Containing The Interval Of Twenty-Two Years.
From Fadus The Procurator To Florus.
Concerning Florus The Procurator, Who Necessitated The Jews To Take Up Arms Against The Romans. The Conclusion.
1. NOW Gessius Florus, who was sent as successor to Albinus by Nero, filled Judea with abundance of miseries. He was by birth of the city of Clazomene, and brought along with him his wife Cleopatra, (by whose friendship with Poppea, Nero's wife, he obtained this government,) who was no way different from him in wickedness. This Florus was so wicked, and so violent in the use of his authority, that the Jews took Albinus to have been [comparatively] their benefactor; so excessive were the mischiefs that he brought upon them. For Albinus concealed his wickedness, and was careful that it might not be discovered to all men; but Gessius Florus, as though he bad been sent on purpose to show his crimes to every body, made a pompous ostentation of them to our nation, as never omitting any sort of violence, nor any unjust sort of punishment; for he was not to be moved by pity, and never was satisfied with any degree of gain that came in his way; nor had he any more regard to great than to small acquisitions, but became a partner with the robbers themselves.
For a great many fell then into that practice without fear, as having him for their security, and depending on him, that he would save them harmless in their particular robberies; so that there were no bounds set to the nation's miseries; but the unhappy Jews, when they were not able to bear the devastations which the robbers made among them, were all under a necessity of leaving their own habitations, and of flying away, as hoping to dwell more easily any where else in the world among foreigners [than in their own country]. And what need I say any more upon this head? since it was this Florus who necessitated us to take up arms against the Romans, while we thought it better to be destroyed at once, than by little and little. Now this war began in the second year of the government of Florus, and the twelfth year of the reign of Nero. But then what actions we were forced to do, or what miseries we were enabled to suffer, may be accurately known by such as will peruse those books which I have written about the Jewish war.
2. I shall now, therefore, make an end here of my Antiquities; after the conclusion of which events, I began to write that account of the war; and these Antiquities contain what hath been delivered down to us from the original creation of man, until the twelfth year of the reign of Nero, as to what hath befallen the Jews, as well in Egypt as in Syria and in Palestine, and what we have suffered from the Assyrians and Babylonians, and what afflictions the Persians and Macedonians, and after them the Romans, have brought upon us; for I think I may say that I have composed this history with sufficient accuracy in all things. I have attempted to enumerate those high priests that we have had during the interval of two thousand years; I have also carried down the succession of our kings, and related their actions, and political administration, without [considerable] errors, as also the power of our monarchs; and all according to what is written in our sacred books; for this it was that I promised to do in the beginning of this history.
And I am so bold as to say, now I have so completely perfected the work I proposed to myself to do, that no other person, whether he were a Jew or foreigner, had he ever so great an inclination to it, could so accurately deliver these accounts to the Greeks as is done in these books. For those of my own nation freely acknowledge that I far exceed them in the learning belonging to Jews; I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations, and so adorn their discourses with the smoothness of their periods; because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them. But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is able to interpret their meaning; on which account, as there have been many who have done their endeavors with great patience to obtain this learning, there have yet hardly been so many as two or three that have succeeded therein, who were immediately well rewarded for their pains.
3. And now it will not be perhaps an invidious thing, if I treat briefly of my own family, and of the actions of my own life (30) while there are still living such as can either prove what I say to be false, or can attest that it is true; with which accounts I shall put an end to these Antiquities, which are contained in twenty books, and sixty thousand verses. And if God permit me, I will briefly run over this war (31), and to add what befell them further to that very day, the 13th of Domitian, or A.D. 03, is not, that I have observed, taken distinct notice of by any one; nor do we ever again, with what befell us therein to this very day, which is the thirteenth year of the reign of Caesar Domitian, and the fifty-sixth year of my own life. I have also an intention to write three books concerning our Jewish opinions about God and his essence, and about our laws; why, according to them, some things are permitted us to do, and others are prohibited.
(30) See The Life of Flavius Josephus.
(31) What Josephus here declares his intention to do, if God permitted, to give the public again an abridgement of the Jewish War hear of it elsewhere, whether he performed what he now intended or not. Some of the reasons of this design of his might possibly be, his observation of the many errors he had been guilty of in the two first of those seven books of the War, which were written when he was comparatively young, and less acquainted with the Jewish antiquities than he now was, and in which abridgement we might have hoped to find those many passages which himself, as well as those several passages which others refer to, as written by him, but which are not extant in his present works. However, since many of his own references to what he had written elsewhere, as well as most of his own errors, belong to such early times as could not well come into this abridgement of the Jewish War; and since none of those that quote things not now extant in his works, including himself as well as others, ever cite any such abridgement; I am forced rather to suppose that he never did publish any such work at all; I mean, as distinct from his own Life, written by himself, for an appendix to these Antiquities, and this at least seven years after these Antiquities were finished.
Nor indeed does it appear to me that Josephus ever published that other work here mentioned, as intended by him for the public also: I mean the three or four books concerning God and his essence, and concerning the Jewish laws; why, according to them, some things were permitted the Jews, and others prohibited; which last seems to be the same work which Josephus had also promised, if God permitted, at the conclusion of his preface to these Antiquities; nor do I suppose that he ever published any of them. The death of all his friends at court, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian, and the coming of those he had no acquaintance with to the crown, I mean Nerva and Trajan, together with his removal from Rome to Judea, with what followed it, might easily interrupt such his intentions, and prevent his publication of those works.