Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter V
Chapter V.—The Last Siege of the Jews after Christ.
1. After Nero had held the power thirteen years, 622 and Galba and Otho had ruled a year and six months, 623 Vespasian, who had become distinguished in the campaigns against the Jews, was proclaimed sovereign in Judea and received the title of Emperor from the armies there. 624 Setting out immediately, therefore, for Rome, he entrusted the conduct of the war against the Jews to his son Titus. 625
2. For the Jews after the ascension of our Saviour, in addition to their crime against him, had been devising as many plots as they could against his apostles. First Stephen was stoned to death by them, 626 and after him James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John, was beheaded, 627 and finally James, the first that had obtained the episcopal seat in Jerusalem after the ascension of our Saviour, died in the manner already described. 628 But the rest of the apostles, who had been incessantly plotted against with a view to their destruction, and had been driven out of the land of Judea, went unto all nations to preach the Gospel, 629 relying upon the power of Christ, who had said to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name.” 630
3. But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. 631 And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men.
4. But the number of calamities which everywhere fell upon the nation at that time; the extreme misfortunes to which the inhabitants of Judea were especially subjected, the thousands of men, as well as women and children, that perished by the sword, by famine, and by other forms of death innumerable,—all these things, as well as the many great sieges which were carried on against the cities of Judea, and the excessive. sufferings endured by those that fled to Jerusalem itself, as to a city of perfect safety, and finally the general course of the whole war, as well as its particular occurrences in detail, and how at last the abomination of desolation, proclaimed by the prophets, 632 stood in the very temple of God, so celebrated of old, the temple which was now awaiting its total and final destruction by fire,—all these things any one that wishes may find accurately described in the history written by Josephus. 633
5. But it is necessary to state that this writer records that the multitude of those who were assembled from all Judea at the time of the Passover, to the number of three million souls, 634 were shut up in Jerusalem “as in a prison,” to use his own words.
6. For it was right that in the very days in which they had inflicted suffering upon the Saviour and the Benefactor of all, the Christ of God, that in those days, shut up “as in a prison,” they should meet with destruction at the hands of divine justice.
7. But passing by the particular calamities which they suffered from the attempts made upon them by the sword and by other means, I think it necessary to relate only the misfortunes which the famine caused, that those who read p. 139 this work may have some means of knowing that God was not long in executing vengeance upon them for their wickedness against the Christ of God.
Nero was emperor from Oct. 16, 54, to June 9, 68 a.d.138:623
Eusebius figures are incorrect. He omits Vitellius entirely, while he stretches Galbas and Othos reigns to make them cover a period of eighteen months, instead of nine (Galba reigned from June 9, 68, to Jan. 15, 69; and Otho from Jan. 15 to April 20, 69). The total of the three reigns of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius was about eighteen months.138:624
Vespasian was proclaimed emperor by the prefect of Egypt at Alexandria, July 1, 69, while Vitellius was the acknowledged emperor in Italy. His choice was immediately ratified by his army in Judea, and then by all the legions in the East. Vitellius was conquered by Vespasians generals, and slain in Italy, Dec. 20, 69, while Vespasian himself went to Alexandria. The latter was immediately recognized by the Senate, and reached Italy in the summer of 70. Eusebius is thus approximately correct, though he is not exact as to details.138:625
Titus undertook the prosecution of the war against the Jews after his fathers departure, and brought the siege of Jerusalem to an end, Sept. 8, 70 a.d.138:626
See Acts vii. 8 sqq.138:627
See Acts xii. 2138:628
See Bk. II. chap. 23.138:629
See chap. 1, note 1.138:630
See Matt. xxviii. 19.138:631
Pella was a town situated beyond the Jordan, in the north of Perea, within the dominions of Herod Agrippa II. The surrounding population was chiefly Gentile. See Pliny V. 18, and Josephus, B. J. III. 3. 3, and I. 4. 8. Epiphanius (De pond. et mens. 15) also records this flight of the Christians to Pella.138:632
Dan. ix. 27.138:633
Josephus, B. J. Bks. V. and VI.138:634
B. J.VI. 9, §§3 and 4. Eusebius simply gives round numbers. Josephus in §3 puts the number at 2,700,000, exclusive of the “unclean and the strangers” who were not allowed to eat the Passover. In the same work, Bk. II. chap. 14, §3, Josephus states that when Cestius Gallus, governor of Syria, came to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover in 65 a.d., no less than 3,000,000 persons came about him to enter complaint against the procurator Florus. These numbers are grossly exaggerated. Tacitus estimates the number in the city at the time of the siege as 600,000, but this, too, is far above the truth. The writer of the article Jerusalem, in Smiths Bible Dict., estimates that the city can never have had a population of more than 50,000 souls, and he concludes that at the time of the siege there cannot have been more than 60,000 or 70,000 collected within the walls. This is probably too low an estimate, but shows how far out of the way the figures of Josephus and Tacitus must be.
Next: Chapter VI
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