Eusebius was born in the early 260s, probably in Caesarea. He became Bishop of Caesarea in about 313, and died 30th May 339. He attended the Council of Nicaea, where the Arian controversy blew up, and found himself under condemnation for his views. He also met the Emperor Constantine, and conceived a great admiration for him. His major work was The History of the Church, which is available in the original Greek. The following important historical passage is taken from Book 3, Section 5, and is a translation by G. A. Williamson in 1965.
The final siege of the Jews after Christ.
The crushing weight of famine
When Nero had been master of the empire for thirteen years, the business of Galba and Otho occupied a year and a half; and then Vespasian, after his dazzling success in the campaigns against the Jews, was proclaimed emperor while still in Judaea, after being hailed as Imperator by the armies there. He at once set out for Rome, entrusting the war against the Jews to his son Titus.
After the Ascension of our Saviour, the Jews had followed up their crime against Him by devising plot after plot against His disciples. First they stoned Stephen to death; then James the son of Zebedee and brother of John was beheaded; and finally James, the first after our Saviour’s Ascension to be raised to the bishop’s throne there, lost his life in the way described, while the remaining apostles, in constant danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judaea. But to teach their message they travelled into every land in the power of Christ, who had said to them: ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations in my name.’ [Matthew 28:19]
Furthermore, the members of the Jerusalem church, by means of an oracle given by revelation to acceptable persons there, were ordered to leave the City before the war began and settle in a town in Peraea called Pella. To Pella those who believed in Christ migrated from Jerusalem; and as if holy men had utterly abandoned the royal metropolis of the Jews and the entire Jewish land, the judgment of God at last overtook them for their abominable crimes against Christ and His apostles, completely blotting out that wicked generation from among men.
The calamities which at that time overwhelmed the whole nation in every part of the world; the process by which the inhabitants of Judaea were driven to the limits of disaster; the thousands and thousands of men of every age who together with women and children perished by the sword, by starvation, and by countless other forms of death; the number of Jewish cities besieged and the horrors they endured – especially the terrible and worse than terrible sights that met the eyes of those who sought refuge in Jerusalem itself as an impregnable fortress; the character of the whole war and the detailed events at all its stages; the last scene of all when the Abomination of Desolation announced by the prophets was set up in the very Temple of God, once world- renowned, when it underwent utter destruction and final dissolution by fire – all this anyone who wishes can gather in precise detail from the pages of Josephus’ history.*
I must draw particular attention to his statement that the people who flocked together from all Judaea at the time of the Passover Feast and – to use his own words – were shut up in Jerusalem as if in a prison, totalled nearly three million. It was indeed proper that in the very week in which they had brought the Saviour and Benefactor of mankind, God’s Christ, to His Passion, they should be shut up as if in a prison and suffer the destruction that came upon them by the judgment of God.
[*Josephus. Wars of the Jews. Book 5. Chapters 1-13. “From the coming of Titus to besiege Jerusalem to the great extremity to which the Jews were reduced.” An interval of about 6 months.]