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  • JOSEPHUS' WRITINGS - BOOK 27, CH. 11
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    CONCERNING JONATHAN, ONE OF THE SICARII, THAT STIRRED UP A SEDITION IN CYRENE, AND WAS A FALSE ACCUSER [OF THE INNOCENT].

    1. AND now did the madness of the Sicarii, like a disease, reach as far as the cities of Cyrene; for one Jonathan, a vile person, and by trade a weaver, came thither and prevailed with no small number of the poorer sort to give ear to him; he also led them into the desert, upon promising them that he would show them signs and apparitions. And as for the other Jews of Cyrene, he concealed his knavery from them, and put tricks upon them; but those of the greatest dignity among them informed Catullus, the governor of the Libyan Pentapolis, of his march into the desert, and of the preparations he had made for it. So he sent out after him both horsemen and footmen, and easily overcame them, because they were unarmed men; of these many were slain in the fight, but some were taken alive, and brought to Catullus. As for Jonathan, the head of this plot, he fled away at that time; but upon a great and very diligent search, which was made all the country over for him, he was at last taken. And when he was brought to Catullus, he devised a way whereby he both escaped punishment himself, and afforded an occasion to Catullus of doing much mischief; for he falsely accused the richest men among the Jews, and said that they had put him upon what he did.

    2. Now Catullus easily admitted of these his calumnies, and aggravated matters greatly, and made tragical exclamations, that he might also be supposed to have had a hand in the finishing of the Jewish war. But what was still harder, he did not only give a too easy belief to his stories, but he taught the Sicarii to accuse men falsely. He bid this Jonathan, therefore, to name one Alexander, a Jew (with whom he had formerly had a quarrel, and openly professed that he hated him); he also got him to name his wife Bernice, as concerned with him. These two Catullus ordered to be slain in the first place; nay, after them he caused all the rich and wealthy Jews to be slain, being no fewer in all than three thousand. This he thought he might do safely, because he confiscated their effects, and added them to Caesar's revenues.

    3. Nay, indeed, lest any Jews that lived elsewhere should convict him of his villainy, he extended his false accusations further, and persuaded Jonathan, and certain others that were caught with him, to bring an accusation of attempts for innovation against the Jews that were of the best character both at Alexandria and at Rome. One of these, against whom this treacherous accusation was laid, was Josephus, the writer of these books. However, this plot, thus contrived by Catullus, did not succeed according to his hopes; for though he came himself to Rome, and brought Jonathan and his companions along with him in bonds, and thought he should have had no further inquisition made as to those lies that were forged under his government, or by his means; yet did Vespasian suspect the matter and made an inquiry how far it was true. And when he understood that the accusation laid against the Jews was an unjust one, he cleared them of the crimes charged upon them, and this on account of Titus's concern about the matter, and brought a deserved punishment upon Jonathan; for he was first tormented, and then burnt alive.

    4. But as to Catullus, the emperors Were so gentle to him, that he underwent no severe condemnation at this time; yet was it not long before he fell into a complicated and almost incurable distemper, and died miserably. He was not only afflicted in body, but the distemper in his mind was more heavy upon him than the other; for he was terribly disturbed, and continually cried out that he saw the ghosts of those whom he had slain standing before him. Whereupon he was not able to contain himself, but leaped out of his bed, as if both torments and fire were brought to him. This his distemper grew still a great deal worse and worse continually, and his very entrails were so corroded, that they fell out of his body, and in that condition he died. Thus he became as great an instance of Divine Providence as ever was, and demonstrated that God punishes wicked men.

    5. And here we shall put an end to this our history; wherein we formerly promised to deliver the same with all accuracy, to such as should be desirous of understanding after what manner this war of the Romans with the Jews was managed. Of which history, how good the style is, must be left to the determination of the readers; but as for its agreement with the facts, I shall not scruple to say, and that boldly, that truth hath been what I have alone aimed at through its entire composition.

