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THE IDUMEANS BEING SENT FOR BY THE ZEALOTS, CAME IMMEDIATELY TO JERUSALEM; AND WHEN THEY WERE EXCLUDED OUT OF THE CITY, THEY LAY ALL NIGHT THERE. JESUS ONE OF THE HIGH PRIESTS MAKES A SPEECH TO THEM; AND SIMON THE IDUMEAN MAKES A REPLY TO IT.
1. NOW, by this crafty speech, John made the zealots afraid; yet dare he not directly name what foreign assistance he meant, but in a covert way only intimated at the Idumeans. But now, that he might particularly irritate the leaders of the zealots, he calumniated Ananus, that he was about a piece of barbarity, and did in a special manner threaten them. These leaders were Eleazar, the son of Simon, who seemed the most plausible man of them all, both in considering what was fit to be done, and in the execution of what he had determined upon, and Zacharias, the son of Phalek; both of whom derived their families from the priests. Now when these two men had heard, not only the common threatenings which belonged to them all, but those peculiarly leveled against themselves; and besides, how Artanus and his party, in order to secure their own dominion, had invited the Romans to come to them, for that also was part of John's lie; they hesitated a great while what they should do, considering the shortness of the time by which they were straitened; because the people were prepared to attack them very soon, and because the suddenness of the plot laid against them had almost cut off all their hopes of getting any foreign assistance; for they might be under the height of their afflictions before any of their confederates could be informed of it. However, it was resolved to call in the Idumeans; so they wrote a short letter to this effect: That Ananus had imposed on the people, and was betraying their metropolis to the Romans; that they themselves had revolted from the rest, and were in custody in the temple, on account of the preservation of their liberty; that there was but a small time left wherein they might hope for their deliverance; and that unless they would come immediately to their assistance, they should themselves be soon in the power of Artanus, and the city would be in the power of the Romans. They also charged the messengers to tell many more circumstances to the rulers of the Idumeans. Now there were two active men proposed for the carrying this message, and such as were able to speak, and to persuade them that things were in this posture, and, what was a qualification still more necessary than the former, they were very swift of foot; for they knew well enough that these would immediately comply with their desires, as being ever a tumultuous and disorderly nation, always on the watch upon every motion, delighting in mutations; and upon your flattering them ever so little, and petitioning them, they soon take their arms, and put themselves into motion, and make haste to a battle, as if it were to a feast. There was indeed occasion for quick despatch in the carrying of this message, in which point the messengers were no way defective. Both their names were Ananias; and they soon came to the rulers of the Idumeans.
2. Now these rulers were greatly surprised at the contents of the letter, and at what those that came with it further told them; whereupon they ran about the nation like madmen, and made proclamation that the people should come to war; so a multitude was suddenly got together, sooner indeed than the time appointed in the proclamation, and every body caught up their arms, in order to maintain the liberty of their metropolis; and twenty thousand of them were put into battle-array, and came to Jerusalem, under four commanders, John, and Jacob the son of Sosas; and besides these were Simon, the son of Cathlas, and Phineas, the son of Clusothus.
