Containing the interval of about one Year.
From Vespasian’s coming to subdue the Jews, to the taking of Gamala.
Vespasian is sent into Syria by Nero, in order to make war with the Jews.
1. When Nero was informed of the Romans ill success in Judea, a concealed consternation and terror, as is usual in such cases, fell upon him; although he openly looked very big, and was very angry, and said, that what had happened was rather owing to the negligence of the commander, than to any valour of the enemy: and as he thought it fit for him, who bare the burden of the whole empire, to despise such misfortunes, he now pretended so to do, and to have a soul superior to all such sad accidents whatsoever. Yet did the disturbance that was in his soul plainly appear by the solicitude he was in [how to recover his affairs again].
2. And as he was deliberating to whom he should commit the care of the east, now it was in so great a commotion, and who might be best able to punish the Jews for their rebellion, and might prevent the same distemper from seizing upon the neighbouring nations also; he found no one but Vespasian equal to the task, and able to undergo the great burden of so mighty a war, seeing he was growing an old man already in the camp, and from his youth had been exercised in warlike exploits: he was also a man that had long ago pacified the west, and made it subject to the Romans, when it had been put into disorder by the Germans; he had also recovered to them Britain by his arms, which had been little known before; (1) whereby he procured to his father Claudius to have a triumph bestowed on him, without any sweat or labour of his own.
3. So Nero esteemed these circumstances as favourable omens, and saw that Vespasian’s age gave him sure experience, and great skill, and that he had his sons as hostages for his fidelity to himself, and that the flourishing age they were in would make them fit instruments under their father’s prudence. Perhaps also there was some interposition of providence, which was paving the way for Vespasian’s being himself emperor afterwards. Upon the whole, he sent this man to take upon him the command of the armies that were in Syria; but this not without great encomiums and flattering compellations, such as necessity required, and such as might mollify him into complaisance. So Vespasian sent his son Titus from Achaia, where he had been with Nero, to Alexandria, to bring back with him from thence the fifth and the tenth legions, while he himself, when he had passed over the Hellespont, came by land into Syria, where he gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighbourhood.
A great slaughter of the Jews about Ascalon. Vespasian comes to Ptolemais.
1. Now the Jews, after they had beaten Cestius, were so much elevated with their unexpected success, that they could not govern their zeal, but like people blown up into a flame by their good fortune, carried the war to remoter places. Accordingly they presently got together a great multitude of all their most hardy soldiers, and marched away for Ascalon. This is an ancient city that is distant from Jerusalem five hundred and twenty furlongs, and was always an enemy to the Jews; on which account they determined to make their first effort against it, and to make their approaches to it as near as possible. This excursion was led on by three men, who were the chief of them all, both for strength and sagacity, Niger called the Peraite, Silas of Babylon, and besides them John the Essene. Now Ascalon was strongly walled about, but had almost no assistance to be relied on [near them], for the garrison consisted of one cohort of footmen, and one troop of horsemen, whose captain was Antonius.
2. These Jews, therefore, out of their anger, marched faster than ordinary, and, as if they had come but a little way, approached very near the city, and were come even to it; but Antonius, who was not unapprised of the attack they were going to make upon the city, drew out his horsemen beforehand, and being neither daunted at the multitude, nor at the courage of the enemy, received their first attacks with great bravery; and when they crowded to the very walls, he beat them off. Now the Jews were unskilful in war, but were to fight with those who were skilful therein; they were footmen to fight with horsemen; they were in disorder, to fight those that were united together; they were poorly armed, to fight those that were completely so; they were to fight more by their rage than by sober counsel, and were exposed to soldiers that were exactly obedient, and did every thing they were bidden upon the least intimation. So they were easily beaten; for as soon as ever their first ranks were once in disorder, they were put to flight by the enemy’s cavalry, and those of them that came behind such as crowded to the wall, fell upon their own party’s weapons, and became one another’s enemies; and this so long till they were all forced to give way to the attacks of the horsemen, and were dispersed all the plain over, which plain was wide, and all fit for the horsemen; which circumstance was very commodious for the Romans, and occasioned the slaughter of the greatest number of the Jews; for such as ran away they could over-run them, and make them turn back; and when they had brought them back after their flight, and driven them together, they run them through, and slew a vast number of them, insomuch that others encompassed others of them, and drove them before them whithersoever they turned themselves, and slew them easily with their arrows; and the great number there were of the Jews seemed a solitude to themselves, by reason of the distress they were in, while the Romans had such good success with their small number, that they seemed to themselves to be the greater multitude. And as the former strove zealously under their misfortunes, out of the shame of a sudden flight, and hopes of the change in their success, so did the latter feel no weariness, by reason of their good fortune; insomuch that the fight lasted till the evening, till ten thousand men of the Jews side lay dead, with two of their generals, John and Silas, and the greater part of the remainder were wounded, with Niger, their remaining general, who fled away together to a small city of Idumea, called Sallis; some few also of the Romans were wounded in this battle.
3. Yet were not the spirits of the Jews broken by so great a calamity, but the losses they had sustained rather quickened their resolution for other attempts; for, overlooking the dead bodies which lay under their feet, they were enticed by their former glorious actions to venture on a second destruction; so when they had lain still so little a while that their wounds were not yet thoroughly cured, they got together all their forces, and came with greater fury, and in much greater numbers to Ascalon. But their former ill fortune followed them, as the consequence of their unskilfulness, and other deficiencies in war; for Antonius laid ambushes for them in the passages they were to go through, where they fell into snares unexpectedly, and where they were encompassed about with horsemen, before they could form themselves into a regular body for fighting, and were above eight thousand of them slain: so all the rest of them ran away, and with them Niger, who still did a great many bold exploits in his flight. However, they were driven along together by the enemy, who pressed hard upon them, into a certain strong tower belonging to a village called Bezedel. However, Antonius and his party, that they might neither spend any considerable time about this tower, which was hard to be taken, nor suffer their commander, and the most courageous man of them all, to escape from them, they set the wall on fire; and as the tower was burning, the Romans went away rejoicing, as taking it for granted that Niger was destroyed; but he leaped out of the tower into a subterraneous cave, in the innermost part of it, and was preserved; and on the third day afterward he spake out of the ground to those that, with great lamentation, were searching for him, in order to give him a decent funeral: and when he was come out, he filled all the Jews with an unexpected joy, as though he were preserved by God’s providence to be their commander for the time to come.
4. And now Vespasian took along with him his army from Antioch, (which is the metropolis of Syria, and without dispute, deserves the place of the third city (2) in the habitable earth that was under the Roman empire, both in magnitude, and other marks of prosperity), where he found King Agrippa, with all his forces, waiting for his coming, and marched to Ptolemais. At this city also the inhabitants of Sepphoris of Galilee met him, who were for peace with the Romans. These citizens had beforehand taken care of their own safety, and being sensible of the power of the Romans, they had been with Cestius Gallus, before Vespasian came, and had given their faith to him, and received the security of his right hand, and had received a Roman garrison; and at this time withal they received Vespasian, the Roman general very kindly, and readily promised that they would assist him against their own countrymen. Now the general delivered them, at their desire, as many horsemen and footmen as he thought sufficient to oppose the incursions of the Jews, if they should come against them. And indeed the danger of losing Sepphoris would be no small one, in this war, that was now beginning, seeing it was the largest city of Galilee, and built in a place by nature very strong, and might be a security of the whole nation’s [fidelity to the Romans].
A description of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.
1. Now Phenicia and Syria encompass about the Galilees, which are two, and called the Upper Galilee, and the Lower. They are bounded, toward the sun-setting, with the borders of the territory belonging to Ptolemais, and by Carmel; which mountain had formerly belonged to the Galileans, but now belonged to the Tyrians, to which mountain adjoins Gaba, which is called the city of horsemen, because those horsemen that were dismissed by Herod the king dwelt therein; they are bounded on the south with Samaria, and Scythopolis, as far as the river Jordan; on the east with Hippene, and Gadaris, and also with Gaulanitis, and the borders of the kingdom of Agrippa; its northern parts are hounded by Tyre, and the country of the Tyrians. As for that Galilee which is called the Lower, it extends in length from Tiberias to Zabulon, and of the maritime places Ptolemais is its neighbour; its breadth is from the village called Xaloth, which lies in the great plain, as far as Bersabe, from which beginning also is taken the breadth of the Upper Galilee, as far as the village Baca, which divides the land of the Tyrians from it; its length is also from Meloth to Thella, a village near to Jordan.
2. These two Galilees, of so great largeness, and encompassed with so many nations of foreigners, have been always able to make a strong resistance on all occasions of war; for the Galileans are inured to war from their infancy, and have been always very numerous; nor hath the country been ever destitute of men of courage, or wanted a numerous set of them: for their soil is universally rich and fruitful, and full of the plantations of trees of all sorts, insomuch that it invites the most slothful to take pains in its cultivation, by its fruitfulness; accordingly it is all cultivated by its inhabitants, and no part of it lies idle. Moreover, the cities lie here very thick, and the very many villages there are here are every where so full of people, by the richness of their soil, that the very least of them contain above fifteen thousand inhabitants.
3. In short, if any one will suppose that Galilee is inferior to Perea in magnitude, he will be obliged to prefer it before it in its strength; for this is all capable of cultivation, and is every where fruitful; but for Perea, which is indeed much larger in extent, the greater part of it is desert, and rough, and much less disposed for the production of the milder kinds of fruits; yet hath it a moist soil [in other parts], and produces all kinds of fruits, and its plains are planted with trees of all sorts, while yet the olive tree, the vine, and the palm trees, are chiefly cultivated there. It is also sufficiently watered with torrents, which issue out of the mountains, and with springs that never fail to run, even when the torrents fail them, as they do in the dog-days. Now the length of Perea is from Macherus to Pella, and its breadth from Philadelphia to Jordan: its northern parts are bounded by Pella, as we have already said, as well as its western with Jordan; the land of Moab is its southern border, and its eastern limits reach to Arabia, and Silbonitis, and besides to Philadelphene and Gerasa.
4. Now as to the country of Samaria, it lies between Judea and Galilee; it begins at a village that is in the great plain called Ginea, and ends at the Acrabbene toparchy, and is entirely of the same nature with Judea; for both countries are made up of hills and valleys, and are moist enough for agriculture, and are very fruitful. They have abundance of trees, and are full of autumnal fruit, both that which grows wild, and that which is the effect of cultivation. They are not naturally watered by many rivers, but derive their chief moisture from rain-water, of which they have no want; and for those rivers which they have, all their waters are exceeding sweet: by reason also of the excellent grass they have, their cattle yield more milk than do those in other places; and, what is the greatest sign of excellency, and of abundance, they each of them are very full of people.
5. In the limits of Samaria and Judea lies the village Anuath, which is also named Borceos. This is the northern boundary of Judea. The southern parts of Judea, if they be measured lengthways, are bounded by a village adjoining to the confines of Arabia; the Jews that dwell there call it Jardan. However, its breadth is extended from the river Jordan to Joppa. The city Jerusalem is situated in the very middle; on which account some have, with sagacity enough, called that city the navel of the country. Nor indeed is Judea destitute of such delights as come from the sea, since its maritime places extend as far as Ptolemais: it was parted in eleven portions, of which the royal city Jerusalem was the supreme, and presided over all the neighbouring country, as the head does over the body. As to the other cities that were inferior to it, they presided over their several toparchies; Gophna was the second of those cities, and next to that Acrabatta, after them Thamna, and Lydda, and Emmaus, and Pella, and Idumea, and Engaddi, and Herodium, and Jericho; and after them came Jamnia and Joppa, as presiding over the neighbouring people: and besides these there was the region of Gamala, and Gaulanitis, and Batanea, and Trachonitis, which are also parts of the kingdom of Agrippa. This [last] country begins at mount Libanus, and the fountains of Jordan, and reaches breadthways to the lake of Tiberias; and in length is extended from a village called Arpha, as far as Julias. Its inhabitants are a mixture of Jews and Syrians. And thus have I, with all possible brevity, described the country of Judea, and those that lie round about it.
Josephus makes an attempt upon Sepphoris, but is repelled. Titus comes with a great army to Ptolemais.
1. Now the auxiliaries which were sent to assist the people of Sepphoris, being a thousand horsemen, and six thousand footmen, under Placidus the tribune, pitched their camp in two bodies in the great plain. The foot were put into the city to be a guard to it, but the horse lodged abroad in the camp. These last, by marching continually one way or other, and over-running the parts of the adjoining country, were very troublesome to Josephus and his men; they also plundered all the places that were out of the city’s liberty, and intercepted such as durst go abroad. On this account it was that Josephus marched against the city, as hoping to take what he had lately encompassed with so strong a wall, before they revolted from the rest of the Galileans, that the Romans would have much ado to take it: by which means he proved too weak, and failed of his hopes, both as to the forcing the place, and as to his prevailing with the people of Sepphoris to deliver it up to him. By this means he provoked the Romans to treat the country according to the law of war; 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; nor was it exempted from any kind of misery or calamity, for the only refuge they had was this, that when they were pursued, they could retire to the cities which had walls built them by Josephus.
