The Life of Flavius Josephus, 189–207

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. Vit. 174–188 | J. Vit. 189–207 | J. Vit. 208–235 | About This Work »

Josephus Told to Lay Down His Arms

18938. But the hatred that John, the son of Levi, bore to me, grew now more violent while he could not bear my prosperity with patience. So he proposed to himself, by all means possible, to make away with me: and built the walls of Gischala, which was the place of his nativity. 190He then sent his brother Simon, and Jonathan, the son of Sisenna and about a hundred armed men, to Jerusalem, to Simon, the son of Gamaliel, in order to persuade him to induce the commonalty of Jerusalem to take from me the government over the Galileans, and to give their suffrages for conferring that authority upon him. 191This Simon was of the city of Jerusalem, and of a very noble family, of the sect of the Pharisees, which are supposed to excel others in the accurate knowledge of the laws of their country. 192He was a man of great wisdom and reason, and capable of restoring public affairs by his prudence, when they were in an ill posture. He was also an old friend and companion of John; but at that time he had a difference with me. 193When therefore he had received such an exhortation, he persuaded the high priests, Ananus, and Jesus the son of Gamala, and some others of the same seditious faction, to cut me down, now I was growing so great, and not to overlook me while I was aggrandizing myself to the height of glory; and he said that it would be for the advantage of the Galileans if I were deprived of my government there. Ananus also, and his friends, desired them to make no delay about the matter, lest I should get the knowledge of what was doing too soon, and should come and make an assault upon the city with a great army. 194This was the counsel of Simon; but Ananus the high priest demonstrated to them that this was not an easy thing to be done, because many of the high priests and of the rulers of the people, bore witness that I had acted like an excellent general, and that it was the work of ill men to accuse one against whom they had nothing to say.

19539. When Simon heard Ananus say this, he desired that the messengers would conceal the thing, and not let it come among many; for that he would take care to have Josephus removed out of Galilee very quickly. So he called for John’s brother [Simon], and charged him that they should send presents to Ananus and his friends; for, as he said, they might probably, by that means, persuade them to change their minds. 196And indeed Simon did at length thus compass what he aimed at; for Ananus, and those with him, being corrupted by bribes, agreed to expel me out of Galilee, without making the rest of the citizens acquainted with what they were doing. Accordingly they resolved to send men of distinction as to their families, and of distinction as to their learning also. 197Two of these were of the populace, Jonathan and Ananias, by sect Pharisees; while the third, Jozar, was of the stock of the priests, and a Pharisee also; and Simon, the last of them, was of the youngest of the high priests. 198These had it given them in charge, that, when they were come to the multitude of the Galileans, they should ask them what was the reason of their love to me? and if they said that it was because I was born at Jerusalem, that they should reply, that they four were all born at the same place; and if they should say, it was because I was well versed in their law, they should reply, that neither were they unacquainted with the practices of their country; but if, besides these, they should say they loved me because I was a priest, they should reply, that two of these were priests also.

19940. Now, when they had given Jonathan and his companions these instructions, they gave them forty thousand [drachmae] out of the public money; 200but when they heard that there was a certain Galilean that then sojourned at Jerusalem, whose name was Jesus, who had about him a band of six hundred armed men, they sent for him, and gave him three months’ pay, and gave him orders to follow Jonathan and his companions, and be obedient to them. They also gave money to three hundred men that were citizens of Jerusalem, to maintain them all, and ordered them also to follow the ambassadors; 201and when they had complied, and were gotten ready for the march, Jonathan and his companions went out with them, having along with them John’s brother and a hundred armed men. 202The charge that was given them by those that sent them was this: That if I would voluntarily lay down my arms, they should send me alive to the city of Jerusalem: but that, in case I opposed them, they should kill me, and fear nothing; for that it was their command for them so to do. 203They also wrote to John to make all ready for fighting me, and gave orders to the inhabitants of Sepphoris, and Gabara, and Tiberias, to send auxiliaries to John.

Josephus Decides to Leave Galilee

20441. Now, as my father wrote me an account of this (for Jesus the son of Gamala, who was present in that council, a friend and companion of mine, told him of it), I was very much troubled, as discovering thereby that my fellow citizens proved so ungrateful to me, as, out of envy, to give order that I should be slain; my father earnestly pressed me also in his letter to come to him, for that he longed to see his son before he died. 205I informed my friends of these things, and that in three days’ time I should leave the country and go home. Upon hearing this, they were all very sorry, and desired me, with tears in their eyes, not to leave them to be destroyed; for so they thought they should be if I were deprived of the command over them; 206but as I did not grant their request, but was taking care of my own safety, the Galileans, out of their dread of the consequence of my departure, that they should then be at the mercy of the robbers, sent messengers over all Galilee to inform them of my resolution to leave them. 207Whereupon, as soon as they heard it, they got together in great numbers, from all parts, with their wives and children; and this they did, as it appeared to me, not more out of their affection to me, than out of their fear on their own account; for, while I staid with them, they supposed that they should suffer no harm. So they all came into the great plain, wherein I lived, the name of which was Asochis.

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