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the streets for prey. By imprecations and reproaches she endeavored in vain to provoke them to take her life as well as bread. At last she prepared a feast. Keen hunger found out a lamb. A mother's desperation slew and served it. Having consumed a part, the rest was concealed. The smell of food soon brought in the wolves. They threatened instant death unless she discovered it. With bitter irony she assured them that a fine portion had been saved for them, and then uncovered what remained of the lamb. It was the half-eaten body of her infant son. Struck motionless with horror, they would not partake of it. Then she upbraided them as pretending to more tenderness than a woman, and more compassion than a mother. All the city, and the whole Roman camp, were filled with astonishment at this horrid evidence of the reigning wretchedness; so that the dead were envied for having escaped the sight of such miseries. But the woe went on. The prisoners taken in endeavoring to desert the city were nailed on crosses by the Roman soldiers, "some one way,
* How exactly did Moses, at least fifteen hundred years before, depict this very scene. He described even the rank, quality, and habits of the unhappy woman. "The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, and toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates." Deut. 28:56, 57.
some another, as it were in jest," around the outside of the walls, "till so great was the number, that room was wanting for crosses, and crosses were wanting for bodies."* Thus had the Jews, forty years before, crucified the Lord of glory without the walls, with cruel jesting and bitter mockery. Those who continued within the city took refuge in caverns, aqueducts, sewers, and other secret places, to escape from one another. Titus, as he beheld the dead bodies that had been thrown from the walls into the valleys, "lifted up his hands to heaven, and called God to witness that this was not his doing." number of those who perished during these "days of vengeance," is computed by Josephus at upwards of one million three hundred thousand; and of these, one million one hundred and fifty thousand were of Jerusalem, besides ninety-seven thousand carried into slavery, and an innumerable multitude who perished uncounted in various places, through famine, banishment, and other miseries. Add to this destruction of life, the complete ruin of their holy city and magnificent temple, dearer to the Jews than life; add, moreover, the universal desolation and almost depopulation of Judea, and you will find no difficulty in interpreting the Saviour's prediction of "a tribulation such as was not from the beginning of the world." It was when our compassionate Redeemer had all this in full prospect, that "he beheld the city" from the
* Wars, etc. b. 6, ch. 3, sec. 4; b. 5, ch. 11, sec. 1.
Wars, etc., b. 5, ch. 12, sec. 4.
Lardner, vol. 3, p. 529.
mount of Olives, "and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things that make for thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." How did the anticipation of all this misery affect him, when, as he was going to his cross, he turned to the women who wept and wailed because of him, and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children; for behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us."t Who can help reflecting here upon that solemn question, "What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
11. We come now to the work of destruction, which forms the most remarkable particular in this wonderful prophecy. The ruin of the city was foretold in these words: "They shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee: and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another."* The ruin of the temple was foretold as follows. As the disciples were showing to Jesus the stupendous buildings of the temple, he answered, "See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Most wonderfully was the spirit of prophecy manifested in these words. Every thing
† Luke 23: 28-30.
§ Matt. 24: 2.
conspired to make the events appear improbable, and to prevent their occurrence when the time predicted had arrived. Jerusalem was surrounded with three massive walls of immense strength, rendering its garrison almost unassailable except by famine, or pestilence, or internal discord.* Never were men more perfectly devoted to the defence of a city than those of Jerusalem. None cared for life at the expense of her ruin. The garrison was ten times the number of the besiegers. It was, therefore, exceedingly improbable that the city would even be entered by the Romans. Such was the testimony of Titus as he looked round upon its towers. "We have certainly," said he, "had God for our helper in this war. It is God who has ejected the Jews out of these fortifications. For what could the hands of men, or any machines, do towards throwing down such fortifications?" But it was equally improbable, even if the city were taken, that such complete destruction would be made of all therein. Think of the difficulty of completely destroying such an immense extent of triple wall, and of buildings within. Think of the temple: what a pile to be laid low! Its walls enclosed more than nineteen acres; that of the eastern front rose to a height of nearly eight hundred feet from its base in the valley beneath. In this and the other walls the stones were immense, the largest
Gibbon, speaking of the strength of Jerusalem at this time, says, "The craggy ground might supersede the necessity of fortifications, and her walls and towers would have fortified the most accessible plain." Decline and Fall, vol. 8, ch. 58, p. 144. + Wars, b. 6, ch. 9, sec. 1.
measuring sixty-five feet in length, eight in height, and ten in breadth. How great the difficulty of a thorough levelling of such a structure, even under the instigation of the strongest motive! But what motive was likely to excite the Romans to such destruction? They prided themselves upon a veneration for the arts, and upon the sacred care with which, in all their conquests, the monuments of architectural taste were protected. The temple was emphatically such a monument. The immensity of its walls, its splendid gates and beautiful marble colonnades, the glory of its golden sanctuary, the grandeur of its whole appearance, and all its associations of antiquity and of sacredness, constituted the temple of Jerusalem precisely such an object as Roman commanders had always gloried in preserving from the desolations of conquest. Even barbarians were used to spare such monuments in their march of devastation. Genseric, when, with his Moors and Vandals, he had sacked the city of Rome, spoiled her wealth, and carried away the ornaments of her temples and capitol, but spared her noble structures ;* and to this day, after all the scenes of war that have raged through her streets, the pillar of Trajan, the triumphal arch of Titus, the unmutilated Pantheon, and the noble Coliseum, with numerous other monuments of art, attest the ancient glory of the mistress of the world. How often have hostile armies filled the streets of Athens, and hordes of Gothic barbarians encamped amidst her sanctuaries; and yet the beau
Gibbon, vol. 5.