Historical references pertaining to Olivet.

Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius.

Αμην λεγω υμιν οτι ου μη παρελθη η γενεα αυτη εως αν παντα ταυτα γενηται.
Amen, I say to you that this generation shall not pass away until all these things should happen.
--Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 24.34 = Mark 13.30 = Luke 21.32.

The years 30 to 70, from the death of Jesus of Nazareth to the fall of Jerusalem, are the topic of this historical excavation. The synoptic gospels report that Jesus made certain predictions in his Olivet discourse, and guaranteed fulfillment before his own generation would completely expire. The rather exact count of forty years from 30 to 70, then, is relevant for two reasons:

  1. The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 is the last securely datable event predicted on Olivet, and it happens to have fallen 40 years after the most likely date for the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.
  2. Every Jew ever born since the exodus from Egypt would know about how long it ought to take for a generation to die off. In Numbers 14.22-32 God swears that no one who left Egypt will enter the promised land, except Caleb and Joshua. Then in 14.33-35 we learn how long it will take for this present generation to pass away: 40 years.

This page compiles the references in the ancient historical sources that pertain to the events thus predicted on Olivet.

Some will suppose that Jesus himself made the Olivet predictions, and they were fulfilled to varying degrees just as he said. Others will suppose that the Olivet predictions were written up only during or after the events in question, and then placed on the lips of Jesus in the gospels as a vaticinium ex eventu, or prediction after the fact. Regardless of personal perspective, I trust that this compilation of source materials will prove useful.

Ordinarily the translations on my site are my own, and are wooden and literalistic. On this page, however, I have decided to use some of the standard translations, modifying them only slightly now and again. For the works of Josephus I am indebted to William Whiston, though I have updated his archaic language. For Tacitus I am indebted to Church and Brodribb, and have made few changes. For Suetonius I am indebted to J. C. Rolfe, again with only a few changes made.

At the bottom of this page is a parallel navigation table for ease of use and references.

Those texts whose translations are indeed my own I have marked as such. Those whose translations are not mine follow the assignments above.


The Samaritan.
Theudas the enchanter.
An anonymous enchanter.
Thieves and enchanters.
The Egyptian.
The images of Caligula.
By pretence of divination.
Manahem the king.
The Vespasianic prediction.
Simon the king.
Simon takes Jerusalem.
The son is coming.
The temple wonders.
Jesus the son of Ananus.
The ambiguous oracle.
The taking of Simon.
The end of Simon.

The Samaritan.

Josephus, Antiquities 18.4.1 §85-87:

Ουκ απηλλακτο δε θορυβου και το Σαμαρεων εθνος συστρεφει γαρ αυτους ανηρ εν ολιγω το ψευδος τιθεμενος καφ ηδονη της πληθυος τεχναζων τα παντα, κελευων επι το Γαριζειν ορος αυτω συνελθειν, ο αγνοτατον αυτοις ορων υπειληπται, ισχυριζετο τε παραγενομενοις δειξειν τα ιερα σκευη τηδε κατορωρυγμενα Μωυσεως τηδε αυτων ποιησαμενου καταθεσιν. οι δε εν οπλοις τε ησαν πιθανον ηγουμενοι τον λογον, και καθισαντες εν τινι κωμη, Τιραθανα λεγεται, παρελαμβανον τους επισυλλεγομενους ως μεγαλω πληθει την αναβασιν εις το ορος ποιησομενοι. φθανει δε Πιλατος την ανοδον αυτων προκαταλαβομενος ιππεων τε πομπη και οπλιτων, οι συμβαλοντες τοις εν τη κωμη προσυνηθροισμενοις παραταξεως γενομενης τους μεν εκτειναν, τους δ εις φυγην τρεπονται ζωγρια τε πολλους ηγον, ων τους κορυφαιοτατους και τους εν τοις φυγουσι δυνατωτατους εκτεινε Πιλατος.

But the nation of the Samaritans did not escape without tumults. The man who excited them to it was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and who contrived every thing so that the multitude might be pleased. So he bid them get together upon Mount Gerizzim, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them that, when they were come thither, he would show them those sacred vessels which were laid under that place, because Moses put them there. So they came thither armed, and thought the discourse of the man probable; and, as they abode at a certain village which was called Tirathaba, they got the rest together to them, and desired to go up the mountain in a great multitude together. But Pilate prevented their going up by seizing upon file roads with a great band of horsemen and footmen, who fell upon those that had gotten together in the village; and when it came to an action some of them they slew, and others of them they put to flight, and took a great many alive, the principal of which, and also the most potent of those that fled away, Pilate ordered to be slain.

Theudas the enchanter.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.1 §97-99:

Φαδου δε της Ιουδαιας επιτροπευοντος γοης τις ανηρ Θευδας ονοματι πειθει τον πλειστον οχλον αναλαβοντα τας κτησεις επεσθαι προς τον Ιορδανην ποταμον αυτω προφητης γαρ ελεγεν ειναι, και προσταγματι τον ποταμον σχισας διοδον εχειν εφη παρεξειν αυτοις ραδιαν. και ταυτα λεγων πολλους ηπατησεν. ου μην ειασεν αυτους της αφροσυνης ονασθαι Φαδος, αλλ εξεπεμψεν ιλην ιππεων επ αυτους, ητις απροσδοκητος επιπεσουσα πολλους μεν ανειλεν, πολλους δε ζωντας ελαβεν, αυτον δε τον Θευδαν ζωγρησαντες αποτεμνουσι την κεφαλην και κομιζουσιν εις Ιεροσολυμα. τα μεν ουν συμβαντα τοις Ιουδαιοις κατα τους Κουσπιου Φαδου της επιτροπης χρονους ταυτ εγενετο.

Now it came to pass while Fadus was procurator of Judea that a certain enchanter, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them and follow him to the river Jordan, for he told them that he was a prophet, and that he would by his own command divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them, who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head and carried it to Jerusalem. This was what befell the Jews in the time of the leadership of Cuspius Fadus.

Confer Acts 5.36.

An anonymous enchanter.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.10 §188:

Πεμπει δε Φηστος δυναμιν ιππικην τε και πεζικην επι τους απατηθεντας υπο τινος ανθρωπου γοητος σωτηριαν αυτοις επαγγελλομενου και παυλαν κακων, ει βουληθειεν επεσθαι μεχρι της ερημιας αυτω, και αυτον τε εκεινον τον απατησαντα και τους ακολουθησαντας διεφθειραν οι πεμφθεντες.

So Festus sent forces, both horsemen and footmen, to fall upon those that had been seduced by a certain enchanter who promised them deliverance and freedom from the miseries that they were under, if they would but follow him as far as the wilderness. Accordingly, those forces that were sent destroyed both him that had deluded them, and those that were his followers also.

Thieves and enchanters.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.5 §160-161a:

Τα δε κατα την Ιουδαιαν πραγματα προς το χειρον αει την επιδοσιν ελαμβανεν, ληστηριων γαρ η χωρα παλιν ανεπλησθη και γοητων ανθρωπων, οι τον οχλον ηπατων. αλλα τουτους μεν ο Φηλιξ πολλους καθ εκαστην ημεραν συν τοις λησταις λαμβανων ανηρει.

Now as for the affairs of the Jews, they grew worse and worse continually, for the country was again filled with thieves and enchanters who deluded the multitude. Yet Felix caught and put to death many of those enchanters every day, together with the thieves.

The Egyptian.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.6 §167-172:

Τα μεν ουν των ληστων εργα τοιαυτης ανοσιοτητος επληρου την πολιν, οι δε γοητες και απατεωνες ανθρωποι τον οχλον επειθον αυτοις εις την ερημιαν επεσθαι δειξειν γαρ εφασαν εναργη τερατα και σημεια κατα την του θεου προνοιαν γινομενα. και πολλοι πεισθεντες της αφροσυνης τιμωριας υπεσχον, αναχθεντας γαρ αυτους Φηλιξ εκολασεν. αφικνειται δε τις εξ Αιγυπτου κατα τουτον τον καιρον εις Ιεροσολυμα προφητης ειναι λεγων και συμβουλευων τω δημοτικω πληθει συν αυτω προς ορος το προσαγορευομενον ελαιων, ο της πολεως αντικρυς κειμενον απεχει σταδια πεντε, θελειν γαρ εφασκεν αυτοις εκειθεν επιδειξαι, ως κελευσαντος αυτου πιπτοι τα των Ιεροσολυμιτων τειχη, δι ων και την εισοδον αυτοις παρεξειν επηγγελλετο. Φηλιξ δ ως επυθετο ταυτα, κελευει τους στρατιωτας αναλαβειν τα οπλα και μετα πολλων ιππεων τε και πεζων ορμησας απο των Ιεροσολυμων προσβαλλει τοις περι τον Αιγυπτιον, και τετρακοσιους μεν αυτων ανειλεν, διακοσιους δε ζωντας ελαβεν. ο δ Αιγυπτιος αυτος διαδρας εκ της μαχης αφανης εγενετο. παλιν δ οι λησται τον δημον εις τον προς Ρωμαιους πολεμον ηρεθιζον μηδεν υπακουειν αυτοις λεγοντες, και τας των απειθουντων κωμας εμπιπραντες διηρπαζον.

