68 AD

- ה ח ש -

Vespasian Conquers Jotapata, Takes Josephus Captive

68 AD

Josephus attempts to punish the people of Sepphoris for their betrayal. The Romans soldiers inside the city thwart this attack and begin sowing chaos and destruction across the Galilee. However, when they approach Jotapata they are deterred by its impressive fortifications. Vespasian and a large contingent begin marching from Acre to Tiberias. Daunted by the horrifying sight of Rome’s legions, Josephus and his men run away. After a short stay in Tiberias, the commander of the Galilee returns to Jotapata and notifies the government of the powerful army that may soon advance toward Jerusalem. Vespasian razes many villages to the ground and finally sets out to conquer the region’s main stronghold.

Beside its mighty fortifications, Jotapata is also perched on the top of a steep cliff. Vespasian decides to set up camp and assemble the siege engines to the north of the city. Over the next six weeks, the Romans shoot arrows and catapult rocks at the sentinels, pound the walls with a battery ram, and even raise the battery they had initially built after the rebels managed to extend the height of the ramparts. Unfortunately, a Jewish defector reveals to Vespasian that the defenders are usually fatigued and fall asleep during the last watch of the night. Thanks to this information, the Romans are able to scale up the walls and conquer Jotapata following a prolonged 47-day siege. Josephus and 40 of his men hide in a cave. The legionaries try to convince them to surrender, but the Jewish fighters resist, cast lots to split into pairs, and pledge to kill each other. Josephus convinces his partner to wait until everyone has died and then escape..

Despite the recent defeat, Josephus doesn’t wallow in self-pity. He instead chooses to live, cast aside all feelings of guilt, and reveal God’s light. Josephus chooses recovery and healing over death – both physical and spiritual. 

“Yet was he with another left to the last, whether we must say it happened so by chance, or whether by the providence of God. And as he was very desirous neither to be condemned by the lot, nor, if he had been left to the last, to imbrue his right hand in the blood of his countrymen, he persuaded him to trust his fidelity to him, and to live as well as himself” (Josephus Flavius, The Jewish Wars, Book 3, Chapter 8, paragraph 7)

The power to heal is the desire and ability to heal ourselves or others through both spiritual and physical means.