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For The Temple by G. A. Henty

Chapter 15: The Siege Is Begun.

The Fifth Legion -- which had been stationed at Emmaus, halfway between Jerusalem and Jaffa -- marching the greater part of the night, joined the Twelfth and Fifteenth at their halting place at Gaboth Saul and, the next morning, the three advanced together. The Twelfth and Fifteenth marched halfway down the Hill of Scopus, and encamped together on a knoll; while the Fifth Legion encamped three furlongs to their rear so that, in case of an attack by the Jews, its weary soldiers should not have to bear the brunt of the conflict. As these legions were marking out their camp, the Tenth Legion -- which had marched up from Jericho -- appeared on the Mount of Olives, and Titus sent word for them to encamp there. Thus Jerusalem was overlooked, throughout its length and breadth, by the Roman camps on the hills to the north and east sides.

John had, at the earnest request of Simon, taken up his residence with him in the Palace of Herod and, from the top of the Tower of Phasaelus, watched the Roman legions at work.

|It seems to me,| he said to Simon, |that now is the time for us to make an assault. The Romans raise veritable fortifications round their camp and, when once these are completed, we can scarcely hope to storm them; whereas, if we fall suddenly upon them, now, we can fight on even terms. The legion on the Mount of Olives is widely separated from the rest; and we might overcome it, before the others could come to its assistance.|

|I agree with you,| Simon said; |let us strike a blow, at once.|

Simon at once sent off to John, to propose that the latter should issue out from the Golden Gate in the middle of the Temple platform; while he, himself, would lead out his troops by the gate to the north of that platform. In accordance with the suggestion of John, he requested John of Gischala to place a watchman on a conspicuous position on the wall, with orders to wave his mantle as a signal to both parties to charge as, from his position, he would be better able than they to see what the Romans were doing; and both parties could see him, while they might be invisible to each other.

John of Gischala sent back, at once, to say that he approved of the plan, and would join in it. Simon called his troops together and -- leaving the outer wall strongly manned, lest the Twelfth and Fifteenth Legions might take advantage of the absence of so large a portion of the garrison to make a sudden attack upon it -- marched towards the northeastern gate; being joined on the way by John, with his band. They waited until a messenger came from John of Gischala, saying that he was ready; then the gates were thrown open, and the troops poured out.

John had given strict orders to his men to keep together in their companies, each under his commander; and not to try to maintain regular order as one band, for this would be next to impossible, fighting on such hilly and broken ground. Besides, they would be sure to get mixed up with the masses of Simon's troops.

At the same moment that Simon's force poured through the northeastern gate, that of John of Gischala issued from the Temple platform and, in rivalry with each other, both dashed down the steep declivity into the bottom of the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and then climbed the sharp slope of the Mount of Olives. Then with loud shouts they fell, in wild disorder, each as he reached the spot, upon the Tenth Legion.

The Romans, anticipating no attack, and many of them unarmed as they worked at the intrenchments, were unable to resist the fierce onslaught. Accustomed to regular warfare, this rush of armed men from all sides upon them surprised and disconcerted them. Every moment added to the number of their assailants, as fresh combatants continued to pour out from the city and, fighting stubbornly and sullenly, the Romans were driven out of their half-formed intrenchments up the slope, and over the crest of the Mount of Olives.

The Jews fought, regardless of life. Single men dashed into the midst of the Romans and fell there, fighting fiercely. John's compact companies hurled themselves upon the line, and broke it. Simon fought desperately at the head of his men, cutting down all who stood in his way. The Romans were wavering, and would soon have broken into open flight, when rescue arrived. The general in command had, immediately the Jews had been seen issuing out, sent off a horseman to Titus with the news; and he, putting himself at the head of his bodyguard, started instantly to their assistance.

Falling suddenly upon the flank of the Jews, he bore them down by the impetuosity and weight of the charge. In vain, Simon and John of Gischala tried to rally their men; and John's bands, gathering round him at the sound of his bugle, opposed a firm and steady resistance. The Roman legion rallied and, ashamed of having been driven back before the very eyes of Titus, attacked the Jews with fury; and the latter were driven down the hill into the valley.

Here, John's band refused to retire further. Simon and John of Gischala rallied their troops, and an obstinate contest ensued; the Romans being unable to push the Jews farther back, now that the latter were, in turn, fighting with the ground in their favor For some time the battle raged. Then Titus, seeing that he could not drive the Jews back into the city, ordered a portion of the Tenth Legion to reascend the Mount of Olives, and complete the work of fortifying their camp; so that, at the end of the day, the legion could fall back to a place of safety.

The watchman on the wall saw the movement, and thought that the Romans were retreating. He waved his mantle wildly and, at the signal, the Jews again burst down upon their foes, and fresh forces poured down from the gates to their assistance. In vain, the Roman line tried to hold the bottom of the valley. The Jews burst through them, and drove them in disorder up the hill; Titus alone, with a few followers, making a stand on the lower slopes. The Jews, rushing on, surrounded his party and fell upon him from all sides, while their main body swarmed up the hill, and the Romans, panic stricken, dispersed in all directions.

Victory seemed in the hands of the Jews, when some of the Romans discovered that Titus was not with them; but was cut off, and surrounded, at the bottom of the hill. They shouted to others, and the news rapidly spread through the fugitives. Overwhelmed with shame at having deserted their general, and knowing the severe punishment which, according to Roman military law, would befall them for their cowardice, the Romans paused in their flight.

Their discipline came to their aid, and they quickly fell in, in companies and, with a shout of fury, advanced upon the scattered Jews; who, although vastly superior in numbers, had no order or formation which would enable them to resist the downward impetus of the solid masses of heavy-armed Romans. Again they were driven down the hill; and the Romans, pressing upon them, found to their delight that Titus and his band had successfully resisted the attacks of their foes.

The Jews were driven some distance up the side of the slope; and there the combat was renewed until, seeing that they could make no further impression upon the enemy, the Jews retired sullenly through their gates into the city. They were, however, well satisfied with their day's work. Numbers had fallen, but they had inflicted heavy loss upon the Romans. They had forced one of the legions to retreat, in fair fight; had all but captured Titus; and had proved, to the Romans, the formidable nature of the task they had undertaken.

The next day, the 13th of April, was the day of the Passover; and all Jerusalem prepared, as usual, to celebrate the day of the great sacrifice. The gates of the Temple were, as usual, thrown open; and the multitude thronged in to worship. John of Gischala had sworn to Eleazar, as he had to Simon, to lay aside all hostility but, as usual, he did not allow his oath to prevent him from carrying out his designs. A number of his men concealed their arms under their garments, and entered the Temple with the worshipers.

At a signal, the swords were drawn and the cry of battle was raised. Eleazar and his followers at once fled, in dismay, to the vaults under the Temple. The multitude in the courts above, panic stricken at the threatened conflict, strove to escape. Many were trampled under foot and killed. Some were wantonly slain by John's followers, to whom murder had become a pastime.

When order was restored, John of Gischala went to the entrance of the vaults, and shouted to Eleazar that he desired to keep his oath, and would do him no harm; but that, for the general safety of the city, he could be no longer permitted to hold the inner Temple but must, with his men, take his share in the defense of the walls. If Eleazar would agree to do this, he promised that no harm, whatever, should be done to him or his followers. Eleazar, being at the mercy of his foe, accepted the terms and, with his followers, ascended into the Temple.

For once, John of Gischala kept his word. Eleazar was permitted to retain the command of his own two thousand men, but his force henceforth formed a part of the Zealot army of John. Thus, from this time forward, there were but two factions in the city.

Josephus, always the bitter enemy of John of Gischala, speaks in terms of the utmost reprobation of his conduct on this occasion; and the occasion and manner in which the deed was effected cannot, for a moment, be defended. At the same time, it must be admitted that the occasion was an urgent one, that the existence of this enemy in his midst crippled John of Gischala's power to defend his portion of the city; and that the suppression of Eleazar's faction, and the conversion of his troops from enemies into allies, was an act of high policy, and was indeed a necessity, if Jerusalem was to be successfully defended.

The desecration of the Temple, however, upon so sacred an occasion as the feast of the Passover, filled all pious Jews with horror; and caused John to be regarded with even greater detestation than before. For the opinion of the unarmed multitude, however, he cared little. He had crushed the faction of Eleazar, had added two thousand men to his strength; and was now ready, without fear of trouble within, to face the Roman enemy without.

The desperate sortie of the Jews had convinced Titus that, if Jerusalem was to be taken, it must be by means of regular siege operations, conducted with the greatest care and caution and, having made a circuit of the city, he perceived that it was impregnable, save on the north and northwestern sides -- that is, the part defended by the third wall. He therefore, reluctantly, gave orders that all the villas, mansions, gardens, and groves standing between that wall and the foot of Mount Scopus should be destroyed and, placing strong bodies of troops opposite the gates, to prevent any sortie of the defenders, he set the whole of the three legions encamped on that side to carry out the work of destruction.

A feeling of grief and dismay filled the city, at the sight of the devastation that was being wrought; and there were very many among the multitude who would gladly have avoided further evils, by submitting to the Romans. But such an idea did not enter the heads of the military leaders, and Simon determined upon another sortie.

A number of the citizens were ordered to take their places upon the walls, and to cry out to the Romans that they desired peace, and to implore them to enter the town and take possession. In the meantime, a number of Simon's men issued out from the Women's Gate in confusion, as if expelled by the peace party. They appeared to be in a state of extreme terror: sometimes advancing towards the Romans, as if to submit to them; at other times retreating towards the wall, as if afraid of putting themselves into the hands of the Romans -- but, as they neared the walls, they were assailed by a shower of missiles from above.

Titus suspected that a trick was being played, and ordered the troops to stand fast; but the battalion facing the gate, seeing it stand open, were unable to resist the impulse to rush in and take possession. They therefore advanced, through the crowd of Jews outside, until close to the gate. Then Simon's men drew out their concealed weapons, and fell upon them in the rear; while a fresh body of armed men rushed out from the gate, and attacked them in front while, from the two flanking towers, a storm of javelins, arrows, and stones was poured upon them. The Romans fought desperately, but numbers of them were slain; and the rest took to flight, pursued by the Jews, and did not halt until they reached the tombs of Helen, half a mile from the walls; while the Jews, with shouts of triumph, re-entered the city.

John had taken no part in this sortie. He had lost more than fifty men, in the fight on the Mount of Olives; and determined to hold the rest in reserve, until they were needed in a moment of extreme peril. The manner in which the bands had held together, and had steadfastly resisted the Roman attacks, had greatly excited the admiration of Simon.

|I see now,| he said, on the evening of the sortie, when talking the matter over with John, |the secret of the successes you have gained over the Romans. Your men fight as steadily, and with as much discipline as they do; while they are far quicker in their movements. They unite the activity of my men with the steadiness of the Romans. I wish, now, that I had spent the last year in training and disciplining my men, to act with equal steadiness and order; but it is too late to try to do so, now. Each will do his best, and will die fighting but, were I to attempt, now, to introduce regularity among them, they would lose the fierce rush with which they assault the Romans; without acquiring sufficient discipline to enable them to keep their order, as yours do, in the confusion of the battle.|

|Mine are all picked men,| John said. |I had eight thousand under my orders, during the last two years of fighting; but I bade all leave me, when I advanced to Jerusalem, save those who were ready and prepared to die. Therefore, I can rely upon every man, as upon myself.

|Unless I see some exceptional opportunity, I do not think I shall lead them out beyond the walls again. The time will come, as the siege goes on, when you will need a body of men to hold a breach, or arrest the advance of a Roman column; men who will die, rather than give way a foot. When that time comes, my band shall fill the gap.|

|I think you are right,| Simon agreed. |Your men are too good to be wasted in desultory fighting. They shall be kept as a last resource; and I know that, when the time comes, they can be relied upon.|

The clearing of the ground occupied four days; and Titus then determined to advance his camp nearer to the city, and fixed upon a spot which was the highest on the plateau -- a quarter of a mile to the northwest of the Rubble Tower. Before moving into it, the position was strongly fortified and, so much impressed was Titus, by the sallies which the Jews had made, that he formed up his whole army along the north and northwest side of the city. The heavy-armed troops, three deep, were the first line. Behind them came a rank of archers, and behind these the cavalry, three deep.

Brave as were the Jews, they did not venture to sally out to endeavor to break through this living wall; which stood all day, immovable, while the baggage animals -- aided by a great crowd of artisans and camp followers -- moved the war engines, reserves, and baggage of the army from Mount Scopus down to the new camp. Here the Twelfth and Fifteenth Legions, under Titus himself, took up their position. The Fifth Legion, under the command of Cerealis, formed their camp on a knoll, a quarter of a mile from the Jaffa Gate, and divided from it by the Valley of Hinnom which is, here, of no great depth. It lay about a third of a mile south of the camp of Titus. The Tenth Legion remained on the Mount of Olives. Their camp had now been very strongly fortified, and was in a position to repel any attack that might be made against it.

