THE SIEGE OF JERUSALEM
 CHRIST had not long passed away from the earth when the
reign of peace and brotherly love which He had so
warmly inculcated ceased to exist on the soil of Judæa.
Forty years after He foretold the destruction of the
Temple of Jerusalem that noble edifice had ceased to
exist, Jerusalem itself was burned to the ground, and a
million of people perished by sword and flames. It is
this lamentable tale which we have now to tell.
Caligula, the mad emperor, first roused the indignation
of the Jews, by demanding that his statue should be
placed in that holy shrine in which no image of man had
ever been permitted. War would have followed, for the
Jews were resolute against such an impious desecration
of their Temple, had not the sword of the assassin
removed the tyrant.
THE JEWS' WAILING PLACE, JERUSALEM.
But the discontent of the Jews was not ended. They were
resolved that no image of the Cæsars should be brought
into their land, and carried this so far that when the
governor of Syria wished to march through a part of
their territory to attack the Arabs, they objected that
the standards of the legions were crowded with profane
images, which their sacred laws did not permit to be
seen in their country. The
 governor yielded to their remonstrance, and marched
around the land of Judæa.
This concession did not allay the discontent. Felix, a
governor under Claudius, by oppression and cruelty
aroused a general spirit of revolt. Gessius Florus,
appointed by Nero governor of Judæa, found his province
in a state of irritation and tumult. His avarice and
robbery of the people ripened this to war. The province
broke into open rebellion. It was quickly invaded by
Gallus, the governor of Syria, who marched through the
country to the walls of Jerusalem. But he was not a
soldier, and was quickly forced to abandon the siege
and retreat in haste, losing six thousand men in his
Nero now, finding that Rome had an obstinate struggle
on its hands, chose Vespasian, a soldier of renown, to
conduct the war. This he did with the true Roman energy
and thoroughness, subduing the whole country, and
capturing every stronghold except Jerusalem, within two
years. He was called from this work to the struggle for
the empire of Rome, leaving his able son Titus to
complete the task.
The taking of Jerusalem was not to be easily performed.
The city was of immense strength. It stood upon two
hills, Mount Sion to the south, Mount Acra to the
north. The former, being the loftiest, was called the
upper, and Acra the lower, city. Each of these hills
was surrounded by a wall of great strength and
elevation, their bases washed by a rapid stream that
ran through the valleys of Hinnom and Cedron, to the
foot of the Mount of Olives. A third
 hill, Mount Moriah, was the seat of the famous Temple,
an immense group of courts and edifices which looked
more like a citadel than a sanctuary of religious
faith. The true temple stood separate, in the midst of
these buildings, its interior being divided by a
curtain into two parts, of which the inmost was the
Holy of Holies. The total group of edifices was nearly
a mile in circumference.
Jerusalem, unfortunately for its defence, had, during
the conquest of the country, become filled with
fugitives. To these the celebration of the Passover,
now at hand, added other great numbers, so that when
the army of Titus invested it, it was crowded with a
vast multitude of human beings. Filled with religious
enthusiasm, accustomed to war, and believing that the
Lord of Hosts would come to their aid, the garrison
displayed a desperate resolution that the Romans were
to find very difficult to overcome.
Yet it was as much due to themselves as to the Roman
arms that the city at length fell. Resolute as the Jews
were in defence against the foreign foe, they were
divided among themselves, the city being held by three
factions bitterly hostile to each other. One of these,
known as the Zealots, under Eleazer, held the Temple.
Another, under John of Gisela, an artful orator but a
man of infamous character, occupied another portion of
the city. A third, whose leader was named Simon, a man
known for crime and courage, held still another
section. These three parties kept Jerusalem in tumult.
There were ferocious battles in the streets; houses
 families slain, and when Titus encamped before the
walls, he had before him a city distracted by civil war
and its streets filled with blood and carnage.
The story of the siege of Jerusalem is far too long a
one to be told in detail. Several times during the
siege Titus offered terms of pardon and amnesty to the
besieged, but all in vain. Divided as they were among
themselves, they were united in hostility to Rome. The
siege began and proceeded with the usual energy shown
by a Roman army. Mounds were erected, forts built,
warlike engines constructed. Darts and other weapons
were rained into the city, great stones were flung from
engines, every resource known to ancient war was
practised. A breach was at length made in the walls,
the soldiers rushed in, sword in hand, and the section
of the city known as Salem was captured. Five days
afterwards Bezetha, a hill to the north of the Temple,
was taken by Titus, but he was here so furiously
assailed by the garrison that he was forced to retreat
to his camp.
Some days of quiet now followed, while the Romans
prepared for a second attack. The factions in the city,
fancying that their foes had withdrawn in despair, at
once resumed their feuds, and the streets again ran
with blood. John invaded the Temple precincts, overcame
the party of Eleazer, and a general massacre followed
which desecrated with slaughter every part of the holy
Soon the Romans advanced again, and the two remaining
factions united in defence. Now the Romans penetrated
the city, now they were driven
 out in a fierce charge, and their camp nearly taken.
