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Title: Josephus
Author: Bentwich, Norman, 1883-1971
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Josephus" ***

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Author of "Philo-Judaeus of Alexandria"





Josephus hardly merits a place on his own account in a series of Jewish
Worthies, since neither as man of action nor as man of letters did he
deserve particularly well of his nation. It is not his personal
worthiness, but the worth of his work, that recommends him to the
attention of the Jewish people. He was not a loyal general, and he was
not a faithful chronicler of the struggle with Rome; but he had the
merit of writing a number of books on the Jews and Judaism, which not
only met the desire for knowledge of his nation in his own day, but
which have been preserved through the ages and still remain one of the
chief authorities for Jewish history. He lived at the great crisis of
his people, when it stood at the parting of the ways. And while in his
life he was patronized by those who had destroyed the national center,
after his death he found favor with that larger religious community
which was beginning to carry part of the Jewish mission to the Gentiles.
For centuries Josephus was regarded by the Christians as the standard
historian of the Jews, and, though for long he was forgotten and
neglected by his own people, in modern times he has been carefully
studied also by them, and his merits and demerits both as patriot and as
writer have been critically examined.

It has been my especial aim in this book to consider Josephus from the
Jewish point of view. I have made no attempt to extenuate his personal
conduct or his literary faults. My judgment may appear somewhat severe,
but it is when tried by the test of faithfulness to his nation that
Josephus is found most wanting; and I hope that while extenuating
nothing I have not set down aught in malice.

Of the extensive literature bearing on the subject, the books to which I
am under the greatest obligation are Niese's text of the collected works
and Schürer's _History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus_. I
have given in an Appendix a Bibliography, which contains the names of
most of the works I have referred to. I would mention in particular
Schlatter's _Zur Topographie und Geschichte Palästinas_, which is a
remarkably stimulating and suggestive book, and which confirmed a view I
had formed independently, that in the _Wars_, as in the _Antiquities_,
Josephus is normally a compiler of other men's writings, and constantly
expresses opinions not his own.

My greatest debt of thanks, however, is due to the spoken rather than
the written word. Doctor Büchler, the Principal of Jews' College,
London, has constantly assisted me with advice, directed me to sources
of information, and let me draw plentifully from his own large stores of
knowledge about Josephus; and Doctor Friedlaender, Sabato Morais
Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, has done me the
brotherly service of reading my manuscript and making many valuable
suggestions on it. To their generous help this book owes more than I can


_Cairo, February, 1914_.





















The life and works of Flavius Josephus are bound up with the struggle of
the Jews against the Romans, and in order to appreciate them it is
necessary to summarize the relations of the two peoples that led up to
that struggle.

It is related in the Midrash that the city of Rome was founded on the
day Solomon married an Egyptian princess. The Rabbis doubtless meant by
this legend that the power of Rome was created to be a scourge for
Israel's backslidings. They identified Rome with the Edom of the Bible,
representing thus that the struggle between Esau and Jacob was carried
on by their descendants, the Romans and the Jews, and would continue
throughout history.[1] Yet the earliest relations of the two peoples
were friendly and peaceful. They arose out of the war of independence
that the Maccabean brothers waged against the Syrian Empire in the
middle of the second century B.C.E., when the loyal among the people
were roused to stand up for their faith. Antiochus Epiphanes, anxious to
strengthen his tottering empire, which had been shaken by its struggles
with Rome, sought to force violently on the Jews a pagan Hellenism that
was already making its way among them. He succeeded only in evoking the
latent force of their national consciousness. Rome was already the
greatest power in the world: she had conquered the whole of Italy; she
had destroyed her chief rival in the West, the Phoenician colony of
Carthage; she had made her will supreme in Greece and Macedonia. Her
senate was the arbiter of the destinies of kingdoms, and though for the
time it refrained from extending Roman sway over Egypt and Asia, its
word there was law. Its policy was "divide and rule," to hold supreme
sway by encouraging small nationalities to maintain their independence
against the unwieldy empires which the Hellenistic successors of
Alexander had carved out for themselves in the Orient.

[Footnote 1: Lev. R. xiii. (5), quoted in Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic
Theology, p. 100.]

At the bidding of the Roman envoy, Antiochus Epiphanes himself,
immediately before his incursion into Jerusalem, had slunk away from
Alexandria; and hence it was natural that Judas Maccabaeus, when he had
vindicated the liberty of his nation, should look to Rome for support in
maintaining that liberty. In the year 161 B.C.E. he sent Eupolemus the
son of Johanan and Jason the son of Eleazar, "to make a league of amity
and confederacy with the Romans"[1]: and the Jews were received as
friends, and enrolled in the class of Socii. His brother Jonathan
renewed the alliance in 146 B.C.E.; Simon renewed it again five years
later, and John Hyrcanus, when he succeeded to the high priesthood, made
a fresh treaty.[2] Supported by the friendship, and occasionally by the
diplomatic interference, of the Western Power, the Jews did not require
the intervention of her arms to uphold their independence against the
Seleucid monarchs, whose power was rapidly falling into ruin. At the
beginning of the first century B.C.E., however, Rome, having emerged
triumphant from a series of civil struggles in her own dominions, found
herself compelled to take an active part in the affairs of the East.
During her temporary eclipse there had been violent upheavals in Asia.
The semi-barbarous kings of Pontus and Armenia took advantage of the
opportunity to overrun the Hellenized provinces and put all the Greek
and Roman inhabitants to the sword. To avenge this outrage, Rome sent to
the East, in 73 B.C.E., her most distinguished soldier, Pompeius, or
Pompey, who, in two campaigns, laid the whole of Asia Minor and Syria at
his feet.

[Footnote 1: I Macc. viii. 7. It is interesting to note that the sons
had Greek names, while their fathers had Hebrew names.]

[Footnote 2: I Macc. xii. 3; xiv. 24.]

Unfortunately civil strife was waging in Palestine between the two
Hasmonean brothers, Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, who fought for the throne
on the death of the queen Alexandra Salome. Both in turn appealed to
Pompey to come to their aid, on terms of becoming subject to the Roman
overlord. At the same time, a deputation from the Jewish nation appeared
before the general, to declare that they did not desire to be ruled by
kings: "for what was handed down to them from their fathers was that
they should obey the priests of God; but these two princes, though the
descendants of priests, sought to transfer the nation to another form of
government, that it might he enslaved."

Pompey, who had resolved to establish a strong government immediately
subject to Rome over the whole of the near Orient, finally interfered on
behalf of Hyrcanus. Aristobulus resisted, at first somewhat
half-heartedly, but afterwards, when the Roman armies laid siege to
Jerusalem, with fierce determination. The struggle was in vain. On a
Sabbath, it is recorded, when the Jews desisted from their defense, the
Roman general forced his way into the city, and, regardless of Jewish
feeling, entered the Holy of Holies. The intrigues of the Jewish royal
house had brought about the subjection of the nation. As it is said in
the apocryphal Psalms of Solomon, which were written about this time: "A
powerful smiter has God brought from the ends of the earth. He decreed
war upon the Jews and the land. The princes of the land went out with
joy to meet him, and said to him, 'Blessed be thy way; draw near and
enter in peace.'" Yet Pompey did not venture, or did not care, to
destroy or rob the Temple, according to Cicero and Josephus,[1] because
of his innate moderation, but really, one may suspect, from less noble
motives. It was the custom of the Roman conquerors to demand the
surrender, not only of the earthly possessions of the conquered, but of
their gods, and to carry the vanquished images in the triumph which they
celebrated. But Pompey may have recognized the difference between the
Jewish religion and that of other peoples, or he realized the widespread
power of the Jewish people, which would rise as a single body in defense
of its religion; for he made no attempt to interfere either with Jewish
religious liberties, or with a worship that Cicero declared to be
"incompatible with the majesty of the Empire."

[Footnote 1: Cicero, Pro Flacco, 69, and Ant. XVI. iv, 4.]

The Jews, however, were henceforth the clients, instead of the allies,
of Rome. Though Hyrcanus was recognized by Pompey as the high priest and
ethnarch of Judea, and his wily counselor, the Idumean Antipater, was
given a general power of administering the country, they were alike
subject to the governor of Syria, which was now constituted a Roman
province. Moreover, the Hellenistic cities along the coast of Palestine
and on the other side of Jordan, which had been subjugated by John
Hyrcanus and Alexander Jannaeus, were restored to independence, and
placed under special Roman protection, and the Jewish territory itself
was shortly thereafter split by the Roman governor Gabinius into five
toparchies, or provinces, each with a separate administration.

The guiding aim of the conqueror was to weaken the Oriental power (as
the Jews were regarded) and strengthen the Hellenistic element in the
country. The Jews were soon to feel the heavy hand and suffer the
insatiate greed of Rome. National risings were put down with merciless
cruelty, the Temple treasury was spoiled in 56 B.C.E. by the avaricious
Crassus, one of the triumvirate that divided the Roman Empire, when he
passed Jerusalem on his way to fight against the Parthians; even the
annual offering contributed voluntarily by the Jews of the Diaspora to
the Temple was seized by a profligate governor of Asia. The Roman
aristocrats during the last years of the Republic were a degenerate
body; they regarded a governorship as the opportunity of unlimited
extortion, the means of recouping themselves for all the gross expenses
incurred on attaining office, and of making themselves and their friends
affluent for the rest of their lives. And Judea was a fresh quarry.

A happier era seemed to be dawning for the Jews when Julius Caesar
became dictator. At the beginning of the civil war between him and
Pompey, Hyrcanus, at the instance of Antipater, prepared to support the
man to whom he owed his position; but when Pompey was murdered,
Antipater led the Jewish forces to the help of Caesar, who was hard
pressed at Alexandria. His timely help and his influence over the
Egyptian Jews recommended him to Caesar's favor, and secured for him an
extension of his authority in Palestine, and for Hyrcanus the
confirmation of his ethnarchy. Joppa was restored to the Hasmonean
domain, Judea was granted freedom from all tribute and taxes to Rome,
and the independence of the internal administration was guaranteed.
Caesar, too, whatever may have been his motive, showed favor to the Jews
throughout his Empire. Mommsen thinks that he saw in them an effective
leaven of cosmopolitanism and national decomposition, and to that intent
gave them special privileges; but this seems a perverse reason to assign
for the grant of the right to maintain in all its thoroughness their
national life, and for their exemption from all Imperial or municipal
burdens that would conflict with it. It is more reasonable to suppose
that, taking in this as in many other things a broader view than that of
his countrymen, Caesar recognized the weakness of a world-state whose
members were so denationalized as to have no strong feeling for any
common purpose, no passion of loyalty to any community, and he favored
Judaism as a counteracting force to this peril.

His various enactments constituted, as it were, a Magna Charta of the
Jews in the Empire; Judaism was a favored cult in the provinces, a
_licita religio_ in the capital. At Alexandria Caesar confirmed and
extended the religious and political privileges of the Jews, and ordered
his decree to be inscribed on pillars of brass and set up in a public
place. At Rome, though the devotees of Bacchus were forbidden to meet,
he permitted the Jews to hold their assemblies and celebrate their
ceremonials. At his instance the Hellenistic cities of Asia passed
similar favorable decrees for the benefit of the Jewish congregations in
their midst, which invested them with a kind of local autonomy. The
proclamation of the Sardians is typical. "This decree," it runs, "was
made by the senate and people, upon the representation of the praetors:

"Whereas those Jews who are our fellow-citizens, and live with us in
this city, have ever had great benefits heaped upon them by the people,
and have come now into the senate, and desired of the people that, upon
the restitution of their law and their liberty by the senate and people
of Rome, they may assemble together according to their ancient legal
custom, and that we will not bring any suit against them about it; and
that a place may be given them where they may hold their congregations
with their wives and children, and may offer, as did their forefathers,
their prayers and sacrifices to God:--now the senate and people have
decreed to permit them to assemble together on the days formerly
appointed, and to act according to their own laws; and that such a place
be set apart for them by the praetors for the building and inhabiting
the same as they shall esteem fit for that purpose, and that those who
have control of the provisions of the city shall take care that such
sorts of food as they esteem fit for their eating may be imported into
the city."[1]

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIV. x. 24.]

Caesar's decrees marked the culmination of Roman tolerance, and the Jews
enjoyed their privileges for but a short time. It is related by the
historian Suetonius that they lamented his death more bitterly than any
other class.[1] And they had good reason. The Republicans, who had
murdered him, and his ministers, who avenged him, vied with each other
for the support of the Jewish princes; but the people in Palestine
suffered from the burden that the rivals imposed on the provinces in
their efforts to raise armies. Antipater and his ambitious sons Herod
and Phasael contrived to maintain their tyranny amid the constant
shifting of power; and when the hardy mountaineers of Galilee strove
under the lead of one Hezekiah (Ezekias), the founder of the party of
the Zealots, to shake off the Roman yoke, Herod ruthlessly put down the
revolt. But when Antigonus, the son of that Aristobulus who had been
deprived of his kingdom by Hyrcanus and Pompey, roused the Parthians to
invade Syria and Palestine, the Jews eagerly rose in support of the
scion of the Maccabean house, and drove out the hated Idumeans with
their puppet Jewish king. The struggle between the people and the Romans
had begun in earnest, and though Antigonus, when placed on the throne by
the Parthians, proceeded to spoil and harry the Jews, rejoicing at the
restoration of the Hasmonean line, thought a new era of independence had

[Footnote 1: Suetonius, Caesar, lxxxiv. 7.]

The infatuation of Mark Antony for Cleopatra enabled Antigonus to hold
his kingdom for three years (40-37 B.C.E.). Then Herod, who had escaped
to Rome, returned to Syria to conquer the kingdom that Antony had
bestowed on him. He brought with him the Roman legions, and for two
years a fierce struggle was waged between the Idumeans, Romans, and
Romanizing Jews on the one hand, and the national Jews and Parthian
mercenaries of Antigonus on the other. The struggle culminated in a
siege of Jerusalem. As happened in all the contests for the city, the
power of trained force in the end prevailed over the enthusiasm of
fervent patriots. Herod stormed the walls, put to death Antigonus and
his party, and established a harsher tyranny than even the Roman
conqueror had imposed. For over thirty years he held the people down
with the aid of Rome and his body-guard of mercenary barbarians. His
constitution was an autocracy, supplemented by assassination. In the
civil war between Antony and Octavian, he was first on the losing side,
as his father had been in the struggle between Pompey and Caesar; but,
like his father, he knew when to go over to the victor. The master of
the Roman Empire, henceforth known as Augustus, was so impressed with
his carriage and resolution that he not only confirmed him in his
kingdom, but added to it the territories of Chalcis and Perea to the
north and east of the Jordan. Throughout his reign Herod contrived to
preserve the friendship of Rome as effectually as he contrived to arouse
the hatred of his Jewish subjects. "The Imperial Eagle and some
distinguished Roman or other," says George Adam Smith,[1] "were always
fixed in Herod's heaven." He ruled with a strong but merciless hand. He
insured peace, and while he turned his own home into a slaughter-house,
he glorified the Jewish dominion outwardly to a height and magnificence
it had never before attained. Yet the Jewish deputation that went to
plead before Augustus on his death declared that "Herod had put such
abuses on them as a wild beast would not have done, and no calamity they
had suffered was comparable with that which he had brought on the
nation."[2] Beneath the fine show of peace, splendor, and expansion, the
passions of the nation were being aroused to the breaking-point.

[Footnote 1: Jerusalem, ii. 504.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XVII. xi. 2.]

Augustus himself, following the example of his uncle Julius Caesar, yet
lacking the same large tolerance, held towards Judaism an ambiguous
attitude of impartiality rather than of favor. He caused sacrifices to
be offered for himself at the Temple at Jerusalem,[1] but he praised his
nephew Gaius for having refrained from doing likewise during his Eastern
travels.[2] He was anxious that the national laws and customs of each
nation should be preserved, and he issued a decree in favor of the Jews
of Cyrene; but he initiated the worship of the Emperors, which
necessitated a conflict between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of
Caesar, and in the end destroyed the religious liberty that Julius
Caesar had given to the Empire. His aim was at once to foster the
veneration of the Imperial power and establish an Imperial worship that
should replace the effete paganism of his subjects. He made no attempt
to force this worship on the Jews, but its existence fanned the
prejudice against the one nation that refused to participate. And the
Jews could not but look with distrust on a government that "derived its
authority from the deification of might, whereof the Emperor was the
incarnate principle."[3]

[Footnote 1: Philo, De Leg. ii. 507.]

[Footnote 2: Suetonius, Aug. 93.]

[Footnote 3: Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology, p. 108.]

Marcus Agrippa, the trusted minister of Augustus, was also an intimate
friend of Herod, and served to link the two courts. But on the death of
Herod, in 4 C.E., the friendship of Rome for the Idumean royal house was
modified. Archelaus, who claimed the whole succession, was appointed
simply as ethnarch of Judea, while Herod's two other sons, Philip and
Herod Antipas, divided the rest of his dominions. The Zealots, rid of
the powerful tyrant who had held them down, sought again to throw off
the hated yoke of Idumea, which, not without reason, they identified
with the yoke of Rome. With their watchword, "No king but God," they
attempted to make Judea independent, and a fierce struggle, known as the
War of Varus, ensued. Jerusalem was stormed once again by Roman legions
before the Zealots were subdued. Archelaus was deposed by his masters
after a few years, and the province of Judea was placed under direct
Roman administration. The Roman procurator was at first less detested
than the Idumean tyrant, since he interfered less with the legal
institutions, such as the Sanhedrin and the Bet Din; but his presence
with the legionaries in the Holy City and his constant, though often
involuntary, affronts to the religious sentiments of the people roused
the hostility of the nationalist party, who looked forward to the day
when Israel should "tread on the neck of the Eagle." The Pharisees, who
were anxious for the spiritual rather than the political independence of
the Jews, counseled submission to Rome, and were willing "to render unto
Caesar the things that are Caesar's," so long as they were not compelled
to give up the Torah. But the Zealots desired political as well as
religious freedom, and they fomented rebellion. They have been compared
by Merivale to the Montagnards of the French Revolution, driven by their
own indomitable passion to assert the truths that possessed them with a
ferocity that no possession could justify. They were continually rousing
the people to expel the foreign rulers, and in the northern province of
Galilee, where they found shelter amid the wild tracts of heath and
mountain, they maintained a constant state of insurrection.[1]

[Footnote 1: It is important to notice that much of our knowledge of the
Zealots is derived from Josephus, who, as will be seen, set himself to
misrepresent them, and repeated the calumnies of hostile Roman writers
against them. The Talmud contains several references to them, describing
them as Kannaim (the Hebrew equivalent of Zealots), and it would appear
that they were in their outlook successors of the former Hasidim,
distinguished as much for their religious rigidity as their patriotic
fervor. See Jewish Encyclopedia, s.v. Zealots.]

The Romans, on their side, accustomed to the ready submission of all the
peoples under their sway, could not understand or tolerate the Jews. To
them this people with its dour manners, its refusal to participate in
the religious ideas, the social life, and the pleasures of its
neighbors, its eruptions of passion and violence on account of abstract
ideas, and its rigid exclusion of the insignia of Roman majesty from the
capital, seemed the enemies of the human race. In their own religion
they had freely found a place for Greek and Egyptian deities, but the
Jewish faith, in its uncompromising opposition to all pagan worship,
seemed, in the words that Anatole France has put into the mouth of one
of the Roman procurators, to be rather an _ab_ligion than a _re_ligion,
an institution designed rather to sever the bond that united peoples,
than bind them together. Every other civilized people had accepted their
dominion; the Jews and the Parthians alone stood in the way of universal
peace. The near-Eastern question, which, then as now, continually
threatened war and violence, irritated the Romans beyond measure, and
they came to feel towards Jerusalem as their ancestors had felt two
hundred years before towards Carthage, the great Semitic power of the
West, _delenda est Hierosolyma_. As time went on they realized that this
stubborn nation was resolved to dispute with them for the mastery, and
every agitation was regarded as an outrage on the Roman power, which
must be wiped out in blood. It was the inevitable conflict, not only
between the Imperial and the national principle, but between the ideas
of the kingdom of righteousness and the ideas of the kingdom of might.

During the reign of Tiberius, however, the Roman governors were held in
check to some extent by strong central control from Rome, and their
extortion was comparatively moderate. The worst of them was Pontius
Pilate, and the _odium theologicum_ has, perhaps, had its part in
blackening his reputation. Nevertheless, the broad religious tolerance
initiated by the first Caesar was being continually impaired. The Jewish
public worship was prohibited in Rome, and the Jews were expelled from
the city in 19 C.E.; while at Alexandria an anti-Jewish persecution was
instigated by Sejanus, the upstart freedman, who became the chief
minister of Tiberius. In Palestine, though we hear of no definite
movement, it is clear from after-events that the bitterness of feeling
between the Hellenized Syrians and the Jewish population was steadily
fomented. The Romans were naturally on the side of the Greek-speaking
people, whom they understood, and whose religion they could appreciate.
The situation may best be paralleled by the condition of Ireland in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when England supported the
Protestant population of Ulster against the hated Roman Catholics, who
formed the majority of the people.

It had been the aim of Tiberius to consolidate the unwieldy mass of the
Empire by the gradual absorption of the independent kingdoms inclosed
within its limits. In pursuance of this policy, Judea, Chalcis, and
Abilene, all parts of Herod's kingdom, had been placed under Roman
governors. But when Gaius Caligula succeeded Tiberius in 32 C.E., and
brought to the Imperial throne a capricious irresponsibility, he
reverted to the older policy of encouraging client-princes, and doled
out territories to his Oriental favorites. Prominent among them was
Agrippa, a grandson of Herod, who had passed his youth in the company of
the Roman prince in Italy. He received as the reward of his loyal
extravagance not only Judea but Galilee and Perea, together with the
title of king. He was not, however, given permission to repair to his
kingdom, since his patron desired his attentions at Rome. Later he was
detained by a sterner call. Gaius, who had passed from folly to lunacy,
was not content with the customary voluntary worship paid to the
Emperors, but imagined himself the supreme deity, and demanded
veneration from all his subjects. He ordered his image to be set up in
all temples, and, irritated by the petition of the Jews to be exempted
from what would be an offense against the first principle of their
religion, he insisted upon their immediate submission. In Alexandria the
Greek population made a violent attempt to carry out the Imperial order;
a sharp conflict took place, and the Jews in their dire need sent a
deputation, with Philo at its head, to supplicate the Emperor. In the
East the governor of Syria, Petronius, was directed to march on
Jerusalem and set up the Imperial statue in the Holy of Holies, whatever
it might cost. Petronius understood, and it seems respected, the
faithfulness of the Jews to their creed, and he hesitated to carry out
the command. From East and West the Jews gathered to resist the decree;
the multitude, says Philo, covered Phoenicia like a cloud. Meantime King
Agrippa at Rome interceded with the Emperor for his people, and induced
him to relent for a little. But the infatuation again came over Gaius;
he ordered Petronius peremptorily to do his will, and, when the legate
still dallied, sent to remove him from his office. But, as Philo says,
God heard the prayer of His people: Gaius was assassinated by a Roman
whom he had wantonly insulted, and the death-struggle with Rome, which
had threatened in Judea, was postponed. The year of trial, however, had
brought home to the whole of the Jewish people that the incessant moral
conflict with Rome might at any moment be resolved into a desperate
physical struggle for the preservation of their religion. And the
warlike party gained in strength.

The date of the death of Gaius (Shebat 22) was appointed as a day of
memorial in the Jewish calendar; and for a little time the Jews had a
respite from tyranny. Agrippa, who, after the murder of Gaius, played a
large part in securing for Claudius the succession to the Imperial
throne, was confirmed in the grant of his kingdom, and, despite his
antecedents and his upbringing, proved himself a model national king.
Perhaps he had seen through the rottenness of Rome, perhaps the trial of
Gaius' mad escapades had deepened his nature, and led him to honor the
burning faith of the Jews. Whatever the reason, while remaining dutiful
to Rome, he devoted himself to the care of his people, to the
maintenance of their full religious and national life, and to the
strengthening of the Holy City against the struggle he foresaw. To the
Jews of the Diaspora, moreover, the succession of Claudius brought a
renewal of privileges. An edict of tolerance was promulgated, first to
the Alexandrians, and afterwards to the communities in all parts of the
habitable globe, by which liberty of conscience and internal autonomy
were restored, with a notable caution against Jewish missionary
enterprise. "We think it fitting," runs the decree, "to permit the Jews
everywhere under our sway to observe their ancient customs without
hindrance; and we hereby charge them to use our graciousness with
moderation and not to show contempt of the religious observances of
other people, but to keep their own laws quietly."[1] Nevertheless the
tolerant principle on which Caesar and Augustus had sought to found the
Empire was surely giving way to a more tyrannical policy, which viewed
with suspicion all bodies that fostered a corporate life separate from
that of the State, whether Jewish synagogue, Stoic school, or religious

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIX, v. 2.]

The conflict between Rome and Jerusalem entered on a bitterer stage when
Agrippa died in 44 C.E. Influenced by his self-seeking band of
freedmen-counselors, who saw in office in Palestine a golden opportunity
for spoliation, Claudius placed the vacant kingdom again under the
direct administration of Roman procurators, and appointed to the office
a string of the basest creatures of the court, who revived the
injustices of the worst days of the Republic.

From 48-52 C.E. Palestine was under the governorship of Ventidius
Cumanus, who seemed deliberately to egg on the Jews to insurrection.
When a Roman soldier outraged the Jewish conscience by indecent conduct
in the Temple during the Passover, Cumanus refused all redress, called
on the soldiers to put down the clamoring people, and slew thousands of
them in the holy precincts.[1] A little later, when an Imperial officer
was attacked on the road and robbed, Cumanus set loose the legionaries
on the villages around, and ordered a general pillage. When a Galilean
Jew was murdered in a Samaritan village, and the Jewish Zealots, failing
to get redress, attacked Samaria, Cumanus fell on them and crucified
whomever he captured. Then, indeed, the Roman governor of Syria, not so
reckless as his subordinate, or, it may be, corrupted by the man anxious
to step into the procurator's place, summoned Cumanus before him, and
sent him to Rome to stand his trial for maladministration.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XX. v. 3.]

But this act of belated justice brought the Jews small comfort; Cumanus
was succeeded by Felix, an even worse creature. He was the brother of
the Emperor's favorite Narcissus, "by badness raised to that proud
eminence," and the husband of the Herodian princess Drusilia, who had
become a pagan in order to marry him. Tacitus, the Roman historian,
says[1] that "with all manner of cruelty he exercised royal functions in
the spirit of a slave." Under his rapacious tyranny the people were
goaded to fury. Bands of assassins, Sicarii (so called by both Romans
and Jews because of the short dagger, sica, which they used), sprang up
over the country. Now they struck down Romans and Romanizers, and now
they were employed by the governor himself to put out of the way rich
Jewish nobles whose possessions he coveted. From time to time there were
more serious risings, some purely political, others led by a
pseudo-Messiah, and all alike put down with cruelty. Roman governors
were habitually corrupt, grasping, and cruel, but Mommsen declares that
those of Judea in the reigns of Claudius and Nero, who were chosen from
the upstart equestrians, exceeded the usual measure of worthlessness and
oppressiveness. The Jews believed that they had drunk to the dregs the
cup of misery, and that God must send them a Redeemer. There were no
prophets to preach as at the time of the struggle with Babylon and
Assyria, that the oppression was God's chastisement for their sins. And
it was inconceivable to them that the power of wickedness should be
allowed to triumph to the end.

[Footnote 1: Hist. v. 9.]

Steadily the party that clamored for war gained in strength, and the
apprehensions of the Pharisees who viewed the political struggle with
misgiving, lest it should end in the loss of the national center and the
destruction of religious independence, were overborne by the fury of the
masses. The oppression by Roman governors and Romanizing high priests
did not diminish when Nero succeeded Claudius. For the rest of the
Empire the first five years of his reign (the _quinquennium Neronis_)
were a period of peace and good government, but for the Jews they
brought little or no relief. The harsh Roman policy toward the Jews may
have been specially instigated by Seneca, the Stoic philosopher, who was
Nero's counselor during his saner years, and who entertained a strong
hatred of Judaism. But we need not look for such special causes. It had
been the fixed habit of Republican Rome to crush out the national spirit
of a subject people, "to war down the proud," as her greatest poet
euphemistically expressed it; and now that spirit was adopted by the
Imperial Caesars in dealing with the one and only people resolved to
preserve inviolate its national life and its national religion. Nero
indeed recalled Felix, and Festus, who was appointed in his place, made
an attempt to mend affairs, but he died within a year, and was succeeded
by two procurators that were worthy followers of Felix. The first of
them was Albinus (62-64), of whom Josephus says that there was no sort
of wickedness in which he had not a hand. The same authority says that
compared with Gessius Florus, the governor under whom the Rebellion
burst out, he was "most just." Florus owed his appointment to Poppaea,
the profligate wife of Nero, and his conduct bears the interpretation
that he was deliberately anxious to fill the measure of persecution to
the brim and drive the nation to war.

The very forms of privilege which had been left to the Jews were turned
to their hurt. The Herodian tetrarchs of Chalcis, to whom the Romans
granted the power of appointing the high priests, true to the tradition
of their house, appointed only such as were confirmed Romanizers, and
the most unscrupulous at that. When Felix was governor, the high priest
was the notorious Ananias, of whom the Talmud says, "Woe to the House of
Ananias; woe for their cursings, woe for their serpent-like
hissings."[1] Herod Agrippa II, the son of Agrippa, who held the
principate from 50-100 C.E., and was the faithful creature of Rome
throughout the period of his people's stress, proclaiming himself on his
coins "lover of Caesar and lover of Rome," deposed and created high
priests with unparalleled frequency as a means of extorting money and
rewarding the leading informers. There were seven holders of the office
during the last twenty years of Roman rule, and "he who carried furthest
servility and national abnegation received the prize." The high priests
thus formed a kind of anti-national oligarchy; they robbed the other
priests of their dues, and reduced them to poverty, and were the willing
tools of Roman tyranny. Together with the Herodian princes, who indulged
every lust and wicked passion, they undermined the strength of the
people like some fatal canker, much as the priests and nobles had done
at the first fall of Jerusalem, or, again, in the days of the Seleucid
Emperors. Apart from governors, tax-collectors, and high priests, the
Romans had an instrument of oppression in the Greek-speaking population
of Palestine and Syria, which maintained an inveterate hostility to the
Jews. The immediate cause of the great Rebellion actually arose out of a
feud between the Jewish and the Gentile inhabitants of Caesarea. The
Hellenistic population outnumbered the Jews in the Herodian foundations
of Caesarea, Sepphoris, Tiberias, Paneas, etc., as well as in the old
Greek cities of Doris, Scythopolis, Gerasa, Gadara, and the rest of the
Decapolis. This population regarded religion only as the pretext for
public ceremonials and entertainments; it was scornful of the Jewish
abstention from these things, and was aroused to the bitterest hatred by
the social aloofness of their neighbors. Violent riots between Jew and
Gentile were constantly taking place, and whether they were the
aggressors or merely fighting in self-defense, the Jews were the
scapegoats for the breaking of the peace. Stung by constant outrage on
the part of their neighbors, the Jews turned upon them at Caesarea, and
drove them out of the town. Thereupon Florus called them to reckoning,
marched on Jerusalem, and plundered the Temple treasury. This event
happened on the tenth day of Iyar in the year 66 C.E. The war-party
determined to force the struggle to a final issue. Hitherto they had
only been able to arouse a section to venture desperate sporadic
insurrection against the might of Rome. Now they carried the people with
them to engage in a national rebellion.

[Footnote 1: Pesahim, 57a.]

Agrippa II, who was amusing himself at Alexandria when the first
outbreak occurred, hurried back to Jerusalem, and sought to quiet the
people by impressing upon them the invincible power of Rome. But he
failed, and the Romanizing priests' party failed, and the peaceful
leaders of the Pharisees failed, to shake their determination. Messianic
hopes were rife among the masses, and were invested with a materialistic
interpretation. The Zealots, it is alleged by the pagan as well as the
Jewish authorities for the period, believed that the destined time was
come when the Jews should rule the world. The people looked for the
realization of the prophecy of Isaiah (41:2), "He shall raise up the
righteous one from the East, give the nations before Israel, and make
him rule over kings."

The belief in the approach of the Messianic kingdom was undoubtedly one
of the mainsprings of the revolt. There had been a series of popular
leaders claiming to be Messiahs, but in the final struggle it was not
the claim of any individual, but the passionate faith of the whole
people, that inspired a belief in the coming of a perfect deliverance.
Some events appeared to favor the fulfilment of their hopes of temporal
sovereignty, bred though they were of despair. Rome under the corrupting
influence of Nero seemed to be passing her zenith; national movements
were stirring in the West, in Gaul and in Germany; in the East the
Parthians were again threatening the security of the Roman provinces.
The Jewish cause, on the other hand, seemed to be gaining ground
everywhere. Its converts, numerous in the West, were still more numerous
and important in the East. Among those recently brought over to the true
faith as full proselytes were Helena, the queen of Adiabene, a kingdom
situate in Mesopotamia, and her son Izates, who built themselves
splendid palaces at Jerusalem. In Babylon the Jews had made themselves
almost independent, and waged open war on the Parthian satraps. A large
section of the people cherished a somewhat simple theodicy. How could
God allow the wicked and dissolute Romans to prosper and the chosen
people to be oppressed? The Hellenistic writers of Sibylline oracles and
the Hebrew writers of Apocalypses, imitating the doom-songs of Isaiah
and Ezekiel, announced the coming overthrow of evil and the triumph of
good. Evil had reached its acme in Nero, and the time had come when God
would break the "fourth horn" of Daniel's vision (ch. 8), and exalt his
chosen people.

The fight for national independence was bound to have come, for nothing
could have prevented the Romans from their attempt to crush the spirit
of the Jews, and nothing could have held back the Jews from making a
supreme effort to obtain their freedom from the hated yoke. For one
hundred and twenty years Palestine had been ground beneath the iron heel
of Roman governors and Romanizing tyrants. The conditions of the foreign
rule had steadily grown more intolerable. At first the oppression was
mainly fiscal; then it had sought to crush all political liberty, and
finally it had come to outrage the deepest religious feeling and menace
the Temple-worship. As Graetz says, "The Jewish people was like a
captive, who, continually visited by his jailer, rattles at his fetters
with the strength of despair, till he wrenches them asunder." It was not
only the freedom of the Jew, but the safety of Judaism that was
imperiled by the misrule of a Claudius and a Nero. The war against the
Romans was then not merely a struggle for national liberty, but, equally
with the wars of the Maccabees against the Seleucids, an episode in the
more vital conflict between Hebraism and paganism, between material
force and the ardent passion for religious freedom.



Josephus was essentially an apologist, and his writings include not only
an apology for his people, but an apology for his own life. In contrast
with the greater Jewish writers, he was given to vaunting his own deeds.
We have therefore abundant, if not always reliable, information about
the chief events of his career. It must always be borne in mind that he
had to color the narrative of his own as well as his people's history to
suit the tastes and prejudices of the Roman conqueror. He was born in 37
C.E., the first year of the reign of Gaius Caesar, the lunatic Emperor,
who nearly provoked the Jews to the final struggle. Though he is known
to history as Josephus Flavius, his proper name was Joseph ben
Mattathias, Josephus being the Latinized form of the Hebrew [Hebrew:
Yosef] and his patronymic being exchanged, when he went over to the
Romans, for the family name of his patrons, Flavius. His father was a
priest of the first of the twenty-four orders, named Jehoiarib, and on
his mother's side he was connected with the royal house of the
Hasmoneans. His genealogy, which he traces back to the time of the
Maccabean princes, is a little vague, and we may suspect that he was not
above improving it. But his family was without doubt among the priestly
aristocracy of Jerusalem, and his father, he says, was "eminent not only
on account of his nobility, but even more for his virtue."[1]

[Footnote 1: Vita, 2.]

He was brought up with his brother Matthias to fit himself for the
priestly office, and he received the regular course of Jewish education
in the Torah and the tradition. He says in the _Antiquities_ that "only
those who know the laws and can interpret the practices of our
ancestors, are called educated among the Jews;" and it is likely that he
attended in his boyhood one of the numerous schools that existed in
Jerusalem at the time. According to the Talmud there were four hundred
and eighty synagogues each with a Bet Sefer for teaching the written law
and a Bet Talmud for the study of the oral law.[1] From his silence we
may infer that he did not study Greek at this period, and Aramaic was
his natural tongue. He was never able to speak Greek fluently or with
sufficient exactness, because, as he says in the _Antiquities_, "Our own
nation does not encourage those who learn the language of many peoples,
and so color their discourses with the smoothness of their periods: for
they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to
freemen, but to any slave that pleases to learn it."[2] When, in his
middle age, he set himself to write the history of his people in Greek,
he was compelled to get the help of friends to correct his composition
and syntax.

[Footnote 1: Yer. Meg. iii. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XX. xi. 2.]

As to his Hebrew accomplishments, he tells us, with his native
immodesty, that he acquired marvelous proficiency in learning, and was
famous for his great memory and understanding. When he was fourteen
years of age, he continues, such was his fame that the high priests and
principal men of the city frequently came to consult him about difficult
points of the law. His mature works do not show any profound knowledge
either of the Halakah or of the Haggadah, so that the statement is not
to be taken strictly. It is probably nothing more than a grandiloquent
way of saying that he was a precocious child, who impressed his elders.
Paul, too, claimed that he was "a Pharisee of the Pharisees, and zealous
beyond those of his own age in the Jews' religion," and yet he can
hardly be regarded as an authority on the tradition. The autobiography
of Josephus, it is pertinent to remember, was designed to impress the
Romans with the greatness of the writer, and its readers were not
equipped with the means of criticising his Jewish accomplishments. With
the same object of impressing the Romans, Josephus recounts that, when
about the age of sixteen, he had a mind to imbue himself with the tenets
of the three Jewish parties, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the

Elsewhere he describes the teaching of these sects for the benefit of
his Roman readers according to a technical classification borrowed from
his environment, i.e. he represents them as three philosophical schools
of the Greek type, each holding different views about fate and
Providence and the nature of the soul and its immortality. But just as
this is demonstrably a misleading coloring of the difference between the
sections of the Jewish people, so is his attempt to represent that he
attended, as a cultured Greek or Roman of the time would have done,
three philosophical colleges. He was compelled by the needs of his
audience to present Jewish life in the form of Greco-Roman institutions,
however ill it fits the mould, and his remarks about sects and schools
must always be taken with caution. It is as though a modern writer
should describe Judaism as a Church, and express its ideas and
observances in the language of Christian theology.

There is, however, no reason to doubt that Josephus made himself
acquainted with the tenets of the chief teachers of the time, and he may
conceivably have sat at the feet of Rabbi Gamaliel, then the chief sage
at Jerusalem. But, anxious to exhibit his catholicity, after professing
himself a Pharisee, he says that, not content with these studies, he
became for three years a faithful disciple of one Banus, who lived in
the desert, and used no other clothing than grew upon trees, ate no
other food than that which grew wild, and bathed frequently in cold
water both night and day.[1] The extreme hermit form of the religious
life was more fashionable in the first century of the Christian era
among Gentiles than among Jews, and it is not unlikely that Josephus is
embroidering his idea of life in an Essene community, rather than
setting down his actual experience. An Essene he never became, but he
remained throughout his life very partial to certain forms of the Essene
belief, more especially those which coincided with the Greco-Roman
superstitions of the time, such as the literal prediction of future
events, the meaning of dreams, the significance of omens.[2] These
ideas, handed down from primitive Israel, had lived on among the masses
of the people, though discarded by the learned teachers, and Josephus,
finding them in vogue among his masters, readily professed acceptance of

[Footnote 1: Vita, 2.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. B.J. II. viii. 12; III. viii. 3; VI. v. 4.]

