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Josephus by Norman Bentwich

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preference to the Biblical Ezra and Nehemiah, probably because a
Hellenistic guide whom he had before him did likewise. It is clear that
he based his paraphrase on the Greek text. His chronicle therefore
differs considerably from that given in our Scripture, and on one point
he differs from his guide. For while Esdras represents Artaxerxes as the
king under whom the Temple was rebuilt, Josephus, relying on a fuller
knowledge of Persian history, derived probably from Nicholas of
Damascus, substitutes Cambyses.[1] Our Greek version of Esdras I is
unfortunately not complete, but the book, differing from that included
in the Bible, must have originally comprised an account of Nehemiah.
According to Josephus, Ezra dies before Nehemiah[2] arrives in Judea,
whereas in the canonical books they appear for a time together. He
states also that Nehemiah built houses for the poor in Jerusalem out of
his own means, an incident which has not the authority of the Bible, but
which may well have reposed on an ancient tradition. The account of the
marriage of Sanballat with the daughter of Manasseh the high Priest,
which is touched on in our Book of Nehemiah, is described more fully by
Josephus,[3] who based this account on some uncanonical source. And
following the Rabbis, who shortened the Persian epoch in order to eke
out the Jewish history over the whole period of the Persian kingdom till
the conquest of Alexander, he makes the marriage synchronize with the
reign of Philip of Macedon. Josephus was anxious to avoid a vacuum, and
by a little vague chronology and the aid of the fragmentary records of
Ezra and Nehemiah and a priestly chronicle, the few Jewish incidents
known in that tranquil, unruffled epoch are spread over three centuries.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XI. ii.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XI. v.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. XI. vii. 2.]

The episode of Esther is treated elaborately, and, following the
apocryphal version, is placed in the reign of Artaxerxes. The Greek Book
of Esther, which embroidered the Hebrew story, and is generally
attributed to the second century B.C.E., is laid under contribution as
well as the Canonical book; from it Josephus extracted long decrees of
the king and elaborate anti-Semitic denunciations of a Hellenized Haman.
He omits the incident of casting lots, and contrives to explain Purim,
by means of a Greek etymology, as derived from [Greek: phroureai], which
denotes protection. Here and there the Biblical simplicity is
elaborated: Mordecai moves from Babylon to Shushan in order to be near
Esther, and soldiers with bared axes stand round the king to secure the
observance of the law that he shall not be approached. We have some
moralizing on Haman's fall and the working of Providence ([Greek: to
theion]), which teaches that "what mischief anyone prepares against
another, he unconsciously contrives against himself." Less edifying is
the addition that "God laughed to scorn the wicked expectations of
Haman, and as He knew what the event would be, He was pleased at it, and
that night He took away the king's sleep." The Book of Esther does not
mention God: Josephus calls in directly the operation of the Divine
Power, but represents it unworthily.

With the completion of the eleventh book of the _Antiquities_, we
definitely pass away from the region of sacred history and miracles, and
find ourselves in the more spacious but more misty area of the
Hellenistic kingdom, in which Jewish affairs are only a detail set in a
larger background. Though Josephus himself does not explicitly mark the
break, the character of his work materially changes. He has come to the
end of the period when the Bible was his chief guide; he has now to
depend for the main thread on Hellenistic sources, filling in the
details when he can from some Jewish record. His function becomes
henceforth more completely that of compiler, less of translator, and his
work becomes much more valuable for us, because in great part he has the
field to himself. Although, however, the Bible paraphrase, with the
embroidery of a little tradition and comparative history and its
Romanizing reflections, which constitutes the first part of the
_Antiquities_, had not a great permanent value, for a very long period
it was accepted as the standard history of the Jewish people; and in the
pagan Greco-Roman world it appealed to a public to which both the Hebrew
Bible and the Septuagint translation were sealed books. It was written
for a special purpose and served it, doing for the Jewish early history
what Livy did for the hoary past of the Romans. If it was not a worthy
record in many parts, it was yet of great value as an antidote to the
crude fictions of the anti-Semites about the origin and the institutions
of the people of Israel, which had for some two centuries been allowed
to poison the minds of the Greek-speaking world, and had fanned the
prejudices of the Roman people against a nationality of whose history
they were ignorant and of whose laws they were contemptuous.




Josephus is the sole writer of the ancient world who has left a
connected account of the Jewish people during the post-Biblical period,
and the meagerness of his historical information is not due so much to
his own deficiencies as to the difficulty of the material. From the
period when the Scriptures closed, the affairs of the Jews had to be
extracted, for the most part, out of works dealing with the annals of
the whole of civilized humanity. With the conquest of Alexander the
Great, the Jewish people enter into the Hellenistic world, and begin to
command the attention of Hellenistic historians. They are an element in
the cosmopolis which was the ideal of the world-conqueror. At the same
time the nature of the history of their affairs vitally changes. The
continuous chronicle of their doings, which had been kept from the
Exodus out of Egypt to the Restoration from Babylon, and which was
designed to impress a religious lesson and illustrate God's working,
comes to an end; and their scribes are concerned to draw fresh lessons
from that chronicle. The religious philosophy of history is not extended
to the present. The Jews, on the other hand, chiefly engage the interest
of the Gentiles when they come into violent collision with the governing
power, or when they are involved in some war between rival Hellenistic
sovereigns. Hence their history during the two centuries following
Alexander's conquests, i.e. until the time when we again have adequate
Jewish sources, is singularly shadowy and incoherent.

Josephus was not the man to pierce the obscurity by his intuition or by
his research. Yet we must not be too critical of the want of proportion
in his writing when we remember that he was a pioneer; for it was an
original idea to piece together the stray fragments of history that
referred to his people. It has been shown that in his attempt to stretch
out the Biblical history till it can join on to the Hellenistic sources,
Josephus interposes between the account of Esther and the fall of the
Persian Empire a story of intrigue among the high priests. He there
describes the crime of the high priest John in killing his brother in
the Temple as more cruel and impious than anything done by the Greeks or
Barbarians--an expression which must have originated in a Jewish,
probably a Palestinian, authority, to whom Greek connoted cruelty. And
in the next chapter Josephus inserts the story of the Samaritan
Sanballat and the building of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim,[1]
as though these events happened at the time of Alexander's invasion of
Persia. Rabbinical chronology interposes only one generation between
Cyrus and Alexander. The Sanballat who appears in the Book of Nehemiah
is represented as anticipating the part played by the Hellenists of a
later century, and calling in the foreign invader against Judea and
Jerusalem in order to set up his own son-in-law Manasseh as high priest.
Probably, in the fashion of Jewish history, the events of a later time
were placed in the popular Midrash a few generations back and repeated.
Jewish legendary tradition is more certainly the basis of the account of
Alexander's treatment of the Jews. The Talmud has preserved similar
stories.[2] According to both records, the Macedonian conqueror did
obeisance before the high priest, who came out to ask for mercy, because
he recognized in the Jewish dignitary a figure that had appeared to him
in a dream. And when Alexander is made to revere the prophecies of
Daniel and to prefer the Jews to the Samaritans and bestow on them equal
rights with the Macedonians, the historian is simply crystallizing the
floating stories of his nation, which are parallel with those invented
by every other nation of antiquity about the Greek hero.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Neh. 13: 23.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Megillat Taanit, 3, and Yoma, 69a.]

Passing on to Alexander's successors, he has scarcely fuller or more
reliable sources. For Ptolemy's capture of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day,
when the Jews would not resist, he calls in the confirmation of a Greek
authority, Agatharchides of Cnidus. But he has to gloss over a period of
nearly a hundred years, till he can introduce the story of the
translation of the Scriptures into Greek,[1] for which he found a
copious source in the romantic history, or rather the historical
romance, now known as the Letter of Aristeas. This Hellenistic
production has come down to us intact, and therefore we can gather how
closely Josephus paraphrases his authorities. Not that he refrained
altogether from embellishment and improvement. The Aristeas of his
version, as of the original, professes that he is not a Jew, but he adds
that nevertheless he desires favor to be done to the Jews, because all
men are the work of God, and "I am sensible that He is well pleased with
all those that do good." Josephus states a large part of the story as if
it were his own narrative, but in fact it is a paraphrase throughout. He
reproduces less than half of the Letter, omitting the account of the
visit of the royal envoy to Jerusalem and the discourse of Eleazar the
high priest. For the seventy-two questions and answers, which form the
last part, he refers curious readers to his source. But he sets out at
length the description of the presents which Ptolemy sent to Jerusalem,
rejoicing in the opportunity of showing at once the splendor of the
Temple vessels and the honor paid by a Hellenistic monarch to his

[Footnote 1: Ant. XII. ii.]

From his own knowledge also, he adds a glowing eulogy, which Menedemus,
the Greek philosopher, passed on the Jewish faith. The Letter of
Aristeas says that the authors of the Septuagint translation uttered an
imprecation on any one who should alter a word of their work; Josephus
makes them invite correction,[1] adding inconsequently--if our text is
correct--that this was a wise action, "so that, when the thing was
judged to have been well done, it might continue forever."

[Footnote 1: Josephus may have used a different text of Aristeas from
that which has come down to us. Or the passage in our Aristeas may be a
later insertion introduced as a protest against Christian interpolations
in the LXX.]

Having disposed of the Aristeas incident, Josephus has to fill in the
blank between the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus (250 B.C.E.) and the
Maccabean revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes, nearly one hundred years
later, which was the next period for which he had Jewish authority. He
returns then to his Hellenistic guides and extracts the few scattered
incidents which he could find there referring to the Jewish people. But
until he comes to the reign of Antiochus, he can only snatch up some
"unconsidered trifles" of doubtful validity. Seleucus Nicator, he says,
made the Jews citizens of the cities which he built in Asia, and gave
them equal rights with the Macedonians and Greeks in Antioch. This
information he would seem to have derived from the petition which the
Jews of Antioch presented to Titus when, after the fall of Jerusalem,
the victor made his progress through Syria. The people of Antioch then
sought to obtain the curtailment of Jewish rights in the town, but Titus
refused their suit.[1] Josephus takes this opportunity of extolling the
magnanimity of the Roman conqueror, and likewise of inserting a
reference to the friendliness of Marcus Agrippa, who, on his progress
through Asia a hundred years before, had upheld the Jewish
privileges.[2] He derived this incident from Nicholas' history, and thus
contrived to eke out the obscurity of the third century B.C.E. with a
few irrelevancies.

[Footnote 1: Comp. B.J. VII. v. 3.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XIII. iii. 2.]

His material becomes a little ampler from the reign of Antiochus the
Great, because from this point the Greek historians serve him better.
Several of the modern commentators of Josephus have thought that his
authorities were Polybius and Posidonius, who wrote in Greek on the
events of the period. He cites Polybius explicitly as the author of the
statement about Ptolemy's conquest of Judea, and then reproduces two
letters of Antiochus to his generals, directing them to grant certain
privileges to his Jewish subjects as a reward for their loyal service.
We know that Polybius gave in his history an account of Jerusalem and
its Temple, and his character-sketch of Antiochus Epiphanes has been
preserved in an epitome. Josephus, however, be it noted, has only these
scanty extracts from his work. The letters are clearly derived, not from
him, but from some Hellenistic-Jewish apologist, and the passages from
Polybius, it is very probable, are extracted from some larger work.[1]
Here, as elsewhere, both facts and authorities were found in Nicholas of

[Footnote 1: Dr. Büchler (J.Q.R. iv. and R.E.J. xxxii. 179) has argued
convincingly that Josephus had not gone far afield. For the genuineness
of the Letter, comp. Willrich, Judaica, p. 51, and Büchler, Oniaden und
Tobiaden, p. 143.]

We know from Josephus himself that Nicholas had included a history of
the Seleucid Empire in his _magnum opus_. He is quoted in reference to
the sacking of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes and the victory of
Ptolemy Lathyrus over Alexander Jannaeus.[1] Josephus, indeed, several
times appends to his paragraphs about the general history a note, "as we
have elsewhere described." Some have inferred from this that he had
himself written a general history of the Seleucid epoch, but a more
critical study has shown that the tag belongs to the note of his
authority, which he embodied carelessly in his paraphrase.[2]

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIII. xii. 6.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Ant. XIV. I. 2-3; xi. I.]

