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THE JEWS MAKE ALL READY FOR THE WAR; AND SIMON, THE SON OF GIORAS, FALLS TO PLUNDERING.
1. AND thus were the disturbances of Galilee quieted, when, upon their ceasing to prosecute their civil dissensions, they betook themselves to make preparations for the war with the Romans. Now in Jerusalem the high priest Artanus, and do as many of the men of power as were not in the interest of the Romans, both repaired the walls, and made a great many warlike instruments, insomuch that in all parts of the city darts and all sorts of armor were upon the anvil. Although the multitude of the young men were engaged in exercises, without any regularity, and all places were full of tumultuous doings; yet the moderate sort were exceedingly sad; and a great many there were who, out of the prospect they had of the calamities that were coming upon them, made great lamentations. There were also such omens observed as were understood to be forerunners of evils by such as loved peace, but were by those that kindled the war interpreted so as to suit their own inclinations; and the very state of the city, even before the Romans came against it, was that of a place doomed to destruction. However, Ananus's concern was this, to lay aside, for a while, the preparations for the war, and to persuade the seditious to consult their own interest, and to restrain the madness of those that had the name of zealots; but their violence was too hard for him; and what end he came to we shall relate hereafter.
2. But as for the Acrabbene toparchy, Simon, the son of Gioras, got a great number of those that were fond of innovations together, and betook himself to ravage the country; nor did he only harass the rich men's houses, but tormented their bodies, and appeared openly and beforehand to affect tyranny in his government. And when an army was sent against him by Artanus, and the other rulers, he and his band retired to the robbers that were at Masada, and staid there, and plundered the country of Idumea with them, till both Ananus and his other adversaries were slain; and until the rulers of that country were so afflicted with the multitude of those that were slain, and with the continual ravage of what they had, that they raised an army, and put garrisons into the villages, to secure them from those insults. And in this state were the affairs of Judea at that time.
(1) Hear Dean Aldrich's note on this place: "The law or Custom of the Jews (says he) requires seven days' mourning for the dead, Antiq. B. XVII. ch. 8. sect. 4; whence the author of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, ch. 22:12, assigns seven days as the proper time of mourning for the dead, and, ch. 38:17, enjoins men to mourn for the dead, that they may not be evil spoken of; for, as Josephus says presently, if any one omits this mourning [funeral feast], he is not esteemed a holy person. How it is certain that such a seven days' mourning has been customary from times of the greatest antiquity, Genesis 1:10. Funeral feasts are also mentioned as of considerable antiquity, Ezekiel 24:17; Jeremiah 16:7; Prey. 31:6; Deuteronomy 26:14; Josephus, Of the War B. III. ch. 9. sect. 5. (2) This holding a council in the temple of Apollo, in the emperor's palace at Rome, by Augustus, and even the building of this temple magnificently by himself in that palace, are exactly agreeable to Augustus, in his elder years, as Aldrich and from Suttonius and Propertius. (3) Here we have a strong confirmation that it was Xerxes, and not Artaxerxes, under whom the main part of the Jews returned out of the Babylonian captivity, i.e. in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. The same thing is in the Antiquities, B. XI. ch.6 (4) This practice of the Essens, in refusing to swear, and esteeming swearing in ordinary occasions worse than perjury, is delivered here in general words, as are the parallel injunctions of our Savior, Matthew 6:34; 23:16; and of St. James, 5:12; but all admit of particular exceptions for solemn causes, and on great and necessary occasions. Thus these very Essens, who here do so zealously avoid swearing, are related, in the very next section, to admit none till they take tremendous oaths to perform their several duties to God, and to their neighbor, without supposing they thereby break this rule, Not to swear at all. The case is the same in Christianity, as we learn from the Apostolical Constitutions, which although they agree with Christ and St. James, in forbidding to swear in general, ch. 5:12; 6:2, 3; yet do they explain it elsewhere, by avoiding to swear falsely, and to swear often and in vain, ch. 2:36; and again, by "not swearing at all," but with adding, that "if that cannot be avoided, to swear truly," ch. 7:3; which abundantly explain to us the nature of the measures of this general injunction. (5) This