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  • JOSEPHUS' WRITINGS - BOOK 25, CH. 9
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    TITUS WHEN THE JEWS WERE NOT AT ALL MOLLIFIED BY HIS LEAVING OFF THE SIEGE FOR A WHILE, SET HIMSELF AGAIN TO PROSECUTE THE SAME; BUT SOON SENT JOSEPHUS TO DISCOURSE WITH HIS OWN COUNTRYMEN ABOUT PEACE.

    1. A RESOLUTION was now taken by Titus to relax the siege for a little while, and to afford the seditious an interval for consideration, and to see whether the demolishing of their second wall would not make them a little more compliant, or whether they were not somewhat afraid of a famine, because the spoils they had gotten by rapine would not be sufficient for them long; so he made use of this relaxation in order to compass his own designs. Accordingly, as the usual appointed time when he must distribute subsistence money to the soldiers was now come, he gave orders that the commanders should put the army into battle- array, in the face of the enemy, and then give every one of the soldiers their pay. So the soldiers, according to custom, opened the cases wherein their arms before lay covered, and marched with their breastplates on, as did the horsemen lead their horses in their fine trappings. Then did the places that were before the city shine very splendidly for a great way; nor was there any thing so grateful to Titus's own men, or so terrible to the enemy, as that sight. For the whole old wall, and the north side of the temple, were full of spectators, and one might see the houses full of such as looked at them; nor was there any part of the city which was not covered over with their multitudes; nay, a very great consternation seized upon the hardiest of the Jews themselves, when they saw all the army in the same place, together with the fineness of their arms, and the good order of their men. And I cannot but think that the seditious would have changed their minds at that sight, unless the crimes they had committed against the people had been so horrid, that they despaired of forgiveness from the Romans; but as they believed death with torments must be their punishment, if they did not go on in the defense of the city, they thought it much better to die in war. Fate also prevailed so far over them, that the innocent were to perish with the guilty, and the city was to be destroyed with the seditious that were in it.

    2. Thus did the Romans spend four days in bringing this subsistence-money to the several legions. But on the fifth day, when no signs of peace appeared to come from the Jews, Titus divided his legions, and began to raise banks, both at the tower of Antonia and at John's monument. Now his designs were to take the upper city at that monument, and the temple at the tower of Antonia; for if the temple were not taken, it would be dangerous to keep the city itself; so at each of these parts he raised him banks, each legion raising one. As for those that wrought at John's monument, the Idumeans, and those that were in arms with Simon, made sallies upon them, and put some stop to them; while John's party, and the multitude of zealots with them, did the like to those that were before the tower of Antonia. These Jews were now too hard for the Romans, not only in direct fighting, because they stood upon the higher ground, but because they had now learned to use their own engines; for their continual use of them one day after another did by degrees improve their skill about them; for of one sort of engines for darts they had three hundred, and forty for stones; by the means of which they made it more tedious for the Romans to raise their banks. But then Titus, knowing that the city would be either saved or destroyed for himself, did not only proceed earnestly in the siege, but did not omit to have the Jews exhorted to repentance; so he mixed good counsel with his works for the siege. And being sensible that exhortations are frequently more effectual than arms, he persuaded them to surrender the city, now in a manner already taken, and thereby to save themselves, and sent Josephus to speak to them in their own language; for he imagined they might yield to the persuasion of a countryman of their own.

