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Jerusalem destroyed, or, The history of the siege of that city by Titus online

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Together with some Brief Notices of the Jews since thtir
Dispersion to the Present Period.


*' Even the rapt stranger shall admire and ask.
Where that proud City stood, which was Jerusalem !"







1 o those who have been accustomed to conduct
the exercises of a Sabbath School, and therein to
trace, and retrace, the wanderings of the children of
Israel, — from the call of Abraham to the descent in-
to Egypt, — from the Exodus to the entrance into
Canaan, — thence through the eras of Judges and
Kings to the captivity,— and onward to the build-
ing of the second temple, — and again through
the acts of the apostles, — it has no doubt often
been a matter of regret, that the sphere of duty,
in such a place, precluded them from following
the history farther, and pointing out to their chil-
dren not only the apostacy of the Jews, but the
final destruction of their city and temple.

While this desire has been strongly felt on the
part of the Teacher, it has often been as vividly
met by evidences of expanding intellect, and
quick perception on the part of the Scholar.
And the delight with which young minds have
been observed to enter into the details of the do-
mestic history of the patriarclw and their descen-

1104481 .


dants ; as well as into the collateral circumstances
connecting them with the surrounding nations ;
has discovered a susceptibility to the pleasures
derived from historic truth, as well as a degree of
intelligence — regarding events, differing so materi-
ally from those with which they are conversant in
their humble sphere of life, — no less gratifying
than astonishing.

The difficulty however of imparting distinct
Tiews of the history of any nation, to young peo-
ple possessed of no other advantages than ability to *
read the Scriptures, is no doubt very considerable ;
and as it does not appear very clearly to be a
point of duty to attempt it, the task is perhaps
unnecessary : And it becomes the Teacher to
cui'b the desire he feels to be more explicit.

The children are accustomed to hear the words
Jerusalem — Egypt — the wilderness — Canaan —
but where this local Jenisalem existed, is perhaps
as indistinctly defined upon their minds, as is the
idea of that which cometh down from heaven.

They hear of the Jews — the Romans — Tiberias
Caesar — Felix and Fes-tus — Greeks and barbarians;
' — but except the Israelites, with whose history
they are made familiar by tracing them through
all their descent from the birth of Isaac, they
know nothing of the state of the neighbouring


pations. And their ignorance of geography, as
well as of secular history and chronology, almost
unfits them from ever forming any thing like a
perspicuous perception of a great part of the his-
toric suhjects of holy writ.

But happily such knowledge is not necessary
to salvation : And all that is requisite for them to
know of the path that leads to heaven, is so plain,
that " the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not
en- therein."

Tliis little volume therefore is not designed to
obviate any of the above difficulties : but it is in-
tended to meet the eager inquiries of young minds
after truth, in exhibiting to tb.em the accomplish-
ment of the prophetic passages of the New Tes-
ment, in the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the
Old in the dispersion of the Jews. And however
painfully affecting the melancholy story, yet it
is so fraught with warning and admonition to all,
and so strongly corroborative of the truth of the di-
vine testimony, that while we tremble at the awful
details, we must also be led to give glory to God,
for this additional evidence of the prescience and
sympathy of our divine Redeemer, who wept over
the devoted city, even at the moment when he
denounced its ruin.

Wliile from these circumstances the following


work may prove interesting even to uneduca-
ted readers, notwithstanding the obscurity which
may involve their view of it, — to the young in the
higlier ranks of society, who come to its perusal
with all the advantages of previous information,
it is hoped it will he no unacceptable present.
From their acquired knowledge of various other
subjects, they will at once perceive the local situ-
ation of the scene of contest,— the power of the
Romans, — the era in which the transaction took
])lace ; and while they witness the Jews in a state
of political subordination to the Roman empire,
they will observe that hitherto their religious pri-
vileges were preserved to them inviolate, though
their civil ordinances were annulled many years

It may be necessary Iiere to premise, that
wiiile the narrative of Josephus is taken up at
that part of the Scriptures where St Luke con-
cludes in the Acts of the Apostles, yet the object
of the writer is to abridge the account of the siege
of Jerusalem alone. The intermediate events are
therefore merely alluded to in passing, and all tliat
is necessary to lead tlie reader to tlie commence-
ment of the terrific scene, is condensed within a
iew pages.

