Visual Timeline of the Roman-Jewish War: Factions

Peace was his real goal.  He knew that Roman power was irresistible, but, when driven to provide for a state of war, he tried to ensure that, if they would not come to terms, the Jews should at least give a good account of themselves.


(AD 66-73)


“it so happened that the sedition at Jerusalem was revived, and parted into three factions, and that one faction fought against the other; which partition in such evil cases may be said to be a good thing, and the effect of divine justice.” (B.J., 5:1:1)

The Wars of the Jews by Flavius Josephus

Organization of “Community of God”
As Found in the Dead Sea Scrolls

High Priest

Son of Zadoc



<——————- Secretariat ————————>

National Courts

/  |  \








Tribal Chiefs Levites Sons of Aaron







Judges Officers |


Council of Community Council of Holiness Master










Clan Chiefs


Heads of Families

The Factions Battle for Power 68 – 70 CE
Maps drawn by G J Goldberg.


Table of the Faction Leaders

Ananus son of Ananus Former high priest; moderate leader of Jerusalem during the rebellion
Eleazar son of Simon Leader of the Zealots, former Temple treasurer [same as Eleazar son of Ananias?]
John of Gischala Josephus’ enemy in Galilee, who fled to Jerusalem and took control of the Zealots
Simon son of Gioras Popular leader from the countryside who gained control of much of Jerusalem
Jesus Christ Active leader of the Christians, who as a group had little to no involvement in the rebellion.
The Idumeans Skilled soldiers from Idumaea, south of Judaea, who were strongly anti-Roman but found themselves manipulated by the factions

Chronology of the Factional Struggle

Where Josephus explicitly give dates of the Hebrew calendar (or the Macedonian equivalent), they are cited here; the translation to the modern calendar follow Niese’s as reported in the Loeb Edition. Other dates are estimates.

Date Event Detail
Fall 66  The Zealots take control of the Temple. The Temple falls under the control of the revolutionaries. (2.15.3 320, 2.15.6. 330, 2.17.2 409)Eleazar son of Simon [aka son of Ananias?] and his “so-called Zealots” make the Temple compound into their fortress. (2.22.1 651, 4.3.7 151;)

The rebels called themselves Zealots, “as though they were zealous in the cause of virtue and not for vice in its basest and most extravagant form.” (4.3.9 161)

 Simon son of Gioras takes shelter in Masada Simon son of Gioras, commander of Acrabatene, is accused of ransacking the houses of the wealthy and deposed by Ananus. Simon and his “following of women” take refuge with the Sicarii at Masada.(2.22.2 652-4; 4.7.3 503-508) [Compare Ananus’ sending an army against Josephus to depose him from his Galilee command.]
August 67 The citizens of Jerusalem are infuriated by news of Josephus’ surrender. News of Josephus’ capture reaches Jerusalem. He is reviled as a coward and a traitor, “and curses were heaped upon his devoted head.” The citizens “were now animated with greater fury against the Romans by the thought that, in having their revenge on them, they would also be avenged on Josephus.”(3.9.5-6 432-442)
Fall/Winter 67 Factionalism reigns everywhere in Judaea. Civil war throughout Judea between “those that were fond of war and those that were desirous of peace…the revolutionary and militant party overpowered by their youth and recklessness the old and prudent.” (4.3.2 131) Guerilla and bandit groups ravage country and town. “The  barbarity and iniquity of  their compatriots differed in no way from the Romans.” (4.3.2 133)
November 67 John of Gischala arrives in Jerusalem John son of Levi flees Gischala after it is surrounded by Titus. John arrives in Jerusalem with his Galilean followers. (4.3.1 121) He reassures the people that although the Romans took Galilee, they had such difficulty taking such small towns that it would be impossible for them to take Jerusalem.
Winter 67/68 Rebel ranks swell. Guerilla groups make their way to Jerusalem to join the forces already there, are welcomed by the populace. (4.3.3 135-7)


