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WILLIAM WHISTON, A. M.
LATI PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE,
$1. WHEREAS the war which the Jewus made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of ; both of Whose wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations ; while some men who were not concerned in the affairs themselves, have gotten together vain and contradictory stories by hearsay, and have written them down after a sophistical manner; and while those that were there presont have given false accounts of things, and this either out of a humor of flattery to the Romans, or of hatred towards the Jerus ; and while their writings contain sometimes accusations, and sometimes encomiums, but no where the accurate truth of the facts ; I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Unper Barbarianst: 1.Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth an Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, Cam the author of this work.]
2. Now at the time when this great concussion of affairs happen. ed, the affairs of the Romans were themselves in great disorder,
* I have already observed more than once that this history of the Jewish war was Josephus's first work, and published about A. D. 75. when he was but 38 years of age; and that when he wrote it, he was not thoroughly acquainted with several circumstances of history from the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, with which it begins, till near his own times, contained in the first and former part of the second book, and so committed many involantary errors therein. That he published his Antiquities 18 years afterward, perused those most authentic histories, the first book of Maccabees, in the 13th year of Domitian, A. D. 93, when he was much more completely acquainted with those ancient times, and after he had wrote the Chronicles of the Priesthood of John Hyrcanus, &c. That accordingly he then reviewed those parts of this work, and gave the public a more faithful, complete, and accurate account of the facts therein related ; and honestly corrected the errors he had before run into.
† Who these Upper Barbarians, remote from the sea, were, Josephus himself will inform us, sect. 2. viz "the Parthians and Babylonians, and remotest Arabians (or the Jews among them]; besides the Jews beyond Euphrates, and the Adiabeni, or Assyrians. Whence we also learn, that these Parthians, Babylonians, the remotest 'Arabians or at least the Jews among them,) as also the Jews beyond Euphrates, and the Adiabeni, or Assyrians, understood Josephus's Hebrew or rather Chaldaic books of the Jewish war, before they were put into the Greek language.
Those Jews also, who were for innovations, then arose when the timos were disorder they were also in a flourishing condition for strength and riches, irisomuch that the affairs of the East were then exceeding gunuliuous, while some hoped for gain, and others were afraid onto toss in: sacharoubles:; for the Jews hoped that all of their natioriówhich were beyond Euphrates would have raised an insur. rection together with them. The Gaule also, in the neighborhood of the Ronians, were in motion, and the Celta were not quiet ; but all was in disorder, after the death of Nero. And the opportunity now offered induced many to aim at the royal power; and the soidiery affected change out of the hojies of getting money. I thought it therefore an absurd thing to see the truth falsified in affairs of such great consequence, and to take no notice of it ; bul to suffer those Grreks and Romans that were not in the wars to be ignorant of these things, and to read either flatteries or fictions, while the Parthians, and the Babylonians, and the remotest Arabians, and those of our nation beyond Euphrates, with the Adiabeni, by noy
knew accurately buih whence the war began, what miseries it brought upon us, and after what manner it ended,
3. It is true, ihese writers have the confidence to call their accounts histories ; wherein yet they seem to me to fail of their own purpose, as well as to relate nothing that is sound. For they have a mind to demonstrate the greatness of the Romans, while they still diminish and lessen the actions of the Jews ; as not discerning how it cannot be that those must appear to be great who have only conquered those that were little. Nor are they ashamed 10 overlook the length of the war, the multitude of the Roman forces, who so greatly suffered in it, or the might of the commanders; whose great Labors about Jerusalem will be deemed inglorious, if what they atchirved be reckoned but a small matter.
4. However, I will not go to the other extreme, out of opposition to these men who extol the Romans, nor will I determine to raise the actions of my countrymen too high ; but I will prosecuto the actions of both parties with accuracy.
Yet shall I suit my langutige to the passions I am under, as to the affairs I describe, and must be allowed to indulge some lamentations upon the miseries undergone bij in?! own country. For that it was a seditious temper of our own that destroyed it, and that they were the tyrants among the Jique who brought the Roman power upon us, who unwillingly attacked us, an! occasioned the burning of our holy temple, Titus Cerar, who destroyed it, is himself a witness, who, during the entire war. pitied ihe peopie who were kept under by the seditious, and did ofien voluntarily delay the taking of the city, and allowed time to the siege, in order 10 let the authors huve opportunity for groepentance. But if any one makes an unjusi accusation against us, when we speak so passionately about the tyranis, or the robbers, or sorely bewuil the misfortunes of our country, let him indulge my af. fections herein, though it be contrary to the rules for writing history; because it had 80 come to pass, that our city Jerusalem had ar. rived at an higher degree of felicity than any other city under the Roman government, and yet at last fell into the sorest of calamities again. Accordingly it appears to me, that the* misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews, are not 80 considerable as they were ; while the authors of them were not foreigners neither. This makes it impossible for me to contain my lamentations. But if any one be inflexible in his censures of me, let him attribute the facts themselves to the histori. cal part ; and the lamentations to the writer himself only.
5. However, I may justly blame the learned men among the Greeks, who, when such great actions have been done in their own times, which, upon the comparison, quite eclipse the old wars, do yet sit as judges of those affairs, and pass bitter censures upon the labors of the best writers of antiquity; which moderns, although they may be superior to the old writers in eloquence, yet are they inferior to them in the execution of what they intended to do. While these also write new histories about the Assyrians and Medes ; as if the ancient writers had not described their affairs as they ought to have done ; although these be as far inferior to them in abilities, as they are different in their notions from them. For of old, every one took upon him to write what happened in his own time ; where their immediate concern in the actions made their premises of value ; and where it must be reproachful to write lies, when they must be known by the readers to be such, But then, an undertaking to preserve the memory of what hath not been before recorded, and to represent the affairs of one's own time to those tha: come afterwards, is really worthy of praise and commendation. Now he is bc esteemed to have taken good pains in earnest ; not who does no more than change the disposition and order of other mens' works, but he who not only relates what had not been related before, but composes an entire body of history of his own : Accordingly I have been at great charges, and have taken very great pains [about this history] though I be a foreigner ; and do dedicate this work, as a memorial of great actions, both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians. But for some of our own principal men, their mouths are wide open, and their tongues loosed presently, for gain and law suits, but quite muzzled up when they are to write history, where they must speak truth and gather facts together with a great deal of pains; and so they leave the writing such histories to weaker people, and to such as are not acquanted with the actions of firinces. Yet shall the real truth of historical facts be preferred by us, how much soever it be neglected among the Greek historians.
6. To write concerning the Antiquities of the Jews, who they were [originally] and how they revolted from the Eghptians, and
* That these calamities of the Jews, who were our Saviour's murderers, were to be the greatest that had ever been since the beginning o! the world, our Saviour. had disily foretold Matth. xxiv. 21. Mark xiii. 19. Luke xxi. 23, 24. and that they proved to be such accordingly, Josephus is here a most authentic witness.