    ENDNOTE

    (1) Why the great Bochart should say, (De Phoenic. Colon. B. II. ch. iv.,) that" there are in this clause of Josephus as many mistakes as words," I do by no means understand. Josephus thought Melchisedek first built, or rather rebuilt and adorned, this city, and that it was then called Salem, as Psalm 76:2; afterwards came to be called Jerusalem; and that Melchisedek, being a priest as well as a king, built to the true God therein a temple, or place for public Divine worship and sacrifice; all which things may be very true for aught we know to the contrary. And for the word, or temple, as if it must needs belong to the great temple built by Solomon long afterward, Josephus himself uses, for the small tabernacle of Moses, Antiq. B. III. ch. 6. sect. 4; see also Antiq. B. lit. ch. 6. sect. 1; as he here presently uses, for a large and splendid synagogue of the Jews at Antioch, B. VII. ch. 3. sect. 3. (2) This Tereutius Rufus, as Reland in part observes here, is the same person whom the Talmudists call Turnus Rufus; of whom they relate, that "he ploughed up Sion as a field, and made Jerusalem become as heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high Idaces of a forest;" which was long before foretold by the prophet Micah, ch. 3:12, and quoted from him in the prophecies of Jeremiah, ch. 26:18. (3) See Ecclesiastes 8:11. (4) This Berytus was certainly a Roman colony, and has coins extant that witness the same, as Hudson and Spanheim inform us. See the note on Antiq. B. XVI: ch. 11. sect. 1. (5) The Jews at Antioch and Alexandria, the two principal cities in all the East, had allowed them, both by the Macedonians, and afterwards by the Romans, a governor of their own, who was exempt from the jurisdiction of the other civil governors. He was called sometimes barely "governor," sometimes "ethnarch," and [at Alexandria] "alabarch," as Dr. Hudson takes notice on this place out of Fuller's Miscellanies. They had the like governor or governors allowed them at Babylon under their captivity there, as the history of Susanna implies. (6) This Classicus, and Civilis, and Cerealis are names well known in Tacitus; the two former as moving sedition against the Romans, and the last as sent to repress them by Vespasian, just as they are here described in Josephus; which is the case also of Fontellis Agrippa and Rubrius Gallup, i, sect. 3. But as to the very favorable account presently given of Domitian, particularly as to his designs in this his Gallic and German expedition, it is not a little contrary to that in Suetonius, Vesp. sect. 7. Nor are the reasons unobvious that might occasion this great diversity: Domitian was one of Josephus's patrons, and when he published these books of the Jewish war, was very young, and had hardly begun those wicked practices which rendered him so infamous afterward; while Suetonius seems to have been too young, and too low in life, to receive any remarkable favors from him; as Domitian was certainly very lewd and cruel, and generally hated, when Puetonius wrote about him. (7) Since in these latter ages this Sabbatic River, once so famous, which, by Josephus's account here, ran every seventh day, and rested on six, but according to Pliny, Nat. Hist. 31. II, ran perpetually on six days, and rested every seventh, (though it no way appears by either of their accounts that the seventh day of this river was the Jewish seventh day or sabbath,) is quite vanished, I shall add no more about it: only see Dr. Hudson's note. In Varenius's Geography, i, 17, the reader will find several instances of such periodical fountains and. rivers, though none of their periods were that of a just week as of old this appears to have been. (8) Vespasian and his two sons, Titus and Domitian. (9) See the representations of these Jewish vessels as they still stand on Titus's triumphal arch at Rome, in Reland's very curious book de Spoliis Ternpli, throughout. But what, things are chiefly to be noted are these: (1.) That Josephus says the candlestick here carried in this triumph was not thoroughly like that which was used in the temple, which appears in the number of the little knobs and flowers in that on the triumphal arch not well agreeing with Moses's description, Exodus 25:31-36. (2.) The smallness of the branches in Josephus compared with the thickness of those on that arch. (3.) That the Law or Pentateuch does not appear on that arch at all, though Josephus, an eye-witness, assures us that it was carried in this procession. All which things deserve the consideration of the inquisitive reader. (10) Spanheim observes here, that in Graceia Major and Sicily they had rue prodigiously great and durable, like