of us Jews." As soon as she had said this, she slew her son, and then roasted him, and eat the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed.

Upon this the seditious came in presently, and smelling the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready. She replied that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them, and withal uncovered what was left of her son. Hereupon they were seized with a horror and amazement of mind, and stood astonished at the sight, when she said to them, "This is mine own son, and what hath been done was mine own doing! Come, eat of this food; for I have eaten of it myself! Do not you pretend to be either more tender than a woman, or more compassionate than a mother; but if you be so scrupulous, and do abominate this my sacrifice, as I have eaten the one half, let the rest be reserved for me also." After which those men went out trembling, being never so much aftrighted at any thing as they were at this, and with some difficulty they left the rest of that meat to the mother.

Upon which the whole city was full of this horrid action immediately; and while every body laid this miserable case before their own eyes, they trembled, as if this unheard of action had been done by themselves. So those that were thus distressed by the famine were very desirous to die, and those already dead were esteemed happy, because they had not lived long enough either to hear or to see such miseries.

The Temple is Burned


5. So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the temple the next day, early in the morning, with his whole army, and to encamp round about the holy house. But as for that house, God had, for certain, long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous, [Ab,] upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon;(32) although these flames took their rise from the Jews themselves, and were occasioned by them; for upon Titus's retiring, the seditious lay still for a little while, and then attacked the Romans again, when those that guarded the holy house fought with those that quenched the fire that was burning the inner [court of the] temple; but these Romans put the Jews to flight, and proceeded as far as the holy house itself.

At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of it. As the flames went upward, the Jews made a great clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered any thing to restrain their force, since that holy house was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard about it.

6. And now a certain person came running to Titus, and told him of this fire, as he was resting himself in his tent after the last battle; whereupon he rose up in great haste, and, as he was, ran to the holy house, in order to have a stop put to the fire; after him followed all his commanders, and after them followed the several legions, in great astonishment; so there was a great clamor and tumult raised, as was natural upon the disorderly motion of so great an army. Then did Caesar, both by calling to the soldiers that were fighting, with a loud voice, and by giving a signal to them with his right hand, order them to quench the fire. But they did not hear what he said, though he spake so loud, having their ears already dimmed by a greater noise another way; nor did they attend to the signal he made with his hand neither, as still some of them were distracted with fighting, and others with passion. But as for the legions that came running thither, neither any persuasions nor any threatenings could restrain their violence, but each one's own passion was his commander at this time; and as they were crowding into the temple together, many of them were trampled on by one another, while a great number fell among the ruins of the cloisters, which were still hot and smoking, and were destroyed in the same miserable way with those whom they had conquered; and when they were come near the holy house, they made as if they did not so much as hear Caesar's orders to the contrary; but they encouraged those that were before them to set it on fire.

As for the seditious, they were in too great distress already to afford their assistance [towards quenching the fire]; they were every where slain, and every where beaten; and as for a great part of the people, they were weak and without arms, and had their throats cut wherever they were caught. Now round about the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another, as at the steps going up to it ran a great quantity of their blood, whither also the dead bodies that were slain above [on the altar] fell down.

7. And now, since Caesar was no way able to restrain the enthusiastic fury of the soldiers, and the fire proceeded on more and more, he went into the holy place of the temple, with his commanders, and saw it, with what was in it, which he found to be far superior to what the relations of foreigners contained, and not inferior to what we ourselves boasted of and believed about it. But as the flame had not as yet reached to its inward parts, but was still consuming the rooms that were about the holy house, and Titus supposing what the fact was, that the house itself might yet he saved, he came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire, and gave order to Liberalius the centurion, and one of those spearmen that were about him, to beat the soldiers that were refractory with their staves, and to restrain them; yet were their passions too hard for the regards they had for Caesar, and the dread they had of him who forbade them, as was their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them, too hard for them also.

