BIBLE Jewish War Outbreak


- Info:

- This section describes first clashes between Romans and Jews and Vespasian returning to Rome to become emperor.


- Nero sends Vespasian:

- Roman emperor Nero decided to sent army to Judea to crush the rebellion.

Nero appointed new commander: Titus Flavius Vespasianus, known as Vespasian.

He commanded legions in Germania and Britain.

He had recently been pensioned off after falling asleep during one of Nero's musical performances.

His recall proves that the situation had become very critical indeed.

- Vespasian appointed his son Titus as one of his lieutenants.

- His younger son Domitian was kept in honorable detention at the imperial court, to assure that his father doesn't rebel.


- Josephus:

- Temple authorities elected generals and ordered them to take charge of the countryside.

- One of these was Joseph, son of Matthias, the future historian Flavius Josephus.

- One of their aims was to seize the ports, which would make it difficult for the Romans to land their forces.


- John:

- Meanwhile peasant leaders arose in Judea.

Some of them tried to keep their community out of the war.

Others organized militias to attack all non-Jews.

- John of Gischala was one of those militant leaders.

He controlled the Galilean countryside, which was the province assigned to Joseph, son of Matthias.

Their conflict prevented the Jews from seizing Sepphoris, the pro-Roman capital of Galilee.


- Romans defeat Josephus and John:

- Vespasian's first action was to reinforce Sepphoris (Spring 67).

Immediately after the rainy season, he proceeded to the port of Ptolemais (modern Acre), where he gathered his troops.

The tenth legion, surnamed Fretensis, he had taken over from the Syrian governor Cestius, who had committed suicide.

The fifth legion, called Macedonica, had been under his own command for some time.

His son Titus brought the fifteenth legion, Apollinaris.

In addition to this army, there were numerous cavalry units and auxiliary troops.

- Vespasian expelled John of Gischala from a town named Gadara, but John escaped.

- Then he marched on Jotapata, where he defeated Joseph, son of Matthias, who was defending it.

Joseph was imprisoned and saved his life by applying messianic prophecy to Vespasian predicting him imperial rule.

- The road to Sepphoris being now secured, Vespasian proceeded along the coast to liberate the ports.


- Jerusalem:

- John of Gischala continued the struggle in the Golan heights, on Mount Tabor and from his hometown Gischala.

In November 67, John had abandoned his guerilla war and gone to Jerusalem.

He became an important leader, behaving himself as a king.

- There were two other parties in the city: the Sadducee Temple authorities and the Zealots of Eleaser son of Simon.

- Zealots of Eleaser were the most influential.

They occupied the Temple, removed the high priest from the scene and replaced him by a strawman named Phannias.

- Frequently, these two parties used violence in their quarrels, and many Jews left the city.

They told the Roman generals about the civil strife.

So Vespasian decided to postpone his attack on Jerusalem until the defenders had worn themselves down.


- Vespasian secures the region:

- He used the spring of 68 to gain control of the Jordan valley and the fertile region called Peraea ('the other side', that is,

of the Jordan river).

Meanwhile, his soldiers seized the crops of the Jewish peasants.

- During this campaign, the settlement at Qumran was destroyed by soldiers of X Fretensis.

This is where Scrolls of the Dead Sea were found.

- It took Titus and other commanders a lot of time and energy to pacify Galilee which they finally did in January 68.

While controlling Galilee, coastal region and Jordan valley, Vespasian could have attacked Jerusalem from 3 sides.


- Vespasian retreats to become emperor:

- At that moment, however, a messenger brought remarkable news came from Italy:

Nero had committed suicide and a senator named Galba was the new ruler of the Roman Empire.

- Vespasian immediately sent his son Titus to Rome to congratulate the new emperor.

But before he had reached Greece, Titus learned that Galba had been lynched by his own guard.

As a result, two new pretenders, Vitellius and Otho, were engaged in a civil war.

- Titus returned to Judaea, where his father decided to postpone the war against the Jews and to intervene in the civil war. Vespasian and Titus were clever diplomats, who secured the support of several Syrian princes, the governor of Egypt

and the legions along the Danube.

- In July 69, on hearing the news that Vitellius had defeated Otho, Vespasian had himself proclaimed emperor.

He claimed that he wanted to avenge Galba.

He went to Egypt, where he cut off the Italian food supply.

In September, the army of the Danube defeated the troops of Vitellius.

In December, Vespasian was the sole ruler of the world empire.

The man who had predicted it, Joseph son of Matthias, was released and received Roman citizenship and a new name

Flavius Josephus.


- Jewish hope:

- To the Jews, the situation did not seem hopeless.

The appearance of a new comet seemed to indicate that the time for the great war of liberation had come.

The Romans paused their attacks for some time because of a civil war.

At the other end of the empire, the Batavians had revolted.

In Gaul a new emperor, Julius Sabinus, had been proclaimed.

- Some optimism was permitted; however, the Romans would come to restore the order very soon.