The Story of the Last Days of Jerusalem - Alfred J. Church - ebook

The Story of the Last Days of Jerusalem ebook

Alfred J. Church

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Opis

The Story of the Last Days of Jerusalem” is a history that covers the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Roman Empire, the culmination of centuries of conflict in the region between the Romans and Jewish inhabitants. Recounts the events leading up to the opening of the war with the Romans, Josephus’s brave defense of Jotapata, its final capture and his escape from death, and finally the siege of Jerusalem, the burning of the temple, and the razing of the city. Alfred J. Church, a well-respected historian, covers it concisely but comprehensively in this book.

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Liczba stron: 166

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Contents

PREFACE

I. OF THE BEGINNINGS OF THE JEWISH WAR

II. OF THE DOINGS OF CESTIUS

III. OF JOSEPHUS AND THE BESIEGING OF JOTAPATA

IV. OF THE MARVELLOUS ESCAPE OF JOSEPHUS, AND OF THE WAR IN GALILEE

V. OF THE TROUBLES IN JERUSALEM

VI. OF THE FIRST COMING OF THE ROMANS

VII. THE BEGINNING OF THE SIEGE

VIII. OF THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM

IX. THE SIEGE

X. THE SIEGE (CONTINUED)

XI. THE SIEGE (CONTINUED)

XII. THE TAKING OF THE CITY

XIII. THE END

PREFACE

IN this story I have followed the narrative of Josephus, making many omissions but no other change of importance. It did not fall within the scope of my work to estimate his veracity and trustworthiness; but I may here say that a close acquaintance with his history will not incline the reader to put much confidence in his narrative on any point where interest or vanity may have tempted him to depart from the truth. In one matter, which is of such interest and importance that an account of it may be given here, he seems to have deliberately falsified history. The ingenuity of a German critic, Jacob von Bernays, detected in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (a Christian writer, A.D. 350?420) a very slightly disguised quotation from one of the lost books of the History of Tacitus. The passage may be thus translated.

“Titus is said to have called a council of war, and then put to it the question whether he ought to destroy so grand a structure as the Temple. Some thought that a sacred building, more famous than any that stood upon the earth, ought not to be destroyed. If it were preserved, it would be a proof of Roman moderation; if destroyed, it would brand the Empire for ever with the stigma of cruelty. On the other hand there were some, and among these Titus himself, who considered that the destruction of the Temple was an absolute necessity, if there was to be a complete eradication of the Jewish and Christian religions. These superstitions, opposed as they were to each other, had sprung from the same origin; the Christians had come forth from among the Jews; remove the root and the stem would speedily perish.”

In the interest, doubtless, of his Imperial patrons, the family of Vespasian, Josephus represents the destruction of the Temple as having been accomplished against the will of Titus.

I have to express my obligations to Dean Milman’s History of the Jews, and to the article, “Jerusalem,” by Mr. Ferguson, in the Dictionary of the Bible. A.J.C.

I. OF THE BEGINNINGS OF THE JEWISH WAR

IN the fourteenth year of Nero Cæsar, Gessius Florus came down into the province of Judæa to be Governor in the room of Albinus. This Albinus had been evil spoken of for his greed and wrongdoing, but Florus far surpassed him in wickedness; for indeed he plundered whole cities and regions, nor did he refuse any man licence to rob his neighbours if only he might obtain for himself a share of the spoil.

In the beginning of the second year of Florus, Cestius Gallus, Proconsul of Syria, came to Jerusalem at the Feast of the Passover. And when the people thronged about him, making loud outcry against Florus, and praying that he would help them, Florus, who was standing at his right hand, mocked them. Nevertheless Cestius spake them fair, promising that he would speak for them to Florus, that he might deal more mercifully with them in time to come. And indeed Florus, going with him as far as Cæsarea, made many promises that he would behave himself more mercifully. Yet had he resolved in his heart that he would multiply his cruelties, that so he might drive the people into war. For he knew that, if there should be peace, the people would accuse him of his misdeeds to the Emperor, but that if there should be war, there would be no thought or remembrance of such things. Having, therefore, this purpose in his heart, he sent messengers to take seventeen talents out of the treasury of the Temple, pretending that the Emperor had need of them. But when the messengers showed their errand, immediately the whole City was in an uproar, the multitude of the people rushing to the Temple, and crying out against the tyranny of Florus. Some also of the young men went about with a basket, asking alms for the Governor as though he were a beggar. Florus, so soon as he heard these things, marched to Jerusalem with an army of horse and foot. And when the people came forth to meet him, for they would fain have pacified him, he repulsed them with violence, and commanded his soldiers to disperse the crowd. And the next day, sitting on the seat of judgment, he called before him the chief men of the City and bade them deliver up to him them that had been their leaders in the tumult, and them that had insulted him. But when he found that the guilty were not given up to him, for indeed all were guilty, not heeding the excuses and entreaties of the multitude, he gave over to his soldiers the Upper City to plunder, bidding them also slay whomsoever they might meet; which thing they did so zealously that all Jerusalem was filled with robbery and murder. Also Florus seized men of renown in the City, of whom some were Roman knights, and commanded that they should be shamefully beaten before his judgment seat, and afterwards crucified.