These works that were done by the thieves filled the city with all sorts of impiety. And now these enchanters and deceitful men persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs that should be performed by the providence of God. And many that were prevailed on by them suffered the punishments of their folly; for Felix brought them back, and then punished them. Moreover, there came out of Egypt at about this time to Jerusalem one that said that he was a prophet, and he advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five stades. He said further that he would show them from hence how at his command the walls of Jerusalem would fall down, and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls after they had fallen down. Now when Felix was informed of these things he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and he came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He also slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. But the Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more. And again the thieves stirred up the people to make war with the Romans, and said they ought not to obey them at all; and when any persons would not comply with them, they set fire to their villages and plundered them.

The image of Caligula.

Josephus, Antiquities 18.8.2 §261:

Γαιος δε εν δεινω φερων εις τοσονδε υπο Ιουδαιων περιωφθαι μονων πρεσβευτην επι Συριας εκπεμπει Πετρωνιον διαδοχον Ουιτελλιω της αρχης, κελευων χειρι πολλη εισβαλοντι εις την Ιουδαιαν, ει μεν εκοντες δεχοιντο, ισταν αυτου ανδριαντα εν τω ναω του θεου, ει δ αγνωμοσυνη χρωντο, πολεμω κρατησαντα τουτο ποιειν.

Hereupon Gaius, taking it very heinously that he should be thus despised by the Jews alone, sent Petronius to be president of Syria and successor in the government to Vitellius, and gave him orders to make an invasion into Judea with a great body of troops, and if they would admit of his images willingly to erect them in the temple of God, but if they were obstinate to conquer them by war, and then to do it.

Josephus, Wars 2.10.1 §184-185:

Γαιος δε Καισαρ επι τοσουτον εξυβρισεν εις την τυχην, ωστε θεον εαυτον και δοκειν βουλεσθαι και καλεισθαι των τε ευγενεστατων ανδρων ακροτομησαι την πατριδα, εκτειναι δε την ασεβειαν και επι Ιουδαιαν. Πετρωνιον μεν ουν μετα στρατιας επι Ιεροσολυμων επεμψεν εγκαθιδρυσοντα τω ναω τους ανδριαντας αυτου, προσταξας, ει μη δεχοιντο Ιουδαιοι, τους τε κωλυοντας ανελειν και παν το λοιπον εθνος εξανδραποδισασθαι.

Now Gaius Caesar did so grossly abuse the fortune at which he had arrived as to take himself to be a god, and to desire to be so called also, and to cut off those of the greatest nobility out of his country. He also extended his impiety as far as the Jews. Accordingly, he sent Petronius with an army to Jerusalem to place his images in the temple, and commanded him that, in case the Jews would not admit of them, he should slay those that opposed it, and carry all the rest of the nation into captivity.

By pretence of divination.

Josephus, Wars 2.13.4 §258-260:

Συνεστη δε προς τουτοις στιφος ετερον πονηρων χειρι μεν καθαρωτερον, ταις γνωμαις δε ασεβεστερον, οπερ ουδεν ηττον των σφαγεων την ευδαιμονιαν της πολεως ελυμηνατο. πλανοι γαρ ανθρωποι και απατεωνες προσχηματι θειασμου νεωτερισμους και μεταβολας πραγματευομενοι δαιμοναν το πληθος επειθον και προηγον εις την ερημιαν ως εκει του θεου δειξοντος αυτοις σημεια ελευθεριας. επι τουτοις Φηλιξ, εδοκει γαρ αποστασεως ειναι καταβολη, πεμψας ιππεις και πεζους οπλιτας πολυ πληθος διεφθειρεν.

There was also another body of wicked men gotten together, not so impure in their actions, but more wicked in their intentions, which laid waste the happy state of the city no less than did these murderers. These were such men as deceived and deluded the people by pretence of divination, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signs of liberty. But Felix thought that this procedure was to be the beginning of a revolt, so he sent some horsemen and footmen both armed, who destroyed a great number of them.

Manahem the king.

Josephus, Wars 2.17.8 §433-434:

Καν τουτω Μαναημος τις, υιος Ιουδα του καλουμενου Γαλιλαιου, σοφιστης δεινοτατος, ο και επι Κυρινιου ποτε Ιουδαιους ονειδισας οτι Ρωμαιοις υπετασσοντο μετα τον θεον, αναλαβων τους γνωριμους ανεχωρησεν εις Μασαδαν, ενθα την Ηρωδου του βασιλεως οπλοθηκην αναρρηξας και προς τοις δημοταις ετερους ληστας καθοπλισας τουτοις τε χρωμενος δορυφοροις, οια δη βασιλευς επανεισιν εις Ιεροσολυμα και γενομενος ηγεμων της στασεως διετασσεν την πολιορκιαν.

In the meantime, one Manahem, the son of Judas, who was called the Galilean, who was a very cunning sophister, and had formerly reproached the Jews under Cyrenius that after God they were subject to the Romans, took some of the men of note with him and retired to Masada, where he broke open the armory of king Herod, and gave arms not only to his own people but to other robbers also. These he made use of for a guard and returned in the state of a king to Jerusalem; he became the leader of the sedition, and gave orders for continuing the siege.

The Vespasianic prediction.

Josephus, Wars 3.8.9 §399-408 (translation my own):

Τουτο ακουσας ο Ιωσηπος μονω τι διαλεχθηναι θελειν ελεγεν αυτω. μεταστησαμενου δ εκεινου πλην του παιδος Τιτου και δυοιν φιλων τους αλλους απαντας, Συ μεν, εφη, Ουεσπασιανε, νομιζεις αιχμαλωτον αυτο μονον ειληφεναι Ιωσηπον, εγω δε αγγελος ηκω σοι μειζονων. μη γαρ υπο θεου προπεμπομενος ηδειν τον Ιουδαιων νομον, και πως στρατηγοις αποθνησκειν πρεπει. Νερωνι με πεμπεις; τι γαρ; οι μετα Νερωνα μεχρι σου διαδοχοι μενουσιν; συ Καισαρ, Ουεσπασιανε, και αυτοκρατωρ, συ και παις ο σος ουτος. δεσμει δε με νυν ασφαλεστερον, και τηρει σεαυτω, δεσποτης μεν γαρ ου μονον εμου συ Καισαρ, αλλα και γης και θαλαττης και παντος ανθρωπων γενους, εγω δε επι τιμωριαν δεομαι φρουρας μειζονος, ει κατασχεδιαζω και θεου.

Having heard this, Josephus said to him that he wished to communicate something to him [Vespasian] alone. And when that man [Vespasian] had changed out all the others, except the boy Titus and two of his friends, he said: You, Vespasian, reckon that you have taken Josephus captive, and this only, but I have come to you as a messenger of better things. For I have not been sent before you by God to know the law of the Jews, and how it befits generals to die. Do you send me to Nero? Why? Do those after Nero, his successors until you, remain? You are Caesar, Vespasian, and autocrat, you and this boy of yours. But bind me now more securely, and keep me to yourself, for you are Caesar not only of me, but also of land and sea and all the race of men, and I must for punishment be under greater custody, if I affirm rashly even of God.

Ταυτ ειποντος παραχρημα μεν Ουεσπασιανος απιστειν εδοκει και τον Ιωσηπον υπελαμβανεν ταυτα περι σωτηριας πανουργειν, κατα μικρον δε εις πιστιν υπηγετο του θεου διεγειροντος αυτον εις την ηγεμονιαν ηδη και τα σκηπτρα δι ετερων σημειων προδεικνυντος. ατρεκη δε τον Ιωσηπον και εν αλλοις κατελαμβανεν, των γαρ τοις απορρητοις παρατυχοντων φιλων ο ετερος θαυμαζειν εφη πως ουτε τοις επι των Ιωταπατων περι αλωσεως, ουθ εαυτω προμαντευσαιτο αιχμαλωσιαν, ει μη ταυτα ληρος ειη διακρουομενου τας επ αυτον οργας.

