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"quent hostility; but that it originated chiefly, in the apparently contemptuous, though unavoidable rejection of those gifts and sacrifices, which their heathen masters were inclined to offer in their Temple.' "But "that which appears principally to have encouraged "them to war," says this historian, "was an ambiguous oracle, found also in their sacred writings; that "about this time, some one from their country should "obtain the empire of the world: this they understood "to belong to themselves, and many of the wise men "were mistaken in their judgment about it; for the "oracle intended the government of Vespasian, who was proclaimed Emperour of Judea."
(1) The Jews sacrificed twice a day for the Emperour and the Roman people. Eleazar, son of the High Priest, a most daring youth, who at that time commanded in the Temple, persuaded the officiating Priests not to admit the gift or sacrifice of any foreigner: this laid the foundation of the Roman war, as they rejected Cæsar's sacrifices for his people.
Bell. Jud. 2. xvii. 2. Tacitus acknowledges that the Jews, though harassed with repeated acts of oppression, gave proofs of a very patient spirit.-Hist. v. 10.
(2) Bell. Jud. 6. vi. 2,
This oracle, the application of which Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius, have each, by way of compliment, ascribed as referring to Vespasian; related to the Messiah promised to the Jews, whom they earnestly expected to come and release them from the power and oppression of the Roman yoke. When, therefore, the obvious meaning of the oracle, was, by the Romans, fashioned and converted to meet their ambitious hopes, and to point out that universal dominion at which they aspired; it might naturally be expected, that the nation of the Jews would dispute the enjoyment of that promise, which had always been made to them, as the peculiar and highly favoured people of God; and that they would assert and support their claims to a preference, with any of the worshippers of Idolatry.
Vide Tacit. Hist. v. 13, and Suet. in vitâ Vesp. viii. 4.
It is said that the Herodians (the Parasites of Herod the Great), pretended that he was referred to by this Oracle, as the promised Deliverer. That Josephus should ascribe it to Vespasian, is not so much to be wondered at, when it is remembered, that he looked upon his country as entirely forsaken by heaven.
Independent, however, of these reasons for engaging in a war with the Romans, to whom they had hitherto paid a silent, though evidently a constrained submission; their internal feuds and civil disaffection called powerfully for a strong interference of that government, to which they were tributary; particularly as the revenue, arising from their subjection, was an object of too great moment to be lost for the want of timely and effective measures. That the war, in a great degree, originated in these dissensions, was openly declared by Titus himself, in the speech he made to the priests who sued to him for mercy and protection, after the destruction of their Temple. "You have "never," said he "ceased rebelling, since Pompey first "made a conquest of your country; "and at length you "have been so imprudent as to declare open war "against us. Our kindness seems only to have ex"cited your enmity; we too, who have permitted you "to live in the peaceable and quiet possession of your city; and as the first instance of our regard, suffered you to dwell in your own country, and appointed
kings of your own nation. We have preserved the "laws of your forefathers; and, as was most congenial "to your inclinations, have allowed you to live either by yourselves or among others: and what should "have been regarded as a greater favour, we have
given you leave to collect that tribute you pay your "God, and such other gifts as are dedicated to him, "not only without prohibition, but without even calling those to account, whom you appointed to receive "such donations;' till at length you became richer than
(1) Vide 1 Macc. x. 31, 45, where these indulgences, and many others were granted to the Jews by King Demetrius.
we, and presented yourselves an armed, though not 66 a declared enemy, secretly making preparations for a war against us, with what in fact, we considered "as our own money. You sent embassies to those of your nation who lived beyond the Euphrates, to assist "you in raising disturbances. New walls were built "around your city; sedition arose, and one tyrant con"tended with another, till you became distracted by "civil commotions."
It was A. D. 68, when Vespasian, who had hitherto commanded a large army in Egypt, for the purpose of arranging the government established by Nero; received the news of that Emperour's death, of the Jews' intestine divisions, and of their disaffection to the Roman power; upon which he hastened the completion of his projects in Syria, and in the following year returned to the capital, sending his son Titus to Jerusalem, with the main body of his army.
(1) Bell. Jud. 6. vì. 2.
(2) This interval offered a favourable opportunity for the disciples of Christ to fly to the mountains, as they had now seen the Romans coming against them in the manner they had been forewarned; of this they prudently took advantage. The Jews had the like opportunity of reflecting upon the posture of their affairs, and of guarding against the uncertain, if not probable issue of an unequal conflict; but reflection was banished from their minds, and instead of combining their strength, upon a determination to pursue hostile measures; they weakened it, by kindling animosity, and by forming various and opposite interests amongst themselves: thus hastening on inevitable ruin. Our Saviour plainly foresaw, that nothing would reclaim them after his endeavours had failed of their effect.-" When he was come near, he beheld the city and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes.”—Luke, xix. 41.
