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events which fulfilled the truth of sacred prophecy, and awfully avenged the death of Jesus Christ, whose name has given an everlasting remembrance to that once-hallowed city.
5. Titus, the son of the great military hero whose election to the imperial power has just been noticed, was the principal actor in this terrible scene, and for this reason it is chiefly, that we shall now follow the fortunes of so remarkable a man, and give a sketch of his character and conduct.
6. As soon as the father of Titus was confirmed in the empire, his first great enterprise was to renew the war in Judea, that had been interrupted by the civil wars of the empire. For this purpose he sent his son to take the command of the forces of the Romans in that country (A.D. 70). Finding that the city of Jerusalem was too strongly fortified on every side to yield at once to their assaults, he resolved to surround it with a wall, that he might reduce the Jews by famine, and cut off all possibility of their escape. This work, by the diligence and emulation of his soldiers, he executed in a few days. The siege, however, would have been prolonged for an uncertain period, had not the folly and madness of the besieged soon rendered them an easy prey to the conqueror. Within the city, rival factions contended fiercely with one another, and weakened the power of resistance by their infatuated counsels; by their mutual slaughters; by burning provisions that would have sufficed for many years, and by fatally deserting those strongholds which could never have been taken by force. Titus himself was so strongly convinced of this, that he is said to have expressed himself to his friends in these words :-“God is on our side; God it is who has pulled the Jews out of these strongholds, for what could the hands of men or machines do against these towers ?”
7. In the month of April (A.D. 70) the siege of Jerusalem began during the season of the Passover; and on the tenth day of Ab, or our August, the Temple and a great part of the city was destroyed, at a time when, as it is computed, there were not less than two millions and seven hundred thousand human beings inclosed within its walls; of whom eleven hundred thousand perished in the siege alone, and ninety thousand were led away captives. All this was
accomplished by an army of about sixty thousand men, a force so manifestly unequal to that of the Jews, that Titus might well have been astonished at his own success, and justly ascribe it to nothing less than a miraculous interposition in his favour.
8. The capture of Jerusalem forms the most terrific tale which the records of history unfold. Yet everything that was done or suffered there, so accurately agrees with what was prophesied of it, just forty years before, by the Saviour of mankind, that we shall here select a few passages from Josephus, the Jewish historian, who was himself an eyewitness of this fearful scene. These will give the reader a lively idea of the horrors which attended this event, and serve to confirm the divine character of Him who predicted its doom, as he looked down upon the fated city from the Mount of Olivest.
“Hunger now became stronger than all other passions. Children snatched the morsel their parents were eating out of their very mouths. Wives did the same towards their husbands; and, what was still more pitiable, mothers treated their infants with similar cruelty, denying even the maternal fountain to their dearest offspring, while pining away in their hands. But what little food they had was not in their power to conceal, for plunderers were around them, and wherever these saw a house shut up, they suspected it was a sign of food within, and forth with they burst open the doors, snatching from their jaws the morsels of food they were in the act of swallowing. Old men who would not give up their food were beaten, and women were dragged about by the hair, if they attempted to hide what was in their possession. There was no commiseration for age or infancy. They lifted up the children from the ground, with the morsels they held fast, and dashed them down again upon the floor.
9. “But if any had anticipated such violence, and swallowed the food hastily before the plunderers could break in, they were treated in the most inhuman manner, as if they had not been the injured party. Dreadful kinds of torments were also invented, for the purpose of discovering whether they had eaten food or not.
* The Jewish Temple is said by Josephus to have been burnt in the same month, and on the same day of the month, as it was 657 years before by Nebuchadnezzar (B.C. 587). It should be noticed, however, that the upper part of the city, or Mount Zion," was not taken till the 7th of the following month, or our September.
+ Luke xix. 41-44.
“But when all hope of escaping was now cut off, and they could no longer go out of the city, then the famine grew still more terrible, and devoured the people by whole houses and families. The chambers of the houses were full of dying women and children, and the lanes with the dead bodies of the aged. Children and young men wandered about the market-place like ghosts, and fell down and expired wherever the sickness seized them. Many died as they were burying others, and some hastened to the sepulchre before the fatal hour came. They all died with their eyes fixed upon the temple. At first the multitudes who thus perished were buried at the public expense when their carcases became offensive ; but afterwards, when there was no means of burying them, they were thrown over the wall of the city, into the trenches surrounding it. .... When Titus, on going his rounds along the deep valleys that encompassed the city, saw them full of dead bodies, he gave a groan, and spreading out his hands to heaven, called God to witness that this was not his doing.”