Now it chanced that in these days Berenice, sister to King Agrippa, was in Jerusalem, who being greatly troubled at the doings of the soldiers, sent certain of her bodyguard and captains many times to Florus, entreating him that he would have mercy upon the people. But Florus paid no heed to them; nay, when the Queen went herself and stood barefooted before his tribunal, neither he nor his soldiers regarded her, but put the prisoners to the torture, and slew them even before her eyes; and doubtless they would have slain her also, but that she escaped with her guard into the palace, and there abode for that night in great fear of death.

The next day the multitude of the people were gathered together in the market- place of the Upper City, lamenting over them that had been slain, and crying out against Florus. Nevertheless when the princes and the priests besought them that they would give no occasion to the Governor, they went peacefully to their homes. But he, desiring to stir up strife, sent to the chief men of the City, and said to them:?“If ye now be earnest for peace, go forth, and meet the soldiers that are now coming to the City, and salute them as friends.” But he sent privately to the centurions, commanding that the soldiers should not take any heed of the salutations of the people. And this they did; for when the people, coming forth from the City with the priests and chief men, greeted them with all friendship, they answered nothing. This stirred up great wrath in the multitude, so that they cried out against Florus; whereupon the soldiers made at them with their clubs, chasing them back to the City, and many fell under the clubs, and yet more were trampled by the crowd.

Nevertheless when Florus would have taken possession of the Temple, the people cast stones and javelins upon the soldiers from the roofs of the houses, and beat them back; also they broke down the cloisters that were between the Tower of Antony and the Temple; which when the Governor perceived, he ceased from his purpose; and in a little space he departed to Cæsarea, leaving one cohort only for a guard to the City. Afterwards he sent letters to Cestius, accusing the Jews, and laying to their charge the very things which he had himself done against them; which letters when Cestius had read, he sent one of his captains to Jerusalem to inquire into the truth of these matters. And when this man was come he went through the whole City, beginning at Siloam, taking with him one attendant only?for the chief of the people had persuaded him, through King Agrippa, that he should do this. And when he had seen that the people were peaceably disposed, he went up to the Temple, in which place many were assembled. And having praised them and exhorted them to live quietly, he returned to Cestius.

But the chief of the people took counsel with King Agrippa, whether they should send orators to accuse Florus before Cæsar. This the King liked not, but was minded rather to exhort the people that they should submit themselves to the Romans. The multitude, therefore, being assembled on the terrace, Agrippa stood forth and spake to them many words concerning the power and greatness of the Romans, and how that they were now masters of the whole world, and persuaded them that they should submit themselves quietly. And when he had made an end of speaking, he lifted up his voice and wept, as also did Queen Berenice his sister. Thereat the people were much moved; and they cried out, “We war not against the Romans, but against Florus, for the wrong that he hath done to us. To this King Agrippa made answer, “Not so, if one look to deeds rather than to words. Your tribute ye have not paid, and ye have broken down the cloisters between the Tower of Antony and the Temple. These things ye have not done against Florus, but against Cæsar. Do ye therefore pay the tribute and build again the cloisters.”

In these things the people hearkened unto the King, for they began to build the cloisters, and paid also to them that were appointed to this office what was wanting of the tribute, even forty talents. But when the King would have them render obedience to Florus, till there should come down another Governor in his room, the people reviled him, and bade him depart forthwith from the City, and some even cast stones at him. So Agrippa departed to his own kingdom.

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