SELECTIONS FROM JOSEPHUS
Josephus, son of Matthias the priest, and on his mother’s side claiming descent from the royal Hasmonæan house—or Flavius Josephus, to give him the name which he adopted out of gratitude to his Imperial patrons—was born in the first year of the Emperor Caligula, A.D. 37-38. St. Paul’s conversion had probably taken place a few years earlier. His life of upwards of sixty years falls into two nearly equal parts, spent respectively in Palestine and in Rome. The Palestinian portion, again, is sharply divided into the pre-war period (to A.D. 65), of which we know comparatively little, and the great four years’ war (A.D. 66-70), of which we know a great deal.
Of his precocious youth, when, if we may believe him, Rabbis flocked to hear the wisdom of the boy of fourteen; how he himself two years later “did eagerly frequent Doctor and Saint,” making trial successively of the three sects of his nation, and ending his education by three years passed as an ascetic with a hermit in the wilderness; how on his return to Jerusalem at the age of nineteen he joined the popular and influential party of the Pharisees; of the one outstanding incident 10of his early manhood, his visit to Rome at the age of twenty-six—of all these things we may read in his own words. Although he finally threw in his lot with the Pharisees, we may judge from the three years’ stay with Ban(n)us, the specially full account which he gives of the Essenes, and other indications, that the tenets and communistic life of that order left a lasting impression. If we may again attempt a synchronism with events in the life of St. Paul, we may say that the Rabbis were listening to the boy about the time of the first Council of the Church at Jerusalem, he was receiving his schooling during the third missionary journey, and his return to Jerusalem nearly coincided with the arrest of the Apostle in that city.
The journey to Rome (A.D. 63-4), like St. Paul’s a few years earlier, began with a shipwreck. Its nominal purpose was to plead the cause of certain priests who had been sent by Felix to Italy for trial. Chronology will hardly permit us to accept the suggestion of Edersheim to connect St. Paul’s liberation with the mission of Josephus; but he cannot have failed, during his stay in the city on the eve of the Neronian persecution, to become acquainted, if not with the work of the Apostle, at least with the existence of the Christian community. Through the influence of Poppæa, the mistress and afterwards wife of Nero, who coquetted with Judaism (Josephus’s words imply that she was a proselyte), he was successful in obtaining the release of the priests and returned to Judæa laden with presents. Besides the expressed object, was there any ulterior motive in this visit to the capital? Edersheim suggests that, foreseeing the trend of events, Josephus was already fired with the 11ambition of becoming the intermediary between Rome and his nation.
At any rate, his visit had impressed him with a sense of Rome’s invincible power; and on his return to Judæa, where he found the Jews drifting towards revolt and everything pointing to the immediate outbreak of war, he at first tried to pacify the war-party, but in vain. The turbulent state of the country at length induced Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, to advance against Jerusalem. With the disastrous rout of his army in the defiles of Beth-Horon towards the end of A.D. 66, following upon his unexpected withdrawal from the gates of the metropolis, it was realized that the irrevocable step had been taken, and all preparations were made for the impending war.
Josephus, then but twenty-nine years of age, was entrusted with the command of Galilee. The reason for the selection of the young priest for so important a post, for which, notwithstanding his frequent assertions of his skill and strategy, he seems to have been ill-qualified, is obscure. The history of the sequel fills the greater part of the Life, but it is not very easy to follow the course of events and to read the motives of the leaders at Jerusalem and the conflicting aims of the various cities of Galilee, which Josephus found in a divided state. His first steps were to fortify the principal places, to reform the army on the Roman model by appointing subordinate officers, and to set up a council of seventy of the principal Galilæans to try cases and to act as hostages for the loyalty of the district. But his efforts to enforce discipline and to secure the allegiance of the Galilæans were unavailing. He had many opponents, in particular John of Gischala, who afterwards played an important part in the siege of Jerusalem. The spring of A.D. 67 was chiefly spent by 12Josephus in civil strife and in avoiding plots against his life. He was suspected, perhaps justly, of harbouring designs of betraying the country to Rome; he may have hoped to stave off war by some form of compromise. At length John succeeded in inducing the Jerusalem leaders to supersede Josephus, and an embassy was sent to relieve him of his command. He, however, refused to accept the order, and obtained letters from the capital reinstating him. Meanwhile, Vespasian was advancing upon Galilee from Antioch. On the fall of Gadara Josephus was at first inclined to surrender and wrote to Jerusalem for instructions, but finally resolved to stand a siege in the fortified town of Jotapata.
Of the forty-seven days’ siege of Jotapata and the various machinations and counter-machinations of the belligerents Josephus has given us a graphic account in the third book of the Jewish War. The story of its fall (July, A.D. 67) and of the sequel—the capture of the general, after a narrow escape, through a ruse, from death at the hands of his compatriots, and his prophecy of Vespasian’s rise to power—will be found in the text.
“By the end of A.D. 67,” I quote from what I have written elsewhere, “the whole of northern Palestine was in the hands of the Romans. Only Jerusalem, where a bloody civil war was raging, remained to be taken. But its capture was delayed by the events of A.D. 68, which drew the attention of the generals to the west. News came first of the death of Nero, which took place in June, and then, in rapid succession, of the accession of Galba, Otho and Vitellius. In July, A.D. 69, Vespasian’s legions took the law into their own hands, and proclaimed him emperor. One of his first acts as emperor was to liberate Josephus, whose prophecy had now come true.… [Josephus] now accompanied the emperor to Alexandria, 13and from there was sent back with Titus to take part in the siege of Jerusalem…. [His] services as interpreter and intercessor were more than once requisitioned by Titus; on one occasion he was hit by a stone, and barely escaped capture and death at the hands of his countrymen. He was, he tells us, at this time between two fires; for, while bitterly hated by the Jews, he was suspected by the Romans of treachery whenever they met with a reverse.”
For his life in Rome, where he witnessed (with what feelings we are left to imagine) the triumphal procession of the two emperors, and for the various privileges bestowed on him by Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, we may refer to his own narrative. Awarded the rights of Roman citizenship, he was also among the first to be placed on the “civil list” newly instituted by Vespasian. He was still pursued by Jewish hatred; among his opponents he names in particular Justus, a rival historian of the war, and Jonathan, the leader of a revolt in Cyrene, who accused him of complicity in his designs; but with his unfailing tact he succeeded in retaining the favour of the Flavian emperors and defeating his enemies. He appears to have survived into the second century, since he outlived Agrippa II, whose death is placed by Photius in A.D. 100. Eusebius (H. E. III. 9) tells us that our author was honoured by the erection of his statue in Rome, and that his works were placed in the public library. He was married at least four times; one wife deserted him, another he divorced.
During the leisure of his life in Rome Josephus composed the four works which, owing largely, no doubt, to their popularity with early Christian writers, have survived entire: the Jewish War (7 books), the Jewish Antiquities (20 books), the Life and the treatise Against Apion (2 books). There is no adequate ground for thinking that he published anything further.
(i) The Jewish War. This, the earliest of the works, was, in its present Greek form, finished in the latter half of Vespasian’s reign, between A.D. 75 and 79. It cannot be earlier than A.D. 75, because it mentions the completion of the temple of Pax (B. J. VII. 158), which was dedicated in that year; it had, moreover, been preceded by other histories of the war. The Greek, as the author tells us, is a translation, made for the use of the learned Roman world at large, of a first draft, written in his native Aramaic for the benefit of a smaller circle of readers in upper (or inland) Syria. The Aramaic has not survived. The Greek—for which assistance was obtained, “employing certain collaborateurs with a view to the Greek style” are his words, c. Ap. I. 50—shows no sign of its Semitic parentage and probably amounted to practically a new work. It is unlikely, e. g., that the first draft contained the summary sketch of Jewish history from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, which occupies Books I and II of the Greek. The work seems to have been issued in parts. Copies were presented to Vespasian and Titus and other Romans who had taken part in the war, and sold to Herod Agrippa II and other learned Jews (c. Ap. I. 51). Titus himself affixed his imprimatur. A long correspondence on the work passed 15between the author and his friend, Agrippa; two specimens of the king’s letters, in rather slipshod Greek, are quoted.
Books I and II give a rapid sketch (expanded in the Ant.) of Jewish history from the capture of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes (168 B.C.) down to the defeat of Cestius Gallus in A.D. 66 and the preparations for the war. Book III narrates the coming of Vespasian and Titus, the siege of Jotapata and the fighting in Galilee; Book IV the close of the Galilæan campaign, the factions in Jerusalem, the advance of Vespasian upon the city and his return to Rome on being elected emperor by his army; Book V describes the city and Temple, the investment by Titus and the capture of the first and second walls; Book VI the horrors of the famine, the taking of the fortress of Antonia, followed by the burning of the Temple and the capture and destruction of the city; Book VII the return of Titus to Rome, the triumphal procession and the capture of the last strongholds of the Jewish fanatics.
(ii) The Jewish Antiquities. In this, his magnum opus, Josephus undertook to write the history of his nation from the creation to the outbreak of the Jewish War. He tells us of his misgivings in entering on so large a task, the toil which it involved, and how it was only through the encouragement of his patron Epaphroditus (to whom Ant., the Life and the Apion treatise are all dedicated) that it was finally completed in the thirteenth year of Domitian’s reign and the fifty-sixth of his own life, A.D. 93-94 (Ant. I. 6 ff.; XX. 267). The work towards the close shows some marks of weariness. The title (Ἰουδαïκὴ Ἀρχαιολογία) and the division into twenty books were doubtless derived from the great Roman history (Ῥωμαïκὴ Ἀρχαιολογία) of Dionysius of Halicarnassus.
16In Books I-X the narrative closely follows the Biblical account down to the Babylonian captivity; XI carries on the story to Alexander the Great; XII to the death of Judas Maccabæus (161 B.C.); XIII contains the history of the Hasmonæan house to the death of Queen Alexandra (67 B.C.); XIV the intervention of Pompey and the Romans and the accession of Herod the Great (37 B.C.), whose reign (37-4 B.C.) fills XV, XVI and the first half of XVII; the rest of XVII comprises the reign of Archelaus (4 B.C. to A.D. 6); XVIII, XIX and XX cover the remainder of the period of the Gospels and the Acts, including notices of Quirinius, Pilate, Tiberius, Herod the Tetrarch, and the two later Herods; the greater part of XIX is occupied with a full, but irrelevant, account of the assassination of the emperor Gaius and the accession of Claudius (A.D. 41); XX summarizes the events to the outbreak of the war (A.D. 66).
As regards the historian’s authorities for the first half of his work, the main source was the Greek Bible (“the Septuagint”), occasional use being made of the Hebrew. This was supplemented by (1) legends and commentary, drawn, in part at least, from Rabbinic tradition (Haggadah and Halachah); (2) Hellenistic reproductions of the Biblical history by Alexandrians such as Demetrius and Artapanus; (3) secular historians and non-Biblical documents such as Berosus, the annals of Tyre, etc. The number of authorities named under this last head is considerable, but it is probable that many of them were known to Josephus only through the great Universal History of Nicolas of Damascus, the friend of Herod the Great and Augustus, to which he is largely indebted throughout the whole of Ant. For the centuries following the Captivity his authorities are unfortunately scanty and of little value. From the Captivity to Antiochus Epiphanes his main sources are the LXX books of 171 Esdras and Esther, some legends of Alexander the Great, the Letter of Aristeas, 1 Maccabees and (occasionally) Polybius. From this point he relies largely on two lost Universal Histories of Augustan writers, Strabo and Nicolas of Damascus. The latter was undoubtedly his chief authority for the very full account of the reign of Herod the Great, though he does not accept all his statements without question, and appears to have had access to some less eulogistic history of that monarch. Mention is once made of the “Memoirs of King Herod” (XV, 174). With the accession of Archelaus the history, unfortunately for the student of the N.T., again becomes meagre, expanding into greater fullness when the reign of Agrippa I is reached. With regard to him Josephus would obtain information from his son, Agrippa II, and for the events leading up to the war he could draw on his own recollections. The account of the assassination of Gaius, which is of primary importance for the Roman historian, was thought by Mommsen to be derived from the work of Cluvius Rufus, a witness of the events which immediately preceded it. Besides these authorities Josephus had access to priestly records (he notes the succession of high priests throughout the narrative) and to important decrees concerning privileges granted on various occasions to Jews resident in Asia and elsewhere.
(iii) The Life was written as a sequel to the Antiquities, to which it is appended in the MSS. A promise of such an appendix is made at the end of Ant. (XX. 266); and the Life closes with a dedication of the whole history to Epaphroditus, the patron named in the exordium to the larger work. But the Life seems to have been an afterthought, added only after an interval of some six or seven years, since it is implied that, Agrippa II is already dead, and his death is said to have occurred in A.D. 100. 18The immediate occasion for its production was the appearance of a rival history of the Jewish War by Justus of Tiberias, in which the writer accused Josephus of being the real cause of the war with Rome. “The appearance of Justus’s work, with its damaging criticisms, was likely to endanger the secure position which Josephus had won for himself at Rome, and the earlier historian of the war felt bound to defend himself. The Life, then, by no means answers to its name. It is not a complete autobiography, but simply an apologetic statement as to the actions of Josephus as commander in Galilee, to which have been added a few details as to the earlier and later events of his life, by way of prologue and epilogue.” The defence, in which Josephus attempts to pose as friendly to the Romans, while he has to admit the part which he took in organizing the Jewish forces to oppose them, is extremely weak; and the work, which is characterized by inordinate self-praise, is the least satisfactory of the historian’s writings.
(iv) The treatise Against Apion (in two books) is, on the other hand, the most pleasing of our author’s works, showing a well-designed plan, great literary skill, and a more genuine patriotism, a warmer and more impassioned zeal for his country’s religion, than we find elsewhere. The title (not the author’s) is, like that of the Life, unsuitable, Apion not being mentioned until Book II is reached. Older titles were: “On the Antiquity of the Jews” (not sufficiently distinctive), and “Against the Greeks.” It is designed as a reply to criticisms on the Antiquities and a refutation of current attacks upon, and groundless prejudices against, the Jewish nation; it is, in short, an Apology for Judaism with a demonstration of the antiquity of the race. It gives an interesting insight into the anti-Semitism of the first century. Apion is merely one 19representative of Israel’s enemies; a grammarian and interpreter of Homer, he is best known as the leader of the embassy to Caligula in A.D. 38, which brought accusations against the Jewish residents in Alexandria, and was opposed by a counter-embassy of Alexandrian Jews, headed by Philo. Josephus challenges the extreme antiquity claimed for the Greeks; accounts for the silence of Greek writers with regard to Jewish history; cites evidence for the antiquity of his nation from Egyptian, Phœnician, Babylonian and Greek sources; refutes the malignant and absurd accusations of the anti-Semites; and concludes with an able and eloquent defence of the lawgiver and his code, contrasting his conception of God with the immoral ideas current among the Greeks. The numerous quotations from lost writings give the work a special value. Its date must be later than A.D. 93 (the date of Ant.), but whether written before or after the Life is uncertain.
Two further works, as he tells us at the end of Ant., were projected by Josephus, viz.: (1) A summary sketch of the war and the subsequent history of his nation down to A.D. 93-4; (2) “A work in four books concerning God and His being and concerning the Laws, why some actions are permitted to us by them and others are forbidden.” It is unlikely that either was ever completed. But the work on “Customs and Causes,” as he elsewhere calls it, appears, from the mention of the four books and from scattered allusions in the Antiquities to its intended contents, to have already taken shape in his mind, and was perhaps begun. The failure to carry out this scheme is regrettable.
From the repeated occurrence, usually with reference to the Seleucid dynasty or Parthian affairs, of the phrase “as we have shown elsewhere,” Josephus might appear 20to have written a monograph on Syrian history. But the variations on the phrase, “as has been shown elsewhere” (lit. “in others”) and (twice) “… by others,” make it probable that the use of the first person, where it occurs, has been carelessly taken over from one of his authorities.
The fourth book of Maccabees (in vol. iii. of Dr. Swete’s LXX) appears in the older editions of Josephus, but has no claim to have come from his pen.
The Man and the Historian. Importance of his Work
The personal character of Josephus and his credibility as a historian have been often impugned, more especially by his own compatriots. Edersheim’s article in the Dictionary of Christian Biography (where our author finds himself in strange company), while not lacking in appreciation of his merits, displays some of this rancour, though not in its more virulent form. He has been denounced as traitor and renegade, as a flatterer of the Romans and one whose statements must always be regarded with suspicion.
His character is somewhat of an enigma. We may grant that it is not one to arouse any feeling of keen admiration. He was no ardent patriot, like Judas Maccabæus, no missionary in a great cause to which he was ready to devote his whole heart and soul and to sacrifice his life. His three years’ sojourn in the wilderness was not, like the visit to Arabia of an older contemporary, the prelude to a life-work of strenuous and unremitting toil ending in imprisonment and martyrdom. His faults are 21patent; and among them we should rank first an inordinate egotism and a concern, above all other considerations, for his personal interests. His life was constantly in danger; like St. Paul, he encountered perils in the sea, perils from his own countrymen, perils from the Gentiles; but his instinct for self-preservation, aided by ready tact and resourcefulness, carried him safely through the most desperate situations. In his account of the shipwreck we read that “I and certain others, about eighty in all [out of a crew of six hundred], outstripped the others and were taken on board.” There is no thought of the unfortunate swimmers who were left behind; nothing corresponding to the Apostle’s words of encouragement in similar circumstances, and to his biographer’s joy in recording that “all escaped safe to the land.” In Galilee, before the siege of Jotapata, he narrates with evident self-satisfaction the various stratagems by which he outwitted his enemies who plotted against his life. During the siege he meditated flight; “Josephus, dissembling his anxiety for his own safety, said that it was for their sakes that he proposed to retire”—such is his own naïve statement of his reply to the remonstrances of the besieged citizens (B.J. III. 7. 15 f. (197)). Then there is the final scene in the cave; we cannot but admire the dexterity with which he eluded death at the hands of his fellow-prisoners and the vividness of his description; but by what ruse (“should one say by fortune or by the providence of God?” are his own words) he managed to be, with one companion, the last survivor in the drawing of the lots, remains a mystery. Later, as Roman prisoner and Roman citizen, he always steered a safe course and retained the favour of a succession of imperial patrons. He was, it seems, a man of the world with a thoroughly secular disposition.
22What was his real attitude to Judaism? Though he devoted the latter part of his life to writing the history of his nation and a very able defence of their religion, we may doubt whether he was profoundly affected by their beliefs. Traill finds something “unnational” in the first act of his life, when he “looked around him upon the sects and factions of his times … with a philosophic, supercilious independence.” Though we need not, perhaps, go so far as this, nor blame him for what appears to have been a genuine quest of truth, we may allow that he was a cosmopolitan, alienated in many ways from his own nation, and that there was a lack of depth and sincerity in his adherence to Jewish dogmas.
With this must be considered his attitude to Christianity. If we set aside the one brief “testimony” to Jesus Christ, which must be rejected as an interpolation, we are left with the story of the death of James, “the brother of Jesus who was called Christ,” and the reference to the murder of John the Baptist, as the sole allusions to the Founder of Christianity and the movement which prepared the way for it. This glaring omission cannot be other than deliberate. Josephus had every opportunity of acquainting himself with the events of the life of Christ and of his followers; certainly he did not lack the curiosity to investigate the facts, and he must surely have watched with interest the fortunes and rapid spread of the rising sect which, even in St. Paul’s lifetime, had gained a footing in “Cæsar’s household.” The Apostle’s words with reference to an intimate friend of Josephus might have been said of the historian himself: “I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him; for this hath not been done in a corner.” Yet there is this silence. He does not 23attack Christianity; he simply ignores it. And, with our knowledge of the character of Josephus, the reason is not far to seek. He studiously avoids a topic to which, in the circumstances of the time, it would have been dangerous to allude. “Not only was he informed on these subjects; he was far too well informed of what the Christians had already and recently suffered … not to be on his guard against the imprudence of giving any testimony in their favour which might implicate himself in their misfortunes.”
To the same motive must be attributed the historian’s reticence on the subject of a Messiah. The words addressed to the serpent: “It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel,” occasion no allusion to a future deliverer, nor yet the prophecies of Balaam; Jacob’s blessing is omitted; the oracle which foretold the coming of a world-ruler out of Judæa is interpreted of Vespasian. On the other hand, there are a few passages which suggest that Josephus did not regard the fulfilment of prophecy as closed with the destruction of Jerusalem, and that he may have entertained a belief in a Messianic era involving the downfall of Rome, of which he dared not speak openly. On Balaam he writes (Ant. IV. 6. 5 ): “From the accomplishment of all these things in accordance with his prediction one may conjecture what will happen in the future”; and again, in the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Ant. X. 10. 4 ): “Daniel also showed the king the meaning of the stone, but I have not thought proper to relate this, my duty being to describe past, not future, events,” while curious enquirers are referred to the prophetical book.
In his public life as statesman and general Josephus scarcely deserves the hard names of traitor and renegade. Involved in early manhood in the rush of events arising 24out of a popular movement which had long been gathering force, with which he did not sympathize, which he could not stem and vainly tried to direct, realizing from the first the hopelessness of combating the Roman legions, and anxious to find some means of compromise by which to save his country from ruin, he nevertheless accepted the post with which he was entrusted, and threw himself into the task of organizing, to the best of his ability, the defences of Galilee, so long as resistance was possible; while he devoted the energies of his later life, when his position might have tempted him to disown his nation, to writing its history and defending his countrymen against the slanders of a malignant world.
On the position of Josephus as a historian, widely different opinions have been held, from that of Jerome who extolled him as a “Greek Livy,” to the criticisms of some modern writers who have accused him of bias and gross misrepresentation.
The apologetic nature of the Antiquities is self-evident. The author’s purpose was to represent his maligned nation in the best light to Greek readers, “to break down, if possible, the wall of partition that had hitherto secluded the Hebrew race from the communion and cut them off from the sympathies of mankind,” to “plead the cause of the injured Jew at the bar of the world” (Traill). This object has occasioned the suppression of some (though not all) of the less creditable incidents in the Biblical narrative. With a view to attractiveness the narrative is diversified by legendary additions culled from various sources, while occasionally, it must be admitted, the author seems to have added minor details of his own invention (see below on the imitation of Thucydides). Granted some blemishes of this kind, there remains no 25very serious charge against the writer of Ant. That work is, on the whole, a skilful compilation, its value varying with that of the authorities consulted, while the criticisms passed on some of them show that these were not always used without discrimination. He professes in several passages to have a high ideal of a historian’s duty, and, speaking generally, one may allow that he so far comes up to it as to deserve a fairly high, if not a foremost, place among the historians of antiquity.
As the historian of the Jewish War, Josephus comes before us with the highest credentials. Holding command in Galilee in its opening stages and behind the Roman lines throughout the siege of Jerusalem, he was exceptionally well qualified for this task, and must have relied mainly on his own recollections and the notes which he made at the time (c. Ap. I. 49). Deserters kept him informed of events within the city (ib.). He seems also to have had access to the emperor’s memoirs (Life 358). He submitted the books as they were finished to Herod Agrippa and the completed work to Vespasian and Titus, and from them and others received testimonials to his accuracy (c. Ap. I. 50 ff., Life 361 ff.). We may therefore unhesitatingly accept the general trustworthiness of his account. Exception should, perhaps, be made for a tendency to exaggeration, e. g. in the matter of numbers, and for some, though not a marked, bias for extolling the achievements and clemency of the Roman generals. His statement that Titus desired to spare the Temple runs counter to that of another historian (Sulpicius Severus), who asserts that the destruction received his sanction; the Jewish historian was, at any rate, in a better position to know the facts.
Besides the authorities whom he names in the Antiquities, 26Josephus, who devoted much attention to style, made a special study of the great masters. The use which he has made of his chief model forms an interesting study. Was it Dionysius of Halicarnassus (to whom, as we saw, he owed the title and arrangement of his Ant.) and his essays on the style of Thucydides that first introduced him to the historian of the Peloponnesian War? Or did he trace a likeness to himself in the great Athenian? Widely different as were the characters of the two men, there were points of similarity in their careers. Like Josephus, Thucydides combined the duties of general and historian of the great war; like him he failed as a military commander (IV. 104 ff.), and through his consequent exile was enabled to associate with the enemy and to view the war from the standpoint of both belligerents (V. 26). However that may be (and it is to the credit of our author that he does not suggest the comparison), there is a marked imitation of the style of Thucydides in portions of the Antiquities, especially in Books XVII-XIX, which possess peculiarities of their own. The imitation is seen in the recurrent use of some striking phrase, and occasionally in the bold attempt to reproduce the difficult and involved style characteristic of parts of Thucydides. One instance of a borrowed phrase must suffice. In his account of the plague of Athens, Thucydides writes, “When they were afraid to visit one another, the sufferers died in their solitude … or if they ventured they perished, especially those who aspired to heroism.” The phrase in italics has taken the fancy of Josephus, who employs it repeatedly. But imitation did not stop at the diction. The narrative 27of incidents in the history of Israel has been heightened, it seems, by touches from the account of the siege of Platæa and the Sicilian expedition; this last exploit in particular has aroused the emulation of our author.
Beside this indebtedness to former historians, Josephus doubtless derived inspiration from the literary circle of living authors by whom he was surrounded in Rome. The account of the assassination of Caligula was, as stated, possibly derived from Cluvius Rufus; and it is interesting to reflect that our author must have known a writer just rising to fame, the historian of the Emperors, who has also left us a brief account of the Jewish War, Cornelius Tacitus.
The high literary standard attained by the historian, writing in a language which he acquired with difficulty, and the power of vivid and dramatic description, evident in many brilliant passages, are in the circumstances very remarkable.
Every allowance being made for our author’s defects, the importance of his work is unquestionable. His writings bridge the gulf between sacred and profane literature; they bring the Jewish nation out of its isolation into the main current of world history. The task which he set himself could only be accomplished by a Jew, and few Jews possessed the requisite qualifications of a wide outlook and an intimate knowledge of the world and of Greek literature. His detachment from his nation and other characteristics which may appear as deficiencies in the man are not without their advantages for the historian.
For the O.T. period we may consult him as a store-house of Rabbinical and Alexandrian lore, though his acquaintance with Palestinian tradition is considered by 28experts to have been as superficial as, judged by his interpretation of proper names, was his knowledge of Hebrew. But it is only when we come down to about the last century before our era and to the N.T. period itself that his evidence acquires supreme importance. Here he gives us the background of Jewish and world history in the time of our Lord and the infant Church; without his labours such a work as Schürer’s Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ could not have been written. Some figures which in the N.T. are little more than names become clothed with life; side-lights are cast on others with which we are more familiar. We may follow in detail the story, told with all the moving pathos of Greek tragedy, of the rise of Herod the Great to the height of his fame and of the nemesis which blasted his domestic happiness. We have full and lifelike portraits of Roman governors and generals, comparable with the slighter sketches in the Gospels and Acts; on the one hand we may read of the causes of the unpopularity of Pilate and of his successors, the last of the procurators, whose corrupt administration and shameless peculation precipitated the war, on the other of high-minded governors like Petronius, claiming kinship with similar noble characters in the N.T.
Among other such illustrations of the N.T. which will be found in the selected passages below the following may be noted. Herod’s dying provision to secure himself a national mourning exhibits the cruelty of the murderer of the innocents. In illustration of St. Luke’s account of the infancy (ii. 1 ff.) we may read the full story of an enrolment under Quirinius; also of the revolt of Judas to which it gave rise and of the later insurrection of Theudas, both of which are mentioned in Gamaliel’s 29speech in the Sanhedrin (Acts v. 36 f.). In the full account of the succession of Archelaus we may discover the historical event which suggested our Lord’s parable of the nobleman travelling to a far country (Luke xix. 12 ff.). We have independent narratives, partly inconsistent with those in the N.T., of the marriage of Herod the Tetrarch with Herodias and of the death of Herod Agrippa I. In a beautiful story we read of a royal lady who, like Paul and Barnabas, brought relief to famine-stricken Jerusalem in the days of Claudius. The expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Tiberius forms a precedent for the similar action of Claudius (Acts xviii. 2). With the later scenes in St. Paul’s life we may compare what is told us of Felix and Festus, and again of Agrippa II and the marriage of Felix and Drusilla; while the account of the Cypriot magician and his influence over Felix strangely resembles that of Elymas and Sergius Paulus (Acts xiii. 6 ff.). We may read, moreover, of the death of James “the Lord’s brother”; of the use of the word “Corban” (Mark vii. 11) as an oath; of the tenets of the Jewish sects (in more than one passage), and how the Pharisees acquired their power a century before the time of Christ; we have a detailed account of the Jewish treatment in the first century of a case of demoniacal possession; and, last but not least, we find in the scenes from the Jewish War the fulfilment of our Lord’s predictions of the fate of Jerusalem.
Other alleged connexions between Josephus and the N.T. are open to serious question. Few will be inclined to follow Wellhausen, who finds in the murder of Zacharias son of Baris (or Bariscæus or Baruch) the 30incident referred to in our Lord’s words about “the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar” (Matt. xxiii. 35). Many critics have maintained that there is a direct literary connexion between the Jewish historian and St. Luke, whose writings (not unnaturally, since he alone of the Evangelists composed a “second treatise”) furnish the majority of the parallels. There is very little probability in the suggestion that Josephus, in his description of himself in boyhood being consulted by the Rabbis, was influenced by Luke ii. 46 f. There is more to be said for the theory that St. Luke had made a cursory perusal of parts of the Antiquities and had been thereby led, in at least one instance, into serious error; reasons for rejecting this view will be found elsewhere.
Texts and Translations
The literature on Josephus is immense. It will suffice here to mention two standard editions of the Greek text and two English translations.
Older editions have been practically supplanted by the great critical edition of B. Niese in seven volumes, including a full critical apparatus and introductions on the MSS (Berlin 1887-1895). It cannot be said that Niese has established a final text; he seems to err in placing too great reliance on a single class of MSS, with the result that the true reading is often to be found in the notes rather than in the text. In his editio minor without critical apparatus (1888-1895) some corrections of the errors of the MSS have been introduced. On the basis of the older work of Bekker (1855) and with assistance from Niese, a handy edition has been issued in the Teubner series of classical authors by 31S. A. Naber (6 vols., Leipzig, 1888-1896). Niese’s larger edition is indispensable to the student, but that of Naber forms a useful auxiliary and check upon it. Notwithstanding Niese’s work, much remains to be done in establishing the text on a firm basis. In many difficult passages all MSS seem to have gone astray and we are left to conjectural emendation; there are also occasional small lacunæ.
In English Josephus is best known through the translation of William Whiston, first published nearly two centuries ago (1736). A revision of Whiston was produced by the Rev. A. R. Shilleto in Bohn’s Standard Library, with brief topographical notes by Sir C. W. Wilson (5 vols., London, G. Bell, 1889-1890). The revised Whiston is the most serviceable rendering of the complete works available. Whiston has many merits, but he had not access to a good text, his rendering is often at fault and he had little regard for style; while Shilleto’s revision, which appeared inopportunely just before the two modern editions of the Greek text, unfortunately leaves much to be desired.
Of a very different character is the admirable translation of the Jewish War and the Life made by the Rev. Dr. R. Traill and edited, after his death, with notes by Isaac Taylor (London, 1862). Dr. Traill fell a victim to his exertions in relieving his parishioners during the Irish famine of 1846-7, and the version which he contemplated of the remaining works never appeared. In his translation, which combines faithfulness to the original with a fastidious regard for English style, Traill went far towards accomplishing for Josephus what Jowett did for Thucydides.