Zealots move against royalists. Zealots arrest relatives of King Agrippa on a charge of traitorous conversations with the Romans, beginning with Antipas, a prominent man (who had declined to flee with his kinsmen Costobar and Saul at the beginning of the revolt 2.). Like Eleazar son of Simon, Antipas was one of the public treasurers (the Temple had three, according to Mishnah Shekalim 5.2), and so a rival for control of public funds. Also arrested are royal relatives Levias and Sophas son of Raguel. (4.3.4 140-142)
Royalists executed. Antipas and the others are sentenced to death by the Zealots for treason, and executed by John son of Dorcas and ten other men. (4.4.5 143-5)
Zealots appoint their own High Priest, citing ancient custom. The Zealots annul the succession of the high priesthood by the families that had been appointed by the Herodian family and the Romans, and replace them with the priestly Eniachim tribe (“unknown”, hence untainted by previous contact with the royal family). A democratic (or divinely sanctioned) casting of lots to choose the new High Priest falls on an unlearned man from outside Jerusalem, Phannias son of Samuel. (4.3.6 147-8, 4.3.7-8 153-6)
 Uncertainty among moderates on how to react. The principal men of Jerusalem quarrel among each other. (4.3.6 150)
Moderate leaders urge people to  expel the Zeaolots. In reaction to the Zealot’s executions, control of the Temple and appointing a new High Priest, prominent men urge the populace to drive the Zealots from the Temple compound. Leaders include the priests Ananus and Jesus son of Gamala, Simon son of Gamaliel (who had once tried to depose Josephus), and the wealthy Gorian son of Joseph. (4.3.7 151, 4.3.9 158-160)
Ananus gives speech to the citizens. The people are reluctant to attack the well-armed and trained Zealots, who are “numerous, young and courageous” (4.3.11 193). Ananus urges the citizens with a speech. (4.3.10 162-192)Summary of speech:

1. Ananus reflects he would rather have died before seeing the Temple taken over by “blood-shedding villains.”

2. And he would rather die brefore seeing the populace doing nothing about it.

3. Review of how the Zealots gained power: the people let them gather strength, then verbally abuse the nobles, then plunder their houses, then imprison and execute them, and now hold the strongest place in the city.

4. Asks the people what they are going to do about this tyranny. The tyrants cause more pain and sacrilege than the Romans.

5. Athough the Zealots are strong, if the people come against them the Zealots “will be made tamer by their own consciences” and come to reason. And heaven may assist the people.

Zealots attack first. As Ananus prepares his army for attack, the Zealots, hearing of the plan, strike first, fearing “unless they were victorious no form of punishment would be spared them.” The populace respond at once with stones and javelins, then close in with swords. Injured Zealots returned to the Temple and “stained with their blood the sacred pavement.” (4.3.12 196-201)
Zealots imprisoned in the Temple. The Zealots fall back into the inner court of the Temple and bar the gates as the moderates seize the outer court. (4.3.12 202-204)
Ananus, seeing the strong Zealot position and not wanting to enter the Temple without purification, selects 6000 armed men by lot to guard the porticoes (although the rich hire lower class members to take their place). The Zealots are surrounded. (4.3.12 205-7)
John of Gischala  appointed to negotiate with Zealots. John of Gischala assists Ananus, makes friends of the prominent men, and takes an oath of allegiance to “the people.” He is chosen as ambassador to the Zealots. (4.3.13 208-215)
John the double agent. John, in the Temple, claims Ananus has invited Vespasian to take the city, and that Ananus was planning another attack. (4.3.14 216-223)
 Zealots send to Idumaeans for help. Zealot leaders Eleazar son of Simon and Zacharias son of Phalek decide to send to Idumaea for help. [This is the first time the names of the leaders are given.] (4.4.1 225-232) The Idumeans are military minded, and with little motivation “make haste to a battle as if it were to a feast.” (4.4.1 231) Two swift runners are sent with the message that “unless they would come immediately, they should themselves be soon in the power of Ananus, and the city would be in the power of the Romans.” (4.4.1 229)
20,000 Idumaeans march on Jerusalem. On receiving the message the Idumeans at once gather 20,000 armored men and march on Jerusalem. There are four commanders: John, Jacob son of Sosas, Simon son of Thaceas [or Cathlas], and Phineas son of Clusoth. (4.4.2 233-5)
Ananus shuts the city gates against the Idumaeans. Sighting the approaching Idumaean army, Ananus shuts the gates against them and posts guards on the walls. (4.4.3 236)
Jesus son of Gamalas gives a speech to the Idumaeans. Former high priest Jesus son of Gamalas, second in seniority to Ananus (and friend of Josephus), attempts to persuade the Idumaeans. (4.4.3 237-269)His points:

1. The Zealots are characterized as brigands, scum, pests, insane, reckless, and murderous.

2. Surpise expressed that the Idumaeans in their “shining armor” come to help such scoundrels.

3. The rumors that Jerusalem was going to be surrendered to the Romans are false and inherently unbelievable, as it is too late in the revolt. “For my own part, though I should prefer peace to death, yet having once declared war and entered the lists, I would rather die nobly than live a captive.” [Compare Josephus’ choice!]

