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  • JOSEPHUS' WRITINGS - BOOK 24, CH. 11
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    THAT UPON THE CONQUEST AND SLAUGHTER OF VITELLIUS VESPASIAN HASTENED HIS JOURNEY TO ROME; BUT TITUS HIS SON RETURNED TO JERUSALEM.

    1. AND now, when Vespasian had given answers to the embassages, and had disposed of the places of power justly, (25) and according to every one's deserts, he came to Antioch, and consulting which way he had best take, he preferred to go for Rome, rather than to march to Alexandria, because he saw that Alexandria was sure to him already, but that the affairs at Rome were put into disorder by Vitellius; so he sent Mucianus to Italy, and committed a considerable army both of horsemen and footmen to him; yet was Mucianus afraid of going by sea, because it was the middle of winter, and so he led his army on foot through Cappadocia and Phrygia.

    2. In the mean time, Antonius Primus took the third of the legions that were in Mysia, for he was president of that province, and made haste, in order to fight Vitellius; whereupon Vitellius sent away Cecinna, with a great army, having a mighty confidence in him, because of his having beaten Otho. This Cecinna marched out of Rome in great haste, and found Antonius about Cremona in Gall, which city is in the borders of Italy; but when he saw there that the enemy were numerous and in good order, he dare not fight them; and as he thought a retreat dangerous, so he began to think of betraying his army to Antonius. Accordingly, he assembled the centurions and tribunes that were under his command, and persuaded them to go over to Antonius, and this by diminishing the reputation of Vitellius, and by exaggerating the power of Vespasian. He also told them that with the one there was no more than the bare name of dominion, but with the other was the power of it; and that it was better for them to prevent necessity, and gain favor, and, while they were likely to be overcome in battle, to avoid the danger beforehand, and go over to Antonius willingly; that Vespasian was able of himself to subdue what had not yet submitted without their assistance, while Vitellius could not preserve what he had already with it.

    3. Cecinna said this, and much more to the same purpose, and persuaded them to comply with him; and both he and his army deserted; but still the very same night the soldiers repented of what they had done, and a fear seized on them, lest perhaps Vitellius who sent them should get the better; and drawing their swords, they assaulted Cecinna, in order to kill him; and the thing had been done by them, if the tribunes had not fallen upon their knees, and besought them not to do it; so the soldiers did not kill him, but put him in bonds, as a traitor, and were about to send him to Vitellius. When [Antonius] Primus heard of this, he raised up his men immediately, and made them put on their armor, and led them against those that had revolted; hereupon they put themselves in order of battle, and made a resistance for a while, but were soon beaten, and fled to Cremona; then did Primus take his horsemen, and cut off their entrance into the city, and encompassed and destroyed a great multitude of them before the city, and fell into the city together with the rest, and gave leave to his soldiers to plunder it. And here it was that many strangers, who were merchants, as well as many of the people of that country, perished, and among them Vitellius's whole army, being thirty thousand and two hundred, while Antonius lost no more of those that came with him from Mysia than four thousand and five hundred: he then loosed Cecinna, and sent him to Vespasian to tell him the good news. So he came, and was received by him, and covered the scandal of his treachery by the unexpected honors he received from Vespasian.

    4. And now, upon the news that Antonius was approaching, Sabinus took courage at Rome, and assembled those cohorts of soldiers that kept watch by night, and in the night time seized upon the capitol; and, as the day came on, many men of character came over to him, with Domitian, his brother's son, whose encouragement was of very great weight for the compassing the government. Now Vitellius was not much concerned at this Primus, but was very angry with those that had revolted with Sabinus; and thirsting, out of his own natural barbarity, after noble blood, he sent out that part of the army which came along with him to fight against the capitol; and many bold actions were done on this side, and on the side of those that held the temple. But at last, the soldiers that came from Germany, being too numerous for the others, got the hill into their possession, where Domitian, with many other of the principal Romans, providentially escaped, while the rest of the multitude were entirely cut to pieces, and Sabinus himself was brought to Vitellius, and then slain; the soldiers also plundered the temple of its ornaments, and set it on fire. But now within a day's time came Antonius, with his army, and were met by Vitellius and his army; and having had a battle in three several places, the last were all destroyed. Then did Vitellius come out of the palace, in his cups, and satiated with an extravagant and luxurious meal, as in the last extremity, and being drawn along through the multitude, and abused with all sorts of torments, had his head cut off in the midst of Rome, having retained the government eight months and five days (26) and had he lived much longer, I cannot but think the empire would not have been sufficient for his lust. Of the others that were slain, were numbered above fifty thousand. This battle was fought on the third day of the month Apelleus [Casleu]; on the next day Mucianus came into the city with his army, and ordered Antonius and his men to leave off killing; for they were still searching the houses, and killed many of Vitellius's soldiers, and many of the populace, as supposing them to be of his party, preventing by their rage any accurate distinction between them and others. He then produced Domitian, and recommended him to the multitude, until his father should come himself; so the people being now freed from their fears, made acclamations of joy for Vespasian, as for their emperor, and kept festival days for his confirmation, and for the destruction of Vitellius.

