CONTAINING THE INTERVAL OF ABOUT ONE MONTH.
FROM THE GREAT EXTREMITY TO WHICH THE JEWS WERE REDUCED TO THE TAKING OF JERUSALEM BY TITUS.
HOW TITUS GAVE ORDERS TO DEMOLISH THE TOWER OF ANTONIA AND THEN PERSUADED JOSEPHUS TO EXHORT THE JEWS AGAIN [TO A SURRENDER].
1. AND now Titus gave orders to his soldiers that were with him to dig
up the foundations of the tower of Antonia, and make him a ready passage
for his army to come up; while he himself had Josephus brought to him,
(for he had been informed that on that very day, which was the seventeenth
Panemus, [Tamuz,] the sacrifice called "the Daily Sacrifice"
had failed, and had not been offered to God, for want of men to offer it,
and that the people were grievously troubled at it,)
(Footnote: This was a remarkable day indeed, the seventeenth of Paneruns. [Tamuz,] A.D. 70, when, according to Daniel's prediction, six hundred and six years before, the Romans "in half a week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease," Daniel 9:27. For from the month of February, A.D. 66, about which time Vespasian entered on this war, to this very time, was just three years and a half. See Bishop Lloyd's Tables of Chronology, published by Mr. Marshall, on this year. Nor is it to be omitted, what year nearly confirms this duration of the war, that four years before the war begun was somewhat above seven years five months before the destruction of Jerusalem, ch. 5. sect. 3)
and commanded him to say the same things to John that he had said before, that if he had any malicious inclination for fighting, he might come out with as many of his men as he pleased, in order to fight, without the danger of destroying either his city or temple; but that he desired he would not defile the temple, nor thereby offend against God. That he might, if he pleased, offer the sacrifices which were now discontinuned by any of the Jews whom he should pitch upon. Upon this Josephus stood in such a place where he might be heard, not by John only, but by many more, and then declared to them what Caesar had given him in charge, and this in the Hebrew language. So he earnestly prayed them to spare their own city, and to prevent that fire which was just ready to seize upon the temple, and to offer their usual sacrifices to God therein. At these words of his a great sadness and silence were observed among the people. But the tyrant himself cast many reproaches upon Josephus, with imprecations besides; and at last added this withal, that he did never fear the taking of the city, because it was God's own city. In answer to which Josephus said thus with a loud voice: "To be sure thou hast kept this city wonderfully pure for God's sake; the temple also continues entirely unpolluted! Nor hast thou been guilty of ally impiety against him for whose assistance thou hopest! He still receives his accustomed sacrifices! Vile wretch that thou art! if any one should deprive thee of thy daily food, thou wouldst esteem him to be an enemy to thee; but thou hopest to have that God for thy supporter in this war whom thou hast deprived of his everlasting worship; and thou imputest those sins to the Romans, who to this very time take care to have our laws observed, and almost compel these sacrifices to be still offered to God, which have by thy means been intermitted! Who is there that can avoid groans and lamentations at the amazing change that is made in this city? since very foreigners and enemies do now correct that impiety which thou hast occasioned; while thou, who art a Jew, and wast educated in our laws, art become a greater enemy to them than the others. But still, John, it is never dishonorable to repent, and amend what hath been done amiss, even at the last extremity. Thou hast an instance before thee in Jechoniah, the king of the Jews, if thou hast a mind to save the city, who, when the king of Babylon made war against him, did of his own accord go out of this city before it was taken, and did undergo a voluntary captivity with his family, that the sanctuary might not be delivered up to the enemy, and that he might not see the house of God set on fire; on which account he is celebrated among all the Jews, in their sacred memorials, and his memory is become immortal, and will be conveyed fresh down to our posterity through all ages. This, John, is an excellent example in such a time of danger, and I dare venture to promise that the Romans shall still forgive thee. And take notice that I, who make this exhortation to thee, am one of thine own nation; I, who am a Jew, do make this promise to thee. And it will become thee to consider who I am that give thee this counsel, and whence I am derived; for while I am alive I shall never be in such slavery, as to forego my own kindred, or forget the laws of our forefathers. Thou hast indignation at me again, and makest a clamor at me, and reproachest me; indeed I cannot deny but I am worthy of worse treatment than all this amounts to, because, in opposition to fate, I make this kind invitation to thee, and endeavor to force deliverance upon those whom God hath condemned. And who is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them, - and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city? For they foretold that this city should be then taken when somebody shall begin the slaughter of his own countrymen. And are not both the city and the entire temple now full of the dead bodies of your countrymen? It is God, therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans, and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions."