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  • JOSEPHUS' WRITINGS - BOOK 20, CH. 11
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    CONCERNING FLORUS THE PROCURATOR, WHO NECESSITATED THE JEWS TO TAKE UP ARMS AGAINST THE ROMANS. THE CONCLUSION.

    1. NOW Gessius Florus, who was sent as successor to Albinus by Nero, filled Judea with abundance of miseries. He was by birth of the city of Clazomene, and brought along with him his wife Cleopatra, (by whose friendship with Poppea, Nero's wife, he obtained this government,) who was no way different from him in wickedness. This Florus was so wicked, and so violent in the use of his authority, that the Jews took Albinus to have been [comparatively] their benefactor; so excessive were the mischiefs that he brought upon them. For Albinus concealed his wickedness, and was careful that it might not be discovered to all men; but Gessius Florus, as though he bad been sent on purpose to show his crimes to every body, made a pompous ostentation of them to our nation, as never omitting any sort of violence, nor any unjust sort of punishment; for he was not to be moved by pity, and never was satisfied with any degree of gain that came in his way; nor had he any more regard to great than to small acquisitions, but became a partner with the robbers themselves. For a great many fell then into that practice without fear, as having him for their security, and depending on him, that he would save them harmless in their particular robberies; so that there were no bounds set to the nation's miseries; but the unhappy Jews, when they were not able to bear the devastations which the robbers made among them, were all under a necessity of leaving their own habitations, and of flying away, as hoping to dwell more easily any where else in the world among foreigners [than in their own country]. And what need I say any more upon this head? since it was this Florus who necessitated us to take up arms against the Romans, while we thought it better to be destroyed at once, than by little and little. Now this war began in the second year of the government of Florus, and the twelfth year of the reign of Nero. But then what actions we were forced to do, or what miseries we were enabled to suffer, may be accurately known by such as will peruse those books which I have written about the Jewish war.

    2. I shall now, therefore, make an end here of my Antiquities; after the conclusion of which events, I began to write that account of the war; and these Antiquities contain what hath been delivered down to us from the original creation of man, until the twelfth year of the reign of Nero, as to what hath befallen the Jews, as well in Egypt as in Syria and in Palestine, and what we have suffered from the Assyrians and Babylonians, and what afflictions the Persians and Macedonians, and after them the Romans, have brought upon us; for I think I may say that I have composed this history with sufficient accuracy in all things. I have attempted to enumerate those high priests that we have had during the interval of two thousand years; I have also carried down the succession of our kings, and related their actions, and political administration, without [considerable] errors, as also the power of our monarchs; and all according to what is written in our sacred books; for this it was that I promised to do in the beginning of this history. And I am so bold as to say, now I have so completely perfected the work I proposed to myself to do, that no other person, whether he were a Jew or foreigner, had he ever so great an inclination to it, could so accurately deliver these accounts to the Greeks as is done in these books. For those of my own nation freely acknowledge that I far exceed them in the learning belonging to Jews; I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations, and so adorn their discourses with the smoothness of their periods; because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them. But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is able to interpret their meaning; on which account, as there have been many who have done their endeavors with great patience to obtain this learning, there have yet hardly been so many as two or three that have succeeded therein, who were immediately well rewarded for their pains.

    3. And now it will not be perhaps an invidious thing, if I treat briefly of my own family, and of the actions of my own life (28) while there are still living such as can either prove what I say to be false, or can attest that it is true; with which accounts I shall put an end to these Antiquities, which are contained in twenty books, and sixty thousand verses. And if God permit me, I will briefly run over this war (29), and to add what befell them further to that very day, the 13th of Domitian, or A.D. 03, is not, that I have observed, taken distinct notice of by any one; nor do we ever again, with what befell us therein to this very day, which is the thirteenth year of the reign of Caesar Domitian, and the fifty-sixth year of my own life. I have also an intention to write three books concerning our Jewish opinions about God and his essence, and about our laws; why, according to them, some things are permitted us to do, and others are prohibited.