4. There is no evidence to support the charge of treason.

5. The duty of the Idumaeans now is to defend the city and eliminate the tyrants (Zealots).

6. Or, the Idumaeans can come in without arms and act as neutral judges of the situation.

7. Or, they can leave the two parties alone and simply watch the city, preventing any attempt to surrender to Rome.

8. But the gates will not be opened to them as long as they remained armed.

The Idumaeans reply. The Idumaeans are infuriated at being shut out of the holy city. General Simon son of Caathas [or Cathlas] gives their reply: (4.4.4 270-283)1. The closing of the Jerusalem gates against fellow Jews proves who wish to fight for liberty the city is in the hands of treasonous people.

2. This explains why the revolutionaries are now imprisoned in the Temple — the traitors are against liberty.

3. The Idumaeans aren’t even allowed in to sacrifice. The irony is that Ananus, in control of the city, is acting as the tyrant but accusing others of tyranny.

4. The revolutionaries’ mistake was not killing the true tyrants, Ananus and his men, first.

5. The Idumaeans will fight both the Romans and the traitors within the wall.

Idumaeans, shut out, camp for the night. The Idumaeans can do nothing, but are too angry and ashamed to go back empty-handed, so camp for the night outside the walls. (4.4.5 283-285)
Terrible thunderstorm breaks out in the night. “There broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.” (4.4.5 286-287)
Under cover of the storm, the Zealots cut through the Temple bars. The two sides take this to mean divine favor was against the Idumaeans. But the sentinels relax their guard due to the storm and the Zealots take the Temple saws to cut the bars of the gates, the sound of cutting covered by the noise of the storm. (4.4.6 288-299)
Zealots cut through the city gate. A number of Zealots cut their way out of the Temple and then saw through the gate nearest the Idumaeans. (4.4.7 300-301)
The furious Idumaeans rampage through the city. On advice of the Zealots, the angry Idumaeans march through the city and attack the guards surrounding the Temple, as the rest of the Zealots attack from within. “The din from all quarters was rendered more terrific by the howling of the storm.” At daybreak 8,500 are dead. (4.5.1 305-313)
The fury of the Idumaeans is now turned to the city itself. Houses are looted and people encountered killed, and the chief priests are searched for. (4.5.2 314-315)
c. February 68 Ananus and Jesus are killed. The Idumaeans kill Ananus and Jesus son of Gamalas. (4.5.2 315)