With regard to Josephus, the author of th«


History of the Jewish Wars, he was a Jew of a
noble family, connected by descent both with the
eacredotal and royal dignities, being at once of
the blood-royal, and of the line of the priests.
He was a general of the Jewish army at the
commencement of the war, and had a command
in Galilee ; and after sustaining, with admirable
talent, the long protracted siege of Jotapata, he
was taken captive by the Romans, and lived a
prisoner, yet much esteemed in the camp of Ves-
pasian, till that general was declared emperor by
the legions in Judea, on which occasion Joseph us
received his freedom. He still, however, con-
tinued among the Romans, where he acted as in-
terpreter between them and the Jews. Being an
eye-witness of the war, he has left a most affect-
ing and authentic history of the miseries of his
own nation, as well as of their crimes ; and has
given such a detail of massacre and rapine ; fa-
mine and fire, as is unparalleled in all the annals
of all other nations on the earth.

Many learned commentators on the Sci'iptures
have remarked, regarding the writings of Jose-
phus, that his history is so perfect a delineation of
certain passages in the Bible, and particularly of
those two verses in the twenty-fourth chapter of
St. Matthew, — " For there shall be great tribula-


lation, such us was not since tlie beginning of the
world to tills time, no nor ever shall be. And ex-
cept tliese days should be shortened, there should
no flesh be saved," &c. — that they are not only the
exact counterparts of each other, but seem almost
as if they had been written by the same person.*
Yet Josephus was not bom till after our Saviour's
crucifixion ; he was not a Christian, but a Jew,
and certainly never meant to give any testimony
to the truth of the Christian religion. -j-

With regard to the following Abridgement of
liis account of the siege of Jenisalem, the proprie-
ty of retaining, as much as possible, the style of
the translator has been steadily kept in view ;
both because it was conceived that the Jewish
historian would not appear so well in a more
modem dress, and also because the very facts
which he relates have in them something so vene-
rable, that it seemed it would have been doing a
kind of violence to their antiquity and sadness, to
have presented them in a more garish style, or
even— had the writer been capable— in a more
elegant phraseology. For the same reason, the
nomenclature of the days and months of the year
in the European calendar has not been followed,
nor even that of the Syro-INIacedonian, though

" Newton. + Bishop Portcus, quoted by Scott.


used by Josephug ; but the names of the Jewish
months appended by Whiston are adopted, as be-
ing more familiar to the reader of the Bible in the
one case, and more sacred than the modern in the
other. Or to be more explicit, the word Tamuz
is used instead of Jul 5^, and Elul instead of Au-
gust. It appeared that it woidd have resembled
the account of the attrocities of some European
revolution, of the twelfth of August, to have used
the latter ; while many a sacred association falls
in with the feelings of the .Jewish historian, when,
describing the sacking of the holy city, he says,
" while all was burning, came on the dawn of
the eighth day of the month Elul on the ashes of

As many passages in Joseplms are rather ob-
scure, and it is sometimes difficult to arrive at his
precise meaning, in all such cases the exact words
of the translator have been retained ; and where
conjecture is necessary, it has been thought ad-
viseable rather to leave it to the mind of the
reader, than to venture to use any freedom with
the text.

For similar reasons, namely, to preserve as
much as possible the identity of the historian in
this abridgement, the writer has been very sparing
of reflections on what is related ; and indeed the


feelings of a Jewish wnter, and those of a Chris-
tian on this subject, must he so totally opposite, as
far as matters of faith are concerned, as to be
nearly incapable of amalgamation. A few quota-
tions from Scripture are appended to the chapters,
on which it will be found that the text of the
historian contains the best annotation. In each,
giving evidence of the truth of that appalling sen-
tence, — appalling so far as it regards the impeni-
tent, — " Heaven and earth shall pass away, bulf my
w^ords shall not pass away."