    3. So Josephus went round about the wall, and tried to find a place that was out of the reach of their darts, and yet within their hearing, and besought them, in many words, to spare themselves, to spare their country and their temple, and not to be more obdurate in these cases than foreigners themselves; for that the Romans, who had no relation to those things, had a reverence for their sacred rites and places, although they belonged to their enemies, and had till now kept their hands off from meddling with them; while such as were brought up under them, and, if they be preserved, will be the only people that will reap the benefit of them, hurry on to have them destroyed. That certainly they have seen their strongest walls demolished, and that the wall still remaining was weaker than those that were already taken. That they must know the Roman power was invincible, and that they had been used to serve them; for, that in case it be allowed a right thing to fight for liberty, that ought to have been done at first; but for them that have once fallen under the power of the Romans, and have now submitted to them for so many long years, to pretend to shake off that yoke afterward, was the work of such as had a mind to die miserably, not of such as were lovers of liberty. Besides, men may well enough grudge at the dishonor of owning ignoble masters over them, but ought not to do so to those who have all things under their command; for what part of the world is there that hath escaped the Romans, unless it be such as are of no use for violent heat, or for violent cold? And evident it is that fortune is on all hands gone over to them; and that God, when he had gone round the nations with this dominion, is now settled in Italy. That, moreover, it is a strong and fixed law, even among brute beasts, as well as among men, to yield to those that are too strong for them; and to stiffer those to have the dominion who are too hard for the rest in war; for which reason it was that their forefathers, who were far superior to them, both in their souls and bodies, and other advantages, did yet submit to the Romans, which they would not have suffered, had they not known that God was with them. As for themselves, what can they depend on in this their opposition, when the greatest part of their city is already taken? and when those that are within it are under greater miseries than if they were taken, although their walls be still standing? For that the Romans are not unacquainted with that famine which is in the city, whereby the people are already consumed, and the fighting men will in a little time be so too; for although the Romans should leave off the siege, and not fall upon the city with their swords in their hands, yet was there an insuperable war that beset them within, and was augmented every hour, unless they were able to wage war with famine, and fight against it, or could alone conquer their natural appetites. He added this further, how right a thing it was to change their conduct before their calamities were become incurable, and to have recourse to such advice as might preserve them, while opportunity was offered them for so doing; for that the Romans would not be mindful of their past actions to their disadvantage, unless they persevered in their insolent behavior to the end; because they were naturally mild in their conquests, and preferred what was profitable, before what their passions dictated to them; which profit of theirs lay not in leaving the city empty of inhabitants, nor the country a desert; on which account Caesar did now offer them his right hand for their security. Whereas, if he took the city by force, he would not save any of them, and this especially, if they rejected his offers in these their utmost distresses; for the walls that were already taken could not but assure them that the third wall would quickly be taken also. And though their fortifications should prove too strong for the Romans to break through them, yet would the famine fight for the Romans against them.

    4. While Josephus was making this exhortation to the Jews, many of them jested upon him from the wall, and many reproached him; nay, some threw their darts at him: but when he could not himself persuade them by such open good advice, he betook himself to the histories belonging to their own nation, and cried out aloud, "O miserable creatures! are you so unmindful of those that used to assist you, that you will fight by your weapons and by your hands against the Romans? When did we ever conquer any other nation by such means? and when was it that God, who is the Creator of the Jewish people, did not avenge them when they had been injured? Will not you turn again, and look back, and consider whence it is that you fight with such violence, and how great a Supporter you have profanely abused? Will not you recall to mind the prodigious things done for your forefathers and this holy place, and how great enemies of yours were by him subdued under you? I even tremble myself in declaring the works of God before your ears, that are unworthy to hear them; however, hearken to me, that you may be informed how you fight not only against the Romans, but against God himself. In old times there was one Necao, king of Egypt, who was also called Pharaoh; he came with a prodigious army of soldiers, and seized queen Sarah, the mother of our nation. What did Abraham our progenitor then do? Did he defend himself from this injurious person by war, although he had three hundred and eighteen captains under him, and an immense army under each of them? Indeed he deemed them to be no number at all without God's assistance, and only spread out his hands towards this holy place, (16) which you have now polluted, and reckoned upon him as upon his