When he had said these things Vespasian did not immediately seem to believe him, and supposed that Josephus was plotting these things for his own salvation. But after a little while he was led to believe, as God was raising him to leadership already and foreshowing the scepters through other signs. And he also caught wind that Josephus was genuine in other things, for the other of the friends who chanced to be at the forbidden meetings said that he wondered how he predicted neither for those of Jotapata about their capture, nor to himself his own capture, unless these things are nonsense to ward off the wraths upon him.

Ο δε Ιωσηπος και τοις Ιωταπατηνοις οτι μετα τεσσαρακοστην εβδομην ημεραν αλωσονται προειπειν εφη, και οτι προς Ρωμαιων αυτος ζωγρηθησεται. ταυτα παρα των αιχμαλωτων κατ ιδιαν ο Ουεσπασιανος εκπυθομενος ως ευρισκεν αληθη, ουτω πιστευειν περι των κατ αυτον ηρκτο. φρουρας μεν ουν και δεσμων ουκ ανιει τον Ιωσηπον, εδωρειτο δ εσθητι και τοις αλλοις κειμηλιοις· φιλοφρονουμενος τε και περιεπων διετελει τα πολλα, Τιτου τη τιμη συνεργουντος.

But Josephus said that he did foretell to the Jotapatans both that after forty-seven days they would be captured and that he himself would be taken alive unto the Romans. Vespasian, having made inquiry from the captives in private, when he found that these things were true, thus began to believe concerning these things about him. He therefore did not send Josephus away from custody and bonds, but gifted him with clothing and the other valuables; treating him with friendship and concern he finished the many things, Titus working together in the honor.

Simon the king.

Josephus, Wars 4.9.3-4 §507-513:

...ου μην επι τα μειζω παρακαλων επεισεν οι μεν γαρ εν εθει οντες τω φρουριω, καθαπερ φωλεου χωριζεσθαι μακραν εδεδοικεσαν, ο δε τυραννιων και μεγαλων εφιεμενος επειδη και την Ανανου τελευτην ηκουσεν, εις την ορεινην αφισταται, και προκηρυξας δουλοις μεν ελευθεριαν, γερας δε ελευθεροις τους πανταχοθεν πονηρους συνηθροιζεν.

...yet when [Simon ben Giora] persuaded them to undertake greater things, he could not prevail with them to do so; for, as they were accustomed to dwell in that citadel, they were afraid of going far from that which was their hiding-place; but he, affecting to tyrannize, and being fond of greatness, when he had heard of the death of Ananus, he left them and went into the mountainous part of the country. So he proclaimed liberty to those in slavery and a reward to those already free, and he got together a set of wicked men from all quarters.

Ως δ ην αυτω καρτερον ηδη το συνταγμα, τας ανα την ορεινην κωμας κατετρεχεν, αει δε προσγινομενων πλειονων εθαρρει καταβαινειν εις τα χθαμαλωτερα. καπειδη πολεσιν ηδη φοβερος ην, πολλοι προς την ισχυν και την ευροιαν των κατορθωματων εφθειροντο δυνατοι, και ουκετι ην δουλων μονων ουδε ληστων στρατος, αλλα και δημοτικων ουκ ολιγων ως προς βασιλεα πειθαρχειν. κατετρεχε δε την τε Ακραβετηνην τοπαρχιαν και τα μεχρι της μεγαλης Ιδουμαιας κατα γαρ κωμην τινα καλουμενην Αιν τειχος κατασκευασας ωσπερ φρουριω προς ασφαλειαν εχρητο, κατα δε την φαραγγα προσαγορευομενην Φερεται πολλα μεν ανευρυνας σπηλαια, πολλα δ ευρων ετοιμα ταμιειοις εχρητο θησαυρων και της λειας εκδοχειοις. ανετιθει δε και τους αρπαζομενους εις αυτα καρπους, οι τε πολλοι των λοχων διαιταν ειχον εν εκεινοις δηλος δ ην το τε συνταγμα προγυμναζων και τας παρασκευας κατα των Ιεροσολυμων.

And as he had now a strong body of men about him, he overran the villages that lay in the mountainous country, and when there were still more and more that came to him he ventured to go down into the lower parts of the country, and since he was now become formidable to the cities many of the men of power were corrupted by him, so that his army was no longer composed of slaves and robbers, but a great many of the populace were obedient to him as to their king. He then overran the Acrabattene toparchy, and the places that reached as far as the great Idumea; for he built a wall at a certain village called Nain, and made use of that as a fortress for the security of his own party. And at the valley called Paran he enlarged many of the caves, and many others he found ready for his purpose; these he made use of as repositories for his treasures and receptacles for his prey, and therein he laid up the fruits that he had got by rapine; and many of his partisans had their dwelling in them; and he made no secret of it that he was exercising his men beforehand and making preparations for the assault of Jerusalem.

Simon takes Jerusalem.

Josephus, Wars 4.9.11-12 §573-578:

Θεος δε αρα τας γνωμας αυτων εις κακον ετρεψε, και χαλεπωτερον απωλειας επενοησαν το προς σωτηριαν φαρμακον ινα γουν καταλυσωσιν Ιωαννην, εκριναν δεχεσθαι Σιμωνα και μετα ικετηριων δευτερον εισαγαγειν εαυτοις τυραννον. επεραινετο δ η βουλη, και τον αρχιερεα Ματθιαν πεμψαντες εδεοντο Σιμωνι εισελθειν ον πολλα εδεισαν συμπαρεκαλουν δε οι εκ των Ιεροσολυμων τους ζηλωτας φευγοντες ποθω των οικων και των κτηματων. ο δ αυτοις υπερηφανως κατανευσας το δεσποζειν εισερχεται μεν ως απαλλαξων των ζηλωτων την πολιν σωτηρ υπο του δημου και κηδεμων ευφημουμενος, παρελθων δε μετα της δυναμεως εσκοπει τα περι της εαυτου δυναστειας και τους καλεσαντας ουχ ηττον εχθρους ενομιζεν η καθ ων εκεκλητο.

Now it was God who turned their opinions to the worst advice, and thence they devised such a remedy to get themselves free as was worse than the disease itself. Accordingly, in order to overthrow John, they determined to admit Simon, and earnestly to desire the introduction of a second tyrant into the city; which resolution they brought to perfection, and sent Matthias the high priest to beseech this Simon to come ill to them, of whom they had so often been afraid. Those also that had fled from the zealots in Jerusalem joined in this request to him out of the desire they had of preserving their houses and their effects. Accordingly he, in an arrogant manner, granted them his despotic protection, and came into the city in order to deliver it from the zealots. The people also made joyful acclamations to him as their savior and their preserver; but when he was come in with his army he took care to secure his own authority, and looked upon those that had invited him in to be no less his enemies than those against whom the invitation was intended.

Σιμων μεν ουτως ενιαυτω τριτω του πολεμου Ξανθικω μηνι Ιεροσολυμων εγκρατης γινεται Ιωαννης δε και το των ζηλωτων πληθος ειργομενοι των εξοδων του ιερου και τα της πολεως απολωλεκοτες, παραχρημα γαρ τα εκεινων οι περι τον Σιμωνα διηρπασαν, εν απορω την σωτηριαν ειχον. προσεβαλλε δε τω ιερω Σιμων του δημου βοηθουντος, κακεινοι κατασταντες επι των στοων και των επαλξεων ημυνοντο τας προσβολας.

And thus did Simon get possession of Jerusalem, in the third year of the war, in the month Xanthicus [Nisan], whereupon John, with his multitude of zealots, as both being prohibited from coming out of the temple and having lost their power in the city, for Simon and his party had plundered them of what they had, were in despair of deliverance. Simon also made an assault upon the temple, with the assistance of the people, while the others stood upon the cloisters and the battlements and defended themselves from their assaults.

The son is coming.