Josephus supplements the Jewish references in the Seleucid history of
Nicholas by an account of the intrigues of the Tobiades and Oniades,
which reveals a Hellenistic-Jewish origin.[1] Possibly he found it in a
special chronicle of the high-priestly family, which was written by one
friendly to it, for Joseph ben Tobias is praised as "a good man and of
great magnanimity, who brought the Jews out of poverty and low condition
to one that was more splendid." The chronology here is at fault, since
at the time at which the incidents are placed both Syria and Palestine
were included in the dominion of the Seleucids; yet Tobias is
represented at the court of the Ptolemies. Josephus follows the story of
these exploits with the letters which passed between Areas, king of the
Lacedemonians, and the high priest Onias, as recorded in the First Book
of the Maccabees (ch. 12). The letters are taken out of their true
place, in order to bridge the gap between the fall of the Tobiad house
and the Maccabean rising. Areas reigned from 307-265, so that he must
have corresponded to Onias I, but Josephus places him in the time of
Onias III.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XII. iv.]

For his account of the Maccabean struggle he depends here primarily upon
the First Book of the Maccabees, which in many parts he does little more
than paraphrase. Neither the Second Book of the Maccabees nor the larger
work of Jason of Cyrene, of which it is an epitome, appears to have been
known to him. It is well-nigh certain that in writing the _Wars_ he had
no acquaintance with the Jewish historical book, but was dependent on
the less accurate and complete statement of a Hellenistic chronicle; and
in the later work, though he bases his narrative on the Greek version of
the Maccabees, and says he will give a fresh account with great
accuracy, he yet incorporates pieces of non-Jewish history from the
Greek guide without much art or skill or consistency. Thus, in the
_Wars_ he says that Antiochus Epiphanes captured Jerusalem by assault,
while in the _Antiquities_ he speaks of two captures: the first time the
city fell without fighting, the second by treachery. And while in the
Book of the Maccabees the year given for the fall of the city is 143 of
the Seleucid era, in the _Antiquities_ the final capture is dated 145[1]
of the era. He no doubt found this date in the Greek authority he was
following for the general history of Antiochus--he gives the
corresponding Greek Olympiad--and applied it to the pillage of
Jerusalem. For the story of Mattathias at Modin, which is much more
detailed than in the _Wars_, he closely follows the Book of the
Maccabees, though in the speeches he takes certain liberties, inserting,
for example, an appeal to the hope of immortality in Mattathias' address
to his sons.[2] He turns to his Greek authority for the death of
Antiochus, and controverts Polybius, who ascribes the king's distemper
to his sacrilegious desire to plunder a temple of Diana in Persia.
Josephus, with a touch of patriotism and an unusual disregard of the
feelings of his patrons, who can hardly have liked the implied parallel,
says it is surely more probable that he lost his life because of his
pillage of the Jewish Temple. In confirmation of his theory he appeals
to the materialistic morality of his audience, arguing that the king
surely would not be punished for a wicked intention that was not
successful. He states also that Judas was high priest for three years,
which is not supported by the Jewish record;[3] and he passes over the
miracle of the oil at the dedication of the Temple, and ascribes the
name of the feast to the fact that light appeared to the Jews. The
celebration of Hanukkah as the feast of lights is of Babylonian-Jewish
origin, and was only instituted shortly before the destruction of the

[Footnote 1: Ant. XII. v. 3.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XIII. vi. 3.]

[Footnote 3: In his own list of high priests at the end of the work, the
name of Judas does not appear.]

[Footnote 4: Comp. Krauss, R.E.J. xxx. 32.]

His use of the Book of the Maccabees stops short at the end of chapter
xii. He presumably did not know of the last two chapters of our text,
which contain the history of Simon, and probably were translated later.
Otherwise we cannot explain his dismissal, in one line, of the league
that Simon made with the Romans.[1] The incident is dwelt on in the
extant version of the First Book of the Maccabees, and Josephus would
surely not have omitted a syllable of so propitious an event, had he
possessed knowledge of it. On the other hand, he inserts into the
history of the Maccabean brothers an account of the foundation of a
Temple by Onias V in Leontopolis,[2] in the Delta of Egypt, and
describes at length the negotiations that led up to it;[3] and in the
same connection he narrates a feud between the Jewish and Samaritan
communities at Alexandria in the days of Ptolemy Philometor. From these
indications it has been inferred that he had before him the work of a
Hellenistic-Jewish historian interested in Egypt--the collection of
Alexander Polyhistor suggests that there were several such at the
time--while for the exploits of the later Maccabees he relied on the
chronicle of John Hyrcanus the son of Simon, which is referred to in the
Book of the Maccabees,[4] but has not come down to us,

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIII. vii. 3.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XII. ix. 7. The ruins of the Temple were unearthed a
few years ago by Professor Flinders Petrie.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. XIII. iii.]

[Footnote 4: I Macc, xvi, 23.]

From this period onwards till the end of the _Antiquities_, Josephus had
no longer any considerable Jewish document to guide him, nor have we any
Jewish history by which to check him. For an era of two hundred years he
was more completely dependent on Greek sources, and it is just in this
part of the work where he is most valuable or, we should rather say,
indispensable. Save for a few scattered references in pagan historians,
orators, and poets, he is our only authority for Jewish history at the
time. It is, therefore, the more unfortunate that he makes no
independent research, and takes up no independent attitude. For the most
part he transcribes the pagan writer before him, unable or unwilling to
look any deeper. And he tells us only of the outward events of Jewish
history, of the court intrigues and murders, of the wars against the
tottering empires of Egypt and Syria, of the ignoble feuds within the
palace. Of the more vital and, did we but know it, the profoundly
interesting social and religious history of the time, of the development
of the Pharisee and Sadducee sects, we hear little, and that little is
unreliable and superficial. Josephus reproduces the deficiencies of his
sources in their dealings with Jewish events. He brings no original
virtue compensating for the careful study which they made of the larger
history in which the affairs of Judea were a small incident.

The foundation of his work in the latter half of book xiii and
throughout books xiv-xvii is Nicholas, who had devoted two special books
to the life of Herod, and by way of introduction to this had dealt more
fully with the preceding Jewish princes.[1] We must therefore be wary of
imputing to Josephus the opinions he expresses upon the different Jewish
sects in this part of the _Antiquities_. He introduces them first during
the reign of Jonathan, with the classification which had already been
made in the _Wars_:[2] the Pharisees as the upholders of Providence or
fate and freewill, the Essenes as absolute determinists, the Sadducees
as absolute deniers of the influence of fate on human affairs.[3] The
next mention of the Pharisees occurs in the reign of Hyrcanus,[4] when
he states that they were the king's worst enemies.

"They are one of the sects of the Jews, and they have so great a power
over the multitude that, when they say anything against the king or
against the high priest, they are presently believed.... Hyrcanus had
been a disciple of their teaching; but he was angered when one of them,
Eleazar, a man of ill temper and prone to seditious practices,
reproached him for holding the priesthood, because, it was alleged, his
mother had been a captive in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, and he,
therefore, was disqualified."

[Footnote 1: Büchler, Sources of Josephus for the History of Syria,
J.Q.R. ix. 311.]

[Footnote 2: B.J. II. viii.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. XIII. v. 9.]

[Footnote 4: Ant. XIII. x. 5.]

This account is taken from a source unfriendly to the Pharisees. Though
the story is based apparently on an old Jewish tradition, since we find
it told of Alexander Jannaeus in the Talmud,[1] it looks as if Josephus
obtained his version from some author that shared the aristocratic
prejudices against the democratic leaders. The reign of Hyrcanus had
been described by a Hellenistic-Jewish chronicler or a non-Jewish
Hellenist, from whom Josephus borrowed a glowing eulogy,[2] with which
he sums it up: "He lived happily, administered the government in an
excellent way for thirty-one years, and was esteemed by God worthy of
the three greatest privileges, the principate, the high priesthood, and
prophecy." To the account of the Pharisees is appended a paragraph,
seemingly the historian's own work, where he explains that "the
Pharisees have delivered to the people the tradition of the fathers,
while the Sadducees have rejected it and claim that only the written
word is binding. And concerning these things great disputes have arisen
among them; the Sadducees are able to persuade none but the rich, while
the Pharisees have the multitude on their side." Again, in the account
of the reign of Queen Alexandra, he represents the Pharisees as powerful
but seditious, and causing constant friction, and ascribes the fall of
the royal house to the queen's compliance with those who bore ill-will
to the family.

[Footnote 1: Comp. I. Lévi, Talmudic Sources of Jewish History, R.E.J.
xxxv. 219; I. Friedlaender, J.Q.R., n.s. iv. 443_ff_.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XIII. x. 7.]

Whenever the opportunity offers, Josephus brings in references to Jewish
history from pagan sources. He quotes Timagenes' estimate of Aristobulus
as a good man who was of great service to the Jews and gained them the
country of Iturea; and he notes Strabo's agreement with Nicholas upon
the invasion of Judea by Ptolemy Lathyrus.[1] General history takes an
increasingly larger part in the account of the warlike Alexander
Jannaeus and the queen Alexandra, and reference is made to the consuls
of Rome contemporary with the reigns of Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, in
order to bring Jewish affairs into relation with those of the Power
which henceforth played a critical part in them.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIII. xii. 6.]

Josephus marks the new era on which he was entering by a fresh preface
to book xiv. His aim, he says, is "to omit no facts either through
ignorance or laziness, because we are dealing with a history of events
with which most people are unacquainted on account of their distance
from our times; and we purpose to do it with appropriate beauty of
style, so that our readers may entertain the knowledge of what we write
with some agreeable satisfaction and pleasure. But the principal thing
to aim at is to speak truly."[1] It is not impossible that the prelude
is based on something in Nicholas; but it is turned against him; for in
the same chapter Josephus controverts his predecessor for the statement
that "the Idumean Antipater [the father of Herod] was sprung from the
principal Jews who returned to Judea from Babylon." The assertion, he
says, was made to gratify Herod, who by the revolution of fortune came
to be king of the Jews. He shows here some national feeling, but in
general he accepts Nicholas, and borrows doubtless from him the details
of Pompey's invasion of Judea and of the siege of Jerusalem. He appeals
as well to Strabo and the Latin historian Titus Livius.[2] But though it
is likely that he had made an independent study of parts of Strabo,
since he drags in several extracts from his history that are not quite
in place,[3] there is no reason to think he read Livy or any other Latin
author. He would have found reference to the work in the diligent
Nicholas. We may discern the hand of Nicholas, too, in the praise of
Pompey for his piety in not spoiling the Temple of the holy vessels.[4]
Josephus writes altogether in the tone of an admirer of Rome's
occupation, attributing the misery which came upon Jerusalem to Hyrcanus
and Aristobulus.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIV. i. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XIV. iv. 3; vi. 4.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Ant. XIV. vii. 2; viii. 3.]

[Footnote 4: Ant. XIV. iv. 5.]

Thanks to his copious sources, he is able to give a detailed account of
the relation of the Jews to Julius Caesar and of the decrees which were
made in their favor at his instance. It has been conjectured with much
probability that Josephus obtained his series of documents from
Nicholas, who had collected them for the purpose of defending the Jews
of Asia Minor in the inquiry which Marcus Agrippa conducted during the
reign of Herod.[1] He says that he will set down the decrees that are
treasured in the public places of the cities, and those which are still
extant in the Capitol of Rome, "so that all the rest of mankind may know
what regard the kings of Asia and Europe have had for the Jewish
people." In a subsequent book, when he is recounting the events of
Herod's reign,[2] Josephus sets forth a further series of decrees in
favor of the Jews, issued by Caesar Augustus and his lieutenant Marcus
Agrippa. These likewise he probably derived from Nicholas, who was the
court advocate and court chronicler at the time they were promulgated.
But he enlarges on his motive for giving them at length, pointing to
them with pride as a proof of the high respect in which the Jews were
held by the heads of the Roman Empire before the disaster of the war.
Though in his own day they were fallen to a low estate, at one time they
had enjoyed special favor:

"And I frequently mention these decrees in order to reconcile other
peoples to us and to take away the causes of that hatred which
unreasonable men bear us. As for our customs, he continues, each nation
has its own, and in almost every city we meet with differences; but
natural justice is most agreeable to the advantage of all men equally,
and to this our laws have the greatest regard, and thereby render us
benevolent and friendly to all men, so that we may expect the like
return from others, and we may remind them that they should not esteem
difference of institutions a sufficient cause of alienation, but join
with us in the pursuit of virtue and righteousness, for this belongs to
all men in common."[3]

[Footnote 1: Comp. Bloch, Die Quellen des Flavius Josephus.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XVI. ii.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. below, p, 234.]

