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CONCERNING JOHN OF GISCHALA. CONCERNING THE ZEALOTS AND THE HIGH PRIEST ANANUS; AS ALSO HOW THE JEWS RAISE SEDITIONS ONE AGAINST ANOTHER [IN JERUSALEM].
1. NOW upon John's entry into Jerusalem, the whole body of the people were in an uproar, and ten thousand of them crowded about every one of the fugitives that were come to them, and inquired of them what miseries had happened abroad, when their breath was so short, and hot, and quick, that of itself it declared the great distress they were in; yet did they talk big under their misfortunes, and pretended to say that they had not fled away from the Romans, but came thither in order to fight them with less hazard; for that it would be an unreasonable and a fruitless thing for them to expose themselves to desperate hazards about Gischala, and such weak cities, whereas they ought to lay up their weapons and their zeal, and reserve it for their metropolis. But when they related to them the taking of Gischala, and their decent departure, as they pretended, from that place, many of the people understood it to be no better than a flight; and especially when the people were told of those that were made captives, they were in great confusion, and guessed those things to be plain indications that they should be taken also. But for John, he was very little concerned for those whom he had left behind him, but went about among all the people, and persuaded them to go to war, by the hopes he gave them. He affirmed that the affairs of the Romans were in a weak condition, and extolled his own power. He also jested upon the ignorance of the unskillful, as if those Romans, although they should take to themselves wings, could never fly over the wall of Jerusalem, who found such great difficulties in taking the villages of Galilee, and had broken their engines of war against their walls.
2. These harangues of John's corrupted a great part of the young men, and puffed them up for the war; but as to the more prudent part, and those in years, there was not a man of them but foresaw what was coming, and made lamentation on that account, as if the city was already undone; and in this confusion were the people. But then it must be observed, that the multitude that came out of the country were at discord before the Jerusalem sedition began; for Titus went from Gischala to Cesates, and Vespasian from Cesarea to Jamnia and Azotus, and took them both; and when he had put garrisons into them, he came back with a great number of the people, who were come over to him, upon his giving them his right hand for their preservation. There were besides disorders and civil wars in every city; and all those that were at quiet from the Romans turned their hands one against another. There was also a bitter contest between those that were fond of war, and those that were desirous for peace. At the first this quarrelsome temper caught hold of private families, who could not agree among themselves; after which those people that were the dearest to one another brake through all restraints with regard to each other, and every one associated with those of his own opinion, and began already to stand in opposition one to another; so that seditions arose every where, while those that were for innovations, and were desirous of war, by their youth and boldness, were too hard for the aged and prudent men. And, in the first place, all the people of every place betook themselves to rapine; after which they got together in bodies, in order to rob the people of the country, insomuch that for barbarity and iniquity those of the same nation did no way differ from the Romans; nay, it seemed to be a much lighter thing to be ruined by the Romans than by themselves.
3. Now the Roman garrisons, which guarded the cities, partly out of their uneasiness to take such trouble upon them, and partly out of the hatred they bare to the Jewish nation, did little or nothing towards relieving the miserable, till the captains of these troops of robbers, being satiated with rapines in the country, got all together from all parts, and became a band of wickedness, and all together crept into Jerusalem, which was now become a city without a governor, and, as the ancient custom was, received without distinction all that belonged to their nation; and these they then received, because all men supposed that those who came so fast into the city came out of kindness, and for their assistance, although these very men, besides the seditions they raised, were otherwise the direct cause of the city's destruction also; for as they were an unprofitable and a useless multitude, they spent those provisions beforehand which might otherwise have been sufficient for the fighting men. Moreover, besides the bringing on of the war, they were the occasions of sedition and famine therein.
4. There were besides these other robbers that came out of the country, and came into the city, and joining to them those that were worse than themselves, omitted no kind of barbarity; for they did not measure their courage by their rapines and plunderings only, but preceded as far as murdering men; and this not in the night time or privately, or with regard to ordinary men, but did it openly in the day time, and began with the most eminent persons in the city; for the first man they meddled with was Antipas, one of the royal lineage, and the most potent man in the whole city, insomuch that the public treasures were committed to his care; him they took and confined; as they did in the next place to Levias, a person of great note, with Sophas, the son of Raguel, both which were of royal lineage also. And besides these, they did the same to the principal men of the country. This caused a terrible consternation among the people, and everyone contented himself with taking care of his own safety, as they would do if the city had been taken in war.