Abandoning apparently the idea of being a hermit, Josephus at the age of
nineteen returned to Jerusalem, and began to conduct himself according
to the rules of the Pharisee sect, which is akin, he says, to the school
of the Stoics. The comparison of the Pharisees with the Stoics is again
misleading, and based on nothing more than the formal likeness of their
doctrines about Providence. The Pharisees were essentially the party
that upheld the whole tradition and the separateness of Israel. They
numbered in their ranks the most popular teachers, and politically,
though opposed to Rome and all its ways, they counseled submission so
long as religious liberty was not infringed. It may be that Josephus
only professed his attachment to them after his surrender, because, as
pacifists and believers in moral as against physical force, they were
favorably regarded by the Romans; but even if as a young and ambitious
priest he attached himself to their body early in life in order to gain
influence among the people, he was not a representative Pharisee. He
obtained a certain acquaintance with the teaching of the Pharisees, and
partly shared their political views, though not from the same motives as
their true leaders. Yet the very next step in his life that he
chronicles marks his outlook as fundamentally different.

At the age of twenty-six, after seven years in Jerusalem, during which
he exercised his priestly functions, he journeyed to Rome. The cause of
his voyage, on which he was picturesquely wrecked and had to swim for
his life through the night, was the deliverance from prison of certain
priests closely related to him, who had been sent there as prisoners by
Felix, the tyrannical Roman governor. At Rome, through his acquaintance
with Aliturius, an actor of plays, a favorite of Nero, and by birth a
Jew, he came into touch with the profligate court. To the genuine
Pharisee a Jewish play-actor would have been an abomination. Josephus
used his acquaintance to obtain an introduction to Poppaea Sabina, the
Emperor's wife for the time. Though a by-word for shamelessness of life,
she was herself one of "the fearers of the Lord" ([Greek: sebomenoi]),
who professed adherence to the Jewish creed without accepting the Jewish
law. Josephus won her favor, and through it procured the liberation of
the priests. The Imperial city was then at the height of its material
magnificence, and must have made an immense impression of power upon the
young Jewish aristocrat. Having acquired a lasting admiration for Rome
and a desire to enter her society and a conviction of her invincibility,
he returned to Palestine in triumph--and with the spirit of an
opportunist. This at least is the picture he draws of himself, but a
more kindly interpretation might see in the moment of his return the
indication of a genuine patriotic feeling.

When he arrived in Jerusalem, in the year 65 C.E., he found his country
seething with rebellion. The crisis soon came to a head. Gessius Florus,
who owed his governorship, as Josephus owed the success of his errand,
to the favor of the "God-fearing" Poppaea, roused the people to fury by
his pillage of the Temple, and the moderates could no longer hold the
masses in check. The Zealots seized the fortress of Antonia, which
overlooked the Temple, and, having become masters of the city, murdered
the high priest Ananias. Eleazar, whom Josephus, perhaps confusedly,
describes as his son, an intense nationalist among the priests, became
the leader in counsel, and sealed the rebellion by persuading the people
to discontinue the daily sacrifice offered in the name of the Roman

At the same time the extermination of the Jews in the Hellenistic
cities, Caesarea, Scythopolis, and Damascus, by the infuriated Syrians,
who organized a kind of Palestinian Vespers, convinced the people that
they were engaged in a war to the death. The Herodian party, as the
royal house and its supporters were called, endeavored to preserve
peace, by dwelling on the overpowering might of Rome and the inevitable
end of the insurrection, but in vain. In fear the priests withdrew to
their duties in the Temple, and did not venture out till the Zealots
were for a time dislodged. The Roman legate of Syria, Cestius Gallus,
after the defeat of the Romanizing party by the Zealots, himself marched
on Jerusalem in the autumn of 68 C.E. with two legions. But he failed
ignominiously to quell the revolt. The Roman garrison in the city was
put to the sword, and the legate, while beating a hasty retreat, was
routed in the defiles of Beth-Horon, where two centuries before the
Syrian hosts had been decimated by Judas the Maccabee. The two legions
were cut to pieces. The fierce valor of the untrained national levies
had broken the serried cohorts of the Roman veterans, and in the
unexpectedness of this deliverance the party of rebellion for a time was
triumphant among all sections of the Jewish people.

Even those who had been the most determined Romanizers, such as the
high-priestly circle, were induced, either by a belief in the chances of
success or from a desire to protect themselves by a seeming adherence to
the national cause, to throw in their lot with the war party. It might
have been better for their people, had they, like Agrippa, joined the
Romans. Half-hearted at best in their support of the struggle, yet by
their wealth and position able at first to obtain a commanding part in
the conduct of the war, they used it to temporize with the foe and to
dull the edge of the popular feeling. Josephus unfortunately does not
enlighten us as to the inner movements in Judea at this crisis. He
merely relates that the Sanhedrin became a council of war, and Palestine
was divided into seven military districts, over most of which commanders
of the Herodian faction were placed. Joseph the son of Gorion and
Ananias the high priest, both members of the moderate party, were chosen
as governors of Jerusalem, with a particular charge to repair the walls,
and the Zealot leader Eleazar the son of Simon was passed over.

Josephus himself, though he possessed no military experience, and had
apparently taken no part in the opening campaign, was made governor of
Lower and Upper Galilee, the most important military post of all; for
Galilee was the bulwark of Judea, and if the Romans could be
successfully resisted there, the rebellion might hope for victory. It
lay in a strategic position between the Roman outposts, Ptolemais (the
modern Acre) on the coast and Agrippa's kingdom in the east. It was a
country made for defense, a country of rugged mountains and natural
fastnesses, and inhabited by a hardy and warlike population, which, for
half a century, had been in constant insurrection. Thence had come the
founders of the Zealots and the still more violent band of the Sicarii,
and each town in the region had its popular leader. Josephus was
expected to hold it with its own resources, for little help could be
spared from the center of Palestine. Guerrilla fighting was the natural
resource of an insurgent people, which had to win its freedom against
well-trained and veteran armies. It had been the method of Judas
Maccabaeus against Antiochus amid the hills of Judea. Josephus, however,
made no attempt to practise it, and showed no vestige of appreciation of
the needs of the case.

It is difficult to gather the reason of his appointment, unless it be
that in his writings he deliberately kept back from the Romans the more
enthusiastic part he had played at the outset of the struggle. So far as
his own account goes, neither devotion to the national cause, nor
experience, nor prestige, nor power of leadership, nor knowledge of the
country recommended him. His distinguished birth and his friendship for
Rome were hardly sufficient qualifications for the post. The influence
of his friend, the ex-high priest Joshua ben Gamala, may have prevailed,
and one is fain to surmise that those who sent him, as well as he
himself, were anxious to pretend resistance to Rome, but really to work
for resistance to the rebellion.

At all events, at the end of the autumn of 67, Josephus repaired to his
command, taking with him two priests, Joazar and Judas, as
representatives of the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. In the record which he
gives of his exploits in the _Wars_, he says that his first care was to
gain the good-will of the people, drill his troops, and prepare the
country to meet the threatened invasion. In the _Life_, which he wrote
some twenty years later, when he had perforce to cultivate a more
complete servility of mind, and was anxious to convince the Romans that
he was a double-dealing traitor to his country, he represents that he
set himself from the beginning to betray the province. The record of his
actions points to the conclusion that he fell between the stools of
covert treachery and half-hearted loyalty, that he was neither as
villainous in design nor as heroic in action as he makes himself out to
be. He made some show of preparation at the beginning, but from the
moment the Roman army arrived under Vespasian, and he realized that Rome
was in earnest, he abandoned all hope of success, and set himself to
make his own position secure with the conqueror.

The chief cities of Galilee were Sepphoris, situated on the lower spurs
of the hills near the plain of Esdraelon, which divides the country from
Samaria and Judea; Tiberias, a city founded by Herod Antipas on the
western borders of the Lake of Gennesareth, and Tarichea, also an
Herodian foundation, situate probably at the southeast corner of the
lake. All these Josephus fortified; and he strengthened with walls other
smaller towns and natural fortresses, such as Jotapata, Salamis, and
Gamala.[1] He says also that he appointed a Sanhedrin of seventy members
for the province, and in each town established a court of seven judges,
as though he were come to exercise a civil government. He did, however,
get together an army of more than a hundred thousand young men, and
armed them with the old weapons which he had collected. Though he
despaired of their standing up against the Romans, he ordered them in
the Roman style, appointing a large number of subordinate officers and
teaching them the use of signals and a few elementary military
movements. His army ultimately consisted of 60,000 footmen, 4,500
mercenaries, in whom he put greatest trust, and 600 picked men as his
body-guard. He had little cavalry, but as Galilee was a country of
hills, this deficiency need not have proved fatal, had he been a
strategist or even a loyalist. During the eight months' respite that he
enjoyed before the appearance of the Roman army, he spent most of his
time in civil feud, and succeeded in dividing the population into two
hostile parties. He boasts that, though he took up his command at an age
when, if a man has happily escaped sin, he can scarcely guard himself
against slander, he was perfectly honest, and refrained from stealing
and peculation[2]; but he is at pains to prove that he threw every
obstacle in the way of the patriotic party, and did all that an open
enemy of the Jews could have done to undermine the defense of the

[Footnote 1: B.J. II. xx. 6. His account of his actions in Galilee is,
however, from beginning to end, open to question; and the contemporary
account of Justus has unfortunately disappeared entirely. It is likely
that his rival's narrative would have shown him in a better light than
his own.]

[Footnote 2: Vita, 15.]

Before his arrival in the north, the leader of the national party was
John the son of Levi, a man of Gischala, which was one of the mountain
fastnesses in Northern Galilee, now known as Jish, near the town of
Safed.[1] Josephus heaps every variety of violent abuse upon him in
order, no doubt, to please his patrons. When he introduces him on the
scene, he describes him as "a very knavish and cunning rogue, outdoing
all other rogues, and without his fellow for wicked practices. He was a
ready liar, and yet very sharp in gaining credit for his fictions. He
thought it a point of virtue to deceive, and would delude even those
nearest to him. He had an aptitude for thieving," and so forth. Whenever
the historian mentions the name of his rival, he rattles his box of
abusive epithets until the reader is wearied by the image of the monster
conjured up before him. But, unfortunately for his credit, Josephus also
records John's deeds, and these reveal him as one who, if at times cruel
and intriguing, yet lived and died for his country, while his enemy was
thinking of saving himself.

[Footnote 1: The Hebrew name of the fortress was [Hebrew: Nosh Halav],
meaning "clot of cream"; the place was so called because of the
fertility of the soil on which it stands.]

It is not surprising then that John, having eyes only for the defense of
the land, was not blind to the double-dealing of the priestly governor,
who had been sent by the Romanizing party to organize resistance. The
first event that brought about a collision between them was the
suspicious conduct of Josephus in the matter of some spoil seized from
the steward of King Agrippa and brought to Tarichea. Agrippa had
entirely turned his back on the national rising, and was the faithful
ally of the Romans. He was therefore an open enemy, and Tiberias, which
had been under his dominion, had revolted from him. Josephus upbraided
the captors for the violence they had offered to the king, and declared
his intention to return the spoil to the owner. A little later he
prevented John from destroying the corn in the province stored by the
Romans for themselves. The people were naturally indignant at this
conduct, and led by John and another Zealot, Jesus the son of Sapphias,
the governor of Tiberias, and by Justus of the same city, who was
afterwards to be a rival historian, they rose against Josephus. With
stratagems worthy of a better cause he evaded this onslaught.

More briefly in the _Wars_, and in the _Life_ at wearisome length,
Josephus tells a tale of intrigue and counter-intrigue, mutual attempts
at assassination, wiles and stratagems to undermine the power of each
other, which took place between him and John. The city of Tarichea was
his stronghold, Tiberias the hot-bed of the movement against him. The
part he professes to have played is so extraordinary in its meanness
that we are fain to believe that it is largely fiction, composed to show
that he was only driven in the end by danger of his life to fight
against the sacred power of Rome. However that may be, John reported his
doings to the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, and that body, which was now, it
seems, in the control of the Pharisees and Zealots, sent a deputation to
recall him. Simon, the celebrated head of the Sanhedrin and leader of
the national party, had pressed for the dismissal of Josephus.[1]
Ananias, the ex-high priest and Sadducee, had at first been his
champion, but he had been overborne. The deputation consisted of two
Pharisees, Jonathan and Ananias, and two priests, Joazar and Simon.
Warned by his friends in Jerusalem of their coming, Josephus had all the
passes watched, seized the embassy, and recaptured the four cities that
had revolted from him: Sepphoris, Gamala, Gischala, and Tiberias.
According to the account in the _Wars_, the cities revolted again, and
were recaptured by similar stratagems; and when the disturbances in
Galilee were quieted in this way, the people, ceasing to prosecute their
civil dissensions, betook themselves to make preparations for the war
against the Romans. The invasion had begun in earnest, and Josephus,
fortified, as he said, by a dream, which told him not to be afraid,
because he was to fight with the Romans, and would live happily
thereafter, decided for the time not to abandon his post.

[Footnote 1: It is notable that this is the only reference in the work
of Josephus to the great Rabbi; the name of his successor in the
headship of the Sanhedrin, Johanan ben Zakkai, does not occur even

Josephus had displayed his administrative talents in these eight months
of peaceful government by losing all that had been gained in the four
months of the successful rebellion at Jerusalem. He now had an
opportunity of displaying his military abilities. In the spring of 67
C.E., Flavius Vespasian, the veteran commander of the legions in Germany
and Britain, who, on the defeat of Cestius Gallus, had been chosen by
Nero to conduct the Jewish campaign, brought his army of four legions
from Antioch to Ptolemais. He was met there by King Agrippa, who brought
a large force of auxiliaries, and by a deputation of citizens from
Sepphoris, the chief city of Galilee, who tendered their submission and
invited him to send a garrison. Josephus, though he knew of the city's
Romanizing leanings, had negligently or deliberately failed to occupy
it, so that the place was lost without a blow. He made a feeble effort
to recapture it, for appearance sake it would seem, and then, though he
had an unlimited choice of favorable positions, and the Roman forces
were not very large at the time, he abandoned the attempt of meeting the
enemy in the field. Titus arrived from Alexandria, with two more
legions, the fifth and the tenth, and then the Roman army, numbering
with auxiliaries 60,000 men, set out from Ptolemais, and proceeded to
occupy Galilee.

The Jewish forces were encamped on the hills above Sepphoris. Josephus
describes the wonderful array and order of the Roman army on the march.
The sight seems to have led a large part of his army to run away. He
himself, when he saw that he had not an army sufficient to engage the
enemy, despaired of the success of the war, and determined to place
himself as far as he could out of danger. In this inspiring mood he
abandoned the rest of the country, sent a dispatch to Jerusalem
demanding help, and threw himself into the fortress of Jotapata,
situated on the crest of a mountain in Northern Galilee, which he chose
as the most fit for his security. Vespasian, hearing of this step, and,
as Josephus modestly suggests, "supposing that, could he only get
Josephus into his power, he would have conquered all Judea," straightway
laid siege to the town (Iyar 16). For forty-two days the place was
besieged, and during that period every resource that heroic resistance
could suggest, according to the narrative of its commandant, was
exhausted. The height of the wall was raised to meet the Roman
embankments, provisions were brought in by soldiers disguised in
sheep-skins, the Roman works were destroyed by fire, boiling oil was
poured on the assailants, and finally the city was not stormed till the
garrison was worn out with famine and fatigue. But, as has been pointed
out, the details recorded are "the commonplaces of poliorcetics," and
may have been borrowed by Josephus from some military text-book and
neatly applied. Jotapata fell on the first day of Tammuz, and whatever
the heroism of his army, the general did not shine in the last days of
his command or in the manner of his surrender. Suspected by his men and
threatened by them with death, he was unable to give himself up openly.
He took refuge with some of his comrades in a deep pit, where they were
discovered by an old woman, who informed the Romans. Vespasian, who, we
are again told, believed that, if he captured Josephus, the greater part
of the war would be over, sent one Nicanor, well known to the Jewish
commandant, to take him. Josephus, professing prophetical powers,
offered to surrender, and quieted his conscience by a secret prayer to
God, which is a sad compound of cant and cowardice:

"Since it pleaseth Thee, who hast created the Jewish nation, now to
bring them low, and since their good fortune is gone over to the Romans,
and since Thou hast chosen my soul to foretell what is to come to pass
hereafter, I willingly surrender, and am content to live. I solemnly
protest that I do not go over to the Romans as a deserter, but as Thy

It may be that Josephus really believed he had prophetic powers, and
thought he was imitating the great prophets of Israel and Judah who had
proclaimed the uselessness of resistance to Assyria and Babylon. But
they, while denouncing the wickedness of the people, had shared their
lot with them. And Josephus, who weakly sought a refuge for himself
after defeat, resembles rather the prophets whom Jeremiah denounced:
"They speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the
Lord. They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye
shall have peace; and they say unto everyone that walketh after the
imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you."[1] His
comrades however prevented him from giving himself up, and called on him
to play a braver part and die with them, each by his own hand. He put
them off by talking philosophically, as he has it, about the sin of
suicide, a euphemism for a collection of commonplaces on the duty of
preserving their lives. But when this enraged them, he bethought him of
another device, and proposed that they should cast lots to kill each
other. They assented, and by Divine Providence he was left to the last
with one other, whom he persuaded to break his oath and live
likewise.[2] Having thus escaped, he was led by Nicanor to Vespasian,
the whole Roman army gathering around to gaze on the hero. Continuing
his prophetical function, when he found that he was like to be sent to
Nero, he announced to Vespasian, "Thou art Caesar and Emperor, thou, and
this thy son.... thou art not only lord over me, but over the land and
the sea and all mankind." The Roman general was incredulous, till,
hearing that his prisoner had foretold the length of the siege of
Jotapata--a prophecy which, of course, he had the ability to fulfil--and
further, on the report of the death of Nero, having conceived the
possibility of becoming Emperor, he had regard to the Jewish prophet,
and, without setting him at liberty, bestowed favors on him, and made
him easy about his future. Such was the end of the military career of

[Footnote 1: Jer. 23: 16-17.]

[Footnote 2: A charitable explanation of this self-debasing account of
Josephus is that he was driven to invent some story to extenuate his
resistance to the Romans, and had to blacken his reputation as a patriot
to save his skin. The fact that he was kept prisoner some time by
Vespasian suggests that he was not so big a traitor as he pretends.]

The Talmud relates that Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai, the head of the
Pharisees, was carried in a coffin outside the walls of Jerusalem by his
disciples, and was brought to the Roman camp, where he hailed Vespasian
as Emperor and Caesar, and thereby gained his favor. If not apocryphal,
the event must have happened in 69 C.E., when the Roman commander was
generally expected to aim at the Imperial throne, then the object of
strife between rival commanders. The rabbi belonged to the peace party,
and from the beginning had opposed the war. And though his action was
disapproved by the later generations, it was justified by his subsequent
conduct; for it was he who, by founding the famous college at Jabneh,
kept alive the Jewish spirit after the fall of the nation. For him
surrender was a valid means to the preservation of the nation. The
action of Josephus hardly bears the same justification. His desire for
self-preservation was natural enough, but his manner of effecting it was
not honorable. He was a general who, having taken a lead in the struggle
for independence, had seen all his men fall, and had at the end invited
the last of his comrades to kill each other, and he saved his life by
sacrificing his honor. His mind was from the beginning of the struggle
subjugated to Rome, but unhappily he accepted the most responsible post
in the national defense and betrayed it. His address to Vespasian was
mere flattery, designed to impose on a superstitious man's credulity;
for the ear of Vespasian, says Merivale, "was always open to pretenders
to supernatural knowledge." Lastly Josephus used his safety, not for the
purpose of preserving the Jewish heritage, but for personal ends. He
became a flunkey of the Flavian house, and straightway started on the
transformation from a Jewish priest and soldier into a Roman courtier
and literary hireling. Hard circumstances compelled him to choose
between a noble and an ignoble part, between heroic action and weak
submission. He was a mediocre man, and chose the way that was not heroic
and glorious. Posterity gained something by his choice; his own
reputation was fatally marred by it.



Josephus was little more than thirty years old at the time of his
surrender. At an age when men usually begin to realize their ambition
and ideal, his whole life's course was changed: he had to abandon all
his old associations, and accommodate himself to a different and indeed
a hostile society. Henceforth he was a liege of the Roman conqueror, and
had to submit to be Romanized not only in name but in spirit. His
condition was indeed a thinly-disguised servitude. The Romans were an
imperious as well as an Imperial people, and though in some
circumstances they were ready to spare the lives of those who yielded,
they required of them a surrender of opinion and an abasement of soul.
For the rest of his years, which comprehended the whole of his literary
activity, Josephus was not therefore a free man. He acted, spoke, and
wrote to order, compelled, whenever called upon, to do the will of his
masters. His legal condition was first that of a _libertus_ (a freedman)
of Vespasian, and as such he owed by law certain definite obligations to
his patron's family. But the moral subservience of the favored prisoner
of a subjugated people must have been a far profounder thing than the
legal obligation arising from his status; and this enforced moral and
mental subservience is a cardinal point to be remembered in forming a
judgment upon Josephus. His expressed opinions are often not the
revelation of his own mind, but the galling tribute which he was
compelled to pay for his life. And apart from the involuntary and
undeliberate adoption of Roman standards, which, living isolated from
Jewish life in Rome, he could not escape, he had in writing, and no
doubt in conversation, deliberately and consciously to assume the
deepest-seated of the Roman prejudices towards his own people. Liberty
has been defined as the power of a man to call his soul his own. And in
that sense Josephus emphatically did not possess liberty. We must be on
our guard, therefore, against regarding him as an independent historian,
much less as writing from an independent Jewish point of view. From the
time of his surrender till his death he lived and wrote as the client of
the Flavian house, and all his works had to pass the Imperial

His domestic life is characteristic of his subservience. At the bidding
of Vespasian, when in the Roman camp at Caesarea, he divorced his first
wife, who was locked up in Jerusalem during the siege. Though by Jewish
law it was forbidden to a priest to marry a captive woman, he took as
his second wife a Jewess that had been brought into the Roman camp.
Having no children by her, he divorced her after a year, and married
again at Alexandria. By his third wife he had three sons, but with a
Roman's carelessness of the marriage bond he divorced her late in life,
and married finally a noble Jewess of Crete, by whom he had two more
sons, Justus and Simon Agrippa. His last two wives, be it noted, came
from Hellenistic-Jewish communities, and were doubtless able to assist
him in acquiring Greek.

The public as well as the domestic life of Josephus was controlled by
the Roman commander. Till the end of the Jewish struggle it followed the
progress of the Roman arms. He continued to play an active part in the
war, not, however, as a leader of the Jews, but as the adviser of their
enemies. He was attached to the staff of Titus, and after witnessing the
fall of the two fortresses of Galilee, Gamala and Gischala, which held
out bravely under John after the capture of Jotapata, he accompanied the
Roman at the end of the year 68 to Alexandria. There he spent a year,
till a change of fortune came to him.

During the year 68, Vespasian captured the two chief cities which the
Jewish national party held to the east side of the Jordan, Gadara and
Gerasa. He then prepared to lay siege to Jerusalem. But hearing of the
death of Nero and of the chaos at Rome that followed it, he stayed
operations to await events in Italy. In the following year, largely by
the aid of the Jewish apostate Tiberius Alexander, he secured the
allegiance of all the Eastern legions, and was proclaimed Emperor. Three
other generals laid claim to the same dignity, under the same title of
armed force, but in the end Vespasian's friends in Italy made themselves
masters of Rome, and he repaired himself to the capital and donned the
purple. Josephus was rewarded with his complete freedom, and assumed
henceforth the family name of his Imperial patrons. When, at the end of
the year 69, Titus was appointed by his father to finish the war, he
accompanied him back to Palestine. In the eighteen months' respite that
had been vouchsafed to them, the Jews had spent their energy and
undermined their powers of resistance by internecine strife. According
to the account in the _Wars_, which unfortunately is the only full
record we have of events, John of Gischala, fleeing to Jerusalem after
the fall of the Galilean fortresses, roused the Zealots against the high
priest Ananias, who was directing the Jewish policy towards submission
to Rome. Ananias, who was of the same party as Josephus, seems to have
come to the conclusion that resistance was hopeless, and he was anxious
to make terms. John called in to his aid the half-savage Idumeans, who
had joined the Jewish rebellion against Rome. They entered the city,
and, possessing themselves of the Temple mount, spread havoc. The Temple
itself ran with blood, and 8500 dead bodies, among them that of the high
priest, defiled its precincts.[1] Josephus, who, to suit the Roman
taste, identifies religion and ritual, declares that the fall of the
city and the ruin of the nation are to be dated from that day, and upon
Ananias he passes a eulogy that is likewise written with an eye to Roman

"He was a prodigious lover of liberty and of democracy; he ever
preferred the public welfare before his own advantage, and he was
thoroughly sensible that the Romans were invincible. And I cannot but
think that it was because God had doomed the city to destruction on
account of its pollution, and was resolved to purge His sanctuary with
fire, that He cut off thus its great protector."

[Footnote 1: B.J. IV. vi. 1.]

For the better part of a year, according to our historian, the Zealots
maintained a reign of terror, and the various parties fought against one
another in the Holy City as fiercely as the Girondists and Jacobins of
the French Revolution. But on the approach of Titus they abandoned their
strife and united to resist the foe. The Roman general brought with him
four legions, the fifth, tenth, twelfth, and fifteenth, besides a large
following of auxiliaries, and his whole force amounted to 80,000 men. As
head of his staff came Tiberius Alexander, the renegade nephew of Philo
and formerly procurator of Judea. Josephus also was on the besieger's
staff--possibly he was an officer of the body-guard (_praefectus
praetorio_)--and was employed to bring his countrymen to reason. Himself
convinced, almost from the moment when he took up arms, of the certainty
of Rome's ultimate victory, and doubly convinced now, partly from
superstitious fatalism, partly from a need for extenuating his own
submission, he wasted his eloquence in efforts to make them surrender.
He knew that within the besieged city there was a considerable
Romanizing faction (including his own father), and either he believed,
or he had to pretend to believe, that he could bring over the mass to
their way of thinking. On various occasions during the siege he was sent
to the walls to summon the defenders to lay down their arms. He enlarged
each time on the invincible power of Rome, on the hopelessness of
resistance, on the clemency of Titus if they would yield, and on the
terrible fate which would befall them and the Temple if they fought to
the bitter end. What must have specially aroused the fury of the Zealots
was his insistence that the Divine Providence was now on the side of the
Romans, and that in resisting they were sinning against God. It is
little wonder that on one occasion when making these harangues he was
struck by a dart, and that his father was placed in prison by the
Zealots. Indeed it says much for the tolerance of those whom he
constantly reviles as the most abandoned scoundrels and the most cruel
tyrants that they did not do him and his family greater hurt.

Titus, after beating back desperate attacks by the Jews, fixed his camp
on Mount Scopas, by the side of the Mount of Olives, to the north of the
city, and, abandoning the idea of taking the city fortress by storm,
prepared to beleaguer it in regular form. The Jews were not prepared for
a siege. Josephus and the Rabbis[1] agree that the supplies of corn had
been burnt by the Zealots during the civil disturbances; and as the
arrival of Titus coincided with the Passover, myriads of people, who had
come up from all parts of the country and the Diaspora to celebrate the
festival, were crowded within its walls. It is estimated that their
number exceeded two and a half million. The capital was a hard place to
capture. Josephus, following probably a Roman authority, gives an
account of the fortifications of Jerusalem from the point of view of the
besieger, which is confirmed in large part by modern research.[2] On the
southeast and west the city was unapproachable by reason of the sheer
ravines of Kedron and Hinnom, overlooked by almost perpendicular
precipices, which surrounded it. It was vulnerable therefore only on the
north, where the two heights on which it was built were connected with
the main ridge of the Judean hills; and here it was fortified with three
walls. The outermost, which was built by Agrippa I, encompassed the new
quarter of Bezetha, which lay outside the Temple mount to the northeast.
The second wall encompassed the part of the city on the Temple Mount and
reached as far as the Tower of Antonia, which overlooked and protected
the Temple. The third or innermost wall was the oldest, and encompassed
the whole of the ancient city where it was open, including the hill Acra
or Zion on the southeast, which was divided from Mount Moriah by the
cleft known as the Tyropoeon, or cheese-market. Beyond this hill there
was another eminence sloping gradually to the north, till it dropped
into the valley of Jehoshaphat with an escarpment of two hundred feet.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Abot de Rabbi Nathan, vi., ed. Schechter, p. 32.]

[Footnote 2: B.J. V. iv. 1.]

Thus the rampart surrounded the two hills with a continuous line of
defense, and the three quarters of the city were separated from each
other by distinct walls, so that each could hold out when the other had
fallen. The walls were strengthened with several towers, of which the
most important were Psephinus, on the third wall at the northwest
corner, Hippicus, on the old wall, which was opposite Phasaelus, and
Mariamne. But the strongest, largest, and most beautiful fortress in
Jerusalem was the Temple itself. It was not merely the visible center of
Judaism, it was the citadel of Judea. As each successive court rose
higher than the last, the "Mountain of the House" itself stood on the
highest point of the inclosure. The Temple was guarded by the tower of
Antonia, situated at the corner of the two cloisters, upon a rock fifty
cubits high, overlooking a precipice. Like the other towers, Antonia was
built by Herod, and manifested his love of largeness and strength.
Within these fortifications there were eleven thousand men under Simon,
and not more than thirty thousand trained soldiers under John, to pit
against eighty thousand Roman veterans; but of the two and a half
million people who, it is calculated, were shut up in the city,
thousands were ready at any moment to sally upon the besiegers and lay
down their lives for their beloved sanctuary.

Within the city, however, there were also a number of persons wavering
in their desire for resistance and anxious to find a favorable
opportunity of going over to the Romans. The leaders of the
high-priestly party had been killed by the Zealots, but their followers
remained to hamper the defense of the city. If Josephus is to be
believed, during the respite of the Passover festival at the beginning
of the siege, while the Romans were preparing their approaches and siege
works, the party strife again broke out. Eleazar opened the gates of the
Temple to admit the people for the festival, but John, taking
treacherous advantage of the opportunity, led his men in with arms
concealed beneath their garments, put his opponents to the sword, and
seized the sanctuary. Josephus further represents that throughout the
siege Simon and John, while resisting the Romans and defending different
parts of the walls, were still engaged in their internecine strife, "and
did everything that the besiegers could desire them to do."[1]

[Footnote 1: B.J. V. vi.]

The story has not the stamp of probability, and it is more likely that
Josephus is distorting the jealousies of the two commanders into the
dimensions of civil strife. Anyhow, the resistance which the Jews
offered to the Romans showed the stubbornness of despair, or what the
historian calls "their natural endurance in misfortune." At every step
the legionaries were checked; in pitching their camp, in making their
earthworks, in bringing up their machines; and frequently desperate
sallies were made by the defenders upon the Roman entrenchments.
Nevertheless, after fifteen days the first wall was captured, and in
five days more the second was taken. By a desperate sally the besieged
recovered it for a little, but were again driven back by superior
numbers and force. Josephus is fond of contrasting the different tempers
of the two armies: on the one side power and skill, on the other
boldness and the courage born of despair; here the habit of conquering,
there intense national ardor.

After the capture of the second wall, he was sent to parley with the
besieged, and urged, as he had done before, the invincible power of his
masters.[1] "And evident it is," he added with his renegade's theology,
"that fortune is on all hands gone over to them, and that God, who has
shifted dominion from nation to nation, is now settled in Italy."[2]
When his address was received with scorn, he proceeded, according to his
account, to lecture the people from their ancient history, in order to
prove that they had never been successful in aggressive warfare. "Arms
were never given to our nation, but we are always given up to be fought
against and taken." The Zealots' desecration of the Temple deprived them
of Divine help, and it was madness to suppose that God would be
well-disposed to the wicked. Had He not shown favor to Titus and
performed miracles in his aid? Did not the springs of Siloam run more
plentifully for the Roman general? All his appeals had no effect, and
though some faint-hearted persons deserted, the multitude held firm, and
the siege was pressed on more vigorously than ever. A wall of
circumvallation was built round the city, and the horrors of starvation
increased daily. Between the months of Nisan and Tammuz one hundred and
fifty thousand corpses were carried out of the town.[3] Josephus
expatiates on the terrible suffering, and again and again he denounces
the iniquity of the Zealots, who continued the resistance. "No age had a
generation more fruitful in wickedness; they confessed that they were
the slaves, the scum, the spurious and abortive offspring of our
nation." John committed the heinous sacrilege of using the oil preserved
in the Temple vessels for the starving soldiers. "I suppose," says the
ex-priest writing in the Roman palace, "that had the Romans made any
longer delay in attacking these abandoned men, the city would either
have been swallowed up by the ground opening on them, or been swept away
by a deluge, or destroyed as Sodom was destroyed, since it had brought
forth a generation even more godless than those that suffered such

[Footnote 1: B.J. V. ix. 3.]

[Footnote 2: We are reminded of the saying of Rabbi Akiba some
half-century later. When asked where God was to be sought now that the
Temple was destroyed, he replied, "In the great city of Rome" (Yer.
Taanit, 69a). But the Rabbinical utterance had a very different meaning
from the plea of Josephus.]

[Footnote 3: B.J. V. xiii. 7.]

[Footnote 4: B.J. V. x. and xiii.]

Famine and weariness were breaking down the strength of the Jews, and,
after fierce resistance, the tower of Antonia was captured and razed to
the ground. Josephus adds another chapter to detail the horrors of the
famine, in which he recounts the story of the mother eating her child,
which occurs also in the Midrash.[1] The Romans, he tells us, were
filled with a religious loathing of their foes on account of their sins
in violating the Temple and eating forbidden food, and Titus excused
himself for the sufferings he caused, on the ground that, as he had
given the Jews the chance of securing peace and liberty, they had
brought the evil on themselves. Slowly but surely the Romans gained a
footing within the Temple precinct; inch by inch John was driven back,
and on the Ninth of Ab the sanctuary was stormed. A torch, hurled
probably by the hand of Titus (see below, p. 128), set the cloisters
alight, and the fire spread till the whole house was involved. The
crowning catastrophe, the burning of the Holy of Holies, happened on the
following day.

[Footnote 1: Ekah R. 65a.]

Josephus remained in the Roman camp throughout the siege, advising Titus
at each step how he might proceed. After the fall of the Temple he
witnessed the last desperate struggle, when a half-starved remnant of
the defenders "looked straight into death without flinching." A great
modern writer sees in this unquenchable passion of the Zealots for
liberty a sublime type of steadfastness[1]; but Josephus, who after the
fall of the Temple had made another unavailing effort to persuade them
to lay down their arms, again pours forth his abuse upon those who
fought against the sacred might of Rome. Over a million had perished in
the siege, and less than one hundred thousand were captured, of whom
only forty thousand were preserved. His favor with Titus enabled him to
redeem from captivity his brother and a large number of his friends and
acquaintances and one hundred and ninety women and children.[2] His own
estates near Jerusalem having been taken for a military colony, he
received liberal compensation in another part of Judea. From the victor
he also obtained a scroll of the law.

[Footnote 1: George Eliot, Impressions of Theophrastus Such.]

[Footnote 2: Vita, 75.]

It is not certain whether he accompanied "the gentle Titus" through
Syria after the fall of the city and the razing of its walls. The
victor's progress was marked at each stopping-place by the celebration
of games, where thousands of young Jewish captives were made to kill
each other, "butchered to make a Roman holiday" and feast the eyes of
the conqueror and the Herodian ally and his spouse. But he certainly
witnessed at Rome the triumph of the Flavii, father and son, and gazed
on the shame of his country, when its most holy monuments were carried
by the noblest of the captives through the streets amid the applause and
ribald jeers of a Roman crowd. Josephus enlarges with apparent apathy on
the procession, which is commemorated and made vivid down to our own day
by the arch in the Roman Forum, through which no Jew in the Middle Ages
would pass. He records, too, that Vespasian built a Temple of Peace, in
which he stored the golden vessels taken from the Jewish sanctuary, and
put up the whole of Judea for sale as his private property.[1] Josephus
himself was housed in the royal palace, and it does not appear that he
ever returned to Palestine. The tenth legion had been left on the site
of Jerusalem as a permanent Roman garrison, and a fortified camp was
built for it on the northern hill. "The legions swallowed her up and
idolaters possessed her." _A chacun selon ses oeuvres_ is the comment of
Salvador, the Franco-Jewish historian (fl. 1850), comparing the gilded
servitude of Josephus with the fate of the patriots of Jerusalem; and
another recent historian, Graetz, has contrasted the picture of Jeremiah
uttering his touching laments over the ruins at the fall of the first
Temple with the position of Josephus pouring out his fulsome adulation
of the destroyer at the fall of the second.

[Footnote 1: B.J. VII. vi. 6.]

Henceforth Josephus lived, an exile from his country and his countrymen,
in the retinue of the Caesars, and entered on his career as his people's
historian. But he was never allowed to forget his dependence. His first
work was an account of the Roman war, in which he vilified the patriots
to extenuate his own surrender and his master's cruelty. It is true that
he afterwards composed an elaborate apology for his people in the form
of a history in twenty volumes, which may be considered as a kind of
palliation for the evil he had done them in action. It was more possible
to refute the Roman prejudices based on utter ignorance of Jewish
history, than the prejudices based on their narrowness of mind. But even
here the writer has often to accommodate himself to a pagan standpoint,
which could not appreciate Hebrew sublimity. When he wrote the
_Antiquities_, his mind was already molded in Greco-Roman form, and
where he seeks to glorify, he not seldom contrives to degrade. His works
are a striking example of inward slavery in outward freedom, for by dint
of breathing the foreign atmosphere and imbibing foreign notions he had
become incapable of presenting his people's history in its true light.
He had been granted full Roman citizenship, and received a literary
pension. Still he was not loved by other courtiers as worthy as himself,
and he had frequently to defend himself against the charges of his
enemies. In the reign of Vespasian, after the Zealot rising in Cyrene
had been put down, the leader, Jonathan, who was brought as a prisoner
to Rome, charged Josephus before the Emperor with having sent him both
weapons and money. The story was not believed, and the informer was put
to death. After that, Josephus relates, "when they that envied my good
fortune did frequently bring censure against me, by God's Providence I
escaped them all."

