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THE LEARNED AND AUTHENTIC JEWISH HISTORIAN.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED THREE DISSERTATIONS,
CONCERNING JESUS CHRIST, JOHN THE BAPTIST, JAMES THE JUST,
GOD'S COMMAND TO ABRAHAM, ETC.
WITH A COMPLETE INDEX TO THE WHOLE.
BY WILLIAM WHISTON, A.M.
COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.
LIFE OF FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS.
| I. The family from which I am derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from the priests; and as nobility among several people is of a different origin, so with us to be of the sacerdotal dignity, is an indication of the splendour of a family. Now, I am not only sprung from a sacerdotal family in general, but from the first of the twentyfour' courses; and as among us there is not only a considerable difference between one family of each course and another, I am of the chief family of that first course also; nay, farther, by my mother, I am of the royal blood; for the children of Asamoneus, from whom that family was derived, had both the office of the high priesthood, and the dignity of a king, for a long time together. I will accordingly set down my progenitors in order. My grandfather's father was named Simon, with the addition of Psellus: he lived at the same time with that son of Simon the high priest, who first of all the high priests was named liyrcanus. This Simon Psellus had nine sons, one of whom was Matthias, called Ephlias: he married the daughter of Jonathan the high priest; which Jonathan was the first of the sons of Asamoneus, who was high priest, and was the brother of Simon the high priest also. This Matthias bad a son called
• We may hence correct the error of the Latin copy of the second hook Against Apioo, sect. 8 (for the Greek is there kMl), which says, there were then only four tribes or courses of the priests, instead of twenty-four. Nor is this testimony to be disregarded, as if Josephus there contradicted what he bad affirmed here; because even the account there given better agrees to twenty-four tfcas Is four courses, while he says that each of those emrscs contained above -VX*) men. which, multiplied by only four, will make not more than 20.000 priests t whereas the number 120,000. as multiplied by 21, seems much the asost probable, they being about one tenth of the whole people, even after the captivity. See Ezra ii. *>— »i Nebem. vii 39 — «i 1 Esd. r. 44, Mi with fna, if M; Nebem. vii. Go,. 1 Esd. v. 41. Nor will this MBMuon reading or notion of but four courses uf priests, •pee with Josephos's own further assertion elsewhere (aatta.b. vii. eh. *iv. sect. 7), that David's partition of the priests into twenty-four courses, had continued to
Matthias Curtus, and that in the first year of the government of Hyrcanus: his son's name was Joseph, born in the ninth year of the reign of Alexandra: his son Matthias was born in the tenth year of the reign of Archelaus; as was I born to Matthias in the first year of the reign of Caitts Ca>snr. I have three sons: Hyrcanus, the eldest, was born in the fourth year of the reign of Vespasian, as was Justus born in the seventh, and Agrippa in the ninth. Thus have I set down the genealogy of my family as I have found it described } in the public records, and so bid adieu to those who calumniate me [as of a lower original].
2. Now, my father Matthias was not only eminent on account of his nobility, but had B higher commendation on account of his righteousness; and was in great reputation in Jerusalem, the greatest city we have. I was I myself brought up with my brother, whose name was Matthias, for he was my own brother, by both father and mother; and I made I mighty proficiency in the improvements of my learning, and appeared to have both a great memory and understanding. Moreover, when I was a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the love I had to learning; on which account the high; priests and principal men of the city came then frequently to me together, in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law; and when I was about sixteen years old, I had a mind to make trial of the several sects that were among us. These sects are three: — The first is that of the Pharisees, the second that of the Sadducecs, and the third that of the E«scns, as we have frequently told *you; for I thought that by this means I might choose the best, if I were once acquainted with them all; so I
+ An eminent example of the cam of the .lews arrant their erneolocies. especially as to the priests. See Against A ninn, h. i. sect. 7
contented myself with hard fare, and underwent great difficulties, and went through them all. Nor did I content myself with these trials only; but when I was informed that one, whose name was Banus, lived in the desert, and used no other clothing than grew upon trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord, and bathed himself in cold water frequently, both by night and by day, in order to preserve his chastity, I imitated him in those things, and continued with him three years." So when I had accomplished my desires, I returned back to the city, being now nineteen years old, and began to conduct myself according to the rules of the sect of the Pharisees, which is of kin to the sect of the Stoics, as the Greeks call them.
