The Success of Vespasian

Chronology of the War Against the Romans
Accroding to Josephus

Part 5

Page 2

(continued from Page 1)


 The Galilean Campaign, 67 CE

                                                                               G. J. Goldberg

        Summary of The Galilean Campaign

        Vespasian invades Galilee (May 67 CE)
        Gabara taken
        Jotapata beseiged and taken (June-July)
        Josephus captured; predicts Vespasian will become Emperor
        Japha and Mt. Gerizim taken
        Joppa pirates destroyed
        Tiberias surrenders peacefully to Titus
        Naval battle on the Sea of Galilee
        Tarichaeae taken by Titus (September)
        Gamala beseiged and taken (November)
        Gischala surrenders peacefully
        John of Gischala flees to Jerusalem with supporters

                Chronological Table According to Josephus

Where Hebrew dates are given, they are stated by Josephus; these are converted to modern dates using Niese's estimates. Otherwise times are approximate.
Time Brief Description Detailed Description
Autumn 66 Emperor Nero appoints General Vespasian to conduct the war in Judaea. Nero learns of the defeat of Cestius. Deciding the cause was incompetence of the commander, he appoints an officer of long experience, General Vespasian, to lead the forces against Judaea.[Vespasian was 57 years old at the time. He had conquered Britain for Claudius in 43 CE and had subdued a revolt on the Rhine.] (3.1.1-2 1-5) Nero also feared a revolt of the neighboring nations (cf. uprising of Samaria).
Winter 66/67 Vespasian travels to Syria and his son Titus to Egypt. Vespasian travels overland to Antioch, the capital of Syria, while his son Titus travels by sea to Alexndria, Egypt, to collect the FIfteenth Legion.

Spring 67

Josephus fortifies Galilee See Josephus in Galilee.
Spring 67 Vespasian arrives in Antioch Vespasian arrives in Antioch and gathers together the Roman forces of the area; he is joined by King Agrippa and the king's troops. They proceed to Ptolemais. He is welcomed by ambassadors from Sepphoris, and sends them a large force to protect the city (adding to the soldiers previously requested of Caesinnius). "It was the largest city of Galilee, a fortress in an exceptionally strong position in the enemy's [Jewish] territory, and adapted to keep guard over the entire province." (3.2.4 32-34)
  Placidus fortifies Sepphoris, ravages Galilee To Sepphoris is sent 6000 infantry, 1000 cavalry under Placidus. From there the soldiers rqavaged the surrounding country, "causing seious trouble to Josephus and his men" (3.4.1 60) Josephus had fortified Sepphoris before it "abandoned the Galilean cause" and since made an attempt against it that failed. "Galilee from end to end became a scene of fire and blood; from no misery, no calamity was it exempt; the one refuge for the hunted inhabitants was in the cities fortified by Josephus." (3.4.1 63)
  Vespasian and Titus assemble the 5th, 10th, and 15th Legions in Ptolemais. Titus marches from Alexandria to Ptolemais, and joins his 15th Legion with his fathers' 5th and 10th, "the most distinguished of all." (3.4.2 65) Also 18 cohorts, plus 5 cohorts and 1 squadron cavalry from Caearea, plus 5 squadrons cavalry from Syria. [Total is about 60000. 1 legion = 6120 men, 1 cohort = one-tenth of a legion, about 600 men, 1 squadron cavalry from 500 to 1000 men.] Local kings, including Agrippa, furnished 2000 bowmen and 1000 cavalry. Malchus (arab king) sent 1000 cavalry and 5000 infantry. This takes a significant amount of time. (3.6.1 110)
  Placidus unsuccessfully attacks Jotapata. Placidus (from Sepphoris), seeing that combatants fled from him to cities Josephus had fortified, attacked the strongest of them, Jotapata. They clash with the defenders outside the walls and are forced to retreat. (3.6.1 112-114)
May 67 Vespasian marches his army to the border of Galilee. Josephus' army, stationed there, flees. Vespasian marches his troops out of Ptolemais to the border of Galilee, where he encamps. Upon learning this, the troops under Josephus, encamped at Garis (20 furlongs from Sepphoris), immediately desert.
  Josephus retreats to Tiberias. Josephus and his closest supporters retreat to Tiberias. (3.6.3 128-131) From there he writes to the authorities in Jerusalem for instructions, telling them of the situation and asking for either a sufficient force to withstand Vespasian, or else to negotiate peace. (3.7.2 138-140). [Did he ever receive an answer?]
  Vespasian takes Gabara and vicinity. Vespasian attacks and easily takes the city of Gabara, slaying all males; his soldiers are said to be bitter at the defeat of Cestius and "hated the nation."

