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Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century Romano-Jewish
historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the stu ...
and military leader, best known for ''
The Jewish War ''The Jewish War'' or ''Judean War'' (in full ''Flavius Josephus's Books of the History of the Jewish War against the Romans'', el, Φλαυίου Ἰωσήπου ἱστορία Ἰουδαϊκοῦ πολέμου πρὸς Ῥωμαίους ...
'', who was born in
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
—then part of
Roman Judea The Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. Each p ...
—to a father of priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry. He initially fought against the Romans during the
First Jewish–Roman War The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), sometimes called the Great Jewish Revolt ( he, המרד הגדול '), or The Jewish War, was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Isra ...
as
head Head Sport GmbH is an American-Austrian manufacturing company Manufacturing is the creation or production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in th ...

head
of Jewish forces in
Galilee Galilee (; he, הַגָּלִיל, ha-galil; ar, الجليل, al-jalīl) is a region located in northern Israel and southern Lebanon. Galilee traditionally refers to the mountainous part, divided into Upper Galilee (, ; , ) and Lower Galil ...

Galilee
, until surrendering in 67 CE to
Roman forces
Roman forces
led by
Vespasian Vespasian (; la, Vespasianus ; 17 November AD 9 – 23/24 June 79) was a Roman emperor who reigned from 69 to 79 AD. The fourth and last emperor who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors, he founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire ...

Vespasian
after the six-week
siege of Jotapata The Siege of Yodfat ( he, יוֹדְפַת, also Jotapata, Iotapata, Yodefat) was a 47-day siege by Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the peo ...
. Josephus claimed the Jewish Messianic
prophecies A prophecy is a message that is claimed by a prophet In religion, a prophet is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divinity, divine being and is said to speak on behalf of that being, serving as an intermediary with humanit ...
that initiated the First Jewish–Roman War made reference to Vespasian becoming
Emperor of Rome The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rom ...
. In response, Vespasian decided to keep Josephus as a slave and presumably interpreter. After Vespasian became Emperor in 69 CE, he granted Josephus his freedom, at which time Josephus assumed the emperor's family name of Flavius. Simon Claude Mimouni, ''Le Judaïsme ancien du VIe siècle avant notre ère au IIIe siècle de notre ère : Des prêtres aux rabbins'', Paris, P.U.F., coll. « Nouvelle Clio », 2012, . Flavius Josephus fully defected to the Roman side and was granted
Roman citizenship Citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its ...
. He became an advisor and friend of Vespasian's son
Titus Titus Caesar Vespasianus ( ; 30 December 39 – 13 September 81 AD) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles thro ...

Titus
, serving as his translator when Titus led the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Since the siege proved ineffective at stopping the Jewish revolt, the city's pillaging and the looting and destruction of
Herod's Temple The Second Temple (, '' Beit HaMikdash HaSheni'') was the Jewish holy temple, which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic n ...

Herod's Temple
(Second Temple) soon followed. Josephus recorded
Jewish history Jewish history is the history of the Jews, and their nation, Judaism, religion and Jewish culture, culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Although Judaism as a religion first appears in Greek records d ...
, with special emphasis on the first century CE and the First Jewish–Roman War (66–70 CE), including the
siege of Masada The siege of Masada was one of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War, occurring from 73 to 74 Common Era, CE on and around a large hilltop in current-day Israel. The siege is known to history via a single source, Flavius Josephus, a Je ...
. His most important works were ''
The Jewish War ''The Jewish War'' or ''Judean War'' (in full ''Flavius Josephus's Books of the History of the Jewish War against the Romans'', el, Φλαυίου Ἰωσήπου ἱστορία Ἰουδαϊκοῦ πολέμου πρὸς Ῥωμαίους ...
'' ( 75) and ''
Antiquities of the Jews ''Antiquities of the Jews'' ( la, Antiquitates Iudaicae; el, Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία, ''Ioudaikē archaiologia'') is a 20-volume historiographical work, written in Greek, by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the 13th ye ...
'' ( 94). ''The Jewish War'' recounts the Jewish revolt against Roman occupation. ''Antiquities of the Jews'' recounts the history of the world from a Jewish perspective for an ostensibly Greek and Roman audience. These works provide valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of
Early Christianity The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religi ...
. Josephus's works are the chief source next to the Bible for the history and antiquity of ancient
Palestine Palestine ( or ) most often refers to: * State of Palestine, a ''de jure'' sovereign state in the Middle East * Palestine (region), a geographical and historical region in the Middle East Palestine may also refer to: * Palestinian National Aut ...
, and provide a significant and independent extra-Biblical account of such figures as
Pontius Pilate Pontius Pilate ( ; grc-gre, Πόντιος Πιλᾶτος, ) was the fifth governor of the , serving under Emperor from the year 26/27 to 36/37 AD. He is best known for being the official who presided over and later ordered . Pilate's importan ...
,
Herod the Great Herod I (; ; grc-gre, ; c. 72 – 4 or 1 BCE), also known as Herod the Great, was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romu ...
,
John the Baptist John the Baptist ''Yohanān HaMatbil''; la, Ioannes Baptista; grc-gre, Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής, ''Iōánnēs ho baptistḗs'' or , ''Iōánnēs ho baptízōn'', or , ''Iōánnēs ho pródromos'';Wetterau, Bruce. ''World history' ...

John the Baptist
,
James the Just James the Just, or a variation of James, brother of the Lord ( la, Iacobus from he, יעקב and gr, Ἰάκωβος , can also be Anglicisation, Anglicized as "Jacob (name), Jacob"), was "a Brothers of Jesus, brother of Jesus", according to ...
, and possibly
Jesus of Nazareth Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...
.


Biography

Josephus, son of Matthias ( grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος Ματθίου παῖς, ), was born into one of Jerusalem's elite families. He was the second-born son of a
Jewish priest Kohen ( he, כֹּהֵן' Cohen, "priest", pl. Cohanim, ' "priests") is the Hebrew word for "priest", used in reference to the Aaronic Priest#Judaism, priesthood, also called Aaronides. Levite, Levitical priests or ''kohanim'' are traditional ...
. His older full-blooded brother was also, like his father, called Matthias. Their mother was an aristocratic woman who descended from the royal and formerly ruling
Hasmonean dynasty The Hasmonean dynasty ( audio
; he, חַשְׁמוֹנַאִים ''Ḥašmōnaʾīm'') was a ruling ...
. Josephus's paternal grandparents were Josephus and his wife—an unnamed Hebrew noblewoman, distant relatives of each other. Josephus's family was wealthy. He descended through his father from the priestly order of the
Jehoiarib Jehoiarib ( ''Yehōyārîḇ'', "Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of the kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah, with origins reaching at least to the early Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-ag ...
, which was the first of the 24 orders of priests in the
Temple in Jerusalem Two ancient Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during th ...
. Josephus was a descendant of the
High Priest of Israel High Priest ( he, כהן גדול ''Kohen Kohen ( he, כֹּהֵן' Cohen, "priest", pl. Cohanim, ' "priests") is the Hebrew word for "priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a ...
Jonathan Apphus Jonathan Apphus (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and th ...
. He was raised in Jerusalem and educated alongside his brother. In his mid twenties, he traveled to negotiate with Emperor
Nero Nero ( ; full name: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68) was the fifth emperor of Rome. He was Adoption in Ancient Rome, adopted by the Roman emperor Claudius at the age of 13 and s ...

Nero
for the release of some Jewish priests. Upon his return to Jerusalem, at the outbreak of the
First Jewish–Roman War The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), sometimes called the Great Jewish Revolt ( he, המרד הגדול '), or The Jewish War, was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Isra ...
, Josephus was appointed the military governor of
Galilee Galilee (; he, הַגָּלִיל, ha-galil; ar, الجليل, al-jalīl) is a region located in northern Israel and southern Lebanon. Galilee traditionally refers to the mountainous part, divided into Upper Galilee (, ; , ) and Lower Galil ...

Galilee
. His arrival in Galilee, however, was fraught with internal division: the inhabitants of
Sepphoris Sepphoris () or Zippori (; he, צִפּוֹרִי, Tzipóri; grc, Σέπφωρις, Sépphōris; ar, صفورية, Ṣaffūriya), in the past called Diocaesaraea ( grc, Διοκαισάρεια, links=no) and, during the Crusades, le Safor ...

Sepphoris
and
Tiberias Tiberias ( ; he, טְבֶרְיָה, ; ar, طبريا, Ṭabariyyā) is an Israeli city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Established around 20 Common Era, CE, it was named in honour of the List of Roman emperors, second emperor of the ...

Tiberias
opting to maintain peace with the Romans; the people of Sepphoris enlisting the help of the Roman army to protect their city,Josephus, ''
Vita Vita or VITA (plural vitae) is Latin for "life", and may refer to: * ''Vita'', the usual start to the title of a biography in Latin, by which (in a known context) the work is often referred to; frequently of a saint, then called hagiography A hag ...
'', § 67
while the people of Tiberias appealing to
King Agrippa
King Agrippa
's forces to protect them from the insurgents. Josephus also contended with John of Gischala who had also set his sight over the control of Galilee. Like Josephus, John had amassed to himself a large band of supporters from Gischala (Gush Halab) and
Gabara
Gabara
, including the support of the
Sanhedrin The Sanhedrin (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and th ...