2. But as to Titus, he sailed over from Achaia to Alexandria, and that sooner than the winter season did usually permit; so he took with him those forces he was sent for, and marching with great expedition, he came suddenly to Ptolemais, and there finding his father, together with the two legions, the fifth and the tenth, which were the most eminent legions of all, he joined them to that fifteenth legion which was with his father: eighteen cohorts followed these legions: there came also five cohorts from Cesarea, with one troop of horsemen, and five other troops of horsemen from Syria. Now these ten cohorts had severally a thousand footmen, but the other thirteen cohorts had no more than six hundred footmen a piece, with an hundred and twenty horsemen. There were also a considerable number of auxiliaries got together, that came from the Kings Antiochus and Agrippa, and Sohemus, (3) each of them contributing one thousand footmen that were archers, and a thousand horsemen. Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of which were archers: so that the whole army, including the auxiliaries sent by the kings, as well horsemen as footmen, when all were united together, amounted to sixty thousand, besides the servants, who, as they followed in vast numbers, so because they had been trained up in war with the rest, ought not to be distinguished from the fighting men; for as they were in their masters service in times of peace, so did they undergo the like dangers with them in times of war, insomuch that they were inferior to none either in skill or in strength, only they were subject to their masters.
A description of the Roman armies, and Roman camps; and of other particulars, for which the Romans are commended.
1. Now here one cannot but admire at the precaution of the Romans, in providing themselves of such household servants, as might not only serve at other times for the common offices of life, but might also be of advantage to them in their wars. And indeed if any one does but attend to the other parts of their military discipline, he will be forced to confess, that their obtaining so large a dominion, hath been the acquisition of their valour, and not the bare gift of fortune: for they do not begin to use their weapons first in time of war, nor do they then put their hands first into motion, while they avoided so to do in times of peace; but, as if their weapons did always cling to them, they have never any truce from warlike exercises; nor do they stay till times of war admonish them to use them; for their military exercises differ not at all from the real use of their arms, but every soldier is every day exercised, and that with great diligence, as if it were in time of war, which is the reason why they bear the fatigue of battles so easily; for neither can any disorder remove them from their usual regularity, nor can fear affright them out of it, nor can labour tire them: which firmness of conduct makes them always to overcome those that have not the same firmness; nor would he be mistaken that should call those their exercises unbloody battles, and their battles bloody exercises. Nor can their enemies easily surprise them with the suddenness of their incursions; for as soon as they have marched into an enemy’s land, they do not begin to fight till they have walled their camp about; nor is the fence they raise rashly made, or uneven; nor do they all abide ill it, nor do those that are in it take their places at random; but if it happens that the ground is uneven, it is first levelled: their camp is also four square by measure, and carpenters are ready in great numbers, with their tools, to erect their buildings for them. (4)
2. As for what is within the camp, it is set apart for tents, but the outward circumference hath the resemblance to a wall, and is adorned with towers at equal distances, where between the towers stand the engines for throwing arrows, and darts, and for slinging stones, and where they lay all other engines that can annoy the enemy, all ready for their several operations. They also erect four gates, one at every side of the circumference, and those large enough for the entrance of the beasts, and wide enough for making excursions, if occasion should require. They divide the camp within into streets, very conveniently, and place the tents of the commanders in the middle, but in the very midst of all is the general’s own tent, in the nature of a temple, insomuch that it appears to be a city built on the sudden, with its market place, and place for handicraft trades, and with seats for the officers superior and inferior, where, if any differences arise, their causes are heard and determined. The camp, and all that is in it, is encompassed with a wall round about, and that sooner than one would imagine, and this by the multitude and the skill of the labourers; and if occasion require, a trench is drawn round the whole, whose depth is four cubits, and its breadth equal.
3. When they have thus secured themselves, they live together by companies, with quietness and decency, as are all their other affairs managed with good order and security. Each company hath also their wood, and their corn, and their water brought them, when they stand in need of them; for they neither sup nor dine as they please themselves singly, but all together. Their times also for sleeping, and watching, and rising, are notified beforehand by the sound of trumpets, nor is any thing done without such a signal: and in the morning the soldiery go every one to their centurions, and these centurions to their tribunes, to salute them; with whom all the superior officers go to the general of the whole army, who then gives them of course the watch-word, and other orders, to be by them carried to all that are under their command; which is also observed when they go to fight, and thereby they turn themselves about on the sudden when there is occasion for making sallies, as they come back when they are recalled in crowds also.
4. Now when they are to go out of their camp, the trumpet gives a sound, at which time nobody lies still, but at the first intimation they take down their tents, and all is made ready for their going out; then do the trumpets sound again, to order them to get ready for the march; then do they lay their baggage suddenly upon their mules, and other beasts of burden, and stand, as at the place of starting, ready to march; when also they set fire to their camp, and this they do because it will be easy for them to erect another camp, and that it may not ever be of use to their enemies. Then do the trumpets give a sound the third time, that they are to go out, in order to excite those that, on any account, are a little tardy, that so no one may be out of his rank when the army marches. Then does the crier stand at the general’s right hand, and asks them thrice in their own tongue, whether they be now ready to go out to war or not? To which they reply as often, with a loud and cheerful voice, saying, We are ready. And this they do almost before the question is asked them: they do this as filled with a kind of martial fury, and at the same time that they so cry out, they lift up their right hands also.
5. When, after this, they are gone out of their camp, they all march without noise, and in a decent manner, and every one keeps his own rank, as if they were going to war. The footmen are armed with breast-plates, and head-pieces, and have swords on each side, but the sword which is upon their left side is much longer than the other, for that on the right side is not longer than a span. Those footmen also that are chosen out from the rest to be about the general himself, have a lance and a buckler, but the rest of the foot soldiers have a spear, and a long buckler, besides a saw and a basket, a pickaxe, and an axe, a thong of leather, and a hook, with provisions for three days, so that a footman hath no great need of a mule to carry his burdens. The horsemen have a long sword on their right sides, and a long pole in their hand; a shield also lies by them obliquely on one side of their horses, with three or more darts that are borne in their quiver, having broad points, and not smaller than spears. They have also head-pieces, and breastplates, in like manner as have all the footmen. And for those that are chosen to be about the general, their armour no way differs from that of the horsemen belonging to other troops; and he always leads the legions forth to whom the lot assigns that employment.
6. This is the manner of the marching and resting of the Romans, as also these are the several sorts of weapons they use. But when they are to fight, they leave nothing without forecast, nor to be done off hand, but counsel is ever first taken before any work is begun, and what hath been there resolved upon is put in execution presently; for which reason they seldom commit any errors, and if they have been mistaken at any time, they easily correct those mistakes. They also esteem any errors they commit upon taking counsel before-hand, to be better than such rash success as is owing to fortune only; because such a fortuitous advantage tempts them to be inconsiderate, while consultation, though it may sometimes fail of success, hath this good in it, that it makes men more careful hereafter; but for the advantages that arise from chance, they are not owing to him that gains them; and as to what melancholy accidents happen unexpectedly, there is this comfort in them, that they had however taken the best consultations they could to prevent them.
7. Now they so manage their preparatory exercises of their weapons, that not the bodies of the soldiers only, but their souls may also become stronger; they are moreover hardened for war by fear; for their laws inflict capital punishments, not only for soldiers running away from the ranks, but for slothfulness and inactivity, though it be but in a lesser degree; as are their generals more severe than their laws, for they prevent any imputation of cruelty toward those under condemnation, by the great rewards they bestow on the valiant soldiers; and the readiness of obeying their commanders is so great, that it is very ornamental in peace; but when they come to a battle, the whole army is but one body, so well coupled together are their ranks, so sudden are their turnings about, so sharp their hearing, as to what orders are given them, so quick their sight of the ensigns, and so nimble are their hands when they set to work; whereby it comes to pass, that what they do is done quickly, and what they suffer they bear with the greatest patience. Nor can we find any examples where they have been conquered in battle, when they came to a close fight, either by the multitude of the enemies, or by their stratagems, or by the difficulties in the places they were in: no nor by fortune neither, for their victories have been surer to them than fortune could have granted them. In a case, therefore, where counsel still goes before action, and where, after taking the best advice, that advice is followed by so active an army, what wonder is it that Euphrates on the east, the ocean on the west, the most fertile regions of Libya on the south, and the Danube and the Rhine on the north, are the limits of this empire? One might well say, that the Roman possessions are not inferior to the Romans themselves.
8. This account I have given the reader, not so much with the intention of commending the Romans, as of comforting those that have been conquered by them, and for the deterring others from attempting innovations under their government. This discourse of the Roman military conduct may also perhaps be of use to such of the curious as are ignorant of it, and yet have a mind to know it. I return now from this digression.
Placidus attempts to take Jotapata, and is beaten off. Vespasian marches into Galilee.
1. And now Vespasian, with his son Titus, had tarried some time at Ptolemais, and had put his army in order. But when Placidus, who had over-run Galilee, and had besides slain a number of those whom he had caught, (which were only the weaker part of the Galileans, and such as were of timorous souls), saw that the warriors ran always to those cities whose walls had been built by Josephus, he marched furiously against Jotapata, which was of them all the strongest, as supposing he should easily take it by a sudden surprise, and that he should thereby obtain great honour to himself among the commanders, and bring a great advantage to them in their future campaign; because, if this strongest place of them all were once taken, the rest would be so affrighted as to surrender themselves. But he was mightily mistaken in his undertaking; for the men of Jotapata were apprised of his coming to attack them, and came out of the city, and expected him there. So they fought the Romans briskly when they least expected it, being both many in number, and prepared for fighting, and of great alacrity, as esteeming their country, their wives and their children to be in danger, and easily put the Romans to flight, and wounded many of them, and slew seven of them; (5) because their retreat was not made in a disorderly manner, because the strokes only touched the surface of their bodies, which were covered with their armour in all parts, and because the Jews did rather throw their weapons upon them from a great distance, than venture to come hand to hand with them, and had only light armour on, while the others were completely armed. However, three men of the Jews side were slain, and a few wounded; so Placidus, finding himself unable to assault the city, ran away.
2. But as Vespasian had a great mind to fall upon Galilee, he marched out of Ptolemais, having put his army into that order wherein the Romans used to march. He ordered those auxiliaries which were lightly armed, and the archers to march first, that they might prevent any sudden insults from the enemy, and might search out the woods that looked suspiciously, and were capable of ambuscades. Next to these followed that part of the Romans which was completely armed, both footmen and horsemen. Next to these followed ten out of every hundred, carrying along with them their arms, and what was necessary to measure out a camp withal; and after them, such as were to make the road even, and straight, and if it were any where rough and hard to be passed over, to plain it, and to cut down the woods that hindered their march, that the army might not be in distress or tired with their march. Behind these he set such carriages of the army as belonged both to himself and to the other commanders, with a considerable number of their horsemen for their security. After these he marched himself, having with him a select body of footmen, and horsemen, and pikemen. After these came the peculiar cavalry of his own legion, for there were an hundred and twenty horsemen that peculiarly belonged to every legion. Next to these came the mules, that carried the engines for sieges, and the other warlike machines of that nature. After these came the commanders of the cohorts and tribunes, having about them soldiers chosen out of the rest. Then came the ensigns encompassing the eagle, which is at the head of every Roman legion, the king, and the strongest of all birds, which seems to them a signal of dominion, and an omen that they shall conquer all against whom they march: these sacred ensigns are followed by the trumpeters. Then came the main army in their squadrons, and battalions, with six men in depth, which were followed at last by a centurion, who, according to custom, observed the rest. As for the servants of every legion, they all followed the footmen, and led the baggage of the soldiers, which was borne by the mules and other beasts of burden. But behind all the legions carne the whole multitude of the mercenaries; and those that brought up the rear came last of all for the security of the whole army, being both footmen, and those in their armour also, with a great number of horsemen.