All the towns in the neighborhood are burnt, any inhabitants reduced to slavery. (3.7.1 132-4)

June 8-10, 67

(21 Artemisius)

Learning Josephus has gone to Jotapata, Vespasian quickly surrounds the city. The siege of Jotapata begins. Vespasian advances on Jotapata, "impatient to make an end of it." Engineers prepare the road for four days. On the fifth day, (Artemisius 21) Josephus leaves Tiberias and enters Jotapata. [They are only 10-15 miles apart.] A deserter informs Vespasian of Josephus' presence (3.7.3 141-144) and V immediately sends Placidus and the decurion Aebutius (who encountered Josephus in Life 114) to surround the town and prevent Josephus' escape. The next day V marches until evening to arrive at Jotapata, surrounding the city with three lines of soldiers.
  Complex seige warfare. A series of attacks, defenses, counter-defenses, and counter-counter-defenses ensues. 
  Josephus attempts to leave the city, but stays at the pleas of the people. Unable to break in, V decides to starve the city. Josephus, seeing that the situation would eventually be hopeless, plans to flee the city with the leaders of the city, but is prevented by the pleas of the townspeople. (3.7.15-16 193-206) He thus urges the people to begin the combat "when all hope of deliverance is past," to sacrifice life for fame and glory.
July 8, 67

(20 Daessius)

Jotapata walls are breached, but Romans cannot enter. Romans finally breach the walls, but are forced back with a number of strategms and the desperation of the defenders. (20 Daessius/July 8 67)
July 13, 67

(25 Daesius)

Trajan and Titus take Japha. V sends 10th Legion Commander Trajan (father of the future Emperor Trajan) against the nearby town of Japha, which had revolted. (3.7.31 289 ff) After a first successful attack, Titus is invited to complete the victory. Inside the city, "the women pelted them with whatever missiles came to hand." (303) All males were killed, except for infants, which with the women were sold as slaves. (15,000 slain, 2130 taken captive.)
July 15, 67

(27 Daesius) 

Cerealius defeats Samaritans on Mount Gerizim. The Samaritans assemble on Mount Gerizim, eagerly contemplating revolt. V sends 5th Legion Commander Cerealius there, who lays seige; as there was a heat wave and the Samaritans had no water supplies, many quickly surrender, the others are easily defeated (11,600 slain). (3.7.32 307 ff)
  A deserter provides crucial information. At Jotapata, a deserter informs V about the best way to take the city, when the sentries often fall asleep before dawn. (3.7.33 318-319) 
July 20 67

(Panemus 1)

Covert action opens the city to the army. Jotapata falls. Titus and some men of the 15th Legion mount the walls surreptitiously before dawn and silently kill the sentries. Others, including Placidus and his troops, follow. By daylight, the citadel had been taken and the troops were in the center of town, before the inhabitants were aware anything had happened. (3.7.34 326)

The whole army then poured in. (Supposedly the 47th day of the siege.) Total killed 40,000, captured (women and infants) 1200. Taken "on the new moon of Panemus." (3.7.36 339)

Josephus and 40 others, hiding in cave, decide to kill themselves, over Josephus' protestations. Josephus hides in a cavern, where he finds 40 other prominent citizens. On the third day, one of them, a woman, is captured and reveals his hiding place, whereupon the Romans ask him to surrender. When he refuses, a friend of his, Nicanor, entreats him. Josephus recalls his dreams, and decides he has been made a messenger of heaven, and must live to spread his message. To forestall the others, though, he does not tell them this, but instead proceeds on a philosophical argument against suicide (i.e., it is impious). This does not persuade them, and finally they agree on the plan to kill one another by lot -- as each does not kill themselves, but is killed by another, it isn't thought to be suicide. (3.8.6 383ff)
  Josephus survives the suicide pact and surrenders to the Romans. Josephus "--should one say by fortune or by the providence of God?-- was left alone with one other; and, anxious neither to be condemned by the lot nor, should he be left to the last, to stain his hand with the blood of a fellow-countryman, he persuaded this man also, under a pledge, to remain alive." (3.8.8 391)
July 22, 67 Josephus predicts that Vespasian will become Emperor. Unimpressed, Vespasian keeps him a prisoner, but does not send him to Nero in Rome.  Josephus brought by Nicanor to Vespasian. The soldiers crowd in to see this young man who gave them so much trouble. Titus is "touched" by him; his pleading with his father was "the main influence in saving the prisoner's life." Vespasian plans to send him to Nero; Josephus asks for a private audience. They talk, with Titus and two friends. Josephus delivers his "message from the Deity" -- he "knows the law of the Jews" how he should have died; but V should not send him to Nero, because "you, Caesar, are master not of me only, but of land and sea and the whole human race." V does not believe then. Later, though, the Deity began rousing thoughts in him of Empire and also showing him foreshadowing tokens. [cf. Tacitus Histories 1 10]. V asks why J did not foresee the fall of Jotapata, J says he did, had prophesied it would fall in 47 days; V questions prisoners and finds this is true. Treated him with kindness then, "being warmly supported by Titus in these courtesies." (3.8.8 392-408) [see also Suetonius Vesp 5]
Beginning July 23, 67