The corpses are mocked and cast outside the city without burial, contrary to Jewish law. (“Even those sentenced to crucifixion are taken down and buried before sunset.” cf. John 19:31) (4.5.2 316-317)
Beginning of the end of the Jewish state. Josephus dates the downfall of the Jewish state to this day, when the Jews “beheld their high priest, the captain of their salvation, butchered in the heart of Jerusalem.” (4.5.2 318-325)
Mock trials; Zacharias is killed. The Zealots and Idumaeans proceed to murder and arrest their opponents among the young nobility who would not joint them, in the end killing 12,000. The eminent Zacharias son of Baris is killed after a mock trial. (4.5.3-4 326-344)
The Idumaeans learn the truth. A Zealot meets secretly with the Idumaeans and explains that Ananus had actually not been a traitor and that the Idumaeans were duped into helping the Zealots, whom they should no longer support. (4.5.5 345-352)
Idumaeans leave Jerusalem. The Idumaeans release 2000 citizens from prison. The Idumaeans leave Jerusalem. (4.6.1 353)
Simon leaves Masada, gains following. Simon son of Gioras hears of the death of his enemy Ananus, leaves Masada with troops to “proclaim liberty for the slaves and rewards for the free.” He gains many followers, including the newly released prisoners from Jerusalem. (4.9.3 508; 4.6.1 353)
 Zealots murder opponents. With the Idumaeans gone, the Zealots, now unchecked, murder all possible opponents and persons of authority, including Gorion son of Joseph and Niger the Peraean, who was a hero of battles against the Romans. [See the revolt chronology, election of leaders.] (4.6.1 354-365)
Vespasian decides not to march on Jerusalem, giving time first for the dissension to weaken the Judaeans. (4.6.2 366-376)
Contempt for religion. Oracles of destruction Daily desertions from Jerusalem hampered by Zealots guarding the roads, who kill and leave the bodies unburied. “Every dictate of religion was ridiculed by these men, who scoffed at the oracles of the prophets as impostor’s tales.” But the preditions of destruction would prove accurate. (4.6.3 377-388)
John of Gischala separates from the Zealots. John of Gischala breaks away from the rest of the Zealots, gathering followers in a bid for absolute rule, accomplished through his “energy both of body and mind.” Rarely coming to blows, the two factions share the task of commandeering war supplies (to Josephus, they “compete in plundering the people”). (4.7.1 389-397)
Feb/March 68(Adar 4) Many Judeaen deserters flee to Vespasian and urge him to protect the city and rescue the remaining loyal inhabitants; but Vespasian first attacks Gadara. (4.7.3 410)
March/April 68(Nisan 15) Raids by Sicarii at Masada. The Sicarii at Masada conduct raids. “Learning that the Roman army was inactive and that in Jerusalem the Jews were divided by sedition”, they are emboldened and conduct a Passover attack on En Gedi. (4.7.2 399-405) Other bands throughout Judaea fall to plundering.
June 9 68 Nero dies.
News of Nero’s death delays Vespasian. Jerusalem is isolated by the Romans; but news of Nero’s death causes Vespasian to delay attacking the city. (4.9.2 491)
Simon son of Gioras takes control of Acrabetene and many portions of Judaea. His success attracts many citizens, not just “brigands.” Establishes headquarters at Nain and storage caves at Pheretae, in preparation for an assault on Jerusalem.(4.9.4 509-513)
First clash between the Zealots and Simon. (4.9.5 514)
With the covert aid of an Idumaean general, Simon marches into Idumaea unopposed. He has 20,000 troops and 40,000 followers. (4.9.5-6 515-528; 4.9.7 534)
Simon takes the ancient city of Hebron in Idumaea, then proceeds to ravage the country. (4.9.7 529-537)
Simon’s wife kidnapped by Zealots. In an ambush, the Zealots capture Simon’s wife. An enraged Simon advances on Jerusalem “like some wounded beast” and tortures everyone he encounters, vowing to break down the walls unless his wife was returned to him. The Zealots send her back, and Simon quiets down. (4.7.8 538-544)
April 17, 69 Vitellius becomes Emperor. In Rome, Vitellius succeeds Otho as Emperor. (4.10.1 586).
Many refugees from Idumaea driven into Jerusalem by Simon. (4.9.10 556)
John the tyrant. John dominates the city. In exchange for their loyalty, John allows his followers, particular those from Galilee, to plunder the houses of the rich. (4.9.10 558-560)
Spring 69(possibly Purim, Adar 14, Mar/Apr) Galilean cross-dressers The Galilean followers of John dress as women and “indulge themselves in feminine wantoness”, defiling the city with their impure actions. Also, “while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hands; and while their gait was effeminate, they presently attacked men, and became warriors, and drew their swords from under their finely dyed cloaks and ran everybody through.” (4.9.10 561-563) [Fighting while dressed as women is another violation of Biblical law as known to Josephus; cf. Antiquities 4.8.43 301. Perhaps the license allowed by John was part of a Purim celebration.]
Idumaeans split from John. The Idumaeans in Jerusalem band together against John, driving many of his Zealots into the Grapte Palace and then to the Temple, and seizing the goods he had gathered. Zealots throughout the city advance to the Temple to defend John, threatening a major attack upon the city. (4.9.11 566-570)