    ENDNOTE

    (1) Here is some error in the copies, or mistake in Josephus; for the power of appointing high priests, alter Herod king of Chalcis was dead, and Agrippa, junior, was made king of Chalcis in his room, belonged to him; and he exercised the same all along till Jerusalem was destroyed, as Josephus elsewhere informs us, ch. 8. sect. , 11; ch. 9. sect. 1, 4, 6, 7. (2) Josephus here uses the word monogene, an only begotten son, for no other than one best beloved, as does both the Old and New Testament, I mean where there were one or more sons besides, Genesis 22:2; Hebrew 11:17. See the note on B. I. ch. 13. sect. 1. (3) It is here very remarkable, that the remains of Noah's ark were believed to he still in being in the days of Josephus. See the note on B. I. ch. 3. sect. 5. (4) Josephus is very full and express in these three chapters, 3., 4., and 5., in observing how carefully Divine Providence preserved this Izates, king of Adiabene, and his sons, while he did what he thought was his bounden duty, nevertheless the strongest political motives to the contrary. (5) This further account of the benefactions of Izates and Helena to the Jerusalem Jews which Josephus here promises is, I think, no where performed by him in his present works. But of this terrible famine itself in Judea, take Dr. Hudson's note here: - "This ( says he ) is that famine foretold by Agabus, Acts 11:28, which happened when Claudius was consul the fourth time; and not that other which happened when Claudius was consul the second time, and Cesina was his colleague, as Scaliger says upon Eusebius, p. 174." Now when Josephus had said a little afterward, ch. 5. sect. 2, that "Tiberius Alexander succeeded Cuspius Fadus as procurator," he immediately subjoins, that" under these procurators there happened a great famine in Judea." Whence it is plain that this famine continued for many years, on account of its duration under these two procurators. Now Fadus was not sent into Judea till after the death of king Agrippa, i.e. towards the latter end of the 4th year of Claudius; so that this famine foretold by Agabus happened upon the 5th, 6th, and 7th years of Claudius, as says Valesius on Euseb. II. 12. Of this famine also, and queen Helena's supplies, and her monument, see Moses Churenensis, p. 144, 145, where it is observed in the notes that Pausanias mentions that her monument also. (6) This privilege of wearing the tiara upright, or with the tip of the cone erect, is known to have been of old peculiar to great kings, from Xenophon and others, as Dr. Hudson observes here. (7) This conduct of Izates is a sign that he was become either a Jew, or an Ebionite Christian, who indeed differed not much from proper Jews. See ch. 6. sect. 1. However, his supplications were heard, and he was providentially delivered from that imminent danger he was in. (8) These pyramids or pillars, erected by Helena, queen of Adiabene, near Jerusalem, three in number, are mentioned by Eusebius, in his Eccles. Hist. B. II. ch. 12, for which Dr. Hudson refers us to Valesius's notes upon that place.--They are also mentioned by Pausanias, as hath been already noted, ch. 2. sect. 6. Reland guesses that that now called Absalom's Pillar may be one of them. (9) This Theudas, who arose under Fadus the procurator, about A.D. 45 or 46, could not be that Thendas who arose in the days of the taxing, under Cyrenius, or about A.D. 7, Acts v. 36, 37. Who that earlier Theudas was, see the note on B. XVII. ch. 10. sect. 5. (10) This and. many more tumults and seditions which arose at the Jewish festivals, in Josephus, illustrate the cautious procedure of the Jewish governors, when they said, Matthew 26:5, "Let us not take Jesus on the feast-day, lest there be an up roar among the people;" as Reland well observes on tins place. Josephus also takes notice of the same thing, Of the War, B. I. ch. 4. sect. 3. (11) This constant passage of the Galileans through the country of Samaria, as they went to Judea and Jerusalem, illustrates several passages in the Gospels to the same purpose, as Dr. Hudson rightly observes. See Luke 17:11; John 4:4. See also Josephus in his own Life, sect. 52, where that journey is determined to three days. (12) Our Savior had foretold that the Jews' rejection of his gospel would bring upon them, among other miseries, these three, which they themselves here show they expected would be the consequences of their present tumults and seditions: the utter subversion of their country, the conflagration of their temple, and the slavery of themselves, their wives, and children See Luke 21:6-24. (13) This Simon, a friend of Felix, a Jew, born in Cyprus, though he pretended to be a magician, and seems to have been wicked enough, could hardly be that famous Simon the magician, in the Acts of the Apostles, 8:9, etc., as some are ready to suppose. This Simon mentioned in the Acts was not properly a Jew, but a Samaritan, of the town of Gittae, in the country of Samaria, as the Apostolical Constitutions, VI. 7, the Recognitions of Clement, II. 6, and Justin Martyr, himself born in the country of Samaria, Apology, I. 34, inform us. He was also the author, not of any ancient