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city, were now reduced to three.' The first of these was headed by Simon, a man who had exhibited every symptom of determined obstinacy; and who, with a body of ten thousand Jews and five thousand Idumæans, formed a party of so daring and ferocious a character, as entitled it, after some struggles, to a marked pre-eminence over the other factions; and at length obtained for its tyranny, more than for its protection, the upper city.
Eleazar commanded a party of two thousand five hundred, who assumed the name of Zealots; with these he had made himself master of the Temple, and now stood upon its defence.*
John of Giscala, a cruel and specious man, of insinuating
The images of the Emperour, and the eagles that were carried in front of the Legions, were regarded with religious abhorrence by the Jews; as they were ranked among the Pagan Deities, and reverenced with divine honours. Kett's Hist. Int. of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 213.
(1) Tres Duces, totidem exercitus. Extrema et latissima mœnium Simon; mediam urbem Johannes, quem et Burgioram vocabant; Templum Eleazarus loco pollebat. Sed prælia dolus, incendia inter ipsos, et magna vis frumenti ambusta. Tacit. Hist. v. 12.
(2) The leading principle of these men was excessive devotion to the Law of Moses, to the permanence of the Jewish religion, and the independence of the Jewish state. They acknowledged no master but God; and considered it as a crime to pay any tribute to the Romans, or to submit in any way to the ignominy of a foreign and idolatrous yoke. When once they had resolved to employ these principles as justifiable grounds of action (although in their origin they might be considered only as a national way of thinking), and when they had distinguished themselves from the rest of the people by their eagerness and zeal in manifesting these principles, they were insensibly carried on to the perpetration of the most atrocious crimes, and at length percipitated the nation into the very ruin which at first they vainly endeavoured to avert. Maltby's Illustration, ch. ii. p. 94, Ed. 1803.
(3) Vespasian had been attacked formerly by the Jews, at a considerable distance
sinuating address, and possessing a wonderful flow of language; looked with an eye of envy on the party, as well as on the situation of Eleazar: having himself an army of six thousand men, he adopted various stratagems to win over the Zealots to his side; till, by "every effort of condescension and intrigue, he became a very formidable rival. At an earlier period, he had "maintained his station in the upper city, when taking off the mask so long and artfully assumed; he gave "way to every species of savage barbarity. His acts of depredation were so violent, and his outrages carried to so great an excess; that the people, harassed and worn out by oppression, invited Simon to their déliverance; who with his army, augmented by those troops, which he suddenly raised by promises of future reward; advanced to the gates of Jerusalem, amid the applauses of the people; and shortly succeeded in defeating John, and securing himself in the possession of the city. John, though he had recently sustained this
distance from the city, under the command of John; but having repulsed them, they fled to the city for protection; " which," says the historian, “was "the work of God, who reserved John for the destruction of Jerusalem." Bell. Jud. 4, ii. 3.
(1) Amongst the number of his destructive actions, the most glaring was that of setting fire to the granaries filled with corn and provisions. The same was done by Simon, afterwards, when he attacked the city. These tended however, much more to their own ruin, than to the disadvantage of their enemies; particularly as this supply was sufficient to have lasted a siege of many years, and was indeed the direct occasion of that famine, in consequence of which, so many ultimately perished. Here they themselves helped to fulfil the prediction of Christ. ExCEPT THOSE DAYS BE SHORTENED THERE SHALL NO FLESH BE SAVED. Matt. xxiv. 22. Vide Bell. Jud. 5, i. 4 and 5, X. 3.
(2) A circumstance at this time took place, which elucidates the savage character of Simon, " et crimine ab uno, disce omnes." As soon as he had established
this signal defeat, aspired soon afterwards to the conquest of the Temple, and made the most vigorous exertions, both by the force of arms and secret insinuations, to obtain the station and undermine its defender. For this purpose, he disguised some of the most inconsiderable of his own party, that they might mingle with those who came up at this season to worship in the Temple; and for whom Eleazar, from religious motives, had thrown open the sacred, portals of the sanctuary. The horrid artifice succeeded, when the assassins, throwing off their garments, exhibited their sanguinary purpose. The Temple became a scene of dreadful confusion, In vain the multitude flocked to the altar for protection; its sanctity was unheeded, and its purity defiled. Eleazar, with many of the worshippers and some of his own men, were, according to the testimony of Tacitus, mumbered with the dead; but from the better authority of Josephus, it appears that he not only survived, but acted afterwards
established himself in the city, he summoned Matthias, a High Priest, before him; who, from his influence with the people, had persuaded them to invite over Simon, and his party, to rid them of the worse tyranny of John; in consequence of which John was supplanted. Simon, as the first proof of his security, charged Matthias, from his conduct on this occasion, with being an enemy to his country; and condemned him and his three sons to instant death. The unhappy parent begged only that he might be permitted to die before his sons; but his request was denied, and he was compelled to view the heart-rending spectacle of his children's slaughter, before he submitted his own life to the hand of the executioner."