In conclusion, it is only necessary to add, that,
as in the perusal of this book, sentiments must
necessarily be excited in the mind, such as no one
in this day of the spreading of glad tidings would
wish to entertain towards any nation, much less
towards the Jews, — it has been attempted to fol-
low it up by a selection of some historical facts
connected with the fate of that exiled and perse-
cuted people, since the loss of their beloved and
devoted city, which, it is hoped, will lead every
pious reader to pray, that the set time to favour
Zion may speedily arrive — that, " in Judah, Je-
hovah-Jesus may be well known, and that his
name may be great, as the Glory of Israel."

LcitJi, Felriiary, 182G.



We have no King but Csesar!"

1 HE memorable occasion on which these words,
— " we have no king but Csesar," — were vocife-
i-ated by the Jewish multitude, is well known
to every Christian reader ; and it is not my in-
tention to allude, at present, to the sacred and
awful circumstances with which this exclama-
tion stands connected. But it may be well,
before entering on the following histoiy, to draw
one or two proofs from Scripture, illustrative at
once, of the power of the Roman authorities in


Judea, in the times of the apostles ; and of the
frantic and unbridled fury with which this tu-
multuary people, seem ever to have acted, when
any event excited public interest, or pressed with
peculiar force on the feelings or prejudices of
the nation.

For this purpose it might be sufficient to cite
the case of Stephen, whom, untried and uncon-
demned, they proceeded against with the most
infuriate rancour, — " they gnashed on him with
their teeth," — and hastily put him to death,
even at a time when, by their own acknowledg-
ment, no such judicial power belonged to them.
Or we might point to the case of Paul, when
he went up to Jerusalem with alms for his na-
tion; who being found in the temple by certain
Jews of Asia, who had probably heard him
preaching to the Gentiles in their own country,
" stin-ed up all the people, and laid hands on
him ; and all the city was moved, and the people
ran together, and all Jerusalem was in an uproar,
until Lysias, the chief captain," or commanding
officer of the Roman forces in Jerasalem, came
down and rescued Paul, and earned him into the


If it excite astonishment to observe a mixed
multitude, in the precincts of the temple, thus
transported with rage ; the dissensions in the
Sanhedrim the next day, when Paul pleaded
his own cause before them, will not diminish
it ; for the strife and passion of the members
of that sacred court arose to such a height,
that Lysias, " fearing that Paul should be pulled
in pieces of them, commanded the soldiei's to go
down and take him by force from among them,
and bring him into the castle."

This total want of decency and decorum in the
highest ecclesiastical court in the world, marks,
more strongly than a thousand arguments could
do, the peculiarly ferocious temperament of the
Jews ; their unrestrained fury, and ungovernable
passion ; and detadies all respect from an assem-
bly, Avhich we should otherwise have considered
of the most august and dignified character :
While the interference of Lysias, a Roman tri-
bune, in interrupting those sacred proceedings,
over which the high priest of the Jews was pre-
siding in person, proves, unequivocally, that all
civil authority had passed away from tliis people,


— that the sceptre had depaited from Judah, —
that Shiloh was come, — and that, in a temporal
sense, they had indeed " no King but Caesar."

The sacred Iiistorlan continues to inform us,
that " certain. Jews banded together, and bound
tiiemselves by a curse, that they would neither
eat nor drink till they had killed Paul ;" and that
Lysias imagined Paul was a certain chief of ban-
ditti, who had led into the wilderness four thou-
sand men that were murderers.

These scattered notices of the state of society
in Jei-usalem, strongly con-oborate the coirectness
of the statements of the historian whom we are
about to introduce to the reader ; and prepare the
mind for the reception of the melancholy details
of the disorganized condition of this distracted
Jiation, which are contained in the following nar-

It seems unnecessary, here to allude any fur-
ther, to the circumstances wliich induced Lysias
to send Paul to Felix, the Roman goveraor, who
resided at Cesarea, and who kept the apostle two
years a prisoner. And when we read that Felix
" hoped that money should have been given him


of Paul to loose him," we see at ouce the cornipt
and avaiicious character of the Roman govern-
ment ; and that Felix, while he was ready to sell
justice, if such an anomaly could exist, was yet,
without any conviction of the guilt of Paul, hut
merely to ingratiate himself with the Jews, lest
they should accuse him of rapacity and mal-ad-
ministration to Ca3sar, " willing to show them a
pleasure," and so " left Paul hound."

