This is a heart-breaking story of the fall and destruction of Jerusalem. Josephus was an eye-witness, even a participant, in the tragic events that started this long and bitter exile. He describes how the Jews were engaged in a struggle of one faction against another: truly, causeless hatred led to the destruction of the Temple. Josephus was a Roman captive at the time. He tried to persuade his people to surrender, so as to avoid the destruction of the city, their lives, and the Temple. All to no avail. The reader can hear the sincerity of Josephus' plea, and also see how his words would seem to be those of a traitor to those who were defending the city against the merciless Romans. Of course we know how the story ends, and that makes the story all the more tragic to hear.
As an addendum to the story, Josephus brings the only classical account of the resistance and martyrdom at Massada. The Jews chose mass suicide rather than decimation and slavery at the hands of the Romans. A pottery shard now in a museum in Jerusalem bears the name of the leader of the Zealots who defended Massada. This was probably the token by which was chosen the man who would be the last to take his own life at Massada.
This is ideal reading for Jews who want to prepare themselves spiritually during the three weeks leading up to the observance of Tisha B'Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple. Christians will find it an interesting account of the military and political scene in Jerusalem just a few decades after the ministry of Jesus. People of a more secular bent will also find this an interesting account of a major turning point in history.
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