Now that his dispositions were complete, Titus determined to save the city, if possible, from the horrors of siege. He therefore sent Nicanor and Josephus, with a flag of truce, towards the walls to offer them terms. No sooner had they come within bow shot than an arrow was discharged from the wall, and struck Nicanor upon the shoulder. The ambassador at once retired; and Titus, indignant alike at the insult to his messengers, and the violation of the flag of truce, immediately began to make preparations for the siege.

Could the population of the city have been consulted, they would have declared, by an immense majority of voices, for surrender; but Simon and John of Gischala, whose men held the walls, were absolute masters of the city; and the inhabitants were to pay now, as they had paid in the past, for their cowardice in allowing themselves to be tyrannized over by a body of men whom they outnumbered by ten to one.

Titus, after a careful examination of the walls, determined to attack at a spot between the Jaffa Gate and Psephinus. In former times, all assaults of the enemy had been directed against the north; and it was here, consequently, that the wall was strongest. At its foot, too, a wide and deep fosse had been cut in the solid rock: rendering it impossible for the assailants to advance to the attack, until this was filled up. But, on the northwest, the walls had not been made equally strong; nor had the fosse been continued from Psephinus to the Jaffa Gate. It had no doubt been considered that the projecting angle of the wall at Psephinus, and the fortifications of the Palace of Herod, covered this portion of the wall -- which was, moreover, to some extent protected by the Valley of Hinnom But between the top of the slope of that valley, and the foot of the walls, was a level space of ground sufficiently wide for the establishment of machines for breaching the wall.

Here, therefore, Titus determined to make his attack. On the 22nd of April, the troops began the work. Each legion was to erect a bank, mount a battering ram, and construct a tower. A vast quantity of timber was required, and the desolation already effected between the north wall and Scopus was now widely extended; the whole of the trees, for a great distance round Jerusalem, being cut down and brought to the spot. The towers were constructed about ninety feet in height, and with a wide face. They were put together beyond the range of the missiles of the defenders; and were to be advanced, upon wheels, up the bank until they neared the wall. As the three banks approached the wall, hurdles covered with hides were erected to protect the workers; and on each side javelin men and archers were posted, together with the war engines for casting missiles.

Simon was not idle. He possessed the war engines taken when Antonia was surrendered by the Romans, and those captured from the legion of Cestius; but his men had no experience in the working of these machines. They could only manipulate them slowly, and their aim was bad. They were able, therefore, to interfere but little with the work of the Romans. The archers and slingers, however, did greater damage, and killed many while, at times, the gate would be thrown open, and Simon would dash out at the head of his men, and do much damage before the Romans could drive him back within the walls.

The Tenth Legion did more injury to the defenders than did the others, being provided with more powerful war machines. Their ballistae threw stones, weighing a hundred weight, a distance of a quarter of a mile. The Jewish watchmen on the walls kept a vigilant watch upon these machines and, each time a stone was coming, shouted a warning; and the defenders threw themselves on their faces, until the stone passed over. Even at night, the whiteness of the newly-cut rock rendered the masses visible, as they flew through the air; and Titus then ordered the stones to be painted black, before they were discharged, and thus added to their effect, as their approach could be no longer seen.

Night and day, the Romans toiled at the work; night and day the Jews, with missiles and sorties, hindered their approach; until the banks had approached so close to the walls that the battering rams would be within striking distance. Then the towers were brought up and the rams began to strike their mighty blows upon the wall while, from the top of the lofty towers, and from the stories below, the archers and war machines poured a storm of missiles down upon the defenders of the walls.

As it was evident, now, that the danger lay solely in this quarter; and that the whole strength of the besieged was needed here; Simon sent to John of Gischala, to urge that the line of demarcation agreed upon by them between their respective troops should no longer be observed. John would not trust himself in the power of Simon, but gave leave to his soldiers to go down and aid in the defense; and they, who had been chafing at their forced inactivity, while Simon's men were bearing the brunt of the fighting, went down to take their share in the struggle.

Regardless of the storm of missiles, the Jews maintained their place upon the walls, shooting blazing arrows and hurling combustibles down upon the Roman works; and executing such frequent and desperate sorties that Titus was obliged to keep the greater part of his force constantly under arms, and to gather round the towers large bodies of archers and horsemen, to repel the attacks. At length, a corner tower fell before one of the battering rams; but the wall behind stood firm, and no breach was effected. Nevertheless, the Jews appeared dispirited at this proof of the power of the battering rams, and fell back into the city.