Moreover, the hope of plunder induced many to go on, as having this opinion, that all the places within were full of money, and as seeing that all round about it was made of gold. And besides, one of those that went into the place prevented Caesar, when he ran so hastily out to restrain the soldiers, and threw the fire upon the hinges of the gate, in the dark; whereby the flame burst out from within the holy house itself immediately, when the commanders retired, and Caesar with them, and when nobody any longer forbade those that were without to set fire to it. And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar's approbation.(33)


Jerusalem Under the Ban(34)


1. While the holy house was on fire, every thing was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain; nor was there a commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity, but children, and old men, and profane persons, and priests were all slain in the same manner; so that this war went round all sorts of men, and brought them to destruction, and as well those that made supplication for their lives, as those that defended themselves by fighting. The flame was also carried a long way, and made an echo, together with the groans of those that were slain; and because this hill was high, and the works at the temple were very great, one would have thought the whole city had been on fire. Nor can one imagine any thing either greater or more terrible than this noise; for there was at once a shout of the Roman legions, who were marching all together, and a sad clamor of the seditious, who were now surrounded with fire and sword.

The people also that were left above were beaten back upon the enemy, and under a great consternation, and made sad moans at the calamity they were under; the multitude also that was in the city joined in this outcry with those that were upon the hill. And besides, many of those that were worn away by the famine, and their mouths almost closed, when they saw the fire of the holy house, they exerted their utmost strength, and brake out into groans and outcries again: Pera did also return the echo, as well as the mountains round about [the city,] and augmented the force of the entire noise.

Yet was the misery itself more terrible than this disorder; for one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething hot, as full of fire on every part of it, that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number than those that slew them; for the ground did no where appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it; but the soldiers went over heaps of those bodies, as they ran upon such as fled from them.

And now it was that the multitude of the robbers were thrust out [of the inner court of the temple by the Romans,] and had much ado to get into the outward court, and from thence into the city, while the remainder of the populace fled into the cloister of that outer court. As for the priests, some of them plucked up from the holy house the spikes that were upon it, with their bases, which were made of lead, and shot them at the Romans instead of darts. But then as they gained nothing by so doing, and as the fire burst out upon them, they retired to the wall that was eight cubits broad, and there they tarried; yet did two of these of eminence among them, who might have saved themselves by going over to the Romans, or have borne up with courage, and taken their fortune with the others, throw themselves into the fire, and were burnt together with the holy house; their names were Meirus the son of Belgas, and Joseph the son of Daleus.

2. And now the Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was round about the holy house, burnt all those places, as also the remains of the cloisters and the gates, two excepted; the one on the east side, and the other on the south; both which, however, they burnt afterward. They also burnt down the treasury chambers, in which was an immense quantity of money, and an immense number of garments, and other precious goods there reposited; and, to speak all in a few words, there it was that the entire riches of the Jews were heaped up together, while the rich people had there built themselves chambers [to contain such furniture].

The soldiers also came to the rest of the cloisters that were in the outer [court of the] temple, whither the women and children, and a great mixed multitude of the people, fled, in number about six thousand. But before Caesar had determined any thing about these people, or given the commanders any orders relating to them, the soldiers were in such a rage, that they set that cloister on fire; by which means it came to pass that some of these were destroyed by throwing themselves down headlong, and some were burnt in the cloisters themselves. Nor did any one of them escape with his life.

A false prophet was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance.

Chariots in the Clouds


3. Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple.

Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that the signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them.

Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence."(35)

But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city.

However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him.

Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come.

This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, "Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!" And just as he added at the last, "Woe, woe to myself also!" there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.


The Burning of Jerusalem


3. …So he gave orders to the soldiers both to burn and to plunder the city; who did nothing indeed that day; but on the next day they set fire to the repository of the archives, to Acra, to the council-house, and to the place called Ophlas; at which time the fire proceeded as far as the palace of queen Helena, which was in the middle of Acra; the lanes also were burnt down, as were also those houses that were full of the dead bodies of such as were destroyed by famine.

