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THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. “ Omens and prodigies had long announced that Jehovah was departed from the mercy-seat, but it was not till the 7th day of the month Elul, in the year of the world 4077, (A.D. 73), that the daily sacrifice ceased for ever in the temple. Titus the Roman was desirous that the worship should have been continued; for it was an ancient màxim in the policy of his countrymen, to respect the religious rites while they erased the history of the nations they subdued; but the remnant of our people, who had determined to perish with every thing rather than again submit to the Roman arms, rejected the representations which he made to them on this subject. Seeing them thus resolute, and in possession of the sacred edifice, which they had converted into a fortress, he prosecuted the siege with remorseless vigour. But desperate men, determined on death, resisted him with an energy new to his legions, and laughed to scorn the fury alike-of the engines and the soldiery. For six days he endeavoured to batter down the walls which surrounded the temple, but was repulsed, with the loss of many
of his bravest troops, and the destruction of their eagles. On the seventh, he set fire to the gates, which were plated with silver, and the flames communicated to the porticoes and galleries; but the besieged within answered to the shouts of the Romans with execrations, and made no attempt to extinguish the burning. Next morning, he ordered the legions to stop the progress of the fire, being still anxious to preserve so glorious a building; and having consulted his council, it was determined that, on the 10th of the next month, a general assault should take place. On the preceding night; however, my countrymen made two sallies, with partial success, which greatly exasperated the Romans; and I observed, from the terrace of the house where I had
witnessed these conflicts, one of the private soldiers, after Titus had retired to take repose, mount on the back of his comrade, and throw a firebrand into one of the windows of the apartments that surrounded the sanctuary. Immediately the whole north side was in a blaze;
and the Romans rent the air with acclamations. Titus, surprised by the noise, came running from his tent towards them, and prayed, and threatened, and even struck his men, calling on them to extinguish the flames. But, raging themselves with vengeance against the besieged, they paid no attention to his orders; continuing, on the contrary, to spread the conflagration throughout the whole edifice, and to sacrifice all the unhappy wretches within the reach of their swords.
“ Titus, having thus in vain endeavoured to preserve the temple, then entered the sanctuary, and took possession of the consecrated utensils of gold—the candlestick, the altar of incense, and the table of shew-bread; but when he penetrated behind the veil of the most holy place, he was struck with awe, and instantly retired. In the same moment, a soldier applied a torch to the sacred curtain, and the fire furling up for ever the veil of mystery, shewed that the God was not there! The Jews shrieked with horror, and a wail and lamentation spread throughout the city ; even the Romans paused in consternation,—but it was only to return to the work of slaughter with redoubled fury.
“ From the destruction of the temple the overthrow : of the nation may be dated, although possession of the upper town was not obtained till the
eighth of the month Elat (September), when, as soon as the work of massacre and pillage was over, Titus ordered his army to demolish the city, with all its structures, palaces, and towers. He left nothing standing but a piece of the western wall
, and the three towers of Hippicos, Phasael
, and Mariamne; the former to serve as a redoubt to one of his
legions, which he left there to prevent the Jews from re-assembling, and the three latter as monuments to give future ages some idea of the strength of the city, and the valour that was necessary to the conquest. Thus was the bow of Israel for ever broken, and her quiver emptied; and since that time I have wandered among men, like a creature of another state of being, without communion of mind, without sympathy, without participation in any cares, without the hazard of any greater misfortunes, without the hope of any improvement in my solitary lot; a spirit interdicted from entering the social circle, living without any motive to action, my feelings seared up, and my purposes all done. But I felt myself fated to be the deathless witness of the ancient greatness of our holy people, and doomed to represent their homeless and outcast condition, till the terrible cycle of their sufferings be complete, and they again assemble toʻreign in the land of their fathers.
" When the destruction of the city was completed, Titus ordered a tribunal to be prepared for him in the midst of the ground where he had encamped, and calling his officers around him, he addressed them from that lofty seat; commended their exploits in the siege, and rewarded them, according to their respective rank and merits, with crowns of gold and other precious ornaments. The army applauded this munificence to the skies. He then descended; and the Roman priests who attended the army having provided a number of oxen, a prodigious sacrifice was offered to the idolatrous gods of the Romans, and the remainder was distributed among the soldiery. The following day, leaving the tenth legion to prevent my miserable brethren from returning to the ruins of the city of their fathers, he marched with his army to Cesaria.
" When the main body of the Romans had been thus. removed from Jerusalem some time, several of the inha
bitants, who had been scattered by the issue of the siege, returned to look among the wreck of their habitations for any relges that might yet be found of their former property. One morning, as I was wandering among the ruins, observing these unhappy persons, and burning with indignation at the taunts which they endured from the Roman soldiers, I beheld a ghastly form, clothed in white, and wearing a purple cloak, rising out of the earth in the centre of the spot where the temple once stood. The soldiers, so loud in their derision, were struck with awe at the sight, and stood still for some time, believing that it was a supernatural apparition. Having, however, mustered courage, they approached, and demanded who he was, and what he wanted. But the mysterious being, instead of answering, ordered them to call their captain. I now also advanced, and saw that it was no other than Simon, who had taken so large a share in the revolt against the Romans, and whom it was thought had perished in the burning of the temple. He had, however, concealed himself, with a few of his most devoted followers, in a secret cavern; and, having provided themselves with a stock of provisions, they had there remained until their stores were consumed. Terentius Rufus, the Roman commander, on being informed by the troops, hastened to the spot, and hearing from Simon his name, ordered him to be seized, and sent in chains to grace the triumph of Titus.
My heart was greatly wrung by the fate of this man; for, although his factious spirit had raised many enemies even among ourselves, none laboured with a more earnest spirit to break those galling shackles with which the Romans had held us in slavery, while they insulted our customs, and endeavoured to destroy the records of our national independence and glorious history. It is true, that by the revolt the nation was dispersed, and our kindred carried into captivity ; but Jerusalem fell not
without a struggle. The greatness of the vengeance of Titus bore testimony to the valour of Israel; and the indignities offered to Simon was evidence of the fidelity and enterprise with which he had endeavoured to redeem the independence of the people.
Seeing the melancholy condition to which Simon was reduced, and having myself no home, I resolved to pass with the captives to Italy; and reached the neighbourhood of Rome on the evening preceding the day appointed for the triumph decreed to Titus.
“ Early in the morning, Vespasian the emperor, and Titus, who had rested during the night in the temple of Isis, came out crowned with laurel; and, clothed in the ancient purple robes of their dignity, walked to where a stage, with ivory chairs, had been prepared for them, and where the senate, the magistrates of Rome, and the members of the equestrian order, were assembled. When they had seated themselves, and received the congratulations of these public personages, amidst the acclamation of the soldiers and the people, a solemn sacrifice was offered to their gods, and the whole army feasted, according to the Roman custom, on the choicest portions of the victims. But the triumphal procession I cannot describe : my eyes were dazzled with the splendour, while my spirit mourned for Israel. I have therefore retained but a confused recollection of pictures embroidered by the Babylonians, the images of the Roman gods and of great men carried on superb chariots, and vast machines, towering above the houses, loaded with the richest trophies. I bowed my
head to the earth when I beheld the sacred vessels of the holy temple borne along; and heard and saw not that this gorgeous train of ruin was terminated by a person bear
copy of the law, which had been preserved for so many ages in the hallowed archives of the sanctuary. Soon after, a terrible shout announced that the unfor