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RASH. Does it not seem to you that the city of Jerusalem is very fortunate in having acquired Jehochanan as its leader in this war, who is better at governing this city with this authority, since he is trained in the art of war and long accustomed to fighting against the Romans? He could have destroyed the Roman army in battle, except that the greater glory of defending the capital city lured him away, as the famous captain planned to defend it with his forces.
JEH. The more powerful Jehochanan is in war, the more the city has to fear. A successful defense of Galilee would have given him enough honor. Our capital city required no domestic defense, since the plan was to attack the enemy in the outlying regions. Who is not afraid of Jehochanan’s doubtful loyalty? If he did not shrink from betraying his home town, how can this city pin its hopes on him, a stranger?
RASH. Do not condemn this great-hearted leader’s fidelity. Why should he have run risks for Gischala or in the small villages? His retreat from Gischala was honorable, as long as is aim is to defend the holy Temple.
JEH. Such a concern for Jerusalem moves him but little; he is swept along by his blind arrogance and intent to gain control of the city. I swear to God that I say this unwillingly, but your safety, city of David, compels me. While that noble captain Josephus was allotted the territory of Galilee with a mandate to repel the enemy from his lands, what snares did Jehochanan set for him? By what schemes did he strive to remove this enemy of his, so that he alone could occupy the tyranny and govern everything according to his whim? Although Josephus conferred high honors on him, Jehochanan himself, a fugitive still in the heat of excitement and practically panting, tells us that he betrayed Gischala to the enemy. How many thousand men were killed in her fields? How many amazed men followed him as their leader in this retreat? I do not speak of little children and loyal wives, struck by fear of the enemy, who were companions in his sorry escape. But in his flight there was no distinction of age or sex. A strong man ought to die for his nation, not betray his fellow-citizens to the enemy.
RASH. Suspicion is no light torment for the mind. Fear falsely creates new terrors for itself, nor ever was a good prophet of the future. [Exit.]
JEH. He has left. Alas, how great an evil hangs over our race when blind rumor reports that the abandoned populace of Gischala has suffered ill at the hands of the Romans! This is no small indication of our own impending ruin. [Enter Alanus of Emmaus.]
AL. What horrible band of Furies scourges us? The prison of Hell is broken and the baleful father of the shades has sent a great wounding against the city.
JEH. What savage regret has made you so downcast?
AL. Blind madness agitates our neighboring towns. They turn against themselves, savaging themselves with domestic strife. They steal other men’s goods, daring everything. Their madness shrinks from no wrongdoing.
JEH. What was the cause of such a commotion among our citizens?
AL. Blind greed, a grasping mind, excessive freedom. Armed soldiers occupy all the fields, nor can this lunacy confine itself to the towns, so great is the poison infecting their inhabitants. They range far and wide carrying their pitchforks, stealing, plundering, treating everything as hostile. Now they have marked Jerusalem as their prey. [The sound of the oncoming peasants is heard.} This unholy band menaces us with its noise. Why do I hesitate to report these things to our leaders?
JEH. Why should the Romans plan any savagery against our city? Here at home our citizens oppress her sufficiently. Why should I unhappily wait for the downfall of my city? Vespasian, as a fugitive I shall follow your standards, since I am ashamed to see my fatherland smoking with fire. Henceforth no salvation can be hoped for in this city.


ROBBER CHIEF What point is there in dallying over rustic loot and flying through the fields burning humble cottages? In the city is immense wealth. There are garments decorated with gold and Tyrian purple, there are necklaces glittering with gems. The spoils to be had would be worthy of Alexander the Great. Treacherous young men have taken up arms against the leading citizens, and the city is wracked with civic infighting. The magistrates are afraid to govern their city and holds its reins loosely. The inhabitants are looting with impunity. Why should we let such plunder slip through our hands? Let us hasten to enter there. Attack! No delay!
PEASANT CHIEF Those whose backs are bent by their labor, while they work the stubborn earth with the plow, for whom leeks and garlic are delicacies, who greedily munch black bread, who are scarcely ashamed to cover their nakedness with skins and to let their toes poke out of their worn shoes, may now relax their bodies in peace. Let them stuff their bellies. Long enough we have idly loaded ourselves with spoils from the country. But why should we linger for goats or sluggish cattle? Onions and sheeps’ heads no longer delight us, or whatever other dainties the countryside has to offer. In the city every manner of feasting exists in abundance. There is wine, there is an immense supply of grain. There is soft clothing and heaps of wealth. Although our need arms us with pitchforks, whips and clubs, the city will furnish us with other weapons. All together now, let us break in.