The Jewish rising and defeat had increased the odium of the Greco-Roman
world towards the peculiar people, and the captive in the gilded prison
was fain to dwell on their past glory in order to cover the wretchedness
of their present.

Josephus claims to have copied some of the decrees from the archives in
the Roman Capitol.[1] The library was destroyed with the Capitol itself
during the civil war in 69.[2] It was restored, it is true, during the
reign of Vespasian, and it is not impossible that the old decrees were
saved. But Josephus might have collected from the Jewish communities
those documents which he did not find ready to hand in Nicholas, if they
formed part of an apology for the Jews of Antioch in 70 C.E. At least
there is no good reason to doubt their authenticity, and they are in
quite a different class from the letters and decrees attributed to the
Hellenistic sovereigns, which lack all authority.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIV. x. 20.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Tac. Hist. iii. 71.]

The story of Herod's life, which is set out in great detail in these
books, has more dramatic unity than any other part of the _Antiquities_.
It bears to the whole work the relation which the story of the siege of
Jerusalem bears to the rest of the _Wars_. Josephus seems to manifest
suddenly a power of vivid narrative and psychological analysis, to which
he is elsewhere a stranger. But at the same time, where the story is
most vivid and dramatic, its framework is most pagan. The Greco-Roman
ideas of fate and nemesis, which dominate the shorter account of the
king's life in the _Wars_, are still the underlying motives. The reason
for the dramatic power and the pagan frame are one and the same:
Josephus uses here a full source, and that source is a pagan writer.

It is apparent at the same time that Josephus had a better acquaintance
with the historical literature about Herod than when he wrote the
_Wars_, and that he compared his various authorities and exercised some
judgment in composing his picture. For example, in relating the murder
of the Hasmonean Hyrcanus, he first gives the account which he found in
Herod's memoirs, designed of course to exculpate the king, and then sets
out the version of other historians, who allege that Herod laid a snare
for the last of the Maccabean princes. Josephus proudly contrasts his
own critical attitude towards Herod with the studied partisanship of
Nicholas,[1] who wrote in Herod's lifetime, and in order to please him
and his courtiers,

"touching on nothing but what tended to his glory, and openly excusing
many of his notorious crimes and diligently concealing them. We may,
indeed, say much by way of excuse for Nicholas, because he was not so
much writing a history for others as doing a service for the king. But
we, who come of a family closely connected with the Hasmonean kings, and
have an honorable rank, think it unbecoming to say anything that is
false about them, and have described their actions in an upright and
unvarnished manner. And though we reverence many of Herod's descendants,
who still bear rule, yet we pay greater regard to truth, though we may
incur their displeasure by so doing."

[Footnote 1: Ant. XIV. xvi. 7.]

It was not so difficult for the historian to write impartially of Herod
as to write impartially of Vespasian and Titus. At the same time
Josephus, though in these books more critical, seldom escapes the yoke
of facts, and says little of the inner conditions of the people. Of
Hillel we do not hear the name, and Shammai is only mentioned, if indeed
he, and not Shemaya, is disguised under the name of Sameas, as the
member of the Sanhedrin who denounced Herod.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ant. XV. i. 1. Schlatter ingeniously conjectures that
Pollio, who is mentioned as predicting to the Sanhedrin, that this Herod
would be their enemy if they acquitted him, is identical with Abtalion,
of whom the Talmud tells a similar story. [Greek: pollion] may be an
error for [Greek: Eudalion] as the Hebrew name would be transcribed in

The speeches, which are put into the mouth of the king on various
occasions, are rhetorical declamations in the Greek style, which must be
derived either from Nicholas or from Herod's Memoirs, to which the
historian had access through his intimacy with the royal family. Yet,
prosaic as the treatment is, it has provided the picture of the
"magnificent barbarian" which has inspired many writers and artists of
later ages. It is from the Jewish point of view that it is most wanting.
He does indeed say that Herod transgressed the laws of his country, and
violated the ancient tradition by the introduction of foreign practices,
which fostered great sins, through the neglect of the observances that
used to lead the multitude to piety. By the games, the theater, and the
amphitheater, which he instituted at Jerusalem, he offended Jewish
sentiment; "for while foreigners were amazed and delighted at the
vastness of his displays, to the native Jews all this amounted to a
dissolution of the traditions for which they had so great a
veneration."[1] And he points out that the Jewish conspiracy against him
in the middle of his reign arose because "in the eyes of the Jewish
leaders, he merely pretended to be their king, but was in fact the
manifest enemy of their nation." It has been suggested that Justus of
Tiberias supplied him with this Jewish view of Herod, which is
unparalleled in the _Wars_. But in another passage, where he must be
following an Herodian and anti-Pharisaic source, he makes some remarks
in quite an opposite spirit, as if the Pharisees were in the wrong, and
provoked the king. He says of them: "They were prone to offend
princes;[2] they claimed to foresee things, and were suddenly elated to
break out into open war." He calls them also Sophists,[3] the scornful
name which the Greeks gave to their popular lecturers of morality.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XV. viii. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XVII. ii. 8.]

[Footnote 3: Ant. XVII. vi. 2.]

In dealing with Herod's character, Josephus is more discriminating than
in the _Wars_. He sums him up as "cruel towards all men equally, a slave
to his passions, and claiming to be above the righteous law: yet was he
favored by fortune more than any man, for from a private station he was
raised to be a king."[1] One piece of characterization may he quoted,[2]
which is not the less interesting because we may suspect that it is

"But this magnificent temper and that submissive behavior and liberality
which he exercised towards Caesar and the most powerful men at Rome,
obliged him to transgress the customs of his nation and to set aside
many of their laws, by building cities after an extravagant manner, and
erecting Temples, not in Judea indeed, for that would not have been
borne, since it is forbidden to pay any honors to images or
representations of animals after the manner of the Greeks, but in the
country beyond our boundaries and in the cities thereof. The apology
which he made to the Jews was this, that all was done not of his own
inclination, but at the bidding of others, in order to please Caesar and
the Romans, as though he set more store on the honor of the Romans than
the Jewish customs; while in fact he was considering his own glory, and
was very ambitious to leave great monuments of his government to
posterity: whence he was so zealous in building such splendid cities,
and spent vast sums of money in them."

[Footnote 1: Ant. XVII. viii. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Ant. XV. ix. 5.]

He bursts out, too, with unusual passion against Herod for his law
condemning thieves to exile, because it was a violation of the Biblical
law, "and involved the dissolution of our ancestral traditions."

If the account of the Jewish spiritual movement at a time of great
spiritual awakening is meager, the picture of Herod's great buildings,
despite occasional confusion and vagueness, is full and valuable. He
gives us an excellent description of Caesarea and Sebaste, the two
cities which the king established as a compliment to the Roman Emperor,
and an account of the Temple and the fortress of Antonia, which he
himself knew so well. Of the Temple we have another description, in the
Mishnah, which in the main agrees with Josephus. Where the two differ,
however, the preference cannot be given to the writer who had grown up
in the shadow of the building, and might have been expected to know its
every corner.[1] As we have seen in the _Wars_, he was in topography as
in other things under the influence of Greco-Roman models.

[Footnote 1: Comp. George A. Smith, Jerusalem, ii. 495 _ff_.]

Josephus did not enjoy the advantage of a full chronicle to guide him
much beyond the death of Herod. Nicholas died, or ceased to write, in
the reign of Antipater, who succeeded his father. Apparently he had no
successor who devoted himself to recording the affairs of the Jewish
court. Hence, though the events of the troubled beginning of Antipater's
reign are dealt with at the same length as those of Herod, and we have a
vivid story of the Jewish embassy that went to Rome to petition for the
deposition of the king, the history afterwards becomes fragmentary. Such
as it is, it manifests a Roman flavor. The nationalists are termed
robbers, and the pseudo-Messiahs are branded as self-seeking
impostors.[1] After an enumeration of various pretenders that sought to
make themselves independent rulers, there is a sudden jump from the
first to the tenth year of Archelaus, who was accused of barbarous and
tyrannical practices and banished by the Roman Emperor to Gaul. His
kingdom was then added to the province of Syria. Josephus dwells on the
story of two dreams which occurred to the king and his wife Glaphyra,
and justifies himself because his discourse is concerning kings, and
also because of the advantage to be drawn from it for the assurance both
of the immortality of the soul and the Providence of God in human
affairs. "And if anybody does not believe such stories, let him keep his
own opinion, but let him not stand in the way of another who finds in
them an encouragement to virtue."

[Footnote 1: Ant. XVII. xiii. 2.]

The last three books of the _Antiquities_ reveal the weaknesses of
Josephus as an historian: his disregard of accuracy, his tendency to
exaggeration, his lack of proportion, and his mental subservience. He
had no longer either the Scriptures or a Greek chronicler to guide him.
He depended in large part for his material on oral sources and scattered
memoirs, and he is not very successful in eking it out so as to produce
the semblance of a connected narrative. His chapters are in part a
miscellany of notes, and the construction is clumsy. The writer
confesses that he was weary of his task, but felt impelled to wind it
up. Yet, just because we are so ignorant of the events of Jewish history
at the period, and because the period itself is so critical and
momentous, these books (xviii-xx) are among the most important which he
has left, and on the whole they deal rather more closely than their
predecessors with the affairs of the Jewish people. The palace intrigues
do not fill the stage so exclusively, and some of the digressions carry
us into byways of Jewish history.

At the very outset[1] Josephus devotes a chapter to a fuller delineation
than he has given in any other place of the various sects that
flourished at the time. The account, ampler though it is than the
others, does not reveal the true inwardness of the different religious
positions. He repeats here what he says elsewhere about the Pharisaic
doctrine of predestination tempered by freewill, but he enlarges
especially on the difference between the parties in their ideas about
the future life.[2] The Pharisees believe that souls have an immortal
vigor, and that they will be rewarded or punished in the next world
accordingly as they have lived virtuously or wickedly in this life; the
wicked being bound in everlasting prisons, while the good have power to
live again. The Sadducees, on the other hand, assert that the souls die
with the bodies, and the Essenes teach the immortality of souls and set
great store on the rewards of righteousness. Their various ideas are
wrapped up in Greco-Roman dress, to suit his readers, and the doctrine
of resurrection ascribed to the Pharisees is almost identical with that
held by the neo-Pythagoreans of Rome.[3] But Josephus' account is more
reliable when he refers to the divergent attitudes of the sects to the

"The Pharisees strive to observe reason's dictates in their conduct, and
at the same time they pay great respect to their ancestors; and they
have such influence over the people because of their virtuous lives and
their discourses that they are their friends in divine worship, prayers,
and sacrifice. The Sadducees do not regard the observance of anything
beyond what the law enjoins them, but since their doctrine is held by
the few, when they hold the judicial office, they are compelled to
addict themselves to the notions of the Pharisees, because the mass
would not otherwise tolerate them. The Essenes live apart from the
people in communistic groups, and exceed all other men in virtue and
righteousness. They send gifts to the Temple, but do not sacrifice, on
which account they are excluded from the common court of the Temple."

[Footnote 1: Ant. XVIII. i. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. B.J. II. viii.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Vergil, Aeneid, vi.]

Lastly, Josephus turns to the fourth sect, the Zealots, whose founder
was Judas the Galilean:

"These men agree in all other things with the Pharisees, but they have
an inviolable attachment to liberty, and they say that God is to be
their only Ruler and Lord. Moreover they do not fear any kind of death,
nor do they heed the death of their kinsmen and friends, nor can any
fear of the kind make them acknowledge anybody as sovereign."

Josephus, however, cannot refrain from imputing low motives to those who
belonged to the party opposed to himself and hated of the Romans. "They
planned robberies and murders of our principal men," he says, "in
pretense for the public welfare, but in reality in hopes of gain for
themselves." And he saddles them with the responsibility for all the
calamities that were to come. About the Messianic hope, which appears to
have inspired them, he is compulsorily silent.