My procedure in the following selections has been first to produce a version of my own, and then carefully to revise it with the help of both Shilleto’s, Whiston and 32Traill. In several instances I had the satisfaction of finding that my rendering practically agreed with Traill’s, but I have not scrupled elsewhere to avail myself of happy turns of expression where, as often, he had the advantage of me. Josephus, with his feeling for good style and the pains which he took to acquire it, deserves and demands much care in translation. While in parts of his work his Greek is simple and easy, passages, on the other hand, where he gives his reflections on the character, or estimates the motives, of his dramatis personæ, in the involved manner of Thucydides, are extraordinarily difficult both to understand and to reproduce in readable English.
I have selected the passages most relevant to Christian origins and New Testament study, neglecting almost entirely the first twelve books of the Antiquities.
For further literature reference may be made to the articles in the Dictionary of Christian Biography (Edersheim), the Jewish Encyclopædia (S. Krauss), Hastings’ Dictionary of the Apostolic Church (von Dobschütz), Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, Extra Volume (Thackeray), and to Schürer’s Jewish People in the time of Christ (E.T.), div. i. vol. i. pp. 77-110.
I have to acknowledge my gratitude to my sister-in-law, Miss Harriette G. Orr, for her kind assistance in the compilation of the Index.
(1) The Boy among the Doctors. His Education
I was brought up with Matthias, my own brother by both parents, and made great progress in my education, gaining a reputation for an excellent memory and understanding. A.D. 51-2While still a mere boy, about fourteen years old, I won universal applause for my love of letters; insomuch that the chief priests and the leading men of the city used constantly to meet in order to obtain from me more accurate information on some particular in our legal institutions. A.D. 53-4At about the age of sixteen I determined to gain personal experience of the several sects into which our nation is divided. These, as I have frequently mentioned, are three in number—the first that of the Pharisees, the second that of the Sadducees, and the third that of the Essenes. I thought that, after a thorough investigation, I should be in a position to select the best. So I submitted myself to hard training and laborious exercises and passed through the three courses. Not content, however, with the experience thus gained, on hearing of one named Bannus, who dwelt in the wilderness, wearing only such raiment as trees provided, feeding on such things as grew of themselves, and using frequent ablutions of cold water, by day and night, for purity’s sake, I became his ardent disciple. With him I lived for three years and, having accomplished my 34purpose, returned to the city. A.D. 56-7Being now in my nineteenth year I began to govern my life by the rules of the Pharisees, a sect which is akin to that which the Greeks call the Stoic school.—Vita 2 (8-12).
(2) A Shipwreck on the Voyage to Rome. The Eve of the War
Josephus meets with the same fate as St. Paul within a few years of the event so graphically described in Acts xxvii.
c. A.D. 64
Soon after I had completed my twenty-sixth year it fell to my lot to go up to Rome for a reason which I will proceed to relate. At the time when Felix was procurator of Judæa, certain priests of my acquaintance, very excellent men, were on a slight and trifling charge sent by him in bonds to Rome to render an account to Cæsar. I was anxious to discover some means of delivering these men, more especially as I learnt that, even in affliction, they had not forgotten the pious practices of religion, but supported themselves on figs and nuts. I reached Rome after being in great jeopardy at sea. For our ship foundered in the midst of the sea of Adria, and our crew of some six hundred souls had to swim all that night. About daybreak, through God’s good providence, we sighted a ship of Cyrene, and I and certain others, about eighty in all, outstripped the others and were taken on board. Landing safely at Dicæarchia, which the Italians call Puteoli, I became on friendly terms with Aliturus, an actor who was a special favourite of Nero and of Jewish origin. Through him I became known to Poppæa, Cæsar’s wife, and took the earliest opportunity of soliciting her aid to secure the liberation of the priests. In addition to this kind service, I received large gifts from Poppæa, and so returned to my own country.
35There I found revolutionary movements already on foot, and that many were building high hopes on the prospect of revolt from Rome. I accordingly endeavoured to repress these promoters of sedition and to bring them over to another frame of mind. I urged them to picture to themselves the nation on which they were about to make war, and to remember that they were inferior to the Romans, not only in military skill, but in good fortune; and I warned them not thus recklessly and with such utter madness to expose their country, their families and themselves to the direst perils. With such words I earnestly and insistently sought to dissuade them from their purpose, foreseeing that the end of the war would be most disastrous for us. But my efforts were unavailing; the madness of desperation was far too strong for me.—Vita 3-4 (13-19).
(3) The “Jewish War” and its Reception. Criticism of a rival Historian (Justus)
I cannot but wonder at your impudence in daring to assert that your narrative is to be preferred to that of all who have written on this subject, when you neither knew what happened in Galilee—for you were then at Berytus with the king—nor acquainted yourself with all that the Romans endured or inflicted upon us at the siege of Jotapata; nor was it in your power to ascertain the part which I myself played in the siege, since all possible informants perished in that conflict. Perhaps, however, you will say that you have accurately narrated the events which took place at Jerusalem. How, pray, can that be, seeing that neither were you a combatant nor had you perused the Memoirs of Cæsar, as is abundantly proved 36by your contradictory account? But, if you are so confident that your history excels all others, why did you not publish it in the lifetime of the Emperors Vespasian and Titus, who conducted the war, and while King Agrippa and all his family, persons thoroughly conversant with Hellenic culture, were still among us? You had it written twenty years ago, and might then have obtained the evidence of eyewitnesses to your accuracy. But not until now, After A.D. 100when those persons are no longer with us and you think you cannot be confuted, have you ventured to publish it.
I had no such apprehensions concerning my work. No; I presented the volumes to the Emperors themselves, when the events had hardly passed out of sight, conscious as I was that I had preserved the true story. I expected to receive testimony to my accuracy and was not disappointed. To many others also I immediately presented my History, some of whom had taken part in the war, such as King Agrippa and some of his relatives. Indeed, so anxious was the Emperor Titus that my volumes should be the sole authority from which the world should learn the facts, that he affixed his own signature to them and gave orders for their publication; while King Agrippa wrote sixty-two letters testifying to the truth of the record. Two of these I subjoin, from which you may, if you will, learn the nature of his communications:—
“King Agrippa to dearest Josephus greeting. I have perused the book with the greatest pleasure. You seem to me to have written with much greater care and accuracy than any who have dealt with the subject. Send me the remaining volumes. Farewell.”
37“King Agrippa to dearest Josephus greeting. From what you have written you appear to stand in no need of instruction, to enable us all to learn (everything from you) from the beginning. But when you meet me, I will myself instruct you in many things of which you are ignorant.”—Vita 65 (357-366).
(4) After the War. Josephus as Roman Citizen
After the siege of Jotapata I was in the hands of the Romans and was kept under guard, while receiving every attention. Vespasian showed in many ways the honour in which he held me, and it was by his command that I married one of the women taken captive at Cæsarea, a virgin and a native of that place. She did not, however, remain long with me, for she left me on my obtaining my release and accompanying Vespasian to Alexandria. There I married again. From Alexandria I was sent A.D. 70with Titus to the siege of Jerusalem, where my life was frequently in danger, both from the Jews, who were eager to get me into their hands, to gratify their revenge, and from the Romans, who attributed every reverse to some treachery on my part, and were constantly and clamorously demanding of the Emperor that he should punish me as their betrayer. Titus Cæsar, however, knowing well the varying fortunes of war, repressed by his silence the soldiers’ outbursts against me.
Again, when at last Jerusalem was on the point of being carried by assault, Titus Cæsar repeatedly urged me to take whatever I would from the wreck of my country, stating that I had his permission. And I, now 38that my native place had fallen, having nothing more precious to take and preserve as a solace for my personal misfortunes, made request to Titus for the freedom of some of my countrymen; I also received by his gracious favour a gift of sacred books. Not long after I made petition for my brother and fifty friends, and my request was granted. Again, by permission of Titus, I entered the Temple, where a great multitude of captive women and children had been imprisoned, and liberated all the friends and acquaintances whom I recognized, in number about a hundred and ninety; I took no ransom for their release and restored them to their former fortune. Once more, when I was sent by Titus Cæsar with Cerealius and a thousand horse to a village called Tekoa, to prospect whether it was a suitable place for an entrenched camp, and on my return saw many prisoners who had been crucified and recognized three of my acquaintances among them, I was cut to the heart and came and told Titus with tears what I had seen. He gave orders immediately that they should be taken down and receive the most careful treatment. Two of them died in the physicians’ hands; the third survived.
When Titus had quelled the disturbances in Judæa, conjecturing that the lands which I held at Jerusalem would be unprofitable to me, because a Roman garrison was to be quartered there, he gave me another parcel of ground in the plain. On his departure for Rome, he took me with him on board, treating me with every mark of respect. On our arrival in Rome, I met with great consideration from Vespasian. He gave me a lodging in the house which he had occupied before he came to the throne; he honoured me with the privilege of Roman citizenship; and he assigned me a pension. 39He continued to honour me up to the time of his departure from this life, without any abatement in his kindness towards me…. Vespasian also presented me with a considerable tract of land in Judæa.
About this time I divorced my wife, being displeased at her behaviour. She had borne me three children, of whom two died; one, whom I named Hyrcanus, is still alive. Afterwards I married a woman of Jewish extraction who had settled in Crete. She came of very distinguished parents, indeed the most notable people in that country. In character she surpassed many of her sex, as her subsequent life showed. By her I had two sons, Justus the elder, and then Simonides, surnamed Agrippa. Such is my domestic history.
The treatment which I received from the Emperors continued unaltered. On Vespasian’s decease A.D. 79Titus, who succeeded to the empire, showed the same esteem for me as did his father, and never credited the accusations to which I was constantly subjected. Domitian succeeded A.D. 81Titus and added to my honours. He punished my Jewish accusers, and for a similar offence gave orders for the punishment of a slave who was a eunuch and my son’s tutor. He also exempted my property in Judæa from taxation—a mark of the highest honour to the privileged individual. Moreover, Domitia, Cæsar’s wife, never ceased conferring favours upon me.
Such are the events of my whole life; from them let others judge as they will of my character.—Vita 75-76 (414-430).
For further autobiographical details see below, §§ (38), (43), (44), (46), (48).
40II. SPECIMENS OF AMPLIFICATION OF THE BIBLICAL NARRATIVE
(5) Moses, the Infant Prodigy, introduced to Pharaoh
For Moses’ beauty, cf. Acts vii. 20. The name of Pharaoh’s daughter, Thermuthis, occurs also in the Book of Jubilees (xlvii. 5, Tharmuth); elsewhere she is called Bithiah (cf. 1 Chron. iv. 18). For Rabbinical parallels, see art. “Moses” in the Jewish Encyclopædia.
When he was three years old, God added wondrously to his stature; and there was no one so lost to an appreciation of beauty as, on seeing Moses, not to be amazed at his comeliness. It often happened that persons meeting him as he was carried along the road, attracted by the child’s appearance, turned round and, leaving their pursuits, gave themselves up to gazing at him. Such boyish charm, so remarkable and perfect as his, held the onlookers spellbound.
Such was Moses when Thermuthis, who was not blessed with offspring of her own, adopted him as her son. Now on one occasion she brought him to her father and showed him to him, and told him how, in case it was God’s will that she should have no child of her own, she had made provision for a successor, by bringing up a boy of divine beauty and noble spirit, and by what a miracle she had received him from the bounteous river. “And I thought,” she added, “to make him my child and the heir to your kingdom.”
With these words she laid the babe in her father’s arms; and he took him and hugged him to his breast, 41and, to please his daughter, affectionately placed his diadem upon his head. But Moses, in mere childishness, tore it off and dashed it to the ground and trampled upon it.
The incident was thought ominous, portending ill to the kingdom. The sacred scribe, who had foretold that the child’s birth would cause the humiliation of the Egyptian Empire, witnessed the scene and rushed forward to kill him, with an alarming cry. “This, O king,” so he cried, “is that child of whom God told us that if we kill him we need fear nothing. By his action in trampling on (the symbol of) thy sovereignty and treading the diadem under foot, he bears out my prediction. Kill him, then, and at one stroke relieve the Egyptians of their fear of him and deprive the Hebrews of the confident hopes which he inspires.”
But Thermuthis was too quick for him and snatched the child away. The king, too, was reluctant to slay him, being inclined to mercy by God, whose providence watched over Moses’ life. Great care was accordingly devoted to his upbringing; the Hebrews resting high hopes upon him for their future, while the Egyptians viewed his education with suspicion.—Ant. II. 9. 6 f. (230-237).
(6) Exorcism in the name of Solomon
“By whom do your sons cast them out?”
God also enabled Solomon, for man’s benefit and cure, to learn the art of encountering devils. He both composed charms for the alleviation of diseases and also left behind him certain methods of exorcism, by which the poor prisoners may expel the devils so that they never return.
42This treatment even to this day is of the greatest efficacy among the Jews. I have myself witnessed one of my countrymen, a certain Eleazar, in the presence of Vespasian and his sons and some tribunes and a crowd of soldiers of other ranks, releasing (from their bondage) persons who were possessed by these devils. The mode of treatment was as follows. To the demoniac’s nose he applied his ring which held beneath the seal a root obtained in accordance with Solomon’s prescription, and then as the man smelt it he drew the devil out through his nostrils. The patient at once fell down and Eleazar adjured the devil never to return into him again, using Solomon’s name and reciting the incantations which that monarch composed. Moreover, in his desire to convince the bystanders and to prove that he really possessed this power, Eleazar used to place a little in front of the demoniac a cup or basin full of water, with a command to the devil on his exit from the man to overturn these vessels and so to let the spectators know that he had left him. On this taking place, the skill and wisdom of Solomon were clearly established.—Ant. VIII. 2. 5 (45-49).
(7) Micaiah and Zedekiah prophesy before Ahab
Cf. 1 Kings xxii. With the alleged discrepancy between prophecies of Elijah and Micaiah, cf. Jos. Ant. X. 7. 2 (106 f.) for seeming inconsistency between Jeremiah and Ezekiel which led King Zedekiah to disbelieve both.
So Ahab summoned his own prophets, in number about four hundred, and bade them enquire of God whether, if he led his forces against Ader, He would grant him victory and enable him to overthrow the city 43which was his objective in going to war. The prophets advised him to undertake the expedition, assuring him that he would defeat the Syrian (king) and get him into his power as on the former occasion. But Jehoshaphat understood from their words that they were false prophets, and asked Ahab whether there was some other prophet of God besides, that they might obtain more accurate information about the issue. Ahab replied that there was such a man, but that he hated him because he prophesied evil and had foretold that he would be defeated and slain by the Syrian (king). “I have him now in ward,” he said, “and his name is Micaiah, the son of Omblaiah.” However, as Jehoshaphat urged that he should be produced, Ahab sent a eunuch to fetch Micaiah.
The eunuch explained to him on the road how all the other prophets had foretold that the king would be victorious; to which he replied that it was impossible for him to give a false report of God’s word, but he would speak whatever God should tell him concerning the king. So when he came before Ahab, and had been adjured by him to tell him the truth, he said that God had shown him the Israelites in flight, pursued by the Syrians and scattered by them to the mountains like flocks that had lost their shepherds. He added that it was revealed to him that they would return to their homes in peace, but he, and he only, would fall in the battle.
When Micaiah had thus spoken, Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “See, I told you but now of this fellow’s disposition towards me and how he predicted for me nothing but the worst.”
Micaiah replied that Ahab ought to listen to all that God foretold, and that the false prophets were inciting 44him to make this war, hoping that he would be victorious, whereas he was destined to fall in the battle.
This caused the king to reflect; but Zedekiah, one of the false prophets, approached and advised him to pay no heed to Micaiah. “There is,” he said, “no truth in his words, as I can prove from a prophecy of one who could read the future better than this fellow, I mean Elijah. Elijah foretold that dogs would lick up your blood in the field of Naboth, as they had licked the blood of Naboth who for your sake was stoned to death by the people. Clearly, then, this fellow is a liar, when he contradicts a prophet greater than himself, by asserting that you will die at a distance of three days’ journey from that spot. But you shall all learn whether he speaks the truth and possesses the power of the divine spirit. The instant I strike him, let him injure my hand, as Jadaus withered king Jeroboam’s right hand when he wished to arrest him. You have heard, I presume, that that actually happened.”
So he struck Micaiah, and, when no harm happened to him, Ahab took courage and was ready to lead his army against the king of Syria. Fate, I suppose, was winning the day and causing the false prophets to appear more plausible than the true, that so she might find a handle to bring about his end.—Ant. VIII. 15. 4 (401-439).
45III. THE COMING OF THE ROMANS
(8) Loss of Jewish Independence. Palestinian Settlement under Pompey
The quarrels between the brothers Aristobulus II and Hyrcanus II bring about the intervention of Rome in Palestinian affairs. Pompey takes Jerusalem, and Syria becomes a Roman province. 63 B.C.See Map 40 in the Hist. Atlas of Holy Land of G. A. Smith and J. G. Bartholomew.
The sanctuary, which hitherto had been inaccessible and screened from view, suffered gross outrage. Pompey, with several of his staff, penetrated into the inner court and saw things which it was unlawful for any save the high priests to behold. There stood the golden table, and the holy candlestick, and the cups for libations, and a mass of spices; besides these, in the treasury was the sacred money amounting to two thousand talents. Yet Pompey out of piety touched none of these, acting here again in a manner worthy of his noble nature.
On the following day he gave orders to those in charge of the Temple to cleanse the precincts and to offer to God the offerings prescribed by the Law. The high priesthood he restored to Hyrcanus, in gratitude for his other services and chiefly because he had restrained the Jews of the country from taking up arms for Aristobulus. Those who had been responsible for the war were beheaded; Faustus and all who had gallantly scaled the wall received at his hands the appropriate rewards of valour.
46Jerusalem he made tributary to Rome, and the cities of Cœle-Syria which had in times past been subdued by the inhabitants (of the metropolis) were taken from them and placed under a governor appointed by himself; and the whole nation, whose power had until then been greatly increasing, was strictly confined within its own bounds. He rebuilt Gadara, which had recently been destroyed, to gratify his freedman Demetrius who was a Gadarene. The other cities—Hippos, Scythopolis, Pella, Dium, Samaria, also Marisa, Azotus, Jamnia and Arethusa—he restored to their inhabitants. These, as well as the cities which had been razed, were all in the interior of the country. On the sea-board Gaza, Joppa, Dora and Strato’s Tower—afterwards magnificently rebuilt by Herod and embellished with harbours and temples under the new name of Cæsarea—all these were liberated by Pompey and attached to the province (of Syria).
Jerusalem owed this calamity to the quarrels of Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. We lost our liberty and became subject to the Romans; we were forced to give back to the Syrians the territory which we had taken from them by our arms. Moreover, within a short period the Romans exacted from us over ten thousand talents. The kingship, formerly a privilege bestowed on those who were high priests by right of birth, now passed into plebeian hands; of this we shall speak in due course.
Pompey then handed over Cœle-Syria with the rest of Syria, from the river Euphrates to Egypt, to Scaurus, leaving him two Roman legions, and departed for Cilicia en route for Rome. He took with him Aristobulus as a prisoner with his children.—Ant. XIV. 4. 4 f. (71-79).
47(9) Division of the Country into Five Districts by Gabinius
Gabinius completes Pompey’s work in the settlement of the province of Syria.
c. 57 B.C.
After this Gabinius reinstated Hyrcanus in Jerusalem and committed to him the custody of the Temple. The civil administration he reconstituted under the form of an aristocracy. He divided the whole nation into five unions; one of these he attached to Jerusalem, another to Gadara, the third had Amathus as its centre of government, the fourth was allotted to Jericho, the fifth to Sepphoris, a city of Galilee. The Jews welcomed their release from the rule of an individual and were from that time forward governed by an aristocracy.—B. J. I. 8. 5 (169 f.).
(10) Settlement under Julius Cæsar
In due course Cæsar concluded the war and set sail for Syria. There he confirmed the appointment of Hyrcanus to the high priesthood, while he bestowed high honours on Antipater—the privilege of Roman citizenship with exemption from taxation everywhere….
Cæsar then appointed Hyrcanus high priest and Antipater civil governor, allowing him to select his own title. Antipater leaving the decision to him, Cæsar made him viceroy of Judæa. He further permitted Hyrcanus, at his request, to rebuild the walls of the capital, which had lain in ruins since their demolition by Pompey. He sent instructions to the consuls at Rome that a record of these decisions should be placed in the Capitol.—Ant. XIV. 8. 3, 5 (137, 143 f.).
48IV. HEROD THE GREAT
(11) The Youth Herod frees Galilee from the Brigands
c. 47-6 B.C.
Antipater, when he saw that Hyrcanus was of an inert and sluggish disposition, put his eldest son Phasael in command of Jerusalem and the surrounding district, and committed Galilee to his second son, Herod, then a mere stripling; he was but fifteen years old. Still his youth was no hindrance to him, and, being a lad of high spirit, he at once met with an opportunity for the display of his quality. Finding that one Ezekias, the captain of a band of brigands, with a large horde, was overrunning the adjoining parts of Syria, he caught him and put him to death with many of his confederates. This achievement of his won him the warmest affection of the Syrians; he had purged their country of this nest of robbers of which they were longing to be rid. They would sing his praises for this feat throughout their villages and cities, acclaiming him as one who had brought them peace and the secure enjoyment of their possessions. This action, moreover, brought him to the notice of Sextus Cæsar, a kinsman of the great Cæsar and now governor of Syria.—Ant. XIV. 9. 2 (158-160).
(12) Herod on his Trial before the Sanhedrin
c. 47-6 B.C.
But the principal Jews, when they saw Antipater and his sons growing so great through the good-will of the nation and the revenues which they derived from Judæa 49and from the wealth of Hyrcanus, became ill-disposed to him. For Antipater had made an alliance with the Roman Emperors and had induced Hyrcanus to send them money; he then appropriated this money and despatched it as a gift from himself and not from Hyrcanus. Hyrcanus, when the matter came to his ears, was indifferent. Not so the Jewish leaders. The sight of Herod—violent, audacious and hankering after autocratic power—filled them with alarm. So they approached Hyrcanus and now openly accused Antipater. “How much longer,” they said, “will you remain unmoved by what is happening? Do you not see that Antipater and his sons have girded themselves with the ruler’s power, leaving you but the barren name of king? Mark these things and do not expect to escape peril by carelessness for yourself and your kingdom. Antipater and his sons are no longer stewards of your realm—do not deceive yourself with that thought—but openly and confessedly despots. One son, Herod, by killing Ezekias, with many of his followers, has transgressed our law, which forbids the slaying of any man, even a malefactor, unless he has first been condemned to this penalty by the Sanhedrin. Yet Herod took it upon him to do this without your authority.”
This speech had its effect upon Hyrcanus. His indignation was further roused by the mothers of Herod’s victims, who continued day by day in the Temple to petition the king and the people to bring Herod to judgement before the Sanhedrin for his actions. Thus instigated, Hyrcanus summoned Herod to trial upon the charges laid against him. He came. His father had advised him to meet his judges not as a private individual but with a bodyguard to protect him, after securing his position in Galilee in the manner that seemed most 50to his own advantage. He set his affairs in order accordingly, and with an escort just sufficient for his journey, so as neither to intimidate Hyrcanus by appearing with a larger body, nor yet to be quite exposed and unprotected, went to his trial.
However, Sextus, the governor of Syria, sent written instructions to Hyrcanus to acquit Herod, adding threats in the event of his disregarding them. This letter of Sextus gave Hyrcanus a handle for delivering Herod unscathed from the Sanhedrin, for he loved him as his own son.
Herod, as he stood in the Sanhedrin with his body-guard round him, overawed them all, and none of those who before his arrival had been maligning him, now dared to accuse him. There was deep silence and perplexity how to proceed.
In this critical situation one Sameas, a man whose upright character made him superior to fear, rose up and said: “Fellow-councillors and King, I know of none, nor, I suppose, can you name any, of those who in times past have been summoned before you, who appeared in such guise as this. Every one, of whatever rank, entering this council-chamber on his trial, comes with an air of humility and the appearance of one in fear and craving your mercy, with his hair long and in black raiment. But this most worthy Herod, a defendant on trial for murder, when summoned to answer so grave a charge, stands here in purple array, with well-trimmed hair adorning his head, and with armed men around him, ready, if we condemn him in accordance with the law, to kill us and to save himself in defiance of justice. Yet it is not Herod I would blame for such conduct, if he puts his own interests above the laws, but you and the King for giving him so great licence. Be assured, 51however, I call God Almighty to witness, that this man, whom, to gratify Hyrcanus, you now desire to acquit, will one day punish both you and your King.”
And his words came true. For Herod, on inheriting his kingdom, slew all those who were in the Sanhedrin, and Hyrcanus with them, Sameas alone excepted. For he had a high regard for Sameas on account of his upright character and because, when the city was afterwards 37 B.C.besieged by Herod and Sossius, he advised the people to admit Herod, telling them that for their sins they could not escape him.—Ant. XIV. 9. 3 f. (163-176).
(13) Herod and Cassius. Murder of Antipater, Herod’s Father
After the death of Julius Cæsar, when civil war was impending, Cassius came to Syria and exacted heavy taxes, in the collection of which he was assisted by Antipater and his sons. Malichus had plotted against Antipater; Antipater had pardoned him, and had also saved his life when he was in danger from the Romans.
c. 43 B.C.
In saving Malichus, however, Antipater, as the event proved, had saved his own murderer. For Cassius and Murcus collected an army and entrusted the entire charge of it to Herod, appointing him to the command of Cœle-Syria with a fleet and a force of horse and foot. They promised, moreover, to make him King of Judæa after the war, which had already broken out, against Antony and the young Cæsar. Malichus was then more in terror than ever of Antipater, and endeavoured to put him out of the way. So he bribed the butler of Hyrcanus, at whose house the two were being entertained, 52and had him poisoned. With his armed men he was able to keep the city quiet.
When Herod and Phasael heard of the plot against their father and were indignant at it, Malichus, as on the former occasion, denied any part in it, and professed that he had not been murdered. Such was the end of Antipater, a man pre-eminent for his piety, justice and patriotism. Of the two sons, Herod at once resolved to lead his army against Malichus and avenge his father; Phasael, the elder, preferred to defeat him by resort to craft, for fear they should seem guilty of provoking civil war. So he accepted Malichus’ defence, feigning belief in his innocence in the matter of Antipater’s death, and arranged a splendid funeral for his father.—Ant. XIV. 11. 4 (280-284).
(14) Antony makes Herod and Phasael Tetrarchs of Judæa
See the Historical Atlas of Smith and Bartholomew, Map 41.
After the death of Cassius at Philippi, the victors departed, Cæsar going to Italy, Antony to Asia. Embassies from the c. 41 B.C.various states waited upon Antony in Bithynia, and among them came the Jewish leaders, who accused Phasael and Herod of usurping the government and leaving to Hyrcanus merely titular honours. Herod thereupon appeared and by large bribes so wrought upon Antony that he refused his adversaries a hearing. So for the time being these enemies were dispersed. But on a later occasion a hundred Jewish officials approached Antony, now a slave to his passion for Cleopatra, at Daphne beside Antioch, and, putting forward the most eminent and eloquent of their number, laid accusations against the brothers. The defence was undertaken by Messala, Hyrcanus supporting him 53because of his marriage connexion with Herod. After hearing both parties, Antony enquired of Hyrcanus who was the best qualified ruler. Hyrcanus pronouncing in favour of Herod and his brother, Antony was delighted, because he had formerly been their father’s guest, and had been hospitably entertained by Antipater when he accompanied Gabinius on his Judæan campaign. So he 57-55 B.C.made the brothers tetrarchs and entrusted them with the administration of the whole of Judæa.—Ant. XIV. 12. 4 f. (242-244).
(15) How Herod won his Kingdom
Herod, forced to flee from Palestine by a great invasion of Parthians, who reinstate Antigonus, son of Aristobulus, as King of Judæa, arrives a suppliant at Rome in mid-winter.
Antony commiserated the reversal of Herod’s fate. The trite reflection arose in his mind that even those in the highest rank are at the mercy of fortune. He was moved partly by the memory of Antipater’s hospitality, partly by Herod’s promise, as on a former occasion when he was made tetrarch, to give him money if he were made king. But his main incentive to assist Herod in his suit was animosity towards Antigonus, whom he regarded as a promoter of sedition and an enemy of the Roman people.
Cæsar was even more ready to meet Herod’s claim and to further his ends because of the part which Antipater had played in his father’s campaigns in Egypt and his hospitality and undeviating loyalty; the desire to gratify Antony, who was a warm admirer of Herod, was a further motive.
The senate was accordingly summoned, and Messala, followed by Atratinus, introduced Herod and rehearsed his father’s services and reminded the assembly of the 54good-will which Herod himself had always borne to the Roman people. At the same time they denounced Antigonus and proved him to be an enemy, not merely from his former antagonism to them, but because he had now been guilty of indignity to the Roman people in accepting his rulership at Parthian hands. At this the senate was exasperated. Antony also came forward and advised them that it was expedient for the war with Parthia that Herod should be king. This met with unanimous approval and a decree was passed accordingly.
The clearest evidence of Antony’s regard for Herod was afforded not merely by his obtaining for him the kingdom for which he had not looked, but by his procuring this unexpected honour so expeditiously that he was enabled to leave Italy within the space of seven days. For Herod had not come to the capital to ask the kingship for himself. He did not suppose that the Romans, whose custom was to confer such a privilege on members of the royal family, would grant it to him. He had come to ask for it for his wife’s brother Alexander, the grandson on his father’s side of Aristobulus, on his mother’s of Hyrcanus. How this youth was afterwards put to death by Herod will be told in due course.
When the senate was dissolved, Antony and Cæsar left the senate-house to offer sacrifice and to deposit a copy of the decree in the Capitol. Herod was between them, and the consuls and other magistrates led the way. Antony celebrated the king’s accession-day by a festival. Thus did Herod obtain his kingdom in the 184th Olympiad, under the consulship of Gnæus Domitius Calvinus (for the second time) and Gaius Asinius Pollio.—Ant. XIV. 14. 4 f. (381-389).
55(16) How Herod made his peace with Augustus (after the Battle of Actium)
Herod was soon filled with anxiety about the security of his position. He was Antony’s friend, and Antony had been defeated by 31 B.C.Cæsar at Actium. His fears, however, proved worse than his fate; for Cæsar considered his victory to be incomplete so long as Herod remained Antony’s ally. 30 B.C.The king resolved to confront the danger and set sail for Rhodes, where Cæsar was then stationed. He presented himself before him without a diadem, a commoner in dress and demeanour, but with the spirit of a king. His speech was direct; he told the truth without reserve.
“I was made king by Antony,” he said, “and I acknowledge, Cæsar, that I have in all things devoted my services to him. Nor will I shrink from saying that, had not the Arabians detained me, you would assuredly have found me in arms at his side. I sent him, however, such auxiliary troops as I could and many thousand measures of corn; nor even after his defeat at Actium did I desert my benefactor. When no longer useful as an ally, I became his best counsellor; I told him the one remedy for his disasters—the death of Cleopatra. Would he but kill her, I promised him money, walls to protect him, an army, and myself as his brother in arms in the war against you. But his ears, it seems, were stopped by his infatuation for Cleopatra and by God who has graciously given you the victory. I share Antony’s defeat and with his downfall lay down my 56diadem. I am come to you resting my hope of safety upon my integrity, anticipating that the subject of enquiry will be not whose friend, but how loyal a friend, I have been.”