He remained in favor under Titus and Domitian, who in turn succeeded
their father in the purple. Domitian indeed, though he persecuted the
Jews, and laid new fiscal burdens upon them, punished the accusers of
Josephus, and made his estate in Judea tax-free, and the Emperor's wife,
Domitia, also showed him kindness. But perhaps the amazing and pathetic
servility of the _Life_ is to be explained by fear of the vainglorious
despot, whose hand was heavy on all intellectual work. Historical
writers suffered most under his oppression, and it may have been
necessary to Josephus to make out that he had been a traitor. It may
appear more to his credit as a courtier than as a Jew that the enemy of
his people was friendly towards him. But his position must have been
perilous during the black reign of the tyrant, who rivaled Nero for
maniac cruelty. His chief patron was one Epaphroditus, by his name a
Greek, perhaps to be identified with a celebrated librarian and scholar,
to whom he dedicated his _Antiquities_ and the books _Against Apion_. He
lived on probably[1] till the beginning of the second century, through
the short but tranquil rule of Nerva, when there was a brief interlude
of tolerance and intellectual freedom, into the reign of Trajan, who was
to deal his people injuries as deep as those Titus had inflicted. It is
uncertain whether he survived to witness the horrors of the desperate
rising of the Jews, which sealed their national doom throughout the
Diaspora. At least he did not survive to describe it. His last work that
has come down to us is the _Life_, which is an apologetic pamphlet,
perversely self-vilifying, in which he sought to refute the accusation
of his rival Justus of Tiberias, that he had taken a commanding part in
the war against the Romans in Galilee, and had been the guiding spirit
of the Rebellion.

[Footnote 1: It has, however, been suggested that the date of Agrippa's
death, which is recorded in the _Life_, was really 95 C.E., instead of
103 C.E., as is usually accepted; if that is so, Josephus may not have
outlived the black reign of Domitian, which lasted till 97 C.E. See J.H.
Hart, s.v. Josephus, in Encycl. Brit. 11th ed.]

The _Life_ is the least creditable of Josephus' works; but, as we have
seen, it was wrung from him under duress, and cannot be taken as a
genuine revelation of his mind. It is not a full autobiography; save for
a short Prologue and a short Epilogue, it deals exclusively with the
author's conduct in Galilee prior to the campaign of Vespasian, and it
differs materially in political color as well as in the narrative of
facts from the account of the same period in the _Wars_. In the earlier
work his object had been to excuse his countrymen for their revolt, and
at the same time to show the ability with which he had served their true
interests, as the representative of the party that sought to preserve
the nation at the sacrifice of its independence. But in the later work
he is writing not a partisan but a personal apology, composed when his
life was in danger, and when he no longer was anxious to save
appearances with his countrymen. And he devoted his ingenuity to showing
that throughout the events in Galilee he was the friend of Rome, seeking
under the guise of resistance to smooth the way for the invaders and
deliver the gates of Palestine into their hands. That he had so to
demean himself is the most pathetic commentary on the bitter position
which he was called on to endure after twenty years of servile life. The
work was published or reissued after the death of King Agrippa, which
took place in 103 C.E., and is recorded in it.[1] Agrippa was the last
of the Herodians to rule, and with his death the last part of Palestine
that had the outward show of independence was absorbed into the Roman
Empire. But though the whole of the Jewish temporal sovereignty was
shattered before his last days, Josephus may have consoled himself with
the progressive march of Judaism in the capital city of the conqueror.

[Footnote 1: See note above, p. 73.]

It may be put down to the credit of Josephus that amid the court society
at Rome he to the end professed loyalty to his religion, and that he did
not complete his political desertion by religious apostasy. His loyalty
indeed is less meritorious than might seem at first sight. The Romans
generally were tolerant of creeds and cults, and the ceremonial of
Judaism, especially its Sabbath, appealed to many of them. Within the
_pomoerium_ (limits), of the ancient city none but the city gods might
be worshiped, but in Greater Rome there were numerous synagogues. In the
time of Pompey, an important Jewish community existed in the
cosmopolitan capital of the Empire, and later we have records of a
number of congregations. Philo expressly mentions the religious
privileges his brethren enjoyed at the heart of the Empire,[1] and save
for an occasional expulsion the Jews appear to have been unmolested. The
Flavian Emperors, satisfied with the destruction of the sanctuary and
the razing of Jerusalem, did not attempt to persecute the communities of
the Diaspora. For the old offering by all Jews to the Temple, they
substituted a tax of two drachmas (the equivalent of the shekel
voluntarily given hitherto to Jerusalem), which went towards the
maintenance of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Later the fiscus
Judaicus, to which every Jew and proselyte had to pay, became an
instrument of oppression, but in the reigns of Vespasian and Titus it
was not harshly administered. Domitian indeed vented his indignation on
the people which he had not had the honor of conquering, and instituted
a kind of inquisition, to ferret out the early Maranos, who dissembled
their Judaism and sought to evade the tax. But his gentle successor
Nerva (96-98) restored the habit of tolerance, and struck special coins,
with the legend calumnia Judaica sublata (on the abolition of
information against the Jews), in order to mark his clemency. Save,
therefore, for the short persecution under Domitian, Judaism remained a
_licita religio_ (legalized denomination) at Rome. More than that, it
became a powerful missionary faith among the lower classes, and in small
doses almost fashionable at the court. A near relative of the Emperor,
Flavius Clemens, outraged Roman opinion by adopting its tenets.[2] It
has been suggested, and it is likely, that the chief historical work of
Josephus was written primarily for a group of fashionable proselytes to
Judaism, to whom he ministered. He mentions members of the royal house
that commended his work.[3] Some scholars have sought to associate him
with the philosopher at Rome that was visited by the four rabbis of the
Sanhedrin, the Patriarch Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi Joshua, Rabbi Eleazar
ben Arach, and Rabbi Akiba, when they came to Rome in the reign of
Domitian.[4] But apart from the fact that he would hardly be described
as a philosopher--a term usually reserved in the Talmud for a pagan
scholar--it is as unlikely that the leaders of the Pharisaic national
party would have had interviews with the renegade, as that the renegade
would have befriended them. At Jotapata he deserted his people, and he
passed thenceforth out of their life. It is significant that, while the
history of the war was originally written in Aramaic for the benefit of
the Eastern Jews, none of his later works was either written in his
native language or translated into it, nor were they designed to be read
by Jews.

[Footnote 1: De Leg, 82.]

[Footnote 2: It is interesting that the wife of the first Roman governor
of Britain was accused, in 57 C.E., of "foreign superstition," and is
said to have lived a melancholy life (Tac. Ann. xiii. 32), which may
mean that she had adopted Jewish practices.]

[Footnote 3: C. Ap. i. 5.]

[Footnote 4: Sukkah, 22, quoted in Vogelstein and Rieger, Geschichte der
Juden in Rom, pp. 28 and 29.]

In the palace of the Caesars Josephus became a reputable Greco-Roman
chronicler, deliberately accommodating himself to the tastes of the
conquerors of his people, and deliberately seeking, as Renan said, "to
Hellenize his compatriots," i.e. to describe them from a Hellenized
point of view. He achieved his ambition, if such it was, to be the
classical authority upon the early history of the Jews. His record of
his people survived through the ages, and his works were included in the
public libraries of Rome, while among the Christians they had for
centuries a place next the Bible.

As a writer, Josephus has, by the side of some glaring defects,
considerable merits: immense industry, power of vivid narrative, an
ability for using authorities, and at times a certain eloquence. But as
a man he has few qualities to attract and nothing of the heroic. He was
mediocre in character and mind, and for such there is no admiration. It
may be admitted that he lived in hard times, when it required great
strength of character for a Jew born, as he was, in the aristocratic
Romanizing section of the nation, to stand true to the Jewish people and
devote his energies to their desperate cause. He may have honestly
believed that submission to Rome was the truest wisdom; but he placed
himself in a false position by associating himself with the
insurrection. And while his national feeling led him later to attempt to
defend his people against calumny and ignorance, the conditions under
which he labored made against the production of a true and spirited
history. Yet if he does not appear worthy of admiration, we must beware
of judging him harshly; and there is deep pathos in the fact that he was
compelled in writing to be his own worst detractor. The combination,
which the autobiographical account reveals, of egoism and self-seeking,
of cowardice and vanity, of pious profession and cringing
obsequiousness, of vaunted magnanimity and spiteful malice to his foes,
of religious scruples and selfish cunning, points to a meanness of
conduct which he was forced to assume by circumstances, but which, it is
suggested, was not an expression of his true character. The document of
shame was wrung from him by his past. He might have been a reliable
historian had he not been called on to play a part in action. But the
part he played was ignoble in itself, and it blasted the whole of his
future life and his literary credit. It made his work take the form of
apology, and part of it bear the stamp of deliberate falsehood. His
besetting weakness of egoism led him as a general to betray his
countrymen; as historian of their struggle with Rome, to misrepresent
their patriotism and give a false picture of their ideals. Yet, though
to the Jews of his own day he was a traitor in life and a traducer in
letters, to the Jews of later generations he appears rather as a tragic
figure, struggling to repair his fault of perfidy, and a victim to the
forces of a hostile civilization, which in every age assail his people
intellectually, and which in his day assailed them with crushing might
physically as well as intellectually.



The Jews, though they are the most historical of peoples, and though
they have always regarded history as the surest revelation of God's
work, have produced remarkably few historians. It is true that a large
part of their sacred literature consists of the national annals, from
the earliest time to the restoration of the nation after its first
destruction, i.e. a period of more than two thousand years. The Book of
Chronicles, as its name suggests, is a systematic summary of the whole
of that period and proves the existence of the historical spirit. But
their very engrossment with the story of their ancestors checked in
later generations the impulse to write about their own times. They saw
contemporary affairs always in the light of the past, and they were more
concerned with revealing the hand of God in events than in depicting the
events themselves. Thus, during the whole Persian period, which extended
over two hundred years, we have but one historical document, the Book of
Esther, to acquaint us with the conditions of the main body of the
Jewish people. The fortunate find, a few years back, of a hoard of
Aramaic papyri at Elephantine has given us an unexpected acquaintance
with the conditions of the Jewish colony in Upper Egypt during the fifth
and fourth centuries, and furnished a new chapter in the history of the
Diaspora. But this is an archeological substitute for literary history.

The conquest of the East by Alexander the Great and the consequent
interchange of Hellenic and Oriental culture gave a great impulse to
historical writing among all peoples. Moved by a cosmopolitan
enthusiasm, each nation was anxious to make its past known to the
others, to assert its antiquity, and to prove that, if its present was
not very glorious, it had at one time played a brilliant part in
civilization. The Greek people, too, with their intense love of
knowledge, were eager to learn the ideas and experiences of the various
nations and races who had now come into their ken.

Hence, on the one hand, there appeared works on universal history by
Greek polymaths, such as Hecataeus of Abdera, Theophrastus, the pupil of
Aristotle, and Ptolemy, the comrade of Alexander; and, on the other
hand, a number of national histories were written, also in Greek, but by
Hellenized natives, such as the Chaldaica of Berosus, the Aegyptiaca of
Manetho, and the Phoenician chronicles of Dius and Menander. The people
of Israel figured incidentally in several of these works, and Manetho
went out of his way to include in the history of his country a lying
account of the Exodus, which was designed to hold up the ancestors of
the Jews to opprobrium. From the Hellenic and philosophical writers they
received more justice. Their remarkable loyalty to their religion and
their exalted conception of the Deity moved partly the admiration,
partly the amazement of these early encyclopedists, who regarded them as
a philosophical people devoted to a higher life. The Hellenistic Jews
were led later by the sympathetic attitude of Hecataeus to add to his
history spurious chapters, in which he was made to deal more
eulogistically with their beliefs and history, and they circulated
oracles and poems in the names of fabled seers of prehistoric
times--Orpheus and the Sibyl--which conveyed some of the religious and
moral teachings of Judaism. Nor were they slow to adapt their own
chronicles for the Greek world or to take their part in the literary
movement of the time. In Palestine, indeed, the Jews remained devoted to
religious thought, and never made history a serious interest. But in
Alexandria, after translating the Scriptures into Greek in the middle of
the third century, they began, in imitation of their neighbors, to
embellish their antiquities in the Greek style, and present them more
thoroughly according to Greek standards of history.

A collection of extracts from the works of the Hellenistic Jews was made
by a Gentile compiler of the first century B.C.E., Alexander, surnamed
Polyhistor. Though his book has perished, portions of it with fragments
of these extracts have been preserved in the chronicles of the
ecclesiastical historian Eusebius, who wrote in the fourth century C.E.
They prove the existence of a very considerable array of historical
writers, who would seem to have been poor scholars of Greek, but
ingenious chronologists and apologists. The earliest of the adapters, of
whose work fragments have been thus preserved to us, is one Demetrius,
who, in the reign of Ptolemy II, at the end of the third century B.C.E.,
wrote a book on the Jewish kings. It was rather a chronology than a
connected narrative, and Demetrius amended the dates given in the Bible
according to a system of his own. This does not appear to have been very
exact, but such as it was it appealed to Josephus, who in places follows
it without question. Chronology was a matter of deep import in that
epoch, because it was one of the most galling and frequent charges
against the Jews that their boasted antiquity was fictitious. To rebut
this attack, the Jewish chroniclers elaborated the chronological
indications of their long history, and brought them into relation with
the annals of their neighbors.

Demetrius is followed by Eupolemus and Artapanus, who treated the Bible
in a different fashion. They freely handled the Scripture narrative, and
methodically embellished it with fictitious additions, for the greater
glory, as they intended, of their people. They imitated the ways of
their opponents, and as these sought to decry their ancestors by
malicious invention, so they contrived to invest them with fictitious
greatness. Eupolemus represents Abraham as the discoverer of Chaldean
astrology, and identifies Enoch with the Greek hero Atlas, to whom the
angel of God revealed the celestial lore. Elsewhere he inserts into the
paraphrase of the Book of Kings a correspondence between Solomon and
Hiram (king of Tyre), in order to show the Jewish hegemony over the
Phoenicians. Artapanus, professing to be a pagan writer, shows how the
Egyptians were indebted to the founders of Israel for their scientific
knowledge and their most prized institutions: Abraham instructed King
Pharethothis in astrology; Joseph taught the Egyptian priests
hieroglyphics, and built the Pyramids; Moses (who is identified with the
Greek seer Musaeus) not only conquered the Ethiopians, and invented
ship-building and philosophy, but taught the Egyptian priests their
deeper wisdom, and was called by them Hermes, because of his skill in
interpreting ([Greek: Hermaeneia]) the holy documents. Fiction fostered
fiction, and the inventions of pagan foes stimulated the exaggerations
of Jewish apologists. The fictitious was mixed with the true, and the
legendary material which Artapanus added to his history passed into the
common stock of Jewish apologetics.

The great national revival that followed on the Maccabean victories
induced both within and without Palestine the composition of works of
contemporary national history. For a period the Jews were as proud of
their present as of their past. It was not only that their princes, like
the kings of other countries, desired to have their great deeds
celebrated, but the whole people was conscious of another God-sent
deliverance and of a clear manifestation of the Divine Power in their
affairs, which must be recorded for the benefit of posterity. The First
Book of the Maccabees, which was originally written in Hebrew, and the
Chronicles of King John Hyrcanus[1] bear witness to this outburst of
patriotic self-consciousness in Palestine; and the Talmud[2] contains a
few fragments of history about the reign of Alexander Jannaeus, which
may have formed part of a larger chronicle. The story of the Maccabean
wars was recorded also at great length by a Hellenistic Jew, Jason of
Cyrene, and it is generally assumed that an abridgment of it has come
down to us in the Second Book of the Maccabees.

[Footnote 1: They are referred to at the end of the book. Comp. I Macc.
xvi. 23f.]

[Footnote 2: Kiddushin, 66a.]

In Palestine, however, the historical spirit did not flourish for long.
The interest in the universal lesson prevailed over that in the
particular fact, and the tradition that was treasured was not of
political events but of ethical and legal teachings. Moral rather than
objective truth was the study of the schools, and when contemporary
events are described, it is in a poetical, rhapsodical form, such as we
find in the Psalms of Solomon, which recount Pompey's invasion of
Jerusalem.[1] The only historical records that appear to have been
regularly kept are the lists of the priests and their genealogy, and a
calendar of fasts and of days on which fasting was prohibited because of
some happy event to be commemorated.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 14.]

In the Diaspora, on the other hand, and especially at Alexandria, which
was the center of Hellenistic Jewry, history was made to serve a
practical purpose. It was a weapon in the struggle the Jews were
continually waging against their detractors, as well as in their
missionary efforts to spread their religion. It became consciously and
essentially apologetic, the end being persuasion rather than truth. Fact
and fiction were inextricably combined, and the difference between them

The story of the translation of the Septuagint by the Jewish sages sent
to Alexandria at the invitation of King Ptolemy, which is recounted in
the Letter of Aristeas, is an excellent example of this kind of history.
It is decked out with digressions about the topography of Jerusalem and
the architecture of the Temple, and an imaginative display of Jewish wit
and wisdom at a royal symposium. The Third Book of the Maccabees, which
professes to describe a persecution of the Jews in Egypt under one of
the Ptolemies, is another early example of didactic fiction that has
been preserved to us. The one sober historical work produced by a Jewish
writer between the composition of the two Books of the Maccabees and of
the _Wars_ of Josephus was the account given by Philo of Alexandria of
the Jewish persecutions that took place in the reigns of Tiberius and
Gaius. It was originally contained in five books, of which only the
second and third have been preserved. They deal respectively with the
riots at Alexandria that took place when Flaccus was governor, and with
the Jewish embassy to Gaius when that Emperor issued his order that his
image should be set up in the Temple at Jerusalem and in the great
synagogue of Alexandria. Philo wrote a full account of the events in
which he himself had been called upon to play a part. He is always at
pains to point the moral and enforce the lesson, but his work has a
definite historical value, and contains many valuable details about
Jewish life in the Diaspora.

But if the Jews were somewhat careless of the exact record of their
history, many of the Greek and Roman historians paid attention to it,
some specifically for the purpose of attacking them, others incidentally
in the course of their comprehensive works. The fashion of universal
history continued for some centuries, and works of fifty volumes and
over were more the rule than the exception. These "elephantine books"
were rendered possible because it was the fashion for each succeeding
historian to compile the results of his predecessor's labors, and adopt
it as part of his own monumental work. Distinguished among this school
of writers were Apollodorus of Athens, who in 150 B.C.E. wrote
Chronicles containing the most important events of general history down
to his own time, and Polybius, who was brought as a prisoner from Greece
to Rome in 145 B.C.E., and in his exile wrote a history of the rise of
the Roman Republic, in the course of which he dealt with the early
Jewish relations with Rome. Then, in the first century, there flourished
Posidonius of Apamea (90-50 B.C.E.), a Stoic and a bitter enemy of the
Jews, who continued the work of Polybius down to the year 90, and,
besides, wrote a separate diatribe against Judaism, which he regarded as
a misanthropic atheism. The succession was carried on by Timagenes of
Alexandria, who wrote a very full history of the second and the first
part of the first century.

Among Roman writers of the period that dealt with general affairs were
Asinius Pollio, the friend of Herod, and Titus Livius, who, under the
name of Livy, has become the standard Latin historian for schoolboys.
Josephus refers to both of them as well as to Timagenes, Posidonius, and
Polybius; but as there is no reason to think that he ever tried to
master the earlier authorities, it is probable that he knew them only so
far as they were reproduced in his immediate sources and his immediate
predecessors. The two writers whom he quotes repeatedly and must have
studied are Strabo of Amasea (in Pontus) and Nicholas of Damascus.
Strabo was an author of remarkable versatility and industry. Besides his
geography, the standard work of ancient times on the subject, he wrote
in forty-seven books a large historical work on the period between 150
(where Polybius ended) and 30 B.C.E. Nearly the whole of it has
disappeared, but we can tell from Josephus' excerpts that he appreciated
the Jews and their religion as did few other pagans of the time. He
dealt, too, at considerable length with the wars of the Hasmonean kings
against the Seleucids, and he is one of the authorities cited by
Josephus for the period between the accession of John Hyrcanus and the
overthrow of Antigonus II by Herod. The Jewish historian follows still
more closely, and in many places probably reproduces, Nicholas, who was
the court historian of Herod. Nicholas was a man of remarkable
versatility. He played many parts at Herod's court, as diplomatist,
advocate, and minister. He was a poet and philosopher of some repute,
and he wrote a general history in forty-four books. In the first eight
books he dealt with the early annals of the Assyrians, the Greeks, the
Medes, and the Persians. Josephus, who took him for his chief guide
after the Bible, often reproduces from him comparative passages to the
Scripture story which he is paraphrasing. And for the later period of
the _Antiquities_, from the time of Antiochus the Great (ab. 200
B.C.E.), he depends on him largely for the comparative Hellenistic
history, which he brings into relation with the story of the Hasmoneans.
When he comes to the epoch of Herod, the disproportionate fulness, the
vivacity, and the dramatic power of the narrative in books XIV-XVI of
the _Antiquities_ are due in a large measure to the historical virtues
of the court chronicler. We can tell how far this is the case by the
immediate and marked deterioration of the narrative when Josephus
proceeds to the reigns of Archelaus and Agrippa--where Nicholas failed

Among Roman writers of his own day whom Josephus used was the Emperor
Vespasian himself, who, to record his exploits, wrote _Commentaries on
the Jewish War_, which were placed at his client's disposal.[1] In the
competition of flattery that greeted the new Flavian dynasty, various
Roman writers described and celebrated the Jewish campaigns.[2] Among
them were Antonius Julianus, who was on the staff of Vespasian and Titus
throughout the war, and at the end of it was appointed procurator of
Judea; Valerius Flaccus, who burst into ecstatic hexameters over the
burning of the Temple; and Tacitus, the most brilliant of all Latin
historians. Besides these writers' works, which have come down to us
more or less complete, a number of memoirs and histories of the war
appeared, some by those who wrote on hearsay, others by men who had
taken some part in the campaigns. It was an age of literary
dilettantism, when nearly everybody wrote books who knew how to write;
and in the drab monotony of Roman supremacy, the triumph over the Jews,
which had placed the Flavian house on the throne, was a happy
opportunity for ambitious authors.

[Footnote 1: Vita, 68.]

[Footnote 2: C. Ap. 9-10.]

It has been suggested that the Roman point of view that pervades the
_Wars_ of Josephus, the frequent absence of sympathy with the Jewish
cause, and the incongruous pagan ideas, which surprise us, can be
explained by the fact that the Jewish writer founded his account on that
of Antonius Julianus, which is referred to by the Christian apologist
Minucius[1] as a standard authority on the destruction of Jerusalem.
Antonius is mentioned by Josephus as one of the Roman staff who gave his
opinion in favor of the burning of the Temple, and he has also been
ingeniously identified with the Roman general (called [Hebrew: Otaninus]
or [Hebrew: Ananitus]) who engaged in controversy with Rabbi Johanan ben
Zakkai.[2] The evidence in favor of the theory is examined more fully
later; but whether or not the history of Antonius was the main source of
the _Wars_, it is certain that Josephus had before him Gentile accounts
of the struggle, and he often slavishly adopted not only their record of
facts but their expressions of opinion. In point of time Tacitus might
have derived from Josephus his summary of the Jewish Wars, part of which
has come down to us, and on some points the Jewish and the Roman authors
agree; but the correspondence is to be explained more readily by the use
of a common source by both writers. It is unlikely that the haughty
patrician, who hated and despised the Jews, and who had no love of
research, turned to a Jewish chronicle for his information, when he had
a number of Roman and Greek authors to provide him with food for his

[Footnote 1: Epist. ad Octav. 33.]

[Footnote 2: Yer. Sanhedrin, i. 4. Comp. Schlatter, Zur Topographie und
Geschichte Palästinas, pp. 97_ff_.]

One other writer on contemporary Jewish history to whom Josephus refers
as an author, not indeed in the _Wars_, but in his _Life_, was Justus of
Tiberias, Unfortunately we have to depend almost entirely on a hostile
rival's spitefulness and malice for our knowledge of Justus. He did not
produce his work on the wars till after Josephus had established his
reputation, and part of his object, it is alleged, was to blacken the
character and destroy the repute of his rival. The conduct of Justus in
the Galilean campaign had been little more creditable than that of
Josephus--that is, if the latter's account may be believed at all. He
had been a leader of the Zealot party in Tiberias, and had roused the
people of that city against the double-dealing commander; but on the
breakdown of the revolt he entered the service of Agrippa II. He fell
into disgrace, but was pardoned. Some twenty-four years after the war
was over he wrote a History of the Jewish Kings and a History of the
War. It is difficult to form any judgment of the work, because, apart
from the abuse of Josephus, the criticism we have comes merely from
ecclesiastical historians, who imbibed Josephus' personal enmity as
though it were the pure milk of truth. Eusebius and Jerome[1] accuse him
of having distorted Jewish affairs to suit his personal ends and of
having been convicted by Josephus of falsehood. His chief crime in their
eyes and the reason for the disappearance of his work are that he did
not mention any of the events connected with the foundation of the
Christian Church, and had not the good fortune to be interpolated, as
Josephus was, with a passage about Jesus.[2] Hence Photius says that he
passed over many of the most important occurrences.[3] We know of him
now only by the charges of Josephus and a few disconnected fragments.

[Footnote 1: Hist. Eccl. III. x. 8; De Viris Illustr, 14.]

[Footnote 2: See below, pp. 241 ff.]

[Footnote 3: Bibl. Cod. 33.]

Coming now to the works of Josephus, his prefaces give a full account of
his historical motives. He originally wrote seven books on the Wars with
Rome in Aramaic for the benefit of his own countrymen. He was induced to
translate them into Greek because his predecessors had given false
accounts, either out of a desire to flatter the Romans or out of hatred
to the Jews. He claims that his own work is a true and careful narrative
of the events that he had witnessed with his own eyes and had special
opportunities of studying accurately. "The writings of my predecessors
contain sometimes slanders, sometimes eulogies, but nowhere the accurate
truth of the facts." He goes on to complain of the way in which they
belittle the action of the Jews in order to aggrandize the Romans, which
defeats its own purpose; and he contrasts the merit of one who composes
by his own industry a history of events not hitherto faithfully
recorded, with the more popular and the easier fashion of writing a
fresh history of a period already fully treated, by changing the order
and disposition of other men's works. He iterates his determination to
record only historical facts, and says, "It is superfluous for me to
write about the Antiquities [i.e. the early history] of the Jews,
because many before me, both among my own people and the Greeks, have
composed the histories of our ancestors very exactly."[1] By the
Antiquities he means the Bible narrative. He proposes therefore to begin
where the Bible ends and, after a brief survey of the events before his
own age, to give a full account of the great Rebellion. Josephus falls
short of his promise. Many of the shortcomings he pointed to in his
predecessors are glaringly present in his work. Nor is it probable that
his profession of having taken notes on the spot is true. At the time of
the siege of Jerusalem he had no literary pretensions, and it is
unlikely that he contemplated the writing of a history. It has been
pointed out that his account is much more accurate in regard to events
in which he did not take part than in regard to those in which he

[Footnote 1: B.J., Preface. The Greek name _Archaeologia_ is regularly
rendered by _Antiquities_, but it means simply the early history.]

In the first book and the greater part of the second, where he is taken
up with the preliminary introduction, he had ample sources before him,
and his functions were only to abstract and compile; but when he comes
to the final struggle with Rome, he would have us believe that he
depended mainly on his independent knowledge. Recent investigation has
thrown grave doubts on his claim, and has suggested that with Josephus
it is true that "once a compiler, always a compiler." The habit of
direct copying from the works of predecessors was fixed in the literary
ethics of the day. In company with most of the historians of antiquity
he introduces his general ideas upon the march of events in the form of
addresses, which he puts into the mouth of the chief characters at
critical moments. Here he is free to invent and intrude his own
opinions, and here he almost unfailingly adopts a Roman attitude. The
work, in fact, bears the character of official history, and has all the
partiality of that form of literature. Titus, as the author proudly
recalls, subscribed his own hand to it, and ordered that it should be
published, and King Agrippa wrote a glowing testimonial to it in the
most approved style.[1] It was accepted in Rome as the standard work
upon the Jewish struggle. Patronage may have saved literature at certain
epochs, but it always undermines the feeling of truth. It is not
improbable that a juster appreciation of events was contained in the
original writings of Josephus, but was corrected at the order of the
royal traitor or the Imperial master, to whom he perforce submitted

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 8. See below, p. 221.]

If in the _Wars_ Josephus assumes the air of a scientific historian, in
the _Antiquities_ he is more openly the apologist. Despite his
professions in the preface of the earlier work, he seems to have found
it necessary or expedient to give to Greco-Roman society a fresh account
of the ancestry and the early history of his people and of the
constitution of their government. The Roman _Archaeologia_ of Dionysius
of Halicarnassus, who fifty years earlier had written in twenty books
the early events of Rome, probably suggested the division and the name
of the work. He issued it after the death of his protector, in the
thirteenth year of the reign of Domitian and in the fifty-sixth year of
his own life.[1] In the preface, inconsistently with the statement in
the earlier work, he declares that he intended from the beginning to
write this apology of his people, but was deterred for a time by the
magnitude of the labor of translating the history into an unaccustomed
tongue. He ascribes the impulse to carry out the task to the
encouragement of his patron Epaphroditus and of his other friends at
Rome. It probably came also from his circumstances at Rome and the
necessity of refuting calumnies made against him on account of his race
and religion. And with all his weaknesses and failings he was not
lacking in a feeling of national pride, which must have moved him to
defend his people.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XX. xi. 3.]

Following on the destruction of Jerusalem, a passion of mixed hatred and
contempt against the Jews moved the Roman nobility and the Roman masses.
The Flavian court, representing the middle classes, by no means shared
the feeling, and indeed the infatuation of Titus for the Jewish princess
Berenice, the sister of Agrippa, was one of the scandals that most
stirred the anger of the Romans. But the nobles hated those who had
obstinately fought against the Roman armies for four years, and scorned
those whose God had not saved them from ruin. At the same time Jewish
persistence after defeat and the continuance of Jewish missionary
activity offended the majesty of Rome, which, though tolerant of foreign
religious ideas, was accustomed not merely to the physical submission of
her enemies, but to their cultural and intellectual abasement. The
hatred and scorn were fanned by a tribe of scribblers, who heaped
distortion on the history and practices of the Jewish people. On the
other hand, the proselytes to Judaism, "the fearers of God," who
accepted part of its teaching--and in the utter collapse of pagan
religion and morality they were many--desired to know something of the
past grandeur of the nation, and doubtless were anxious to justify
themselves to those who regarded their adoption of Jewish customs as an
utter degradation. For those who mocked at him as a renegade member of a
wretched people, which consisted of the scum of the earth, which
harbored all kinds of low superstition, and which fostered inhumanity
and misanthropy, and for those who looked to him as the accredited
exponent of Judaism and the writer most able to set it in a favorable
light, Josephus wrote the twenty books of his _Antiquities_.

The work differed from all previous apologies for Judaism in its
completeness and its historical character. Philo had sought to recommend
Judaism as a philosophical religion, and had interpreted the Torah as
the law of Nature. Josephus was concerned not so much with Judaism as
with the Jews. He seeks to show, by his abstract of historical records,
that his people had a long and honorable past, and that they had had
intercourse with ancient empires, and had been esteemed even by the
Romans. The _Antiquities_ comprised a summary of the whole of Jewish
history, as well that which was set out in the books of the Bible as
that which had taken place in the post-Biblical period down to his own
day. Some of his predecessors had elaborated only the former part of the
story, and that, it is probable, not nearly so fully as Josephus. He
claims not to have added to or diminished from the record of Scripture.
Though neither part of the claim can be upheld, he does undoubtedly give
a tolerable account of the Bible so far as it is an historical
narrative. The finer spirit of the Bible, even in its narrative parts,
its deep spiritual teaching, its simple grandeur, its arresting
sincerity, he was utterly unable to impart. In style, too, his Greek
falls immeasurably below the original. We feel as we read his abstract
with its omissions and additions:

  The little more and how much it is;
  The little less and what miles away.

His is a mediocre transcription, which replaces the naïveté, the
rapidity, the unaffected beauty of the Hebrew, with the rhetoric, the
sophistication, and the exaggerated overstatement of the Greek writing
of his own time. Impressiveness for him is regularly enhanced by
inaccuracy. His own or his assumed materialistic fatalism lowers the God
of the Bible to a Power which materially rewards the righteous and
punishes the wicked. In this immediate retribution he finds the surest
sign of Divine Providence, and it is this lesson which he is most
anxious to assert throughout his work. But he is at pains to dispel the
idea of a special Providence for Israel. The material power of Rome made
him desert in life the Jewish cause; the material thought of Rome made
him dissimulate in literature the full creed of Judaism.

The second part of the _Antiquities_ is a more ambitious piece of work.
The compiler brings together all that he could find, in Jewish and
Gentile sources, about Jewish history from the time of the Babylonian
captivity to the outbreak of the war against Rome. And he was apparently
the first of his people to utilize the Greek historians systematically
in this fashion. There are long periods as to the incidents of which he
was at a loss. Without possessing the ability or desire for research, he
is not above confounding the chronology and perverting the succession of
events to cover up a gap. But he does contrive to produce a connected
narrative and to provide some kind of continuous chronicle. And for this
service he is not lightly to be esteemed. Without him we should know
scarcely anything of the external history of the Jewish people for three
centuries. In style the last ten books vary remarkably. It depends
almost entirely on his source whether the narrative is dull and
monotonous or lively and dramatic. Where, for example, he is
transcribing Nicholas and another historian of the period, he succeeds
in presenting a picture of Herod that has a certain psychological value.
Where, on the other hand, he has had to trust largely to scattered
notes, as in the record of Herod's successors, his history is little
better than a miscellany of disjointed passages. He lacks throughout a
true sense of proportion, and for the deeper aspects of history he has
no perception. He does not show in spite of his Jewish training the
slightest appreciation of the spiritual power of Judaism or of the
divine purpose illustrating itself in the rise and fall of nations. His
conception of history is a biography of might, tempered by occasional
manifestations of divine retribution. The concrete event is the
important thing, and of culture and literature he says scarcely a word.
His occasional moral reflections are on a mediocre plane and not true to
the finer spirit of Judaism. He is consciously or unconsciously obsessed
by the power of Rome, and makes little attempt to inculcate the higher
moral outlook of his people. In soul, too, he is Romanized. He admires
above all material power; he exhibits material conceptions of
Providence; he looks always for material causes. Altogether the
_Antiquities_ is a work invaluable for its material, but a somewhat
soulless book.

Josephus conveys more of the spirit of Judaism in his two books commonly
entitled _Against Apion_, which are professedly apologetic. They were
written after the _Antiquities_, and further emphasize two points on
which he had dwelt in that work: the great age of the Jewish people and
the excellence of the Jewish law. He was anxious to refute those
detractors who, despite the publication of his history, still continued
to spread grotesquely false accounts of Israel's origin and Israel's
religious teachings; and he wrote here with more spirit and with more
conviction than in his earlier elaborate works. He has no longer to
accommodate himself to the vanity of a Roman Emperor, or to distort
events so as to glorify his nation or to excuse his own conduct. He is
able for once to set out his idea wholeheartedly, and he shows that, if
he had few of the qualities required for a great historian, he had
several of the talents of an apologist. His own calculated
misrepresentation of his people in their last struggle would have
afforded an opponent the best reply to his apology. In itself that
apology was an effective summary of Judaism for his own times, and parts
of it have a permanent value. For seventeen centuries it remained the
sole direct answer from the Jewish side to the calumnies of the enemies
of the Jews.

The last extant work of Josephus was the _Life_, of which we have
already treated, and it were better to say little more. It was provoked
by the publication of the History of Justus, which had accused Josephus
and the Galileans of having been the authors of the sedition against the
Romans.[1] Josephus retorts that, before he was appointed governor,
Justus and the people of Tiberias had attacked the Greek cities of the
Decapolis and the dominions of Agrippa, as was witnessed in the
Commentaries of Vespasian. Not content with this crime, Justus had
failed to surrender to the Romans till they appeared before Tiberias.
Having charged his rival with being a better patriot than himself,[2]
Josephus proceeds to argue that he was a worse historian: Justus could
not describe the Galilean campaign, because during the war he was at
Berytus; he took no part in the siege of Jerusalem, and, less privileged
than his rival, he had not read the Commentaries of Caesar, and in fact
often contradicted them. Conscious of this weakness, he had not ventured
to publish his account till the chief actors in the story, Vespasian,
Titus, and Agrippa, had died, though his books had been written some
twenty years before they were issued. But in his pains to gainsay Justus
and his own patriotism, such as it was, Josephus, as has been noticed,
gives an account of his doings in Galilee that is often at complete
variance with his statements in the _Wars_. The _Life_, in fact, is
untrustworthy history and unsuccessful apology.

[Footnote 1: Vita, 65.]

[Footnote 2: Justus, no doubt, had done the converse, representing
himself as a thorough Romanizer and Josephus as an ardent rebel.]

At the end of the _Antiquities_ Josephus declares his intention to write
three books concerning the Jewish doctrines "about God and His essence,
and concerning the laws, why some things are permitted, and others are
prohibited." In the preface to the same work, as well as in various
passages in its course, he refers to his intention to write on the
philosophical meaning of the Mosaic legislation. The books entitled
_Against Apion_ correspond neither in number nor in content to this
plan, and we must therefore assume that he never carried it out. He may
have intended to abstract the commentary of Philo upon the Law, which he
had doubtless come to know. Certainly he shows no traces of deeper
allegorical lore in the extant works, and his mind was hardly given to
such speculations. But a humanitarian and universalistic explanation of
the Mosaic code, such as his predecessor had composed, notably in his
Life of Moses, would have been quite in his way, and would have rounded
off his presentation of the past and present history of the Jews. The
need of replying to his personal enemies and the detractors of his
nation deterred him perhaps from achieving this part of his scheme. Or,
if it was written, the Christian scribes, who preserved his other works,
may have suppressed it because it did not harmonize with their ideas.

Photius ascribes to Josephus a work on _The Universe_, or _The Cause of
the Universe_ ([Greek: peri taes tou pantos aitias]), which is extant,
but which is demonstrably of Christian origin, and was probably written
by Hippolytus, an ecclesiastical writer of the third century and the
author of _Philosophumena_. Another work attributed to Josephus in the
Dark and Middle Ages, and often attached to manuscripts of the
_Antiquities_, is the sermon on _The Sovereignty of Reason_, which is
commonly known as the Fourth Book of the Maccabees. The book is a
remarkable example of the use of Greek philosophical ideas to confirm
the Jewish religion. That the Mosaic law is the rule of written reason
is the main theme, and it is illustrated by the story of the martyrs
during the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, whence the book takes its
title. In particular, the author points to the ethical significance
underlying the dietary laws, of which he says in a remarkable passage:

When we long for fishes and fowls and fourfooted animals and every kind
of food that is forbidden to us by the Law, it is through the mastery of
pious reason that we abstain from them. For the affections and appetites
are restrained and turned into another direction by the sobriety of the
mind, and all the movements of the body are kept in check by pious

Again, of the Law as a whole he says:

It teaches us temperance, so that we master our pleasures and desires,
and it exercises us in fortitude, so that we willingly undergo every
toil. And it instructs us in justice, so that in all our behavior we
give what is due, and it teaches us to be pious, so that we worship the
only living God in the manner becoming His greatness.

