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handed down to our tinies with the utmost accuracy: and I dare pronounce that our future anuals will bear the same stamp of authority. Care was taken, from the beginning, to make choice of men of exemplary piety and virtue for this function; and further provision was made for preserving the sacerdotal race pure and untainted, as no man is qualified for the office of a priest, whose mother was not of priestly extraction; and therefore, without any regard to wealth and honour, whoever pretends to the priesthood, must prove his descent in a right line by a multitude of witnesses. This is the practice not only in Judea, but wherever our people are dispersed over the face of the whole earth; for our priests make it a kind of conscience only to intermarry with their own tribes. In this case, they send from the father to Jerusalem the name of the woman they intend to marry, with her pedigree well and duly attested.
But in time of war, as for instance, in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, Pompey the Great, and Quintilius Varus, and principally within our own memory, the surviving priests compose new tables of genealogy out of all records, and examine the circumstance of the women that remain. The priests marry no captives, through a suspicion they might have had intercourse with foreigners; and, as an incontrovertible proof of their purity, the names of all our priests, in an uninterrupted succession, from father to son, have stood upon record throughout a space of two thousand years. If any of them prevaricate, they are forbidden the altar, and deposed from the exercise of the sacred function. And this is justly, or rather necessarily, done; because every one is not permitted to write, nor is there any disagreement in what is written. The writings of the prophets we hold of Divine original; and as to those who have written the history of their own times, their number is not great, nor are they very repugnant one to another.
We have not a multitude of books among us, disagreeing and contradicting one another, as the Greeks have, but are confined to twenty-two, that we are bound to believe, and those twenty-two books comprise the history of the world from the beginning to this day. Five of them treat of the creation of the world, and the generation of mankind, and so to the death of Moses, in a series of little less than three thousand years.
From the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, and king of Persia, every one of our prophets wrote the history of the times in which he lived, comprehending the whole in thirteen books; the other four books containing Divine poems and moral precepts. There has, indeed, been a continuation of our history from Artaxerses to this instant; but it is not esteemed, in point of authenticity, comparable to that of our forefathers, as there has not been an exact succession of prophets since that time. The former writings are the objects of our implicit belief; for, during many ages of the world, no attempt has been made, either to add to, or diminish from them, or even so much as to transform or disguise them. As we hold these writings Divine, we call them so; and are trained, from earliest infancy, to meditate upon, observe, and maintain them as such; nay, we are enjoined rather to suffer death than give them up.
How many are there of our captive countrymen at this day, struggling under exquisite torments, because they will not renounce the laws of their country, nor blaspheme the God of their forefathers! When did any of the Greeks undergo such trials ? They would not venture such shocks to preserve all they hold most dear. They hold their writings in no other esteem than as words, and have the same opinion of ancient as of modern productions. Many have taken upon them to write our subjects, of which they were wholly ignorant, and that without applying for information to those who were acquainted with them. We have an example of this in the histories of our late wars, published by persons who were never on the spot of action, but who, nevertheless, have the confidence to usher into the world a jargon of inconsistencies as genuine histories.
But this I can aver, with respect to my bistory of our wars, that it is genuine and authentic; as I bad ocular testimony, certain knowledge, and the means of informing myself particularly of every occurrence. I have been as faithful in my report, as I was minute in my investigation. I had a command in Galilee as long as our nation was able to oppose the Romans; and it was my fortune, in the end, to be made prisoner, and carried to Vespasian
and Titus, who, at first, ordered me to be kept bound; but I was afterward generously released, and sent to accompany Titus, when he came from Alexandria to the siege of Jerusalem. During the whole time there was nothing done that escaped my knowledge. Whatever passed in the Roman camp was open to me; nor was any care wanting, on my part, most faithfully to represent every circumstance. With respect to the state of the city, I had accounts of it from deserters, with an express from the emperor to take minutes of each occurrence.
Being furnished with these materials, and finding leisure at Rome, I applied to some friends to assist me in acquiring a competent knowledge of the Greek tongue, and then proceeded to the compilation of my history, in which I am so conscious of having observed the utmost candour and justice, that I dare appeal to the generals Vespasian and Titus as my vouchers. To these illustrious personages I first presented my work, and next to them to certain noble Romans, who commanded in the same war. Others I disposed of to several of our own nation, who were skilled in the Greek tongue, as Julius, Archelaus, Herod, and the most excellent king Agrippa. These bear honourable testimony, that I acquitted myself as a faithful historian; and surely I could never have obtained such sanction and patronage, if, through ignorance or favour, I had in any instance deviated from facts. I have been exposed to the calumnies of the illiberal, who have censured my productions in a vein of irony and sarcasm : but they would do well to consider, that whoever pretends to authenticity in the relation of transactions, should first render bimself mivutely acquainted with them, either from his own personal observations, or the information of others : of both these advantages I have fully availed myself.
