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and none of John's iniquities were so loudly condemned by the public, as the use he made of the cedars Agrippa had given for the improvement of the Temple, in the construction of some military towers.
It was in April, A.D. 69, that the Jews poured in from all quarters, to keep the last Passover that was ever held by their nation; and the suddenness of the approach of Titus from Cæsarea, with the immediate formation of the-siege, allowed no time for the escape of this multitude to their homes in the country. From the calculation of the number of lambs sacrificed on other occasions, and reckoning on an average ten persons to each lamb, there must have been more than three millions of people enclosed within the walls of Jerusalem at this time.
Four of the strongest legions, with their Arabian and Syrian allies, were led by Titus through Samaria, and encamped in a plain called the Valley of Thorns, about four miles from the city. Titus went forward with six hundred horsemen, to fix upon the most suitable point to make the first attack; and as he had no thought of danger, he rode without helmet or breastplate. All appeared perfectly still ; but as he passed round the walls, a side gate was suddenly opened, and thousands of Jews burst forth, encouraging one another to seize the inestimable prize. But Titus boldly cut his way through them, and all seemed to be so astonished at his bravery, that they fell back, and let the horsemen pass. Not a single arrow touched the Cæsar, but one of his followers, who had dismounted, was surrounded, and pierced with javelins, and his horse led into the city in triumph. The Jews boldly declared Cæsar himself had been seen to fly, and many indulged the hope of final victory.
Eleazar, John, and Simon now felt the necessity of uniting together against their common enemy: and from this time they ceased to fight with each other, and only thought of rivalry in furious hatred of the Romans. The day following, the legions approached within a mile of the city, and one was encamped at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The Jewish chiefs made the first attack upon them when they were unarmed and busily employed in digging a trench. The battle lasted the whole day, and Titus again narrowly escaped destruction; but the Jews were at length driven back into the city.
The whole space between the Roman armies and the walls
was occupied by beautiful gardens and orchards, now in the fresh beauty of spring; these were divided by stone walls and water-courses, and here and there the scene was varied by deep shady glens and rugged masses of rock. All was soon reduced by the labour of the besiegers to a barren level ; but, during this work, many of the legionaries were killed or wounded by the Jews.
Jerusalem was at this time fortified by three walls, except on the side where it was defended by steep rocky ravines, and even there one wall had been built. Josephus reckons that the city was rather more than four miles in circumference, and shows that the Romans had, as it were, the labour of taking four distinct cities instead of one, such was the artful construction of its fortifications. The first wall was seventeen feet and a half broad, and nearly forty-five feet high; and when this was forced, only Bezetha, the new part of the city, was laid open. The second wall only defended a part of the lower city, and, if that were broken up, the upper city with the Temple and citadel Antonia would not be in the least weakened. Ninety strong towers defended the first wall, fourteen were on the second, and sixty stood in the third. That called Psephina, before which Titus encamped, was an octagonal building, one hundred and twenty-two feet and a half high, commanding a fine view of the whole of Judea. The tower Hippicus, before which another part of the army was posted, was one hundred and forty feet in height. The towers built by Herod, and called after the names of his wife and his friend, Mariamne and Phasaelis, were still more magnificent buildings. Phasaelis was the chosen palace of Simon; it stood on the wall of Zion, or the upper city, and was one hundred and sixty seven feet high, including the battlements and pinnacles. Mariamne was about half the height, but fitted up in a more costly and luxurious manner. The large blocks of marble of which these towers were built, were so nicely fitted together, that it seemed as if they had risen out of the quarry entire. The fortress Antonia, and the Temple, before described, rose high above the whole city. Such was Jerusalem when it defied, not only the powers of the Romans, but the word of the Lord, by which it was expressly declared, that, of the temple buildings, not one stone should be left upon another that should not be thrown down. And, again, “ The days shall come when thinę enemies shall cast a trench about
thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another ; because thou knewest not the day of thy visitation” (Luke xix. 41-44).
The fulfilment of these predictions we are about to consider.
SIEGE OF JERUSALEM.--THE HORRORS OF FAMINE.—THE CURSES
THREATENED BY THE LAW.-SUFFERINGS OF THE JEWS. —
SIEGE OF THE TEMPLE. —ITS DESTRUCTION BY FIRE. As the day of assault approached, the citizens of Jerusalem were relieved from their enemies within the walls, whom they dreaded far more than the enemies without. The Roman engines at length came within reach of the walls, and huge pieces of rock thrown from them crushed whole ranks of Jews; whilst others, called the helepolei, or takers of cities, battered against the wall in three places. The Jews answered with shouts of terror; and the soldiers of John and Simon fought side by side, some trying to burn these terrible machines, others to destroy the engineers. But, notwithstanding their extraordinary valour, they could not prevent the mischief done by the helepolei ; and one, which they called Nico (the victorious), seemed to beat down everything before it, and was made to work night and day. When the first wall began to totter, they resolved to give up the defence of Bezetha, for the defenders were tired of spending the nights so far from their own homes in the city; and with one accord they retreated within the second wall, and left the suburb to the Romans.