Jewish, but of the first Gentile heresies, as the forementioned authors assure us. So I suppose him a different person from the other. I mean this only upon the hypothesis that Josephus was not misinformed as to his being a Cypriot Jew; for otherwise the time, the name, the profession, and the wickedness of them both would strongly incline one to believe them the very same. As to that Drusilla, the sister of Agrippa, junior, as Josephus informs us here, and a Jewess, as St. Luke informs us, Acts 24:24, whom this Simon mentioned by Josephus persuaded to leave her former husband, Azizus, king of Emesa, a proselyte of justice, and to marry Felix, the heathen procurator of Judea, Tacitus, Hist. V. 9, supposes her to be a heathen; and the grand- daughter of Antonius and Cleopatra, contrary both to St. Luke and Josephus. Now Tacitus lived somewhat too remote, both as to time and place, to be compared with either of those Jewish writers, in a matter concerning the Jews in Judea in their own days, and concerning a sister of Agrippa, junior, with which Agrippa Josephus was himself so well acquainted. It is probable that Tacitus may say true, when he informs us that this Felix (who had in all three wives, or queens, as Suetonius in Claudius, sect. 28, assures us) did once marry such a grandchild of Antonius and Cleopatra; and finding the name of one of them to have been Drusilla, he mistook her for that other wife, whose name he did not know. (14) This eruption of Vesuvius was one of the greatest we have in history. See Bianchini's curious and important observations on this Vesuvius, and its seven several great eruptions, with their remains vitrified, and still existing, in so many different strata under ground, till the diggers came to the antediluvian waters, with their proportionable interstices, implying the deluge to have been above two thousand five hundred years before the Christian era, according to our exactest chronology. (15) This is now wanting. (16) This also is now wanting. (17) This duration of the reign of Claudius agrees with Dio, as Dr. Hudson here remarks; as he also remarks that Nero's name, which was at first L. Domitius Aenobarbus, after Claudius had adopted him was Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. This Soleus as [own Life, sect. 11, as also] by Dio Cassius andTaeims, as Dr. Hudson informs us. (18) This agrees with Josephus's frequent accounts elsewhere in his own Life, that Tibetans, and Taricheae, and Gamala were under this Agrippa, junior, till Justus, the son of Pistus, seized for the Jews, upon the breaking out of the war. (19) This treacherous and barbarous murder of the good high priest Jonathan, by the contrivance of this wicked procurator, Felix, was the immediate occasion of the pursuing murders by the Sicarii or ruffians, and one great cause of the following horrid cruelties and miseries of the Jewish nation, as Josephus here supposes; whose excellent reflection on the gross wickedness of that nation, as the direct cause of their terrible destruction, is well worthy the attention of every Jewish and of every Christian reader. And since we are soon coming to the catalogue of the Jewish high priests, it may not be amiss, with Reland, to insert this Jonathan among them, and to transcribe his particular catalogue of the last twenty-eight high priests, taken out of Josephus, and begin with Ananelus, who was made by Herod the Great. See Antiq. B. XV. ch. 2. sect. 4, and the note there. 1. Ananelus. 2. Aristobulus. 3. Jesus, the son of Fabus. 4. Simon, the son of Boethus. 5. Marthias, the son of Theophiltu. 6. Joazar, the son of Boethus. 7. Eleazar, the son of Boethus. 8. Jesus, the son of Sic. 9. [Annas, or] Ananus, the son of Seth. 10. Ismael, the son of Fabus. 11. Eleazar, the son of Ananus. 12. Simon, the son of Camithus. 13. Josephus Caiaphas, the son-in-law to Ananus. 14. Jonathan, the son of Ananus. 15. Theophilus, his brother, and son of Ananus. 16. Simon, the son of Boethus. 17. Matthias, the brother of Jonathan, and son of Ananus. 18. Aljoneus. 19. Josephus, the son of Camydus. 20. Ananias, the son of Nebedeus. 21. Jonathas. 22. Ismael, the son of Fabi. 23. Joseph Cabi, the son of Simon. 24. Ananus, the son of Artanus. 25. Jesus, the son of Damnetas. 26. Jesus, the son of Gamaliel. 27. Matthias, the son of Theophilus. 28. Phannias, the son of Samuel. As for Ananus and Joseph Caiaphas, here mentioned about the middle of this catalogue, they are no other than those Annas and Caiaphas so often mentioned in the four Gospels; and that Ananias, the son of Nebedeus, was that high priest before whom St. Paul pleaded his own cause, Acts 24. (20) Of these Jewish impostors and false prophets, with many other circumstances and miseries of the Jews, till their utter destruction, foretold by our Savior, see Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 58-75. Of this Egyptian impostor, and the number of his followers, in Josephus, see Acts 21:38. (21) The wickedness here was very peculiar and extraordinary, that the high priests should so oppress their brethren the priests, as to starve the poorest of them to death. See the like presently, ch. 9. sect. 2. Such fatal crimes are