Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The ASOR Blog - The Roman Attack on Judea in the Summer of 66 CE


Nero came to Jerusalem with his army in 66 CE.  He headed straight for Jerusalem from Caesarea.  The priests had got wind of his coming and had fled to the fortresses they had previously captured.  They took with them the manuscripts they had rifled from Agrippa's archives.   Nero was let into Jerusalem and welcomed by the prophets who had been kept locked up in the temple by the priests.      

There are only three places where there is archaeological evidence of Roman attacks in Judea during the first century: Qumran, Masada and Machaerus.  The priests had captured these fortresses from their Idumean and Herodian guards.  I would be happy to receive evidence otherwise.  The Roman attacks on Qumran, Masada and Machaerus occurred almost at the same time, in the summer of 66 CE (see http://raphaelgolb.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/asor-blog-circumvallation-wall-at.html).  The Roman strategy was to hit these fortresses hard and take them by storm.  

66 was to be the year of the Romans made war on the priests, first for killing James and second Agrippa in a revolt against the king.  Nero's war against the priests was short and over in a few days.  In the scheme of Roman wars, this was a small affair.  Nero left the temple intact for the prophets.  He also left Roman soldiery to guard Jerusalem.  The war was followed by a period traditionally regarded by scholars as a period of five years, the so-called five years of revolt.  It was in fact a period of peace.  

The fictitious story of Festus's defeat is Flavian propaganda created from Nero's free entry into Jerusalem.  This was in Nero's twelfth year on the sixteenth of the month Arteisius (Jyar) (April to May 66) (see War 2.14.4 or 2.284).  Cestius's defeat alludes to Nero's entry:  "And now it was that a horrible fear seized upon the seditious, insomuch that many of them ran out of the city, as though it were to be taken immediately; but the people upon this took courage, and where the wicked part of the city gave ground, thither did they come, in order to set open the gates, and to admit Cestius as their benefactor, who, had he but continued the siege a little longer, had certainly taken the city; but it was, I suppose, owing to the aversion God had already at the city and the sanctuary, that he was hindered from putting an end to the war that very day"  (War 2.19.6 or 2.538,539).  Here Cestius should be Nero to whom the gates of Jerusalem were opened.  There was no siege and there is no archaeological evidence for a siege.  The seditious were the priests who fled from Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was not "captured" but left to the prophets and those who wanted peace.  Nero was invited in.  
In the writings attributed to Josephus (the writer must have had access to Nero's war records), Qumran in Judea was changed to Jotapata in Galilee.  Josephus makes no mention of Qumran yet the archaeological evidence for a heavy Roman attack on Qumran is evident.  At the same time there is no evidence of Vespasian ever having been to Galilee.  The first account in Josephus of the attack on Qumran under Placidus (Nero) is falsified as a failed attack on Jotapata  (see War 3.6.1 or 3.110-114) but the time given is correct.  The second attack on Jotapata, supposedly under Vespasian, is elaborate, and of course successful (see War 3.7.3 to 3.8.8 or 3.141-392).  A number of details of this exaggerated battle have been taken from Nero's war record of the actual attack on Qumran.  The geographical similarities of Jotapata and Qumran cannot be mistaken.  The actual date Qumran was stormed by Placidus (Nero) was given away by the Roman historians in War 3.7.29 or 3.282.   This date was the Summer of 66 "on  the twentieth day of the month Desius (Sivan) (May to Jun 66) "  The Roman historians used the actual attack on Qumran to produce the two false attacks on Jotapata.  The second attack was at the incorrect time.

Similarly in the text of Josephus, Masada that lay near Qumran was changed to "Japha that lay near to Jotapata".  I believe Masada was stormed by Trajan "on the twenty-fifth day of the month Desius (Sivan) (May to Jun 66) (see War 3.7.31 or 3.306).

And Machaerus (east of the Dead Sea) was changed to Gamala (in a similar geographical position but east of the Sea of Galilee).  I believe Machaerus was stormed (in "summer-time") by Cerealis the commander of the fifth legion "on the twenty-seventh day of the month Desius (Sivan) (May to Jun 66)" (War 3.7.32 or 3.315).  This attack is said to be against Samaritans on Mount Gerizim.  The attack on Gamala is in War 4.1.1-10 or 4.1-82.  Mount Gerizim in Samaria becomes Mount Tabor in Galilee.  Similar to the attack on Qumran, the Roman historians used the one account of a real attack on Machaerus to produce two false attacks, one on Mount Gerizim and one on Mount Tabor.  

On page 394 of The Herodian Dynasty, Kokkinos tries to say that the revolt, (meaning war) began in 65.  He writes, depending on Josephus: "The seven months siege of Gamala can only be true if the revolt began in 65."  I say there was no attack on Gamala, Vespasian never went to Galilee, and the start date for the war was 66, as stated by Meshorer and Roth.  The Roman side was led by Nero who went with his army from Rome in 66.  Kokkinos appears anxious to find for the date 65 as the first year of the war.  

Thus after entering Jerusalem, Nero's armies attacked Qumran, Masada and Machaerus in the space of seven days.  Each of these attacks involved a different commander.  The accounts are kept deliberately short and interspersed with other larger accounts (see War 3.7.29,31 and 32).  This was to hide the significance of the shorter accounts and to exaggerate considerably the larger accounts.     

The eventual destruction of the temple in Jerusalem was not a part of the war which was against the priests.  The temple was destroyed four or five years later on the orders of Vespasian who was aspiring to the top job in the Roman Empire and needed the finances.  It was the prophets who were attacked on this occasion.  Vespasian took the eight hundred or so prophets to Rome for his triumph.     