3. And thus did Vespasian march with his army, and came to the bounds of Galileo, where he pitched his camp and restrained his soldiers, who were eager for war: he also shewed his army to the enemy, in order to affright them, and to afford them a season for repentance, to see whether they would change their minds before it came to a battle, and at the same time he got things ready for besieging their strong holds. And indeed this sight of the general brought many to repent of their revolt, and put them all into a consternation; for those that were in Josephus’s camp, which was at the city called Garis, not far from Sepphoris, when they heard that the war was come near them, and that the Romans would suddenly fight them hand to hand, dispersed themselves, and fled not only before they came to a battle, but before the enemy ever came in sight, while Josephus and a few others were left behind; and as he saw that he had not an army sufficient to engage the enemy, that the spirits of the Jews were sunk, and that the greater part would willingly come to terms, if they might be credited, he already despaired of the success of the whole war, and determined to get as far as he possibly could out of danger; so he took those that staid along with him, and fled to Tiberias.
Vespasian, when he had taken the city Gadara, marches to Jotapata. After a long siege, the city is betrayed by a deserter, and taken by Vespasian.
1. So Vespasian marched to the city Gadara, and took it upon the first onset, because he found it destitute of any considerable number of men grown up, and fit for war. He came then into it, and slew all the youth, the Romans having no mercy on any age whatsoever; and this was done out of the hatred they bore the nation, and because of the iniquity they had been guilty of in the affair of Cestius. He also set fire not only to the city itself, but to all the villas and small cities that were round about it; some of them were quite destitute of inhabitants, and out of some of them he carried the inhabitants as slaves into captivity.
2. As to Josephus, his retiring to that city which he chose as the most fit for his security, put it into great fear; for the people of Tiberias did not imagine that he would have run away, unless he had entirely despaired of the success of the war. And indeed, as to that point, they were not mistaken about his opinion; for he saw whither the affairs of the Jews would tend at last, and was sensible that they had but one way of escaping, and that was by repentance. However, although he expected that the Romans would forgive him, yet did he choose to die many times over rather than to betray his country, and to dishonour that supreme command of the army which had been intrusted with him, or to live happily under those against whom he was sent to fight. He determined, therefore, to give an exact account of affairs to the principal men at Jerusalem by a letter, that he might not, by too much aggrandizing the power of the enemy, make them too timorous; nor, by relating that their power beneath the truth, might encourage them to stand out when they were perhaps disposed to repentance. He also sent them word, that if they thought of coming to terms, they must suddenly write him an answer; or if they resolved upon war, they must send him an army sufficient to fight the Romans. Accordingly he wrote these things, and sent messengers immediately to carry his letter to Jerusalem.
3. Now Vespasian was very desirous of demolishing Jotapata, for he had gotten intelligence, that the greatest part of the enemy had retired thither, and that it was, on other accounts, a place of great security to them. Accordingly he sent both footmen and horsemen to level the road, which was mountainous and rocky, not without difficulty to be travelled over by footmen, but absolutely impracticable for horsemen. Now these workmen accomplished what they were about in four days time, and opened a broad way for the army. On the fifth day, which was the twenty-first of the month Artemisius, [Jyar], [A.D. 67] Josephus prevented him, and came from Tiberias, and went into Jotapata, and raised the drooping spirits of the Jews. And a certain deserter told this good news to Vespasian, that Josephus had removed himself thither, which made him make haste to the city, as supposing that with taking that he should take all Judea, in case he could but withal get Josephus under his power. So he took this news to be of the vastest advantage to him, and believed it to be brought about by the providence of God, that he who appeared to be the most prudent man of all their enemies, had of his own accord, shut himself up in a place of sure custody. Accordingly he sent Placidus with a thousand horsemen, and Ebutius a decurion, a person that was of eminency both in council and in action, to encompass the city round, that Josephus might not escape away privately.
4. Vespasian also, the very next day, took his whole army and followed them, and by marching till late in the evening, arrived then at Jotapata; and bringing his army to the northern side of the city, he pitched his camp on a certain small hill which was seven furlongs from the city, and still greatly endeavoured to be well seen by the enemy, to put them into a consternation; which was indeed so terrible to the Jews immediately, that no one of them durst go out beyond the wall. Yet did the Romans put off the attack at that time, because they had marched all the day, although they placed a double row of battalions round the city, with a third row beyond them round the whole, which consisted of cavalry, in order to stop up every way for an exit; which thing making the Jews despair of escaping, excited them to act more boldly; for nothing makes men fight so desperately in war as necessity.
5. Now when the next day an assault was made by the Romans, the Jews at first stayed out of the walls, and opposed them, and met them, as having formed themselves a camp before the city walls. But when Vespasian had set against them the archers and slingers, and the whole multitude that could throw to a great distance, he permitted them to go to work, while he himself with the footmen, got upon an acclivity, whence the city might easily be taken. Josephus was then in fear for the city, and leaped out, and all the Jewish multitude with him; these fell together upon the Romans in great numbers, and drove them away from the wall, and performed a great many glorious and bold actions. Yet did they suffer as much as they made the enemy suffer; for as despair of deliverance encouraged the Jews, so did a sense of shame equally encourage the Romans. These last had skill as well as strength; the other had only courage, which armed them, and made them fight furiously. And when the fight had lasted all day, it was put an end to by the coming on of the night. They had wounded a great many of the Romans, and killed them thirteen men; of the Jews side seventeen were slain, and six hundred wounded.
6. On the next day the Jews made another attack upon the Romans, and went out of the walls, and fought a much more desperate battle with them than before. For they were now become more courageous than formerly, and that on account of the unexpected good opposition they had made the day before; as they found the Romans also to fight more desperately; for a sense of shame inflamed these into a passion, as esteeming their failure of a sudden victory to be a kind of defeat. Thus did the Romans try to make an impression upon the Jews, till the fifth day continually, while the people of Jotapata made sallies out, and fought at the walls most desperately; nor were the Jews affrighted at the strength of the enemy, nor were the Romans discouraged at the difficulties they met with in taking the city.
7. Now Jotapata is almost all of it built on a precipice, having on all the other sides of it every way valleys immensely deep and steep, insomuch, that those who would look down, would have their sight fail them before it reaches to the bottom. It is only to be come at on the north side, where the utmost part of the city is built on the mountain, as it ends obliquely at a plain. This mountain Josephus had encompassed with a wall when he fortified the city, that its top might not be capable of being seized upon by the enemies. The city is covered all round with other mountains, and can no way be seen till a man comes just upon it. And this was the strong situation of Jotapata.
8. Vespasian, therefore, in order to try how he might overcome the natural strength of the place, as well as the bold defence of the Jews, made a resolution to prosecute the siege with vigour. To that end he called the commanders that were under him to a council of war, and consulted with them which way the assault might be managed to the best advantage. And when the resolution was there taken to raise a bank against that part of the wall which was practicable, he sent his whole army abroad to get the materials together. So when they had cut down all the trees on the mountains that adjoined to the city, and had gotten together a vast heap of stones besides the wood they had cut down, some of them brought hurdles, in order to avoid the effects of the darts that were shot from above them. These hurdles they spread over their banks, under cover whereof they formed their bank, and so were little or nothing hurt by the darts that were thrown upon them from the wall, while others pulled the neighbouring hillocks to pieces, and perpetually brought earth to them; so that while they were busy three sorts of ways, nobody was idle. However, the Jews cast great stones from the walls upon the hurdles which protected the men, with all sorts of darts also; and the noise of what could not reach them was yet so terrible, that it was some impediment to the workmen.
9. Vespasian then set the engines for throwing stones and darts round about the city. The number of the engines was in all an hundred and sixty, and bid them fall to work, and dislodge those that were upon the wall. At the same time such engines as were intended for that purpose threw at once lances upon them with a great noise, and stones of the weight of a talent were thrown by the engines that were prepared for that purpose, together with fire, and a vast multitude of arrows, which made the wall so dangerous, that the Jews durst not only not come upon it, but durst not come to those parts within the wall which were reached by the engines: for the multitude of the Arabian archers, as well as all those also that threw darts and slung stones, fell to work at the same time with the engines. Yet did not the others lie still, when they could not throw at the Romans from a higher place; for they then made sallies out of the city, like private robbers by parties, and pulled away the hurdles that covered the workmen, and killed them when they were thus naked: and when those workmen gave way, these cast away the earth that composed the bank, and burnt the wooden parts of it, together with the hurdles, till at length Vespasian perceived that the intervals there were between the works were of disadvantage to him; for those spaces of ground afforded the Jews a place for assaulting the Romans. So he united the hurdles, and at the same time joined one part of the army to the other, which prevented the private excursions of the Jews.
10. And when the bank was now raised, and brought nearer than ever to the battlements that belonged to the walls, Josephus thought it would be entirely wrong in him if he could make no contrivances in opposition to theirs, and that might be for the city’s preservation: so he got together his workmen, and ordered them to build the wall higher; and when they said that this was impossible to be done while so many darts were thrown at them, he invented this sort of cover for them; he bid them fix piles, and expand before them the raw hides of oxen, newly killed, that these hides by yielding and hollowing themselves when the stones were thrown at them, might receive them; for that the other darts would slide off them, and the fire that was thrown would be quenched by the moisture that was in them. And these he set before the workmen, and under them these workmen went on with their works in safety, and raised the wall higher, and that both by day and by night, till it was twenty cubits high. He also built a good number of towers upon the wall, and fitted it to strong battlements. This greatly discouraged the Romans, who, in their own opinions, were already gotten within the walls, while they were now at once astonished at Josephus’s contrivance, and at the fortitude of the citizens that were in the city.
11. And now Vespasian was plainly irritated at the great subtilty of this stratagem, and at the boldness of the citizens of Jotapata; for taking heart again, upon the building of this wall, they made fresh sallies upon the Romans, and had every day conflicts with them by parties, together with all such contrivances as robbers make use of, and with the plundering of all that came to hand, as also with the setting fire to all the other works; and this till Vespasian made his army leave off fighting them, and resolved to lie round the city, and to starve them into a surrender, as supposing that either they would be forced to petition him for mercy, by want of provisions, or if they should have the courage to hold out till the last, they would perish by famine; and he concluded he should conquer them the more easily in fighting, if he gave them an interval, and then fell upon them when they were weakened by famine; but still he gave orders that they should guard against their coming out of the city.
12. Now the besieged had plenty of corn within the city, and indeed of all necessaries, but they wanted water, because there was no fountain in the city, the people being there usually satisfied with rain water; yet is it a rare thing in that country to have rain in summer; and at this season, during the siege, they were in great distress for some contrivance to satisfy their thirst; and they were very sad at this time particularly, as if they were already in want of water entirely, for Josephus seeing that the city abounded with other necessaries, and that the men were of good courage, and being desirous to protract the siege to the Romans longer than they expected, ordered their drink to be given them by measure; but this scanty distribution of water by measure was deemed by them as a thing more hard upon them than the want of it; and their not being able to drink as much as they would, made them more desirous of drinking than they otherwise had been; nay, they were as much disheartened hereby as if they were come to the last degree of thirst. Nor were the Romans unacquainted with the state they were in, for when they stood over against them, beyond the wall, they could see them running together, and taking their water by measure, which made them throw their javelins thither, the place being within their reach, and kill a great many of them.
13. Hereupon Vespasian hoped that their receptacles of water would in no long time be emptied, and that they would be forced to deliver up the city to him; but Josephus being minded to break such his hope, gave command that they should wet a great many of their clothes, and hang them out about the battlements, till the entire wall was of a sudden all wet with the running down of the water. At this sight the Romans were discouraged, and under consternation, when they saw them able to throw away in sport so much water, when they supposed them not to have enough to drink themselves. This made the Roman general despair of taking the city by their want of necessaries, and to betake himself again to arms, and to try to force them to surrender, which was what the Jews greatly desired; for as they despaired of either themselves or their city’s being able to escape, they preferred a death in battle before one by hunger and thirst.
14. However, Josephus contrived another stratagem besides the foregoing to get plenty of what they wanted. There was a certain rough and uneven place that could hardly be ascended, and on that account was not guarded by the soldiers; so Josephus sent out certain persons along the western parts of the valley, and by them sent letters to whom he pleased of the Jews that were out of the city, and procured from them what necessaries soever they wanted in the city in abundance: he enjoined them also to creep generally along by the watch, as they came into the city, and to cover their backs with such sheep-skins as had their wool upon them, that if any one should spy them out in the night time, they might be believed to be dogs. This was done till the watch perceived their contrivance, and encompassed that rough place about themselves.
15. And now it was that Josephus perceived that the city could not hold out long, and that his own life would be in doubt if he continued in it; so he consulted how he and the most potent men of the city might fly out of it. When the multitude understood this, they came all round about him, and begged of him, “Not to overlook them while they entirely depended on him, and him alone; for that there was still hope of the city’s deliverance, if he would stay with them, because every body would undertake any pains with great cheerfulness on his account, and in that case there would be some comfort for them also, though they should be taken. That it became him neither to fly from his enemies, nor to desert his friends, nor to leap out of that city, as out of a ship that was sinking in a storm, into which he came when it was quiet and in a calm; for that by going away he would be the cause of drowning the city, because nobody would then venture to oppose the enemy when he was once gone upon whom they wholly confided.”