(4 Panemus)

  V to Ptolemais and then to Caesarea (chiefly Greek city) which receved him warmly (but wanted J punished). Left 5th and 10th Legions there, 15th sent to Scythopolis. (3.9.1 409 ff)
  The Jewish pirates of Joppa are destroyed. Jews who had been driven from the towns of Galilee rebuild Joppa (destroyed by Cestius, 2.507); cut off by Romans, they take to sea, build a pirate fleet and raid coast traffic from Phoenicia to Egypt. (3.9.2 414-416) 

V sends troops to Joppa, who take the city by night, but the inhabitants had fled to their ships. (3.9.3 418) But towards dawn a terrible storm breaks upon them and dashes the ships on the rocks. Those who came to beach alive were killed by the Romans. Total killed 4,200. Joppa razed. (3.9.3 427) V leaves a force there to prevent another pirate fleet; they spend their time ravaging the surrounding country. (3.9.4)

  Jerusalem is devastated by news of Jotapata and Josephus' surrender.  News of Jotapata reaches Jerusalem; but no hard facts. J mourned for 30 days. Then learned alive, causing great anger, "and curses were heaped upon his devoted head." (3.9.6 439) They seek revenge against Josephus and the Romans. J notes: a defeat causes the wise to take precautions not to repeat it, but these were goaded to further disasters -- and "the end of one calamity was always the beginning of the next." (440)
August, 67 Vespasian rests in Agrippa's kingdom as Titus marches to the city of Tiberias. V leaves Caesarea, visits Agrippa's kingdom at Caesarea Phillipi. Rests for 20 days, "thanking the Deity." Learns Tarichaeae revolted and Tiberias on the verge (both of Agrippa's kingdom). Sends Titus to fetch troops from Caesar and march them to Scythopolis and then all three legions to Tiberias (20 miles N of Scythopolis). Valerianus and 50 horse sent to ask for peace; they are tricked by Jesus son of Shapat and his men (leader of Tiberias and Josephus' old foe; see 2.599) and ambushed, their horses taken. (3.9.7 443-452)
  Tiberias surrenders peacefully as its remaining revolutionaries flee to Tarichaea. The elders and more respected citizens of Tiberias flee, gain Agrippa's support, beg V to spare them and the city, as they had been under the power of the revolutionaries [a story often repeated by Josephus concerning "the moderates"]. (3.9.8 455) As a favor to Agrippa, V accepts and negotiates terms of surrender. Jesus ben Shapat and his men flee to Tarichaeae (458) and Trajan is sent to check Tiberias is peaceful. V takes Tiberias without violence or pillage. (461)
  Vespasian brings his forces to Tarichaea. V encamps between Tiberias and Tarichaeae. The "whole body of revolutionaries" were fleeing to Tarichaeae as a strong place; walls had been built by Josephus on 3 sides (3.10.1 464) , the fourth facing the lake; they had a fleet on the lake. Jesus ben Shapat makes a charge against the camp, then retreats to the fleet to just within bowshot.
  With Tarichaeae heavily manned and fortified, Titus must encourage the troops. V sends Titus and 600 to the main force of the Jews outside the city. (470) The troops dismayed at the immense number of the Jews; Titus gives a speech. (3.10.2 472-484) "The Jews are led on by audacity, temerity and despair, emotions which are bracing in the flush of success but are damped by the slightest check; we, by valour, discipline, and a heroism which, though seen to perfection when favoured by fortune, in adversity also holds on to the last." And the Romans fight for "a higher cause than the Jews; they face war for liberty and country in jeopardy, the Romans for glory and the determination not to let the Jews be regarded as a match for themselves, who had dominated the world." (479-481)
  Jewish forces outside the walls of Tarichaeae forced to retreat into town. Trajan joins with 400 cavalry. V sends 2000 archers on a hill to fire on the town. Titus charges. (3.10.3 487) The Jews suffer greatly and finally manage to flee into the town. 
  Moderate citizens of Tarichaeae conflict with the rebels. "The indigenous population, intent on their property and their city, had from the first disapproved of the war, and after this defeat were now more opposed to it than ever." (3.10.4 492) [Another example of moderates.] 
  Titus attacks. The rebels escape in boats. While the rebels and the moderates are occupied with each other, Titus attacks, riding through the water into the open side of town. (3.10.5 497) The partisans of Jesus flee across country, others to the lake to escape on boats.
  Battle on Lake Tiberias. The rebels are slaughtered. Vespasian orders rafts made and saids troops on them after the fugitives. Very bloody "naval battle" ensues, leaving a terrible scene (3.10.9 522-531)
Sept 26, 67 (8 Gorpiaeus) The remaining rebels in Tarichaeae executed or sold into slavery. V ambiguously grants the non-native revolutionaries passage out of the town; lead them to Tiberias (route lined with soldiers). Brings them to the stadium. Orders execution of 1200 of "the old and unserviceable" and selected 6000 of the youths to send to Nero. The rest, 30,400, he sold; some he gave to Agrippa, who sold them himself. This part consisted of people from various nearby cities in Agrippa's kingdom, "a crowd of seditious individuals and fugitives, to whom their infamous careers in peace-time gave war its attractions." (3.10.10 539-542)
  Most of Galilee surrenders to Rome. Remaining are Gamala, Mt. Tabor, and Gischala. After Tarichaeae, all other revolutionary Galileans surrender, including all fortresses except Gischala and Mt. Tabor, and Gamala in Agrippa's territory. (4.1.1 1)
  Gamala the last remaining city fortified by Josephus. Sogane and Seleucia, near Gamala, had been fortified by J, but had early in the revolt come to peaceful terms with Agrippa. Gamala, also fortified by J, was in a stronger position, and held out for 7 months against Agrippa's force (Life 114). The leaders of Gamala are Chares and Joseph.
  Vespasian lays seige to Gamala. V breaks camp between Tiberias and Tarichaeae and moves to Gamala, camping in the mouintain over the city. The three legions begin their earthworks; Agrippa attempts to parley, but is struck on the elbow by a stone. (4.1.3 14)
  Titus meets with Mucianus. Titus sent to Syria to meet Governor Mucianus (who has replaced Cestius). 
  Disaster for the Romans as they are trapped by collapsing houses in Gamala. Romans quickly knock down walls with the rams. The residents withdraw to the upper parts of the city, the Romans pursuing, but then whirl around and force the Romans back. The latter take refuge in houses, which fall in, and many Romans are killed. V himself is trapped in the city and has to fight his way out. Among those killed is Aebutius, who had formerly fought Josephus (see 3.144, Life 115). Other Romans spend the night in the city and must sneak out. (4.1.5 30-38).
  Vespasian speaks to the troops. V encourages troops, saying they cannot expect to always win easily. "After all, you have slain myriads of Jews, but yourselves have paid but a trifling contribution to fortune. As it is a mark of vulgarity to be over-elated by success, so is it unmanly to be downcast in adversity; for the transition from one to the other is rapid, and the best soldier is he who mets good fortune with sobriety, that he may stil remain cheerful when contending with reverses." (4.1.6 41-42)
  The siege is renewed. The Romans renew the siegeworks; people begin to flee the town through ravines and underground passages.
  Placidus takes Mt. Tabor. V dispatches Placidus to Mt. Tabor (which also had been fortified by J, in 40 days). Defenders pretended to come out to talk terms, staged instead an attack, but Placidus was ready and ambushed them in return. Insurgents flee to Jerusalem, natives surrender peacefully. (4.1.9 61)
Nov 9, 67