Hiding In the Caves and Among the Rocks(36)


1. And now the seditious rushed into the royal palace, into which many had put their effects, because it was so strong, and drove the Romans away from it. They also slew all the people that had crowded into it, who were in number about eight thousand four hundred, and plundered them of what they had. They also took two of the Romans alive; the one was a horseman, and the other a footman. They then cut the throat of the footman, and immediately had him drawn through the whole city, as revenging themselves upon the whole body of the Romans by this one instance. But the horseman said he had somewhat to suggest to them in order to their preservation; whereupon he was brought before Simon; but he having nothing to say when he was there, he was delivered to Ardalas, one of his commanders, to be punished, who bound his hands behind him, and put a riband over his eyes, and then brought him out over against the Romans, as intending to cut off his head. But the man prevented that execution, and ran away to the Romans, and this while the Jewish executioner was drawing out his sword. Now when he was gotten away from the enemy, Titus could not think of putting him to death; but because he deemed him unworthy of being a Roman soldier any longer, on account that he had been taken alive by the enemy, he took away his arms, and ejected him out of the legion whereto he had belonged; which, to one that had a sense of shame, was a penalty severer than death itself.

2. On the next day the Romans drove the robbers out of the lower city, and set all on fire as far as Siloam. These soldiers were indeed glad to see the city destroyed. But they missed the plunder, because the seditious had carried off all their effects, and were retired into the upper city; for they did not yet at all repent of the mischiefs they had done, but were insolent, as if they had done well; for, as they saw the city on fire, they appeared cheerful, and put on joyful countenances, in expectation, as they said, of death to end their miseries. Accordingly, as the people were now slain, the holy house was burnt down, and the city was on fire, there was nothing further left for the enemy to do.

Yet did not Josephus grow weary, even in this utmost extremity, to beg of them to spare what was left of the city; he spake largely to them about their barbarity and impiety, and gave them his advice in order to their escape; though he gained nothing thereby more than to be laughed at by them; and as they could not think of surrendering themselves up, because of the oath they had taken, nor were strong enough to fight with the Romans any longer upon the square, as being surrounded on all sides, and a kind of prisoners already, yet were they so accustomed to kill people, that they could not restrain their right hands from acting accordingly. So they dispersed themselves before the city, and laid themselves in ambush among its ruins, to catch those that attempted to desert to the Romans; accordingly many such deserters were caught by them, and were all slain; for these were too weak, by reason of their want of food, to fly away from them; so their dead bodies were thrown to the dogs.

Now every other sort of death was thought more tolerable than the famine, insomuch that, though the Jews despaired now of mercy, yet would they fly to the Romans, and would themselves, even of their own accord, fall among the murderous rebels also. Nor was there any place in the city that had no dead bodies in it, but what was entirely covered with those that were killed either by the famine or the rebellion; and all was full of the dead bodies of such as had perished, either by that sedition or by that famine.

3. So now the last hope which supported the tyrants, and that crew of robbers who were with them, was in the caves and caverns under ground; whither, if they could once fly, they did not expect to be searched for; but endeavored, that after the whole city should be destroyed, and the Romans gone away, they might come out again, and escape from them. This was no better than a dream of theirs; for they were not able to lie hid either from God or from the Romans. However, they depended on these under-ground subterfuges, and set more places on fire than did the Romans themselves; and those that fled out of their houses thus set on fire into the ditches, they killed without mercy, and pillaged them also; and if they discovered food belonging to any one, they seized upon it and swallowed it down, together with their blood also; nay, they were now come to fight one with another about their plunder; and I cannot but think that, had not their destruction prevented it, their barbarity would have made them taste of even the dead bodies themselves.


A Surplus of Jewish Slaves(37)


2. …Yet could not that garrison resist those that were deserting; for although a great number of them were slain, yet were the deserters many more in number. They were all received by the Romans, because Titus himself grew negligent as to his former orders for killing them, and because the very soldiers grew weary of killing them, and because they hoped to get some money by sparing them; for they left only the populace, and sold the rest of the multitude, with their wives and children, and every one of them at a very low price, and that because such as were sold were very many, and the buyers were few….


"The Power of God Exercised Upon These Wicked Wretches"


4. …Now as soon as a part of the wall was battered down, and certain of the towers yielded to the impression of the battering rams, those that opposed themselves fled away, and such a terror fell upon the tyrants, as was much greater than the occasion required; for before the enemy got over the breach they were quite stunned, and were immediately for flying away. And now one might see these men, who had hitherto been so insolent and arrogant in their wicked practices, to be cast down and to tremble, insomuch that it would pity one's heart to observe the change that was made in those vile persons.

