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“ endeavoured to preserve; their own children are food "good enough for such parents." He determined, therefore, from this time to bury their iniquities in their ruin, and not leave a city where mothers devoured their own offspring; and where the fathers were still more impious in keeping up the war, after so many demonstrations of the wrath of heaven.2
After these disgusting manifestations of the unparalleled miseries of Jerusalem; it would be useless, if not impossible, to produce any other circumstance by which, in description, a stronger idea of the ravages of famine could be pourtrayed.
1 Bell. Jud. 6, iii. 4. 2. From these repeated declarations of the moral sensibility of Titus, we are. led to think that Josephus made them without a strict regard to fidelity, with a view to ingratiate himself into that Emperour's favour: though the testimony of Tacitus, Suetonius, and other writers, seems to corroborate the truth of these eulogia. It has, however, upon no insufficient grounds, been objected against his character, that he was not always possessed of feelings equally humane; as his sacrifice of two thousand five hundred Jewish captives at Cæsarea, who were burnt, or made to fight with wild beasts, seems to exemplify; but it must be remembered, that this was not more to be imputed to his cruelty than to the barbarity of the age in which he lived, when it was customary to punish capital delinquents in this way; and the occasion on which these unhappy Jews were made to suffer, was the celebration of the birth day of Domitian, the brother of Titus. It may also be mentioned, that when the Senate and people of Antioch besought him to banish the Jews from that place, he denied the request, because as their own country was desolate," they had not where,” it may be said, in our Saviour's language, so much as to lay their heads.” On this denial, the Senate and people prayed that the Jews might, at least, be divested of the few privileges they then enjoyed; this, however, Titus would not allow; so that “for the elect's sake, those days (of persecution) were shortened.”
Vide Bell. Jud. 7, v. 2. This latter circumstance fulfilled also the prophecy of Moses : AND YET FOR ALL THAT, WHEN THEY BE IN THE LAND OF THEIR ENEMIES, I WILL NOT CAST THEM AWAY, NEITHER WILL I ABHOR THEM, TO DESTROY THEM UTTERLY.
Levit. xxvi. 44,
Titus now ordered the battering rams to be played against the western cloisters of the Temple; these he worked with incessant application for six days successively, when he found the buildings proof against all his energies. He then had recourse to his scaling ladders, and to the ụse of other engines that seemed to promise the means of accomplishing his designs against the firm and stately fortifications; but every exertion met with a similar failure: thinking, therefore, that by his endeavours to spare the surrounding buildings of the Temple he only sacrificed his own men; he ordered them to set fire to the gates; when the raging and devouring element taking a hold, too firm to be resisted, quickly reached the adjacent galleries. This was such a surprise to the Jews, that they stood staring at each other in wild astonishment, incapable of attempting any effort to prevent the conflagration; so that it continued with unabated fury throughout the remainder of that day and the succeeding night, and consequently many of these outward buildings were entirely consumed.
Titus perceiving from every circumstance, that by protracting the siege, he exposed his soldiers to stratagems and hazards, so insiduously contrived and executed, that the losses he sustained were of a nature to demand an immediate application of decisive measures; summoned a council of war from among the commanders of his army, some of whom were of opinion, that no permanent security could be established, without the entire demolition of the Temple; as independent of the veneration the Jews pretended to profess for it, it had, during the siege, been converted into a fortress of defence. They recommended,
however, however, in the event of the Jews abandoning it, to preserve the fabric; but if the enemy persevered in resistance, they should consider that the impiety of burning it would not attach itself to the Romans, but to those who compelled them to adopt so painful, but necessary a resource. To these suggestions Titus made this reply.—" If the Jews will be obstinate and turn a
Temple into a citadel, shall I revenge the stubborn"ness of a rebellious people, by laying the most mag“ nificent fabric in the universe in ashes for their sakes? “ It would be an affront to the dignity of Rome itself " to think of depriving the empire of so illustrious an “ ornament."1
The Jews commenced a violent attack upon the enemy without loss of time, but were defeated and driven back to the Temple; where they were afterwards closely confined. Titus withdrew to Antonia with a resolution to attack the Temple with the whole of his army on the following morning. The next day, therefore, the assault was made: the Romans with the golden prospect of plunder actually before their eyes, put forth every exertion to secure it; while the Jews, exasperated that an army of a Gentile nation should aspire to the possession of that Temple which for so many ages had been consecrated to their exclusive worship; fought with renovated ardour: but their efforts could not stand against the determined spirit of the enemy, who had now driven them to the inner court. One of the soldiers here mounted an elevated place, from whence he threw a firebrand and set the whole building in a flame. The cries of the Jews, now
clinging clinging to the Sanctuary, and the shouts of the conquerors as they approached it; conspired to present a scene the most dreadful that can be imagined. In vain did the vanquished call upon that God who had so signally abandoned them to this sanguinary fate. It was only now, while the sword was suspended over them, that they were convinced that the Lord of Hosts was not on their side; nor the God of Jacob their refuge. Followed to the recesses of the Sanctuary by an enemy whom they had provoked to destroy them, their hopes altogether vanished; while the Temple, that source of every former comfort and later misforture now enveloped in flames, left them no alternative but to yield their lives to the resentment of an infuriated soldiery.
