I havent really told you all about this, but i have actually been writing a novella called IUDEA CAPTA. Set during the Jewish revolt of AD 70, it follows the story of Judah, a former rebel who has to fight for his freedom and that of fellow Roman jews in the arena. It touches on whether extremism only hurts those in whose name it is fought. The book is on Authonomy, a website where authors submit work and the most popular get sent to HarperCollins. If you like the following extract, could you register on the site : http://www.authonomy.com/ReadBook.aspx?bookid=22245#chapter and back the book?? many thanks, I hope you enjoy!
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.”
Psalm 137, 5-7.
August 4th 70 AD.
A tall lone figure stared into the distance. The dark black sky was illuminated only by the fires that raged around. The streets were rivers of blood beneath his feet; blood released by thousands of blades. Numerous screams pierced the air like many spears. He then looked up. The great temple, the “House of God”, lay on the mountain, consumed by a ferocious fire of crimson and orange, its reflection illuminated the streets of blood. He was sickened by this act of barbarism. How ironic that to put out the fires of rebellion, they started another fire. Was this Gehenna, he thought, was God now condemning Jerusalem to hell?
He had fought against Roman oppression for four years- four long years of blood, gore, and sacrifice. His kippah, once having the appearance of the deepest blue silk, with golden thread, was now stained by the blood of many battles. His gladius, a symbol of his hatred of Rome, was worn by duels with the mighty legions. Barbarians, he thought. What right did they have to occupy the Promised Land given by God? What right did they have sacking Jerusalem- city of King David, home to the House of God? Now it didn’t matter- the Romans had triumphed. As the blazing inferno crackled, the legions descended on the sanctuary like vultures on a rotting corpse, taking away everything they could find in the Temple treasury.
“Judah, we must regroup!” a voice shouted.
“I’m not going. I’m tired of fighting,” Judah replied. If only people had said this from the start, he thought, this catastrophe wouldn’t have occurred. Like most things however, it had the smallest of triggers.
Passover 66 AD Temple of Jerusalem
The incense rose from the great altar that lay before the Holy of Holies. Hanan handed the sacrificial lamb to Judah, who was mumbling prayers. He stroked its soft wool and in a quick move he slit its throat with a curved dagger which he held in his hand. Another priest caught the blood that rained down in a goblet of the purest silver. Judah felt the life bleed out of the lamb, its head turning limb in his hand. He empathised, but this was the tradition of Passover, a tradition a priest of all people couldn’t stand in the way of.
The tranquillity of the ceremony has broken by the sound of many sandals pounding on the rocky floor. The golden eagle standard came into view, the infamous totem of the Romans. “What do they want now?” Judah murmured to himself.
This is a holy festival; you have no right to be here!” Hanan yelled, his senior authority as high priest was displayed by the way he took the initiative.
“We are here to collect the money you owe us,” the centurion replied, “You had your chance to pay up peacefully, now we’re here to collect.” Judah tried to stop a soldier advancing, but was knocked to the ground by the roman’s weighty shield. The other priest tried feebly to do the same, only to end up on the floor. They advanced into the sanctuary, seizing the money chests and everything of value. These Jews still need to pay their taxes, the legionary thought.
Hanan whistled and archers appeared from their hiding places on the walls that surrounded the inner court. They caught the Romans off guard as they carried the gold, picking them off one by one with their deadly arrows with pinpoint accuracy. Judah picked up a wooden stave that lay behind the altar and blocked a sword blow whilst using his feet to knock the roman to the floor.
Judah then picked up the Roman’s gladius and plunged it into his stomach, releasing an instantaneous spurt of blood. He then stopped another soldier slaying a fellow priest by stabbing him through his neck.
“Thank you Judah,” Josephus said as Judah helped him up from the floor, embracing his old friend in gratitude.
“Regroup,” the centurion yelled as the Romans fled the scene leaving the chests behind them. After bloody fighting in the narrow streets of the city, rocks being thrown from windows and tiles raining down from the rooftops, the rebels drove the occupiers out of the city.