invincible supporter, instead of his own army. Was not our queen sent back, without any defilement, to her husband, the very next evening? - while the king of Egypt fled away, adoring this place which you have defiled by shedding thereon the blood of your own countrymen; and he also trembled at those visions which he saw in the night season, and bestowed both silver and gold on the Hebrews, as on a people beloved by God. Shall I say nothing, or shall I mention the removal of our fathers into Egypt, who, (17) when they were used tyrannically, and were fallen under the power of foreign kings for four hundred ears together, and might have defended themselves by war and by fighting, did yet do nothing but commit themselves to God! Who is there that does not know that Egypt was overrun with all sorts of wild beasts, and consumed by all sorts of distempers? how their land did not bring forth its fruit? how the Nile failed of water? how the ten plagues of Egypt followed one upon another? and how by those means our fathers were sent away under a guard, without any bloodshed, and without running any dangers, because God conducted them as his peculiar servants? Moreover, did not Palestine groan under the ravage the Assyrians made, when they carried away our sacred ark? as did their idol Dagon, and as also did that entire nation of those that carried it away, how they were smitten with a loathsome distemper in the secret parts of their bodies, when their very bowels came down together with what they had eaten, till those hands that stole it away were obliged to bring it back again, and that with the sound of cymbals and timbrels, and other oblations, in order to appease the anger of God for their violation of his holy ark. It was God who then became our General, and accomplished these great things for our fathers, and this because they did not meddle with war and fighting, but committed it to him to judge about their affairs. When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, brought along with him all Asia, and encompassed this city round with his army, did he fall by the hands of men? were not those hands lifted up to God in prayers, without meddling with their arms, when an angel of God destroyed that prodigious army in one night? when the Assyrian king, as he rose the next day, found a hundred fourscore and five thousand dead bodies, and when he, with the remainder of his army, fled away from the Hebrews, though they were unarmed, and did not pursue them. You are also acquainted with the slavery we were under at Babylon, where the people were captives for seventy years; yet were they not delivered into freedom again before God made Cyrus his gracious instrument in bringing it about; accordingly they were set free by him, and did again restore the worship of their Deliverer at his temple. And, to speak in general, we can produce no example wherein our fathers got any success by war, or failed of success when without war they committed themselves to God. When they staid at home, they conquered, as pleased their Judge; but when they went out to fight, they were always disappointed: for example, when the king of Babylon besieged this very city, and our king Zedekiah fought against him, contrary to what predictions were made to him by Jeremiah the prophet, he was at once taken prisoner, and saw the city and the temple demolished. Yet how much greater was the moderation of that king, than is that of your present governors, and that of the people then under him, than is that of you at this time! for when Jeremiah cried out aloud, how very angry God was at them, because of their transgressions, and told them they should be taken prisoners, unless they would surrender up their city, neither did the king nor the people put him to death; but for you, (to pass over what you have done within the city, which I am not able to describe as your wickedness deserves,) you abuse me, and throw darts at me, who only exhort you to save yourselves, as being provoked when you are put in mind of your sins, and cannot bear the very mention of those crimes which you every day perpetrate. For another example, when Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, lay before this city, and had been guilty of many indignities against God, and our forefathers met him in arms, they then were slain in the battle, this city was plundered by our enemies, and our sanctuary made desolate for three years and six months. And what need I bring any more examples? Indeed what can it be that hath stirred up an army of the Romans against our nation? Is it not the impiety of the inhabitants? Whence did our servitude commence? Was it not derived from the seditions that were among our forefathers, when the madness of Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, and our mutual quarrels, brought Pompey upon this city, and when God reduced those under subjection to the Romans who were unworthy of the liberty they had enjoyed? After a siege, therefore, of three months, they were forced to surrender themselves, although they had not been guilty of such offenses, with regard to our sanctuary and our laws, as you have; and this while they had much greater advantages to go to war than you have. Do not we know what end Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, came to, under whose reign God provided that this city should be taken again upon account of the people's offenses? When Herod, the son of Antipater, brought upon us Sosius, and Sosius brought upon us the Roman army, they were then encompassed and besieged for six months, till, as a punishment for their sins, they were taken, and the city was plundered by the enemy. Thus it appears that arms were never given to our nation, but that we are always given up to be fought against, and