The History

Cry for Jerusalem covers the seven-year period of  63 to 70 CE leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and Herod's Temple. 

Author Ward Sanford became fascinated by this time period and the fact it's not well known or often written about today compared to other events in history.  Yet this period was written and reported on by contemporary historian Flavius Josephus, whose accounting of the destruction has been an invaluable historical resource to the creation of Cry for Jerusalem.  Ward has spent extensive time researching, visiting, and learning as much as he can in the creation of these novels.  This section is devoted to all those who would like to know more!  We will be sharing timelines of events, photos of Ward's many trips to Jerusalem, and additional information into the behind the scene's that went into the creation of Cry for Jerusalem!


around the temple mount

On the temple mount



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The Character History

Cry for Jerusalem is based in the rich history of Jerusalem from 63 to 70 CE. This fascinating time period was marked by faces you may or may not know. While some of our characters are embellished and we filled in their plots, emotions, and development - as we do in historical fiction. All are based on real people and real events in a history often overlooked from a time period that has been discussed in length in other aspects.  We hope to help bring to life these fascinating characters and give them voices.

Below you can see some of the men who's decisions directly impacted the fate of Jerusalem in 70 CE on both sides of the conflict.


Titus Flavius Josephus (Roman Name) born Yosef ben Matityahu (Jewish Name) is a somewhat controversial but fascinating character in history – and one of the main characters in Cry for Jerusalem. Called both a traitor and a historian – he was born in Jerusalem to a priestly father and mother of royal ancestry. Fighting against the Roman’s initially in the first Jewish Roman war as head of the Jewish Forces in Galilee he was captured and imprisoned and eventually defected and earned Roman Citizenship. No matter what your opinion is of him (and there’s a lot more to his story) he recorded Jewish History through a series of works -These works provide valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of Early Christianity. Josephus' works are the chief source next to the Bible for the history and antiquity of ancient Palestine.

More About Josephus

Simon Bar Giora

Simon bar Giora was the leader of one of the major Judean rebel factions during the First Jewish–Roman War in 1st-century Roman Judea, who vied for control of the Jewish polity while attempting to expel the Roman army, but helped incite a bitter war in the process. A major player in the events that led to the Destruction of the Temple in 70 CE Simon is another controversial figure providing as much destruction and turmoil to the people of Jerusalem as factions fought for control of the city internally, as he did against the Romans.

No known image of Simon exists

More About Simon Bar Giora


In 66 AD, Vespasian was appointed to suppress the Jewish revolt underway in Judea. The fighting there had killed a previous governor. Two legions, with eight cavalry squadrons and ten auxiliary cohorts, were therefore dispatched under the command of Vespasian.

During this time he became the patron of Flavius Josephus, a Jewish resistance leader captured at the Siege of Yodfat, who would later write his people's history in Greek. Ultimately, thousands of Jews were killed and the Romans destroyed many towns in re-establishing control over Judea; they also took Jerusalem in 70 CE. Vespasian is remembered by Josephus (writing as a Roman citizen), in his writing as a fair and humane official. Which can be seen as others as debatable given some of his actions in war.

Josephus (as well as Tacitus), reporting on the conclusion of the Jewish war, reported a prophecy that around the time when Jerusalem and the Second Temple would be taken, a man from their own nation, would become governor "of the habitable earth". Josephus interpreted the prophecy to denote Vespasian and his appointment as emperor in Judea.

Vespasian went on to become Roman emperor from 69 to 79 CE.

More About Vespasian

Gessius Florus

Gessius Florus was the Roman procurator of 

Judea from 64 until 66 CE.  He was noted for his tensions against the Judean and Jewish population, and is credited by Josephus as being the primary cause of the First Jewish–Roman War. By favoring the Greek population over the Judean and angering the Jewish population via imprisoning them and sending soldiers into Jerusalem to raid the city and arrest city leaders. Arrested individuals were whipped and crucified despite many of them being Roman citizens.

More about Gessius Florus

Yohanan Ben Zaccai

Yohanan ben Zaccai one of the Tannaim, an important Jewish sage in the era of the Second Temple, and a primary contributor to the core text of Rabbinical Judaism, the Mishnah. His name is often preceded by the honorific title, "Rabban." He is widely regarded as one of the most important Jewish figures of his time and his escape from the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, that allowed him to continue teaching, may have been instrumental in rabbinic Judaism surviving the destruction.

During the siege of Jerusalem in the First Jewish–Roman War, he argued in favor of peace; according to the Talmud, when he found the anger of the besieged populace to be intolerable, he arranged a secret escape from the city inside a coffin, so that he could negotiate with Vespasian (who, at this time, was still just a military commander).

Upon the destruction of Jerusalem, Yochanan converted his school at Yavne into the Jewish religious center


Known for his tumultuous reign as Emperor marked with tyranny and scandal Nero was emperor at the beginning of the First Jewish Roman war.

In 66, there was a Jewish revolt in Judea stemming from Greek and Jewish religious tension. In 67, Nero dispatched Vespasian to restore order. This revolt was eventually put down in 70, after Nero's death. This revolt is famous for Romans breaching the walls of Jerusalem and destroying the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

His second wife Poppaea was friends with Gessius Florus’s wife Cleopatra – which is how he got his appointment as Judean procurator – and caused havoc in Jerusalem.

More About Nero

The Sicarii

The Sicarii are regarded as one of the earliest known organized assassination units of cloak and daggers, predating the Islamic Hashishin and Japanese ninja by centuries.

The Sicarii were a splinter group of the Jewish Zealots who, in the decades preceding Jerusalem's destruction in 70 CE, strongly opposed the Roman occupation of Judea and attempted to expel them and their sympathizers from the area.The Sicarii carried sicae, or small daggers, concealed in their cloaks. At public gatherings, they pulled out these daggers to attack Romans and Hebrew Roman sympathizers alike, blending into the crowd after the deed to escape detection.

Much of what is known about the Sicarii is from the writings of Josephus

More About The Sicarii

Copyright Cry For Jerusalem 2020