The Life of Flavius Josephus, 17–27

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

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War Fever

174. And now I perceived innovations were already begun, and that there were a great many very much elevated, in hopes of a revolt from the Romans. I therefore endeavored to put a stop to these tumultuous persons, and persuaded them to change their minds; and laid before their eyes against whom it was that they were going to fight, and told them that they were inferior to the Romans not only in martial skill, but also in good fortune; 18and desired them not rashly, and after the most foolish manner, to bring on the dangers of the most terrible mischiefs upon their country, upon their families, and upon themselves. 19And this I said with vehement exhortation, because I foresaw that the end of such a war would be most unfortunate to us. But I could not persuade them; for the madness of desperate men was quite too hard for me.

205. I was then afraid, lest, by inculcating these things so often, I should incur their hatred and their suspicions, as if I were of our enemies’ party, and should run into the danger of being seized by them and slain, since they were already possessed of Antonia, which was the citadel; so I retired into the inner court of the temple; 21yet did I go out of the temple again, after Manahem and the principal of the band of robbers were put to death, when I abode among the high priests and the chief of the Pharisees; 22but no small fear seized upon us when we saw the people in arms, while we ourselves knew not what we should do, and were not able to restrain the seditious. However, as the danger was directly upon us, we pretended that we were of the same opinion with them; but only advised them to be quiet for the present, and to let the enemy go away, 23still hoping that Gessius [Florus] would not be long ere he came, and that with great forces, and so put an end to these seditious proceedings.

The Sufferings of the Jews

246. But, upon his coming and fighting, he was beaten, and a great many of those that were with him fell; and this disgrace which Gessius [with Cestius] received, became the calamity of our whole nation; for those that were fond of the war were so far elevated with this success, that they had hopes of finally conquering the Romans. Of which war another occasion was ministered; which was this:— 25Those that dwelt in the neighboring cities of Syria seized upon such Jews as dwelt among them, with their wives and children, and slew them, when they had not the least occasion of complaint against them; for they did neither attempt any innovation or revolt from the Romans, nor had they given any marks of hatred or treacherous designs towards the Syrians: 26but what was done by the inhabitants of Scythopolis was the most impious and most highly criminal of all; for when the Jews, their enemies, came upon them from without, they forced the Jews that were among them to bear arms against their own countrymen, which it is unlawful for us to do; and when, by their assistance, they had joined battle with those who attacked them, and had beaten them, after that victory they forgot the assurances they had given these their fellow citizens and confederates, and slew them all; being in number many ten thousands [13,000]. 27The like miseries were undergone by those Jews that were the inhabitants of Damascus; but we have given a more accurate account of these things in the books of the Jewish war. I only mention them now, because I would demonstrate to my readers that the Jews’ war with the Romans was not voluntary, but that, for the main, they were forced by necessity to enter into it.

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