The Life of Flavius Josephus, 28–42

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

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Mission to Galilee

287. So when Gessius had been beaten, as we have said already, the principal men of Jerusalem, seeing that the robbers and innovators had arms in great plenty, and fearing lest they, while they were unprovided with arms, should be in subjection to their enemies, which also came to be the case afterward,—and, being informed that all Galilee had not yet revolted from the Romans, but that some part of it was still quiet, 29they sent me and two others of the priests, who were men of excellent characters, Joazar and Judas, in order to persuade the ill men there to lay down their arms, and to teach them this lesson,—That it were better to have those arms reserved for the most courageous men that the nation had [than to be kept there]; for that it had been resolved, That those our best men should always have their arms ready against futurity; but still so, that they should wait to see what the Romans would do.

The Galilean Plot Against Sepphoris

308. When I had therefore received these instructions, I came into Galilee, and found the people of Sepphoris in no small agony about their country, by reason that the Galileans had resolved to plunder it, on account of the friendship they had with the Romans; and because they had given their right hand and made a league with Cestius Gallus, the president of Syria: 31but I delivered them all out of the fear they were in, and persuaded the multitude to deal kindly with them, and permitted them to send to those that were their own hostages with Gessius to Dora, which is a city of Phoenicia, as often as they pleased; though I still found the inhabitants of Tiberias ready to take arms, and that on the occasion following:—

Tiberias Opts for War

329. There were three factions in this city. The first was composed of men of worth and gravity; of these Julius Capellus was the head. 33Now he, as well as all his companions, Herod the son of Miarus, and Herod the son of Gamalus, and Compsus the son of Compsus (for as to Compsus’s brother Crispus, who had once been governor of the city under the great king [Agrippa], he was beyond Jordan in his own possessions); 34all these persons before named gave their advice, that the city should then continue in their allegiance to the Romans and to the king; but Pistus, who was guided by his son Justus, did not acquiesce in that resolution, otherwise he was himself naturally of a good and virtuous character: 35but the second faction was composed of the most ignoble persons, and was determined for war. 36But as for Justus, the son of Pistus, who was the head of the third faction, although he pretended to be doubtful about going to war, yet was he really desirous of innovation, as supposing that he should gain power to himself by the change of affairs. 37He therefore came into the midst of them, and endeavored to inform the multitude that “the city Tiberias had ever been a city of Galilee; and that in the days of Herod the tetrarch, who had built it, it had obtained the principal place; and that he had ordered that the city Sepphoris should be subordinate to the city Tiberias: that they had not lost this preeminence even under Agrippa the father; but had retained it until Felix was procurator of Judea; 38but he told them, that now they had been so unfortunate as to be made a present by Nero to Agrippa, junior; and that, upon Sepphoris’s submission of itself to the Romans, that was become the capital city of Galilee, and that the royal treasury and the archives were now removed from them.” 39When he had spoken these things, and a great many more against king Agrippa, in order to provoke the people to a revolt, he added, That “this was the time for them to take arms, and join with the Galileans as their confederates (whom they might command, and who would now willingly assist them, out of the hatred they bare to the people of Sepphoris; because they preserved their fidelity to the Romans), and to gather a great number of forces, in order to punish them.” 40And, as he said this, he exhorted the multitude [to go to war]; for his abilities lay in making harangues to the people, and in being too hard in his speeches for such as opposed him, though they advised what was more to their advantage, and this by his craftiness and his fallacies, for he was not unskilful in the learning of the Greeks; and in dependence on that skill it was that he undertook to write a history of these affairs, as aiming, by this way of haranguing, to disguise the truth; 41but as to this man, and how ill were his character and conduct of life, and how he and his brother were, in great measure, the authors of our destruction, I shall give the reader an account in the progress of my narration. 42So when Justus had, by his persuasions, prevailed with the citizens of Tiberias to take arms, nay, and had forced a great many so to do against their wills, he went out, and set the villages that belonged to Gadara and Hippos on fire; which villages were situated on the borders of Tiberias, and of the region of Scythopolis.

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