3. Now this exit of the messengers was not known either to Ananus or to the guards, but the approach of the Idumeans was known to him; for as he knew of it before they came, he ordered the gates to be shut against them, and that the walls should be guarded. Yet did not he by any means think of fighting against them, but, before they came to blows, to try what persuasions would do. Accordingly, Jesus, the eldest of the high priests next to Artanus, stood upon the tower that was over against them, and said thus: "Many troubles indeed, and those of various kinds, have fallen upon this city, yet in none of them have I so much wondered at her fortune as now, when you are come to assist wicked men, and this after a manner very extraordinary; for I see that you are come to support the vilest of men against us, and this with so great alacrity, as you could hardly put on the like, in case our metropolis had called you to her assistance against barbarians. And if I had perceived that your army was composed of men like unto those who invited them, I had not deemed your attempt so absurd; for nothing does so much cement the minds of men together as the alliance there is between their manners. But now for these men who have invited you, if you were to examine them one by one, every one of them would be found to have deserved ten thousand deaths; for the very rascality and offscouring of the whole country, who have spent in debauchery their own substance, and, by way of trial beforehand, have madly plundered the neighboring villages and cities, in the upshot of all, have privately run together into this holy city. They are robbers, who by their prodigious wickedness have profaned this most sacred floor, and who are to be now seen drinking themselves drunk in the sanctuary, and expending the spoils of those whom they have slaughtered upon their unsatiable bellies. As for the multitude that is with you, one may see them so decently adorned in their armor, as it would become them to be had their metropolis called them to her assistance against foreigners. What can a man call this procedure of yours but the sport of fortune, when he sees a whole nation coming to protect a sink of wicked wretches? I have for a good while been in doubt what it could possibly be that should move you to do this so suddenly; because certainly you would not take on your armor on the behalf of robbers, and against a people of kin to you, without some very great cause for your so doing. But we have an item that the Romans are pretended, and that we are supposed to be going to betray this city to them; for some of your men have lately made a clamor about those matters, and have said they are come to set their metropolis free. Now we cannot but admire at these wretches in their devising such a lie as this against us; for they knew there was no other way to irritate against us men that were naturally desirous of liberty, and on that account the best disposed to fight against foreign enemies, but by framing a tale as if we were going to betray that most desirable thing, liberty. But you ought to consider what sort of people they are that raise this calumny, and against what sort of people that calumny is raised, and to gather the truth of things, not by fictitious speeches, but out of the actions of both parties; for what occasion is there for us to sell ourselves to the Romans, while it was in our power not to have revolted from them at the first, or when we had once revolted, to have returned under their dominion again, and this while the neighboring countries were not yet laid waste? whereas it is not an easy thing to be reconciled to the Romans, if we were desirous of it, now they have subdued Galilee, and are thereby become proud and insolent; and to endeavor to please them at the time when they are so near us, would bring such a reproach upon us as were worse than death. As for myself, indeed, I should have preferred peace with them before death; but now we have once made war upon them, and fought with them, I prefer death, with reputation, before living in captivity under them. But further, whether do they pretend that we, who are the rulers of the people, have sent thus privately to the Romans, or hath it been done by the common suffrages of the people? If it be ourselves only that have done it, let them name those friends of ours that have been sent, as our servants, to manage this treachery. Hath any one been caught as he went out on this errand, or seized upon as he came back? Are they in possession of our letters? How could we be concealed from such a vast number of our fellow citizens, among whom we are conversant every hour, while what is done privately in the country is, it seems, known by the zealots, who are but few in number, and under confinement also, and are not able to come out of the temple into the city. Is this the first time that they are become sensible how they ought to be punished for their insolent actions? For while these men were free from the fear they are now under, there was no suspicion raised that any of us were traitors. But if they lay this charge against the people, this must have been done at a public consultation, and not one of the people must have dissented from the rest of the assembly; in which case the public fame of this matter would have come to you sooner than any particular indication. But how could that be? Must there not then have been ambassadors sent to confirm the agreements? And let them tell us who this ambassador was that was ordained for that purpose. But this is no other than a pretense of such men as are loath to die, and are laboring to escape those punishments that hang over them; for if fate had determined that this city was to be betrayed into its enemies' hands, no other than these men that accuse us falsely could have the impudence to do it, there being no wickedness wanting to complete their impudent practices but this only, that they become traitors. And now you Idumeans are come hither already with your arms, it is your duty, in the first place, to be assisting to your metropolis, and to join with us in cutting off those tyrants that have infringed the rules of our regular tribunals, that have trampled upon our laws, and made their swords the arbitrators of right and wrong; for they have seized upon men of great eminence, and under no accusation, as they stood in the midst of the market-place, and tortured them with putting