The historical record that follows is very sketchy. We have a bare list
of procurators and high priests down to the time of Pontius Pilate, a
notice of the foundation of Tiberias by the tetrarch Herod, and an
irrelevant account of the death of Phraates, the king of the Parthians,
and of Antiochus of Commagene, who was connected by marriage with the
Herodian house. Still there is rather more detail than in the
corresponding summary in the second book of the _Wars_, and Josephus
must in the interval have lighted on a fuller source than he had
possessed in his first historical essay. It is not impossible that the
new authority was again Justus of Tiberias. Of the unrest in the
governorship of Pontius Pilate he has more to say, but the genuineness
of the passage referring to the trial and death of Jesus, which is dealt
with elsewhere,[1] has been doubted by modern critics. It is followed in
the text by a long account of a scandal connected with the Isis worship
at Rome, which led to the expulsion of Jews from the capital. In this
way the chronicler wanders on between bare chronology and digression,
until he reaches the reign of Agrippa, when he again finds written
sources to help him. The romance of Agrippa's rise from a bankrupt
courtier to the ruler of a kingdom is treated with something of the same
full detail as the events of Herod's career, and probably the historian
enjoyed here the use of royal memoirs. He may have obtained material
also from the historical works of Philo of Alexandria, which were partly
concerned with the same epoch. He refers explicitly to the embassy which
the Alexandrian Jews sent to the Roman Emperor to appeal for the
rescission of the order to set up in the synagogue the Imperial image,
at the head of which went Philo, "a man eminent on all accounts, brother
to Alexander the Alabarch, and not unskilled in philosophy." Bloch[2]
indeed is of the opinion that the later historian did not use his
Alexandrian predecessor, either in this or any other part of his
writings, and points out certain differences of fact between the two
accounts; but in view of the references to Philo and the fact that
Josephus subsequently wrote two books of apology, one of which was
expressly directed in answer to Philo's bitter opponent Apion, it is at
least probable that he was acquainted with Philo's narrative. He may,
however, have used it only to supplement the memoirs of the Herodian
house, which served him as a chief source. Josephus devotes less
attention to the Alexandrian embassy than to the efforts of the
Palestinian Jews to obtain a rescission of the similar decree which
Petronius, the governor of Syria, was sent to enforce in Jerusalem. His
account is devised to glorify the part which Agrippa played. The prince
appears as a kind of male Esther, endangering his own life to save his
people; and indeed higher critics have been found to suggest that the
Biblical book of Esther was written around the events of the reign of

[Footnote 1: Ant. XVIII. iii. Comp. below, p. 241.]

[Footnote 2: Die Quellen des Flavius Josephus.]

The story of Agrippa is interrupted by a chapter about the Jews of
Babylon, which has the air of a moral tale on the evils of
intermarriage, and may have formed part of the popular Jewish literature
of the day. Another long digression marks the beginning of the
nineteenth book of the _Antiquities_, where Josephus leaves Jewish
scenes and inserts an account of Caligula's murder and the election of
Claudius as Emperor. This narrative, while of great interest for
students of the Roman constitution, is out of all proportion to its
place in the Jewish chronicle. Josephus, it has been surmised, based it
on the work of one Cluvius (referred to in the book as an intimate
friend of Claudius), who wrote a history about 70 C.E.; he may besides
have received hitherto unpublished information from Agrippa II, whose
father had been an important actor in the drama, or from his friend
Aliturius, the actor at Rome, who had mixed in affairs of state. Anyhow,
he took advantage of this chance of making a literary sensation.
Doubtless also, the recital, which threw not a little discredit on the
house of the earlier Caesars, was for that reason not unwelcome to the
upstart Flavians, and may have been inserted at the Imperial wish.

Agrippa I is the most attractive figure in the second part of the
_Antiquities_. He is contrasted with Herod,

"who was cruel and severe in his punishments, and had no mercy on those
he hated, and everyone perceived that he had more love for the Greeks
than for the Jews.... But Agrippa's temper was mild and equally liberal
to all men. He was kind to foreigners and was of agreeable and
compassionate feeling. He loved to reside at Jerusalem, and was
scrupulously careful in his observance of the Law of his people. On his
death he expressed his submission to Providence; for that he had by no
means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner."

His peaceful reign, however, was only the lull before the storm, and the
last book of the _Antiquities_ is mainly taken up with the succession of
wicked procurators, who, by their extortions and cruelties and flagrant
disregard of the Jewish Law and Jewish feeling, goaded the Jews into the
final rebellion. It contains, however, a digression on the conversion of
the royal house of Adiabene to Judaism, which is tricked out with
examples of God's Providence. Yet another digression records the
villainies of Nero (which no doubt was pleasing to his patrons) and the
amours of Drusilia, the daughter of Agrippa I. But of the rising
discontent of the Jewish people in Palestine we have no clear picture.
Josephus fails as in the _Wars_ to bring out the inner incompatibility
of the Roman and the Jewish outlook, and represents, in an
unimaginative, matter-of-fact, Romanizing way, that it was simply
particular excesses--the rapacity of a Felix, the knavery of a
Florus--which were the cause of the Rebellion. This is just what a Roman
would have said, and when the Jewish writer deals at all with the Jewish
position, it is usually to drag in his political feud. He especially
singles out the sacrilege of the Zealots in assassinating their
opponents within the Temple precincts as the reason of God's rejecting
the city; "and as for the Temple, He no longer deemed it sufficiently
pure to be His habitation, but brought the Romans upon us and threw a
fire on the city to purge it, and brought slavery on us, our wives, and
our children, to make us wiser by our calamities." Thus the priestly
apologist, accepting Roman canons, finds in the ritual offense of a
section of the people the ground for the destruction of the national
center. He is torn, indeed, between two conflicting views about the
origin of the rebellion: whether he shall lay the whole blame on the
Jewish irreconcilables, or whether he shall divide it between them and
the wicked Roman governors; and in the end he exaggerates both these
motives, and leaves out the deeper causes.

The penultimate chapter contains a list of the high priests, about whom
the historian had throughout made great pretensions of accuracy. He
enumerates but eighty-three from the time of Aaron to the end of the
line, of whom no less than twenty-eight were appointed after Herod's
accession to his kingdom; whereas the Talmud records that three hundred
held office during the existence of the second Temple alone.[1] That
number is probably hyperbolical, but the statement in other parts of the
Rabbinical literature, that there were eighty high priests in that
period,[2] throws doubt on this list, which besides is manifestly
patched in several places.

[Footnote 1: Yoma, 9a.]

[Footnote 2: Yer. Yoma, ix., and Lev. R. xx.]

With the procuratorship of Florus, Josephus brings his chronicle to an
end, the later events having been treated in detail in the _Wars;_ and
in conclusion he commends himself for his accuracy in giving the
succession of priests and kings and political administrators:

"And I make bold to say, now I have so completely perfected the work
which I set out to do, that no other person, be he Jew or foreigner, and
had he ever so great an inclination to it, could so accurately deliver
these accounts to the Greeks as is done in these books. For members of
my own people acknowledge that I far exceed them in Jewish learning, and
I have taken great pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks and
understand stand the elements of the Greek language, though I have so
long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue that I cannot speak Greek
with exactness."

He makes explicit his standpoint with this _envoi_, which shows that he
was writing for a Greek-speaking public and in competition with Greeks,
and this helps to explain why he sets special store on the record of
priests and kings and political changes, and why he so often disguises
the genuine Jewish outlook. As an account of the Jewish people for the
prejudiced society of Rome, the _Antiquities_ undoubtedly possessed
merit. History, indeed, at the time, was far from being an exact
science, nor was accuracy esteemed necessary to it. Cicero had said a
hundred years earlier, that it was legitimate to lie in narratives; and
this was the characteristic outlook of the Greco-Roman writers. The most
brilliant literary documents of the age, the _Annals_ and _Histories_ of
Tacitus, are rather pieces of sparkling journalism than sober and
philosophical records of facts; and therefore we must not judge Josephus
by too high a standard.

Weighed in his own balance, he had done a great service to his people by
setting out the main heads of their history over three thousand years,
so that it should be intelligible to the cultured Roman society; and had
he been reproached with misrepresenting and distorting many of their
religious ideas, he would have replied, with some justice, that it was
necessary to do so in, order to make the Romans understand. On the same
ground he would have justified the omission of much that was
characteristic and the exaggeration of much that was normal. He shows
throughout some measure of national pride. To-day, however, we cannot
but regret that he weakly adopted much of the spiritual outlook of his
Gentile contemporaries, and that he did not seek to convey to his
readers the fundamental spiritual conceptions of the Jews, which might
have endowed his history with an unique distinction. His record of two
thousand years of Israel's history gives but the shadow of the glory of
his people.



In every age since the dispersion began, the Jews have appeared to their
neighbors as a curious anomaly. Their abstract idea of God, their
peculiar religious observances, their refusal to intermarry with their
neighbors, their serious habits of life--all have served to mark them
out and attract the wonder of the philosophical, the vituperation of the
vulgar, and the dislike of the ignorant. Their enemies in every epoch
have repeated with slight variation the charge which Haman brought in
his petition to King Ahasuerus, "There is a people scattered abroad and
dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and
their laws are diverse from those of every people, neither keep they the
king's laws" (Esther 3:8). In the cosmopolitan society that arose in the
Hellenistic kingdoms, it was their especial offense that they retained a
national cohesion, and refused to indulge in the free trade in religious
ideas and social habits adopted by civilized peoples. The popular
feeling was fanned by a party that had a more particular grievance
against them. Though certain philosophical sects, notably the schools of
Pythagoras and Aristotle, were struck with admiration for the lofty
spiritual ideas and the strict discipline of Judaism, another school,
and that the most powerful of the time, was smitten with envy and

The Stoics, who aspired to establish a religious philosophy for all
mankind, and pursued a vigorous missionary propaganda, particularly in
the East, saw in the Jews not only obstinate opponents but dangerous
rivals, who carried on a competing mission with provoking success. The
children of Israel were spread over the whole of the civilized world,
and everywhere they vigorously propagated their teaching. Of all
enmities, the enmity of contending creeds is the bitterest. The Stoics
became the first professional Jew-haters, and set themselves at the head
of those who resented Jewish particularism, either from jealousy or from
that unreasoning dislike which is universally felt against minorities
that live differently from the mass about them.

The ill-will and sectarian hatred were most prevalent at Alexandria,
where the powerful Jewish community excited the attacks of the
half-Hellenized natives. The campaign was fought mainly as a battle of
books. The Hebrew Scriptures represented the early Egyptians in no
favorable light. The Greco-Egyptian historians retaliated by a
malevolent account of the origin and history of the Hebrew people, of
which Manetho's story is the prototype. In this work of the third
century B.C.E. the children of Israel were represented as sprung from a
pack of lepers, who were expelled from Egypt because of their foul
disease. A still more virulent attack on the Jewish teaching is found in
two Stoic writers of the first century B.C.E., Posidonius of Apamea, a
town of Phrygia, and Molon,[1] who taught at Rhodes. The former raised
the charge that the Jews alone of all peoples refused to have any
communication with other nations, but regarded them as their enemies.
Molon, besides a general travesty of their early history, wrote a
special diatribe against them--the first document of the kind which
history records--accusing them of atheism and misanthropy, cowardice and
stupidity. These remained the stock charges for centuries, and they
assumed an added bitterness after the Roman conquest, when to the
peculiarity of Jewish customs was added the stigma of being a subject
people. The hatred of Greek and Jew, despite all the ostentatious
friendliness of a Herod for Greek things, became deeper, and it showed
itself as well without as within Palestine. At Alexandria, in the
beginning of the first century, the antagonism developed into open
riots, and the leaders of the anti-Jewish party were again two Stoics,
Apion and Chaeremon, the one orator and grammarian, the other priest and
astrologer. There is nothing very original in their libels, which are
modeled upon those of Posidonius and Molon; but some fresh detail is
added. It was said that the deity worshiped at Jerusalem was the head of
an ass, to which human sacrifices were offered, and that the Jews took
an oath to do no service for any Gentile. Apion, a man of some repute,
was the head of the Alexandrian Stoic school, and called "the toiler,"
because of his industry. He was, however, also known as "the
quarrelsome"[2] ([Greek: ho pleistonikeas]). Another critic of ancient
times says he was notorious for advertising his ideas (_in doctrinis
suis praedicandis venditator_)[3], and the Emperor Augustus declares
that he was the drum of his own fame (i.e. the blower of his own
trumpet). He was in fact a mixture of scholar and charlatan, as many of
his successors have been, the Houston Chamberlain of the first century.