covetousness and tyranny in the clergy, as well as in the laity, in all ages. (22) We have here one eminent example of Nero's mildness and goodness in his government towards the Jews, during the first five years of his reign, so famous in antiquity; we have perhaps another in Josephus's own Life, sect. 3; and a third, though of a very different nature here, in sect. 9, just before. However, both the generous acts of kindness were obtained of Nero by his queen Poppea, who was a religious lady, and perhaps privately a Jewish proselyte, and so were not owing entirely to Nero's own goodness. (23) It hence evidently appears that Sadducees might be high priests in the days of Josephus, and that these Sadducees were usually very severe and inexorable judges, while the Pharisees were much milder, and more merciful, as appears by Reland's instances in his note on this place, and on Josephus's Life, sect. 31, and those taken from the New Testament, from Josephus himself, and from the Rabbins; nor do we meet with any Sadducees later than this high priest in all Josephus. (24) Of this condemnation of James the Just, and its causes, as also that he did not die till long afterwards, see Prim. Christ. Revived, vol. III. ch. 43-46. The sanhedrim condemned our Savior, but could not put him to death without the approval of the Roman procurator; nor could therefore Ananias and his sanhedrim do more here, since they never had Albinus's approval for the putting this James to death. (25) This Ananias was not the son of Nebedeus, as I take it, but he who was called Annas or Ananus the elder, the ninth in the catalogue, and who had been esteemed high priest for a long time; and, besides Caiaphas, his son-in-law, had five of his own sons high priests after him, which were those of numbers 11, 14, 15, 17, 24, in the foregoing catalogue. Nor ought we to pass slightly over what Josephus here says of Annas, or Ananias, that he was high priest a long time before his children were so; he was the son of Seth, and is set down first for high priest in the foregoing catalogue, under number 9. He was made by Quirinus, and continued till Ismael, the 10th in number, for about twenty-three years, which long duration of his high priesthood, joined to the successions of his son-in-law, and five children of his own, made him a sort of perpetual high priest, and was perhaps the occasion that former high priests kept their titles ever afterwards; for I believe it is hardly met with be fore him. (26) This insolent petition of some of the Levites, to wear the sacerdotal garments when they sung hymns to God in the temple, was very probably owing to the great depression and contempt the haughty high priests had now brought their brethren the priests into; of which see ch. 8. sect. 8, and ch. 9, sect. 2. (27) Of these cloisters of Solomon, see the description of the temple, ch. 13. They seem, by Josephus's words, to have been built from the bottom of the valley. (28) See the Life at the beginning of the volume. (29) What Josephus here declares his intention to do, if God permitted, to give the public again an abridgement of the Jewish War hear of it elsewhere, whether he performed what he now intended or not. Some of the reasons of this design of his might possibly be, his observation of the many errors he had been guilty of in the two first of those seven books of the War, which were written when he was comparatively young, and less acquainted with the Jewish antiquities than he now was, and in which abridgement we might have hoped to find those many passages which himself, as well as those several passages which others refer to, as written by him, but which are not extant in his present works. However, since many of his own references to what he had written elsewhere, as well as most of his own errors, belong to such early times as could not well come into this abridgement of the Jewish War; and since none of those that quote things not now extant in his works, including himself as well as others, ever cite any such abridgement; I am forced rather to suppose that he never did publish any such work at all; I mean, as distinct from his own Life, written by himself, for an appendix to these Antiquities, and this at least seven years after these Antiquities were finished. Nor indeed does it appear to me that Josephus ever published that other work here mentioned, as intended by him for the public also: I mean the three or four books concerning God and his essence, and concerning the Jewish laws; why, according to them, some things were permitted the Jews, and others prohibited; which last seems to be the same work which Josephus had also promised, if God permitted, at the conclusion of his preface to these Antiquities; nor do I suppose that he ever published any of them. The death of all his friends at court, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian, and the coming of those he had no acquaintance with to the crown, I mean Nerva and Trajan, together with his removal from Rome to Judea, with what followed it, might easily interrupt such his intentions, and prevent his publication of those works.

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