Accordingly, they ran with great violence upon the Roman wall that encompassed them, in order to force away those that guarded it, and to break through it, and get away. But when they saw that those who had formerly been faithful to them had gone away, (as indeed they were fled whithersoever the great distress they were in persuaded them to flee,) as also when those that came running before the rest told them that the western wall was entirely overthrown, while others said the Romans were gotten in, and others that they were near, and looking out for them, which were only the dictates of their fear, which imposed upon their sight, they fell upon their face, and greatly lamented their own mad conduct; and their nerves were so terribly loosed, that they could not flee away. And here one may chiefly reflect on the power of God exercised upon these wicked wretches, and on the good fortune of the Romans; for these tyrants did now wholly deprive themselves of the security they had in their own power, and came down from those very towers of their own accord, wherein they could have never been taken by force, nor indeed by any other way than by famine.

And thus did the Romans, when they had taken such great pains about weaker walls, get by good fortune what they could never have gotten by their engines; for three of these towers were too strong for all mechanical engines whatsoever, concerning which we have treated above.

5. So they now left these towers of themselves, or rather they were ejected out of them by God himself, and fled immediately to that valley which was under Siloam, where they again recovered themselves out of the dread they were in for a while, and ran violently against that part of the Roman wall which lay on that side; but as their courage was too much depressed to make their attacks with sufficient force, and their power was now broken with fear and affliction, they were repulsed by the guards, and dispersing themselves at distances from each other, went down into the subterranean caverns.

So the Romans being now become masters of the walls, they both placed their ensigns upon the towers, and made joyful acclamations for the victory they had gained, as having found the end of this war much lighter than its beginning; for when they had gotten upon the last wall, without any bloodshed, they could hardly believe what they found to be true; but seeing nobody to oppose them, they stood in doubt what such an unusual solitude could mean. But when they went in numbers into the lanes of the city with their swords drawn, they slew those whom they overtook without and set fire to the houses whither the Jews were fled, and burnt every soul in them, and laid waste a great many of the rest; and when they were come to the houses to plunder them, they found in them entire families of dead men, and the upper rooms full of dead corpses, that is, of such as died by the famine; they then stood in a horror at this sight, and went out without touching any thing. But although they had this commiseration for such as were destroyed in that manner, yet had they not the same for those that were still alive, but they ran every one through whom they met with, and obstructed the very lanes with their dead bodies, and made the whole city run down with blood, to such a degree indeed that the fire of many of the houses was quenched with these men's blood.

And truly so it happened, that though the slayers left off at the evening, yet did the fire greatly prevail in the night; and as all was burning, came that eighth day of the month Gorpieus [Elul] upon Jerusalem, a city that had been liable to so many miseries during this siege, that, had it always enjoyed as much happiness from its first foundation, it would certainly have been the envy of the world. Nor did it on any other account so much deserve these sore misfortunes, as by producing such a generation of men as were the occasions of this its overthrow.


The Last Passover "Sacrifice"(38)


3. Now the number of those that were carried captive during this whole war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand; as was the number of those that perished during the whole siege eleven hundred thousand, the greater part of whom were indeed of the same nation [with the citizens of Jerusalem], but not belonging to the city itself; for they were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a sudden shut up by an army, which, at the very first, occasioned so great a straitness among them, that there came a pestilential destruction upon them, and soon afterward such a famine, as destroyed them more suddenly.

And that this city could contain so many people in it, is manifest by that number of them which was taken under Cestius, who being desirous of informing Nero of the power of the city, who otherwise was disposed to contemn that nation, entreated the high priests, if the thing were possible, to take the number of their whole multitude. So these high priests, upon the coming of that feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour till the eleventh, but so that a company not less than ten belong to every sacrifice, (for it is not lawful for them to feast singly by themselves,) and many of us are twenty in a company, found the number of sacrifices was two hundred and fifty-six thousand five hundred; which, upon the allowance of no more than ten that feast together, amounts to two millions seven hundred thousand and two hundred persons that were pure and holy; for as to those that have the leprosy, or the gonorrhea, or women that have their monthly courses, or such as are otherwise polluted, it is not lawful for them to be partakers of this sacrifice; nor indeed for any foreigners neither, who come hither to worship.

4. Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world; for, to speak only of what was publicly known, the Romans slew some of them, some they carried captives, and others they made a search for under ground, and when they found where they were, they broke up the ground and slew all they met with.

There were also found slain there above two thousand persons, partly by their own hands, and partly by one another, but chiefly destroyed by the famine; but then the ill savor of the dead bodies was most offensive to those that lighted upon them, insomuch that some were obliged to get away immediately, while others were so greedy of gain, that they would go in among the dead bodies that lay on heaps, and tread upon them; for a great deal of treasure was found in these caverns, and the hope of gain made every way of getting it to be esteemed lawful. Many also of those that had been put in prison by the tyrants were now brought out; for they did not leave off their barbarous cruelty at the very last: yet did God avenge himself upon them both, in a manner agreeable to justice.

As for John, he wanted food, together with his brethren, in these caverns, and begged that the Romans would now give him their right hand for his security, which he had often proudly rejected before; but for Simon, he struggled hard with the distress he was in, fill he was forced to surrender himself, as we shall relate hereafter; so he was reserved for the triumph, and to be then slain; as was John condemned to perpetual imprisonment. And now the Romans set fire to the extreme parts of the city, and burnt them down, and entirely demolished its walls.


Caesar's Birthday Party


1. While Titus was at Cesarea, he solemnized the birthday of his brother Domitian] after a splendid manner, and inflicted a great deal of the punishment intended for the Jews in honor of him; for the number of those that were now slain in fighting with the beasts, and were burnt, and fought with one another, exceeded two thousand five hundred. Yet did all this seem to the Romans, when they were thus destroyed ten thousand several ways, to be a punishment beneath their deserts. After this Caesar came to Berytus, which is a city of Phoenicia, and a Roman colony, and staid there a longer time, and exhibited a still more pompous solemnity about his father's birthday, both in the magnificence of the shows, and in the other vast expenses he was at in his devices thereto belonging; so that a great multitude of the captives were here destroyed after the same manner as before.

Suicide at Masada(39)


1. Now as Eleazar was proceeding on in this exhortation, they all cut him off short, and made haste to do the work, as full of an unconquerable ardor of mind, and moved with a demoniacal fury. So they went their ways, as one still endeavoring to be before another, and as thinking that this eagerness would be a demonstration of their courage and good conduct, if they could avoid appearing in the last class; so great was the zeal they were in to slay their wives and children, and themselves also!

Nor indeed, when they came to the work itself, did their courage fail them, as one might imagine it would have done, but they then held fast the same resolution, without wavering, which they had upon the hearing of Eleazar's speech, while yet every one of them still retained the natural passion of love to themselves and their families, because the reasoning they went upon appeared to them to be very just, even with regard to those that were dearest to them; for the husbands tenderly embraced their wives, and took their children into their arms, and gave the longest parting kisses to them, with tears in their eyes. Yet at the same time did they complete what they had resolved on, as if they had been executed by the hands of strangers; and they had nothing else for their comfort but the necessity they were in of doing this execution, to avoid that prospect they had of the miseries they were to suffer from their enemies. Nor was there at length any one of these men found that scrupled to act their part in this terrible execution, but every one of them despatched his dearest relations. Miserable men indeed were they! whose distress forced them to slay their own wives and children with their own hands, as the lightest of those evils that were before them.

So they being not able to bear the grief they were under for what they had done any longer, and esteeming it an injury to those they had slain, to live even the shortest space of time after them, they presently laid all they had upon a heap, and set fire to it. They then chose ten men by lot out of them to slay all the rest; every one of whom laid himself down by his wife and children on the ground, and threw his arms about them, and they offered their necks to the stroke of those who by lot executed that melancholy office; and when these ten had, without fear, slain them all, they made the same rule for casting lots for themselves, that he whose lot it was should first kill the other nine, and after all should kill himself. Accordingly, all these had courage sufficient to be no way behind one another in doing or suffering; so, for a conclusion, the nine offered their necks to the executioner, and he who was the last of all took a view of all the other bodies, lest perchance some or other among so many that were slain should want his assistance to be quite despatched, and when he perceived that they were all slain, he set fire to the palace, and with the great force of his hand ran his sword entirely through himself, and fell down dead near to his own relations. So these people died with this intention, that they would not leave so much as one soul among them all alive to be subject to the Romans.