    5. And now, as Vespasian was come to Alexandria, this good news came from Rome, and at the same time came embassies from all his own habitable earth, to congratulate him upon his advancement; and though this Alexandria was the greatest of all cities next to Rome, it proved too narrow to contain the multitude that then came to it. So upon this confirmation of Vespasian's entire government, which was now settled, and upon the unexpected deliverance of the public affairs of the Romans from ruin, Vespasian turned his thoughts to what remained unsubdued in Judea. However, he himself made haste to go to Rome, as the winter was now almost over, and soon set the affairs of Alexandria in order, but sent his son Titus, with a select part of his army, to destroy Jerusalem. So Titus marched on foot as far as Nicopolis, which is distant twenty furlongs from Alexandria; there he put his army on board some long ships, and sailed upon the river along the Mendesian Nomus, as far as the city Tumuis; there he got out of the ships, and walked on foot, and lodged all night at a small city called Tanis. His second station was Heracleopolis, and his third Pelusium; he then refreshed his army at that place for two days, and on the third passed over the mouths of the Nile at Pelusium; he then proceeded one station over the desert, and pitched his camp at the temple of the Casian Jupiter, (27) and on the next day at Ostracine. This station had no water, but the people of the country make use of water brought from other places. After this he rested at Rhinocolura, and from thence he went to Raphia, which was his fourth station. This city is the beginning of Syria. For his fifth station he pitched his camp at Gaza; after which he came to Ascalon, and thence to Jamnia, and after that to Joppa, and from Joppa to Cesarea, having taken a resolution to gather all his other forces together at that place.