AN. Manache, glory of the city and sole support of your collapsing nation, do you see the walls teeming with weapons and men? What evil does their audacity beget? Leaders of rogues have come from all the villages and fields. They openly rush hither and thither in the market place, escorted by their bands of followers, alarming our citizens, whom they themselves should fear. Nor is this enough trouble for the city. The kind of men whom the fields and towns knew before, we now know within our own walls: greedy, menacing, reeking of murder, truculent, who take pleasure in public misfortunes, and who care not a whit about distinctions of right and wrong, sacred and profane, legal and outlaw. The people are amazed with dread, as if some enemy were occupying the city. Every man cares about his private welfare, nobody about the common good. Furthermore, I do not think that the entire race of fishes or all the produce of the land could feed all these mouths. Their number creates famine, their greediness squabbles, their madness war. And an even greater storm threatens us from Jehochanan, that unprincipled architect of schemes, hungry for the throne, who makes his way towards the scepter through the ruination of our people and the ashes of our city. If he allies himself with these newcomers as leader and friend, the city will be overthrown to its very foundations. The Romans will immediately attack the city, shattered by mutual carnage, and will easily overcome its exhausted forces.
MAN. This crowd of newcomers, because of whom the city is vexed and is abuzz with suspicion, does not lack Jehochanan’s vicious leadership. He is both excessively violent and disposed to revolution, and he goads them on. His poison creeps within by stealthy degrees, spreading far and wide. It is necessary to put him down quickly. Seduce this man by the gifts at your disposal, and extol him with abundant praises. Pretend to think that he is loyal to you. Put him in charge of public affairs and actions. Load him down with rewards and conquer him, if he can be conquered. In sum, make him believe that he is your intimate. By degrees play on this arrogant captain’s hopes and fears for your benefit. Learn what he thinks about these newcomers and their bands.
AN. But what bonds can secure his slippery faith?
MAN. Give him new titles, hail him was the father of his country. Bid him be present at our public meetings, urge him to busy himself on behalf of the republic — on the condition that he first swear a loyalty oath to the city. Not that his faithfulness is suspect, but because it is illegal for anybody to belong to the Sanhedrin or the Council who has not previously sworn a solemn oath to serve his nation and its interests until the final day of his life. In sum, promise him everything, as long as he takes this oath to the city, so that he will suppress these newly-come rebels and free the city from this dire source of fear.
AN. I shall not delay in putting your advice into action. I shall give it my entire effort. Such an important matter does not tolerate any longer delay. You for your part must excite the minds of our fellow citizens, sluggish and torpid with fear. Inspire our leading citizens, lest the leaders of this domestic evildoing devour everything like a general fire-storm. Let them, keeping in mind their nation and the public good, curb the Zealots’ insolence. For these scoundrels adopt this title, as if they surpass everybody in their zeal for virtue, so that by their deception they may take over the nation. While anxious [At this point there is a lacuna in the text. As it resumes, Jehochanan enters.]
Jehochanan bar Levi, great-hearted leader, sole consolation of your afflicted city, I do not know which is greater, your loyalty, your prudence, or the strength of your mind. Free our city, which places its greatest hope in you, from tyranny. You always excel in wisdom and surpass the rest of our generals in your skill at war.
JEH. Most holy father, great glory of the city, although my mind burned to help my beloved Gischala more fully, I have hastened here so that I might defend the sacred city with my forces, my home town left behind me. Nor shall I hesitate to spill my blood, if only my exertion is welcome to Jerusalem. Here my virtue will shine the more.
AN. I hardly need say how welcome your arrival is to the holy city, since you desire to assume responsibility for the public safety. For which reason, I now require the light of your intelligence. You see that turbulent throngs of strangers flock here. At first I thought this would be useful for the city, but the more I think these things over, the more I am suddenly drawn into fear lest these people steal everything according to their whim, and the city become prey to her neighbors.
JEH. Do not feel suspicious of the faith of these outsiders, offered in good will. Rejected affection begets hatred and does not easily accept the bridle. Who is not eager to defend the holy city, and bravely to protect the Temple of the Lord?
AN. Your loyalty has long been proven. Our sacred city deservedly calls you its patron. After this, you may take part in our public council, if only you will swear faithfulness to the city — not that I doubt your fidelity, but because our ancestral custom requires that such an oath be sworn by adopted leaders.
JEH. I swear by the God of our forefathers, Whom I serve, that I shall never betray the loyalty I have sworn to Jerusalem, nor shall I reveal her secrets to our enemies. I shall always use my arms to prosecute rebels. The sun will begrudge the world his light, the glittering stars fall to earth, the treacherous earth will deny us her fruits, before Jerusalem will have cause to condemn my oath.
AN. Now I regard you as the commander of the city. How much concern you have for the public welfare! We must calm these domestic commotions. But I hope to give peace back to our city, and I hope that the Temple will not be foully stained by our citizens’ blood. For we must fight here, if necessary, to subdue the Zealots in battle. But you yourself will be responsible for this effort, since you can easily change the fierce dispositions of these wicked men and persuade them to make an end of their contention. Rather, our citizens should stand together under arms, lest our common enemy conquer both factions when they are exhausted by mutual killing and we become a great laughing-stock to the gentiles. I shall not stop piously seeking to move the Zealots, so that they soften their riotous spirits. Now I shall enter the Temple and offer up a victim as a prayer for peace. [Exit.]
JEH. What now, Jehochanan? Now summon your cleverness, your tricks and wiles, the whole Jehochanan. Now the need is for artfulness. If you support the leading citizens as an armed soldier, and take the lead in putting down the citizenry’s rebellious rioting, small glory will enhance you, a puny reward for your effort. But if you ally yourself with Eleazer and strive to aid him with your forces, and plunder the magnificent treasures of this proud city, much booty will be yours. If you are intelligent, the whole city is in your power.