Josephus, Wars 5.6.3 §269b-274:

Θαυμαστα δε πασι μεν κατεσκευαστο τοις ταγμασι, διαφορως δε τω δεκατω βιαιοτεροι τε οξυβελεις και μειζονα λιθοβολα, δι ων ου μονον τας εκδρομας αλλα και τους επι του τειχους ανετρεπον. ταλαντιαιοι μεν γαρ ησαν αι βαλλομεναι πετραι, δυο δε και πλειονας ηεσαν σταδιους η πληγη δ ου τοις προεντυχουσι μονον, επι πολυ δε και τοις μετ εκεινους ην ανυποστατος. οι γε μην Ιουδαιοι το πρωτον εφυλαττοντο την πετραν λευκη γαρ ην, ωστε μη τω ροιζω σημαινεσθαι μονον, αλλα και τη λαμπροτητι προορασθαι. σκοποι ουν αυτοις επι των πυργων καθεζομενοι προεμηνυον, οποτε σχασθειη το οργανον και η πετρα φεροιτο, τη πατριω γλωσση βοωντες· Ο υιος ερχεται. διισταντο δε καθ ους ηει και προκατεκλινοντο, και συνεβαινε φυλαττομενων απρακτον διεκπιπτειν την πετραν. αντεπινοουσι δε Ρωμαιοι μελαινειν αυτην τοτε γαρ ουκεθ ομοιως προορωμενης ευστοχουν και πολλους αμα βολη μια διεφθειρον. αλλ ουδε κακουμενοι μετ αδειας παρειχον Ρωμαιοις εγειρειν τα χωματα, παση δ επινοια και τολμη χρωμενοι και νυκτωρ και μεθ ημεραν ειργον.

The engines that all the legions had ready prepared for them were admirably contrived; but still more extraordinary ones belonged to the tenth legion. Those that threw darts and those that threw stones were more forcible and larger than the rest, by which they not only repelled the excursions of the Jews but also drove those away that were upon the walls. Now the stones that were cast were of the weight of a talent, and were carried two stades and further. The blow that they gave was in no way to be sustained, not only by those that stood first in the way, but even by those that were beyond them for a great space. As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white color and could therefore not only be perceived by the great noise it made but could also be seen before it came by its brightness; accordingly the watchmen that sat upon the towers gave them notice when the engine was let go and the stone came from it, and cried out aloud, in their own country language: The son is coming! And those that were in its way stood off and threw themselves down upon the ground, by which means, and by their thus guarding themselves, the stone fell down and did them no harm. But the Romans contrived how to prevent that by blacking the stone; they then could aim at them with success when the stone was not discerned beforehand, as it had been till then; and so they destroyed many of them at one blow. Yet the Jews did not, under all this distress, permit the Romans to raise their banks in quiet, but shrewdly and boldly exerted themselves and repelled them both by night and by day.

The temple wonders.

Josephus, Wars 6.5.3 §288-299:

Τον γουν αθλιον δημον οι μεν απατεωνες και καταψευδομενοι του θεου τηνικαυτα παρεπειθον, τοις δ εναργεσι και προσημαινουσι την μελλουσαν ερημιαν τερασιν ουτε προσειχον ουτ επιστευον, αλλ ως εμβεβροντημενοι και μητε ομματα μητε ψυχην εχοντες των του θεου κηρυγματων παρηκουσαν, τουτο μεν οτε υπερ την πολιν αστρον εστη ρομφαια παραπλησιον και παρατεινας επ ενιαυτον κομητης, τουτο δ ηνικα προ της αποστασεως και του προς τον πολεμον κινηματος αθροιζομενου του λαου προς την των αζυμων εορτην, ογδοη δ ην Ξανθικου μηνος, κατα νυκτος ενατην ωραν τοσουτο φως περιελαμψε τον βωμον και τον ναον, ως δοκειν ημεραν ειναι λαμπραν, και τουτο παρετεινεν εφ ημισειαν ωραν ο τοις μεν απειροις αγαθον εδοκει, τοις δε ιερογραμματευσι προς των αποβεβηκοτων ευθεως εκριθη. και κατα την αυτην εορτην βους μεν αχθεισα υπο του προς την θυσιαν ετεκεν αρνα εν τω ιερω μεσω, η δ ανατολικη πυλη του ενδοτερω ναου χαλκη μεν ουσα και στιβαρωτατη, κλειομενη δε περι δειλην μολις υπ ανθρωπων εικοσι, και μοχλοις μεν επερειδομενη σιδηροδετοις, καταπηγας δε εχουσα βαθυτατους εις τον ουδον οντα διηνεκους λιθου καθιεμενους, ωφθη κατα νυκτος ωραν εκτην αυτοματως ηνοιγμενη. δραμοντες δε οι του ιερου φυλακες ηγγειλαν τω στρατηγω, κακεινος αναβας μολις αυτην ισχυσεν κλεισαι. παλιν τουτο τοις μεν ιδιωταις καλλιστον εδοκει τερας ανοιξαι γαρ τον θεον αυτοις την των αγαθων πυλην οι λογιοι δε λυομενην αυτοματως του ναου την ασφαλειαν ενενοουν, και πολεμιοις δωρον ανοιγεσθαι την πυλην, δηλωτικον τε ερημιας απεφαινον εν αυτοις το σημειον. μετα δε την εορτην ου πολλαις ημεραις υστερον, μια και εικαδι Αρτεμισιου μηνος, φασμα τι δαιμονιον ωφθη μειζον πιστεως τερατεια δε αν εδοξεν οιμαι το ρηθησομενον, ει μη και παρα τοις θεασαμενοις ιστορητο και τα επακολουθησαντα παθη των σημειων ην αξια προ γαρ ηλιου δυσεως ωφθη μετεωρα περι πασαν την χωραν αρματα και φαλαγγες ενοπλοι διαττουσαι των νεφων και κυκλουμεναι τας πολεις. κατα δε την εορτην, η πεντηκοστη καλειται, νυκτωρ οι ιερεις παρελθοντες εις το ενδον ιερον, ωσπερ αυτοις εθος προς τας λειτουργιας, πρωτον μεν κινησεως εφασαν αντιλαβεσθαι και κτυπου, μετα δε ταυτα φωνης αθροας· Μεταβαινομεν εντευθεν.

Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself, while they did not attend nor give credit to the wonders that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword which stood over the city, and a comet that continued a whole year. Thus also before the rebellion of the Jews and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people had come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house that it appeared to be bright day time, which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner temple, which was of brass and vastly heavy and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it. He then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that the sign foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the twenty-first day of the month Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared. I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signs. For before sunset chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court], as was their custom, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that in the first place they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying: Let us remove hence.

Eusebius quotes this passage in its entirety in History of the Church 3.8.1-6.

Jesus the son of Ananus.

Josephus, Wars 6.5.3 §300-309:

Το δε τουτων φοβερωτερον, Ιησους γαρ τις υιος Ανανιου των ιδιωτων αγροικος προ τεσσαρων ετων του πολεμου τα μαλιστα της πολεως ειρηνευομενης και ευθηνουσης, ελθων εις την εορτην, εν η σκηνοποιεισθαι παντας εθος τω θεω, κατα το ιερον εξαπινης αναβοαν ηρξατο· Φωνη απο ανατολης, φωνη απο δυσεως, φωνη απο των τεσσαρων ανεμων, φωνη επι Ιεροσολυμα και τον ναον, φωνη επι νυμφιους και νυμφας, φωνη επι τον λαον παντα. τουτο μεθ ημεραν και νυκτωρ κατα παντας τους στενωπους περιηει κεκραγως. των δε επισημων τινες δημοτων αγανακτησαντες προς το κακοφημον συλλαμβανουσι τον ανθρωπον και πολλαις αικιζονται πληγαις. ο δε ουθ υπερ αυτου φθεγξαμενος ουτε ιδια προς τους παιοντας, ας και προτερον φωνας βοων διετελει. νομισαντες δε οι αρχοντες, οπερ ην, δαιμονιωτερον το κινημα τανδρος αναγουσιν αυτον επι τον παρα Ρωμαιοις επαρχον. ενθα μαστιξι μεχρι οστεων ξαινομενος ουθ ικετευσεν ουτ εδακρυσεν, αλλ ως ενην μαλιστα την φωνην ολοφυρτικως παρεγκλινων προς εκαστην απεκρινατο πληγην· Αιαι Ιεροσολυμοις. του δ Αλβινου διερωτωντος, ουτος γαρ επαρχος ην, τις ειη και ποθεν, και δια τι ταυτα φθεγγοιτο, προς ταυτα μεν ουδ οτιουν απεκρινατο, τον δε επι τη πολει θρηνον ειρων ου διελειπεν, μεχρι καταγνους μανιαν ο Αλβινος απελυσεν αυτον. ο δε τον μεχρι του πολεμου χρονον ουτε προσηει τινι των πολιτων ουτε ωφθη λαλων, αλλα καθ ημεραν ωσπερ ευχην μεμελετηκως· Αιαι Ιεροσολυμοις, εθρηνει. ουτε δε τινι των τυπτοντων αυτον οσημεραι κατηρατο ουτε τους τροφης μεταδιδοντας ευλογει, μια δε προς παντας ην η σκυθρωπη κληδων αποκρισις. μαλιστα δ εν ταις εορταις εκεκραγει και τουτ εφ επτα ετη και μηνας πεντε ειρων ουτ ημβλυνεν την φωνην ουτ εκαμεν, μεχρις ου κατα την πολιορκιαν εργα της κληδονος ιδων ανεπαυσατο. περιιων γαρ απο του τειχους· Αιαι παλιν τη πολει και τω λαω και τω ναω διαπρυσιον, εβοα. ως δε τελευταιον προσεθηκεν· Αιαι δε καμοι, λιθος εκ του πετροβολου σχασθεις και πληξας αυτον παραχρημα κτεινει, φθεγγομενην δ ετι τας κληδονας εκεινας την ψυχην αφηκε.

