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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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VESPASIAN returned to Ptolemais, whence he marched to Cæsarea. Here the army and its commander were received with great acclamations, both on account of the friendship of the inhabitants to the Romans and their hatred towards the Jews. Accordingly, they loudly demanded the punishment of Josephus; but Vespasian refused this request. He re- [377] mained with two of his legions in Cæsarea for the winter, and ordered the rest of his army to quarter in Scythopolis.

Meanwhile, a large body of insurgents had gathered together from different parts, and as a rallying-point rebuilt Joppa, which had been destroyed by Cestius Gallus. As the Romans occupied the country, they had recourse to the sea. They built a number of piratical vessels, and plundered all the merchant vessels trading between Syria, Phœnicia, and Egypt.

Vespasian sent a considerable force against Joppa. The Romans, finding the city unguarded, entered it by night. The inhabitants fled in terror to their ships, where they passed the night out of reach of the enemy’s missiles. Joppa had no safe harbor. Its shore was rugged and lined with rocks, which extended into the sea. When the north wind blew, it beat full in upon the coast and dashed the waves against the rocks, making the port more dangerous than the open sea.

The next morning a terrific wind, called by the sailors "the black norther," dashed the ships of the unfortunate insurgents against one another and against the fatal rocks. The poor Jews could neither sail away nor remain where they were with safety; for on account of the wind, which blew directly shoreward, the ships could not escape to the open sea, nor could the navigators land, on account of the Romans, who occupied the coast.

A number of the ships foundered in the rough waters, whilst a great number were dashed against the rocks. If any on board were cast on shore, they were immediately massacred by the Romans. Over four thousand of the people perished. Joppa itself was razed to the ground, but the citadel was garrisoned by the Romans, lest it should again become a nest of pirates.

At first vague rumors of the fall of Jotapata reached Jerusalem. These were generally disbelieved, for not an eyewitness to the fact had escaped to tell the tale. But, as bad [378] news travels fast, these rumors were ere long confirmed, and, moreover, it was stated that Josephus had been slain. Jerusalem was filled with the deepest sorrow. Every house bewailed some private affliction in the loss of a friend or a relative, but the whole city mourned for the general.

By degrees, however, the whole truth became known, and the wailing for Josephus gave way to the fiercest indignation when it became known that he was alive and had surrendered to the Romans. He was called a coward and a traitor; and, stirred by their indignation, the people began to prepare all the more eagerly for a fierce resistance by the Romans, in order to avenge themselves upon Josephus.

But Vespasian did not advance at one upon the rebellious capital. He accepted an invitation from Agrippa to come into his dominions, for the king wished to allay by the terror of the Roman arms the disorders in his own kingdom.

Vespasian advanced to Cæsarea Philippi, where the army reposed for twenty days. Being informed that disaffection was showing itself in Tiberias, and that Taricheæ had already revolted, and as both towns were in Agrippa’s kingdom, he resolved to subdue them.

Advancing with three legions, he encamped near Tiberias, and sent forward Valerian, an officer, at the head of fifty horse, to propose peaceful measures to the citizens. For he had heard that the people were desirous of peace, but had been compelled to revolt by a small turbulent party. When Valerian came near the city he and his troops dismounted, that they might not appear like a body of skirmishers. But, before he could utter a word, a party of insurgents, led by a brigand chief called Joshua, charged him with great fury.

Not wishing to fight without orders from his general, Valerian fled on foot, and five others in like manner abandoned their horses. Joshua seized the steeds and led them back to the town in triumph.

Dreading the consequences of this affair, a number of the [379] leading men repaired in hast to the Roman camp, and besought Vespasian not to punish the entire city for the crime of a few. For the majority of the people, they said, were friendly to the Romans, and his vengeance should fall on the authors of the revolt, by whom the people had been kept under guard, anxious as they were for his protection. Vespasian, principally because he did not wish to despoil one of Agrippa’s fairest cities, yielded to these entreaties, and gave the deputation a pledge of protection for the people. Joshua and his party, thinking it unsafe to remain at Tiberias, made off to Taricheæ.

The next day Vespasian led his army into the city, and was received with acclamations. In compliment to Agrippa, he did not allow his soldiers to plunder the city. And as that king pledged himself for the future fidelity of the inhabitants, the fortifications were destroyed.

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