Sanhedrin
in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Josephus fortified several towns and villages in
Lower Galilee The Lower Galilee (; ar, الجليل الأسفل, translit=Al Jalil Al Asfal) is a region within the Northern District (Israel), Northern District of Israel. The Lower Galilee is bordered by the Jezreel Valley to the south; the Upper Galilee to ...
, among which were Tiberias,
Bersabe Bersabe ();(), or Beer Sheba of the Galilee, was a Second Temple The Second Temple (, ''Bet HaMikdash, Beit HaMikdash HaSheni'') was the Temple in Jerusalem, Jewish holy temple, which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, between c. 516 BCE a ...
, Selamin, Japha, and Tarichaea, in anticipation of a Roman onslaught.Josephus, ''
Vita Vita or VITA (plural vitae) is Latin for "life", and may refer to: * ''Vita'', the usual start to the title of a biography in Latin, by which (in a known context) the work is often referred to; frequently of a saint, then called hagiography A hag ...
'', § 37
In
Upper Galilee The Upper Galilee ( he, הגליל העליון, ''HaGalil Ha'Elyon''; ar, الجليل الأعلى, ''Al Jaleel Al A'alaa'') is a geographical-political term in use since the end of the Second Temple period. It originally referred to a mountaino ...

Upper Galilee
, he fortified the towns of Jamnith,
Seph
Seph
,
Mero Mero may refer to: Places *Mero, Dominica, a small village on the west coast of Dominica *Mero River, a river in Dominica *Mero Mound Group (Diamond Bluff Site), an archeological site near Diamond Bluff, Wisconsin, in Pierce County, Wisconsin Peop ...
, and
Achabare
Achabare
, among other places. Josephus, with the Galileans under his command, managed to bring both Sepphoris and Tiberias into subjection, but was eventually forced to relinquish his hold on Sepphoris by the arrival of Roman forces under Placidus the tribune and later by
Vespasian Vespasian (; la, Vespasianus ; 17 November AD 9 – 23/24 June 79) was a Roman emperor who reigned from 69 to 79 AD. The fourth and last emperor who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors, he founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire ...

Vespasian
himself. Josephus first engaged the Roman army at a village called Garis, where he launched an attack against Sepphoris a second time, before being repulsed. At length, he resisted the Roman army in its
siege of Yodfat The Siege of Yodfat ( he, יוֹדְפַת, also Jotapata, Iotapata, Yodefat) was a 47-day siege by Roman forces of the Jewish town of Yodfat which took place in 67 CE, during the Great Revolt. Led by Roman General Vespasian Vespasian (; l ...
(Jotapata) until it fell to the Roman army in the lunar month of
Tammuz Dumuzid ( sux, 𒌉𒍣𒉺𒇻, ''Dumuzid sipad'') or Dumuzi, later known by the alternative form Tammuz,; he, תַּמּוּז, Transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: ...
, in the thirteenth year of
Nero Nero ( ; full name: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68) was the fifth emperor of Rome. He was Adoption in Ancient Rome, adopted by the Roman emperor Claudius at the age of 13 and s ...

Nero
's reign. After the Jewish garrison of Yodfat fell under siege, the Romans invaded, killing thousands; the survivors committed suicide. According to Josephus, he was trapped in a cave with 40 of his companions in July 67 CE. The Romans (commanded by Flavius Vespasian and his son Titus, both subsequently
Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Politica ...
s) asked the group to surrender, but they refused. According to Josephus's account, he suggested a method of collective suicide; they drew lots and killed each other, one by one, and Josephus happened to be one of two men that were left who surrendered to the Roman forces and became prisoners. In 69 CE, Josephus was released. According to his account, he acted as a negotiator with the defenders during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, during which time his parents were held as hostages by
Simon bar Giora Simon bar Giora (alternatively known as Simeon bar Giora or Simon ben Giora or Shimon bar Giora; died 71 CE) was the leader of one of the major Judean rebel factions during the First Jewish–Roman War The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 ...
. While being confined at Yodfat (Jotapata), Josephus claimed to have experienced a divine revelation that later led to his speech predicting Vespasian would become emperor. After the prediction came true, he was released by Vespasian, who considered his gift of prophecy to be divine. Josephus wrote that his revelation had taught him three things: that God, the creator of the Jewish people, had decided to "punish" them; that "fortune" had been given to the Romans; and that God had chosen him "to announce the things that are to come". To many Jews, such claims were simply self-serving. In 71 CE, he went to Rome in the entourage of Titus, becoming a Roman citizen and client of the ruling
Flavian dynasty The Flavian dynasty ruled the Roman Empire between AD 69 and 96, encompassing the reigns of Vespasian (69–79), and his two sons Titus (79–81) and Domitian (81–96). The Flavians rose to power during the civil war of 69, known as ...
(hence he is often referred to as Flavius Josephus). In addition to Roman citizenship, he was granted accommodation in conquered
Judaea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrolog ...
and a pension. While in Rome and under Flavian patronage, Josephus wrote all of his known works. Although he uses "Josephus", he appears to have taken the Roman
praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt:orthonym, orthonym'' is the proper nam ...
Titus and
nomen Nomen may refer to: *Nomen (Roman name) The (or simply ) was a hereditary name borne by the peoples of ancient Italy and later by the citizens of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. It was originally the name of one's (family or clan) by p ...
Flavius from his patrons.
Vespasian Vespasian (; la, Vespasianus ; 17 November AD 9 – 23/24 June 79) was a Roman emperor who reigned from 69 to 79 AD. The fourth and last emperor who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors, he founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire ...