Yet was there an ancient woman, and another who was of kin to Eleazar, and superior to most women in prudence and learning, with five children, who had concealed themselves in caverns under ground, and had carried water thither for their drink, and were hidden there when the rest were intent upon the slaughter of one another. Those others were nine hundred and sixty in number, the women and children being withal included in that computation. This calamitous slaughter was made on the fifteenth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan].


  1. Herod of Chalcis, the grandson of King Herod; the event spoken of here took place in A.D. 52.
  2. Florus was the Roman procurator of Judea from A.D. 64-66.
  3. The members of the "equestrian order" were the Jewish nobility who held Roman status; this event took place on 3 June, A.D. 66.
  4. Because of Florus's tyranny, the Jews revolted against Gentiles, and the Gentiles brought reprisals against the Jews; thus began a series of countermassacres between them.
  5. Tiberius Alexander, governor of Alexandria.
  6. John of Gischala was the leader of a powerful faction of Zealots. The Zealots were a revolutionary Jewish sect of the first century; Josephus uses the term loosely, without explaining the ideological differences among the various revolutionary factions.
  7. In the spring Of A.D. 67, after Nero had received news of the Judean revolt, he appointed Vespasian commander of the Roman forces to subdue the rebellion. (Vespasian became the Roman Emperor in A.D. 69, after the turmoil following Nero's death.) The event described here refers to Vespasian's reprisals against an attempt by Jewish forces to capture the city of Sepphoris from the Romans.
  8. This important stronghold of the Jewish rebels was destroyed by the Romans on 20 July, A.D. 67.
  9. See Note 7.
  10. According to Greek mythology, Andromeda was the daughter of Kepheus, king of Ethiopia. She had been bound to a rock in order to be devoured by a sea monster, but was rescued in the nick of time by the hero Perseus.
  11. The city was another important rebel base, Tarichaeae (also called Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene).
  12. Titus was the older son of Vespasian, who assisted his father in the Jewish War. Later, when Vespasian became emperor, Titus took over the direction of the campaign.
  13. The Sea of Galilee was also called Lake Gennesareth. The massacre recorded here resulted from the Romans' attempt to catch and destroy the Jews who were trying to escape from Tarichaeae. This battle took place in late September 67.
  14. During the civil strife in Jerusalem, the rebellious Zealots barricaded themselves in the Temple against the pro-Roman citizens, who surrounded the Temple with armed guards. A few Zealots escaped in the night and made their way to the camp of the Edomites (Idumeans) who had surrounded the city with 20,000 men. By telling them (falsely) that the priests were planning to surrender the city to the Romans, the Zealots persuaded the Edomites to liberate their comrades from the Temple and then to attack the rest of the city. That night, before the Edomites went on the rampage, was the last opportunity for people to escape from the city with safety.
  15. The Edomites were descendants of Esau, Jacob's brother (Gen. 25:30; 36:8-43), and thus related to the Israelites.
  16. Ananus was the High Priest.
  17. Jesus, son of Gamalus, was a chief priest, second under Ananus.
  18. Cf. Matt. 23:35.
  19. Realizing they had been tricked, most of the Edomites left the city. Meanwhile, the Romans continued their slow advance through Judea, counting on the internal warfare in Jerusalem to weaken the rebellion. Many Jews tried to escape from the coming holocaust; most were unsuccessful.
  20. Simon was the leader of a powerful faction of rebels in Jerusalem, in competition with the Zealots led by Eleazar, son of Gion, and the Galilean followers of John of Gischala.
  21. As Josephus mentions several times in his narrative, people all over the world knew of the Temple in Jerusalem: it was "esteemed holy by all mankind."
  22. Cf. Luke 13:1-9.
  23. Eleazar's forces occupied the sanctuary. John's followers controlled the outer Temple area (while trying to overthrow Eleazar), and Simon's men held most of the rest of the city while fighting against John.
  24. By this time the Romans under Titus had surrounded the city. Eleazar's Zealots had combined with John's forces under John's leadership, and there were now two main factions in the city. The Romans began assaulting the city with catapults.
  25. About 90 lbs.
  26. About 1200 feet.
  27. After reviewing the various theories on this strange passage, J. Stuart Russell offers the following explanation:

    It could not but be well known to the Jews that the great hope and faith of the Christians was the speedy coming of the Son. It was about this very time, according to Hegesippus, that St. James, the brother of our Lord, publicly testified in the temple that "the Son of man was about to come in the clouds of heaven," and then sealed his testimony with his blood. It seems highly probable that the Jews, in their defiant and desperate blasphemy, when they saw the white mass hurtling though the air, raised the ribald cry, "The Son is coming," in mockery of the Christian hope of the Parousia, to which they might trace a ludicrous resemblance in the strange appearance of the missile. (J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1887, 19831, p. 482. Hegesippus's statement about James can be found in The Ante-Nicene Fathers [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970 reprint] vol. 8, p. 763.)

  28. Josephus was trying to persuade the Jews to surrender to the Romans (or, at the very least, he wrote passages such as this one to convince the Romans of his loyalty). This section is important as a summary of God's historical judgments against Israel.
  29. Note: 42 months. The period from Nero's appointment of Vespasian until the destruction of the Temple (30 August, A.D. 70) was also about 42 months.
  30. Cf. note 21 above.
  31. Cf. Deut. 28:53-57; 2 Kings 6:26-29; Jer. 19:9; Lam. 4:10; Ezek. 5:10.
  32. Josephus here draws attention to the fact that, under the Providence of God, the Temple was destroyed by the Romans on the tenth day of Ab-the very same date on which the first Temple had been burned by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. (see Jer. 52:12-13).
  33. According to this passage in Josephus, Titus tried to prevent the soldiers from destroying the Temple. It is possible, however, that Josephus was trying to defend the Romans against the Jewish charge that it had been a matter of deliberate policy. The early Church historian Sulpitius Severus, following Tacitus, wrote:

    Titus himself thought that the temple ought especially to be overthrown, in order that the religion of the Jews and of the Christians might more thoroughly be subverted; for that these religions, although contrary to each other, had nevertheless proceeded from the same authors; that the Christians had sprung up from among the Jews; and that, if the root were extirpated, the offshoot would speedily perish. Thus, according to the divine will, the minds of all being inflamed, the temple was destroyed…. (The Sacred History of Sulpitius Severus, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973 reprint], Second Series, vol. 11, p. Ill. Cf. Michael Grant, The Twelve Caesars [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 19751, pp. 228f.)

  34. Cf. Mal. 4:6.
  35. This event is also reported by the Roman historian Tacitus:

    In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. A sudden lightning flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure. (Tacitus, The Histories, translated by Kenneth Wellesley [New York: Penguin Books, 1964, 19751, p. 279.)

  36. Cf. Isa. 2:10-12; Hos. 10:8; Luke 23:28-30; Rev. 6:15-17.
  37. Cf. Deut. 28:68.
  38. Whiston comments at this point: "What is here chiefly remarkable is this, that no foreign nation ever came thus to destroy the Jews at any of their solemn festivals, from the days of Moses till this time, but came now upon their apostasy from God, and from obedience to him." God had promised protection during the festivals (Ex. 34:23-24). The fact that God did not observe this promise any longer is another indication that Israel had been excommunicated from the covenant.
  39. The last stronghold of the Zealots was atop the lonely limestone crag of Masada, towering 1,700 feet high near the western shore of the Dead Sea. Led by Eleazar, son of Jairus (not the Eleazar who led the Zealots in Jerusalem), the Masada Zealots were able to hold off the Romans for about four years after the fall of Jerusalem. When Eleazar saw, however, that the Romans would soon succeed in taking his fortress, he urged his followers to commit mass suicide rather than submit to the dishonor of capture by the Romans. Eternal life and glory, he assured them, would be their reward. The tragedy occurred on the 15th of Nisan, A.D. 74- Passover.

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