Wars of the Jews     by Flavius Josephus
previous next

Book V, Chapter 8

How The Romans Took The Second Wall Twice,

And Got All Ready For Taking The Third Wall

1. Now Caesar took this wall there on the fifth day after he had taken the first; and when the Jews had fled from him, he entered into it with a thousand armed men, and those of his choice troops, and this at a place where were the merchants of wool, the braziers, and the market for cloth, and where the narrow streets led obliquely to the wall. Wherefore, if Titus had either demolished a larger part of the wall immediately, or had come in, and, according to the law of war, had laid waste what was left, his victory would not, I suppose, have been mixed with any loss to himself. But now, out of the hope he had that he should make the Jews ashamed of their obstinacy, by not being willing, when he was able, to afflict them more than he needed to do, he did not widen the breach of the wall, in order to make a safer retreat upon occasion; for he did not think they would lay snares for him that did them such a kindness. When therefore he came in, he did not permit his soldiers to kill any of those they caught, nor to set fire to their houses neither; nay, he gave leave to the seditious, if they had a mind, to fight without any harm to the people, and promised to restore the people's effects to them; for he was very desirous to preserve the city for his own sake, and the temple for the sake of the city. As to the people, he had them of a long time ready to comply with his proposals; but as to the fighting men, this humanity of his seemed a mark of his weakness, and they imagined that he made these proposals because he was not able to take the rest of the city. They also threatened death to the people, if they should any one of them say a word about a surrender. They moreover cut the throats of such as talked of a peace, and then attacked those Romans that were come within the wall. Some of them they met in the narrow streets, and some they fought against from their houses, while they made a sudden sally out at the upper gates, and assaulted such Romans as were beyond the wall, till those that guarded the wall were so aftrighted, that they leaped down from their towers, and retired to their several camps: upon which a great noise was made by the Romans that were within, because they were encompassed round on every side by their enemies; as also by them that were without, because they were in fear for those that were left in the city. Thus did the Jews grow more numerous perpetually, and had great advantages over the Romans, by their full knowledge of those narrow lanes; and they wounded a great many of them, and fell upon them, and drove them out of the city. Now these Romans were at present forced to make the best resistance they could; for they were not able, in great numbers, to get out at the breach in the wall, it was so narrow. It is also probable that all those that were gotten within had been cut to pieces, if Titus had not sent them succors; for he ordered the archers to stand at the upper ends of these narrow lakes, and he stood himself where was the greatest multitude of his enemies, and with his darts he put a stop to them; as with him did Domitius Sabinus also, a valiant man, and one that in this battle appeared so to be. Thus did Caesar continue to shoot darts at the Jews continually, and to hinder them from coming upon his men, and this until all his soldiers had retreated out of the city.

2. And thus were the Romans driven out, after they had possessed themselves of the second wall. Whereupon the fighting men that were in the city were lifted up in their minds, and were elevated upon this their good success, and began to think that the Romans would never venture to come into the city any more; and that if they kept within it themselves, they should not be any more conquered. For God had blinded their minds for the transgressions they had been guilty of, nor could they see how much greater forces the Romans had than those that were now expelled, no more than they could discern how a famine was creeping upon them; for hitherto they had fed themselves out of the public miseries, and drank the blood of the city. But now poverty had for a long time seized upon the better part, and a great many had died already for want of necessaries; although the seditious indeed supposed the destruction of the people to be an easement to themselves; for they desired that none others might be preserved but such as were against a peace with the Romans, and were resolved to live in opposition to them, and they were pleased when the multitude of those of a contrary opinion were consumed, as being then freed from a heavy burden. And this was their disposition of mind with regard to those that were within the city, while they covered themselves with their armor, and prevented the Romans, when they were trying to get into the city again, and made a wall of their own bodies over against that part of the wall that was cast down. Thus did they valiantly defend themselves for three days; but on the fourth day they could not support themselves against the vehement assaults of Titus but were compelled by force to fly whither they had fled before; so he quietly possessed himself again of that wall, and demolished it entirely. And when he had put a garrison into the towers that were on the south parts of the city, he contrived how he might assault the third wall.

previous next interhack | library | wars of the jews

Matt Curtin
Last modified: Wed Apr 26 20:14:16 EDT 1998