Vespasian
arranged for Josephus to marry a captured Jewish woman, whom he later divorced. About 71 CE, Josephus married an
Alexandrian Jewish The history of the Jews in Alexandria, Egypt Egypt ( ; ar, مِصر ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia by ...
woman as his third wife. They had three sons, of whom only
Flavius Hyrcanus The gens Flavia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome. Its members are first mentioned during the last three centuries of the Roman Republic, Republic. The first of the Flavii to achieve prominence was Marcus Flavius, tribune of the plebs in 327 ...
survived childhood. Josephus later divorced his third wife. Around 75 CE, he married his fourth wife, a Greek Jewish woman from
Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology ...

Crete
, who was a member of a distinguished family. They had a happy married life and two sons,
Flavius Justus Titus Flavius Justus ( el, Τίτος Φλάβιος Ίούστος, born 76) was an aristocratic, wealthy Roman Jew. Justus was born and raised in Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder ...
and
Flavius Simonides Agrippa Titus Flavius Simonides Agrippa, also known as Titus Flavius Agrippa ( el, , flourished in the second half of 1st century & first half of 2nd century, born CE 79), and was an aristocratic, wealthy Roman Jew. Agrippa was born and raised in Rome ...
. Josephus's life story remains ambiguous. He was described by Harris in 1985 as a law-observant Jew who believed in the compatibility of
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
and
Graeco-Roman Roman Theatre of Mérida, Spain. The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco-Roman culture" or ; spelled Graeco-Roman in the Commonwealth), as understood by modern scholars and writers, refers to geographical regions and countries that cultura ...
thought, commonly referred to as
Hellenistic Judaism Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin origin c. 1400) i ...
. Before the 19th century, the scholar Nitsa Ben-Ari notes that his work was banned as those of a traitor, whose work was not to be studied or translated into Hebrew. His critics were never satisfied as to why he failed to commit suicide in Galilee, and after his capture, accepted the patronage of Romans. Mary Smallwood is one of many historians who write critically of Josephus:
osephuswas conceited, not only about his own learning, but also about the opinions held of him as commander both by the Galileans and by the Romans; he was guilty of shocking duplicity at Jotapata, saving himself by sacrifice of his companions; he was too naive to see how he stood condemned out of his own mouth for his conduct, and yet no words were too harsh when he was blackening his opponents; and after landing, however involuntarily, in the Roman camp, he turned his captivity to his own advantage, and benefited for the rest of his days from his change of side.
Author Joseph Raymond calls Josephus "the Jewish
Benedict Arnold Benedict Arnold (Brandt (1994), p. 414 June 1801) was an United States, American military officer who served during the American Revolutionary War, Revolutionary War. He fought with distinction for the American Continental Army, rising to the r ...

Benedict Arnold
" for betraying his own troops at Jotapata.


Scholarship and impact on history

The works of Josephus provide crucial information about the First Jewish-Roman War and also represent important literary source material for understanding the context of the
Dead Sea Scrolls The Dead Sea Scrolls (also the Qumran Caves Scrolls) are and religious first found in 1947 at the in what was then , near in the , on the northern shore of the . Dating back to between the and the , the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered ...

Dead Sea Scrolls
and late
Temple A temple (from the Latin ) is a building reserved for spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. Religions which erect temples include Christianity (whose temples are typically called church (building), churches), Hinduism (w ...

Temple
Judaism. Josephan scholarship in the 19th and early 20th centuries took an interest in Josephus's relationship to the sect of the
Pharisees The Pharisees (; Hebrew: ''Pərūšīm'') were a social movement and a school of thought in the Levant during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70), destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic belie ...
. It consistently portrayed him as a member of the sect and as a traitor to the Jewish nation—a view which became known as the classical concept of Josephus. In the mid-20th century a new generation of scholars challenged this view and formulated the modern concept of Josephus. They consider him a Pharisee but restore his reputation in part as patriot and a historian of some standing. In his 1991 book, Steve Mason argued that Josephus was not a Pharisee but an orthodox Aristocrat-Priest who became associated with the philosophical school of the Pharisees as a matter of deference, and not by willing association.


