The history of Flavius Josephus

AN historical sketch of the Jewish race from the Creation to A.D. 66, The Antiquities of the Jews deals with events of the greatest interest not only from an antiquarian, but also from a religious standpoint. Its author, Flavius Josephus, was himself a Jew who lived in the 1st century A.D His work is based on Biblical and non-Biblical authorities impartially; sometimes his narrative is merely a paraphrase of parts of the Old Testament; sometimes he gives us valuable information derived from other sources. His frequent inaccuracies are mainly due to his uncritical acceptance of Jewish traditions. A part of the history--that which deals with Christ--is thought to be an interpolation of a later date.

[History ]

After Philip, king of Macedon, had been treacherously slain by Pausanias, he was succeeded by his son Alexander, who, passing over the Hellespont, overcame the army of Darius, king of Persia, at Granicum. So he marched over Lydia, subdued Ionia, overran Caria and Pamphylia, and again defeated Darius at Issus. The Persian king fled into his own land and his mother, wife and children were captured. Alexander besieged and took first Tyre, and then Gaza, and next marched towards Jerusalem.

At Sapha, in full view of the city, he was met by a procession of the priests in fine linen, and a multitude of the citizens in white, the high-priest, Jaddua, being at their head in his resplendent robes. Graciously responding to the salutations of priests and people, Alexander entered Jerusalem, worshipped and sacrificed in the Temple, and then invited the people to ask what favours they pleased of him; where-upon the high-priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and pay no tribute on the seventh year. All their requests were granted, and Alexander led his army into the neighbouring cities.

Now, when Alexander was dead and his government had been divided among many, Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, by treachery seized Jerusalem, and took away many captives to Egypt and settled them there. His successor, Ptolemy Philadelphus, restored to freedom 120,000 Jews who had been kept in slavery at the instance of Aristeus, one of his most intimate friends. He also dedicated many gifts to God, and showed great friendship to the Jews in his dominions.

Other kings in Asia followed the example of Philadelphus, conferring honours on Jews who became their auxiliaries and making them citizens with privileges equal to those enjoyed by the Macedonians and Greeks. In the reign of Antiochus the Great the Jews suffered greatly while he was at war with Ptolemy Philopater, and with his son, called Epiphanes. When Antiochus had beaten Ptolemy he seized on Judea, but ultimately he made a league with Ptolemy, gave him his daughter Cleopatra to wife and yielded up to him Celesyria, Samaria, Judea and Phoenicia by way of dowry. Onias, son of Simon the Just, was then high-priest. He greatly provoked the king by neglecting to pay his taxes, so that Ptolemy threatened to settle his soldiers in Jerusalem to live on the citizens.

But Joseph, the nephew of Onias, by his wisdom brought all things right again, and entered into friendship with the king, who lent him soldiers and sent him to force the people in various cities to pay their taxes. Many who refused were slain. Joseph not only thus gathered great wealth for himself, but sent much to the king and to Cleopatra, and to powerful men at the court of Egypt. He had a son named Hyrcanus, who became noted for his ability, and crossed the Jordan with many followers; he made war successfully on the Arabians, built a magnificent stone castle, and ruled over all the region for seven years, even all the time that Seleucus was king of Syria. But when Seleucus was dead, his brother Antiochus Epiphanes took the kingdom, and Hyrcanus, seeing that Antiochus had a great army, feared he should be punished for what he had done to the Arabians. So he took his own life, Antiochus seizing his possessions.

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