3. But when I was in the twenty-sixth year of my age, it happened that I took a voyage to Rome; and this on the occasion which I shall now describe. At the time when Felix was procurator of Judea, there were certain priests of my acquaintance, and very excellent persons they were, whom on a small and trifling occasion he had put into bonds, and sent to Rome to plead their cause before Caesar. These I was desirous to procure deliverance for; and that especially because I was informed that they were not unmindful of piety towards God, even under their afflictions; but supported themselves with figs and nuts.f Accordingly I came to Rome, though it were through a great number of hazards, by sea; for, as our ship was drowned in the Adriatic Sea, we that were in it, being about six hundred in number,? swam for our lives all the night; when, upon the first appearance of the day, and upon our sight of a ship of Cyrene, I and some others, eighty in all, by God's providence, prevented the rest, and were taken up into the other ship: and when, I had thus escaped, and was come to Dicearchia, which the Italians call Puteoli,
• When Josephus here says, that from sixteen to nineteen, or for three years, he made trial of the three Jewish sects, the Pharisees, the Sadclucees. and the Essens, and yet says presently, in all our copies, that he stayed besides with one particular ascetic, called Banus, xatf *vtm, with him, and this still before he was nineteen, there is little room left for his trial of the three other sects. I suppose, therefore, that for *et;' aWui, with him, the old reading might be rat' etura:. with them.. which is a very small emendation, and tabes away the difficulty before us. Nor is Dr. Hudson's conjecture, hinted at by Mr. Hall in his preface to the Doctor's edition of Josephus,at a II improbable.that this Banus, by this his description, might well be a follower of John the Baptist, and that from him Josephus might easily imbibe such notions, as afterwards prepared him to have a favourable opinion of Jesus Christ himself, who was attested to by John the Baptist
+ We may note here, that religious men among the Jews, or at least those that were priests, were sometimes ascetics also, and, like Daniel and his companions in Babylon (Dan. i. 8 —J6J, ate no flesh, but Jigs and nuts, &c. only. This was like the fatoQaytx, or austere diet of the Christian ascetics in Passion Week. Constant, v. 18.
♦ It has been thought the number of Paul and his companions on ship-board (Acts xxvii. 38), which are ^76 in our copies, are too many; whereas we find here, that Josephus and his companions, a very few years after the other, were about (300.
I became acquainted with Aliturius, an actor of plays, and much beloved by Nero, but a Jew by birth; and through his interest became known to Poppea, Caesar's wife; and took care, as soon as possible, to entreat her to procure that the priests might be set at liberty; and when, besides this favour, I had obtained many presents from Poppea, I returned home again.
4. And now I perceived innovations were already begun, and that there were a great many very much elevated, in hopes of a revolt from the Romans. I therefore endeavoured to put a stop to these tumultuous persons, and persuaded them to change their minds; and laid before their eyes against whom it was that they were going to fight, and told them that they were inferior to the Romans not only in martial skill, but also in good fortune; and desired them not rashly, and after the most foolish manner, to bring on the dangers of the most terrible mischiefs upon their country, upon their families, and upon themselves. And this I said with vehement exhortation, because I foresaw that the end of such a war would be most unfortunate to us. But I could not persuade them; for the madness of desperate men was quite too hard for me.
5. I was then afraid, lest, by inculcating these things so often, I should incur their hatred and their suspicions, as if I were of our enemies' party, and should run into the danger of being seized by them and slain, since they were already possessed of Antonia, which was the citadel; so I retired into the inner court of the temple; yet did I go out of the temple again, after Manahem and the principal of the band of robbers were put to death, when I abode among the high priests and the chief of the Pharisees; but no small fear seized upon us when we saw the people in arms, while we ourselves knew not what we should do, and were not able to restrain the seditious. However, as the danger was directly upon us, we pretended that we were of the same opinion with them; but only advised them to be quiet for the present, and to let the enemy go away, still hoping that Gessius [Florus] would not be long ere he came, and that with great forces, and so put an end to these seditious proceedings.
