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desist from further contentions, in the event of which, Titus would reinstate them in the perfect and peaceable enjoyment of their possessions, and in the practice of their religious worship. "Besides," continued he,
"do you not perceive that those springs which were "almost dried up when in your possession have, since "the coming of the Romans, run more plentifully than "they did before? You know too, that Siloam as well "as other springs about the city, so far failed, that "water was sold by the pitcher; instead of which, "there is now so abundant a supply of it for your "enemies, as is sufficient not only for them and their "cattle to drink; but for watering their gardens also. "The same remarkable interference of divine Providence was witnessed formerly when the King of Babylon "made war against us, at the time he took the city "and destroyed the temple; though the men of that age were far removed from that degree of wickedness, of which you yourselves are guilty." 1
However natural it may seem, that a people sufrounded as the Jews were by a foreign enemy, should make every resistance, and use every endeavour to repel the attacks of any invaders of their country; yet it must be remembered that they were Roman subjects by conquest, and had for a series of years, acknowledged that subjection, and paid their tribute to the invading power; and that an attempt on their part was now suddenly made to revolt from the one, and to deny the other. So that from these considerations it must be admitted, that the Romans were, with great reason, induced to prosecute a war against a people who natu
1 Bell. Jud. 5, ix, 4.
rally endeavoured to shake off the trammels of a foreign yoke. The great consideration, therefore, for the Jews was, to reflect whether from general circumstances the hand of God were at all discernible; and if so, whether it were to their advantage or against it. The failure of these springs was an argument well adapted to determine this point; for it may be supposed, from what little we read on the subject, that this was evidently an uncommon event, and one that had happened only, when for their iniquity, they were visited by the displeasure of heaven.
Another circumstance which seems to afford a similar admonitory warning was, the existing prevalence of disaffection, and contentions among them; for it must have been equally evident to them, as to us, "that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." These, connected with other prognostics of desolation
1 The argument which Xenophon puts into the mouth of Cyrus, when remonstrating with the King of Armenia on his sudden defection and revolt, might, with equal propriety, be applied to the Jews, by the Romans-"For what reason," ," said that Conqueror, "have you violated your treaty against us 86 in every article ?"—" Because," replied the King, "I thought it glorious "to shake off a yoke, to live free, and to leave my children in the same "condition.”—“ It is really glorious," answered Cyrus," to fight in defence " of liberty; but if any one, after he is reduced to servitude, should attempt to run away from his master, what would you do with him?"-" I confess," "said the King, "I would punish him!"—" But, if you had committed a government to the care of any one, and he should carry on designs against you with your enemies, how would you treat him ?"-" Though I should << pass sentence upon myself," replied the King, "I must declare the truth: "I would put him to death."— Yet such arguments would carry no weight either in favour of Cyrus or Titus, unless the original motives, for bringing their vanquished under subjection, were founded upon just and proper principles; without these, no right of this nature can exist in any Conqueror; nor can a lapse of years make that title good, which was in itself originally faulty.
and ruin, although many perhaps were ideal and superstitious, yet from gaining a general belief, may be considered as having the same effect with real indications on their minds; plainly manifested their hardened obstinacy; while they pointed, as it were, in a striking manner at the Romans, as the instruments, made use of by the Almighty to execute his will, and to punish their wickedness.
A famine within the city now began to rage in a manner truly deplorable, daily increasing the horrour and misery of the infatuated people. Tyranny on the one hand, and want on the other left no alternative'; so that many of the lower classes succeeded in deserting to the Romans: but these attempts were attended with imminent danger; for not only detected deserters were punished with certain death, but many among the higher ranks were indiscriminately murdered, on pretence of preventing their escape, though in reality with a view to plunder their possessions. It was a striking feature in this siege, that the madness of the factions kept pace with the increase of the famine: and as private right is too apt to be sacrificed to public injustice by those whose minds have abandoned the exercise of a moral principle, or whose feelings are callous to the remonstrances of conscience; these lawless assassins, unable to procure corn in public, broke open houses of individuals, merely to gratify an expectation of finding it even in the smallest quantity. If any happened to be discovered, the possessors were accused of having secreted it; and were instantly condemned to endure the severest treatment: if on the contrary none was found, they were still barbarously tortured on the charge of a more studious concealment of stores they
never possessed. In general, however, the appearance of bodily strength or weakness in the people, formed the rule by which the factions were guided in their search for plunder. Provisions had become so scarce, that many of the wealthier Jews sold all they possessed for a single measure of wheat; and others of the poorer sort, on the same conditions, for a similar proportion of barley: then shutting themselves up in secret, with whatever they had thus purchased, they proceeded to devour the corn either without grinding, or in a state of leaven; according as the importunity of hunger, or the fear of danger predominated. Starving is of all deaths perhaps, the most deplorable; as it takes away the sense of shame, tenderness and respect. The bare supposition that food was in the possession of any individual created the most sanguinary conflicts, in which they who had formerly been bound by affection, forgetful of the ties of kindred or friendship, contended with each other for no greater object than a slender hoard of victuals. It was this corroding necessity that instigated husbands to snatch, without remorse, the food from the mouths of their wives; that children, forgetful of all claims to their respect, did the same with their parents; and what was still more unnatural; that mothers, losing every sentiment of tenderness and affection, forced away the sustenance from their own infants;
1 Bell. Jud. 5, x. 2.
2 They with avidity devoured shoes, girdles, the hides of beasts, and old hay, where they could procure it; for a handful of which they paid a sum equivalent to half a crown English.
Bell. Jud. 6, iii. 3.
FOR THERE SHALL BE GREAT TRIBULATION, SUCH AS WAS NOT SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD TO THIS TIME, NO, NOR EVER SHALL BE.
Matt. xxiv. 21.
infants; depriving them of the very last support of life, even at a time when they lay expiring in their arms: and no sooner had they robbed them of whatever accident had bestowed, or with what natural affection had previously supplied, than they themselves were plundered of the prey. Wherever a house was seen shut up, it was concluded, that some were eating in secret, instantly the doors were forced open, and the food even though it were already masticated, was torn from the throats of any who happened thus to be discovered.2 Mercy was alike withheld from age and sex; whether sick or languid, tender or infirm, all were indiscriminately attacked, and suffered the same unhappy fate. Those who endeavoured to defend whatever provisions they had previously retained, were regarded as presumptuous, and experienced more com
1 THE MAN THAT IS TENDER AMONG YOU, AND VERY DELICATE, HIS EYE SHALL BE EVIL TOWARD HIS BROTHER, AND TOWARD THE WIFE OF HIS BOSOM, AND TOWARD THE REMNANT OF HIS CHILDREN WHICH HE SHALL LEAVE:BECAUSE HE HATH NOTHING LEFT HIM IN THE SIEGE, AND IN THE STRAITNESS WHEREWITH THINE ENEMIES SHALL DISTRESS THEE IN THY GATES.
Deut. xxviii. 53, 54,
The words of our Saviour foretelling the effect his doctrines, as opposed to Judaism, would have upon those of the same household, may, in their LITERAL interpretation, be applied to the circumstances of this stage of the siege.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I am not come to send peace but a sword; for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother; and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be those of his own house. Matt. x. 34, 35.
2 Bell. Jud. 5. x. 3.
Here also might be applied the literal signification of the words spoken by David on another, very different occasion-“ While the meat was yet in their mouths, the heavy wrath of God came upon them, and slew the wealthiest of them; yea and smote down the chosen men that were in Israel,” Psalm lxxviii. 81,