16. Hereupon Josephus avoided letting them know that he was to go away to provide for his own safety, but told them, That “he would go out of the city for their sakes; for that if he stayed with them he should be able to do them little good, while they were in a safe condition, and that if they were once taken he should only perish with them to no purpose; but that if he were once gotten free from this siege, he should be able to bring them very great relief; for that he would then immediately get the Galileans together, out of the country, in great multitudes, and draw the Romans off their city by another war. That he did not see what advantge he could bring to them now, by staying among them, but only provoke the Romans to besiege them more closely, as esteeming it a most valuable thing to take him; but that if they were once informed that he was fled out of the city, they would greatly remit of their eagerness against it.” Yet did not this plea move the people, but enflamed them the more to hang about him. Accordingly both the children, and the old men, and the women, with their infants, came mourning to him, and fell down before him, and all of them caught hold of his feet, and held him fast, and besought him with great lamentations, that he would take his share with them in their fortune; and I think they did this, not that they envied my deliverance, but that they hoped for their own; for they could not think they should suffer any great misfortune, provided Josephus would but stay with them.
17. Now Josephus thought, that if he resolved to stay, it would be ascribed to their entreaties; and if he resolved to go away by force he should be put into custody. His commiseration also of the people under their lamentations had much broken that his eagerness to leave them; so he resolved to stay, and arming himself with the common despair of the citizens, he said to them, “Now is the time to begin to fight in earnest, when there is no hope of deliverance left. It is a brave thing to prefer glory before life, and to set about some such noble undertaking as may be remembered by late posterity.” Having said this, he fell to work immediately, and made a sally and dispersed the enemies out-guards, and ran as far as the Roman camp itself, and pulled the coverings of their tents to pieces, that were upon their banks, and set fire to their works. And this was the manner in which he never left off fighting, neither the next day, nor the day after it, but went on with it for a considerable number of both days and nights.
18. Upon this, Vespasian when he saw the Romans distressed by these sallies, (though they were ashamed to be made to run away by the Jews, and when at any time they made the Jews run away, their heavy armour would not let them pursue them far, while the Jews, when they had performed any action, and before they could be hurt themselves, still retired into the city), ordered his armed men to avoid their onset, and not fight it out with men under desperation, while nothing is more courageous than despair; but that their violence would be quenched, when they saw they failed of their purposes, as fire is quenched when it wants fuel; and that it was proper for the Romans to gain their victories as cheap as they could, since they are not forced to fight, but only to enlarge their own dominions. So he repelled the Jews in great measure by the Arabian archers, and the Syrian slingers, and by those that threw stones at them; nor was there any intermission of the great number of their offensive engines. Now the Jews suffered greatly by these engines, without being able to escape from them; and when these engines threw their stones or javelins a great way, and the Jews were within their reach, they pressed hard upon the Romans, and fought desperately, without sparing either soul or body, one part succouring another by turns, when it was tired down.
19. When, therefore, Vespasian looked upon himself as in a manner besieged by these sallies of the Jews, and when his banks were now not far from the walls, he determined to make use of his battering ram. This battering ram is a vast beam of wood, like the mast of a ship, its forepart is armed with a thick piece of iron at the head of it, which is so carved as to be like the head of a ram, whence its name is taken. This ram is slung in the air by ropes passing over its middle, and is hung like the balance in a pair of scales from another beam, and braced by strong beams that pass on both sides of it in the nature of a cross. When this ram is pulled backward by a great number of men, with united force, and then thrust forward, by the same men, with a mighty noise, it batters the walls with that iron part which is prominent. Nor is there any tower so strong, or walls so broad, that can resist any more than its first batteries, but all are forced to yield to it at last. This was the experiment which the Roman general betook himself to, when he was eagerly bent upon taking the city; but found lying in the field so long to be to his disadvantage, because the Jews would never let him be quiet. So these Romans brought the several engines for galling an enemy nearer to the walls, that they might reach such as were upon the wall, and endeavoured to frustrate their attempts; these threw stones and javelins at them; in the like manner did the archers and slingers, come both together closer to the wall. This brought matters to such a pass, that none of the Jews durst mount the walls; and then it was that the other Romans brought the battering ram, that was cased with hurdles all over, and in the upper part was secured by skins that covered it, and this both for the security of themselves, and of the engine. Now at the very first stroke of this engine the wall was shaken, and a terrible clamour was raised by the people within the city, as if they were already taken.
20. And now, when Josephus saw this ram still battering the same place, and that the wall would quickly be thrown down by it, he resolved to elude for a while the force of the engine: with this design he gave orders to fill sacks with chaff, and to hang them down before that place where they saw the ram always battering, that the stroke might be turned aside, or that the place might feel less of the strokes by the yielding nature of the chaff. This contrivance very much delayed the attempts of the Romans, because, let them remove their engine to what part they pleased, those that were above it removed their sacks, and placed them over against the strokes it made, insomuch that the wall was no way hurt, and this by diversion of the strokes, till the Romans made an opposite contrivance of long poles, and, by tying hooks at their ends, cut off the sacks. Now when the battering ram thus recovered its force, and the wall, having been but newly built, was giving way, Josephus and those about him had afterward immediate recourse to fire to defend themselves withal; whereupon they took what materials soever they had that were but dry, and made a sally three ways, and set fire to the machines, and the hurdles, and the banks of the Romans themselves; nor did the Romans well know how to come to their assistance, being at once under a consternation at the Jews boldness, and being prevented by the flames from coming to their assistance; for the materials being dry with the bitumen and pitch that were among them, as was brimstone also, the fire caught hold of every thing immediately, and what cost the Romans a great deal of pains, was in one hour consumed.
21. And here a certain Jew appeared worthy of our relation and commendation; he was the son of Sameas, and was called Eleazar, and was born at Saab in Galilee. This man took up a stone of a vast bigness, and threw it down from the wall upon the ram, and this with so great a force, that it brake off the head of the engine. He also leaped down, and took up the head of the ram from the midst of them, and without any concern, carried it to the top of the wall, and this while he stood as a fit mark to he pelted by all his enemies. Accordingly he received the strokes upon his naked body, and was wounded with five darts; nor did he mind any of them while he went up to the top of the wall, where he stood in the sight of them all, as an instance of the greatest boldness; after which he drew himself on a heap with his wounds upon him, and fell down together with the head of the ram. Next to him two brothers shewed their courage. Their names were Netir and Philip, both of them of the village Ruma, and both of them Galileans also: these men leaped upon the soldiers of the tenth legion, and fell upon the Romans with such a noise and force, as to disorder their ranks, and to put to flight all upon whomsoever they made their assaults.
22. After these men’s performances, Josephus, and the rest of the multitude with him, took a great deal of fire, and burnt both the machines, and their coverings, with the works belonging to the fifth, and to the tenth legion, which they put to flight; when others followed them immediately, and buried those instruments, and all their materials under ground. However, about the evening the Romans erected the battering ram again, against that part of the wall which had suffered before; where a certain Jew that defended the city from the Romans, hit Vespasian with a dart in his foot, and wounded him a little, the distance being so great that no mighty impression could be made by the dart thrown so far off. However, this caused the greatest disorder among the Romans; for when those who stood near him saw his blood, they were disturbed at it, and a report went abroad through the whole army, that the general was wounded, while the greatest part left the siege, and came running together with surprise and fear to the general; and before them all came Titus, out of the concern he had for his father, insomuch that the multitude were in great confusion, and this out of the regard they had for their general, and by reason of the agony that the son was in. Yet did the father soon put an end to the son’s fear, and to the disorder the army was under, for, being superior to his pains, and endeavouring soon to be seen by all that had been in a fright about him, he excited them to fight the Jews more briskly; for now every body was willing to expose himself to danger immediately, in order to avenge their general, and then they encouraged one another with loud voices, and ran hastily to the walls.
23. But still Josephus, and those with him, although they fell down dead one upon another by the darts and stones which the engines threw upon them, yet did not they desert the wall, but fell upon those who managed the ram, under the protection of the hurdles, with fire, and iron weapons, and stones; and these could do little or nothing, but fell themselves perpetually, while they were seen by those whom they could not see, for the light of their own flame shone about them, and made them a most visible mark to the enemy, as they were in the day time, while the engines could not be seen at a great distance, and so what was thrown at them was hard to be avoided, for the force with which these engines threw stones and darts, made them hurt several at a time, and the violent noise of the stones that were cast by the engines was so great, that they carried away the pinnacles of the wall, and broke off the corners of the towers; for no body of men could be so strong as not to be overthrown to the last rank by the largeness of the stones. And any one may learn the force of the engines by what happened this very night; for as one of those that stood round about Josephus was near the wall, his head was carried away by such a stone, and his scull was flung as far as three furlongs. In the day time also, a woman with child had her belly so violently struck, as she was just come out of her house, that the infant was carried to the distance of half a furlong, so great was the force of that engine. The noise of the instruments themselves was very terrible, the sound of the darts and stones that were thrown by them, was so also; of the same sort was that noise the dead bodies made, when they were dashed against the wall; and indeed dreadful was the clamour which these things raised in the women within the city, which was echoed back at the same time by the cries of such as were slain; while the whole space of ground whereon they fought ran with blood, and the wall might have been ascended over by the bodies of the dead carcasses; the mountains also contributed to increase the noise by their echoes, nor was there on that night any thing of terror wanting, that could either affect the hearing, or the sight; yet did a great part of those that fought so hard for Jotapata fall manfully, as were a great part of them wounded. However, the morning watch was come ere the wall yielded to the machines employed against it, though it had been battered without intermission. However, those within covered their bodies with their armour, and raised works over against that part which was thrown down, before those machines were laid, by which the Romans were to ascend into the city.
24. In the morning Vespasian got his army together, in order to take the city [by storm], after a little recreation upon the hard pains they had been at the night before; and as he was desirous to draw off those that opposed him from the places where the wall had been thrown down, he made the most courageous of the horsemen get off their horses, and placed them in three ranks over against those ruins of the wall, but covered with their armour on every side, and with poles in their hands, that so these might begin their ascent as soon as the instruments for such ascent were laid; behind them he placed the flower of the footmen; but for the rest of the horse, he ordered them to extend themselves over against the wall, upon the whole hilly country, in order to prevent any from escaping out of the city when it should be taken; and behind these he placed the archers round about, and commanded them to have their darts ready to shoot. The same commands he gave to the slingers, and to those that managed the engines, and bid them to take up other ladders, and have them ready to lay upon those parts of the wall which were yet untouched, that the besieged might be engaged in trying to hinder their ascent by them, and leave the guard of the parts that were thrown down, while the rest of them should be over-borne by the darts cast at them, and might afford his men an entrance into the city.
25. But Josephus, understanding the meaning of Vespasian’s contrivance, set the old men, together with those that were tired out, at the sound parts of the wall, as expecting no harm from those quarters, but set the strongest of his men at the place where the wall was broken down, and before them all six men by themselves, among whom he took his share of the first and greatest danger. He also gave orders, That “when the legions made a shout they should stop their ears, that they might not be affrighted at it, and that, to avoid the multitude of the enemies darts, they should bend down on their knees, and cover themselves with their shields, and that they should retreat a little backward for a while, till the archers should have emptied their quivers; but that, when the Romans should lay their instruments for ascending the walls, they should leap out on the sudden, and with their own instruments should meet the enemy, and that every one should strive to do his best, in order, not to defend his own city, as if it were possible to be preserved, but in order to revenge it, when it was already destroyed; and that they should set before their eyes how their old men were to be slain, and their children and wives were to be killed immediately by the enemy; and that they would beforehand spend all their fury on account of the calamities just coming upon them, and pour it out on the actors.”
26. And thus did Josephus dispose of both his bodies of men: but then for the useless part of the citizens, the women and children, when they saw their city encompassed by a threefold army, (for none of the usual guards that had been fighting before were removed), when they also saw not only the walls thrown down, but their enemies, with swords in their hands, as also the hilly country above them shining with their weapons, and the darts in the hands of the Arabian archers, they made a final and lamentable outcry of destruction; as if the misery were not only threatened, but actually come upon them already. But Josephus ordered the women to be shut up in their houses, lest they should render the warlike actions of the men too effeminate, by making them commiserate their condition, and commanded them to hold their peace, and threatened them if they did not, while he came himself before the breach, where his allotment was; for all those who brought ladders to the other places, he took no notice of them, but earnestly waited for the shower of arrows that was coming.