Let the Curtaines of the Temple be drawen and within let Janitores stand with wood for the sacrifice. Also Levitae with bason and Ewer, Towell and salt. Let a stone altar be set up in the courtyard next to the portico of the Tempole. Let the Preist that doth sacrifice stand at the Altar, and then turne him to the people, and taking a white staff of a Levite, say as followeth.

JEHOSHUE THE PRIEST Come now, celebrate the sacrifice. Let the pious be silent.

Then let him turne to the Altar having delivered the staffe away, and so kneeling and, holding the horns of the altar, say:

Oh Thou Who possesses the precinct of the star-spangled heaven and paints the bright sky with Your wandering fire, kindly accept our prayers with a merciful heart, so that a pleasing victim will drench the sacred altars with his blood. You made a way for our forefathers through the roaring waters of the outspread sea, when the stilled mass of the water gave way for us. The recoiling waves towered on either side like walls, at the time when they left the kingdom of the Nile, passing over the dry sand. Pharaoh’s kingdom, smitten by so many plagues, was swept away by the sea’s chaotic eddy, because it d9id not know how to abandon its arrogant spirit. But our ancestors knew no limit to their evildoing. Love of pleasure overthrew their rebellious souls, nor could the kindness of a merciful God or all the portents of Egypt soften our ancestors’ frenzied minds. For forty years this arrogant nation did not cease abusing the eternal Father with its wanton insults. But You, a mild and merciful God, persisted in suspending their punishment and softening Your anger, mindful of Your chosen people, and You did not break Your Covenant with Abraham. God’s many deeds did not make an impression on these foolish people, swollen by success. Their self-confidence further blinded their minds. They created false gods for themselves and shrank from no wrongdoing. But You, remembering Your Covenant, did not destroy this rebellious people, and You gave them their own land.
Behold, we are prostrate at Your altars. With friendly countenance heed our prayers. No offerings can equal to Your merits.

Let the Sacrificer then wash his hands, the Gabaonites giving the Levites water and Towell, and after lay his handes on the lambes head, the face being turned to the heavens and say,

With his blood this unblemished lamb will wash away the blot which our unbridled willfulness has incurred, this innocent animal will purge us guilty ones. Grant Your citizens sustaining pledges of Your peace.

