After destroying Jerusalem and the temple, plundering all its valuables and doing much what he liked, Titus became intoxicated with his success and indulged in gross blasphemy. “It is all very well,” he said, “for the God of the Jews to conquer kings of the desert, but I attacked him in his very palace and prevailed against him.” When he was on his return voyage to Rome, with the booty robbed from the temple, a great tempest arose on the sea and threatened him with shipwreck. He again had recourse to blasphemy: “The God of the Jews,” said he, “seems to have dominion over the waters; the generation of Noah he destroyed by water, Pharaoh and the Egyptians he drowned in the waters, and over me he had no power until I gave him the chance by using the elements over which he possesses this subtle power.” Suddenly a perfect calm set in, the sea became quite smooth, and Titus prosecuted his voyage without let or hindrance. Arrived in Rome with the golden vessels of the temple, he was given a great reception, and a large number of distinguished men went to meet him.
After resting from his fatigue, he appeared again before a distinguished assembly, and was offered wine; but whilst he was partaking of it a microbe, so minute that it was imperceptible, found its way into his glass, and soon began to cause him intense pain in the head. In the course of a short time the insect grew, and with it grew the pain in Titus’s head, till it was decided to have recourse to an operation, to open his skull, in order–as the Romans said–to see what the God of the Jews employed as punishment for Titus. An insect of the size of a pigeon and of the weight of nearly two pounds was found in Titus’s brain. Rabbi Eleazer, son of Rabbi José, who was then in Rome, saw with his own eyes the insect when taken out of Titus’s skull.

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