Golb and DeVaux were wrong about the date of the attack on Qumran

The Roman Tenth Legion came "by way of Jericho" (see Page 13, Line 12 of Golb's book Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, and War 5.2.3 or 5.69).   This pass "that led into the city", Jerusalem was supposedly guarded by Roman forces.  Vespasian is said to have captured the pass earlier from a vague "certain party of armed men" who had "lain" there.  It smacks of Roman propaganda. Based on Nero's war records (destroyed by Vespasians's historians), the Roman army must have come by way of Caesarea on their way to Jerusalem.  The Roman armies under Nero disembarked at Caesarea the port built by Herod.  From his intelligence information, Nero knew that the priests had captured Qumran, Masada and Machaerus from their Herodian guards.  He probably also knew that the priests had fled from Jerusalem. 

Golb says on page 12 of his book Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, that de Vaux was of the view that the capture of Qumran was in the summer of CE 68, before Jerusalem was captured. Golb says that the reasons de Vaux gave for the date of the attack were the dates on some Roman and Jewish coins found at Qumran. The Roman coins were minted in Caesarea and had a date of CE 67-68. He also says the earliest Jewish coins found at Qumran were dated Year III. Year III is usually accepted as the third year of the Jewish revolt. I have said elsewhere that Year III was the third year of a four or five year period of peace (see http://raphaelgolb.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/asor-blog-circumvallation-wall-at.html) .  After this date, Roman soldiers and Jews visited the Qumran site. Thus these coins were dropped by people who were friends and allies. De Vaux was wrong. Golb accepts Josephus's version, and has the attack on Qumran (and the attack on Masada and Machaerus) following the capture of Jerusalem in CE 70.   Jerusalem was never captured as such.   And Qumran was captured in the summer of 66 CE.  De Vaux's interpretation was two years late. But, his view was at least before CE 70 and not after.  

On page 13, Golb says that if Romans had "stormed" the Qumran site earlier than 68 CE, they would have moved promptly southward to take Herodium.  This was despite Herodium being a Herodian stronghold.  Golb then makes no mention of Masada and Machaerus being captured, but follows the writings attributed to Josephus.  I believe Nero did move southward in 66 CE, but directly from Jerusalem to take first Qumran, then Masada and then Machaerus, all by storm.  Nero knew that these fortresses were defended by priests who were no match for the Roman army.  Vespasian's propaganda painted a completely different picture.  Masada became the key base for the Roman army.   Thus contrary to Golb, I say the Roman troops did move south, but directly from Jerusalem.   "Storming" was the order of the day, not siege.

The real war was a rebellion by the priests who numbered about 30000 in total.  There was no mass uprising of the whole Jewish population.  The priests were defeated by Nero who mounted a direct campaign.  There were no great battles of Vespasian and Titus as portrayed in the propaganda attributed to Josephus.  Vespasian never fought his way through Galilee and Samaria.  There is no archaeological evidence of Vespasian having been there, unlike the Roman camps at Masada.  War Books 3 and 4 are fabricated to fill in some of the time of the  four or five years of peace.  Here is an example (War 3.3.2 or 3.41 to 43) of text about En-Gedi taken from another text (probably Antiquities)  and adapted for Galilee:  [These] {This} [two Galilees] {city}, of so great [largeness] {fruitfullness}, and encompassed with so many [nations of foreigners] {mountains}, [have] {has} been always able to make a strong [resistance] {appeal} on all occasions [of] {to} [war] {peace}; for the [Galileans] {prophets} are inured to [war] {peace} from their infancy, and have been always very [numerous] {industrious}; nor hath the [country] {city} been ever destitute of men of [courage] {agriculture}, or wanted a numerous set of them; for their soil is universally rich and fruitful and full of the plantations of trees of all sorts, insomuch that it invites the most [slothful] {industrious} to take pains in its cultivation, by its fruitfulness; accordingly, it is all cultivated by its inhabitants, and no part of it lies idle. 

On page 13, I consider that Golb makes another false deduction.  He says that Josephus explains that at the beginning of the siege of the capital, the Roman Tenth Legion arrived at the arrived at the Mount of Olives "having come by way of Jericho where a party of soldiers had been posted to guard the pass formerly taken by Vespasian."  In accepting that Josephus is telling the truth, Golb says that this strongly implies there were no Roman troops stationed south of this pass.  I believe that the statement "where a party of of soldiers had been posted to guard the pass formerly taken by Vespasian" has all the hallmarks of retrospective propaganda.  Golb claims that this move allowed the Romans to surround Jerusalem entirely, not just on three sides.  I show, in fact, that before capturing Qumran, Masada and Machaerus, Nero's forces were let into Jerusalem by the prophets in 66 (see  http://raphaelgolb.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/asor-blog-circumvallation-wall-at.html).  There was no siege of Jerusalem - the archaeologists and historians argue there was a siege wall, but there is no archaeological evidence for such a wall.  Yet the archaeologists say that the wall around Masada was a siege wall, still visible, and built by the Roman military.  I argue that it was built by Herod for defence.

Josephus reports two battles for Jotapata 

Of course, retrospectively, Josephus has it that Nero, full of "consternation and terror" at the prospect of war, "found no one but Vespasian equal to the task, and able to to undergo the great burden of so mighty a war" (see War 3.1.1,2 or 3.1-5).  Never mind that Nero led a large army out of Rome in 66 CE, as Suetonius mockingly stated in his Vespasian.  The Roman propaganda is obvious.  Nero actually invited Vespasian to be a general in his army.  His experience in Britain would be invaluable.  Nero was to lead the army.

