Josephus and the Jews: The Religion and History of the Jews as Explained by Flavius Josephus

By F. J. Foakes-Jackson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
THE SIEGE OF JERUSALEM

THE story of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple would be pronounced incredible had we not the testimony of one who was an eye-witness of the unparalleled catastrophe. Even then Josephus might be suspected of invention and gross exaggeration of the horrors perpetrated, were it not for the fact that the scene can be so easily realised from pictures and plans, even by those who have never visited Jerusalem, that what must have happened cannot fail to appeal to the imagination. For though the city has been repeatedly taken since, and practically wiped out so often that the levels of the ground on which it stands are entirely changed by the debris and destructions of centuries; though the comparatively modern walls of Suleiman the Magnificent do not enclose the same space as those erected by the Herods; though the exact site, let alone the appearance, of even the latest temple is a matter for conjecture, yet nothing can utterly obliterate the physical features of the land on which the successive cities have stood from the days of Melchizedek to our own times.

Jerusalem consisted of a Temple and forts . -- However well suited the site of Jerusalem may have been for a fortress, it is not so for a great city. Remote and inaccessible from the sea, only conveniently approachable from the north, it lies on no road by which the traffic from Egypt or Arabia can pass; situated in a comparatively cold and barren country, it owes its attraction entirely to the religious association connected with it. The modern population has been estimated at 85,000, but a great portion is to be found in the settlements outside the old

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