mention of the "names of angels," so particularly preserved by the Essens, (if it means more than those "messengers" which were employed to bring, them the peculiar books of their Sect,) looks like a prelude to that "worshipping of angels," blamed by St. Paul, as superstitious and unlawful, in some such sort of people as these Essens were, Colossians 2:8; as is the prayer to or towards the sun for his rising every morning, mentioned before, sect. 5, very like those not much later observances made mention of in the preaching of Peter, Authent. Rec. Part II. p. 669, and regarding a kind of worship of angels, of the month, and of the moon, and not celebrating the new moons, or other festivals, unless the moon appeared. Which, indeed, seems to me the earliest mention of any regard to the phases in fixing the Jewish calendar, of which the Talmud and later Rabbins talk so much, and upon so very little ancient foundation. (6) Of these Jewish or Essene (and indeed Christian) doctrines concerning souls, both good and bad, in Hades, see that excellent discourse, or homily, of our Josephus concerning Hades, at the end of the volume. (7) Dean Aldrich reckons up three examples of this gift of prophecy in several of these Essens out of Josephus himself, viz. in the History of the War, B. I. ch. 3. sect. 5, Judas foretold the death of Antigonus at Strato's Tower; B. II. ch. 7. sect. 3, Simon foretold that Archelaus should reign but nine or ten years; and Antiq. B. XV. ch. 10. sect. 4, 5, Menuhem foretold that Herod should be king, and should reign tyrannically, and that for more than twenty or even thirty years. All which came to pass accordingly. (8) There is so much more here about the Essens than is cited from Josephus in Porphyry and Eusebius, and yet so much less about the Pharisees and Sadducees, the two other Jewish sects, than would naturally be expected in proportion to the Essens or third sect, nay, than seems to be referred to by himself elsewhere, that one is tempted to suppose Josephus had at first written less of the one, and more of the two others, than his present copies afford us; as also, that, by some unknown accident, our present copies are here made up of the larger edition in the first case, and of the smaller in the second. See the note in Havercamp's edition. However, what Josephus says in the name of the Pharisees, that only the souls of good men go out of one body into another, although all souls be immortal, and still the souls of the bad are liable to eternal punishment; as also what he says afterwards, Antiq. B. XVIII. ch. 1. sect. 3, that the soul's vigor is immortal, and that under the earth they receive rewards or punishments according as their lives have been virtuous or vicious in the present world; that to the bad is allotted an eternal prison, but that the good are permitted to live again in this world; are nearly agreeable to the doctrines of Christianity. Only Josephus's rejection of the return of the wicked into other bodies, or into this world, which he grants to the good, looks somewhat like a contradiction to St. Paul's account of the doctrine of the Jews, that they "themselves allowed that there should be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust," Acts 24:15. Yet because Josephus's account is that of the Pharisees, and St. Patti's that of the Jews in general, and of himself the contradiction is not very certain. (9) We have here, in that Greek MS. which was once Alexander Petavius's, but is now in the library at Leyden, two most remarkable additions to the common copies, though declared worth little remark by the editor; which, upon the mention of Tiberius's coming to the empire, inserts first the famous testimony of Josephus concerning Jesus Christ, as it stands verbatim in the Antiquities, B. XVIII. ch. 3. sect. 3, with some parts of that excellent discourse or homily of Josephus concerning Hades, annexed to the work. But what is here principally to be noted is this, that in this homily, Josephus having just mentioned Christ, as "God the Word, and the Judge of the world, appointed by the Father," etc., adds, that "he had himself elsewhere spoken about him more nicely or particularly." (10) This use of corban, or oblation, as here applied to the sacred money dedicated to God in the treasury of the temple, illustrates our Savior's words, Mark 7:11, 12. (11) Tacitus owns that Caius commanded the Jews to place his effigies in their temple, though he be mistaken when he adds that the Jews thereupon took arms. (12) This account of a place near the mouth of the river Belus in Phoenicia, whence came that sand out of which the ancients made their glass, is a known thing in history, particularly in Tacitus and Strabo, and more largely in Pliny. (13) This Memnon had several monuments, and one of them appears, both by Strabo and Diodorus, to have been in Syria, and not improbably