The Life of Flavius Josephus, 208–235

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

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The Subsequent Decision to Stay

20842. But wonderful it was what a dream I saw that very night; for when I had betaken myself to my bed, as grieved and disturbed at the news that had been written to me, it seemed to me, that a certain person stood by me, and said, 209“O Josephus! leave off to afflict thy soul, and put away all fear; for what now grieves thee will render thee very considerable, and in all respects most happy; for thou shalt get over not only these difficulties, but many others, with great success. However, be not cast down, but remember that thou art to fight with the Romans.” 210When I had seen this dream, I got up with an intention of going down to the plain. Now, when the whole multitude of the Galileans, among whom were the women and children, saw me, they threw themselves down upon their faces, and with tears in their eyes, besought me not to leave them exposed to their enemies, nor to go away and permit their country to be injured by them; but, 211when I did not comply with their entreaties, they compelled me to take an oath, that I would stay with them: they also cast abundance of reproaches upon the people of Jerusalem, that they would not let their country enjoy peace.

21243. When I heard this, and saw what sorrow the people were in, I was moved with compassion to them, and thought it became me to undergo the most manifest hazards for the sake of so great a multitude; so I let them know I would stay with them; and when I had given order that five thousand of them should come to me armed, and with provisions for their maintenance, I sent the rest away to their own homes; 213and, when those five thousand were come, I took them, together with three thousand of the soldiers that were with me before, and eighty horsemen, and marched to the village of Chabolo, situated in the confines of Ptolemais, and there kept my forces together, pretending to get ready to fight with Placidus, 214who was come with two cohorts of footmen, and one troop of horsemen; and was sent thither by Cestius Gallus to burn those villages of Galilee that were near Ptolemais. Upon whose casting up a bank before the city Ptolemais, I also pitched my camp at about the distance of sixty furlongs from that village; 215and now we frequently brought out our forces as if we would fight, but proceeded no further than skirmishes at a distance; for when Placidus perceived that I was earnest to come to a battle, he was afraid, and avoided it; yet did he not remove from the neighborhood of Ptolemais.

Correspondence with the Jerusalem Embassy

21644. About this time it was that Jonathan and his fellow legates came. They were sent, as we have said already, by Simon, and Ananus, the high priest; and Jonathan contrived how he might catch me by treachery; for he durst not make any attempt upon me openly. 217So he wrote me the following epistle:—“Jonathan and those that are with him, and are sent by the people of Jerusalem to Josephus, send greeting. We are sent by the principal men of Jerusalem, who have heard that John of Gischala hath laid many snares for thee, to rebuke him and to exhort him to be subject to thee hereafter. 218We are also desirous to consult with thee about our common concerns and what is fit to be done. We therefore desire thee to come to us quickly, and to bring only a few men with thee; for this village will not contain a great number of soldiers.” 219Thus it was that they wrote, as expecting one of these two things; either that I should come without armed men, and then they should have me wholly in their power: or if I came with a great number, they should judge me to be a public enemy. 220Now it was a horseman who brought the letter, a man at other times bold, and one that had served in the army under the king. It was the second hour of the night that he came, when I was feasting with my friends and the principal of the Galileans. 221This man, upon my servant’s telling me that a certain horseman of the Jewish nation was come, was called in at my command, but did not so much as salute me at all, but held out a letter, and said, “This letter is sent thee by those that are come from Jerusalem: do thou write an answer to it quickly, for I am obliged to return to them very soon.” 222Now my guests could not but wonder at the boldness of the soldier; but I desired him to sit down and sup with us; but when he refused so to do, I held the letter in my hands as I received it, and fell a-talking with my guests about other matters; 223but a few hours afterwards, I got up, and, when I had dismissed the rest to go to their beds, I bid only four of my intimate friends to stay; and ordered my servant to get some wine ready. I also opened the letter so, that nobody could perceive it; and understanding thereby presently the purport of the writing, I sealed it up again, 224and appeared as if I had not yet read it, but only held it in my hands. I ordered twenty drachmae should be given the soldier for the charges of his journey; and when he took the money, and said that he thanked me for it, I perceived that he loved money, and that he was to be caught chiefly by that means; and I said to him, “If thou wilt but drink with us, thou shalt have a drachma for every glass thou drinkest.” 225So he gladly embraced this proposal, and drank a great deal of wine, in order to get the more money, and was so drunk, that at last he could not keep the secrets he was intrusted with, but discovered them without my putting questions to him, viz., That a treacherous design was contrived against me; and that I was doomed to die by those that sent him. When I heard this, I wrote back this answer:— 226“Josephus to Jonathan, and those that are with him, sendeth greeting. Upon the information that you are come in health into Galilee, I rejoice, and this especially, because I can now resign the care of public affairs here into your hands, and return into my native country,—which is what I have desired to do a great while; 227and I confess I ought not only to come to you as far as Xaloth, but farther, and this without your commands: but I desire you to excuse me, because I cannot do it now, since I watch the motions of Placidus, who hath a mind to go up into Galilee; and this I do here at Chabolo. Do you, therefore on the receipt of this epistle, come hither to me. Fare you well.”

22845. When I had written thus, and given the letter to be carried by the soldier, I sent along with him thirty of the Galileans of the best characters, and gave them instructions to salute those ambassadors, but to say nothing else to them. I also gave orders to as many of those armed men, whom I esteemed most faithful to me, to go along with the others, every one with him whom he was to guard, lest some conversation might pass between those whom I sent and those who were with Jonathan. So those men went [to Jonathan]. 229But, when Jonathan and his partners had failed in this their first attempt, they sent me another letter, the contents whereof were as follows:—“Jonathan, and those with him, to Josephus, send greeting. We require thee to come to us to the village Gabaroth, on the third day, without any armed men, that we may hear what thou hast to lay to the charge of John [of Gischala].” 230When they had written this letter they saluted the Galileans whom I sent; and came to Japha, which was the largest village of all Galilee, and encompassed with very strong walls, and had a great number of inhabitants in it. There the multitude of men, with their wives and children, met them, and exclaimed loudly against them; and desired them to be gone, and not to envy them the advantage of an excellent commander. 231With these clamors Jonathan and his partners were greatly provoked, although they durst not show their anger openly; so they made them no answer, but went to other villages. But still the same clamors met them from all the people, who said, “Nobody should persuade them to have any other commander besides Josephus.” 232So Jonathan and his partners went away from them without success and came to Sepphoris, the greatest city of all Galilee. Now the men of that city, who inclined to the Romans in their sentiments, met them indeed, but neither praised nor reproached me, 233and when they were gone down from Sepphoris to Asochis the people of that place made a clamor against them as those of Japha had done; whereupon they were able to contain themselves no longer, but ordered the armed men that were with them to beat those that made the clamor with their clubs; and when they came to Gabara, John met them with three thousand armed men; 234but, as I understood by their letter that they had resolved to fight against me, I arose from Chabolo, with three thousand armed men also, but left in my camp one of my fastest friends, and came to Jotapata as desirous to be near them, the distance being no more than forty furlongs. Whence I wrote thus to them:— 235“If you are very desirous that I should come to you, you know there are two hundred and forty cities and villages in Galilee: I will come to any of them which you please, excepting Gabara and Gischala,—the one of which is John’s native city, and the other in confederacy and friendship with him.”

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