Freudenthal has conclusively disposed of the theory that Josephus was
the author of this work.[1] Neither in language, nor in style, nor in
thought, has it a resemblance to his authentic works. Nor was he the man
to write anonymously. It reveals, indeed, a mastery of the arts of Greek
rhetoric, such as the Palestinian soldier who learnt Greek only late in
life, and who required the help of friends to correct his syntax, could
never have acquired. It reveals, too, a knowledge of the technical terms
of the Stoic philosophy and a general grasp of Greek philosophy quite
beyond the writer of the _Antiquities_ and the _Wars_. Lastly, it
breathes a wholehearted love for Judaism and a national ardor to which
the double-dealing defender of Galilee and the client of the Roman court
could hardly have aspired.

[Footnote 1: Freudenthal, Die Flavius Josephus beigelegte Schrift über
die Herrschaft der Vernunft, 1879.]

The genuine works of Josephus reveal him not as a philosopher or sturdy
preacher of Judaism, but as an apologetic historian and apologist,
distinguished in either field rather for his industry and his ingenuity
in using others' works than by any original excellence. He learnt from
the Greeks and Romans the external manner of systematic history, and in
this he stood above his Jewish predecessors. He learnt from them also
the arts of mixing false with true, of invention, of exaggeration, of
the suggestion of the bad and the suppression of the good motive. He was
a sophist rather than a sage, and circumstances compelled him to be a
court chronicler rather than a national historian. And while he acquired
something of the art of historical writing from his models, he lost the
intuitive synthesis of the Jewish attitude, which saw the working of
God's moral law in all human affairs. On the other hand, certain defects
of his history may be ascribed to lack of training and to the spirit of
the age. He had scant notion of accuracy, he made no independent
research into past events, and he was unconscionable in chronology. In
his larger works he is for the most part a translator and compiler of
the work of others, but he has some claim to originality of design and
independence of mind in the books against Apion. The times were out of
joint for a writer of his caliber. For the greater part of his literary
life, perhaps for the whole, he was not free to write what he thought
and felt, and he wrote for an alien public, which could not rise to an
understanding of the deeper ideas of his people's history. But this much
at least may be put down to his credit, that he lived to atone for the
misrepresentation of the heroic struggle of the Jews with the Romans by
preserving some record of many dark pages in their history and by
refuting the calumnies of the Hellenistic vituperators about their
origin and their religious teachings.



The first work of Josephus as man of letters was the history of the wars
of the Jews against the Romans, for which, according to his own
statement, he prepared from the time of his surrender by taking copious
notes of the events which he witnessed. He completed it in the fortieth
year of his life and dedicated it to Vespasian.[1] He seems originally
to have designed the record of the struggle for the purpose of
persuading his brethren in the East that it was useless to fight further
against the Romans. He desired to prove to them that God was on the side
of the big battalions, and that the Jews had forfeited His protection by
their manifold transgressions. The Zealots were as wicked as they were
misguided, and to follow them was to march to certain ruin. It is not
unlikely that Josephus was commissioned by Titus to compose his version
of the war for the "Upper Barbarians," whose rising in alliance with the
Parthians might have troubled the conqueror of Jerusalem, as it
afterwards troubled Trajan. But, save that it was written in Aramaic, we
cannot tell the form of the original history, since it has entirely

[Footnote 1: B.J. VII. xv. 8.]

Josephus says in the preface to the extant Greek books that he
translated into Greek the account he had already written. But he
certainly did much more than translate. The whole trend of the narrative
and the purpose must have been changed when he came to present the
events for a Greco-Roman audience. He was concerned less to instill
respect for Rome in his countrymen than to inspire regard for his
countrymen in the Romans, and at the same time to show that the
Rebellion was not the deliberate work of the whole people, but due to
the instigation of a band of desperate, unscrupulous fanatics. He was
concerned also to show that God, the vanquished Jewish God, as the
Romans would regard Him, had allowed the ruin of His people, not because
He was powerless to preserve them, but because they had sinned against
His law. Lastly, he was anxious to emphasize the military virtue and the
magnanimity of his patrons Vespasian and Titus. He intersperses frequent
protests in various parts of the seven books, and repeats them in the
preface, to the effect that while his predecessors had written
"sophistically," he was aiming only at the exact record of events. But
it is obvious that, in the _Wars_ as in his other works, he has a
definite purpose to serve, and he colors his account of events to suit
this purpose and to please his patrons.

He sets out to establish, in fact, that it was "a sedition of our own
that destroyed Jerusalem, and that the tyrants among the Jews brought
upon us the Romans, who unwillingly attacked us, and occasioned the
burning of our Temple."[1] And he apologizes for the passion he shows
against the tyrants and Zealots, which, he admits, is not consistent
with the character of an historian; it was provoked because the
unparalleled calamities of the Jews were not caused by strangers but by
themselves, and "this makes it impossible for me to contain my
lamentations."[2] The historian, therefore, in the work which has come
down to us, is dominated by the conviction, whether sincere or feigned,
that the war with Rome was a huge error, that those who fomented it were
wicked, self-seeking men, and that the Jews brought their ruin on
themselves. This being his temper, it is necessary to look very closely
at his representation of events and examine how far partisan feeling and
prejudices, and how far servility and the courtier spirit, have colored
it. We have also to consider how far his reflections represent his own
judgment, and how far they are the slavish adoption of opinions
expressed by the victorious enemies of his people.

[Footnote 1: B.J., Preface.]

[Footnote 2: B.J., Preface, 4.]

The alternative title of the work is _On the Destruction of the Temple_,
but its scope is larger than either name suggests. It is conjectured by
the German scholar Niese that the author called it _A History of the
Jewish State in Its Relations with the Romans_. It is in fact a history
of the Jews under the Romans, beginning, as Josephus says, "where the
earlier writers on Jewish affairs and our prophets leave off." He
proposes to deal briefly with the events that preceded his own age, but
fully with the events of the wars of his time. The history starts,
accordingly, with the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, and, save that
he expatiates without any sense of proportion on the exploits of Herod
the Great, Josephus is generally faithful to his program in the
introductory portion of the work. For the Herodian period he found a
very full source, and the temptation was too powerful for him, so that
the greater part of the first book is taken up with the story of the
court intrigues and family murders of the king. Very brief indeed is his
treatment of the Maccabean brothers, and not very accurate. They are
dismissed in two chapters, and it is probable that the historian had not
before him either of the two good Jewish sources for the period, the
First and the Second Book of the Maccabees. In his later work, in which
he dealt with the same period at greater length, the account which he
had abstracted from a Greek source, probably Nicholas of Damascus, is
corrected by the Jewish work. The two records show a number of small
discrepancies. Thus, in the _Wars_ he states that Onias, the high priest
who drove out the Tobiades from Jerusalem, fled to Ptolemy in Egypt, and
founded a city resembling Jerusalem; whereas in the _Antiquities_ he
states that the Onias who fled to Egypt because Antiochus deprived him
of office was the son of the high priest. Again, in the _Wars_ he makes
Mattathias kill the Syrian governor Bacchides; whereas, in the
_Antiquities_, agreeing with the First Book of the Maccabees, he says
that the Syrian officer who was slain at Modin was Appelles.

Josephus in the _Wars_ follows his Hellenistic source for the history of
the Hasmonean monarchy without introducing any Jewish knowledge and
without criticism. His summary is of incidents, not of movements, and he
has a liking for romantic color. The piercing of the king's elephant by
the Maccabean Eleazar, the prediction by an Essene of the murder of
Antigonus, the brother of King Aristobulus I, are detailed. The inner
Jewish life is passed over in complete silence until he comes to the
reign of Alexander. Then he describes the Pharisees as a sect of Jews
that are held to be more religious than others and to interpret the laws
more accurately.[1] The description is clearly derived from a Greek
writer, who regards the Jewish people from the outside. It is quite out
of harmony with the standpoint which Josephus himself later adopts. In
this passage he presents the Pharisees as crafty politicians,
insinuating themselves into the favor of the queen, and then ordering
the country to suit their own ends. Without describing the other sects,
he continues the narration of intrigues and wars till he reaches the
intervention of Pompey in the affairs of Palestine.

[Footnote 1: B.J. I. v. 2.]

From this point the treatment is fuller. No doubt the Hellenistic
historians paid more attention to the Jews from the moment when they
came within the orbit of the Roman Empire; but while in the
_Antiquities_ Josephus refers several times to the statements of two or
three of the Greco-Roman writers, in the _Wars_ he quotes no authority.
From this it may be inferred that in the earlier work he is following
but one guide.

He gives an elaborate account of the rise of the Idumean family of
Antipater, and hence to the end of the book the history passes into a
biography of Herod. The first part of Herod's career, when he was
building up his power, is related in the most favorable light. His
activity in Galilee against the Zealots, his trial by the Sanhedrin, his
subsequent service to the Romans, his flight from Judea upon the
invasion of the Parthians, his reception by Antony, his triumphal return
to the kingdom that had been bestowed on him, his valiant exploits
against the Arabians of Perea and Nabatea, his capture of Jerusalem, his
splendid buildings, and his magnificence to foreigners--all these
incidents are set forth so as to enhance his greatness. The description
throughout has a Greek ring. There is scarcely a suggestion of a Jewish
point of view towards the semi-savage godless tyrant. And when Josephus
comes to the part of Herod's life which even an historian laureate could
not misrepresent to his credit, his family relations, he adopts a
fundamentally pagan outlook.

The foundation of the Greek drama was the idea that the fortunate
incurred the envy of the gods, and brought on themselves the "nemesis,"
the revenge, of the divine powers, which plunged them into ruin. This
conception, utterly opposed as it is to the Jewish doctrine of God's
goodness, is applied to Herod, on whom, says Josephus, fortune was
revenged for his external prosperity by raising him up domestic
troubles.[1] He introduces another pagan idea, when he suggests that
Antipater, the wicked son of the king, returned to Palestine, where he
was to meet his doom, at the instigation of the ghosts of his murdered
brothers, which stopped the mouths of those who would have warned him
against returning. The notion of the avenging spirits of the dead was
utterly opposed to Jewish teaching, but it was a commonplace of the
Hellenistic thought of the time.

[Footnote 1: B.J. I. xxii. 1.]

Of Hillel and Shammai, the great sages of the time, we have not a word;
but when he recounts how, in the last days of Herod, the people under
the lead of the Pharisees rose against the king in indignation at the
setting up of a golden eagle over the Temple gate, he speaks of the
sophists exhorting their followers, "that it was a glorious thing to die
for the laws of their country, because the soul was immortal, and an
eternal enjoyment of happiness did await such as died on that account;
while the mean-spirited, and those that were not wise enough to show a
right love of their souls, preferred death by disease to that which is a
sign of virtue." The sentiments here are not so objectionable, but the
description of the Pharisees as sophists, and the suggestion of a
Valhalla for those who died for their country and for no others--for
which there is no authority in Jewish tradition--betray again the
uncritical copying of a Hellenistic source.

Finally, in summing up the character of Herod, all he finds to say is,
"Above all other men he enjoyed the favor of fortune, since from a
private station he obtained a kingdom, and held it many years, and left
it to his sons; but yet in his domestic affairs he was a most
unfortunate man." Not a word of his wickedness and cruelty, not a breath
of the Hebrew spirit, but simply an estimate of his "fortune." This is
the way in which the Romanized Jew continued the historical record of
the Bible, substituting foreign superstitions about fate and fortune for
the Jewish idea that all human history is a manifestation of God.

Josephus ends the first book of the _Wars_ with an account of the
gorgeous pomp of Herod's funeral, and starts the second book with a
description of the costly funeral feast which his son Archelaus gave to
the multitude, adding a note--presumably also derived from Nicholas--
that many of the Jews ruin themselves owing to the need of giving such a
feast, because he who omits it is not esteemed pious. As his source
fails him for the period following on the banishment of Archelaus, the
treatment becomes fragmentary, but at the same time more original and
independent. An account of the various Jewish sects interrupts the
chronicle of the court intrigues and popular risings. Josephus
distinguishes here four sects, the Essenes, the Pharisees, the
Sadducees, and the Zealots, but his account is mainly confined to the
first.[1] He describes in some detail their practices, beliefs, and
organizations. Indeed, this passage and the account in Philo are our
chief Jewish authorities for the tenets of the Essenes. He is anxious to
establish their claim to be a philosophical community comparable with
the Greek schools. In particular he represents that their notions of
immortality correspond with the Greek ideas of the Isles of the Blessed
and of Hades. "The divine doctrines of the Essenes, as he calls them,
which consider the body as corruptible and the soul an immortal spirit,
which, when released from the bonds of the flesh as from a long slavery,
rejoices and mounts upwards, lay an irresistible bait for such as have
once tasted of their philosophy." The ideas which the sect cherished
were popular in a certain part of Greco-Roman society, which, sated with
the luxury of the age, turned to the ascetic life and to the pursuit of
mysticism. Pliny the Elder, who was on the staff of Titus at Jerusalem,
appears to have been especially interested in the Jewish communists, and
briefly described their doctrines in his books; and the circle for whom
Josephus wrote would have been glad to have a fuller account.

[Footnote 1: B. J. II. viii.]

Of the other two sects he says little here, and what he says is
superficial. He places the differentiation in their contrasted doctrines
of fate and immortality. The Pharisees ascribe all to fate, but yet
allow freewill--a Hellenizing version of the saying ascribed to Rabbi
Akiba, "All is foreseen, but freedom of will is given"[1]--and they say
all souls are immortal, but those of the good only pass into other
bodies, while those of the bad suffer eternal punishment. This
attribution of the doctrine of metempsychosis and eternal punishment is
another piece of Hellenization, or a reproduction of a Hellenistic
misunderstanding; for the Rabbinic records nowhere suggest that such
ideas were held by the Pharisees. "The Sadducees, on the other hand,
deny fate entirely, and hold that God is not concerned in man's conduct,
which is entirely in his own choice, and they likewise deny the
immortality of the soul or retribution after death." Here the attempt to
represent the Sadducees' position as parallel with Epicurean materialism
has probably induced an overstatement of their distrust of Providence.
Josephus adds that the Pharisees cultivate great friendships among
themselves and promote peace among the people; while the Sadducees are
somewhat gruff towards each other, and treat even members of their own
party as if they were strangers.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Abot, iii. 15.]

Of the fourth party, the Zealots, Josephus has only a few words, to the
effect that when Coponius was sent as the first procurator of Judea, a
Galilean named Judas prevailed on his countrymen to revolt, saying they
would be cowards if they would endure to pay any tax to the Romans or
submit to any mortal lord in place of God. This man, he says, was the
teacher of a peculiar sect of his own. While the other three sects are
treated as philosophical schools, Josephus does not attribute a
philosophy to the Zealots, and out of regard to Roman feelings he says
nothing of the Messianic hopes that dominated them.

After the digression about the sects, Josephus continues his narrative
of the Jewish relations with the Romans. He turns aside now and then to
detail the complicated family affairs of the Herodian family or to
describe some remarkable geographical phenomenon, such as the glassy
sands of the Ladder of Tyre.[1] The main theme is the growing irritation
of the Jews, and the strengthening of the feeling that led to the
outbreak of the great war. But Josephus, always under the spell of the
Romans, or writing with a desire to appeal to them, can recognize only
material, concrete causes. The deeper spiritual motives of the struggle
escape him altogether, as they escaped the Roman procurators. He
recounts the wanton insults of a Pontius Pilate, who brought into
Jerusalem Roman ensigns with the image of Caesar, and spoiled the sacred
treasures of the Korban for the purpose of building aqueducts; and he
dwells on the attempt of Gaius to set up his statue in the Temple, which
was frustrated only by the Emperor's murder. But about the attitude of
the different sections of the Jewish people to the Romans, of which his
record would have been so valuable, he is silent.

[Footnote 1: B.J. II. x. 2. The same phenomenon is recorded in Pliny and
Tacitus, and it was a commonplace of the geography of the age.]

After the brief interlude of Agrippa's happy reign, the irritation of
Roman procurators is renewed, and under Comanus tumult follows tumult,
as one outrage after another upon the Jewish feeling is countenanced or
abetted. The courtier of the Flavian house takes occasion to recount the
Emperor Nero's misdeeds and family murders; but he resists the desire to
treat in detail of these things, because his subject is Jewish
history.[1] He must have had before him a source which dealt with
general Roman history more fully, and he shows his independence, such as
it is, in confining his narrative to the Jewish story. But the reliance
on his source for his point of view leads him to write as a good Roman;
the national party are dubbed rebels and revolutionaries ([Greek:
stasiastai]). The Zealots are regularly termed robbers, and the origin
of war is attributed to the weakness of the governors in not putting
down these turbulent elements. All this was natural enough in a Roman,
but it comes strangely from the pen of a soi-disant Jewish apologist,
who had himself taken a part in the rebellion. Characteristic is his
account of the turbulent condition of Palestine in the time of Felix:

"Bands of Sicarii springing up in the chaos caused by the tyranny
infested the country, and another body of abandoned men, less villainous
in their actions, but more wicked in their designs, deluded the people
under pretense of divine inspiration, and persuaded them to rise. Felix
put down these bands, but, as with a diseased body, straightway the
inflammation burst out in another part. And the flame of revolt was
blown up every day more and more, till it came to a regular war."[2]

[Footnote 1: B.J. II. xiii. 1.]

[Footnote 2: B.J. II. xiii. 6.]

Josephus vents his full power of denunciation on the last procurator,
Floras, who goaded the people into war, and by his repeated outrages
compelled even the aristocratic party, to which the historian belonged,
to break their loyalty to Rome: "As though he had been sent as
executioner to punish condemned criminals, he omitted no sort of
spoliation or extortion. In the most pitiful cases he was most inhuman;
in the greatest turpitudes he was most impudent, nor could anyone outdo
him in perversion of the truth, or combine more subtle ways of deceit."
Josephus, not altogether consistently with what he has already said,
seeks to exculpate his countrymen for their rising, up to the point in
which he himself was involved in it; and though he admits that the high
priests and leading men were still anxious for peace at any price, and
he puts a long speech into Agrippa's mouth counseling submission, he is
yet anxious to show that his people were driven into war by the
wickedness of Nero's governors. His masters allowed him, and probably
invited him, to denounce the oppression of the ministers of their
predecessors, and the Roman historians Suetonius and Tacitus likewise
state that the rapacity of the procurators drove the Jews into revolt.
He had authority, therefore, for this view in his contemporary sources.

The die was cast. Menahem, the son of Judas the Galilean and the head of
the Zealots, seized Jerusalem, drove the Romans and Romanizers into the
fortress of Antonia, and having armed his bands with the contents of
Herod's southern stronghold of Masada, overpowered the garrison and put
it to the sword. Menahem himself, indeed, was so barbarous that the more
moderate leader Eleazar turned against him and put him to death. But
Josephus sees in the massacre of the Roman garrison the pollution of the
city, which doomed it to destruction. In his belligerent ethics,
massacre of the Romans by the Jews is always a crime against God,
requiring His visitation; massacres of the Jews are a visitation of God,
revealing that the Romans were His chosen instrument.

With the history of the war, so far as the historian was involved in it,
we have already dealt. We are here concerned with the character and the
reliability of his account. Josephus is somewhat vague and confused
about the dispositions of the Jewish leaders, but when he is not
justifying his own treachery, or venting his spite on his rivals, he
shows many of the parts of a military historian. He surveys with
clearness and conciseness the nature of the country that the Romans had
to conquer, and he describes the Roman armies and Roman camp with
greater detail than any Roman historian, his design being "not so much
to praise the Romans as to comfort those who have been conquered and to
deter others from rising."[1] It has, however, been pointed out with
great force, in support of the theory that he is following closely and
almost paraphrasing a Roman authority on the war, that his geographical
and topographical lore is introduced not in its natural place, but on
the occasions when Vespasian is the actor in a particular district.[2]
Thus, he describes the Phoenician coast when Vespasian arrives at
Ptolemais, Galilee when Vespasian is besieging Tarichea, Jericho when
Vespasian makes his sally to the Jordan cities.[3]

[Footnote 1: B.J. III. v. This remark must clearly have appeared in the
original Aramaic.]

[Footnote 2: Schlatter, Zur Topographie und Geschichte Palastinas, pp.
99 _ff_.]

[Footnote 3: B.J. III. iii. 1 and x. 7.]

All this would be natural in a chronicler who was one of Vespasian's
staff, but it is odd in the Jewish commander of Galilee. Again, he makes
certain confusions about Hebrew names of places, which are easily
explained in a Roman, but are inexplicable in the learned priest he
represents himself to be. He says the town of Gamala was so called
because of its supposed resemblance to a camel (in Greek, Kamelos), and
the Jews corrupted the name.[1] A Roman writer no doubt would have
regarded the Hebrew [Hebrew: Namal] as a corruption of the Greek word: a
Jew should have known better.

[Footnote 1: B.J. III. iv. 2.]

Again, he explains Bezetha, the name of the northeastern quarter of
Jerusalem, as meaning the new house or city,[1] a mistake natural to a
Roman who was aware that it was in fact the new part of the city, and
alternatively called by the Greek name [Greek: kainopolis], but an
extraordinary blunder for a Jew, who would surely know that it meant the
House of Olives, while the Aramaic or popular name for "new city" would
be Bet-Hadta. He does not once refer to Mount Zion, but knows the hill
by its Greek name of Acra. Yet again it is significant that he inserts
in his geography pagan touches that are part of the common stock of
Greco-Roman notices of Palestine. At Joppa, he says, one may still see
on the rock the trace of the chains of Andromeda,[2] who in Hellenistic
legend was said to have been rescued there by the fictitious hero
Perseus. Describing the Dead Sea,[3] he mentions the destruction of the
cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as a myth, as a Greek or a Roman would have
done.[4] His very accuracy about some topographical details is
suspicious. Colonel Conder[5] points with surprise to the fact that his
description of the fortress of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea, the
siege of which he had not seen, is absolutely correct, while his account
of Jotapata, which he defended, is full of exaggeration. The probable
explanation is that in the one place he copied a skilled observer; in
the other, he trusted to his own inaccurate memory. We may infer that as
in the _Antiquities_ he mainly compiled the work of predecessors that
are known, so in the _Wars_ he compiled the works of predecessors that
are unknown, adding something from his personal experience and his
national pride.

[Footnote 1: B.J. V. v. 8.]

[Footnote 2: B.J. IV. ix. 3. Pliny says the same thing in Latin.]

[Footnote 3: B.J. IV. viii. 4.]

[Footnote 4: Tac. Hist. v. 7.]

[Footnote 5: Tent Work in Palestine, 1. 207.]

Apart from his dependence on others' work, his chronicle of the war is
marred by the need of justifying his own submission, his Roman
standpoint, and his ulterior purpose of pleasing and flattering his
patrons. Vespasian and Titus are the righteous ministers of God's wrath
against His people, His vicars on earth, and every action in their
ruthless process of extermination has to be represented as a just
retribution required to expiate the sin of Jewish resistance. Titus
especially is singled out for his unfailing deeds of bravery; and when
anything is amiss with the proceedings of the Romans, the Imperial
family is always exculpated. Characteristic is the palliation of
Vespasian's brutal treatment of the people of Tarichea. When they
surrendered, they were promised their lives, but twelve hundred old men
were butchered, and over three thousand men and women were sold as
slaves. Josephus cannot find the execution of the divine will in this,
and so he is driven to explain that Vespasian was overborne by his
council, and gave them an ambiguous liberty to do as seemed good to

It is the pivot of the story of the wars, as has been stated, that the
internal strife of the Jews brought about the ruin of the nation, and
the testimony of Josephus has perpetuated that conception of the last
days of Jerusalem. Our other records of the struggle go to suggest that
civil strife did take place. Tacitus[1] states that there were three
leaders, each with his own army in the city, and the Rabbinical
authorities[2] speak of the three councils in Jerusalem. It is further
said that the second Temple was destroyed because of the unprovoked
hatred among the Jews, which was the equal of the sins of murder,
unchastity, and idolatry that brought about the fall of the first
Temple.[3] Yet the fact that the men who were the foremost agitators of
the Rebellion were its leaders to the end suggests that the people had
reliance on their leadership; and Josephus probably traded largely on
his prejudices for the particulars of the civil conflicts, and he placed
all the blame on the party that was least guilty. Adopting the Roman
standpoint, he denounced the whole Zealot policy, and for John of
Gischala, their leader, he entertained a special loathing. It is
therefore his purpose to show that all the sedition was of John's
making, while it would seem more probable that the disturbances arose
because the Romanizing aristocrats were planning surrender.

[Footnote 1: Hist. v. 12.]

[Footnote 2: Midr. Kohelet, vii. 11.]

[Footnote 3: Yoma, 9b.]

According to Josephus, the Zealots, who were masters of the greater part
of Jerusalem during the struggle, established a reign of terror. They
trampled upon the laws of man, and laughed at the laws of God. They
ridiculed the oracles of the prophets as the tricks of jugglers. "Yet
did they occasion the fulfilment of prophecies relating to their
country. For there was an ancient oracle that the city should be taken
and the sanctuary burnt when sedition should affect the Jews." Josephus
shares the pagan outlook of the Roman historian Tacitus, who is
horrified at the Jewish disregard of the omens and portents which
betokened the fall of their city, and speaks of them as a people prone
to superstition (what we would call faith) and deaf to divine warnings
(what we would call superstition).[1] Josephus and his friends were
looking for signs and prophecies of the ruin of the people as an excuse
for surrender; the Zealots, men of sterner stuff and of fuller faith,
were resolved to resist to the end, and would brook no parleying with
the enemy. They were in fact political nationalists of a different
school and leaning from the aristocrats and the priests. The latter
regarded political life and the Temple service as vital parts of the
national life, and believing that the legions were invincible were
anxious to keep peace with Rome. The Zealots regarded personal liberty
and national independence as vital, and, to vindicate them, fought to
the end with Rome. Both the extreme political parties lacked the
spiritual standpoint of the Pharisees, who believed that the Torah even
without political independence would hold the people together till a
better time was granted by Providence. The party conflicts induced
violence and civil tumult, and Josephus would have us believe that
"demoniac discord" was the main cause of the ruin of Jerusalem. During
the respite which the Jews enjoyed before the final siege of Jerusalem,
he alleges that a bitter feud was waged incessantly between Eleazar the
son of Simon, who held the Inner Court of the Temple, Simon, the son of
Gioras, who held the Upper and the greater part of the Lower city, and
John of Gischala, who occupied the outer part of the Temple. He
describes the situation rhetorically as "sedition begetting sedition,
like a wild beast gone mad, which, for want of other food, falls to
eating its own flesh." And he bursts into an apostrophe over the
fighting that went on within the Temple precincts:

"Most wretched city! What misery so great as this didst thou suffer from
the Romans, when they came to purify thee from thy internecine hatred!
Thou couldst no longer be a fit habitation for God, nor couldst thou
continue longer in being, after thou hadst been a sepulcher for the
corpses of thine own people, and thy holy house itself had been a burial
place in their civil strife."

[Footnote 1: Hist. v. 13. Gens superstitioni prona, religioni obnoxia.]

It is curious that a little later, when he resumes the narrative of the
Roman campaign, and returns presumably to a Roman source, he says that
the Jews, elated by their unexpected success, made incursions on the
Greek cities. The success referred to must be the defeat of Cestius
Gallus, and it looks as if this lurid account of the horrors of the
civil war in Jerusalem were not known to the Roman guide, and that at
the least Josephus has embroidered the story of the feud to suit his
thesis. The measure of the Jewish writer's dependence for the main part
of his narrative of the siege is singularly illustrated by a small
detail. Josephus throughout his account uses the Macedonian names of the
months, and equates them loosely with those of the Jewish calendar; but
it is notable that the three traditional Jewish dates in the siege which
he inserts, the fourteenth of Xanthicus (Nisan), when it began, the
seventeenth of Panemos (Tammuz), when the daily offering ceased, and the
ninth and tenth of Loos (Ab), when the Temple was destroyed, conflict
with the other dates he gives in his general account of the siege. So
far from being a proof of his independence, as has been claimed, his
Jewish dates show his want of skill in weaving his Jewish information
into his scheme. When he is original, he is apt to be unhistorical.
Josephus agrees with the Talmud that the fire lasted to the tenth of the
month,[1] but while the Rabbis cursed Titus, who burnt the Holy of
Holies and spread fire and slaughter, and Roman historians[2] declared
that Titus had deliberately fired the center of the Jewish cult in order
to destroy the national stronghold, Josephus is anxious to preserve his
patron's reputation for gentleness and invest him with the appearance of
piety and magnanimity. Voicing perhaps the conqueror's later regrets, he
declares that he protested against the Romans' avenging themselves on
inanimate things and against the destruction of so beautiful a work, but
failed despite all his efforts to stay the conflagration. The historian
writes a lurid description of the catastrophe, but he omits the simple
details that make the account in the Talmud so pathetic. "The Temple,"
runs the Talmudic account[3] "was destroyed on the eve of the ninth day
of Ab at the outgoing of Sabbath, at the end of the Sabbatic year; and
the watch of Jehoiarib was on service, and the Levites were chanting the
hymns and standing at their desks. And the hymn they chanted was, 'And
He shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off with
their own wickedness' (Ps. 94:23); and they could not finish to say,
'The Lord our God shall cut them off,' when the heathen came and
silenced them." This account may not be historically true, but it
represents the unquenchable spirit of Judaism in face of the disaster.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Yer. Taanit, iv. 6.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Sulpicius Severus, who used Tacitus (Chron. I. xxx.
6.); and the poet Valerius Flaccus acclaims the victor of Solymae, who
hurls fiery torches at the Temple. Dion Cassius (lxvi. 4.) declares that
when the Roman soldiers refused to attack the Temple in awe of its
holiness, Titus himself set fire to it; and this appears to be the true

[Footnote 3: Taanit, 29a.]

Josephus, on the other hand, regards the fall of the Temple as a
favorable opportunity to give a list of the prodigies and omens that
heralded it. For example, he finds a proof of Providence in the
fulfilment of the oracle, that the city and the holy house should be
taken when the Temple should become foursquare. By demolishing the tower
of Antonia the Jews had made the Temple area foursquare, and so brought
the doom upon themselves. He tells, too, the story of a prophet Jesus,
who for years had cried, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem," and in the end, struck
by a missile, fell, crying, "Woe, woe to me!" For any reflections,
however, on the immortality of the religion or for any utterances of
hope for the ultimate restoration of the Temple and the coming of the
Messiah, we must not look to the _Wars_. Such ideas would not have
pleased his patrons, had he entertained them himself. He pointed to the
fulfilment of prophecy only so far as it predicted and justified the
destruction and ruin of his people. The expression of the national agony
at the destruction of the national center is to be found in the
apocryphal book of Esdras II.

Over his account of the final acts of the tragedy we may pass quickly.
Undismayed by the fall of the sanctuary and still hoping for divine
intervention, John and Simon withdrew from the Temple to the upper city.
Driven from this, they took refuge in the underground caverns and caves
to be found everywhere beneath Jerusalem, and finally they stood their
ground in the towers, until these too were captured, a month after the
destruction of the Temple, on the eighth of Elul (Gorpiaeus, as the
Greek month was called).

"It was the fifth time that the city was captured; and 2179 years passed
between its first building and its last destruction. Yet neither its
great antiquity, nor its vast riches, nor the diffusion of the nation
over the whole earth, nor the greatness of the veneration paid to it on
religious grounds, was sufficient to preserve it from destruction. And
thus ended the siege of Jerusalem."

Though the war was not finished, the crisis of the drama was over, and
Josephus, doubtless following his source, relaxes the narrative to
digress about affairs in Rome and the East. The last book of the _Wars_
is episodic and disconnected. It is a kind of aftermath, in which the
historian gathers up scattered records, but does not preserve the
dramatic character of the history. He had apparently here to fall back
on his own feeble constructive power, and was hard put to it to eke out
his material to the proportions of a book.

So careless, too, is he that he abstracts references from his source
that are meaningless. In the excursion into general history, he refers
to "the German king Alaric, whom we have mentioned before,"[1] though he
is brought in for the first time; and in the account of the siege of the
Zealots' fortress Machaerus he records the death of one "Judas whom we
have mentioned before,"[2] though again there was no previous mention of
the warrior. In the same chapter he describes some magical plant,
"Baaras, possessing power to drive away demons, which are no other than
the spirits of the wicked that enter into living men and kill them,
unless they obtain some help against them." This apparently was a
commonplace of Palestinian natural science, as known to the Greco-Roman
world, and Josephus simply copied it.

[Footnote 1: B.J. VII. iv. 4.]

[Footnote 2: B.J. VII. vi. 4.]

The Zealots still maintained resistance in remote parts of the country,
and the legate Bassus was sent to take their three fortresses. He died
before the capture of Masada, the last stronghold, a natural fastness
overlooking the Dead Sea, which had been fortified by Herod. In this
region David and centuries later the Maccabean heroes had found a refuge
at their time of distress, and here the Jewish people were to show that
desperate heroism of their race which is evoked when all save honor is
lost. Masada had been occupied by Eleazar, a grandson of Judas of
Galilee, the leader of the most fanatical section of the Zealots; and it
fell to the procurator Flavius Silva to reduce it.

Josephus utters a final outburst against the hated nationalist party and
especially its two leaders, Simon of Gioras and John of Gischala, though
both had become victims of Roman revenge. "That was a time," he
exclaims, "most prolific in wicked practices, nor could anyone devise
any new evil, so deeply were they infected, striving with each other
individually and collectively who should run to the greatest lengths of
impiety towards God and in unjust actions towards their neighbors." The
more incongruous is it that after this invective he puts into Eleazar's
mouth two long speeches, calling on his men to kill themselves rather
than fall into the hands of the Romans, which sum up eloquently the
Zealot attitude.[1] Josephus indeed introduces in the speech the
Hellenized doctrine of immortality, which regards the soul as an
invisible spirit imprisoned in the mortal body and seeking relief from
its prison. He goes on, however, to make the Jewish commander point out
how preferable is death to life servitude to the Romans, in a way in
which Eleazar might himself have spoken.

[Footnote 1: B.J. VII. viii.]

"'And as for those who have died in the war, we should deem them
blessed, for they are dead in defending, and not in betraying, their
liberty: but as to the multitude of those that have submitted to the
Romans, who would not pity their condition? And who would not make haste
to die before he would suffer the same miseries? Where is now that great
city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so
many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to
defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the
war, and which had so many myriads of men to fight for it? Where is this
city that God Himself inhabited? It is now demolished to the very
foundations; and hath nothing but that monument of it preserved, I mean
the camp of those that have destroyed it, which still dwells upon its
ruins; some unfortunate old men also lie upon the ashes of the Temple,
and a few women are there preserved alive by the enemy for our bitter
shame and reproach. Now, who is there that revolves these things in his
mind, and yet is able to bear the sight of the sun, though he might live
out of danger? Who is there so much his country's enemy, or so unmanly
and so desirous of living, as not to repent that he is still alive? And
I cannot but wish that we had all died before we had seen that holy city
demolished by the hands of our enemies, or the foundations of our holy
Temple dug up after so profane a manner. But since we had a generous
hope that deluded us, as if we might perhaps have been able to avenge
ourselves on our enemies, on that account, though it be now become
vanity, and hath left us alone in this distress, let us make haste to
die bravely. Let us pity ourselves, our children, and our wives, while
it is in our power to show pity to them; for we are born to die, as well
as those whom we have begotten; nor is it in the power of the most happy
of our race to avoid it. But for abuses and slavery and the sight of our
wives led away after an ignominious manner with their children, these
are not such evils as are natural and necessary among men; although such
as do not prefer death before those miseries, when it is in their power
to do so, must undergo even them on account of their own cowardice.'

"Responding to their leader's call, the defenders put their wives and
children to the sword, and then turned their hands on themselves: and
when the Romans entered the place, to their amazement and horror they
found not a living soul."

Eleazar's speech is one of the few patriotic outbursts in the seven
books of the Wars, and it reads like a cry of bitter regret wrung from
the unhappy author at the end of his work. Like Balaam he set out to
curse, and stayed to bless, his enemies, and cursed himself. Perhaps
this apostrophe hides the tragedy of Josephus' life. Perhaps he inwardly
repented of his cowardice, and rued the uneasy protection he had secured
for himself. Perhaps he had denounced the Zealots throughout the history
perforce, to please his taskmasters, and in his heart of hearts envied
the party that had preferred death to surrender. We could wish he had
ended with the story of Masada's noble fall, and left us at this
pathetic doubt. But he had not the dramatic sense, and he rounds off the
story of the wars with an account of the futile Jewish rising in
Alexandria and Cyrene, fomented by the surviving remnants of the
Zealots. The first led to the closing in Egypt of the Temple of Onias,
the last sanctuary of the Jews; the second to slanderous attacks on the
historian. Jonathan, who had stirred up the Cyrenaic rising and started
the slanders, was tortured and burnt alive. As to Catullus, the Roman
governor, who admitted the calumnies, though the Emperor spared him, he
fell into a terrible distemper and died miserably. "Thus he became a
signal instance of Divine Providence, and demonstrated that God punishes
the wicked."

Instead of concluding upon some national reflection, Josephus,
pathetically enough, disfigures the end of his work with a final
revelation of personal vanity and materialistic views of a Providence
intervening on his behalf. Egoism and incapacity to attain to the noble
and sublime either in action or thought were the two defects that
lowered Josephus as a man, and which mar him as an historian. In the
last paragraph of the work he insists that he has aimed alone at
agreement with the facts; but industrious as is the record of events,
the claim is shallow. His history of the Jewish wars lacks authority
because it is palpably designed to please the Roman taste, and because
also it has to serve as a personal apology for one who, when heroism was
called for, had failed to respond to the call, and who was thus rendered
incapable in letters as in life of being a faithful champion of his



In the preface to the _Antiquities_ Josephus draws a distinction between
his motives for the composition of that work and of the _Wars_. He wrote
the latter because he himself had played a large part in the war, and he
desired to correct the errors of other historians, who had perverted the
truth. On the other hand, he undertook to write the earlier history of
his people because of the great importance of the events themselves and
of his desire to reveal for the common benefit things that were buried
in ignorance. He was stimulated to the task by the fact that his
forefathers had been willing to communicate their antiquity to the
Greeks, and, moreover, several of the Greeks had been at pains to learn
of the affairs of the Jewish nation.

It would appear that he is here referring to the Septuagint translation of
the Bible, since he proceeds to summarize the well-known story of King
Ptolemy recounted in the Letter of Aristeas, which he afterwards sets out
more fully.[1] Josephus shares the aim of the Hellenistic-Jewish writers
to make the Jewish Scriptures known to the Gentile world, and he inherits
also, but in a much smaller degree, their method of presenting Judaism to
suit Greek or Greco-Roman tastes, as a philosophical, i.e. an ethical-
philosophical, religion. Perhaps he had become acquainted, either at
Alexandria or at Rome, with Philo's _Life of Moses_, which was a popular
text-book, so to speak, of universal Judaism. Certain it is that the
prelude to the _Antiquities_ is reminiscent of the earlier treatise.
Josephus reproduces Philo's idea that Moses began his legislation not as
other lawgivers, "with the detailed enactments, contracts, and other rites
between one man and another, but by raising men's minds upwards to regard
God and His creation." For Moses life was to be an imitation of the
divine. Contemplation of God's work is the best of all patterns for man to
follow. With Philo again, he points out the superiority of Moses over
other legislators in his attack upon false ideas of the divine nature;
"for there is nothing in the Scriptures inconsistent with the majesty of
God or with His love of mankind: and all things in it have reference to
the nature of the universe." He claims, too, that Moses explains some
things clearly and directly, but that he hints at others philosophically
under the form of allegory. And to these commonplaces of Alexandrian
exegesis he adds as the lesson of the history of his people that "it goes
well with those who follow God's will and observe His laws, and ill with
those who rebel against Him and neglect His laws." To exhibit to the
Greco-Roman world the power and majesty of the Jewish God and the
excellence of the Jewish law--these are the two main purposes which he
professes to set before himself in his rendering of the Bible story, which
occupies the first half of the _Antiquities_. No Jewish writer before him
had treated the Bible to suit Roman predilections, which attached supreme
importance to material strength and the concrete manifestation of
authority, and Josephus in order to carry out his aim had therefore to
proceed on new lines.