Felix was succeeded in the government of
Judea hy Porcius Festus, hefore Avhose trihunal
Paul was again accused of the Jews, and again
found guiltless hy the Romans ; hut having ap-
pealed to Ca;sar, he was sent to Rome ; and
the sacred writers of the New Testament make
no further mention of the political state of Judea,
or the administrators of its civil polity.

When Festus came into Judea, he found the
whole country infested with banditti, who mur-
dered the inhabitants, plundered the houses, and
set fire to the villages. That such should be the
demoralized state of the provmces need excite
no surprise, when the citizens of Jerusalem, or
perhaps some of the very members of the Sanlie-



(liirn, had bound themselves by aii oath to attempt
the assassination of Paul. These robbers were
called Siccarii, on account of certain small swords
called Siccje, which tliey carried concealed under
their gannents. They slew men in open day, in
the midst of the city, but chiefly at the festivals,
where they mingled among the multitude, and
stabbing their enemies, they immediately affected
to join the outcry against the mmderers, and thus
escaped detection.

Festus sent out patroles of soldiers to destroy
these men, and to deliver the country from their
t)Tanny : But Festus was soon succeeded by Al-
binus, as Procurator of Judea, who v\'as rery re-
miss in his endeavours to coiTect these abuses ;
on the contrary, there was hardly any wickedness
of which he was not himself guilty. His rapa-
city and extortion were so great, that he not only,
in his political or official capacity, robbed and
plundered the people, and burdened them with
the most vexatious and oppressive taxes, but he
sold the very contents of the prison house ; and
every robber and malefactor who Iiad been incar-
cerated for their crimes bv former sovernors, he


permitted to be redeemed by their friends or ac-
complices for money ; so that the prisons ceased to
contain any but such as were too poor to pay for
tlieir liberty. These disorderly persons being
suffered to regain their freedom, only increased
the evils and terrors of the people ; for every
bandit was encompassed by his own troop, and
those who were robbed were obliged to be silent,
while others who escaped being plundered, were
constrained to flatter the guilty, lest in their turn
they should be exposed to depredations.

But while such was the administration and
character of Albinus, Gessius Florus, who suc-
ceeded liim, was still more flagitious. Indeed,
wicked as Albinus was, yet in comparison of
Florus, he was a most excellent governor. For
this latter omitted no kind of rapine or plunder ;
his turpitude and effrontery were unparalleled
even by all who had gone before Iiim. He
scorned to pilfer individuals only ; such a booty
was too contemptible for his avarice. He spoil-
ed whole cities, — he ruined entire bodies of men,
— and almost proceeded so far as openly to guar-
antee the safety of a«sassms and rol^bers, provid-


ed he went shares with them in their spoils. His
extortion and rapacity brouglit whole toparcliies
into a state of desolation ; and many of the peo-
ple, oppressed beyond endurance by liis insuffer-
able cupidity, left the land of their father, and
went into exile to foreign countries.

At this period, Cestius Gallus was President
of the Roman possessions in Syi'ia, and resided at
Antioch; but coming to Jerusalem during the
season of the Passover, the Jews gathered around
him in numbers, not less than three millions, be-
seecliing him to have compassion on then' nation,
and free them ft-om the cmel exactions of Florus.
But Florus, who was standing beside Cestius at
the moment, laughed at their demands, and con-
triving to colom' over his enormities and his
crimes in the eyes of Cestius, the latter merely
temporized with the Jews, and dismissed them
with an assurance that their governor would treat
them more gently in future.

Cestius returned to Antioch, and Florus con-
tinued as tyrannical as before ; and it was at this
period that the occsion of the war commenced.
The Jews at Cesarea held a sjTiagogue, which


was built on the proj)erty of a certain Greek. The
Jews had frequently wished to purchase the
place, hut tlie Greek would not dispose of it ;
and he continued to raise otlier buildings around
them, such as shops, with the view of affronting
the Jews, and left them so narrow an entrance to
their synagogue, that it was difficult of approach.
The Jews bribed Flonis with the sum of eight
talents to prevent the work ; and he being intent
only on getting money, took the bribe, promising
to protect them, but went away from Cesarea,
and suffered the business to go on.

