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Josephus, Encyclopaedia Judaica, V. 11 (Ja-Kas)

Josephus, Encyclopaedia Judaica, V. 11 (Ja-Kas)

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JOSEPHUSFLAVIUS(c.37-after100C.E.),Jewishhisto-rianandoneofthechiefrepresentativesofJewish-Hellenis-ticliterature.
BIOGRAPHY
EarlyLifeBorninJerusalemintoanaristocraticpriestlyfamilybelong-ingtothe
mishmeret
of[ehoiarib,throughhismotherJo-sephuswasrelatedtotheHasmoneandynasty.Josephusre-latesofhimselfthatinhisyouthhewassorenownedforhisknowledgeoftheTorahthathighpriestsandleadingmenofthecitywouldcometoconsulthimonmattersof
halakhah,
andhewasapparentlydistinguishedinhisyouthasanagga-dist.Atallevents,hewascertainlynotignorantoftheTorah,asmanyscholarshavemaintained.Fromtheageof16hespentthreeyearswithacertainBannus,whoappearstohavebeenamemberofoneofthemanycontemporarysects(butnotnee-essarilyan"Essene),wholivedanasceticlifeinthewilderness,woreclothesmadeofleaves,fedonwildherbs-likeJohntheBaptist(Matt.3:4)-andmadeablutionsinthemorningandevening.In64C.E.,attheageof26,JosephuswassentonamissiontoRometosecurethereleaseofsomepriestswhohadbeenseizedanddeliveredtoRomebytheprocurator*Felixtorenderanaccounttotheemperorforsomeoffensetheyhadcommitted.JosephuswasprobablyselectedforthismissionbecauseofhisknowledgeofGreek.WiththehelpoftheJew-ishactorAliturusheobtainedanintroductiontotheempress*PoppaeaSabina;hiseffortswerecrownedwithsuccessandthepriestswerereleased.ThevisithadaprofoundeffectonJosephus,Romemakinganindelibleimpressiononhim.AsCommanderofGalileeDuringtheJewishWarAttheoutbreakoftheJewishWar(66C.E.),Josephuswasap-pointedcommanderofGalilee,whichwasprobablythemostimportantmilitaryassignmentduringthefirststageofthewar.DespitethisheseemstohavebelongedtothemoderatepartythathadgainedcontrolafterthevictoryoverCestius"Gallus,anditwashopedthathewouldexerthisinfluenceatacriticaljuncturetoachieveacompromisesettlement.Simeonb.GamalielcouldhavefoundnoonemoresuitableforthispurposethanJosephus,sincethelatterwasquitecapableofoutwittinghisrivalsuntilanopportunemomentarrivedtoworkforpeace.However,itremainsuncertainwhetherJohnofGiscalawasactuallyoustedfromtheleadershipinGali-leeonexplicitinstructionsfromJerusalemandoverallcom-mandgiventoJosephusbytheSanhedrin,sincehisaccountofhisoperationsinGalilee(containedinthe
Life)
isextremelyvague,andgivestheimpressionthatheconcealsmorethanhereveals.Josephusmayhaveactedonhisownresponsibil-itywhenhesoughttosupersedeJohn.InanycasethereisnojustificationforthetheorythatJosephuswasneversenttoGalileebutseizedcontrolthereagainstthewishesoftheSan-hedrinevenbeforetheoutbreakoftherevolt.InfactJosephusseemstohavecometoGalileeonlyafterCestiusGallus'defeat,whichmarkedthebeginningoftherevolt.ENCYCLOPAEDIAJUDAICA,
SecondEdition,Volume
11
JOSEPHUSFLAVIUS