5. But these were not satisfied with the bonds into which they had put the men forementioned; nor did they think it safe for them to keep them thus in custody long, since they were men very powerful, and had numerous families of their own that were able to avenge them. Nay, they thought the very people would perhaps be so moved at these unjust proceedings, as to rise in a body against them; it was therefore resolved to have them slain accordingly, they sent one John, who was the most bloody- minded of them all, to do that execution: this man was also called "the son of Dorcas," (3) in the language of our country. Ten more men went along with him into the prison, with their swords drawn, and so they cut the throats of those that were in custody there. The grand lying pretence these men made for so flagrant an enormity was this, that these men had had conferences with the Romans for a surrender of Jerusalem to them; and so they said they had slain only such as were traitors to their common liberty. Upon the whole, they grew the more insolent upon this bold prank of theirs, as though they had been the benefactors and saviors of the city.
6. Now the people were come to that degree of meanness and fear, and these robbers to that degree of madness, that these last took upon them to appoint high priests. (4) So when they had disannulled the succession, according to those families out of which the high priests used to be made, they ordained certain unknown and ignoble persons for that office, that they might have their assistance in their wicked undertakings; for such as obtained this highest of all honors, without any desert, were forced to comply with those that bestowed it on them. They also set the principal men at variance one with another, by several sorts of contrivances and tricks, and gained the opportunity of doing what they pleased, by the mutual quarrels of those who might have obstructed their measures; till at length, when they were satiated with the unjust actions they had done towards men, they transferred their contumelious behavior to God himself, and came into the sanctuary with polluted feet.
7. And now the multitude were going to rise against them already; for Ananus, the ancientest of the high priests, persuaded them to it. He was a very prudent man, and had perhaps saved the city if he could but have escaped the hands of those that plotted against him. These men made the temple of God a strong hold for them, and a place whither they might resort, in order to avoid the troubles they feared from the people; the sanctuary was now become a refuge, and a shop of tyranny. They also mixed jesting among the miseries they introduced, which was more intolerable than what they did; for in order to try what surprise the people would be under, and how far their own power extended, they undertook to dispose of the high priesthood by casting lots for it, whereas, as we have said already, it was to descend by succession in a family. The pretense they made for this strange attempt was an ancient practice, while they said that of old it was determined by lot; but in truth, it was no better than a dissolution of an undeniable law, and a cunning contrivance to seize upon the government, derived from those that presumed to appoint governors as they themselves pleased.
8. Hereupon they sent for one of the pontifical tribes, which is called Eniachim, (5) and cast lots which of it should be the high priest. By fortune the lot so fell as to demonstrate their iniquity after the plainest manner, for it fell upon one whose name was Phannias, the son of Samuel, of the village Aphtha. He was a man not only unworthy of the high priesthood, but that did not well know what the high priesthood was, such a mere rustic was he ! yet did they hail this man, without his own consent, out of the country, as if they were acting a play upon the stage, and adorned him with a counterfeit thee; they also put upon him the sacred garments, and upon every occasion instructed him what he was to do. This horrid piece of wickedness was sport and pastime with them, but occasioned the other priests, who at a distance saw their law made a jest of, to shed tears, and sorely mourn the dissolution of such a sacred dignity.
9. And now the people could no longer bear the insolence of this procedure, but did all together run zealously, in order to overthrow that tyranny; and indeed they were Gorion the son of Josephus, and Symeon the son of Gamaliel, (6) who encouraged them, by going up and down when they were assembled together in crowds, and as they saw them alone, to bear no longer, but to inflict punishment upon these pests and plagues of their freedom, and to purge the temple of these bloody polluters of it. The best esteemed also of the high priests, Jesus the son of Gamalas, and Ananus the son of Ananus when they were at their assemblies, bitterly reproached the people for their sloth, and excited them against the zealots; for that was the name they went by, as if they were zealous in good undertakings, and were not rather zealous in the worst actions, and extravagant in them beyond the example of others.
