Josephus (born about 37 CE), was a Jewish officer during the revolt against Nero.  He was captured by the Romans, and became a traitor to his people, working for Rome against the Jews.   Later, in Rome, he wrote a number of "histories".  In "The Jewish Wars" he records background information, including the following exerpt of the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey in 63 BCE:  

Stung once more by this treatment, Pompey kept Aristobulus in custody, and advancing to the City, reconnoitered the possible lines of attack, observing the almost invincible strength of the walls, the formidable ravine in front of them. Within the ravine, the Temple, with  fortifications so strong that if the town was captured, would provide a further refuge from the enemy. While Pompey took time to make up his mind, party strife broke out in the City, the supporters of Aristobulus calling for war and the rescue of the king, those of Hyrcanus urging the opening of the gates to Pompey. The numbers of the latter were swelled by fear, when they saw the perfect discipline of the Romans. Bested in the struggle, the opposite faction retired into the Temple, destroyed the bridge linking Temple and City, and prepared to fight to the death. The others invited the Romans into the City and surrendered the Palace, to which Pompey sent Piso, one of his senior officers, and a large body of men. Piso posted sentry groups about the city, and as none of the men sheltering in the Temple could be persuaded to come to terms, he removed all obstacles in the vicinity in readiness for an assault, finding the supporters of Hyrcanus most free with advice and assistance. 

Pompey himself on the north side was busy filling in the trench and the entire ravine with material collected by the troops. This was a formidable task, as the depth was immense and the Jews interfered from above in every possible way.... When at last the ravine was filled in, he erected high towers on the platform, brought up the engines he had fetched from Tyre, and began to batter the walls while the stone-throwers prevented any interference from above. But for a long time little impression was made on the towers, which in this sector were massive and splendid to a degree.

While the Romans were suffering severely Pompey was amazed at the unshakable endurance of the Jews, especially their maintenance of all the religious ceremonies in the midst of a storm of missiles. Just as if deep peace enfolded the City the daily sacrifices... and every other act of worship were meticulously carried out to the glory of G-d....

Close this window and return to the Tunnel Tour