But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who four years before the war began and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, and began on a sudden to cry aloud: A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people! This was his cry as he went about by day and by night in all the lanes of the city. Certain of the most eminent among the populace, however, had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet he neither said any thing for himself nor any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor did he shed any tears, but, turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was: Woe to Jerusalem! And when Albinus, for he was then our procurator, asked him who he was and whence he came, and why he uttered such words he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. Now during all the time that passed before the war began this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so, but he every day uttered these lamentable words as if it were his premeditated vow: Woe to Jerusalem! Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food, but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, at which time it ceased. For as he was going round upon the wall he cried out with his utmost force: Woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house! And just as he added at the last: Woe to myself also, there came a stone out of one of the engines, and it smote him and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.

This passage, which follows immediately upon the preceding, Eusebius quotes in its entirety in History of the Church 3.8.7-9.

The ambiguous oracle.

Josephus, Wars 6.5.4 §312-313 (translation my own):

Το δ επαραν αυτους μαλιστα προς τον πολεμον ην χρησμος αμφιβολος ομοιως εν τοις ιεροις ευρημενος γραμμασιν, ως κατα τον καιρον εκεινον απο της χωρας αυτων τις αρξει της οικουμενης. τουθ οι μεν ως οικειον εξελαβον και πολλοι των σοφων επλανηθησαν περι την κρισιν, εδηλου δ αρα την Ουεσπασιανου το λογιον ηγεμονιαν αποδειχθεντος επι Ιουδαιας αυτοκρατορος.

But what lifted them up especially toward the war was an ambiguous oracle likewise found in their sacred writings, as at that time someone from their country should rule the inhabited earth. This they took as belonging to their own house, and many of the wise men were misled in their judgment. But this oracle pointed to the leadership of Vespasian, who was appointed autocrat in Judea.

Note that something in the ambiguous oracle has given the Jewish side the impression that the time of fulfillment was at hand. Accordingly, the oracle in question is probably either the seventy weeks of Daniel 9.24-27, as the only Old Testament prophecy that purports to give a timeline of events, or the star of Numbers 24.17, as interpreted against the strange sword-like star that according to Josephus appeared over Jerusalem.

There must also be a connection between this ambiguous scriptural oracle and the divine gifting of Josephus himself as he describes it Wars 3.8.3 §350-354:

Ενδοιαζοντος δε του Ιωσηπου και προς τον Νικανορα το μεν στρατιωτικον υπ οργης εκκαιειν το σπηλαιον ωρμητο, κατειχεν δ αυτους ο πολεμαρχος ζωγρησαι τον ανδρα φιλοτιμουμενος. ως δ ο τε Νικανωρ προσεκειτο λιπαρων και τας απειλας του πολεμιου πληθους ο Ιωσηπος εμαθεν, αναμνησις αυτον των δια νυκτος ονειρων εισερχεται, δι ων ο θεος τας τε μελλουσας αυτω συμφορας προεσημαινεν Ιουδαιων και τα περι τους Ρωμαιων βασιλεις εσομενα. ην δε και περι κρισεις ονειρων ικανος συμβαλειν τα αμφιβολως υπο του θειου λεγομενα, των γε μην ιερων βιβλων ουκ ηγνοει τας προφητειας ως αν αυτος τε ων ιερευς και ιερεων εγγονος ων επι της τοτε ωρας ενθους γενομενος και τα φρικωδη των προσφατων ονειρων σπασας φαντασματα προσφερει τω θεω λεληθυιαν ευχην· Καπειδη το Ιουδαιων, εφη, φυλον οκλασαι δοκει σοι τω κτισαντι, μετεβη δε προς Ρωμαιους η τυχη πασα, και την εμην ψυχην επελεξω τα μελλοντα ειπειν, διδωμι μεν Ρωμαιοις τας χειρας εκων και ζω, μαρτυρομαι δε ως ου προδοτης, αλλα σος ειμι διακονος.

Now, as Josephus began to hesitate with himself about the proposal of Nicanor, the soldiery were so angry that they ran hastily to set fire to the den; but the tribune would not permit them so to do, as being very desirous to take the man alive. And now, as Nicanor lay hard at Josephus to comply, and he understood how the multitude of the enemies threatened him, he called to mind the dreams which he had dreamed in the night time whereby God had signified to him beforehand both the future calamities of the Jews and the events that concerned the Roman emperors. Now Josephus was able to give shrewd conjectures about the interpretation of such dreams as have been ambiguously delivered by God. Moreover, he was not unacquainted with the prophecies contained in the sacred books, as being a priest himself, and of the posterity of priests; and just then was he in an ecstasy; and setting before him the tremendous images of the dreams he had lately had, he put up a secret prayer to God, and said: Since it pleases you who have created the Jewish nation to depress the same, and since all their good fortune has gone over to the Romans, and since you have made choice of this soul of mine to foretell what is to come to pass hereafter, I willingly give them my hands, and am content to live. And I protest openly that I do not go over to the Romans as a deserter of the Jews, but as a minister from you.

The combination of the ambiguous oracle and his ability to understand ambiguous dreams in accordance with the sacred books is in all probability what led Josephus to make his prediction that Vespasian would be emperor.

The taking of Simon.

Josephus, Wars 7.2.1-2 §25-36:

Ενταυθα και την Σιμωνος του Γιωρα συλληψιν επυθετο τουτον γενομενην τον τροπον·

And here it was that Titus was informed of the taking of Simon the son of Giora, which was made after the manner following:

Σιμων ουτος Ιεροσολυμων πολιορκουμενων επι της ανω πολεως ων, επει των τειχων εντος η Ρωμαιων στρατια γενομενη πασαν επορθει την πολιν, τοτε των φιλων τους πιστοτατους παραλαβων και συν αυτοις λιθοτομους τε και τον προς την εργασιαν επιτηδειον τουτοις σιδηρον τροφην τε διαρκειν εις πολλας ημερας δυναμενην, συν εκεινοις απασι καθιησιν αυτον εις τινα των αφανων υπονομων. και μεχρι μεν ην το παλαιον ορυγμα, προυχωρουν δι αυτου, της στερεας δε γης υπαντωσης ταυτην υπενομευον, ελπιδι του πορρωτερω δυνησεσθαι προελθοντες εν ασφαλει ποιησαμενοι την αναδυσιν αποσωζεσθαι. ψευδη δε την ελπιδα διηλεγχεν η πειρα των εργων ολιγον τε γαρ μολις προυβαινον οι μεταλλευοντες, η τε τροφη καιτοι ταμιευομενοις εμελλεν επιλειψειν. τοτε δη τοινυν ως δι εκπληξεως απατησαι τους Ρωμαιους δυνησομενος λευκους ενδιδυσκει χιτωνισκους και πορφυραν εμπερονησαμενος χλανιδα κατ αυτον εκεινον τον τοπον, εν ω το ιερον ην προσθεν, εκ της γης ανεφανη. το μεν ουν πρωτον τοις ιδουσι θαμβος προσεπεσε και κατα χωραν εμενον, επειτα δ εγγυτερω προσελθοντες οστις εστιν ηροντο. και τουτο μεν ουκ εδηλου Σιμων αυτοις, καλειν δε τον ηγεμονα προσεταττεν. και ταχεως προς αυτον δραμοντων ηκεν Τερεντιος Ρουφος ουτος γαρ αρχων της στρατιας κατελελειπτο πυθομενος τε παρ αυτου πασαν την αληθειαν τον μεν εφυλαττε δεδεμενον, Καισαρι δ οπως ειη συνειλημμενος εδηλου.