[Footnote 1: Schürer (iii. 503_ff_) has brought cogent reasons to show
that Molon is not the same as Apollonius, another Jew-baiter, with whom
he has often been identified.]

[Footnote 2: Clemens, Strom. i. 21, 101.]

[Footnote 3: Gallus, Noctes Atticae, v. 2.]

Apion wrote a history of Egypt in which his attack upon the Jews appears
to have been an episode,[1] but his prominence as an anti-Semite is
shown by the fact that he went as the spokesman of the Greek embassy to
Caligula on the memorable occasion when Philo was the champion of the
Jewish cause. In that capacity Philo prepared an elaborate apology for
his people, which he had not the opportunity to deliver; but it
contained in part an account of the religious sects, designed to show
their philosophical excellence, and it was known to the Church fathers
of the early centuries of the Christian era. Only small fragments of it
are preserved by Eusebius, and the rest of the apologetic writing of
Alexandria, which was in all probability very extensive, has
disappeared. Yet the Hellenistic-Jewish literature is colored throughout
by an apologetic purpose. Whether the work is a professedly historical
or ethical or philosophical treatise, the idea is always present of
representing Judaism as a sublime and a humanitarian doctrine, and of
refuting the calumnies of the Greek scribes. Thus, besides his elaborate
apology prepared for the Roman Emperor, Philo had written a popular
presentation of Judaism in the form of a Life of Moses, with appended
treatises on Humanity and Nobility, which was but a thinly-veiled work
of apologetics. Another part of the defensive literature took the form
of missionary propaganda under a heathen mask. The oracles of the Sibyl
and Orpheus, a forged history of Hecataeus, and monotheistic verses
foisted on the Greek poets, were but attempts to carry the war into the
enemy's territory. Further, there must have been a more direct
presentation of the Jewish cause by way of public lectures and popular
addresses in the synagogues. Nevertheless, the specific answers to the
charges advanced by the anti-Jewish scribblers are now to be found most
fully stated in Josephus. In his day the literary campaign against the
Jewish name was as remorseless as the military campaign that had
destroyed their political independence. The Romans, tolerant themselves
in religion, had long been intolerant of Jewish separatism and national
exclusiveness, and Cicero,[2] shortly after the capture of Jerusalem by
Pompey, had denounced their "barbarian superstition" in language that is
typical of the outlook of the Roman aristocracy. "Even when Jerusalem
was untouched, and the Jews were at peace with us, their religious
ceremonies ill accorded with the splendor of our Empire; still less
tolerable are they to-day, when the nation has shown, by taking up arms,
its attitude towards us, while the fact that it has been conquered and
reduced to servitude proves how much the gods care for it."

[Footnote 1: The idea, which is derived from the Church fathers, that he
wrote a separate [Greek: logos] against the Jews, appears to be based by
them on a misunderstanding of Ant. XVIII. viii. 1. Comp. Schürer, _op.
cit._ iii. 541.]

[Footnote 2: Pro Flacco, 68.]

The later poets of the Augustan age, Horace, Tibullus, and Ovid,
expressed a supercilious disdain for the Jewish customs of
Sabbath-keeping, etc., which were spreading even in the politest
circles. As the political conflict between the Romans and their stubborn
subjects became more pronounced, the Roman impatience of their obstinacy
increased. Seneca, writing after Palestine had been placed under a Roman
governor, speaks bitterly of "the accursed race whose practices have so
far prevailed that they have been received all over the world." Hating
the Jews as he did with the double hatred of a Roman aristocrat and a
Stoic philosopher, he is yet fain to admit that their religion is
diffused over the Empire, and anxious as he is to decry their
superstition, he reveals part of the reason of their success. "They at
least can give an explanation of their religious ceremonies, whereas the
pagan masses cannot say why they carry out their practices." The pagan
cults were languishing because of the frigidity of their forms and their
incapacity for providing men with an ideal or a discipline or a solace;
and the people turned to a living religion. The day had come that was
foretold by the prophet, when men shall catch hold of the skirts of a
Jew, saying, "We will go with you, because we have heard that God is
with you" (Zech. 8:23).

The bitterest and the most envenomed attacks on the Jews were written
after the destruction of Jerusalem, when the failure of Rome to break
the stubborn spirit of her conquered foe became apparent. The legions
could destroy Jerusalem; they could not uproot Judaism or even stay its
progress. The presence of thousands of Jewish captive slaves at Rome
accelerated indeed the march of conversion. Vespasian and Titus forebore
to take the title "Judaicus" after their triumph, lest it should be
taken to mean that they had Judaized. The speedy defection of Roman
citizens to the superstition of a conquered people was an insult, which,
added to the injury of their obstinate resistance, roused to fury the
remnants of the Roman conservatives. The entanglement of Titus with the
Jewish princess Berenice was the final outrage. The satiric poets
Martial and Juvenal inserted frequent ribald references to Jewish
customs; but the nature of their works precluded a serious criticism.
Martial was a master of flouts, jeers, and gibes, and Juvenal was a
soured and disappointed provincial, who delighted to hurl wild
reproaches. He declaimed against the passing away of the old manners of
Republican Rome, and for him the spread of Jewish habits was among the
surest signs of degeneracy. The poets, however, did not so much endeavor
to misrepresent as to ridicule the Jews and their converts. But the
classical exponent of Roman anti-Semitism is Tacitus, the historian who
wrote in the time of Nerva and Trajan, i.e. just after Josephus, and who
treated of the Jews both in his _Annals_, which were a history of the
last century, and in his _Histories_, which dealt with his own times. He
surpassed all his predecessors, Greek or Roman, in distortion and abuse,
and he combined the charges invented by the jealousy and rancor of Greek
sophists with the abuse of Jewish character induced by Imperial Roman
passion. His account cannot be mistaken for a sober judgment. By the
transparent combination of earlier, discredited sources, by blatant
inconsistencies, and by neglect of the authorities that would have
provided him with reliable information, he shows himself the partisan
pamphleteer. But the indictment is none the less illuminating. Mommsen
speaks of the solemn enmity which Tacitus cherishes to the section of
the human race "to whom everything pure is impure, and everything impure
is pure." Doubtless his hatred was founded on intense national pride,
but it was fed by his tendency to blacken and exaggerate. His audience
was composed, as Renan says, of "aristocrats of the race of English
Tories, who derived their strength from their very prejudices." Their
ideas about the Jewish people were as vague as those of the ordinary man
of to-day about the people of Thibet, and they were willing to believe
anything of them.

Tacitus gives several alternative accounts of the origin of the Jews.[1]
According to some they were fugitives from the Isle of Crete (deriving
their name from Mount Ida), who settled on the coast of Libya. According
to others they sprang from Egypt, and were driven out under their
captains Hierosolymus and Judas; while others stated that they were
Ethiopians whom fear and hatred obliged to change their habitation. He
supplies himself a fanciful account of the Exodus, tricked out with a
variety of misrepresentations of their observances, which are
ludicrously inconsistent with each other:

"They bless the image of that animal [the ass], by whose indication they
had escaped from their vagrant condition in the wilderness and quenched
their thirst. They abstain from swine's flesh as a memorial of the
miserable destruction which the mange brought on them. That they stole
the fruits of the earth, we have a proof in their unleavened bread. They
rest on the seventh day, because that day gave them rest from their
labors, and, affecting a lazy life, they are idle during every seventh
year. These rites, whatever their origin, are at least supported by
their antiquity.[2] Their other institutions are depraved and impure,
and prevailed by reason of their viciousness; for every vile fellow
despising the rites of his ancestors brought to them his contribution,
so that the Jewish commonwealth was augmented. The first lesson taught
to converts is to despise their gods, to renounce their country, and to
hold their parents, children, and brethren in utmost contempt: but still
they are at pains to increase and multiply, and esteem it unlawful to
kill any of their children. They regard as immortal the souls of those
who die in battle, or are put to death for their crimes.[3] Hence their
love of posterity and their contempt of death. They have no notion of
more than one Divine Being, who is only grasped by the mind. They deem
it profane to fashion images of gods out of perishable matter, and teach
that their Being is supreme and eternal, immutable and imperishable.
Accordingly, they erect no images in their cities, much less in their
temples, and they refuse to grant this kind of honor to kings or

[Footnote 1: Hist. v. 2_ff_.]

[Footnote 2: Ch. lvii.]

[Footnote 3: This statement agrees remarkably with what Josephus puts
into the mouth of several of his speakers. See above, p. 114.]

The sage Pliny, who himself laughed at the crude paganism of his time,
could also point the finger of scorn at the Jews as "a people notorious
by their contempt of divine images." To the genuine Roman, the state
religion might not be true, but it was part of the civic life, and
therefore its rejection was unsocial and disloyal. Yet the account of
Tacitus contains several remarks which, in their author's despite,
reveal the moral superiority of the conquered over the conquerors. He
notes their national tenacity, their ready charity, their freedom from
infanticide, their conviction of the immortality of the soul, their
purely spiritual and monotheistic cult. Tacitus certainly wrote after
the works of Josephus had been published, so that the apology is not an
answer to him; but his methods of misstatement were anticipated at Rome
by a host of anti-Semitic writers. Though Josephus never mentions a
single Roman detractor of his people, and confines his reply to Greeks
who were long buried, it was doubtless against this class that he was
anxious to defend himself and his faith.

He declared at the end of the _Antiquities_ his intention to write three
books about "God and His essence, and about our laws," proposing,
perhaps, to imitate Philo's apology for Judaism, which was in three
parts. But the virulence of the calumny against Judaism induced him to
modify his plan and write a specific reply to the charges made against
the Jews. It was necessary to refute more concisely and more definitely
than he had done in his long historical works the false tales about the
Jewish past and the Jewish law that were circulated and believed in the
hostile Greco-Roman world. He directed himself more particularly to
uphold the antiquity of the Jews against those who denied their
historical claims and to disprove the charges leveled against the Jewish
religious ideas and legislation. These two subjects form the content of
the two books commonly known to us as _Against Apion_. Only the second,
however, deals with Apion's diatribe, and the current title is certainly
unauthentic. Origen,[1] Eusebius, and Hieronymus[2] refer to the first
book as _About the Antiquity of the Jews_, and Hieronymus adds the
description [Greek: antirraetikos logos], _A Refutation_. Eusebius
similarly[3] speaks of the second book as the Refutation of Apion the
grammarian. Porphyry calls it simply [Greek: pros tous Hellaenas], _The
Address to the Greeks_, and it is possible that Josephus so entitled his
work. It is noteworthy that he directed his pleading to the
Greek-speaking and not to the Latin public; the Greeks, he recognized,
were the source of the misrepresentations of his people, and, as Greek
was read by all cultured people in his day, in refuting them he would
incur less obloquy and attain his end equally well.

[Footnote 1: Orig. C. Cels. i. 14.]

[Footnote 2: De Viris Illustr. 13.]

[Footnote 3: H.E. III. viii. 2.]

The first point that Josephus seeks to make good in his apology is the
antiquity of the Hebrew people and the historical character of their
Scriptures. In the Greco-Roman world, which had lost confidence in
itself, and looked for inspiration to the past, age was a title to
respectability, and it was the aim of the Jewish apologist to explain
away the silence of the Greeks. For the certificate of the Hellenic
historians was in the Hellenistic world the most convincing mark of

"By my works on the Antiquity of the Jews--thus Josephus begins--I have
proved that our Jewish nation is of very great antiquity and had a
distinct existence. Those Antiquities contain the history of five
thousand years, and are derived from our sacred books, but are
translated by me into the Greek tongue."

Josephus loosely represents that the whole of the _Antiquities_ is based
on the Bible, and reckons the period of history at nearly a thousand
years more than it covered.

"But since I observe that many people give ear to the reproaches that
are laid against us by those who bear us ill-will, and will not believe
what I have written concerning the antiquity of our nation, while they
take it for a plain sign that our nation is of late date because it is
not so much as vouchsafed a bare mention by the most famous historians
among the Greeks, I therefore have thought myself under an obligation to
write somewhat briefly about these subjects, in order to convict those
who reproach us of spite and deliberate falsehood and to correct the
ignorance of others, and withal to instruct all those who are desirous
of knowing the truth of what great antiquity we really are. As for the
witnesses whom I shall produce for the proof of what I say, they shall
be such as are esteemed by the Greeks themselves to be of the greatest
reputation for truth and the most skilful in the knowledge of all
antiquity. I will also show that those who have written so reproachfully
and falsely about us are to be convicted by what they have themselves
written to the contrary, and I shall endeavor to give an account of the
reasons why it has happened that a great number of Greeks have not made
mention of our nation in their histories."

