The Life of Flavius Josephus, 290–308

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. Vit. 276–289 | J. Vit. 290–308 | J. Vit. 309–335 | About This Work »

The Confrontation in the Proseucha

29056. Now there was one whose name was Ananias (a wicked man he was, and very mischievous); he proposed that a general religious fast should be appointed the next day for all the people, and gave order that at the same hour they should come to the same place, without any weapons, to make it manifest before God, that while they obtained His assistance, they thought all these weapons useless. 291This he said, not out of piety, but that they might catch me and my friends unarmed. Now, I was hereupon forced to comply, lest I should appear to despise a proposal that tended to piety. 292As soon, therefore, as we were gone home, Jonathan and his colleagues wrote to John to come to them in the morning, and desiring him to come with as many soldiers as he possibly could, for that they should then be able easily to get me into their hands, and to do all they desired to do.—When John had received this letter, he resolved to comply with it. 293As for myself, on the next day, I ordered two of the guards of my body, whom I esteemed the most courageous and most faithful, to hide daggers under their garments, and to go along with me, that we might defend ourselves, if any attack should be made upon us by our enemies. I also myself took my breastplate, and girded on my sword, so that it might be, as far as it was possible, concealed, and came into the Proseucha.

29457. Now Jesus, who was the ruler, commanded that they should exclude all that came with me, for he kept the door himself, and suffered none but his friends to go in. 295And while we were engaged in the duties of the day, and had betaken ourselves to our prayers, Jesus got up, and inquired of me what was become of the vessels that were taken out of the king’s palace when it was burnt down, [and] of that uncoined silver: and in whose possession they now were? This he said, in order to drive away time till John should come. 296I said that Capellus, and the ten principal men of Tiberias, had them all; and I told him that they might ask them whether I told a lie or not. And when they said they had them, he asked me, What is become of those twenty pieces of gold which thou didst receive upon the sale of a certain weight of uncoined money? 297I replied, that I had given them to those ambassadors of theirs, as a maintenance for them, when they were sent by them to Jerusalem. So Jonathan and his colleagues said that I had not done well to pay the ambassadors out of the public money. 298And when the multitude were very angry at them for this, for they perceived the wickedness of the men, I understood that a tumult was going to arise; and being desirous to provoke the people to a greater rage against the men, I said, “But if I have not done well in paying our ambassadors out of the public stock, leave off your anger at me, for I will repay the twenty pieces of gold myself.”

29958. When I had said this, Jonathan and his colleagues held their peace; but the people were still more irritated against them, upon their openly showing their unjust ill will to me. 300When Jesus saw this change in the people, he ordered them to depart, but desired the senate to stay, for that they could not examine things of such a nature in a tumult; 301and as the people were crying out that they would not leave me alone, there came one and told Jesus and his friends privately, that John and his armed men were at hand: whereupon Jonathan and his colleagues, being able to contain themselves no longer (and perhaps the providence of God hereby procuring my deliverance, for, had not this been so, I had certainly been destroyed by John), said, 302“O you people of Tiberias! leave off this inquiry about the twenty pieces of gold; for Josephus hath not deserved to die for them; but he hath deserved it by his desire of tyrannizing, and by cheating the multitude of the Galileans with his speeches, in order to gain the dominion over them.” When he had said this, they presently laid hands upon me and endeavored to kill me, 303but as soon as those that were with me saw what they did, they drew their swords, and threatened to smite them, if they offered any violence to me. The people also took up stones, and were about to throw them at Jonathan; and so they snatched me from the violence of my enemies.

Josephus Escapes by Ship

30459. But as I was gone out a little way, I was just upon meeting John, who was marching with his armed men. So I was afraid of him, and turned aside, and escaped by a narrow passage to the lake, and seized on a ship, and embarked in it, and sailed over to Taricheae. So, beyond my expectation, I escaped this danger. 305Whereupon I presently sent for the chief of the Galileans, and told them after what manner, against all faith given, I had been very near to destruction from Jonathan and his colleagues, and the people of Tiberias. 306Upon which the multitude of the Galileans were very angry, and encouraged me to delay no longer to make war upon them, but to permit them to go against John, and utterly to destroy him, as well as Jonathan and his colleagues. 307However, I restrained them, though they were in such a rage, and desired them to tarry a while, till we should be informed what orders those ambassadors that were sent by them to the city of Jerusalem should bring thence; for I told them that it was best to act according to their determination; 308whereupon they were prevailed on. At which time also, John, when the snares he had laid did not take effect, returned back to Gischala.

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