in this very place. (14) Reland notes here, that the Talmud in recounting ten sad accidents for which the Jews ought to rend their garments, reckons this for one, "When they hear that the law of God is burnt." (15) This Ummidius, or Numidius, or, as Tacitus calls him, Vinidius Quadratus, is mentioned in an ancient inscription, still preserved, as Spanhelm here informs us, which calls him Urnmidius Quadratus. (16) Take the character of this Felix (who is well known from the Acts of the Apostles, particularly from his trembling when St. Paul discoursed of "righteousness, chastity, and judgment to come," Acts 24:5; and no wonder, when we have elsewhere seen that he lived in adultery with Drusilla, another man's wife, (Antiq. B. XX. ch. 7. sect. 1) in the words of Tacitus, produced here by Dean Aldrich: "Felix exercised," says Tacitas, "the authority of a king, with the disposition of a slave, and relying upon the great power of his brother Pallas at court, thought he might safely be guilty of all kinds of wicked practices." Observe also the time when he was made procurator, A.D. 52; that when St. Paul pleaded his cause before him, A.D. 58, he might have been "many years a judge unto that nation," as St. Paul says he had then been, Acts 24:10. But as to what Tacitus here says, that before the death of Cumanus, Felix was procurator over Samaria only, does not well agree with St. Paul's words, who would hardly have called Samaria a Jewish nation. In short, since what Tacitus here says is about countries very remote from Rome, where he lived; since what he says of two Roman procurators, the one over Galilee, the other over Samaria at the same time, is without example elsewhere; and since Josephus, who lived at that very time in Judea, appears to have known nothing of this procuratorship of Felix, before the death of Cureanus; I much suspect the story itself as nothing better than a mistake of Tacitus, especially when it seems not only omitted, but contradicted by Josephus; as any one may find that compares their histories together. Possibly Felix might have been a subordinate judge among the Jews some time before under Cureanus, but that he was in earnest a procurator of Samaria before I do not believe. Bishop Pearson, as well as Bishop Lloyd, quote this account, but with a doubtful clause: confides Tacito, "If we may believe Tacitus." Pears. Anhal. Paulin. p. 8; Marshall's Tables, at A.D. 49. (17) i.e. Herod king of Chalcis. (18) Not long after this beginning of Florus, the wickedest of all the Roman procurators of Judea, and the immediate occasion of the Jewish war, at the twelfth year of Nero, and the seventeenth of Agrippa, or A.D. 66, the history in the twenty books of Josephus's Antiquities ends, although Josephus did not finish these books till the thirteenth of Domitian, or A.D. 93, twenty-seven years afterward; as he did not finish their Appendix, containing an account of his own life, till Agrippa was dead, which happened in the third year of Trajan, or A. D. 100, as I have several times observed before. (19) Here we may note, that three millions of the Jews were present at the passover, A.D. 65; which confirms what Josephus elsewhere informs us of, that at a passover a little later they counted two hundred and fifty-six thousand five hundred passover lambs, which, at twelve to each lamb, which is no immoderate calculation, come to three millions and seventy-eight thousand. See B. VI. ch. 9. sect. 3. (20) Take here Dr. Hudson's very pertinent note. "By this action," says he, "the killing of a bird over an earthen vessel, the Jews were exposed as a leprous people; for that was to be done by the law in the cleansing of a leper, Leviticus 14. It is also known that the Gentiles reproached the Jews as subject to the leprosy, and believed that they were driven out of Egypt on that account. This that eminent person Mr. Reland suggested to me." (21) Here we have examples of native Jews who were of the equestrian order among the Romans, and so ought never to have been whipped or crucified, according to the Roman laws. See almost the like case in St. Paul himself, Acts 22:25-29. (22) This vow which Bernice (here and elsewhere called queen, not only as daughter and sister to two kings, Agrippa the Great, and Agrippa junior, but the widow of Herod king of Chalcis) came now to accomplish at Jerusalem was not that of a Nazarite, but such a one as religious Jews used to make, in hopes of any deliverance from a disease, or other danger, as Josephus here intimates. However, these thirty days' abode at Jerusalem, for fasting and preparation against the oblation of a proper sacrifice, seems to be too long, unless it were wholly voluntary in this great lady. It is not required in the law of Moses relating to Nazarites, Numbers 6., and is very different from St. Paul's time for such preparation, which was but one day, Acts 21:26. So