« PreviousContinue »
LEARNED AND AUTHENTIC JEWISH HISTORIAN,
AND CELEBRATED WARRIOR.
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL GREEK, ACCORDING TO
HAVERCAMP'S ACCURATE EDITION.
WITH COPIOUS NOTES, E PROPER OBSERVATIONS.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
CONTAINING THE FIRST ELEVEN BOOKS
ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS, WITH A TABLE OF
WILLIAM WHISTON, A. M.
PRINTED AT SPRINGFIELD,
FOR ISAIAH THOMAS, Jun.
$1. THOSE who undertake to write histories, do not, I perceive, take thật trouble on one and the same account, but for many reasons, and those such as are very different one from another : l'or some of them apply themselves to this part of learning to shew their great skill in comfiosition, and that they may therein acquire a repulation for speaking finely ; others of them there are who write histories, in order to gratify those that happen to be concerned in them, and on that account have spared no pains, but rather gone bea yond their oyun abilities in the performance ; but others there are, who of necessity; and by force, are driven to write history, because they were concerned in the facts, and 80 cannot excuse themselves from committing them to writing, for the advantage of posterity; nay, there are not a few who are induced to draw their historical facts out of darkness into light, and to produce them for the benefit of the public, on account of the great importance of the facts them. selves with which they have been concerned. Now of these several reasons for writing history, I must profess the two last were my own reasons also : For since I was myself interested in that war which we Jews had with the Romans, and knew myself its particu. lar actions, and what conclusion it had, I was forced to give the history of it, because I saw that others perverted the truth of those ac. tions in their writings.
2. Now I have undertaken the present work, as thinking it will appear to all thet Greeks worthy of their study; for it will contain all our antiquities, and the constitution of our government, as interpreted out of the Hebrew scriptures. And indeed I did formerly intend, when If wrote of the War, to explain who the Jews origin. ally were ; what fortunes they had been subject to ; and by what legislator they had been instructed in riety, and the exercise of other virtues ; what wars also they had made in remote ages, till they were unwillingly engaged in this last with the Romans : But because this work would take up a great com nass, I separated it into
* This preface of Josephus's is excellent in its kind, and highly worthy the sepeated perusal of the reader, before he sets about the perusal of the work itself.
*+ That is, all the Gentiles, both Greeks and Romans.
# We may seasonably note here, that Josephus wrote his seven books of the Jewish War long before he wrote these his Antiquities. Those books of the War were published about A. D. 75, and these Antiquities A, D, 93, about eigh en years later.
a set treatise by itself, with a beginning of its own, and its own con. clusion ; but in process of time, as usually happens to such as uña dertake great things, I grow weary, and went on slowly, it being a large subject, and a difficuli thing to translate our history into a foreign, and to us unaccustomed language. However, some persons there were who desired to know our history, and so exhorted me to go on with it; and above all the rest * Epaphroditus, a man who is a lover of all kind of lrarning, but is principally delighted with the knowledge of history, and this on account of his having been himself concerned in great affairs, and many turns of fortune; and having shewn a wonderful vigor of an excellent nature, and an immovable viri'ious resolution in them all. I yielded to this man's fiersuasions, who always excites such as have abilities in what is useful and acceptable, to join their endeavors with his. I was also ashamed myself to permit any laziness of disposition to have a greater influence upon me, than the delight of taking pains in such studies as were very useful; I thereupon stirred up myself, and went on with my work more cheerfully. Besides the foregoing motives, I had others which I greatly reflected on; and these were, that our forefathers were willing to communicate such things to others; and that some of the Greeks took considerable pains to know the affairs of our nation.
3. I found therefore that the second of the Plox mies was a king who was extraordinary diligent in what concerned learning, and the collection of books ; that he was also peculiarly ambitious to procure a translation of our law, and of the constitution of our government therein contained, into the Greek tongue. Now Eleazar the high priest, one not inferior to any other of that dignity anong us, did not envy the forenamed King the participation of that advantage, which otherwise he would, for certain, have denied him, but that he knew the custom of our nation was, to hinder nothing of what we esteemed ourselves from being communicated to others. Accordingly I thought it became me, both io imilate the generosity of our high priest, and 10 suppose there mighi, even now, be many lovers of learning like the King ; for he did not oblain all our writings at that time ; but those who were sent to Alexandria as interprelers, gave him only the books of the law, while there were a vast number of other matters in our sacred books. They indeed contain in then the history of five thousand years ; in which time hapiien. ed many strange accidents, many chances of war, and great actions of the commanders, and muiations of the form of our government, Upon the whole, (2 77:zn that will pursue this history, may principally learn from it, that all events succeed well, even to an incredible
* This Epaplisoditus was certainly alive in the third year of Trajan, A. D. 100. See the note on Aniq. B. I. agains: Ąpion, sect, 1. vi. vi. Who he was we do not know ; for as to Epaphroditus, the freed map of Nero, and afterwards Domitian's secretary, who was put to death by. Domitian in the 34th or 1st year of his reign, he could not br alive in the third of Trajan.
degree, and the reward of felicity is proposed by God; but then it is to those that follow his will, and do not venture to break his excellent laws; and that so far as men any way apostatize from the accurate observation of them* what was practicable before becomes impracticable ; and whatsoever they set about as a good thing, is converted into an incurable calamity. And now I exhort all those that peruse these books, to apply their minds to God ; and to examine the mind of our Legislator, whether he hath not understood his nature in a manner worthy of rim ; and hath not ever ascribed 10 him such operations as become his power, and hath not preserved his writings from those indecent fables which others have framed, although by the great distance of time when he lived, he might have securely forged such lies ; for he lived two thousand years ago ; at which vast distance of ages the poets themselves have not been so hardy as to fir even the generations of their gods, much less the actions of their men, or their own laws. 18 I proceed therefore, I shall accurately describe what is contained in our records, in the order of time that belongs to them ; for I have already promised so to do throughout this undertaking, and this without adding any thing to what is therein contained, or taking away any thing therefrom.
4. But because almost all our constitution depends on the wisdom of Moses, our legislator, I cannot avoid saying somewhat concern. ing him before hand, though I shall do it briefly ; I mean, because otherwise those that read my books may wonder how it comes to pass, that my discourse, which promises an account of laws and historical facts, contains 80 much of philosophy. The reader is there. fore to know, that Moses deemed it exceeding necessary, that he who would conduct his own life well, and give laws to others, in the first place should consider the Divine Nature, and upon the contemplation of God's operations, should thereby imitate the best of all fallerns, 89 far as it is possible for human nature to do, and to endeavor to follow after it ; neither could the legislator himself have a right mind without such a contemplation; nor would any thing he should write tend to the promotion of virtue in his readers ; I mean, unless they be taught first of all, that God is the Father and Lord of all things, and sees all things, and that thence he bestorus an happy life upon those that follow him ; but plunges such as do not walk in the paths of virtue in inevitable miseries. Now when Moses was desirous to teach this lesson to his countrymen, he did not begin the establishment of his laws after the same manner that other legislators did ; I mean, upon contracts and other rights between one man and another, but by raising their minds upward3 10 regard God, and his creation of the world ; and by persuading them, that we men are the most excellent of the creatures of God upon earth,
* Josephus here plainly alludes to the famous Greek proverb, If Golie with 26, every thing that is impossible becomes possible.