Josephus on Japha PDF Print E-mail

Josephus Flavius, The Wars of the Jews, III 7.31, translated by William Whiston.

About this time it was that Vespasian sent out Trajan against a city called Japha, that lay near to Jotapata, and that desired innovations, and was puffed up with the unexpected length of the opposition of Jotapata. This Trajan was the commander of the tenth legion, and to him Vespasian committed one thousand horsemen, and two thousand footmen. When Trajan came to the city, he found it hard to be taken, for besides the natural strength of its situation, it was also secured by a double wall; but when he saw the people of this city coming out of it, and ready to fight him, he joined battle with them, and after a short resistance which they made, he pursued after them; and as they fled to their first wall, the Romans followed them so closely, that they fell in together with them: but when the Jews were endeavoring to get again within their second wall, their fellow citizens shut them out, as being afraid that the Romans would force themselves in with them. It was certainly God therefore who brought the Romans to punish the Galileans, and did then expose the people of the city every one of them manifestly to be destroyed by their bloody enemies; for they fell upon the gates in great crowds, and earnestly calling to those that kept them, and that by their names also, yet had they their throats cut in the very midst of their supplications; for the enemy shut the gates of the first wall, and their own citizens shut the gates of the second, so they were enclosed between two walls, and were slain in great numbers together; many of them were run through by swords of their own men, and many by their own swords, besides an immense number that were slain by the Romans. Nor had they any courage to revenge themselves; for there was added to the consternation they were in from the enemy, their being betrayed by their own friends, which quite broke their spirits; and at last they died, cursing not the Romans, but their own citizens, till they were all destroyed, being in number twelve thousand. So Trajan gathered that the city was empty of people that could fight, and although there should a few of them be therein, he supposed that they would be too timorous to venture upon any opposition; so he reserved the taking of the city to the general.

Accordingly, he sent messengers to Vespasian, and desired him to send his son Titus to finish the victory he had gained. Vespasian hereupon imagining there might be some pains still necessary, sent his son with an army of five hundred horsemen, and one thousand footmen. So he came quickly to the city, and put his army in order, and set Trajan over the left wing, while he had the right himself, and led them to the siege: and when the soldiers brought ladders to be laid against the wall on every side, the Galileans opposed them from above for a while; but soon afterward they left the walls. Then did Titus's men leap into the city, and seized upon it presently; but when those that were in it were gotten together, there was a fierce battle between them; for the men of power fell upon the Romans in the narrow streets, and the women threw whatsoever came next to hand at them, and sustained a fight with them for six hours' time; but when the fighting men were spent, the rest of the multitude had their throats cut, partly in the open air, and partly in their own houses, both young and old together. So there were no males now remaining, besides infants, which, with the women, were carried as slaves into captivity; so that the number of the slain, both now in the city and at the former fight, was fifteen thousand, and the captives were two thousand one hundred and thirty. This calamity befell the Galileans on the twenty-fifth day of the month Desius [Sivan.]