In War, shortly after Vespasian's apparent appointment as leader of the army, and after some preliminary text about Galilee, Samaria and Judea, followed by a description of the Roman army and a few skirmishes, there is the first battle supposedly against the city of Jotapata in Galilee (see War 3.6.1 or 3.110 - 114)  This was led by Placidus "who had supposedly overrun Galiliee" apparently before Vespasian's arrival, but had only killed "the weaker part of the 'Galileans', and such as who were of fearful souls".  Josephus reports that the people of Jotapata were expecting Placidus, and "easily put the Romans to flight".   "Placidus, finding himself unable to assault the city, ran away", would you believe.  This was Vespasian mocking Nero.  This probably alluded to the time when Vespasian left the battle to attend to his Emperor who had been injured by an arrow in his foot.  

Bear in mind de Vaux's view that Qumran was captured before Jerusalem in the summer of 68. In a seemingly insignificant account, Placidus's fight for Jotapata in Galilee was really Nero's battle for Qumran in 66.  That is why this first battle is played down . Placidus lost the battle and fled.  Vespasian could then claim the victory when he comes on the scene for the second fictitious attack on Jotapata.  

Nero's plan was to take Qumran by surprise or storm.  The men (priests) having previously captured the fortress of Qumran from a number of Idumean guards, were prepared for fighting and expecting the Romans.   Significantly, the priests had their wives and children with them, as supported by the evidence of the bones from the adjacent cemetery.  It was the Jews who were "easily put to flight" (opposite to the the extant text) by the Roman army who killed seven of them and wounded many who probably also died from their wounds.  Josephus has reversed the casualty figures.  Thus, three of the Roman side were killed and a few wounded.  This battle would have been over in less than a day.    
"And thus did Vespasian march with his army, and came to the bounds of Galilee, where he pitched his camp and restrained his soldiers, who were eager for war".  You can rest assured that you are in for some real propaganda for the protracted second battle (see War 3.7.3-29 or 3.127-338).  The second battle for Jotapata is said to have occurred on the twentieth day of the month Decius (Sivan) or May to June - "This fight happened on the twentieth day of the month Decius (Sivan) (see War 3.7.36 or 3.338).  It is described as a fight over one day.  Yet the long account of Vespasian's battle includes a siege.  Clearly this slip-up was probably extracted from Nero's war records. It must refer to the first attack which was by storm under Nero. 

Galilee with its lake, was easy for the Roman historians to duplicate and exaggerate what really happened around the Dead Sea.  Vespasian never went to Galilee.  The two years between 66 and 68 were filled with the activities of one Josephus supposedly building defenses in Galilee.  It was at Jotapata that Josephus is supposed to have surrendered, in a most unlikely fashion Vespasian's battle for Jotapata, and Josephus, himself are fictional.  They were the creations of Roman historians for Vespasian's phoney war.  

Josephus reports a battle for Japha

Slipped-in with account of the second battle for Jotapata is another short seemingly insignificant account of the battle for Japha in Galilee (see War 3.7.31 or 3.289-306).  So could this be similar to the first battle for Jotapata (Qumran) with Japha in reality somewhere near the Dead Sea?  I suggest this short account about Japha was in fact the taking of Masada by storm.  The forces were again under Nero.  Japha is said to have fallen on the twenty-fifth of the month Desius (Sivan), approximately four or five days after the first battle for Qumran (see War 3.7.31 or 3.306).

Thus I have the dates of the battles for Qumran, Masada and Machaerus as:

Qumran - twentieth day of the month Decius (Sivan) (see War 3.7.36 or 3.338).

Masada - twenty-fifth of the month Desius (Sivan) (see War 3.7.31 or 3.306).

Machaerus - twenty-seventh day of the month Desius (Sivan) (May to Jun 66) (See War 3.7.32 or 3.315).

Golb is right and de Vaux wrong about the purpose of the Qumran site - Qumran always was a fortress.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Ambivalence of the Scrolls and the Koran

I have been struck of late with the parallels between the Scrolls found in the Judean wilderness and the Koran.  For they both speak with a forked tongue. On the one hand they speak of peace, kindness and good things, and on the other they glorify war. Thus they send out confusing messages.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

When Did The Priests Separate From the Temple And Thus Stop Sacrificing Animals?

My last post  (The Misplaced Text of War Chapters 4 and 5) has made me think that there could be other areas of the writings attributed to Josephus where the Flavian historians did the same; i.e. they took text from one area and used it in another say for propaganda.  And, conveniently, the removal of text from an area could be to hide the original purpose of the text. 

The area I have in mind is Ant.17.6.2. (17.149).  It starts: There was one Judas, the son of Saripheus, and Matthias, the son of Margalothus.  This text is related to the time of Herod. Judas and Matthias are common names, but to have these two names together is a bit of a coincidence as leaders of a plot to tear down an eagle that Herod is supposed to have erected over a gate of the temple.  I say coincidence because Judas has the same name as Judas Maccabeus and a Mattathias Maccabeus was his father.  These were the leaders of the Maccabean revolt.    In Antiquities 17.6, nothing is said of what happened to Judas.  My thoughts are that the text of Antiquites 17.6 could be garbled to blacken the character of Herod. Further it could have its origin in Antiquities 12.7.6 (12.318) where Judas purges or purifies the Temple.

So Judas's ' purging' of the temple would have been the abolition of animal sacrifice. This would also have been the time that the priests 'separated' themselves from the temple.  This was a 'separation' that was forced upon them.  They were kicked out.