27. And now the trumpeters of the several Roman legions sounded together, and the army made a terrible shout, and the darts, as by order, flew so last, that they intercepted the light. However, Josephus’s men remembered the charges he had given them, they stopped their ears at the sounds, and covered their bodies against the darts; and as to the engines that were set ready to go to work, the Jews ran out upon them, before those that should have used them were gotten upon them. And now, on the ascending of the soldiers, there was a great conflict, and many actions of the hands, and of the soul, were exhibited, while the Jews did earnestly endeavour, in the extreme danger they were in, not to shew less courage, than those who, without being in danger, fought so stoutly against them; nor did they leave struggling with the Romans till they either fell down dead themselves, or killed their antagonists. But the Jews grew weary with defending themselves continually, and had not enow to come in their places, and succour them; while, on the side of the Romans fresh men still succeeded those that were tired, and still new men soon got upon the machines for ascent, in the room of those that were thrust down, those encouraging one another, and joining side to side with their shields, which were a protection to them, they became a body of men not to be broken, and as this band thrust away the Jews, as though they were themselves but one body, they began already to get upon the wall.
28. Then did Josephus take necessity for his counselor in this utmost distress, (which necessity is very sagacious in invention, when it is irritated by despair), and gave orders to pour scalding oil upon those whose shields protected them. Whereupon they soon got it ready, being many that brought it, and what they brought being a great quantity also, and poured it on all sides upon the Romans, and threw down upon them their vessels as they were still hissing from the heat of the fire; this so burnt the Romans, that it dispersed that united band, who now tumbled down from the wall, with horrid pains, for the oil did easily run down the whole body from head to foot, under their entire armour, and fed upon their flesh like flame itself, its fat and unctuous nature rendering it soon heated, and slowly cooled; and as the men were cooped up in their head-pieces, and breast plates, they could no way get free from this burning oil, they could only leap and roll about in their pains, as they fell down from the bridges they had laid. And as they thus were beaten back, and retired to their own party, who still pressed them forward, they were easily wounded by those that were behind them.
29. However, in this ill success of the Romans, their courage did not fail them, nor did the Jews want prudence to oppose them; for the Romans, although they saw their own men thrown down, and in a miserable condition, yet were they vehemently bent against those that poured the oil upon them, while every one reproached the man before him as a coward, and one that hindered him from exerting himself; and while the Jews made use of another stratagem to prevent their ascent, and poured boiling fene-greek upon the boards in order to make them slip and fall down; by which means neither could those that were coming up, nor those that were going down, stand on their feet; but some of them fell backward upon the machines on which they ascended, and were trodden upon; many of them fell down upon the bank they had raised, and when they were fallen upon it were slain by the Jews; for when the Romans could not keep their feet, the Jews being freed from fighting hand to hand, had leisure to throw their darts at them. So the general called off those soldiers in the evening that had suffered so sorely, of whom the number of the slain was not a few, while that of the wounded was still greater; but of the people of Jotapata no more than six men were killed, although more than three hundred were carried off wounded. This fight happened on the twentieth day of the month Desius [Sivan].
30. Hereupon Vespasian comforted his army on occasion of what happened, and as he found them angry indeed, but rather wanting somewhat to do than any farther exhortations, he gave orders to raise the banks still higher, and to erect three towers, each fifty feet high, and that they should cover them with plates of iron, on every side, that they might be both firm by their weight, and not easily liable to be set on fire. These towers he set upon the banks, and placed upon them such as could shoot darts and arrows, with the lighter engines for throwing stones and darts also; and besides these, he set upon them the stoutest men among the slingers, who not being to be seen by reason of the height they stood upon, and the battlements that protected them, might throw their weapons at those that were upon the wall, and were easily seen by them. Hereupon the Jews, not being easily able to escape those darts that were thrown down upon their heads, nor to avenge themselves on those whom they could not see, and perceiving that the height of the towers was so great, that a dart which they threw with their hand could hardly reach it, and that the iron plates about them made it very hard to come at them by fire, they ran away from the walls, and fled hastily out of the city, and fell upon those that shot at them. And thus did the people of Jotapata resist the Romans, while a great number of them were every day killed, without their being able to retort the evil upon their enemies, nor could they keep them out of the city without danger to themselves.
31. About this time it was that Vespasian sent out Trajan against a city called Japha, that lay near to Jotapata, and that desired innovations, and was puffed up with the unexpected length of the opposition of Jotapata. This Trajan was the commander of the tenth legion, and to him Vespasian committed one thousand horsemen, and two thousand footmen. When Trajan came to the city, he found it hard to be taken, for besides the natural strength of its situation, it was also secured by a double wall; but when he saw the people of this city coming out of it, and ready to fight him, he joined battle with them, and, after a short resistance which they made, he pursued after them; and as they fled to their first wall, the Romans followed them so closely, that they fell in together with them: but when the Jews were endeavouring to get again within their second wall, their fellow citizens shut them out, as being afraid that the Romans would force themselves in with them. It was certainly God, therefore, who brought the Romans to punish the Galileans, and did then expose the people of the city every one of them manifestly to be destroyed by their bloody enemies; for they fell upon the gates in great crowds, and earnestly calling to those that kept them, and that by their names also, yet had they their throats cut in the very midst of their supplications; for the enemy shut the gates of the first wall, and their own citizens shut the gates of the second, so they were enclosed between two walls, and were slain in great numbers together; many of them were run through by swords of their own men, and many by their own swords, besides an immense number that were slain by the Romans. Nor had they any courage to revenge themselves; for there was added to the consternation they were in from the enemy, their being betrayed by their own friends, which quite broke their spirits; and at last they died, cursing, not the Romans, but their own citizens, till they were all destroyed, being in number twelve thousand. So Trajan gathered that the city was empty of people that could fight, and although there should a few of them be therein, he supposed that they would be too timorous to venture upon any opposition; so he reserved the taking of the city to the general. Accordingly he sent messengers to Vespasian, and desired him to send his son Titus to finish the victory he had gained. Vespasian hereupon imagining there might be some pains still necessary, sent his son with an army of five hundred horsemen, and one thousand footmen. So he came quickly to the city, and put his army in order, and set Trajan over the left wing, while he had the right himself, and led them to the siege: and when the soldiers brought ladders to be laid against the wall on every side, the Galileans opposed them from above for a while, but soon afterward they left the walls. Then did Titus’s men leap into the city, and seized upon it presently; but when those that were in it were gotten together, there was a fierce battle between them; for the men of power fell upon the Romans in the narrow streets, and the women threw whatsoever came next to hand at them, and sustained a fight with them for six hours time; but when the fighting men were spent, the rest of the multitude had their throats cut, partly in the open air, and partly in their own houses, both young and old together. So there were no males now remaining, besides infants, which, with the women, were carried as slaves into captivity; so that the number of the slain both now in the city and at the former fight, was fifteen thousand, and the captives were two thousand one hundred and thirty. This calamity befel the Galileans on the twenty-fifth day of the month Desius [Sivan.]
32. Nor did the Samaritans escape their share of misfortunes at this time; for they assembled themselves together upon the mountain called Gerizzim, which is with them an holy mountain, and there they remained: which collection of theirs, as well as the courageous minds they shewed, could not but threaten somewhat of war; nor were they rendered wiser by the miseries that had come upon their neighbouring cities. They also, notwithstanding the great success the Romans had, marched on in an unreasonable manner, depending on their own weakness, and were disposed for any tumult upon its first appearance. Vespasian, therefore, thought it best to prevent their motions, and to cut off the foundation of their attempts. For although all Samaria had ever garrisons settled among them, yet did the number of those that were come to mount Gerizzim, and their conspiracy together, give ground for fear what they would be at: he therefore sent thither Cerealis, the commander of the fifth legion, with six hundred horsemen, and three thousand footmen, who did not think it safe to go up the mountain and give them battle, because many of the enemy were on the higher part of the ground: so he encompassed all the lower part of the mountain with his army, and watched them all that day. Now it happened that the Samaritans, who were now destitute of water, were inflamed with a violent heat, (for it was summer time, and the multitude had not provided themselves with necessaries), insomuch that some of them died that very day with heat, while others of them preferred slavery before such a death as that was, and fled to the Romans; by whom Cerealis understood, that those which still stayed there were very much broken by their misfortunes. So he went up the mountain, and having placed his forces round about the enemy, he, in the first place, exhorted them to take the security of his right hand, and come to terms with him, and thereby save themselves, and assured them, that if they would lay down their arms, he would secure them from any harm; but when he could not prevail with them he fell upon them and slew them all, being in number eleven thousand and six hundred. This was done on the twenty-seventh day of the month Desius [Sivan]. And these were the calamities that befell the Samaritans at this time.
33. But as the people of Jotapata still held out manfully, and bore up under their miseries beyond all that could be hoped for, on the forty-seventh day [of the siege] (6) the banks cast up by the Romans were become higher than the wall; on which day a certain deserter went to Vespasian, and told him how few were left in the city, and how weak they were, and that they had been so worn out with perpetual watching, and as perpetual fighting, that they could not now oppose any force that came against them, and that they might he taken by stratagem, if any one would attack them; for that about the last watch of the night, when they thought they might have some rest from the hardships they were under, and when a morning sleep used to come upon them, as they were thoroughly weary, he said the watch used to fall asleep; accordingly his advice was, that they should make their attack at that hour. But Vespasian had a suspicion about this deserter, as knowing how faithful the Jews were to one another, and how much they despised any punishments that could be inflicted on them; this last, because one of the people of Jotapata had undergone all sorts of torments, and though they made him pass through a fiery trial of his enemies in his examination, yet would he inform them nothing of the affairs within the city, and as he was crucified smiled at them. However, the probability there was in the relation itself did partly confirm the truth of what the deserter told them, and they thought he might probably speak truth. However, Vespasian thought they should be no great sufferers if the report was a sham; so he commanded them to keep the man in custody, and prepared the army for taking the city.
34. According to which resolution they marched without noise, at the hour that had been told them, to the wall; and it was Titus himself that first got upon it, with one of his tribunes, Domitius Sabinus, and had a few of the fifteenth legion along with him. So they cut the throats of the watch, and entered the city very quietly. After these came Cerealis the tribune, and Placidus, and led on those that were under them. Now when the citadel was taken, and the enemy were in the very midst of the city, and when it was already day, yet was not the taking of the city known by those that held it; for a great many of them were fast asleep, and a great mist, which then by chance fell upon the city, hindered those that got up from distinctly seeing the case they were in, till the whole Roman army was gotten in, and they were raised up only to find the miseries they were under; and as they were slaying they perceived the city was taken. And for the Romans, they so well remembered what they had suffered during the siege, that they spared none, nor pitied any, but drove the people down the precipice from the citadel, and slew them as they drove them down; at which time the difficulties of the place hindered those that were still able to fight from defending themselves; for as they were distressed in the narrow streets, and could not keep their feet sure along the precipice, they were overpowered with the crowd of those that came fighting them down from the citadel. This provoked a great many, even of those chosen men that were about Josephus, to kill themselves with their own hands; for when they saw that they could kill none of the Romans, they resolved to prevent being killed by the Romans, and got together in great numbers in the utmost parts of the city, and killed themselves.
35. However, such of the watch as at the first perceived they were taken, and ran away as fast as they could, went up into one of the towers on the north side of the city, and for a while defended themselves there; but as they were encompassed with a multitude of enemies, they tried to use their right hands when it was too late, and at length they cheerfully offered their necks to be cut off by those that stood over them. And the Romans might have boasted, that the conclusion of that siege was without blood [on their side], if there had not been a centurion, Antonius, who was slain at the taking of the city. His death was occasioned by the following treachery: for there was one of those that were fled into the caverns, which were a great number, who desired that this Antonius would reach him his right hand for his security, and would assure him that he would preserve him, and give him his assistance in getting up out of the cavern; accordingly he incautiously reached him his right hand, when the other man prevented him, and stabbed him under his loins with a spear, and killed him immediately.
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 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] [A.D. 67].
How Josephus was discovered by a woman, and was willing to deliver himself up to the Romans; and what discourse he had with his own men, when they endeavoured to hinder him: and what he said to Vespasian, when he was brought to him; and after what manner Vespasian used him afterward.
