Cry For Jerusalem

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

Cry For Jerusalem



Yodfats Siege was destruction in 67 CE
Caesarea Martima an ancient city on the coast of the mediterranean
The Second Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Jerusalem one of the oldest cities in the world
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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.

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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
Roman Seige of Jerusalem


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.

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Titus was Roman emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death.

Before becoming emperor, Titus gained renown as a military commander, serving under his father in Judea during the First Jewish–Roman War. The campaign came to a brief halt with the death of emperor Nero in 68, launching Vespasian's bid for the imperial power.

When Vespasian was declared Emperor, Titus was left in charge of ending the Jewish rebellion. In 70, he besieged and captured Jerusalem, and destroyed the city and the Second Temple. After an exhausting siege which lasted 47 days, the city fell, with an estimated 40,000 killed. For this achievement Titus was awarded a triumph; the Arch of Titus commemorates his victory to this day.

As emperor, Titus is best known for completing the Colosseum.

More About Titus
Roman Emperor Titus

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
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

Yohanan Zakkai


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.

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Agrippa II

Agrippa II , was the eighth and last ruler from the Herodian dynasty. He reigned over territories outside of Judea only as a Roman client. Agrippa was overthrown by his Jewish subjects in 66 and supported the Roman side in the First Jewish–Roman War.

In the seventeenth year of Agrippa's reign Agrippa tried desperately to avert a war with Rome, Agrippa failed to prevent his subjects from rebelling By 66 the citizenry of Jerusalem expelled their king, Agrippa, and his sister, Berenice, from Jerusalem. During the First Jewish-Roman War of 66–73, he sent 2,000 men, archers and cavalry, to support Vespasian, showing that, although a Jew in religion, he was entirely devoted to the Roman Empire. He accompanied Titus on some campaigns, and was wounded at the siege of Gamla. After the capture of Jerusalem, he went with his sister Berenice to Rome, where he was invested with the dignity of praetor and rewarded with additional territory.

Agrippa was a friend to the historian Josephus, having supplied him with information for his history, Antiquities of the Jews Josephus preserved two of the letters he received from him

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Agrippa II
Important people in the First Roman Jewish War

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

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Important historical places

The events covered in Cry for Jerusalem are based on real people in real places. Below you will find an overview of important events and locations that not only shaped the time period, but impacted the daily lives of our characters and the world both at the time - and for the future. These places were vitally important epicenters to the world as it was in 70 CE and the events that happened in them have been documented and studied over the centuries.

Herod's Temple

The Second Temple the term used for the Jewish holy temple, which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, there were two temple complexes which succeeded each other and allowed almost uninterrupted temple service between c. 516 BCE and 70 CE.

According to the Hebrew Bible, it replaced Solomon's Temple (the First Temple), which was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE, when Jerusalem was conquered and part of the population of the Kingdom of Judah was taken into exile to Babylon.

According to the Bible, the Second Temple was originally a rather modest structure constructed by several Jewish exile groups returning from Babylon. However, during the reign of Herod the Great, the Second Temple was completely refurbished, and the original structure was totally overhauled into the large and magnificent edifices and facades that are more recognizable. Much as the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and Jerusalem in 70 CE as retaliation for an ongoing Jewish revolt. The second temple lasted for a total of 585 years (516 BCE to 70 CE). The Temple was on the site of what today is the Dome of the Rock

Jewish eschatology includes a belief that the Second Temple will be replaced by a future Third Temple.

Herod's Temple
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Siege of Jerusalem

The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE was the decisive event of the First Jewish–Roman War, in which the Roman army captured the city of Jerusalem and destroyed both the city and its Temple. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been controlled by Judean rebel factions since 66 CE, following the Jerusalem riots of 66, when the Judean provisional government was formed in Jerusalem.

The siege of the city began on 14 April 70 CE, three days before the beginning of Passover that year. The siege lasted for about four months; it ended in August 70 CE on Tisha B'Av with the burning and destruction of the Second Temple. The Romans then entered and sacked the Lower City. The Arch of Titus, celebrating the Roman sack of Jerusalem and the Temple, still stands in Rome. The conquest of the city was complete on approximately 8 September 70 CE.

Josephus places the siege in the second year of Vespasian which corresponds to year 70 of the Common Era.

Siege of Jerusalem

Great Fire of Rome

The Great Fire of Rome was an urban fire that occurred in July, 64 AD. The fire began in the merchant shops around Rome's chariot stadium, Circus Maximus, on the night of July 19. After six days, the fire was brought under control, but before the damage could be assessed, the fire reignited and burned for another three days. In the aftermath of the fire, two thirds of Rome had been destroyed. Of Rome's 14 districts, 3 were completely devastated, 7 more were reduced to a few scorched and mangled ruins and only 4 completely escaped damage. The fire destroyed mostly everything it came in contact with due to poorly built and maintained timber-framed homes. The Temple of Jupiter Stator, the House of the Vestals, and Nero's palace, the Domus Transitoria were destroyed. Also destroyed in the fire was the portion of the Forum where the Roman senators lived and worked.

According to Tacitus and later Christian tradition, Emperor Nero blamed the devastation on the Christian community in the city, initiating the empire's first persecution against the Christians.

Great Fire of Rome

Year of Four Emperors

The Year of the Four Emperors, 69 AD, was a period in the history of the Roman Empire in which four emperors ruled in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.

The suicide of the emperor Nero in 68 was followed by a brief period of civil war, the first Roman civil war since Mark Antony's death in 30 BC. Between June of 68 and December of 69 Galba, Otho, and Vitellius successively rose and fell, the latter overlapping with the July 69 accession of Vespasian, who founded the Flavian dynasty which ruled from 69 to 96.. The social, military and political upheavals of the period had Empire-wide repercussions.

4 Emperors.png
More About the Year of Four Emperors
70 CE