NOTE  If the above is correct, then some of my previous posts about a high priest Matthias at the time of Herod were fabricated by the priestly editors of the original Antiquities.   The Flavian editors would have been casting Herod in a bad light.  That Herod was hated by the priests (who were later given licence by Vespasian to re-write much of Antiquities) is self evident.  He was a convert to Judaism and an ardent supporter of Hasmoneans and the prophets, in other words a Hasmonean by nature.             

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Hasmonean Temple (The Misplaced Text of War Chapters 4 and 5)


My thoughts are that Chapters 4 and 5 of War were extracted (by the editor of the writings attributed to Josephus) from their original place immediately before Chapter 11 of Antiquities.  Chapter 4 of War was originally a description of Hyrcanus's Jerusalem.  Chapter 5 of War was originally a description of the Hasmonean pre-Herodian Temple at the time of Hyrcanus.  It is strange that the Hasmonean Temple is not apparently described in Antiquities.  

Chapter 5 of War speaks of 'the people' who added new banks, 'they' who built the walls, 'they' who encompassed the upper courts with cloisters, etc. etc.  Herod is mentioned only twice in War Chapter 5 in what I believe is fabricated text.  Chapter 11 of Antiquities follows-on from War Chapter 5 with Herod making the temple of God 'larger in compass'. 

Chapter 5 of War has the entire compass of the temple including the tower of Antonia (the
Hasmonean baris named Antonia by Herod) at six furlongs. The entire compass for Herod's expansion is more than eight furlongs. Is this the reason why some think the dimensions given by Josephus are unreliable?

The text from Antiquities was used by the author of War (Chapters 4 and 5) to falsify the account of Titus's defeat of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple.  Vespasian never went to Galilee or Samaria.   There is no archaeological evidence of him having done so.  He was only a general in Nero's army. The priests had been persecuting the prophets.  They were suppressed by Nero's army in 66 CE.  From then on there were five years of peace not revolt.  During this time there was buying and selling of land and marriages.  This was not the kind of activity one expects during a war. Vespasian and Titus were a part of a garrison that Nero left behind to keep an eye on the priests who were living in exile in their towns and villages.  After five years the opportunity came for Vespasian to betray the prophets and take the temple gold which Nero had retained in the temple. Vespasian's garrison extracted the gold piece by piece. Then they set fire to the temple.  The rest is history as we know it.

The towers Mariamne and Alexandra were built by Hyrcanus.  This was well before all three were murdered by the Arabians at Alexandrium.  (See Ant 16 Chapter 5 in  https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=14512636#editor/target=post;postID=2603769634852080203;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=7;src=postname).  Herod had put them in the fortress of Alexandrium for their safety while he was helping Augustus by fighting the Arabians on the eastern front.  



1. THE city of Jerusalem was fortified with three walls, on such parts as were not encompassed with unpassable valleys; for in such places it had but one wall.

The city was built upon two hills, which are opposite to one another, and have a valley to divide them asunder; at which valley the corresponding rows of houses on both hills end. Of these hills, that which contains the upper city is much higher, and in length more direct. Accordingly, it was called the "Citadel," by king David; he was the father of that Solomon who built this temple at the first; but it is by us called the "Upper Market-place."

But the other hill, which was called "Acra," and sustains the lower city, is of the shape of a moon when she is horned;

over against this there was a third hill, but naturally lower than Acra, and parted formerly from the other by a broad valley. However, in those times when the Asamoneans reigned, they filled up that valley with earth, and had a mind to join the city to the temple. They then took off part of the height of Acra, and reduced it to be of less elevation than it was before, that the temple might be superior to it.

Now the Valley of the Cheesemongers, as it was called, [and was that which we told you before distinguished the hill of the upper city from that of the lower,] extended as far as Siloam; for that is the name of a fountain which hath sweet water in it, and this in great plenty also.

But on the outsides, these hills are surrounded by deep valleys, and by reason of the precipices to them belonging on both sides they are everywhere unpassable.

2. Now, of these three walls, the old one was hard to be taken, both by reason of the valleys, and of that hill on which it was built, and which was above them. But besides that great advantage, as to the place where they were situated, it was also built very strong; because David and Solomon, and the following kings, were very zealous about this work. Now that wall began on the north, at the tower called ["Hippicus"] {Alexandra} and extended as far as the "Xistus," a place so called, and then, joining to the council-house, ended at the west [cloister] of the temple. But if we go the other way westward, it began at the same place, and extended through a place called "Bethso," to the gate of the [Essens] {prophets}; and after that it went southward, having its bending above the fountain Siloam, where it also bends again towards the east at Solomon's pool, and reaches as far as a certain place which they called "Ophlas," where it was joined to the eastern [cloister] {wall} of the temple.

The second wall took its beginning from that gate which they called "Gennath," which belonged to the first wall; it only encompassed the northern quarter of the city, and reached as far as the tower Antonia.

The beginning of the third wall was at the tower [Hippicus] {Alexandra}, [whence it reached as far as the north quarter of the city,] and the tower [Psephinus] {Mariamne}, and then was so far extended till it came over against the monuments of Helena, which Helena was queen of Adiabene, the daughter of Izates; it then extended further to a great length, and passed by the sepulchral caverns of the kings, and bent again at the tower of the corner, at the monument which is called the "Monument of the Fuller," and joined to the old wall at the valley called the "Valley of Cedron."

It was [Agrippa] {Hyrcanus} who encompassed the parts added to the old city with this wall, which had been all naked before; for as the city grew more populous, it gradually crept beyond its old limits, and those parts of it that stood northward of the temple, and joined that hill to the city, made it considerably larger, and occasioned that hill, which is in number the fourth, and is called "Bezetha," to be inhabited also. It lies over against the tower Antonia, but is divided from it by a deep valley, which was dug on purpose, and that in order to hinder the foundations of the tower of Antonia from joining to this hill, and thereby affording an opportunity for getting to it with ease, and hindering the security that arose from its superior elevation; for which reason also that depth of the ditch made the elevation of the towers more remarkable. This new-built part of the city was called "Bezetha," in our language, which, if interpreted in the Grecian language, may be called "the New City."