10. But worse still than this, is a scene which the same historian describes of a woman who fed upon her own infant :-“ There was one Mary, the daughter of Eleazar, illustrious for her family and riches. She, having been stript and plundered of all her substance and provisions by the Jewish soldiers, from necessity and madness killed her own sucking-child, and having boiled him, devoured half of him, and covering up the rest, preserved it for another time. The soldiers soon came, allured by the smell of victuals, and threatened to kill her immediately, if she would not produce what she had dressed. But she replied that she had reserved a good part for them, and uncovered the relics of her child. Dread and astonishment seized them, and they stood stupified at the sight. “Bat this,' said she, “is my own son, and this is my work; eat, for even I have eaten. Be not you more tender than a woman, nor more compassionate than a mother! but if you have a religious abhorrence of my victim, I truly have eaten half, and let the rest remain for me. They went away trembling, fearful to do
this one thing, and with reluctance left this food for the mother. The whole city was struck with horror at this wickedness, and they were pronounced happy who died before they had seen or heard of such dreadful deeds."
11. It was not the wish of the Roman general, when he entered the city, that the Jewish Temple should be destroyed. The building was one of so much grandeur, splendour, and beauty, that the eye of the conqueror was delighted at beholding it; and he determined to preserve it, as a proud monument of the victory and glory of the Roman empire. To the Jews who had fortified themselves within it, he protested that he desired to preserve it, even if they were unwilling to do so. He also expressed a similar desire to spare the city too, and sent Josephus and other Jews again and again to their countrymen, to persuade them to surrender. But their obstinacy of resistance was such as no offers of mercy could subdue. The Jews themselves first set fire to the porticoes of the temple. But its final destruction was the work of the Romans. One of the soldiers, neither waiting for the word of command, nor fearing to perpetrate such an attempt, and perhaps ignorant of the express orders of Titus, or urged, as Josephus says, “ by a divine impulse,” threw a burning brand in at the golden window, and thereby set fire to the inner buildings of the temple. Titus ran immediately towards the place, and commanded the soldiers to extinguish the flame. But neither exhortations nor threatenings restrained their violence. They either could not, or would not hear; and those behind encouraged those before, to set fire to the sacred edifice. Titus was so much in earnest to stop the progress of the flames, that he ordered certain of the soldiers to be punished for disobeying him. But their anger and hatred of the Jews, and a kind of warlike vehement fury, overcame their reverence for the general, and their dread of disobeying his commands. Another soldier set fire to the doors; and thus, at last, the temple was burnt against the will of Titus. The historian thus completes the picture of the destruction of this building:
12. “While the sacred edifice was on fire, everything was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught, were slain; children, and old men, and priests, all in the same manner. The flame was carried far
and wide, and added its sound to the groans of those who had fallen in the slaughter; and because the hill (where the temple stood) was high and the works at the temple were very great, the whole city might have seemed on fire. There was heard at once the exulting shout of the Roman legions, as they marched on in a body, and the wailing of those who were now surrounded by conflagration and the sword. When the people beheld the Holy House in flames, they exerted their utmost strength, and broke out into fresh groans and outcries. Perea echoed back the sound, and the mountains about the city; yet, the misery itself was more terrible than this uproar and confusion. One would have thought the very hill on which the temple stood was burning up from its roots, so full was it of fire on all sides; but the blood was larger even in quantity than the fire, and the slain more in number than the slayers, for the ground was nowhere visible, the soldiers marching over heaps of dead bodies as they ran upon such as fled from them. As for the priests, some of them plucked up from the Holy House the spikes that were upon it, with their bases, and shot them at the Romans instead of darts. But they gained nothing by so doing; and as the fire burst out upon them, they retired to the wall, that was eight cubits broad, and there they awaited their destruction, two of them at last throwing themselves down headlong into the fire; some being burnt in the cloisters around, and none of them escaping with his life.”
13. The valour and military talents displayed by Titus in the siege of Jerusalem, procured for him the highest degree of applause. In his last assault upon the city, he is said to have slain seven of the men who defended it, with just so many arrows from his own hand, and it was considered a remarkable omen, that he took the city upon his daughter's birthday. Upon this occasion, the soldiers were so much impressed with admiration and regard for him, that they unanimously saluted him by the title of Emperor-a dangerous piece of flattery, and which his enemies took advantage of to raise a suspicion that he purposed to rebel against his father. To obviate, therefore, all misconstruction of his conduct, he hastened rapidly to Rome without his legions, and presenting himself unexpectedly in the presence of the Emperor, as if to reprove