ThepositionoftheSanhedrin'senvoywasadifficultone,sincethelocalGalileanleadershadnowishtoacceptamanwhohadbeenappointedoverthembythecentralauthor-ityinJerusalem.Becauseofthistherewascontinuousstrife,andclashestookplacebetweenJosephusandJohnandhisGalileansupporters.JohnfailedinhisattempttoinducetheSanhedrintorecallJosephus,andtheconflictinGalileeper-sisteduntilthearrivalof*Vespasianinthespringof67C.E.Thecountry,unpreparedforhostilities,waswhollyunabletowageanoffensivewar.Thecities,whichJosephusclaimedtohavefortified,wereisolatedfromoneanotherandcouldonlydefendthemselvessingly,withoutanycohesionorplan.ThedecisivebattletookplacearoundthecityofIotapata,towhichJosephushadretiredandwhichresistedforsixweeks.WhenthecityfellonTammuz1,67,Josephusfledwith40mentoacave.Thereeachmanresolvedtoslayhisneighborratherthanbetakencaptivebytheenemy.Josephusartfullycastthelots,deceitfullymanagingtobeoneofthetwolastmenleftaliveandthenpersuadedhiscompaniontogooutwithhimandsurrendertotheRomans.Josephus'"Prophecy"RegardingVespasianJosephusrelatesthatwhenheappearedbeforeVespasianheforetoldthegreatnessinstorefortheRomancommander,whosparedhislife,bindinghiminchainsonly.Thisisaverysurprisingaccount,fortheTalmudtellsasimilarstoryexceptthattheretheprophecywasmadebyR."[ohananb.Zakkai.Infact,thereissomesubstanceinbothaccounts.Presum-ablyundernocircumstanceswouldJosephushavedaredsobrazenlytomisrepresentthetruthhadthestorybeenacom-pletefabrication,sinceThe
JewishWar
waswrittenunderthepatronageoftheemperoranditscontentssanctionedbytheimperialdynasty.Theemperorwouldhardlyhaveassentedtotheaccounthaditnotcontainedanucleusoftruth,whichledhimtoacceptthefictitiouselementinthestoryaswell.Theprimaryfabricationwasthatthe"prophecy"wasnotmadebyJosephuswhenheappearedasacaptivebeforeVespasian,whoreceivedtherebelcommanderasaprisonerofwarpunishablewithdeath.
It
wasapparentlyVespasian'sintentiontohavehimtakentoRomeandtheretoexecutehimduringhistriumph,ashelaterdidto"Simeonb.Giora.JosephuswasheldprisonerintheRomancampforthedurationofVespasian'scampaignuntilthenewswasreceivedofNero'sdeath(68C.E.).Thisin-formationundoubtedlycausedastirinVespasian'scamptoo,andthefermentincreasedgreatlywhenwordwasheardofthedeathofGalba(69C.E.),whohadbeenproclaimedemperor.Theofficersandtroopsbegantoentertaintheideaofappoint-inganemperoroftheirown.HisExploitationofCircumstancesSurroundingNero'sDeathJosephuswasdeterminedtoexploitthisnewstateofaffairstohisownadvantage,shrewdlyperceivingitasanopportunityforobtaininghisfreedom-andperhapsevenmore-ifonlyhewasabletomakeproperuseofthefavorableturnofevents.Hewasfullyawareoftheprophecy,whichwaswidespreadin435
 
JOSEPHUSFLAVIUS
Judeaandthroughouttheeast,thattheruleroftheworldwasdestinedtocomeforthfromJudea.AnechoofitevenreachedtheRomans.Thebasisoftheprophecywasundoubtedlymes-sianic,andJosephus,whenmentioningitin
TheJewishWar,
addsthattheZealotsinterpreteditasreferringtotheMessiah.ItwasthenthatJosephus,havingdecidedtomakeuseofthebelieftogainhisfreedom,gaveitaddedforcebydilatingontheprophecy.ToconvincetheRomans,Josephusattributedtohimselfthequalitiesofadiviner,whichgavegreatencourage-menttothesoldiers.
