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Against Apion by Flavius Josephus

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(26) That is the meaning of Hierosyla in Greek, not in Hebrew.


1. In the former book, most honored Epaphroditus, I have
demonstrated our antiquity, and confirmed the truth of what
I have said, from the writings of the Phoenicians, and
Chaldeans, and Egyptians. I have, moreover, produced many
of the Grecian writers as witnesses thereto. I have also made
a refutation of Manetho and Cheremon, and of certain others
of our enemies. I shall now (1) therefore begin a confutation
of the remaining authors who have written any thing against
us; although I confess I have had a doubt upon me about
Apion (2) the grammarian, whether I ought to take the
trouble of confuting him or not; for some of his writings
contain much the same accusations which the others have laid
against us, some things that he hath added are very frigid and
contemptible, and for the greatest part of what he says, it is
very scurrilous, and, to speak no more than the plain truth, it
shows him to be a very unlearned person, and what he lays
together looks like the work of a man of very bad morals,
and of one no better in his whole life than a mountebank.
Yet, because there are a great many men so very foolish, that
they are rather caught by such orations than by what is
written with care, and take pleasure in reproaching other
men, and cannot abide to hear them commended, I thought
it to be necessary not to let this man go off without
examination, who had written such an accusation against us,
as if he would bring us to make an answer in open court. For
I also have observed, that many men are very much delighted
when they see a man who first began to reproach another, to
be himself exposed to contempt on account of the vices he
hath himself been guilty of. However, it is not a very easy
thing to go over this man's discourse, nor to know plainly
what he means; yet does he seem, amidst a great confusion
and disorder in his falsehoods, to produce, in the first place,
such things as resemble what we have examined already, and
relate to the departure of our forefathers out of Egypt; and,
in the second place, he accuses those Jews that are
inhabitants of Alexandria; as, in the third place, he mixes
with those things such accusations as concern the sacred
purifications, with the other legal rites used in the temple.

2. Now although I cannot but think that I have already
demonstrated, and that abundantly more than was necessary,
that our fathers were not originally Egyptians, nor were
thence expelled, either on account of bodily diseases, or any
other calamities of that sort; yet will I briefly take notice
what Apion adds upon that subject; for in his third book,
which relates to the affairs of Egypt, he speaks thus: "I have
heard of the ancient men of Egypt, that Moses was of
Heliopolis, and that he thought himself obliged to follow the
customs of his forefathers, and offered his prayers in the
open air, towards the city walls; but that he reduced them all
to be directed towards sun-rising, which was agreeable to the
situation of Heliopolis; that he also set up pillars instead of
gnomons, (3) under which was represented a cavity like that
of a boat, and the shadow that fell from their tops fell down
upon that cavity, that it might go round about the like course
as the sun itself goes round in the other." This is that
wonderful relation which we have given us by this
grammarian. But that it is a false one is so plain, that it
stands in need of few words to prove it, but is manifest from
the works of Moses; for when he erected the first tabernacle
to God, he did himself neither give order for any such kind
of representation to be made at it, nor ordain that those that
came after him should make such a one. Moreover, when in
a future age Solomon built his temple in Jerusalem, he
avoided all such needless decorations as Apion hath here
devised. He says further, how he had "heard of the ancient
men, that Moses was of Hellopolis." To be sure that was,
because being a younger man himself, he believed those that
by their elder age were acquainted and conversed with him.
Now this grammarian, as he was, could not certainly tell
which was the poet Homer's country, no more than he could
which was the country of Pythagoras, who lived comparatively
but a little while ago; yet does he thus easily determine the
age of Moses, who preceded them such a vast number of
years, as depending on his ancient men's relation, which
shows how notorious a liar he was. But then as to this
chronological determination of the time when he says he
brought the leprous people, the blind, and the lame out of
Egypt, see how well this most accurate grammarian of ours
agrees with those that have written before him! Manetho says
that the Jews departed out of Egypt, in the reign of
Tethmosis, three hundred ninety-three years before Danaus
fled to Argos; Lysimaehus says it was under king Bocchoris,
that is, one thousand seven hundred years ago; Molo and
some others determined it as every one pleased: but this
Apion of ours, as deserving to be believed before them, hath
determined it exactly to have been in the seventh olympiad,
and the first year of that olympiad; the very same year in
which he says that Carthage was built by the Phoenicians.
The reason why he added this building of Carthage was, to
be sure, in order, as he thought, to strengthen his assertion
by so evident a character of chronology. But he was not
aware that this character confutes his assertion; for if we may
give credit to the Phoenician records as to the time of the
first coming of their colony to Carthage, they relate that
Hirom their king was above a hundred and fifty years earlier
than the building of Carthage; concerning whom I have
formerly produced testimonials out of those Phoenician
records, as also that this Hirom was a friend of Solomon
when he was building the temple of Jerusalem, and gave him
great assistance in his building that temple; while still
Solomon himself built that temple six hundred and twelve
years after the Jews came out of Egypt. As for the number of
those that were expelled out of Egypt, he hath contrived to
have the very same number with Lysimaehus, and says they
were a hundred and ten thousand. He then assigns a certain
wonderful and plausible occasion for the name of Sabbath;
for he says that "when the Jews had traveled a six days'
journey, they had buboes in their groins; and that on this
account it was that they rested on the seventh day, as having
got safely to that country which is now called Judea; that then
they preserved the language of the Egyptians, and called that
day the Sabbath, for that malady of buboes on their groin
was named Sabbatosis by the Egyptians." And would not a
man now laugh at this fellow's trifling, or rather hate his
impudence in writing thus? We must, it seems, fake it for
granted that all these hundred and ten thousand men must
have these buboes. But, for certain, if those men had been
blind and lame, and had all sorts of distempers upon them, as
Apion says they had, they could not have gone one single
day's journey; but if they had been all able to travel over a
large desert, and, besides that, to fight and conquer those
that opposed them, they had not all of them had buboes on
their groins after the sixth day was over; for no such
distemper comes naturally and of necessity upon those that
travel; but still, when there are many ten thousands in a camp
together, they constantly march a settled space [in a day].
Nor is it at all probable that such a thing should happen by
chance; this would be prodigiously absurd to be supposed.
However, our admirable author Apion hath before told us
that "they came to Judea in six days' time;" and again, that
"Moses went up to a mountain that lay between Egypt and
Arabia, which was called Sinai, and was concealed there forty
days, and that when he came down from thence he gave laws
to the Jews." But, then, how was it possible for them to tarry
forty days in a desert place where there was no water, and at
the same time to pass all over the country between that and
Judea in the six days? And as for this grammatical translation
of the word Sabbath, it either contains an instance of his
great impudence or gross ignorance; for the words Sabbo and
Sabbath are widely different from one another; for the word
Sabbath in the Jewish language denotes rest from all sorts of
work; but the word Sabbo, as he affirms, denotes among the
Egyptians the malady of a bubo in the groin.

3. This is that novel account which the Egyptian Apion gives
us concerning the Jews' departure out of Egypt, and is no
better than a contrivance of his own. But why should we
wonder at the lies he tells about our forefathers, when he
affirms them to be of Egyptian original, when he lies also
about himself? for although he was born at Oasis in Egypt,
he pretends to be, as a man may say, the top man of all the
Egyptians; yet does he forswear his real country and
progenitors, and by falsely pretending to be born at
Alexandria, cannot deny the (4) pravity of his family; for you
see how justly he calls those Egyptians whom he hates, and
endeavors to reproach; for had he not deemed Egyptians to
be a name of great reproach, he would not have avoided the
name of an Egyptian himself; as we know that those who
brag of their own countries value themselves upon the
denomination they acquire thereby, and reprove such as
unjustly lay claim thereto. As for the Egyptians' claim to be
of our kindred, they do it on one of the following accounts; I
mean, either as they value themselves upon it, and pretend to
bear that relation to us; or else as they would draw us in to
be partakers of their own infamy. But this fine fellow Apion
seems to broach this reproachful appellation against us, [that
we were originally Egyptians,] in order to bestow it on the
Alexandrians, as a reward for the privilege they had given
him of being a fellow citizen with them: he also is apprized of
the ill-will the Alexandrians bear to those Jews who are their
fellow citizens, and so proposes to himself to reproach them,
although he must thereby include all the other Egyptians
also; while in both cases he is no better than an impudent

4. But let us now see what those heavy and wicked crimes are
which Apion charges upon the Alexandrian Jews. "They came
(says he) out of Syria, and inhabited near the tempestuous
sea, and were in the neighborhood of the dashing of the
waves." Now if the place of habitation includes any thing that
is reproached, this man reproaches not his own real country,
[Egypt,] but what he pretends to be his own country,
Alexandria; for all are agreed in this, that the part of that
which is near the sea is the best part of all for habitation.
Now if the Jews gained that part of the city by force, and
have kept it hitherto without impeachment, this is a mark of
their valor; but in reality it was Alexander himself that gave
them that place for their habitation, when they obtained
equal privileges there with the Macedonians. Nor call I devise
what Apion would have said, had their habitation been at
Necropolis? and not been fixed hard by the royal palace [as it
is]; nor had their nation had the denomination of
Macedonians given them till this very day [as they have]. Had
this man now read the epistles of king Alexander, or those of
Ptolemy the son of Lagus, or met with the writings of the
succeeding kings, or that pillar which is still standing at
Alexandria, and contains the privileges which the great
[Julius] Caesar bestowed upon the Jews; had this man, I say,
known these records, and yet hath the impudence to write in
contradiction to them, he hath shown himself to be a wicked
man; but if he knew nothing of these records, he hath shown
himself to be a man very ignorant: nay, when lie appears to
wonder how Jews could be called Alexandrians, this is
another like instance of his ignorance; for all such as are
called out to be colonies, although they be ever so far remote
from one another in their original, receive their names from
those that bring them to their new habitations. And what
occasion is there to speak of others, when those of us Jews
that dwell at Antioch are named Antiochians, because
Seleucns the founder of that city gave them the privileges
belonging thereto? After the like manner do those Jews that
inhabit Ephesus, and the other cities of Ionia, enjoy the same
name with those that were originally born there, by the grant
of the succeeding princes; nay, the kindness and humanity of
the Romans hath been so great, that it hath granted leave to
almost all others to take the same name of Romans upon
them; I mean not particular men only, but entire and large
nations themselves also; for those anciently named Iberi, and
Tyrrheni, and Sabini, are now called Romani. And if Apion
reject this way of obtaining the privilege of a citizen of
Alexandria, let him abstain from calling himself an
Alexandrian hereafter; for otherwise, how can he who was
born in the very heart of Egypt be an Alexandrian, if this way
of accepting such a privilege, of which he would have us
deprived, be once abrogated? although indeed these Romans,
who are now the lords of the habitable earth, have forbidden
the Egyptians to have the privileges of any city whatsoever;
while this fine fellow, who is willing to partake of such a
privilege himself as he is forbidden to make use of, endeavors
by calumnies to deprive those of it that have justly received
it; for Alexander did not therefore get some of our nation to
Alexandria, because he wanted inhabitants for this his city, on
whose building he had bestowed so much pains; but this was
given to our people as a reward, because he had, upon a
careful trial, found them all to have been men of virtue and
fidelity to him; for, as Hecateus says concerning us,
"Alexander honored our nation to such a degree, that, for the
equity and the fidelity which the Jews exhibited to him, he
permitted them to hold the country of Samaria free from
tribute. Of the same mind also was Ptolemy the son of Lagus,
as to those Jews who dwelt at Alexandria." For he intrusted
the fortresses of Egypt into their hands, as believing they
would keep them faithfully and valiantly for him; and when
he was desirous to secure the government of Cyrene, and the
other cities of Libya, to himself, he sent a party of Jews to
inhabit in them. And for his successor Ptolemy, who was
called Philadelphus, he did not only set all those of our
nation free who were captives under him, but did frequently
give money [for their ransom]; and, what was his greatest
work of all, he had a great desire of knowing our laws, and of
obtaining the books of our sacred Scriptures; accordingly, he
desired that such men might be sent him as might interpret
our law to him; and, in order to have them well compiled, he
committed that care to no ordinary persons, but ordained
that Demetrius Phalereus, and Andreas, and Aristeas; the
first, Demetrius, the most learned person of his age, and the
others, such as were intrusted with the guard of his body;
should take care of this matter: nor would he certainly have
been so desirous of learning our law, and the philosophy of
our nation, had he despised the men that made use of it, or
had he not indeed had them in great admiration.

