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  • JOSEPHUS' WRITINGS - LIFE OF FLAVIUS - 5
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    26. There were some bold young men of the village of Dabaritta, who observed that the wife of Ptolemy, the king's procurator, was to make a progress over the great plain with a mighty attendance, and with some horsemen that followed as a guard to them, and this out of a country that was subject to the king and queen, into the jurisdiction of the Romans; and fell upon them on a sudden, and obliged the wife of Ptolemy to fly away, and plundered all the carriages. They also came to me to Tarichese, with four mules' loading of garments, and other furniture; and the weight of the silver they brought was not small, and there were five hundred pieces of gold also. Now I had a mind to preserve these spoils for Ptolemy, who was my countryman; and it is prohibited (12) by our laws even to spoil our enemies; so I said to those that brought these spoils, that they ought to be kept, in order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with them when they came to be sold. But the young men took it very ill that they did not receive a part of those spoils for themselves, as they expected to have done; so they went among the villages in the neighborhood of Tiberias, and told the people that I was going to betray their country to the Romans, and that I used deceitful language to them, when I said, that what had been thus gotten by rapine should be kept for the rebuilding of the walls of the city of Jerusalem; although I had resolved to restore these spoils again to their former owner. And indeed they were herein not mistaken as to my intentions; for when I had gotten clear of them, I sent for two of the principal men, Dassion, and Janneus the son of Levi, persons that were among the chief friends of the king, and commanded them to take the furniture that had been plundered, and to send it to him; and I threatened that I would order them to be put to death by way of punishment, if they discovered this my command to any other person.

    27. Now, when all Galilee was filled with this rumor, that their country was about to be betrayed by me to the Romans, and when all men were exasperated against me, and ready to bring me to punishment, the inhabitants of Tarichee did also themselves suppose that what the young men said was true, and persuaded my guards and armed men to leave me when I was asleep, and to come presently to the hippodrome, in order there to take counsel against me their commander. And when they had prevailed with them, and they were gotten together, they found there a great company assembled already, who all joined in one clamor, to bring the man who was so wicked to them as to betray them, to his due punishment; and it was Jesus, the son of Sapphias, who principally set them on. He was ruler in Tiberias, a wicked man, and naturally disposed to make disturbances in matters of consequence; a seditious person he was indeed, and an innovator beyond every body else. He then took the laws of Moses into his hands, and came into the midst of the people, and said," O my fellow citizens! if you are not disposed to hate Josephus on your own account, have regard, however, to these laws of your country, which your commander-in-chief is going to betray; hate him therefore on both these accounts, and bring the man who hath acted thus insolently, to his deserved punishment."

    28. When he had said this, and the multitude had openly applauded him for what he had said, he took some of the armed men, and made haste away to the house in which I lodged, as if he would kill me immediately, while I was wholly insensible of all till this disturbance happened; and by reason of the pains I had been taking, was fallen fast asleep. But Simon, who was intrusted with the care of my body, and was the only person that stayed with me, and saw the violent incursion the citizens made upon me, awaked me, and told me of the danger I was in, and desired me to let him kill me, that I might die bravely and like a general, before my enemies came in, and forced me [to kill myself], or killed me themselves. Thus did he discourse to me; but I committed the care of my life to God, and made haste to go out to the multitude. Accordingly, I put on a black garment, and hung my sword at my neck, and went by such a different way to the hippodrome, wherein I thought none of my adversaries would meet me; so I appeared among them on the sudden, and fell down flat on the earth, and bedewed the ground with my tears: then I seemed to them all an object of compassion. And when I perceived the change that was made in the multitude, I tried to divide their opinions before the armed men should return from my house; so I granted them that I had been as wicked as they supposed me to be; but still I entreated them to let me first inform them for what use I had kept that money which arose from the plunder, and, that they might then kill me if they pleased: and upon the multitude's ordering me to speak, the armed men came upon me, and when they saw me, they ran to kill me; but when the multitude bade them hold their hands, they complied, and expected that as soon as I should own to them that I kept the money for the king, it would be looked on as a confession of my treason, and they should then be allowed to kill me.

    29. When, therefore, silence was made by the whole multitude, I spake thus to them: "O my countrymen! I refuse not to die, if justice so require. However, I am desirous to tell you the truth of this matter before I die; for as I know that this city of yours [Tarichee] was a city of great hospitality, and filled with abundance of such men as have left their own countries, and are come hither to be partakers of your fortune, whatever it be, I had a mind to build walls about it, out of this money, for which you are so angry with me, while yet it was to be expended in building your own walls." Upon my saying this, the people of Taricheae and the strangers cried out, that" they gave me thanks, and desired me to be of good courage," although the Galileans and the people of Tiberias continued in their wrath against me, insomuch that there arose a tumult among them, while some threatened to kill me, and some bade me not to regard them; but when I promised them that I would build them walls at Tiberias, and at other cities that wanted them, they gave credit to what I promised, and returned every one to his own home. So I escaped the forementioned danger, beyond all my hopes, and returned to my own house, accompanied with my friends, and twenty armed men also.

    30. However, these robbers and other authors of this tumult, who were afraid, on their own account, lest I should punish them for what they had done, took six hundred armed men, and came to the house where I abode, in order to set it on fire. When this their insult was told me, I thought it indecent for me to run away, and I resolved to expose myself to danger, and to act with some boldness; so I gave order to shut the doors, and went up into an upper room, and desired that they would send in some of their men to receive the money [from the spoils] for I told them they would then have no occasion to be angry with me; and when they had sent in one of the boldest of them all, I had him whipped severely, and I commanded that one of his hands should be cut off, and hung about his neck; and in this case was he put out to those that sent him. At which procedure of mine they were greatly affrighted, and in no small consternation, and were afraid that they should themselves be served in like manner, if they staid there; for they supposed that I had in the house more armed men than they had themselves; so they ran away immediately, while I, by the use of this stratagem, escaped this their second treacherous design against me.

    31. But there were still some that irritated the multitude against me, and said that those great men that belonged to the king ought not to be suffered to live, if they would not change their religion to the religion of those to whom they fled for safety: they spake reproachfully of them also, and said that they were wizards, and such as called in the Romans upon them. So the multitude was soon deluded by such plausible pretenses as were agreeable to their own inclinations, and were prevailed on by them. But when I was informed of this, I instructed the multitude again, that those who fled to them for refuge ought not to be persecuted: I also laughed at the allegation about witchcraft, (13) and told them that the Romans would not maintain so many ten thousand soldiers, if they could overcome their enemies by wizards. Upon my saying this, the people assented for a while; but they returned again afterwards, as irritated by some ill people against the great men; nay, they once made an assault upon the house in which they dwelt at Tarichess, in order to kill them; which, when I was informed of, I was afraid lest so horrid a crime should take effect, and nobody else would make that city their refuge any more. I therefore came myself, and some others with me, to the house where these great men lived, and locked the doors, and had a trench drawn from their house leading to the lake, and sent for a ship, and embarked therein with them, and sailed to the confines of Hippos: I also paid them the value of their horses; nor in such a flight could I have their horses brought to them. I then dismissed them, and begged of them earnestly that they would courageously bear I this distress which befell them. I was also myself I greatly displeased that I was compelled to expose those that had fled to me to go again into an enemy's country; yet did I think it more eligible that they should perish among the Romans, if it should so happen, than in the country that was under my jurisdiction. However, they escaped at length, and king Agrippa forgave them their offenses. And this was the conclusion of what concerned these men.

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