[Footnote 1: See below, p. 175.]

In effect, he rarely attempts to ethicize the Bible story. For the most
part he paraphrases it, cuts out its poetry, and reduces it to a prosaic
chronicle of facts. The exordium in fact has little relation to the
book, and looks as if it were borrowed without discrimination. Josephus
next, indeed, professes that he will accurately set out in chronological
order the incidents in the Jewish annals, "without adding anything to
what is therein contained or taking anything away from it." It may be
that he regarded the oral tradition as an inherent part of the law, and
therefore inserts selections of it in the narrative, but anyhow he does
not observe strictly the command of Deuteronomy (4:2) that prompted his
profession, "Ye shall not add unto the word I have spoken, neither shall
ye diminish aught from it." Not only does he freely paraphrase the
Septuagint version of the Bible, but, more especially in the earlier
part of the work, he incorporates pieces of Palestinian Haggadah and to
a smaller extent of Alexandrian interpretation, and he omits many
episodes that did not seem to him to redound to the glory of his people.
He seeks to improve the Bible, and though he did not invent new legends,
he accepted uncritically those which he found in Hellenistic sources or
in the oral tradition of his people. His work is, therefore, valuable as
a storehouse of early Haggadah. It is unnecessary to accept his
description of himself as one who had a profound knowledge of tradition,
but he was acquainted with the popular exegesis of the Palestinian
teachers; and twenty years of life at the Roman court had not entirely
eliminated his knowledge.

In the very first section of the first book, he notes that Moses sums up
the first day of Creation with the words, "and it was _one_ day";
whereas afterwards it is said, "it was the second, the third day, etc."
He does not indeed supply the interpretation, saying that he will give
the reason in a separate treatise which he proposes to write; but the
same point is discussed in the Rabbinic commentary. He gives the
traditional interpretation of the four rivers of the Garden of Eden.[1]
He derives the name Adam from the Hebrew word for red, because the first
man was formed out of red earth.[2] He states that the animals in the
Garden of Eden had one language, a piece of Midrash which occurs also in
the Book of Jubilees. He relates that Cain, after the murder of his
brother, was afraid of falling among wild beasts, agreeing with the
Midrash that all the animals assembled to avenge the blood of Abel,[3]
but God forbade them to destroy Cain on pain of their own destruction.
Seth he describes as the model of the virtuous, and of him the Rabbis
likewise say, "From Seth dates the stock of all generations of the
virtuous." He pictures him also as a great inventor and the discoverer
of astronomy, and tells how he set up pillars of brick and stone
recording these inventions, so that they might not be forgotten if the
world was destroyed either by fire or water: here again agreeing with
the Book of Jubilees, which relates that Cainan found an inscription in
which his forefathers had described their inventions. Examples might be
multiplied from the first chapters of the _Antiquities_ of the way in
which Josephus weaves into the Bible account traditional Midrashim, but
these instances will suffice.

[Footnote 1: Gen. R. ii. and iii., quoted in Bloch, Die Quellen des
Flavius Josephus, 1879. The rivers are the Ganges, Euphrates, Tigris,
and Nile.]

[Footnote 2: Yalkut Gen. 21, 22.]

[Footnote 3: Gen. R. xxii.]

Besides embroidering the Bible text with Haggadic legends, Josephus is
prone to place in the mouths of the characters rhetorical speeches in
the Greek style, either expanding a verse or two in the Bible or
composing them entirely. Thus God says to Adam and Eve in the Garden of
Eden after the fall:

"I had before determined about you that you might lead a happy life
without affliction and care and vexation of soul; and that all things
which might contribute to your enjoyment and pleasure should grow up by
My Providence of their own accord. And death would not overtake you at
any period. But now you have abused My good-will and disobeyed My
commands, for your silence is not the sign of your virtue but of your
guilty conscience."

Anticipating, moreover, the methods of latter-day Biblical apologists,
he loses no opportunity of adding any confirmation he can find for the
Bible story in pagan historians. He cites for the truth of the story of
the flood Berosus the Chaldean, Hieronymus the Egyptian, Menander the
Phoenician, and a great many others[1]; and he finds confirmation of the
early chapters of Genesis in general in Manetho, who wrote a famous
Egyptian history, and Mochus, and Hestiaeus, and in some of the earliest
Greek chroniclers, Hesiod and Hecataeus and Hellanicus and Acesilaus. In
later years he was to deal more elaborately with the question of the
authority of the Scriptural history,[2] and then he set out the pagan
testimony more accurately. In the _Antiquities_ he is usually content to
refer to it. It is significant that in the passages in which he adduces
pagan corroboration he refers to Nicholas of Damascus, and in the first
of them repeats his words about the remains of the Ark lying on a
mountain in Armenia. It is well-nigh certain that Josephus did not study
the writings of any of these chroniclers and historians at first hand,
for he shows no acquaintance with the substance of their works. They
were quoted by Nicholas, and where his source had given excerpts from
their writings that threw any light, or might be taken to throw light,
on the Hebrew text, Josephus, following the literary ethics of his day,
inserts them. His archeology extended only to the reading of one or more
writers of universal ancient history and taking from them whatever bore
upon his own subject. He finds authority for the story of the tower of
Babel in the oracles of the Sibyl, which we now know to be Jewish
forgeries, but which professed to be and were regarded by the less
educated of his day as being the utterances of an ancient seeress.
Josephus paraphrases the hexameters which described how, when all men
were of one tongue, some of them built a high tower, as if they would
thereby ascend to heaven; but the deity sent storms of wind and
overthrew the tower, and gave everyone his peculiar language.

[Footnote 1: Ant. I. iii. 3.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. below, p. 223.]

Josephus sets considerable store by the exact chronology of the Bible,
stopping continually to enumerate the number of years that had passed
from the Creation to some other point of reckoning. His habit in this
respect is marred by a singular inaccuracy in dealing with dates and
figures, varying as he often does from chapter to chapter, sometimes
from paragraph to paragraph, according to the source he happens to be
following. He gives the year of the flood as 2656, though the sum of the
years of the Patriarchs who lived before it in his reckoning totals only
2256. It has been conjectured[1] that he followed the Septuagint
chronology from the Creation to the flood and that of the Hebrew Bible
from Abraham onwards, and for the intermediate period he has his own
reckoning. The result is that his calculations are often inconsistent.
In his desire to impress the Greco-Roman reader, he dates an event by
the Macedonian as well as the Jewish month, whenever he knows it, i.e.
when he found it in his source. Thus the flood is said to have taken
place "in the month Dius, which is called by the Hebrews Marheshwan."
From the same motive he dwells on the table of the descendants of Noah,
identifying the various families mentioned in the Bible with peoples
known to the Greek world. The sons of Noah inhabited first the mountains
Taurus and Amanus, and proceeded along Asia to the river Tanais, and
along Europe to Cadiz, giving their names to nations in the lands they

[Footnote 1: Comp. Destinon, Die Chronologie des Josephus, 1880.]

What Josephus then insists on in his paraphrase of Scripture is the fact
and not the lesson, the letter and not the spirit; while Philo, who is
the true type of Jewish Hellenist, was always looking for deeper
meanings beneath the literal text. The Romans had no bent for such
interpretations, and Josephus Romanizes. He treats, for example, the
genealogies, the chronology, and the ethnology of Genesis as things of
supreme value, and though he occasionally inserts Haggadic tradition, he
misses the Haggadic spirit, which sought to draw new morals and new
spiritual value from the narrative. In his account of Abram, indeed, he
touches upon the patriarch's higher idea of God, which led him to leave
Chaldea. But here, too, he distorts the genuine Hebraic conception, and
presents Abram as a kind of Stoic philosopher.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ant. I. vii. 1.]

He was the first that ventured to publish this notion, that there was
but one God, the Creator of the Universe, and that, as to the other
gods, if they contributed to the happiness of men, they afforded it
according to their appointment and not according to their own power. His
opinion was derived from the study of the heavenly bodies and the
phenomena of the terrestrial world. If, said he, these bodies had power
of their own, they would certainly have regular motions. But since they
do not preserve such regularity, they show that in so far as they work
for our good, they do it not of their own strength but as they are
subservient to Him who commands them.

This is one of the few pieces of theology in the _Antiquities_, and we
are fain to believe that he borrowed it from Nicholas, who is quoted
immediately afterwards, or from pseudo-Hecataeus, a Jewish
pseudepigraphic historian, to whom a book on the patriarch was ascribed.
So, later, following the Hellenistic tradition, he represents Abraham as
the teacher of astronomy to the Egyptians.

Josephus was a wavering rationalist, as is shown by his acceptance of
the story of Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt, "I have seen
the pillar," he adds (though again he may be blindly copying), "and it
remains to this day." It is not the place here to enter into the details
of his version of the story of the patriarchs. He gives the facts, and
loses much of the spirit, often spoiling the beauty of the Biblical
narrative by a prosy paraphrase. Thus God assures Abraham after the
offering of Isaac,[1] that it was not out of desire for human blood that
he was commanded to slay his son; and Isaac says to Jacob, who comes to
receive the blessing: "Thy voice is like the voice of Jacob, yet because
of the thickness of thy hair thou seemest to be Esau." One is reminded
of Bowdler's improvements of Shakespeare in the eighteenth century.

[Footnote 1: Ant. I. xiii. 4.]

The first book of the _Antiquities_ ends with the death of Isaac. The
second deals with the story of Joseph and of the Exodus from Egypt. The
method is the same: partly Midrashic and partly rhetorical embellishment
of the Biblical text, conversion of the poetry into prose, and, where
occasion offers, correlation of the Scripture with Hellenistic history.
The chapters dealing with the life of Moses are particularly rich in
legendary additions: Amram is told in a vision that his son shall be the
savior of Israel;[1] the name of Pharaoh's daughter is given as
Thermuthis, in accordance with Hellenistic, but not Talmudic, tradition.
Moses in his childhood dons Pharaoh's crown, and is only saved from death
by the king's daughter.[2] Finally a whole chapter is devoted to an
account of the wars of Moses, as an Egyptian general fighting against the
Ethiopians, which is taken from the histories of pseudo-Artapanus.[3]
Josephus makes no attempt to rationalize the account of the plagues, but
on the contrary dilates on them, "both because no such plagues did ever
happen to any other nation, and because it is for the good of mankind,
that they may learn by this warning not to do anything which may displease
God, lest He be provoked to wrath and avenge their iniquity upon them." At
the same time, following a tradition reflected in the Apocalyptic and
Rabbinic literature, he modifies the Biblical statement, that the Jews
spoiled the Egyptians before leaving the country, by explaining that they
took their fair hire for their labor.[4] And after describing the drowning
of the Egyptians in the Red Sea--which Moses celebrates with a
thanksgiving song in hexameter verse[5]--he apologizes for the strangeness
of the narrative and its miraculous incidents. He explains that he has
recounted every part of the history as he found it in the sacred books,
and people are not to wonder "if such things happened, _whether by God's
will or by chance_, to the men of old, who were free from the wickedness
of modern times, seeing that even for those who accompanied Alexander the
Greek, who lived recently, when it was God's will to destroy the Persian
monarchy, the Pamphylian sea retired and afforded a passage." This homily
smacks of some Hellenistic-Jewish rationalist, whom he copied. But he
concludes the whole with a formula, which is regular when he has stated
something which he fears will be difficult of belief for his audience, "As
to these things, let everyone determine as he thinks best." He treats the
account of the Decalogue in a similar way. "I am bound," he says, "to
relate the history as it is described in the Holy Writ, but my readers may
accept or reject the story as they please." Josephus therein applied the
rule, "When at Rome, do as Rome does." For it is noteworthy that the Roman
historian Tacitus, who wrote a little later than Josephus, manifests the
same indecision about the interference of the divine agency in human
affairs, the relation of chance to human freedom, and the necessity of
fate; and in many cases he likewise places the rational and transcendental
explanations of an event side by side, without any attempt to reconcile

[Footnote 1: Comp. Mekilta, ed. Weiss, p. 52. This and the following
Rabbinic parallels are collected by Bloch, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Tanhuma, xii. 4.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Eusebius, Praep. vii. 2.]

[Footnote 4: Comp. Book of Jubilees, xlviii. 18, and Sanhedrin, 91a.]

[Footnote 5: He probably had in mind the Greek version of the Song of
Moses made by the Jewish-Alexandrian dramatic poet Ezekiel, which was
written in hexameter verse.]

Josephus deals summarily with the Mosaic Code in the _Antiquities_, but
announces his intention to compose "another work concerning our laws."
This work is, perhaps, represented by the second book _Against Apion_;
or possibly the intention was never fulfilled. He does not set out the
ten commandments at length, explaining that it was against tradition to
translate them directly.[1] He refers probably to the rule that they
were not to be recited in any language but Hebrew, though, of course,
the Septuagint contained a full version. On the other hand, he describes
the construction of the Tabernacle with some fulness, and dwells
particularly on the robes of the priests and the pomp of the high
priest. Ritual and ceremonial appealed to his public; and his account,
which was based on the practice of his own day, supplements in some
particulars the account in the Talmud. But unfortunately he does not
describe the Temple service. He attaches marked importance to the Urim
and Thummim, which formed a sort of oracle parallel with pagan
institutions, and says that the breastplate and sardonyx, with which he
identifies them, ceased to shine two hundred years before he wrote his
book[2] (i.e. at the time of John Hyrcanus). The Talmud understands the
mystic names of the Bible in a similar way,[3] but represents that the
oracle ceased with the destruction of the first Temple, and was not
known in the second Temple. Josephus enlarges, in a way common to the
Hellenistic-Jewish apologists,[4] on the symbolism of the Temple service
and furniture.

"One may wonder at the contempt men bear us, or which they profess to
bear, on the ground that we despise the Deity, whom they pretend to
honor: for if anyone do but consider the construction of the Temple, the
Tabernacle, and the garments of the high priest, and the vessels we use
in our service, he will find our lawgiver was inspired by God.... For if
he regard these things without prejudice, he will find that everyone is
made by way of imitation and representation of the Universe."[5]

[Footnote 1: Ant. III. vi. 4.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. III. vii. 7.]

[Footnote 3: Yer. Sotah, ix. 13.]

[Footnote 4: Comp. Philo, De V. Mos. iii. 6.]

[Footnote 5: Ant. III. vii. 7.]

The ritual, in brief, typifies the universal character of Judaism, which
Josephus was anxious to emphasize in reply to the charge of Jewish
aloofness and particularism. The three divisions of the Tabernacle
symbolize heaven, earth, and sea; the twelve loaves stand for the twelve
months of the year; the seventy parts of the candlestick for the seventy
planets; the veils, which were composed of four materials, for the four
elements; the linen of the high priest's vestment signified the earth,
the blue betokened the sky; the breastplate resembled the shape of the
earth, and so forth. We find similar reflections in Philo, but in his
work they are part of a continuous allegorical exegesis, and in the
other they are a sudden incursion of the symbolical into the long
narrative of facts.

Following the account of the Tabernacle and the priestly vestments,
Josephus describes the manner of offering sacrifices, the observance of
the festivals, and the Levitical laws of cleanliness. In his account of
these laws Josephus makes no attempt either to derive a universal value
from the Biblical commands or to read a philosophical meaning into them
by allegorical interpretation. He normally states the law as it stands
in the text, and in the selection he makes he gives the preference, not
to general ethical precepts, but to regulations about the priests. He
had a pride of caste and a love of the pomp and circumstance of the
Temple service; and the national ceremony could be more easily conveyed
to the Gentile than an understanding of the spiritual value of Judaism.
The Hellenistic apologists enlarged on the humanitarian character of the
Mosaic social legislation; Josephus mentions without comment the laws of
the seventh year release and the Jubilee, though in his later apology,
which was addressed to the Greeks, in the books _Against Apion_,[1] he
dwelt more carefully on them. His interpretation of the laws, so far as
it goes, in places agrees with the Rabbinic Halakah, but he admits some
modification of the accepted tradition. Thus he states that the high
priest was forbidden to marry a slave, or a captive, or a woman who kept
an inn. He translates the Hebrew [Hebrew: zonah], which probably here
means a prostitute, by innkeeper, a meaning the word has in other
passages;[2] but the Aramaic version of the Bible supports him. He
gives, too, a rationalizing reason for the observance of Tabernacles,
saying, "The Law enjoins us to pitch tabernacles so that we may preserve
ourselves from the cold of the season of the year."[3] The Feast of
Weeks he calls Asartha, perhaps a Grecized form of the Hebrew [Hebrew:
Atzereth], which was its old name, and he does not regard it as the
anniversary of the giving of the Law. He promises to explain afterwards
why some animals are forbidden for food and some permitted, but he fails
to fulfil his promise. Since, however, the interpretation of the dietary
laws as a discipline of temperance was a commonplace of Hellenistic
Judaism, which is very fully set forth in the so-called Fourth Book of
the Maccabees,[4] the absence of his comments is not a great loss.

[Footnote 1: See below, p. 234.]

[Footnote 2: Judges, 4:1; Josh. 2; and Ezek. 23:44.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. IV. viii. 4.]

[Footnote 4: See above, p. 105.]

In the next book of the _Antiquities_, Josephus deals with other parts
of the Mosaic Law, especially such as might appear striking to Roman
readers. Thus he gives in detail the law as to the Nazarites, the Korban
offering, and the red heifer, and he completes his account of the Mosaic
Code by a summary description of the Jewish polity, in which he
abstracts a large part of the laws of Deuteronomy together with some of
the traditional amplifications.[1] Moses prefaces his farewell address
with a number of moral platitudes. "Virtue is its own principal reward,
and, besides, it bestows abundance of others."--"The practice of virtue
towards other men will make your own lives happy," and so forth.
Josephus again proclaims that he sets out the laws in the words of
Moses, his only innovation being to arrange them in a regular system,
"for they were left by him in writing as they were accidentally
scattered." The influence of Roman law may have suggested the arranging
and digesting of the Mosaic Code, as well as several of his variations
from the letter of the Bible.

[Footnote 1: Ant. IV. viii.]

A few of his interpretations are noteworthy as comprising either
Palestinian or Hellenistic tradition. He understands the command not to
curse those in authority ([Hebrew: Elohim], Exod. 22:28) as referring to
the gods worshiped in other cities, following Philo and a Hellenistic
tradition based on a mistranslation of the Septuagint. A late passage in
the Talmud, on the other hand, says that all abuse is forbidden save of
idolatry.[1] With Philo again, he inserts into the code a law
prohibiting the possession of poison on pain of death,[2] which is based
on an erroneous interpretation of the law against witchcraft. Josephus
follows the Hellenistic school also when he deduces from the prohibition
against removing boundary stones the lesson that no infraction of the
law and tradition[3] is to be permitted. Nothing is to be allowed the
imitation of which might lead to the subversion of the constitution. He
introduces a law about evidence, to the effect that the testimony of
women should not be admitted "on account of the levity and boldness of
their sex."[4] The rule has no place in the Code of the Pentateuch, but
is supported in the oral law. He adopts another traditional
interpretation when he limits the commands against women wearing men's
habits to the donning of armor in times of war.[5] He misrepresents, on
the other hand, the law of [Hebrew: shemitah] (seventh year release),
stating that if a servant have a child by a bondwoman in his master's
house, and if, on account of his good-will to his master, he prefers to
remain a slave, he shall be set free only in the year of jubilee. The
Bible says he shall be branded if he refuse the proffered liberty in the
seventh year, and Philo in his interpretation has drawn a fine homily
about the regard set on liberty. But Josephus may have thought that the
institution would appear ridiculous to the legal minds of Romans. To
accommodate the Jewish law again to the Roman standard, he moderates the
_lex talionis_ (the rule of an eye for an eye), by adding that it is
applied only if he that is maimed will not accept money in compensation
for his injury, a half-way position between the Sadducean doctrine,
which understood the Biblical law literally, and the Pharisaic rule,
which abrogated it. But in several instances he makes offenses
punishable with death, which were not so according to the tradition,
_e.g._ the insulting of parents by their children and the taking of
bribes by judges.[6] Summing up the version of Deuteronomy, it may be
said that Josephus, by omitting a law here, adding one there, now
softening, now modifying, in some places broadening, in others narrowing
the scope of the command, presents a code which lacks both the
ruggedness of the Torah and the maturer humaneness of the Rabbinical
Halakah, but was designed to show the reasonableness of the Jewish
system according to Roman notions.

[Footnote 1: Sanhedrin, 63b.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Philo, De Spec. Leg. ii. 815.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Deut. 22:5, and Nazir, 59a, with Ant. IV. viii. 43.]

[Footnote 4: Shebuot, 30a.]

[Footnote 5: Comp. Philo, De Spec. Leg. ii.]

[Footnote 6: Comp. C. Ap. ii. 27. It has been suggested by Judge Mayer
Sulzberger that he falsely interpreted the Hebrew [Hebrew: 'Arur]
(cursed be!) to mean death punishment. Comp. J.Q.R., n.s., iii. 315.]

Josephus, from a different motive, is silent about the golden calf and
the breaking of the tablets of stone. Those incidents, to his mind, did
not reflect credit on his people; therefore they were not to be
disclosed to Greek and Roman readers. He omits, for other reasons, the
Messianic prophecies of Balaam, which would not be pleasing to the
Flavians. At the same time one of the blessings in the prophecies of
Balaam gives him the opportunity of asserting some universal
humanitarian doctrines, to which Philo affords a parallel. The Moabite
seer talks like a Hellenistic apologist of the second century B.C.E. or
a Sibylline oracle: "Every land and every sea will be full of the praise
of your name. Your offspring will dwell in every clime, and the whole
world will be your dwelling-place for eternity."[1] He is at pains to
extol Moses as of superhuman excellence, as is proved by the enduring
force of his laws, which is such that "there is no Jew who does not act
as if Moses were present and ready to punish him if he should offend in
any way."[2] He quotes examples of the Jewish steadfastness in the Law,
which would have impressed a Roman: the regular pilgrimage from Babylon
to the Temple, the abstention of the Jewish priests from touching a
crumb of flour during the Feast of Passover, at a time when, during a
severe famine, abundance of wheat was brought to the Temple. But he
somewhat mars the effect of his praise by adding a not very exalted
motive for the piety of his people--the dread of the Law and of the
wrath which God manifests against transgressors, even when no man can
accuse the actor. Josephus is in a way a loyal supporter of the Law, and
he had a sincere admiration for its hold on the people, but he was led
by the conditions of his appeal to materialize the idea of Jewish
religious intensity and to present it as a fear of punishment. Nor is it
the humanity, the inherent excellence of the Law which he emphasizes,
but its endurance and the widespread allegiance it commands. Looking at
Judaism through Roman spectacles, he treats it as a positive force
comparable with the sway of the Roman Emperor.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Orac. Sib. 111. 271: [Greek: pasa de gaia sethen
plaeres kai pasa thalassa] and Philo, De V. Mos. ii. 126.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. IV. vi 4.]

In the description of the death of Moses the same habit of enfeebling
the majesty of the Biblical text to suit the current taste is
manifested. Moses weeps before he ascends the mountain to die. He
exhorts the people not to lament over his departure. As he is about to
embrace Joshua and Eleazar, he is covered with a cloud and disappears in
a valley, although he piously wrote in the holy books that he died lest
the people should say that, because of his marvelous virtue, he was
taken up to God. For the last statement Josephus has the authority of
some sages, who discussed whether the last verses of Deuteronomy were
written by Moses himself.[1]

[Footnote 1: Baba Batra, 15a.]

Josephus continues the Biblical narrative in less detail in the fifth
book, which covers the period of Joshua and the Judges and the first
part of Samuel. The Book of Joshua is compressed into the limits of one
chapter, but the exploits of each of the judges of Israel, with one or
two omissions, are recounted in order, and the episode of Ruth is
inserted after the story of Samson. He substitutes for the famous
declaration of Ruth to Naomi the prosy statement: "Naomi took Ruth along
with her, as she was not to be persuaded to stay behind, but was
resolved to share her fortune with her mother-in-law, whatsoever it
should prove." And he justifies his insertion of the episode by the
reflection that he desires to demonstrate the power of God, who can
raise those that are of common parentage to dignity and splendor, even
as He advanced David, though he was born of mean parents.

With his fondness for royal history, and no doubt with an eye to his
noble audience, he devotes a whole book to the account of Saul's reign,
adhering closely to the narrative in Samuel, but occasionally adding a
passage from the Book of Chronicles, or softening what seemed an
asperity in Scripture. Samuel, for example, orders Agag to be killed,
whereas in the Bible he puts him to death with his own hand.[1] The
incident of Saul and the Witch of Endor is expanded and invested with
further pathos.[2] The Witch devotes her only possession, a calf, for
the king's meal, and the historian expatiates first on her kindness and
then on Saul's courage in fighting, though he knew his approaching doom.
We may suspect that this digression was induced by a supposed analogy in
the king of Israel's lot to the author's conduct in Galilee, when, as he
claimed, he fought on though knowing the hopelessness of resistance.

[Footnote 1: Ant. VI. viii. 5.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. VI. viii. 14.]

The next book is taken up entirely with the reign of David, and contains
little that is noteworthy. On one point Josephus cites the authority of
Nicholas of Damascus to support the Bible, and here and there he adopts
a traditional interpretation. David's son by Abigail is said to be
Daniel,[1] whereas the Book of Samuel gives the name as Kitab. Absalom's
hair was so thick that it could be cut with difficulty every eight
days.[2] David chose a pestilence as the punishment for his sin in
numbering his people, because it was an affliction common to kings and
their subjects.[3] The historian ascribes the Psalms to David, and says
they were in several (Greek) meters, some in hexameters and others in
pentameters. Lastly he enlarges on the wonderful wealth of David, which
was greater than that of any other king either of the Hebrews or of
other nations. Benjamin of Tudela relates, and the Mohammedans believe
to this day, that vast treasure is buried with the king, and lies in his
reputed sepulcher. The story must have been accepted in the days of
Josephus, for he records how Hyrcanus, the son of Simon the Maccabee,
being in straits for money to buy off the Seleucid invader, opened a
room of David's sepulcher and took out three thousand talents, and how,
many years later, King Herod opened another room, and took out great
store of money; yet neither lighted on the body of the king. Such
romantic tales pleased the readers of the Jewish historian, who lived
amid the wonderful material splendor of Rome, and prized, above all
things, material wealth.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Ant. VII. i. 4; Berakot, 4a.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. VII. viii.; comp. Nazir, 4b.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. VII. xiii.; comp. Yalkut, ii. 165.]

When he comes to the history of Solomon, he speaks of his proverbial
writings, and inserts a long account of his miraculous magical powers,
based no doubt on popular legend.[1]

"He composed books of odes and songs one thousand and five [here he
follows Chronicles] and of parables and similitudes three thousand. For
he spoke a parable on every sort of tree, from the hyssop to the cedar,
and in like manner about every sort of living creature, whether on the
earth or in the air or in the seas. He was not unacquainted with any of
their natures, nor did he omit to study them, but he described them all
in the manner of a philosopher. God also endowed him with skill in
expelling demons, which is a science useful and health-giving to

[Footnote 1: Comp. Yalkut, ii. 177. The apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon
similarly credits the king with power over spirits (vii. 20).]

[Footnote 2: Ant. VIII. ii. 5.]

Josephus goes on to describe how, in the presence of Vespasian, a
compatriot cured soldiers who were demoniacal. We know from the New
Testament that the belief in possession by demons was widespread among
the vulgar in the first century of the common era, and the Essenes
specialized in the science of exorcism. As the belief was invested with
respectability by the patronage which the Flavian court extended to all
sorts of magic and witchcraft, Josephus enlarges on it. Solomon is
therefore represented as a thaumaturgist, and while not a single example
is given of the proverbs ascribed to him, his exploits as a
miracle-monger are extolled. Josephus sets out at length the story of
the building of the Temple, and dwells on Solomon's missions to King
Hiram, of which, he says, copies remained in his day, and may be seen in
the public records of Tyre. This he claims to be a signal testimony to
the truthfulness of his history.[1] He modernizes elaborately Solomon's
speech at the dedication of the sanctuary, and converts it into an
apology for the Jews of his own day. Again he follows an Alexandrian
model, and describes God in Platonic fashion: "Thou possessest an
eternal house, and we know how, from what Thou hast created for Thyself,
Heaven and Air and Earth and Sea have sprung, and how Thou fillest all
things and yet canst not be contained by any of them."[2] Solomon is
here a preacher of universalism; he prays that God shall help not the
Hebrews alone when they are in distress, "but when any shall come hither
from the ends of the earth and repent of their sins and implore Thy
forgiveness, do Thou pardon them and hear their prayer. For thereby all
shall know that Thou wast pleased with the building of this house, and
that we are not of an unsociable nature, nor do we behave with enmity to
such as are not of our people, but are willing that Thou shouldst bestow
Thy help on all men in common, and that all alike may enjoy Thy
benefits." Solomon's dream after the dedication service provides another
occasion for pointing to the Jewish disaster of the historian's day. For
he foresees that if Israel will transgress the Law, his miseries shall
become a proverb, and his neighbors, when they hear of them, shall be
amazed at their magnitude.

[Footnote 1: Comp. below, p. 223.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. VIII. iv. 2. Comp. Philo, De Confus. Ling. i. 425.]

The description of the Temple is followed by a glowing account of the
king's palace, of which the roof was "according to the Corinthian order,
and the decorations so vivid that the leaves seemed to be in motion." We
are told, too, of the great cities which the king built, Tadmor in the
wilderness of Syria, and Gezer, the Bible narrative being supplemented
here with passages from Nicholas. The Queen of Sheba is represented as
the Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, and it is to her gift that Josephus
attributes "the root of balsam which our country still bears." Reveling
in the material greatness of the Jewish court during the golden age of
the old kingdom, Josephus catalogues the wealth of Solomon, the number
of his horses and chariots. He reproaches him not only for marrying
foreign wives, but for making images of brazen oxen, which supported the
brazen sea, and the images of lions about his throne. For these sins
against the second commandment he died ingloriously.

With the death of Solomon the legendary and romancing character of this
part of the _Antiquities_ comes to an end. In the summary of the
fortunes of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, Josephus adheres almost
exclusively to the Biblical text, and allows himself few digressions. He
moralizes a little about the decay of the people under Rehoboam,
reflecting that the aggrandizement of a kingdom and its sudden
attainment of prosperity often are the occasion of mischief; and he
controverts Herodotus, who confused Sesostris with Shishak when relating
the Egyptian king's conquests. It is, he claims, really Shishak's
invasion of Jerusalem which the Greek historian narrates, as is proved
by the fact that he speaks of circumcised Syrians, who can be no other
than Jews. The fate of Omri and Zimri[1] moves him to moralize again
about God's Providence in rewarding the good and punishing the wicked;
and Ahab's death evokes some platitudes concerning fate, "which creeps
on human souls and flatters them with pleasing hopes, till it brings
them to the place where it will be too hard for them."[2] Artapanus, or
one of the Jewish Hellenists masking as a pagan historian, may have
provided him with this reflection.

[Footnote 1: Ant. IX. xii. 6.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. IX. xv. 6.]

He spoils the grandeur of the scene on Mount Carmel, when Elijah turned
the people from Baal-worship back to the service of God. In place of the
dramatic description in the Book of Kings he states that the Israelites
worshiped one God, and called Him the great and the only true God, while
the other deities were names. He omits altogether the account of
Elijah's ascent to Heaven, probably from a desire not to appear to
entertain any Messianic ideas with which the prophet was associated. He
says simply that Elijah disappeared from among men. But he gives in
detail the miraculous stories of Elisha, which were not subject to the
same objection. Occasionally his statements seem in direct conflict with
the Hebrew Bible, as when he says that Jehu drove slowly and in good
order, whereas the Hebrew is that "he driveth furiously."[1] Or that
Joash, king of Israel, was a good man, whereas in the Book of Kings it
is written, "he did evil in the sight of the Lord."[2] But these
discrepancies may be due, not to a different Bible text, but to
aberrations of the copyists.

[Footnote 1: Ant. IX. vi. 3; II Kings, 9:20.]

[Footnote 2: II Kings, 13:11.]

The story of dynastic struggles and foreign wars is varied with a short
summary of the life of Jonah, introduced at what, according to the
Bible, is its proper chronological place,[1] in the reign of Jeroboam
II, king of Israel. The picturesque and miraculous character of the
prophet's adventures secured him this distinction, for in general
Josephus does not pay much regard to the lives or writings of the
prophets. It is only where they foretold concrete events that their
testimony is deemed worthy of mention. Of the other minor prophets he
mentions Nahum, and paraphrases part of his prophecy of the fall of
Nineveh, cutting it short with the remark that he does not think it
necessary to repeat the rest,[2] so that he may not appear troublesome
to his readers. In the account of Hezekiah he mentions that the king
depended on Isaiah the prophet, by whom he inquired and knew of all
future events,[3] and he recounts also the miracle of putting back the
sun-dial. For the rest, he says that, by common consent, Isaiah was a
divine and wonderful man in foretelling the truth, "and in the assurance
that he had never written what was false, he wrote down his prophecies
and left them in books, that their accomplishment might be judged of by
posterity from the events.[4] Nor was he alone, but the other prophets
[i.e. the minor prophets presumably], who were twelve in number, did the
same." It is notable that this phrase of the _Antiquities_ about the
prophets bears a resemblance to the "praise of famous men" contained in
the apocryphal book of Ben Sira, which Josephus probably used in the
Greek translation.

[Footnote 1: Ant. IX. x. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. IX. xi. 3.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. IX. xiii.]

[Footnote 4: Ant. X. ii. 2. Comp. Is. 30:8_f_.]

While he thus cursorily disposes of the prophetical writers, he seizes
on any scrap of Hellenistic authors which he could find to confirm the
Bible story, or rather to confirm the existence of the personages
mentioned in the Bible. Thus he quotes the Phoenician historian
Menander, who confirms the existence and exploits of the Assyrian king
Shalmaneser. So, too, he brings forward Herodotus and Berosus to confirm
the existence and doings of Sennacherib.[1] He refutes Herodotus again,
doubtless on the authority of a predecessor, for saying that Sennacherib
was king of the Arabs instead of king of the Assyrians.

[Footnote 1: Ant. X. ii. 4.]

As with Ahab, so with Josiah, Josephus sees the power of fate impelling
him to his death, and substitutes the Hellenistic conception of a blind
and jealous power for the Hebrew idea of a just Providence. He ascribes
to Jeremiah "an elegy on the death of the king, which is still
extant,"[1] apparently following a statement in the Book of Chronicles,
which does not refer to our Book of Lamentations. Jeremiah is treated
rather more fully than Isaiah. Besides a notice of his writings we have
an account of his imprisonment. He ascribes to Ezekiel two books
foretelling the Babylonian captivity. Possibly the difference between
the last nine and the first forty chapters of the exile prophet
suggested the idea of the two books, unless these words apply rather to

"The two prophets agreed [he remarks] on all other things as to the
capture of the city and King Zedekiah, but Ezekiel declared that
Zedekiah should not see Babylon, while Jeremiah said the king of Babylon
should carry him thither in bonds. Because of this discrepancy, the
Jewish prince disbelieved them both, and condemned them for false
tidings.[2] Both prophets, however, were justified, because Zedekiah
came to Babylon, but he came blind, so that, as Ezekiel had predicted,
he did not see the city."

[Footnote 1: Ant. X. v. 2. Comp. II Chron. 35:25.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. X. vii. 2.]

The episode is possibly based on some apocryphal book that has
disappeared, and the historian extracts from it the lesson, which he is
never weary of repeating, that God's nature is various and acts in
diverse ways, and men are blind and cannot see the future, so that they
are exposed to calamities and cannot avoid their incidence.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ant. X. viii. 3.]

Following on the account of the fall of the last of the Davidic line and
the destruction of the Temple, Josephus gives a chronological summary of
the history of Israel from the Creation, together with an incomplete
list of all the high priests who held office. The latter may be compared
with the list of high priests with which he closes the _Antiquities_.[1]
These chronological calculations were dear to him, but perhaps he
borrowed them from one of the earlier Hellenistic Jewish chroniclers. He
takes an especial pride throughout the _Antiquities_ as well as in the
_Wars_ in recording the priestly succession, which served to emphasize
the antiquity not only of his people, but of his own personal lineage,
and was moreover congenial to the ideas of the Romans, who paid great
heed to the records of their priests.

[Footnote 1: See below, p. 202.]

As might be expected, he dwells at some length on Daniel,[1] whose book
was full of the miraculous legends and exact prophecies loved by his
audience, and he recommends his book to those who are anxious about the
future. He elaborates the interpretation of the vision of the image (ch.
3:7), but finds himself in a difficulty when he comes to the explanation
of the stone broken off from the mountain that fell on the image and
shattered it. According to the traditional interpretation, it portended
the downfall of Rome, or maybe the coming of the Messiah, an idea
equally hateful to the Roman conquerors. He excuses himself by saying
that he has only undertaken to describe things past and present, and not
things that are future. Later he disclaims responsibility for the story
of Nebuchadnezzar's madness, on the plea that he has translated what was
in the Hebrew book, and has neither added nor taken away. The story
probably looked too much like an implied reproach on a mad Caesar. He
adds a new chapter to the Biblical account of the prophet: Daniel is
carried by Darius to Persia, and is there signally honored by the king.
He builds a tower at Ecbatana,[2] which is still extant, says the
historian, "and seems to be but lately built. Here the kings of Persia
and Media are buried, and a Jewish priest is the custodian." Josephus
borrowed this addition from some apocalyptic book recounting Daniel's
deeds, and he speaks of "several books the prophet wrote and left behind
him, which are still read by us." The short story in the Apocrypha of
_Bel and the Dragon_, with its apologue about Susannah, affords an
example of the post-Biblical additions to Daniel, and in the first
century, when Messianic hopes were rife among the people, such
apocryphal books had a great vogue. Daniel is in fact elevated to the
rank of one of the greatest of the prophets, because he not only
prophesied generally of future events like the others, but fixed the
actual time of their accomplishment. It is claimed for him that he
foretold explicitly the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Roman
conquest of Judea. Anticipating the theological controversialists of
later times, Josephus sets special store on the Bible book that is most
miraculous, because miracle and exact prognostication of the future are
for his audience the clearest testimony of God. Hence the predictions of
Daniel are the best refutation of the Epicureans, who cast Providence
out of life, and do not believe that God has care of human affairs, but
say that things move of their own accord, without a ruler and guide.

[Footnote 1: Ant. X. x.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. X. xi. 7.]