With respect to my Antiquities, I have, in character of a priest, translated them from our sacred writings, and digested them in methodical order. But in the history of the war, I was an actor in some cases, a spectator in others, and, upon the whole, a stranger to nothing that was either done or said. What insolence, therefore, it is in those, who would endeavour to deprive me of my title to authenticity! They pretended to have inspected the jourVOL. IV.
nals of the commanders; but can that invalidate my history, in points absolutely unknown to these commanders ?
I have been under the necessity of making this digression, in order to expose the vanity of many who pretend to write histories; and, I apprehend, that what I have observed, is sufficient to satisfy any man, that the very Barbarians have better preserved this custom of transmitting down the histories of ancient times than the Greeks themselves. I would now offer some matters for the consideration of those who endeavour to prove, that our constitution is but of modern date, because the Greek writers have made no mention of us : I shall then produce testimonies of our antiquity from the writings of foreigners, and demonstrate the injustice of those who cast reproaches on our nation.
We neither inbabit a maritime country, nor do we delight in merchandise ; nor in that intercourse with other nations which naturally arises from it. Our cities lie remote from the sea; our soil is fruitful, and cultivated with care. Our grand concern is the education of our children, to train them in pious exercise, and strict obedience to the laws of our country: this, indeed, we esteem the main business of our lives. Besides, we, have a peculiar way of living to ourselves, which gives us to understand, that, in times past, we bad no communications with the Greeks, as the Egyptians and Phænicians had, as also other nations, by a common tie of navigation, trade, and commerce, for the advancement of their fortunes. Nor did our predecessors make inroads upon their neighbours, as others have done, for the enlarging their estates; though they wanted neither numbers or courage to be dangerous and troublesome, had they been so disposed.
Thus it was that the Phænicians became known to the Greeks, and through them the Egyptians, and other traders into Greece. After these the Medes and Persians, having become lords of Asia, carried the war into Europe. The Thracians were also known by being contiguous; the Scythians by holding a correspondence with those that sailed to Pontus; and so all along the eastern and western sea, there was a sufficiency of subject matter for history.
But those whose habitations were remote from the sea, were for the most part unknown : as was the case in Europe also, where the Roman empire, that long had possessed such mighty power and greatness, and performed such gallant exploits in war, are never mentioned by Herodotus, Thucydides, nor any of their cotemporaries : and it was very late, and with great difficulty, that the Romans became known to the Greeks. What shall we say of writers in ordinary, when Ephorus himself, the most celebrated of their historians, was so ignorant of the Gauls and Iberians, that he supposes the kingdom of Spain with the vast continent it stands upon, to be no more than one city, and so ascribes to them things that were never done, said, nor heard there? Whence comes this ignorance of the truth, but from the writer's having no knowledge of the parts alluded to ? Nor can it be any wonder that our nation was no more known to many of the Greeks, nor had given them occasion to mention them in their writings, while they were so remote from the sea, and had a conduct of life so peculiar to themselves.
But if I should turn the Greeks' mode of reasoning upon themselves, and allege, by way of disproving their antiquity, that no mention is made of it in our records, would not such an inference be exploded as ridiculous ? Would they not appeal to neighbouring nations to confirm their claim? If this manner of proceeding may be admitted on the one side, why not on the other ? The Egyptians and Phænicians are the chief witnesses that I shall adduce in this case; nor can there be any ground of exception to the evidence, as the former are known to be our professed enemies, and the latter no better disposed towards us, particularly the people of Tyre. But the Chaldeans have a better opinion of us, as having been formerly under their command; likewise on account of consanguinity and country, as appears from the honourable mention they make of us in their chronicles. When I have cleared our nation from the aspersions of the Greeks, and wiped away the slanders they have cast upon us, I will then advert to their own historians, and so obviate all farther cavil. I shall begin with the writings of the Egyptians, and cite an extract from the works of Manethon, an Egyptian by birth, but well skilled in the Greek language, as appears from a history he took from holy writ about the Jewish religion. He finds much fault with Herodorus, for his ignorance and misrepresentation of the Egyptian manners and customs; and, in the second book of his history, de