6. But, upon his coming and fighting, he was beaten, and a great many of those that were with him fell; and this disgrace which Gessius [with Cestius] received, became the calamity of our whole nation; for those that were fond of the war were so far elevated with this success, that they had hopes of finally conquering the Romans. Of which war another occasion was ministered; which was this:— Those that dwelt in the neighbouring cities of Syria seized upon such Jews as dwelt among them, with their wives and children, and slew them, when they had not the least occasion of complaint against them; for they did neither attempt any innovation or revolt from the Romans, nor had they given any marks of hatred or treacherous designs towards the Syrians: but what was done by the inhabitants of Scythopolis was the most impious and most highly criminal of all;" for when the Jews, their enemies, came upon them from without, they forced the Jews that were among them to bear arms against their own countrymen, which it is unlawful for us to do;t and when, by their assistance, they had joined battle with those who attacked them, and had beaten them, after that victory they forgot the assurances they had given these their fellow-citizens and confederates, and slew them all: being in number many ten thousands [13,000]. The like miseries were undergone hy those Jews that were the inhabitants of Damascus; but we have given a more accurate account of these things in the books of the Jewish war. I only mention them now, because I would demonstrate to my readers that the Jews' war with the Romans was not voluntary, but that, for the main, they were forced by necessity to enter into it.
7- So when Gessius had been beaten, as we have said already, the principal men of Jerusalem, seeing that the robbers and innovators bad arms in great plenty, and fearing lest they, while they were unprovided with arms, should be in subjection to their enemies, which also came to be the case afterwards, — and, being informed that all Galilee had not yet revolted from the Romans, but that some part of it was still quiet, they sent me and two others of the priests, who were men of excellent characters, Joazar and Judas, in order to persuade the ill men there to lay down their arms, and to teach them this lesson, — That it were better to have those arms reserved for the most courageous men that the nation had [than to be kept there;] for that it had been resolved, That those our best men should always have their arms ready against futurity; but still so, that they should wait to see what the Romans would do.
8. When I had therefore received these instructions, I came into Galilee, and found the people of Sepphoris in no small agony about their country, by reason that the Galileans had resolved to plunder it, on account of the friendship they had with the Romans; and because they had given their right hand, and made a league with Cestius Gallus, the president of Syria: but I delivered them all out of the fear they were in, and persuaded the multitude to deal kindly with them, and permitted
q Set Jewish War, b. it ch. xviii. seel. 3.
♦ The Jews might collect this unlawfulness of fighting against their brethren from that law of Moses (U-vit. m K.) -Thou shalt not stand against the blood of thy neighbor;" and that (rer. 17). "Thou shalt not avenge,
I aar bear an* -rudge, against the children of thy people; l-ot thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;" as well as from many other places in the Pentateuch and Prophets. 5«a Antio. h. siii. ch. vtii. sect 3.
them to send to those that were their own hostages with Gessius to Dora, which is a city of Phoenicia, as often as they pleased: though I still found the inhabitants of Tiberias ready to take arms, and that on the occasion following:—
9. There were three factions in this city. The first was composed of men of worth and gravity; of these Julius Capellus was the head. Now he, as well as all his companions, Herod the son of Miarus, and Herod the son of Gamulus, and Compsus the son of Cotnpsus (for as to Compsus's brother Crispus, who had once been governor of the city under the great king' [Agrippa], he was beyond Jordan in his own possessions); all these persons before named gave their advice, that the city should then continue in their allegiance to the Romans and to the king; but Pistus, who was guided by his son Justus, did not acquiesce in that resolution, otherwise he was himself naturally of a good and virtuous character: but the second faction was composed of the most ignoble persons, and was determined for war. But as for Justus, the son of Pistus, who was the head of the third faction, although he pretended to be doubtful about going to war, yet was he really desirous of innovation, as supposing that he should gain power to himself by the change of affairs. He therefore came into the midst of them, and endeavoured to inform the multitude that "the city Tiberias had ever been a city of Galilee; and that in the days of Herod the tetrarch, who had built it, it had obtained the principal place; and that he had ordered that the city Sepphoris should be subordinate to the city Tiberias: that they had not lost this pre-eminence even under Agrippa the father; but had retained it until Felix was procurator of Judea; but he told them, that now they had been so unfortunate as to be made a present by Nero to Agrippa, junior; and that upon Sepphoris's submission of itself to the Romans, that was become the capital city of Galilee, and that the royal treasury and the archives were now removed from them." When he had spoken these things, and a great many more against king Agrippa, in order to provoke the people to a revolt, he added, That "this was the time for them to take arms, and join with the Galileans as their confederates (whom they might command, and who would now willingly assist them, out of the hatred they bear to the people of Sepphoris; because they preserved their fidelity to the Romans), and to gather a great number of forces, in order to punish them." And, as he said this, he exhorted the multitude [to go to war]; for his abilities lay in making harangues to the people, and in being too hard in his speeches for such as opposed him, though they advised what was more to
• That this Herod Agrippa, the father, was of old called the Great King, as here, appears by his coins still remaining; to which llavereamp refers us.