Then let one of the Priests receive the lambe and kill it. Then let the Sacrificer soak the horns of the altar with its blood, caught in a cup. Then let the Levites remove the victim’s skin, the fat which covers its vitals and whatever fat may be within, the two kidneys together with the fat which covers the intestines, and the caul of the liver with the []. Let them afterwards wash the meat and, scattering salt on the pyre, place it on the fire for burning. In the mean season let the singers, the Levites, the Priests, make loud music with the accompaniment of cymbals, harps, and organs, so that their sound is heard from afar. Let them sing Psalm 136 with the congragation worshipping, until the sacrifice is finished.

 Let us sing of the sacred Divinity, our gentle Father, always kindly in His great mercy, to Whom tyrants bow down their resplendent scepters, always kindly in His great mercy, Who alone creates miracles for this amazed world, always kindly in His great mercy. He commanded the land to rise from the watery waves, always kindly in His great mercy. He kindled the flaming stars in the crystal heaven, always kindly in His great mercy. He bade the sun order the day, always kindly in His great mercy. He bade the moon govern night’s shadows, always kindly in His great mercy. He parted the waters of the Red Sea, always kindly in His great mercy. He made the flood stand on either side like walls, always kindly in His great mercy. He led His people through the barren desert, always kindly in His great mercy. He laid low the rulers with greatest slaughter, always kindly in His great mercy. He laid low Og, who trusted in his strength, always kindly in His great mercy. Sihon the Amorite shamefully fell in battle, always kindly in His great mercy. He considered His people in their hard circumstances, always kindly in His great mercy, and He has turned our foreign enemies away from our heads, always kindly in His great mercy.

While this Psalm is sung the Sedicious kneeling amoung the people adoring shall heere and there kill one with a dagger secretly, and the party falling downe shalbe carried away by such two as shall kneel next unto them.

GAMALA Our citizens are falling, done in by stealthy wounds. See how the hostile predator slips his knife into the side of those intent on the rites! The assassin, ready at hand, hides his murder, and death forestalls our complaints. They are seeking to escape death by flight. Ah, what a foul crime, polluting the holy Temple with bloodshed!

And so let the Curtaine be drawen and the sacrifice interrupted.