Impact on history and archaeology

The works of Josephus include useful material for historians about individuals, groups, customs, and geographical places. Josephus mentions that in his day there were 240 towns and villages scattered across and
Lower Galilee The Lower Galilee (; ar, الجليل الأسفل, translit=Al Jalil Al Asfal) is a region within the Northern District (Israel), Northern District of Israel. The Lower Galilee is bordered by the Jezreel Valley to the south; the Upper Galilee to ...
, some of which he names. A few of the Jewish customs named by him include the practice of hanging a
linen Linen () is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is very strong, absorbent, and dries faster than cotton. Because of these properties, linen is comfortable to wear in hot weather and is valued for use in garments. It also h ...

linen
curtain at the entrance to one's house, and the Jewish custom to partake of a 's meal around the sixth-hour of the day (at noon). He notes also that it was permissible for Jewish men to marry many wives (
polygamy Polygamy (from Greek language, Late Greek , ''polygamía'', "state of marriage to many spouses") is the practice of marriage, marrying multiple spouses. When a man is married to more than one wife at the same time, sociologists call this poly ...
). His writings provide a significant, extra-Biblical account of the post-Exilic period of the
Maccabees The Maccabees (), also spelled Machabees ( he, מַכַּבִּים ''Makabīm'' or he, מַקַבִּים, ''Maqabīm''; or ''Maccabaei''; el, Μακκαβαῖοι, ''Makkabaioi''), were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of J ...
, the dynasty, and the rise of
Herod the Great Herod I (; ; grc-gre, ; c. 72 – 4 or 1 BCE), also known as Herod the Great, was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romu ...
. He describes the
Sadducee The Sadducees (; he, צְדוּקִים ''Ṣĕdûqîm'') were a sect or group of Jews who were active in Judea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Stand ...
s, Jewish High Priests of the time,
Pharisees The Pharisees (; Hebrew: ''Pərūšīm'') were a social movement and a school of thought in the Levant during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70), destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic belie ...
and
Essenes The Essenes (; Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , ''Literal translation, lit.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), also known as Israeli Hebrew or Israeli, and generally referred to by speakers ...
, the Herodian Temple,
Quirinius Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (c. 51 BC – AD 21), also translated as Cyrenius, was a Roman aristocrat. After the banishment of the ethnarch Herod Archelaus from the tetrarchy of Judea in AD 6, Quirinius was appointed legate governor of Syr ...
' census and the
Zealots The Zealots were a political movement in 1st-century Second Temple Judaism which sought to incite the people of Judea Province to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel it from the Holy Land The Holy Land (Hebrew language, Hebrew: , la ...
, and such figures as
Pontius Pilate Pontius Pilate ( ; grc-gre, Πόντιος Πιλᾶτος, ) was the fifth governor of the , serving under Emperor from the year 26/27 to 36/37 AD. He is best known for being the official who presided over and later ordered . Pilate's importan ...
,
Herod the Great Herod I (; ; grc-gre, ; c. 72 – 4 or 1 BCE), also known as Herod the Great, was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romu ...
, Agrippa I and Agrippa II,
John the Baptist John the Baptist ''Yohanān HaMatbil''; la, Ioannes Baptista; grc-gre, Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής, ''Iōánnēs ho baptistḗs'' or , ''Iōánnēs ho baptízōn'', or , ''Iōánnēs ho pródromos'';Wetterau, Bruce. ''World history' ...

John the Baptist
, James the brother of Jesus, and
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...
. Josephus represents an important source for studies of immediate post-Temple
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
and the context of
early Christianity The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religi ...
. A careful reading of Josephus's writings and years of excavation allowed
Ehud Netzer Ehud Netzer ( he, אהוד נצר 13 May 1934 – 28 October 2010) was an Israeli architect, archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often ...
, an
archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biological, geological, ...

archaeologist
from
Hebrew University The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( he, הַאוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה הַעִבְרִית בְּיְרוּשָׁלַיִם, ''Ha-Universita ha-Ivrit bi-Yerushalayim''; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵ ...
, to discover what he considered to be the location of Herod's Tomb, after searching for 35 years. It was above aqueduct (bridge), aqueducts and pools, at a flattened desert site, halfway up the hill to the Herodium, 12 km south of Jerusalem—as described in Josephus's writings. In October 2013, archaeologists Joseph Patrich and Benjamin Arubas challenged the identification of the tomb as that of Herod. According to Patrich and Arubas, the tomb is too modest to be Herod's and has several unlikely features. Roi Porat, who replaced Netzer as excavation leader after the latter's death, stood by the identification. Josephus's writings provide the first-known source for many stories considered as Biblical history, despite not being found in the Bible or related material. These include Ishmael in Islam, Ishmael as the founder of the Arabs, the connection of Biblical terminology for race, "Semites", "Hamites" and "Japhetites" to the classical nations of the world, and the story of the
siege of Masada The siege of Masada was one of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War, occurring from 73 to 74 Common Era, CE on and around a large hilltop in current-day Israel. The siege is known to history via a single source, Flavius Josephus, a Je ...
.


