The Success of Vespasian

Chronology of the War Against the Romans
According to Josephus

Part 5

Page 3

(continued from Page 2)


The Judaean Campaign, 68-69 CE


Emperor Vespasian, 69 CE

                                                                                 G. J. Goldberg


    2 The Judaean Campaign, 68-69 CE
            Jamnia and Azotus taken
            Factional fighting in Jerusalem
            Gadara taken
            Peraea (eastern Judaea) and Jericho taken by Placidus
            Western Judaea taken by Vespasian
            Gerasa falls
            Emperor Nero assassinated
            Operations temporarily suspended
            The rest of Judaea and Idumaea taken
            Jerusalem is isolated

    3. Emperor Vespasian, 69 CE
            The army in Caesarea declares Vespasian Emperor
            Josephus is freed
            Vespasian leaves Judaea for Alexandria
            Pro-Vespasian forces in Rome defeat Vitellius
            Vespasian leaves Alexandria for Rome

 Fall 67 Vespasian takes Judaean cities of Jamnia and Azotus. Titus returns to Caesarea. Titus moves from Gischala to Caesarea. Vespasian marches from Caesarea to subdue Jamnia and Azotus and then returns to Caesarea with a large number who had surrendered under treaty. (4.3.2 130)
  Galilean rebels take refuge in Jerusalem. The fleeing Galilean rebels, including John of Gischala, enter Jerusalem. Their factionalism and the quest for power by their leaders is brought with them, and their fighting is continued there. (4.3.1-4.6.2)
Fall/Winter 67/68 Vespasian decides to delay attacking Jerusalem and let factional fighting weaken the rebels. As Vespasian is preparing the legions in Caesarea for the assault on Jerusalem, they learn of dissension in the city. The commanders urge attack at this moment, for "the providence of God is on our side." V decides to let the factions weaken each other through fighting, through killings and desertions to the Romans, so that their own attack will be easier. The alternative would be to unite the factions against the Roman attack. V: "God acts as general of the Romans better than he can do, and is giving the Jews up to them without any pains of their own." The Romans wait and watch. (4.6.2 366-376)
Spring, 68 Many Jews desert to the Romans, ask Vespasian to free Jerusalem from rebel violence. Jewish deserters report to Vespasian about the worsening conditions in the capital and the countryside. They urge him to protect the city and rescue the remainder of the inhabitants. (4.6.3 377, 4.7.3 410)
March 21, 68 CE

(4 Adar)

Vespasian advances into Judaea, takes Gadara. Accordingly, V breaks up camp to take Jerusalem, first marching to subdue other parts of the country to prevent attacks. Enters the capital of Peraea, Gadara. The leading men had sent an embassy offering to surrender "alike from a desire for peace and from concern for their property, for Gadara had many wealthy residents." The pro-war faction kills the leader of these citizens, named Dolesus, then flee the city. The Gadarenes then surrender peacefully when V arrives, having already pulled down their own walls. (4.7.3 413-418)
  Placidus takes Peraea (eastern Judaea) from Gadara down through Jericho to the Dead Sea. The fugitives from Gadara are pursued by Placidus (300 horse, 3000 foot) while V returns to Caesarea. The fugitives take refuge with other rebels in Bethennabris [on a line from Gadara to Jericho]. Placidus takes the village with much slaughter, pillages and burns it. The fugitives fleeing from the village now rouse the countryside, driving everyone from their homes intending to take refuge in Jericho. Placidus traps them against the Jordan river (swollen by rain), slaughtering 15,000, capturing 2200 and many livestock. So many were swept into the river that even the Dead Sea filled with bodies. Placidus follows through with taking small towns and villages down to the Dead Sea (Abila, Julias, Besimoth), garrisoning them with deserters. Then takes those who were hiding on the lake. "Thus the whole of Peraea as far as Machaerus either surrendered or was subdued." (4.7.4-6 419-439)
  Revolt in Gaul. News arrives of the revolt in Gaul by Vindex against Nero. V decides to end the war quickly to prepare for this new problem. Winter delays him. (4.8.1 440-441)
Winter, 67-68   V secures the conquered towns, placing decurions in the villages and centurions in the towns, rebuilds other places. (4.8.1 442)
Spring, 68 Vespasian moves south through western Judaea, taking every major town. V marches from Caesarea to Antipatris (NE of Joppa). (4.8.1 443). Takes town (2 days) and lays waste surrounding neighborhood (3rd day). Subdues neighborhood of Thamna (SE of Anipatris), then turns SW to Lydda and Jamnia, garrisons them with deserters. Moves to toparchy of Ammaus [or Emmaus] NW of Jerusalem. Leaves 5th Legion in camp there, advances to the toparchy of Beth-leptenpha (SW of Jerusalem). Devastates this with fire and moves to outskirts of Idumaea. Takes two villages in the heart of Idumaea, Betabris and Caphartoba. Put to death over 10,000, captured 1,000, expelled the rest, stationed a division of troops that overran the hill country. (4.8.1 444-449)
June 3, 68

