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Flavius Josephus

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"Jewish historian, born A.D. 37, at Jerusalem; died about 101. He belonged to a distinguished priestly family, whose paternal ancestors he himself traces back five generations; his mother's family claimed descent from the Machabeans. He received a good education, and association with distinguished scholars developed his intellectual gifts, more especially his memory and power of judgment. He also made himself fully acquainted with and tried the leading politico-religious Jewish parties of his age — the Essenes, Pharisees, and Sadducees.

Impressed by the outward importance of the Pharisees and hoping to secure through them a position of influence, he attached himself to their party at the age of nineteen, although he shared neither their religious nor political views. He went to Rome in the year 64 with the object of procuring from Nero the release of some imprisoned Jewish priests, who were friends of his. He succeeded in winning the favour of Poppæa Sabina, the emperor's consort, and through her influence gained his cause. But he was dazzled by the brilliant court life in the metropolis of the world, that he became ever more estranged from the spirit of strict Judaism, considering its struggle against paganism as useless. After his return to Jerusalem, the great Jewish revolt broke out in the year 66. Like most of the aristocratic Jews, Josephus at first discountenanced the rebellion of his countrymen, goaded into activity by their enslaved condition and outraged religious sentiments; when, however, fortune seemed to favour the insurgents, Josephus like the rest of the priestly nobility joined them, and was chosen by the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem to be commander-in-chief in Galilee. As such he established in every city throughout the country a council of judges, the members of which were recruited from those who shared his political views. He guided the diplomatic negotiations as well as the military enterprises with prudence and astuteness. In the beginning the Jews were successful, but later when the Roman General Vespasian advanced with the main army from Antioch to Galilee, burning and murdering, the insurgents either fled or sought shelter in their fortresses. For six weeks Josephus and the boldest spirits among the insurgents defended themselves in the almost impregnable fortress of Jotapata. In the summer of 67, the garrison being now exhausted from lack of water and other necessaries, the Romans stormed the citadel; most of the patriots were put to the sword, but Josephus escaped the massacre by hiding in an inaccessible cistern, and emerged only after receiving an assurance that his life would be spared. Brought before the victorious general, he sought with great shrewdness to ingratiate himself with Vespasian, foretelling his elevation, as well as that of his son Titus, to the imperial dignity. Vespasian, however, kept him as a prisoner, and it was only in the year 69, after he had actually become emperor, that he restored to Josephus his liberty.

As a freedman of Vespasian, Josephus assumed in accordance with the Roman custom the former's family name of Flavianus. He accompanied the emperor as far as Egypt, when the latter had handled over to his son the prosecution of the Jewish War, but then joined the retinue of Titus, and was an eyewitness of the destruction of the Holy City and her Temple. At his personal risk he had tried to persuade the Jews to surrender. After the fall of the city he went to Rome with Titus, and took part in the latter's triumph. But these scenes did not trouble Josphus's sense of national honour; on the contrary, he accepted the privilege of Roman citizenship in recognition of his services, and was granted a yearly stipend and also lands in Judea. The succeeding emperors, Titus and his cruel brother Domitian, also showed themselves kindly disposed towards Josephus, and conferred on him many marks of distinction. At court he was allowed to devote himself unmolested to his literary work until his death, which occurred in the reign of Trajan (probably in 101). In his life, as in his writings, he pursued a policy midway between Jewish and pagan culture, for which he was accused by his Jewish countrymen of being unprincipled and hypocritical. His works were written in elegant Greek, to influence the educated class of his time, and free them from various prejudices against Judaism." 1

1.Karl Hoeber, Flavius Josephus. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. (New York: Robert Appleton Company.1910) Retrieved August 12, 2010 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08522a.htm.


Works of Flavius Josephus

Translated by William Whiston



Preface to the Antiquities of the Jews

Book I -- From Creation to the Death of Isaac

Book II -- From the Death of Isaac to the Exodus out of Egypt

Book III -- From the Exodus out of Egypt to the Rejection of the Generation

Book IV -- From the Rejection of that Generation to the Death of Moses

Book V -- From the Death of Moses to the Death of Eli

Book VI -- From the Death of Eli to the Death of Saul

Book VII -- From the Death of Saul to the Death of David

Book VIII -- From the Death of David to the Death of Ahab

Book IX -- From the Death of Ahab to the Captivity of the Ten Tribes

Book X -- From the Captivity of the Ten Tribes to the First Year of Cyrus

Book XI -- From the First Year of Cyrus to the Death of Alexander the Great

Book XII -- From the Death of Alexander the Great to the Death of Judas Maccabeus

Book XIII -- From the Death of Judas Maccabeus to the Death of Queen Alexandra

Book XIV -- From the Death of Queen Alexandra to the Death of Antigonus

Book XV -- From the Death of Antigonus to the Finishing of the Temple by Herod

Book XVI -- From the Finishing of the Temple by Herod to the Death of Alexander and Aristobulus

Book XVII -- From the Death of Alexander and Aristobulus to the Banishment of Archelaus

Book XVIII -- From the Banishment of Archelaus to the Departure of the Jews from Babylon

Book XIX -- From the Departure of the Jews from Babylon to Fadus the Roman Procurator

Book XX -- From Fadus the Procurator to Florus



Preface to the War of the Jews

Book I -- From the Taking of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes to the Death of Herod the Great

Book II -- From the Death of Herod till Vespasian was sent to subdue the Jews by Nero

Book III -- From Vespasian's coming to Subdue the Jews to the Taking of Gamala

Book IV -- From the Siege of Gamala to the Coming of Titus to besiege Jerusalem

Book V -- From the Coming of Titus to besiege Jerusalem to the Great Extremity to which the Jews were reduced

Book VI -- From the Great Extremity to which the Jews were reduced to the taking of Jerusalem by Titus

Book VII -- From the Taking of Jerusalem by Titus to the Sedition of the Jews at Cyrene







Book I

Book II