5. Now this Apion was unacquainted with almost all the kings
of those Macedonians whom he pretends to have been his
progenitors, who were yet very well affected towards us; for
the third of those Ptolemies, who was called Euergetes, when
he had gotten possession of all Syria by force, did not offer
his thank-offerings to the Egyptian gods for his victory, but
came to Jerusalem, and according to our own laws offered
many sacrifices to God, and dedicated to him such gifts as
were suitable to such a victory: and as for Ptolemy
Philometer and his wife Cleopatra, they committed their
whole kingdom to the Jews, when Onias and Dositheus, both
Jews, whose names are laughed at by Apion, were the
generals of their whole army. But certainly, instead of
reproaching them, he ought to admire their actions, and
return them thanks for saving Alexandria, whose citizen he
pretends to be; for when these Alexandrians were making war
with Cleopatra the queen, and were in danger of being
utterly ruined, these Jews brought them to terms of
agreement, and freed them from the miseries of a civil war.
"But then (says Apion) Onias brought a small army afterward
upon the city at the time when Thorruns the Roman
ambassador was there present." Yes, do I venture to say, and
that he did rightly and very justly in so doing; for that
Ptolemy who was called Physco, upon the death of his
brother Philometer, came from Cyrene, and would have
ejected Cleopatra as well as her sons out of their kingdom,
that he might obtain it for himself unjustly. (5) For this
then it was that Onias undertook a war against him on
Cleopatra's account; nor would he desert that trust the royal
family had reposed in him in their distress. Accordingly, God
gave a remarkable attestation to his righteous procedure; for
when Ptolemy Physco (6) had the presumption to fight
against Onias's army, and had caught all the Jews that were
in the city [Alexandria], with their children and wives, and
exposed them naked and in bonds to his elephants, that they
might be trodden upon and destroyed, and when he had
made those elephants drunk for that purpose, the event
proved contrary to his preparations; for these elephants left
the Jews who were exposed to them, and fell violently upon
Physco's friends, and slew a great number of them; nay, after
this Ptolemy saw a terrible ghost, which prohibited his hurting
those men; his very concubine, whom he loved so well, (some
call her Ithaca, and others Irene,) making supplication to
him, that he would not perpetrate so great a wickedness. So
he complied with her request, and repented of what he either
had already done, or was about to do; whence it is well
known that the Alexandrian Jews do with good reason
celebrate this day, on the account that they had thereon been
vouchsafed such an evident deliverance from God. However,
Apion, the common calumniator of men, hath the
presumption to accuse the Jews for making this war against
Physco, when he ought to have commended them for the
same. This man also makes mention of Cleopatra, the last
queen of Alexandria, and abuses us, because she was
ungrateful to us; whereas he ought to have reproved her, who
indulged herself in all kinds of injustice and wicked
both with regard to her nearest relations and husbands who
had loved her, and, indeed, in general with regard to all the
Romans, and those emperors that were her benefactors; who
also had her sister Arsinoe slain in a temple, when she had
done her no harm: moreover, she had her brother slain by
private treachery, and she destroyed the gods of her country
and the sepulchers of her progenitors; and while she had
received her kingdom from the first Caesar, she had the
impudence to rebel against his son: (7) and successor; nay,
she corrupted Antony with her love-tricks, and rendered him
an enemy to his country, and made him treacherous to his
friends, and [by his means] despoiled some of their royal
authority, and forced others in her madness to act wickedly.
But what need I enlarge upon this head any further, when
she left Antony in his fight at sea, though he were her
husband, and the father of their common children, and
compelled him to resign up his government, with the army,
and to follow her [into Egypt]? nay, when last of all Caesar
had taken Alexandria, she came to that pitch of cruelty, that
she declared she had some hope of preserving her affairs still,
in case she could kill the Jews, though it were with her own
hand; to such a degree of barbarity and perfidiousness had
she arrived. And doth any one think that we cannot boast
ourselves of any thing, if, as Apion says, this queen did not
a time of famine distribute wheat among us? However, she at
length met with the punishment she deserved. As for us Jews,
we appeal to the great Caesar what assistance we brought
him, and what fidelity we showed to him against the
Egyptians; as also to the senate and its decrees, and the
epistles of Augustus Caesar, whereby our merits [to the
Romans] are justified. Apion ought to have looked upon
those epistles, and in particular to have examined the
testimonies given on our behalf, under Alexander and all the
Ptolemies, and the decrees of the senate and of the greatest
Roman emperors. And if Germanicus was not able to make a
distribution of corn to all the inhabitants of Alexandria, that
only shows what a barren time it was, and how great a want
there was then of corn, but tends nothing to the accusation of
the Jews; for what all the emperors have thought of the
Alexandrian Jews is well known, for this distribution of wheat
was no otherwise omitted with regard to the Jews, than it was
with regard to the other inhabitants of Alexandria. But they
still were desirous to preserve what the kings had formerly
intrusted to their care, I mean the custody of the river; nor
did those kings think them unworthy of having the entire
custody thereof, upon all occasions.

6. But besides this, Apion objects to us thus: "If the Jews
(says he) be citizens of Alexandria, why do they not worship
the same gods with the Alexandrians?" To which I give this
answer: Since you are yourselves Egyptians, why do you fight
it out one against another, and have implacable wars about
your religion? At this rate we must not call you all Egyptians,
nor indeed in general men, because you breed up with great
care beasts of a nature quite contrary to that of men,
although the nature of all men seems to be one and the
same. Now if there be such differences in opinion among you
Egyptians, why are you surprised that those who came to
Alexandria from another country, and had original laws of
their own before, should persevere in the observance of those
laws? But still he charges us with being the authors of
sedition; which accusation, if it be a just one, why is it not
laid against us all, since we are known to be all of one mind.
Moreover, those that search into such matters will soon
discover that the authors of sedition have been such citizens
of Alexandria as Apion is; for while they were the Grecians
and Macedonians who were ill possession of this city, there
was no sedition raised against us, and we were permitted to
observe our ancient solemnities; but when the number of the
Egyptians therein came to be considerable, the times grew
confused, and then these seditions brake out still more and
more, while our people continued uncorrupted. These
Egyptians, therefore, were the authors of these troubles, who
having not the constancy of Macedonians, nor the prudence
of Grecians, indulged all of them the evil manners of the
Egyptians, and continued their ancient hatred against us; for
what is here so presumptuously charged upon us, is owing to
the differences that are amongst themselves; while many of
them have not obtained the privileges of citizens in proper
times, but style those who are well known to have had that
privilege extended to them all no other than foreigners: for it
does not appear that any of the kings have ever formerly
bestowed those privileges of citizens upon Egyptians, no more
than have the emperors done it more lately; while it was
Alexander who introduced us into this city at first, the kings
augmented our privileges therein, and the Romans have been
pleased to preserve them always inviolable. Moreover, Apion
would lay a blot upon us, because we do not erect images for
our emperors; as if those emperors did not know this before,
or stood in need of Apion as their defender; whereas he
ought rather to have admired the magnanimity and modesty
of the Romans, whereby they do not compel those that are
subject to them to transgress the laws of their countries, but
are willing to receive the honors due to them after such a
manner as those who are to pay them esteem consistent with
piety and with their own laws; for they do not thank people
for conferring honors upon them, When they are compelled
by violence so to do. Accordingly, since the Grecians and
some other nations think it a right thing to make images, nay,
when they have painted the pictures of their parents, and
wives, and children, they exult for joy; and some there are
who take pictures for themselves of such persons as were no
way related to them; nay, some take the pictures of such
servants as they were fond of; what wonder is it then if such
as these appear willing to pay the same respect to their
princes and lords? But then our legislator hath forbidden us
to make images, not by way of denunciation beforehand, that
the Roman authority was not to be honored, but as despising
a thing that was neither necessary nor useful for either God
or man; and he forbade them, as we shall prove hereafter, to
make these images for any part of the animal creation, and
much less for God himself, who is no part of such animal
creation. Yet hath our legislator no where forbidden us to
pay honors to worthy men, provided they be of another kind,
and inferior to those we pay to God; with which honors we
willingly testify our respect to our emperors, and to the
people of Rome; we also offer perpetual sacrifices for them;
nor do we only offer them every day at the common expenses
of all the Jews, but although we offer no other such sacrifices
out of our common expenses, no, not for our own children,
yet do we this as a peculiar honor to the emperors, and to
them alone, while we do the same to no other person
whomsoever. And let this suffice for an answer in general to
Apion, as to what he says with relation to the Alexandrian