(22 Hyperberetaeus)

Defenses of Gamala undermined.  Siege of Gamala continues until three soldiers of the 15th Legion creep in at dawn and undermine a tower. Guards flee, others try to fight their way out, including the leader Joseph, who is killed. Chares, in bed and ill, dies, terror contributing to his death.
Nov 10, 67 Roman army enters Gamala; mass suicide as citizens jump into the ravine. Romans delay until next day before entering. Terrified residents plunge into ravine including wives and children. 4000 killed by soldiers, 5000 by jumping off the cliff. Only two women survive, nieces of Philip son of Jacimus, a commander of Agrippa's (4.1.10) (For Philip, see: 2.421, 2.536, Life 46 ff). The revolt of Gamala lasted from c. Oct 12 to c. Nov 10 67 (Gorpiaeus 24 to Hyperberetaeus 23). (4.1.10 83)
  Titus advances on Gischala, the last rebellious town.  Vespasian sends Titus to Gischala with 1000 horse. 10th Legion to Scythopolis. V and 2 legions march to Caesarea, to rest for Jerusalem. (4.2.1 87-91)
  Titus offers Gischala chance to surrender. Titus addresses the people on the walls and invites them to surrender, explaining that every other town, stronger than theirs, has already fallen. (4.2.2-3)
  John of Gischala flees to Jerusalem with his followers. Titus takes Gischala. John son of Levi, the rebel leader, responds, requesting they wait until the next day, after the Sabbath. Titus agrees and withdraws. John takes the opportunity to flee by night with his armed followers and man non-combatants with their families. They head for Jerusalem. (4.2.4 106) Titus pursues, killing 6000 and capturing 3000 women and children, but John escapes. (4.2.5 115-116) Titus enters town and secures it with a garrison.

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