Simon son of Gioras is admitted into Jerusalem to defeat John and rid the city of the Zealots. The chief priests led by Matthias, the Idumaeans, and the wealthy citizens of Jerusalem decide to overthrow John by inviting Simon into the city — because “God perverted their judgement.” Simon is acclaimed by the people as their savior and protector. (4.9.11 571-576) [A year later, Simon will kill Matthias (4.13.1 527-532).]
April 69(Xanthicus) Simon becomes master of Jerusalem. Simon plunders all the Zealots stores and with the citizens attacks the Zealots in the Temple. (4.9.12 577)
Zealots hold high ground in the Temple. The Zealots beat them back due to the advantage of higher ground on the porticoes and battlements. They also have built four towers around the Temple on which they posted catapults, balistae, archers and slingers. (4.9.12 578-584)
June 69 Vespasian retakes Simon’s territory. Vespasian advances on Jerusalem, takes areas that had been previously conquered by Simon, following a similar path through Idumaea to Hebron. (4.9.9 549-555)
Late Summer/ Autumn 69 Vespasian returns to Caesarea, learns Vitellius has become Emperor. (4.10.2 588) The troops of Caesarea proclaim Vespasian Emperor, followed by the city of Alexandria. (4.10.4-6 601-621)
Josephus freed. Josephus is freed from his chains. (4.10.7 622-629)
Dec 20 69 Vespasian becomes Emperor. Titus is dispatched to conquer Jerusalem. The people of Rome declare Vespasian emperor. With authority finally clarified for the first time since Nero’s death, Vespasian sends his son Titus with picked forces to crush Jerusalem. (4.11.4-5 655-663)
Late Dec 69 Eleazar son of Simon breaks away from John and the Zealots. In Jerusalem, Eleazar son of Simon secedes from the Zealot party. Joining him are prominent citizens who each have a following of Zealots. Josephus describes this as “a faction is bred within a faction…which like some raving beast for lack of other food at length preyed upon its own flesh.” (5.1.1-2 4-6)

Eleazar’s party defends inner Temple. Eleazar’s party takes the inner Temple and plants weapons atop the gates, giving them elevation superiority over John, upon whom they launch missiles. (5.1.2 7-10)
Three-sided long-range combat. The three factions exchange missile fire. John, trapped in the middle, throws missiles down upon Simon (at a lower position) and uses his many machines — catapults, stone and arrow firers — to target Eleazar in the Temple above him. In doing so he kills worshippers who still come to the Temple from all corners of the Earth, “and the blood of all manner of corpses formed pools in the courts of God.” (5.1.3 11-20)
Grain stores burned. John makes sallies against Simon in the town to loot stores, sets fire to the supply warehouses. The areas of the city surrounding the Temple court become devastated by fire, and nearly the entire grain supplies are burned, which would otherwise have lasted the city for years. The result will soon be the famine that will destroy the city. (5.1.4 21-26)
John uses sacred timber to make towers so as to attack Eleazar’s party atop the Temple. (5.1.5 36)
Titus arrives, and the factions temporarily stop fighting each other. Titus arrives with four legions and set to making three encampments around Jerusalem. Suddenly aware of the threat, the three factions form a temporary alliance to attack the Romans, with some initial success. (5.2.4 71)
Passover, March/April (Nisan 14), 70 John’s party overruns Eleazar and takes the Temple At Passover, Eleazar opens the gate partially to admit citizens to worship into the sanctuary. Some of John’s men enter with weapons hidden under their clothing and attack Eleazar’s men, who flee to the underground vaults. John’s party succesfully takes the inner Temple and Eleazar is eliminated as a force, and most of his Zealots are allowed to join John. (5.3.1 99-105)


John and Simon continue to battle each other. The two remaining factions return to fighting one another.Simon’s army numbers 10,000, with 50 commanders. The separate Idumaean contingent was 5,000 with 10 commanders, the highest being James son of Sosas and Simon son of Cathlas.

John has 6000 men under 20 officers, plus 2,400 of the Zealots newly rejoined to him, still under the command of Eleazar (!) and Simon son of Arinus.

Simon holds the Upper City and part of the Lower City; John holds the Temple complex and the eastern Lower City. (5.6.1 248-257)

c. May 10 (Nisan 23), 70 The factions at last unite against the Romans as the siege begins. When the first Roman battering-rams strike the walls of Jerusalem, the two factions unite forces. Free passage is allowed between the two territories of Simon and John to bring combatants to the defens of the walls. (5.6.4 276-280) (Date inferred from 5.7.2 302.)


Date: 01 Feb 2013
Time: 14:38:25

This sort of implies that Daniel’s People of the prince who shall come , actually destroy (defile) the Temple before the Romans come in to finish it off.
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Date: 19 Aug 2013
Time: 18:59:43

Very thorough timeline of events.

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