    ENDNOTE

    (1) Here we have the exact situation of of Jeroboam's "at the exit of Little Jordan into Great Jordan, near the place called Daphne, but of old Dan. See the note in Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 8. sect. 4. But Reland suspects flint here we should read Dan instead of there being no where else mention of a place called Daphne. (2) These numbers in Josephus of thirty furlongs' ascent to the top of Mount Tabor, whether we estimate it by winding and gradual, or by the perpendicular altitude, and of twenty-six furlongs' circumference upon the top, as also fifteen furlongs for this ascent in Polybius, with Geminus's perpendicular altitude of almost fourteen furlongs, here noted by Dr. Hudson, do none of' them agree with the authentic testimony of Mr. Maundrell, an eye- witness, p. 112, who says he was not an hour in getting up to the top of this Mount Tabor, and that the area of the top is an oval of about two furlongs in length, and one in breadth. So I rather suppose Josephus wrote three furlongs for the ascent or altitude, instead of thirty; and six furlongs for the circumference at the top, instead of twenty-six,--since a mountain of only three furlongs perpendicular altitude may easily require near an hour's ascent, and the circumference of an oval of the foregoing quantity is near six furlongs. Nor certainly could such a vast circumference as twenty-six furlongs, or three miles and a quarter, at that height be encompassed with a wall, including a trench and other fortifications, (perhaps those still remaining, ibid.) in the small interval of forty days, as Josephus here says they were by himself. (3) This name Dorcas in Greek, was Tabitha in Hebrew or Syriac, as Acts 9:36. Accordingly, some of the manuscripts set it down here Tabetha or Tabeta. Nor can the context in Josephus be made out by supposing the reading to have been this: "The son of Tabitha; which, in the language of our country, denotes Dorcas" [or a doe]. (4) Here we may discover the utter disgrace and ruin of the high priesthood among the Jews, when undeserving, ignoble, and vile persons were advanced to that holy office by the seditious; which sort of high priests, as Josephus well remarks here, were thereupon obliged to comply with and assist those that advanced them in their impious practices. The names of these high priests, or rather ridiculous and profane persons, were Jesus the son of Damneus, Jesus the son of Gamaliel, Matthias the son of Theophilus, and that prodigious ignoramus Phannias, the son of Samuel; all whom we shall meet with in Josephus's future history of this war; nor do we meet with any other so much as pretended high priest after Phannias, till Jerusalem was taken and destroyed. (5) This tribe or course of the high priests, or priests, here called Eniachim, seems to the learned Mr. Lowth, one well versed in Josephus, to be that 1 Chronicles 24:12, "the course of Jakim," where some copies have" the course of Eliakim;" and I think this to be by no means an improbable conjecture. (6) This Symeon, the son of Gamaliel, is mentioned as the president of the Jewish sanhedrim, and one that perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, by the Jewish Rabbins, as Reland observes on this place. He also tells us that those Rabbins mention one Jesus the son of Gamala, as once a high priest, but this long before the destruction of Jerusalem; so that if he were the same person with this Jesus the son of Gamala, Josephus, he must have lived to be very old, or they have been very bad chronologers. (7) It is worth noting here, that this Ananus, the best of the Jews at this time, and the high priest, who was so very uneasy at the profanation of the Jewish courts of the temple by the zealots, did not however scruple the profanation of the "court of the Gentiles;" as in our Savior's days it was very much profaned by the Jews; and made a market-place, nay, a "den of thieves," without scruple, Matthew 21:12, 13; Mark 11:15-17. Accordingly Josephus himself, when he speaks of the two inner courts, calls them both hagia or holy places; but, so far as I remember, never gives that character of the court of the Gentiles. See B. V. ch. 9. sect. 2. (8) This title(name) of Jerusalem given it here by Simon, the general of the Idumeans, "the common city" of the Idumeans, who were convert of justice, as well as of the original native Jews, greatly confirms that maxim of the Rabbins, here set down by Reland, that "Jerusalem was not assigned, or appropriated, to the tribe of Benjamin or Judah, but every tribe had equal right to it [at their coming to worship there at the several festivals]." See a little before, ch. 3. sect. 3, or "worldly worship," as the author to the Hebrews calls the sanctuary, "a worldly sanctuary." (9) Some commentators are ready to suppose that this" Zacharias, the son of Baruch," here most unjustly slain by the Jews in the temple, was the very same person with "Zacharias, the son of Barachias," whom our Savior says the Jews "slew between the temple and the altar," Matthew 23:35. This is a somewhat strange exposition; since Zechariah the prophet was really "the son of Barachiah," and "grandson of Iddo, Zechariah 1:1; and how he died, we have no other account than that before us in St. Matthew: while this "Zacharias" was "the son of Baruch." Since the slaughter was past when our Savior spake these words, the Jews had then already slain him; whereas this slaughter of "Zacharias, the son of Baruch," in Josephus, was then about thirty-four years future. And since the slaughter was "between the temple and the altar," in the court of the priests, one of the most sacred and remote parts of the whole temple; while this was, in Josephus's own words, in the middle of the temple, and much the most probably in the court of Israel only (for we have had no intimation that the zealots had at this time profaned the court of the priests. See B. V. ch. 1. sect. 2). Nor do I believe that our Josephus, who always insists on the peculiar sacredness of the inmost court, and of the holy house that was in it, would have omitted so material an aggravation of this barbarous murder, as perpetrated in. a place so very holy, had that been the true place of it. See Antiq. B. XI. ch. 7. sect. 1, and the note here on B. V. ch. 1. sect. 2. (10) This prediction, that the city (Jerusalem) should then "be taken, and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a sedition should invade Jews, and their own hands should pollute that temple;" or, as it is B. VI. ch. 2. sect. 1, "when any one should begin to slay his countrymen in the city;" is wanting in our present copies of the Old Testament. See Essay on the Old Test. p. 104-- 112. But this prediction, as Josephus well remarks here, though, with the other predictions