we want already the continuation of the Antiquities to afford us light here, as they have hitherto done on so many occasions elsewhere. Perhaps in this age the traditions of the Pharisees had obliged the Jews to this degree of rigor, not only as to these thirty days' preparation, but as to the going barefoot all that time, which here Bernice submitted to also. For we know that as God's and our Savior's yoke is usually easy, and his burden comparatively light, in such positive injunctions, Matthew 11:30, so did the scribes and Pharisees sometimes "bind upon men heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne," even when they themselves "would not touch them with one of their fingers," Matthew 23:4; Luke 11:46. However, Noldius well observes, De Herod. No. 404, 414, that Juvenal, in his sixth satire, alludes to this remarkable penance or submission of this Bernice to Jewish discipline, and jests upon her for it; as do Tacitus, Dio, Suetonius, and Sextus Aurelius mention her as one well known at Rome.--Ibid. (23) I take this Bezetha to be that small hill adjoining to the north side of the temple, whereon was the hospital with five porticoes or cloisters, and beneath which was the sheep pool of Bethesda; into which an angel or messenger, at a certain season, descended, and where he or they who were the "first put into the pool" were cured, John 5:1 etc. This situation of Bezetha, in Josephus, on the north side of the temple, and not far off the tower Antonia, exactly agrees to the place of the same pool at this day; only the remaining cloisters are but three. See Maundrel, p. 106. The entire buildings seem to have been called the New City, and this part, where was the hospital, peculiarly Bezetha or Bethesda. See ch. 19. sect. 4. (24) In this speech of king Agrippa we have an authentic account of the extent and strength of the Roman empire when the Jewish war began. And this speech with other circumstances in Josephus, demonstrate how wise and how great a person Agrippa was, and why Josephus elsewhere calls him a most wonderful or admirable man, Contr. Ap. I. 9. He is the same Agrippa who said to Paul," Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian," Acts 26;28; and of whom St. Paul said, "He was expert in all the customs and questions of the Jews," yet. 3. See another intimation of the limits of the same Roman empire, Of the War, B. III. ch. 5. sect. 7. But what seems to me very remarkable here is this, that when Josephus, in imitation of the Greeks and Romans, for whose use he wrote his Antiquities, did himself frequently he into their they appear, by the politeness of their composition, and their flights of oratory, to be not the real speeches of the persons concerned, who usually were no orators, but of his own elegant composure, the speech before us is of another nature, full of undeniable facts, and composed in a plain and unartful, but moving way; so it appears to be king Agrippa's own speech, and to have been given Josephus by Agrippa himself, with whom Josephus had the greatest friendship. Nor may we omit Agrippa's constant doctrine here, that this vast Roman empire was raised and supported by Divine Providence, and that therefore it was in vain for the Jews, or any others, to think of destroying it. Nor may we neglect to take notice of Agrippa's solemn appeal to the angels here used; the like appeals to which we have in St. Paul, 1 Timothy 5:22, and by the apostles in general, in the form of the ordination of bishops, Constitut. Apost. VIII. 4. (25) Julius Caesar had decreed that the Jews of Jerusalem should pay an annual tribute to the Romans, excepting the city Joppa, and for the sabbatical year; as Spanheim observes from the Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 10. sect. 6. (26) Of this Sohemus we have mention made by Tacitus. We also learn from Dio that his father was king of the Arabians of Iturea, [which Iturea is mentioned by St. Luke, ch. 3:1.] both whose testimonies are quoted here by Dr. Hudson. See Noldius, No. 371. (27) Spanheim notes on the place, that this later Antiochus, who was called Epiphaues, is mentioned by Dio, LIX. p. 645, and that he is mentioned by Josephus elsewhere twice also, B.V. ch. 11. sect. 3; and Antiq. B. XIX. ch. 8. sect. I. (28) Here we have an eminent example of that Jewish language, which Dr. Wail truly observes, we several times find used in the sacred writings; I mean, where the words "all" or" whole multitude,"etc. are used for much the greatest part only; but not so as to include every person, without exception; for when Josephus had said that "the whole multitude" [all the males] of Lydda were gone to the feast of tabernacles, he immediately adds, that, however, no fewer than fifty of them appeared, and were slain by the Romans. Other examples somewhat like this I have observed elsewhere in Josephus, but, as I think, none so