1. And now the Romans searched for Josephus, both out of the hatred they bore him, and because their general was very desirous to have him taken; for he reckoned that if he were once taken, the greatest part of the war would be over. They then searched among the dead, and looked into the most concealed recesses of the city: but as the city was first taken, he was assisted by a certain supernatural providence; for he withdrew himself from the enemy, when he was in the midst of them, and leaped into a certain deep pit, whereto there adjoined a large den at one side of it, which den could not be seen by those that were above ground: and there he met with forty persons of eminency that had concealed themselves, and with provisions enough to satisfy them for not a few days. So in the day time he hid himself from the enemy, who had seized upon all places, and in the night-time he got up out of the den, and looked about for some way of escaping, and took exact notice of the watch: but as all places were guarded every where on his account, that there was no way of getting off unseen, he went down again into the den. Thus he concealed himself two days; but on the third day, when they had taken a woman who had been with them, he was discovered. Whereupon Vespasian sent immediately and zealously two tribunes, Paulinus and Gallicanus, and ordered them to give Josephus their right hands as a security for his life, and to exhort him to come up.
2. So they came and invited the man to come up, and gave him assurances that his life should be preserved: but they did not prevail with him; for he gathered suspicions from the probability there was that one who had done so many things against the Romans must suffer for it, though not from the mild temper of those that invited him. However, he was afraid that he was invited to come up in order to be punished, until Vespasian sent besides these a third tribune, Nicanor, to him; he was one that was well known to Josephus, and had been his familiar acquaintance in old time. When he was come, he enlarged upon the natural mildness of the Romans towards those they have once conquered, and told him, that he had behaved himself so valiantly, that the commanders rather admired than hated him; that the general was very desirous to have him brought to him, not in order to punish him, for that he could do though he should not come voluntarily, but that he was determined to preserve a man of his courage. He moreover added this, that Vespasian, had he been resolved to impose upon him, would not have sent to him a friend of his own, nor put the fairest colour upon the vilest action, by pretending friendship, and meaning perfidiousness; nor would he have himself acquiesced, or come to him, had it been to deceive him.
3. Now, as Josephus began to hesitate with himself about Nicanor’s proposal, the soldiery were so angry, that they ran hastily to set fire to the den; but the tribune would not permit them so to do, as being very desirous to take the man alive. And now, as Nicanor lay hard at Josephus to comply, and he understood how the multitude of the enemies threatened him, he called to mind the dreams which he had dreamed in the night time, whereby God had signified to him beforehand both the future calamities of the Jews, and the events that concerned the Roman emperors. (7) Now, Josephus was able to give shrewd conjectures about the interpretation of such dreams as have been ambiguously delivered by God. Moreover, he was not unacquainted with the prophecies contained in the sacred books, as being a priest himself, and of the posterity of priests; and just then was he in an ecstasy, and setting before him the tremendous images of the dreams he had lately had, he put up a secret prayer to God, and said, “Since it pleaseth thee, who hast created the Jewish nation, to depress the same, and since all their good fortune is gone over to the Romans, and since thou hast made choice of this soul of mine to foretel what is to come to pass hereafter, I willingly give them my hands, and am content to live. And I protest openly, that I do not go over to the Romans as a deserter of the Jews, but as a minister from thee.”
4. When he had said this, he complied with Nicanor’s invitation. But when those Jews who had fled with him understood that he yielded to those that invited him to come up, they came about him in a body, and cried out, “Nay, indeed, now may the laws of our forefathers, which God ordained himself, well groan to purpose; that God, we mean, who hath created the souls of the Jews of such a temper, that they despise death. O Josephus! art thou still fond of life? and canst thou bear to see the light in a state of slavery? How soon hast thou forgotten thyself! How many hast thou persuaded to lose their lives for liberty! Thou hast therefore had a false reputation for manhood, and a like false reputation for wisdom, if thou canst hope for preservation from those against whom thou hast fought so zealously, and art, however, willing to be preserved by them, if they be in earnest. But although the good fortune of the Romans hath made thee forget thyself, we ought to take care that the glory of our forefathers may not be tarnished. We will lend thee our right hand and a sword; and if thou wilt die willingly, thou wilt die as general of the Jews; but if unwillingly, thou wilt die as a traitor to them.” As soon as they said this they began to thrust their swords at him, and threatened they would kill him, if he thought of yielding himself to the Romans.
5. Upon this Josephus was afraid of their attacking him, and yet thought he should be a betrayer of the commands of God, if he died before they were delivered. So he began to talk like a philosopher to them, in the distress he was then in, when he said thus to them: “O my friends, why are we so earnest to kill ourselves? and why do we set our soul and body, which are such dear companions, at such variance? Can any one pretend that I am not the man I was formerly? Nay, the Romans are sensible how that matter stands well enough. It is a brave thing to die in war; but so that it be according to the law of war, by the hand of conquerors. If, therefore, I avoid death from the sword of the Romans, I am truly worthy to be killed by my own sword, and my own hand: but if they admit of mercy, and would spare their enemy, how much more ought we to have mercy upon ourselves and to spare ourselves? for it is certainly a foolish thing to do that to ourselves which we quarrel with them for doing to us. I confess freely, that it is a brave thing to die for liberty; but still so that it be in war, and done by those who take that liberty from us; but in the present case our enemies do neither meet us in battle, nor do they kill us. Now, he is equally a coward who will not die when he is obliged to die, and he who will die when he is not obliged so to do. What are we afraid of when we will not go up to the Romans? Is it death? If so, what we are afraid of when we but suspect our enemies will inflict it on us, shall we inflict it on ourselves for certain? But it may be said, we must be slaves. And are we then in a clear state of liberty at present? It may also be said, that it is a manly act for one to kill himself. No certainly, but a most unmanly one; as I should esteem that pilot to be an arrant coward, who, out of fear of a storm, should sink his ship of his own accord. Now self-murder is a crime most remote from the common nature of all animals, and an instance of impiety against God our Creator: nor indeed is there any animal that dies by its own contrivance, or by its own means, for the desire of life is a law engraven in them all; on which account we deem those that openly take it away from us to be our enemies, and those that do it by treachery are punished for so doing. And do not you think that God is very angry when a man does injury to what he hath bestowed on him? For from him it is that we have received our being, and we ought to leave it to his disposal to take that being away from us. The bodies of all men are indeed mortal, and are created out of corruptible matter; but the soul is ever immortal, and is a portion of the divinity that inhabits our bodies. Besides, if any one destroys or abuses a depositum he hath received from a mere man, he is esteemed a wicked and perfidious person; but then if any one cast out of his body this divine depositum, can we imagine that he who is thereby affronted does not know of it? Moreover, our law justly ordains that slaves which run away from their master shall be punished, though the masters they run away from may have been wicked masters to them. And shall we endeavour to run away from God, who is the best of all masters, and not think ourselves guilty of impiety? Do not you know that those who depart out of this life, according to the law of nature, and pay that debt which was received from God, when he that lent it us is pleased to require it back again, enjoy eternal fame; that their houses and their posterity are sure, that their souls are pure and obedient, and obtain a most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolutions of ages, they are again sent into pure bodies; while the souls of those, whose hands have acted madly against themselves, are received by the darkest place in Hades, and while God, who is their father, punishes those that offend against either of them in their posterity; for which reason God hates such doings, and the crime is punished by our most wise legislator. Accordingly our laws determine, that the bodies of such as kill themselves should be exposed till the sun be set, without burial, although at the same time it be allowed by them to be lawful to bury our enemies [sooner]. The laws of other nations also enjoin such mens hands to be cut off when they are dead, which had been made use of in destroying themselves when alive, while they reckoned, that as the body is alien from the soul, so is the hand alien from the body. It is, therefore, my friends, a right thing to reason justly, and not add to the calamities which men bring upon us, impiety towards our Creator. If we have a mind to preserve ourselves, let us do it; for to be preserved by those our enemies, to whom we have given so many demonstrations of our courage, is no way inglorious; but if we have a mind to die, it is good to die by the hand of those that have conquered us. For nay part, I will not run over to our enemies quarters, in order to be a traitor to myself; for certainly I should then be much more foolish than those that deserted to the enemy, since they did it in order to save themselves, and I should do it for destruction, for my own destruction. However, I heartily wish the Romans may prove treacherous in this matter; for if, after their offer of their right hand for security, I be slain by them, I shall die cheerfully, and carry away with me the sense of their perfidiousness, as a consolation greater than victory itself.”
6. Now these and many the like motives did Josephus use to these men to prevent their murdering themselves; but desperation had shut their ears, as having long ago devoted themselves to die, and they were irritated at Josephus. They then ran upon him with their swords in their hands, one from one quarter, and another from another, and called him a coward, and every one of them appeared openly as if he were ready to smite him; but he calling to one of them by name, and looking like a general to another, and taking a third by the hand, and making a fourth ashamed of himself, by praying him to forbear, and being in this condition distracted with various passions, (as he well might in the great distress he was then in), he kept off every one of their swords from killing him, and was forced to do like such wild beasts as are encompassed about on every side, who always turn themselves against those that last touched them. Nay, some of their right hands were debilitated by the reverence they bare to their general, in these his fatal calamities, and their swords dropped out of their hands; and not a few of them there were, who, when they aimed to smite him with their swords, they were not thoroughly either willing or able to do it.
7. However, in this extreme distress, he was not destitute of his usual sagacity; but trusting himself to the providence of God, he put his life into hazard [in the manner following]: “And now” said he “since it is resolved among you that you will die, come on, let us commit our mutual deaths to determination by lot. He whom the lot falls to first let him be killed by him that hath the second lot, and thus fortune shall make its progress through us all; nor shall any of us perish by his own right hand, for it would be unfair if, when the rest are gone, somebody should repent and save himself.” This proposal appeared to them to be very just; and when he had prevailed with them to determine this matter by lots, he drew one of the lots for himself also. He who had the first lot laid his neck bare to him that had the next, as supposing that the general would die among them immediately; for they thought death, if Josephus might but die with them, was sweeter than life; yet was he with another left to the last, whether we must say it happened so by chance, or whether by the providence of God. And as he was very desirous neither to be condemned by the lot, nor, if he had been left to the last, to imbrue his right hand in the blood of his countrymen, he persuaded him to trust his fidelity to him, and to live as well as himself.
8. Thus Josephus escaped in the war with the Romans, and in this his own war with his friends, and was led by Nicanor to Vespasian. But now all the Romans ran together to see him; and as the multitude pressed one upon another about their general, there was a tumult of a various kind; while some rejoiced that Josephus was taken, and some threatened him, and some crowded to see him very near; but those that were more remote cried out to have this their enemy put to death, while those that were near called to mind the actions he had done, and a deep concern appeared at the change of his fortune. Nor were there any of the Roman commanders, how much soever they had been enraged at him before, but relented when they came to the sight of him. Above all the rest, Titus’s own valour, and Josephus’s own patience under his afflictions, made him pity him, as did also the commiseration of his age, when he recalled to mind that but a little while ago he was fighting, but lay now in the hands of his enemies, which made him consider the power of fortune, and how quick is the turn of affairs in war, and how no state of men is sure: for which reason he then made a great many more to be of the same pitiful temper with himself, and induced them to commiserate Josephus. He was also of great weight in persuading his father to preserve him. However, Vespasian gave strict orders that he should be kept with great caution, as though he would, in a very little time, send him to Nero.
9. When Josephus heard him give those orders, he said, that he had somewhat in his mind that he would willingly say to himself alone. When therefore they were all ordered to withdraw, excepting Titus and two of their friends, he said, “Thou, O Vespasian, thinkest no more than that thou hast taken Josephus himself captive; but I come to thee as a messenger of greater tidings; for had not I been sent by God to thee, I knew what was the law of the Jews in this case, (8) and how it becomes generals to die. Dost thou send me to Nero? For why? Are Nero’s successors till they come to thee still alive? Thou, O Vespasian, art Cæsar, and emperor, thou, and this thy son. Bind me now still faster, and keep me for thyself, for thou, O Cæsar, are not only lord over me, but over the land and the sea, and all mankind; and certainly I deserve to be kept in closer custody than I now am in, in order to be punished, if I rashly affirm any thing of God.” When he had said this, Vespasian at present did not believe him, but supposed that Josephus said this, as a cunning trick, in order to his own preservation; but in a little time he was convinced, and believed what he said to be true, God himself erecting his expectations, so as to think of obtaining the empire, and by other signs foreshewing his advancement. He also found Josephus to have spoken truth on other occasions; for one of those friends that were present at that secret conference, said to Josephus, “I cannot but wonder how thou couledst not foretel to the people of Jotapata, that they should be taken, nor couldest foretel this captivity which hath happened to thyself, unless what thou now sayest be a vain thing, in order to avoid the rage that is risen against thyself.” To which Josephus replied, “I did foretel to the people of Jotapata that they would be taken on the forty-seventh day, and that I should be caught alive by the Romans.” Now when Vespasian had inquired of the captives privately about these predictions, he found them to be true, and then he began to believe those that concerned himself. Yet did he not set Josephus at liberty from his bands, but bestowed on him suits of clothes, and other precious gifts; he treated him also in a very obliging manner, and continued so to do, Titus still joining his interest in the honours that were done him.”
