Why Did Jerusalem Fall to the Romans?


Quick Answer

Jerusalem fell to the Roman army in 70 A.D. after a six-month siege by three legions under the command of Titus. The Romans first starved the city, then battered down its walls with siege engines. After the breach, Roman soldiers flooded the city and burned Herod's Temple.

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Full Answer

Jerusalem revolted against Roman rule in 66 A.D., at the outbreak of the Great Jewish War. Determined Jewish resisters, known as Zealots, took control of the city and killed or drove out members of the Roman military garrison and civil government. After the defeat of the rebels in Galilee and the death of the emperor Nero in 68 A.D., the Roman general Titus was free to march almost his entire force south to Jerusalem by February, in the year 70.

Titus, seeking to starve out Jerusalem's defenders, allowed pilgrims to enter the city for Passover, then sealed the surrounding area with a food blockade. After several months, and at least one failed attempt to parlay with the rebels, the Romans brought up battering rams and forced their way through the walls and improvised defenses of the city. Josephus, who chronicled the siege, claimed that over one million residents were killed in the ensuing chaos and that at least 97,000 captives were taken as slaves.

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