To this Cæsar replied: “Nay, be assured of your safety, and reign henceforth more securely than before. So staunch a champion of the claims of friendship deserves to be ruler over many subjects. Endeavour to remain as loyal to those who have been more fortunate, since I, too, entertain the most brilliant hopes for your high spirit. Antony, however, did well in obeying Cleopatra’s behests rather than yours; for through his folly we have gained you. But you take the lead, it seems, in acts of beneficence; for Quintus Didius writes to me that you have sent him a force to assist him against the gladiators. I therefore now confirm your kingdom to you by decree; and hereafter I shall endeavour to do you some further service, that you may not feel the loss of Antony.”
Having thus graciously addressed the king, he placed the diadem on his head, and signalized the grant by a decree, containing many generous expressions in eulogy of the monarch.—B.J. I. 20. 1 ff. (386-393).
(17) Herod and Mariamne
But Fortune, in revenge for his successes in the field, visited Herod with troubles at home; his ill-fated career originated with a woman to whom he was passionately attached….
On the eve of his departure abroad he committed his wife to the care of Joseph, his sister Salome’s husband, with private injunctions to kill her, should Antony kill 57him. He could trust Joseph; the ties which united them made him a true friend. Joseph, out of no malice but from a desire to convince her of the love which the king bore her, since even in death he could not endure to be separated from her, betrayed the secret. When Herod, on his return, c. 29 B.C.in familiar intercourse was protesting with many oaths his affection for her and that he had never (so) loved any other woman, “A fine exhibition you gave,” she replied, “of your love for me by your orders to Joseph to put me to death!”
He was beside himself, the moment he heard the secret was out. Joseph, he exclaimed, would never have disclosed his orders, had he not seduced her; and, frenzied with passion, he leapt from the bed and paced the palace to and fro in his distraction. His sister Salome, seizing this opportunity to slander Mariamne, confirmed his suspicion of Joseph. Mad with ungovernable jealousy, he ordered that both should instantly be put to death. But remorse followed hard upon rage; his wrath subsided, his love revived. So consuming, indeed, was the flame of his passionate desire that he believed she was not dead and in his affliction would address her as though she were alive; until time taught him the reality of his loss, when his grief was as profound as the love he had for her while she was alive.—B.J. I. 22 (431, 441-444).
(18) Extension of Herod’s Realm. His Popularity with Augustus and Agrippa
For Palestine under Herod see the Hist. Atlas of Smith and Bartholomew, Map 42.
When Herod was engaged on these enterprises and had already completed the rebuilding of the city of 5823 B.C.Sebaste, he resolved to send his sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, to Rome, to have audience of Cæsar. On their arrival at the capital they were given lodging in the house of Pollio, one who was very assiduous in cultivating Herod’s friendship; permission was also given them to lodge in the palace of the Emperor, who gave the lads the most kindly reception. The Emperor, moreover, empowered Herod to bequeath his kingdom to any of his children at his discretion; and added to his realm the district of Trachonitis, Batanæa and Auranitis, which he gave him for the following reason….
Here follows a description of Herod’s subjugation of Zenodorus and the robber bands in Trachonitis.
So Cæsar bestowed upon Herod the territory of Zenodorus, an extensive region lying between Trachonitis and Galilee (and embracing) Ulatha and Paneas and the neighbouring country. He attached it to the province of Syria, but instructed the provincial governors to do nothing without obtaining Herod’s approval.
In short, he reached such a height of prosperity that, whereas the burden of government of the vast Roman Empire rested upon two men, first Cæsar, and then (as Cæsar’s favourite) Agrippa, Cæsar preferred no one to Herod after Agrippa, and Agrippa made Herod his chief friend after Cæsar.—Ant. XV. 10. 1 and 3 (342 f.; 360 f.).
(19) The Historian’s Reading of Herod’s Character
It is usual to remark with astonishment on the inconsistency of Herod’s character. When we have regard to his munificent actions and the benefits which he conferred 59on the world at large, even one who is not among his warm admirers cannot deny that he was by nature supremely beneficent. If, on the other hand, one looks at the penalties inflicted and the wrongs done by him to his subjects and nearest relations, and takes note of his harsh and unrelenting disposition, one will be forced to the conclusion that he was of a brutal nature and an alien to all humanity. Hence the common opinion that his character was, as it were, a compound of conflicting and antagonistic elements.
I do not share this opinion; my view is that both these sides of his character had one and the same cause. He was ambitious, indeed an abject slave to that passion; and where there appeared any promise of posthumous fame or present reputation, he might even attain magnanimity. But, since his expenditure outran his means, necessity drove him to be cruel to his subjects. His lavish bounty to his beneficiaries forced him to procure his supplies by criminal methods from his victims. He was conscious that his subjects hated him for the wrongs which he did them, but found it no easy matter to atone for his sins without loss to his exchequer. Instead he fought his opponents, converting even their disaffection into a source of revenue. As for his nearest and dearest, if any one omitted to address him in obsequious language and to display a subservient attitude, or was suspected of plotting against the realm, he was incapable of self-control and punished relatives and friends alike, one after another, as though they were open enemies; to such 60crimes was he driven by his desire that honour should be paid to himself alone.
I find confirmation for my belief that this passion was the key to his character in the manner in which he conferred his honours on Cæsar and Agrippa and the rest of his friends. He looked for a return in kind of the service which he paid to his superiors; his gifts were the most excellent he could conceive, but the way in which he gave them revealed his desire to receive the like.
The Jewish nation, however, is by its law alienated from all such things; its training has taught it to prefer righteousness to the pursuit of glory. For this reason it was out of favour with Herod, because it was incapable of flattering the king’s vanity by erecting images or shrines or by any such practices. This, I think, explains at once the crimes of which he was guilty against his relatives and advisers and his benefactions to foreigners and those outside his family.—Ant. XVI. 5. 4 (150-159).
(20) Reflections on the Tragic Fate of Herod’s Sons
A quarrel extending over many years between Herod and his sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, after a reconciliation had been effected first by Augustus and then by others, ends in his putting them to death on the charge of treason.
(?) 7 B.C.
Alexander and Aristobulus were then, by their father’s orders, removed to Sebaste and there strangled. Their bodies were conveyed by night to Alexandrium, where their mother’s father and most of their ancestors lay buried.
Now some, perhaps, may not find it strange that a long cherished hatred should grow so great as to surpass all bounds and overpower the natural affections. Yet the apportionment of the guilt for so grave a crime may well 61give pause for reflection. Should it be laid to the charge of the youths that they drove their father to extremities and by long and persistent recalcitrance paved the way for their own ruin? Or was the father himself the culprit—without feelings and so extravagant in his lust for dominion and fame that he was prepared to sacrifice any one to ensure unquestioning obedience to his every whim? Or, again, was it Fortune—Fortune whose power is mightier than any considerate thought, so that we believe that human actions are foreordained by her by an inevitable necessity, and we call her Destiny, because we think that nothing happens of which she is not the ultimate cause?
It will suffice, I think, merely to propound this last view as an alternative to the other. We do not thereby deprive ourselves of all free-will nor disclaim responsibility for acting in this way or that in matters which long before our time have been elsewhere philosophically treated in the Law.
As between the two other alternatives, one might censure the lads, in that, with youthful impetuosity and princely insolence, they tolerated calumnies upon their father, and were no fair critics of the actions of his life. Malicious in their suspicions, and intemperate in speech, they were on both grounds an easy prey to the flattering informers who lay in wait for them.
As for the father, his impious treatment of his sons 62seems to admit of no extenuation. With no clear evidence of a plot, with no proof of any preparations for an attempt on his life, he had the heart to slay his own flesh and blood. Men of the noblest presence, the darlings of all outside the family, proficient in their pursuits, whether hunting or military exercises or discourse on everyday topics—they had all these gifts, in particular Alexander, the elder of the two. Granted that he had actually found them guilty, it would have been punishment enough to confine them in prison or to banish them from the realm, without taking their lives; he had the sure shield of the power of the Roman Empire to secure him from assault and violence. But to kill them out of hand to gratify an overmastering passion was a clear case of impiety beyond measure; this appalling crime was, moreover, the act of an old man. The long struggle and procrastination cannot be urged in his excuse. That a man taken by surprise should in a fit of excitement commit some monstrous crime, though distressing, is an event of common occurrence. But this deliberate and leisurely procedure—often to take the deed in hand and as often to postpone it, and then at last to undertake it and carry it through—that was the work of a murderous mind, rooted in depravity.
He displayed the same character in the sequel, when he did not stay his hand even from those whom he held dearest of the remaining members of his family. In their case the justice of the sentence created less sympathy for the victims, but the barbarity was the same as was shown in his refusal of mercy to the others.—Ant. XVI. 11. 7 f. (394-404).
63(21) Herod’s Dying Provision for a National Mourning
With this passage we reach the N.T. period. The grim story of an intended massacre, happily in this case averted, affords a parallel to the Gospel story of the murder of the innocents.
4 B. C.
Now, although his sufferings seemed beyond human endurance, he did not despair of recovery. He sent for physicians, and consented to try every remedy which they prescribed. He crossed over the river Jordan, and surrendered himself to treatment in the hot springs at Callirrhoe. These waters, besides their general remedial properties, are fit to drink; they debouch into the so-called Bituminous Lake. Here, the physicians deciding that a higher temperature was needed, he was placed in a vat of oil. To this treatment he appeared to have succumbed, but when his attendants fell to lamentation, he rallied, and now abandoning all hope of recovery, gave orders that every soldier should be paid fifty pieces of silver; he made further large bequests to their commanding officers and to his personal friends. Returning to Jericho, he had an attack of black bile, which rendered him so savage with all the world that, although now nearing his end, he contrived the scheme which I proceed to describe.
By his orders, the principal men from every quarter of the entire Jewish nation waited upon him. They came in large numbers, as the summons was to the nation and was universally obeyed, death being the penalty for disregard of the injunctions. For the king was mad with rage against all alike, whether innocent or suspected of guilt. He then locked them all up in the hippodrome, and sent for his sister Salome and her husband Alexas.
64He told them that his bodily sufferings were now so great that death could not be far off. Death could be borne, and came to all as a welcome guest; but what grieved him most was the thought that he would lack the lamentations and miss the mourning usually accorded to a king. He was not blind to the feelings of the Jews, and knew what relief and intense delight his death would bring them, because, even in his lifetime, they were always ready to rebel and to treat his projects with contumely. “It is therefore your task,” he proceeded, “to resolve to afford me some alleviation of this particular pain. If you do not refuse your consent to my wishes, I shall receive a great funeral, such as no king ever had before me, and a heartfelt national lamentation for my sport and delectation. When, therefore, you see that I have given up the ghost, let the troops be drawn up round the hippodrome, still unaware of my death—the news must not be published to the world till you have done this—and the order given to shoot down the prisoners within with their javelins. If you kill them all in this manner, you will without fail do me a double favour. You will execute my dying injunctions; you will also get me the honour of a memorable mourning.”
Such was the charge which, with tears and supplication and appeals to the loyalty due to a kinsman and their faith in God, he laid upon them, and bade them preserve him from dishonour. And they promised not to fail him.
From these final injunctions even a friendly critic of the king’s former actions, who attributed his treatment 65of his family to self-preservation, might read the mind of the man and see how destitute it was of every spark of humanity; since on the very verge of his exit from life he could lay his plans for throwing the whole nation into mourning and desolation for their nearest and dearest. For his orders were to butcher one out of every household, men who had done him no wrong and were not accused on any other ground; and these orders were given at an hour when persons with any pretensions to virtue commonly lay aside their rancour, even towards those whom they justly regard as enemies.—Ant. XVII. 6. 5 f. (171-181).
66V. ARCHELAUS AND PILATE
(22) Archelaus in Quest of a Kingdom
“A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom and to return…. But his citizens hated him, and sent an ambassage after him, saying, We will not that this man reign over us. And it came to pass, when he was come back again, having received the kingdom…. Howbeit these mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke xix. 12 ff.).
“There is little doubt that” this parable “was suggested by contemporary history. The remarkable feature of the opposing embassy makes the reference to Archelaus highly probable; and Jericho, which he had enriched with buildings, would suggest his case as an illustration” (Plummer). The fact that Archelaus came back with only a provisional promise of kingship does not detract from the probability.
Herod’s death was the signal for a national outbreak against his successor. A riot took place at Passover, 4 B.C.and Archelaus left for Rome to have his title confirmed (Cf. the Hist. Atlas previously cited, Map 43).
Archelaus then issued a proclamation that all should withdraw to their homes. So they abandoned the feast and departed, for fear of worse evils, although in their ignorant way they had shown boldness enough.
Archelaus then went down to the sea-board with his mother; he took with him also his friends Nicolaus, Ptolemy and Ptolla. He committed the entire charge of his family and realm to his brother Philip. There also sailed with him Salome, Herod’s sister, with her children, and many of his relations; ostensibly to assist 67Archelaus to obtain his kingdom, but in reality intending to oppose him, and in particular to protest loudly against his proceedings in the Temple.—Ant. XVII. 9. 3 (218-220).
After the departure of Archelaus, Sabinus, the procurator of Judæa, tries to get possession of Herod’s treasures in the Temple.
A Rival Claimant to the Kingdom
About this time Antipas, another of Herod’s sons, also set sail for Rome, to make a rival claim to the throne, to which he was instigated to aspire by Salome’s promises. He claimed that he had a much better right than Archelaus to the succession, in virtue of his nomination as king in Herod’s former will, which, in his opinion, had greater validity than the later codicils. He took with him his mother and the brother of Nicolaus, Ptolemy, one of Herod’s most honoured friends, and now a staunch champion of Antipas. But the man who more than any other prompted him to think of claiming the throne was Irenæus, a professional speaker, who on account of his reputation for ability had been entrusted with the administration of the realm. Thus supported, Antipas declined to listen to those who advised him to make way for Archelaus as the elder son and the one who had been declared king in their father’s later will.
When Antipas reached Rome, his relatives went over to him in a body; not for love of Antipas, but from hatred of Archelaus. What they really desired was to be free and placed under a Roman governor; but, if anything prevented this, they thought Antipas would serve their ends better than Archelaus, and therefore lent him their aid in his suit. Another of Archelaus’s accusers was Sabinus in a letter addressed to Cæsar.—Ant. XVII. 9. 4 (224-227).
68Augustus holds a council and hears both sides; Antipater, son of Salome, undertaking the prosecution, Nicolaus the defence, of Archelaus.
Here Nicolaus ended his harangue. Archelaus then fell on his knees before Cæsar, who graciously raised him up and declared that he was very worthy of the kingdom; he showed, moreover, that he was strongly inclined to act only in accordance with the tenor of the will and in the interests of Archelaus. Nothing, however, was decided which could afford Archelaus any sure ground for confidence; and on the dismissal of the assembly, the Emperor privately considered whether he should confirm the kingdom to Archelaus or should divide it between the whole Herodian family, as they all stood much in need of assistance.
However, before any final settlement was reached on these matters, Malthace, the mother of Archelaus, fell ill and died, and letters arrived from Varus, the governor of Syria, announcing a revolt of the Jews. For, after Archelaus had sailed, the whole nation was in an uproar.—Ant. XVII. 9. 7-10. 1 (248-251).
Passover had been the occasion of the former riot; this new insurrection broke out at Pentecost. At this feast the Jews laid siege to the Roman force in Jerusalem under Sabinus, who had plundered the Temple treasury. During the fighting the porticoes of the Temple were burnt down. Simultaneously various claimants to the kingdom appeared in Judæa. The revolt was quelled by Varus, who relieved Sabinus and crucified two thousand of the Jewish ringleaders.
A Jewish Embassy to Rome asks for Autonomy
Meanwhile at Rome fresh troubles for Archelaus were arising out of the following circumstances. An embassy of Jews came to Rome to petition for autonomy, the nation having secured the sanction of Varus to the 69mission. The ambassadors appointed by the resolution of the nation numbered fifty; these were joined by upwards of eight thousand of the Jews in Rome. Cæsar summoned his friends and the leading Romans to a meeting in the temple of Apollo, which he had founded at great expense, and thither came the envoys with their crowd of local compatriots, and Archelaus with his friends. As for King Herod’s numerous relatives, their hatred of Archelaus would not allow them to range themselves on his side, while they shrunk from voting with the embassy against him, supposing that a show of alacrity in opposing one of their own family would bring them into disgrace with Cæsar.
A newcomer had now arrived from Syria, namely Philip. He came at the instigation of Varus, primarily to advocate the cause of his brother, who was a great friend of Varus; but there was the further motive that, in the event of any revolutionary change in the government of the kingdom—a change which Varus suspected would take the form of a partition, because so many were bent on autonomy—Philip should not be behind-hand in winning some portion for himself.—Ant. XVII. 11. 1 (299-303).
The deputation then present their indictment of Herod’s tyranny.
The sum of their request was that they might be rid of the kingship and other such forms of government and be added to Syria and made subject to the authority of the (Roman) governors who were sent to that province; if they were given milder rulers to preside over them, it would then be apparent whether or no they were really seditious persons who made a special study of revolutions.—Ant. XVII. 11. 2 (314).
Nicolaus once more vindicates Herod and Archelaus.
70The Emperor’s Decision
Cæsar, after hearing the case, dissolved the assembly. His decision was given a few days later. He made Archelaus, not king, but ethnarch of half the district which had been subject to Herod, and promised him the reward of regal rank, if he displayed capacity for kingship. The other half he divided into two portions which he presented to two other of Herod’s sons, namely Philip and Antipas, the latter of whom had been the rival claimant with his brother Archelaus to the undivided monarchy. Peræa and Galilee, producing an annual revenue of two hundred talents, were made subject to Antipas. Batanæa with Trachonitis and Auranitis and a certain portion of the so-called estate of Zenodorus went to Philip and brought him in a hundred talents. Idumæa, Judæa and Samaria became tributary to Archelaus. The last-named district had a quarter of its taxes remitted by Imperial decree, the abatement being a reward for its having taken no part in the national revolt. The cities which were tributary to Archelaus were Strato’s Tower and Sebaste with Joppa and Jerusalem; the Greek cities Gaza, Gadara and Hippos were detached from his jurisdiction by the Emperor and added to Syria. The annual revenue which accrued to Archelaus from the dominion which he inherited was six hundred talents.
Such were the portions of their father’s realm which came to Herod’s sons. Salome, besides the legacy assigned to her in her brother’s will—namely Jamnia, Azotus, Phasælis, and five hundred thousand (drachmas) of coined silver—was presented by Cæsar with the royal 71palace at Ascalon. Her annual revenue from all sources was sixty talents; her residence was within the domain of Archelaus. The other relatives of the (deceased) king received the legacies named in the will. To each of his two unmarried daughters, beside what their father left them, Cæsar presented two hundred and fifty thousand (drachmas) of coined silver and gave them in marriage to the sons of Pheroras. He further bestowed all that had been bequeathed to himself, amounting to fifteen hundred talents, upon the king’s children, reserving only a few vessels, which pleased him not so much for their intrinsic value as because they served as memorials of the king.—Ant. XVII. 11. 4 f. (317-323).
(23) Archelaus Deposed and his Territory added to the Roman Province of Syria
Now in the tenth year of Archelaus’s rule, A.D. 6the leading men of Judæa and Samaria, impatient of his cruel and tyrannical conduct, laid an accusation against him before Cæsar; they did so with greater confidence, knowing that he had violated the Emperor’s injunctions to be lenient in his dealings with his subjects. On hearing the accusation Cæsar was indignant and sent for the agent of Archelaus’s affairs in Rome, whose name also was Archelaus, and, disdaining to write to Archelaus, said to him, “Take ship at once and bring him to us without delay.” The agent accordingly embarked forthwith, reached Judæa, found Archelaus feasting with his friends, communicated Cæsar’s will and hurried him off. On his arrival, Cæsar, after hearing his defence in the presence of certain of his accusers, sent him into banishment, appointing Vienne, a city of Gaul, as his place of exile, and confiscated his property….
72The district which had been tributary to Archelaus was annexed to the province of Syria, and Quirinius, a man of consular rank, was sent by Cæsar to take a valuation of the property in Syria and to sell the personal estate of Archelaus.—Ant. XVII. 13. 2, 5 (342-344, 355).
(24) The Revolt of Judas “in the days of the enrolment” under Quirinius
“After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the enrolment and drew away people after him” (Acts v. 37). Josephus here narrates the story of the revolt in the year A.D. 6, to which Gamaliel alludes in his speech in the Sanhedrin as reported in the Acts. See Appendix, Note I, for the relation of this enrolment to “the first enrolment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria” (Luke ii. 2); also Note IV (“Theudas and Judas”).
Now Quirinius, a Roman senator, and one who had held all the subordinate offices, passing through each grade until he reached the consulate, and a man of high reputation on other grounds, came with a small retinue to Syria, being sent by Cæsar as judicial administrator of the nation and assessor of the national property. With him was sent Coponius, a man of equestrian rank, as governor of the Jews with supreme powers. Quirinius also visited Judæa, now an appanage of the province of Syria, to take a valuation of the Jews’ property and to sell the estate of Archelaus.
The Jews, although they were indignant when they first heard of the proposed enrolments, under the influence of the high priest Joazar, son of Boethus, condescended to desist from further opposition; they yielded to his advice and, without more scruple, set about valuing their estates. But one Judas, a Gaulanite, 73from a city called Gamala, with a confederate, Zadok a Pharisee, was for rushing into revolt. They asserted that the valuation meant nothing less than the introduction of downright slavery, and exhorted the nation to rally in defence of their liberty. “If,” they said, “our possessions are devoted to the common weal, success may be ours; if, after all, we are robbed of this asset, we shall win honour and a reputation for magnanimity. God, who looks for man’s co-operation to achieve His purposes, will be much more ready to assist us, if we do not shirk the toil entailed by the great cause which we have at heart.”
Their words found willing hearers, and the daring enterprise made great strides. Indeed, every form of disaster took its origin from these men; the infection which they brought into the nation passes description.
Josephus proceeds to trace all the horrors of the Jewish War, culminating in the burning of the Temple, to “the fourth sect” (or “philosophy”) introduced by Judas and Zadok, i. e. the sect of the Zealots. Then follows a digression on the Jewish sects, see § (55), below.
Quirinius had now disposed of Archelaus’s estate and the census registrations were ended. This census took place in the thirty-seventh year after Cæsar’s victory over Antony at Actium. 31 B.C.Joazar the high priest became the victim of popular opposition, and Quirinius deprived him of his honourable post, and appointed Ananus, son of Sethi, in his place.
Herod and Philip now took over their respective tetrarchies and entered on office. Herod built walls 74for the city of Sepphoris—the chief ornament of all Galilee—and called it Autocratoris; another city, Betharamphtha, he enclosed in the same way and called it Julias after the name of the Emperor’s consort. Philip restored Paneas at the sources of the Jordan and renamed it Cæsarea; he also promoted the village of Bethsaida on the Lake of Gennesaret to the rank of a city, increasing its population and general opulence, and gave it the name of the Emperor’s daughter Julia.—Ant. XVIII. 1. 1 and 2. 1 (1-6, 26-28).
(25) Pilate offends Jewish susceptibilities in the matter of (i) the Emperor’s busts, (ii) the Corban money
Now Pilate, the governor of Judæa, having occasion to transfer c. A.D. 26a (Roman) army from Cæsarea into winter quarters in Jerusalem, conceived the idea of annulling Jewish legislation by bringing within the city walls the Emperor’s busts which were attached to the standards; whereas the very making of images is forbidden us by the Law. For this reason former governors used to make their entry into the city with standards from which these ornaments were absent. Pilate was the first to bring the images into Jerusalem and erect them there. This was done without the knowledge of the citizens because the army entered by night. As soon as they knew of it, they came in crowds to Cæsarea, and for many days petitioned for the removal of the images. Pilate stood firm, because to comply would be tantamount to high treason against Cæsar, and on the sixth 75day, the Jews still persisting in their entreaties, he placed an armed force under cover and came in person to the judgement-seat; this had been set up in the race-course, where he had the soldiers concealed in ambush. When the Jews once more presented their petition, at a given signal he had a cordon of soldiers round them and threatened to punish them with instant death if they did not desist from their uproar and depart to their homes. Thereupon they flung themselves on their faces and bared their necks and said that they would gladly welcome death rather than venture to transgress the wise ordinances of their laws. Pilate marvelled at their obstinacy in the observance of their laws, and forthwith had the images taken back from Jerusalem to Cæsarea.
On another occasion he expended the consecrated funds on the construction of (an aqueduct for) conveying water to Jerusalem, bringing it from a distance of two hundred furlongs. The Jews were dissatisfied with his action in this matter, and many thousands of them assembled and raised an outcry against him, requiring him to abandon his project; some, as is the way of a mob, even proceeded to rail at and insult the man. Pilate thereupon dressed a large body of soldiers in Jewish garb, under which they carried clubs, and stationed them where they could surround the Jews, whom he then ordered to retire. When these began to revile him, he gave the soldiers the prearranged signal; and they laid about them with a severity much greater than Pilate had ordered, punishing indiscriminately those who had taken part in the riot and those who had not. 76(The Jews resisted with no lack of spirit); and so, caught, as they were, unarmed by assailants equipped for the purpose, many of them fell and were left to die on the spot, while others escaped with wounds. Thus ended the insurrection.—Ant. XVIII. 3. 1 f. (55-62).
(26) Jesus Christ
Now about this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed he should be called a man. For he was a doer of marvellous acts, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure; and he won over to himself many Jews and many also of the Greek nation. He was the Christ. And when, on the indictment of the principal men among us, Pilate had sentenced him to the cross, yet did not those who had loved him at the first cease (to do so); for he appeared to them alive again on the third day, as the divine prophets had declared—these and ten thousand other wonderful things—concerning him. And even now the race of Christians, so named from him, is not extinct.—Ant. XVIII. 3. 3 (63 f.).
(27) Tiberius expels all Jews from Rome
A precedent for the similar action of Claudius, which brought Aquila and Priscilla to Corinth (Acts xviii. 2). Suetonius alludes to this order of Tiberius: “He repressed foreign religious ceremonies—Egyptian and Jewish rites—compelling their devotees to burn their sacred vestments with all their paraphernalia. Under pretext of their military oath, he distributed the younger Jews over provinces with an insalubrious climate; others of the same race, or followers of kindred religions, he removed from the city, under penalty for disobedience of servitude for life” (Tiberius, § 36).
I revert to the story, which I promised to tell, of what befell the Jews in Rome at this time.
77A Jew, who was a thorough rascal, had been driven from his country by an accusation of transgressing certain laws and by fear of consequent punishment. He was then living in Rome, where he professed to expound the inner meaning of the laws of Moses, and took into partnership three men with characters exactly resembling his own. Fulvia, a lady of rank and a proselyte to Judaism, became their disciple, and was induced by them to send a present of purple (cloth) and gold to the Temple at Jerusalem. Having obtained possession of these articles, they appropriated them to their own use to defray their private expenses; which in fact was the original object of their request. Fulvia lodged a complaint with her husband Saturninus; he reported the matter to Tiberius, his friend; and Tiberius ordered the whole Jewish (colony) to quit Rome. The consuls enlisted four thousand of them and drafted them to the island of Sardinia, inflicting penalties on a very large number who refused military service in deference to their ancestral laws. Thus, through the wickedness of four men, were the Jews expelled from the city.—Ant. XVIII. 3. 4 f. (80-84).
(28) Pilate Sent to Rome for Trial
An impostor promises to show the Samaritans the sacred vessels buried by Moses under Mount Gerizim. Crowds assemble at a village, Tirathana, at the foot of the mountain, to make the ascent.
Pilate, however, forestalled their ascent by despatching a force of cavalry and heavy-armed infantry, who attacked the multitude assembled in readiness in the village, and in the ensuing engagement killed some, routed others, and took a large number of prisoners. The chief prisoners and the most influential of the fugitives were put to death by Pilate.
78When the tumult was quelled, the Samaritan council approached Vitellius, the governor of Syria, of consular rank, with accusations against Pilate for his butchery of the victims. They said that the object of the expedition to Tirathana was not revolt from Rome, but to seek refuge from Pilate’s insolence. Vitellius thereupon sent Marcellus, a friend of his, to take over the administration of Judæa, and ordered Pilate to depart for Rome, to render his account to the Emperor of the charges brought against him by the Samaritans. Pilate, accordingly—after ten years’ residence in Judæa—went in haste to Rome on the instructions of Vitellius, which he must needs obey. A.D. 37But before he reached Rome, Tiberius was no more.—Ant. XVIII. 4. 1 f. (87-89.)
Josephus proceeds to tell how Vitellius went up to Jerusalem and pacified the Jews by restoring to them the custody of the high priest’s vestments, recently in Roman hands. Also how he deposed the high priest “Joseph, surnamed Caiaphas.” Thus the three responsible authorities for the trial of our Lord—the Emperor, Pilate and Caiaphas—quit the scene simultaneously. After the next extract, we pass from the period of the Gospel history to the period covered by the Acts.
79VI. THE LATER HERODS
(29) Herod the Tetrarch: his Marriage with Herodias and Murder of John the Baptist
Now about this time a quarrel arose between Aretas king of Petra and Herod on the following ground. Herod the Tetrarch married the daughter of Aretas and had now lived with her a long time. On the eve of a journey to Rome he lodged in the house of Herod, his half-brother on the father’s side; the mother of this Herod was the daughter of Simon the high priest. There he fell in love with Herodias his brother’s wife (she was the daughter of their brother Aristobulus and sister of Agrippa the Great) and had the effrontery to propose marriage. She met his advances and a compact was made that she should leave her home and come to him on his return from Rome; it was part of the compact that he should divorce the daughter of Aretas. The agreement settled, he set sail for Rome. On his return, after discharging his commission in that city, his wife, who had got wind of the compact with Herodias, bade her husband, who was still unaware that she knew all, send her away to Machærus—on the frontier between the dominions of Aretas and Herod—without revealing her intentions. Herod, accordingly, let her go, not suspecting that the poor woman had any inkling of the plot. She, however, had long since sent 80word to Machærus, which at that time was subject to her father, and so found that the general in command there had everything in readiness for her (intended) journey. No sooner, therefore, had she arrived (at Machærus) than she was off again into Arabia, escorted by one general after another in turn, and so reached her father post haste and told him of Herod’s intentions.
Aretas seized this occasion for hostilities and also for raising the question of frontiers in the region of Gamala; the two belligerents mustered their armies and opened war, sending their generals as their representatives in the field. A battle took place in which the whole of Herod’s army was cut to pieces as the result of the defection of a contingent from Philip’s tetrarchy which enlisted with Herod’s forces and then deserted. Herod reported the matter to Tiberius, who was indignant at the aggression of Aretas and wrote instructions to Vitellius to go to war with him and either to take him alive and bring him a prisoner to Rome or to kill him and send him his head. Such were the injunctions of Tiberius to the governor of Syria.
Some of the Jews, however, regarded the destruction of Herod’s army as the work of God, who thus exacted very just retribution for John, surnamed the Baptist, Herod’s victim. John was a good man who bade the Jews first cultivate virtue by justice towards each other and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for immersion, he said, would only appear acceptable to God if practised, not as an expiation for specific offences, 81but for the purification of the body, when the soul had been already thoroughly cleansed by righteousness. Now when all men listened to his words with the greatest delight and flocked to him, Herod feared that the powerful influence which he exercised over men’s minds—for they seemed ready for any action which he advised—might lead to some form of revolt. He therefore decided to put him to death before any revolution arose through him. To forestall events appeared far better policy than a belated repentance when plunged in the turmoil of an insurrection. And so, through Herod’s suspicions, John was sent as a prisoner to Machærus, the fortress already mentioned, and there put to death. The Jews supposed that the destruction of Herod’s army was the penalty expressly inflicted upon him by God to avenge John….
The following extract supplies the name of “the daughter of Herodias” who appears in Mark vi. 22 ff.
