صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

for action was extremely confined, and the undertaking hazardous; the commanders objected to Cæsar's leading them on in person, soliciting him to view them from the height of Antonia, not only that his valuable life might be in security, but that he might from thence be enabled to judge of the valour of his men: and so to appreciate their exertions. Accordingly at the ninth hour of the night the contest began; when the Jews between darkness and surprise distinguished neither voice nor countenance.' Following the impulse of passion and resentment, they fell indiscriminately upon each other, and killed more of their own men than even the enemy could, under such circumstances. The Romans who had kept themselves compacted under the cover of their bucklers, and knowing each other by private signals, made a vast destruction: but the Jews at break of day finding their errour, adopted a more regular mode of combat; and so vigorous and active a resistance did they make, that at mid-day the enemy was compelled to retire.

The Romans now fixed all their attention and activity upon raising mounds against the Temple, having effected a passage to it from the tower Antonia. One of these was placed against the north west corner of the court of Israel; another at that northern edifice which separates the two gates; the third against the western cloister of the court of the Gentiles; and the last against the northern corner of the same. These, from the situation of the Temple, and the difficulty of procuring materials, were raised with infinite labour. The Jews were now every day becoming weaker, the


(1) The ninth hour of the night accords with our third hour of the morning.

war fiercer, and the famine more severe; they proceeded, therefore "as men do in pestilential diseases, "to cut off the infected part to preserve the body," by setting fire to the north west cloister of the Temple; making an opening of nearly twenty cubits. After this, the Romans burnt fifteen cubits more on the north side, and though it were in the power of the Jews to have stopped the conflagration, they did not avail themselves of it: as it seemed to them a desirable object to cut off all communication with Antonia, where the main body of the besieging army was stationed with their chief.

The Zealots in the Temple were in open war with the soldiers upon the mounts, when the Jews had recourse to the following stratagem. They filled the roof of the western porch of the Temple with a quantity of dry wood, sulphur, and bituminous matter, and then pretending to give way to the enemy, suffered themselves to be forced out by the Romans; who had no sooner entered it than it was instantly set on fire, and a scene of the most complicated confusion ensued. The misery of this circumstance deeply affected Titus, accompanied as it was with the displeasure he felt that his men should have made such an attack without his orders. Many of the soldiers

(1) Bell. Jud. 6, ii. 9.

Twelve English yards, nearly; consequently the fifteen cubits next mentioned were equivalent to eight yards nine inches English.This took place about the 9th of July.

(2) This took place on the 27th of July.

(3) The loss the Romans sustained from the success of this artifice, must have been prodigious, although Josephus passes it over without much detail. Throughout his whole History, it may be observed, how much he endeavoured to conceal the disastrous situation of the Romans, and how ready to expose that

diers who had ascended the galleries were precipitated lifeless to the ground, by the falling in of the various parts of the buildings; while others met with the same fate from endeavouring to save themselves by leaping down. The cloister leading from the gate to the tower Xystus, was now consumed. On the following day the soldiers <set fire to the remaining part of the northern cloister which extended to the angle of the eastern, presenting from thence a view down the precipice into the valley of Cedron which was truly dreadful. Thus was this beautiful Temple, the pride and envy of ages, as well as the reverence and affection of millions, hastily endangered by those who so lately professed the greatest regard for its preservation and sanctity. Thus was it assailed by its own peculiar priests and people in the face of an heathen enemy wading through streams of blood to guard it from injury and contempt; and it is probable its demolition and ruin would not at this period have been stopped, had not Titus for a time. relinquished the attempt to place it within his own immediate power.

While these engagements were carrying on by the contending parties, the famine continued to rage with renewed and inconceivable violence. The most aggravating

that of their enemies! The legions, from habit and strict discipline, were notorious for their martial and heroic courage; but though instigated by the alluring prospects of plunder, or the hope of glory; they had in this siege to contend with men actuated by perhaps greater motives, for absolute necessity and a perfect indifference to life, led the Jews to fight with more than equal ardour: and, indeed, the impetuosity, rage, and passion, so constantly and liberally attributed to them by Josephus, are, in many cases, but partial misrepresentations of their energy and spirit. This evident partiality to the Roman cause is easily explained, when it is remembered that this History was written in the palace of Cæsar at Rome; to whom it was afterwards dedicated.

[ocr errors]

vating circumstances conspired to complete the misery of the people, and the wretchedness of the scenes around them. Urged by necessity on the one hand, and despondency on the other, many were driven to desperation from viewing the melancholy prospect before them; while others, still borne up by hope and expectation, searched again the houses they had ransacked; if not for provisions, yet for such things as might tend in any degree to stop the gnawings of a craving appetite. With this view, they eagerly devoured whatever could be masticated, however nauseous or disgustful to the senses; and contended with each other for what, at other times, they would have been studiously anxious to avoid.'

These and other circumstances disgusting to humanity occurred daily, and multiplied with the increase of the famine," but," continues the historian, "the event "I am about to relate, the truth of which I also affirm, "and many living witnesses can likewise attest; has no parallel in the annals of Grecian history, or "that of any Barbarian nation: it is horrible to men❝tion and incredible to hear.”

[ocr errors]

"A woman of noble birth beyond Jordan, having "fled with several others and taken sanctuary in Jerusalem; a band of ruffians stripped her of all she had "publicly brought: and her house being daily broken 76 open and plundered, she was reduced to the last ex"tremity. She endeavoured, first by imploring pity, "and then by exciting their rage, to be put to death; “ neither,


"neither, however, prevailed with these merciless monsters, who witnessed her enduring all the pangs "of insatiate hunger without feeling or remorse: dis"tracted at length with disappointment, and enraged Sc at the repeated acts of violence she had sustained, she pitched upon the most unnatural resolution that ever "entered into the mind of a human being. Having a "child sucking at her breast, she snatched it up in her

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

arms, and looking upon it with the utmost tenderness, "she thus addressed it- What shall I do for thee, thou "most unfortunate infant, brought into the world "under a complication of three such dreadful judgments, as these which have now come upon us: of "war, famine, and rebellion? For which of these three "shall I reserve thee? The Romans will give thee thy "life perhaps, but not thy liberty: famine will prevent slavery, but our present Tyrants will be found less "supportable than either of them. What canst thou "do better now, than supply the want of food to thy "starving mother; and by this action sting them with "the horrour of the deed and so finally crown the


history of the Jews with the only execrable abomi"nation that is yet wanting to perfect their misery ?— "With these words, in despair and frenzy, she plunged "a poniard in its breast, and having cut her babe in pieces, and dressed a part of it; she devoured the "fruit of her womb. Soon afterwards a party of the "seditious


(1) This is the greatest misfortune that can befal a people.-The Israelites experienced it in the siege of Samaria, as we read in 2 Kings, vi. 29; and the Jews, in the siege of Jerusalem, by Nebuchadnezzar.-Lament. iv. 10. And now again in this:



« السابقةمتابعة »