ELEAZER (to his soldiers.) Faithful comrades, whom an ardent zeal for virtue inflames because it is necessary to purge our holy city of impious citizens, I cannot praise you sufficiently. Hasten where your excellent character summons you. Conspiracy is not always to be condemned: revolution is the mother of good lawmaking. There are just wars which necessity enjoins. But why do your spirits burn to exact revenge on the unarmed populace or the fickle mob? Rather, if you wish to be free at last (as brave men should), it is more expedient to get the better of the leading citizens, who arrogate everything to themselves unjustly and put on royal airs, being in possession of great wealth. Throw those vermin, if I may so call them, out of the city. Thus you will achieve all your aims, with the general populace either cheering you on or immobilized by terror.
See how Antipas, Levias, and Sophias bar Raguel put on airs because of their royal blood, thinking they are better than their fellow citizens. We must arrest them and put them in a dark prison. Thus we can enrich ourselves with great wealth and the city will immediately fall into our power. Piety, loyalty, a sense of shame, these are private virtues. There is no great plan which lacks some admixture of evil, but it is defended for the public good. No nation long endures where great virtue dwells with impunity. [To one of his followers.] Therefore take a military escort and at once throw these leading citizens into heavy chains. They are eager to betray the holy city to the enemy and admit the Romans inside the walls, in order to prop up their power within the city with Roman help. Your only guarantee of safety is that, if anything offers you resistance, you should eliminate it on the spot. Undertake this crime, albeit it is a harsh one. Wrongdoing must be paid back in kind. The cowardly mind is afraid and fears punishment, but no obstacle is insurmountable for bold men. Happy success makes crimes praiseworthy. Good fortune erases an evil reputation, and a great reputation even convinces people you are a good man. A man who only punishes crime commits one himself. Out of fear men extol the names of the wicked. The jail, the judge, the bench, the jury, these are hobgoblins for the common man, but jokes for the strong. Give a free rein to bloodshed, to cold steel and the torch. Considerations of personal safety require this. Nobody is safe at home — unless he is a winner. [Enter Jehochanan.]
  JEH. Flower of the Zealots, you unique man, I do not think it sufficiently safe merely to keep so many leading men of the city in bondage. This is too insignificant — a greater crime must be dared. We must either win through our evildoing or die shamefully. People think that throwing so many important men in chains is an unworthy deed, but they do not know how to translate their resentment into action. You should cut off this danger at its source. First order the captives to be killed. Let a remedy be found for this evil. Who is so foolish as to take up arms on behalf of a dead man? Why do you fear at such a late date?
EL. Patience, when abused, turns to rage.
JEH. Cruelty, even if atrocious, stings less once it is inflicted. You can readily repress the fickle mob’s anger, either by adroitness or by terror. It scarcely matters whether the citizens love you or hate you. By either intimidation or artfulness not only vice creates dissension in their minds — so does virtue.
EL. Jehochanan bar Dorcas, always my faithful friend, I entrust this to your prudence and loyalty. Take ten men with you. Stab the men you find in the prison. Spread the rumor that they have secretly communicated with our enemies, and that we have provided for the city’s welfare by killing them. For the city is being abandoned and secretly betrayed to the Romans by the upper class. Make the bold claim that they are guilty of capital crimes and their loyalty is abandoned, we are only the eager protectors of the city, inspired by our patriotism and great love, acting so that our enemy’s cohorts will not build camps in our market-place. Meanwhile, Jehochanan, describe the situation in the city and the state of public opinion.
JEH. The city, as if overcome by sudden panic, is in a state of amazement. People look here and there, astonished, as rumor’s light breeze terrifies them with the news that the city’s leaders have been snatched into a remarkable captivity with impunity. While the citizens were anxious for them, they were also exhibiting fear for their own welfare. But Joseph bar Gorion and Schimeon bar Gamaliel, each a distinguished man, and also Anani bar Anani, Gamala and Jehoshua, excoriated the people for their cowardice and urged them to take up arms on behalf of the nation. They should expose themselves to war’s risks in the open, doing and suffering all of war’s extremities, rather than put up with such constant outrages. My friend, you must be the first to occupy the Temple, which is like a citadel, that it might be a base of operations and a secure place for you and your followers. If the people, acting out of blind fury, should take up arms and attack you, you must be informed. Anani will scarcely let anyone lay violent hands on the Temple, nor allow anyone to enter who has not previously been purified. We need prudence and steady minds. Soon the city will be in our control, if only we have the courage to go out to meet our destiny. Nothing can stand in the way of great courage.
EL. But we must act industriously, so that nobody will immediately act on behalf of the nation and take charge of the government. Each such person will scarcely favor our enterprise. For the worst harm for a revolutionary occurs when dedicated, noble men govern the state.
JEH. I think it is reasonable for the religious year and the cycle of rituals to be suspended. Let the duties of the priesthood be given to base fellows and become sullied. When as the result of our generosity, men reap honors unjustified by their merits or breeding, they will eagerly support us. Let such a person be elected High Priest as we know to be loyal to us.
EL. But it is difficult to transfer the High Priest’s office to someone else. Unless a person is born to the right tribe and family, he can scarcely be elected Priest.