It
maybeassertedthatJosephus'"proph-ecy"wasutteredbetween[anuary
is,
thedateofGalba'sdeath,andJuly
1,69
C.E.,
thedayonwhichVespasianwasproclaimedemperorinAlexandria,Egypt.TheroleplayedbyJosephusissomewhatsimilartothatofAgrippa
I
atthetimeofClaudius'accession,andinbothinstancestheintermediarywasrichlyrewardedbythevictor.VespasianundoubtedlylearnedofIo-sephus'shareinthepropagandaonhisbehalfand,bearingitinmind,awaitedcomingevents.WhileallthiswastakingplaceinVespasian'scamp,theconqueringarmyadvancedstillnearertoJerusalem,amovemadenecessarybytheappearanceofSimeonb.Gioraandhistroops.ThewholeofJudeawasnowtaken,exceptforJerusalemanditsimmediateenvirons.TheproximityoftheRomanarmyspreadtheknowledgeinthecityofeventsintheenemycamp.RealizingimmediatelythatVespasianwouldbe-comeemperor,R.Iohananb.Zakkaireasonedthatanewruler,confrontedashewouldbewithweightyproblems,mightbepreparedtoreachapeacefulsolution,andwouldbedisposedtobringthisprovincialwartoaspeedyconclusion.InJerusalemwithTitusWhenVespasianwasproclaimedemperoratCaesarea,Jose-phus,whowaswithhimthere,wasreleasedfromhischains.FromtherehewenttoAlexandria,andwhen"TituswasgivencommandofthearmywithorderstotakeJerusalem,Josephusaccompaniedhim.Josephustriedseveraltimestoinducetherebelstolaydowntheirarms,buttheytreatedhimwithcon-tempt,andduringoneofhisexhortationsinjuredhim.NorwashispositionanenviableoneintheRomancamp,fortheRomanssuspectedhimofbeingaspyandwouldhavekilledhimhadhenotenjoyedTitus'protection.HecontinuedtoaccompanyTitusafterthecaptureofJerusalem.WhenTituspermittedhimtoremovefromtheruinsofJerusalemwhat-everhewished,hetooka
SeferTorah.
Hisestateintheneigh-borhoodofJerusalemwasconfiscatedbyTitusandinsteadhereceivedlandinthevalleyofJezreel.FavoredbyRomanRulersandHatedbyJewsJosephuslefttosettleinRomewherehewasgrantedRomancitizenshipandapensionbytheemperor,whoallowedhimtoliveinhispalace.Heneveragainsawhisnativeland.Al-thoughgenerallyafavoriteamongthemembersofthecourtsofVespasianandTitusduringtheirlifetime,Josephus'positionvis-a-vistheJewswaswretchedintheextreme.BothinandoutsideRome,theydespisedandhatedhimforhispastandtriedtoharmhimateveryturn.Afterthesuppressionoftherevoltofthe"Zealots,whohadescapedtoCyrene,therebelsaccusedhimofhavingbeentheorganizer,butVespasianre-fusedtobelievethem.InauspiciousFamilyLifeJosephus'familylife,too,wasinauspicious.Inallhewasmar-riedfourtimes.Hisfirstwifediedduringthesiege.Thesec-ond,whomhemarriedontheadviceofVespasian,lefthim.InAlexandriahetookathirdwifewhoborehimthreechildren,ofwhomoneson,Hyrcanus,bornin
72/73C.E.,
survived.Havingdivorcedthiswife,JosephusmarriedanaristocraticwomanfromCretewhoborehimtwosons,JustusandSimo-nides-Agrippa.TheyearofIosephus'deathisunknown,butitwasprobablyafter
100
C.E.WORKS
TheJewishWar
It
isveryprobablethatJosephus'decisiontobecomethehis-torianoftheJewishWarstemmedprimarilyfromthefactthathewassubjecttotheemperor'swishesandobligedtosupporthispoliticalaims.Hishistorywasprobablythepriceexactedbytheemperorinreturnforthegrantoffreedomandprop-erty.FullyappreciatingJosephus'talents,Vespasianknewthatthefreedmancouldbeofusetohiminbothhisforeignandinternalpolicy.AftertheeventsintheeastandwestoftheRomanEmpire,thefateoftheentirestatehunginthebalanceandVespasianfoundhimselfobligedtowarnthestillpower-fulenemiesofRomethatshecoulddestroyanyfoewhoin-tendedtorenewthewar.
LOSTARAMAICVERSION.
Intheintroductionto
TheJew-ishWar
Josephusclearlymentionsthathewrotetwoversionsof"thewaroftheJewsagainsttheRomans;'first"inmyver-nacular,"thatis,inAramaic,"fortheup-countrybarbarians:'TheseweretheAramaic-speakingpeoplesinthelandsoftheParthiankingdom,principallytheJewslivinginBabylonia,who,contrarytotherebels'hopes,hadplayednoconsiderablepartinthewarbutwhowerelikelytoflocktojointhefight-ingshouldhostilitiesbreakoutafresh.Inthisversion,whichunfortunatelyhasnotbeenpreserved,JosephusundoubtedlyincludedmaterialnotfoundintheextantGreekrendering.