Acting on the principle that the best defense is attack, Josephus starts
by turning on the Greeks themselves and discrediting their antiquity.
They were a mushroom people, or at least their records were modern, and
not to be compared in age with the records of the Phoenicians, the
Hebrews, or the Babylonians. Comparative sciences had flourished in the
cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, and in the light of them the Greek
claim to exclusive wisdom had been shattered. Josephus had made himself
master of the current knowledge of the subject. The Greeks learnt their
letters from the Phoenicians, they have no record more ancient than the
Homeric poems, and even Homer did not leave his poems in writing,[1]
while their earliest historians lived but shortly before the Persian
expedition into Greece, and their earliest philosophers, Pythagoras and
Thales, learnt what they knew from Egyptians and Chaldeans. Having shown
the lateness and Oriental origin of Greek culture, Josephus accuses
Greek writers of unreliability, as is manifest by their mutual
disagreement. He makes a great show of learning on the subject and uses
his material effectively. Doubtless he found the topic ready to hand in
some predecessor, and it is somewhat ironical that a Josephus should
throw stones at a Thucydides on the score of inaccuracy.

[Footnote 1: It is interesting that this casual statement of Josephus
was one of the starting points of modern Homeric criticism.]

The reason for the want of authority in the Greek historians--continues
Josephus--is to be found in the fact that the Greeks in early times took
no care to preserve public records of their transactions, which afforded
those who afterwards would write about them scope for making mistakes
and displaying invention: conditions which favored literary art, but
marred historical accuracy. Those who were the most zealous to write
history were more anxious to demonstrate that they could write well than
to discover the truth.

The contrast between the individual creative impulse of the Hellene and
the respect for tradition of the Hebrew, which anticipates in a way
Matthew Arnold's contrast between Hellenic "spontaneity of
consciousness" and Hebraic "strictness of conscience," is pointedly made
by the apologist:[1]

"We Jews must yield to the Greek writers as to style and eloquence of
composition, but we concede them no such superiority in regard to the
verity of ancient history, and least of all as to that part which
concerns the affairs of our country. The reliability of the Hebrew
records is vouched for by the unbroken succession of official annals
handed down by priests and prophets. The purity of the priestly caste
was strictly maintained by the law of marriage, which impelled every
priest to make a scrutiny into the genealogy of his wife and forward a
register of it to Jerusalem, where it was duly recorded in the archives.
And we possess the names of our high priests from father to son for a
period of two thousand years. Nor is there individual liberty of writing
among us: only the prophets (i.e. inspired persons) have written the
earliest accounts of things as they learned them of God Himself by
inspiration, and others have written about what happened in their own
times, and that too in a very distinct manner. We have no mass of books
disagreeing with each other, but only twenty-two books containing the
records of all our past, which are rightly believed to be inspired."

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 6_ff_.]

The reckoning of the Canon is interesting:[1] there are five books of
Moses, thirteen books of the prophets, recording the history from the
death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, and the remaining four books,
the Ketubim, contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human
life. The books written since the time of Artaxerxes have not the same
trustworthiness, because the exact succession of prophets has not been
maintained. The intense sentiment which the Jews feel for their
Scriptures is proved by their willingness to die for them.

[Footnote 1: The accepted number of books in the Jewish Canon is
twenty-four, and this number is found in the Book of II Esdras, xiv. 41,
which is probably contemporaneous with Josephus. The number 22 is to be
explained by the fact that Josephus must have linked Ruth with Judges
and Lamentations with Jeremiah. See J.E., s.v. Canon.]

Again a contrast is pointed between the seriousness of the Hebraic and
the levity of the Greek attitude towards literature. Josephus
egotistically draws an example from the record of the recent war. The
Greeklings who wrote about it

"put a few things together by hearsay, and, abusing the word, call their
writings by the name of histories. But I have composed a true history of
the whole war and of all the events that occurred, having been concerned
in all its transactions; for I acted as general of those among us that
are named Galileans, as long as it was possible for us to make any
resistance. I was then seized by the Romans, and became a captive.
Vespasian and Titus kept me under guard, and forced me to attend on them
continually. At the first I was put into bonds, but later was set at
liberty and sent to accompany Titus when he came from Alexandria to the
siege of Jerusalem, during which time nothing was done that escaped my
knowledge. For what happened in the Roman camp I saw, and wrote down
carefully; and what information the deserters brought out of the city, I
was the only man to understand. Afterwards, when I had gotten leisure at
Rome, and when all my material was prepared for the work, I obtained
some persons to assist me in learning the Greek tongue, and by these
means I composed the history of the events, and I was so well assured of
the truth of what I related, that I first of all appealed to those that
had the supreme command in that war, Vespasian and Titus, as witnesses
for me. For to them first of all I presented my books, and after them to
many of the Romans that had been engaged in the war. I also recited them
to many of my own race that understood Greek philosophy, among whom were
Julius Archelaus, Herod, king of Chalcis, a person of great authority,
and King Agrippa himself, a person that deserved the greatest respect.
Now all these bore their testimony to me that I had the strictest regard
to truth; who yet would not have dissembled the matter, nor been silent,
if I, out of ignorance, or out of favor to any side, either had given a
false color to the events, or omitted any of them."

Josephus here indignantly replies to his Roman detractors, who accused
him of having composed a mere partisan thesis. As a priest he had a
special knowledge of the Scriptures, which were the basis of his
_Antiquities_, and as an important actor in the drama of the Roman war,
he wrote of its events with the knowledge of an eye-witness. He excuses
his digression as being made in self-defense, and claims to have proved
that historical writing is indigenous rather to those called Barbarians
than to the Greeks. He then returns to the task of refuting those who
say that the Jewish polity is of late origin because the Greek authors
are silent about it. One main cause of the silence was the isolation of
Judea and the character of the Jewish people, who did not delight in
merchandise and commerce, but devoted themselves to the cultivation of
the soil. This, of course, is a picture of the Bible times, because in
the writer's days they were beginning their mercantile development.
Hence the Jews were in quite a different condition from the Phoenicians,
the Thracians, the Persians, and the Medes, with all of whom the
Hellenes came into contact. They are rather to be compared with the
Romans, who only entered into the Greek sphere of interest later in
their history.

Josephus makes the point that it would be as reasonable for the Jews to
deny the antiquity of the Greeks because there is no mention of them in
Hebrew records, as for the Greeks to deny the antiquity of the Jews for
the converse reason. And if the Greeks are ignorant of the Hebrews, he
argues that there is abundant testimony in the histories of other
peoples. He starts with the Egyptian evidence, and quotes from Manetho,
the anti-Jewish historian, giving extracts about the Hyksos tribes and
Hyksos kings, whom he identifies with Joseph and his brethren. The
identification was popular till recent times, but modern historical
criticism has rejected it. Josephus dates the invasion of the Hyksos at
three hundred and ninety-three years before Danaus came to Argos, which
in turn was five hundred and twenty years before the Trojan war. Thus he
puts the Bible story far ahead in age of Greek myth. Passing on to the
testimony in the Phoenician records, he derives from the public archives
of Tyre, to which reference was made also in the _Antiquities_,[1]
evidence of the relations between Solomon and Hiram, and further quotes
the account given by the Hellenistic historian Alexander of Ephesus, who
mentions the same incident. This Alexander had written a world-history,
and had collected the chronicles of the various peoples that formed part
of Alexander's empire. Josephus, who probably knew of his work through
Nicholas or some other chronicler, cites him to confirm the Bible.
Collections of extracts about the Jewish people and references to the
Bible in Greek literature were already in vogue, for it was an age
similar to our own in its love of encyclopedias. Josephus uses with not
a little skill these foreign sources, and supplements the comparative
material which he had introduced in the _Antiquities_. Confirmation of
the account of the flood, as also of the rebuilding of the Temple after
the return of the Jews from Babylon, is found in the Chaldean history of
Berosus; and other long extracts from Babylonian history are inserted
that furnish a casual mention of Judea or Jerusalem. Josephus attempts,
too, with doubtful success, to combine the Phoenician and Babylonian
records in order to prove that they agree about the date of the
rebuilding of the Temple. The only justifiable inference from the
passages, however, appears to be that both sources agreed on the
existence of Cyrus, king of Persia.

[Footnote 1: Comp. above, p. 159.]

Finally he adduces passages from various Greek writers, to show that the
Jews were not entirely unknown to the Hellenes before Alexander's
conquests. Josephus had no doubt predecessors among the Hellenistic
Jewish litterateurs in the search for testimony, as well as successors
among the Christian apologists; but his collection has alone survived,
and has become invaluable to modern scholars, who have ploughed the same
field for a different purpose. Authority is brought forward to show that
Pythagoras had connection with the Hebrews, and Herodotus, it is argued,
referred to the Jews as circumcised Syrians.[1] More apposite is a
passage quoted from Clearchus, a pupil of Aristotle, about a discussion
which his master had with a Jew of Soli, "who was Greek not only in
language but in thought." The genuineness of this excerpt has been
questioned, but without good reason. Aristotle's school had a scientific
interest in the Jews as in other peoples that had come under Greek sway
through Alexander's conquests.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Ant. VIII. x. 3.]

Josephus then sets out some very eulogistic passages about his people,
purporting to be from Hecataeus of Abdera, which are very much to his
taste and his purpose. Unfortunately, however, they are too good to be
true, and modern criticism has established that, while the genuine
Hecataeus, an historian who wrote at the end of the fourth century
B.C.E., did insert in his work an account of Jerusalem and the Jews, the
glowing testimonials which Josephus adduces are from forged books
devised by Jews to their own glory. A passage of a less favorable tone,
and of which the genuineness is therefore not open to suspicion, is
quoted from Agatharchides, a Seleucid historian. Finally, with an
incidental mention of a half-dozen Hellenistic writers that have made
distinct reference to the Jewish people, and of three Jewish writers,
Demetrius, the elder Philo, and Eupolemus, "who have not greatly missed
the truth about our affairs," Josephus closes his evidence as to the
antiquity of his nation.[1] Possibly he did not realize that his last
three witnesses were of his own race, and it is not improbable that this
string of names was to him also a string of names culled from Alexander
Polyhistor or a similar authority.

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 23.]

The latter part of the first book is devoted to the refutation of the
anti-Jewish diatribes of several Greeks, and starts off with a few
commonplaces upon the topic, to the effect that every great nation
incurs the jealousy and ill-will of others. "The Egyptians," says
Josephus, "were the first to cast reproaches upon us, and in order to
please them, some others undertook to pervert the truth. The causes of
their enmity are their chagrin at the events of the Exodus and the
difference of their religious ideas."[1] Josephus deals with Manetho's
description of the going-out from Egypt, and undertakes to demonstrate
that "he trifles and tells arrant lies." He dissects the charge that the
Hebrews were a pack of lepers exiled from the country, and insists upon
its absurdity and the lack of consistency in the details. He offers
ingenuously as a proof of the falsity of the allegation that Moses was a
leper the Mosaic legislation about lepers. "How could it be supposed,"
he asks, "that Moses should ordain such laws against himself, to his own
reproach and damage?" Chaeremon is unworthy of reply, because his
account, though equally scurrilous, is inconsistent with that of
Manetho. But the story of Lysimachus, a writer of the same genus, is
more critically examined and found wanting, because it gives no
explanation of the origin of the Hebrews. Lysimachus derived the name
Jerusalem from the Greek Hierosylen--to commit sacrilege--the Hebrews,
according to his story, owing their settlement to the plunder of
temples; and Josephus points out triumphantly that that idea is not
expressed by the same word and name among the Jews and Greeks. But, to
vary a saying of Doctor Johnson, this section of Josephus must be read
for the quotations, for if one reads it for the argument of either
assailant or apologist, one would shoot oneself.

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 24.]