Since, therefore, its inhabitants stood in need of a covering, the father{in-law} of the present king, [and of the same name with him, Agrippa] {Herod}, [began] {built} that wall

[we spoke of; but he left off building it when he had only laid the foundations,]

out of the fear he was in of [Claudius Caesar] {Antigonus}

[, lest he should suspect that so strong a wall was built in order to make some innovation in public affairs; for the city could no way have been taken if that wall had been finished in the manner it was begun; as its parts were connected together by stones twenty cubits long, and ten cubits broad, which could never have been either easily undermined by any iron tools, or shaken by any engines.]

The wall was[, however,] ten cubits wide, and [it would probably have] had a height greater than

[that, had not his zeal who began it been hindered from exerting itself. After this, it was erected with great diligence by the Jews, as high as]

twenty cubits, above which it had battlements of two cubits, and turrets of three cubits altitude, insomuch that the entire altitude extended as far as twenty-five cubits.

3. Now the towers {Alexandra and Mariamne} that were upon it were twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in height; they were square and solid, as was the wall itself, wherein the niceness of the joints, and the beauty of the stones, were no way inferior to those of the holy house itself. Above this solid altitude of the towers, which was twenty cubits, there were rooms of great magnificence, and over them upper rooms, and cisterns to receive rain-water. They were many in number, and the steps by which you ascended up to them were everyone broad: of these towers then the third wall had ninety, and the spaces between them were each two hundred cubits; but in the middle wall were forty towers, and the old wall was parted into sixty, while the whole compass of the city was thirty-three furlongs.

The following fabricated text gives the game away.  Mariamne of course became  Herod's wife. So it was easy for the editor to say the tower of Mariamne was built in her memory because he regretted the supposed slaying of his wife.  But the 'wife' implied here was Alexandra, Hyrcanus's wife.  Mariamne and Alexandra had towers named after them.  The tower of Alexandra is alluded to subliminally in the text: "
it resembled the tower of Pharus, which exhibited a fire to such as sailed to Alexandria".

[Now the third wall was all of it wonderful; yet was the tower Psephinus elevated above it at the north-west corner, and there Titus pitched his own tent; for being seventy cubits high it both afforded a prospect of Arabia at sun-rising, as well as it did of the utmost limits of the Hebrew possessions at the sea westward. Moreover, it was an octagon, and over against it was the tower Hippicus and hard by two others were erected by king Herod, in the old wall. These were for largeness, beauty, and strength beyond all that were in the habitable earth; for besides the magnanimity of his nature, and his magnificence towards the city on other occasions, he built these after such an extraordinary manner, to gratify his own private affections, and dedicated these towers to the memory of those three persons who had been the dearest to him, and from whom he named them. They were his brother, his friend, and his wife. This wife he had slain, out of his love (and jealousy), as we have already related; the other two he lost in war, as they were courageously fighting. Hippicus, so named from his friend, was square; its length and breadth were each twenty-five cubits, and its height thirty, and it had no vacuity in it. Over this solid building, which was composed of great stones united together, there was a reservoir twenty cubits deep, over which there was a house of two stories, whose height was twenty-five cubits, and divided into several parts; over which were battlements of two cubits, and turrets all round of three cubits high, insomuch that the entire height added together amounted to fourscore cubits. The second tower, which he named from his brother Phasaelus, had its breadth and its height equal, each of them forty cubits; over which was its solid height of forty cubits; over which a cloister went round about, whose height was ten cubits, and it was covered from enemies by breast-works and bulwarks. There was also built over that cloister another tower, parted into magnificent rooms, and a place for bathing; so that this tower wanted nothing that might make it appear to be a royal palace. It was also adorned with battlements and turrets, more than was the foregoing, and the entire altitude was about ninety cubits; the appearance of it resembled the tower of Pharus, which exhibited a fire to such as sailed to Alexandria, but was much larger than it in compass. This was now converted to a house, wherein Simon exercised his tyrannical authority. The third tower was Mariamne, for that was his queen's name; it was solid as high as twenty cubits; its breadth and its length were twenty cubits, and were equal to each other; its upper buildings were more magnificent, and had greater variety, than the other towers had; for the king thought it most proper for him to adorn that which was denominated from his wife, better than those denominated from men, as those were built stronger than this that bore his wife's name. The entire height of this tower was fifty cubits.]

4. [Now as these towers were so very tall, they appeared much taller by the place on which they stood; for that very old wall wherein they were was built on a high hill, and was itself a kind of elevation that was still thirty cubits taller; over which were the towers situated, and thereby were made much higher to appearance. The largeness also of the stones was wonderful; for they were not made of common small stones, nor of such large ones only as men could carry, but they were of white marble, cut out of the rock; each stone was twenty cubits in length, and ten in breadth, and five in depth. They were so exactly united to one another, that each tower looked like one entire rock of stone, so growing naturally, and afterward cut by the hand of the artificers into their present shape and corners; so little, or not at all, did their joints or connexion appear.]