The Roman legionaries, under the belief that the fighting was over, for the evening, were drawn back into their camps. Suddenly, from a small gate hitherto unnoticed by the Romans -- situated at the foot of the tower of Hippicus -- the Jews poured out, with flaming brands in their hands, and dashed at the Roman banks; sweeping the defenders of the works before them, swarming up the banks, and surrounding the towers, to which they endeavored to set fire. They were, however, plated with iron outside, and the beams inside were of so massive a description that the Jews were unable to set light to them.

While some of the Jews were striving to do this, the rest fell with such fury upon the Roman troops -- who hurried up to the protection of their works -- that they were driven back. A body of Alexandrian troops only, posted near the towers, maintained themselves against the attacks; until Titus with his cavalry charged down upon the Jews who, although a match for the Roman infantry, were never, throughout the war, able to resist the charges of the bodies of heavy horsemen. Titus is said to have killed twelve Jews with his own hand and, fighting desperately to the end, the assailants were driven back into the city. One prisoner only was taken; and him Titus, with the barbarity which afterwards distinguished his proceedings during the siege, ordered to be crucified close to the walls.

Among those killed on the Jewish side was John, the commander of the Idumeans, who formed part of Simon's force. He was shot by an Arab, while he was parleying with a Roman soldier. He was a man of great courage and excellent judgment, and his loss was a serious one for the besieged.

At night all was still, and silent. Both parties were exhausted with their long and desperate struggle, and even the machines ceased to hurl their missiles. Suddenly a terrific crash was heard, and the very ground seemed to shake. Both parties sprang to arms: the Jews, fearing that the wall had fallen; the Romans, not knowing what had happened, but apprehensive of another of the sorties -- which they had begun to hold in high respect.

Something like a panic seized them; until Titus, riding about among them, reassured them by his presence and words. They knew, indeed, that a repetition of the defeats they had suffered at the Jewish hands would not be forgiven. The battalion which had been defeated, at the sortie at the Women's Gate, had been sternly rebuked by Titus; who had ordered the military law to be carried into effect, and a certain number of the soldiers to be executed; and had only pardoned them upon the intercession of the whole army on their behalf. Therefore, the legionaries now fell into their ranks, at the order of Titus, and drew up in order of battle; while parties were sent forward to ascertain what had happened.

It was found that a serious misfortune had befallen them. The Jews, in their attack, had been unable to set fire to the towers; but they had worked so vigorously, in their attempt to destroy the bank, that they had weakened that portion of it upon which one of the towers stood. This had given way, beneath the tremendous weight resting upon it; and the great tower had fallen, with a crash, to the ground.

In the morning the combat recommenced but, although the Jews exposed their lives on the walls unflinchingly, they were unable to withstand the terrible shower of missiles poured upon them from the remaining towers, or to interrupt the steady swing of the huge rams which, day and night, beat against the walls. One of these, especially, did material damage; and the Jews themselves christened it |Nico,| or the Conqueror.

At length, wearied out by their efforts, disheartened by the failure of their attempts to interfere with the work of destruction, and knowing that the inner lines were vastly stronger than those without, the Jews abandoned the defense of the tottering wall, and retired behind their next line of defense The Romans soon discovered that they were unopposed, and scaled the wall. As soon as they found that the whole space between it and the second wall was abandoned, they set to work and threw down a large portion of the third wall, and took up their post inside. Titus established himself at the spot known as the camp of the Assyrians, at the foot of the Tower of Psephinus.

As soon as his arrangements were completed, he gave orders for the assault to be recommenced. The date of the capture of the outer wall was on the 6th of May, fifteen days after the commencement of the siege. The capture of Bezetha, or the new town, enabled the Romans to make an attack directly on the Palace of Herod, on the one side, and Mount Moriah upon the other; without first assaulting the second wall, which defended the inner lower town. But two or three days' fighting convinced Titus that these positions could not be successfully attacked, until the lower town was in his power.

The three great towers Phasaelus, Hippicus, and
Mariamne -- desperately defended by Simon's soldiers -- formed an impregnable obstacle on the one side; while Antonia, and the steep ascent up to the Temple platform, was defended with equal stubbornness, and success, by the soldiers of John of Gischala. Titus therefore prepared for the assault of the second wall. The point selected for the attack was the middle tower on the northern face, close to which were the wool mart, the clothes mart, and the braziers' shops.