Now Herodias their sister married Herod, the son of Herod the Great by Mariamne the daughter of Simon the high priest. They had a daughter Salome, after whose birth Herodias, in defiance of our country’s laws, married Herod, the Tetrarch of Galilee and half-brother of her husband, during the lifetime of her husband, whom she divorced. Her daughter Salome married Philip, the Tetrarch of Trachonitis and son of Herod.—Ant. XVIII. 5. 1 f., 4 (109-119, 136 f.).
(30) How Herod Agrippa became King and Herod the Tetrarch lost his Tetrarchy
The story of Herod Agrippa’s rise to power is dramatic. Brought up at Rome with Drusus, the son of Tiberius, he squandered his money in extravagant living. Returning a penniless prodigal to Palestine and on the verge of suicide, he was patronized by Herod 82the Tetrarch and his wife Herodias. Becoming involved in fresh difficulties, he borrowed money for his passage and returned to Rome. There he paid court to the future Emperor Gaius (Caligula), was arrested by Tiberius for treason, and spent the last six months of Tiberius’s reign in prison.
Tiberius survived his appointment of Gaius as his successor only a few days, A.D. 37and then died after a reign of twenty-two years, five months and three days. Gaius was the fourth of the Emperors. The Romans, on learning of the death of Tiberius, rejoiced at the good news, but could not bring themselves to believe it; not because they did not desire it, for they would have given large sums of money for confirmation of the report, but from fear that, if the news proved false and they exhibited their joy prematurely, they would be slanderously accused and lose their lives. For no other Roman ever treated the patrician class so cruelly as did Tiberius. Quick to take offence and relentless in action against any who, even without reason, had incurred his hatred, he was savage with all whom he sentenced, and imposed the death penalty for the slightest offences. And so, while the rumour of his death found ready listeners, they were restrained from indulging their satisfaction to the full by dread of the ills which they foresaw if their hopes proved false.
Now Marsyas, Agrippa’s freedman, on hearing of Tiberius’s death, ran in haste to tell Agrippa the good news. He found him just going out to the bath, and beckoning to him, said in the Hebrew tongue, “The lion is dead.” At once grasping his meaning and overcome with joy at the tidings, he replied, “All my blessings be upon you for all your services and for this welcome news! Only may your words prove true!” The centurion, who kept guard over Agrippa, when he saw in what haste Marsyas came and how delighted Agrippa was with his message, suspected some startling intelligence 83and asked them what was the subject of their conversation. For a while they prevaricated, but, as he insisted, Agrippa, who was now on friendly terms with him, told him outright. The centurion joined with them in welcoming the news, because it was to Agrippa’s advantage, and invited him to dinner. But as they were feasting and drinking merrily, there came one who said that Tiberius was alive and would return in a few days to the city. At this announcement the centurion was sorely perplexed, because he had been guilty of a capital offence both in sharing his table with a prisoner and in rejoicing at the news of the Emperor’s death. He pushed Agrippa from his seat and said: “Do you think to cheat me with this lying story of the Emperor’s death and that you are not going to answer for it with your own head?” With these words he ordered that Agrippa, whose chains he had loosed, should be bound again, and kept him under stricter guard than before. In this wretched condition Agrippa passed that night.
But on the morrow the rumour increased, and it was confidently affirmed throughout the city that Tiberius was dead; men now had the courage to speak of it openly, some even offered sacrifices. Letters also came from Gaius, one to the Senate announcing Tiberius’s death and his own accession, and another to Piso, the city warden, to the same effect, and accompanied by orders for the removal of Agrippa from the camp to the house in which he was lodging before his imprisonment. Henceforth Agrippa lived in security; he was still under watch and ward, but enjoyed considerable freedom.
But when Gaius reached Rome with the corpse of 84Tiberius, after giving it a costly funeral in accordance with the laws of his country, he was anxious to set Agrippa at liberty that very day. Antonia, however, restrained him, not out of any ill-will to the prisoner, but with an eye to propriety on the part of Gaius; she feared he would produce the impression of welcoming the decease of Tiberius if he were instantly to release one of his prisoners. Not many days elapsed, however, before Gaius sent to his house to fetch him, had his hair cut and his raiment changed, and then set the diadem on his head and appointed him king over Philip’s tetrarchy; he also conferred upon him the tetrarchy of Lysanias. In exchange for his iron chain he gave him a golden one of the same weight….
Herod the Tetrarch is instigated by his wife Herodias to emulate Agrippa and go in quest of similar fortune to Rome. The result was disastrous. He was found guilty of conspiracy and sent into exile, Herodias sharing his fate. It will suffice to quote the end of the story.
… Herod admitted that he had the arms in his armoury; he could not do otherwise as the facts were there to confute him. Gaius, accordingly, accepting this as proof of the accusation of conspiracy, deprived him of his tetrarchy, which he added to Agrippa’s kingdom; he also presented the latter with Herod’s wealth. He further punished Herod by banishing him for life, appointing Lugdunum, a city of Gaul, as his place of abode.—Ant. XVIII. 6. 10-7. 2 (224-252).
(31) Petronius and the Statue of Gaius
The crisis produced by the mad order of the Emperor Gaius (Caligula) to have his statue erected in the Temple at Jerusalem nearly precipitated a Jewish war. Some have seen an allusion to 85this incident in St. Paul’s description of “the man of sin” (2 Thess. ii. 4, “so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God”): “but though the sacrilegious conduct of Caligula … may have influenced the writer’s language in v. 4, the real roots of the conception lie elsewhere” (Milligan, Thess., p. 164).
The favourable portrait given of the Roman governor, who was placed in a very difficult position, may be compared with similar portraits in St. Luke’s writings.
c. A.D. 40-41
Gaius, indignant at being thus slighted by the Jews and by them alone, sent Petronius to Syria as his lieutenant to take over the governorship of Vitellius, with instructions to advance into Judæa with a large force and to erect his statue in the temple of God. The order was in any case to be executed; if they admitted the statue without demur, well and good; if they showed themselves recalcitrant, he was to overcome their resistance by resort to arms….
At Ptolemais Petronius was met by crowds of petitioners who stubbornly refused to submit. Similar scenes were repeated at Tiberias for forty critical days in the agricultural year, during which all sowing operations were neglected. The multitude were supported by Aristobulus, brother of Herod Agrippa, and other leading men. Petronius, moved by this unanimous national protest, decided to lay the case before the Emperor.
Such was the request which Aristobulus and his followers made to Petronius. Petronius, on his side, was influenced partly by the importunity of Aristobulus and the leaders, who, considering the great issues at stake, left no stone unturned to press their suit, partly by the spectacle of the stubborn and solid front presented by the Jewish opposition. He shrank from the thought of putting to death, as the instrument of Gaius’s madness, such myriads of men, solely on the ground of their reverence of God, and of spending the rest of his life in remorse. It was far better, he thought, to write to Gaius (and inform him of) their desperate determination. 86The Emperor might be enraged with him for not having executed his orders at once; again, he might conceivably convince him. If Gaius still adhered to his original mad resolution, he (Petronius) would then make war on the Jews without further delay. But if, after all, his anger was partly directed against himself, to die for so vast a multitude of one’s fellow-creatures was honourable in the eyes of those who aspired to heroism. He decided accordingly to give way to the appeal….
Petronius informs the petitioners of his intention to write to Gaius.
After this speech Petronius dismissed the assembled Jews, bidding those in authority to see that agricultural operations were resumed and to conciliate the people with hopes of a successful issue. But now, while he was doing his best to cheer the multitude, God made known to Petronius His presence and assistance in furthering the whole scheme. For no sooner had he ended his address to the Jews than God forthwith sent a great rain. This was contrary to general expectation, as the morning of that day had been fine and the sky showed no sign of a shower; moreover, the whole year had been subject to such drought as to make men despair of any rainfall even when they saw the heavens overcast. So, when now at length there came a great downpour, contrary to experience and to all expectation, the Jews had hopes of Petronius’s success in his petition on their behalf, while Petronius was astounded when he saw God’s evident care for the Jews, and how He had given so signal a manifestation of Himself as to leave even those who had intended to defy Him openly no possibility of contradiction….
87Meanwhile, in Rome, Gaius’ friend, Herod Agrippa, had prevailed on the Emperor to desist from his purpose. Gaius thereupon counter-ordered his previous instructions, but on receipt of Petronius’s appeal wrote him an angry letter, advising him, in view of his disregard of orders, “to judge for himself what course he should take,” i. e. to commit suicide.
Such was the letter which Gaius wrote to Petronius; but it did not reach him in the Emperor’s lifetime, the messengers entrusted with it having so slow a passage that before it arrived January A.D. 41Petronius received other letters which told him that Gaius was dead. God, as the event proved, was not to forget the risks which Petronius had run on behalf of the Jews and His own honour, but was to pay him his reward by removing Gaius, in indignation at his daring action in claiming divine worship for himself. Petronius, moreover, was supported by the good-will of Rome and of all the magistrates, in particular the most eminent senators, because Gaius had treated them with unmitigated severity.
The Emperor died not long after writing to Petronius the letter which was intended to be his death-warrant. The cause of his death and the manner of the plot I shall relate in the course of my work. Petronius received first the letter announcing the death of Gaius, and shortly afterwards the other with the order to put himself to death. He was delighted at the happy coincidence of Gaius’s end and marvelled at the providence of God, who instantly and without delay gave him his reward for his regard for the Temple and for his assistance to the Jews in their hour of danger. Thus easily, in a way which none would have conjectured, did Petronius escape the peril of death.—Ant. XVIII. 8. 2, etc. (261, 276-8, 284-6, 305-9).
88(32) Herod Agrippa’s Kingdom enlarged by Claudius
Cf. Map 44 in the Historical Atlas above cited.
Claudius lost no time in discharging all suspected units of the forces. He then issued a decree, in which he confirmed to Agrippa the kingdom which he had received from Gaius and highly commended the king. Moreover, he added to his realm all the territory over which his grandfather Herod had reigned, namely Judæa and Samaria. Beside these districts, which he restored to him as his hereditary due, he added from his own domain Abila, which had once belonged to Lysanias, and all the mountain region of Lebanon. He ratified these gifts by a solemn treaty with Agrippa in the middle of the forum in the city of Rome.—Ant. XIX. 5. 1 (274 f.).
(33) Death of Herod Agrippa
This should be compared with the account in Acts xii. 19-23. St. Luke differs from Josephus in representing the scene as a court of judgement, instead of a theatre.
Agrippa had completed the third year of his reign over (all) Judæa when he came to the city of Cæsarea, formerly called Strato’s Tower. There he exhibited spectacles in Cæsar’s honour, at a festival which he had instituted to commemorate the preservation of the Emperor’s life, and a great multitude of the provincial magistrates and men of rank was assembled for the occasion.
On the second day of the performance he entered the theatre at daybreak, arrayed in a wonderfully woven robe made entirely of silver; whereupon the silver, caught by the first rays of the sun, was lit up and glittered in a 89marvellous manner, with dazzling flashes that struck terror and awe into the onlookers. His flatterers straightway, from one quarter and another, raised cries, which even to him seemed ill-omened, calling him a god and adding, “O be gracious! If hitherto we have feared thee as a man, from henceforth we own thee as of more than mortal nature.” The king neither rebuked them nor rejected their impious adulation; but not long after he looked up and saw the owl sitting on a rope above his head, and at once recognized the former bringer of good tidings as now the messenger of ill. Pangs pierced his heart; a spasm of pain with violent onset shot straight to his stomach. Leaping up he addressed his friends: “I, your god, even now receive orders to quit this life; destiny at the instant confutes those lying voices which this moment filled my ears; I, whom you called immortal, am already being led off to die. But I must accept such fate as it has pleased God to send me; for my life has been no ignoble one, but passed in blissful splendour.”
As he spoke these words intense pain prostrated him. He was quickly carried into the palace, and a report ran through the assembly that his death was certainly imminent. At once the multitude, including women and children, according to their national custom sat in sackcloth and besought God for the king’s life, and the 90whole scene was one of wailing and lamentation. The king himself, who lay in a chamber above, as he looked down and saw them falling on their faces, could not restrain his tears. For five days he was racked continuously by abdominal pains, and so departed this life in the fifty-fourth year of his age and the seventh of his reign. He reigned A.D. 37-40four years under Gaius Cæsar, during three of them over Philip’s tetrarchy, while in the fourth A.D. 40-1he took over that of Herod as well; and three more years A.D. 41-44under the Emperor Claudius Cæsar, having Judæa, Samaria and Cæsarea added to his former realm.—Ant. XIX. 8. 2 (343-351).
(34) The Story of King Izates and his mother Helena
The pleasing story of the conversion to Judaism of Helena, Queen of Adiabene (in the upper Tigris region), and her son Izates in two particulars illustrates the narrative of the Acts. The famine at Jerusalem which was the occasion of the charitable services of the Queen was that “which came to pass in the days of Claudius” (A.D. 41-54), and led the Antiochene Christians to send similar relief by the hands of Barnabas and Saul (Acts xi. 28-30). Again, it is interesting to read of the conflicting opinions of Jewish Rabbis as to the necessity for circumcision in a proselyte to Judaism. The same question, with relation to converts to Christianity, was soon to come to the front in the councils of the infant church (Acts xv.).
Izates, on hearing that his mother found such great delight in the Jewish observances, was eager on his part to become a convert to that religion; and, supposing that he could not be a thorough Jew unless he were circumcised, he was prepared to take the necessary action. His mother, however, on learning his intention, tried to prevent him, and told him that he would bring himself into peril. He was a king and would create great ill-will among his subjects, when they learnt of his devotion to customs that were strange and alien to them; they would never tolerate a Jew as their king. Thus she spoke, trying by every means to dissuade him from 91his purpose; and he referred for counsel on her words to Ananias. Ananias took the mother’s side and threatened to leave Izates if he did not obey her. He said he feared that, if the matter became public, he would run the risk of being punished himself as the responsible party who had instructed the king in unseemly practices. He added that, if he was fully determined to follow the Jews’ ancestral customs, he might worship God even without being circumcised; worship was more essential than circumcision; and God Himself would forgive him because the omission of the act was due to necessity and fear of his subjects. So for the time the king was persuaded. But he had not altogether relinquished his desire, when there came, later on, another Jew from Galilee, named Eleazar, with a reputation for the strictest observance of the customs of his fathers, and prevailed on him to do the deed. For, on entering to salute the king, Eleazar found him reading the Law of Moses, and said: “In your ignorance, O king, you are sinning grievously against the laws and thereby against God. It behoves you not merely to read them but even more to do what they command. How long will you remain uncircumcised? If you have not yet read the law concerning this matter, read it now, that you may know what impiety is yours.”
On hearing this speech the king delayed no longer; he withdrew to another room, summoned his physician, carried out the injunctions, and sent for his mother and his instructor Ananias and announced that he had done the deed. And they were at once filled with dismay and fear beyond measure, lest the king should be convicted of the deed and risk the loss of his kingdom 92(since his subjects would not endure a devotee of foreign customs as their ruler), and they themselves should be in jeopardy as responsible for his action. However, as the sequel showed, God was to prevent their fears from being realized. Great perils, indeed, befell Izates and his children, but God delivered them, providing a way out of their extremities to salvation, thereby showing that those who look to Him and believe in Him only do not lose the fruit of their piety. But we shall tell this story hereafter.
Now Helena the Queen-mother, seeing the kingdom at peace and her son blessed and envied of all men, even by those of other nations, because the providence of God was upon him, had a desire to visit the city of Jerusalem, to do reverence to the Temple of God that was renowned among all men and to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving. So she entreated her son’s permission; and he very willingly consented to his mother’s request, and made large preparations for her sending off and gave her abundance of money; and she went down to the city of Jerusalem, her son accompanying her a good way.
Now c. A.D. 44-48her arrival was very timely to them of Jerusalem; for, as their city at that time was oppressed by a famine and many of the inhabitants were perishing for lack of means to buy food, Queen Helena sent some of her retinue to Alexandria to purchase corn at a great price, and others to Cyprus to bring a cargo of dried figs. Then, when they had returned with all speed bringing their purchases, she distributed food to the destitute. By this beneficent act she has left to our whole nation the highest remembrance of herself. Her son Izates, likewise, on hearing of the famine, sent large sums of money 93to the chief of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.—Ant. XX. 2. 4 f. (38-53).
(35) The Fate of the Impostor Theudas, and of the Sons of Judas the Galilæan
For the relation of this passage to Acts v. 36 f., where Theudas and Judas occur in juxtaposition, see Appendix, Note IV.
Now when Fadus was procurator of Judæa, a certain impostor named Theudas persuaded the mass of the rabble to take their belongings with them and follow him to the river Jordan; for he said that he was a prophet and would by a word of command divide the river and afford them an easy passage; and by these words he deceived many. Fadus, however, did not allow them to reap the benefit of their folly. He despatched against them a troop of horse which fell upon them unexpectedly and slew many and took many of them prisoners. They caught Theudas himself alive, cut off his head and carried it to Jerusalem. This was what befell the Jews under the procuratorship of Cuspius Fadus.
Tiberius Alexander came as successor to Fadus. He was the son of that Alexander who was Alabarch in Alexandria, and was by birth and wealth the foremost man of his time in that city. The father excelled the son, moreover, in his pious worship of God; for the latter did not hold fast to his hereditary religion. It was under his governorship that the great famine befell Judæa, when Queen Helena purchased corn from Egypt at a great price and distributed it to the starving population, as I have already narrated.
94It was now, too, that there were brought up (for trial) the sons of that Judas of Galilee who induced the people to revolt from the Romans when Quirinius was engaged in the assessment of Judæa, as we have narrated in a previous book. Alexander gave orders that (the sons of Judas named) James and Simon should be crucified.—Ant. XX. 5. 1 f. (97-102).
(36) Agrippa II, Felix and Drusilla
All three characters appear in the Acts. Agrippa II (the son of Agrippa I) with his sister Bernice and Festus, the Roman governor, listened to St. Paul’s defence at Cæsarea (Acts xxv. xxvi.). Felix, the predecessor of Festus, with Drusilla his wife had a private interview with the Apostle; the circumstances of their marriage described below throw light on the governor’s terror “as” Paul “reasoned of righteousness and temperance and the judgement to come” (Acts xxiv. 24 f.).
The influence exercised by the Cypriot sorcerer, Atomos, over the Roman governor, finds a curious parallel in the relations of Elymas and Sergius Paulus (Acts xiii. 6 ff.). The Jewish magician there too resides in Cyprus, and in the “Western” text bears a name strangely similar to that of the friend of Felix (Ετ[ο]ιμας, Etoemas, ib. xiii. 8, cod. D).
The Emperor then A.D. 52sent Claudius Felix, the brother of Pallas, to take over the administration of Judæa. Moreover, when he had now completed the twelfth year of his reign, A.D. 53he bestowed upon Agrippa the tetrarchy of Philip and (the region of) Batanæa, adding also Trachonitis, together with the former tetrarchy of Lysanias, namely Abella. At the same time he deprived him of the kingdom of Chalcis, which he had held for four years.
After receiving this award from Cæsar, Agrippa gave his sister Drusilla in marriage to Azizus, king of Emesa, 95on his consenting to be circumcised. Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus, had declined the marriage from reluctance to adopt Jewish practices, although he had previously promised her father that he would do so….
The marriage of Drusilla and Azizus was, however, not long afterwards broken off on the following ground. Drusilla was the most beautiful of women, and Felix, while procurator of Judæa, saw and fell in love with her. He accordingly sent to her one of his friends named Atomos, a Jew born in Cyprus, who pretended to be a magician, and tried to persuade her to desert her husband and marry him, promising to make her happy if she did not reject him. And she, because she was unhappy in her life and desired to escape from her sister Berenice’s envy of her beauty, … was prevailed upon to transgress the laws of her race and to marry Felix. By him she bore a son whom she called Agrippa.—Ant. XX. 7. 1 f. (137-143).
(37) The Death of James, “the Lord’s Brother”
A description of the death by stoning, after a perfunctory trial by the Sanhedrin, of James “the brother of Jesus who was called Christ,” the head of the early Church in Jerusalem (Acts xv.; Gal. i. 19).
An alternative melodramatic account of the martyrdom of James—in which he is represented as hurled down from the “pinnacle” of the Temple, stoned, and finally despatched by a fuller’s club—is given by Hegesippus (quoted by Euseb. H. E. II. 23).
The account of Josephus seems much the more trustworthy of the two, and there appears to be no reason for questioning its authenticity. As Lightfoot writes, “This notice … is probable in itself (which the account of Hegesippus is not), and is such as Josephus might be 96expected to write if he alluded to the matter at all…. On the other hand, if the passage had been a Christian interpolation, the notice of James would have been more laudatory” (Galatians, ed. 10, p. 366, n. 2).
On the other hand, a passage quoted by Eusebius (loc. cit.) as from Josephus, ascribing the miseries of the siege of Jerusalem to divine vengeance for the murder of James the Just, does not occur in his extant works and is probably spurious.
On hearing of the death of Festus, A.D. 62Cæsar sent Albinus to Judæa as governor. King (Agrippa) at the same time deprived Joseph of the high priesthood and appointed the son of Ananus, also named Ananus, as his successor. The elder Ananus, they say, was exceptionally fortunate; he had five sons, all of whom became God’s high priests, their father having previously enjoyed the same privilege for a very long period; an experience without parallel in the history of our high priests.
The younger Ananus, who now, as I said, took over the office, was a rash man and extraordinarily audacious; he belonged to the sect of the Sadducees, who, as I have already explained, are more ruthless than all other Jews when they sit in judgement. Such was the character of this Ananus, who, thinking that a favourable opportunity now presented itself—Festus being dead and Albinus still on the road—summoned the judicial court of the Sanhedrin, brought before it the brother of Jesus who was called Christ—James was his name—with some others, and after accusing them of transgressing the law, delivered them over to be stoned to death. This action aroused the indignation of all citizens with the highest reputation for moderation and strict observance of the laws; and they sent a secret message to King (Agrippa), petitioning him to restrain Ananus, who had been wrong in what he had done already, from similar proceedings in future. Some of them, moreover, went to meet 97Albinus on his road from Alexandria and explained that it was illegal for Ananus to convene a meeting of the Sanhedrin without his consent. Albinus was persuaded by their arguments and wrote an angry letter to Ananus threatening to punish him. King Agrippa, on his side, for this action deposed Ananus from the high priesthood, when he had held office but three months, and appointed Jesus, son of Damnæus, in his place.—Ant. XX. 9. 1 (197-203).
98VII. SCENES FROM THE JEWISH WAR
(38) Introduction to “The Jewish War”
The war of the Jews against the Romans—the greatest not only of the wars of our own time, but well-nigh of all that ever broke out between cities or nations, so far as accounts have reached us—has not lacked its historians. Of these, some, having taken no part in the action, have collected from hearsay futile and contradictory stories which they have then edited in a rhetorical style; while others, who witnessed the events, have, either from flattery of the Romans or from dislike of the Jews, misrepresented the facts, their writings exhibiting alternately invective and encomium, but nowhere historical accuracy. In these circumstances, I—Josephus, son of Matthias, a native of Jerusalem, of the priestly order, who at the opening of the war myself fought against the Romans and in the sequel was perforce an onlooker—propose to provide the subjects of the Roman Empire with a narrative of the facts, by translating into Greek the account which some while since I composed in my vernacular tongue and sent to the natives of upper Syria.
I spoke of this upheaval as one of the greatest magnitude. The Romans had their own internal disorders. The Jewish revolutionary party, whose numbers and 99fortunes were at their zenith, seized the occasion of the turbulent times for insurrection. As a result of these vast disturbances the whole of the Eastern Empire was in the balance; the insurgents were fired with hopes of its acquisition, their opponents feared its loss. For the Jews hoped that all their fellow-countrymen beyond the Euphrates would join with them in revolt; while the Romans, on their side, were occupied with their neighbours the Gauls, and the Celts were in motion. Nero’s death, June A.D. 68moreover, brought universal confusion; many were induced by this opportunity to aspire to the sovereignty, and a change which might make their fortune was after the heart of the soldiery.
I thought it monstrous, therefore, to allow the truth in affairs of such moment to go astray, and that, while Parthians and Babylonians and the most remote tribes of Arabia with our countrymen beyond the Euphrates and the inhabitants of Adiabene had, through my assiduity, been accurately informed as to the origin of the war, the various phases of calamity through which it passed and its conclusion, the Greeks and such Romans as were not engaged in the contest should remain in ignorance of these matters, with flattering or fictitious narratives as their only guide.
Though the writers in question presume to give their works the title of histories, yet throughout these, apart from the utter lack of sound information, they seem, in my opinion, to miss their own mark. They desire to represent the Romans as a great nation, and yet they continually depreciate and disparage the actions of the Jews. But I fail to see how the conquerors of a puny people deserve to be accounted great. Again, these writers respect neither the long duration of the war, nor the vast numbers of the Roman army that it engaged, 100nor the prestige of the generals, who, after such herculean labours under the walls of Jerusalem, are, I suppose, of no repute in these writers’ eyes, if their achievement is to be underestimated.
I have no intention of rivalling those who extol the Roman power by exaggerating the deeds of my compatriots. I shall narrate accurately the actions of both combatants; while making allowance for the temperament (of the speaker) in the speeches arising out of the action and giving my personal sympathies scope to bewail my country’s misfortunes. For, that it owed its ruin to civil strife, and that it was the Jewish tyrants who drew down upon the Temple the unwilling hands of the Romans and the conflagration, is attested by Titus Cæsar himself who sacked the city; throughout the war he commiserated the populace who were at the mercy of the revolutionary cliques, and often of his own accord deferred the capture of the city and by protracting the siege gave the culprits time for repentance. Should, however, any critic censure me for my strictures upon the tyrants or their bands of marauders or for my lamentations over my country’s misfortunes, I ask his indulgence for a compassion which falls outside an historian’s province. For of all the cities under Roman rule it was the lot of ours to attain to the highest felicity and to fall to the lowest depths of calamity. Indeed, in my opinion, the misfortunes of all nations since the world began are slight in comparison with those of the Jews; and, since the blame lay with no foreign nation, it was impossible to restrain one’s condolence. Should, however, any critic be too austere for pity, let him assign the actions to the history, the lamentations to the historian.
101I, on my side, might justly censure those erudite Greek writers, who, living in times of such stirring actions as by comparison reduce to insignificance the wars of antiquity, yet sit in judgement on these current events and revile those who make them their special study—authors whose principles they lack, even if they have the advantage of them in literary skill. They take as their themes the Assyrian and Median empires, as if the narratives of the ancient historians were inadequate, although these modern writers are their inferiors no less in literary power than in judgement. The ancient historians set themselves severally to write the history of their own times, a task in which their connexion with the events added lucidity to their record; while mendacity brought an author into disgrace with readers who knew the facts.
The truth is that the work of committing to writing events which have not previously been recorded and of commending to posterity the history of one’s own time is one which merits praise and acknowledgment. The industrious writer is not one who merely remodels the scheme and arrangement of another’s work, but one who, besides having fresh materials, gives the body of his history a framework of his own.
For myself, at the cost of much money and severe labour, I, a foreigner, present to Greeks and Romans this memorial of great achievements. As for the native (Greek) writers, where personal profit or a lawsuit is concerned, their mouths are at once agape and their tongues loosed; but in the matter of history, where veracity and laborious collection of the facts are essential, they are mute, leaving to inferior and ill-informed writers the task of describing the exploits of rulers. Let me at least hold historical truth in honour, since by the Greeks it is disregarded….—B.J. I. 1-5 (1-16).
102(39) Seeds of the War sown under the last of the Procurators. Rise of the Sicarii
After this Claudius sent out Felix, the brother of Pallas, as procurator of Judæa, Samaria, Galilee and Peræa. Agrippa he transferred from Chalcis to a larger kingdom, assigning to him Philip’s former province, namely Batanæa, Trachonitis and Gaulanitis; to this he added the kingdom of Lysanias and the province which had belonged to Varus. After holding the imperial office for thirteen years, eight months and twenty days, Claudius died, A.D. 54leaving Nero as his successor in the government….
Nero annexed to Agrippa’s kingdom four cities with their districts, namely, Abila, Julias in Peræa, and in Galilee Tarichæa and Tiberias. He appointed Felix to be procurator of the rest of Judæa. Felix took prisoner Eleazar, the arch-brigand who for twenty years had ravaged the country, with many of his associates, and sent them for trial to Rome. Of the brigands whom he crucified, and of the common people who were detected of complicity with them and punished by him, the number was incalculable.
Rise of the Sicarii
But, while the country was thus cleared of these pests, a new species of banditti was springing up in Jerusalem, the so-called Sicarii, who committed murders in broad daylight in the heart of the city. The festivals were their special seasons, when they would mingle with the crowd, carrying short daggers concealed under their 103clothing, with which they stabbed any with whom they were at enmity. Then, when they fell, the murderers joined in the cries of indignation and, through this plausible behaviour, were never discovered. The first to be assassinated by them was Jonathan the high priest; after his death there were numerous daily murders. The panic created was more alarming than the calamity itself; every one, as on the battlefield, hourly expecting death. Men kept watch at a distance on their enemies and would not trust even their friends when they approached. Yet, with their suspicions aroused and on their guard, they were slain; so swift were the conspirators and so crafty in eluding detection.
Troubled State of the Country
Besides these there arose another body of villains, with purer hands but more impious intentions, who no less than the assassins ruined the peace of the city. Deceivers and impostors, under the pretence of divine inspiration fostering revolutionary changes, they persuaded the multitude to act like madmen, and led them out into the desert under the belief that God would there give them tokens of deliverance. Against them Felix, regarding this as but the preliminary to insurrection, sent a body of horse and foot and put a large number to the sword.
A still worse blow was dealt at the Jews by the Egyptian false prophet. A charlatan, who had gained for himself the reputation of a prophet, this man collected about thirty thousand of his dupes, entered the country and led his force round from the desert to the mount called Olivet. From there he proposed to force an entrance into Jerusalem and, after overpowering 104the Roman garrison and the people, to act as despot with the aid of his bodyguard of lancers who were to pour in with him. His attack was anticipated by Felix, who went to meet him with the Roman forces, the whole population joining him in the defence; with the result that in the ensuing engagement, while the Egyptian escaped with a few of his followers, most of his force were killed or taken prisoners. The remainder were dispersed, and got away one by one to their homes.
No sooner were these disorders reduced than, as in a diseased frame, the fever broke out again in another quarter. The impostors and brigands, banding together, induced many to revolt, encouraging them to assert their independence, and threatening to kill any who submitted to Roman rule and to use violence to tear from their allegiance any who still chose voluntary servitude. Distributing themselves in companies throughout the country, they looted the houses of the wealthy, murdered their owners, and set the villages on fire; and so spread the infection of their madness throughout all Judæa.
While this war was daily being fanned into flame, c. A.D. 59another disturbance occurred at Cæsarea, where the Jewish portion of the population rose against the Syrians. They claimed that the city was theirs on the ground that its founder, King Herod, was a Jew. Their opponents admitted the Jewish origin of its (second) founder, but maintained that the city itself belonged to the Greeks, since Herod would never have erected the statues and temples which he placed there had he intended it for Jews…. The quarrel still continuing, Felix selected the notables from either party and sent them as a deputation to Nero to argue the merits of the case.
Festus, who succeeded Felix as procurator, proceeded to attack the principal plague of the country; he captured large numbers of the brigands and put not a few to death.
The administration of Albinus, who followed Festus, A.D. 62-64was of another order; there was no form of villainy which he omitted to practise. Not only did he, in his official capacity, steal and plunder private property and burden the whole nation with imposts, but he accepted ransoms from their relatives on behalf of persons who had been imprisoned for robbery by the local councils or by former procurators; and none was left in gaol as a malefactor save those who failed to pay the price.