Manuscripts, textual criticism, and editions

For many years, the works of Josephus were largely known in Europe only in an imperfect Latin translation from the original Greek. Only in 1544 did a version of the standard Greek text become available in French, edited by the Dutch Humanism, humanist Arnoldus Arlenius. The first English translation, by Thomas Lodge, appeared in 1602, with subsequent editions appearing throughout the 17th century. The 1544 Greek edition formed the basis of the 1732 English translation by William Whiston, which achieved enormous popularity in the English-speaking world. It was often the book—after the Bible—that Christians most frequently owned. A cross-reference apparatus for Whiston's version of Josephus and the biblical canon also exists. Whiston claimed that certain works by Josephus had a similar style to the Pauline Epistles, Epistles of St. Paul. Later editions of the Greek text include that of Benedikt Niese, who made a detailed examination of all the available manuscripts, mainly from France and Spain. Henry St. John Thackeray used Niese's version for the Loeb Classical Library edition widely used today. The standard ''editio maior'' of the various Greek manuscripts is that of Benedictus Niese, published 1885–95. The text of ''Antiquities'' is damaged in some places. In the ''Life'', Niese follows mainly manuscript P, but refers also to AMW and R. Henry St. John Thackeray for the Loeb Classical Library has a Greek text also mainly dependent on P. André Pelletier edited a new Greek text for his translation of ''Life''. The ongoing Münsteraner Josephus-Ausgabe of Münster University will provide a new critical apparatus. There also exist late Old Slavonic translations of the Greek, but these contain a large number of Christian interpolations.


Josephus's audience

Scholars debate about Josephus's intended audience. For example, ''Antiquities of the Jews'' could be written for Jews—"a few scholars from Laqueur onward have suggested that Josephus must have written primarily for fellow-Jews (if also secondarily for Gentiles). The most common motive suggested is repentance: in later life he felt so badly about the traitorous ''War'' that he needed to demonstrate … his loyalty to Jewish history, law and culture." However, Josephus's "countless incidental remarks explaining basic Judean language, customs and laws … assume a Gentile audience. He does not expect his first hearers to know anything about the laws or Judean origins." The issue of who would read this multi-volume work is unresolved. Other possible motives for writing ''Antiquities'' could be to dispel the misrepresentation of Jewish origins or as an apologetic to Greek cities of the Diaspora in order to protect Jews and to Roman authorities to garner their support for the Jews facing persecution. Neither motive explains why the proposed Gentile audience would read this large body of material.


Historiography and Josephus

In the Preface to ''Jewish Wars'', Josephus criticizes historians who misrepresent the events of the Jewish–Roman wars, Jewish–Roman War, writing that "they have a mind to demonstrate the greatness of the Romans, while they still diminish and lessen the actions of the Jews." Josephus states that his intention is to correct this method but that he "will not go to the other extreme … [and] will prosecute the actions of both parties with accuracy."''JW'' preface. 4. Josephus suggests his method will not be wholly objective by saying he will be unable to contain his lamentations in transcribing these events; to illustrate this will have little effect on his historiography, Josephus suggests, "But if any one be inflexible in his censures of me, let him attribute the facts themselves to the historical part, and the lamentations to the writer himself only." His preface to ''Antiquities'' offers his opinion early on, saying, "Upon the whole, a man that will peruse this history, may principally learn from it, that all events succeed well, even to an incredible degree, and the reward of felicity is proposed by God."''Ant.'' preface. 3. After inserting this attitude, Josephus contradicts himself: "I shall accurately describe what is contained in our records, in the order of time that belongs to them … without adding any thing to what is therein contained, or taking away any thing therefrom." He notes the difference between history and philosophy by saying, "[T]hose that read my book may wonder how it comes to pass, that my discourse, which promises an account of laws and historical facts, contains so much of philosophy." In both works, Josephus emphasizes that accuracy is crucial to historiography. Louis Feldman, Louis H. Feldman notes that in ''Wars'', Josephus commits himself to critical historiography, but in ''Antiquities'', Josephus shifts to rhetorical historiography, which was the norm of his time. Feldman notes further that it is significant that Josephus called his later work "Antiquities" (literally, archaeology) rather than history; in the Hellenistic period, archaeology meant either "history from the origins or archaic history." Thus, his title implies a Jewish peoples' history from their origins until the time he wrote. This distinction is significant to Feldman, because "in ancient times, historians were expected to write in chronological order," while "antiquarians wrote in a systematic order, proceeding topically and logically" and included all relevant material for their subject. Antiquarians moved beyond political history to include institutions and religious and private life. Josephus does offer this wider perspective in ''Antiquities''. To compare his historiography with another ancient historian, consider Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Feldman lists these similarities: "Dionysius in praising Rome and Josephus in praising Jews adopt same pattern; both often moralize and psychologize and stress piety and role of divine providence; and the parallels between … Dionysius's account of deaths of Aeneas and Romulus and Josephus's description of the death of Moses are striking."


