The Life of Flavius Josephus, 236–265

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

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Josephus’s Enemies Devise a New Plan

23646. When Jonathan and his partners had received this letter, they wrote me no more answers, but called a council of their friends together; and taking John into their consultation, they took counsel together by what means they might attack me. 237John’s opinion was, that they should write to all the cities and villages that were in Galilee; for that there must be certainly one or two persons in every one of them that were at variance with me; and that they should be invited to come, to oppose me as an enemy. He would also have them send this resolution of theirs to the city of Jerusalem, that its citizens, upon the knowledge of my being adjudged to be an enemy by the Galileans, might themselves also confirm that determination. He said also, that when this was done, even those Galileans who were well affected to me, would desert me, out of fear. 238When John had given them this counsel, what he had said was very agreeable to the rest of them. 239I was also made acquainted with these affairs about the third hour of the night, by the means of one Saccheus, who had belonged to them, but now deserted them and came over to me, and told me what they were about; so I perceived that no time was to be lost. 240Accordingly I gave command to Jacob, an armed man of my guard, whom I esteemed faithful to me, to take two hundred men, and to guard the passages that led from Gabara to Galilee, and to seize upon the passengers, and send them to me, especially such as were caught with letters about them. 241I also sent Jeremias himself, one of my friends, with six hundred armed men, to the borders of Galilee in order to watch the roads that led from this country to the city Jerusalem; and gave him charge to lay hold of such as travelled with letters about them, to keep the men in bonds upon the place, but to send me the letters.

24247. When I had laid these commands upon them I gave them orders, and bid them take their arms and bring three days’ provision with them, and be with me the next day. I also parted those that were about me into four parts, and ordained those of them that were most faithful to me to be a guard to my body. I also set over them centurions; and commanded them to take care that not a soldier which they did not know should mingle himself among them. 243Now on the fifth day following, when I was at Gabaroth, I found the entire plain that was before the village full of armed men who were come out of Galilee to assist me; many others of the multitude also out of the village, ran along with me; 244but as soon as I had taken my place, and began to speak to them, they all made an acclamation, and called me the Benefactor and Savior of the country; and when I had made them my acknowledgments, and thanked them [for their affection to me], I also advised them to fight with nobody, nor to spoil the country, but to pitch their tents in the plain, and be content with their sustenance they had brought with them; for I told them that I had a mind to compose these troubles without shedding any blood. 245Now it came to pass that on the very same day those who were sent by John with letters, fell among the guards whom I had appointed to watch the roads; so the men were themselves kept upon the place, as my orders were; but I got the letters which were full of reproaches and lies; and I intended to fall upon these men, without saying a word of these matters to any body.

Josephus Addresses the Legates Before the Multitude

24648. Now, as soon as Jonathan and his companions heard of my coming, they took all their own friends, and John with them, and retired to the house of Jesus, which indeed was a large castle, and no way unlike a citadel; so they privately led a band of armed men therein, and shut all the other doors but one, which they kept open, and they expected that I should come out of the road to them, to salute them; 247and indeed they had given orders to the armed men, that when I came they should let nobody besides me come in, but should exclude others; as supposing that, by this means, they should easily get me under their power: but they were deceived in their expectation, 248for I perceived what snares they had laid for me. Now as soon as I was got off my journey, I took up my lodgings over against them, and pretended to be asleep; 249so Jonathan and his party, thinking that I was really asleep and at rest, made haste to go down into the plain to persuade the people that I was an ill governor: 250but the matter proved otherwise; for upon their appearance, there was a cry made by the Galileans immediately, declaring their good opinion of me as their governor; and they made a clamor against Jonathan and his partners for coming to them when they had suffered no harm, and as though they would overturn their happy settlement; and desired them by all means to go back again, for that they would never be persuaded to have any other to rule over them but myself. 251When I heard of this, I did not fear to go down into the midst of them; I went therefore myself down presently, to hear what Jonathan and his companions said. As soon as I appeared, there was immediately an acclamation made to me by the whole multitude, and a cry in my commendation by them, who confessed their thanks was owing to me for my good government of them.

25249. When Jonathan and his companions heard this, they were in fear of their own lives, and in danger lest they should be assaulted by the Galileans on my account; so they contrived how they might run away; but as they were not able to get off, for I desired them to stay, they looked down with concern at my words to them. 253I ordered, therefore, the multitude to restrain entirely their acclamations, and placed the most faithful of my armed men upon the avenues, to be a guard to us; lest John should unexpectedly fall upon us; and I encouraged the Galileans to take their weapons, lest they should be disturbed at their enemies, if any sudden insult should be made upon them; and then, 254in the first place, I put Jonathan and his partners in mind of their [former] letter, and after what manner they had written to me, and declared they were sent by the common consent of the people of Jerusalem, to make up the differences I had with John, and how they had desired me to come to them; 255and as I spake thus, I publicly showed that letter they had written, till they could not at all deny what they had done, the letter itself convicting them. 256I then said, “O Jonathan! and you that are sent with him as his colleagues, if I were to be judged as to my behavior, compared with that of John’s, and had brought no more than two or three witnesses, good men and true, it is plain you had been forced, upon the examination of their characters beforehand, to discharge the accusations: 257that, therefore, you may be informed that I have acted well in the affairs of Galilee, I think three witnesses too few to be brought by a man that hath done as he ought to do; so I gave you all these for witnesses. 258Inquire of them how I have lived, and whether I have not behaved myself with all decency, and after a virtuous manner among them. And I further conjure you, O Galileans! to hide no part of the truth, but to speak before these men as before judges, whether I have in any thing acted otherwise than well.”

25950. While I was thus speaking, the united voices of all the people joined together, and called me their Benefactor and Savior, and attested to my former behavior, and exhorted me to continue so to do hereafter; and they all said, upon their oaths, that their wives had been preserved free from injuries, and that no one had ever been aggrieved by me. 260After this, I read to the Galileans two of those epistles which had been sent by Jonathan and his colleagues, and which those whom I had appointed to guard the road had taken, and sent to me. These were full of reproaches and of lies, as if I had acted more like a tyrant than a governor against them; 261with many other things besides therein contained, which were no better indeed than impudent falsities. I also informed the multitude how I came by these letters, and that those who carried them delivered them up voluntarily; for I was not willing that my enemies should know any thing of the guards I had set, lest they should be afraid, and leave off writing hereafter.

Josephus Attempts to Restrain the Multitude; He Departs for Sogane

26251. When the multitude heard these things, they were greatly provoked at Jonathan and his colleagues that were with him, and were going to attack them, and kill them; and this they had certainly done, unless I had restrained the anger of the Galileans, and said, that “I forgave Jonathan and his colleagues what was past, if they would repent, and go to their own country and tell those who sent them the truth, as to my conduct.” 263When I had said this, I let them go, although I knew they would do nothing of what they had promised. But the multitude were very much enraged against them, and entreated me to give them leave to punish them for their insolence; 264yet did I try all methods to persuade them to spare the men; for I knew that every instance of sedition was pernicious to the public welfare. But the multitude was too angry with them to be dissuaded; and all of them went immediately to the house in which Jonathan and his colleagues abode. 265However, when I perceived that their rage could not be restrained, I got on horseback, and ordered the multitude to follow me to the village Sogane, which was twenty furlongs off Gabara; and by using this stratagem, I so managed myself, as not to appear to begin a civil war amongst them.

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