At this period a fresh stimulus was given to the revolutionary party in Jerusalem, the influential men among their number securing from Albinus, by means of bribes, immunity for their seditious practices; while the section of the populace which could never remain quiet joined hands with the governor’s accomplices. Individual scoundrels had around them each his own band of followers, among whom they figured conspicuously like brigand-chiefs or tyrants, employing their bodyguard to plunder peaceable citizens. The outcome was that the victims of robbery kept their grievances, of which they had every reason to complain, to themselves, while those who escaped cringed to one who deserved punishment, through fear of suffering the same fate. In short, none could now speak his mind, with tyrants on every side; and from this date were sown in the city the seeds of its impending fall.
Such was the character of Albinus, but his successor, Gessius Florus, A. D. 64-66made him appear by comparison a paragon of virtue. The crimes of Albinus were, for the most part, perpetrated in secret and with dissimulation; Gessius, on the contrary, ostentatiously paraded his lawless treatment of the nation, and, as though he had been sent as hangman of condemned criminals, committed every kind of robbery and outrage. In cases which called for compassion he was cruel beyond measure; in dealing with shameful conduct, he was utterly devoid of shame. No man ever poured greater contempt on truth or contrived more subtle methods of villainy. To make gain out of individuals seemed beneath him: he stripped whole cities, ruined entire populations, and almost went the length of proclaiming throughout the country that all were at liberty to rob on condition that he received his share of the spoils. Certainly his avarice brought desolation upon all districts, and caused many to desert their ancestral homes and seek refuge in foreign provinces.
So long as Cestius Gallus was in Syria discharging his provincial administrative duties, none dared to send a deputation to him to complain of Florus; but when he visited Jerusalem on the eve of the feast of unleavened bread, the people crowded around him to no less a number than three millions, imploring him to have compassion on the calamities of the nation, and loudly denouncing Florus as the ruin of the country. Florus, who was present at Cestius’s side, scoffed at their outcry. Cestius, however, when he had quieted the excitement 107of the crowd, pledged himself to secure for them greater moderation on the part of Florus in future, and so returned to Antioch.
Florus escorted him as far as Cæsarea, playing upon his credulity, and already contemplating the prospect of war with the nation—his only hope of covering up his own enormities. For, if the peace were kept, he expected to have the Jews accusing him before Cæsar; whereas, could he bring about their revolt, he would by means of the larger calamity divert attention from the less. In order, therefore, to produce an outbreak of the nation, he daily added to their sufferings.—B.J. II. 12. 8-14. 3 (247-283).
(40) The Immediate Cause of the War—Abrogation of Sacrifices for the Emperor
Summer A.D. 66
Meanwhile, some of the prime instigators of hostilities banded together and made an assault on a fortress called Masada; and having gained possession of it by stratagem, they slew the Roman guards and put a garrison of their own in their place.
Another incident occurred at the same time in the Temple. Eleazar, son of Ananias the high priest, a very daring youth, being then in command, persuaded those who officiated in the Temple services to accept no gift or sacrifice from a foreigner. This action laid the foundation of the war with the Romans; for they thereby abrogated the sacrifice on behalf of that nation and the Emperor. And, though the chief priests and the men of note earnestly besought them not to abandon the customary offering for their rulers, they were obdurate. Their 108numbers gave them great confidence, supported as they were by the stalwarts of the revolutionary party; but the determining influence was their high opinion of their captain Eleazar.
Thereupon the men of weight assembled with the chief priests and the notable Pharisees and, in the belief that they were now involved in irreparable calamities, deliberated on the state of public affairs. Deciding to try the effect of persuasion on the revolutionaries, they called the people together before the brazen gate which opened into the inner Temple and faced eastward. And, first, they expressed severe indignation at the audacity of this revolt and at the men who were bringing upon their country so serious a war. They then proceeded to expose the absurdity of the alleged pretext. Their forefathers, they said, had adorned the sanctuary mainly from the contributions of foreigners and had always accepted the gifts of external nations; not only had they never taken the sacrilegious step of forbidding any one to offer sacrifice, but they had set up around the Temple the dedicatory offerings which were still to be seen and had remained there for so long a time. But those who were now provoking the arms of the Romans and courting war with such antagonists were introducing some novel and strange religion, and, in addition to the danger incurred, would lay the city open to the charge of impiety, if Jews alone were to allow no alien the right of sacrifice or worship. Should such a law be introduced in the case of any private individual, they would be indignant as at an act of deliberate inhumanity; yet they made light of putting the Romans and Cæsar outside the pale. It was to be feared, however, that, once they rejected the sacrifices for the Romans, they might 109not be allowed to offer sacrifice even for themselves, and that their city would be placed outside the pale of the empire, unless, with a speedy return to discretion, they restored the sacrifices and made amends for the insult before the report reached the ears of those whom they had insulted.
In the course of this speech they brought forward the priestly experts on the national customs, who explained how all their ancestors had accepted the sacrifices of aliens.
But not one of the revolutionary party would listen to their words, which met with no better response even from the officiating ministers, who thus helped to sow the seeds of war. Thereupon, the leading men, perceiving that it was now beyond their power to suppress the insurrection and that they would be the first to suffer from the Roman peril, took steps to exonerate themselves from blame. They accordingly despatched two deputations, one to Florus, headed by Simon son of Ananias, and another to Agrippa, of which the most eminent members were the king’s relatives, Saul, Antipas and Costobar. They besought them both to come up to the city with an armed force and to nip the rebellion in the bud before repression became impossible. To Florus the news was a wonderful godsend, and, determined as he was to fan the flame of war, he gave the emissaries no reply. Agrippa, on the other hand, was solicitous alike for the rebels and for the nation against which their hostilities were directed; he was anxious that the Romans should not lose the Jews nor the Jews their Temple and mother city; and was, moreover, aware that the disturbance would not conduce to 110his own interests. He accordingly despatched to the aid of the people three thousand horse from Auranitis, Batanæa and Trachonitis, under Darius as cavalry commander and Philip, son of Jacimus, as general.
Encouraged by these reinforcements, the leading men with the chief priests and all such of the populace as were in favour of peace occupied the upper city. The lower city and the Temple were in the hands of the insurgents.—B.J. II. 17. 2-5 (408-422).
(41) Initial Jewish success. Rout of a Roman Army in the Defiles of Beth-Horon
The humiliating Roman defeat in this first stage of the war here described recalls a rather similar incident at the Caudine Forks in the early wars with the Samnites.
Cestius Advances from Antioch
The Jews being now everywhere up in arms, Cestius decided to remain inactive no longer. He accordingly left Antioch and advanced upon Ptolemais. His force consisted of the twelfth legion in full strength, two thousand picked men from each of the other legions, six cohorts of infantry and four squadrons of cavalry, besides the allied forces furnished by the kings; of these Antiochus supplied two thousand horse and three thousand foot, all archers, Agrippa an equal number of foot and rather less than two thousand horse, Sohemus following with four thousand, of which a third part were cavalry and the rest archers. In addition, numerous auxiliaries were collected from the towns; they lacked the training of the regulars, but made good any deficiency in technical skill by their zeal and their detestation of the Jews. Agrippa himself accompanied Cestius on the route as guide and adviser….
111Galilee surrenders to Cestius, almost without a blow; Joppa, attacked by land and sea, is captured and burnt; and the Roman arms are everywhere successful.
From Antipatris Cestius advanced to Lydda and found the city deserted, for the population had gone up en masse to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles October A.D. 66. Fifty persons who showed themselves he put to the sword, and after burning down the town resumed his march; and, ascending through Beth-Horon, pitched his camp at a place called Gibeon, fifty furlongs distant from Jerusalem.
A Jewish Successful Charge outside Jerusalem
The Jews, seeing the war at length approaching their mother city, abandoned the feast and rushed to arms; and, relying largely on their numbers, sprang in disorder and with loud cries into the fray. It was the Sabbath which they regarded with peculiar reverence, but they paid no thought to that seventh day of rest. But the same passion which shook them out of their piety brought them victory in the battle. With such fury, at any rate, did they fall upon the Romans that they broke and passed through their ranks, killing as they went; and had not the cavalry, with a body of infantry which was not so hard pressed as the rest, disengaged and wheeled round to the relief of the broken line, Cestius and his whole army would have been in jeopardy. The Roman killed were five hundred and fifteen (four hundred infantry and the rest cavalry); the Jews lost but two and twenty…. When their frontal attack was thus held up, the Jews retired to the city. But Simon, son of Gioras, fell upon the rear of the Romans as they withdrew to Beth-Horon, 112and cut up a large part of their rear-guard, carrying off many of the baggage mules, which he brought with him into the city. Cestius continuing to hold his ground for three days, the Jews seized the heights and kept guard on the passes, clearly not intending to remain inactive, should the Romans begin to move.
Fruitless Attempt to Parley with the Jews
At this juncture, Agrippa, perceiving that, with the enemy in such countless numbers in possession of the surrounding mountains, even a Roman army was in a perilous position, decided to try the effect of parley with the Jews. He hoped either to prevail on all to abandon hostilities, or at least to detach from their opponents those who did not share the views of the war party. So he sent the two of his men who were best known to them, Borcæus and Phœbus, with an offer of a treaty on the part of Cestius and of free pardon from the Romans for their misdoings, on condition that they would lay down their arms and go over to them. The insurgents, fearing that the prospect of an amnesty would induce the whole multitude to go over to Agrippa, made a murderous assault upon his emissaries. Phœbus they slew before he had uttered a syllable; Borcæus was wounded but succeeded in escaping. Such of the people as indignantly protested at their action they assailed with stones and clubs and drove into the town.
Cestius Occupies the Suburb Bezetha
Cestius, seeing that these internal dissensions offered a favourable opportunity for attack, brought up his whole force, routed the enemy, and pursued them to Jerusalem. Encamping on the (hill) called Scopus, distant seven furlongs from the city, for three days he made no 113attempt upon it, expecting that the inhabitants might possibly show signs of surrender; in the meantime he sent out many of his soldiers to the surrounding villages for foraging purposes. On the fourth day, October A.D. 66the thirtieth of the month Hyperberetæus, he deployed his forces and led them within the city.
The people were under the thumb of the revolutionary party, and the latter, overawed by the orderly discipline of the Romans, abandoned some of the suburbs and retired into the inner city and the Temple. Cestius, on gaining entry, set fire to the district known as Bezetha and the New City and the so-called Timber Market; he then proceeded to the upper city and encamped opposite the royal palace. Had he, at that particular moment, chosen to force his way within the walls, he would have captured the city forthwith, and the war would have been over. But Tyrannius Priscus, the camp-commander, with most of the cavalry officers, being bribed by Florus, diverted him from the attempt. Hence it came about that the war was so long protracted and the Jews drained the cup of irretrievable disaster.
Attack on Jerusalem
Meanwhile many of the notable citizens, at the instance of Ananus, son of Jonathan, sent an invitation to Cestius, promising to open the gates to him. These overtures, however, partly in scorn and resentment, partly because he did not wholly credit them, he hesitated to accept, until the insurgents, discovering the treason, dragged down Ananus and his confederates from the wall and drove them, with showers of stones, into their houses. Then, taking up their stations in 114detachments, they hurled their missiles from the towers upon the enemy who were assailing the wall. So for five days the Romans pressed their attack on all sides without success, till on the sixth Cestius led a large force of picked men with the archers to an assault on the north side of the Temple. The Jews from the portico warded it off, and time after time repulsed those who had reached the wall, but at length, overpowered by the hail of missiles, gave way. The front rank of the Romans then planted their shields against the wall, those behind them planted other shields upon the first, and the rest did in like manner, forming a screen which they call “the tortoise,” from which the missiles, as they fell, glanced off harmlessly, while the soldiers with immunity undermined the wall and prepared to set fire to the gate of the Temple.
A terrible panic now seized the insurgents, many of whom were already slinking out of the city in the belief that it was on the verge of capture. The populace thereupon took heart again, and the more the miscreants gave ground, the nearer did the others approach the gates, ready to open them and welcome Cestius as a benefactor. Had he but persisted for a while with the siege, he would have forthwith taken the city. But I suppose that on account of those wicked men God, already regarding even the sanctuary with aversion, ordained that that day should not see the end of the war.
Unexpected Withdrawal of Cestius, Pursued by the Jews
At any rate, Cestius, perceiving neither the desperate condition of the besieged nor the temper of the populace, suddenly recalled his troops, and, without having sustained any reverse, abandoned his hopes and, contrary 115to all calculation, retired from the city. On this unexpected retreat, the brigands, plucking up courage, sallied out upon his rear and killed a considerable number both of horse and foot.
That night Cestius passed at his camp on (Mount) Scopus. The following day, continuing his retreat he provoked the enemy to further pursuit; hanging upon his heels they cut up his rear, and getting round him on either side of his route poured their missiles on his flanks. The rear ranks did not dare to round upon their assailants behind them, supposing that they were pursued by an innumerable host; nor did they attempt to beat off those who were pressing their flanks, being heavily armed themselves and afraid of opening out their ranks, while the Jews, as they saw, were light armed and could readily dash in among them. The result was that they suffered heavily, without any retaliation upon the enemy. So all along the route the blows rained upon them and they kept dropping out of the ranks and falling, until at length, after numerous casualties, including Priscus, the general of the sixth legion, and Longinus a tribune, and Æmilius Jucundus, a squadron commander, and with the loss of most of their baggage, with difficulty they reached their former camp at Gibeon. Here Cestius halted for two days, uncertain what course to pursue; but, on the third, seeing the enemy’s strength greatly increased and all the surrounding country swarming with Jews, he decided that the delay had been detrimental to him and, if further prolonged, would but increase the number of his foes.
Scene in the Pass of Beth-Horon
To accelerate the retreat, he issued orders to abandon all impedimenta. So the mules, asses and all the beasts of burthen were killed, excepting those that carried 116missiles and engines of war; these they clung to, both for their own use and especially from fear that they might fall into Jewish hands and be employed against themselves. He then led his army on towards Beth-Horon. In the open their movements were less harassed by the Jews, but, once the Romans became involved in the defiles on the descent, one contingent of the enemy went ahead of them and blocked their exit, another drove the rearmost down into the ravine, while the main body lined up in extended order above the gorge and covered the phalanx with their missiles. Here, powerless as were the infantry to protect themselves, the cavalry were in even greater jeopardy. To advance in order down the road under the hail of darts was impossible, while the charge up the steep slopes was impracticable for horse. On either side were precipices and ravines, down which they slipped and were hurled headlong. None had room for flight, none had any plan of defence. In their utter helplessness they gave vent to groans and the wailings of despair, which were answered by the war-whoop and shouts of the Jews, exultant and mad with rage. Cestius and his whole army would have been well-nigh annihilated had not night intervened, under cover of which the Romans escaped to Beth-Horon. The Jews meanwhile occupied all the surrounding district and kept guard against their egress.
Flight of Cestius
Cestius, now despairing of open retreat, took measures for flight; and, selecting about four hundred of his bravest men, stationed them upon the roofs, with orders to shout out the watchwords of the camp-sentinels, that 117the Jews might think that the whole army was still on the spot. He himself with the remainder then stealthily advanced another thirty furlongs. At daybreak the Jews, discovering that the enemy’s night quarters were deserted, charged the four hundred who had deluded them, quickly shot them down with their spears, and started in pursuit of Cestius.
He had gained much upon them during the night, and, when day came, quickened the pace still more; the men in consternation and terror abandoning the siege engines, catapults and most of the other machines, which the Jews then captured and afterwards employed against those who had relinquished them. The Jews continued the pursuit as far as Antipatris, and then, failing to overtake the Romans, turned and carried off the machines, plundered the corpses, collected the booty which had been left behind, and, with songs of triumph, retraced their steps to the capital. Their own losses had been quite inconsiderable; of the Romans and their allies they had slain five thousand three hundred infantry and of cavalry four hundred and four score. This action took place on the eighth of the month Dius in the twelfth year of Nero’s reign November A.D. 66.
Cestius Reports to Nero
After this catastrophe of Cestius many distinguished Jews left the city as swimmers desert a sinking ship. For example, the brothers Costobar and Saul with Philip, son of Jacimus, King Agrippa’s camp-commander, escaped from the city and joined Cestius…. Cestius, at their request, despatched Saul and his party to Nero in Achaia, to inform him of their own difficulties and also to lay the blame for the war on Florus. For he 118hoped by exciting resentment against Florus to lessen the danger to himself….
Jewish Preparations for War
The Jews who had pursued Cestius, on their return to Jerusalem, partly by force, partly by persuasion, brought over to their side such pro-Romans as still remained; and, assembling in the Temple, appointed several generals to conduct the war. Joseph, son of Gorion, and Ananus the high priest were elected to the supreme control of affairs in the city, with a special charge to repair the city walls. As for Eleazar, son of Simon, notwithstanding that he had in his hands the Roman spoils with the money taken from Cestius, as well as much of the public treasure, they did not entrust him with office, because they saw him to be aiming at despotic power, and that his subordinate Zealots acted the part of his bodyguard. Gradually, however, financial needs and the intrigues of Eleazar so far prevailed upon the people that they ended by submitting in all matters to his authority.—B.J. II. 18. 9-20. 3 (499-565).
(42) Jerusalem before the Siege
The disturbances in Galilee were thus quelled; Spring A.D. 67and, desisting from civil strife, the Jews directed their attention to preparations against the Romans. In Jerusalem Ananus the high priest and those of the leading men who were not pro-Romans busied themselves with the repair of the walls and the accumulation of engines of war. In every quarter of the city missiles and suits of armour were being forged; masses of young men were undergoing a desultory training; and the whole scene was one of confusion. On the other side, the dejection of the moderate party was profound; and many foresaw and 119openly lamented the impending disasters. There were also omens, which to the friends of peace boded ill, while those who had kindled the war readily invented favourable interpretations for them; and the city before the coming of the Romans wore the appearance of a place doomed to destruction. Ananus, indeed, was anxious gradually to desist from warlike preparations and to bend the revolutionaries and the infatuated Zealots, as they were called, to a more salutary policy; but their violence was too much for him. The sequel of our narrative will show the fate which befell him.—B.J. II. 22. 1 (647-651).
(43) The Fall of Jotapata. Josephus taken Prisoner.
Capture of the Town through Information of a Jewish Deserter
The defenders of Jotapata were still holding out and beyond all expectation enduring their miseries, when on the forty-seventh day (of the siege) the earthworks of the Romans overtopped the wall. That same day a deserter reported to Vespasian the reduced numbers and strength of the defence, and that, worn out with perpetual watching and continuous fighting, they would be unable longer to resist a vigorous assault and might be taken by stratagem, if the attempt were made. He stated that about the last watch (of the night)—an hour when they expected some respite from their sufferings and when tired frames succumb most readily to morning slumber—the sentinels used to drop asleep; that was the hour when he advised the Romans to attack.
Vespasian, knowing the Jews’ loyalty to each other and their contempt of chastisement, viewed the deserter 120with suspicion. On a former occasion a man of Jotapata who had been taken prisoner held out under every variety of torture, and, without uttering a word about the besieged to his enemies who were trying him by fire, was crucified, smiling at death. Probability, however, lent credit to the traitor; and so, thinking that the man might be speaking the truth and that even a trap, if it were one, was not likely to lead to any serious reverse, Vespasian ordered him into custody and made ready his army for the capture of the city.
At the hour named they advanced in silence to the walls. The first to mount them was Titus, with one of the tribunes, Domitius Sabinus, at the head of a few men of the fifteenth legion. Having cut down the sentries they entered the city in silence, and were followed by Sextus Calvarius, a tribune, and Placidus with the troops under their command. The citadel had been taken and the enemy were moving to and fro in the heart of the town, before the vanquished inhabitants, though it was now broad daylight, were aware of the capture. Most of them, worn out with fatigue, had fallen fast asleep, while a thick mist, which happened at the time to envelop the city, obscured the vision of those who started up. Not until the whole army had poured in, were they fully roused only to realize their misery; the discovery that they were being slain was the first assurance of their capture.
Remembering what they had borne during the siege, the Romans showed no compassion or pity for any one, but thrust the people down the steep descent from the citadel in a general massacre. And here the difficulty of the ground deprived those still able to fight of the means of defence. Crushed in the narrow alleys and 121slipping down the declivity, they were overwhelmed by the wave of war that streamed from the citadel. The situation drove many even of Josephus’s picked men to suicide. Perceiving that they could not kill a single Roman, they at least forestalled death at Roman hands, and, huddled together at the outskirts of the city, put an end to themselves….
On that day the Romans slew all who showed themselves; on the ensuing days they searched the hiding-places and went in pursuit of such as had fled to the mines and caverns, sparing none, whatever their age, save infants and women. The prisoners thus collected were twelve hundred; the number of those killed at the time of the capture and in the previous conflicts was computed at forty thousand. Vespasian ordered the city to be razed, and burnt all its forts to the ground. Thus was Jotapata taken in the thirteenth year of the reign of Nero, on the new moon of Panemus.July A.D. 67
Josephus’s Hiding-place Discovered
A search for Josephus was then instituted by the Romans, instigated both by their own resentment and by the earnest wish of their general, since his capture would constitute a turning-point in the war. So the bodies of the slain and the men in hiding were closely examined. Now Josephus, when the city was on the point of being taken, had, with the aid of some divine providence, stolen out of the enemy’s midst and leapt into a deep pit, giving access on one side to a broad cavern, invisible to those above. There he found forty persons of distinction in hiding, with a supply of provisions sufficient to last for a considerable time. During the day he lay hid, the enemy occupying every quarter 122of the city, but at night he would come up and look for some loophole for escape and reconnoitre the sentries; but, finding every spot guarded on his account and no means of eluding detection, he descended again into the cave. So for two days he continued in hiding. On the third, his secret was betrayed by a woman of the party, who was captured, whereupon Vespasian at once in eager haste despatched two tribunes, Paulinus and Gallicanus, with orders to offer Josephus security and to exhort him to come up.
Josephus Parleys with the Roman Officers
So they came and urged him, giving pledges that his life would not be endangered. Their persuasion, however, was unavailing. His suspicions were based not on the natural clemency of those who invited him, but on the penalties which so active an opponent was likely to incur; and the presentiment that he was being summoned to punishment persisted, until Vespasian sent a third tribune, Nicanor, known to, and formerly an intimate associate of, Josephus. He, on his arrival, dwelt on the innate generosity of the Romans to those whom they had once subdued, assuring him that his valour made him an object rather of admiration, than of hatred, to the commanding officers, and that the general was anxious to bring him up from his retreat, not for punishment—that he could inflict though he refused to come forth—but from a desire to save a brave man. He added that Vespasian, had he intended to entrap him, would never have sent a friend as his emissary, using the noblest of relationships as a cloak for the basest—friendship as a mask for perfidy; nor would he 123himself have consented to come in order to deceive a friend.
While Josephus was still hesitating even at Nicanor’s persuasions, the soldiers in their rage made a rush to set the cave on fire, but were restrained by the officer, who was anxious to take the Jewish leader alive. And as Nicanor urgently pressed his proposals, Josephus heard the threats of the hostile crowd; and there came back into his mind those nightly dreams, in which God had foretold to him the impending fate of the Jews and the destinies of the Roman sovereigns. As an interpreter of dreams he had the capacity of extracting a coherent meaning from the ambiguous utterances of the Deity; a priest himself and of priestly descent, he was, moreover, not ignorant of the prophecies in the sacred books. At that hour he was inspired to read their meaning, and, recalling the dreadful images of his recent dreams, he offered up a secret prayer to God. “Since it pleases Thee” (so it ran), “who didst create the Jewish nation, that it should now sink into the dust, and fortune has wholly passed to the Romans, and since Thou hast made choice of my spirit to announce the things that are to come, I willingly surrender to the Romans and consent to live; but I appeal to Thee to witness that I go as no traitor, but as Thy minister.”
Josephus’s Life Threatened by his Men
With these words he was about to surrender to Nicanor. But when the Jews who had sought refuge along with him understood that Josephus was yielding to entreaty, they came round him in a body, crying out, “Ah! well might the laws of our fathers groan aloud and God Himself, who implanted in Jewish breasts souls that 124make light of death, hide His face for shame! Is life so dear to you, Josephus, that you will endure to see the light in slavery? How soon have you forgotten yourself! How many have you persuaded to die for liberty! False, then, was that reputation for bravery, false that renown for sagacity, if you look for security from those against whom you have fought so bitterly or deign to accept the gift of your life at their hands, even were it sure. Nay, if the fortune of the Romans has cast over you some strange forgetfulness of yourself, the care of our country’s honour devolves on us. We will lend you a right hand and sword. If you die of your own free will, you shall die as general of the Jews; if involuntarily, as a traitor.” With these words they pointed their swords at him and threatened to kill him if he surrendered to the Romans.
Josephus, fearing an assault, and holding that it would be a betrayal of God’s commands, should he die before delivering his message, began to reason with them philosophically upon the emergency.…
There follows a rhetorical speech, which one can hardly believe that Josephus’s companions would have tolerated, on the iniquity of suicide. One sentence will suffice.
“Know you not that they who depart this life in the order of nature and repay the loan which they received from God, when the Giver is pleased to recover it, enjoy eternal renown; that their houses and families are secure; that their souls remain unspotted and attentive to prayer, being allotted the most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolution of the ages, they again find a new habitation in saintly bodies; while the souls of those who have laid mad hands upon themselves are 125received into the darkest region of the underworld, and God, who is their father, visits upon the children their fathers outrageous actions?”…
With many such words did Josephus attempt to deter them from self-slaughter. But desperation stopped their ears, for they had long since devoted themselves to death; and, infuriated with him, they rushed upon him from every side, sword in hand, upbraiding him as a coward, and one and all manifestly prepared at once to strike. But he, addressing one by name, fixing his general’s eye of command upon another, clasping the hand of a third, and shaming a fourth by entreaty, distracted as he was by conflicting passions at this critical moment, yet succeeded in staving off the blades of all, always turning, like a wild beast surrounded (by the hunters), upon his last assailant. Even in his extremities, they still held their general in reverence; their hands were paralyzed, their daggers glanced aside, and many, in the act of thrusting at him, of their own impulse dropped their swords.
The Drawing of the Lots
But, in his straits, his resource did not forsake him. Trusting to the guardianship of God, he put his life to the hazard, and said: “Since you are determined to die, come, let us commit our mutual slaughter to the lot; let him who draws the first lot fall by the hand of him who comes next; so shall fate take her course through the whole number. But let not each be laid low by his own hand; it would be unjust that, when the rest were gone, any should repent and escape.” This proposal appeared 126to them a fair one; his advice was taken, and he drew lots with the rest. The winner of the first lot bared his throat to the next, in the assurance that his general was forthwith to share his fate; for death with Josephus they thought sweeter than life. He, however, (should one say by fortune or by the providence of God?) was left with one other; and, anxious neither to be condemned by the lot nor, should he be left to the last, to stain his hand with the blood of a fellow countryman, he persuaded him also, on a pledge given, to remain alive.
Josephus before the Romans
Having thus survived both the war with the Romans and that with his own friends, Josephus was brought by Nicanor into Vespasian’s presence. The Romans all flocked to see him, and from the multitude crowding around the general arose a hubbub of discordant voices: some exulting at his capture, some threatening, some forcing their way to obtain a nearer view. Those further off clamoured for the punishment of the enemy, while those close beside him were touched by the recollection of his exploits and filled with astonishment at the change in his condition. Of the officers there was not one who, whatever his past resentment, did not then relent at the sight of him.
Titus in particular was moved exceedingly by the fortitude of Josephus under misfortunes and by pity for his youth. As he recalled the combatant of yesterday and saw him now a prisoner in his enemy’s hands, he was led to reflect on the power of fortune, the quick turn of the scale in war and the instability of human affairs. He, therefore, brought over many at the time 127to share his commiseration of Josephus, and by his intercession with his father was mainly instrumental in saving his life. Vespasian, however, ordered him to be guarded with every precaution, intending shortly to send him to Nero.
Josephus tells Vespasian’s Fortune
On hearing this, Josephus said that he desired private speech with him. Vespasian having ordered all to withdraw except his son Titus and two of his friends, the prisoner thus addressed him: “You suppose, Vespasian, that in the person of Josephus you have taken a mere captive; but I come to you as a messenger of greater destinies. Had I not been sent on this errand by God, I knew the law of the Jews and how it becomes a general to die. To Nero do you send me? Why then? Will those who succeed Nero before your accession continue? You, Vespasian, are Cæsar and Emperor—you and this your son. Bind me now yet more securely and keep me for (trial by) yourself. For you, Cæsar, are master not of me only, but of land and sea and the whole human race. And I—I deserve to be reserved for punishment in even stricter custody, if I dare to trifle with the words of God.”
To this speech Vespasian, at the moment, seemed to attach little credit, supposing it to be an ingenious device of Josephus to save his life. Gradually, however, he was led to believe it, since God was already turning his thoughts to the imperial office and by other tokens foreshadowing the throne. He found, moreover, that 128Josephus had proved a veracious prophet in other matters. For, one of the two friends in attendance at the private interview having expressed his surprise that he had not predicted the fall of Jotapata to its inhabitants nor his own captivity, if his present words were not a nonsensical invention to avert the indignation which he had aroused, Josephus replied that he had foretold to the people of Jotapata that their city would be captured after forty-seven days and that he himself would be taken alive by the Romans.
Vespasian, having privately questioned the prisoners on these statements and found them true, then began to credit those concerning himself. He did not, however, exempt Josephus from custody or bonds, though he presented him with raiment and other precious possessions, and continued to treat him with kindness and attention, Titus contributing much to these complimentary honours.—B.J. III. 7. 33-8. 9 (316-408).
(44) Reception at Jerusalem of the News of the Fall of Jotapata
When news of the fate of Jotapata reached Jerusalem, the magnitude of the calamity and the absence of any eyewitness of the events reported at first induced general incredulity. For not one had escaped to tell the tale; Rumour, own sister to Black Tidings, came as her own herald of the city’s capture. Little by little, however, the truth found its way through the adjacent districts, and the fact was now regarded by all as established beyond doubt. But the facts were embroidered by fiction; thus Josephus was reported to have fallen when the city was taken. This intelligence filled Jerusalem with the deepest sorrow. In every household and family 129there was mourning of the relatives for their own lost ones; but the lamentation for the commander was national. Some mourned for their former guests, others for relatives, others for friends, but all alike for Josephus. Thus for thirty days the lamentations in the city were incessant, and many flute-players were hired, who used to take the lead in their dirges.
But when the true story of what had happened at Jotapata was in time disclosed, and the reported death of Josephus was found to be a fabrication, and it became known that he was alive and in Roman hands and being treated by the commanding officers with a respect beyond the common lot of a prisoner, the demonstrations of anger at his escaping alive were as loud as the former expressions of affection when he was believed to be dead. Some abused him as a coward, others as a traitor; and the city was filled with indignation and imprecations upon his devoted head.
They were exasperated, moreover, by their reverses, and their failures added fuel to the flames. A defeat, which with the wise induces precaution and care to provide against similar misfortunes, but goaded them on to further disasters; and the end of one calamity was always the beginning of the next. At any rate, the desire for vengeance on Josephus, now in the enemy’s ranks, impelled them to fiercer assaults upon the Romans. Such was the uproar that now prevailed in Jerusalem.—B.J. III. 9. 5 f. (432-442).
(45) Murder of the High Priest Ananus; also of Zacharias after a mock trial
The Idumæans had been summoned by the Zealots to aid them against the party of Ananus, and had with difficulty gained entrance to Jerusalem during a thunderstorm at night. After massacring 130their Jewish enemies these “children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem” subsequently repented of their adventure and withdrew from the city. For Zacharias see Appendix, Note V.