How Joppa was taken, and Tiberias delivered up.
1. Now Vespasian returned to Ptolemais on the fourth day of the month Panemus [Tamuz], and from thence he came to Cesarea, which lay by the sea-side. This was a very great city of Judea, and for the greatest part inhabited by Greeks: the citizens here received both the Roman army and its general, with all sorts of acclamations and rejoicings, and this partly out of the good-will they bore to the Romans, but principally out of the hatred they bore to those that were conquered by them; on which account they came clamouring against Josephus in crowds, and desired he might be put to death. But Vespasian passed over this petition concerning him, as offered by the injudicious multitude, with a bare silence. Two of the legions also he placed at Cesarea, that they might there take their winter quarters, as perceiving the city very fit for such a purpose; but he placed the tenth and the fifth at Scythopolis, that he might not distress Cesarea with the entire army. This place was warm, even in winter, as it was suffocating hot in the summer time, by reason of its situation in a plain, and near to the sea [of Galilee].
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 Phenicia, 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 endeavour 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 an 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 jet out into the sea, and where the chains wherewith Andromeda 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 these 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 neighbouring villages, and smaller cities. So these troops over-ran the country, as they were ordered to do, and every day cut to pieces, and laid desolate the whole region.
5. But now, when the fate of Jotapata was related at Jerusalem, a great many at the first disbelieved it, on account of the vastness of the calamity, and because they had no eye-witness to attest the truth of what was related about it; for not one person was saved to be a messenger of that news, but a fame was spread abroad at random, that the city was taken, as such fame usually spreads bad news about. However, the truth was known by degrees, from the places near Jotapata, and appeared to all to be too true. Yet were there fictitious stories added to what was really done; for it was reported that Josephus was slain at the taking of the city, which piece of news filled Jerusalem full of sorrow. In every house also, and among all to whom any of the slain were allied, there was a lamentation for them; but the mourning for the commander was a public one, and some mourned for those that had lived with them, others for their kindred, others for their friends, and others for their brethren, but all mourned for Josephus; insomuch that the lamentation did not cease in the city before the thirtieth day, and a great many hired mourners, (9) with their pipes, who should begin the melancholy ditties for them.
6. But as the truth came out in time, it appeared how the affairs of Jotapata really stood; yet was it found that the death of Josephus was a fiction; and when they understood that he was alive, and was among the Romans, and that the commanders treated him at another rate than they treated captives, they were as vehemently angry at him now, as they had shewed their good-will before, when he appeared to have been dead. He was also abused by some as having been a coward, and by others as a deserter; and the city was full of indignation at him, and of reproaches cast upon him: their rage was also aggravated by their afflictions, and more inflamed by their ill success; and what usually becomes an occasion of caution to wise men, I mean affliction, became a spur to them to venture on farther calamities, and the end of one misery became still the beginning of another; they therefore resolved to fall on the Romans the more vehemently, as resolving to be revenged on him in revenging themselves on the Romans. And this was the state of Jerusalem as to the troubles which now came upon it.
7. But Vespasian, in order to see the kingdom of Agrippa, while the king persuaded him himself so to do, (partly in order to his treating the general and his army in the best and most splendid manner his private affairs would enable him to do, and partly that he might, by their means, correct such things as were amiss in his government), he removed from that Cesarea which was by the sea-side, and went to that which is called Cesarea Philippi; (10) and there he refreshed his army for twenty days, and was himself feasted by king Agrippa, where he also returned public thanks to God for the good success he had had in his undertakings. But as soon as he was informed that Tiberias was fond of innovations, and that Taricheæ had revolted, both which cities were parts of the kingdom of Agrippa, and was satisfied within himself that the Jews were every where perverted [from their obedience to their governors], he thought it seasonable to make an expedition against these cities, and that for the sake of Agrippa, and in order to bring his cities to reason. So he sent away his son Titus to [the other] Cesarea, that he might bring the army that lay there to Scythopolis, which is the largest city of Decapolis, and in the neighbourhood of Tiberias, whither he came, and there he waited for his son. He then came with three legions, and pitched his camp thirty furlongs off Tiberias, at a certain station easily seen by the innovators. It is named Sennabris. He also sent Valerian, a decurion, with fifty horsemen, to speak peaceably to those that were in the city, and to exhort them to give him assurances of their fidelity; for he had heard that the people were desirous of peace, but were obliged by some of the seditious part to join with them, and so were forced to fight for them. When Valerian had marched up to the place, and was near the wall, he alighted off his horse, and made those that were with him to do the same, that they might not be thought to come to skirmish with them; but before they could come to a discourse one with another, the most potent men among the seditious made a sally upon them armed; their leader was one whose name was Jesus, the son of Saphat, the principal head of a band of robbers. Now Valerian, neither thinking it safe to fight contrary to the commands of the general, though he were secure of a victory, and knowing that it was a very hazardous undertaking for a few to fight with many, for those that were unprovided to fight those that were ready, and being on other accounts surprised at this unexpected onset of the Jews, he ran away on foot, as did five of the rest in like manner, and left their horses behind them; which horses Jesus led away into the city, and rejoiced as if they had taken them in battle, and not by treachery.
8. Now the seniors of the people, and such as were of principal authority among them, fearing what would be the issue of this matter, fled to the camp of the Romans: they then took their king along with them, and fell down before Vespasian, to supplicate his favour, and besought him not to overlook them, nor to impute the madness of a few to the whole city, to spare a people that have been ever civil and obliging to the Romans; but to bring the authors of this revolt to due punishment, who had hitherto so watched them, that though they were zealous to give them the security of their right hands of a long time, yet could they not accomplish the same. With these supplications the general complied, although he were very angry at the whole city about the carrying off his horses, and this because he saw that Agrippa was under a great concern for them. So when Vespasian and Agrippa had accepted of their right hands by way of security, Jesus and his party thought it not safe for them to continue at Tiberias, so they ran away to Taricheæ. The next day Vespasian sent Trajan before with some horsemen to the citadel, to make trial of the multitude, whether they were all disposed for peace; and as soon as he knew that the people were of the same mind with the petitioner, he took his army, and went to the city; upon which the citizens opened to him their gates, and met him with acclamations of joy, and called him their saviour and benefactor. But as the army was a great while in getting in at the gates, they were so narrow, Vespasian commanded the south wall to be broken down, and so made a broad passage for their entrance. However, he charged them to abstain from rapine and injustice, in order to gratify the king; and on his account spared the rest of the wall, while the king undertook for them that they should continue [faithful to the Romans] for the time to come. And thus did he restore this city to a quiet state, after it had been grievously afflicted by the sedition.
How Taricheæ was taken. A description of the river Jordan, and of the country of Gennesareth.
1. And now Vespasian pitched his camp between this city and Taricheæ, but fortified his camp more strongly, as suspecting that he should be forced to stay there, and have a long war; for all the innovators had gotten together at Taricheæ, as relying upon the strength of the city, and on the lake that lay by it. This lake is called by the people of the country the lake of Gennesareth. The city itself is situated like Tiberias, at the bottom of a mountain, and on those sides which are not washed by the sea had been strongly fortified by Josephus, though not so strongly as Tiberias; for the wall of Tiberias had been built at the beginning of the Jews revolt, when he had great plenty of money, and great power, but Taricheæ partook only the remains of that liberality, Yet had they a great number of ships gotten ready upon the lake, that, in case they were beaten at land, they might retire to them, and they were so fitted up, that they might undertake a sea-fight also. But as the Romans were building a wall about their camp, Jesus and his party were neither affrighted at their number, nor at the good order they were in, but made a sally upon them, and at the very first onset the builders of the wall were dispersed, and these pulled what little they had before built to pieces; but as soon as they saw the armed men getting together, and before they had suffered any thing themselves, they retired to their own men. But then the Romans pursued them, and drove them into their ships, where they launched out as far as might give them the opportunity of reaching the Romans with what they threw at them, and then cast anchor, and brought their ships close, as in a line of battle, and thence fought the enemy from the sea, who were themselves at land. But Vespasian hearing that a great multitude of them were gotten together in the plain that was before the city, he thereupon sent his son, with six hundred chosen horsemen, to disperse them.
2. But when Titus perceived that the enemy was very numerous, he sent to his father, and informed him, that he should want more forces. But as he saw a great many of the horsemen eager to fight, and that before any succours could come to them, and that yet some of them were privately under a sort of consternation at the multitude of the Jews, he stood in a place whence he might be heard, and said to them, “My brave Romans! for it is right for me to put you in mind of what nation you are, in the beginning of my speech, that so you may not be ignorant who you are, and who they are against whom we are going to fight. For as to us Romans, no part of the habitable earth hath been able to escape our hands hitherto; but as for the Jews, that I may speak of them too, though they have been already beaten, yet do they not give up the cause; and a sad thing it would be for us to grow weary under our good success, when they bear up under their misfortunes. As to the alacrity which you shew publicly, I see it, and rejoice at it; yet am I afraid lest the multitude of the enemy should bring a concealed fright upon some of you: let such an one consider again, who we are that are to fight; and who those are against whom we are to fight. Now these Jews, though they be very bold, and great despisers of death, are but a disorderly body, and unskilful in war, and may rather be called a rout than an army; while I need say nothing of our skill and our good order; for this is the reason why we Romans alone are exercised for war in time of peace, that we may not think of number for number, when we come to fight with our enemies: for what advantage should we reap by our continual sort of warfare, if we must still be equal in number to such as have not been used to war? Consider farther, that you are to have a conflict with men in effect unarmed, while you are well armed; with footmen, while you are horsemen; with those that have no good general, while you have one: and as these advantages make you in effect manifold more than you are, so do their disadvantages mightily diminish their number. Now it is not the multitude of men, though they be soldiers, that manages wars with success, but it is their bravery that does it, though they be but a few; for a few are easily set in battle array, and can easily assist one another, while over numerous armies are more hurt by themselves than by their enemies. It is boldness and rashness, the effects of madness, that conduct the Jews. Those passions indeed make a great figure when they succeed, but are quite extinguished upon the least ill success: but we are led on by courage, and obedience, and fortitude, which shews itself indeed in our good fortune, but still does not for ever desert us in our ill fortune. Nay, indeed, your fighting is to be on greater motives than those of the Jews; for although they run the hazard of war for liberty, and for their country, yet what can be a greater motive to us than glory? and that it may never be said, that after we have got dominion of the habitable earth, the Jews are able to confront us. We must also reflect upon this, that there is no fear of our suffering any incurable disaster in the present case; for those that are ready to assist us are many, and at hand also: yet it is in our power to seize upon this victory ourselves, and I think we ought to prevent the coming of those my father is sending to us for our assistance, that our success may be peculiar to ourselves, and of greater reputation to us. And I cannot but think this an opportunity wherein my father, and I, and you shall be all put to the trial, whether he be worthy of his former glorious performances, whether I be his son in reality, and whether you be really my soldiers: for it is usual for my father to conquer; and for myself I should not bear the thoughts of returning to him if I were once taken by the enemy. And how will you be able to avoid being ashamed, if you do not shew equal courage with your commander, when he goes before you into danger? For you know very well that I shall go into the danger first, and make the first attack upon the enemy. Do not you therefore desert me, but persuade yourselves that God will be assisting to my onset. Know this also before we begin, that we shall now have better success than we should have, if we were to fight at a distance.”
3. As Titus was saying this, an extraordinary fury fell upon the men; and as Trajan was already come before the fight began, with four hundred horsemen, they were uneasy at it, because the reputation of the victory would be diminished by being common to so many. 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, 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 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.
4. But now there fell out a terrible sedition among them within the city; for the inhabitants themselves, who had possessions there, and to whom the city belonged, were not disposed to fight from the very beginning; and now the less so, because they had been beaten: but the foreigners, which were very numerous, would force them to fight so much the more, insomuch that there was a clamour and a tumult among them, as all mutually angry one at another. And when Titus heard this tumult, for he was not far from the wall, he cried out, “Fellow soldiers, now is the time; and why do we make any delay, when God is giving up the Jews to us? Take the victory which is given you: do not you hear what a noise they make? Those that have escaped our hands are in an uproar against one another. We have the city if we make haste: but besides haste we must undergo some labour, and use some courage; for no great thing uses to be accomplished without danger: accordingly we must not only prevent their uniting again, which necessity will soon compel them to do, but we must also prevent the coming of our own men to our assistance, that as few as we are we may conquer so great a multitude, and may ourselves alone take the city.”
