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 XIII
THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED FROM JOSEPHUS

Jerusalem, a small but important City. -- Jerusalem was in ashes; and it is time to see what Titus had actually accomplished. Josephus leaves us to imagine that the Romans had with incredible severity wiped out a great and populous city. But a glance at the measurements of the walls of Jerusalem, when the third or northern wall, which included the district of Bezetha, had been carried, gives an enclosed space so small that the buildings, Temple forts and everything else would, as has been already remarked, hardly have occupied one of the parks in a city like London. As a matter of fact, Jerusalem must have been less of a city than a group of fortresses. Its population must always have been small; and, as we learn from Nehemiah, the inhabitants of Judaea preferred to live on their farms than to dwell within the walls.1 But as a stronghold Jerusalem was a most valuable possession. Its prince could go forth and raid the neighbourhood, and retire, safe in the impregnability of his fortress city. To the people of the coast and the south of Palestine Jerusalem must always have been a dangerous spot, and its strong Temple sometimes dreaded as a veritable 'den of robbers,' to adopt the words of Jesus,2 or at best of marauding armies, such as those which the priest-kings, notably Alexander Jannaeus, led forth to conquer and devastate the cities of Palestine.

Opposition to building of Jerusalem at the Return. -- From the quotations of the correspondence preserved in the book of Ezra we should gather that the heathen of Palestine, the Samaritans, and their Persian governors,

____________________
1
Neh. xi. 1-2.
2
Matt. xxi. 13; Mark xi. 17; Luke xix. 46.

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