69 AD

- מ ב ה -

Jerusalem Descends Into Terrible Bloodshed

69 AD

The leaders of the moderate faction in Jerusalem – Ananus ben Ananus, Joseph ben Gurion, and Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel I – pretend to negotiate with the Romans in the hopes of saving the city from destruction. However, the many fugitives and zealots who have come from other areas of the country condemn the policy that the moderate government carried out in the Galilee. John of Gischala’s recent arrival further inflames the zealots against the moderates, who are becoming a minority as the influx of refugees grows. After a short time, many of the moderate  leaders are assassinated. Ananus ben Ananus gives a fiery speech in which he censures the latest killings and the people chase the zealots into Temple Mount.

Out of deference for its sanctity, the moderates refrain from attacking their rivals as long as they remain inside the complex. John of Gischala soon replaces Eleazar ben Simon as leader of the zealots and exhorts his followers to execute Ananus, whom he describes as a traitor. Next, he invited the Idumeans to join his cause. As the people of Jerusalem shelter in their homes during a stormy night, the zealots open the city gates. The Idumeans pour into the city and, together with the zealots, rampage through the streets, killing Ananus ben Ananus, Joshua ben Gamla, and many other moderate leaders. Over the next few days, both factions engage in a bloodbath – from which no clear winner emerges. The zealots continue to control Temple Mount and resist allowing light to enter their hearts. They continuously seek violence and darknesspreferring death over life.

“So they threw down all the hedges and walls which the inhabitants had made about their gardens and groves of trees, and cut down all the fruit trees that lay between them and the wall of the city, and filled up all the hollow places and the chasms, and demolished the rocky precipices with iron instruments; and thereby made all the place level from Scopus to Herod’s monuments, which adjoined to the pool called the Serpent’s Pool” (Josephus Flavius, The Jewish Wars, Book 5, Chapter 3, paragraph 2)

Saintliness is achieved when we overcome negativity and possess absolute certainty that the light of the Creator informs every thought and every deed.