7. However, I cannot but admire those other authors who
furnished this man with such his materials; I mean
Possidonius and Apollonius [the son of] Molo, (8) who, while
they accuse us for not worshipping the same gods whom
others worship, they think themselves not guilty of impiety
when they tell lies of us, and frame absurd and reproachful
stories about our temple; whereas it is a most shameful thing
for freemen to forge lies on any occasion, and much more so
to forge them about our temple, which was so famous over
all the world, and was preserved so sacred by us; for Apion
hath the impudence to pretend that" the Jews placed an ass's
head in their holy place;" and he affirms that this was
discovered when Antiochus Epiphanes spoiled our temple,
and found that ass's head there made of gold, and worth a
great deal of money. To this my first answer shall be this,
that had there been any such thing among us, an Egyptian
ought by no means to have thrown it in our teeth, since an
ass is not a more contemptible animal than (9) and goats,
and other such creatures, which among them are gods. But
besides this answer, I say further, how comes it about that
Apion does not understand this to be no other than a
palpable lie, and to be confuted by the thing itself as utterly
incredible? For we Jews are always governed by the same
laws, in which we constantly persevere; and although many
misfortunes have befallen our city, as the like have befallen
others, and although Theos [Epiphanes], and Pompey the
Great, and Licinius Crassus, and last of all Titus Caesar, have
conquered us in war, and gotten possession of our temple;
yet have they none of them found any such thing there, nor
indeed any thing but what was agreeable to the strictest piety;
although what they found we are not at liberty to reveal to
other nations. But for Antiochus [Epiphanes], he had no just
cause for that ravage in our temple that he made; he only
came to it when he wanted money, without declaring himself
our enemy, and attacked us while we were his associates and
his friends; nor did he find any thing there that was
ridiculous. This is attested by many worthy writers; Polybius
of Megalopolis, Strabo of Cappadocia, Nicolaus of Damascus,
Timagenes, Castor the chronotoger, and Apollodorus; (10)
who all say that it was out of Antiochus's want of money that
he broke his league with the Jews, and despoiled their temple
when it was full of gold and silver. Apion ought to have had
a regard to these facts, unless he had himself had either an
ass's heart or a dog's impudence; of such a dog I mean as
they worship; for he had no other external reason for the lies
he tells of us. As for us Jews, we ascribe no honor or power
to asses, as do the Egyptians to crocodiles and asps, when
they esteem such as are seized upon by the former, or bitten
by the latter, to be happy persons, and persons worthy of
God. Asses are the same with us which they are with other
wise men, viz. creatures that bear the burdens that we lay
upon them; but if they come to our thrashing-floors and eat
our corn, or do not perform what we impose upon them, we
beat them with a great many stripes, because it is their
business to minister to us in our husbandry affairs. But this
Apion of ours was either perfectly unskillful in the
composition of such fallacious discourses, or however, when
he begun [somewhat better], he was not able to persevere in
what he had undertaken, since he hath no manner of success
in those reproaches he casts upon us.

8. He adds another Grecian fable, in order to reproach us. In
reply to which, it would be enough to say, that they who
presume to speak about Divine worship ought not to be
ignorant of this plain truth, that it is a degree of less
to pass through temples, than to forge wicked calumnies of
its priests. Now such men as he are more zealous to justify a
sacrilegious king, than to write what is just and what is true
about us, and about our temple; for when they are desirous
of gratifying Antiochus, and of concealing that perfidiousness
and sacrilege which he was guilty of, with regard to our
nation, when he wanted money, they endeavor to disgrace us,
and tell lies even relating to futurities. Apion becomes other
men's prophet upon this occasion, and says that "Antiochus
found in our temple a bed, and a man lying upon it, with a
small table before him, full of dainties, from the [fishes of
the] sea, and the fowls of the dry land; that this man was
amazed at these dainties thus set before him; that he
immediately adored the king, upon his coming in, as hoping
that he would afford him all possible assistance; that he fell
down upon his knees, and stretched out to him his right
hand, and begged to be released; and that when the king bid
him sit down, and tell him who he was, and why he dwelt
there, and what was the meaning of those various sorts of
food that were set before him the man made a lamentable
complaint, and with sighs, and tears in his eyes, gave him this
account of the distress he was in; and said that he was a
Greek and that as he went over this province, in order to get
his living, he was seized upon by foreigners, on a sudden, and
brought to this temple, and shut up therein, and was seen by
nobody, but was fattened by these curious provisions thus set
before him; and that truly at the first such unexpected
advantages seemed to him matter of great joy; that after a
while, they brought a suspicion him, and at length
astonishment, what their meaning should be; that at last he
inquired of the servants that came to him and was by them
informed that it was in order to the fulfilling a law of the
Jews, which they must not tell him, that he was thus fed; and
that they did the same at a set time every year: that they used
to catch a Greek foreigner, and fat him thus up every year,
and then lead him to a certain wood, and kill him, and
sacrifice with their accustomed solemnities, and taste of his
entrails, and take an oath upon this sacrificing a Greek, that
they would ever be at enmity with the Greeks; and that then
they threw the remaining parts of the miserable wretch into a
certain pit." Apion adds further, that" the man said there
were but a few days to come ere he was to be slain, and
implored of Antiochus that, out of the reverence he bore to
the Grecian gods, he would disappoint the snares the Jews
laid for his blood, and would deliver him from the miseries
with which he was encompassed." Now this is such a most
tragical fable as is full of nothing but cruelty and impudence;
yet does it not excuse Antiochus of his sacrilegious attempt,
as those who write it in his vindication are willing to
for he could not presume beforehand that he should meet
with any such thing in coming to the temple, but must have
found it unexpectedly. He was therefore still an impious
person, that was given to unlawful pleasures, and had no
regard to God in his actions. But [as for Apion], he hath
done whatever his extravagant love of lying hath dictated to
him, as it is most easy to discover by a consideration of his
writings; for the difference of our laws is known not to regard
the Grecians only, but they are principally opposite to the
Egyptians, and to some other nations also for while it so falls
out that men of all countries come sometimes and sojourn
among us, how comes it about that we take an oath, and
conspire only against the Grecians, and that by the effusion
of their blood also? Or how is it possible that all the Jews
should get together to these sacrifices, and the entrails of
man should be sufficient for so many thousands to taste of
them, as Apion pretends? Or why did not the king carry this
man, whosoever he was, and whatsoever was his name,
(which is not set down in Apion's book,) with great pomp
back into his own country? when he might thereby have been
esteemed a religious person himself, and a mighty lover of
the Greeks, and might thereby have procured himself great
assistance from all men against that hatred the Jews bore to
him. But I leave this matter; for the proper way of confuting
fools is not to use bare words, but to appeal to the things
themselves that make against them. Now, then, all such as
ever saw the construction of our temple, of what nature it
was, know well enough how the purity of it was never to be
profaned; for it had four several courts (12) encompassed
with cloisters round about, every one of which had by our law
a peculiar degree of separation from the rest. Into the first
court every body was allowed to go, even foreigners, and
none but women, during their courses, were prohibited to
pass through it; all the Jews went into the second court, as
well as their wives, when they were free from all uncleanness;
into the third court went in the Jewish men, when they were
clean and purified; into the fourth went the priests, having on
their sacerdotal garments; but for the most sacred place,
none went in but the high priests, clothed in their peculiar
garments. Now there is so great caution used about these
offices of religion, that the priests are appointed to go into
the temple but at certain hours; for in the morning, at the
opening of the inner temple, those that are to officiate
receive the sacrifices, as they do again at noon, till the
are shut. Lastly, it is not so much as lawful to carry any
into the holy house; nor is there any thing therein, but the
altar [of incense], the table [of shew-bread], the censer, and
the candlestick, which are all written in the law; for there is
nothing further there, nor are there any mysteries performed
that may not be spoken of; nor is there any feasting within
the place. For what I have now said is publicly known, and
supported by the testimony of the whole people, and their
operations are very manifest; for although there be four
courses of the priests, and every one of them have above five
thousand men in them, yet do they officiate on certain days
only; and when those days are over, other priests succeed in
the performance of their sacrifices, and assemble together at
mid-day, and receive the keys of the temple, and the vessels
by tale, without any thing relating to food or drink being
carried into the temple; nay, we are not allowed to offer such
things at the altar, excepting what is prepared for the

9. What then can we say of Apion, but that he examined
nothing that concerned these things, while still he uttered
incredible words about them? but it is a great shame for a
grammarian not to be able to write true history. Now if he
knew the purity of our temple, he hath entirely omitted to
take notice of it; but he forges a story about the seizing of a
Grecian, about ineffable food, and the most delicious
preparation of dainties; and pretends that strangers could go
into a place whereinto the noblest men among the Jews are
not allowed to enter, unless they be priests. This, therefore,
the utmost degree of impiety, and a voluntary lie, in order to
the delusion of those who will not examine into the truth of
matters; whereas such unspeakable mischiefs as are above
related have been occasioned by such calumnies that are
raised upon us.

10. Nay, this miracle or piety derides us further, and adds the
following pretended facts to his former fable; for be says that
this man related how, "while the Jews were once in a long
war with the Idumeans, there came a man out of one of the
cities of the Idumeans, who there had worshipped Apollo.
This man, whose name is said to have been Zabidus, came to
the Jews, and promised that he would deliver Apollo, the god
of Dora, into their hands, and that he would come to our
temple, if they would all come up with him, and bring the
whole multitude of the Jews with them; that Zabidus made
him a certain wooden instrument, and put it round about
him, and set three rows of lamps therein, and walked after
such a manner, that he appeared to those that stood a great
way off him to be a kind of star, walking upon the earth; that
the Jews were terribly affrighted at so surprising an
appearance, and stood very quiet at a distance; and that
Zabidus, while they continued so very quiet, went into the
holy house, and carried off that golden head of an ass, (for so
facetiously does he write,) and then went his way back again
to Dora in great haste." And say you so, sir! as I may reply;
then does Apion load the ass, that is, himself, and lays on
him a burden of fooleries and lies; for he writes of places
that have no being, and not knowing the cities he speaks of,
he changes their situation; for Idumea borders upon our
country, and is near to Gaza, in which there is no such city as
Dora; although there be, it is true, a city named Dora in
Phoenicia, near Mount Carmel, but it is four days' journey
from Idumea. (12) Now, then, why does this man accuse us,
because we have not gods in common with other nations, if
our fathers were so easily prevailed upon to have Apollo
come to them, and thought they saw him walking upon the
earth, and the stars with him? for certainly those who have so
many festivals, wherein they light lamps, must yet, at this
rate, have never seen a candlestick! But still it seems that
while Zabidus took his journey over the country, where were
so many ten thousands of people, nobody met him. He also,
it seems, even in a time of war, found the walls of Jerusalem
destitute of guards. I omit the rest. Now the doors of the holy
house were seventy (13) cubits high, and twenty cubits broad;
they were all plated over with gold, and almost of solid gold
itself, and there were no fewer than twenty (14) men required
to shut them every day; nor was it lawful ever to leave them
open, though it seems this lamp-bearer of ours opened them
easily, or thought he opened them, as he thought he had the
ass's head in his hand. Whether, therefore, he returned it to
us again, or whether Apion took it, and brought it into the
temple again, that Antiochus might find it, and afford a
handle for a second fable of Apion's, is uncertain.