* Vide Bell. Jud. 5, xiii. 1. §
(1) Under colour of performing a sacrifice, John contrived to send a band of assassins to cut off Eleazar and his whole party in one general massacre. By this atrocious deed he gained possession of the Temple. Mox Johannes, missis per speciem sacrificandi qui Eleazarum manumque obtruncarent templo potitur.-Hist. v. 12.
(2) Bell. Jud. 5, vi. i.
wards under the command of John; who from this time connecting the Zealots with his own party, reduced the three former factions to two.'
Titus was now approaching with his army to the walls of Jerusalem, and presented so formidable an appearance as would have struck consternation into the hearts of any, but this infatuated people. It was at this critical juncture that those Christians among them, who called the warning admonition of Christ to their remembrance, effected their escape, by flying to the mountains to avoid that destruction which so evidently hung over this obdurate nation." Such was the disunited prospect within the walls of Jerusalem
(1) From that time the two contending factions threw every thing into confusion, till the enemy at their gates obliged them to unite in their common defence. Ita in duas factiones civitus discessit, donec propinquantibus Romanis bellum externam concordiam parareret.-Tacit. Hist. v. 12.
(2) WHEN YOU SHALL SEE JERUSALEM ENCOMPASSED WITH ARMIES, THEN
"KNOW THat the DESOLATION THEREOF IS NIGH: THEN LET THEM WHICH ARE IN JUDEA FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS; AND LET THEM WHICH ARE IN THE MIDST OF IT DEPART OUT, AND LET NOT THEM THAT ARE IN THE COUNTRIES ENTER THEREIN.-Luke, xxi. 20.—Let your expedition to escape be so great, that if ye be on the house top, do not descend into it, but fly down by the outside staircase: neither let him that is in the field think first of returning home, lest his flight be cut off: pray also that ye may have no impediment, arising from the inconveniencies of winter, or of any religious scruple of travelling on the sabbath day. PRAY YE THAT YOUR FLIGHT BE NOT IN THE WINTER, NEITHER ON THE SABBATH DAY.-Matt. xxiv. 20.
THEN SHALL TWO BE IN THE FIELD; THE ONE SHALL BE TAKEN, THE OTHER LEFT.-Matt. xxiv. 40, 41.-I TELI. YOU IN THAT NIGHT THERE SHALL BE TWO MEN IN ONE BED; THE ONE SHALL BE TAKEN AND THE OTHER LEFT.—Luke, xvii. 34. When the enemy shall come upon Jerusalem those of my disciples who shall call my forewarning to their remembrance shall be saved, and though their occupations and employments may be the same with others who are not my disciples; yet, however nearly they may seem connected by external circumstances, my disciples only shall be preserved, and the others perish.
salem at this season of public assembly.' The scene without the city presented Titus encamped with that army before described, whose courage and discipline were as unrivalled, as their purposes determined; yet their leader, before the onset, offered terms of capitulation, which were, however, disdainfully refused on the part of the faction. All hope of pacific measures having thus vanished, the command was instantly given; when the legions, at the same moment, prepared for the engagement: the suburbs of the city were by the order of Titus set on fire, and the trees cut down for the purposes of war. Elated by hopes of glory, and
(1) This was at the time of the Passover, when Josephus computes the number of those qualified by the Mosaic Law to celebrate the feast, at two millions seven hundred thousand: this, therefore, excludes all foreigners, and those, who from sickness and other causes, were looked upon as polluted and unholy. Bell. Jud. 6. ix. 3.
There being so large a concourse of Jews at the public assembly, is a convincing proof how little they then suspected the interruption caused by the Romans; so true was it, as our Saviour declared; that this destruction should come upon them as suddenly as that, which came upon the world in the days of Noah.
AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOE, SO SHALL IT BE ALSO IN THE DAYS OF THE SON OF MAN. THEY DID EAT, THEY DRANK, THEY MARRIED WIVES, THEY WERE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE, UNTIL THE DAY THAT NOE ENTERED INTO THE ARK, AND THE FLOOD CAME AND DESTROYED THEM ALL. LIKEWISE ALSO AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF LOT; THEY DID EAT, THEY DRANK, THEY BOUGHT, THEY SOLD, THEY PLANTED, THEY BUILDED; BUT THE SAME DAY THAT LOT WENT OUT OF SODOM, IT RAINED FIRE AND BRIMSTONE FROM HEAVEN, AND DESTROYED THEM ALL. EVEN THUS SHALL IT BE IN THE DAY WHEN THE
SON OF MAN IS REVEALED.-Luke, xvii. 26-30.
That the city was capable of containing so large an assemblage, Josephus proves from the circumstance of its presenting at the Passover, A. D. 63, three millions of Jewish petitioners to Cestius Gallus, the President of Syria, against the wicked administration of the procurator Florus.
Compare Bell. Jud. 2, xiv. 3, with 6, ix. 9.
(2) Bell. Jud. 5, vi. 2.