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of Marcosia, in Lusitania or Portugal. Apud Gruter. p. 238, n. 9, or Lardner, VII. p. 248.
NERONI. CL. CAIS. AUG. PONT. MAX. OB PROVINC. LATRONIB. ET HIS. QUI. NOVAM GENERI HUM. SUPERSTITION. INCULCAB. PURGATAM.
"To Nero Claudius Cæsar Augustus, chief Pontiff,
For purging the province of robbers,
A new superstition to the human race
This persecution was followed, in the autumn of A.D. 65, according to Tacitus, by supernatural tempests and pestilence.
"A year polluted by so many crimes, was marked by tempests and diseases, inflicted by the gods. The Campania was laid waste by a hurricane, which demolished villas, plantations, and fruits every where, and extended its ravages to the vicinity of the city (Rome), where all descriptions of people were wasted by the violence of pestilence, without any perceptible inclemency of the weather. The houses were emptied of inhabitants, the highways filled with carcases. No sex or age escaped the danger. Slaves and free alike, were rapidly extinguished, amid the lamentations of their wives and children; who, during their attendance, while weeping over them, were often burned upon the same funeral pile themselves. The destruction of Roman knights and senators, however promiscuous, was less lamented; as if, in the common mortality, they only anticipated the cruelty of the prince." Annal. XV. 13.
These are curious and valuable records of professed enemies to Christianity, undesignedly vouching the DIVINE vengeance upon the atrocious murderers of his chosen saints.
Nero himself, that fantastic monster of cruelty †, was, not
• Mosheim, and others, doubt the genuineness of this inscription, as not sufficiently established on the authority of Cyriacus Anconitanus, the first publisher; especially as the stone itself is not now to be found, and is not noticed by Spanish writers of eminence. But the style, as justly remarked by Lardner, is perfectly agreeable to Tacitus and Suetonius, and the earliest heathen writers who have mentioned the Christians. Lardner, VII. p. 249.
† Plutarch has a fine reflection on the mischievous effects of adulation to princes. "What made Nero erect his tragic theatre, and wear the mask and buskins, as an actor, but the plaudits of adulators? Were not Kings in general styled, while they sang, Apollos? while drunk, Bacchuses? while wrestling at the games, Hercules? and delighting in these titles, led on by flattery to the lowest depravity." Plutarch. Vol. II.
long after, himself pursued by Divine justice, and perished miserably in a tumultuous conspiracy, June 9, A.D. 68. And the Romans were harassed with intestine wars by his successors, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, who all were slain likewise, or destroyed themselves, to make way for Vespasian. So true is our Lord's observation, that "they who use the sword of religious persecution, shall perish by the sword!"
This broke out in the same ominous year, A.D. 65, in Judea, occasioned by the mal-administration of Florus. Josephus, Ant. xx. 11, 1. Vita. § 6 *.
The first commencement of the war was the refusal of Eleazar, the son of the high priest Ananias, (" that whited wall,") to offer sacrifices in the temple, for the prosperity of the Roman empire; in spite of the remonstrances of many of the chief priests and nobles, not to omit this customary mark of allegiance. Bell. Jud. II. 17, 2.
The public animosity against Florus being very great, for plundering the sacred treasury, and for other cruelties, and the insurrection increasing at Jerusalem, Cestius Gallus, president of Syria, marched with a powerful army into Judea, and committed great ravages on his way to the city. He encamped before it for three days; and set fire, on the fourth day, to Bezetha, or the northern suburb; but withdrew, dissuaded by the emissaries of Florus; when, if he had attacked the city itself, during the consternation of the seditious, he might have easily taken it, and put an end to the war at once. But GOD, says the Jewish historian, "for the wickedness of the people, suffered not the war to come to an end at that time. For the seditious, taking courage again, pursued Cestius in his retreat, harassed, and at length routed his army with great slaughter, on the eighth day of November, in the twelfth year of Nero," (A.D. 65.) "After the disaster of Cestius, many of the distinguished Jews quitted the city, like a sinking ship," says Josephus. Bell. Jud. II. 20, 1. These were principally the Christians, obeying our Lord's warning, Matt. xxiv. 15, 16, Luke xxi. 20, 21. We may learn from this passage, among many others, that Josephus was neither hostile to the Christians, nor unacquainted with the evangelical
* Duravit tamen patientia Judæis, usque ad Gessium Florum, procuratorem. Sub eo bellum ortum. Tacit. Hist. v. 10.
Scriptures, which he has so frequently, though tacitly, contributed to illustrate and explain.
Cestius having sent to Nero, then in Achaia, an account of the disturbances in Judea, laying the whole blame of them upon Florus; died soon after, either through disease or chagrin. And the Emperor appointed Vespasian, (who was then with him,) an experienced officer, of high reputation, president of Syria, and gave him the conduct of the Jewish war*.
About spring, A.D. 67, Vespasian marched a great army of Roman and auxiliary troops, from Syria into Galilee; took their principal fortresses, Gadara and Jotapata, and in the latter, Josephus the historian, who commanded there; and ravaged and destroyed their cities, towns, and villages; shewing no mercy, at first, to any age or sex, in revenge for the defeat of Cestius. He next chastised the Samaritans. Then he invaded Judea, and took the fortresses of Joppa, Taricheas, and Gamala, the last, after a most obstinate resistance, 23d of October. Enraged at which, the Roman army massacred the inhabitants, and even slung the infants from the walls! Only two women survived of all the inhabitants; for those that escaped the Romans, destroyed themselves.