11. Apion also tells a false story, when he mentions an oath
of ours, as if we "swore by God, the Maker of the heaven,
and earth, and sea, to bear no good will to any foreigner, and
particularly to none of the Greeks." Now this liar ought to
have said directly that" we would bear no good-will to any
foreigner, and particularly to none of the Egyptians." For
then his story about the oath would have squared with the
rest of his original forgeries, in case our forefathers had
driven away by their kinsmen, the Egyptians, not on account
of any wickedness they had been guilty of, but on account of
the calamities they were under; for as to the Grecians, we
were rather remote from them in place, than different from
them in our institutions, insomuch that we have no enmity
with them, nor any jealousy of them. On the contrary, it hath
so happened that many of them have come over to our laws,
and some of them have continued in their observation,
although others of them had not courage enough to
persevere, and so departed from them again; nor did any
body ever hear this oath sworn by us: Apion, it seems, was
the only person that heard it, for he indeed was the first
composer of it.

12. However, Apion deserves to be admired for his great
prudence, as to what I am going to say, which is this," That
there is a plain mark among us, that we neither have just
laws, nor worship God as we ought to do, because we are not
governors, but are rather in subjection to Gentiles, sometimes
to one nation, and sometimes to another; and that our city
hath been liable to several calamities, while their city
[Alexandria] hath been of old time an imperial city, and not
used to be in subjection to the Romans." But now this man
had better leave off this bragging, for every body but himself
would think that Apion said what he hath said against
himself; for there are very few nations that have had the
good fortune to continue many generations in the
principality, but still the mutations in human affairs have put
them into subjection under others; and most nations have
been often subdued, and brought into subjection by others.
Now for the Egyptians, perhaps they are the only nation that
have had this extraordinary privilege, to have never served
any of those monarchs who subdued Asia and Europe, and
this on account, as they pretend, that the gods fled into their
country, and saved themselves by being changed into the
shapes of wild beasts! Whereas these Egyptians (15) are the
very people that appear to have never, in all the past ages,
had one day of freedom, no, not so much as from their own
lords. For I will not reproach them with relating the manner
how the Persians used them, and this not once only, but
many times, when they laid their cities waste, demolished
their temples, and cut the throats of those animals whom
they esteemed to be gods; for it is not reasonable to imitate
the clownish ignorance of Apion, who hath no regard to the
misfortunes of the Athenians, or of the Lacedemonians, the
latter of whom were styled by all men the most courageous,
and the former the most religious of the Grecians. I say
nothing of such kings as have been famous for piety,
particularly of one of them, whose name was Cresus, nor
what calamities he met with in his life; I say nothing of the
citadel of Athens, of the temple at Ephesus, of that at
Delphi, nor of ten thousand others which have been burnt
down, while nobody cast reproaches on those that were the
sufferers, but on those that were the actors therein. But now
we have met with Apion, an accuser of our nation, though
one that still forgets the miseries of his own people, the
Egptians; but it is that Sesostris who was once so celebrated a
king of Egypt that hath blinded him. Now we will not brag of
our kings, David and Solomon, though they conquered many
nations; accordingly we will let them alone. However, Apion
is ignorant of what every body knows, that the Egyptians
were servants to the Persians, and afterwards to the
Macedonians, when they were lords of Asia, and were no
better than slaves, while we have enjoyed liberty formerly;
nay, more than that, have had the dominion of the cities that
lie round about us, and this nearly for a hundred and twenty
years together, until Pompeius Magnus. And when all the
kings every where were conquered by the Romans, our
ancestors were the only people who continued to be
esteemed their confederates and friends, on account of their
fidelity to them.(16)

13. "But," says Apion, "we Jews have not had any wonderful
men amongst us, not any inventors of arts, nor any eminent
for wisdom." He then enumerates Socrates, and Zeno, and
Cleanthes, and some others of the same sort; and, after all,
he adds himself to them, which is the most wonderful thing
of all that he says, and pronounces Alexandria to be happy,
because it hath such a citizen as he is in it; for he was the
fittest man to be a witness to his own deserts, although he
hath appeared to all others no better than a wicked
mountebank, of a corrupt life and ill discourses; on which
account one may justly pity Alexandria, if it should value
itself upon such a citizen as he is. But as to our own men, we
have had those who have been as deserving of commendation
as any other whosoever, and such as have perused our
Antiquities cannot be ignorant of them.

14. As to the other things which he sets down as
blameworthy, it may perhaps be the best way to let them pass
without apology, that he may be allowed to be his own
accuser, and the accuser of the rest of the Egyptians.
However, he accuses us for sacrificing animals, and for
abstaining from swine's flesh, and laughs at us for the
circumcision of our privy members. Now as for our slaughter
of tame animals for sacrifices, it is common to us and to all
other men; but this Apion, by making it a crime to sacrifice
them, demonstrates himself to be an Egyptian; for had he
been either a Grecian or a Macedonian, [as he pretends to
be,] he had not shown any uneasiness at it; for those people
glory in sacrificing whole hecatombs to the gods, and make
use of those sacrifices for feasting; and yet is not the world
thereby rendered destitute of cattle, as Apion was afraid
would come to pass. Yet if all men had followed the manners
of the Egyptians, the world had certainly been made desolate
as to mankind, but had been filled full of the wildest sort of
brute beasts, which, because they suppose them to be gods,
they carefully nourish. However, if any one should ask Apion
which of the Egyptians he thinks to he the most wise and
most pious of them all, he would certainly acknowledge the
priests to be so; for the histories say that two things were
originally committed to their care by their kings' injunctions,
the worship of the gods, and the support of wisdom and
philosophy. Accordingly, these priests are all circumcised, and
abstain from swine's flesh; nor does any one of the other
Egyptians assist them in slaying those sacrifices they offer to
the gods. Apion was therefore quite blinded in his mind,
when, for the sake of the Egyptians, he contrived to reproach
us, and to accuse such others as not only make use of that
conduct of life which he so much abuses, but have also taught
other men to be circumcised, as says Herodotus; which makes
me think that Apion is hereby justly punished for his casting
such reproaches on the laws of his own country; for he was
circumcised himself of necessity, on account of an ulcer in his
privy member; and when he received no benefit by such
circumcision, but his member became putrid, he died in great
torment. Now men of good tempers ought to observe their
own laws concerning religion accurately, and to persevere
therein, but not presently to abuse the laws of other nations,
while this Apion deserted his own laws, and told lies about
ours. And this was the end of Apion's life, and this shall be
the conclusion of our discourse about him.

15. But now, since Apollonius Molo, and Lysimachus, and
some others, write treatises about our lawgiver Moses, and
about our laws, which are neither just nor true, and this
partly out of ignorance, but chiefly out of ill-will to us,
they calumniate Moses as an impostor and deceiver, and
pretend that our laws teach us wickedness, but nothing that is
virtuous, I have a mind to discourse briefly, according to my
ability, about our whole constitution of government, and
about the particular branches of it. For I suppose it will
thence become evident, that the laws we have given us are
disposed after the best manner for the advancement of piety,
for mutual communion with one another, for a general love
of mankind, as also for justice, and for sustaining labors with
fortitude, and for a contempt of death. And I beg of those
that shall peruse this writing of mine, to read it without
partiality; for it is not my purpose to write an encomium
upon ourselves, but I shall esteem this as a most just apology
for us, and taken from those our laws, according to which we
lead our lives, against the many and the lying objections that
have been made against us. Moreover, since this Apollonius
does not do like Apion, and lay a continued accusation
against us, but does it only by starts, and up and clown his
discourse, while he sometimes reproaches us as atheists, and
man-haters, and sometimes hits us in the teeth with our want
of courage, and yet sometimes, on the contrary, accuses us of
too great boldness and madness in our conduct; nay, he says
that we are the weakest of all the barbarians, and that this is
the reason why we are the only people who have made no
improvements in human life; now I think I shall have then
sufficiently disproved all these his allegations, when it shall
appear that our laws enjoin the very reverse of what he says,
and that we very carefully observe those laws ourselves. And
if I he compelled to make mention of the laws of other
nations, that are contrary to ours, those ought deservedly to
thank themselves for it, who have pretended to depreciate
our laws in comparison of their own; nor will there, I think,
be any room after that for them to pretend either that we
have no such laws ourselves, an epitome of which I will
present to the reader, or that we do not, above all men,
continue in the observation of them.

16. To begin then a good way backward, I would advance
this, in the first place, that those who have been admirers of
good order, and of living under common laws, and who began
to introduce them, may well have this testimony that they are
better than other men, both for moderation and such virtue
as is agreeable to nature. Indeed their endeavor was to have
every thing they ordained believed to be very ancient, that
they might not be thought to imitate others, but might appear
to have delivered a regular way of living to others after them.
Since then this is the case, the excellency of a legislator is
seen in providing for the people's living after the best
manner, and in prevailing with those that are to use the laws
he ordains for them, to have a good opinion of them, and in
obliging the multitude to persevere in them, and to make no
changes in them, neither in prosperity nor adversity. Now I
venture to say, that our legislator is the most ancient of all
the legislators whom we have ally where heard of; for as for
the Lycurguses, and Solons, and Zaleucus Locrensis, and all
those legislators who are so admired by the Greeks, they
seem to be of yesterday, if compared with our legislator,
insomuch as the very name of a law was not so much as
known in old times among the Grecians. Homer is a witness
to the truth of this observation, who never uses that term in
all his poems; for indeed there was then no such thing among
them, but the multitude was governed by wise maxims, and
by the injunctions of their king. It was also a long time that
they continued in the use of these unwritten customs,
although they were always changing them upon several
occasions. But for our legislator, who was of so much greater
antiquity than the rest, (as even those that speak against us
upon all occasions do always confess,) he exhibited himself to
the people as their best governor and counselor, and included
in his legislation the entire conduct of their lives, and
prevailed with them to receive it, and brought it so to pass,
that those that were made acquainted with his laws did most
carefully observe them.