remarkable as this. See Wall's Critical Observations on the Old Testament, p. 49, 50. (29) We have also, in this and the next section, two eminent facts to be observed, viz. the first example, that I remember, in Josephus, of the onset of the Jews' enemies upon their country when their males were gone up to Jerusalem to one of their three sacred festivals; which, during the theocracy, God had promised to preserve them from, Exodus 34:24. The second fact is this, the breach of the sabbath by the seditions Jews in an offensive fight, contrary to the universal doctrine and practice of their nation in these ages, and even contrary to what they themselves afterward practiced in the rest of this war. See the note on Antiq. B. XVI. ch. 2. sect. 4. (30) There may another very important, and very providential, reason be here assigned for this strange and foolish retreat of Cestius; which, if Josephus had been now a Christian, he might probably have taken notice of also; and that is, the affording the Jewish Christians in the city an opportunity of calling to mind the prediction and caution given them by Christ about thirty-three years and a half before, that "when they should see the abomination of desolation" [the idolatrous Roman armies, with the images of their idols in their ensigns, ready to lay Jerusalem desolate] "stand where it ought not;" or, "in the holy place;" or, "when they should see Jerusalem any one instance of a more unpolitic, but more providential, compassed with armies;" they should then "flee to the mound conduct than this retreat of Cestius visible during this whole rains." By complying with which those Jewish Christians fled I siege of Jerusalem; which yet was providentially such a "great to the mountains of Perea, and escaped this destruction. See tribulation, as had not been from the beginning of the world to that time; no, Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 69, 70. Nor was there, perhaps, nor ever should be."--Ibid. p. 70, 71. (31) From this name of Joseph the son of Gorion, or Gorion the son of Joseph, as B. IV. ch. 3. sect. 9, one of the governors of Jerusalem, who was slain at the beginning of the tumults by the zealots, B. IV. ch. 6. sect. 1, the much later Jewish author of a history of that nation takes his title, and yet personates our true Josephus, the son of Matthias; but the cheat is too gross to be put upon the learned world. (32) We may observe here, that the Idumeans, as having been convert of justice since the days of John Hyrcanus, during about one hundred and ninety-five years, were now esteemed as part of the Jewish nation, and these provided of a Jewish commander accordingly. See the note upon Antiq. B. XIII.. ch. 9. sect. 1. (33) We see here, and in Josephus's account of his own life, sect. 14, how exactly he imitated his legislator Moses, or perhaps only obeyed what he took to be his perpetual law, in appointing seven lesser judges, for smaller causes, in particular cities, and perhaps for the first hearing of greater causes, with the liberty of an appeal to seventy-one supreme judges, especially in those causes where life and death were concerned; as Antiq. B. IV. ch. 8. sect. 14; and of his Life, sect. 14. See also Of the War, B. IV. ch. 5. sect. 4. Moreover, we find, sect. 7, that he imitated Moses, as well as the Romans, in the number and distribution of the subaltern officers of his army, as Exodus 18:25; Deuteronomy 1:15; and in his charge against the offenses common among soldiers, as Denteronomy 13:9; in all which he showed his great wisdom and piety, and skillful conduct in martial affairs. Yet may we discern in his very high character of Artanus the high priest, B. IV. ch. 5. sect. 2, who seems to have been the same who condemned St. James, bishop of Jerusalem, to be stoned, under Albinus the procurator, that when he wrote these books of the War, he was not so much as an Ebionite Christian; otherwise he would not have failed, according to his usual custom, to have reckoned this his barbarous murder as a just punishment upon him for that his cruelty to the chief, or rather only Christian bishop of the circumcision. Nor, had he been then a Christian, could he immediately have spoken so movingly of the causes of the destruction of Jerusalem, without one word of either the condemnation of James, or crucifixion of Christ, as he did when he was become a Christian afterward. (34) I should think that an army of sixty thousand footmen should require many more than two hundred and fifty horsemen; and we find Josephus had more horsemen under his command than two hundred and fifty in his future history. I suppose the number of the thousands is dropped in our present copies. (35) I cannot but think this stratagem of Josephus, which is related both here and in his Life, sect. 32, 33, to be one of the finest that ever was invented and executed by any warrior whatever.