them into bonds, and, without bearing to hear what they had to say, or what supplications they made, they destroyed them. You may, if you please, come into the city, though not in the way of war, and take a view of the marks still remaining of what I now say, and may see the houses that have been depopulated by their rapacious hands, with those wives and families that are in black, mourning for their slaughtered relations; as also you may hear their groans and lamentations all the city over; for there is nobody but hath tasted of the incursions of these profane wretches, who have proceeded to that degree of madness, as not only to have transferred their impudent robberies out of the country, and the remote cities, into this city, the very face and head of the whole nation, but out of the city into the temple also; for that is now made their receptacle and refuge, and the fountain- head whence their preparations are made against us. And this place, which is adored by the habitable world, and honored by such as only know it by report, as far as the ends of the earth, is trampled upon by these wild beasts born among ourselves. They now triumph in the desperate condition they are already in, when they hear that one people is going to fight against another people, and one city against another city, and that your nation hath gotten an army together against its own bowels. Instead of which procedure, it were highly fit and reasonable, as I said before, for you to join with us in cutting off these wretches, and in particular to be revenged on them for putting this very cheat upon you; I mean, for having the impudence to invite you to assist them, of whom they ought to have stood in fear, as ready to punish them. But if you have some regard to these men's invitation of you, yet may you lay aside your arms, and come into the city under the notion of our kindred, and take upon you a middle name between that of auxiliaries and of enemies, and so become judges in this case. However, consider what these men will gain by being called into judgment before you, for such undeniable and such flagrant crimes, who would not vouchsafe to hear such as had no accusations laid against them to speak a word for themselves. However, let them gain this advantage by your coming. But still, if you will neither take our part in that indignation we have at these men, nor judge between us, the third thing I have to propose is this, that you let us both alone, and neither insult upon our calamities, nor abide with these plotters against their metropolis; for though you should have ever so great a suspicion that some of us have discoursed with the Romans, it is in your power to watch the passages into the city; and in case any thing that we have been accused of is brought to light, then to come and defend your metropolis, and to inflict punishment on those that are found guilty; for the enemy cannot prevent you who are so near to the city. But if, after all, none of these proposals seem acceptable and moderate, do not you wonder that the gates are shut against you, while you bear your arms about you."
4. Thus spake Jesus; yet did not the multitude of the Idumeans give any attention to what he said, but were in a rage, because they did not meet with a ready entrance into the city. The generals also had indignation at the offer of laying down their arms, and looked upon it as equal to a captivity, to throw them away at any man's injunction whomsoever. But Simon, the son of Cathlas, one of their commanders, with much ado quieted the tumult of his own men, and stood so that the high priests might hear him, and said as follows: "I can no longer wonder that the patrons of liberty are under custody in the temple, since there are those that shut the gates of our common city (8) to their own nation, and at the same time are prepared to admit the Romans into it; nay, perhaps are disposed to crown the gates with garlands at their coming, while they speak to the Idumeans from their own towers, and enjoin them to throw down their arms which they have taken up for the preservation of its liberty. And while they will not intrust the guard of our metropolis to their kindred, profess to make them judges of the differences that are among them; nay, while they accuse some men of having slain others without a legal trial, they do themselves condemn a whole nation after an ignominious manner, and have now walled up that city from their own nation, which used to be open to even all foreigners that came to worship there. We have indeed come in great haste to you, and to a war against our own countrymen; and the reason why we have made such haste is this, that we may preserve that freedom which you are so unhappy as to betray. You have probably been guilty of the like crimes against those whom you keep in custody, and have, I suppose, collected together the like plausible pretenses against them also that you make use of against us; after which you have gotten the mastery of those within the temple, and keep them in custody, while they are only taking care of the public affairs. You have also shut the gates of the city in general against nations that are the most nearly related to you; and while you give such injurious commands to others, you complain that you have been tyrannized over by them, and fix the name of unjust governors upon such as are tyrannized over by yourselves. Who can bear this your abuse of words, while they have a regard to the contrariety of your actions, unless you mean this, that those Idumeans do now exclude you out of your metropolis, whom you exclude from the sacred offices of your own country? One may indeed justly complain of those that are besieged in the temple, that when they had courage enough to punish those tyrants whom you call eminent men, and free from any accusations, because of their being your companions in wickedness, they did not begin with you, and thereby cut off beforehand the most dangerous parts of this treason. But if these men have been more merciful than the public necessity required, we that are Idumeans will preserve this house of God, and will fight for our common country, and will oppose by war as well those that attack them from abroad, as those that betray them from within. Here will we abide before the walls in our armor, until either the Romans grow weary in waiting for you, or you become friends to liberty, and repent of what you have done against it."