When he comes to the history of the Restoration from Babylon, Josephus
follows what is now known as the apocryphal Book of Esdras, in
preference to the Biblical Ezra and Nehemiah, probably because a
Hellenistic guide whom he had before him did likewise. It is clear that
he based his paraphrase on the Greek text. His chronicle therefore
differs considerably from that given in our Scripture, and on one point
he differs from his guide. For while Esdras represents Artaxerxes as the
king under whom the Temple was rebuilt, Josephus, relying on a fuller
knowledge of Persian history, derived probably from Nicholas of
Damascus, substitutes Cambyses.[1] Our Greek version of Esdras I is
unfortunately not complete, but the book, differing from that included
in the Bible, must have originally comprised an account of Nehemiah.
According to Josephus, Ezra dies before Nehemiah[2] arrives in Judea,
whereas in the canonical books they appear for a time together. He
states also that Nehemiah built houses for the poor in Jerusalem out of
his own means, an incident which has not the authority of the Bible, but
which may well have reposed on an ancient tradition. The account of the
marriage of Sanballat with the daughter of Manasseh the high Priest,
which is touched on in our Book of Nehemiah, is described more fully by
Josephus,[3] who based this account on some uncanonical source. And
following the Rabbis, who shortened the Persian epoch in order to eke
out the Jewish history over the whole period of the Persian kingdom till
the conquest of Alexander, he makes the marriage synchronize with the
reign of Philip of Macedon. Josephus was anxious to avoid a vacuum, and
by a little vague chronology and the aid of the fragmentary records of
Ezra and Nehemiah and a priestly chronicle, the few Jewish incidents
known in that tranquil, unruffled epoch are spread over three centuries.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XI. ii.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XI. v.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. XI. vii. 2.]

The episode of Esther is treated elaborately, and, following the
apocryphal version, is placed in the reign of Artaxerxes. The Greek Book
of Esther, which embroidered the Hebrew story, and is generally
attributed to the second century B.C.E., is laid under contribution as
well as the Canonical book; from it Josephus extracted long decrees of
the king and elaborate anti-Semitic denunciations of a Hellenized Haman.
He omits the incident of casting lots, and contrives to explain Purim,
by means of a Greek etymology, as derived from [Greek: phroureai], which
denotes protection. Here and there the Biblical simplicity is
elaborated: Mordecai moves from Babylon to Shushan in order to be near
Esther, and soldiers with bared axes stand round the king to secure the
observance of the law that he shall not be approached. We have some
moralizing on Haman's fall and the working of Providence ([Greek: to
theion]), which teaches that "what mischief anyone prepares against
another, he unconsciously contrives against himself." Less edifying is
the addition that "God laughed to scorn the wicked expectations of
Haman, and as He knew what the event would be, He was pleased at it, and
that night He took away the king's sleep." The Book of Esther does not
mention God: Josephus calls in directly the operation of the Divine
Power, but represents it unworthily.

With the completion of the eleventh book of the _Antiquities_, we
definitely pass away from the region of sacred history and miracles, and
find ourselves in the more spacious but more misty area of the
Hellenistic kingdom, in which Jewish affairs are only a detail set in a
larger background. Though Josephus himself does not explicitly mark the
break, the character of his work materially changes. He has come to the
end of the period when the Bible was his chief guide; he has now to
depend for the main thread on Hellenistic sources, filling in the
details when he can from some Jewish record. His function becomes
henceforth more completely that of compiler, less of translator, and his
work becomes much more valuable for us, because in great part he has the
field to himself. Although, however, the Bible paraphrase, with the
embroidery of a little tradition and comparative history and its
Romanizing reflections, which constitutes the first part of the
_Antiquities_, had not a great permanent value, for a very long period
it was accepted as the standard history of the Jewish people; and in the
pagan Greco-Roman world it appealed to a public to which both the Hebrew
Bible and the Septuagint translation were sealed books. It was written
for a special purpose and served it, doing for the Jewish early history
what Livy did for the hoary past of the Romans. If it was not a worthy
record in many parts, it was yet of great value as an antidote to the
crude fictions of the anti-Semites about the origin and the institutions
of the people of Israel, which had for some two centuries been allowed
to poison the minds of the Greek-speaking world, and had fanned the
prejudices of the Roman people against a nationality of whose history
they were ignorant and of whose laws they were contemptuous.




Josephus is the sole writer of the ancient world who has left a
connected account of the Jewish people during the post-Biblical period,
and the meagerness of his historical information is not due so much to
his own deficiencies as to the difficulty of the material. From the
period when the Scriptures closed, the affairs of the Jews had to be
extracted, for the most part, out of works dealing with the annals of
the whole of civilized humanity. With the conquest of Alexander the
Great, the Jewish people enter into the Hellenistic world, and begin to
command the attention of Hellenistic historians. They are an element in
the cosmopolis which was the ideal of the world-conqueror. At the same
time the nature of the history of their affairs vitally changes. The
continuous chronicle of their doings, which had been kept from the
Exodus out of Egypt to the Restoration from Babylon, and which was
designed to impress a religious lesson and illustrate God's working,
comes to an end; and their scribes are concerned to draw fresh lessons
from that chronicle. The religious philosophy of history is not extended
to the present. The Jews, on the other hand, chiefly engage the interest
of the Gentiles when they come into violent collision with the governing
power, or when they are involved in some war between rival Hellenistic
sovereigns. Hence their history during the two centuries following
Alexander's conquests, i.e. until the time when we again have adequate
Jewish sources, is singularly shadowy and incoherent.

Josephus was not the man to pierce the obscurity by his intuition or by
his research. Yet we must not be too critical of the want of proportion
in his writing when we remember that he was a pioneer; for it was an
original idea to piece together the stray fragments of history that
referred to his people. It has been shown that in his attempt to stretch
out the Biblical history till it can join on to the Hellenistic sources,
Josephus interposes between the account of Esther and the fall of the
Persian Empire a story of intrigue among the high priests. He there
describes the crime of the high priest John in killing his brother in
the Temple as more cruel and impious than anything done by the Greeks or
Barbarians--an expression which must have originated in a Jewish,
probably a Palestinian, authority, to whom Greek connoted cruelty. And
in the next chapter Josephus inserts the story of the Samaritan
Sanballat and the building of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim,[1]
as though these events happened at the time of Alexander's invasion of
Persia. Rabbinical chronology interposes only one generation between
Cyrus and Alexander. The Sanballat who appears in the Book of Nehemiah
is represented as anticipating the part played by the Hellenists of a
later century, and calling in the foreign invader against Judea and
Jerusalem in order to set up his own son-in-law Manasseh as high priest.
Probably, in the fashion of Jewish history, the events of a later time
were placed in the popular Midrash a few generations back and repeated.
Jewish legendary tradition is more certainly the basis of the account of
Alexander's treatment of the Jews. The Talmud has preserved similar
stories.[2] According to both records, the Macedonian conqueror did
obeisance before the high priest, who came out to ask for mercy, because
he recognized in the Jewish dignitary a figure that had appeared to him
in a dream. And when Alexander is made to revere the prophecies of
Daniel and to prefer the Jews to the Samaritans and bestow on them equal
rights with the Macedonians, the historian is simply crystallizing the
floating stories of his nation, which are parallel with those invented
by every other nation of antiquity about the Greek hero.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Neh. 13: 23.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Megillat Taanit, 3, and Yoma, 69a.]

Passing on to Alexander's successors, he has scarcely fuller or more
reliable sources. For Ptolemy's capture of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day,
when the Jews would not resist, he calls in the confirmation of a Greek
authority, Agatharchides of Cnidus. But he has to gloss over a period of
nearly a hundred years, till he can introduce the story of the
translation of the Scriptures into Greek,[1] for which he found a
copious source in the romantic history, or rather the historical
romance, now known as the Letter of Aristeas. This Hellenistic
production has come down to us intact, and therefore we can gather how
closely Josephus paraphrases his authorities. Not that he refrained
altogether from embellishment and improvement. The Aristeas of his
version, as of the original, professes that he is not a Jew, but he adds
that nevertheless he desires favor to be done to the Jews, because all
men are the work of God, and "I am sensible that He is well pleased with
all those that do good." Josephus states a large part of the story as if
it were his own narrative, but in fact it is a paraphrase throughout. He
reproduces less than half of the Letter, omitting the account of the
visit of the royal envoy to Jerusalem and the discourse of Eleazar the
high priest. For the seventy-two questions and answers, which form the
last part, he refers curious readers to his source. But he sets out at
length the description of the presents which Ptolemy sent to Jerusalem,
rejoicing in the opportunity of showing at once the splendor of the
Temple vessels and the honor paid by a Hellenistic monarch to his

[Footnote 1: Ant. XII. ii.]

From his own knowledge also, he adds a glowing eulogy, which Menedemus,
the Greek philosopher, passed on the Jewish faith. The Letter of
Aristeas says that the authors of the Septuagint translation uttered an
imprecation on any one who should alter a word of their work; Josephus
makes them invite correction,[1] adding inconsequently--if our text is
correct--that this was a wise action, "so that, when the thing was
judged to have been well done, it might continue forever."

[Footnote 1: Josephus may have used a different text of Aristeas from
that which has come down to us. Or the passage in our Aristeas may be a
later insertion introduced as a protest against Christian interpolations
in the LXX.]

Having disposed of the Aristeas incident, Josephus has to fill in the
blank between the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus (250 B.C.E.) and the
Maccabean revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes, nearly one hundred years
later, which was the next period for which he had Jewish authority. He
returns then to his Hellenistic guides and extracts the few scattered
incidents which he could find there referring to the Jewish people. But
until he comes to the reign of Antiochus, he can only snatch up some
"unconsidered trifles" of doubtful validity. Seleucus Nicator, he says,
made the Jews citizens of the cities which he built in Asia, and gave
them equal rights with the Macedonians and Greeks in Antioch. This
information he would seem to have derived from the petition which the
Jews of Antioch presented to Titus when, after the fall of Jerusalem,
the victor made his progress through Syria. The people of Antioch then
sought to obtain the curtailment of Jewish rights in the town, but Titus
refused their suit.[1] Josephus takes this opportunity of extolling the
magnanimity of the Roman conqueror, and likewise of inserting a
reference to the friendliness of Marcus Agrippa, who, on his progress
through Asia a hundred years before, had upheld the Jewish
privileges.[2] He derived this incident from Nicholas' history, and thus
contrived to eke out the obscurity of the third century B.C.E. with a
few irrelevancies.

[Footnote 1: Comp. B.J. VII. v. 3.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XIII. iii. 2.]

His material becomes a little ampler from the reign of Antiochus the
Great, because from this point the Greek historians serve him better.
Several of the modern commentators of Josephus have thought that his
authorities were Polybius and Posidonius, who wrote in Greek on the
events of the period. He cites Polybius explicitly as the author of the
statement about Ptolemy's conquest of Judea, and then reproduces two
letters of Antiochus to his generals, directing them to grant certain
privileges to his Jewish subjects as a reward for their loyal service.
We know that Polybius gave in his history an account of Jerusalem and
its Temple, and his character-sketch of Antiochus Epiphanes has been
preserved in an epitome. Josephus, however, be it noted, has only these
scanty extracts from his work. The letters are clearly derived, not from
him, but from some Hellenistic-Jewish apologist, and the passages from
Polybius, it is very probable, are extracted from some larger work.[1]
Here, as elsewhere, both facts and authorities were found in Nicholas of

[Footnote 1: Dr. Büchler (J.Q.R. iv. and R.E.J. xxxii. 179) has argued
convincingly that Josephus had not gone far afield. For the genuineness
of the Letter, comp. Willrich, Judaica, p. 51, and Büchler, Oniaden und
Tobiaden, p. 143.]

We know from Josephus himself that Nicholas had included a history of
the Seleucid Empire in his _magnum opus_. He is quoted in reference to
the sacking of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes and the victory of
Ptolemy Lathyrus over Alexander Jannaeus.[1] Josephus, indeed, several
times appends to his paragraphs about the general history a note, "as we
have elsewhere described." Some have inferred from this that he had
himself written a general history of the Seleucid epoch, but a more
critical study has shown that the tag belongs to the note of his
authority, which he embodied carelessly in his paraphrase.[2]

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIII. xii. 6.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Ant. XIV. I. 2-3; xi. I.]

Josephus supplements the Jewish references in the Seleucid history of
Nicholas by an account of the intrigues of the Tobiades and Oniades,
which reveals a Hellenistic-Jewish origin.[1] Possibly he found it in a
special chronicle of the high-priestly family, which was written by one
friendly to it, for Joseph ben Tobias is praised as "a good man and of
great magnanimity, who brought the Jews out of poverty and low condition
to one that was more splendid." The chronology here is at fault, since
at the time at which the incidents are placed both Syria and Palestine
were included in the dominion of the Seleucids; yet Tobias is
represented at the court of the Ptolemies. Josephus follows the story of
these exploits with the letters which passed between Areas, king of the
Lacedemonians, and the high priest Onias, as recorded in the First Book
of the Maccabees (ch. 12). The letters are taken out of their true
place, in order to bridge the gap between the fall of the Tobiad house
and the Maccabean rising. Areas reigned from 307-265, so that he must
have corresponded to Onias I, but Josephus places him in the time of
Onias III.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XII. iv.]

For his account of the Maccabean struggle he depends here primarily upon
the First Book of the Maccabees, which in many parts he does little more
than paraphrase. Neither the Second Book of the Maccabees nor the larger
work of Jason of Cyrene, of which it is an epitome, appears to have been
known to him. It is well-nigh certain that in writing the _Wars_ he had
no acquaintance with the Jewish historical book, but was dependent on
the less accurate and complete statement of a Hellenistic chronicle; and
in the later work, though he bases his narrative on the Greek version of
the Maccabees, and says he will give a fresh account with great
accuracy, he yet incorporates pieces of non-Jewish history from the
Greek guide without much art or skill or consistency. Thus, in the
_Wars_ he says that Antiochus Epiphanes captured Jerusalem by assault,
while in the _Antiquities_ he speaks of two captures: the first time the
city fell without fighting, the second by treachery. And while in the
Book of the Maccabees the year given for the fall of the city is 143 of
the Seleucid era, in the _Antiquities_ the final capture is dated 145[1]
of the era. He no doubt found this date in the Greek authority he was
following for the general history of Antiochus--he gives the
corresponding Greek Olympiad--and applied it to the pillage of
Jerusalem. For the story of Mattathias at Modin, which is much more
detailed than in the _Wars_, he closely follows the Book of the
Maccabees, though in the speeches he takes certain liberties, inserting,
for example, an appeal to the hope of immortality in Mattathias' address
to his sons.[2] He turns to his Greek authority for the death of
Antiochus, and controverts Polybius, who ascribes the king's distemper
to his sacrilegious desire to plunder a temple of Diana in Persia.
Josephus, with a touch of patriotism and an unusual disregard of the
feelings of his patrons, who can hardly have liked the implied parallel,
says it is surely more probable that he lost his life because of his
pillage of the Jewish Temple. In confirmation of his theory he appeals
to the materialistic morality of his audience, arguing that the king
surely would not be punished for a wicked intention that was not
successful. He states also that Judas was high priest for three years,
which is not supported by the Jewish record;[3] and he passes over the
miracle of the oil at the dedication of the Temple, and ascribes the
name of the feast to the fact that light appeared to the Jews. The
celebration of Hanukkah as the feast of lights is of Babylonian-Jewish
origin, and was only instituted shortly before the destruction of the

[Footnote 1: Ant. XII. v. 3.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XIII. vi. 3.]

[Footnote 3: In his own list of high priests at the end of the work, the
name of Judas does not appear.]

[Footnote 4: Comp. Krauss, R.E.J. xxx. 32.]

His use of the Book of the Maccabees stops short at the end of chapter
xii. He presumably did not know of the last two chapters of our text,
which contain the history of Simon, and probably were translated later.
Otherwise we cannot explain his dismissal, in one line, of the league
that Simon made with the Romans.[1] The incident is dwelt on in the
extant version of the First Book of the Maccabees, and Josephus would
surely not have omitted a syllable of so propitious an event, had he
possessed knowledge of it. On the other hand, he inserts into the
history of the Maccabean brothers an account of the foundation of a
Temple by Onias V in Leontopolis,[2] in the Delta of Egypt, and
describes at length the negotiations that led up to it;[3] and in the
same connection he narrates a feud between the Jewish and Samaritan
communities at Alexandria in the days of Ptolemy Philometor. From these
indications it has been inferred that he had before him the work of a
Hellenistic-Jewish historian interested in Egypt--the collection of
Alexander Polyhistor suggests that there were several such at the
time--while for the exploits of the later Maccabees he relied on the
chronicle of John Hyrcanus the son of Simon, which is referred to in the
Book of the Maccabees,[4] but has not come down to us,

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIII. vii. 3.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XII. ix. 7. The ruins of the Temple were unearthed a
few years ago by Professor Flinders Petrie.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. XIII. iii.]

[Footnote 4: I Macc, xvi, 23.]

From this period onwards till the end of the _Antiquities_, Josephus had
no longer any considerable Jewish document to guide him, nor have we any
Jewish history by which to check him. For an era of two hundred years he
was more completely dependent on Greek sources, and it is just in this
part of the work where he is most valuable or, we should rather say,
indispensable. Save for a few scattered references in pagan historians,
orators, and poets, he is our only authority for Jewish history at the
time. It is, therefore, the more unfortunate that he makes no
independent research, and takes up no independent attitude. For the most
part he transcribes the pagan writer before him, unable or unwilling to
look any deeper. And he tells us only of the outward events of Jewish
history, of the court intrigues and murders, of the wars against the
tottering empires of Egypt and Syria, of the ignoble feuds within the
palace. Of the more vital and, did we but know it, the profoundly
interesting social and religious history of the time, of the development
of the Pharisee and Sadducee sects, we hear little, and that little is
unreliable and superficial. Josephus reproduces the deficiencies of his
sources in their dealings with Jewish events. He brings no original
virtue compensating for the careful study which they made of the larger
history in which the affairs of Judea were a small incident.

The foundation of his work in the latter half of book xiii and
throughout books xiv-xvii is Nicholas, who had devoted two special books
to the life of Herod, and by way of introduction to this had dealt more
fully with the preceding Jewish princes.[1] We must therefore be wary of
imputing to Josephus the opinions he expresses upon the different Jewish
sects in this part of the _Antiquities_. He introduces them first during
the reign of Jonathan, with the classification which had already been
made in the _Wars_:[2] the Pharisees as the upholders of Providence or
fate and freewill, the Essenes as absolute determinists, the Sadducees
as absolute deniers of the influence of fate on human affairs.[3] The
next mention of the Pharisees occurs in the reign of Hyrcanus,[4] when
he states that they were the king's worst enemies.

"They are one of the sects of the Jews, and they have so great a power
over the multitude that, when they say anything against the king or
against the high priest, they are presently believed.... Hyrcanus had
been a disciple of their teaching; but he was angered when one of them,
Eleazar, a man of ill temper and prone to seditious practices,
reproached him for holding the priesthood, because, it was alleged, his
mother had been a captive in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, and he,
therefore, was disqualified."

[Footnote 1: Büchler, Sources of Josephus for the History of Syria,
J.Q.R. ix. 311.]

[Footnote 2: B.J. II. viii.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. XIII. v. 9.]

[Footnote 4: Ant. XIII. x. 5.]

This account is taken from a source unfriendly to the Pharisees. Though
the story is based apparently on an old Jewish tradition, since we find
it told of Alexander Jannaeus in the Talmud,[1] it looks as if Josephus
obtained his version from some author that shared the aristocratic
prejudices against the democratic leaders. The reign of Hyrcanus had
been described by a Hellenistic-Jewish chronicler or a non-Jewish
Hellenist, from whom Josephus borrowed a glowing eulogy,[2] with which
he sums it up: "He lived happily, administered the government in an
excellent way for thirty-one years, and was esteemed by God worthy of
the three greatest privileges, the principate, the high priesthood, and
prophecy." To the account of the Pharisees is appended a paragraph,
seemingly the historian's own work, where he explains that "the
Pharisees have delivered to the people the tradition of the fathers,
while the Sadducees have rejected it and claim that only the written
word is binding. And concerning these things great disputes have arisen
among them; the Sadducees are able to persuade none but the rich, while
the Pharisees have the multitude on their side." Again, in the account
of the reign of Queen Alexandra, he represents the Pharisees as powerful
but seditious, and causing constant friction, and ascribes the fall of
the royal house to the queen's compliance with those who bore ill-will
to the family.

[Footnote 1: Comp. I. Lévi, Talmudic Sources of Jewish History, R.E.J.
xxxv. 219; I. Friedlaender, J.Q.R., n.s. iv. 443_ff_.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XIII. x. 7.]

Whenever the opportunity offers, Josephus brings in references to Jewish
history from pagan sources. He quotes Timagenes' estimate of Aristobulus
as a good man who was of great service to the Jews and gained them the
country of Iturea; and he notes Strabo's agreement with Nicholas upon
the invasion of Judea by Ptolemy Lathyrus.[1] General history takes an
increasingly larger part in the account of the warlike Alexander
Jannaeus and the queen Alexandra, and reference is made to the consuls
of Rome contemporary with the reigns of Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, in
order to bring Jewish affairs into relation with those of the Power
which henceforth played a critical part in them.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIII. xii. 6.]

Josephus marks the new era on which he was entering by a fresh preface
to book xiv. His aim, he says, is "to omit no facts either through
ignorance or laziness, because we are dealing with a history of events
with which most people are unacquainted on account of their distance
from our times; and we purpose to do it with appropriate beauty of
style, so that our readers may entertain the knowledge of what we write
with some agreeable satisfaction and pleasure. But the principal thing
to aim at is to speak truly."[1] It is not impossible that the prelude
is based on something in Nicholas; but it is turned against him; for in
the same chapter Josephus controverts his predecessor for the statement
that "the Idumean Antipater [the father of Herod] was sprung from the
principal Jews who returned to Judea from Babylon." The assertion, he
says, was made to gratify Herod, who by the revolution of fortune came
to be king of the Jews. He shows here some national feeling, but in
general he accepts Nicholas, and borrows doubtless from him the details
of Pompey's invasion of Judea and of the siege of Jerusalem. He appeals
as well to Strabo and the Latin historian Titus Livius.[2] But though it
is likely that he had made an independent study of parts of Strabo,
since he drags in several extracts from his history that are not quite
in place,[3] there is no reason to think he read Livy or any other Latin
author. He would have found reference to the work in the diligent
Nicholas. We may discern the hand of Nicholas, too, in the praise of
Pompey for his piety in not spoiling the Temple of the holy vessels.[4]
Josephus writes altogether in the tone of an admirer of Rome's
occupation, attributing the misery which came upon Jerusalem to Hyrcanus
and Aristobulus.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIV. i. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XIV. iv. 3; vi. 4.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Ant. XIV. vii. 2; viii. 3.]

[Footnote 4: Ant. XIV. iv. 5.]

Thanks to his copious sources, he is able to give a detailed account of
the relation of the Jews to Julius Caesar and of the decrees which were
made in their favor at his instance. It has been conjectured with much
probability that Josephus obtained his series of documents from
Nicholas, who had collected them for the purpose of defending the Jews
of Asia Minor in the inquiry which Marcus Agrippa conducted during the
reign of Herod.[1] He says that he will set down the decrees that are
treasured in the public places of the cities, and those which are still
extant in the Capitol of Rome, "so that all the rest of mankind may know
what regard the kings of Asia and Europe have had for the Jewish
people." In a subsequent book, when he is recounting the events of
Herod's reign,[2] Josephus sets forth a further series of decrees in
favor of the Jews, issued by Caesar Augustus and his lieutenant Marcus
Agrippa. These likewise he probably derived from Nicholas, who was the
court advocate and court chronicler at the time they were promulgated.
But he enlarges on his motive for giving them at length, pointing to
them with pride as a proof of the high respect in which the Jews were
held by the heads of the Roman Empire before the disaster of the war.
Though in his own day they were fallen to a low estate, at one time they
had enjoyed special favor:

"And I frequently mention these decrees in order to reconcile other
peoples to us and to take away the causes of that hatred which
unreasonable men bear us. As for our customs, he continues, each nation
has its own, and in almost every city we meet with differences; but
natural justice is most agreeable to the advantage of all men equally,
and to this our laws have the greatest regard, and thereby render us
benevolent and friendly to all men, so that we may expect the like
return from others, and we may remind them that they should not esteem
difference of institutions a sufficient cause of alienation, but join
with us in the pursuit of virtue and righteousness, for this belongs to
all men in common."[3]

[Footnote 1: Comp. Bloch, Die Quellen des Flavius Josephus.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XVI. ii.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. below, p, 234.]

The Jewish rising and defeat had increased the odium of the Greco-Roman
world towards the peculiar people, and the captive in the gilded prison
was fain to dwell on their past glory in order to cover the wretchedness
of their present.

Josephus claims to have copied some of the decrees from the archives in
the Roman Capitol.[1] The library was destroyed with the Capitol itself
during the civil war in 69.[2] It was restored, it is true, during the
reign of Vespasian, and it is not impossible that the old decrees were
saved. But Josephus might have collected from the Jewish communities
those documents which he did not find ready to hand in Nicholas, if they
formed part of an apology for the Jews of Antioch in 70 C.E. At least
there is no good reason to doubt their authenticity, and they are in
quite a different class from the letters and decrees attributed to the
Hellenistic sovereigns, which lack all authority.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIV. x. 20.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Tac. Hist. iii. 71.]

The story of Herod's life, which is set out in great detail in these
books, has more dramatic unity than any other part of the _Antiquities_.
It bears to the whole work the relation which the story of the siege of
Jerusalem bears to the rest of the _Wars_. Josephus seems to manifest
suddenly a power of vivid narrative and psychological analysis, to which
he is elsewhere a stranger. But at the same time, where the story is
most vivid and dramatic, its framework is most pagan. The Greco-Roman
ideas of fate and nemesis, which dominate the shorter account of the
king's life in the _Wars_, are still the underlying motives. The reason
for the dramatic power and the pagan frame are one and the same:
Josephus uses here a full source, and that source is a pagan writer.

It is apparent at the same time that Josephus had a better acquaintance
with the historical literature about Herod than when he wrote the
_Wars_, and that he compared his various authorities and exercised some
judgment in composing his picture. For example, in relating the murder
of the Hasmonean Hyrcanus, he first gives the account which he found in
Herod's memoirs, designed of course to exculpate the king, and then sets
out the version of other historians, who allege that Herod laid a snare
for the last of the Maccabean princes. Josephus proudly contrasts his
own critical attitude towards Herod with the studied partisanship of
Nicholas,[1] who wrote in Herod's lifetime, and in order to please him
and his courtiers,

"touching on nothing but what tended to his glory, and openly excusing
many of his notorious crimes and diligently concealing them. We may,
indeed, say much by way of excuse for Nicholas, because he was not so
much writing a history for others as doing a service for the king. But
we, who come of a family closely connected with the Hasmonean kings, and
have an honorable rank, think it unbecoming to say anything that is
false about them, and have described their actions in an upright and
unvarnished manner. And though we reverence many of Herod's descendants,
who still bear rule, yet we pay greater regard to truth, though we may
incur their displeasure by so doing."

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIV. xvi. 7.]

It was not so difficult for the historian to write impartially of Herod
as to write impartially of Vespasian and Titus. At the same time
Josephus, though in these books more critical, seldom escapes the yoke
of facts, and says little of the inner conditions of the people. Of
Hillel we do not hear the name, and Shammai is only mentioned, if indeed
he, and not Shemaya, is disguised under the name of Sameas, as the
member of the Sanhedrin who denounced Herod.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ant. XV. i. 1. Schlatter ingeniously conjectures that
Pollio, who is mentioned as predicting to the Sanhedrin, that this Herod
would be their enemy if they acquitted him, is identical with Abtalion,
of whom the Talmud tells a similar story. [Greek: pollion] may be an
error for [Greek: Eudalion] as the Hebrew name would be transcribed in

The speeches, which are put into the mouth of the king on various
occasions, are rhetorical declamations in the Greek style, which must be
derived either from Nicholas or from Herod's Memoirs, to which the
historian had access through his intimacy with the royal family. Yet,
prosaic as the treatment is, it has provided the picture of the
"magnificent barbarian" which has inspired many writers and artists of
later ages. It is from the Jewish point of view that it is most wanting.
He does indeed say that Herod transgressed the laws of his country, and
violated the ancient tradition by the introduction of foreign practices,
which fostered great sins, through the neglect of the observances that
used to lead the multitude to piety. By the games, the theater, and the
amphitheater, which he instituted at Jerusalem, he offended Jewish
sentiment; "for while foreigners were amazed and delighted at the
vastness of his displays, to the native Jews all this amounted to a
dissolution of the traditions for which they had so great a
veneration."[1] And he points out that the Jewish conspiracy against him
in the middle of his reign arose because "in the eyes of the Jewish
leaders, he merely pretended to be their king, but was in fact the
manifest enemy of their nation." It has been suggested that Justus of
Tiberias supplied him with this Jewish view of Herod, which is
unparalleled in the _Wars_. But in another passage, where he must be
following an Herodian and anti-Pharisaic source, he makes some remarks
in quite an opposite spirit, as if the Pharisees were in the wrong, and
provoked the king. He says of them: "They were prone to offend
princes;[2] they claimed to foresee things, and were suddenly elated to
break out into open war." He calls them also Sophists,[3] the scornful
name which the Greeks gave to their popular lecturers of morality.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XV. viii. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XVII. ii. 8.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. XVII. vi. 2.]

In dealing with Herod's character, Josephus is more discriminating than
in the _Wars_. He sums him up as "cruel towards all men equally, a slave
to his passions, and claiming to be above the righteous law: yet was he
favored by fortune more than any man, for from a private station he was
raised to be a king."[1] One piece of characterization may he quoted,[2]
which is not the less interesting because we may suspect that it is

"But this magnificent temper and that submissive behavior and liberality
which he exercised towards Caesar and the most powerful men at Rome,
obliged him to transgress the customs of his nation and to set aside
many of their laws, by building cities after an extravagant manner, and
erecting Temples, not in Judea indeed, for that would not have been
borne, since it is forbidden to pay any honors to images or
representations of animals after the manner of the Greeks, but in the
country beyond our boundaries and in the cities thereof. The apology
which he made to the Jews was this, that all was done not of his own
inclination, but at the bidding of others, in order to please Caesar and
the Romans, as though he set more store on the honor of the Romans than
the Jewish customs; while in fact he was considering his own glory, and
was very ambitious to leave great monuments of his government to
posterity: whence he was so zealous in building such splendid cities,
and spent vast sums of money in them."

[Footnote 1: Ant. XVII. viii. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XV. ix. 5.]

He bursts out, too, with unusual passion against Herod for his law
condemning thieves to exile, because it was a violation of the Biblical
law, "and involved the dissolution of our ancestral traditions."

If the account of the Jewish spiritual movement at a time of great
spiritual awakening is meager, the picture of Herod's great buildings,
despite occasional confusion and vagueness, is full and valuable. He
gives us an excellent description of Caesarea and Sebaste, the two
cities which the king established as a compliment to the Roman Emperor,
and an account of the Temple and the fortress of Antonia, which he
himself knew so well. Of the Temple we have another description, in the
Mishnah, which in the main agrees with Josephus. Where the two differ,
however, the preference cannot be given to the writer who had grown up
in the shadow of the building, and might have been expected to know its
every corner.[1] As we have seen in the _Wars_, he was in topography as
in other things under the influence of Greco-Roman models.

[Footnote 1: Comp. George A. Smith, Jerusalem, ii. 495 _ff_.]

Josephus did not enjoy the advantage of a full chronicle to guide him
much beyond the death of Herod. Nicholas died, or ceased to write, in
the reign of Antipater, who succeeded his father. Apparently he had no
successor who devoted himself to recording the affairs of the Jewish
court. Hence, though the events of the troubled beginning of Antipater's
reign are dealt with at the same length as those of Herod, and we have a
vivid story of the Jewish embassy that went to Rome to petition for the
deposition of the king, the history afterwards becomes fragmentary. Such
as it is, it manifests a Roman flavor. The nationalists are termed
robbers, and the pseudo-Messiahs are branded as self-seeking
impostors.[1] After an enumeration of various pretenders that sought to
make themselves independent rulers, there is a sudden jump from the
first to the tenth year of Archelaus, who was accused of barbarous and
tyrannical practices and banished by the Roman Emperor to Gaul. His
kingdom was then added to the province of Syria. Josephus dwells on the
story of two dreams which occurred to the king and his wife Glaphyra,
and justifies himself because his discourse is concerning kings, and
also because of the advantage to be drawn from it for the assurance both
of the immortality of the soul and the Providence of God in human
affairs. "And if anybody does not believe such stories, let him keep his
own opinion, but let him not stand in the way of another who finds in
them an encouragement to virtue."

[Footnote 1: Ant. XVII. xiii. 2.]

The last three books of the _Antiquities_ reveal the weaknesses of
Josephus as an historian: his disregard of accuracy, his tendency to
exaggeration, his lack of proportion, and his mental subservience. He
had no longer either the Scriptures or a Greek chronicler to guide him.
He depended in large part for his material on oral sources and scattered
memoirs, and he is not very successful in eking it out so as to produce
the semblance of a connected narrative. His chapters are in part a
miscellany of notes, and the construction is clumsy. The writer
confesses that he was weary of his task, but felt impelled to wind it
up. Yet, just because we are so ignorant of the events of Jewish history
at the period, and because the period itself is so critical and
momentous, these books (xviii-xx) are among the most important which he
has left, and on the whole they deal rather more closely than their
predecessors with the affairs of the Jewish people. The palace intrigues
do not fill the stage so exclusively, and some of the digressions carry
us into byways of Jewish history.

At the very outset[1] Josephus devotes a chapter to a fuller delineation
than he has given in any other place of the various sects that
flourished at the time. The account, ampler though it is than the
others, does not reveal the true inwardness of the different religious
positions. He repeats here what he says elsewhere about the Pharisaic
doctrine of predestination tempered by freewill, but he enlarges
especially on the difference between the parties in their ideas about
the future life.[2] The Pharisees believe that souls have an immortal
vigor, and that they will be rewarded or punished in the next world
accordingly as they have lived virtuously or wickedly in this life; the
wicked being bound in everlasting prisons, while the good have power to
live again. The Sadducees, on the other hand, assert that the souls die
with the bodies, and the Essenes teach the immortality of souls and set
great store on the rewards of righteousness. Their various ideas are
wrapped up in Greco-Roman dress, to suit his readers, and the doctrine
of resurrection ascribed to the Pharisees is almost identical with that
held by the neo-Pythagoreans of Rome.[3] But Josephus' account is more
reliable when he refers to the divergent attitudes of the sects to the

"The Pharisees strive to observe reason's dictates in their conduct, and
at the same time they pay great respect to their ancestors; and they
have such influence over the people because of their virtuous lives and
their discourses that they are their friends in divine worship, prayers,
and sacrifice. The Sadducees do not regard the observance of anything
beyond what the law enjoins them, but since their doctrine is held by
the few, when they hold the judicial office, they are compelled to
addict themselves to the notions of the Pharisees, because the mass
would not otherwise tolerate them. The Essenes live apart from the
people in communistic groups, and exceed all other men in virtue and
righteousness. They send gifts to the Temple, but do not sacrifice, on
which account they are excluded from the common court of the Temple."

[Footnote 1: Ant. XVIII. i. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. B.J. II. viii.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Vergil, Aeneid, vi.]

Lastly, Josephus turns to the fourth sect, the Zealots, whose founder
was Judas the Galilean:

"These men agree in all other things with the Pharisees, but they have
an inviolable attachment to liberty, and they say that God is to be
their only Ruler and Lord. Moreover they do not fear any kind of death,
nor do they heed the death of their kinsmen and friends, nor can any
fear of the kind make them acknowledge anybody as sovereign."

Josephus, however, cannot refrain from imputing low motives to those who
belonged to the party opposed to himself and hated of the Romans. "They
planned robberies and murders of our principal men," he says, "in
pretense for the public welfare, but in reality in hopes of gain for
themselves." And he saddles them with the responsibility for all the
calamities that were to come. About the Messianic hope, which appears to
have inspired them, he is compulsorily silent.

The historical record that follows is very sketchy. We have a bare list
of procurators and high priests down to the time of Pontius Pilate, a
notice of the foundation of Tiberias by the tetrarch Herod, and an
irrelevant account of the death of Phraates, the king of the Parthians,
and of Antiochus of Commagene, who was connected by marriage with the
Herodian house. Still there is rather more detail than in the
corresponding summary in the second book of the _Wars_, and Josephus
must in the interval have lighted on a fuller source than he had
possessed in his first historical essay. It is not impossible that the
new authority was again Justus of Tiberias. Of the unrest in the
governorship of Pontius Pilate he has more to say, but the genuineness
of the passage referring to the trial and death of Jesus, which is dealt
with elsewhere,[1] has been doubted by modern critics. It is followed in
the text by a long account of a scandal connected with the Isis worship
at Rome, which led to the expulsion of Jews from the capital. In this
way the chronicler wanders on between bare chronology and digression,
until he reaches the reign of Agrippa, when he again finds written
sources to help him. The romance of Agrippa's rise from a bankrupt
courtier to the ruler of a kingdom is treated with something of the same
full detail as the events of Herod's career, and probably the historian
enjoyed here the use of royal memoirs. He may have obtained material
also from the historical works of Philo of Alexandria, which were partly
concerned with the same epoch. He refers explicitly to the embassy which
the Alexandrian Jews sent to the Roman Emperor to appeal for the
rescission of the order to set up in the synagogue the Imperial image,
at the head of which went Philo, "a man eminent on all accounts, brother
to Alexander the Alabarch, and not unskilled in philosophy." Bloch[2]
indeed is of the opinion that the later historian did not use his
Alexandrian predecessor, either in this or any other part of his
writings, and points out certain differences of fact between the two
accounts; but in view of the references to Philo and the fact that
Josephus subsequently wrote two books of apology, one of which was
expressly directed in answer to Philo's bitter opponent Apion, it is at
least probable that he was acquainted with Philo's narrative. He may,
however, have used it only to supplement the memoirs of the Herodian
house, which served him as a chief source. Josephus devotes less
attention to the Alexandrian embassy than to the efforts of the
Palestinian Jews to obtain a rescission of the similar decree which
Petronius, the governor of Syria, was sent to enforce in Jerusalem. His
account is devised to glorify the part which Agrippa played. The prince
appears as a kind of male Esther, endangering his own life to save his
people; and indeed higher critics have been found to suggest that the
Biblical book of Esther was written around the events of the reign of

[Footnote 1: Ant. XVIII. iii. Comp. below, p. 241.]

[Footnote 2: Die Quellen des Flavius Josephus.]