Now as these towers were themselves on the north side of the wall, [the king] {Hyrcanus} had a palace inwardly thereto adjoined, which exceeds all my ability to describe it; for it was so very curious as to want no cost nor skill in its construction, but was entirely walled about to the height of thirty cubits, and was adorned with towers at equal distances, and with large bed-chambers, that would contain beds for a hundred guests a-piece, in which the variety of the stones is not to be expressed; for a large quantity of those that were rare of that kind was collected together. Their roofs were also wonderful, both for the length of the beams, and the splendour of their ornaments. The number of the rooms was also very great, and the variety of the figures that were about them was prodigious; their furniture was complete, and the greatest part of the vessels that were put in them was of silver and gold. There were besides many porticoes, one beyond another, round about, and in each of those porticoes curious pillars; yet were all the courts that were exposed to the air everywhere green. There were, moreover, several groves of trees, and long walks through them, with deep canals, and cisterns, that in several parts were filled with brazen statues, through which the water ran out. There were withal many dove-courts of tame pigeons about the canals.

[But indeed it is not possible to give a complete description of these palaces; and the very remembrance of them is a torment to one, as putting one in mind what vastly rich buildings that fire which was kindled by the robbers hath consumed; for these were not burnt by the Romans, but by these internal plotters, as we have already related, in the beginning of their rebellion. That fire began at the tower of Antonia, and went on to the palaces, and consumed the upper parts of the three towers themselves.]



1. NOW this temple[, as I have already said,] was built upon a strong hill. At first the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house [and the altar], for the ground about it was very uneven, and like a precipice; but when king Solomon, who was the person that built the temple, had built a wall to it on its east side, there was then added one cloister founded on a bank cast up for it, and on the other parts the holy house stood naked. But in future ages the people added new banks, and the hill became a larger plain.

They then broke down the wall on the north side, and took in as much as sufficed afterward for the compass of the entire temple. And when they had built walls on three sides of the temple round about, from the bottom of the hill, and had performed a work that was greater than could be hoped for, (in which work long ages were spent by them, as well as all their sacred treasures were exhausted, which were still replenished by those tributes which were sent to God from the whole habitable earth,) they then encompassed their upper courts with cloisters, as well as they (afterward) did the lowest (court of the) temple.

The lowest part of this was erected to the height of three hundred cubits, and in some places more; yet did not the entire depth of the foundations appear, for they brought earth, and filled up the valleys, as being desirous to make them on a level with the narrow streets of the city; wherein they made use of stones of forty cubits in magnitude; for the great plenty of money they then had, and the liberality of the people, made this attempt of theirs to succeed to an incredible degree; and what could not be so much as hoped for as ever to be accomplished, was, by perseverance and length of time, brought to perfection.

2. Now for the works that were above these foundations, these were not unworthy of such foundations; for all the cloisters were double, and the pillars to them belonging were twenty-five cubits in height, and supported the cloisters. These pillars were of one entire stone each of them, and that stone was white marble; and the roofs were adorned with cedar, curiously graven. The natural magnificence, and excellent polish, and the harmony of the joints in these cloisters, afforded a prospect that was very remarkable; nor was it on the outside adorned with any work of the painter or engraver. The cloisters (of the outmost court) were in breadth thirty cubits, while the entire compass of it was by measure six furlongs, including the tower of Antonia; those entire courts that were exposed to the air were laid with stones of all sorts. When you go through these (first) cloisters, unto the second (court of the) temple, there was a partition made of stone all round, whose height was three cubits: its construction was very elegant;

upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another, declaring the law of purity, some in [Greek] {Hebrew}, and some in [Roman] {Greek} letters, that "no foreigner should go within that sanctuary" for that second (court of the) temple was called "the Sanctuary," and was ascended to by fourteen steps from the first court. This court was four-square, and had a wall about it peculiar to itself; the height of its buildings, although it were on the outside forty cubits, was hidden by the steps, and on the inside that height was but twenty-five cubits; for it being built over against a higher part of the hill with steps, it was no further to be entirely discerned within, being covered by the hill itself.

Beyond these thirteen steps there was the distance of ten cubits; this was all plain; whence there were other steps, each of five cubits a-piece, that led to the gates, which gates on the north and south sides were eight, on each of those sides four, and of necessity two on the east. For since there was a partition built for the women on that side, as the proper place wherein they were to worship, there was a necessity for a second gate for them: this gate was cut out of its wall, over against the first gate.

There was also on the other sides one southern and one northern gate, through which was a passage into the court of the women; for as to the other gates, the women were not allowed to pass through them; nor when they went through their own gate could they go beyond their own wall. This place was allotted to the women of our own country, and of other countries, provided they were of the same nation, and that equally.

The western part of this court had no gate at all, but the wall was built entire on that side. But then the cloisters which were betwixt the gates extended from the wall inward, before the chambers; for they were supported by very fine and large pillars. These cloisters were single, and, excepting their magnitude, were no way inferior to those of the lower court.

3. Now nine of these gates were on every side covered over with gold and silver, as were the jambs of their doors and their lintels; but there was one gate that was without the (inward court of the) holy house, which was of Corinthian brass, and greatly excelled those that were only covered over with silver and gold. Each gate had two doors, whose height was severally thirty cubits, and their breadth fifteen.

However, they had large spaces within of thirty cubits, and had on each side rooms, and those, both in breadth and in length, built like towers, and their height was above forty cubits. Two pillars did also support these rooms, and were in circumference twelve cubits. Now the magnitudes of the other gates were equal one to another; but that over the Corinthian gate, which opened on the east over against the gate of the holy house itself, was much larger; for its height was fifty cubits; and its doors were forty cubits; and it was adorned after a most costly manner, as having much richer and thicker plates of silver and gold upon them than the other.

These nine gates had that silver and gold poured upon them by Alexander, the father of Tiberius.