Works

The works of Josephus are major sources of our understanding of Jewish life and history during the first century. * ( 75) ''War of the Jews'', ''
The Jewish War ''The Jewish War'' or ''Judean War'' (in full ''Flavius Josephus's Books of the History of the Jewish War against the Romans'', el, Φλαυίου Ἰωσήπου ἱστορία Ἰουδαϊκοῦ πολέμου πρὸς Ῥωμαίους ...
'', ''Jewish Wars'', or ''History of the Jewish War'' (commonly abbreviated ''JW'', ''BJ'' or ''War'') * ( 94) ''
Antiquities of the Jews ''Antiquities of the Jews'' ( la, Antiquitates Iudaicae; el, Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία, ''Ioudaikē archaiologia'') is a 20-volume historiographical work, written in Greek, by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the 13th ye ...
'', ''Jewish Antiquities'', or ''Antiquities of the Jews/Jewish Archeology'' (frequently abbreviated ''AJ'', ''AotJ'' or ''Ant.'' or ''Antiq.'') * ( 97) ''Flavius Josephus Against Apion'', ''Against Apion'', ''Contra Apionem'', or ''Against the Greeks, on the antiquity of the Jewish people'' (usually abbreviated ''CA'') * ( 99) ''The Life of Flavius Josephus'', or ''Autobiography of Flavius Josephus'' (abbreviated ''Life'' or ''Vita'')


''The Jewish War''

His first work in Rome was an account of the Jewish War, addressed to certain "upper barbarians"—usually thought to be the Jewish community in Mesopotamia—in his "paternal tongue" (''War'' I.3), arguably the Western Aramaic language. In 78 CE he finished a seven-volume account in Greek language, Greek known as the ''The Wars of the Jews, Jewish War'' (Latin ''Bellum Judaicum'' or ''De Bello Judaico''). It starts with the period of the
Maccabees The Maccabees (), also spelled Machabees ( he, מַכַּבִּים ''Makabīm'' or he, מַקַבִּים, ''Maqabīm''; or ''Maccabaei''; el, Μακκαβαῖοι, ''Makkabaioi''), were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of J ...
and concludes with accounts of the fall of
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
, and the subsequent fall of the fortresses of Herodion, Macharont and Masada and the Roman victory celebrations in Rome, the mopping-up operations, Roman military operations elsewhere in the empire and the uprising in Cyrene, Libya, Cyrene. Together with the account in his ''Life'' of some of the same events, it also provides the reader with an overview of Josephus's own part in the events since his return to Jerusalem from a brief visit to Rome in the early 60s (''Life'' 13–17). In the wake of the suppression of the Jewish revolt, Josephus would have witnessed the marches of
Titus Titus Caesar Vespasianus ( ; 30 December 39 – 13 September 81 AD) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles thro ...

Titus
's triumphant legions leading their Jewish captives, and carrying treasures from the despoiled
Temple in Jerusalem Two ancient Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during th ...
. It was against this background that Josephus wrote his ''War'', claiming to be countering anti-Judean accounts. He disputes the claim that the Jews served a defeated God and were naturally hostile to Roman civilization. Rather, he blames the Jewish War on what he calls "unrepresentative and over-zealous fanatics" among the Jews, who led the masses away from their traditional aristocratic leaders (like himself), with disastrous results. Josephus also blames some of the Roman governors of Iudaea Province, Judea, representing them as corrupt and incompetent administrators. According to Josephus, the traditional Jew was, should be, and can be a loyal and peace-loving citizen. Jews can, and historically have, accepted Rome's hegemony precisely because their faith declares that God himself gives empires their power.


''Jewish Antiquities''