The story of Agrippa is interrupted by a chapter about the Jews of
Babylon, which has the air of a moral tale on the evils of
intermarriage, and may have formed part of the popular Jewish literature
of the day. Another long digression marks the beginning of the
nineteenth book of the _Antiquities_, where Josephus leaves Jewish
scenes and inserts an account of Caligula's murder and the election of
Claudius as Emperor. This narrative, while of great interest for
students of the Roman constitution, is out of all proportion to its
place in the Jewish chronicle. Josephus, it has been surmised, based it
on the work of one Cluvius (referred to in the book as an intimate
friend of Claudius), who wrote a history about 70 C.E.; he may besides
have received hitherto unpublished information from Agrippa II, whose
father had been an important actor in the drama, or from his friend
Aliturius, the actor at Rome, who had mixed in affairs of state. Anyhow,
he took advantage of this chance of making a literary sensation.
Doubtless also, the recital, which threw not a little discredit on the
house of the earlier Caesars, was for that reason not unwelcome to the
upstart Flavians, and may have been inserted at the Imperial wish.

Agrippa I is the most attractive figure in the second part of the
_Antiquities_. He is contrasted with Herod,

"who was cruel and severe in his punishments, and had no mercy on those
he hated, and everyone perceived that he had more love for the Greeks
than for the Jews.... But Agrippa's temper was mild and equally liberal
to all men. He was kind to foreigners and was of agreeable and
compassionate feeling. He loved to reside at Jerusalem, and was
scrupulously careful in his observance of the Law of his people. On his
death he expressed his submission to Providence; for that he had by no
means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner."

His peaceful reign, however, was only the lull before the storm, and the
last book of the _Antiquities_ is mainly taken up with the succession of
wicked procurators, who, by their extortions and cruelties and flagrant
disregard of the Jewish Law and Jewish feeling, goaded the Jews into the
final rebellion. It contains, however, a digression on the conversion of
the royal house of Adiabene to Judaism, which is tricked out with
examples of God's Providence. Yet another digression records the
villainies of Nero (which no doubt was pleasing to his patrons) and the
amours of Drusilia, the daughter of Agrippa I. But of the rising
discontent of the Jewish people in Palestine we have no clear picture.
Josephus fails as in the _Wars_ to bring out the inner incompatibility
of the Roman and the Jewish outlook, and represents, in an
unimaginative, matter-of-fact, Romanizing way, that it was simply
particular excesses--the rapacity of a Felix, the knavery of a
Florus--which were the cause of the Rebellion. This is just what a Roman
would have said, and when the Jewish writer deals at all with the Jewish
position, it is usually to drag in his political feud. He especially
singles out the sacrilege of the Zealots in assassinating their
opponents within the Temple precincts as the reason of God's rejecting
the city; "and as for the Temple, He no longer deemed it sufficiently
pure to be His habitation, but brought the Romans upon us and threw a
fire on the city to purge it, and brought slavery on us, our wives, and
our children, to make us wiser by our calamities." Thus the priestly
apologist, accepting Roman canons, finds in the ritual offense of a
section of the people the ground for the destruction of the national
center. He is torn, indeed, between two conflicting views about the
origin of the rebellion: whether he shall lay the whole blame on the
Jewish irreconcilables, or whether he shall divide it between them and
the wicked Roman governors; and in the end he exaggerates both these
motives, and leaves out the deeper causes.

The penultimate chapter contains a list of the high priests, about whom
the historian had throughout made great pretensions of accuracy. He
enumerates but eighty-three from the time of Aaron to the end of the
line, of whom no less than twenty-eight were appointed after Herod's
accession to his kingdom; whereas the Talmud records that three hundred
held office during the existence of the second Temple alone.[1] That
number is probably hyperbolical, but the statement in other parts of the
Rabbinical literature, that there were eighty high priests in that
period,[2] throws doubt on this list, which besides is manifestly
patched in several places.

[Footnote 1: Yoma, 9a.]

[Footnote 2: Yer. Yoma, ix., and Lev. R. xx.]

With the procuratorship of Florus, Josephus brings his chronicle to an
end, the later events having been treated in detail in the _Wars;_ and
in conclusion he commends himself for his accuracy in giving the
succession of priests and kings and political administrators:

"And I make bold to say, now I have so completely perfected the work
which I set out to do, that no other person, be he Jew or foreigner, and
had he ever so great an inclination to it, could so accurately deliver
these accounts to the Greeks as is done in these books. For members of
my own people acknowledge that I far exceed them in Jewish learning, and
I have taken great pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks and
understand stand the elements of the Greek language, though I have so
long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue that I cannot speak Greek
with exactness."

He makes explicit his standpoint with this _envoi_, which shows that he
was writing for a Greek-speaking public and in competition with Greeks,
and this helps to explain why he sets special store on the record of
priests and kings and political changes, and why he so often disguises
the genuine Jewish outlook. As an account of the Jewish people for the
prejudiced society of Rome, the _Antiquities_ undoubtedly possessed
merit. History, indeed, at the time, was far from being an exact
science, nor was accuracy esteemed necessary to it. Cicero had said a
hundred years earlier, that it was legitimate to lie in narratives; and
this was the characteristic outlook of the Greco-Roman writers. The most
brilliant literary documents of the age, the _Annals_ and _Histories_ of
Tacitus, are rather pieces of sparkling journalism than sober and
philosophical records of facts; and therefore we must not judge Josephus
by too high a standard.

Weighed in his own balance, he had done a great service to his people by
setting out the main heads of their history over three thousand years,
so that it should be intelligible to the cultured Roman society; and had
he been reproached with misrepresenting and distorting many of their
religious ideas, he would have replied, with some justice, that it was
necessary to do so in, order to make the Romans understand. On the same
ground he would have justified the omission of much that was
characteristic and the exaggeration of much that was normal. He shows
throughout some measure of national pride. To-day, however, we cannot
but regret that he weakly adopted much of the spiritual outlook of his
Gentile contemporaries, and that he did not seek to convey to his
readers the fundamental spiritual conceptions of the Jews, which might
have endowed his history with an unique distinction. His record of two
thousand years of Israel's history gives but the shadow of the glory of
his people.



In every age since the dispersion began, the Jews have appeared to their
neighbors as a curious anomaly. Their abstract idea of God, their
peculiar religious observances, their refusal to intermarry with their
neighbors, their serious habits of life--all have served to mark them
out and attract the wonder of the philosophical, the vituperation of the
vulgar, and the dislike of the ignorant. Their enemies in every epoch
have repeated with slight variation the charge which Haman brought in
his petition to King Ahasuerus, "There is a people scattered abroad and
dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and
their laws are diverse from those of every people, neither keep they the
king's laws" (Esther 3:8). In the cosmopolitan society that arose in the
Hellenistic kingdoms, it was their especial offense that they retained a
national cohesion, and refused to indulge in the free trade in religious
ideas and social habits adopted by civilized peoples. The popular
feeling was fanned by a party that had a more particular grievance
against them. Though certain philosophical sects, notably the schools of
Pythagoras and Aristotle, were struck with admiration for the lofty
spiritual ideas and the strict discipline of Judaism, another school,
and that the most powerful of the time, was smitten with envy and

The Stoics, who aspired to establish a religious philosophy for all
mankind, and pursued a vigorous missionary propaganda, particularly in
the East, saw in the Jews not only obstinate opponents but dangerous
rivals, who carried on a competing mission with provoking success. The
children of Israel were spread over the whole of the civilized world,
and everywhere they vigorously propagated their teaching. Of all
enmities, the enmity of contending creeds is the bitterest. The Stoics
became the first professional Jew-haters, and set themselves at the head
of those who resented Jewish particularism, either from jealousy or from
that unreasoning dislike which is universally felt against minorities
that live differently from the mass about them.

The ill-will and sectarian hatred were most prevalent at Alexandria,
where the powerful Jewish community excited the attacks of the
half-Hellenized natives. The campaign was fought mainly as a battle of
books. The Hebrew Scriptures represented the early Egyptians in no
favorable light. The Greco-Egyptian historians retaliated by a
malevolent account of the origin and history of the Hebrew people, of
which Manetho's story is the prototype. In this work of the third
century B.C.E. the children of Israel were represented as sprung from a
pack of lepers, who were expelled from Egypt because of their foul
disease. A still more virulent attack on the Jewish teaching is found in
two Stoic writers of the first century B.C.E., Posidonius of Apamea, a
town of Phrygia, and Molon,[1] who taught at Rhodes. The former raised
the charge that the Jews alone of all peoples refused to have any
communication with other nations, but regarded them as their enemies.
Molon, besides a general travesty of their early history, wrote a
special diatribe against them--the first document of the kind which
history records--accusing them of atheism and misanthropy, cowardice and
stupidity. These remained the stock charges for centuries, and they
assumed an added bitterness after the Roman conquest, when to the
peculiarity of Jewish customs was added the stigma of being a subject
people. The hatred of Greek and Jew, despite all the ostentatious
friendliness of a Herod for Greek things, became deeper, and it showed
itself as well without as within Palestine. At Alexandria, in the
beginning of the first century, the antagonism developed into open
riots, and the leaders of the anti-Jewish party were again two Stoics,
Apion and Chaeremon, the one orator and grammarian, the other priest and
astrologer. There is nothing very original in their libels, which are
modeled upon those of Posidonius and Molon; but some fresh detail is
added. It was said that the deity worshiped at Jerusalem was the head of
an ass, to which human sacrifices were offered, and that the Jews took
an oath to do no service for any Gentile. Apion, a man of some repute,
was the head of the Alexandrian Stoic school, and called "the toiler,"
because of his industry. He was, however, also known as "the
quarrelsome"[2] ([Greek: ho pleistonikeas]). Another critic of ancient
times says he was notorious for advertising his ideas (_in doctrinis
suis praedicandis venditator_)[3], and the Emperor Augustus declares
that he was the drum of his own fame (i.e. the blower of his own
trumpet). He was in fact a mixture of scholar and charlatan, as many of
his successors have been, the Houston Chamberlain of the first century.

[Footnote 1: Schürer (iii. 503_ff_) has brought cogent reasons to show
that Molon is not the same as Apollonius, another Jew-baiter, with whom
he has often been identified.]

[Footnote 2: Clemens, Strom. i. 21, 101.]

[Footnote 3: Gallus, Noctes Atticae, v. 2.]

Apion wrote a history of Egypt in which his attack upon the Jews appears
to have been an episode,[1] but his prominence as an anti-Semite is
shown by the fact that he went as the spokesman of the Greek embassy to
Caligula on the memorable occasion when Philo was the champion of the
Jewish cause. In that capacity Philo prepared an elaborate apology for
his people, which he had not the opportunity to deliver; but it
contained in part an account of the religious sects, designed to show
their philosophical excellence, and it was known to the Church fathers
of the early centuries of the Christian era. Only small fragments of it
are preserved by Eusebius, and the rest of the apologetic writing of
Alexandria, which was in all probability very extensive, has
disappeared. Yet the Hellenistic-Jewish literature is colored throughout
by an apologetic purpose. Whether the work is a professedly historical
or ethical or philosophical treatise, the idea is always present of
representing Judaism as a sublime and a humanitarian doctrine, and of
refuting the calumnies of the Greek scribes. Thus, besides his elaborate
apology prepared for the Roman Emperor, Philo had written a popular
presentation of Judaism in the form of a Life of Moses, with appended
treatises on Humanity and Nobility, which was but a thinly-veiled work
of apologetics. Another part of the defensive literature took the form
of missionary propaganda under a heathen mask. The oracles of the Sibyl
and Orpheus, a forged history of Hecataeus, and monotheistic verses
foisted on the Greek poets, were but attempts to carry the war into the
enemy's territory. Further, there must have been a more direct
presentation of the Jewish cause by way of public lectures and popular
addresses in the synagogues. Nevertheless, the specific answers to the
charges advanced by the anti-Jewish scribblers are now to be found most
fully stated in Josephus. In his day the literary campaign against the
Jewish name was as remorseless as the military campaign that had
destroyed their political independence. The Romans, tolerant themselves
in religion, had long been intolerant of Jewish separatism and national
exclusiveness, and Cicero,[2] shortly after the capture of Jerusalem by
Pompey, had denounced their "barbarian superstition" in language that is
typical of the outlook of the Roman aristocracy. "Even when Jerusalem
was untouched, and the Jews were at peace with us, their religious
ceremonies ill accorded with the splendor of our Empire; still less
tolerable are they to-day, when the nation has shown, by taking up arms,
its attitude towards us, while the fact that it has been conquered and
reduced to servitude proves how much the gods care for it."

[Footnote 1: The idea, which is derived from the Church fathers, that he
wrote a separate [Greek: logos] against the Jews, appears to be based by
them on a misunderstanding of Ant. XVIII. viii. 1. Comp. Schürer, _op.
cit._ iii. 541.]

[Footnote 2: Pro Flacco, 68.]

The later poets of the Augustan age, Horace, Tibullus, and Ovid,
expressed a supercilious disdain for the Jewish customs of
Sabbath-keeping, etc., which were spreading even in the politest
circles. As the political conflict between the Romans and their stubborn
subjects became more pronounced, the Roman impatience of their obstinacy
increased. Seneca, writing after Palestine had been placed under a Roman
governor, speaks bitterly of "the accursed race whose practices have so
far prevailed that they have been received all over the world." Hating
the Jews as he did with the double hatred of a Roman aristocrat and a
Stoic philosopher, he is yet fain to admit that their religion is
diffused over the Empire, and anxious as he is to decry their
superstition, he reveals part of the reason of their success. "They at
least can give an explanation of their religious ceremonies, whereas the
pagan masses cannot say why they carry out their practices." The pagan
cults were languishing because of the frigidity of their forms and their
incapacity for providing men with an ideal or a discipline or a solace;
and the people turned to a living religion. The day had come that was
foretold by the prophet, when men shall catch hold of the skirts of a
Jew, saying, "We will go with you, because we have heard that God is
with you" (Zech. 8:23).

The bitterest and the most envenomed attacks on the Jews were written
after the destruction of Jerusalem, when the failure of Rome to break
the stubborn spirit of her conquered foe became apparent. The legions
could destroy Jerusalem; they could not uproot Judaism or even stay its
progress. The presence of thousands of Jewish captive slaves at Rome
accelerated indeed the march of conversion. Vespasian and Titus forebore
to take the title "Judaicus" after their triumph, lest it should be
taken to mean that they had Judaized. The speedy defection of Roman
citizens to the superstition of a conquered people was an insult, which,
added to the injury of their obstinate resistance, roused to fury the
remnants of the Roman conservatives. The entanglement of Titus with the
Jewish princess Berenice was the final outrage. The satiric poets
Martial and Juvenal inserted frequent ribald references to Jewish
customs; but the nature of their works precluded a serious criticism.
Martial was a master of flouts, jeers, and gibes, and Juvenal was a
soured and disappointed provincial, who delighted to hurl wild
reproaches. He declaimed against the passing away of the old manners of
Republican Rome, and for him the spread of Jewish habits was among the
surest signs of degeneracy. The poets, however, did not so much endeavor
to misrepresent as to ridicule the Jews and their converts. But the
classical exponent of Roman anti-Semitism is Tacitus, the historian who
wrote in the time of Nerva and Trajan, i.e. just after Josephus, and who
treated of the Jews both in his _Annals_, which were a history of the
last century, and in his _Histories_, which dealt with his own times. He
surpassed all his predecessors, Greek or Roman, in distortion and abuse,
and he combined the charges invented by the jealousy and rancor of Greek
sophists with the abuse of Jewish character induced by Imperial Roman
passion. His account cannot be mistaken for a sober judgment. By the
transparent combination of earlier, discredited sources, by blatant
inconsistencies, and by neglect of the authorities that would have
provided him with reliable information, he shows himself the partisan
pamphleteer. But the indictment is none the less illuminating. Mommsen
speaks of the solemn enmity which Tacitus cherishes to the section of
the human race "to whom everything pure is impure, and everything impure
is pure." Doubtless his hatred was founded on intense national pride,
but it was fed by his tendency to blacken and exaggerate. His audience
was composed, as Renan says, of "aristocrats of the race of English
Tories, who derived their strength from their very prejudices." Their
ideas about the Jewish people were as vague as those of the ordinary man
of to-day about the people of Thibet, and they were willing to believe
anything of them.

Tacitus gives several alternative accounts of the origin of the Jews.[1]
According to some they were fugitives from the Isle of Crete (deriving
their name from Mount Ida), who settled on the coast of Libya. According
to others they sprang from Egypt, and were driven out under their
captains Hierosolymus and Judas; while others stated that they were
Ethiopians whom fear and hatred obliged to change their habitation. He
supplies himself a fanciful account of the Exodus, tricked out with a
variety of misrepresentations of their observances, which are
ludicrously inconsistent with each other:

"They bless the image of that animal [the ass], by whose indication they
had escaped from their vagrant condition in the wilderness and quenched
their thirst. They abstain from swine's flesh as a memorial of the
miserable destruction which the mange brought on them. That they stole
the fruits of the earth, we have a proof in their unleavened bread. They
rest on the seventh day, because that day gave them rest from their
labors, and, affecting a lazy life, they are idle during every seventh
year. These rites, whatever their origin, are at least supported by
their antiquity.[2] Their other institutions are depraved and impure,
and prevailed by reason of their viciousness; for every vile fellow
despising the rites of his ancestors brought to them his contribution,
so that the Jewish commonwealth was augmented. The first lesson taught
to converts is to despise their gods, to renounce their country, and to
hold their parents, children, and brethren in utmost contempt: but still
they are at pains to increase and multiply, and esteem it unlawful to
kill any of their children. They regard as immortal the souls of those
who die in battle, or are put to death for their crimes.[3] Hence their
love of posterity and their contempt of death. They have no notion of
more than one Divine Being, who is only grasped by the mind. They deem
it profane to fashion images of gods out of perishable matter, and teach
that their Being is supreme and eternal, immutable and imperishable.
Accordingly, they erect no images in their cities, much less in their
temples, and they refuse to grant this kind of honor to kings or

[Footnote 1: Hist. v. 2_ff_.]

[Footnote 2: Ch. lvii.]

[Footnote 3: This statement agrees remarkably with what Josephus puts
into the mouth of several of his speakers. See above, p. 114.]

The sage Pliny, who himself laughed at the crude paganism of his time,
could also point the finger of scorn at the Jews as "a people notorious
by their contempt of divine images." To the genuine Roman, the state
religion might not be true, but it was part of the civic life, and
therefore its rejection was unsocial and disloyal. Yet the account of
Tacitus contains several remarks which, in their author's despite,
reveal the moral superiority of the conquered over the conquerors. He
notes their national tenacity, their ready charity, their freedom from
infanticide, their conviction of the immortality of the soul, their
purely spiritual and monotheistic cult. Tacitus certainly wrote after
the works of Josephus had been published, so that the apology is not an
answer to him; but his methods of misstatement were anticipated at Rome
by a host of anti-Semitic writers. Though Josephus never mentions a
single Roman detractor of his people, and confines his reply to Greeks
who were long buried, it was doubtless against this class that he was
anxious to defend himself and his faith.

He declared at the end of the _Antiquities_ his intention to write three
books about "God and His essence, and about our laws," proposing,
perhaps, to imitate Philo's apology for Judaism, which was in three
parts. But the virulence of the calumny against Judaism induced him to
modify his plan and write a specific reply to the charges made against
the Jews. It was necessary to refute more concisely and more definitely
than he had done in his long historical works the false tales about the
Jewish past and the Jewish law that were circulated and believed in the
hostile Greco-Roman world. He directed himself more particularly to
uphold the antiquity of the Jews against those who denied their
historical claims and to disprove the charges leveled against the Jewish
religious ideas and legislation. These two subjects form the content of
the two books commonly known to us as _Against Apion_. Only the second,
however, deals with Apion's diatribe, and the current title is certainly
unauthentic. Origen,[1] Eusebius, and Hieronymus[2] refer to the first
book as _About the Antiquity of the Jews_, and Hieronymus adds the
description [Greek: antirraetikos logos], _A Refutation_. Eusebius
similarly[3] speaks of the second book as the Refutation of Apion the
grammarian. Porphyry calls it simply [Greek: pros tous Hellaenas], _The
Address to the Greeks_, and it is possible that Josephus so entitled his
work. It is noteworthy that he directed his pleading to the
Greek-speaking and not to the Latin public; the Greeks, he recognized,
were the source of the misrepresentations of his people, and, as Greek
was read by all cultured people in his day, in refuting them he would
incur less obloquy and attain his end equally well.

[Footnote 1: Orig. C. Cels. i. 14.]

[Footnote 2: De Viris Illustr. 13.]

[Footnote 3: H.E. III. viii. 2.]

The first point that Josephus seeks to make good in his apology is the
antiquity of the Hebrew people and the historical character of their
Scriptures. In the Greco-Roman world, which had lost confidence in
itself, and looked for inspiration to the past, age was a title to
respectability, and it was the aim of the Jewish apologist to explain
away the silence of the Greeks. For the certificate of the Hellenic
historians was in the Hellenistic world the most convincing mark of

"By my works on the Antiquity of the Jews--thus Josephus begins--I have
proved that our Jewish nation is of very great antiquity and had a
distinct existence. Those Antiquities contain the history of five
thousand years, and are derived from our sacred books, but are
translated by me into the Greek tongue."

Josephus loosely represents that the whole of the _Antiquities_ is based
on the Bible, and reckons the period of history at nearly a thousand
years more than it covered.

"But since I observe that many people give ear to the reproaches that
are laid against us by those who bear us ill-will, and will not believe
what I have written concerning the antiquity of our nation, while they
take it for a plain sign that our nation is of late date because it is
not so much as vouchsafed a bare mention by the most famous historians
among the Greeks, I therefore have thought myself under an obligation to
write somewhat briefly about these subjects, in order to convict those
who reproach us of spite and deliberate falsehood and to correct the
ignorance of others, and withal to instruct all those who are desirous
of knowing the truth of what great antiquity we really are. As for the
witnesses whom I shall produce for the proof of what I say, they shall
be such as are esteemed by the Greeks themselves to be of the greatest
reputation for truth and the most skilful in the knowledge of all
antiquity. I will also show that those who have written so reproachfully
and falsely about us are to be convicted by what they have themselves
written to the contrary, and I shall endeavor to give an account of the
reasons why it has happened that a great number of Greeks have not made
mention of our nation in their histories."

Acting on the principle that the best defense is attack, Josephus starts
by turning on the Greeks themselves and discrediting their antiquity.
They were a mushroom people, or at least their records were modern, and
not to be compared in age with the records of the Phoenicians, the
Hebrews, or the Babylonians. Comparative sciences had flourished in the
cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, and in the light of them the Greek
claim to exclusive wisdom had been shattered. Josephus had made himself
master of the current knowledge of the subject. The Greeks learnt their
letters from the Phoenicians, they have no record more ancient than the
Homeric poems, and even Homer did not leave his poems in writing,[1]
while their earliest historians lived but shortly before the Persian
expedition into Greece, and their earliest philosophers, Pythagoras and
Thales, learnt what they knew from Egyptians and Chaldeans. Having shown
the lateness and Oriental origin of Greek culture, Josephus accuses
Greek writers of unreliability, as is manifest by their mutual
disagreement. He makes a great show of learning on the subject and uses
his material effectively. Doubtless he found the topic ready to hand in
some predecessor, and it is somewhat ironical that a Josephus should
throw stones at a Thucydides on the score of inaccuracy.

[Footnote 1: It is interesting that this casual statement of Josephus
was one of the starting points of modern Homeric criticism.]

The reason for the want of authority in the Greek historians--continues
Josephus--is to be found in the fact that the Greeks in early times took
no care to preserve public records of their transactions, which afforded
those who afterwards would write about them scope for making mistakes
and displaying invention: conditions which favored literary art, but
marred historical accuracy. Those who were the most zealous to write
history were more anxious to demonstrate that they could write well than
to discover the truth.

The contrast between the individual creative impulse of the Hellene and
the respect for tradition of the Hebrew, which anticipates in a way
Matthew Arnold's contrast between Hellenic "spontaneity of
consciousness" and Hebraic "strictness of conscience," is pointedly made
by the apologist:[1]

"We Jews must yield to the Greek writers as to style and eloquence of
composition, but we concede them no such superiority in regard to the
verity of ancient history, and least of all as to that part which
concerns the affairs of our country. The reliability of the Hebrew
records is vouched for by the unbroken succession of official annals
handed down by priests and prophets. The purity of the priestly caste
was strictly maintained by the law of marriage, which impelled every
priest to make a scrutiny into the genealogy of his wife and forward a
register of it to Jerusalem, where it was duly recorded in the archives.
And we possess the names of our high priests from father to son for a
period of two thousand years. Nor is there individual liberty of writing
among us: only the prophets (i.e. inspired persons) have written the
earliest accounts of things as they learned them of God Himself by
inspiration, and others have written about what happened in their own
times, and that too in a very distinct manner. We have no mass of books
disagreeing with each other, but only twenty-two books containing the
records of all our past, which are rightly believed to be inspired."

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 6_ff_.]

The reckoning of the Canon is interesting:[1] there are five books of
Moses, thirteen books of the prophets, recording the history from the
death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, and the remaining four books,
the Ketubim, contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human
life. The books written since the time of Artaxerxes have not the same
trustworthiness, because the exact succession of prophets has not been
maintained. The intense sentiment which the Jews feel for their
Scriptures is proved by their willingness to die for them.

[Footnote 1: The accepted number of books in the Jewish Canon is
twenty-four, and this number is found in the Book of II Esdras, xiv. 41,
which is probably contemporaneous with Josephus. The number 22 is to be
explained by the fact that Josephus must have linked Ruth with Judges
and Lamentations with Jeremiah. See J.E., s.v. Canon.]

Again a contrast is pointed between the seriousness of the Hebraic and
the levity of the Greek attitude towards literature. Josephus
egotistically draws an example from the record of the recent war. The
Greeklings who wrote about it

"put a few things together by hearsay, and, abusing the word, call their
writings by the name of histories. But I have composed a true history of
the whole war and of all the events that occurred, having been concerned
in all its transactions; for I acted as general of those among us that
are named Galileans, as long as it was possible for us to make any
resistance. I was then seized by the Romans, and became a captive.
Vespasian and Titus kept me under guard, and forced me to attend on them
continually. At the first I was put into bonds, but later was set at
liberty and sent to accompany Titus when he came from Alexandria to the
siege of Jerusalem, during which time nothing was done that escaped my
knowledge. For what happened in the Roman camp I saw, and wrote down
carefully; and what information the deserters brought out of the city, I
was the only man to understand. Afterwards, when I had gotten leisure at
Rome, and when all my material was prepared for the work, I obtained
some persons to assist me in learning the Greek tongue, and by these
means I composed the history of the events, and I was so well assured of
the truth of what I related, that I first of all appealed to those that
had the supreme command in that war, Vespasian and Titus, as witnesses
for me. For to them first of all I presented my books, and after them to
many of the Romans that had been engaged in the war. I also recited them
to many of my own race that understood Greek philosophy, among whom were
Julius Archelaus, Herod, king of Chalcis, a person of great authority,
and King Agrippa himself, a person that deserved the greatest respect.
Now all these bore their testimony to me that I had the strictest regard
to truth; who yet would not have dissembled the matter, nor been silent,
if I, out of ignorance, or out of favor to any side, either had given a
false color to the events, or omitted any of them."

Josephus here indignantly replies to his Roman detractors, who accused
him of having composed a mere partisan thesis. As a priest he had a
special knowledge of the Scriptures, which were the basis of his
_Antiquities_, and as an important actor in the drama of the Roman war,
he wrote of its events with the knowledge of an eye-witness. He excuses
his digression as being made in self-defense, and claims to have proved
that historical writing is indigenous rather to those called Barbarians
than to the Greeks. He then returns to the task of refuting those who
say that the Jewish polity is of late origin because the Greek authors
are silent about it. One main cause of the silence was the isolation of
Judea and the character of the Jewish people, who did not delight in
merchandise and commerce, but devoted themselves to the cultivation of
the soil. This, of course, is a picture of the Bible times, because in
the writer's days they were beginning their mercantile development.
Hence the Jews were in quite a different condition from the Phoenicians,
the Thracians, the Persians, and the Medes, with all of whom the
Hellenes came into contact. They are rather to be compared with the
Romans, who only entered into the Greek sphere of interest later in
their history.

Josephus makes the point that it would be as reasonable for the Jews to
deny the antiquity of the Greeks because there is no mention of them in
Hebrew records, as for the Greeks to deny the antiquity of the Jews for
the converse reason. And if the Greeks are ignorant of the Hebrews, he
argues that there is abundant testimony in the histories of other
peoples. He starts with the Egyptian evidence, and quotes from Manetho,
the anti-Jewish historian, giving extracts about the Hyksos tribes and
Hyksos kings, whom he identifies with Joseph and his brethren. The
identification was popular till recent times, but modern historical
criticism has rejected it. Josephus dates the invasion of the Hyksos at
three hundred and ninety-three years before Danaus came to Argos, which
in turn was five hundred and twenty years before the Trojan war. Thus he
puts the Bible story far ahead in age of Greek myth. Passing on to the
testimony in the Phoenician records, he derives from the public archives
of Tyre, to which reference was made also in the _Antiquities_,[1]
evidence of the relations between Solomon and Hiram, and further quotes
the account given by the Hellenistic historian Alexander of Ephesus, who
mentions the same incident. This Alexander had written a world-history,
and had collected the chronicles of the various peoples that formed part
of Alexander's empire. Josephus, who probably knew of his work through
Nicholas or some other chronicler, cites him to confirm the Bible.
Collections of extracts about the Jewish people and references to the
Bible in Greek literature were already in vogue, for it was an age
similar to our own in its love of encyclopedias. Josephus uses with not
a little skill these foreign sources, and supplements the comparative
material which he had introduced in the _Antiquities_. Confirmation of
the account of the flood, as also of the rebuilding of the Temple after
the return of the Jews from Babylon, is found in the Chaldean history of
Berosus; and other long extracts from Babylonian history are inserted
that furnish a casual mention of Judea or Jerusalem. Josephus attempts,
too, with doubtful success, to combine the Phoenician and Babylonian
records in order to prove that they agree about the date of the
rebuilding of the Temple. The only justifiable inference from the
passages, however, appears to be that both sources agreed on the
existence of Cyrus, king of Persia.

[Footnote 1: Comp. above, p. 159.]

Finally he adduces passages from various Greek writers, to show that the
Jews were not entirely unknown to the Hellenes before Alexander's
conquests. Josephus had no doubt predecessors among the Hellenistic
Jewish litterateurs in the search for testimony, as well as successors
among the Christian apologists; but his collection has alone survived,
and has become invaluable to modern scholars, who have ploughed the same
field for a different purpose. Authority is brought forward to show that
Pythagoras had connection with the Hebrews, and Herodotus, it is argued,
referred to the Jews as circumcised Syrians.[1] More apposite is a
passage quoted from Clearchus, a pupil of Aristotle, about a discussion
which his master had with a Jew of Soli, "who was Greek not only in
language but in thought." The genuineness of this excerpt has been
questioned, but without good reason. Aristotle's school had a scientific
interest in the Jews as in other peoples that had come under Greek sway
through Alexander's conquests.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Ant. VIII. x. 3.]

Josephus then sets out some very eulogistic passages about his people,
purporting to be from Hecataeus of Abdera, which are very much to his
taste and his purpose. Unfortunately, however, they are too good to be
true, and modern criticism has established that, while the genuine
Hecataeus, an historian who wrote at the end of the fourth century
B.C.E., did insert in his work an account of Jerusalem and the Jews, the
glowing testimonials which Josephus adduces are from forged books
devised by Jews to their own glory. A passage of a less favorable tone,
and of which the genuineness is therefore not open to suspicion, is
quoted from Agatharchides, a Seleucid historian. Finally, with an
incidental mention of a half-dozen Hellenistic writers that have made
distinct reference to the Jewish people, and of three Jewish writers,
Demetrius, the elder Philo, and Eupolemus, "who have not greatly missed
the truth about our affairs," Josephus closes his evidence as to the
antiquity of his nation.[1] Possibly he did not realize that his last
three witnesses were of his own race, and it is not improbable that this
string of names was to him also a string of names culled from Alexander
Polyhistor or a similar authority.

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 23.]

The latter part of the first book is devoted to the refutation of the
anti-Jewish diatribes of several Greeks, and starts off with a few
commonplaces upon the topic, to the effect that every great nation
incurs the jealousy and ill-will of others. "The Egyptians," says
Josephus, "were the first to cast reproaches upon us, and in order to
please them, some others undertook to pervert the truth. The causes of
their enmity are their chagrin at the events of the Exodus and the
difference of their religious ideas."[1] Josephus deals with Manetho's
description of the going-out from Egypt, and undertakes to demonstrate
that "he trifles and tells arrant lies." He dissects the charge that the
Hebrews were a pack of lepers exiled from the country, and insists upon
its absurdity and the lack of consistency in the details. He offers
ingenuously as a proof of the falsity of the allegation that Moses was a
leper the Mosaic legislation about lepers. "How could it be supposed,"
he asks, "that Moses should ordain such laws against himself, to his own
reproach and damage?" Chaeremon is unworthy of reply, because his
account, though equally scurrilous, is inconsistent with that of
Manetho. But the story of Lysimachus, a writer of the same genus, is
more critically examined and found wanting, because it gives no
explanation of the origin of the Hebrews. Lysimachus derived the name
Jerusalem from the Greek Hierosylen--to commit sacrilege--the Hebrews,
according to his story, owing their settlement to the plunder of
temples; and Josephus points out triumphantly that that idea is not
expressed by the same word and name among the Jews and Greeks. But, to
vary a saying of Doctor Johnson, this section of Josephus must be read
for the quotations, for if one reads it for the argument of either
assailant or apologist, one would shoot oneself.

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 24.]

The second book of the apology, which is a continuation of the first,
opens with an elaborate refutation of Apion. Josephus questions whether
he should take the trouble to confute the scurrilous stories of the
Alexandrian grammarian, "which are all abuse and vulgarity"; but because
many are pleased to pick up mendacious fictions, he thinks it better not
to leave the charges without an answer. He disposes first of Apion's
tales about Moses and the Exodus, which are of the same character as
those of Manetho and Chaeremon. Loaded abuse and unmeasured invective
color the refutation, but Apion apparently deserved it. We may take, as
a fair specimen of his veracity, the statement that the Hebrews reached
Palestine six days after they left Egypt and rested on the seventh day,
which they called Sabbath, because of some disease from which they
suffered, and of which the Egyptian name was Sabbaton. Apion had in
particular attacked the Alexandrian Jews, and Josephus takes the
opportunity of enlarging on the privileged position of his people, not
only in the Egyptian capital, but in the other Hellenistic cities where
they had been settled.[1] He elaborates and amplifies what he had stated
on this subject in the _Antiquities_, and adds a short account of the
miraculous delivery of the Egyptian Jews during the short-lived
persecution of Ptolemy Physcon, which is recorded more fully and with
some variation of detail in the so-called Third Book of the Maccabees.
In reply to Apion's charge, that the Jews show a lack of civic spirit
because they do not worship the same gods as the Alexandrians, Josephus
launches out into an explanation of their conception of God, describes
their abhorrence of idolatry, and deals also with their refusal to set
up in their temples the image of the Emperor. "But at the same time they
are willing," he says, "to pay honors to great men and to offer
sacrifices in their name." He deals also, in a digression, with
calumnies derived from Posidonius and Melon about the worship of an ass
in the sanctuary at Jerusalem.

[Footnote 1: This part of the book, it may be noted, has only been
preserved in the Latin version; the Greek original has been lost.]

Apion had invented a detailed story of ritual murder to justify
Antiochus Epiphanes for his spoliation of the Temple. The origin of this
charge is instructive of the methods of a classical anti-Semite. There
was, in the innermost sanctuary, a stone[1] on which the blood of the
burnt offering was sprinkled by the high priest on the Day of Atonement.
It was known as the [Hebrew: Even Shtiah] and tradition said that the
ark of the covenant had rested on it. Mystery centered around it, and
the Greek scribes imagined that it was the object of worship. Now, the
Greek word for a stone was Onos, which likewise meant an ass, and it was
probably on the strength of this blunder that prejudice for centuries
accused Jews and Christians of worshiping an ass' head. Josephus brings
proof of the emptiness of the charge, and retorts that Apion had himself
the heart of an ass; and then, describing the ritual of the Temple,
insists that there was no secret mystery about it. It gives a touch of
pathos that he speaks as if the Temple services were still being carried
out, whether because he was copying a source written before the
destruction, or because he deliberately disregarded that event. Apion,
like Cicero, had taunted the Jews on account of their political
subjection, which proved, he argued, that their laws were not just nor
their religion true. Josephus meets the charge--which in the
materialistic thinking of the Roman world was hard to answer--by the not
very happy plea that the Egyptians and Greeks had suffered a like
fortune. So, too, he meets the gibe that the Jews do not eat pork, by
saying that the Egyptian priests abstain likewise. He omits in both
cases the true religious answer, which would probably not have appealed
to his public.

[Footnote 1: Yer. Yoma, v. 2.]

At this point the reply to the Alexandrian anti-Semite comes to an end,
and the rest of the book comprises a defense of the Jewish legislation,
"which is intended not as an eulogy but as an apology." The broad aim is
to show that the Law inculcates humanity and piety; but Josephus, before
setting himself to this, again labors to point out that it is
pre-eminent in antiquity over any of the Greek codes. This done, he
gives a summary of the principles of Judaism, which is unlike anything
else he wrote in its masterly grasp of the spirit of the religion and in
its philosophical attitude. So great indeed is the contrast between this
epilogue and the bald summary of the Mosaic laws in the _Antiquities_
that it is safe to say that Josephus had for his later work lighted on a
fresh and more inspired source. His presentation has the regular
characteristic of the Alexandrian school, an insistence on the universal
and philanthropic elements of the Mosaic law; and it is likely that he
had before him either Philo's work on the Life of Moses, or another
work, which his predecessor had used. It matters little that there are
differences of detail between his and Philo's interpretations: the
manner and the general purport are the same, and the manner is not the
usual manner of Josephus, and altogether different from the treatment in
the _Antiquities_.

He lays down with great clearness the dominant features of the Mosaic
constitution. It is a theocracy, i.e. the state depends on God. The
passage in which he makes good this principle is a striking piece of
reasoning in comparative religion, worthy to be quoted in full:

"Now there are innumerable differences in the particular customs and
laws that hold among all mankind, which a man may briefly reduce under
the following heads: Some legislators have permitted their governments
to be under monarchies, others put them under oligarchies, and others
under a republican form; but our legislator had no regard to any of
these forms, but he ordained our government to be what, by a strained
expression, may be termed a Theocracy, by ascribing the authority and
the power to God, and by persuading all the people to have a regard to
Him as the Author of all the good things enjoyed either in common by all
mankind or by each one in particular, and of all that they themselves
obtain by praying to Him in their greatest difficulties. He informed
them that it was impossible to escape God's observation, either in any
of our outward actions or in any of our inward thoughts. Moreover he
represented God as un-begotten and immutable through all eternity,
superior to all mortal conceptions in form, and though known to us by
His power, yet unknown to us as to His essence. I do not now explain how
these notions of God are in harmony with the sentiments of the wisest
among the Greeks. However, their sages testify with great assurance that
these notions are just and agreeable to the divine nature; for
Pythagoras and Anaxagoras and Plato and the Stoic philosophers that
succeeded them, and almost all the rest profess the same sentiments, and
had the same notions of the nature of God; yet durst not these men
disclose those true notions to more than a few, because the body of the
people were prejudiced beforehand with other opinions. But our
legislator, whose actions harmonized with his laws, did not only prevail
with those who were his contemporaries to accept these notions, but so
firmly imprinted this faith in God upon all their posterity that it
could never be removed. The reason why the constitution of our
legislation was ever better directed than other legislations to the
utility of all is this: that Moses did not make religion a part of
virtue, but he ordained other virtues to be a part of religion--I mean
justice, and fortitude, and temperance, and a universal agreement of the
members of the community with one another. All our actions and studies
have a reference to piety towards God, for he hath left none of these in
suspense or undetermined. There are two ways of coming at any sort of
learning and a moral conduct of life: the one is by instruction in
words, the other by practical exercises. Now, other lawgivers have
separated these two ways in their opinions, and, choosing the one which
best pleased each of them, neglected the other. Thus did the
Lacedemonians and the Cretans teach by practical exercises, but not by
words; while the Athenians and almost all the other Greeks made laws
about what was to be done, or left undone, but had no regard to
exercising them thereto in practice.