Now there were fifteen steps, which led away from the wall of the court of the women to this greater gate; whereas those that led thither from the other gates were five steps shorter.

4. As to the holy house itself, which was placed in the midst (of the inmost court), that most sacred part of the temple, it was ascended to by twelve steps; and in front its height and its breadth were equal, and each a hundred cubits, though it was behind forty cubits narrower; for on its front it had what may be styled shoulders on each side, that passed twenty cubits further.

Its first gate was seventy cubits high, and twenty-five cubits broad; but this gate had no doors; for it represented the universal visibility of heaven, and that it cannot be excluded from any place. Its front was covered with gold all over, and through it the first part of the house, that was more inward, did all of it appear; which, as it was very large, so did all the parts about the more inward gate appear to shine to those that saw them; but then, as the entire house was divided into two parts within, it was only the first part of it that was open to our view. Its height extended all along to ninety cubits in height, and its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty. But that gate which was at this end of the first part of the house was, as we have already observed, all over covered with gold, as was its whole wall about it; it had also golden vines above it, from which clusters of grapes hung as tall as a man's height. But then this house, as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of fifty-five cubits altitude, and sixteen in breadth;

but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colours without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colours the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the (twelve) signs, representing living creatures.

5. When any persons entered into the temple, its floor received them. This part of the temple therefore was in height sixty cubits, and its length the same; whereas its breadth was but twenty cubits: but still that sixty cubits in length was divided again, and the first part of it was cut off at forty cubits, and had in it three things that were very wonderful and famous among all mankind, the candlestick, the table (of shew-bread), and the altar of incense.

Now the seven lamps signified the seven planets; for so many there were springing out of the candlestick.

Now the twelve loaves that were upon the table signified the circle of the zodiac and the year;

but the altar of incense, by its thirteen kinds of sweet-smelling spices with which the sea replenished it, signified that God is the possessor of all things that are both in the uninhabitable and habitable parts of the earth, and that they are all to be dedicated to his use.

But the inmost part of the temple of all was of twenty cubits. This was also separated from the outer part by a veil. In this there was nothing at all. It was inaccessible and inviolable, and not to be seen by any; and was called the Holy of Holies.

Now, about the sides of the lower part of the temple, there were little houses, with passages out of one into another; there were a great many of them, and they were of three stories high; there were also entrances on each side into them from the gate of the temple.

But the superior part of the temple had no such little houses any further, because the temple was there narrower, and forty cubits higher, and of a smaller body than the lower parts of it. Thus we collect that the whole height, including the sixty cubits from the floor, amounted to a hundred cubits.

6. Now the outward face of the temple in its front wanted nothing that was likely to surprise either men's minds or their eyes; for it was covered all over with plates of gold of great weight, and, at the first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fiery splendour, and made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away, just as they would have done at the sun's own rays.

But this temple appeared to strangers, when they were coming to it at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow; for as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were exceeding white.

On its top it had spikes with sharp points, to prevent any pollution of it by birds sitting upon it.

Of its stones, some of them were forty-five cubits in length, five in height, and six in breadth.

[Before this temple stood the altar, fifteen cubits high, and equal both in length and breadth; each of which dimensions was fifty cubits. The figure it was built in was a square, and it had corners like horns; and the passage up to it was by an insensible acclivity. It was formed without any iron tool, nor did any such iron tool so much as touch it at any time. There was also a wall of partition, about a cubit in height, made of fine stones, and so as to be grateful to the sight; this encompassed the holy house and the altar, and kept the people that were on the outside off from the priests. Moreover, those that had the gonorrhea and the leprosy were excluded out of the city entirely; women also, when their courses were upon them, were shut out of the temple; nor when they were free from that impurity, were they allowed to go beyond the limit before-mentioned; men also, that were not thoroughly pure, were prohibited to come into the inner (court of the) temple; nay, the priests themselves that were not pure were prohibited to come into it also.]

7. [Now all those of the stock of the priests that could not minister by reason of some defect in their bodies, came within the partition, together with those that had no such imperfection, and had their share with them by reason of their stock, but still made use of none except their own private garments; for nobody but he that officiated had on his sacred garments; but then those priests that were without any blemish upon them went up to the altar clothed in fine linen. They abstained chiefly from wine, out of this fear, lest otherwise they should transgress some rules of their ministration. The high priest did also go up with them; not always indeed, but on the seventh days and new moons, and if any festivals belonging to our nation, which we celebrate every year, happened. When he officiated, he had on a pair of breeches that reached beneath his privy parts to his thighs, and had on an inner garment of linen, together with a blue garment, round, without seam, with fringe work, and reaching to the feet. There were also golden bells that hung upon the fringes, and pomegranates intermixed among them. The bells signified thunder, and the pomegranates lightning. But that girdle that tied the garment to the breast was embroidered with five rows of various colours, of gold, and purple, and scarlet, as also of fine linen and blue, with which colours we told you before the veils of the temple were embroidered also. The like embroidery was upon the ephod; but the quantity of gold therein was greater. Its figure was that of a stomacher for the breast. There were upon it two golden buttons like small shields, which buttoned the ephod to the garment; in these buttons were enclosed two very large and very excellent sardonyxes, having the names of the tribes of that nation engraved upon them: on the other part there hung twelve stones, three in a row one way, and four in the other; a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; a carbuncle, a jasper, and a sapphire; an agate, an amethyst, and a ligure; an onyx, a beryl, and a chrysolite; upon every one of which was again engraved one of the forementioned names of the tribes. A mitre also of fine linen encompassed his head, which was tied by a blue ribbon, about which there was another golden crown, in which was engraven the sacred name (of God): it consists of four vowels. However, the high priest did not wear these garments at other times, but a more plain habit; he only did it when he went into the most sacred part of the temple, which he did but once in a year, on that day when our custom is for all of us to keep a fast to God.  And thus much concerning the city and the temple; but for the customs and laws hereto relating, we shall speak more accurately another time; for there remain a great many things thereto relating which have not been here touched upon.]

