The Life of Flavius Josephus, 368–389

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. Vit. 336–367 | J. Vit. 368–389 | J. Vit. 390–406 | About This Work »

Four Thousand Men Desert John

36866. Now, when I had settled the affairs of Tiberias, and had assembled my friends as a sanhedrin, I consulted what I should do as to John: whereupon it appeared to be the opinion of all the Galileans that I should arm them all, and march against John, and punish him as the author of all the disorders that had happened. 369Yet was not I pleased with their determination; as purposing to compose these troubles without bloodshed. Upon this I exhorted them to use the utmost care to learn the names of all that were under John; 370which when they had done, and I thereby was apprised who the men were, I published an edict, wherein I offered security and my right hand to such of John’s party as had a mind to repent; and I allowed twenty days’ time to such as would take this most advantageous course for themselves. I also threatened, that unless they threw down their arms, I would burn their houses, and expose their goods to public sale. 371When the men heard of this, they were in no small disorder, and deserted John; and to the number of four thousand threw down their arms, and came to me. 372So that no others staid with John but his own citizens, and about fifteen hundred strangers that came from the metropolis of Tyre; and when John saw that he had been outwitted by my stratagem, he continued afterward in his own country, and was in great fear of me.

Josephus Takes Sepphoris

37367. But about this time it was that the people of Sepphoris grew insolent, and took up arms, out of a confidence they had in the strength of their walls, and because they saw me engaged in other affairs also. So they sent to Cestius Gallus, who was president of Syria, and desired that he would either come quickly to them, and take their city under his protection, or send them a garrison. 374Accordingly Gallus promised them to come, but did not send word when he would come; and when I had learned so much, I took the soldiers that were with me, and made an assault upon the people of Sepphoris, and took the city by force. 375The Galileans took this opportunity, as thinking they had now a proper time for showing their hatred to them, since they bore ill will to that city also. They then exerted themselves, as if they would destroy them all utterly, with those that sojourned there also. 376So they ran upon them, and set their houses on fire, as finding them without inhabitants; for the men, out of fear, ran together to the citadel. So the Galileans carried off every thing, and omitted no kind of desolation which they could bring upon their countrymen. 377When I saw this, I was exceedingly troubled at it, and commanded them to leave off, and put them in mind that it was not agreeable to piety to do such things to their countrymen: 378but since they neither would hearken to what I exhorted, nor to what I commanded them to do (for the hatred they bore to the people there was too hard for my exhortations to them), I bade those my friends, who were most faithful to me, and were about me, to give out reports, as if the Romans were falling upon the other part of the city with a great army; 379and this I did, that, by such a report being spread abroad, I might restrain the violence of the Galileans, and preserve the city of Sepphoris. And at length this stratagem had its effect; 380for, upon hearing this report, they were in fear for themselves, and so they left off plundering, and ran away; and this more especially, because they saw me, their general, do the same also; for that I might cause this report to be believed, I pretended to be in fear as well as they.—Thus were the inhabitants of Sepphoris unexpectedly preserved by this contrivance of mine.

Tiberias, Endangered, Is Delivered by Josephus

38168. Nay, indeed, Tiberias had like to have been plundered by the Galileans also upon the following occasion:—The chief men of the senate wrote to the king, and desired that he would come to them, and take possession of their city. 382The king promised to come, and wrote a letter in answer to theirs, and gave it to one of his bed chamber, whose name was Crispus, and who was by birth a Jew, to carry it to Tiberias. 383When the Galileans knew that this man carried such a letter, they caught him and brought him to me; but as soon as the whole multitude heard of it, they were enraged, and betook themselves to their arms. 384So a great many of them got together from all quarters the next day, and came to the city Asochis, where I then lodged, and made heavy clamors, and called the city of Tiberias a traitor to them, and a friend to the king; and desired leave of me to go down and utterly destroy it; for they bore the like ill will to the people of Tiberias as they did to those of Sepphoris.

38569. When I heard this, I was in doubt what to do, and hesitated by what means I might deliver Tiberias from the rage of the Galileans; for I could not deny that those of Tiberias had written to the king, and invited him to come to them; for his letters to them, in answer thereto, would fully prove the truth of that. 386So I sat a long time musing with myself, and then said to them, “I know well enough that the people of Tiberias have offended; nor shall I forbid you to plunder the city. However, such things ought to be done with discretion; for they of Tiberias have not been the only betrayers of our liberty, but many of the most eminent patriots of the Galileans, as they pretended to be, have done the same. 387Tarry therefore till I shall thoroughly find out those authors of our danger, and then you shall have them all at once under your power; with all such as you shall yourselves bring in also.” 388Upon my saying this I pacified the multitude, and they left off their anger, and went their ways; and I gave orders that he who brought the king’s letters should be put into bonds; but in a few days I pretended that I was obliged, by a necessary affair of my own, to go out of the kingdom. I then called Crispus privately, and ordered him to make the soldier that kept him drunk, and to run away to the king. 389So when Tiberias was in danger of being utterly destroyed a second time, it escaped the danger by my skillful management, and the care that I had for its preservation.

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