JEH. A law that opposes us can be abolished. Let the holy tiara’s honor no longer remain in select families. In the future this benefice will be accorded by lot, no longer a reward for having been born. Nor is this a new change. Indeed, Anani has acknowledged such and commanded it to be done. Furthermore, by our slanders and deceits let us stir up discords, so that the citizens’ minds will be ill disposed. In the meantime we shall choose a High Priest by lot so that, under the pretext of piety, this advantage will also prop us up and augment our power.
EL. But in the midst of this commotion, all the families who are privileged to participate in an election will come together.
JEH. In these stormy times, who is crazy enough to think that everything will be done in the proper way? It will be enough if one or two families gather. Indeed, a single one can hold an election.
EL. I shall not delay. I shall do it for you. Meanwhile you investigate what these people are doing against us and what business they have in hand. [Exit. Enter Gamala.]
GAM. Sole consolation for the city, famous captain Jehochanan, our citizens ask your help. Unclean men are occupying the Temple. The city, oppressed by scoundrels, calls you its patron, looking towards you alone. Use your strength.
JEH. Gamala, consecrated to God, nothing is more important to me than the common welfare. For our sacred Temple I would spend my life, or anyt5hing that may nearer and dearer to me than life itself. But what advice is Anani lacking at this difficult juncture?
GAM. He is striving to inspire the hesitating, lazy common people and kindling their slow-burning anger against this race of abandoned men. They are good in name only, and the people can neither tolerate their plundering and sacrilege nor dares to attack them, considering them unconquerable.
JEH. Why does the High Priest fruitlessly prepare to arm the people?
GAM. Although he knows that the Zealots are strong and, confident of their numbers, willing to dare everything because of their awareness of their crimes, Anani prefers to try any expedient rather than fail his troubled and almost dead nation. But (and this is his chief reason) he hopes that you will be the city’s champion. For the rebel forces are afraid of your strength and your aspect.
JEH. I am a captain who refuses no labor. But these things must be done as soon as possible, since delay invites danger. [Exit. Enter Jehoshue.]
JEH. Gamala, noble priest of the greatest God, why do we bewail our enemies’ depredations? The cult of God is being mocked.
GAM. Until now they have committed too many atrocities against Men. Do they prepare to attack the Lord?
JEH. The rebel forces do not think that they have contaminated our holy things sufficiently unless they elect a High Priest by lot. But only the clan of Eniachin participated in the election. For the other families were scarcely compelled to attend. By chance the lot fell to a rustic fellow named Phani, son of Samuel, of the village of Aphthia. He is not descended of priests, nor does the priestly succession belong to his family. He had scarcely heard the word “priest.” Such an election sufficiently shows their depravity: they decided that this man was to be clothed in the sacred vestments.
GAM. Alas, you speak of an impious, foul misdeed. That any man should make a mockery of God’s cult! Anani has recommended that the Priest be chosen by lot so that the decision be left to God. If the Zealots choose a Priest by lot, this would be abrogation of our ancestral tradition, done so that they might gain the freedom to occupy offices for themselves. {They see Phani and his escort approaching the Temple.]
JEH. But, alas Phani the famous Priest is being led here from his fields. What cruel Indian or inhospitable Scythian could hold back his tears? Who has seen our holy things so impiously mocked? Father of the universe, can You tolerate such a sin? Heaven will tremble with Your terrible lightning. Sun, bury your starry head in dense cloud. Do not witness this ruination of our sacred Law. [Exeunt. Enter Phani and his escort, commanded by Jiptach.]
JIPT. Why, Phani, do you walk so slowly, in amazement? You want to turn your ancient body backwards although you urge it to go forward, and you move your unwilling feet. As High Priest, chosen by a pious lottery, you must govern your people, a great interpreter of God’s will.
PHAN. I am a peasant, I do not know what a priest is. I should be turning the earth with my curved plough. How good it is for the happy meadow to thrust up crops for my herd! Thus my cows’ udders will swell and my belligerent bull-calves will be eager to play, butting their as yet hornless heads together. The playful lamb, ignorant of the wolf, will gambol on the high mountains.
JIPT. Phani, forget your happy flocks. Now you must consider yourself to be the High Priest. The linen turban will encircle your consecrated head, and the gem-encrusted robe will cover your body. The blue tunic, decorated with told, will drape your shoulders. A robe, skillfully embroidered and glittering with rare gems, will enhance your front, and the baldric of our forefathers, adroitly wove, will be about your side as the solemn procession brings you to the holy Temple.
PHAN. But this makes my mind very anxious, that the land refuses to bear its promised crops unless the diligent farmer turns the earth with his plough. Nothing makes the fields happier than to be trod frequently by their owner.
JIPT. [To himself.] Why does shameful Fortune rejoice in poking fun at our solemn undertakings? When the lot selected this hayseed Phani as our High Priest, he was chosen with less discrimination than would be a senior magistrate. Although the single clan Eniachin has boldly been convened, none of our sacred traditions ought to be changed easily. This clod rules, aided by our voice. Why does a sense of shame, banished so long, strike my heart? The cruel sword sings the best prophecy. [To Phani.] Be happy, Phani; say farewell to your fields and cattle. If you, the Priest, insolently refuse your vestments, and will not allow the tiara to crown your head, urgent pain will force you to do your duty. Hurry up, move your lazy legs, reverend father. [Exit Phani and his retinue. Enter Anani and those who will comprise his audience.]