Winter A.D. 67-68
The fury of the Idumæans being still unsatiated, they turned (from the Temple) to the city, looting every house and killing all who fell in their way. But, thinking their energies wasted on the common people, they went in search of the chief priests. The main body rushed to attack them, and they were soon caught and slain. Then, standing over their dead bodies, they scoffed at Ananus for his patronage of the people and at Jesus for the address which he had delivered from the wall. They actually went so far in their impiety as to cast out the corpses without burial, although the Jews are so careful about funeral rites that even malefactors who have been sentenced to crucifixion are taken down and buried before sunset.
I do not think I shall be wrong in saying that the capture of the city began with the death of Ananus; and that the overthrow of the walls and the downfall of the Jewish state dated from the day on which the Jews beheld their high priest, the captain of their salvation, butchered in the heart of Jerusalem.
A man in all ways venerable and in integrity unsurpassed, Ananus, with all the distinction of his birth, his rank and the honours to which he had attained, yet delighted to treat the very humblest as his equals. Unrivalled in his love of liberty and an admirer of democracy, he on all occasions put the public welfare above his private interests. To maintain peace was his supreme object. He knew that the Roman power was irresistible; but, when driven to provide for a state of war, endeavoured to secure that, if the Jews would not break off hostilities, the struggle should at least be 131skilfully conducted. In a word, had Ananus lived, they would undoubtedly either have come to terms—for he was an effective speaker, whose words carried weight with the people, and was already gaining control over those who thwarted him—or else, had hostilities continued, they would, under such a general, have greatly retarded the victory of the Romans.
With him was linked Jesus, who, though not comparable with Ananus, excelled the rest of his contemporaries.
It was, I suppose, because God had, for its pollutions, condemned the city to destruction and desired to purge the sanctuary by fire, that He thus cut off those who clung to it with such tender affection. So they who but lately were clad in the sacred vestments, had led the ceremonies of world-wide significance and were reverenced by visitors to the city from every quarter of the earth, were now seen cast out naked, to be devoured by dogs and beasts of prey. Virtue herself, I think, groaned over these men’s fate, lamenting that she should have been so completely defeated by Vice. Such, then, was the end of Ananus and Jesus.
Having disposed of them, the Zealots with the mass of the Idumæans fell upon and butchered the people as though they had been a herd of unclean animals….
The Mock Trial and Murder of Zacharias
Having now come to loathe indiscriminate massacre, the Zealots instituted mock trials and courts of justice. They had determined to put to death Zacharias, son of Baris, one of the most eminent of the citizens. His pronounced hatred of wrongdoing and love of liberty 132exasperated them, and, as he was also rich, they had the double prospect of plundering his property and of getting rid of a powerful and dangerous opponent. So they issued a peremptory summons to seventy of the leading citizens to appear in the Temple, assigning to them, as in a play, the rôle, without the authority, of judges; and accused Zacharias of betraying the state to the Romans and of holding treasonable communications with Vespasian. They adduced no evidence or proof in support of these charges; but declared that they were fully convinced of his guilt themselves and claimed this as sufficient guarantee that the accusation was true.
Perceiving that no hope of escape was left him, as he had been treacherously summoned not to a court of justice but to prison, Zacharias did not allow despair of life to rob him of liberty of speech. He rose and ridiculed the probability of the accusation, and in few words quashed the charges laid against him. Then, rounding upon his accusers, he went over all their enormities in order, and bitterly lamented the confusion of public affairs. The Zealots were in an uproar and could scarce refrain from drawing their swords, although anxious to play out their part in the farce of a trial to the close, and desirous, moreover, to test whether the judges would put considerations of justice above their own peril.
The seventy, preferring to die with the defendant rather than be held answerable for his destruction, brought in a unanimous verdict in his favour. The Zealots raised an outcry at his acquittal, and were all indignant with the judges for not understanding that the authority entrusted to them was a mere pretence. Two of the most daring of them then set upon Zacharias and slew him in the midst of the Temple; and addressing him as he lay with jeering words, “There you have our 133verdict as well and a surer release,” forthwith cast him out of the Temple into the ravine below. Then they insolently struck the judges with the backs of their swords and drove them from the precincts; their sole reason for sparing their lives was that they might disperse through the city and proclaim to all the servitude to which they were reduced.—B.J. IV. 5. 2-4 (314-326; 334-344).
(46) How Josephus was Liberated
Probably Summer A.D. 69
Now that fortune was everywhere furthering his wishes and that circumstances had in large measure conspired in his favour, the thought arose in Vespasian’s mind that divine providence had played a part in his rise to sovereignty and that some just destiny had laid the empire of the world upon his shoulders. Among many other omens, which had everywhere foreshadowed his imperial office, he recalled the expressions of Josephus, who had ventured to address him as emperor while Nero was still alive. He was shocked to think that the man was still a prisoner in his hands, and summoning Mucianus with his other generals and personal friends, he first reminded them of his doughty deeds and how much trouble he had given them at Jotapata; and then referred to his predictions, which at the time he himself had suspected of being the fabrications of fear, but which time and the course of events had proved to be divine. “It is disgraceful,” he said, “that one who foretold my elevation to power and was a minister of the voice of God should still rank as a captive and endure a prisoner’s fate”; and calling for Josephus, he ordered him to be liberated.
The officers from this requital of a foreigner were led to augur brilliant honours for themselves. But Titus, who was beside his father, said, “Justice demands, 134father, that, with his bonds, the disgrace should also be removed from Josephus. If, instead of loosing, we sever his chains, he will be as though he had never been in bonds at all.” This is the usual custom when a man has been unjustly chained. Vespasian approving, an attendant came forward and severed the chain with an axe. Thus Josephus won his freedom as the reward of his divination, and his power of insight into the future was no longer discredited.—B.J. IV. 10. 7 (622-629).
(47) A Roman Reverse Inspires false Confidence
May A.D. 70
Thus, after gaining possession of the second wall, were the Romans ejected. The spirits of the war party in the city, elated at their success, rose to a high pitch; they thought that the Romans would never again venture into the city, or that, if they did, they themselves would prove invincible. For God was blinding their minds because of their transgressions; and they perceived neither how the forces still left to the Romans far out-numbered those which had been expelled nor the stealthy approach of famine. It was still possible to feed upon the public miseries and to drink of the city’s life-blood; but honest men had long since felt the pinch of want, and many were already failing for lack of necessaries. The factions, on the other hand, considered the destruction of the people to be a relief to themselves; they maintained that only those should be preserved who were enemies to peace and determined to devote their lives to resisting the Romans; the crowds of their opponents they regarded as a mere encumbrance and their gradual extinction a cause for satisfaction. Such were their feelings towards those within the walls. As for their external foes, having blocked and walled up the breach with their 135own bodies, they attempted to beat off the Romans who were once more attempting to break through.
For three days they maintained a stubborn defence and held their ground; but on the fourth, unable to withstand a gallant assault of Titus, they were compelled to fall back as before. Titus, once more master of the wall, immediately razed the whole of the northern portion; and, placing garrisons in the towers on the south side, made preparations to attack the third wall.—B.J. V. 8. 2 (342-347).
(48) Cessation of the Daily Sacrifice. Josephus appeals to the Jews
Titus now ordered the troops at his disposal to raze the foundations of Antonia and to prepare an easy ascent (to the Temple) for his whole army. On the seventeenth of Panemus, July A.D. 70having heard that on that day the so-called continual sacrifice had ceased to be offered to God from lack of men and that the people were in consequence terribly despondent, he put Josephus forward with instructions to repeat to John the same message as before; namely “that if he was the slave of a depraved love of fighting, it was open to him to come out with as many men as he chose and carry on the war, without involving the city and the sanctuary in his own ruin; but that he should no longer pollute the Holy Place nor sin against God; and that he would be permitted to perform the interrupted sacrifices through the ministry of any Jews he might select.”
Josephus, in order that his words might be listened to 136not by John only but by the multitude, delivered Cæsar’s message in Hebrew, with earnest appeals to them “to spare their country, to disperse the flames that were already licking the sanctuary and to restore to God the customary expiations.” This address was received by the people with dejection and silence; the tyrant, on the contrary, after many invectives and imprecations upon Josephus, ended by saying that “he could never fear capture, since the city was God’s.”
At this Josephus cried aloud:—
“Pure indeed have you kept it for God! The Holy Place too remains undefiled! No impiety are you guilty of against your looked-for Ally and He receives His customary sacrifices! Most impious wretch, should any one deprive you of your daily food, you would consider him an enemy; and do you hope to have God for your ally in the war, whom you have bereft of His everlasting ceremonial? And do you impute these sins to the Romans, who, to this day, are concerned for our laws and are trying to force you to restore to God those sacrifices which you have interrupted? Who would not bewail and lament for the city at this amazing transposition, when aliens and enemies rectify your impiety, while you, a Jew, nurtured in our laws, treat them with greater cruelty even than your foes?
“Yet, be sure, John, it is no disgrace to repent of misdeeds, even at the last; and, if you desire to save your country, you have a noble example set before you in Jeconiah, king of the Jews. He, when in the old days the Babylonian led out his army on his account, of his own free will left the city before it was taken, and with his family endured voluntary captivity, rather than deliver up these holy places to the enemy and suffer the 137house of God to be set on fire. For this he is commemorated in sacred story by all Jews, and memory, flowing ever fresh from age to age, transmits his undying fame to after generations. A noble example, John, even were it dangerous to follow; but I can warrant you even pardon from the Romans. Remember, too, that I who exhort you am your compatriot, that I who make this promise am a Jew; and it is right that you should consider who is your counsellor and of what country he comes. For I pray that I may never live to be so abject a captive as to abjure my race or to forget the traditions of my forefathers.
“Once again you are indignant and shout your abuse at me; and indeed I deserve even harsher treatment for offering advice in fate’s despite and for struggling to save those whom God has condemned. Who is ignorant of the records of the ancient prophets and of that oracle which threatens this poor city and is now on the eve of fulfilment? They foretold that it would be taken when one should begin to slaughter his own countrymen. And is not the city and the whole Temple too filled with the corpses of your fellow-citizens? God it is then, God Himself, who with the Romans is bringing the fire to purge His Temple and desolation upon a city so laden with pollutions.”—B.J. VI. 2. 1 (93-110).
(49) Conflagration of the Temple
“There shall not be left here one stone upon another which shall not be thrown down.”
Titus, to protect his forces, had ordered the gates of the outer court to be set on fire, and from the gates the fire extended to the porticoes. But, after a council of war, it was decided that the main fabric—the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies—must be saved; Titus urging that “if it were burnt, the Romans would be the losers; if preserved, it would be an ornament of his Empire.” His attempts to check the spread of the conflagration proved, however, unavailing.
August A.D. 70
138Throughout that day fatigue and consternation checked the Jews from attacking; but, on the following day, about the second hour, with recruited strength and renewed courage, they sallied out through the eastern gate and charged the guards of the outer court of the Temple.
The Romans stubbornly met their charge and, forming a screen in front with their shields, closed up their ranks like a wall. It was evident, however, that they would not long be able to hold together, overpowered as they were by the number and élan of their assailants. Cæsar, who from the (tower of) Antonia was watching the scene, anticipating the breaking of the line, came to their rescue with his picked cavalry. The Jews could not withstand their onset; the foremost fell and the main body retreated. Yet whenever the Romans retired the Jews returned to the attack, only to fall back once more when the Romans wheeled round; until, about the fifth hour of the day, the Jews were overpowered and shut up in the inner court of the Temple.
Titus then withdrew to Antonia, with the determination on the following day, about dawn, to attack with his whole force and invest the Temple. But God, it seems, had long since sentenced that building to the flames; and now in the revolution of the years had come round the fated day, the tenth of the month Lous, Auguston which it had once before been burnt by the king of Babylon. Those flames, however, owed their origin and cause to God’s own people. For, on the withdrawal of Titus, the insurgents, after a brief respite, again attacked the Romans, and an engagement ensued between the (Jewish) guards of the sanctuary and the (Romans) who were endeavouring to extinguish the fire in the inner court. 139The latter routed the Jews and pursued them right up to the sanctuary.
At this moment, one of the soldiers, without waiting for orders and with no horror of so dread a deed, but moved by some supernatural impulse, snatched a brand from the burning timber and, hoisted up by one of his comrades, flung the fiery missile through a golden window, which gave access on the north side to the chambers surrounding the sanctuary. As the flame shot up, a cry, such as the calamity demanded, arose from the Jews, who rushed to the rescue, lost to all thought of self-preservation, all husbanding of strength, now that the object of all their past vigilance was gone.
Titus was resting in his tent after the engagement, when a messenger rushed in with the tidings. Starting up just as he was, he ran to the Temple to arrest the conflagration, followed by all his generals, while in their train came the excited legionaries, with the clamour and confused noise arising from the movement in irregular order of so large an army. Cæsar, both by word of mouth and by a wave of his hand, signalled to the combatants to extinguish the fire; but they neither heard his shouts, drowned in the louder din which filled their ears, nor, distracted as they were by the fever of battle or rage, did they heed his beckoning hand. The impetuosity of the legionaries, when they joined the fray, neither exhortation nor threat could restrain; passion was for all the one officer in command. Crushed together about the entrances, many were trampled down by their companions; while many, stumbling on the still hot and smouldering ruins of the porticoes, suffered the same fate as the 140vanquished. As they came nearer the sanctuary they pretended not even to hear Cæsar’s orders and shouted to those in front of them to throw in the firebrands.
The (Jewish) insurgents were now powerless to rescue (the Temple). On all sides was carnage and flight. Most of the slain were civilians, a weak and unarmed mob, each butchered where he was caught. Around the altar a pile of corpses was accumulating; down the sanctuary steps flowed a stream of blood; and down the same decline slid the bodies of the victims killed above.
Cæsar, finding himself unable to restrain the impetuosity of his frenzied soldiers and that the fire was gaining the mastery, passed with his generals within the building and beheld the holy place of the sanctuary and all that it contained—things far exceeding the reports current among foreigners and not inferior to their proud reputation among our own nation. As the flames had nowhere yet penetrated to the interior, but were consuming the outbuildings of the sanctuary, Titus, rightly supposing that the structure might still be preserved, rushed out and endeavoured by personal appeals to induce the soldiers to quench the fire; at the same time directing Liberalius, a centurion of his bodyguard of lancers, to restrain, by resort to clubs, any who disobeyed orders. But their respect for Cæsar and their fear of the officer who was endeavouring to check them were overpowered by their rage, their hatred of the Jews and the lust of battle, an even mightier master. Most of them were further stimulated by the hope of plunder, believing that the interior was full 141of money and actually seeing that all the surroundings were made of gold.
Moreover, when Cæsar rushed out to restrain the soldiers, even one of those who had entered with him baulked his purpose by thrusting a firebrand, in the darkness, into the sockets of the gate. At once a flame shot up from the interior, whereupon Cæsar and his generals withdrew, and there was none left to prevent those on the outside from kindling a blaze. Thus, then, against Cæsar’s wishes, was the sanctuary set on fire.
Deeply as one must mourn for the most marvellous edifice which we have ever seen or heard of, whether we consider its structure, its magnitude, the richness of every detail or the reputation of its Holy Places, yet may we draw very great consolation from the thought that there is no escape from Fate, for works of art and places any more than for living beings. And one may well marvel at the exactness of the cycle of Destiny; for, as I said, she waited until the very month and the very day on which in bygone times the Temple had been burnt by the Babylonians.—B.J. VI. 4. 4-8 (244-268).
(50) Portents and Oracles
Thus it happened that the wretched people were deluded at that time by charlatans and pretended messengers of God; while they paid no heed to or discredited the manifest portents that foretold the coming desolation, but, as if thunderstruck and bereft of eyes and mind, disregarded God’s plain proclamations 142(of disaster). So it was when a star, resembling a sword, stood over the city, and a comet which continued for a year. So again when, before the revolt and the outbreak of war, at the time when the people were assembling for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the eighth of the month Xanthicus, at the ninth hour of the night, so brilliant a light shone round the altar and the sanctuary that it seemed to be broad daylight; and this continued for half an hour. By the inexperienced this was regarded as a good omen, but by the sacred scribes it was at once interpreted in accordance with after events.
At that same feast a cow that had been led by some one to the sacrifice gave birth to a lamb in the midst of the Temple. Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner court, which it took twenty men to close with difficulty at even—it was of brass and very massive, and was secured by bars shod with iron, and had bolts which were sunk to a great depth into a threshold consisting of a solid block of stone—this gate was observed at the sixth hour of the night to have opened of its own accord. The watchmen of the Temple ran and reported the matter to the captain, and he came up and with difficulty succeeded in shutting it. This again to the uninitiated seemed the best of omens, as they supposed that God had opened to them the gate of blessings; but the learned understood that the security of the Temple was dissolving of its own accord and that the opening of the gate indicated a present to the enemy, interpreting the portent in their own minds as a symbol of desolation.
Again, not many days after the festival, on the twenty-first 143of the month Artemisium, there appeared a phenomenon so miraculous as to surpass belief. Indeed, what I am about to relate might well, I suppose, be regarded as fictitious, were it not for the narratives of eyewitnesses and for the subsequent calamities which deserved to be so signalized. In all parts of the country before sunset chariots were observed in the air and armed battalions rushing through the clouds and closing in round the cities. Also, at the feast which is called Pentecost, the priests on entering the inner court of the Temple by night, as their custom was, for the discharge of their ministrations, reported that they first became aware of a movement and a resounding noise and afterwards heard a voice as of a crowd, “We are departing hence.”
But a further portent was even more alarming. Four years before the war, when the city was enjoying profound peace and prosperity, there came to the feast at which it is the custom of all Jews to erect tabernacles to God, one Jesus, son of Ananias, a rude peasant, who suddenly began to cry out in the Temple, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds; a voice against Jerusalem and the sanctuary, a voice against bridegrooms and brides, a voice against all the people.” Day and night he went about all the alleys with this cry on his lips. Some of the leading citizens, incensed at the fellow’s ill-omened words, laid hands on him and severely chastised him. But he, without uttering a word on his own behalf or for the private ear of those who smote him, continued his cries as before. Thereupon, the rulers, supposing, as was 144indeed the case, that the man was under some supernatural impulse, brought him before the Roman governor, where, although flayed to the bone with scourges, he neither begged for mercy nor shed a tear, but, merely introducing the most mournful of variations into his ejaculation, responded to each stroke with “Woe to Jerusalem!” When Albinus, the governor, asked him who and whence he was and why he uttered these words, he made no reply whatever to his questions, but never ceased reiterating his dirge over the city, until Albinus pronounced him a maniac and let him go.
During all that period up to the outbreak of war he neither approached nor was seen talking to any of the citizens, but, as if it were a prayer on which he had pondered, daily repeated his lament, “Woe to Jerusalem!” He neither cursed any of those who beat him day after day nor blessed those who offered him food; to all that melancholy and ominous refrain was his one reply. At the festivals his cries were loudest. So for seven years and five months he continued his wail, his voice never flagging nor his strength exhausted, until during the siege, after witnessing the verification of his presage, he ceased. For, while going his round on the wall, shouting in piercing tones “Woe once more to the city and to the people and to the Temple,” as he added a last word, “And woe to myself also,” a stone shot from the military engine struck and killed him instantaneously. So with those ominous words still on his lips he passed away.
If we reflect on these things, we shall find that God shows care for men, and by all kinds of premonitory signs indicates to His people the means of salvation, and that they owe their destruction to folly and calamities 145of their own choosing. For example, the Jews, after the demolition of the (tower of) Antonia, reduced the Temple to a square, although they had it recorded in their oracles that the city and the sanctuary would be taken when the Temple should become four-square. But what more than all else incited them to the war was an ambiguous oracle, likewise found in their sacred writings, to the effect that about that time some one from their country should become ruler of the world. This they understood to mean some one of their own race, and many of their wise men went astray in their interpretation of it. The oracle, however, in reality signified the sovereignty of Vespasian, who was proclaimed Emperor on Jewish soil.
For all that, it is impossible for men to avoid Fate, even though they foresee it. For some of these portents, then, the Jews found agreeable meanings, others they treated with contempt, until the ruin of their country and their own destruction convicted them of their folly.—B.J. VI. 5. 3 f. (288-315).
(51) The Last Scene. Capture of the Upper City. Jerusalem in Flames
“Tum vero omne mihi visum considere in ignes….”
September A.D. 70
The Romans, now masters of the walls, planted their standards on the towers, and with clapping of hands and jubilation raised the song of triumph in honour of their victory. They had found the end of the war a much lighter task than the beginning; indeed, they could hardly believe that they had surmounted the last wall without bloodshed, and were truly at a loss on finding no enemy in sight.
Pouring into the alleys, sword in hand, they massacred 146indiscriminately all whom they met and burnt over their heads the houses of those who had taken refuge within. Often in the course of their raids, on entering the houses for loot, they would find whole families of dead bodies and the rooms filled with the victims of the famine, and then, shuddering at the sight, would retire empty-handed. Yet, while they pitied those who had thus perished, they had no similar feelings for the living, but, running every one through that fell in their way, they choked the alleys with corpses and deluged the whole city with blood, insomuch that the flames of many of the burning buildings were extinguished by the gory stream. Towards evening they ceased slaughtering, but when night fell the fire gained the mastery, and the dawn of the eighth day of the month Gorpiæus Septemberbroke upon Jerusalem in flames; a city which had suffered such calamities in the siege, that, had she from her first foundation enjoyed an equal share of blessings, she would have been thought wholly enviable; and undeserving, moreover, of these great misfortunes on all other grounds, save that she produced so evil a generation as that which caused her overthrow.
Of all the strong defences of the city those which chiefly aroused the admiration of Titus, on his entry, were the towers, which the tyrants, in their infatuation, had abandoned. Indeed, when he beheld their solid lofty mass, the magnitude of each block of stone and the accuracy of the joinings, and saw how great was their breadth, how vast their height, “We have indeed,” he exclaimed, “had God on our side in the battle. God it was who ejected the Jews from these strongholds; for what power have human hands or engines against these towers?” He made many similar observations to his friends on that occasion, and also liberated all who had been imprisoned by the tyrants and left in the forts. 147And when, at a later period, he demolished the rest of the city and razed the walls, he left these towers as a memorial of his attendant fortune, to whose co-operation he owed his conquest of defences which defied assault.—B.J. VI. 8. 5-9. 1 (403-413).
(52) The Spoils from the Temple in the Triumphal Procession in Rome
The Jewish spoils—the table of shew-bread, incense-cups and trumpets—as borne in the procession still figure on the Arch of Titus in Rome; a representation e.g. in Driver’s Exodus (Camb. Bible), p. 273.
The rest of the spoils borne (in procession) were not systematically assorted; but conspicuous above all stood out those captured from the Temple at Jerusalem. These consisted of a golden table, many talents in weight, and a lampstand, likewise made of gold, constructed on a different pattern from those which we use in ordinary life. Affixed to a pedestal was a central shaft, from which there extended slender branches, arranged trident-fashion, a wrought lamp being attached to the extremity of each branch. There were seven of these lamps, indicating the honour paid to that number among the Jews. After these, and last of all the spoils, was carried a copy of the Jewish Law.—B.J. VII. 5. 5 (148-150).
148VIII. THE JEWISH SECTS
(53) The Three Sects and their Views on Fate and Free-Will
This account occurs in the history of the Maccabæan period. The saying of R. Aqiba (Pirqe Aboth, III. 24) may be quoted in illustration of this passage: “Everything is foreseen; and free-will is given,” where Predestination and Free-will are set side by side, as if not irreconcilable.
At this time c. 145 B.C.there were three sects of Jews, holding different opinions about human actions; the first was called the sect of the Pharisees, the second that of the Sadducees, and the third that of the Essenes.
The Pharisees assert that some, but not all, events are the work of Fate, and some are under our own control, to be or not to be. The followers of the Essenes affirm that Fate is all-powerful, and that nothing befalls men except in accordance with her decree. The Sadducees abolish Fate, maintaining that there is no such thing, that the events of human life are not dependent upon her, and that all things fall within our own control; so that it is we who are responsible for our blessings and bring our misfortunes on ourselves by our own thoughtlessness.—Ant. XIII. 5. 9 (171-173).
(54) The Essenes, with a note on Pharisees and Sadducees
Jewish philosophy takes three forms. The followers of the first school are called Pharisees, of the second Sadducees, of the third Essenes.
149The Essenes: their Asceticism, Simplicity of Life and Community of Goods
A studied gravity is the distinguishing characteristic of the Essenes. Of Jewish birth, they show a greater attachment to each other than do the other sects. They shun pleasures as a vice and regard temperance and the control of the passions as a special virtue. Marriage they disdain, but they adopt other men’s children, while yet pliable and docile, and regard them as their kin and mould them in accordance with their own principles. They do not wholly condemn wedlock and the continuance thereby of the human race, but guard against women’s wantonness, being persuaded that none of the sex keeps her plighted troth to one man.
Riches they despise, and their community of goods is a wonderful arrangement; you will not find one among them distinguished by greater opulence than another. They have a law that new members on admission to the sect shall confiscate their property to the order, with the result that you will nowhere see either abject poverty or inordinate wealth; the individual’s possessions join the common stock and all the brotherhood enjoy a single patrimony.
Oil they consider defiling, and any one who accidentally comes in contact with it scours his person; for they make a point of keeping a dry skin and of always being dressed in white.
They elect overseers of the common property, and all their officials for various purposes are chosen by the whole body.
They occupy no one city; each city has its own settlement. On the arrival of any of the sect from elsewhere, 150all the resources of the community are put at their disposal, just as if they were their own; and they enter the houses of men whom they have never seen before as though they were their most intimate friends. Consequently, they carry nothing whatever with them on their journeys, except arms as a protection against brigands. In every city of the order there is one expressly appointed to attend to strangers, who provides them with raiment and other necessaries.
In their dress and general appearance they resemble boys who are schooled under a rigorous system. They do not change their garments or shoes until they are torn to shreds or worn threadbare with age.
There is no buying or selling among themselves, but each gives what he has to any in need and receives from him in exchange something useful to himself; they are also freely permitted to accept whatever they choose without making any return.
Their Prayers to the Sun. The Refectory
In religious matters their piety is unique. Before the sun is up they utter no word on mundane matters, but offer to him certain prayers, which have been handed down from their forefathers, as though entreating him to rise. They are then dismissed by the overseers to the various crafts in which they are severally proficient and are strenuously occupied until the fifth hour, when they again assemble in one place and, girding themselves with linen cloths, so equipped bathe their bodies in cold water. After this purification, they collect in a private apartment which none of the uninitiated is permitted to enter, and so, pure and by themselves, repair to the Refectory, as to some sacred shrine. When they have 151taken their seats in silence, the baker serves out the loaves to them in order, and the cook sets before each a single vessel of one kind of food. Before meat the priest says a grace, and none may partake until after the prayer. When breakfast is ended, he pronounces a further grace; thus at the beginning and at the close they do homage to God as the bountiful giver of life. Then laying aside their raiment, as holy (vestments), they again betake themselves to their labours until the evening. On their return they sup in like manner, and any guests who may have arrived sit down with them. No clamour or disturbance ever pollutes their dwelling; conversation takes place in turn, each man making way for his neighbour. To persons outside the silence of those within appears like some awful mystery; it is in fact due to their continuous sobriety and to the limitation of their allotted portions of meat and drink to the demands of nature.
In all other matters they do nothing without orders from the overseers; two things only are left to individual discretion, the rendering of assistance and compassion. Members may of their own motion help the deserving, when in need, and proffer food to the destitute; but presents to relatives are prohibited, without leave from the managers.
Just in their control of resentment, they restrain their wrath; they are champions of fidelity and very ministers of peace. Any word of theirs has more force than an oath; swearing they avoid, regarding it as worse than perjury, for they say that the thing which is not believed without (an appeal to) God stands condemned already.
They display an extraordinary interest in the writings of the ancients, singling out in particular those which make for the welfare of soul and body; through these they make investigations into medicinal roots and the properties of stones, useful in the treatment of diseases.
Admission to the Order. The Novice’s Probation and Oath
A candidate anxious to join their sect is not immediately admitted. For one year, during which he remains outside the fraternity, they prescribe for him their own rule of life, presenting him with a small hatchet, the forementioned loin-cloth and white raiment. Having given proof of his continence during this probationary period, he is brought into closer touch with the rule and is allowed to share the purer kind of holy water, but is not yet received into the life of the community. For, after this exhibition of endurance, his character is tested for two years more, and only then, if found worthy, is he enrolled in the society.
But, before he may touch the common food, he is made to swear tremendous oaths:—first that he will practise piety towards God, next that he will observe justice towards men; that he will wrong none whether of his own mind or under another’s orders; that he will for ever hate the unjust and fight the battle of the just; that he will for ever keep faith with all men, especially with 153the powers that be, since no ruler attains his office save by the will of God; that, should he himself bear rule, he will never abuse his authority nor, either in dress or by other outward marks of superiority, outshine his subjects; to be ever a lover of truth and to make it his aim to convict liars; to keep his hands from stealing and his soul pure from impious gain; to conceal nothing from the members of the sect and to report none of their secrets to others, even though threatened with death. He swears, moreover, not to communicate any of their doctrines to any one otherwise than as he himself received them; to abstain from robbery; and in like manner carefully to preserve the books of their sect and the names of the angels. Such are the oaths by which they secure their proselytes.
Expulsion from the Order
Those who are convicted of serious crimes they expel from the order; and the ejected individual often comes to a most miserable end. For, being bound by their oaths and usages, he is not at liberty to partake of other men’s food, and so falls to eating grass and wastes away and dies of starvation. This has led them in compassion to receive many back in the last stage of exhaustion, deeming that torments which have brought them to the verge of death are a sufficient penalty for their misdoings.
Their Law-courts, Reverence for Moses, Sabbatarianism, etc.
They are just and scrupulously careful in their trial of cases, never passing sentence in a court of less than a hundred members; the decision thus reached is irrevocable. After God they hold most in awe the name of their lawgiver, any blasphemer of whom is punished with death.
154It is a point of honour with them to obey their elders, and a majority; for instance, if ten sit together, one will not speak if the nine desire silence.
They are careful not to spit into the midst of the company or to the right, and are stricter than all Jews in abstaining from work on the seventh day; for not only do they prepare their food on the day before, to avoid kindling a fire on that one, but they do not venture to remove any vessel or even to go to stool.
On other days they dig a trench a foot deep with the skalis—such is the purpose of the hatchet which they present to new members on admission—and wrapping their mantle about them, that they may not offend the rays of the deity, sit above it. They then replace the excavated soil in the trench. For this purpose they select the more retired spots. And though this secretion of bodily impurity is a natural function, they make it a rule to wash themselves after it, as if defiled.
The Four Grades of Essenes—their Endurance of Persecution
They are divided, according to the duration of their discipline, into four grades; and so far are the junior members inferior to the seniors, that the latter, if but touched by the former, bathe themselves, as though they had been polluted by contact with an alien.
155They live to a great age—most of them to upwards of a century—in consequence, I imagine, of the simplicity of, and their moderation in, their diet. They make light of danger, and conquer pain by their resolute will; death, if it come with honour, they consider better than immortality. The war with the Romans tried their souls through and through by every variety of test. Racked and twisted, burnt and broken, and made to pass through every instrument of torture, to induce them to blaspheme their lawgiver or to eat some forbidden thing, they refused to yield to either demand, nor ever once did they cringe to their tormentors or shed a tear. Smiling in their agonies, and with gentle derision of the ministers of their tortures, they cheerfully resigned their souls, confident that they would receive them back again.