The second book of the apology, which is a continuation of the first,
opens with an elaborate refutation of Apion. Josephus questions whether
he should take the trouble to confute the scurrilous stories of the
Alexandrian grammarian, "which are all abuse and vulgarity"; but because
many are pleased to pick up mendacious fictions, he thinks it better not
to leave the charges without an answer. He disposes first of Apion's
tales about Moses and the Exodus, which are of the same character as
those of Manetho and Chaeremon. Loaded abuse and unmeasured invective
color the refutation, but Apion apparently deserved it. We may take, as
a fair specimen of his veracity, the statement that the Hebrews reached
Palestine six days after they left Egypt and rested on the seventh day,
which they called Sabbath, because of some disease from which they
suffered, and of which the Egyptian name was Sabbaton. Apion had in
particular attacked the Alexandrian Jews, and Josephus takes the
opportunity of enlarging on the privileged position of his people, not
only in the Egyptian capital, but in the other Hellenistic cities where
they had been settled.[1] He elaborates and amplifies what he had stated
on this subject in the _Antiquities_, and adds a short account of the
miraculous delivery of the Egyptian Jews during the short-lived
persecution of Ptolemy Physcon, which is recorded more fully and with
some variation of detail in the so-called Third Book of the Maccabees.
In reply to Apion's charge, that the Jews show a lack of civic spirit
because they do not worship the same gods as the Alexandrians, Josephus
launches out into an explanation of their conception of God, describes
their abhorrence of idolatry, and deals also with their refusal to set
up in their temples the image of the Emperor. "But at the same time they
are willing," he says, "to pay honors to great men and to offer
sacrifices in their name." He deals also, in a digression, with
calumnies derived from Posidonius and Melon about the worship of an ass
in the sanctuary at Jerusalem.

[Footnote 1: This part of the book, it may be noted, has only been
preserved in the Latin version; the Greek original has been lost.]

Apion had invented a detailed story of ritual murder to justify
Antiochus Epiphanes for his spoliation of the Temple. The origin of this
charge is instructive of the methods of a classical anti-Semite. There
was, in the innermost sanctuary, a stone[1] on which the blood of the
burnt offering was sprinkled by the high priest on the Day of Atonement.
It was known as the [Hebrew: Even Shtiah] and tradition said that the
ark of the covenant had rested on it. Mystery centered around it, and
the Greek scribes imagined that it was the object of worship. Now, the
Greek word for a stone was Onos, which likewise meant an ass, and it was
probably on the strength of this blunder that prejudice for centuries
accused Jews and Christians of worshiping an ass' head. Josephus brings
proof of the emptiness of the charge, and retorts that Apion had himself
the heart of an ass; and then, describing the ritual of the Temple,
insists that there was no secret mystery about it. It gives a touch of
pathos that he speaks as if the Temple services were still being carried
out, whether because he was copying a source written before the
destruction, or because he deliberately disregarded that event. Apion,
like Cicero, had taunted the Jews on account of their political
subjection, which proved, he argued, that their laws were not just nor
their religion true. Josephus meets the charge--which in the
materialistic thinking of the Roman world was hard to answer--by the not
very happy plea that the Egyptians and Greeks had suffered a like
fortune. So, too, he meets the gibe that the Jews do not eat pork, by
saying that the Egyptian priests abstain likewise. He omits in both
cases the true religious answer, which would probably not have appealed
to his public.

[Footnote 1: Yer. Yoma, v. 2.]

At this point the reply to the Alexandrian anti-Semite comes to an end,
and the rest of the book comprises a defense of the Jewish legislation,
"which is intended not as an eulogy but as an apology." The broad aim is
to show that the Law inculcates humanity and piety; but Josephus, before
setting himself to this, again labors to point out that it is
pre-eminent in antiquity over any of the Greek codes. This done, he
gives a summary of the principles of Judaism, which is unlike anything
else he wrote in its masterly grasp of the spirit of the religion and in
its philosophical attitude. So great indeed is the contrast between this
epilogue and the bald summary of the Mosaic laws in the _Antiquities_
that it is safe to say that Josephus had for his later work lighted on a
fresh and more inspired source. His presentation has the regular
characteristic of the Alexandrian school, an insistence on the universal
and philanthropic elements of the Mosaic law; and it is likely that he
had before him either Philo's work on the Life of Moses, or another
work, which his predecessor had used. It matters little that there are
differences of detail between his and Philo's interpretations: the
manner and the general purport are the same, and the manner is not the
usual manner of Josephus, and altogether different from the treatment in
the _Antiquities_.

He lays down with great clearness the dominant features of the Mosaic
constitution. It is a theocracy, i.e. the state depends on God. The
passage in which he makes good this principle is a striking piece of
reasoning in comparative religion, worthy to be quoted in full:

"Now there are innumerable differences in the particular customs and
laws that hold among all mankind, which a man may briefly reduce under
the following heads: Some legislators have permitted their governments
to be under monarchies, others put them under oligarchies, and others
under a republican form; but our legislator had no regard to any of
these forms, but he ordained our government to be what, by a strained
expression, may be termed a Theocracy, by ascribing the authority and
the power to God, and by persuading all the people to have a regard to
Him as the Author of all the good things enjoyed either in common by all
mankind or by each one in particular, and of all that they themselves
obtain by praying to Him in their greatest difficulties. He informed
them that it was impossible to escape God's observation, either in any
of our outward actions or in any of our inward thoughts. Moreover he
represented God as un-begotten and immutable through all eternity,
superior to all mortal conceptions in form, and though known to us by
His power, yet unknown to us as to His essence. I do not now explain how
these notions of God are in harmony with the sentiments of the wisest
among the Greeks. However, their sages testify with great assurance that
these notions are just and agreeable to the divine nature; for
Pythagoras and Anaxagoras and Plato and the Stoic philosophers that
succeeded them, and almost all the rest profess the same sentiments, and
had the same notions of the nature of God; yet durst not these men
disclose those true notions to more than a few, because the body of the
people were prejudiced beforehand with other opinions. But our
legislator, whose actions harmonized with his laws, did not only prevail
with those who were his contemporaries to accept these notions, but so
firmly imprinted this faith in God upon all their posterity that it
could never be removed. The reason why the constitution of our
legislation was ever better directed than other legislations to the
utility of all is this: that Moses did not make religion a part of
virtue, but he ordained other virtues to be a part of religion--I mean
justice, and fortitude, and temperance, and a universal agreement of the
members of the community with one another. All our actions and studies
have a reference to piety towards God, for he hath left none of these in
suspense or undetermined. There are two ways of coming at any sort of
learning and a moral conduct of life: the one is by instruction in
words, the other by practical exercises. Now, other lawgivers have
separated these two ways in their opinions, and, choosing the one which
best pleased each of them, neglected the other. Thus did the
Lacedemonians and the Cretans teach by practical exercises, but not by
words; while the Athenians and almost all the other Greeks made laws
about what was to be done, or left undone, but had no regard to
exercising them thereto in practice.

"But our legislator very carefully joined these two methods of
instruction together; for he neither left these practical exercises to
be performed without verbal instruction, nor did he permit the learning
of the law to proceed without the exercises for practice; but beginning
immediately from the earliest infancy and the regulation of our diet, he
left nothing of the very smallest consequence to be done at the pleasure
and disposal of the individual. Accordingly, he made a fixed rule of
law, what sorts of food they should abstain from, and what sorts they
should use; as also what communion they should have with others, what
great diligence they should use in their occupations, and what times of
rest should be interposed, in order that, by living under that law as
under a father and a master, we might be guilty of no sin, neither
voluntary nor out of ignorance. For he did not suffer the guilt of
ignorance to go without punishment, but demonstrated the law to be the
best and the most necessary instruction of all, directing the people to
cease from their other employments and to assemble together for the
hearing and the exact learning of the law,--and this not once or twice
or oftener, but every week; which all the other legislators seem to have

This passage contains, in many ways, an admirable explanation of Judaism
as a law of conduct, inculcating morality by good habit; it lacks,
indeed, any deep spiritual note or mystical exaltation, but it was
likely for that reason to appeal to the practical, material-minded
Roman. Josephus corroborates what Seneca had grudgingly remarked, that
the Jews understood their laws; and it is this, he says, which made such
a wonderful accord among us, to which no other nation can show a
parallel. The eloquent insistence on the harmony uniting the Jewish
people is another proof that Josephus is here reproducing the ideas of
others, for it is in complete and glaring contrast with what he had
repeatedly written in his _Antiquities_ and his _Wars_ about the strife
of different sects. His books would have supplied the best argument to
any pagan criticising his apology. Josephus further ascribes to the
singleness of the tradition the absence of original genius among the
people. The excellence of the Law produces a conservative outlook,
whereas the Greeks, lacking a fixed law, love a new thing. S.D.
Luzzatto, the Hebraist of the middle of the nineteenth century,
emphasized the same contrast between Hellenism and Hebraism.

Turning in detail to the precepts of the Law, Josephus gives eloquent
expression in the Hellenistic fashion to the idea of the divine unity.
"God," he says, "contains all: He is a being altogether perfect, happy,
and self-sufficient, the beginning, the middle, and the end of all
things; God's aim is reflected in human institutions. Rightly He has but
one Temple, which should be common to all men, even as He is the common
God of all men." He develops, too, the humanitarian aspect of Judaism in
the manner of the Hellenistic school. "And for our duty at the
sacrifices, we ought in the first place to pray for the common welfare
of all and after that for ourselves, for we were made for fellowship,
one with another, and he who prefers the common good before his own is
above all dear to God." He points to the excellence of the Jewish
conception of marriage, another commonplace of the Hellenistic
apologist, as we know from the Sibylline oracles; to the respect for
parents and to the friendliness for the stranger. He insists with
Philo[1] that kinship is to be measured not by blood, but by the conduct
of life. He dwells, likewise in company with the Hellenists, on a law
that lacks Bible authority: that the Israelites should give, to all who
needed it, fire and water, food and guidance.[2] The impulse to this
interpretation of the Torah is found in the charge made by the Jews'
enemies, that they were to assist only members of their own race.[3]
Josephus appears to be original, and, as is quite pardonable, he may be
writing with a view to Roman proclivities, when he praises the law for
the number of offenses to which it attaches the capital penalty. Like
many a later Jewish apologist living amid an alien and dominant culture,
Josephus accepts foreign standards, and he is silent about the Pharisaic
teaching which softened the literal prescripts of the Bible.[4]

[Footnote 1: Comp. De Nobilitate.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Philo, II. 639.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 102.]

[Footnote 4: It has been noticed above (note, p. 153) that Josephus
appears to misunderstand or deliberately misinterpret the Hebrew
[Hebrew: aror] (cursed be!), which precedes many prohibitions of the
Mosaic law, to mean "he shall be put to death."]

In a peroration Josephus returns to a general eulogy of the Jewish Law,
on account of the faithful allegiance which it commands, and denounces
the pagan idolatry in the manner of the Greek rationalists, who had made
play with the Olympian hierarchy. While the inherent excellence of the
Jewish Law is dependent on the sublime conception of God, the inherent
defect of the Greek religion is that the Greek legislators entertained a
low conception of God, and did not make the religious creed a part of
the state law, but left it to the poets to invent what they chose. The
greatest of the Greek philosophers, indeed, agreed with the Jews as to
the true notions about God: "Plato especially imitated our legislation
in enjoining on all citizens that they should know the laws accurately."
A later generation made bold to declare that Plato had listened to
Jeremiah in Egypt and learnt his wisdom from the Jewish prophet.
Josephus compares with the Jewish separateness the national
exclusiveness of the Lacedemonians, and claims that the Jews show a
greater humanity in that they admit converts from other peoples. They
have, moreover, shown their bravery not in wars for the purpose of
amassing wealth, but in observing their laws in spite of every attempt
to wean them away. The Mosaic law is being spread over the civilized

"For there is not any city of the Greeks, nor any of the barbarians, nor
any nation whatsoever whither our custom of resting on the seventh day
has not come, and by which our fasts and lighting up of lamps and divers
regulations as to food are not observed. They also endeavor to imitate
our mutual accord with one another, and the charitable distribution of
our goods, and our diligence in our trades, and our fortitude in bearing
the distresses that befall us; and what is here matter of the greatest
admiration, our Law hath no bait of pleasure to allure men to it, but it
prevails by its own force; and as God Himself pervades all the world, so
hath our Law passed through all the world also."