i Bell. Jud. 6. iy. 3.
The report of the Temple being on fire, soon reached the knowledge of Titus; who hastened with great precipitation to the scene of bloodshed and confusion. By every exertion, he endeavoured to prevail upon his men to use their utmost efforts to check the conflagration : but the greater noise overwhelmed the lesser, and his
1 Here was again even more particularly fulfilled, that prophecy of Jeremiah, which bore a stronger reference to this, than to the former destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzat; because the Temple, in this instance, was taken by force of arms, whereas in the first destruction it was evacuated by the Jews, and quietly left in the possession of the King of Babylon.
BEHOLD, OH LORD, AND CONSIDER TO WHOM THOU HAST DONE THIS. SHALL THE WOMEN EAT THEIR FRUIT, AND CHILDREN OF A SPAN LONG ? SHALL THE PRIEST AND THE PROPHET BE SLAIN IN THE SANCTUARY OF THE LORD? THE YOUNG AND THE OLD LIE ON THE GROUND IN THE STREETS: MY VIRGINS AND MY YOUNG 'MEN ARE FALLEN BY THE SWORD: THOU HAST SLAIN THEM IN THE DAY OF THINE ANGER ; THOU HAST KILLED AND NOT PITIED. THOU HAST CALLED AS IN A SOLEMN DAY MY TERRORS ROUND ABOUT, SO'THAT IN THE DAY OF THE LORD'S ANGER NONE ESCAPED OR REMAINED: THOSE THAT I HAVE SWADDLED AND BROUGHT UP, HATH MINE ENEMY CONSOMED.-Lament. ii. 20—22.
soldiers were as blind to the signals he made, as they were deaf to his commands : governed no longer by menaces and entreaties, they pretended to excuse their disobedience by denying the possibility of hearing, or their ability to execute the orders of their commander. The seditious had now no way either to escape themselves, or to extinguish the flames; whichever way they turned, nothing but destruction met them. Here the dead were piled around the altar, there streams of blood flowed copiously in every direction."
When Titus found it impossible to restrain the fury of his soldiers, or prevent the ravages of the fire, he, with some of his officers, entered the sacred recesses of the Temple; where he found upon examination, the magnificence and splendour, greatly to exceed the common report or his own conception of it.? Perceiv
ing 1 Bell. Jud. 6, iv. 6. OH GOD! THE HEATHEN ARE COME INTO THINE INHERITANCE, THY HOLY TEMPLE HAVE THEY DEFILED AND MADE JERUSALEM AN HEAP OF STONES.Psalm lxxix. 1. „This could not apply more directly to the first, than to this final destruction.
Here was accomplished, in a remarkable manner, the words spoken by Christ to the Jews, when he was informed that Pilate, at the time of the Passover, had sacrificed upon the altar some of the Galileans, because they had revolted against the Roman power—against paying tribute to Cæsar-against acknowledging any as Lord, but the God of Israel—and agains offering sacrifices for the Romans.—“So,” said Christ, I tell
except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” The Jews did not repentthey openly revolted against the Roman power-they refused paying tribute-they disbelieved Messiah, andthereby rejected the LORD—they refused to sacrifice for the Roman Emperour and people (Bell. Jud. 2, xviii. 2.) and here we see at this awful Passover, their priests slaughtered at the altar, and the rest,“ like those upon whom the tower of Siloam fell,” destroyed, and buried in the ruins of their temple snd city.
Vide Luke, xüi. 1-4. 2 Here a third time was the prophecy of our Saviour verified, when he foretold that the Roman ensigns, called “ THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,"