Their Belief in the Immortality of the Soul
For it is a fixed belief of theirs that bodies are corruptible, and the matter of which they are made has no permanence, but that souls continue for ever immortal. Emanating from the finest ether, these souls become entangled, as it were, in the prison-house of the body, to which they are dragged down by some magical spell; but when once they are released from the bonds of the flesh, then, as though liberated from a long servitude, they rejoice and are borne aloft. For the good souls—and here they are of the same mind as the sons of Greece—they maintain that there is reserved a habitation beyond the ocean, in a place which is not oppressed by rain or snow or heat, but is refreshed by the ever-gentle breath of the west wind coming in from ocean; while to 156the base they allot a murky and tempestuous dungeon, big with never-ending punishments.
The Greeks, I imagine, had the same conception when they set apart the Islands of the Blessed for their brave men, whom they call heroes and demigods, and the Region of the Impious for the souls of the wicked down in Hades, where, as their mythologists tell, certain persons are undergoing punishment, such as Sisyphus, Tantalus, Ixion, and Tityus. Their aim was first to establish the premiss that souls are immortal, and secondly to promote virtue and to deter from vice; for the good are made better in their lifetime by the hope of being rewarded even after death, and the impetuous passions of the wicked are restrained by fear and the expectation that, even though they escape detection while alive, they will undergo never-ending punishment after their decease.
Through these theological views of theirs concerning the soul the Essenes irresistibly attract all who have once tasted their philosophy.
There are some among them who profess to foretell the future, being versed from their early years in holy books, various forms of purification and apophthegms of prophets; and seldom, if ever, do they err in their predictions.
157Essene Schismatics who Allow Marriage
There is yet another order of Essenes, who, while at one with the rest in their mode of life, customs and regulations, differ from them in their views on marriage. They think that those who decline to marry cut off the chief function of life—that of transmitting it—and furthermore that, were all to adopt the same view, the whole race would very quickly die out. They give their wives, however, a three years’ probation, and only marry them after they have thrice undergone purification, in proof of fecundity. They have no intercourse with them during pregnancy, thus showing that their motive in marrying is not self-indulgence but the procreation of children. In the bath the women wear a dress, the men a loin-cloth. Such are the usages of this order.
The Pharisees and Sadducees
Of the two first-named schools, the Pharisees have the reputation of being the most accurate expositors of the laws, and owe to this their position as the leading sect. They attribute everything to Fate and God; yet they admit that to act rightly or otherwise rests for the most part with men, though in each action Fate is an auxiliary. Every soul, they maintain, is imperishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while the souls of the wicked suffer eternal punishment.
The Sadducees, the second of the orders, do away with Fate altogether, and remove God beyond, not merely the commission, but the very sight, of evil. They maintain that good and evil lie open to men’s choice and that it rests with every man’s will whether he embraces the one or the other. As for the permanence 158of the soul, penalties in the underworld and rewards, they will have none of them.
The Pharisees are affectionate to each other, and cultivate harmonious relations with the community. The Sadducees, even to one another, are rather boorish in their behaviour, and in their intercourse with their fellows are as harsh as with aliens.
Such is what I have to say on the Jewish philosophical schools.—B.J. II. 8. 2-14 (119-166).
(55) Another Account of the Three Sects—and a Fourth
This account, which follows the story of Quirinius and the revolt of Judas, § (24), seems to be taken from the special source on which Josephus draws largely in the last books of the Antiquities. The style is difficult, and the text in places uncertain.
Among the hereditary institutions of the Jews, dating from quite ancient times, were the three schools of philosophy: the school of the Essenes, that of the Sadducees, and, thirdly, that of the Pharisees so called. Although I have spoken about them in the second book of the Jewish War, I will briefly touch on them here.
The Pharisees practise simplicity of life, and give way to no self-indulgence. They take as their guiding motive certain traditional principles which their school has tested and approved, and consider it a matter of the first importance to observe the doctrines which it has deliberately dictated. They show respect and deference to those who have gone before them, nor have they the 159effrontery to dispute any proposition which they have introduced. While maintaining that all events are the work of Fate, they do not deprive man of free-will in his actions, since (as they hold) it has pleased God that the decision should rest both with Fate’s council-chamber and with the human will whether a man takes the side of virtue or of vice. They believe that souls have immortal power, and that beneath the earth punishments and awards await those who, during life, have made a practice of vice or virtue: to the former is assigned everlasting imprisonment, the latter are granted facilities to live again. By these doctrines they have gained a very great influence over the masses, and all religious ceremonies in the matter of prayers and the offering of sacrifices are performed according to their directions. Such high testimony do the cities bear to their character, regarding them, both in their manner of life and in their utterances, as patterns of perfection.
The Sadducees hold that the soul perishes with the body. They make no pretence of observing any rules whatever except the laws; indeed, they count it meritorious to dispute with the doctors of their school. Their tenets have but few adherents; but these are persons of the highest reputation. They have hardly any effect on practical life; for whenever any of their number accept office, they, reluctantly indeed, but of necessity, become converts to the Pharisaic creed, because otherwise they would not be tolerated by the masses.
The characteristic of the Essene creed is that all things are left in God’s hands. They hold that souls are immortal, and that the rewards of righteousness are a prize worth a battle. Although they send dedicatory offerings to the Temple, their rites of purification when sacrificing are peculiar; they are consequently excluded from the precincts of the national shrine and offer their sacrifices apart. In other ways they are most estimable men, whose whole energy is devoted to agriculture. In this particular they deserve more admiration than all professedly virtuous persons, because a habit which has never prevailed, even for a while, in any nation, whether Greek or barbarian, has been with them a long-established and uninterrupted custom. Their goods are in common, and the rich man enjoys no more of his possessions than he who owns nothing at all; this rule is followed by a body of men numbering over four thousand. Marriage and slavery they abjure, the latter as tending to promote injustice, the former as giving occasion for discord; they live by themselves and minister to each other’s needs. They elect good men to act as receivers of their revenues and of the produce of the soil, and priests as bakers and cooks. Their manner of life bears the closest resemblance in all points to that of the Dacian tribe known as the Polistæ.
A fourth school was founded by Judas the Galilæan. While they agree in all other respects with the Pharisees, its disciples have an ineradicable passion for liberty, and take God for their only leader and lord. In their determination to call no man lord, they make light of enduring death in all manner of forms, and of penalties inflicted on their kinsmen and friends. Since, however, most of my readers have witnessed their unflinching endurance under such tortures, I need not dwell further upon it. My fear is not that anything which I might say of them will be thought incredible, but, on the contrary, that the narrative may fail to do justice to the fortitude with which they meet the agony of pain. It was the madness of this party which was the beginning of the afflictions of our nation, when A.D. 64-66.Gessius Florus, the governor, by wanton abuse of his authority, drove them in desperation into revolt from Rome.
Such are the various schools of Jewish philosophy.—Ant. XVIII. 1. 2-6 (11-25).
(56) Why John Hyrcanus went over from the Pharisees to the Sadducees
John Hyrcanus I was the son and successor, in the offices of high priest and prince, of Simon the Maccabee.
These successes of Hyrcanus, however, aroused the envy of the Jews. His bitterest enemies were the Pharisees, one of the Jewish sects, as we have already stated, whose influence with the populace is such that a word from them against king or high priest meets with instant belief.
162Hyrcanus had been their disciple and was greatly beloved by them. Having on one occasion invited them to a banquet and hospitably entertained them, and seeing them in high good humour, he began to say to them that they knew how anxious he was to live righteously, and how in all his actions he strove to please God and them (for the Pharisees are a school of philosophers); but he besought them, if ever they saw him erring and deviating from the right way, to bring him back into it and correct him. His guests declaring that there was no virtue which he lacked, he was pleased with their commendation.
But one of them, named Eleazar, an ill-natured man who delighted in faction, remarked, “As you have asked us to tell you the truth and desire to be righteous, renounce the high priesthood and be content to be ruler of the people.” And when Hyrcanus enquired of him the reason why he should lay down the office of high priest, he replied, “Because we are informed by the elders that your mother was a captive in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes.” The story was false, and Hyrcanus was exasperated with the man, and all the Pharisees were greatly indignant.
A certain Jonathan, however, an intimate friend of Hyrcanus and a follower of the sect of the Sadducees (whose doctrines are the reverse of those of the Pharisees), asserted that Eleazar’s slanderous words had the unanimous approval of the whole body of Pharisees, and that this would be manifest if he asked them what punishment he deserved for what he had said. Hyrcanus, accordingly, asked the Pharisees what penalty they thought appropriate, expecting to prove by the 163measure of the sentence which they pronounced that the libel had not received their approval. They replied, “Stripes and imprisonment.” The taunt did not seem to merit capital punishment; the more so as the Pharisees are naturally lenient in the matter of penalties. Hyrcanus was greatly incensed at this answer, supposing that the man’s abusive language had met with their approbation. His exasperation was increased in particular by Jonathan, who so worked upon him as to induce him to desert the Pharisees and join the Sadducean party; he also persuaded him to abolish the practices which the Pharisees had ordained for the people, and to punish any who observed them. To this cause he and his sons owed their unpopularity with the multitude.
Of this more hereafter. Here I would merely explain that the Pharisees had delivered to the people certain customary practices, handed down by their forefathers and not recorded in the laws of Moses, and for that reason rejected by the Sadducees, who maintain that only what is written (in Scripture) should be held binding, and that customs based on ancestral traditions should not be observed. On these matters the two parties had great debates and differences. The Sadducees are influential only with the wealthy and have no following among the populace; the Pharisees have the masses on their side. But of these two sects and of the Essenes I have given a precise account in the second book of my Jewish (War).—Ant. XIII. 10. 5 f. (288-298).
164(57) “Conciliate the Pharisees”—Alexander’s dying advice to Alexandra
Alexander Jannæus (of the Hasmonæan dynasty; reigned 104-78 B.C.), on his last campaign, lies dying during the siege of Ragaba, near Gerasa on the east of Jordan.
The Queen, seeing him to be near his end and now past hope of recovery, wept and lamented for her impending desolation and poured out her grief for herself and her children. “To whom are you thus leaving me,” so she spoke to him, “and our children who need others to help them, knowing as you do the ill-will which the nation bears you?”
Alexander advised her, if she wished to secure both the throne and their children, to comply with his suggestions. She was to conceal his death from the soldiers until she had taken the town. She was then to enter Jerusalem in triumph after her victory and to concede a measure of authority to the Pharisees; for they would commend her for the honour paid them and dispose the nation in her favour. The Pharisees, he told her, had great influence with the Jews (and could use it) to the injury of any who hated them, or to the advantage of those who were on friendly terms with them; above all they had the confidence of the common people in any harsh criticism which they might pronounce on others, even though prompted by mere malice; the offence which he himself had given to the nation arose from his insulting the Pharisees. “Do you accordingly,” he said, “when you reach Jerusalem, send for such of them as are factious, display my dead body, and with absolute sincerity allow them to use me as they will, whether they prefer to do despite to my corpse by 165refusing it burial in revenge for all they have suffered from me, or to gratify their anger by any other form of outrage to it. Promise them, moreover, that you will take no action in the exercise of your royal authority without consulting them. If you thus address them, I shall obtain a more splendid funeral from them than I should have had from you—for with the power to misuse my dead body they will lack the will—and you will be secure in your rule.” With this advice to his wife, he died, having reigned seven and twenty years and lived one and fifty.
Alexandra took the fortress and, in accordance with her husband’s suggestions, had a colloquy with the Pharisees, leaving the disposal of the corpse and of the affairs of the kingdom entirely in their hands, and so pacified their anger against Alexander and won their good-will and friendship for herself. The Pharisees then went and harangued the multitude, rehearsing Alexander’s achievements, and telling them that they had lost a righteous king; and by their encomiums elicited from the people such lamentation and dejection on his behalf that they gave him a more splendid funeral than to any of the kings that had been before him.
Alexander left two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, but he bequeathed the kingdom to Alexandra. Of the sons, Hyrcanus was a weak administrator and preferred a quiet life; the younger, Aristobulus, was a man of action and courage. Their mother was beloved of the multitude because she appeared to take her husband’s errors to heart.
Hyrcanus she appointed high priest, because he was the elder, but still more on account of his temperamental inaction. She allowed the Pharisees complete freedom, 166and ordered the people to obey their behests. She also reinstated the customs which the Pharisees had introduced in accordance with ancestral tradition and her father-in-law, Hyrcanus, had abrogated. She was thus nominally Queen, but the real power was in the hands of the Pharisees.—Ant. XIII. 15. 5-16. 2 (399-409)
(58) How the Pharisees rose to Power under Queen Alexandra
A supplement to the final paragraph in the preceding section.
Beside Alexandra, and growing as she grew, arose the Pharisees, a body of Jews with the reputation of excelling the rest of their nation in the observances of religion, and as exact exponents of the laws. To them, being herself devoutly religious, she listened with too great deference; while they, gradually taking advantage of an ingenuous woman, became at length the real administrators of the state, at liberty to banish and to recall, to loose and to bind, whom they would. In short, the enjoyments of royal authority were theirs; its expenses and burthens fell to Alexandra. She proved, however, to be a wonderful administrator of large affairs of state, and, by continual additions to her levies, doubled her (home) army, besides collecting a considerable body of foreign troops; so that she not only strengthened her own nation, but became a formidable foe to foreign potentates. Thus she ruled the nation, and the Pharisees ruled her.—B.J. I. 5. 2 (110-112).
167(59) Herod the Great exempts Pharisees and Essenes from the Oath of Allegiance. The Essene Prophet Menahem
c. 37 B.C.
Most of Herod’s subjects, either from obsequiousness or fear, yielded to his demands; those who showed a bolder front and took offence at the compulsory order, he found one means or other of putting out of the way. He endeavoured to persuade Pollio the Pharisee and Sameas and most of their disciples to take the oath with the rest; but they refused, and the respect in which Pollio was held secured them from sharing the penalty of the other objectors.
Exemption from this order was further extended to the Essæans, as we call one of our sects, who resemble in their manner of life the Grecian school of Pythagoras. Elsewhere I shall give a more detailed account of them; here the reason may be told why Herod held them in such honour and esteem as possessed of supernatural powers. The narrative, while illustrating the high opinion which this class enjoyed, will not be out of place in an historical work.
There was a certain Essene named Menahem, who was reputed not only to lead a blameless life but to have been gifted by God with a knowledge of future events. This man, seeing Herod as a lad on his way to school, addressed him as king of the Jews. Herod, supposing that he spoke in ignorance or in jest, reminded him that he was only a commoner. But Menahem, with a quiet smile, clapped him on the backside and said, “For all that, be sure you will be king and will have a prosperous reign; for God finds you worthy of it. And remember 168the blows you received from Menahem, and let them be a symbol to you of the changes of fortune. It were best to reflect on such things, even though you were to be a lover of righteousness, of piety to God and equity to your subjects. But I, knowing all, know that such will not be your character. You will surpass all men in good fortune and will win undying renown, but will be forgetful of piety and justice. God, however, will not be unmindful of these sins and at the close of your life the wrath which they merit will be remembered against you.”
Herod at the time paid little heed to this prediction of eminence to which his hopes did not aspire; but when he had by gradual stages risen to the throne and prosperity, and was at the height of his power, he sent for Menahem and asked him how long he would reign. Menahem would not reveal all. He held his peace, but on being further asked merely whether he would reign as much as ten years, “Yes,” he replied, “twenty; nay, thirty,” but fixed no term for the allotted period. With this answer Herod was content, gave Menahem his hand and dismissed him, and from that time forward continued to hold all the Essenes in honour.—Ant. XV. 10. 4 f. (369-378).
(60) The Pharisees refuse to take the Oath of Allegiance (another account).
c. 37 B.C.
Now there was one section of the Jews that prided themselves on their strict observance of inherited traditions and professed (to know) the laws in which the Deity takes delight. They had obtained complete control over 169the women-folk. They were called Pharisees, and showed foresight in resisting an all-powerful monarch and temerity in proceeding to open hostility and opposition.
For instance, when the whole Jewish nation took the oath of allegiance to Cæsar and to the king’s government, these men, to the number of upwards of six thousand, refused to swear. The king imposed a money penalty, whereupon the wife of Pheroras paid the fine on their behalf. In requital for this service of hers the Pharisees, who through divine inspiration were endowed with the gift of foreknowledge, foretold that God had decreed the downfall from power of Herod and his family, and the transfer of the kingdom to her and Pheroras and their children. These words, coming to the knowledge of Salome, were reported to the king, who was further informed that the Pharisees were corrupting some of his courtiers. The king thereupon put the principal offenders among the Pharisees to death together with the eunuch Bagoas and one Carus, the most famous beauty of his time and a royal favourite. He also killed all the members of his household who were implicated in the Pharisees’ prediction. Bagoas had been led by them to believe that he would be called the father and benefactor of the king whose rise they foretold; that monarch, they said, would be omnipotent and would enable Bagoas to marry and beget children of his own.—Ant. XVII. 2. 4 (41-45).
170IX. JEWISH THEOLOGY, SCRIPTURES AND CUSTOMS
(61) Some Aspects of Jewish Theology. Moses as Religious Educator
Our Polity a Theocracy
There is endless variety in the details of the customs and laws which prevail in the world at large. [To give but a summary enumeration:] some peoples have entrusted the supreme power of government to monarchies, others to oligarchies, yet others to the masses. Our lawgiver, however, was attracted by none of these forms of polity, but gave to his constitution the form of what—if a forced expression be permitted—may be termed a “theocracy,” ascribing the sovereignty and majesty to God. To Him he persuaded all to look, as the Author of all blessings, both those which are common to all mankind, and those which they had won for themselves by prayer in their utmost adversities. He convinced them that no single action, no secret thought, could be hid from Him. He represented Him as One, uncreated and immutable to all eternity; in beauty surpassing all mortal comeliness, made known to us by His power, although the nature of His real being passes knowledge.
171A Religion for the Many, not (like Greek philosophy) for the Few
That the wisest of the Greeks learnt to adopt these conceptions of God from principles with which Moses supplied them, I am not now concerned to urge; but they have borne abundant witness to the excellence of these doctrines, and to their consonance with the nature and majesty of God. In fact, Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, Plato, the Stoics who succeeded him, and indeed nearly all the philosophers appear to have held similar views concerning the nature of God. These, however, addressed their philosophy to the few, and did not venture to divulge the true doctrine to the masses who were prepossessed by (other) opinions; whereas our lawgiver, by making practice square with precept, not only convinced his own contemporaries, but so firmly implanted this belief concerning God in their descendants to all future generations that it cannot be moved. The cause (of his success) was that he far surpassed (other legislators) in promoting the good of all men to all time by his scheme of legislation; for he did not make religion a department of virtue, but the various virtues—I mean, justice, temperance, fortitude, and mutual harmony in all things between the members of the community—departments of religion. Religion governs all our actions and studies and speech; none of these things did our lawgiver leave unexamined or indeterminate.
172The Two Methods of Education Combined by Moses
All schemes of education and moral training fall into two categories; instruction is imparted in the one case by precept, in the other by practical exercising of the character. All other legislators, following their divergent opinions, selected the particular method which each preferred and neglected the other. Thus the Lacedæmonians and Cretans employed practical, not verbal, training; whereas the Athenians and nearly all the rest of the Greeks made laws enjoining what actions might or might not be performed, but neglected to familiarize the people with them by putting them into practice.
Our legislator, on the other hand, took great care to combine both systems. He did not leave practical training in morals without a written code; nor did he permit the letter of the law to remain inoperative. Starting from the very beginning with the food of which we partake from infancy and the private life of the home, he left nothing, however insignificant, to the discretion and caprice of the individual. What meats a man should abstain from, and what he may enjoy; with what persons he should associate; what period should be devoted respectively to strenuous labour and to rest;—for all this our leader made the law the standard and rule, that we might live under it as under a father and master and be guilty of no sin through wilfulness or ignorance.
All Jews Know their Law, which is Read Every Week
For ignorance he left no pretext. He proved the Law to be the most excellent and necessary form of 173instruction, ordaining, not that it should be heard once for all or twice or on several occasions, but that every week men should desert their other occupations and assemble to listen to the Law and to obtain a thorough and accurate knowledge of it; a practice which all other legislators seem to have neglected.
Indeed, most men, so far from living in accordance with their own laws, hardly know what they are. Only when they have done wrong do they learn from others that they have transgressed the law. Even those of them who hold the highest and most important offices admit their ignorance; for they employ professional legal experts as assessors and leave them in charge of the administration of affairs. But, should any one of our nation be questioned about the laws, he would repeat them all more readily than his own name. The result, then, of our thorough grounding in the laws from the time when we first had any sensations whatever, is that we have them as it were engraven on our souls. A transgressor is a rarity and to elude punishment by entreaty an impossibility.—c. Ap. II. 16-18 (164-178).
(62) A Future Life—for the Law-abiding
With us the death penalty is imposed for most offences, for instance, if a man commit adultery…. Even fraud in such matters as weights or measures, or injustice and deceit in trade, or purloining another man’s property or laying hands on what one did not deposit—all such crimes have punishments attached to them which are not on the same scale as with other nations, but more severe. For example, the mere intention of doing wrong 174to one’s parents or of impiety against God is followed by instant death.
For those, on the other hand, who live in accordance with our laws the prize is not silver or gold, no crown of wild olive or of parsley with any such public proclamation (as attends those awards). No; each individual, relying on the witness of his own conscience and the lawgiver’s prophecy, which is confirmed by the sure testimony of God, is firmly persuaded that to those who observe the laws and, if they must needs die for them, willingly meet death, God has granted a renewed existence and in the revolution (of the ages) the gift of a better life. I should have hesitated to write thus, had not the facts made all men aware that many of our countrymen have on many occasions ere now preferred to brave all manner of suffering rather than to utter a single word against the Law.—c. Ap. II. 30 (215-219).
(63) The Jewish Scriptures and their Preservation
The Writers and Custodians of the Records
That our forefathers took no less, not to say even greater, care than the nations I have mentioned in the keeping of their records—a task which they assigned to their chief priests and prophets—and that down to our own times these records have been, and if I may venture to say so, will continue to be, preserved with scrupulous accuracy, I will endeavour briefly to demonstrate.
175Selection of the Custodians. Scrutiny of Priestly Marriages and Genealogies
Not only did our ancestors in the first instance set over this business men of the highest character, devoted to the service of God, but they took precautions to ensure that the priests’ lineage should be kept unadulterated and pure. A member of the priestly order must marry a woman of his own race, without regard to her wealth or other distinctions; but he must investigate her pedigree, obtaining the genealogy from the archives and producing a number of witnesses. And this practice of ours is not confined to the home country of Judæa, but wherever there is a Jewish colony, there too a strict account is kept by the priests of their marriages; I allude to the Jews in Egypt and Babylon and other parts of the world in which any of the priestly order are living in dispersion. A statement is drawn up by them and sent to Jerusalem, showing the names of the bride and her father and more remote ancestors together with the names of the witnesses. In the not infrequent event of war, for instance when our country was invaded by Antiochus Epiphanes 170-168 B.C., by Pompey the Great 63 B.C., by Quintilius Varus 4 B.C., and above all in our own times A.D. 66-70., the surviving priests compile fresh records from the older documents; they also pass scrutiny upon the remaining women and disallow marriage with any who have been taken captive, suspecting them of having had frequent intercourse with foreigners. But the most convincing proof of our accuracy in this matter is that our records contain the names of our high priests with the succession from father to son for the last two thousand years. And whoever violates 176any of the above rules is forbidden to minister at the altars or to take any other part in divine worship.
The Twenty-two Books of Scripture
The task of writing (our national history) is thus one which cannot be capriciously undertaken by all alike; and there is no discrepancy in the records. No; the prophets alone (had this privilege), obtaining their knowledge of the most remote and ancient history through the inspiration which they owed to God, and committing to writing a faithful account of the events of their own time just as they occurred. From this it naturally, or rather necessarily, follows that we do not possess vast numbers of inconsistent books, conflicting with each other. Our books, those to which we justly pin our faith, are but two and twenty, and contain the record of all time.
Of these, five are the books of Moses, comprising the laws and the traditional history from the birth of man down to the death of the lawgiver. This period falls only a little short of three thousand years. From the death of Moses to the (death) of Artaxerxes, who succeeded Xerxes as King of Persia, the prophets subsequent to Moses wrote the history of the events of their own times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and precepts for (the conduct of) human life.
From Artaxerxes to our own time the complete history 177has been written, but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.
Jewish Veneration of their Scriptures
We have given practical proof of the spirit in which we treat our own Scriptures. For, although such long ages have now passed, no one has ventured either to add, or to remove, or to alter a syllable; and it is an instinct with every Jew, from the day of his birth, to regard them as the decrees of God, to abide by them, and, if need be, cheerfully to die for them. Time and again ere now the sight has been witnessed of prisoners enduring tortures and death in every form in the theatres, rather than utter a single word against the laws and the allied documents.—c. Ap. I. 6-8 (29-43).
(64) Universal Imitation of our Laws the sincerest flattery
Now, since Time is reckoned in all cases the surest test of worth, I would call Time to witness to the excellence of our lawgiver and of the doctrine which he has delivered to us concerning God. An infinity of time has passed (since Moses) by comparison with the ages in which other lawgivers lived; yet it will be found that throughout the whole of that period not merely have our laws stood the test of our own use, but they have to an ever-increasing extent instilled an emulation of them into the world at large.
Our earliest imitators were the Greek philosophers, 178who, though ostensibly observing the laws of their own countries, yet in their conduct and philosophy were Moses’ disciples, holding similar views about God, and inculcating simplicity of life and participation between man and man. But-that is not all. The masses have long since shown a keen desire to adopt our religious observances, and there is not one city, Greek [or barbarian, nor a single nation,] to which our custom of abstaining from work on the seventh day has not spread, and where the fasts and the lighting of lamps and many of our prohibitions in the matter of food are not observed. Moreover, they attempt to imitate our harmonious relations with each other, the charitable distribution of our possessions, our devoted labour in the crafts, our endurance under persecution on behalf of our laws. The greatest miracle of all is that our Law holds out no seductive bait of sensual pleasure, but has exercised this influence through its own inherent merits; and, as God has permeated the universe, so the Law has found its way among all mankind. Let each man reflect for himself on his own country and his own household, and he will not discredit what I say. It follows, then, that either we must convict the whole world of deliberate depravity in their eager desire to adopt the bad laws of a foreign country in preference to the good laws of their own, or else our accusers must give up their grudge against us. In honouring our own legislator and putting our trust in his prophetical utterances concerning God, we do not make any arrogant claim justifying such odium. Indeed, were we not ourselves aware of the excellence of our laws, assuredly we should have been impelled 179to pride ourselves upon them by the multitude of their admirers.—c. Ap. II. 38 f. (279-286).
(65) The Oath “Corban”
Cf. Mark vii. 11.
In ancient times various cities were acquainted with the existence of our nation, and to some of these many of our customs have now found their way and here and there been thought worthy of imitation. This is apparent from a passage in the work of Theophrastus on Laws, where he says that the laws of the Tyrians prohibit the use of foreign oaths, in enumerating which he includes among others the oath called “Corban.” Now this oath will be found in no other nation except the Jews, and, translated from the Hebrew, one may interpret it as meaning “God’s gift.”—c. Ap. I. 22 (166 f.).
180APPENDIX OF ADDITIONAL NOTES
I. Note on § (24). Quirinius
P. Sulpicius Quirinius, a native of Lanuvium, was consul in 12 B.C.; some years later was sent on an expedition against the Homonadenses, a mountain tribe in Cilicia, and was awarded a triumph for his successes; accompanied Gaius Cæsar, grandson of Augustus, to the East in A.D. 2 as his tutor; and in A.D. 6 was appointed Governor of Syria as legatus of the Emperor, and in that capacity took over Judæa on the deposition of Archelaus, and made the valuation of the newly-annexed district here described by Josephus. Towards the end of his life he caused some scandal at Rome by the divorce of his wife Lepida, whom he accused of attempting to poison him. He remained in favour with Tiberius, who, on his death about A.D. 21, secured him a public funeral. A mutilated inscription found near Tivoli (Tibur) seems to prove that he was twice governor of Syria. (Tacitus Ann. III. 48 and 22; Suet. Tib. 49 ; art. in Encycl. Bibl.).
This is not the place to discuss the formidable difficulties arising from St. Luke’s reference (ii. 1 ff.) to “the decree from Cæsar Augustus” and “the first enrolment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” These are set out in full in Schürer’s Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ, i. 2, pp. 105-143; on the other side should be read Sir W. M. Ramsay’s Was Christ born at Bethlehem? (1898). It has been held that St. Luke is guilty of an anachronism in making the birth of Christ 181contemporary with the well-known enrolment under Quirinius (Acts v. 37), which took place ten years after the death of Herod, and that other features in his account, which lacks external support, render the whole narrative incredible. Those who argue that the Evangelist is guilty of such gross error must at least admit that he had not read the last books of the Antiquities of Josephus (see Note IV below). But it is difficult to believe that a historian generally so careful has erred in this way. Since Schürer’s indictment was written, Ramsay has adduced important new evidence from the papyri, proving that in Egypt from the time of Augustus a periodic census or “enrolment by household” took place every fourteen years; he has further given reason for thinking that this system applied to other provinces and dependencies of the Roman Empire, and that Judæa under Herod was not exempt, although a concession was made to local prejudice in the manner of the enrolment; he concludes that the “first” enrolment under Quirinius and the birth of Christ fell in the year 6 B.C. He has not quite removed all difficulties. In particular, it seems impossible to find room within the lifetime of Herod for the first governorship of Quirinius, unless the ἡγεμονία mentioned by St. Luke refers to his appointment as a special lieutenant of Augustus to conduct the war against the Homonadenses, while Quintilius Varus administered the ordinary affairs of Syria. But why in that case does St. Luke connect the census with the military commander Quirinius, rather than with Varus?
182II. Note on § (26). The alleged witness to Jesus Christ
(a) For the authenticity of the whole section.
F. C. Burkitt; in Theologisch Tijdschrift, Leiden, 1913, pp. 135 ff.
A. Harnack in Internat. Monatsschrift für Wissenschaft und Technik, 1913, pp. 1037 ff. (I have, unfortunately, been unable to see this, and only know it through Norden’s rejoinder, which seems conclusive.)
(b) For partial interpolation.
Th. Reinach in Revue des Études Juives, tom. xxxv, 1897, pp. 1 ff.
P. Corrsen in Zeitschrift für die N.T. Wissenschaft, 1914, pp. 114 ff., Die Zeugnisse des Tacitus u. Pseudo-Josephus über Christus (thinks the interpolation has probably replaced a genuine statement of Josephus about Christ).
(c) Against the authenticity of the whole section.
E. Norden in Neue Jahrbücher für das klassische Altertum, vol. xxxi, 1913, pp. 637 ff., Josephus u. Tacitus über Jesus Christus und eine messianische Prophetie.
E. Schürer, Hist. of Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ, 1898, I. 2, pp. 143 ff. (where the older literature is quoted).
(d) For the passages in the Slavonic version of the B.J.
A. Berendts in Texte und Untersuchungen, N. F., Bd. XIV, 1906.
In this much debated passage Josephus appears to speak of Jesus Christ as one of more than mortal nature, as a wonder-worker and a teacher of men who receive “the truth” with pleasure, and as gaining many adherents among Jews and Greeks. Then comes the explicit statement, “This was the Christ.” The writer proceeds to mention His crucifixion by Pilate “on the indictment of our principal men,” His resurrection and appearance to His followers on the third day, and the survival at the time of writing of “the tribe” of Christians who took their name from Him.