5. And now did the Idumeans make an acclamation to what Simon had said; but Jesus went away sorrowful, as seeing that the Idumeans were against all moderate counsels, and that the city was besieged on both sides. Nor indeed were the minds of the Idumeans at rest; for they were in a rage at the injury that had been offered them by their exclusion out of the city; and when they thought the zealots had been strong, but saw nothing of theirs to support them, they were in doubt about the matter, and many of them repented that they had come thither. But the shame that would attend them in case they returned without doing any thing at all, so far overcame that their repentance, that they lay all night before the wall, though in a very bad encampment; for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.
6. Now the opinion of the Idumeans and of the citizens was one and the same. The Idumeans thought that God was angry at their taking arms, and that they would not escape punishment for their making war upon their metropolis. Ananus and his party thought that they had conquered without fighting, and that God acted as a general for them; but truly they proved both ill conjectures at what was to come, and made those events to be ominous to their enemies, while they were themselves to undergo the ill effects of them; for the Idumeans fenced one another by uniting their bodies into one band, and thereby kept themselves warm, and connecting their shields over their heads, were not so much hurt by the rain. But the zealots were more deeply concerned for the danger these men were in than they were for themselves, and got together, and looked about them to see whether they could devise any means of assisting them. The hotter sort of them thought it best to force their guards with their arms, and after that to fall into the midst of the city, and publicly open the gates to those that came to their assistance; as supposing the guards would be in disorder, and give way at such an unexpected attempt of theirs, especially as the greater part of them were unarmed and unskilled in the affairs of war; and that besides the multitude of the citizens would not be easily gathered together, but confined to their houses by the storm: and that if there were any hazard in their undertaking, it became them to suffer any thing whatever themselves, rather than to overlook so great a multitude as were miserably perishing on their account. But the more prudent part of them disapproved of this forcible method, because they saw not only the guards about them very numerous, but the walls of the city itself carefully watched, by reason of the Idumeans. They also supposed that Ananus would be every where, and visit the guards every hour; which indeed was done upon other nights, but was omitted that night, not by reason of any lazyness of Ananus, but by the overbearing appointment of fate, that so both he might himself perish, and the multitude of the guards might perish with him; for truly, as the night was far gone, and the storm very terrible, Ananus gave the guards in the cloisters leave to go to sleep; while it came into the heads of the zealots to make use of the saws belonging to the temple, and to cut the bars of the gates to pieces. The noise of the wind, and that not inferior sound of the thunder, did here also conspire with their designs, that the noise of the saws was not heard by the others.
7. So they secretly went out of the temple to the wall of the city, and made use of their saws, and opened that gate which was over against the Idumeans. Now at first there came a fear upon the Idumeans themselves, which disturbed them, as imagining that Ananus and his party were coming to attack them, so that every one of them had his right hand upon his sword, in order to defend himself; but they soon came to know who they were that came to them, and were entered the city. And had the Idumeans then fallen upon the city, nothing could have hindered them from destroying the people every man of them, such was the rage they were in at that time; but as they first of all made haste to get the zealots out of custody, which those that brought them in earnestly desired them to do, and not to overlook those for whose sakes they were come, in the midst of their distresses, nor to bring them into a still greater danger; for that when they had once seized upon the guards, it would be easy for them to fall upon the city; but that if the city were once alarmed, they would not then be able to overcome those guards, because as soon as they should perceive they were there, they would put themselves in order to fight them, and would hinder their coming into the temple.