5. As soon as ever Titus had said this, he leaped upon his horse, and rode apace down to the lake; by which lake he marched, and entered into the city the first of them all, as did the others soon after him. Hereupon those that were upon the walls were seized with a terror at the boldness of the attempt, nor durst any one venture to fight with him, or to hinder him; so they left guarding the city, and some of those that were about Jesus fled over the country, while others of them ran down to the lake, and met the enemy in the teeth, and some were slain as they were getting up into the ships, but others of them, as they attempted to overtake those that were already gone aboard. There was also a great slaughter made in the city, while those foreigners that had not fled away already made opposition; but the natural inhabitants were killed without fighting; for in hopes of Titus’s giving them his right hand for their security, and out of a consciousness that they had not given any consent to the war, they avoided fighting, till Titus had slain the authors of this revolt, and then put a stop to any farther slaughters, out of commiseration of these inhabitants of the place. But for those that had fled to the lake, upon seeing the city taken, they sailed as far as they possibly could from the enemy.
6. Hereupon Titus sent one of his horsemen to his father, and let him know the good news of what he had done; at which, as was natural, he was very joyful, both on account of the courage and glorious actions of his son; for he thought that now the greatest part of the war was over. He then came thither himself, and set men to guard the city, and gave them command to take care that nobody got privately out of it, but to kill such as attempted so to do. And on the next day he went down to the lake, and commanded that vessels should be fitted up in order to pursue those that had escaped in the ships. These vessels were quickly gotten ready accordingly, because there was great plenty of materials, and a great number of artificers also.
7. Now this lake of Gennesareth is so called from the country adjoining to it. Its breadth is forty furlongs, and its length one hundred and forty; its waters are sweet, and very agreeable for drinking, for they are finer than the thick waters of other fens; the lake is also pure, and on every side ends directly at the shores, and at the sand; it is also of a temperate nature when you draw it up, and of a more gentle nature than river or fountain water, and yet always cooler than one could expect in so diffuse a place as this is. Now when this water is kept in the open air, it is as cold as that snow which the country people are accustomed to make by night in summer. There are several kinds of fish in it, different both to the taste and the sight from those elsewhere. It is divided into two parts by the river Jordan. Now Panium is thought to be the fountain of Jordan, but in reality it is carried thither after an occult manner from the place called Phiala: this place lies as you go up to Trachonitis, and is an hundred and twenty furlongs from Cesarea, and is not far out of the road on the right hand; and indeed it hath its name of Phiala [vial or bowl] very justly, from the roundness of its circumference, as being round like a wheel; its water continues always up to its edges, without either sinking or running over. And as this origin of Jordan was formerly not known, it was discovered so to be when Philip was tetrarch of Trachonitis; for he had chaff thrown into Phiala, and it was found at Panium, where the ancients thought the fountain-head of the river was, whither it had been therefore carried [by the waters]. As for Panium itself, its natural beauty had been improved by the royal liberality of Agrippa, and adorned at his expences. Now Jordan’s visible stream arises from this cavern, and divides the marshes and fens of the lake Semechonitis. And when it hath run another hundred and twenty furlongs, it first passes by the city Julias, and then passes through the middle of the lake Gennesareth; after which it runs a long way over a desert, and then makes its exit into the lake Asphaltitis.
8. The country also that lies over against this lake hath the same name of Gennesareth; its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty; its soil is so fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants accordingly plant all sorts of trees there; for the temper of the air is so well mixed that it agrees very well with those several sorts, particularly walnuts, which require the coldest air, flourish there in vast plenty; there are palm trees also, which grow best in hot air; fig trees also and olives grow near them, which yet require an air that is more temperate. One may call this place the ambition of nature, where it forces those plants that are naturally enemies to one another to agree together: it is a happy contention of the seasons, as if every one of them laid claim to this country; for it not only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruit beyond men’s expectation, but preserves them a great while; it supplies men with the principal fruits, with grapes and figs, continually, during ten months of the year, (11) and the rest of the fruits as they become ripe together through the whole year: for besides the good temperature of the air, it is also watered from a most fertile fountain. The people of the country call it Capharnaum. Some have thought it to be a vein of the Nile, because it produces the Coracin fish as well as that lake does which is near to Alexandria. The length of this country extends itself along the banks of this lake that bears the same name, for thirty furlongs, and is in breadth twenty, And this is the nature of that place.
9. But now, when the vessels were gotten ready, Vespasian put on ship board as many of his forces as he thought sufficient to be too hard for those that were upon the lake, and set sail after them. 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 armour, 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 other, and were drowned, they and their ships together. As for those that endeavoured 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 putrified, 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.
10. After this fight was over, Vespasian sat upon his tribunal at Taricheæ, in order to distinguish the foreigners from the old inhabitants; for those foreigners appear to have begun the war. So he deliberated with the other commanders, whether he ought to save those old inhabitants or not. And when those commanders alleged, that the dismission of them would be to his own disadvantage, because, when they were once set at liberty they would not be at rest, since they would be people destitute of proper habitations, and would he able to compel such as they fled to to fight against us; Vespasian acknowledged, that they did not deserve to be saved, and that if they had leave given them to fly away, they would make use of it against those that gave them that leave. But still he considered with himself, after what manner they should be slain; (12) for if he had them slain there, he suspected the people of the country would thereby become his enemies; for that to be sure they would never bear it, that so many that had been supplicants to him should be killed, and to offer violence to them, after he had given them assurances of their lives, he could not himself bear to do it. However, his friends were too hard for him, and pretended that nothing against Jews could be any impiety, and that he ought to prefer what was profitable before what was fit to be done, where both could not be made consistent. So he gave them an ambiguous liberty to do as they advised, and permitted the prisoners to go along no other road than that which led to Tiberias only. So they readily believed what they desired to be true, and went along securely, with their effects, the way which was allowed them, while the Romans seized upon all the road that led to Tiberias, that none of them might go out of it, and shut them up in the city. Then came Vespasian, and ordered them all to stand in the stadium, and commanded them to kill the old men, together with the others that were useless, which were in number a thousand and two hundred. Out of the young men he chose six thousand of the strongest, and sent them to Nero, to dig through the Isthmus, and sold the remainder for slaves, being thirty thousand and four hundred, besides such as he made a present of to Agrippa; for as to those that belonged to his kingdom, he gave him leave to do what he pleased with them: however, the king sold these also for slaves; but for the rest of the multitude, who were Trachonites, and Gaulanites, and of Hippos, and some of Gadara, the greatest part of them were seditious persons, and fugitives, who were of such shameful characters, that they preferred war before peace. These prisoners were taken on the eighth day of the month Gorpiaeus [Elul].
(1) Take the confirmation of this in the words of Suetonius, here produced by Dr. Hudson. “In the reign of Claudius,” says he, “Vespasian, for the sake of Narcissus, was sent as a lieutenant of a legion into Germany. Thence he removed into Britain, and fought thirty battles with the enemy.” In Vesp. § 4. We may also here note from Josephus, that Claudius the emperor, who triumphed for the conquest of Britain, was enabled so to do by Vespasian’s conduct and bravery, and that he is here styled the father of Vespasian.
(2) Spanheim and Reland both agree, that the two cities here esteemed greater than Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, were Rome and Alexandria; nor is there any occasion for doubt in so plain a case.
(3) This Antiochus was King of Comagene. Agrippa’s kingdom had just been described, Chap. 3 § 5. It contained, as Reland distinctly observes, only the tetrarchy of Philip given him by Claudius, and part of Galilee given him by Nero, i.e. that part which contained Tiberias, Taricheæ, and Julias, with 14 villages thereto belonging; and Sohemus was King of Emesa in Syria.
(4) This description of the exact symmetry and regularity of the Roman army, and of the Roman encampments, with the sounding their trumpets, &c. and order of war, described in this and the next chapter, is so very like to the symmetry and regularity of the people of Israel in the wilderness, (see description of the temples, chap. 9) that one cannot well avoid the supposal, that the one was the ultimate pattern of the other, and that the tactics of the ancients were taken from the rules given by God to Moses. And it is thought by some skilful in these matters, that these accounts of Josephus, as to the Roman camp and armour, and conduct in war, are preferable to those in the Roman authors themselves.
(5) I cannot but here observe an eastern way of speaking, frequent among them, but not usual among us, where the word only or alone is not set down, but perhaps some way supplied in the pronunciation. Thus Josephus here says, that those of Jotapata slew seven of the Romans, as they were marching off, because the Romans retreat was regular, their bodies were covered over with their armour, and the Jews fought at some distance; his meaning is clear, that these were the reasons why they slew only, or no more than seven. I have met with many the like examples in the scriptures, in Josephus, &c. but did not note down the particular places. This observation ought to be borne in mind upon many occasions.
(6) Monsieur Toinard’s conjecture, here mention’d by Dr. Hudson, is too strong to be opposed; that these odd seven days should be blotted out, both here and chap. 8 §9, and the true number be esteemed only forty days. There being no more from the 21st of Artemisius, when Josephus entered the city § 3 before the siege began, till the 1st of Panemus, when the city was taken, as § 35 will inform us. This is said only upon the supposition that the 21st of Artemisus, and the 1st of Panemus were the true days of the beginning and ending of this siege. Of the former of which numbers yet, at least, a doubt may sooner be made, than of this number 47. My reason is this, that such number 21 is but once set down, whereas the other 47 is repeated again, chap. 8 § 9 without any variation. I therefore rather chuse to suppose that Josephus entered Jotapata on the 14th of Artemesius, which will afford us 47 days for the duration of this siege; than to say he entered on the 21st and that the siege might be supposed to have lasted 40 days, only.
(7) of these divine afflatus’s or prophetick dreams, by which Josephus foretold, among other things, the coming of Vespasian and Titus the Roman Empire in the days of Nero, and before either Galba, or Otho, or Vitellius were thought of as successors to Nero; and all this attested to by Suetonius and Dio, the Roman historians, see the 1st Dissertation prefixed § 6. And of that, as well as other presages of this their elevation, see Tacitus, Histor. I.10, II.1, II.4, II.78, IV.81, IV.82, and Sueton. in Vesp. 4[.5], 5, 7, and Dio LIX. pag. 745. [LXV[LXVI]] See the like prophetick dream in Josephus’s account of his own Life, § 42 and here presently, § 9.
(8) I do not know where to find the law of Moses here mentioned by Josephus, and afterwards by Eleazar, B. VII. ch. 8. § 7, and almost implied in B. I. ch. 13. § 10, by Josephus’s commendation of Phasaelus for doing so; I mean whereby Jewish generals and people were obliged to kill themselves, rather than go into slavery under heathens. I doubt this would have been no better than self-murder; and I believe it was rather some vain doctrine, or interpretation of the rigid Pharisees, or Essens, or Herodians, than a just consequence from any law of God delivered by Moses.
(9) These public mourners, hired upon the supposed death of Josephus, and the real death of many more, illustrate some passages in the Bible, which suppose the same custom, as Matt. 11:17, where the reader may consult the notes of Grotius.
(10) Of this Cesarea Philippi (twice mentioned in our New Testament, Matt. 16:13, Mark 8:27) there are coins still extant, as Spanheim here informs us.
(11) It may be worth our while to observe here, that near this lake of Gennesareth grapes and figs hang on the trees ten months of the year. We may observe also, that in Cyril of Jerusalem, Cateches. 18. § 3 [§ 7. Cyril says of this particular pre-Easter “the season is winter”, so that it is an unusually early Easter, “as was the case in 348 A.D.”, says the annotator], which was delivered not long before Easter, there were no fresh leaves of fig-trees, nor bunches of fresh grapes in Judea; so that when St. Mark says, ch. 11. ver. 13, that our Saviour, soon after the same time of the year, came and found leaves on a fig-tree near Jerusalem, but no figs, because the time of new figs ripening was not yet, he says very true; nor were they therefore other than old leaves which our Saviour saw, and old figs which he expected, and which even with us commonly hang on the trees all winter long.
(12) This is the most cruel and barbarous action that Vespasian ever did in this whole war, as he did it with great reluctance also. It was done both after public assurance given of sparing the prisoners lives, and when all knew and confessed that these prisoners were no way guilty of any sedition against the Romans. Nor indeed did Titus now give his consent, so far as appears, nor ever act of himself so barbarously; nay, soon after this Titus grew quite weary of shedding blood, and of punishing the innocent with the guilty, and gave the people of Gischala leave to keep the Jewish Sabbath, B. IV. ch. 2. § 3, 5, in the midst of their siege. Nor was Vespasian disposed to do what he did, till his officers persuaded him, and that from two principal topics, viz. that nothing could be unjust that was done against Jews, and that when both cannot be consistent, advantage must prevail over justice. Admirable court doctrines these! [It is also a pernicious doctrine in a practical sense: if you give your enemy no way to surrender, then of course he cannot surrender and the cost of your victory is thereby certainly increased.]