ANANI (addressing the people), MANNEH, ALKIM

MAN. Why does the Priest contemplate the Law so long in silence, and drench his face with sad sobbing?
AN. I should have submitted to the rule of savage Death a thousand times, rather than permit the house of God to be polluted by unclean sins. Impious mean tread the Temple with profane feet, inflated by their booty and the murder of citizens. The priest, clad in his holy vestments, is slaughtered. I shall go there by myself. I shall offer myself as a victim on behalf of the altars and courts. For what is the good in living among men who neither bemoan nor even feel the murders they commit? Our unhappy race, long oppressed, neither perceives nor tries to ward off these impending evils. Oh harsh Fates! Oh lamentable tyranny! But why am I complaining of tyrants? They have grown, while you in your power remain silent. We should have broken their first attacks. This evil has grown because of our delay. You have been struck down by this wound when you stupidly tolerated the bitter slander of neighbors, the terrible imprisonment of upright men, the very barbarous killing of so many innocents. Our leading men have died, betrayed when you held your hand, nor has that timid power of yours, once so praiseworthy, demanded revenge for their wrongful murder. And alas, the sacred sanctuary of almighty God is trod underfoot while you men are living and breathing. These people have mixed the sacred and the profane. There is no end to these evils, crime is piled on crime. The Zealots have in hand even greater enterprises, and for this city nothing remains sacrosanct or sound. As I say, they are holding the Temple as their fortress.
Everything burns with warlike zeal, while a savage tyrant looms above our necks. For we are delaying the Romans, who are bringing aid to the Temple. Oh miserable situation, our city’s sad condition! Our enemy feels pity for this slaughter, while you feel nothing. After all their evildoing, these men live on unpunished, who polluted their native soil with the spilt blood of their fellow Jews. Beasts would scarcely tolerate such a disgraceful act. Oh bravest shades of our ancestors, where have you vanished? You routed the Medes and the Egyptians and with the gentiles’ spoil you established this most famous nation on the very spot where wars are now being fought.
The Zealots seek a free mode of life. Are you not ashamed to be unable to tolerate the capital of the world and submit to the gentiles’ yoke, seeking to throw out the Romans, and yet to tolerate domestic overlords? The Romans have no wish to violate our sacred things, but nothing is sacred to the Zealots. Our barbarian enemy is fair, they are impious. In the Temple can be seen the gentiles’ lavish gifts. No enemy ever profaned the sacred thresholds, but from afar they trembled at the holy barrier. But these people strut about the Holy of Holies, their hands steaming with blood. Rise up, you wretches. Our revenge is long overdue. Do not be intimidated by their numbers. Why do you hesitate so long? This rebel band increases day by day because of your delay, gathering strength. Looting and thievery increases their self-confidence, but even more so does your patience. Arm yourselves. These people are bound by awareness of their criminality. God, mighty in battle, will strengthen your spirits with His power. He will confound our enemies’ bloody shafts, and these impious citizens will fall by their own weapons.
ALK. We shall follow you, our leader in battle, and are willing to undergo any danger. We shall carry out your orders. Command anything.
MAN. I recognize the noble seed of Abraham, great-hearted men who know no slavery. Now therefore let every man arm himself.


What are you doing now, Jehochanan? To what a pass affairs have come in the city! You see what civic panic exists. Upheaval is overturning everything. Now on your own authority take sole control of the city. While these people are worrying about their individual welfare they neglect their common good. Soon you can wield in your hand the usurped scepter. But I am afraid lest the Zealots cannot withstand the angry citizens’ attack. Why is my heart anxious? Where are your tricks and wiles, Jehochanan? You must take risks. It is no longer useful to restrain the armed Zealots. The greedy race of Idumaeans, hungry for glory, delights in tumult, and is prone to revolution. So I should make them my allies in this struggle. Who wants to keep one’s faith when that would harm him? It will always be reasonable to measure loyalty by expedience.

Go to Act IV of the Second Action