It
presumablyalsocontainedfactualaccountsdifferentfromthoseintheGreekversion.AtthebeginningofthecenturytheGerman-BalticscholarBehrendspublishedanancientSlavonictranslationof
TheJewishWar,
whichheclaimedwasbasedontheoriginalAramaicversion,acontention,however,withoutfoundation;nordidRobertEislersucceedinsubstan-tiatingitinhisgreatwork(seebibl.).
THEEXTANTGREEKVERSION.
TheextantGreekversion,whichwasadaptedbyJosephusfromtheAramaicwork,wasdividedintosevenbooksbytheauthorhimself.Howeveritseemsthatatfirstitwasintendedtocompriseonlysixbooks,uptothedestructionofJerusalem,asattestedbythetitle"TheCapture"
(liAWO"l<;)
giventotheworkinmostmanuscripts.TheGreekversionalsoservedtheinternalpoliticalpurposeENCYCLOPAEDIAJUDAICA,
SecondEdition,Volume
11
 
ofbolsteringthedynastywhichhadrecentlyaccededtothethrone.ThroughittheemperorsoughttoprovetotheRomanaristocracy,whodespisedtheSabinepeasantwhohadrisentoeminence,thatalthoughheandhissonswere
hominesnovi
intheRomanpolitytheirmeritwasbyfarthegreater.SinceJosephus'Greekrenderingof
TheJewishWar
wasintendedtoserveasthenewdynasty'smouthpieceinRome,VespasianandTitusconsentedtoacceptthetextoftheworkfromhimandtosanctionitscontents.ThisapprovalwasusedbyJosephusasproofthathehadtoldthetruthandonlythetruth.
PRINCIPLESPROFESSEDBYJOSEPHUSANDDEFECTSINTHEWORK.
Inhisintroductiontheauthordeclaresthathehasde-scribedthewarwithoutbias.Unlikeotherwriters,whohadnotbeeneyewitnessesofeventsandwhoseobviousintentionwastoflattercertainpersons,he,anativeofJerusalem,hadhimselffoughtagainsttheRomansaslongasresistancewaspossiblebutafterwardhadbecomereconciledtotheenemy;hencehisaccountwascredible.HisundoubtedaimwastogivehisworkapragmaticcharacterinkeepingwiththetheorydevelopedbyPolybius,inparticular,which,rejectinghistori-ography,espoused"truth"and"accuracy:'AlthoughJosephusadvocatedtheseprinciples,hecannotbesaidalwaystohaveappliedtheminpractice.Aswellasbeingsubjecttotheim-perialdynasty,hehadapersonalinterestinrevealingsomethingsandinconcealingothers,betterpassedoverinsilence.Hisownreprehensibleactionsareshroudedinobscurityorcompletelyevaded.Thereisnohintofhisincompetenceonthebattlefield,andinsteadthereisboastingbasedonobviouslies.TheRomans'methodsofwarfarearealwaysportrayedaspureandunsullied.TitusandVespasianactonlyundercon-straintforwhichtheydeservenocensure.TheyrefrainfromexcessivecrueltyandareanxioustosavetheJews,butthe"bandits"areresponsiblefordeteriorationinthesituation.TheJewishpeopledidnotwantwaratall;itwasforcedonthembythe"robbers:'Anentirelydifferentpictureofthecompleteparticipationofthewholepeople,bothmenandwomen,inthewarispresentedbytheanti-JewishTacitus,buteveryhis-toricalfactlikelytosupportthisviewisdeliberatelyomittedbyJosephus.Inonepassageonly-Titus'speechtotheZeal-ots-doeshehavetheformervoiceacommentwhichwasundoubtedlycurrent,namely,thattheJewswerealwaystheswornenemiesofRome.Amoreseriousdefectishisdistor-tionofthemessianicmovementinJudeaanditsroleinfan-ningtheflamesofwar,doubtlessanintentionalperversionofthestateofaffairsinordertorepresenttheJewishWarastheactionoflimitedcircles,withtheaimofexculpatingthenationasawholeintheeyesoftheRomanadministration.