(3) THE LORD SHALL BRING A NATION AGAINST THEE from afar, from THE END OF THE EARTH, AS SWIFT AS THE EAGLE FLIETH; A NATION WHOSE TONGUE THOU
"He was received," says Tacitus, " in Judea, at "the head of three legions, the fifth, the tenth, and "the fifteenth, all experienced veterans, who had "served under Vespasian. To these were added the "twelfth, from Syria, and the third and twenty-second "from Alexandria. He had, besides, twenty cohorts of "allies and eight squadrons of horse. The two Kings, Agrippa and Sohemus, joined his standard, Antiochus "sent the forces of his kingdom. A formidable body "of Arabs, with that animosity which often imbitters "neighbouring nations against each other, took the "field as avowed enemies of the Jewish nation. The "number that passed over from Rome and Italy, to "serve as volunteers under a prince not yet decided. "in his friendships, was considerable. With this force Titus advanced into the enemy's country in order of battle, by his scouts exploring the motions of the enemy, and always prepared for action."
THOU SHALT NOT UNDERSTAND.-A NATION OF FIERCE COUNTENANCE, WHICH SHALL NOT REGARD THE PERSON OF THE OLD, NOR SHEW FAVOUR TO THE YOUNG.-Deut. xxviii. 49, 50.-Jer. iv. 5, &c.
Vespasian and Adrian were sent from their command in Britain (which was then considered as the extremity of the world), against Judea, and the rapidity of their conquests might be compared to eagles, and, probably, had a reference to the eagle on their standards-Vide Kett.
THUS SAITH THE LORD, BEHOLD A PEOPLE COMETH FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY, AND A GREAT NATION SHALL BE RAISED FROM THE SIDES OF THE EARTH, THEY SHALL LAY HOLD ON BOW AND SPEAR; THEY ARE CRUEL AND HAVE NO MERCY; THEIR VOICE ROARETH LIKE THE SEA: AND THEY RIDE UPON HORSES, SET IN ARRAY AS MEN OF WAR AGAINST THEE, OH DAUGHTER OF ZION!-Jer. vi. 22, 23.
(1) Tres eum in Judæâ Legiones, quinta et decima et quinta-decima vetus Vespasiani miles excipere. Tradidit et Syria duodecimam, et adductos Alexandria duo et vicesimanos tertianosque. Comitabantur viginti socia Cohortes, octo equitum ala: simul Agrippa, Sohemusque Reges, et auxilia Regis Antiochi, validaque spes acciverant, occupandi principem adhuc
In this manner he arrived, with his army formed into three divisions; and placing two of them on the north side, and one on Mount Olivet to the east,' he encamped before the city."
The many factions that had before existed in the city
vacuum. His cum copiis finis hostium ingressus, composito agmine, cuncta explorans, paratusque decernere, haud procul Hierosolymis castra facit. Tacit. Hist. v. i.
I WILL GATHER ALL NATIONS AGAINST JERUSALEM TO BATTLE. Zech. xiv. 2. "By "all nations," says Louth," are meant the Romans, who being Lords "of the then known world, had the strength of all nations united to their "forces."
This statement of the forces of Titus, nearly corresponds with the ac counts given by Josephus. (Bell. Jud. 5, xi. 6.) The number of his whole army has been computed at 60,000 men, besides victuallers and boys. "Sexaginta millia militum præter lixas et calones ad urbem duxit." The force employed on the Jewish side amounted to about half that number.
(1) The seditious Jews within the city beheld, with astonishment, the Romans measuring out the ground for their camps in three places. Bell. Jud. 5. ii. 4.
The very spot on Mount Olivet, from whence Christ viewed Jerusalem and wept over it (Luke, xix. 41), was that on which Titus here pitched his camp. This is remarked by Quaresmius, who quotes these words from Baronius:-" Est res observatione certe ac stupore digna, in eodem Monte "Oliveti, ubi Christus aspiciens Jerosolymam fudit lacrymas, Romanos, cum "essent obsessuri eandem civitatem, ac funditus vastaturi et eversuri, primum castra, possuisse."-Elucidatio Terræ Sanctæ. ii. p. 241.
(2) This was early in April, A. D. 70.—It was the beginning of May that he was reinforced by a number of armed men, and a band, called the Macedonian band, commanded by Antiochus Epiphanes, son of the King of Commagena.-Bell, Jud. 5. xi. 3.
Here was the DESOLATION OF ABOMINATION spoken of by Daniel, STANDING IN THE HOLY PLACE: for Jerusalem and its borders were accounted holy, as appears from 1st Mace. x. 31, and here the Army was stationed with its ensigns within sight of the City and Temple; "rivalling, as it were," says Newcome, "the God of Israel: this was a hostile contempt of the Jews, "and is justly placed among the presages of their utter destruction." Observations on the conduct of our Lord, p. 220.