The Life of Flavius Josephus, 43–61

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. Vit. 28–42 | J. Vit. 43–61 | J. Vit. 62–86 | About This Work »

The Destruction of Gischala

4310. And this was the state Tiberias was now in; but as for Gischala, its affairs were thus:—When John, the son of Levi, saw some of the citizens much elevated upon their revolt from the Romans, he labored to restrain them; and entreated them that they would keep their allegiance to them; 44but he could not gain his purpose, although he did his endeavors to the utmost; for the neighboring people of Gadara, Gabara, and Sogana, with the Tyrians, got together a great army, and fell upon Gischala, and took Gischala by force, and set it on fire; and when they had entirely demolished it, they returned home. 45Upon which John was so enraged, that he armed all his men, and joined battle with the people forementioned; and rebuilt Gischala after a manner better than before, and fortified it with walls for its future security.

Gamala Remains Loyal to Rome

4611. But Gamala persevered in its allegiance to the Romans for the reason following:—Philip, the son of Jacimus, who was their governor under king Agrippa, had been unexpectedly preserved when the royal palace at Jerusalem had been besieged; but, as he fled away, had fallen into another danger; and that was, of being killed by Manahem, and the robbers that were with him; 47but certain Babylonians, who were of his kindred, and were then in Jerusalem, hindered the robbers from executing their design. So Philip staid there four days, and fled away on the fifth, having disguised himself with fictitious hair, that he might not be discovered; and when he was come to one of the villages to him belonging, but one that was situated at the borders of the citadel of Gamala, he sent to some of those that were under him, and commanded them to come to him; 48but God himself hindered that his intention, and this for his own advantage also; for had it not so happened, he had certainly perished; for a fever having seized upon him immediately, he wrote to Agrippa and Bernice, and gave them to one of his freedmen to carry them to Varus 49who at this time was procurator of the kingdom, which the king and his sister had intrusted him withal, while they were gone to Berytus with an intention of meeting Gessius. 50When Varus had received these letters of Philip, and had learned that he was preserved, he was very uneasy at it, as supposing that he should appear useless to the king and his sister, now Philip was come. He therefore produced the carrier of the letters before the multitude, and accused him of forging the same; and said, that he spake falsely when he related that Philip was at Jerusalem, fighting among the Jews against the Romans. So he slew him. 51And when this freedman of Philip did not return again, Philip was doubtful what should be the occasion of his stay, and sent a second messenger with letters, that he might, upon his return, inform him what had befallen the other that had been sent before, and why he tarried so long. 52Varus accused this messenger also, when he came, of telling a falsehood, and slew him; for he was puffed up by the Syrians that were at Caesarea, and had great expectations; for they said that Agrippa would be slain by the Romans for the crimes which the Jews had committed, and that he should himself take the government, as derived from their kings; for Varus was, by the confession of all, of the royal family, as being a descendant of Sohemus, who had enjoyed a tetrarchy about Libanus; 53for which reason it was that he was puffed up, and kept the letters to himself. He contrived also that the king should not meet with those writings, by guarding all the passes, lest any one should escape, and inform the king what had been done. He moreover slew many of the Jews, in order to gratify the Syrians of Caesarea. 54He had a mind also to join with the Trachonites in Batanea, and to take up arms and make an assault upon the Babylonian Jews that were at Ecbatana; for that was the name they went by. 55He therefore called to him twelve of the Jews of Caesarea, of the best character, and ordered them to go to Ecbatana, and inform their countrymen who dwelt there, That Varus hath heard that “you intend to march against the king; but, not believing that report, he hath sent us to persuade you to lay down your arms; and that this compliance will be a sign that he did well not to give credit to those that raised the report concerning you.” 56He also enjoined them to send seventy of their principal men to make a defense for them as to the accusation laid against them. So when the twelve messengers came to their countrymen at Ecbatana, and found that they had no designs of innovation at all, they persuaded them to send the seventy men also; 57who, not at all suspecting what would come, sent them accordingly. So these seventy went down to Caesarea, together with the twelve ambassadors; where Varus met them with the king’s forces, and slew them all together with the [twelve] ambassadors, and made an expedition against the Jews of Ecbatana. 58But one there was of the seventy who escaped, and made haste to inform the Jews of their coming; upon which they took their arms, with their wives and children, and retired to the citadel at Gamala, leaving their own villages full of all sorts of good things, and having many ten thousands of cattle therein. 59When Philip was informed of these things, he also came to the citadel of Gamala; and when he was come, the multitude cried aloud, and desired him to resume the government, and to make an expedition against Varus and the Syrians of Caesarea; for it was reported that they had slain the king. 60But Philip restrained their zeal, and put them in mind of the benefits the king had bestowed upon them; and told them how powerful the Romans were, and said it was not for their advantage to make war with them; and at length he prevailed with them. 61But now, when the king was acquainted with Varus’s design, which was to cut off the Jews of Caesarea, being many ten thousands, with their wives and children, and all in one day, he called to him Equiculus Modius, and sent him to be Varus’s successor, as we have elsewhere related. But still Philip kept possession of the citadel of Gamala, and of the country adjoining to it, which thereby continued in their allegiance to the Romans.

« J. Vit. 28–42 | J. Vit. 43–61 | J. Vit. 62–86 | About This Work »