The Destruction of the Second Temple
Josephus - The Jewish War, p. 303:
though it was a terrible struggle to collect the timber, raised their
platforms in twenty-one days, having as described before stripped the
whole area in a circle round the town to a distance of ten miles.
The countryside like the City was a pitiful cite; for where once there
had been a lovely vista of woods and parks there was nothing but desert
and stumps of trees. No one - not even a foreigner - who had seen
the Old Judea and the glorious suburbs of the City, and now set their
eyes on her present desolation, could have helped sighing and groaning
at so terrible a change; for every trace of beauty had been blotted
out by war, and nobody who had known it in the past and came upon it
suddenly would have recognized the place: when he was already
there he would still have been looking for the City.
Josephus - Antiquities, xi. 1.2:
These Romans put the Jews to flight, and proceeded as far as the holy
house itself. At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for
any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an
undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched some
what out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another
soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there wion, passage
to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of
it. As the flames went upward, the Jews made a great clamor, such as
so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now
they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered anything to restrain
their force, since that holy house was perishing...thus it was the holy
house burnt down...Nor can one imagine any thing greater or more terrible
than this noise; for there was at once a shout of the Roman Legions, who
were marching all together, and a sad clamor of the seditious, who were now
surrounded with fire and sword... the people under a great consternation,
made sad moans at the calamity they were under...Yet was the misery itself
more terrible than the disorder; for one would have thought that the hill
itself, on which the Temple stood, was seething hot, as full of fire on
every part of it.
Josephus - The Jewish War, p. 292:
To give a detailed account of their outrageous conduct
is impossible, but we may sum it up by saying that no other city has
ever endured such horrors, and no generation in history has fathered
such wickedness. In the end they brought the whole Hebrew race
into contempt in order to make their own impiety seem less outrageous
in foreign eyes, and confessed the painful truth that they were slaves,
the dregs of humanity, bastards, and outcasts of their nation.
...It is certain that when from the upper city they watched the Temple burning they did not turn a hair, though many Romans were moved to tears.
Josephus - The Jewish War, p. 323:
As the flames shot into the air the Jews sent up a cry that matched the
calamity and dashed to the rescue, with no thought now of saving their
lives or husbanding their strength; for that which hitherto they had
guarded so devotedly was disappearing before their eyes.