The Jewish Eye
Story of The Churban - Part 11
Part 11: The Lost Battle Continues
The Bais Hamikdash was burning, but the Upper City was still occupied by Shimon Bar Giora and his men. Yochanan of Gush Chalav, and his men, who had been defeated in the Lower City, escaped from the Romans through a tunnel on Har Habayis, and joined the fighters in the upper city. However, with the loss of the Bais Hamikdash, the warriors had little motivation to continue warding off the Romans. They agreed to surrender if they would be allowed to leave the city unharmed, but Titus would not agree to their conditions. He was aghast that the Zealots would even try to negotiate with the victorious Romans. The warriors wanted to avoid cost falling into the hands of the Romans at all cost, and they continued defending themselves.
The Romans prepared to assault the upper city. First, however, they finished razing the Lower City. They set fire to the city archives building, the town council, the mansions, the old Herodian Palace which stood next to the Tower of Dovid, and every house, many of which were filled with bodies of Jews who had perished from starvation. They did not take any captives because all survivors had escaped to the Upper City. The survivors who were too weak to run to the Upper City were slaughtered and fed to the Romans' dogs.
The Upper City had not yet been breached, and the Romans had to once again build ramps and towers in order to position their war machines. On the seventh day of Elul, the Romans began to batter the walls with their battering rams. In a few days, they successfully breached the walls, and occupied the city. The Romans hung their flags on the three towers of the Fortress of Dovid, and celebrated their victory. They murdered all the Jews they encountered, or took them as captives. When the Romans searched the houses for booty, they instead found countless dead bodies. The 480 beautiful shuls in Yerushalayim were razed.
Many of the Zealots escaped to subterranean caves and tunnels, but this only prolonged the inevitable. The Roman soldiers eventually tore up the streets and found the tunnels. Within the tunnels were two thousand dead bodes. Some had succumbed to hunger, others had committed suicide, and some were eventually captured by the Romans. Yochanan of Gush Chalav and Shimon bar Giora were both captured alive. They were shackled in chains, brought to Rome, and were forced to marched in Titus' victory parade. Shortly later, Shimon was executed, and Yochanan spent the rest of his life in a Roman prison.
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