Titus immediately entered, and his camp spread from Bezetha to the brook Cedron. That very night the second wall was attacked, and the conflict was most terrible, for the Jews seemed entirely careless of their own lives, and readily sacrificed themselves in order to kill one of their enemies. On the fifth day, however, they were obliged to give up the defence, and Titus entered at the breach with a thousand chosen men.
The part of the lower city left exposed, contained the streets
of the woolsellers, the braziers, and the clothiers : and Titus. immediately proclaimed that not one citizen should be injured, nor a house be destroyed, for he was at war with the garrison, not with the people. This excited the fiercest passions of the armed rebels, and they slew without mercy all who uttered a word about making peace with the Romans. Then issuing forth they surprised the besiegers; appearing on every side where they were least expected, as every lane and alley of the city was well known to them. Titus, in his turn, was obliged to retreat; and for three days the Jews defended the narrow breach with their own bodies. On the fourth day, they were forced back, and the Romans, at their second entrance, threw down great part of the wall. During the four days following, Titus employed himself in reviewing his troops, and giving them their pay; and, in order to strike terror into the minds of the besieged, he displayed his whole army in their most splendid dress and glittering armour. At the same time, Josephus, who had some ability as an orator, was sent to persuade his countrymen to surrender. The fierce Zealots only reviled him and threw their darts at his head : but the people listened readily; and some sold their property, and, concealing their gold and jewels about their persons, escaped to the Roman camp. The news of their safety induced so many others to follow their example, that John and Simon ordered every outlet to be watched, and put to death every one whom they suspected of an intention to desert; this, also, they made a pretence for the destruction of some of the wealthiest citizens, on whose riches they had longed to seize. Upon the fifth day, as there was no offer of surrender, Titus recommenced the siege. The Jews renewed the struggle with more bitter hatred and fiercer valour, and not only set the engines on fire, but rushed out upon the besiegers and forced them back. Titus himself was so discouraged, that he called a council of his bravest officers; and it was resolved, that they should relax their labours, and see whether famine would force the citizens to surrender. The whole army, therefore, was set to work to make a trench; and, though it was nearly five miles in extent, and guarded by thirteen towers, it was finished in three days.
After the trench was completed, all hope was cut off from without, and the supplies within the city were wholly unequal
to meet the wants of the people. Some still crept out by night to seek for herbs in the ravines within the trench, but they were constantly seized by the Roman guards and crucified within sight of the walls. Sometimes as many as five hundred were seen writhing on crosses when the morning dawned, and the soldiers added mockery to their cruelties by placing the bodies in the most strange and ridiculous attitudes. These executions, however, prevented such frequent desertion to the Romans; for the Zealots brought to the walls such as were disposed to escape, that they might see these examples of Roman cruelty. Titus had, moreover, sent back some of the deserters with their hands cut off to desire their fellow-citizens not to force him to destroy their city and temple. But only loud curses of his name and his father's met the Cæsar's ear as he went round to look at the works of the besiegers.
The horrors of famine daily increased in Jerusalem; and the extremity of want destroyed every natural feeling. Wives snatched the last morsel from their husbands, children from their aged parents, mothers from their children; and, it is said, that mothers would even take their own milk from the mouths of their pining babes. In the meantime, the rebel soldiers forced open the houses in search of food; and, if they found none, tortured the owners-supposing there was some concealment; those who looked strong and well were condemned as guilty of hiding corn—those who looked pale and half starved were spared. As the robbers were always prowling about as beasts of prey, even those who had food ate it in terror. Some, who had sold all they had for a measure of wheat or barley, either devoured it in secret unground, or snatched the bread from the embers before it was half baked. If any house were closed, the plunderers suspected the inmates had a meal, and bursting in, they tore the food from their mouths. Old men were scourged or dragged about by the hair till they gave up the morsel for which they struggled desperately, and children, as they clung to their food, were dashed against the pavement. John and Simon, friends only in crime, united together in the most horrid cruelties towards their fellowcitizens; and their soldiers very often were without the excuse of want, but plundered others only to save their own stores for a time of greater need.
After the Romans had completed the trench, the anguish of