of the prophets, it was now laughed at by the seditious, was by their very means soon exactly fulfilled. However, I cannot but here take notice of Grotius's positive assertion upon Matthew 26:9, here quoted by Dr. Hudson, that "it ought to be taken for granted, as a certain truth, that many predictions of the Jewish prophets were preserved, not in writing, but by memory." Whereas, it seems to me so far from certain, that I think it has no evidence nor probability at all. (11) By these hiera, or "holy places," as distinct from cities, must be meant "proseuchae," or "houses of prayer," out of cities; of which we find mention made in the New Testament and other authors. See Luke 6:12; Acts 16:13, 16; Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 10. sect. 23; his Life, sect. 51. "In qua te quero proseucha?" Juvenal Sat. III. yet. 296. They were situated sometimes by the sides of rivers, Acts 16:13, or by the sea-side, Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 10. sect. 23. So did the seventy-two interpreters go to pray every morning by the sea-side before they went to their work, B. XII. ch. 2. sect. 12. (12) Gr. Galatia, and so everywhere. (13) Whether this Somorrhon, or Somorrha, ought not to be here written Gomorrha, as some MSS. in a manner have it, (for the place meant by Josephus seems to be near Segor, or Zoar, at the very south of the Dead Sea, hard by which stood Sodom and Gomorrha,) cannot now be certainly determined, but seems by no means improbable. (14) This excellent prayer of Elisha is wanting in our copies, 2 Kings 2:21, 22, though it be referred to also in the Apostolical Constitutions, B. VII. ch. 37., and the success of it is mentioned in them all. (15) See the note on B. V. ch. 13. sect. 6. (16) Of these Roman affairs and tumults under Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, here only touched upon by Josephus, see Tacitus, Suelonius, and Dio, more largely. However, we may observe with Ottius, that Josephus writes the name of the second of them not Otto, with many others, but Otho, with the coins. See also the note on ch. 11. sect. 4. (17) Some of the ancients call this famous tree, or grove, an oak others, a turpentine tree, or grove. It has been very famous in all the past ages, and is so, I suppose, at this day; and that particularly for an eminent mart or meeting of merchants there every year, as the travelers inform us. (18) Puetonius differs hardly three days from Josephus, and says Otho perished on the ninety-fifth day of his reign. In Anthon. See the note on ch. 11. sect. 4. (19) This beginning and ending the observation of the Jewish seventh day, or sabbath, with a priest's blowing of a trumpet, is remarkable, and no where else mentioned, that I know of. Nor is Reland's conjecture here improbable, that this was the very place that has puzzled our commentators so long, called "Musach Sabbati," the "Covert of the Sabbath," if that be the true reading, 2 Kings 16:18, because here the proper priest stood dry, under a "covering," to proclaim the beginning and ending of every Jewish sabbath. (20) The Roman authors that now remain say Vitellius had children, whereas Josephus introduces here the Roman soldiers in Judea saying he had none. Which of these assertions was the truth I know not. Spanheim thinks he hath given a peculiar reason for calling Vitellius "childless," though he really had children, Diss. de Num. p. 649, 650; to which it appears very difficult to give our assent. (21) This brother of Vespasian was Flavius Sabinus, as Suetonius informs us, in Vitell. sect. 15, and in Vespas. sect. 2. He is also named by Josephus presently ch. 11. sect; 4. (22) It is plain by the nature of the thing, as well as by Josephus and Eutropius, that Vespasian was first of all saluted emperor in Judea, and not till some time afterward in Egypt. Whence Tacitus's and Suetonius's present copies must be correct text, when they both say that he was first proclaimed in Egypt, and that on the calends of July, while they still say it was the fifth of the Nones or Ides of the same July before he was proclaimed in Judea. I suppose the month they there intended was June, and not July, as the copies now have it; nor does Tacitus's coherence imply less. See Essay on the Revelation, p. 136. (23) Here we have an authentic description of the bounds and circumstances of Egypt, in the days of Vespasian and Titus. (24) As Daniel was preferred by Darius and Cyrus, on account of his having foretold the destruction of the Babylonian monarchy by their means, and the consequent exaltation of the Medes and Persians, Daniel 5:6 or rather, as Jeremiah, when he was a prisoner, was set at liberty, and honorably treated by Nebuzaradan, at the command of Nebuchadnezzar, on account of his having foretold the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, Jeremiah 40:1-7; so was our Josephus set at liberty, and honorably treated, on account of his having foretold the advancement of Vespasian and Titus to the Roman empire. All these are most eminent instances of the interposition of Divine Providence. and of the certainty of Divine predictions in the great revolutions of the four monarchies. Several such-like examples there are, both in the sacred and other histories, as in the case of Joseph in Egypt. and of Jaddua the high priest, in the days of Alexander the Great, etc. (25) This is well observed by Josephus, that Vespasian, in order to secure his success, and establish his government at first, distributed his offices and places upon the foot of justice, and bestowed them on such as best deserved them, and were best fit for them. Which wise conduct in a mere heathen ought to put those rulers and ministers of state to shame, who, professing Christianity, act otherwise, and thereby expose themselves and their kingdoms to vice and destruction. (26) The numbers in Josephus, ch. 9. sect. 2, 9, for Galba seven months seven days, for Otho three months two days, and here for Vitellius eight months five days, do not agree with any Roman historians, who also disagree among themselves. And, indeed, Sealiger justly complains, as Dr. Hudson observes on ch. 9. sect. 2, that this period is very confused and uncertain in the ancient authors. They were probably some of them contemporary together for some time; one of the best evidences we have, I mean Ptolemy's Canon, omits them all, as if they did not all together reign one whole year, nor had a single Thoth, or new-year's day, (which then fell upon August 6,) in their entire reigns. Dio also, who says that Vitellius reigned a year within ten days, does yet estimate all their reigns together at no more than one year, one month, and two days. (27) There are coins of this Casian Jupiter still extant.

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