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Old March 24th, 2012, 08:30 AM   #1

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Fall of Jerusalem, 70 AD.


I've read that the death toll was up to 200,000. Was it really that bloody?
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Old March 24th, 2012, 08:58 AM   #2

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The siege of Jerusalem of AD 70 was a considerably bloody one. The siege had lasted for more than four months and many Jerusalemites starved, lest it be forgotten that it was estimated that around half a million Jews lived in the city during the time of the siege.

The scene was described as a hell on earth by Simon Montefiore in his book about Jerusalem (I'm quoting it):

Quote:
Thousands of bodies putrefied in the sun. Packs of dogs and jackals feasted on humen flesh, the stench was unbearable. (General) Titus ordered all prisoners and defectors to be crucified. Five hundred Jews were crucified each day in the Mount of Olives such that there were barely any trees remaining to use as a crucifix.
Many of the Jews captured, swallowed their valuables (coins usually). When the Roman soldiers discovered this in a few Jewish prisoners, this led to an uncontrolled rampage by Roman soldiers who eviscerated most of the Jewish prisoners, hoping to find money. General Titus had to personally intervene to stop that.

In the book, it is mentioned that the Jewish rebels had an army that numbered up to 21,000 soldiers. The Roman attack featured the complete usage of the artillery arsenal of a Roman legion, ballistae stones were found in tunnels close to the Western wall, a testament to the intensity of the bombardment.

Josephus (the Jewish historian) notes that the Jews fought for every inch with a suicidal intensity.

After months of siege, the Jerusalemite warriors grew desperate for food, and began searching for food in each resident's home. A closed door , to them, meant food was present. Residents were reportedly tortured to reveal locations of their grain supply, if the warriors didn't find any, they'd kill them.

Witch-hunts were also rampant in the city, as Josephus (as an eyewitness) stated that :

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No other city did ever allow such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, since the beginning of the world
(From Josephus' The Jewish War)

The temple was set alright and 10,000 Jews reportedly died. A further 6,000 hid in a labyrinthine, the Romans set fire to the hallways, burning them alive.

General Titus later ordered the plundering of the lower city of Jerusalem, after the Jews refused to surrender, virtually every house was filled with corpses.

No one actually knows how many died. And it is a fact that ancient Historians are always reckless with numbers . Tacitus said it was 600,000. Josephus claims it was over a million. Whatever the figure, almost all either died of starvation, were killed, or sold into slavery.

It was documented that 2,500 Jews died in gladiatorial battles in Caesarea Philippi, prisoners from the siege.

I hope that helps to answer your question


Last edited by Mohammed the Persian; March 24th, 2012 at 09:34 AM.
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Old March 24th, 2012, 09:31 AM   #3

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200,000 seems exaggerated a bit, 50,000-100,000 is more likely. Many more Jews have died from famine and disease brought by the destruction. Even more have been deported from Judea or sold to slavery. A total of 150,000 to 300,000 Jews have been either killed or exiled. One third of the Jewish population of Judea (Jews were 80% of the population) from a population of about one million.

The Second Jewish War (132-135 CE) was even bloodier, with around 600,000 dead, about 70% of the Jewish population. Those who weren't killed were exiled or sold to slavery. Only some 30,000 Jews remained in Judea.

Jewish population in Judea would not meet the number before the Second Jewish War until 1949.
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Old March 24th, 2012, 09:42 AM   #4
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I don't know who this Montfiore guy is, but just read Josephus' "Wars of the Jews" for details. He is out only real source and an eyewitness.
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Old March 24th, 2012, 09:47 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve53 View Post
I don't know who this Montfiore guy is, but just read Josephus' "Wars of the Jews" for details. He is out only real source and an eyewitness.
He cites Josephus in his works
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Old March 24th, 2012, 12:19 PM   #6
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I always thought it was weird the 22nd XXII legion of the romans got annihilated by the jews. I dont know exactly where that fall into this timeframe. But the odd thing I was thinkin of is that the number 22 is the most important number in the kabbala I believe.
Just a thought.
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Old March 24th, 2012, 12:21 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve53 View Post
I don't know who this Montfiore guy is, but just read Josephus' "Wars of the Jews" for details. He is out only real source and an eyewitness.
He's a modern historian, most famous for a bio of Stalin, but he recently wrote a history of Jerusalem from antiquity to the present (and made an accompanying BBC documentary series - worth tracking down if you can find it!)

But I agree, he's not as good as Josephus!
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Old March 24th, 2012, 12:46 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by the batavian View Post
I always thought it was weird the 22nd XXII legion of the romans got annihilated by the jews. I dont know exactly where that fall into this timeframe. But the odd thing I was thinkin of is that the number 22 is the most important number in the kabbala I believe.
Just a thought.
The XXII Deiotariana was destroyed during the Bar Kochva rising, half a century after the 70 CE revolt.
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Old March 24th, 2012, 05:08 PM   #9

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Thanks for that detailed reply MtP, really interesting, and thanks to everyone else who replied also. Mohammad, that post read so classy that I actually thought it was Salah's post while reading it - high praise indeed! Really informative
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Old March 24th, 2012, 05:32 PM   #10

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The descriptions in The Jewish War of a mother that ate one of her children, and people eating from sewers were very affecting.
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