There were no natural obstacles to the approach, and the battering ram was soon placed in position, while a strong body of archers prevented the defenders showing themselves above the parapet. The wall was of far less strength than that which the Romans had before encountered, and soon began to totter before the blows of the battering ram. The Jews, indeed, were indifferent as to its fall; for they knew that the possession of the inner town was of slight importance to them, and that its fall would not greatly facilitate the attack upon what was the natural line of defense -- namely, the heights of Zion and Moriah.

For a short time, the Roman advance was delayed by the proceedings of Castor, the Jewish officer commanding the tower which they had assaulted. He, with ten men, alone had remained there when the rest of the defenders had retired; and he got up a sham battle among his men -- the Romans suspending operations, under the belief that a party of the defenders were anxious to surrender. Castor himself stood on the parapet, and offered Titus to surrender. Titus promised him his life and, when an archer standing near sent an arrow which pierced Castor's nose, he sternly rebuked him.

He then asked Josephus, who was standing beside him, to go forward and assure Castor and his companions that their lives should be spared. Josephus, however, knew the way of his countrymen too well, and declined to endanger his life. But, upon Castor offering to throw down a bag of gold, a man ran forward to receive it, when Castor hurled a great stone down at him; and Titus, seeing that he was being fooled, ordered the battering ram to recommence its work. Just before the tower fell, Castor set fire to it; and leaped with his companions -- as the Romans supposed into the flames -- but really into a vault, whence they made their escape into the city.

As soon as the tower fell, Titus entered the breach, with his bodyguard and a thousand heavy-armed troops. The inhabitants, almost entirely of the poorer class, surrendered willingly; and Titus gave orders that none, save those found with arms upon them, should be killed. The Romans dispersed through the narrow and winding streets when, suddenly, Simon and his men poured down from the upper city; and John, at the head of his band, issued from his quarters.

While some fell upon the Romans in the streets, others entered the houses and rained missiles upon them from above; while another party, issuing from the gate by Phasaelus, attacked the Romans between the second and third walls, and drove them into their camp. For a time, Titus and those in the lower town suffered terribly; but at last Titus posted archers, to command the lanes leading towards the breach, and managed -- but with considerable loss -- to withdraw his troops through it.

The Jews at once manned the wall, and formed in close order behind the breach. Titus led his heavy-armed troops against it, but John and Simon defended it with the greatest valor and, for three days and nights, beat back the continued attacks of the Roman soldiers; but at the end of that time they were utterly exhausted, while the Romans incessantly brought up fresh troops. Even Simon -- who had fought desperately at the head of his men, and had performed prodigies of valor -- could no longer continue the struggle and, slowly and in good order, the defenders of the breach fell back to the upper city, and the lower town remained in the possession of the Romans.

In order to avoid a recurrence of the disaster which had befallen them, Titus ordered a considerable portion of the second wall to be leveled; so that the troops could, if necessary, pour in or out without difficulty. But Simon had no thought of repeating his sortie. A large number of his best men had already fallen, and he determined to reserve his force for the defense of the almost impregnable position of the upper city.

Two hundred of John's band had fallen round the breach, he himself had received several wounds, and the fighting strength of his band was now but one-half of what it was at the commencement of the siege. He had, before the Romans first entered the inner town, had the remainder of his store of grain removed to the building in the upper town which Simon had assigned to his band. It had as yet been but little trenched upon, as Simon had ordered that rations, similar to those issued to his own men, from the few granaries which had escaped destruction, should be given to John's band.

|What do you think, now, of the prospect?| Simon asked, as John and he stood together on the Tower of Phasaelus, on the day after the Romans had taken possession of the lower town.

|I think, as I did at first,| John said, |that nothing but a miracle can save the Temple.|

|But the difficulties that the Romans have overcome,| Simon said, |are as nothing to those still before them.|

|That is quite true,| John agreed, |and, had we but a good supply of food, I believe that we might hold out for months; but the grain is already nearly exhausted, and cannot support even the fighting men much longer, while the inhabitants are dying from hunger. Well and strong, we might resist every attack that the Romans can make but, when we can no longer lift our swords, they must overcome us. Still, as long as I can fight I am ready to do so, in hopes that God may yet have mercy upon us, and deliver his Temple.|

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