The Life of Flavius Josephus, 155–173

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. Vit. 132–154 | J. Vit. 155–173 | J. Vit. 174–188 | About This Work »

The Revolt of Tiberias

15532. But as for the inhabitants of the city of Tiberias, they wrote to the king, and desired him to send them forces sufficient to be a guard to their country; for that they were desirous to come over to him. This was what they wrote to him; 156but when I came to them, they desired me to build their walls, as I had promised them to do; for they had heard that the walls of Taricheae were already built. I agreed to their proposal accordingly; and when I had made preparation for the entire building, I gave order to the architects to go to work; 157but on the third day, when I was gone to Taricheae, which was thirty furlongs distant from Tiberias, it so fell out, that some Roman horsemen were discovered on their march, not far from the city, which made it to be supposed that the forces were come from the king; 158upon which they shouted, and lifted up their voices in commendations of the king, and in reproaches against me. Hereupon one came running to me, and told me what their dispositions were; and that they had resolved to revolt from me:— 159upon hearing which news I was very much alarmed; for I had already sent away my armed men from Taricheae to their own homes, because the next day was our Sabbath; for I would not have the people of Taricheae disturbed [on that day] by a multitude of soldiers; 160and indeed, whenever I sojourned at that city, I never took any particular care for a guard about my own body, because I had had frequent instances of the fidelity its inhabitants bore to me. 161I had now about me no more than seven armed men, besides some friends, and was doubtful what to do; for to send to recall my own forces I did not think proper, because the present day was almost over: and had those forces been with me, I could not take up arms on the next day, because our laws forbade us so to do, even though our necessity should be very great; 162and if I should permit the people of Taricheae and the strangers with them, to guard the city, I saw that they would not be sufficient for that purpose, and I perceived that I should be obliged to delay my assistance a great while; for I thought with myself that the forces that came from the king would prevent me, and that I should be driven out of the city. 163I considered, therefore, how to get clear of these forces by a stratagem; so I immediately placed those my friends of Taricheae, on whom I could best confide, at the gates, to watch those very carefully who went out at those gates; I also called to me the heads of families, and bade every one of them to seize upon a ship, to go on board it, and to take a master with them, and follow him to the city of Tiberias. 164I also myself went on board one of those ships, with my friends, and the seven armed men already mentioned, and sailed for Tiberias.

Josephus Quenches the Revolt

16533. But now, when the people of Tiberias perceived that there were no forces come from the king, and yet saw the whole lake full of ships, they were in fear what would become of their city, and were greatly terrified, as supposing that the ships were full of men on board; so they then changed their minds, 166and threw down their weapons, and met me with their wives and children, and made acclamations to me with great commendations; for they imagined that I did not know their former inclinations [to have been against me]; so they persuaded me to spare the city; 167but when I was come near enough, I gave order to the masters of the ships to cast anchor a good way off the land, that the people of Tiberias might not perceive that the ships had no men on board; but I went nearer to the people in one of the ships, and rebuked them for their folly, and that they were so fickle as, without any just occasion in the world, to revolt from their fidelity to me. 168However, I assured them that I would entirely forgive them for the time to come, if they would send ten of the ringleaders of the multitude to me; and when they complied readily with this proposal, and sent me the men forementioned, I put them on board a ship, and sent them away to Taricheae, and ordered them to be kept in prison.

16934. And by this stratagem it was that I gradually got all the senate of Tiberias into my power, and sent them to the city forementioned, with many of the principal men among the populace; and those not fewer in number than the other: 170but, when the multitude saw into what great miseries they had brought themselves, they desired me to punish the author of this sedition: his name was Clitus, a young man, bold and rash in his undertakings. 171Now, since I thought it not agreeable to piety to put one of my own people to death, and yet found it necessary to punish him, I ordered Levi, one of my own guards, to go to him, and cut off one of Clitus’s hands; 172but as he that was ordered to do this, was afraid to go out of the ship alone among so great a multitude, I was not willing that the timorousness of the soldier should appear to the people of Tiberias;—so I called to Clitus himself, and said to him, “Since thou deservest to lose both thine hands for thy ingratitude to me, be thou thine own executioner, lest, if thou refusest so to be, thou undergo a worse punishment.” 173And when he earnestly begged of me to spare him one of his hands, it was with difficulty that I granted it. So in order to prevent the loss of both his hands, he willingly took his sword, and cut off his own left hand; and this put an end to the sedition.

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