this rue at Macherus, (11) This strange account of the place and root Baaras seems to have been taken from the magicians, and the root to have been made use of in the days of Josephus, in that superstitious way of casting out demons, supposed by him to have been derived from king Solomon; of which we have already seen he had a great opinion, Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 2. sect. 5. We also may hence learn the true notion Josephus had of demons and demoniacs, exactly like that of the Jews and Christians in the New Testament, and the first four centuries. See Antiq. B. I. ch. 8. sect. 2; B. XI, ch. 2. sect. 3. (12) It is very remarkable that Titus did not people this now desolate country of Judea, but ordered it to be all sold; nor indeed is it properly peopled at this day, but lies ready for its old inhabitants the Jews, at their future restoration. See Literal Accomplishment of Prophecies, p. 77. (13) That the city Emmaus, or Areindus, in Josephus and others which was the place of the government of Julius Africanus were slain, to the number of one thousand seven hundred, as were the women and the children made slaves. But as Bassus thought he must perform the covenant he had made with those that had surrendered the citadel, he let them go, and restored Eleazar to them, in the beginning of the third century, and which he then procured to be rebuilt, and after which rebuilding it was called Nicopolis, is entirely different from that Emmaus which is mentioned by St. Luke 24;13; see Reland's Paleestina, lib. II. p. 429, and under the name Ammaus also. But he justly thinks that that in St. Luke may well be the same with his Ammaus before us, especially since the Greek copies here usually make it sixty furlongs distant from Jerusalem, as does St. Luke, though the Latin copies say only thirty. The place also allotted for these eight hundred soldiers, as for a Roman garrison, in this place, would most naturally be not so remote from Jerusalem as was the other Emmaus, or Nicopolis. (14) Pliny and others confirm this strange paradox, that provisions laid up against sieges will continue good for a hundred ears, as Spanheim notes upon this place. (15) The speeches in this and the next section, as introduced under the person of this Eleazar, are exceeding remarkable, and oil the noblest subjects, the contempt of death, and the dignity and immortality of the soul; and that not only among the Jews, but among the Indians themselves also; and are highly worthy the perusal of all the curious. It seems as if that philosophic lady who survived, ch. 9. sect. 1, 2, remembered the substance of these discourses, as spoken by Eleazar, and so Josephus clothed them in his own words: at the lowest they contain the Jewish notions on these heads, as understood then by our Josephus, and cannot but deserve a suitable regard from us. (16) See B. II. ch. 20. sect. 2, where the number of the slain is but 10,000. (17) Reland here sets down a parallel aphorism of one of the Jewish Rabbins, "We are born that we may die, and die that we may live.' (18) Since Josephus here informs us that some of these Sicarii, or ruffians, went from Alexandria (which was itself in Egypt, in a large sense) into Egypt, and Thebes there situated, Reland well observes, from Vossius, that Egypt sometimes denotes Proper or Upper Egypt, as distinct from the Delta, and the lower parts near Palestine. Accordingly, as he adds, those that say it never rains in Egypt must mean the Proper or Upper Egypt, because it does sometimes rain in the other parts. See the note on Antiq. B. II. ch. 7. sect. 7, and B. III. ch. 1. sect. 6. (19) Of this temple of Onias's building in Egypt, see the notes on Antiq. B. XIII. ch. 3. sect. 1. But whereas it is elsewhere, both of the War, B. I. ch. 1. sect. 1, and in the Antiquities as now quoted, said that this temple was like to that at Jerusalem, and here that it was not like it, but like a tower, sect. 3, there is some reason to suspect the reading here, and that either the negative particle is here to be blotted out, or the word entirely added. (20) We must observe, that Josephus here speaks of Antiochus who profaned the temple as now alive, when Onias had leave given them by Philometer to build his temple; whereas it seems not to have been actually built till about fifteen years afterwards. Yet, because it is said in the Antiquities that Onias went to Philometer, B. XII. ch. 9. sect. 7, during the lifetime of that Antiochus, it is probable he petitioned, and perhaps obtained his leave then, though it were not actually built or finished till fifteen years afterward.

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