The Antiquities of the Jews, 14.468–15.0

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. AJ 14.394–14.467 | J. AJ 14.468–15.0 | J. AJ 15.1–15.10 | About This Work »

4681. After the wedding was over, came Sosius through Phoenicia, having sent out his army before him over the midland parts. He also, who was their commander, came himself, with a great number of horsemen and footmen. The king also came himself from Samaria, and brought with him no small army, besides that which was there before, for they were about thirty thousand; 469and they all met together at the walls of Jerusalem, and encamped at the north wall of the city, being now an army of eleven legions, armed men on foot, and six thousand horsemen, with other auxiliaries out of Syria. The generals were two: Sosius, sent by Antony to assist Herod, and Herod on his own account, in order to take the government from Antigonus, who was declared an enemy at Rome, and that he might himself be king, according to the decree of the Senate.

4702. Now the Jews that were enclosed within the walls of the city fought against Herod with great alacrity and zeal (for the whole nation was gathered together); they also gave out many prophecies about the temple, and many things agreeable to the people, as if God would deliver them out of the dangers they were in; 471they had also carried off what was out of the city, that they might not leave any thing to afford sustenance either for men or for beasts; and by private robberies they made the want of necessaries greater. 472When Herod understood this, he opposed ambushes in the fittest places against their private robberies, and he sent legions of armed men to bring its provisions, and that from remote places, so that in a little time they had great plenty of provisions. 473Now the three bulwarks were easily erected, because so many hands were continually at work upon it; for it was summer time, and there was nothing to hinder them in raising their works, neither from the air nor from the workmen; so they brought their engines to bear, and shook the walls of the city, and tried all manner of ways to get it; 474yet did not those within discover any fear, but they also contrived not a few engines to oppose their engines withal. They also sallied out, and burnt not only those engines that were not yet perfected, but those that were; and when they came hand to hand, their attempts were not less bold than those of the Romans, though they were behind them in skill. 475They also erected new works when the former were ruined, and making mines underground, they met each other, and fought there; and making use of brutish courage rather than of prudent valor, they persisted in this war to the very last; and this they did while a mighty army lay round about them, and while they were distressed by famine and the want of necessaries, for this happened to be a Sabbatic year. 476The first that scaled the walls were twenty chosen men, the next were Sosius’s centurions; for the first wall was taken in forty days, and the second in fifteen more, when some of the cloisters that were about the temple were burnt, which Herod gave out to have been burnt by Antigonus, in order to expose him to the hatred of the Jews. 477And when the outer court of the temple and the lower city were taken, the Jews fled into the inner court of the temple, and into the upper city; but now fearing lest the Romans should hinder them from offering their daily sacrifices to God, they sent an embassage, and desired that they would only permit them to bring in beasts for sacrifices, which Herod granted, hoping they were going to yield; 478but when he saw that they did nothing of what he supposed, but bitterly opposed him, in order to preserve the kingdom to Antigonus, he made an assault upon the city, and took it by storm; 479and now all parts were full of those that were slain, by the rage of the Romans at the long duration of the siege, and by the zeal of the Jews that were on Herod’s side, who were not willing to leave one of their adversaries alive; 480so they were murdered continually in the narrow streets and in the houses by crowds, and as they were flying to the temple for shelter, and there was no pity taken of either infants or the aged, nor did they spare so much as the weaker sex; nay, although the king sent about, and besought them to spare the people, yet nobody restrained their hand from slaughter, but, as if they were a company of madmen, they fell upon persons of all ages, without distinction; 481and then Antigonus, without regard to either his past or present circumstances, came down from the citadel, and fell down at the feet of Sosius, who took no pity of him, in the change of his fortune, but insulted him beyond measure, and called him Antigone [i.e. a woman, and not a man;] yet did he not treat him as if he were a woman, by letting him go at liberty, but put him into bonds, and kept him in close custody.

4823. And now Herod having overcome his enemies, his care was to govern those foreigners who had been his assistants, for the crowd of strangers rushed to see the temple, and the sacred things in the temple; 483but the king, thinking a victory to be a more severe affliction than a defeat, if any of those things which it was not lawful to see should be seen by them, used entreaties and threatenings, and even sometimes force itself, to restrain them. 484He also prohibited the ravage that was made in the city, and many times asked Sosius whether the Romans would empty the city both of money and men, and leave him king of a desert; and told him that he esteemed the dominion over the whole habitable earth as by no means an equivalent satisfaction for such a murder of his citizens’; 485and when he said that this plunder was justly to be permitted the soldiers for the siege they had undergone, he replied, that he would give every one his reward out of his own money; 486and by this means he redeemed what remained of the city from destruction; and he performed what he had promised him, for he gave a noble present to every soldier, and a proportionable present to their commanders, but a most royal present to Sosius himself, till they all went away full of money.

4874. This destruction befell the city of Jerusalem when Marcus Agrippa and Caninius Gallus were consuls of Rome on the hundred eighty and fifth olympiad, on the third month, on the solemnity of the fast, as if a periodical revolution of calamities had returned since that which befell the Jews under Pompey; 488for the Jews were taken by him on the same day, and this was after twenty-seven years’ time. So when Sosius had dedicated a crown of gold to God, he marched away from Jerusalem, and carried Antigonus with him in bonds to Antony; 489but Herod was afraid lest Antigonus should be kept in prison [only] by Antony, and that when he was carried to Rome by him, he might get his cause to be heard by the senate, and might demonstrate, as he was himself of the royal blood, and Herod but a private man, that therefore it belonged to his sons however to have the kingdom, on account of the family they were of, 490in case he had himself offended the Romans by what he had done. Out of Herod’s fear of this it was that he, by giving Antony a great deal of money, endeavored to persuade him to have Antigonus slain, which if it were once done, he should be free from that fear. And thus did the government of the Asamoneans cease, a hundred twenty and six years after it was first set up. This family was a splendid and an illustrious one, both on account of the nobility of their stock, and of the dignity of the high priesthood, as also for the glorious actions their ancestors had performed for our nation; 491but these men lost the government by their dissensions one with another, and it came to Herod, the son of Antipater, who was of no more than a vulgar family, and of no eminent extraction, but one that was subject to other kings. And this is what history tells us was the end of the Asamonean family.

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