This Simon, during the siege of Jerusalem, was in the upper city; but, when the Roman army had gotten within the walls and were laying the city waste, he then took the most faithful of his friends with him, and among them some that were stone-cutters, along with those iron tools which belonged to their occupation, and as great a quantity of provisions as would suffice them for a long time, and let himself and all them down into a certain subterraneous cavern that was not visible above ground. Now, so far as had been digged of old, they went onward along it without disturbance, but where they met with solid earth they dug a mine under ground, and this in hopes that they should be able to proceed so far as to rise from under ground in a safe place, and by that means escape. But when they came to make the experiment, they were disappointed of their hope; for the miners could make but small progress, and that with difficulty also; insomuch that their provisions, though they distributed them by measure, began to fail them. And now Simon, thinking he might be able to astonish and elude the Romans, put on a white frock and buttoned upon him a purple cloak, and appeared out of the ground in the place where the temple had formerly been. At the first, indeed, those that saw him were greatly astonished, and stood still where they were; but afterward they came nearer to him and asked him who he was. Now Simon would not tell them, but bid them call for their captain; and when they ran to call him, Terentius Rufus, who was left to command the army there, came to Simon and learned of him the whole truth, and kept him in bonds and let Caesar know that he was taken.

Σιμωνα μεν ουν εις δικην της κατα των πολιτων ωμοτητος, ων πικρως αυτος ετυραννησεν, υπο τοις μαλιστα μισουσι πολεμιοις εποιησεν ο θεος, ου βια γενομενον αυτοις υποχειριον, αλλ αυτον εκουσιως εις την τιμωριαν παραβαλοντα, δι ο πολλους αυτος ωμως απεκτεινε ψευδεις αιτιας επιφερων της προς Ρωμαιους μεταβολης. ουδε γαρ διαφευγει πονηρια θεου χολον, ουδε ασθενης η δικη, χρονω δε μετεισι τους εις αυτην παρανομησαντας και χειρω την τιμωριαν επιφερει τοις πονηροις, οτι και προσεδοκησαν αυτης απηλλαχθαι μη παραυτικα κολασθεντες. εγνω τουτο και Σιμων εις τας Ρωμαιων οργας εμπεσων. η δ εκεινου γηθεν ανοδος πολυ και των αλλων στασιαστων πληθος υπ εκεινας τας ημερας εν τοις υπονομοις φωραθηναι παρεσκευασε. Καισαρι δε εις την παραλιον επανελθοντι Καισαρειαν Σιμων προσηχθη δεδεμενος κακεινον μεν εις ον επιτελειν εν Ρωμη παρεσκευαζετο θριαμβον προσεταξε φυλαττειν.

Thus did God bring this man to be punished for what bitter and savage tyranny he had exercised against his countrymen by those who were his worst enemies, and this while he was not subdued by violence, but voluntarily delivered himself up to them to be punished, and that on the very same account that he had laid false accusations against many Jews, as if they were falling away to the Romans, and had barbarously slain them for wicked actions did not escape the divine anger, nor is justice too weak to punish offenders, but in time overtakes those that transgress its laws, and inflicts its punishments upon the wicked in a manner, so much more severe, as they expected to escape it on account of their not being punished immediately. Simon was made sensible of this by falling under the indignation of the Romans. This rise of his out of the ground did also occasion the discovery at that time of a great number of others of the seditious who had hidden themselves underground. But as for Simon, he was brought to Caesar in bonds when he had come back to that Caesarea which was on the seaside, who gave orders that he should be kept against that triumph which he was to celebrate at Rome upon this occasion.

The end of Simon.

Josephus, Wars 7.5.6 §153-155:

Ην δε της πομπης το τελος επι τον νεω του Καπετωλιου Διος, εφ ον ελθοντες εστησαν ην γαρ παλαιον πατριον περιμενειν, μεχρις αν τον του στρατηγου των πολεμιων θανατον απαγγειλη τις. Σιμων ουτος ην ο Γιωρα, τοτε πεπομπευκως εν τοις αιχμαλωτοις, βροχω δε περιβληθεις εις τον επι της αγορας εσυρετο τοπον αικιζομενων αυτον αμα των αγοντων νομος δ εστι Ρωμαιοις εκει κτεινειν τους επι κακουργια θανατον κατεγνωσμενους. επει δ απηγγελθη τελος εχων και παντες ευφημησαν, ηρχοντο των θυσιων, ας επι ταις νομιζομεναις καλλιερησαντες ευχαις απηεσαν εις το βασιλειον.

Now the last part of this pompous show was at the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, whither when they were come they stood still, for it was the ancient custom of the Romans to stay till somebody brought the news that the general of the enemy was slain. This general was Simon, the son of Giora, who had then been led in this triumph among the captives; a rope had also been put upon his head, and he had been drawn into a proper place in the forum, and had withal been tormented by those that drew him along. And the law of the Romans required that malefactors condemned to die should be slain there. Accordingly, when it was related that there was an end of him, and all the people had set up a shout for joy, they then began to offer those sacrifices which they had consecrated in the prayers used in such solemnities, which when they had finished they went away to the palace.


The year of the four emperors.
Almost the end of the republic.
Nero redivivus.
Vespasian at Carmel.
The Vespasianic healings.
The temple prodigies.
The ambiguous prediction.
The effigy of Caligula.

The year of the four emperors.

Tacitus, Histories 1.2, truly one of the most eloquent paragraphs ever written in any language:

Opus adgredior opimum casibus, atrox proeliis, discors seditionibus, ipsa etiam pace saevum. quattuor principes ferro interempti: trina bella civilia, plura externa ac plerumque permixta: prosperae in oriente, adversae in occidente res: turbatum Illyricum, Galliae nutantes, perdomita Britannia et statim omissa: coortae in nos Sarmatarum ac Sueborum gentes, nobilitatus cladibus mutuis Dacus, mota prope etiam Parthorum arma falsi Neronis ludibrio. iam vero Italia novis cladibus vel post longam saeculorum seriem repetitis adflicta. haustae aut obrutae urbes, fecundissima Campaniae ora; et urbs incendiis vastata, consumptis, antiquissimis delubris, ipso Capitolio civium manibus incenso. pollutae caerimoniae, magna adulteria: plenum exiliimare, infecti caedibus scopuli. atrocius in urbe saevitum: nobilitas, opes, omissi gestique honores pro crimine et ob virtutes certissimum exitium. nec minus praemia delatorum invisa quam scelera, cum alii sacerdotia et consulatus ut spolia adepti, procurationes alii et interiorem potentiam, agerent verterent cuncta odio et terrore. corrupti in dominos servi, in patronos liberti; et quibus deerat inimicus per amicos oppressi.

I am entering on the history of a period rich in disasters, frightful in its wars, torn by civil strife, and even in peace full of horrors. Four emperors perished by the sword. There were three civil wars; there were more with foreign enemies; there were often wars that had both characters at once. There was success in the east, and disaster in the west. There were disturbances in Illyricum; Gaul wavered in its allegiance; Britain was thoroughly subdued and immediately abandoned; the tribes of the Suevi and the Sarmatae rose in concert against us; the Dacians had the glory of inflicting as well as suffering defeat; the armies of Parthia were all but set in motion by the cheat of a false Nero. Now too Italy was prostrated by disasters either entirely novel, or that recurred only after a long succession of ages; cities in the richest plains of Campania were swallowed up and overwhelmed; Rome was wasted by conflagrations, its oldest temples consumed, and the capitol itself fired by the hands of citizens. Sacred rites were profaned; there was profligacy in the highest ranks; the sea was crowded with exiles, and its rocks polluted with bloody deeds. In the capital there were yet worse horrors. Nobility, wealth, the refusal or the acceptance of office, were grounds for accusation, and virtue ensured destruction. The rewards of the informers were no less odious than their crimes; for while some seized on consulships and priestly offices, as their share of the spoil, others on procuratorships, and posts of more confidential authority, they robbed and ruined in every direction amid universal hatred and terror. Slaves were bribed to turn against their masters, and freedmen to betray their patrons; and those who had not an enemy were destroyed by friends.

Almost the end of the republic.

Tacitus, Histories 1.11:

Hic fuit rerum Romanarum status, cum Servius Galba iterum Titus Vinius consules inchoavere annum sibi ultimum, rei publicae prope supremum.

Such was the state of the Roman world when Servius Galba, consul for the second time, with Titus Vinius for his colleague, entered upon a year which was to be the last of their lives, and which almost brought the republic to an end.

Nero redivivus.

