The Destruction of the Temple
In the spring of 70 CE, as Titus entered Jerusalem, the city was battered and torn between the rival factions. Some time around the Passover (Pesah) festivities, Titus set out to conquer Jerusalem at the head of four legions. After an extensive siege, during which a large number of the besieged Jews died of hunger, Titus and his troops broke into the Temple Mount. First they set the stoas on fire and then they burnt the temple, killing all who crossed their way, and plundering whatever came into hand. Following the destruction of the temple on the ninth day of the month of Av (70 CE), Titus proceeded to demolish the rest of the city (The Jewish War, Book 6, Chapter 10, 435-442). He burnt the city's archives, the building of the city council and the Lower city (the spur of the City of David). On the twentieth day of the month of Av, the Romans fought their last battle in the Upper City. Most of the Jews perished in the fighting. Some of the survivors fled the city through its drainage tunnels. The Romans ended the battle by setting the Upper City on fire (The Jewish War, Book 6, Chapter 8, 392-393; 407-408). Yohanan of Gush Halav was imprisoned, whereas Shimon Bar Giora was executed following an exalted victory procession in Rome. Josephus records the death of 1,100,000 persons during the siege (Tacitus - 600,000). The numbers seem inflated considering that the estimated population of Jerusalem during the siege was no more than 250,000.