The Life of Flavius Josephus, 87–103

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. Vit. 62–86 | J. Vit. 87–103 | J. Vit. 104–121 | About This Work »

The Treachery of John

8717. But when John was come to the city of Tiberias, he persuaded the men to revolt from their fidelity to me, and to adhere to him; and many of them gladly received that invitation of his, as ever fond of innovations, and by nature disposed to changes, and delighting in seditions; 88but they were chiefly Justus and his father Pistus that were earnest for their revolt from me, and their adherence to John. But I came upon them, and prevented them; 89for a messenger had come to me from Silas, whom I had made governor of Tiberias, as I have said already, and had told me of the inclinations of the people of Tiberias, and advised me to make haste thither; for that, if I made any delay, the city would come under another’s jurisdiction. 90Upon the receipt of this letter of Silas, I took two hundred men along with me, and traveled all night, having sent before a messenger to let the people of Tiberias know that I was coming to them. 91When I came near to the city, which was early in the morning, the multitude came out to meet me, and John came with them, and saluted me, but in a most disturbed manner, as being afraid that my coming was to call him to an account for what I was now sensible he was doing. So he, in great haste, went to his lodging. 92But when I was in the open place of the city, having dismissed the guards I had about me, excepting one, and ten armed men that were with him, I attempted to make a speech to the multitude of the people of Tiberias; and standing on a certain elevated place, I entreated them not to be so hasty in their revolt; 93for that such a change in their behavior would be to their reproach, and that they would then justly be suspected by those that should be their governors hereafter, as if they were not likely to be faithful to them neither.

9418. But before I had spoken all I designed, I heard one of my own domestics bidding me come down; for that it was not a proper time to take care of retaining the good will of the people of Tiberias, but to provide for my own safety, and escape my enemies there; 95for John had chosen the most trusty of those armed men that were about him out of those thousand that he had with him, and had given them orders when he sent them to kill me, having learned that I was alone, excepting some of my domestics. 96So those that were sent came as they were ordered, and they had executed what they came about, had I not leaped down from the elevation I stood on, and with one of my guards, whose name was James, been carried [out of the crowd] upon the back of one Herod of Tiberias, and guided by him down to the lake, where I seized a ship, and got into it and escaped my enemies unexpectedly, and came to Taricheae.

9719. Now, as soon as the inhabitants of that city understood the perfidiousness of the people of Tiberias, they were greatly provoked at them. So they snatched up their arms, and desired me to be their leader against them; for they said they would avenge their commander’s cause upon them. 98They also carried the report of what had been done to me to all the Galileans, and eagerly endeavored to irritate them against the people of Tiberias, and desired that vast numbers of them would get together, and come to them, that they might act in concert with their commander, what should be determined as fit to be done. 99Accordingly, the Galileans came to me in great numbers, from all parts, with their weapons, and besought me to assault Tiberias, to take it by force, and to demolish it, till it lay even with the ground, and then to make slaves of its inhabitants, with their wives and children. Those that were Josephus’s friends also, and had escaped out of Tiberias, gave him the same advice. 100But I did not comply with them, thinking it a terrible thing to begin a civil war among them; for I thought that this contention ought not to proceed further than words; nay, I told them that it was not for their own advantage to do what they would have me to do, while the Romans expected no other than that we should destroy one another by our mutual seditions; and by saying this, I put a stop to the anger of the Galileans.

10120. But now John was afraid for himself, since his treachery had proved unsuccessful; so he took the armed men that were about him, and removed from Tiberias to Gischala, and wrote to me to apologize for himself concerning what had been done, as if it had been done without his approbation; and desired me to have no suspicion of him to his disadvantage. He also added oaths and certain horrible curses upon himself, and supposed he should be thereby believed in the points he wrote about to me.

10221. But now another great number of the Galileans came together again with their weapons, as knowing the man, how wicked and how sadly perjured he was, and desired me to lead them against him, and promised me that they would utterly destroy both him and Gischala. 103Hereupon I professed that I was obliged to them for their readiness to serve me; and that I would more than requite their good will to me. However, I entreated them to restrain themselves; and begged of them to give me leave to do what I intended, which was to put an end to these troubles without bloodshed; and when I had prevailed with the multitude of the Galileans to let me do so, I came to Sepphoris.

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