10. And now, when the multitude were gotten together to an assembly, and every one was in indignation at these men's seizing upon the sanctuary, at their rapine and murders, but had not yet begun their attacks upon them, (the reason of which was this, that they imagined it to be a difficult thing to suppress these zealots, as indeed the case was,) Ananus stood in the midst of them, and casting his eyes frequently at the temple, and having a flood of tears in his eyes, he said, "Certainly it had been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God full of so many abominations, or these sacred places, that ought not to be trodden upon at random, filled with the feet of these blood-shedding villains; yet do I, who am clothed with the vestments of the high priesthood, and am called by that most venerable name [of high priest], still live, and am but too fond of living, and cannot endure to undergo a death which would be the glory of my old age; and if I were the only person concerned, and as it were in a desert, I would give up my life, and that alone for God's sake; for to what purpose is it to live among a people insensible of their calamities, and where there is no notion remaining of any remedy for the miseries that are upon them? for when you are seized upon, you bear it! and when you are beaten, you are silent! and when the people are murdered, nobody dare so much as send out a groan openly! O bitter tyranny that we are under! But why do I complain of the tyrants? Was it not you, and your sufferance of them, that have nourished them? Was it not you that overlooked those that first of all got together, for they were then but a few, and by your silence made them grow to be many; and by conniving at them when they took arms, in effect armed them against yourselves? You ought to have then prevented their first attempts, when they fell a reproaching your relations; but by neglecting that care in time, you have encouraged these wretches to plunder men. When houses were pillaged, nobody said a word, which was the occasion why they carried off the owners of those houses; and when they were drawn through the midst of the city, nobody came to their assistance. They then proceeded to put those whom you have betrayed into their hands into bonds. I do not say how many and of what characters those men were whom they thus served; but certainly they were such as were accused by none, and condemned by none; and since nobody succored them when they were put into bonds, the consequence was, that you saw the same persons slain. We have seen this also; so that still the best of the herd of brute animals, as it were, have been still led to be sacrificed, when yet nobody said one word, or moved his right hand for their preservation. Will you bear, therefore, will you bear to see your sanctuary trampled on? and will you lay steps for these profane wretches, upon which they may mount to higher degrees of insolence? Will not you pluck them down from their exaltation? for even by this time they had proceeded to higher enormities, if they had been able to overthrow any thing greater than the sanctuary. They have seized upon the strongest place of the whole city; you may call it the temple, if you please, though it be like a citadel or fortress. Now, while you have tyranny in so great a degree walled in, and see your enemies over your heads, to what purpose is it to take counsel? and what have you to support your minds with? Perhaps you wait for the Romans, that they may protect our holy places: are our matters then brought to that pass? and are we come to that degree of misery, that our enemies themselves are expected to pity us? O wretched creatures! will not you rise up and turn upon those that strike you? which you may observe in wild beasts themselves, that they will avenge themselves on those that strike them. Will you not call to mind, every one of you, the calamities you yourselves have suffered? nor lay before your eyes what afflictions you yourselves have undergone? and will not such things sharpen your souls to revenge? Is therefore that most honorable and most natural of our passions utterly lost, I mean the desire of liberty? Truly we are in love with slavery, and in love with those that lord it over us, as if we had received that principle of subjection from our ancestors; yet did they undergo many and great wars for the sake of liberty, nor were they so far overcome by the power of the Egyptians, or the Medes, but that still they did what they thought fit, nevertheless their commands to the contrary. And what occasion is there now for a war with the Romans? (I meddle not with determining whether it be an advantageous and profitable war or not.) What pretense is there for it? Is it not that we may enjoy our liberty? Besides, shall we not bear the lords of the habitable earth to be lords over us, and yet bear tyrants of our own country? Although I must say that submission to foreigners may be borne, because fortune hath already doomed us to it, while submission to wicked people of our own nation is too unmanly, and brought upon us by our own consent. However, since I have had occasion to mention the Romans, I will not conceal a thing that, as I am speaking, comes into my mind, and affects me considerably; it is this, that though we should be taken by them, (God forbid the event should be so!) yet can we undergo nothing that will be harder to be borne than what these men have already brought upon us. How then can we avoid shedding of tears, when we see the Roman donations in our temple, while we with see those of our own nation taking our spoils, and plundering our glorious metropolis, and slaughtering our men, from which enormities those Romans themselves would have abstained? to see those Romans never going beyond the bounds allotted to profane persons, nor venturing to break in upon any of our sacred customs; nay, having a horror on their minds when they view at a distance those sacred walls; while some that have been born in this very country, and brought up in our customs, and called Jews, do walk about in the midst of the holy places, at