Tacitus, Histories 2.8-9:

Sub idem tempus Achaia atque Asia falso exterritae velut Nero adventaret, vario super exitu eius rumore eoque pluribus vivere eum fingentibus credentibusque. ceterorum casus conatusque in contextu operis dicemus: tunc servus e Ponto sive, ut alii tradidere, libertinus ex Italia, citharae et cantus peritus, unde illi super similitudinem oris propior ad fallendum fides, adiunctis desertoribus, quos inopia vagos ingentibus promissis corruperat, mare ingreditur; ac vi tempestatum Cythnum insulam detrusus et militum quosdam ex Oriente commeantium adscivit vel abnuentis interfici iussit, et spoliatis negotiatoribus mancipiorum valentissimum quemque armavit. centurionemque Sisennam dextras, concordiae insignia, Syriaci exercitus nomine ad praetorianos ferentem variis artibus adgressus est, donec Sisenna clam relicta insula trepidus et vim metuens aufugeret. inde late terror: multi ad celebritatem nominis erecti rerum novarum cupidine et odio praesentium. gliscentem in dies famam fors discussit.

About this time Achaia and Asia Minor were terrified by a false report that Nero was at hand. Various rumors were current about his death; and so there were many who pretended and believed that he was still alive. The adventures and enterprises of the other pretenders I shall relate in the regular course of my work. The pretender in this case was a slave from Pontus, or, according to some accounts, a freedman from Italy, a skilful harp-player and singer, accomplishments, which, added to a resemblance in the face, gave a very deceptive plausibility to his pretensions. After attaching to himself some deserters, needy vagrants whom he bribed with great offers, he put to sea. Driven by stress of weather to the island of Cythnus, he induced certain soldiers, who were on their way from the east, to join him, and ordered others, who refused, to be executed. He also robbed the traders and armed all the most able bodied of the slaves. The centurion Sisenna, who was the bearer of the clasped right hands, the usual emblems of friendship, from the armies of Syria to the Praetorians, was assailed by him with various artifices, till he left the island secretly, and, fearing actual violence, made his escape with all haste. Thence the alarm spread far and wide, and many roused themselves at the well-known name, eager for change, and detesting the present state of things. The report was daily gaining credit when an accident put an end to it.

Galatiam ac Pamphyliam provincias Calpurnio Asprenati regendas Galba permiserat. datae e classe Misenensi duae triremes ad prosequendum, cum quibus Cythnum insulam tenuit; nec defuere qui trierarchos nomine Neronis accirent. is in maestitiam compositus et fidem suorum quondam militum invocans, ut eum in Syria aut Aegypto sisterent orabat. trierarchi, nutantes seu dolo, adloquendos sibi milites et paratis omnium animis reversuros firmaverunt. sed Asprenati cuncta ex fide nuntiata, cuius cohortatione expugnata navis et interfectus quisquis ille erat. corpus, insigne oculis comaque et torvitate vultus, in Asiam atque inde Romam pervectum est.

Galba had entrusted the government of Galatia and Pamphylia to Calpurnius Asprenas. Two triremes from the fleet of Misenum were given him to pursue the adventurer; with these he reached the island of Cythnus. Persons were found to summon the captains in the name of Nero. The pretender himself, assuming a studied appearance of sorrow, and appealing to their fidelity as old soldiers of his own, besought them to land him in Egypt or Syria. The captains, perhaps wavering, perhaps intending to deceive, declared that they must address their soldiers, and that they would return when the minds of all had been prepared. Everything, however, was faithfully reported to Asprenas, and at his bidding the ship was boarded and taken, and the man, whoever he was, killed. The body, in which the eyes, the hair, and the savage countenance, were remarkable features, was conveyed to Asia, and thence to Rome.

Vespasian at Carmel.

Tacitus, Histories 2.78:

Post Muciani orationem ceteri audentius circumsistere, hortari, responsa vatum et siderum motus referre. nec erat intactus tali superstitione, ut qui mox rerum dominus Seleucum quendam mathematicum rectorem et praescium palam habuerit. recursabant animo vetera omina: cupressus arbor in agris eius conspicua altitudine repente prociderat ac postera die eodem vestigio resurgens procera et latior virebat. grande id prosperumque consensu haruspicum et summa claritudo iuveni admodum Vespasiano promissa, sed primo triumphalia et consulatus et Iudaicae victoriae decus implesse fidem ominis videbatur: ut haec adeptus est, portendi sibi imperium credebat. est Iudaeam inter Syriamque Carmelus: ita vocant montem deumque. nec simulacrum deo aut templum, sic tradidere maiores; ara tantum et reverentia. illic sacrificanti Vespasiano, cum spes occultas versaret animo, Basilides sacerdos inspectis identidem extis: Quicquid est, inquit, Vespasiane, quod paras, seu domum extruere seu prolatare agros sive ampliare servitia, datur tibi magna sedes, ingentes termini, multum hominum. has ambages et statim exceperat fama et tunc aperiebat; nec quicquam magis in ore vulgi. crebriores apud ipsum sermones, quanto sperantibus plura dicuntur. haud dubia destinatione discessere Mucianus Antiochiam, Vespasianus Caesaream: illa Syriae, hoc Iudaeae caput est.

After this speech from Mucianus, the other officers crowded round Vespasian with fresh confidence, encouraging him and reminding him of the responses of prophets and the movements of the heavenly bodies. Nor was Vespasian proof against this superstition, for afterwards, when master of the world, he openly retained one Seleucus, an astrologer, to direct his counsels, and to foretell the future. Old omens now recurred to his thoughts. A cypress tree of remarkable height on his estate had suddenly fallen, and rising again the following day on the very same spot, had flourished with majestic beauty and even broader shade. This, as the Haruspices agreed, was an omen of brilliant success, and the highest distinction seemed prophesied to Vespasian in early youth. At first, however, the honors of a triumph, his consulate, and the glory of his victories in Judea appeared to have justified the truth of the omen. When he had won these distinctions, he began to believe that it portended the imperial power. Between Judea and Syria is Mount Carmel; this is the name both of the mountain and the deity. They have no image of the god nor any temple; the tradition of antiquity recognizes only an altar and its sacred association. While Vespasian was there offering sacrifice and pondering his secret hopes, Basilides the priest, after repeated inspections of the entrails, said to him: Whatever be your purposes, Vespasian, whether you think of building a house, of enlarging your estate, or augmenting the number of your slaves, there is given you a vast habitation, boundless territory, a multitude of men. These obscure intimations popular rumor had at once caught up, and now began to interpret. Nothing was more talked about by the common people. In the presence of Vespasian the topic was more frequently discussed, because to the aspirant himself men have more to say.

The Vespasianic healings.

Tacitus, Histories 4.81:

Per eos mensis quibus Vespasianus Alexandriae statos aestivis flatibus dies et certa maris opperiebatur, multa miracula evenere, quis caelestis favor et quaedam in Vespasianum inclinatio numinum ostenderetur. e plebe Alexandrina quidam oculorum tabe notus genua eius advolvitur, remedium caecitatis exposcens gemitu, monitu Serapidis dei, quem dedita superstitionibus gens ante alios colit; precabaturque principem ut genas et oculorum orbis dignaretur respergere oris excremento. alius manum aeger eodem deo auctore ut pede ac vestigio Caesaris calcaretur orabat. Vespasianus primo inridere, aspernari; atque illis instantibus modo famam vanitatis metuere, modo obsecratione ipsorum et vocibus adulantium in spem induci: postremo aestimari a medicis iubet an talis caecitas ac debilitas ope humana superabiles forent. medici varie disserere: huic non exesam vim luminis et redituram si pellerentur obstantia; illi elapsos in pravum artus, si salubris vis adhibeatur, posse integrari. id fortasse cordi deis et divino ministerio principem electum; denique patrati remedii gloriam penes Caesarem, inriti ludibrium penes miseros fore. igitur Vespasianus cuncta fortunae suae patere ratus nec quicquam ultra incredibile, laeto ipse vultu, erecta quae adstabat multitudine, iussa exequitur. statim conversa ad usum manus, ac caeco reluxit dies. utrumque qui interfuere nunc quoque memorant, postquam nullum mendacio pretium.

