The Jewish Eye
Story of The Churban - Part 8
Part 8: Romans Enter Yerushalayim, Head For Bais HaMikdash
By the end of Tammuz, the Romans had breached the walls of the Antonia Fortress and occupied it. There was now a clear path to Har Habayis. The warriors who were still able to fight retreated behind the high walls of the Bais Hamikdash. The Romans' next step was conquering Har HaBayis. Yochanan and his follows fought off the Romans valiantly until the Romans were forced to withdraw into Antonia. The Romans then breached one of the walls surrounding the inner courtyard of the Bais Hamikdash, the Azara. The Romans attacked the Jews with swords, and the Jews fought back, in the worst battle ever waged inside Yerushalayim. The Romans and Jews were crowded together in a close area with no place to escape; their dead bodies fell on top of each other. From the morning until the night, the Azara was filled with blood, which flowed like a stream. Most of the dead were Romans; the Jews had won the upper hand during this battle. The surviving Jews stripped the Roman corpses of their weapons.
Titus was slowly realizing that conquering the Bais Hamikdash was going to be a long protracted struggle. The Romans had lost tens of thousands of soldiers, and were still not close to conquering the city. They almost gave up all hope, saying, "We won't win against this city even if we fight to our death. Let's end this war now and leave the city before it becomes the place of our death." Titus, however, was not ready to give up and ordered his soldiers to destroy the Antonia Fortress, which provided them with a wide area to attack the Bais Hamikdash.
Throughout the Roman siege and assaults, the avodah in the Bais Hamikdash had continued without cease. The Kohanim continued bringing korbanos even as warfare took place in the courts of the Sanctuary. On the seventeeth of Tammuz, no lamb could be found for the Korban Tamid, and the korbanos ceased. In addition, the kohanim had joined the warfare, and no kohanim remained without a mum. The Jews mourned the cessation of korbanos and saw it as an ominous sign.
Titus became aware of the Jews' inability to continue bringing korbanos and of the effect the famine was having inside the city. He decided to try to make peace. He sent his spokesman, Josephus, to persuade the Jews to surrender. The Jewish warriors turned deaf ears to his words and ejected him from their presence. They continued to believe until the very end that Hashem would ultimately save them.
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