The passage largely accounts for the high esteem in which Josephus was held by Patristic writers. Since the revival of learning the question of its authenticity has been the subject of keen controversy. Until recently 183few scholars of weight have ventured to maintain that the paragraph as it stands can have been penned by the Jewish historian; the point on which opinions have diverged has been whether the whole is an interpolation or whether a genuine brief statement of Josephus about Christ has been expanded and emended by a Christian hand. In recent years the question has been reopened in two ways, by the conversion of two authorities of the first rank to the rejected view and by the discovery of new materials. Professor Burkitt in this country and (following him with a little hesitation) Harnack in Germany have pronounced in favour of the genuineness of the passage. The existence has also been brought to light of other passages in the Slavonic version of the Jewish War relating to John the Baptist, Christ and the early Christians. The Slavonic matter may be treated independently; it has no attestation in the Greek MSS, and, whatever its origin, lacks the authority with which the present passage comes before us. Harnack has been answered in a masterly article by one of his own countrymen (Norden), and, notwithstanding the weight attaching to the names of its recent supporters, the arguments against the authenticity of the passage (at least in its present form) appear overwhelming. The really decisive factors in the problem must be sought rather in the relevance of the passage to its context and in the style than in any subjective considerations as to what Josephus could or could not have written.
The passage, it is true, stands in all our MSS, but this tells us little, since the oldest of them (Niese’s P) is not earlier than the ninth or tenth century. Eusebius quotes it (H.E. i. 11, cf. Dem. Ev. iii. 3. 105 f.), thus attesting its existence in the fourth century. On the other hand, it is practically certain that Origen in the preceding 184century did not find it in his text. He knows the allusions to John the Baptist in the same book of the Antiquities (§ 29) and to James the Lord’s brother in the twentieth book (§ 37), but of any mention of Christ he has no word. Nor are we confined to this argumentum e silentio; his language makes it impossible to suppose that he found the statement “This was the Christ.” “The wonder is,” he writes, “that, though he (Josephus) did not admit our Jesus to be Christ, he none the less gave his witness to so much righteousness in James” (Comm. in Matt. x. 17); and again (writing on John the Baptist) “although he (Josephus) disbelieved in Jesus as Christ” (c. Cels. i. 47). The passage about James as cited by Origen differs, indeed, from the normal text; according to Origen, Josephus regarded the destruction of the Temple as a punishment for the murder. Prof. Burkitt thinks that Origen may have “mixed up in his commonplace book the account of Ananus’ murder of James and the remarks of Josephus on Ananus’ own murder” (§ 45); but it is difficult to believe, as the Professor appears to suggest, that his familiarity with the Antiquities was so slight that he could have missed the statement in XVIII. 63 f. and written as he did if it stood in his text. The real importance of Origen’s evidence is that it seems to supply the date when our passage was interpolated by a Christian reader, viz. towards the end of the third century, between the age of Origen and that of Eusebius.
(1) Context.—The latest advocates of the authenticity of the statement have judged it on its merits, apart from its context, from which it cannot be isolated. As Norden has convincingly shown, it breaks the thread of the narrative, the framework of which at this point consists of a series of “tumults” or “disturbances” 185(θόρυβοι). This framework seems to have been taken over from an older authority, and so mechanically that disturbances which occurred at different dates are treated as contemporaneous. We have:—
First θόρυβος (XVIII. 55-59).—Pilate introduces the Emperor’s busts into Jerusalem and threatens the Jewish petitioners with death “if they did not desist from turbulence” (θορυβεῖν 58).
Second θόρυβος (60-62).—Pilate appropriates the Corban money for building purposes. His soldiers overpower the insurgents (τοὺς θορυβοῦντας 62), “and so the sedition (στάσις) was quelled.” (See § 25 of the translation for these two θόρυβοι).
[Here (63-64) comes the passage about Christ.]
Third θόρυβος (65-84).—Two scandalous events at Rome leading respectively to the crucifixion of the priests of Isis and to the banishment of the Jews (for the second of these see § 27). These paragraphs open with the words “Now about the same time another calamity disturbed (ἐθορύβει) the Jews.”
Fourth θόρυβος (85-87) in Samaria, introduced by the words “The Samaritan race also was not exempt from disturbance” (θόρυβος), while the next paragraph begins “When the disturbance (θορύβου) was put down.”
It will be seen that this scheme is interrupted by the Christian περικοπή. The opening of 65 connects the third “disturbance” directly with the second (62). The mention of Pilate naturally led the interpolator to insert his statement at this point; but the structure of the original narrative leaves no room for it.
(2) Style.—Notwithstanding its brevity (it comprises only three sentences in Niese’s text) the paragraph is long enough to betray in its language the hand of the forger. The style is not quite so “neutral” as Harnack suggests.
Here, again, regard must be had to the immediate 186surroundings. The style of Josephus is variable, now easy and flowing, now extraordinarily difficult. The testimony to Christ is imbedded in a portion of the Antiquities (XVII. 1-XIX. 275) which contains some of the hardest Greek in our author. The language throughout this group of nearly three books is distinguished by some well-marked characteristics, e.g. a large use of periphrastic expressions. The simple verb is replaced by the combination of the nomen actoris in -τῆς with καθίστασθαι, γίγνεσθαι, εἶναι or the like (thus κριτὴς εἶ αι = κρίνειν XIX. 217); μὴ ἀπηλλαγμένος with inf. (ibid. “not incapable,” “competent”) is a similar mannerism of constant occurrence in these books and is based on Thuc. I. 138. Χρῆσθαι is used with extraordinary frequency in periphrases. Other peculiarities are the use of the neuter participle with article as an abstract noun (Thucydidean), of οὐδὲν (μηδὲν) εἰς ἀναβολὰς for “quickly” (after Thuc. VII. 15), and of ὁπόσος (100 examples in these books) for ῞ὅσος in other parts of Josephus. The departure from the author’s normal practice extends to the spelling; the double σ (of Thucydides) in words like πράσσειν in these books replaces as a rule the so-called “Attic” ττ employed elsewhere in the Antiquities. Imitation of Thucydides, found sporadically in other parts, here reaches its climax. This practice largely accounts for the cumbrous phrases and involved periods prevalent in these books. The style is artificial and imitative and does not lend itself readily to imitation by another, The sources of this portion of the work are mainly, if not entirely, Roman, notably the narrative of the accession and (at quite disproportionate length) the death (XIX. I. 275) of Caligula; and I can only account for the phenomena by supposing that the author here handed over entirely to one of his literary collaborateurs or συνεργοί (cp. Ap. I. 50), who had hitherto rendered 187only occasional aid, the task of translating his Latin authorities. On the accession of Claudius, when the centre of interest shifts from Rome to Palestine, the normal style is resumed (at XIX. 276).
Now, the mannerisms of Ant. XVII-XIX. 275 recur with wearisome iteration; it is rare to find a sentence which does not contain one or more of them. Thus in the paragraphs immediately preceding the passage about Christ we find three examples of periphrasis with χρῆσθαι (58, 60, 62); in the paragraph which follows two examples of οὐκ ἀπαλλάσσεσθαι (65, 68). But the passage itself contains none of the really distinctive features; one phrase alone (ἡδονῇ δέχεσθαι) gives us pause. The following details may be noticed.
“A doer of wonderful works.” In compiling a Greek index to Ant. XVI.-XX. I have not noticed another instance of παράδοξος.
“Men who receive the truth with pleasure.” “The truth” (τἀληθῆ). The crasis is in the style of Jos., but the phrase is again unexampled, at least in this portion. On the other hand, “to receive with pleasure” (ἡδονῇ δέχεσθαι) recurs in XVIII. 6, 59, 70, 236, 333; XIX. 127, 185 and similar phrases (ἡδονῇ φέρειν, χαρᾷ φέρειν or δέχεσθαι) elsewhere in this portion of the work. I account for this, with Norden, by supposing that “the interpolator knew his author.” He knew him just well enough to employ the crasis in τἀληθῇ and a phrase which he found twice in the immediate context (59, 70).
“The Greeks” (τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ). The neut. may be paralleled by B.J. II. 268, but is not uncommon outside Josephus.
“Our principal men.” Norden notes that, whereas “the first” or “principal men” (οἱ πρῶτοι) is frequent in Ant. XX. (2, 6, 53, 119, 123, 135, etc.), it never has the personal note (“our”) attached to it.
“Those who first loved (him).” Ἀγαπᾶν in Jos., never, according to Norden, has the Christian meaning of “love,” but only its classical sense of “be content”; an instance occurs in the previous paragraph (60, cp. 242).
“On the third day.” The phrase (τρίτην ἡμέραν ἔχων) is again unexampled in Jos.; the N.T. yields the nearest parallel (Lk. xxiv. 21, τρίτην ταύτην ἡμέραν ἄγει).
“Alive again” (πάλιν ζῶν). Jos. writes elsewhere of a future life ἀναβιοῦν (Ant. XVIII. 14) and γενέσθαι τε πάλιν καὶ βίον ἀμείνω λαβεῖν (Ap. II. 218); he does not use ζῆν or ζωή in this connexion.
188“And to this very day” (εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν). The phrase is foreign to Jos., who commonly writes ἔτι καὶ νῦν, occasionally καὶ μεχρὶ τοῦ νῦν and the like, never εἰς ἔτι (Norden).
Jos. is scrupulous in avoiding a harsh hiatus—the juxtaposition of unelided vowels at the end of one word and the beginning of the next. The interpolator writes τἀληθῆ correctly, but, as Norden notes, he has in these few lines introduced three glaring examples of hiatus: Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο, σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος, Πιλάτου οὐκ.
(3) Contents.—Our decision must rest primarily upon the arguments already adduced from context and style. But the whole tone of the passage suggests a Christian hand. It is the eulogy of a devotee masquerading under the mantle of the Jewish historian, rather than what we should expect, the bare chronicle, if not the bitter invective, of the priestly historian himself. “If one should call him a man”; “this was the Christ.” Could Josephus have so written? Even Jerome found this last phrase incomprehensible on such lips and altered it in his translation to “credebatur esse Christus” (De vir. ill. 13). Prof. Burkitt ventures to uphold the authenticity even of these words. The passage, he argues, was penned at a time when Christianity had not yet become a formidable foe to Judaism, and was intended as an answer to Jewish expostulations on the subject of the coming of Messiah. This is how he paraphrases it: “Yes, the Christ was to come and indeed did come. That very estimable person who met with his death some time ago was the Christ. As in the case of so many other personages in our divinely chosen nation, there were some wonders and prodigies told about him. Even now there are some who revere him. They are good harmless folk like their master. But they are quite unimportant and no danger to the State; when you hear of ‘Christ’ it is no future Hannibal or Spartacus, but a good man who is dead and gone” (loc. cit. p. 140 f.). The reader must be left to estimate the value of this interpretation of the 189historian’s character and language in the light of the other evidence.
The theory of partial interpolation, held by those who reject the obviously Christian phrases but believe that Josephus made some statement about Christ, is unsatisfactory. In so far as it is supported by any solid arguments, it is based partly on the few phrases for which parallels can be found in his writings, partly on the assumption that the other mention of “Jesus who was called Christ” (Ant. XX. 200) implies a fuller statement elsewhere. But the elimination of all that is suggestive of Christian origin leaves practically nothing behind. We may well follow Norden in declining to discuss what he calls the “transcendental” question whether the interpolation may have ousted a genuine statement of the historian about Christ, now lost beyond recovery; merely adding that the argument that the paragraph interrupts the sequence of the narrative is an argument for its spuriousness as a whole.
In connexion with the passage in Ant., the very curious additional matter in the Slavonic version of the Jewish War (edited with a German translation by Berendts, v. supra) must be briefly mentioned.
Of the eight passages the first three relate to the Baptist. (1) A description of “the savage” (Wilder) and his baptism, of his being brought before Archelaus and how Simon the Essene disputed with him; (2) his interpretation of a dream of Herod Philip; (3) his rebuke of Herod (Antipas) for marrying Herodias his brother Philip’s wife after the latter’s death (“for thou dost not raise up seed to thy brother, but gratifyest thy fleshly lusts and committest adultery, since he has left four children”), and his abstinence, even from unleavened bread at the Passover season. Then follows (4) a 190description of Christ, beginning in the same way as our passage, “At that time there arose a man, if it is right to call him a man,” but with much greater detail: his miracles wrought by a mere word (this is twice repeated); the current belief that he was “the first lawgiver risen from the dead”; his resort to the Mount of Olives; his 150 disciples (Knechten); and how Pilate, whose dying wife he had healed, released him upon the first hearing, but was subsequently induced by a bribe of thirty talents from the Jews (a curious distortion of the Gospel story!) to deliver him to them for crucifixion. No. (5) tells of the persecution and dispersion of the early Christians, who were drawn from the lower classes, shoemakers and labourers; (6) of an additional inscription round the outer wall of the Holy Place (cp. B.J. V. 5. 2 [193 f.]), “Jesus did not reign as King; he was crucified by the Jews because he announced the destruction of the city and the desolation of the Temple”; (7) of the rending of the veil of the Temple and current views upon Christ’s resurrection, “Some report that he rose from the dead, others that he was stolen by his friends. I know not which are right …”; (8) of the oracle concerning the world-ruler who was to come from Judæa (see § 50 in the translations), “Some understood that it referred to Herod, others to the crucified wonder-worker Jesus, others to Vespasian.”
The actual MSS containing these extraordinary passages are not earlier than the fifteenth century; the translation can be dated back to the thirteenth century at latest. The earlier history of the additions is lost in obscurity; they have left no trace in the extant Greek MSS. Berendts boldly maintains their authenticity, believing them to be fragments of the original Aramaic edition of the Jewish War written for Syrian readers (§ 38), which were eliminated when the later Greek 191version, addressed to a wider and more critical circle, was produced. This daring theory has met with little support; but the origin of the passages remains a mystery, no final solution of which is possible pending the publication of a complete text from the Russian MSS. The remarkable facts about them are their Jewish appearance, their independence (in part) of the Gospel narrative and the impression which they make of being derived from oral tradition. Parallels to a few of the statements (the bribery of Pilate, the healing “by a word”) occur in the Christian apocryphal Epistle of Tiberius to Pilate (ed. M. R. James in Texts and Studies, vol. V. p. 78, 1899); compare also the apocryphal Acts of Pilate (Tischendorf, Evangelia Apocrypha, Leipzig, 1853, p. 292), where Joseph of Arimathæa, addressing the body of Christ, uses the words “if it be right to call thee a man,” recalling the phrase common to the fourth Slavonic passage and the “testimony” in the Antiquities.
III. Note on § (29). The First Husband of Herodias
Josephus calls the injured husband simply Herod. The first two Gospels give him the name Philip (“Herodias his brother Philip’s wife,” Matt. xiv. 3, Mark vi. 17). The name stands in all the MSS in Mark; in Matthew it is omitted by the “Western text” (cod. D and Latin versions); in Luke (iii. 19) it is absent from all the best MSS and in those which insert it is undoubtedly an interpolation from the other Gospels. It is clear from Josephus that the first husband of Herodias was not Philip the Tetrarch, but his half-brother who paid the penalty for his mother’s complicity in a plot by having his name removed from Herod’s will, and lived as a private individual, apparently in Jerusalem (cf. B.J. 192I. 30. 7 ). Either then Herod the Great had two sons named Philip (1) by Mariamne II (daughter of Simon the High Priest), the husband of Herodias, and (2) by Cleopatra, Philip the Tetrarch, who married Salome the daughter of Herodias; or, more probably, the name Philip in the first two Gospels is a primitive error, due to confusion between the husband and the son-in-law of Herodias. That two sons should have borne the name Philip is improbable; no argument can be drawn from the appropriation of the dynastic or family name Herod by more than one member of the family. The omission of the name Philip by St. Luke, who shows special acquaintance with the Herodian court, is very significant. The confusion with Philip the Tetrarch appears elsewhere, notably in the eccentric account of the Baptist’s denunciation of the second marriage of Herodias in the Slavonic version of the Jewish War (Note II above).
IV. Note on § (35). Theudas and Judas
This passage has been often quoted as convincing proof that St. Luke had read the Antiquities of Josephus, or at least the twentieth book. On this view the date of the Acts must be brought down to the close of the first century. The Evangelist is at the same time accused of the grossest carelessness.
Gamaliel in his speech in the Sanhedrin adduces two instances of insurrectionary movements which came to nought in the chronological order: (1) Theudas, (2) Judas of Galilee (Acts v. 36 f.).
The date when Gamaliel is represented as speaking must have been some time in the early “thirties.” The revolt of Theudas, according to Josephus, occurred in the procuratorship of Cuspius Fadus (about 44-46 A.D.), 193at least ten years later. The revolt of Judas in “the days of the enrolment” was in 6 A.D. Thus the events appear to have been transposed in the speech and one of them to have been still in the womb of the future!
The error, if it is one, is commonly explained as due to a cursory reading and inaccurate recollection on the part of the Evangelist of the passage in the Antiquities which alludes to the fate first of Theudas and then of the sons of Judas under the procuratorship of Tiberius Alexander (about 46-48 A.D.), the latter notice leading to a brief mention of their father. This view has been supported by Burkitt (Gospel History and its transmission, pp. 106 ff.), Krenkel (Josephus and Lucas), Schmiedel (art. in Encycl. Bibl.) and many German commentators. It has been rejected, among others, by Schürer, Blass, Harnack (Date of the Acts and the Synoptic Gospels, p. 115), Stanton (Gospels as Historical Documents, pt. II, p. 272), and most recently by Prof. C. C. Torrey (Composition and date of Acts, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1916). Cf. also an art. on “St. Luke and Josephus,” by the Rev. J. W. Hunkin, in the Church Quarterly Review for April 1919, pp. 89-108.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that there has been error on the part of some one responsible for putting the speech into the mouth of Gamaliel. The attempts which have been made to remove the apparent anachronism are unconvincing. Either an earlier unknown Theudas is postulated (but one would expect the person named by Gamaliel along with the notorious Judas to have been of sufficient importance to be mentioned by Josephus); or the mistake as to the date of Theudas is shifted to Josephus; or the name Theudas is regarded as a Christian interpolation in the Antiquities (Blass).
But that the passage in Acts is to be explained by 194a casual perusal of Josephus by St. Luke is highly improbable for the following reasons:—
(1) St. Luke gives the number of the followers of Theudas as “about four hundred”; Josephus writes “most of the common people.” Clearly St. Luke had access to some source other than Josephus.
(2) The carelessness attributed to St. Luke in the supposed use of Josephus is not what we should expect from the professions of the writer of the prologue to the third Gospel and from the handling of his sources in the earlier work.
(3) If there has been error, it is older than St. Luke and goes back to his authority. Torrey in the above-mentioned work seems to have proved conclusively that Acts i-xv is based on an Aramaic source, to which St. Luke was “singularly faithful.” “He disliked to alter, even slightly, the document in his hands, even where he believed its statements to be mistaken, and where he found himself obliged to contradict them” (p. 40). On the alleged use of Josephus in Acts v., after referring to the horror which must have been aroused in Judæa by the crucifixion of the sons of the insurgent Judas, he adds: “Any history dealing with this period would have been pretty certain to mention Theudas and Judas at this point, and in this order, although the revolt under Judas really happened much earlier. From some history of the kind, in which the facts were not clearly stated, the author of Luke’s Aramaic source obtained his wrong impression of the order of events” (p. 71).
V. Note on § (45). The Blood of Zacharias
This incident is of interest to the N.T. student because of the suggestion, made long ago and recently revived by Wellhausen, to identify the Zacharias of 195Josephus with the “Zachariah son of Barachiah” of Matt. xxiii. 35. “Son of Barachiah” is a well-known crux in that passage, but, pace Wellhausen, there is little or no doubt that our Lord there referred to the murder of Zechariah son of Jehoiada described in 2 Chron. xxiv. 19 ff.
The theory of Wellhausen and others evades the difficulty of an apparent confusion in Matthew between the pre-exilic prophet and the prophet of the Restoration, but introduces far greater difficulties. The text of Josephus just fails to supply the desired evidence. The name of the father of the Zacharias of Josephus resembles, but, it will be observed, only resembles, the Βαραχίας of the N.T. There is a variety of readings, but Βαρίσκαιος (LMmg) has the appearance of being what Josephus wrote or at least the nearest approximation in the MSS to the original name. Βάρεις of most MSS is a corruption of this. The reading “Baruch” (the nearest approach to “Barachias”) is doubtless a correction; it occurs only in cod. C which in other instances replaces an unfamiliar by a Biblical name (Niese, vol. VI, p. xxxix), and as an alternative to “Bariscæus” in cod. M.
Again, it may be urged in support of this theory that the two murders mentioned in Matthew are cited as the first and last of a series, and that as that of Abel was the first recorded in Biblical history, so that of Zachariah ben Bariscæus was the last outstanding murder of a Jew by his own countrymen before the Fall of Jerusalem, which is the culminating event in the mind of the Speaker in Matt. xxiii. The contemporaneous murder of Ananus is regarded by Josephus as the beginning of the end.
The obvious difficulty of this identification is that in the mouth of our Lord the words must be prophetical, whereas the past tense is used in both reports 196of the words (“whom ye slew,” Matt., “who perished,” Luke xi. 51).
The passage in Matthew and the parallel passage in Luke are both derived from an older source, an early collection of the Sayings of Jesus (commonly called “Q”); and behind that again apparently lies a still older source, an apocryphal Wisdom book from which Christ is quoting (“Therefore also said the Wisdom of God,” Luke xi. 49). Luke does not insert the words “son of Barachiah,” and it is therefore doubtful whether they stood in Q; Harnack (Sayings of Jesus, p. 104) concludes that they did not. But that they belong to the original text of the first Gospel and are not a later interpolation there seems no reason to doubt. If the error originated with the Evangelist himself, we may compare the rather similar confusion (“Jeremiah” for “Zechariah”) in Matt. xxvii. 9; if, as seems more probable, he has taken it over from Jewish tradition, it is natural to find such influence in this particular Gospel.
The three persons bearing the name of Zacharias who come primarily into the question are:—
(1) Z. ben Jehoiada, murdered in the first Temple (2 Chron. xxiv.).
(2) Z. ben Berechiah ben Iddo, the prophet of the Restoration (Zech. i. 1).
(3) Z. ben Bariscæus, murdered in Herod’s Temple (Josephus).
There is every reason for identifying the Zacharias referred to by our Lord with the first of these, whether we look at the original text of Chronicles or at the Jewish Haggadah which grew up round it.
(i) With the words of Christ, or of the personified 197Wisdom in the work from which He quotes, “I send unto you prophets” (Luke “I will send unto them prophets”) compare 2 Chron. xxiv. 19, “Yet he sent prophets to them to bring them again unto the Lord.”
(ii) With St. Luke’s twice repeated “may (shall) be required of this generation” (xi. 50 f.) cp. the dying words of Zechariah, “The Lord look upon it and require it,” as also Abel’s blood “crying from the ground” (Gen. iv. 10).
(iii) Turning to Jewish tradition, we find that legend has been active in connexion with the murder in the Temple of a pre-exilic Zachariah who can be no other than the son of Jehoiada. And it is noteworthy that the two points dwelt on are just those which appear in the N.T. passage, viz. (a) the exact spot in the Temple where the murder occurred (cp. the precise localisation “between the sanctuary and the altar”) and (b) the crying out of the blood from the ground for vengeance, like that of Abel, and the terrible expiation required to still it. “R. Johanan said,” we read, “‘Eighty thousand of the flower of the priesthood were slain on account of the blood of Zachariah.’ R. Judan asked R. Aha ‘Where did they kill Zachariah? In the Court of the Women or in the Court of Israel?’ He answered, ‘Neither in the Court of the Women nor in the Court of Israel, but in the Court of the Priests.’” The legend goes on to tell how the murder was rendered more heinous by being committed on a sabbath and that the Day of Atonement, and how Nebuzaradan when he entered the Temple saw the prophet’s blood welling up from the floor, and of the holocaust of priests which hardly availed to quench the stream.
198(iv) Furthermore, there is evidence to show that the Rabbis, like the author of the first Gospel, confused or, disregarding chronology, identified the pre-exilic victim with Zechariah the prophet of the Restoration. The Targum on Lam. ii. 20 (“Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?”) runs, “Is it also fit that they should slay a priest and prophet in the Temple of the Lord, as ye slew Zacharias the son of Iddo … in the house of the Sanctuary, on the day of Expiation?” (Lightfoot l. c.). The Midrash (tr. Wünsche) interprets the same passage of Lam. of Zechariah son of Jehoiada.
(v) What is the intended series or line of which Zechariah is the last representative? Abel is naturally the first, but, chronologically, Z. ben Jehoiada was not the last prophet whose murder is recorded in the O.T.; Uriah (Jer. xxvi. 20 ff.) was later. The usual explanation that his murder stands last in the arrangement of the Hebrew Bible with Chronicles at the end is unsatisfactory; the books of the O.T. still circulated separately in the first century of our era. Moore’s answer is “It is not because the death of Z. was the last crime of the kind in Jewish history that it is named in the Gospel, but because it was in popular legend the typical example of the sacrilegious murder of a righteous man, a prophet of God, and of the appalling expiation God exacted for it.” But the identification of the victim with the prophet of the Restoration suggests another answer. Zechariah ben Berechiah did in fact stand chronologically at the end of the prophets; as Josephus writes (§ 63), the succession failed after Artaxerxes (i. e. Ahasuerus). The context in Matthew relates to the ancient prophets; the later generation that built the prophets’ tombs is set over against that of the forefathers who murdered them. That the final instance of such murder should be drawn from 199recent (to say nothing of future) history would be inappropriate. The son of Bariscæus was no prophet or priest and “as a layman would have no business in the part of the court between the temple and the altar” (Moore).
For the opposite view see Wellhausen Einleitung in die drei ersten Evangelien, ed. 2 (1911), pp. 118 ff. His main points are that Chronicles was a learned, not a popular, book and not likely to have been known to or quoted by Christ (but Christ is apparently quoting at second hand from one of those apocryphal books which were essentially popular), and that the rabbinical legend is in its origin unconnected with the story in Chronicles and really an echo (Nachklang) of the episode in Josephus, the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans having here, as elsewhere, been confused with the earlier destruction by the Babylonians.
VI. Note on § (50). Portents and Oracles
With this passage should be compared the following allusions in Roman writers:—
Tacitus Hist. V. 13. “Portents had occurred; but that nation, at once a prey to superstition and an enemy of religious rites, regards it wrong to avert such omens by sacrifices or votive offerings. There were visions of armies joining battle in the heavens with armour glowing red, and the Temple in an instant was all lit up with fire from the clouds. The doors of the sanctuary opened of a sudden and there was heard a voice of superhuman strength saying that the gods were departing, and at the same moment a mighty commotion of departing beings. Yet few saw a fearful meaning in these things. Many were firmly persuaded that their ancient priestly lore contained a prediction that at that very time the East 200was to wax strong and persons proceeding from Judæa were to become masters of the world. This enigmatic utterance had foretold of Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, with the usual ambition of humanity, read it as predicting this high destiny for themselves, and even disaster failed to bring home to them its true meaning.”
Suet. Vesp. 4. “An ancient and rooted belief had spread throughout the whole of the East that persons proceeding from Judæa were destined at that time to become masters of the world. The prophecy, as after events proved, had reference to the Roman Emperor, but the Jews appropriated it to themselves and plunged into revolt.”
For interesting discussions on Josephus and Tacitus and the (Messianic) prophecy the reader is referred to the articles by Norden and Corrsen mentioned at the head of Note II.
VII. Note on § (63). The Twenty-two Books of Scripture
This passage is important in connexion with the history of the O.T. canon. The language of Josephus implies that the canon had long since been closed, the test of canonicity being antiquity. Nothing written later than Artaxerxes (i. e. Ahasuerus) has full credentials. The mention of Artaxerxes must refer to the book of Esther, which Josephus thus regards as the latest addition to the collection. The statement differs in some respects from what is believed to be the oldest Palestinian tradition, but there is no reason to doubt that the unnamed 22 books are other than those comprised in the modern Hebrew Bible.
(1) The number 22 as the total of the books of Scripture 201is here met with for the first time, but reappears as the dominant reckoning in early Eastern Church writers (Melito, Origen, etc.), who connect it with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. As these writers were in touch with Palestinian tradition and Melito expressly states that he derived his information from the East (ap. Eus. H.E. IV. 26), it seems that this reckoning had the support of at least one section of the synagogue. The normal tradition, however, made the total 24, a number which first appears in a work almost contemporary with the Contra Apionem, 2 Esdras (or the Apocalypse of Ezra) xiv. 45 (Oriental text). The smaller number was reached by treating Ruth and Lamentations as supplements respectively to Judges and Jeremiah. The arrangement in 24 books possibly arose in Babylonia.
It is uncertain which of these two reckonings is the older, but in favour of the priority of the number 24 it may be said that (i) the equation with the number of Hebrew letters is artificial and therefore likely to be late, although as Josephus does not allude to this it may be an after refinement; (ii) it is easier to understand the subsequent attachment of Ruth and Lamentations to prophetical books with which their contents or supposed authorship connected them than how, having once gained admission among the Prophets, they could afterwards be relegated to the lower category of “Writings,” in which they now stand.
A third and later arrangement names 27 books, a number arrived at by dividing the double books, while the parallelism with the Hebrew alphabet is retained by reckoning separately the “final” forms of those letters which possessed them. Jerome in his preface to the Books of Samuel and Kings shows acquaintance with all three systems.
202(2) Josephus presents a tripartite arrangement (5 + 13 + 4 books), but not the normal one (5 + 8 + 11: Law, Prophets, Writings). His third group is reduced to 4 by the transference to the “Prophets” of a number of books commonly included in the “Writings.” The normal arrangement, which reflects the stages in the formation of the canon and places, e. g., Daniel in the third group because of the late date at which it gained admission, is clearly the more ancient. Josephus as a Greek historian writing for Greek readers neglects this and follows the example of the translators of the Greek Bible in grouping all the historical and prophetical books together. A close parallel to his third class (“hymns to God and practical precepts for men”) may be found in the description of the sacred books of the Therapeutæ in Egypt in the De Vita Contemplativa ascribed to Philo, “Laws and oracles delivered by prophets and hymns and the other (works) by which knowledge and piety are promoted and perfected” (ed. Conybeare p. 61).
(3) The constituent books doubtless here, as with the Christian writers who name 22 as the total and enumerate the books (cp. Origen in Eus. H.E. VI. 25), coincide with the normal Hebrew canon. Dr. Ryle (Canon of O.T. p. 165 f.) concludes that the 13 books of the Prophets are probably (1) Joshua, (2) Judges + Ruth, (3) Sam., (4) Kings, (5) Chron., (6) Ezra + Nehemiah, (7) Esther, (8) Job, (9) Isaiah, (10) Jeremiah + Lamentations (11) Ezekiel, (12) Minor Prophets, (13) Daniel; while the group of four will comprise (1) Psalms with (2) Song of Songs, constituting the “hymns,” and (3) Proverbs with (4) Ecclesiastes, the “practical precepts.” The view of Grätz that Josephus omitted Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs, as not having yet been admitted to the canon, has not met with acceptance.
203(4) The canon here laid down has not governed the historian’s practice. He does not scruple to draw upon apocryphal books like 1 Maccabees, nor does he hint that the authorities used in the latter part of the Antiquities, for the period subsequent to “Artaxerxes,” are less trustworthy than the rest; he implies, on the contrary, that the whole work is in accordance with “the holy books” (cp. Ant. I. 17; XX. 261).
The reader may consult in particular the works on the Canon of the O.T. by Ryle (pp. 160-66) and Buhl and the article “Bible Canon” in the Jewish Encylopædia.