ITSLITERARYANDHISTORIOGRAPHICVALUE.
Thesede-fectsnaturallydiminishthevalueofIosephus'workashistoryandinthisrespectitmustbetreatedwithconsiderablecau-tion.Nonethelessitmustbeemphasizedthattheexcellenceofthework,inbothitsliteraryandhistoriographicqualities,earnsitanhonorableplaceinJewishandingeneralliterature.Itsliteraryskillisconsiderable:thedescriptionsareepicinENCYCLOPAEDIAJUDAICA,
SecondEdition,Volume
11
JOSEPHUSFLAVIUS
thefullsenseoftheword,scenesareplasticallyandimpres-sivelyportrayed,thehorrorsandthevastspectacleofwararegraphicallydepicted,culminatinginonegreatpanoramawiththedestructionofJerusalemandtheburningoftheTemple.Muchof
TheJewishWar
derivesfromtheauthor'spersonalobservation.Thisisespeciallytrueofthedescriptionoftheactualsiege.Josephusnotedeverythinghesaw,andinaddi-tionmadeuseofevidenceobtainedfromthosewhodefectedtoTitus'camp.Thesedetailshaveadocumentaryorsemi-documentaryvalue.GreatsignificanceattachesalsotosomedescriptionsofthewarwhicharealmostcertainlybasedonRomanmilitaryreports,theirRomanoriginbeingapparentintheirstyle,whichisconcise,dry,anddevoidofallrhetoricalembellish-ment.OfficialmaterialonthestationingofRomangarrisonsthroughoutthekingdomcanbediscernedinAgrippasgreatspeech.Inthispassage,Josephusapparentlyusedanofficialdocumentmadeaccessibletohimfromtheimperialarchives:thespeechisaremarkablyferventrecapitulationofofficialpropagandabyalackeyofthelordoftheRomanEmpire.Inaddition,JosephusmadeuseofworkscompiledbyotherwritersontheJewishWar.Thebookisconstructedinthreesections,withtheaccountofthewarastheprincipal,centralone.ThefirstsectionopenswiththeeventsthatprecededtherevoltoftheMaccabeansandcontinueswithadescriptionofthehistoryoftheHasmoneanandHerodiandynastiesuptotheoutbreakoftheJewishWar(bk.
1
ndabouthalfofbk.
2).
Thesecondsectionrecountsvariousepisodesofthewar,suchasthesiegeof*MasadaandthefinaldeathagoniesoftheJewishpeople'sopposition,aswellasseveralimportantdetailsaboutthekingdomoftheParthians.Josephus'sourcesforthematerialintheintroductorysectionwereaworkontheHas-moneandynastywrittenoriginallyinHebrewandNicholasof"Damascus'greatworkwhichprovidedhimwiththeinforma-tionontheHerodiandynastyrecountedinthissection.
ITSLANGUAGEANDSTYLE.
TheGreekof
TheJewishWar
isoftenexcellent,butveryprobablythestylewaslargelytheresultofpolishingbyJosephus'literaryassistants.Accordingtohisowntestimonyhisaccentwasdefective,andhisinsuffi-cientcommandofliteraryGreekisattestedbyhislargework
JewishAntiquities,
thelanguageofwhichispoor,sometimesevenlabored,largelyartificial,andmuchinferiortotheclear,flowingstyleof
TheJewishWar.
Thecarefulattentionpaidtothestyleofthislatterworkprobablyresultedfromitsofficialcharacter.
It
was,moreover,Josephus'firstproduction,theonewhichwouldgainhimaplaceintheliteraryworldinRome.Amongtheauspiciouscircumstancesoftheworkwashiscom-parativelyyouthfulagewhenhewroteit,forhewasabout
40
yearsoldwhenitwaspublished,whereashecompletedthe
Antiquities
attheageof56.Furthermorethe
Antiquities,
un-like
TheJewishWar,
waswrittenwiththeaimofenlighten-ingthenon-JewishworldaboutthenatureofJudaism,thatitmightunderstandtheextenttowhichitwasmistakeninitsjudgmentoftheJewishpeople.437

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