Meanwhile sedition raged within the walls of Jerusalem. The city was oppressed by three turbulent factions; the first, under John, held the lower city, containing the ancient quarter of Salem and Mount Acra, westward; the second, under Eleazar, occupied the temple quarter, and Mount Moriah; the third, under Simon, the upper city, or city of David, on Mount Sion, southward.
These factions were afterwards reduced to two; for at the last passover, A.D. 70, John, under pretext of sacrificing in the Temple, sent a band who destroyed Eleazar and his faction, and possessed themselves of the temple quarter. All these miscreants, from the beginning, harassed, plundered, and massacred the nobles and richer inhabitants, and multitudes of the better sort, who were peaceably disposed, and wished to submit to the Romans. And to spite each other, they wasted the stores, and destroyed the storehouses, containing corn, provisions,
Cestium Gallum Syriæ legatum varia prælia, et sæpius adversa, excepere. Qui, ubi fato aut tædio occidit; missu Neronis, Vespasianus, fortunâ famâque et egregiis ministris, intra duas æstates, (A.D. 67, 68,) cuncta camporum, omnesque, præter Hierosolyma, urbes, victore exercitu tenebat. Tacit. Hist. v. 10.
and necessaries for supporting a siege of many years, and thereby produced themselves a premature scarcity, and a wanton famine.
When Vespasian was advised by his officers to hasten the attack on the city, he wisely refused, and said, “it is far better to let the Jews destroy each other." Bell. Jud. III. 6, 2.
From Judea, therefore, passing by Jerusalem, Vespasian marched into Perea, beyond Jordan, eastward, and entered its capital, March 4, A.D. 68, and afterwards reduced the whole country, with great slaughter of the inhabitants, in the course of that campaign.
The following year, A.D. 69, produced a cessation of hostilities on the part of the Romans; in consequence of the massacre of Nero, June 9, A.D. 68, and the ensuing civil war which broke out in Italy, between the contending parties of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, which raged until the decisive battle of Cremona secured the empire to Vespasian, October 18, A.D. 69, who had been first saluted emperor by his army in Judea, July 3, upon which he went to Alexandria, and from thence sailed to Rome, leaving his son Titus to carry on the war *.
Next year, A.D. 70, Titus advanced with an arm of sixty thousand Romans and auxiliaries to besiege Jerusalem, at the time of the Passover, which began that year April 14; thus unintentionally fulfilling the sign of the Prophet Jonah, given by Christ, A.D. 30, forty years before. He probably chose this season, expecting that the concourse of Jews, from all parts, would produce a scarcity of provisions, and enable him to reduce, more speedily, by famine, this impregnable city, which now was most strongly fortified with a triple wall. For though Pompey had dismantled the walls when he took the city, B.C. 63, (see Vol. II. p. 583,) Herod Agrippa, during his reign, repaired the foundations, but then stopped short, for fear of exciting the jealousy of the Roman government; however, after his death, the Jews, during the venal reign of Claudius, purchased the privilege of fortifying the city †, and completed the
Proximus annus, (A.D. 69,) civili bello intentus, quantum ad Judæos, per otium transiit. Pace per Italiam partâ, et externæ curæ rediere. Augebat iras, quod soli Judæi non cessissent. Simul, manere apud exercitus Titum, ad omnes principatus novi (Vespasiani) eventus casusve, utilius videbatur. Tacit. ibid.
↑ Per avaritiam Claudianorum temporum Judæi, empto jure muniendi, struxere muros in pace, tanquam ad bellum. Tacit. Hist. v. 12.
wall and battlements, to the height of twenty-five cubits, and breadth of ten cubits, built with great stones, twenty cubits long, and ten broad; so as that they could not be easily undermined, nor shaken by military engines. Bell. Jud. v. 4, 2.
SIEGE OF JERUSALEM.
Titus approached with his army close to the city, and made an ostentatious display of his legions in battle array *, in three divisions; the first and principal encamped on the eminence, Scopus, northward, about seven stadia from the city; the second, about three stadia behind; and the third, on Mount Olivet, eastward, six stadia from the city. Bell. Jud. v. 2, 3.
Warned by the disaster of Cestius, who had attacked the city on a Sabbath day, and was defeated by the Jews, Bell. Jud. II. 19, 1, 2, (for they were allowed, from the time of the Maccabees, to resist an assailing enemy, on that day, in self defence, but not to attack them, if otherwise employed;) Ant. XIV. 4, 2; (See Vol. II. p. 551,) and adopting Pompey's policy, who employed the Sabbath days in constructing military machines, raising mounts, undermining the walls, without molestation, previous to his attacks on Sundays; in the last of which he took the city, Ant. XIV. 4, 3. Titus employed the Paschal week in making preparations, and made his first assault the day after it ended, Sunday, April 22. He made a breach in the first wall, and got possession of a part of the lower city, on Sunday, May 6, and took the rest the following week, May 16. In order to confine the multitude, and prevent their escaping, he found it necessary to build a wall of circumvallation, all round the city, fortified with towers, at proper intervals, which stupendous works he finished in three days, without obstruction from the besieged; taking advantage of the Sabbath, and two following days of the feast of weeks, or Pentecost, June 2, 3, and 4. The temple was burnt, Sunday, Aug. 5; and Titus, having prepared his machines for the attack of the upper city, on Saturday, Sept. 1, took and burnt it on the following day, Sunday, Sept. 2 †. It is truly remarkable, that at the commencement of the insur
* Igitur Titus castris ante monia Hierosolymorum positis, instructas legiones ostentavit. Tacit. ibid.
This curious and valuable adjustment of the chronology of Josephus, during the siege of Jerusalem, we owe to the learned Brotier, in his excellent quarto edition of Tacitus. Note, Vol. III. p. 588.