"But our legislator very carefully joined these two methods of
instruction together; for he neither left these practical exercises to
be performed without verbal instruction, nor did he permit the learning
of the law to proceed without the exercises for practice; but beginning
immediately from the earliest infancy and the regulation of our diet, he
left nothing of the very smallest consequence to be done at the pleasure
and disposal of the individual. Accordingly, he made a fixed rule of
law, what sorts of food they should abstain from, and what sorts they
should use; as also what communion they should have with others, what
great diligence they should use in their occupations, and what times of
rest should be interposed, in order that, by living under that law as
under a father and a master, we might be guilty of no sin, neither
voluntary nor out of ignorance. For he did not suffer the guilt of
ignorance to go without punishment, but demonstrated the law to be the
best and the most necessary instruction of all, directing the people to
cease from their other employments and to assemble together for the
hearing and the exact learning of the law,--and this not once or twice
or oftener, but every week; which all the other legislators seem to have

This passage contains, in many ways, an admirable explanation of Judaism
as a law of conduct, inculcating morality by good habit; it lacks,
indeed, any deep spiritual note or mystical exaltation, but it was
likely for that reason to appeal to the practical, material-minded
Roman. Josephus corroborates what Seneca had grudgingly remarked, that
the Jews understood their laws; and it is this, he says, which made such
a wonderful accord among us, to which no other nation can show a
parallel. The eloquent insistence on the harmony uniting the Jewish
people is another proof that Josephus is here reproducing the ideas of
others, for it is in complete and glaring contrast with what he had
repeatedly written in his _Antiquities_ and his _Wars_ about the strife
of different sects. His books would have supplied the best argument to
any pagan criticising his apology. Josephus further ascribes to the
singleness of the tradition the absence of original genius among the
people. The excellence of the Law produces a conservative outlook,
whereas the Greeks, lacking a fixed law, love a new thing. S.D.
Luzzatto, the Hebraist of the middle of the nineteenth century,
emphasized the same contrast between Hellenism and Hebraism.

Turning in detail to the precepts of the Law, Josephus gives eloquent
expression in the Hellenistic fashion to the idea of the divine unity.
"God," he says, "contains all: He is a being altogether perfect, happy,
and self-sufficient, the beginning, the middle, and the end of all
things; God's aim is reflected in human institutions. Rightly He has but
one Temple, which should be common to all men, even as He is the common
God of all men." He develops, too, the humanitarian aspect of Judaism in
the manner of the Hellenistic school. "And for our duty at the
sacrifices, we ought in the first place to pray for the common welfare
of all and after that for ourselves, for we were made for fellowship,
one with another, and he who prefers the common good before his own is
above all dear to God." He points to the excellence of the Jewish
conception of marriage, another commonplace of the Hellenistic
apologist, as we know from the Sibylline oracles; to the respect for
parents and to the friendliness for the stranger. He insists with
Philo[1] that kinship is to be measured not by blood, but by the conduct
of life. He dwells, likewise in company with the Hellenists, on a law
that lacks Bible authority: that the Israelites should give, to all who
needed it, fire and water, food and guidance.[2] The impulse to this
interpretation of the Torah is found in the charge made by the Jews'
enemies, that they were to assist only members of their own race.[3]
Josephus appears to be original, and, as is quite pardonable, he may be
writing with a view to Roman proclivities, when he praises the law for
the number of offenses to which it attaches the capital penalty. Like
many a later Jewish apologist living amid an alien and dominant culture,
Josephus accepts foreign standards, and he is silent about the Pharisaic
teaching which softened the literal prescripts of the Bible.[4]

[Footnote 1: Comp. De Nobilitate.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Philo, II. 639.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 102.]

[Footnote 4: It has been noticed above (note, p. 153) that Josephus
appears to misunderstand or deliberately misinterpret the Hebrew
[Hebrew: aror] (cursed be!), which precedes many prohibitions of the
Mosaic law, to mean "he shall be put to death."]

In a peroration Josephus returns to a general eulogy of the Jewish Law,
on account of the faithful allegiance which it commands, and denounces
the pagan idolatry in the manner of the Greek rationalists, who had made
play with the Olympian hierarchy. While the inherent excellence of the
Jewish Law is dependent on the sublime conception of God, the inherent
defect of the Greek religion is that the Greek legislators entertained a
low conception of God, and did not make the religious creed a part of
the state law, but left it to the poets to invent what they chose. The
greatest of the Greek philosophers, indeed, agreed with the Jews as to
the true notions about God: "Plato especially imitated our legislation
in enjoining on all citizens that they should know the laws accurately."
A later generation made bold to declare that Plato had listened to
Jeremiah in Egypt and learnt his wisdom from the Jewish prophet.
Josephus compares with the Jewish separateness the national
exclusiveness of the Lacedemonians, and claims that the Jews show a
greater humanity in that they admit converts from other peoples. They
have, moreover, shown their bravery not in wars for the purpose of
amassing wealth, but in observing their laws in spite of every attempt
to wean them away. The Mosaic law is being spread over the civilized

"For there is not any city of the Greeks, nor any of the barbarians, nor
any nation whatsoever whither our custom of resting on the seventh day
has not come, and by which our fasts and lighting up of lamps and divers
regulations as to food are not observed. They also endeavor to imitate
our mutual accord with one another, and the charitable distribution of
our goods, and our diligence in our trades, and our fortitude in bearing
the distresses that befall us; and what is here matter of the greatest
admiration, our Law hath no bait of pleasure to allure men to it, but it
prevails by its own force; and as God Himself pervades all the world, so
hath our Law passed through all the world also."

The task of the apologist is completed; "for whereas our accusers have
pretended that our nation are a people of late origin, I have
demonstrated that they are exceedingly ancient, and whereas they have
reproached our lawgiver as a vile man, God of old bare witness to his
virtues, and time itself hath been proved to bear witness to the same
thing."[1] In a final appreciation he concludes:

"As to the laws themselves, more words are unnecessary, for they are
visible in their own nature, and are seen to teach not impiety, but the
truest piety in the world. They do not make men hate one another, but
encourage people to communicate what they have to one another freely.
They are enemies to injustice, they foster righteousness, they banish
idleness and expensive living, and instruct men to be content with what
they have and to be diligent in their callings. They forbid men to make
war from a desire of gain, but make them courageous in defending the
laws. They are inexorable in punishing malefactors. They admit no
sophistry of words, but are always established by actions, which we ever
propose as surer demonstrations than what is contained in writing only;
on which account I am so bold as to say that we are become the teachers
of other men in the greatest number of things, and those of the most
excellent nature only. For what is more excellent than inviolable piety?
What is more just than submission to laws? And what is more advantageous
than mutual love and concord? And this prevails so far that we are to be
neither divided by calamities nor to become oppressive and factious in
prosperity, but to contemn death when we are in war, and in peace to
apply ourselves to our handicrafts or to the tilling of the ground;
while in all things and in all ways we are satisfied that God is the
Judge and Governor of our actions."

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. ii. 41.]

As we read this final outburst of the Jewish apologist and think of what
he had himself written to gainsay it, and what he was yet to write in
his autobiography, we are fain to exclaim, _o si sic omnia_! One would
like to believe that in the defense of the Jewish Law we have the true
Josephus, driven in his old age by the goading of enemies to throw off
the mask of Greco-Roman culture, and standing out boldly as a lover of
his people and his people's law. Such latter-day repentance has been
known among the Flavii of other generations. And the two books _Against
Apion_ show that when Josephus had not to qualify his own weakness nor
to flatter his patrons, he could rise to an appreciation and even to an
eloquent exposition of Jewish ideals. Yet it was not the Greek-writing
historian, but the Palestinian Rabbis, that were to prove to the world
the undying vigor, the unquenchable power of resistance of the Jewish
Law. The Vineyard of Jabneh founded by Johanan ben Zakkai was the
sufficient refutation of Roman scoffers, while the apology of Josephus
became the guide of the early Church fathers in their replies to heathen
calumniators who repeated against them the charges that had been
invented against the Jews. It is significant that Tacitus, who wrote his
history some few years after the defense of Josephus was published,
repeated with added virulence the fables which the Jewish writer had
refuted. The charges of anti-Semites have in every age borne a charmed
life: they are hydra-headed, and can be refuted, not by literature, but
by life.

Nevertheless literary libels, if unanswered in literature, tend to
become fixed popular beliefs, and in the Dark and Middle Ages the Jewish
people were to suffer bitterly from the lack of apologists who could
obtain a hearing before the peoples of Europe. In the early centuries of
the Christian era, before the Christian Church was allied with the Roman
Empire, tolerance ruled in the Greco-Roman world, and the narrow Roman
hatred of Judaism was in large part broken down. Celsus, Numenius, and
Dion Cassius, three of the most notable authors of the second century,
speak of the Jewish people and Jewish Scriptures in a very different
tone from that of a Tacitus and an Apion. And as it has been said, "Who
shall know how many cultured pagans were led by the books of Josephus to
read the Bible and to look on Judaism with other eyes?"[1] If the
apologies of Philo and Josephus could not pierce the armor of prejudice
and hatred which enwrapped a Tacitus or a Christian ecclesiastic, they
at least found their way through the lighter coating of ignorance and
misunderstanding which had been fabricated by Hellenistic Egyptians, but
which had not fatally warped the minds of the general Greco-Roman

[Footnote 1: Comp. Joel, Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte, ii. 118.]



The works of Josephus early passed into the category of standard
literature. It is recorded that they were placed by order of the Flavian
Emperors in the public library of Rome; and though Suetonius, the
biographer of the Caesars, who wrote in the second century, and
Diogenes, the biographer of the philosophers, who wrote a century later,
do not apparently hold them of any account, it is certain that they were
carefully preserved till the triumph of the Christian Church gave them a
new importance. For centuries henceforth they were the prime authority
for Jewish history of post-Biblical times, and were treasured as a kind
of introduction to the Gospels, illuminating the period in which
Christianity had its birth. The traitor-historian was soon forgotten by
his own people, if they ever had regard for him, and with the rest of
the Hellenistic writers he dropped out of the Rabbinical tradition.
Possibly the Aramaic version of the _Wars_ survived for a time in the
Eastern schools, but while the Jews were struggling to preserve their
religious existence, they had little thought for such a history of their

The Christians, on the other hand, had a special interest in the works
of Josephus, since they found in them not only the model of their
defense against pagan calumnies, but the earliest external testimony to
support the Gospels. Josephus was venerated as the Jew who had recorded
the fate of Jesus of Nazareth. The _Antiquities_ contain two references
to John the Baptist and an account of the execution of James, the
brother of Jesus; but the most celebrated of the "evidential" passages
occurs in book xviii of the _Antiquities_, where in our text, following
on the account of Pilate's persecution, occurs this paragraph:

"Now, there lived about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to
call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such
men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of
the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate,
at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to
the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he
appeared alive to them again the third day, as the divine prophets had
foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.
And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this
day (ch. 3)."

An enormous literature has been provoked by these lines, and the weight
of modern opinion is that they are altogether spurious. The passage is
first quoted by Eusebius,[1] the historian of Caesarea, who wrote about
the beginning of the fourth century C.E.;[2] but Origen, his predecessor
by a hundred years, significantly enough does not know of it. Josephus,
he says simply, did not acknowledge the Christ.[3] At the same time
Origen quotes a passage from the same book of the _Antiquities_,[4] to
show that the Jews ascribed the defeat of the Tetrarch Herod to his
murder of John the Baptist. The earliest of the Patristic writers,
Clement of Alexandria, quotes Josephus as to chronology, but it is
fairly certain that he did not know the works at first hand, since the
era he refers to runs from Moses to the tenth year of Antoninus,[5] i.e.
till the better part of a century after the death of Josephus. Origen
likewise probably knew Josephus only at second hand, and the inference
is that both the Alexandrian ecclesiastics derived their citations and
their interpolation in the text of Josephus from a pious Christian
abstract and improvement. The uncompromisingly Christian character of
the text, the discrepancy between Origen and Eusebius, and the notorious
aptitude of early Christian scribes for interpolating manuscripts, and
especially the manuscripts of Hellenistic Jewish writers, with
Christological passages make it well nigh certain that the paragraph was
foisted in between the second and third century. That was a period when,
as has been said, "faith was more vivid than good-faith." The will to
believe its genuineness, however, persisted to our own day, and some
have made a compromise between their sentiment and their critical
faculty, by arguing that the passage, though partly corrupt, is founded
on something Josephus wrote.[6]

[Footnote 1: Comp. Schlatter, _op. cit._ 403.]

[Footnote 2: H.E. i. 41; Comp. Freimann, Wie verhielt sich das Judenthum
zu Jesus? (Monatsschrift fur die Geschichte und Wissenschaft des
Judenthums, 1911, p. 296).]

[Footnote 3: Comm. in Matth. ch. xvii.]

[Footnote 4: Ant. XVIII. v. 5.]

[Footnote 5: Strom. I. xxi. 409.]

[Footnote 6: Among those who uphold this view is the Franco-Jewish
savant Théodore Reinach, whose opinion is that the Christian scribe
changed a _testimonium de Christo_ into a _testimonium pro Christo_
(R.E.J. xxxv. 6). Both Renan and Ewald hold that our passage is a
corrupted fragment of a much fuller account of Jesus in the
_Antiquities_. See Joel. _op. cit_. p. 52.]

It is alleged that many of the words are such as Josephus might have
used, but, apart from the fact that this is contested by other
authorities, it is unreasonable to suppose that the interpolator would
go out of his way to stamp the insertion as a forgery by using
extraordinary words. It is urged again that the passages about John and
James in the _Antiquities_ support the likelihood of Josephus' having
mentioned Jesus. But these passages are themselves open to very grave
suspicions. There is no reference to them in the epitome of the chapters
furnished at the head of each book, which according to Niese dates from
the age of the Antonines, or the end of the second century. Nor does the
Slavonic version of Josephus contain the passage about James, and while
Origen refers to that passage, he had a different version of it from
that which appears in our manuscripts. It seems that he has incorporated
the gloss of a Christian believer. And again, while our text imputes the
blame of the stoning of James to the Sadducees, and gives credit to the
Pharisees for endeavoring to prevent it, Hegesippus, the Christian
writer of the second century, uses the alleged account of the incident
by Josephus to gird at the Pharisees. The probability is then that
different Christological insertions were made in the manuscripts of
Josephus according to the leaning of the scribe, but that none of the
supposed evidences are genuine, or based on a genuine narrative. The
absence of any reference to Jesus and the apostles in Josephus would
have seemed damaging to the truth of the Christian testament, and
therefore the passages were supplied.

Nevertheless we may be grateful to the interpolators, because, on the
strength of these passages, Josephus was especially treasured through
the Dark and Middle Ages, and he alone survived of the Hellenistic
apologists. When Christianity established its center at Rome, Josephus
was soon translated into Latin, and in the Vulgate version (if we may so
call it) he was best known for centuries. The seven books of the _Wars_
were rendered into Latin by one Tyrannus Rufinus of Aquilea, who was a
contemporary of Jerome (Hieronymus, 345-410 C.E.), and a very
industrious translator of the works of the Greek Patristic writers. The
translation of the _Antiquities_, though ascribed to the same author,
was made later. Jerome apparently was invited to undertake the task, for
in one of his letters he writes:[1] "The rumor that the works of
Josephus and Papian and Polycarp have been translated by me is false. I
have neither the leisure nor the strength to render his writings into
another tongue with the same elegance" [as those already done]. It is
uncertain who the translator was, but the work was carried out at the
instigation of Cassiodorus (480-575), who lived in the time of
Justinian, and was a versatile historian. He wrote himself a chronicle
of events from Adam to his own day as well as a history of the Goths. In
his book on the Institutions of Holy Literature he says:

"As to Josephus, who is almost a second Livy, and is widely known by his
books on the _Antiquities of the Jews_, Jerome declared that he was
unable to translate his works because of their great volume. But one of
my friends has translated the twenty-two books [i.e. the _Antiquities_
and the two books of the _Apology_], in spite of their difficulty and
complexity, into the Latin tongue. He also wrote seven books of extreme
brilliancy on the Conquest of the Jews, the translation of which some
ascribe to Jerome, others to Ambrose, and others to Rufinus."

[Footnote 1: Epist. ad Lucrinum, 5.]

The autobiography of Josephus, alone of his writings, does not appear to
have been done into the language of the Western Church. Perhaps its
worthlessness was apparent even in the dark days. More ancient, however,
and even more popular than the complete Latin version of Josephus, was
an abridgment of his works which passed under the name of Hegesippus.
The name is not found till the ninth century, but it is likely that the
work was written in the time of Ambrosius, the famous bishop of Milan
(C.E. 350). In this form the seven books of the _Wars_ are compressed
into five, and the words and phrases of the original are modified
throughout. The writer in his preface explicitly declares that it is a
kind of revised version, and he improves the original by Christological
insertions, explaining, for example, the destruction of Jerusalem as a
judgment upon the Jews for the murder of Christ. Josephus, he says, aims
at the careful unraveling of events and at sobriety of speech, but he
lacks faith (_religio_) and truth; "and so we have been at pains,
relying not on intellectual force but on the promptings of faith, to
probe for the inner meaning of Jewish history and to extract from it
more of value to our posterity." Josephus is often mentioned by name as
authority for the statements, but at the same time considerable
additions are made from other Roman sources. Some have thought that
there was a compiler named Hegesippus, others that the word is but a
corruption of the Latinized form of the Jewish historian's name:
Josippus, formed from [Greek: Io saepos], would become Egesippus, and
finally Hegesippus.

A Greek epitome of Josephus also existed. We find it used by a Byzantine
historian, John Zonaras, during the tenth and the eleventh century, in
the composition of his chronicles. It omitted the speeches and
historical evidences of the fuller work and pruned its excessive
garrulousness. By the uncritical scholiasts and the prolix chroniclers
of the Byzantine and Papal courts, Josephus was esteemed as a
distinguished and godlike historian, and as a truthloving man ([Greek:
philalaethaes anaer]). He was dubbed by Jerome "the Greek Livy," and to
Tertullian and his followers he was an unfailing guide. Choice passages
in his writings are frequently extracted, often with a little purposive
modification, to emphasize some Christological design. Eustathius of
Antioch in the sixth century, Syncellus in the eighth, and Cedrenus and
Glycas some three or four hundred years later, are among those whose
extant fragments prove a frequent use of Josephus. And the neo-Platonist
philosopher Porphyry (ab. 300 C.E.), who was well acquainted with Jewish
literature, reproduces in his treatise on Abstinence the various
passages about the Essenes from the _Wars_ and the _Antiquities_. The
Emperor Constantine later ordered extracts from the _Wars_ to be put
together for his edification in a selection bearing the title _About
Virtue and Vice_.

Owing to this popularity, we have abundant manuscripts of Josephus. The
oldest of the Latin is as early as the sixth century; the Greek date
from the tenth century and later. Niese, the most authoritative editor
of Josephus in modern times, thinks that our manuscript families go back
to one archetype of the second century in the epoch of the Antonines.
The earliest printed copy like the earliest manuscript of his work
contains the Latin version, being a part of the _Antiquities_, which was
issued in 1470 at Augsburg. The whole corpus was printed in 1499, and,
after a number of Latin editions, the first Greek edition was published
at Basel by Arten, in 1544, together with the Fourth Book of the
Maccabees, which was ascribed to the historian.

In the days of vast but undiscriminating scholarship that followed the
Renaissance, Josephus still enjoyed a great repute, and Scaliger, prince
of polymaths, regarded him as superior to any pagan historian. The great
Dutch scholar Havercamp made a special study of the manuscripts, and
produced, in 1726, a repertory of everything discovered about his
author. A little later Whiston, professor of mathematics at Cambridge,
published an English translation of all the works, which is still
serviceable, but not critical, together with some dissertations, which
are neither serviceable nor critical. Later translations into English
and almost every other language were made, but the greatest work of
modern times on Josephus is the edition of Niese. Lastly, it may be
mentioned that we have a Slavonic version, which goes back to the eighth
or the ninth century, and a Syriac version of the sixth book of the
_Wars_, which is included, immediately after the Fourth Book of the
Maccabees, in a manuscript of the Syriac version of the Bible dating
from the sixth century, and is entitled the Fifth Book of the Maccabees.
It has been suggested that the Syriac was based on the work which
Josephus published in Aramaic before he wrote the Greek; but Professor
Nöldeke has shown that the theory is not probable, since the translator
clearly used the Greek text.[1] Somewhat late in the day a Hebrew
translation of the books _Against Apion_, which were regarded as the
most Jewish part of his work, was made in the Middle Ages, and printed,
together with Abraham Zacuto's Yuhasin, at Constantinople, in 1506, by
Samuel Shullam. The Hebrew translation is very free, and is marred by
several large omissions. It was very probably made with the help of the
Latin version.

[Footnote 1: Literarisches Centralblatt, 1880, no. 20, p. 881.]

While Josephus enjoyed great honor among Christian scholars, for
centuries he passed out of the knowledge of his own people. The Talmud
has no reference to him, for the surmise that he is the "philosopher"
visited by the four sages who journeyed from Palestine to Rome[1] is no
more than a vague possibility. Nor has the supposed identification with
the Joseph Hakohen that is mentioned in the Midrash anything more solid
to uphold it.[2] In the Middle Ages, however, when Spain, Italy, and
North Africa witnessed a remarkable revival of Jewish literature, both
secular and religious, and when scientific studies again interested the
people, the historical literature of other peoples became known to their
scholars, and several Jewish writers mention the chronicles of one
Yosippon, or "little Joseph." The text of the chronicle itself is widely
known from the eleventh century onwards. The first author to mention it
is David ben Tammum (ab. 950), and an extract from the book is found
about a century later. Four manuscripts of it have come down to us: two
in the Vatican, one in Paris, and one in Turin, and it was among the
earliest Hebrew books printed. Professing to be the work of Joseph ben
Gorion, one of the Jewish commanders in the war with Rome and a prefect
of Jerusalem, it is written in a Rabbinical Hebrew that is nearer the
classical language than most medieval compositions. It was indeed argued
on the ground of its pure classical idiom that it dated from the fourth
century, but Zunz[3] showed that this was impossible. It bears all the
traces of the pseudepigraphic tendency of a period that produced the
first works of the Cabala, the Seder Olam Zutta of Rabbi Joshua, and the
neo-Hebraic apocalypses. The attempt to write an archaic Hebrew is
marred by the presence of Rabbinical and novel terms. Reference to
events or things only known to later times is combined with the
pretension of an ancient chronicle. The country and the date of the
author are uncertain, but probabilities point to Italy, where in the
ninth and tenth centuries Jewish culture flourished, and where both
Arabic and Latin works were well known in the Ghettos. The transcription
of foreign names, the frequent introduction of the names of places in
Italy, the acquaintance with Roman history, and the fact that Italian
Jews are among the first to recognize Yosippon favor this theory. It is
fitting that the country where Josephus wrote his history should also
have produced a Jewish imitation of his work. Yosippon indeed was soon
translated into Arabic, and its narratives and legends passed into the
current stock of Ghetto history. The book was swollen by later
additions, which Zunz has proved to belong to the twelfth century. One
Yerahmeel ben Shelomoh who flourished in that epoch is mentioned in an
early manuscript as a compiler of Yosippon and other histories; and it
is possible that he was himself responsible for parts of the work in its
present form.

[Footnote 1: Derek Erez, ed. Goldberg, iii. 10.]

[Footnote 2: Moëd Katon, 23a. See above, p. 177.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Zunz, Gottesdienstliche Vorträge, pp. 154_ff_.]

The chronicle of Yosippon is a summary of Jewish history, with
considerable digressions--many of them later interpolations--about the
history of the nations with whom the Hebrew people came into contact,
Babylon, Greece, and Rome. Like the Book of Chronicles, it begins with
Adam and genealogies, explains the roll of the nations in Genesis, and
then springs suddenly from the legendary origin of Babel and Rome to the
relation of the Jews with Babylon. The history proper contains the
record of the Jews from the first to the second captivity, but is broken
by a mass of legendary material about Alexander the Great--reproducing
much of what is found in pseudo-Callisthenes--and by a short account of
the Carthaginian general Hannibal and several incidents of Roman
history. These include a description of a coronation of the Emperor,
which, it is suggested, applies to the medieval and not the classical
period of the Empire.

The book was known throughout the later part of the Middle Ages and down
to the eighteenth century as the Hebrew Josephus, and contrasted with
the [Hebrew: Yosifon la-Romim], or "Latin Josephus." When the genuine
works of our worthy became known to the Jews, Yosippon was regarded as
the true representative of the Jewish point of view against the
paganizing traitor. Its author had not a first-hand acquaintance with
our Josephus. He knew him only through the Latin versions, which were
mixed with much later material. Possibly he meant to pass off his work
as the Hebrew original of the Jewish history, and confused Joseph ben
Gorion with Joseph ben Mattathias; for in the introduction to one
manuscript we read, "I am Joseph, called Josephus the Jew, of whom it is
written that he wrote the book of the wars of the Lord, and this is the
sixth part." This, however, may be the gloss of a later scribe, who
found an anonymous book, and thought fit to supply the omission. In
places the Hebrew translator reproduces, though with some blunders, the
Latin Hegesippus, but he sought to give charm to his work by legendary
additions, which more often show Arabic and other foreign influences
than traces of the Jewish Haggadah. Interpolations have served to
increase the legendary element, and take away from the historical value.
But it is this element, reflecting the ideas of the age, that gives the
composition a peculiar literary interest.

Though only to a small extent representing Jewish tradition, the book
remained very popular among the Jews both of the West and the East, and
was long regarded as authoritative. The first printed edition was issued
at Mantua, in 1476, and was followed by the edition of Constantinople,
in 1520, arranged in chapters and enlarged, and an edition of Basel, in
1541, containing a Latin preface and a Latin translation of the greater
part. In 1546 a printed Yiddish edition appeared in Zurich, and in the
Ghetto it retains its popularity to the present day. Other editions and
translations have followed. Steinschneider has noted that as late as
1873 an abstract of the Arabic translation together with the Arabic
version of the Book of the Maccabees was published at Beirut.[1] The
spuriousness of the work has now been established, and of modern
scholars Wellhausen[2] is almost alone in ascribing to it any
independent historical worth. In the Spanish period of Jewish culture
the real as well as the spurious Josephus was read by many of his race,
and some hard things were said of him. Thus Rabbi Isaac Abrabanel, the
statesman and apologist (1457-1508), regarded him as a common sycophant
and wrote, "In many things he perverted the truth, even where we have
the Scriptures before us, in order to court favor with the Romans, as a
slave submits himself to the will of his master." Azariah de Rossi (ab.
1850), anticipating the ideas of a later age, alone balanced his merits
against his demerits. Among the great Christian scholars of the
Renaissance, however, he enjoyed great fame. Joseph Scaliger, the most
eminent of the seventeenth century critics, could write of him,
"Josephus was the most diligent and the most truthloving of all writers,
and one can better believe him, not only as to the affairs of the Jews,
but also as to the Gentiles, than all the Greek and Latin writers,
because his fidelity and his learning are everywhere conspicuous."[3] It
is illustrative of his popularity that Rembrandt named one of his great
Jewish pictures after him. Whiston's English translation of his works
became a household book, found side by side with the Bible and _The
Pilgrim's Progress_.[4]

[Footnote 1: J.Q.R. xvi. 393.]

[Footnote 2: Der arabische Josippus; see J.E., s.v. Joseph ben Gorion.]

[Footnote 3: De Emend. Temp. Proleg. 17.]

[Footnote 4: Readers of Rudyard Kipling may recall that in _Captains
Courageous_ one of the seamen on board the "We're Here" Schooner reads
aloud on Sunday from a book called Josephus: "It was an old
leather-bound volume very solid and very like a Bible, but enlivened
with accounts of battles and sieges."]

In modern times his reputation as a trustworthy authority has
depreciated considerably, and it is still depreciating. More accurate
study and wider knowledge have exposed his grave defects as an
historian, and the critical standpoint has dissipated the halo with
which his supposed Christian sympathies had invested him, and laid bare
his weakness and his essential unreliability. Yet with all his glaring
faults and unlovable qualities he has certain solid merits. The greatest
certainly is that his works so appealed to later generations as to have
been preserved, and thereby posterity has been enabled to get some
knowledge, however inadequate, of the history of the Jewish polity
during its last two hundred years--between the time of the Maccabees and
the fall of the nation--which would otherwise have been buried in almost
unrelieved darkness. And at the same time he has preserved a record of
some interesting pieces of Egyptian, Syrian, and Roman history. Just
because he was so little original, he has a special usefulness; for he
reproduces the statements of more capable writers than himself, who have
disappeared, and he has embodied an aspect of the Hellenistic-Jewish
literature which had otherwise been lost. We can estimate his value to
us as an historian from our ignorance of what was happening in Judea
during the fifty years after his account comes to an end.

It is true that he brings before us, for the most part, but the external
facts and the court scandals in place of the vital movements and the
underlying principles; and in dealing with contemporary events he has a
perverted view, borrowed largely from Roman foes and feebly corrected.
But it is something to have preserved even these facts, and in the
account of the _Wars_ he often draws a vivid picture. The siege of
Jerusalem has passed into the roll of the world's heroic events, and it
owes its place there largely to the narrative of Josephus. Moreover, in
spite of his pusillanimity and his subservience to his Roman patrons,
Josephus did possess a distinct pride of race and a love of his people.
It led him at times to glorify them in a gross way, but notably in the
books _Against Apion_ it could inspire a certain eloquence; and many
hostile outsiders must have learnt from his pages to appreciate some of
the great qualities of the Jewish people.

To appraise him fairly is difficult. He has few of the qualities, either
personal or literary, that attract sympathy and many of the defects that
repel. He is at once vain and obsequious, servile and spiteful,
professing candor and practising adulation, prolix and prosaic. As a
general he proved himself a traitor; as apologist of the Jews, a
function which he asserted for himself, he marred by a lack of
independence the service which he sought to render his people. In his
account of their past he was often false to their fundamental ideas of
God and history. Whether he was really under the influence of the
debased Greco-Roman culture of the day, which consigned mankind to the
dominion of fatality, or whether he deliberately masked his own
standpoint to please his audience, he presented the history of the
Hebrew nationality in the light of ideas of fate strange to it. He has
perpetuated a false picture of the Zealots, whose avowed enemy he was,
and he reveals an inadequate understanding of the deeper ideas and
deeper principles of the Pharisees, whose champion he professed to be.
Generally, in dealing with the struggle against Rome, his dominating
desire to justify his own submission and please the Romans led him to
distort the facts, and rendered him blind to the real heroism of his
countrymen. The client in him prevails over the historian: we can never
be sure whether he is expressing his own opinion or only what he
conceives will be pleasing to his patrons and masters. This dependence
affects his presentation of Judaism as well as of the Jewish people. He
dissembled his theological opinions in his larger historical works, and
it is only in his last apologetic composition that he asserts
confidently a Jewish point of view.

Yet it is but fair to Josephus to consider the times and circumstances
in which he wrote. It was an age when the love of truth was almost dead,
extinguished partly by the crushing tyranny of omnipotent Emperors,
partly by the intellectual and moral degeneration of pagan society. The
Flavian house soon showed the same characteristics of a vainglorious
despotism as the line of Caesars which it had supplanted. Under Domitian
"the only course possible for a writer without the risk of outlawry or
the sacrifice of personal honor was that followed by Juvenal and Tacitus
during his reign, viz., silence." It was an age when, in the words of
Mazzini, "a hollow sound as of dissolution was heard in the world. Man
seemed in a hideous case: placed between two infinities, he knew
neither. He knew not past nor future. All belief was dead; dead the
belief in the gods, dead the belief in the Republic." The material power
of Rome, while it dazzled by its splendor, seemed invincible, and it
crushed, in all save the strongest, independence of thought and
independence of national life. Unfortunately it fell to Josephus to
write amid these surroundings his account of the Jewish wars and the
history of the Jews, and he may have been driven to distortion to keep
his perilous position at court. The moral environment, too, was such as
to contaminate those who had not a deep faith and a strong Hebrew
consciousness. At Alexandria it was possible to achieve a harmony
between Judaism and the spiritual teaching of Greek philosophy; but the
basic conceptions of Roman Imperialism were not to be brought into
accord with Jewish ideas.

Josephus had no conception of the moral weakness, he felt only the
invincible power, of the conqueror. He was a Jew, isolated in Rome,
estranged from his own people, and not at home in his environment, a
favored captive in a splendid court, a member of a subject people living
in the halls of the mighty. Did ever situation more strongly conduce to
moral servility and mental dependence! It was well nigh impossible for
him, even had he possessed the ability, to write an honest and
independent history of the Jews. It required some courage and
steadfastness to write of the Jews at all. In such circumstances he
might well have become an apostate, as his contemporary Tiberius
Alexander had done, and it is a tribute to his Jewish feeling that he
remained in profession and in heart true to his people, that he was not
among those who with the fall of the second Temple exclaimed, "Our hope
is perished: we are cut off." He had indeed chosen the easier and less
noble way on the destruction of the national life of his people; he
preferred the palace of the Palatine with its pomp to the Vineyard at
Jabneh with its wise men. While Johanan ben Zakkai was saving Judaism,
Josephus was apologizing for it. Yet he too has done some service: he
preserved some knowledge of his people and their religion for the
Gentiles, and became one of the permanent authorities for that heretical
body of Jewish proselytes who in his own day were beginning to mark
themselves off as a separate sect, and who carried on to some extent the
work of Hellenistic Judaism. Perhaps the true judgment about him is that
he was neither noble nor villainous, neither champion nor coward, but
one of those mediocre men of talent but of weak character and
conflicting impulses struggling against adversity who succumb to the
difficulties of the time in which their life is passed, and sacrifice
their individuality to comfort. But he wrote something that has lived;
and for what he wrote, if not for what he was, he has a niche in the
literary treasure house of the Jewish people as well as in the annals of
general history. As a man, if he cannot inspire, he may at least stand
as a warning against that facile subservience to external powers and
that fatal assimilation of foreign thought which at once destroy the
individuality of the Jew and deprive him of his full humanity.


The best Greek text of Josephus is that edited by Niese (Berlin,
1887-1894), but the editions of Bekker (Leipzig, 1855) and Dindorf
(Paris, 1845) are still serviceable.

The standard English translation of the complete works is that made by
William Whiston, of Cambridge, a century ago. It has been revised in
modern times--not very thoroughly--by Shilleto (London, 1890) and by
Margoliouth (London, 1909).

A French translation, which contains excellent notes to the text, is in
the course of publication under the general editorship of M. Théodore
Reinach; and there are German translations of the whole works, by Demme,
and of the _Antiquities_, by Martin (Köln, 1852) and Clementz (Halle,
1900). The _Life_ and the books _Against Apion_ were translated by M.
Jost (Leipzig, 1867) and books xi-xiii of the _Antiquities_ by
Horschitzky. And there is another elaborately annotated edition of the
books _Against Apion_ by J. G. Müller.

The best modern works on the Roman history of the period are Mommsen's
_Roman Provinces_, and Merivale's _History of the Roman Empire_; and of
the literature of the contemporaries of Josephus, the _Annals_ and
_Histories_ of Tacitus and the _Lives of the Caesars_ by Suetonius are
the most valuable historical sources.

For Jewish history, the fullest account is provided by Schürer's
_Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu_ (fourth edition),
which contains a thorough criticism of Josephus and the best general
investigation into his sources. The work has been translated into
English. Joel's _Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte_ is suggestive upon
certain aspects of the period.

Graetz, of course, deals with the events, and in the _Stories of the
Nations Series_ (Putnam) there is a volume on _The Jews under the
Romans_ by Hosmer, which is readable.

The opening chapters of Berliner's _Die Juden in Rom_, and of Vogelstein
and Rieger's _Geschichte der Juden in Rom_ (Berlin, 1895) are concerned
with the relations of Jews and Romans in the first century; and a series
of articles on the same subject by Hils, in the _Revue des études
juives_ (vols. viii and xi), is noteworthy. Anatole France has written
two very vivid sketches of the Roman attitude to the Jews, which give a
better impression of the inner conflict between the two peoples than any
strictly historical work, "Gallion" in _Sur la pierre blanche_, and "Le
Procurateur de Judée" in _L'étui de nacre_.

Among critical studies of Josephus as an historian the most striking
works are:

Schlatter, _Zur Topographie und Geschichte Palästinas_ (Stuttgart,

Bloch, _Die Quellen des Flavius Josephus_ (Leipzig, 1879).

Nussbaum, _Observationen in Flavius Josephus_ (Göttingen, 1875).

Destinon, _Die Chronologie des Josephus_ (Kiel, 1880) and _Die Quellen
des Josephus_ (1882).

Büchler, A., _Les Sources de Josèphe_, R.E.J. xxii. and xxiv., and _The
Sources of Josephus for the History of Syria_, J.Q.R. ix.

Holscher, G., _Die Quellen des Josephus_, etc. (Leipzig, 1904).

For the relation of Josephus to the Bible and Jewish tradition, the
following monographs may be consulted:

Duschak, _Josephus und die Tradition_ (Vienna, 1864).

Olitzki, _Flavius Josephus und die Halacha_ (Berlin, 1885).

Schlatter, _Die hebräischen Namen bei Josephus_ (Gütersloh, 1913).

Grünbaum, _Die Priester-Gesetze bei Fl. Josephus_ (1887).

Poznanski, _Ueber die religionsphilosophischen Anschauungen des Fl.
Josephus_ (Berlin, 1887).

The apologetic works of Josephus are especially dealt with by:

Friedlaender, M., _Die Geschichte der jüdischen Apologetik_ (Vienna,

Müller, J.G., _Des Fl. Josephus Schrift gegen den Apion_ (Basel, 1877).

Gutschmid, _Kleine Schriften_, iv. (Leipzig, 1893).

The work of M. Théodore Reinach, _Textes des auteurs grecs et romains
rélatifs au judaisme_, is a very useful collection of the pagan accounts
of Jewish life which Josephus was seeking to refute.

Among general appreciations of Josephus, there may be mentioned those

Edersheim, in Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography.

Foakes-Jackson, in the Jewish Review, iv.

Margoliouth, in his edition of Whiston's translation.

Niese, in the Historische Zeitschrift, lxxvi.


Ant.: _The Antiquities of the Jews_.
B.J.: _The Wars_ (Bellum Judaicum)
C. Ap.: _Against Apion_ (Contra Apionem)

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