(3 Daesius)

Vespasian marches east and rejoins the Peraean forces at Jericho, now led by Trajan. V returns to Ammaus, then through Samaria past Neapolis then SE down to Corea on the Judaean border. Encamped there on 2 Daesius [June 20 68]. On the next day he reached Jericho and joined the forces from Peraea led by General Trajan [commander of the 10th legion and father of the future emperor Trajan]. (4.8.1 449-450)
    Inhabitants of Jericho and surrounding area had fled to hill country near Jerusalem. (4.8.2 451)
  Vespasian visits the Dead Sea. Vespasian visits the Dead Sea (Lake Asphaltitis); to test its properties he orders people who cannot swim flung into the deep water with their hands tied behind them; they all rose to the surface and floated. (4.8.4 476)
  Gerasa falls to Annius. V establishes garrisons at Jericho and Adida (20 miles NW of Jerusalem, 3 miles E of Lydda). Sends Lucius Annius to take Gerasa [NE frontier of Peraea], who kills 1000 of the youth, captured women and children, pluncers and fired the houses, then attacked the surrounding villages. (4.9.1 486-489)
  Jerusalem has now been isolated. "The war having now embraced the whole region, both hill and plain, all egress from Jerusalem was cut off; for those who desired to desert were closely watched by the Zealots, while those who were not yet pro-Romans were confined by the army which hemmed in the city on every side." (4.9.1 490)
  Vespasian gathers forces in Caesarea. Vespasian returns to Caesarea to gather the forces there. (4.9.2 491)
  News of the assassination of Emperor Nero reaches Vespasian. "Vespasian had returned to Caesarea and was preparing to march in full strength upon Jerusalem itself, when the news reached him that Nero was slain." [Nero died on June 9 68] (4.9.2 491)
Winter, 68/69 Vespasian suspends the campaign against Jerusalem, pending further instructions. Titus and Agrippa are sent to meet the new emperor, Galba. Therefore V "deferred his expedition against Jerusalem, anxiously waiting to see upon whom the empire would devolve after Nero's death; nor when he subsequently heard that Galba was emperor would he undertake anything, until he had received further instructions from him concerning the war." Titus and Agrippa send to Galba to salute him and "to receive his orders with reference to the Jews." 
January 15, 69 Emperor Galba is assassinated and succeeded by Otho. Titus and Agrippa return to Caesarea without reaching Rome. While sailing near Achaea in the winter, Galba was assassinated and Otho became emperor. Agrippa continues to Rome, but Titus, "under a divine impulse" sailed back to Syria and rejoined V at Caesarea. "The two, being thus in suspense on these momentous matters, when the Roman empire itself was reeling, neglected the invasion of Judaea, regarding an attack on a foreign country as unseasonable, while in such anxiety concerning their own." (4.9.2 497-502) [According to Suetonius, Titus consulted the oracle of Venus at Paphos on his return voyage,  which predicted his future rise to power.]
    New strife in Jerusalem caused by Simon son of Gioras.
June 23, 69 Vespasian subdues more of Judaea. V advances from Caesarea against yet unconquered areas of Judaea: the hill country, the toparchies of Gophna (N of Judaea) and Acrabetta (NE), Bethela (SE of Gophna) and Ephraim (NE of Bethel). "He then rode with his cavalry up to the walls of Jerusalem, killing many of those encountered on the route, and taking many prisoners." (4.9.9 550-552)
  Ceraelius takes upper Idumaea and Hebron. Every fortress has now been taken except Herodion, Masada, and Machaerus. Ceraelius, of the 5th Legion, takes upper Idumaea, the town of Caphethra and then Capharabis, which surrendered willingly. Then to Hebron, killing all and burning the town. "Every fortress being now subdues except Herodion, Masada, and Machaerus, which were held by the brigands, Jerusalem was henceforth the one objective before the Romans." (4.9.9 552-555)


