The Ancient Romans and Jews (The Jewish War and Revolt)

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Rome conquered Judea in 63 BCE Wars between the Jews and Romans: the War of 66-70 CE The Roman commanders now knew that their enemies would fight for every inch of their city, and understood that the siege of Jerusalem would take a long time. Therefore, Titus changed his plans.There were signs that the supplies of Jerusalem were giving out: some Jews had left the city, hoping to find food in the valleys in front of the walls. Many of them had been caught and crucified - some five hundred every day. (The soldiers had amused themselves by nailing their victims in different postures.) The Romans decided to starve the enemies into surrender. In three days, Jerusalem was surrounded with an eight kilometer long palisade. All trees within fifteen kilometres of the city were cut down. The camps of the legions V Macedonica, XII Fulminata and XV Apollinaris were demolished; these troops were billeted on Bezetha. The death rate among the besieged increased. Soon, the Kidron valley and the Valley of Hinnom were filled with corpses. One defector told Titus that their number was estimated at 115,880. Desperate people tried to leave Jerusalem. When they had succeeded in passing their own lines and had not been killed by Roman patrols, they reached the palisade. Here they surrendered: as prisoners, they were at last entitled to some bread. Some of them ate so much, that they could not stomach it and died. In that case, their oedemaous bodies were cut open by the Syrian and Arabian warders, who knew that some of these people had swallowed coins before they started their ill fated expedition. Titus refrained from punishing these violators when he discovered that there were too many. One of the defectors was the famous teacher Yohanan ben Zakkai, who escaped in a coffin and saved his life by predicting Titus that he, too, would be an emperor. Since there was no wood, the construction of new siege dams to attack the Antonia took three weeks. A sortie of weakened Jewish warriors had no success. Soon, the sound of the battering-rams was to be heard, and one night, a wall of the Antonia collapsed; but the legionaries discovered that a new wall had been build behind the breach. The Antonia had to be taken by other means. During a dark night at the beginning of July, twenty-four Roman soldiers climbed the walls of the castle, killed the guard, and sounded a trumpet. The garrison of the Antonia overestimated the number of enemies; many fled to the Temple. At the same time, Titus ordered his men to enter the mine that John's sappers had made. At three o' clock in the morning, these men entered the fortress; after ten hours of fighting, they had driven John's men away. A couple of days later, on 14 July, prisoners told them that the priests in the Temple had been forced to interrupt the daily sacrifices, which had greatly demoralized the defenders of Jerusalem. The Antonia was demolished. The stones were used to build a new dam, this time towards the Temple terrace. The Romans used the dam to set fire to the porticoes on the northern and western side of the terrace, but it was impossible to bash trough the walls. On the tenth of August, the Temple itself was burning. Six thousand women and children were taken prisoner at the Court of the Gentiles, while the legionaries sacrificed to their standards in the Holy of Holies. The Temple was intentionally set in fire. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus writes in his Jewish War 6.220-270 that the Roman soldiers took the initiative, but this is not true. A fourth-century writer, Sulpicius Severus, states that Titus ordered the destruction of the sanctuary, and this piece of information almost certainly stems from the Roman historian Tacitus

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