And now famine came to add to the horrors of the siege,
and made frightful havoc in the dense multiude with
which every part of the city was thronged. The dead and
dying filled the streets, the wounded soldiers perished
of starvation, groans and lamentations resounded in
every quarter; to rid themselves of the hosts of dead
John and Simon had them thrown from the walls, to
fester in heaps before the Roman works. Among the
scenes of horror related, a woman was seen to kill and
devour her own infant child.
At length the Romans made such progress that all the
city was theirs except the Temple enclosure, into which
the remainder of the garrison had gathered. Titus
wished to save this famous structure, and made a last
effort to end the siege by peaceful measures. Josephus,
the Jewish historian, who had been taken prisoner
during the war, and was now in his camp, was sent into
the city, with an offer of amnesty if they would even
now yield. The offer was refused, and Titus saw that
but one thing remained.
On the next day the assault on Mount Moriah began. The
Jews fought with fierce courage, but the close lines
and steady discipline of the legions prevailed. The
defenders, after a bitter resistance, were forced back;
the assailants furiously pursued; the inner court of
the Temple was entered; in the uproar of the furious
strife the orders of Titus and his officers to save the
Temple were unheard; all was tumult, the roar of
battle, the shedding of blood. The Jews fought with
frantic obstinacy, but their
 undisciplined valor failed to affect the steady
discipline or break the close array of the legions.
Many fled in despair to the sanctuary. Here were
gathered priests and prophets, who still declared the
Lord of Hosts was on their side, and that He would
protect His holy seat.
Even while these assurances were being given the
assailants forced the gates. The eyes of the avaricious
Romans rested on the golden and glittering ornaments of
the Temple, and they sought more fiercely than ever to
hew their way through flesh and blood to these alluring
treasures. One soldier, frantic with the fury of the
fight, snatched a flaming ember from some burning
materials, and, lifted by a comrade, set fire to a
gilded window of the Temple. Almost in an instant the
flames flared upward, and the despairing Jews saw that
their holy house was doomed. A great groan of agony
burst from their lips. Many occupied themselves in vain
efforts to quench the flames; others flung themselves
in despairing rage on the Romans, heedless of life now
that all they lived for was perishing.
Titus, on learning what had been done, ran in all haste
to the scene, and loudly ordered the soldiers to
extinguish the flames, signaling to the same effect
with his hand. But his voice was drowned in the uproar
and his signals were not understood, while the thirst
for plunder carried the soldiers beyond all restraint.
The holy place of the Temple was still intact. This
Titus entered, and was so impressed with its beauty and
splendor that he made a strenuous effort to save it
from destruction. In vain he begged
 and threatened. While some of the soldiery tore with
wolfish fury at its gold, others fired its gates, and
soon the Holy of Holies itself was in a blaze, and the
whole Temple wrapped in devouring flames.
The rapacious soldiers raged through the buildings,
rending from them everything of value which the fire
had left untouched. The defenders fell by thousands.
Great numbers perished in the flames. A multitude of
fugitives, including women and children, sought refuge
in the outer cloisters. These were set on fire by the
furious soldiers, and thousands were swept away by the
pitiless hand of death. Word was brought to Titus that
a number of priests stood on the outside wall, begging
for their lives. "It is too late," he replied; "the
priests ought not to survive their temple." Retiring to
an outer fort, he gazed with deep regret on the
devouring conflagration, saying, "The God of the Jews
has fought against them: to him we owe our victory."
ARCH OF TITUS, ROME.
Thus perished the Temple of Jerusalem, a magnificent
structure, for ages the pride and glory of the Jews.
First erected by Solomon, eleven centuries before, it
was burnt by the Babylonians five hundred years
afterwards. It was rebuilt by Haggai, in the reign of
King Cyrus of Persia, and had now stood more than six
hundred years, enlarged and adorned from time to time.
But Christ had said, "There shall not be left ono stone
upon another that shall not be thrown down." This
prophetic utterance was now fulfilled. Thenceforward
there was no Temple of the Jews.
But more fighting remained. The defenders made
 their way into the upper city on Mount Sion, and here
held out bitterly still, rejecting the terms offered
them by Titus of unconditional surrender. The place was
strong, and defended by towers that were almost
impregnable. Better terms might have been extorted from
Titus had John and Simon, the leaders of the party of
defence, been as brave as they were blatant. But after
refusing surrender they lost heart, and hid themselves
in subterranean vaults, leaving their deluded followers
to their own devices. The end came soon. A breach was
made in the walls. The legions entered, sword in hand,
and with the rage of slaughter in heart. A dreadful
carnage followed. Neither sex nor age was spared.
According to Josephus, not less than one million one
hundred thousand persons perished during this terrible
siege. Of those that remained alive the most flagrant
were put to death, some were reserved to grace the
victor's triumph, and the others were sent to Egypt to
be sold as slaves. As for the city, it had been in
great part consumed by flames. Thus ended the rebellion
of the Jews. To rule or ruin was the terrible motto of