the very time when their hands are still warm with the slaughter of their own countrymen. Besides, can any one be afraid of a war abroad, and that with such as will have comparatively much greater moderation than our own people have? For truly, if we may suit our words to the things they represent, it is probable one may hereafter find the Romans to be the supporters of our laws, and those within ourselves the subverters of them. And now I am persuaded that every one of you here comes satisfied before I speak that these overthrowers of our liberties deserve to be destroyed, and that nobody can so much as devise a punishment that they have not deserved by what they have done, and that you are all provoked against them by those their wicked actions, whence you have suffered so greatly. But perhaps many of you are aftrighted at the multitude of those zealots, and at their audaciousness, as well as at the advantage they have over us in their being higher in place than we are; for these circumstances, as they have been occasioned by your negligence, so will they become still greater by being still longer neglected; for their multitude is every day augmented, by every ill man's running away to those that are like to themselves, and their audaciousness is therefore inflamed, because they meet with no obstruction to their designs. And for their higher place, they will make use of it for engines also, if we give them time to do so; but be assured of this, that if we go up to fight them, they will be made tamer by their own consciences, and what advantages they have in the height of their situation they will lose by the opposition of their reason; perhaps also God himself, who hath been affronted by them, will make what they throw at us return against themselves, and these impious wretches will be killed by their own darts: let us but make our appearance before them, and they will come to nothing. However, it is a right thing, if there should be any danger in the attempt, to die before these holy gates, and to spend our very lives, if not for the sake of our children and wives, yet for God's sake, and for the sake of his sanctuary. I will assist you both with my counsel and with my hand; nor shall any sagacity of ours be wanting for your support; nor shall you see that I will be sparing of my body neither."
11. By these motives Ananus encouraged the multitude to go against the zealots, although he knew how difficult it would be to disperse them, because of their multitude, and their youth, and the courage of their souls; but chiefly because of their consciousness of what they had done, since they would not yield, as not so much as hoping for pardon at the last for those their enormities. However, Ananus resolved to undergo whatever sufferings might come upon him, rather than overlook things, now they were in such great confusion. So the multitude cried out to him, to lead them on against those whom he had described in his exhortation to them, and every one of them was most readily disposed to run any hazard whatever on that account.
12. Now while Ananus was choosing out his men, and putting those that were proper for his purpose in array for fighting, the zealots got information of his undertaking, (for there were some who went to them, and told them all that the people were doing,) and were irritated at it, and leaping out of the temple in crowds, and by parties, spared none whom they met with. Upon this Ananus got the populace together on the sudden, who were more numerous indeed than the zealots, but inferior to them in arms, because they had not been regularly put into array for fighting; but the alacrity that every body showed supplied all their defects on both sides, the citizens taking up so great a passion as was stronger than arms, and deriving a degree of courage from the temple more forcible than any multitude whatever; and indeed these citizens thought it was not possible for them to dwell in the city, unless they could cut off the robbers that were in it. The zealots also thought that unless they prevailed, there would be no punishment so bad but it would be inflicted on them. So their conflicts were conducted by their passions; and at the first they only cast stones at each other in the city, and before the temple, and threw their javelins at a distance; but when either of them were too hard for the other, they made use of their swords; and great slaughter was made on both sides, and a great number were wounded. As for the dead bodies of the people, their relations carried them out to their own houses; but when any of the zealots were wounded, he went up into the temple, and defiled that sacred floor with his blood, insomuch that one may say it was their blood alone that polluted our sanctuary. Now in these conflicts the robbers always sallied out of the temple, and were too hard for their enemies; but the populace grew very angry, and became more and more numerous, and reproached those that gave back, and those behind would not afford room to those that were going off, but forced them on again, till at length they made their whole body to turn against their adversaries, and the robbers could no longer oppose them, but were forced gradually to retire into the temple; when Ananus and his party fell into it at the same time together with them. (7) This horribly affrighted the robbers, because it deprived them of the first court; so they fled into the inner court immediately, and shut the gates. Now Ananus did not think fit to make any attack against the holy gates, although the other threw their stones and darts at them from above. He also deemed it unlawful to introduce the multitude into that court before they were purified; he therefore chose out of them all by lot six thousand armed men, and placed them as guards in the cloisters; so there was a succession of such guards one after another, and every one was forced to attend in his course; although many of the chief of the city were dismissed by those that then took on them the government, upon their hiring some of the poorer sort, and sending them to keep the guard in their stead.
13. Now it was John who, as we told you, ran away from Gischala, and was the occasion of all these being destroyed. He was a man of great craft, and bore about him in his soul a strong passion after tyranny, and at a distance was the adviser in these actions; and indeed at this time he pretended to be of the people's opinion, and went all about with Ananus when he consulted the great men every day, and in the night time also when he went round the watch; but he divulged their secrets to the zealots, and every thing that the people deliberated about was by his means known to their enemies, even before it had been well agreed upon by themselves. And by way of contrivance how he might not be brought into suspicion, he cultivated the greatest friendship possible with Ananus, and with the chief of the people; yet did this overdoing of his turn against him, for he flattered them so extravagantly, that he was but the more suspected; and his constant attendance every where, even when he was not invited to be present, made him strongly suspected of betraying their secrets to the enemy; for they plainly perceived that they understood all the resolutions taken against them at their consultations. Nor was there any one whom they had so much reason to suspect of that discovery as this John; yet was it not easy to get quit of him, so potent was he grown by his wicked practices. He was also supported by many of those eminent men, who were to be consulted upon all considerable affairs; it was therefore thought reasonable to oblige him to give them assurance of his good-will upon oath; accordingly John took such an oath readily, that he would be on the people's side, and would not betray any of their counsels or practices to their enemies, and would assist them in overthrowing those that attacked them, and that both by his hand and his advice. So Ananus and his party believed his oath, and did now receive him to their consultations without further suspicion; nay, so far did they believe him, that they sent him as their ambassador into the temple to the zealots, with proposals of accommodation; for they were very desirous to avoid the pollution of the temple as much as they possibly could, and that no one of their nation should be slain therein.
14. But now this John, as if his oath had been made to the zealots, and for confirmation of his good-will to them, and not against them, went into the temple, and stood in the midst of them, and spake as follows: That he had run many hazards o, their accounts, and in order to let them know of every thing that was secretly contrived against them by Ananus and his party; but that both he and they should be cast into the most imminent danger, unless some providential assistance were afforded them; for that Ananus made no longer delay, but had prevailed with the people to send ambassadors to Vespasian, to invite him to come presently and take the city; and that he had appointed a fast for the next day against them, that they might obtain admission into the temple on a religious account, or gain it by force, and fight with them there; that he did not see how long they could either endure a siege, or how they could fight against so many enemies. He added further, that it was by the providence of God he was himself sent as an ambassador to them for an accommodation; for that Artanus did therefore offer them such proposals, that he might come upon them when they were unarmed; that they ought to choose one of these two methods, either to intercede with those that guarded them, to save their lives, or to provide some foreign assistance for themselves; that if they fostered themselves with the hopes of pardon, in case they were subdued, they had forgotten what desperate things they had done, or could suppose, that as soon as the actors repented, those that had suffered by them must be presently reconciled to them; while those that have done injuries, though they pretend to repent of them, are frequently hated by the others for that sort of repentance; and that the sufferers, when they get the power into their hands, are usually still more severe upon the actors; that the friends and kindred of those that had been destroyed would always be laying plots against them; and that a large body of people were very angry on account of their gross breaches of their laws, and [illegal] judicatures, insomuch that although some part might commiserate them, those would be quite overborne by the majority.