On the next Sabbath-day when the Jews were
crowding to their place of worship, a man of
Cesarea took an eaithen vessel, and placing it at
the entrance of the synagogue, sacrificed upon it
some birds — thereby affronting the Jews through
the medium of their religion, and also polluting
their sanctuaiy. The Jews and the populace of
Cesarea came to blows upon this occasion ; and
the former, taking away their sacred books, retir-
ed to Narbota, and afterwai-ds complained to
Flonis : But this oppressive governor instead of
ietuppoKting their cause, seized upon certain of the


Jews, and put them in prison for caiTying the
books of the law out of Cesarea.

Though tlie inhabitants of Jemsalem were as
deeply offended by this event as tlie rest of their
brethren, they yet restrained their passion, and
passed it over in silence, till Florus, rising in
wickedness, and ingenious in insult and rapacious-
ness, sent to the temple and took seventeen talents
out of the sacred treasury, under pretence that they
were demanded by Caisar. Upon this the inhabi-
tants of Jerusalem became exasperated, and ran in
crowds to the temple, calling upon C£8sar by name
to free them from Florus. They seem also to have
treated Florus with ridicule and pasquinades,
cariying about a basket through the streets of
the city, and begging pieces of money for him as
for one who was destitute. Upon this Floras
marched to Jemsalem, instead of quelling the
disturbances at Cesarea, and did all in his power
to provoke the Jews to revolt, that he might
screen himself from the wrath of Csesar. The
confusion in Jerasalem at the arrival of Florus
was tremendous, and his cruelties so excessive,
that in one day upwards of three thousand of the
populace were slain.


Agrippa, who was at this time in Jerusalem,
attempted to allay the ferment of the people, and
induce them to obey Florus till Csesar should ap-
point another to succeed him, — but this conduct
of the king procured him nothing but insult and
contumely ; so, perceiving that his advice was dis-
agreeable to them, and that they had not paid the
tribute to Csesar, he sent the i-ulers and chief
men to Florus, who had returned to Cesarea,
that he might appoint persons to collect the tii-
bute, and Agi'ippa himself retired into his own

The whole administration of Florus is marked
by the same cruelty and oppression — the same
reckless and merciless tyranny : ^^'^lile the con-
duct of the Jews is not unstained by treachery to
the Romans, particularly in their slaughter of the
Roman guards in the castle of Antonia, after having
laid down their arms on terms of peace. This lat-
ter insult brought up Cestius from Syiia, "with an
immense army, who beseiged Jerusalem ; and cer-
tainly had he continued the seige at that time, the
Jews had sooner met the fate which hung over
them ; but by one of those unaccountable circum-


stances which, however mysterious to the mere
worldly mind, marks so strongly the interposition
of Divine Providence, Cestius raised the siege, and
fled from Jerusalem, pursued and discomfited hy
the Jews ; and having thus tarnished the glorj' of
the Roman arms, prepared for the unhappy Jews,
all the hoiTors which awaited them, during the
war carried on by Vespasian.

On this occasion, however, through the mercy
of God, the Christians in Jerusalem found the
means of their preservation ; for the great tribu-
lation which was brought uj^on the nation by the
conduct of Cestius, in besieging the city, led
those who remembered the words of the Lord,
" when ye shall see the abomination of desola-
tion," (or the Roman ensigns, on which were
the idolatrous images of the heathen,) spoken of
by Daniel the prophet, " stand in the holy place,
then let them which be in Judea flee into the
mountains. For there shall be gi-eat tribulation,
such as was not from the beginning of the world,
no, nor ever shall be." The Christians in Jeru-
salem, recalling this prediction, made their escape,
upon the retreat of Cestius, out of the city, and


fled to Pella beyond Jordan, and to the mountains
of Perea. Or to use the words of Josephus, —
though he knew not the cause of their fiight, —
" After this calamity which had befallen Cestius,
many of the most eminent Jeu's swam away from
the city as from a ship that was going to sink."

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Online LibraryMiss GriersonJerusalem destroyed, or, The history of the siege of that city by Titus → online text (page 1 of 14)