17. But let us consider his first and greatest work; for when
was resolved on by our forefathers to leave Egypt, and return
to their own country, this Moses took the many tell
thousands that were of the people, and saved them out of
many desperate distresses, and brought them home in safety.
And certainly it was here necessary to travel over a country
without water, and full of sand, to overcome their enemies,
and, during these battles, to preserve their children, and
wives, and their prey; on all which occasions he became an
excellent general of an army, and a most prudent counselor,
and one that took the truest care of them all; he also so
brought it about, that the whole multitude depended upon
him. And while he had them always obedient to what he
enjoined, he made no manner of use of his authority for his
own private advantage, which is the usual time when
governors gain great powers to themselves, and pave the way
for tyranny, and accustom the multitude to live very
dissolutely; whereas, when our legislator was in so great
authority, he, on the contrary, thought he ought to have
regard to piety, and to show his great good-will to the people;
and by this means he thought he might show the great degree
of virtue that was in him, and might procure the most lasting
security to those who had made him their governor. When he
had therefore come to such a good resolution, and had
performed such wonderful exploits, we had just reason to
look upon ourselves as having him for a divine governor and
counselor. And when he had first persuaded himself (17) that
his actions and designs were agreeable to God's will, he
thought it his duty to impress, above all things, that notion
upon the multitude; for those who have once believed that
God is the inspector of their lives, will not permit themselves
in any sin. And this is the character of our legislator: he was
no impostor, no deceiver, as his revilers say, though unjustly,
but such a one as they brag Minos (18) to have been among
the Greeks, and other legislators after him; for some of them
suppose that they had their laws from Jupiter, while Minos
said that the revelation of his laws was to be referred to
Apollo, and his oracle at Delphi, whether they really thought
they were so derived, or supposed, however, that they could
persuade the people easily that so it was. But which of these
it was who made the best laws, and which had the greatest
reason to believe that God was their author, it will be easy,
upon comparing those laws themselves together, to
determine; for it is time that we come to that point. (19)
Now there are innumerable differences in the particular
customs and laws that are 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,
(20) 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 that were enjoyed either in
common by all mankind, or by each one in particular, and of
all that they themselves obtained by praying to him in their
greatest difficulties. He informed them that it was impossible
to escape God's observation, even in any of our outward
actions, or in any of our inward thoughts. Moreover, he
represented God as unbegotten, (21) and immutable, through
all eternity, superior to all mortal conceptions in
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 the sentiments of the wisest among the Grecians,
and how they were taught them upon the principles that he
afforded them. However, they testify, with great assurance,
that these notions are just, and agreeable to the nature of
God, and to his majesty; for Pythagoras, and Anaxagoras, and
Plato, and the Stoic philosophers that succeeded them, and
almost all the rest, are of 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 with other opinions
beforehand. But our legislator, who made his actions agree
to his laws, did not only prevail with those that were his
contemporaries to agree with these his notions, but so firmly
imprinted this faith in God upon all their posterity, that it
never could be removed. The reason why the constitution of
this legislation was ever better directed to the utility of all
than other legislations were, is this, that Moses did not make
religion a part of virtue, but he saw and he ordained other
virtues to be parts of religion; I mean justice, and fortitude,
and temperance, and a universal agreement of the members
of the community with one another; for all our actions and
studies, and all our words, [in Moses's settlement,] have a
reference to piety towards God; for he hath left none of
these in suspense, or undetermined. For there are two ways
of coining 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 one of those ways of
instruction, or that which best pleased every one of them,
neglected the other. Thus did the Lacedemonians and the
Cretians teach by practical exercises, but not by words; while
the Athenians, and almost all the other Grecians, made laws
about what was to be done, or left undone, but had no regard
to the exercising them thereto in practice.

18. But for our legislator, he very carefully joined these two
methods of instruction together; for he neither left these
practical exercises to go on without verbal instruction, nor
he permit the hearing of the law to proceed without the
exercises for practice; but beginning immediately from the
earliest infancy, and the appointment of every one's diet, he
left nothing of the very smallest consequence to be done at
the pleasure and disposal of the person himself. Accordingly,
he made a fixed rule of law what sorts of food they should
abstain from, and what sorts they should make use of; 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, 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 on without punishment, but
demonstrated the law to be the best and the most necessary
instruction of all others, permitting the people to leave off
their other employments, and to assemble together for the
hearing of the law, and learning it exactly, and this not once
or twice, or oftener, but every week; which thing all the other
legislators seem to have neglected.

19. And indeed the greatest part of mankind are so far from
living according to their own laws, that they hardly know
them; but when they have sinned, they learn from others that
they have transgressed the law. Those also who are in the
highest and principal posts of the government, confess they
are not acquainted with those laws, and are obliged to take
such persons for their assessors in public administrations as
profess to have skill in those laws; but for our people, if any
body do but ask any one of them about our laws, he will
more readily tell them all than he will tell his own name, and
this in consequence of our having learned them immediately
as soon as ever we became sensible of any thing, and of our
having them as it were engraven on our souls. Our
transgressors of them are but few, and it is impossible, when
any do offend, to escape punishment.

20. And this very thing it is that principally creates such a
wonderful agreement of minds amongst us all; for this entire
agreement of ours in all our notions concerning God, and our
having no difference in our course of life and manners,
procures among us the most excellent concord of these our
manners that is any where among mankind; for no other
people but the Jews have avoided all discourses about God
that any way contradict one another, which yet are frequent
among other nations; and this is true not only among
ordinary persons, according as every one is affected, but some
of the philosophers have been insolent enough to indulge
such contradictions, while some of them have undertaken to
use such words as entirely take away the nature of God, as
others of them have taken away his providence over mankind.
Nor can any one perceive amongst us any difference in the
conduct of our lives, but all our works are common to us all.
We have one sort of discourse concerning God, which is
conformable to our law, and affirms that he sees all things; as
also we have but one way of speaking concerning the conduct
of our lives, that all other things ought to have piety for
end; and this any body may hear from our women, and
servants themselves.

21. And, indeed, hence hath arisen that accusation which
some make against us, that we have not produced men that
have been the inventors of new operations, or of new ways of
speaking; for others think it a fine thing to persevere in
nothing that has been delivered down from their forefathers,
and these testify it to be an instance of the sharpest wisdom
when these men venture to transgress those traditions;
whereas we, on the contrary, suppose it to be our only
wisdom and virtue to admit no actions nor supposals that are
contrary to our original laws; which procedure of ours is a
just and sure sign that our law is admirably constituted; for
such laws as are not thus well made are convicted upon trial
to want amendment.

22. But while we are ourselves persuaded that our law was
made agreeably to the will of God, it would be impious for us
not to observe the same; for what is there in it that any body
would change? and what can be invented that is better? or
what can we take out of other people's laws that will exceed
it? Perhaps some would have the entire settlement of our
government altered. And where shall we find a better or
more righteous constitution than ours, while this makes us
esteem God to be the Governor of the universe, and permits
the priests in general to be the administrators of the
affairs, and withal intrusts the government over the other
priests to the chief high priest himself? which priests our
legislator, at their first appointment, did not advance to that
dignity for their riches, or any abundance of other
possessions, or any plenty they had as the gifts of fortune;
he intrusted the principal management of Divine worship to
those that exceeded others in an ability to persuade men, and
in prudence of conduct. These men had the main care of the
law and of the other parts of the people's conduct committed
to them; for they were the priests who were ordained to be
the inspectors of all, and the judges in doubtful cases, and
punishers of those that were condemned to suffer

23. What form of government then can be more holy than
this? what more worthy kind of worship can be paid to God
than we pay, where the entire body of the people are
prepared for religion, where an extraordinary degree of care
is required in the priests, and where the whole polity is so
ordered as if it were a certain religious solemnity? For what
things foreigners, when they solemnize such festivals, are not
able to observe for a few days' time, and call them Mysteries
and Sacred Ceremonies, we observe with great pleasure and
an unshaken resolution during our whole lives. What are the
things then that we are commanded or forbidden? They are
simple, and easily known. The first command is concerning
God, and affirms that God contains all things, and is a Being
every way perfect and happy, self-sufficient, and supplying all
other beings; the beginning, the middle, and the end of all
things. He is manifest in his works and benefits, and more
conspicuous than any other being whatsoever; but as to his
form and magnitude, he is most obscure. All materials, let
them be ever so costly, are unworthy to compose an image
for him, and all arts are unartful to express the notion we
ought to have of him. We can neither see nor think of any
thing like him, nor is it agreeable to piety to form a
resemblance of him. We see his works, the light, the heaven,
the earth, the sun and the moon, the waters, the generations
of animals, the productions of fruits. These things hath God
made, not with hands, nor with labor, nor as wanting the
assistance of any to cooperate with him; but as his will
resolved they should be made and be good also, they were
made and became good immediately. All men ought to follow
this Being, and to worship him in the exercise of virtue; for
this way of worship of God is the most holy of all others.

24. There ought also to be but one temple for one God; for
likeness is the constant foundation of agreement. This temple
ought to be common to all men, because he is the common
God of all men. High priests are to be continually about his
worship, over whom he that is the first by his birth is to be
their ruler perpetually. His business must be to offer
sacrifices to God, together with those priests that are joined
with him, to see that the laws be observed, to determine
controversies, and to punish those that are convicted of
injustice; while he that does not submit to him shall be
subject to the same punishment, as if he had been guilty of
impiety towards God himself. When we offer sacrifices to
him, we do it not in order to surfeit ourselves, or to be
drunken; for such excesses are against the will of God, and
would be an occasion of injuries and of luxury; but by
keeping ourselves sober, orderly, and ready for our other
occupations, and being more temperate than others. And for
our duty at the sacrifices (22) themselves, we ought, in the
first place, to pray for the common welfare of all, and after
that for our own; for we are made for fellowship one with
another, and he who prefers the common good before what is
peculiar to himself is above all acceptable to God. And let
our prayers and supplications be made humbly to God, not
[so much] that he would give us what is good, (for he hath
already given that of his own accord, and hath proposed the
same publicly to all,) as that we may duly receive it, and
when we have received it, may preserve it. Now the law has
appointed several purifications at our sacrifices, whereby we
are cleansed after a funeral, after what sometimes happens to
us in bed, and after accompanying with our wives, and upon
many other occasions, which it would be too long now to set
down. And this is our doctrine concerning God and his
worship, and is the same that the law appoints for our

25. But, then, what are our laws about marriage? That law
owns no other mixture of sexes but that which nature hath
appointed, of a man with his wife, and that this be used only
for the procreation of children. But it abhors the mixture of a
male with a male; and if any one do that, death is its
punishment. It commands us also, when we marry, not to
have regard to portion, nor to take a woman by violence, nor
to persuade her deceitfully and knavishly; but to demand her
in marriage of him who hath power to dispose of her, and is
fit to give her away by the nearness of his kindred; for, says
the Scripture, "A woman is inferior to her husband in all
things." (23) Let her, therefore, be obedient to him; not so
that he should abuse her, but that she may acknowledge her
duty to her husband; for God hath given the authority to the
husband. A husband, therefore, is to lie only with his wife
whom he hath married; but to have to do with another man's
wife is a wicked thing, which, if any one ventures upon, death
is inevitably his punishment: no more can he avoid the same
who forces a virgin betrothed to another man, or entices
another man's wife. The law, moreover, enjoins us to bring
up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of
what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman
appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child,
by destroying a living creature, and diminishing human kind;
if any one, therefore, proceeds to such fornication or murder,
he cannot be clean. Moreover, the law enjoins, that after the
man and wife have lain together in a regular way, they shall
bathe themselves; for there is a defilement contracted
thereby, both in soul and body, as if they had gone into
another country; for indeed the soul, by being united to the
body, is subject to miseries, and is not freed therefrom again
but by death; on which account the law requires this
purification to be entirely performed.

26. Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals
at the births of our children, and thereby afford occasion of
drinking to excess; but it ordains that the very beginning of
our education should be immediately directed to sobriety. It
also commands us to bring those children up in learning, and
to exercise them in the laws, and make them acquainted with
the acts of their predecessors, in order to their imitation of
them, and that they might be nourished up in the laws from
their infancy, and might neither transgress them, nor have
any pretense for their ignorance of them.

27. Our law hath also taken care of the decent burial of the
dead, but without any extravagant expenses for their funerals,
and without the erection of any illustrious monuments for
them; but hath ordered that their nearest relations should
perform their obsequies; and hath showed it to be regular,
that all who pass by when any one is buried should
accompany the funeral, and join in the lamentation. It also
ordains that the house and its inhabitants should be purified
after the funeral is over, that every one may thence learn to
keep at a great distance from the thoughts of being pure, if
he hath been once guilty of murder.

28. The law ordains also, that parents should be honored
immediately after God himself, and delivers that son who
does not requite them for the benefits he hath received from
them, but is deficient on any such occasion, to be stoned. It
also says that the young men should pay due respect to every
elder, since God is the eldest of all beings. It does not give
leave to conceal any thing from our friends, because that is
not true friendship which will not commit all things to their
fidelity: it also forbids the revelation of secrets, even
an enmity arise between them. If any judge takes bribes, his
punishment is death: he that overlooks one that offers him a
petition, and this when he is able to relieve him, he is a
person. What is not by any one intrusted to another ought
not to be required back again. No one is to touch another's
goods. He that lends money must not demand usury for its
loan. These, and many more of the like sort, are the rules
that unite us in the bands of society one with another.

29. It will be also worth our while to see what equity our
legislator would have us exercise in our intercourse with
strangers; for it will thence appear that he made the best
provision he possibly could, both that we should not dissolve
our own constitution, nor show any envious mind towards
those that would cultivate a friendship with us. Accordingly,
our legislator admits all those that have a mind to observe
our laws so to do; and this after a friendly manner, as
esteeming that a true union which not only extends to our
own stock, but to those that would live after the same
manner with us; yet does he not allow those that come to us
by accident only to be admitted into communion with us.

30. However, there are other things which our legislator
ordained for us beforehand, which of necessity we ought to
do in common to all men; as to afford fire, and water, and
food to such as want it; to show them the roads; not to let
any one lie unburied. He also would have us treat those that
are esteemed our enemies with moderation; for he doth not
allow us to set their country on fire, nor permit us to cut
down those trees that bear fruit; nay, further, he forbids us
spoil those that have been slain in war. He hath also provided
for such as are taken captive, that they may not be injured,
and especially that the women may not be abused. Indeed he
hath taught us gentleness and humanity so effectually, that he
hath not despised the care of brute beasts, by permitting no
other than a regular use of them, and forbidding any other;
and if any of them come to our houses, like supplicants, we
are forbidden to slay them; nor may we kill the dams,
together with their young ones; but we are obliged, even in
an enemy's country, to spare and not kill those creatures that
labor for mankind. Thus hath our lawgiver contrived to teach
us an equitable conduct every way, by using us to such laws
as instruct us therein; while at the same time he hath
ordained that such as break these laws should be punished,
without the allowance of any excuse whatsoever.

31. Now the greatest part of offenses with us are capital; as
any one be guilty of adultery; if any one force a virgin; if
one be so impudent as to attempt sodomy with a male; or if,
upon another's making an attempt upon him, he submits to
be so used. There is also a law for slaves of the like nature,
that can never be avoided. Moreover, if any one cheats
another in measures or weights, or makes a knavish bargain
and sale, in order to cheat another; if any one steals what
belongs to another, and takes what he never deposited; all
these have punishments allotted them; not such as are met
with among other nations, but more severe ones. And as for
attempts of unjust behavior towards parents, or for impiety
against God, though they be not actually accomplished, the
offenders are destroyed immediately. However, the reward
for such as live exactly according to the laws is not silver or
gold; it is not a garland of olive branches or of small age,
any such public sign of commendation; but every good man
hath his own conscience bearing witness to himself, and by
virtue of our legislator's prophetic spirit, and of the firm
security God himself affords such a one, he believes that God
hath made this grant to those that observe these laws, even
though they be obliged readily to die for them, that they shall
come into being again, and at a certain revolution of things
shall receive a better life than they had enjoyed before. Nor
would I venture to write thus at this time, were it not well
known to all by our actions that many of our people have
many a time bravely resolved to endure any sufferings, rather
than speak one word against our law.

32. Nay, indeed, in case it had so fallen out, that our nation
had not been so thoroughly known among all men as they
are, and our voluntary submission to our laws had not been
so open and manifest as it is, but that somebody had
pretended to have written these laws himself, and had read
them to the Greeks, or had pretended that he had met with
men out of the limits of the known world, that had such
reverent notions of God, and had continued a long time in
the firm observance of such laws as ours, I cannot but
suppose that all men would admire them on a reflection upon
the frequent changes they had therein been themselves
subject to; and this while those that have attempted to write
somewhat of the same kind for politic government, and for
laws, are accused as composing monstrous things, and are
said to have undertaken an impossible task upon them. And
here I will say nothing of those other philosophers who have
undertaken any thing of this nature in their writings. But
even Plato himself, who is so admired by the Greeks on
account of that gravity in his manners, and force in his words,
and that ability he had to persuade men beyond all other
philosophers, is little better than laughed at and exposed to
ridicule on that account, by those that pretend to sagacity in
political affairs; although he that shall diligently peruse his
writings will find his precepts to be somewhat gentle, and
pretty near to the customs of the generality of mankind. Nay,
Plato himself confesseth that it is not safe to publish the
notion concerning God among the ignorant multitude. Yet do
some men look upon Plato's discourses as no better than
certain idle words set off with great artifice. However, they
admire Lycurgus as the principal lawgiver, and all men
celebrate Sparta for having continued in the firm observance
of his laws for a very long time. So far then we have gained,
that it is to be confessed a mark of virtue to submit to laws.
(24) But then let such as admire this in the Lacedemonians
compare that duration of theirs with more than two thousand
years which our political government hath continued; and let
them further consider, that though the Lacedemonians did
seem to observe their laws exactly while they enjoyed their
liberty, yet that when they underwent a change of their
fortune, they forgot almost all those laws; while we, having
been under ten thousand changes in our fortune by the
changes that happened among the kings of Asia, have never
betrayed our laws under the most pressing distresses we have
been in; nor have we neglected them either out of sloth or
for a livelihood. (25) if any one will consider it, the
difficulties and labors laid upon us have been greater than
what appears to have been borne by the Lacedemonian
fortitude, while they neither ploughed their land, nor
exercised any trades, but lived in their own city, free from
such pains-taking, in the enjoyment of plenty, and using such
exercises as might improve their bodies, while they made use
of other men as their servants for all the necessaries of life,
and had their food prepared for them by the others; and
these good and humane actions they do for no other purpose
but this, that by their actions and their sufferings they may
able to conquer all those against whom they make war. I
need not add this, that they have not been fully able to
observe their laws; for not only a few single persons, but
multitudes of them, have in heaps neglected those laws, and
have delivered themselves, together with their arms, into the
hands of their enemies.

33. Now as for ourselves, I venture to say that no one can tell
of so many; nay, not of more than one or two that have
betrayed our laws, no, not out of fear of death itself; I do
mean such an easy death as happens in battles, but that
which comes with bodily torments, and seems to be the
severest kind of death of all others. Now I think those that
have conquered us have put us to such deaths, not out of
their hatred to us when they had subdued us, but rather out
of their desire of seeing a surprising sight, which is this,
whether there be such men in the world who believe that no
evil is to them so great as to be compelled to do or to speak
any thing contrary to their own laws. Nor ought men to
wonder at us, if we are more courageous in dying for our
laws than all other men are; for other men do not easily
submit to the easier things in which we are instituted; I mean
working with our hands, and eating but little, and being
contented to eat and drink, not at random, or at every one's
pleasure, or being under inviolable rules in lying with our
wives, in magnificent furniture, and again in the observation
of our times of rest; while those that can use their swords in
war, and can put their enemies to flight when they attack
them, cannot bear to submit to such laws about their way of
living: whereas our being accustomed willingly to submit to
laws in these instances, renders us fit to show our fortitude
upon other occasions also.

34. Yet do the Lysimachi and the Molones, and some other
writers, (unskillful sophists as they are, and the deceivers of
young men,) reproach us as the vilest of all mankind. Now I
have no mind to make an inquiry into the laws of other
nations; for the custom of our country is to keep our own
laws, but not to bring accusations against the laws of others.
And indeed our legislator hath expressly forbidden us to
laugh at and revile those that are esteemed gods by other
people? on account of the very name of God ascribed to
them. But since our antagonists think to run us down upon
the comparison of their religion and ours, it is not possible
keep silence here, especially while what I shall say to confute
these men will not be now first said, but hath been already
said by many, and these of the highest reputation also; for
who is there among those that have been admired among the
Greeks for wisdom, who hath not greatly blamed both the
most famous poets, and most celebrated legislators, for
spreading such notions originally among the body of the
people concerning the gods? such as these, that they may be
allowed to be as numerous as they have a mind to have them;
that they are begotten one by another, and that after all the
kinds of generation you can imagine. They also distinguish
them in their places and ways of living as they would
distinguish several sorts of animals; as some to be under the
earth; as some to be in the sea; and the ancientest of them
all to be bound in hell; and for those to whom they have
allotted heaven, they have set over them one, who in title is
their father, but in his actions a tyrant and a lord; whence it
came to pass that his wife, and brother, and daughter (which
daughter he brought forth from his own head) made a
conspiracy against him to seize upon him and confine hint, as
he had himself seized upon and confined his own father