The next work by Josephus is his twenty-one volume ''
Antiquities of the Jews ''Antiquities of the Jews'' ( la, Antiquitates Iudaicae; el, Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία, ''Ioudaikē archaiologia'') is a 20-volume historiographical work, written in Greek, by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the 13th ye ...
'', completed during the last year of the reign of the Emperor Flavius Domitian, around 93 or 94 CE. In expounding Jewish history, law and custom, he is entering into many philosophical debates current in Rome at that time. Again he offers an ''apologia'' for the antiquity and universal significance of the Jewish people. Josephus claims to be writing this history because he "saw that others perverted the truth of those actions in their writings,"''Ant.'' preface. 1. those writings being the history of the Jews. In terms of some of his sources for the project, Josephus says that he drew from and "interpreted out of the Hebrew Scriptures"''Ant.'' preface. 2. and that he was an eyewitness to the wars between the Jews and the Romans, which were earlier recounted in ''Jewish Wars''. He outlines Jewish history beginning with the creation, as passed down through Jewish historical tradition. Abraham taught science to the Ancient Egypt, Egyptians, who, in turn, taught the Greeks. Moses set up a senatorial priestly aristocracy, which, like that of Rome, resisted monarchy. The great figures of the Tanakh are presented as ideal philosopher-leaders. He includes an autobiographical appendix defending his conduct at the end of the war when he cooperated with the Roman forces. Louis H. Feldman outlines the difference between calling this work ''Antiquities of the Jews'' instead of ''History of the Jews''. Although Josephus says that he describes the events contained in ''Antiquities'' "in the order of time that belongs to them," Feldman argues that Josephus "aimed to organize [his] material systematically rather than chronologically" and had a scope that "ranged far beyond mere political history to political institutions, religious and private life."


''Against Apion''

Josephus's ''Against Apion'' is a two-volume defence of
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
as classical antiquity, classical religion and philosophy, stressing its antiquity, as opposed to what Josephus claimed was the relatively more recent tradition of the Greeks. Some anti-Judaic allegations ascribed by Josephus to the Greek writer Apion and myths accredited to Manetho are also addressed.


Spurious works

* (date unknown) ''Josephus's Discourse to the Greeks concerning Hades'' (spurious; adaptation of "Against Plato, on the Cause of the Universe" by Hippolytus of Rome)


See also

* Josephus on Jesus * Josephus problem – a mathematical problem named after Josephus * Josippon * Pseudo-Philo


Notes and references


Explanatory notes


Citations


General sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* () * * * * Bilde, Per. ''Flavius Josephus between Jerusalem and Rome: his life, his works and their importance''. Sheffield: JSOT, 1988. * Shaye J. D. Cohen. ''Josephus in Galilee and Rome: his vita and development as a historian''. (Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition; 8). Leiden: Brill, 1979. * Louis Feldman. "Flavius Josephus revisited: the man, his writings, and his significance". In: ''Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt'' 21.2 (1984). * Mason, Steve: ''Flavius Josephus on the Pharisees: a composition-critical study''. Leiden: Brill, 1991. * Rajak, Tessa: ''Josephus: the Historian and His Society''. 2nd ed. London: 2002. (Oxford D.Phil. thesis, 2 vols. 1974.) * ''The Josephus Trilogy'', a novel by Lion Feuchtwanger ** ''Der jüdische Krieg'' (''Josephus''), 1932 ** ''Die Söhne'' (''The Jews of Rome''), 1935 ** ''Der Tag wird kommen'' (''The day will come'', ''Josephus and the Emperor''), 1942 * '' Flavius Josephus Eyewitness to Rome's first-century conquest of Judea'', Mireille Hadas-lebel, Macmillan 1993, Simon and Schuster 2001 * ''Josephus and the New Testament: Second Edition'', by Steve Mason, Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. * ''Making History: Josephus and Historical Method'', edited by Zuleika Rodgers (Boston: Brill, 2007). * ''Josephus, the Emperors, and the City of Rome: From Hostage to Historian'', by William den Hollander (Boston: Brill, 2014). * ''Josephus, the Bible, and History'', edited by Louis H. Feldman and Gohei Hata (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1988). * ''Josephus: The Man and the Historian'', by H. St. John Thackeray (New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1967). * ''A Jew Among Romans: The Life and Legacy of Flavius Josephus'', by Frederic Raphael (New York: Pantheon Books, 2013). * ''A Companion to Josephus'', edited by Honora Chapman and Zuleika Rodgers (Oxford, 2016).


External links

; Works
PACE
Josephus: text and resources in the Project on Ancient Cultural Engagement at York University, edited by Steve Mason.
works by Flavius Josephus
at Perseus digital library – Greek (Niese) and English (Whiston) 1895 editions * * *
The Works of Flavius Josephus
at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (Whiston, lacks Loeb numbers)
'' De bello judaico''
digitized codex (1475) a
Somni
* Lecture, , June 2020. ; Other
The AHRC Reception of Josephus in Jewish Culture Project and Josephus Reception Archive

Josephus.org
G. J. Goldberg
Flavius Josephus
The Jewish History Resource Center – Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem



at livius.org

at Jewish Virtual Library {{Authority control Josephus, 1st-century historians 1st-century Jews 1st-century Romans 1st-century writers 37 births Ancient Roman antiquarians Flavii Greco-Roman military writers Hellenistic Jewish writers Hellenistic Jews Jewish apologists Jewish historians Jewish Roman (city) history Judean people Roman-era Greek historians Year of death missing Historians of Phoenicia