Emperor Vespasian

April 17, 69  Emperor Otho dies in a civil war with General Vitellius, whose armies declare him emperor.  
Autumn, 69 News that Vitellius is emperor reaches Vespasian, angering him and his soldiers. V returns to Caesarea and hears of the war in Rome and that General Vitellius is emperor, arousing V's indignation. (4.10.2 588) His officers and men were now frankly discussing revolution. (4.10.3 592) "They are themselves more deserving than those that made theother emperors, for thay have underone as great wars as those troops…"
  The army in Caesarea declares Vespasian emperor.  The army in Caesarea declares Vespasian emperor, and "force" him to accept. (4.10.4 601-604) "They proclaimed Vespasian emperor and urged him to save the endangered empire…though conscious that his career would justify such claim, he preferred the security of private life to te perils of illustrious station. But on his declining, the officers pressed him more insistently and the soldiers, flocking round with drawn swords, threatened him with death, if he refused to live with dignity. After forcibly giving them his many reasons for rejectng imperial honors, finally, failing to convince them, he yielded to their call." 
  Egypt, under the apostate Jewish governor Tiberius Alexander, declares its allegiance to Vespasian. Vespasian marches to Beirut to receive ambassadors. As his first move, Vespasian decides to take control of Egypt, taking a strategic position and gaining control of the Empire's grain supply, and annexing the legions stationed ther. (605 ff) He writes to Tiberius Alexander, governor of Egypt and Alexandria (and former Judaean procurator) for his support; Tiberius reads the letter in public and "promptly requires the legions and the populace to take the oath of allegiance to Vespasian, a call to which they gladly responded." (4.10.6 616-618) The "good news" (euaggelia) about the new emperor "in the east" spreads quickly and is celebrated; legions in Europe declare for him. V proceeds to Beirut and is greeted by numerous embassies. General Mucianus, governor of Syria, gives his support. (620-1) V rewards those who showed him allegiance with governorships (War 4.11.1 630)
  Vespasian frees Josephus in acknowledgment of an accurate prophecy. Recalling Josephus' prophecy, Vespasian frees him; at Titus' recommendation, Josephus' chains are severed with an axe, signifying he had been unjustly imprisoned. (War 4.10.7 622-629)

"Now that fortune was everywhere furthering his wishes…Vespasian was led to think that divine providence had assisted him to grasp the empire and that some just destiny had placed the sovereignty of the world within his hands. Among many other omens, which had everywhere foreshadowed his imperial honours, he recalled the words of Josephus, who had ventured, even in Nero's lifetime, to address him as emperor.He was shocked to think that the man was still a prisoner in his hands, and summoning Mucianus with his other officers and friends..referred to his predictions, which at the time he himself had suspected of bing fabrications prompted by fear, but which time and the event had proved to be divine. "It is disgraceful," he said," that one who foretold my elevation to power and was a minister of the voice of G should still rank as a captive and endure a prisoner's fate;" and calling for Josephus, he ordered him to be liberated…an attendant came forward and severed the charin with an axe. Thus Josephus won his enfranchisement as the rewrd of his divination, and his power of insight into the future was no longer discredited.

[For omens see: Tacitus, His. 2.78; Suetonius, Vesp 5; Dio Cassius 66.1]

  Vespasian sends Mucianus to Italy. V proceeds to Antioch, dispatures a large force under Mucianus to Italy; as it was winter, Mucianus travels overland through Cappadocia and Phrygia. [more detail in Tacitus]. (4.11.1 630-33)
Nov-Dec, 69 Civil war in Italy. In Europe the army splits into opposing factions; those for Vespasian eventually defeat the forces for Vitellius.
Dec 21, 69 Vitellius is killed. Vitellius is tortured and murdered by a mob. (4.11.4 652)
Dec 22, 69 The people of Rome declare Vespasian emperor. The next day, Mucianus arrives with his forces. He supports V's nephew Domitian as acting Emperor until V can arrive. The people of Rome acclaim Vespasian emperor. (4.11.4 655)
  Vespasian hears the news in Alexandria, determines to go to Rome. Vespasian reaches Alexandria and hears the news from Rome. The city celebrates. He determines to sail for Rome as soon as the winter is over. (4.11.5 658)
    Vespasian dispatches Titus with picked forces to crush Jerusalem. (4.11.5 659)

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