In the months during which Vespasian was waiting at Alexandria for the periodical return of the summer gales and settled weather at sea, many wonders occurred which seemed to point him out as the object of the favor of heaven and of the partiality of the gods. One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for his blindness, threw himself at the knees of the emperor and implored him with groans to heal his infirmity. This he did by the advice of the god Serapis, whom this nation, devoted as it is to many superstitions, worships more than any other divinity. He begged Vespasian that he would deign to moisten his cheeks and eyeballs with his spittle. Another, with a diseased hand, at the counsel of the same god, prayed that the limb might feet the print of the foot of a Caesar. At first Vespasian ridiculed and repulsed them. They persisted; and he, though on the one hand he feared the scandal of a fruitless attempt, yet, on the other, was induced by the entreaties of the men and by the language of his flatterers to hope for success. At last he ordered that the opinion of physicians should be taken, as to whether such blindness and infirmity were within the reach of human skill. They discussed the matter from different points of view. In the one case, they said, the faculty of sight was not wholly destroyed, and might return, if the obstacles were removed; in the other case, the limb, which had fallen into a diseased condition, might be restored, if a healing influence were applied; such, perhaps, might be the pleasure of the gods, and the emperor might be chosen to be the minister of the divine will; at any rate, all the glory of a successful remedy would be of Caesar, while the ridicule of failure would fall on the sufferers. And so Vespasian, supposing that all things were possible to his good fortune, and that nothing was any longer past belief, with a joyful countenance amid the intense expectation of the multitude of bystanders, accomplished what was required. The hand was instantly restored to its use, and the light of day again shone upon the blind. Persons actually present attest both facts, even now when nothing is to be gained by falsehood.

The temple prodigies.

Tacitus, Histories 5.13.1 (translation my own):

Evenerant prodigia, quae neque hostiis neque votis piare fas habet gens superstitioni obnoxia, religionibus adversa. visae per caelum concurrere acies, rutilantia arma, et subito nubium igne conlucere templum. apertae repente delubri fores et audita maior humana vox excedere deos; simul ingens motus excedentium.

There came forth prodigies, which this race, addicted to superstition, though against religiosities, does not have a law to propitiate either by sacrifices or by vows. There were seen in heaven forces rushing together, a reddening of arms, and the temple lit up by a fire coming down from the clouds. The doors of the shrine were suddenly opened, and a voice, greater than that of a human, was heard to say that the gods were departing. Simultaneously there was the unnatural movement of a departure.

The ambiguous prediction.

Tacitus, Histories 5.13.2 (translation my own):

Quae pauci in metum trahebant; pluribus persuasio inerat antiquis sacerdotum litteris contineri eo ipso tempore fore ut valesceret Oriens profectique Iudaea rerum potirentur. quae ambages Vespasianum ac Titum praedixerat, sed vulgus more humanae cupidinis sibi tantam fatorum magnitudinem interpretati ne adversis quidem ad vera mutabantur.

Which things a few drew upon with dread; in most there was a persuasion that there was contained in the ancient letters of the priests that it would be at that very time that the Orient would grow strong and rulers of Judea would come into possession of matters. Which ambiguous things had predicted Vespasian and Titus, but the common folk by their habit of human desire had interpreted such magnificence of fate of themselves, nor were converted to the truth even by disasters.

The effigy of Caligula.

Tacitus, Annals 12.54.1 (translation my own):

At non frater eius, cognomento Felix, pari moderatione agebat, iam pridem Iudaeae impositus et cuncta malefacta sibi impune ratus tanta potentia subnixo. sane praebuerant Iudaei speciem motus orta seditione, postquam [iussi sunt a C. Caesare effigiem eius in templo locare], [ut] cognita caede eius haud obtemperatum esset; manebat metus ne quis principum eadem imperitaret.

But his brother, whose cognomen was Felix, was not of like moderation, now long since set up [as governor] over Judea and having reasoned that all malefactions would happen with impunity for him, supported by such power. The Jews, of course, were giving the aspect of movement in the sedition that arose after [they were ordered to locate the effigy of Caligula Caesar in the temple], [so that] when his assassination became known this [order] was in no way obliged; there remained a dread lest any of the emperors command the same things.

The bracketed [] portion is a lacuna in the text, which I have filled in with a corresponding passage from Tacitus, Histories 5.9.2, as suggested by Gerd Theissen on page 150 of The Gospels in Context, following E. Koestermann, Cornelius Tacitus, pages 200-201. Histories 5.9.2 runs as follows in its own context:

Sub Tiberio quies. dein iussi a C. Caesare effigiem eius in templo locare arma potius sumpsere, quem motum Caesaris mors diremit.

Under Tiberius all was quiet. Then, ordered by Caligula Caesar to locate his effigy in the temple, [the Jews] were rather able to take up arms, which movement the death of Caesar put an end to.


Nero redivivus.
The old prediction.
Vespasian at Carmel.
The Vespasianic prediction.
The Vespasianic healings.

Nero redivivus.

Suetonius, Life of Nero 57:

Obiit tricensimo et secundo aetatis anno, die quo quondam Octaviam interemerat, tantumque gaudium publice praebuit ut plebs pilleata tota urbe discurreret. et tamen non defuerunt qui per longum tempus vernis aestivisque floribus tumulum eius ornarent ac modo imagines praetextatas in rostris proferrent, modo edicta uasi viventis et brevi magno inimicorum malo reversuri. quin etiam Vologaesus Parthorum rex missis ad senatum legatis de instauranda societate hoc etiam magno opere oravit ut Neronis memoria coleretur. denique cum post viginti annos adulescente me exstitisset condicionis incertae qui se Neronem esse iactaret, tam favorabile nomen eius apud Parthos fuit ut vehementer adiutus et vix redditus sit.

He met his death in the thirty-second year of his age, on the anniversary of the murder of Octavia, and such was the public rejoicing that the people put on liberty-caps and ran about all at city. Yet there were some who for a long time decorated his tomb with spring and summer flowers, and now produced his statues on the rostra in the fringed toga, and now his edicts, as if he were still alive and would shortly return and deal destruction to his enemies. Nay more, Vologaesus, king of the Parthians, when he sent envoys to the senate to renew his alliance, earnestly begged this too, that honor be paid to the memory of Nero. In fact, twenty years later, when I was a young man, a person of obscure origin appeared, who gave out that he was Nero, and the name was still in such favor with the Parthians that they supported him vigorously and surrendered him with great reluctance.

The old prediction.

Suetonius, Life of Vespasian 4.5:

Percrebuerat Oriente toto vetus et constans opinio esse in fatis ut eo tempore Iudaea profecti rerum potirentur. Id de imperatore Romano, quantum postea eventu paruit, praedictum Iudaei ad se trahentes rebellarunt caesoque praeposito legatum insuper Syriae consularem suppetias ferentem rapta aquila fugaverunt.

There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome, as afterwards appeared from the event, the people of Judea took to themselves; accordingly they revolted and, after killing their governor, they routed the consular ruler of Syria as well, when he came to the rescue, and took one of his eagles.

Vespasian at Carmel.

Suetonius, Life of Vespasian 5.6a:

Apud Iudaeam Carmeli dei oraculum consulentem ita confirmavere sortes ut quidquid cogitaret volveretque animo quamlibet magnum, id esse proventurum pollicerentur.

When he consulted the oracle of the god of Carmel in Judaea, the lots were highly encouraging, promising that whatever he planned or wished, however great it might be, would come to pass.

The Vespasianic prediction.

Suetonius, Life of Vespasian 5.6b:

Et unus ex nobilibus captivis Iosephus, cum coiceretur in vincula, constantissime asseveravit fore ut ab eodem brevi solveretur, verum iam imperatore.

And one of his high-born prisoners, Josephus by name, as he was being put in chains, declared most confidently that he would soon be released by the same man, who would then, however, be emperor.

The Vespasianic healings.

Suetonius, Life of Vespasian 7.2-3 (translation my own):

Auctoritas et quasi maiestas quaedam ut scilicet inopinato et adhuc novo principi deerat; haec quoque accessit. e plebe quidam luminibus orbatus, item alius debili crure sedentem pro tribunali pariter adierunt, orantes opem valitudini demonstratam a Serapide per quietem, restituturum oculos, si inspuisset; confirmaturum crus, si dignaretur calce contingere. cum vix fides esset ullo modo rem successuram ideoque ne experiri quidem auderet, extremo hortantibus amicis palam pro contione utrumque temptavit, nec eventus defuit.

Authority, as it were, and a certain majesty were lacking, since [Vespasian] was an unexpected and hitherto new emperor; these things also came to him. A certain man from the people, stripped of his sight, and another besides with a crippled leg came to him together as he sat upon the tribunal, praying for help with their health that was shown them by Serapis in their repose, that he would restore the eyes if he would spit, and firm up the leg, if he would deign to touch it with his heel. Though there was scarcely any faith that the deed would succeed in any way, and for that cause did not even dare to make the experiment, at last, by his friends exhorting him, openly before the crowd he attempted both. Nor did the event lack [success].