35. And justly have the wisest men thought these notions
deserved severe rebukes; they also laugh at them for
determining that we ought to believe some of the gods to be
beardless and young, and others of them to be old, and to
have beards accordingly; that some are set to trades; that one
god is a smith, and another goddess is a weaver; that one god
is a warrior, and fights with men; that some of them are
harpers, or delight in archery; and besides, that mutual
seditions arise among them, and that they quarrel about men,
and this so far, that they not only lay hands upon one
another, but that they are wounded by men, and lament, and
take on for such their afflictions. But what is the grossest of
all in point of lasciviousness, are those unbounded lusts
ascribed to almost all of them, and their amours; which how
can it be other than a most absurd supposal, especially when
it reaches to the male gods, and to the female goddesses
also? Moreover, the chief of all their gods, and their first
father himself, overlooks those goddesses whom he hath
deluded and begotten with child, and suffers them to be kept
in prison, or drowned in the sea. He is also so bound up by
fate, that he cannot save his own offspring, nor can he bear
their deaths without shedding of tears. These are fine things
indeed! as are the rest that follow. Adulteries truly are so
impudently looked on in heaven by the gods, that some of
them have confessed they envied those that were found in the
very act. And why should they not do so, when the eldest of
them, who is their king also, hath not been able to restrain
himself in the violence of his lust, from lying with his wife,
long as they might get into their bedchamber? Now some of
the gods are servants to men, and will sometimes be builders
for a reward, and sometimes will be shepherds; while others
of them, like malefactors, are bound in a prison of brass. And
what sober person is there who would not be provoked at
such stories, and rebuke those that forged them, and
condemn the great silliness of those that admit them for
true? Nay, others there are that have advanced a certain
timorousness and fear, as also madness and fraud, and any
other of the vilest passions, into the nature and form of gods,
and have persuaded whole cities to offer sacrifices to the
better sort of them; on which account they have been
absolutely forced to esteem some gods as the givers of good
things, and to call others of them averters of evil. They also
endeavor to move them, as they would the vilest of men, by
gifts and presents, as looking for nothing else than to receive
some great mischief from them, unless they pay them such

36. Wherefore it deserves our inquiry what should be the
occasion of this unjust management, and of these scandals
about the Deity. And truly I suppose it to be derived from
the imperfect knowledge the heathen legislators had at first
of the true nature of God; nor did they explain to the people
even so far as they did comprehend of it: nor did they
compose the other parts of their political settlements
according to it, but omitted it as a thing of very little
consequence, and gave leave both to the poets to introduce
what gods they pleased, and those subject to all sorts of
passions, and to the orators to procure political decrees from
the people for the admission of such foreign gods as they
thought proper. The painters also, and statuaries of Greece,
had herein great power, as each of them could contrive a
shape [proper for a god]; the one to be formed out of clay,
and the other by making a bare picture of such a one. But
those workmen that were principally admired, had the use of
ivory and of gold as the constant materials for their new
statues [whereby it comes to pass that some temples are quite
deserted, while others are in great esteem, and adorned with
all the rites of all kinds of purification]. Besides this, the
gods, who have long flourished in the honors done them, are
now grown old [while those that flourished after them are
come in their room as a second rank, that I may speak the
most honorably of them I can]: nay, certain other gods there
are who are newly introduced, and newly worshipped [as we,
by way of digression, have said already, and yet have left
places of worship desolate]; and for their temples, some of
them are already left desolate, and others are built anew,
according to the pleasure of men; whereas they ought to have
their opinion about God, and that worship which is due to
him, always and immutably the same.

37. But now, this Apollonius Molo was one of these foolish
and proud men. However, nothing that I have said was
unknown to those that were real philosophers among the
Greeks, nor were they unacquainted with those frigid
pretensions of allegories [which had been alleged for such
things]; on which account they justly despised them, but have
still agreed with us as to the true and becoming notions of
God; whence it was that Plato would not have political
settlements admit to of any one of the other poets, and
dismisses even Homer himself, with a garland on his head,
and with ointment poured upon him, and this because he
should not destroy the right notions of God with his fables.
Nay, Plato principally imitated our legislator in this point,
that he enjoined his citizens to have he main regard to this
precept, "That every one of them should learn their laws
accurately." He also ordained, that they should not admit of
foreigners intermixing with their own people at random; and
provided that the commonwealth should keep itself pure, and
consist of such only as persevered in their own laws.
Apollonius Molo did no way consider this, when he made it
one branch of his accusation against us, that we do not admit
of such as have different notions about God, nor will we have
fellowship with those that choose to observe a way of living
different from ourselves, yet is not this method peculiar to
but common to all other men; not among the ordinary
Grecians only, but among such of those Grecians as are of
the greatest reputation among them. Moreover, the
Lacedemonians continued in their way of expelling foreigners,
and would not indeed give leave to their own people to travel
abroad, as suspecting that those two things would introduce a
dissolution of their own laws: and perhaps there may be some
reason to blame the rigid severity of the Lacedemonians, for
they bestowed the privilege of their city on no foreigners, nor
indeed would give leave to them to stay among them;
whereas we, though we do not think fit to imitate other
institutions, yet do we willingly admit of those that desire to
partake of ours, which, I think, I may reckon to be a plain
indication of our humanity, and at the same time of our
magnanimity also.

38. But I shall say no more of the Lacedemonians. As for the
Athenians, who glory in having made their city to be common
to all men, what their behavior was Apollonius did not know,
while they punished those that did but speak one word
contrary to the laws about the gods, without any mercy; for
on what other account was it that Socrates was put to death
by them? For certainly he neither betrayed their city to its
enemies, nor was he guilty of any sacrilege with regard to any
of their temples; but it was on this account, that he swore
certain new oaths (26) and that he affirmed either in earnest,
or, as some say, only in jest, that a certain demon used to
make signs to him [what he should not do]. For these reasons
he was condemned to drink poison, and kill himself. His
accuser also complained that he corrupted the young men, by
inducing them to despise the political settlement and laws of
their city: and thus was Socrates, the citizen of Athens,
punished. There was also Anaxagoras, who, although he was
of Clazomente, was within a few suffrages of being
condemned to die, because he said the sun, which the
Athenians thought to be a god, was a ball of fire. They also
made this public proclamation," That they would give a talent
to any one who would kill Diagoras of Melos," because it was
reported of him that he laughed at their mysteries.
Protagoras also, who was thought to have written somewhat
that was not owned for truth by the Athenians about the
gods, had been seized upon, and put to death, if he had not
fled away immediately. Nor need we at all wonder that they
thus treated such considerable men, when they did not spare
even women also; for they very lately slew a certain priestess,
because she was accused by somebody that she initiated
people into the worship of strange gods, it having been
forbidden so to do by one of their laws; and a capital
punishment had been decreed to such as introduced a strange
god; it being manifest, that they who make use of such a law
do not believe those of other nations to be really gods,
otherwise they had not envied themselves the advantage of
more gods than they already had. And this was the happy
administration of the affairs of the Athenians! Now as to the
Scythians, they take a pleasure in killing men, and differ but
little from brute beasts; yet do they think it reasonable to
have their institutions observed. They also slew Anacharsis, a
person greatly admired for his wisdom among the Greeks,
when he returned to them, because he appeared to come
fraught with Grecian customs. One may also find many to
have been punished among the Persians, on the very same
account. And to be sure Apollonius was greatly pleased with
the laws of the Persians, and was an admirer of them,
because the Greeks enjoyed the advantage of their courage,
and had the very same opinion about the gods which they
had. This last was exemplified in the temples which they
burnt, and their courage in coming, and almost entirely
enslaving the Grecians. However, Apollonius has imitated all
the Persian institutions, and that by his offering violence to
other men's wives, and gelding his own sons. Now, with us, it
is a capital crime, if any one does thus abuse even a brute
beast; and as for us, neither hath the fear of our governors,
nor a desire of following what other nations have in so great
esteem, been able to withdraw us from our own laws; nor
have we exerted our courage in raising up wars to increase
our wealth, but only for the observation of our laws; and
when we with patience bear other losses, yet when any
persons would compel us to break our laws, then it is that we
choose to go to war, though it be beyond our ability to
pursue it, and bear the greatest calamities to the last with
much fortitude. And, indeed, what reason can there be why
we should desire to imitate the laws of other nations, while
we see they are not observed by their own legislators (27)
And why do not the Lacedemonians think of abolishing that
form of their government which suffers them not to associate
with any others, as well as their contempt of matrimony? And
why do not the Eleans and Thebans abolish that unnatural
and impudent lust, which makes them lie with males? For
they will not show a sufficient sign of their repentance of
what they of old thought to be very excellent, and very
advantageous in their practices, unless they entirely avoid all
such actions for the time to come: nay, such things are
inserted into the body of their laws, and had once such a
power among the Greeks, that they ascribed these
sodomitical practices to the gods themselves, as a part of
their good character; and indeed it was according to the same
manner that the gods married their own sisters. This the
Greeks contrived as an apology for their own absurd and
unnatural pleasures.

39. I omit to speak concerning punishments, and how many
ways of escaping them the greatest part of the legislators
have afforded malefactors, by ordaining that, for adulteries,
fines in money should be allowed, and for corrupting (28)
[virgins] they need only marry them as also what excuses they
may have in denying the facts, if any one attempts to inquire
into them; for amongst most other nations it is a studied art
how men may transgress their laws; but no such thing is
permitted amongst us; for though we be deprived of our
wealth, of our cities, or of the other advantages we have, our
law continues immortal; nor can any Jew go so far from his
own country, nor be so aftrighted at the severest lord, as not
to be more aftrighted at the law than at him. If, therefore,
this be the disposition we are under, with regard to the
excellency of our laws, let our enemies make us this
concession, that our laws are most excellent; and if still they
imagine, that though we so firmly adhere to them, yet are
they bad laws notwithstanding, what penalties then do they
deserve to undergo who do not observe their own laws, which
they esteem so far superior to them? Whereas, therefore,
length of time is esteemed to be the truest touchstone in all
cases, I would make that a testimonial of the excellency of
our laws, and of that belief thereby delivered to us
concerning God. For as there hath been a very long time for
this comparison, if any one will but compare its duration with
the duration of the laws made by other legislators, he will
find our legislator to have been the ancientest of them all.

40. We have already demonstrated that our laws have been
such as have always inspired admiration and imitation into all
other men; nay, the earliest Grecian philosophers, though in
appearance they observed the laws of their own countries, yet
did they, in their actions, and their philosophic doctrines,
follow our legislator, and instructed men to live sparingly,
to have friendly communication one with another. Nay,
further, the multitude of mankind itself have had a great
inclination of a long time to follow our religious observances;
for there is not any city of the Grecians, nor any of the
barbarians, nor any nation whatsoever, whither our custom of
resting on the seventh day hath not come, and by which our
fasts and lighting up lamps, and many of our prohibitions as
to our food, are not observed; they also endeavor to imitate
our mutual concord with one another, and the charitable
distribution of our goods, and our diligence in our trades, and
our fortitude in undergoing the distresses we are in, on
account of our laws; 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. So that if any one will but reflect on his own
country, and his own family, he will have reason to give credit
to what I say. It is therefore but just, either to condemn all
mankind of indulging a wicked disposition, when they have
been so desirous of imitating laws that are to them foreign
and evil in themselves, rather than following laws of their
own that are of a better character, or else our accusers must
leave off their spite against us. Nor are we guilty of any
envious behavior towards them, when we honor our own
legislator, and believe what he, by his prophetic authority,
hath taught us concerning God. For though we should not be
able ourselves to understand the excellency of our own laws,
yet would the great multitude of those that desire to imitate
them, justify us, in greatly valuing ourselves upon them.

