Sunday, January 16, 2011

The historian known as Flavius Josephus.

The historian known as Flavius Josephus was a Jewish priest and Pharisee, and was put in command of the national resistance in Galilee at the age of thirty, at the time of the great Jewish revolt against Rome (66-70 CE).

Josephus describes the A.D. 66-70 war in great detail, especially in his The Wars of the Jews. I will high light some of the important details but I will not go over them all because it will take to long.

Nero picked Titus Flavius Vespasian to put Israel back under Roman tribute and control. Josephus, with his last 24 men, hid in a cave and carried out a suicide pact. All but two of the men, Josephus and a companion participated and these two soon surrendered to the Romans.

Josephus managed to get the Romans to spare his life and he became a historian for the Romans of the war with Jerusalem. Although Josephus is not an inspired writer, his history can be trusted as being fairly accurate. The reason his information is so valuable is because he was NOT a Christian and had no axe to grind and was an eyewitness to the Great Tribulation.

Josephus the historian describes the A.D. 66-70 war in great detail, especially in his The Wars of the Jews. There events are important for our study. Other historian such as Titus and --also cover the wars. These historians are helpful to full in the history were the News Testament writers end.

Vespasian, in the spring of A.D. 67, advanced against a Jewish rebels. They had 60.000 soldiers. Gadara was the first target. They took it. He came into it and slew all the youth, the Romans having no mercy on any age whatsoever; and this was done our of the hatred they bore the nation” (Josephus, p 236).

Jotapata was next, the Japaha were 15, 000 Jews were destroyed and 2,130 made captives. It took longer to take Jotapata. Then Mt Gerizzim (the Samaritans had assembled their). 11, 600 were slain. Taricheae was next. 6,500 were slain, while 5,000 killed themselves by throwing themselves over precipices. Then there was the small city of Gischala. There they slew 6.000 women and children when many of the men fled and went to Jerusalem. Titus pitched camp at Scopus neat Jerusalem. The siege began April 14,70 ‘A.D.

The Romans tortured those who ventured out of the city to escape the tortures of the Jewish zealots inside”...they were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city. Every day five hundred Jews were caught some days more.... So the soldiers out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those that caught; one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of Jest; when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies” (Josephus p.410)

When others deserted the city they swallowed gold pieces for their later use, but “the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible that this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected.’ (Josephus, p. 417)

As time went on, the miseries of the Jews grew worse, and finally the Romans made an assault on the tower of Antonia (Josephus, p.420) This assault was made on July 17, 70 A.D.. The Romans once again urged the zealots to surrender so that their religious laws and sacrifices could continue, and ones again were ignored. At Caesarea, in honor of his brother Domitian’s birthday Titus punished many of the captive Jews making a total of those who died fighting the beast and who were burned to be over 2,500. The same thing was done at Berytus, in honor of his father’s birthday (Josephus, p 477)

All this occurred in Jesus’ contemporaries..