The task of the apologist is completed; "for whereas our accusers have
pretended that our nation are a people of late origin, I have
demonstrated that they are exceedingly ancient, and whereas they have
reproached our lawgiver as a vile man, God of old bare witness to his
virtues, and time itself hath been proved to bear witness to the same
thing."[1] In a final appreciation he concludes:

"As to the laws themselves, more words are unnecessary, for they are
visible in their own nature, and are seen to teach not impiety, but the
truest piety in the world. They do not make men hate one another, but
encourage people to communicate what they have to one another freely.
They are enemies to injustice, they foster righteousness, they banish
idleness and expensive living, and instruct men to be content with what
they have and to be diligent in their callings. They forbid men to make
war from a desire of gain, but make them courageous in defending the
laws. They are inexorable in punishing malefactors. They admit no
sophistry of words, but are always established by actions, which we ever
propose as surer demonstrations than what is contained in writing only;
on which account I am so bold as to say that we are become the teachers
of other men in the greatest number of things, and those of the most
excellent nature only. For what is more excellent than inviolable piety?
What is more just than submission to laws? And what is more advantageous
than mutual love and concord? And this prevails so far that we are to be
neither divided by calamities nor to become oppressive and factious in
prosperity, but to contemn death when we are in war, and in peace to
apply ourselves to our handicrafts or to the tilling of the ground;
while in all things and in all ways we are satisfied that God is the
Judge and Governor of our actions."

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. ii. 41.]

As we read this final outburst of the Jewish apologist and think of what
he had himself written to gainsay it, and what he was yet to write in
his autobiography, we are fain to exclaim, _o si sic omnia_! One would
like to believe that in the defense of the Jewish Law we have the true
Josephus, driven in his old age by the goading of enemies to throw off
the mask of Greco-Roman culture, and standing out boldly as a lover of
his people and his people's law. Such latter-day repentance has been
known among the Flavii of other generations. And the two books _Against
Apion_ show that when Josephus had not to qualify his own weakness nor
to flatter his patrons, he could rise to an appreciation and even to an
eloquent exposition of Jewish ideals. Yet it was not the Greek-writing
historian, but the Palestinian Rabbis, that were to prove to the world
the undying vigor, the unquenchable power of resistance of the Jewish
Law. The Vineyard of Jabneh founded by Johanan ben Zakkai was the
sufficient refutation of Roman scoffers, while the apology of Josephus
became the guide of the early Church fathers in their replies to heathen
calumniators who repeated against them the charges that had been
invented against the Jews. It is significant that Tacitus, who wrote his
history some few years after the defense of Josephus was published,
repeated with added virulence the fables which the Jewish writer had
refuted. The charges of anti-Semites have in every age borne a charmed
life: they are hydra-headed, and can be refuted, not by literature, but
by life.

Nevertheless literary libels, if unanswered in literature, tend to
become fixed popular beliefs, and in the Dark and Middle Ages the Jewish
people were to suffer bitterly from the lack of apologists who could
obtain a hearing before the peoples of Europe. In the early centuries of
the Christian era, before the Christian Church was allied with the Roman
Empire, tolerance ruled in the Greco-Roman world, and the narrow Roman
hatred of Judaism was in large part broken down. Celsus, Numenius, and
Dion Cassius, three of the most notable authors of the second century,
speak of the Jewish people and Jewish Scriptures in a very different
tone from that of a Tacitus and an Apion. And as it has been said, "Who
shall know how many cultured pagans were led by the books of Josephus to
read the Bible and to look on Judaism with other eyes?"[1] If the
apologies of Philo and Josephus could not pierce the armor of prejudice
and hatred which enwrapped a Tacitus or a Christian ecclesiastic, they
at least found their way through the lighter coating of ignorance and
misunderstanding which had been fabricated by Hellenistic Egyptians, but
which had not fatally warped the minds of the general Greco-Roman

[Footnote 1: Comp. Joel, Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte, ii. 118.]



The works of Josephus early passed into the category of standard
literature. It is recorded that they were placed by order of the Flavian
Emperors in the public library of Rome; and though Suetonius, the
biographer of the Caesars, who wrote in the second century, and
Diogenes, the biographer of the philosophers, who wrote a century later,
do not apparently hold them of any account, it is certain that they were
carefully preserved till the triumph of the Christian Church gave them a
new importance. For centuries henceforth they were the prime authority
for Jewish history of post-Biblical times, and were treasured as a kind
of introduction to the Gospels, illuminating the period in which
Christianity had its birth. The traitor-historian was soon forgotten by
his own people, if they ever had regard for him, and with the rest of
the Hellenistic writers he dropped out of the Rabbinical tradition.
Possibly the Aramaic version of the _Wars_ survived for a time in the
Eastern schools, but while the Jews were struggling to preserve their
religious existence, they had little thought for such a history of their

The Christians, on the other hand, had a special interest in the works
of Josephus, since they found in them not only the model of their
defense against pagan calumnies, but the earliest external testimony to
support the Gospels. Josephus was venerated as the Jew who had recorded
the fate of Jesus of Nazareth. The _Antiquities_ contain two references
to John the Baptist and an account of the execution of James, the
brother of Jesus; but the most celebrated of the "evidential" passages
occurs in book xviii of the _Antiquities_, where in our text, following
on the account of Pilate's persecution, occurs this paragraph:

"Now, there lived about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to
call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such
men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of
the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate,
at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to
the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he
appeared alive to them again the third day, as the divine prophets had
foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.
And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this
day (ch. 3)."

An enormous literature has been provoked by these lines, and the weight
of modern opinion is that they are altogether spurious. The passage is
first quoted by Eusebius,[1] the historian of Caesarea, who wrote about
the beginning of the fourth century C.E.;[2] but Origen, his predecessor
by a hundred years, significantly enough does not know of it. Josephus,
he says simply, did not acknowledge the Christ.[3] At the same time
Origen quotes a passage from the same book of the _Antiquities_,[4] to
show that the Jews ascribed the defeat of the Tetrarch Herod to his
murder of John the Baptist. The earliest of the Patristic writers,
Clement of Alexandria, quotes Josephus as to chronology, but it is
fairly certain that he did not know the works at first hand, since the
era he refers to runs from Moses to the tenth year of Antoninus,[5] i.e.
till the better part of a century after the death of Josephus. Origen
likewise probably knew Josephus only at second hand, and the inference
is that both the Alexandrian ecclesiastics derived their citations and
their interpolation in the text of Josephus from a pious Christian
abstract and improvement. The uncompromisingly Christian character of
the text, the discrepancy between Origen and Eusebius, and the notorious
aptitude of early Christian scribes for interpolating manuscripts, and
especially the manuscripts of Hellenistic Jewish writers, with
Christological passages make it well nigh certain that the paragraph was
foisted in between the second and third century. That was a period when,
as has been said, "faith was more vivid than good-faith." The will to
believe its genuineness, however, persisted to our own day, and some
have made a compromise between their sentiment and their critical
faculty, by arguing that the passage, though partly corrupt, is founded
on something Josephus wrote.[6]

[Footnote 1: Comp. Schlatter, _op. cit._ 403.]

[Footnote 2: H.E. i. 41; Comp. Freimann, Wie verhielt sich das Judenthum
zu Jesus? (Monatsschrift fur die Geschichte und Wissenschaft des
Judenthums, 1911, p. 296).]

[Footnote 3: Comm. in Matth. ch. xvii.]

[Footnote 4: Ant. XVIII. v. 5.]

[Footnote 5: Strom. I. xxi. 409.]

[Footnote 6: Among those who uphold this view is the Franco-Jewish
savant Théodore Reinach, whose opinion is that the Christian scribe
changed a _testimonium de Christo_ into a _testimonium pro Christo_
(R.E.J. xxxv. 6). Both Renan and Ewald hold that our passage is a
corrupted fragment of a much fuller account of Jesus in the
_Antiquities_. See Joel. _op. cit_. p. 52.]

It is alleged that many of the words are such as Josephus might have
used, but, apart from the fact that this is contested by other
authorities, it is unreasonable to suppose that the interpolator would
go out of his way to stamp the insertion as a forgery by using
extraordinary words. It is urged again that the passages about John and
James in the _Antiquities_ support the likelihood of Josephus' having
mentioned Jesus. But these passages are themselves open to very grave
suspicions. There is no reference to them in the epitome of the chapters
furnished at the head of each book, which according to Niese dates from
the age of the Antonines, or the end of the second century. Nor does the
Slavonic version of Josephus contain the passage about James, and while
Origen refers to that passage, he had a different version of it from
that which appears in our manuscripts. It seems that he has incorporated
the gloss of a Christian believer. And again, while our text imputes the
blame of the stoning of James to the Sadducees, and gives credit to the
Pharisees for endeavoring to prevent it, Hegesippus, the Christian
writer of the second century, uses the alleged account of the incident
by Josephus to gird at the Pharisees. The probability is then that
different Christological insertions were made in the manuscripts of
Josephus according to the leaning of the scribe, but that none of the
supposed evidences are genuine, or based on a genuine narrative. The
absence of any reference to Jesus and the apostles in Josephus would
have seemed damaging to the truth of the Christian testament, and
therefore the passages were supplied.

Nevertheless we may be grateful to the interpolators, because, on the
strength of these passages, Josephus was especially treasured through
the Dark and Middle Ages, and he alone survived of the Hellenistic
apologists. When Christianity established its center at Rome, Josephus
was soon translated into Latin, and in the Vulgate version (if we may so
call it) he was best known for centuries. The seven books of the _Wars_
were rendered into Latin by one Tyrannus Rufinus of Aquilea, who was a
contemporary of Jerome (Hieronymus, 345-410 C.E.), and a very
industrious translator of the works of the Greek Patristic writers. The
translation of the _Antiquities_, though ascribed to the same author,
was made later. Jerome apparently was invited to undertake the task, for
in one of his letters he writes:[1] "The rumor that the works of
Josephus and Papian and Polycarp have been translated by me is false. I
have neither the leisure nor the strength to render his writings into
another tongue with the same elegance" [as those already done]. It is
uncertain who the translator was, but the work was carried out at the
instigation of Cassiodorus (480-575), who lived in the time of
Justinian, and was a versatile historian. He wrote himself a chronicle
of events from Adam to his own day as well as a history of the Goths. In
his book on the Institutions of Holy Literature he says:

"As to Josephus, who is almost a second Livy, and is widely known by his
books on the _Antiquities of the Jews_, Jerome declared that he was
unable to translate his works because of their great volume. But one of
my friends has translated the twenty-two books [i.e. the _Antiquities_
and the two books of the _Apology_], in spite of their difficulty and
complexity, into the Latin tongue. He also wrote seven books of extreme
brilliancy on the Conquest of the Jews, the translation of which some
ascribe to Jerome, others to Ambrose, and others to Rufinus."

[Footnote 1: Epist. ad Lucrinum, 5.]

The autobiography of Josephus, alone of his writings, does not appear to
have been done into the language of the Western Church. Perhaps its
worthlessness was apparent even in the dark days. More ancient, however,
and even more popular than the complete Latin version of Josephus, was
an abridgment of his works which passed under the name of Hegesippus.
The name is not found till the ninth century, but it is likely that the
work was written in the time of Ambrosius, the famous bishop of Milan
(C.E. 350). In this form the seven books of the _Wars_ are compressed
into five, and the words and phrases of the original are modified
throughout. The writer in his preface explicitly declares that it is a
kind of revised version, and he improves the original by Christological
insertions, explaining, for example, the destruction of Jerusalem as a
judgment upon the Jews for the murder of Christ. Josephus, he says, aims
at the careful unraveling of events and at sobriety of speech, but he
lacks faith (_religio_) and truth; "and so we have been at pains,
relying not on intellectual force but on the promptings of faith, to
probe for the inner meaning of Jewish history and to extract from it
more of value to our posterity." Josephus is often mentioned by name as
authority for the statements, but at the same time considerable
additions are made from other Roman sources. Some have thought that
there was a compiler named Hegesippus, others that the word is but a
corruption of the Latinized form of the Jewish historian's name:
Josippus, formed from [Greek: Io saepos], would become Egesippus, and
finally Hegesippus.

A Greek epitome of Josephus also existed. We find it used by a Byzantine
historian, John Zonaras, during the tenth and the eleventh century, in
the composition of his chronicles. It omitted the speeches and
historical evidences of the fuller work and pruned its excessive
garrulousness. By the uncritical scholiasts and the prolix chroniclers

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