41. But as for the [distinct] political laws by which we are
governed, I have delivered them accurately in my books of
Antiquities; and have only mentioned them now, so far as
was necessary to my present purpose, without proposing to
myself either to blame the laws of other nations, or to make
an encomium upon our own; but in order to convict those
that have written about us unjustly, and in an impudent
affectation of disguising the truth. And now I think I have
sufficiently completed what I proposed in writing these books.
For whereas our accusers have pretended that our nation are
a people of very late original, I have demonstrated that they
are exceeding ancient; for I have produced as witnesses
thereto many ancient writers, who have made mention of us
in their books, while they had said that no such writer had so
done. Moreover, they had said that we were sprung from the
Egyptians, while I have proved that we came from another
country into Egypt: while they had told lies of us, as if we
were expelled thence on account of diseases on our bodies, it
has appeared, on the contrary, that we returned to our
country by our own choice, and with sound and strong bodies.
Those accusers reproached our legislator as a vile fellow;
whereas God in old time bare witness to his virtuous conduct;
and since that testimony of God, time itself hath been
discovered to have borne witness to the same thing.

42. As to the laws themselves, more words are unnecessary,
for they are visible in their own nature, and appear 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 take care of righteousness, they
banish idleness and expensive living, and instruct men to be
content with what they have, and to be laborious in their
calling; they forbid men to make war from a desire of getting
more, but make men courageous in defending the laws; they
are inexorable in punishing malefactors; they admit no
sophistry of words, but are always established by actions
themselves, which actions 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 so far that we are to be
neither divided by calamities, nor to become injurious and
seditious in prosperity; but to contemn death when we are in
war, and in peace to apply ourselves to our mechanical
occupations, or to our tillage of the ground; while we in all
things and all ways are satisfied that God is the inspector and
governor of our actions. If these precepts had either been
written at first, or more exactly kept by any others before us,
we should have owed them thanks as disciples owe to their
masters; but if it be visible that we have made use of them
more than any other men, and if we have demonstrated that
the original invention of them is our own, let the Apions, and
the Molons, with all the rest of those that delight in lies and
reproaches, stand confuted; but let this and the foregoing
book be dedicated to thee, Epaphroditus, who art so great a
lover of truth, and by thy means to those that have been in
like manner desirous to be acquainted with the affairs of our


(1) The former part of this second book is written against the
calumnies of Apion, and then, more briefly, against the like
calumnies of Apollonius Molo. But after that, Josephus leaves off
any more particular reply to those adversaries of the Jews, and
gives us a large and excellent description and vindication of
that theocracy which was settled for the Jewish nation by Moses,
their great legislator.

(2) Called by Tiberius Cymbalum Mundi, The drum of the world.

(3) This seems to have been the first dial that had been made in
Egypt, and was a little before the time that Ahaz made his
[first] dial in Judea, and about anno 755, in the first year of
the seventh olympiad, as we shall see presently. See 2 Kings
20:11; Isaiah 38:8.

(4) The burial-place for dead bodies, as I suppose.

(5) Here begins a great defect in the Greek copy; but the old
Latin version fully supplies that defect.

(6) What error is here generally believed to have been committed
by our Josephus in ascribing a deliverance of the Jews to the
reign of Ptolemy Physco, the seventh of those Ptolemus, which has
been universally supposed to have happened under Ptolemy
Philopater, the fourth of them, is no better than a gross error
of the moderns, and not of Josephus, as I have fully proved in
the Authentic. Rec. Part I. p. 200-201, whither I refer the
inquisitive reader.

(7) Sister's son, and adopted son.

(8) Called more properly Molo, or Apollonius Molo, as hereafter;
for Apollonins, the son of Molo, was another person, as Strabo
informs us, lib. xiv.

(9) Furones in the Latin, which what animal it denotes does not
now appear.

(10) It is great pity that these six pagan authors, here
mentioned to have described the famous profanation of the Jewish
temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, should be all lost; I mean so far
of their writings as contained that description; though it is
plain Josephus perused them all as extant in his time.

(11) It is remarkable that Josephus here, and, I think, no where
else, reckons up four distinct courts of the temple; that of the
Gentiles, that of the women of Israel, that of the men of Israel,
and that of the priests; as also that the court of the women
admitted of the men, (I suppose only of the husbands of those
wives that were therein,) while the court of the men did not
admit any women into it at all.

(12) Judea, in the Greek, by a gross mistake of the transcribers.

(13) Seven in the Greek, by a like gross mistake of the
transcribers. See of the War, B. V. ch. 5. sect. 4.

(14) Two hundred in the Greek, contrary to the twenty in the War,
B. VII. ch, 5. sect. 3.

(15) This notorious disgrace belonging peculiarly to the people
of Egypt, ever since the times of the old prophets of the Jews,
noted both sect. 4 already, and here, may be confirmed by the
testimony of Isidorus, an Egyptian of Pelusium, Epist. lib. i.
Ep. 489. And this is a remarkable completion of the ancient
prediction of God by Ezekiel 29:14, 15, that the Egyptians should
be a base kingdom, the basest of the kingdoms," and that "it
should not exalt itself any more above the nations."

(16) The truth of which still further appears by the present
observation of Josephus, that these Egyptians had never, in all
the past ages since Sesostris, had one day of liberty, no, not so
much as to have been free from despotic power under any of the
monarchies to that day. And all this bas been found equally true
in the latter ages, under the Romans, Saracens, Mamelukes, and
Turks, from the days of Josephus till the present ago also.

(17) This language, that Moses, "persuaded himself" that what he
did was according to God's will, can mean no more, by Josephus's
own constant notions elsewhere, than that he was "firmly
persuaded," that he had "fully satisfied himself" that so it was,
viz. by the many revelations he had received from God, and the
numerous miracles God had enabled him to work, as he both in
these very two books against Apion, and in his Antiquities, most
clearly and frequently assures us. This is further evident from
several passages lower, where he affirms that Moses was no
impostor nor deceiver, and where he assures that Moses's
constitution of government was no other than a theocracy; and
where he says they are to hope for deliverance out of their
distresses by prayer to God, and that withal it was owing in part
to this prophetic spirit of Moses that the Jews expected a
resurrection from the dead. See almost as strange a use of the
like words, "to persuade God," Antiq. B. VI. ch. 5. sect. 6.

(18) That is, Moses really was, what the heathen legislators
pretended to be, under a Divine direction; nor does it yet appear
that these pretensions to a supernatural conduct, either in these
legislators or oracles, were mere delusions of men without any
demoniacal impressions, nor that Josephus took them so to be; as
the ancientest and contemporary authors did still believe them to
be supernatural.

(19) This whole very large passage is corrected by Dr. Hudson
from Eusebius's citation of it, Prep. Evangel. viii. 8, which is
here not a little different from the present MSS. of Josephus.

(20) This expression itself, that "Moses ordained the Jewish
government to be a theocracy," may be illustrated by that
parallel expression in the Antiquities, B. III. ch. 8. sect. 9,
that "Moses left it to God to be present at his sacrifices when
he pleased; and when he pleased, to be absent." Both ways of
speaking sound harsh in the ears of Jews and Christians, as do
several others which Josephus uses to the heathens; but still
they were not very improper in him, when he all along thought fit
to accommodate himself, both in his Antiquities, and in these his
books against Apion, all written for the use of the Greeks and
Romans, to their notions and language, and this as far as ever
truth would give him leave. Though it be very observable withal,
that he never uses such expressions in his books of the War,
written originally for the Jews beyond Euphrates, and in their
language, in all these cases. However, Josephus directly supposes
the Jewish settlement, under Moses, to be a Divine settlement,
and indeed no other than a real theocracy.

(21) These excellent accounts of the Divine attributes, and that
God is not to be at all known in his essence, as also some other
clear expressions about the resurrection of the dead, and the
state of departed souls, etc., in this late work of Josephus,
look more like the exalted notions of the Essens, or rather
Ebionite Christians, than those of a mere Jew or Pharisee. The
following large accounts also of the laws of Moses, seem to me to
show a regard to the higher interpretations and improvements of
Moses's laws, derived from Jesus Christ, than to the bare letter
of them in the Old Testament, whence alone Josephus took them
when he wrote his Antiquities; nor, as I think, can some of these
laws, though generally excellent in their kind, be properly now
found either in the copies of the Jewish Pentateuch, or in Philo,
or in Josephus himself, before he became a Nazarene or Ebionite
Christian; nor even all of them among the laws of catholic
Christianity themselves. I desire, therefore, the learned reader
to consider, whether some of these improvements or
interpretations might not be peculiar to the Essens among the
Jews, or rather to the Nazarenes or Ebionites among the
Christians, though we have indeed but imperfect accounts of those
Nazarenes or Ebionite Christians transmitted down to us at this

(22) We may here observe how known a thing it was among the Jews
and heathens, in this and many other instances, that sacrifices
were still accompanied with prayers; whence most probably came
those phrases of "the sacrifice of prayer, the sacrifice of
praise, the sacrifice of thanksgiving." However, those ancient
forms used at sacrifices are now generally lost, to the no small
damage of true religion. It is here also exceeding remarkable,
that although the temple at Jerusalem was built as the only place
where the whole nation of the Jews were to offer their
sacrifices, yet is there no mention of the "sacrifices"
themselves, but of "prayers" only, in Solomon's long and famous
form of devotion at its dedication, 1 Kings 8.; 2 Chronicles 6.
See also many passages cited in the Apostolical Constitutions,
VII. 37, and Of the War, above, B. VII. ch. 5. sect. 6.

(23) This text is no where in our present copies of the Old

(24) It may not be amiss to set down here a very remarkable
testimony of the great philosopher Cicero, as to the preference
of "laws to philosophy: - I will," says he, "boldly declare my
opinion, though the whole world be offended at it. I prefer this
little book of the Twelve Tables alone to all the volumes of the
philosophers. I find it to be not only of more weight,' but also
much more useful." - Oratore.

(25) we have observed our times of rest, and sorts of food
allowed us [during our distresses].

(26) See what those novel oaths were in Dr. Hudson's note, viz.
to swear by an oak, by a goat, and by a dog, as also by a gander,
as say Philostratus and others. This swearing strange oaths was
also forbidden by the Tyrians, B. I. sect. 22, as Spanheim here

(27) Why Josephus here should blame some heathen legislators,
when they allowed so easy a composition for simple fornication,
as an obligation to marry the virgin that was corrupted, is hard
to say, seeing he had himself truly informed us that it was a law
of the Jews, Antiq. B. IV. ch. 8. sect. 23, as it is the law of
Christianity also: see Horeb Covenant, p. 61. I am almost ready
to suspect that, for, we should here read, and that corrupting

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