to be taken; for I suppose that such as inhabit this holy place ought to commit the disposal of all things to God, and then only to disregard the assistance of men when they resign themselves up to their Arbitrator, who is above. As for you, what have you done of those things that are recommended by our legislator? and what have you not done of those things that he hath condemned? How much more impious are you than those who were so quickly taken! You have not avoided so much as those sins that are usually done in secret; I mean thefts, and treacherous plots against men, and adulteries. You are quarrelling about rapines and murders, and invent strange ways of wickedness. Nay, the temple itself is become the receptacle of all, and this Divine place is polluted by the hands of those of our own country; which place hath yet been reverenced by the Romans when it was at a distance from them, when they have suffered many of their own customs to give place to our law. And, after all this, do you expect Him whom you have so impiously abused to be your supporter? To be sure then you have a right to be petitioners, and to call upon Him to assist you, so pure are your hands! Did your king [Hezekiah] lift up such hands in prayer to God against the king of Assyria, when he destroyed that great army in one night? And do the Romans commit such wickedness as did the king of Assyria, that you may have reason to hope for the like vengeance upon them? Did not that king accept of money from our king on this condition, that he should not destroy the city, and yet, contrary to the oath he had taken, he came down to burn the temple? while the Romans do demand no more than that accustomed tribute which our fathers paid to their fathers; and if they may but once obtain that, they neither aim to destroy this city, nor to touch this sanctuary; nay, they will grant you besides, that your posterity shall be free, and your possessions secured to you, and will preserve our holy laws inviolate to you. And it is plain madness to expect that God should appear as well disposed towards the wicked as towards the righteous, since he knows when it is proper to punish men for their sins immediately; accordingly he brake the power of the Assyrians the very first night that they pitched their camp. Wherefore, had he judged that our nation was worthy of freedom, or the Romans of punishment, he had immediately inflicted punishment upon those Romans, as he did upon the Assyrians, when Pompey began to meddle with our nation, or when after him Sosius came up against us, or when Vespasian laid waste Galilee, or, lastly, when Titus came first of all near to this city; although Magnus and Sosius did not only suffer nothing, but took the city by force; as did Vespasian go from the war he made against you to receive the empire; and as for Titus, those springs that were formerly almost dried up when they were under your power (18) since he is come, run more plentifully than they did before; accordingly, you know that Siloam, as well as all the other springs that were without the city, did so far fail, that water was sold by distinct measures; whereas they now have such a great quantity of water for your enemies, as is sufficient not only for drink both for themselves and their cattle, but for watering their gardens also. The same wonderful sign you had also experience of formerly, when the forementioned king of Babylon made war against us, and when he took the city, and burnt the temple; while yet I believe the Jews of that age were not so impious as you are. Wherefore I cannot but suppose that God is fled out of his sanctuary, and stands on the side of those against whom you fight. Now even a man, if he be but a good man, will fly from an impure house, and will hate those that are in it; and do you persuade yourselves that God will abide with you in your iniquities, who sees all secret things, and hears what is kept most private? Now what crime is there, I pray you, that is so much as kept secret among you, or is concealed by you? nay, what is there that is not open to your very enemies? for you show your transgressions after a pompous manner, and contend one with another which of you shall be more wicked than another; and you make a public demonstration of your injustice, as if it were virtue. However, there is a place left for your preservation, if you be willing to accept of it; and God is easily reconciled to those that confess their faults, and repent of them. O hard-hearted wretches as you are! cast away all your arms, and take pity of your country already going to ruin; return from your wicked ways, and have regard to the excellency of that city which you are going to betray, to that excellent temple with the donations of so many countries in it. Who could bear to be the first that should set that temple on fire? who could be willing that these things should be no more? and what is there that can better deserve to be preserved? O insensible creatures, and more stupid than are the stones themselves! And if you cannot look at these things with discerning eyes, yet, however, have pity upon your families, and set before every one of your eyes your children, and wives, and parents, who will be gradually consumed either by famine or by war. I am sensible that this danger will extend to my mother, and wife, and to that family of mine who have been by no means ignoble, and indeed to one that hath been very eminent in old time; and perhaps you may imagine that it is on their account only that I give you this advice; if that be all, kill them; nay, take my own blood as a reward, if it may but procure your preservation; for I am ready to die, in case you will but return to a sound mind after my death."

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