8. Now as to the tower of Antonia, it was situated at the corner of [two cloisters of the court of] the temple; of that on the west, and that on the north

[it was erected upon a rock of fifty cubits in height, and was on a great precipice; it was the work of king Herod, wherein he demonstrated his natural magnanimity. In the first place, the rock itself was covered over with smooth pieces of stone, from its foundation, both for ornament, and that anyone who would either try to get up or to go down it might not be able to hold his feet upon it.  Next to this, and before you come to the edifice of the tower itself, there was a wall three cubits high; but within that wall all the space of the tower of Antonia itself was built upon, to the height of forty cubits. The inward parts had the largeness and form of a palace, it being parted into all kinds of rooms and other conveniences, such as courts, and places for bathing, and broad spaces for camps; insomuch that, by having all conveniences that cities wanted, it might seem to be composed of several cities, but by its magnificence it seemed a palace.] 

And as the entire structure resembled that of a tower
it contained [also four other] {two} distinct towers [at its four corners; whereof the others were but] fifty cubits high

[; whereas that which lay upon the southeast corner was seventy cubits high,] 

that from thence the whole temple might be viewed; but [on the corner where it joined to the two cloisters of the temple,] it had passages down [to] {from} them both, through which the guard 

[for there always lay in this tower a Roman legion] 


[several ways among the cloisters, with their arms, on the Jewish festivals, in order to watch the people, that they might not there attempt to make any innovations; for the temple was a fortress that guarded the city, as was the tower of Antonia a guard to the temple; and in that tower were the guards of those three. There was also a peculiar fortress belonging to the upper city, which was Herod's palace;]

but for the hill Bezetha, it was 

[divided from the tower Antonia, as we have already told you; and as that hill on which the tower of Antonia stood was the highest of these three, so did it adjoin to the new city, and was]

the only place that hindered the sight of the temple on the north. 

[And this shall suffice at present to have spoken about the city and the walls about it, because I have proposed to myself to make a more accurate description of it elsewhere.]



1. AND now Herod, in the eighteenth year of his reign, and after the acts already mentioned, undertook a very great work, that is, to build [of himself] the temple of God, [and make it] larger in compass, and to raise it to a most magnificent altitude, as esteeming it to be the most glorious of all his actions, as it really was, to bring it to perfection; and that this would be sufficient for an everlasting memorial of him; but as he knew the multitude were not ready nor willing to assist him in so vast a design, he thought to prepare them first by making a speech to them, and then set about the work itself; so he called them together, and spake thus to them: "I think I need not speak to you[, my countrymen,] about such other works as I have done since I came to the kingdom, although I may say they have been performed in such a manner as to bring more security to you than glory to myself; for I have neither been negligent in the most difficult times about what tended to ease your necessities, nor have the buildings. I have made been so proper to preserve me as yourselves from injuries; and I imagine that, with God's assistance, I have advanced the nation of the Jews to a degree of happiness which they never had before; and for the particular edifices belonging to your own country, and your own cities, as also to those cities that we have lately acquired, which we have erected and greatly adorned, and thereby augmented the dignity of your nation, it seems to me a needless task to enumerate them to you, since you well know them yourselves; but as to that undertaking which I have a mind to set about at present, and which will be a work of the greatest piety and excellence that can possibly be undertaken by us, I will now declare it to you. Our fathers, indeed, when they were returned from Babylon, built this temple to God Almighty, yet does it want sixty cubits of its largeness in altitude; for so much did that first temple which Solomon built exceed this temple; nor let any one condemn our fathers for their negligence or want of piety herein, for it was not their fault that the temple was no higher; for they were Cyrus, and Darius the son of Hystaspes, who determined the measures for its rebuilding; and it hath been by reason of the subjection of those fathers of ours to them and to their posterity, and after them to the Macedonians, that they had not the opportunity to follow the original model of this pious edifice, nor could raise it to its ancient altitude; but since I am now, by God's will, your governor, and I have had peace a long time, and have gained great riches and large revenues, and, what is the principal filing of all, I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world, I will do my endeavour to correct that imperfection, which hath arisen from the necessity of our affairs, and the slavery we have been under formerly, and to make a thankful return, after the most pious manner, to God, for what blessings I have received from him, by giving me this kingdom, and that by rendering his temple as complete as I am able."

2. And this was the speech which Herod made to them; but still this speech aftrighted many of the people, as being unexpected by them; and because it seemed incredible, it did not encourage them, but put a damp upon them, for they were afraid that he would pull down the whole edifice, and not be able to bring his intentions to perfection for its rebuilding; and this danger appeared to them to be very great, and the vastness of the undertaking to be such as could hardly be accomplished.

But while they were in this disposition, the king encouraged them, and told them he would not pull down their temple till all things were gotten ready for building it up entirely again. And as he promised them this beforehand, so he did not break his word with them, but got ready a thousand waggons, that were to bring stones for the building, and chose out ten thousand of the most skillful

[workmen, and bought a thousand sacerdotal garments for as many of the priests, and had some of them taught the arts of]

stone-cutters, and others of carpenters, and then began to build; but this not till every thing was well prepared for the work.

3. So Herod took away the old foundations, and laid others, and erected the temple upon them, being in length a hundred cubits, and in height twenty additional cubits,

[which twenty upon the sinking of their foundations fell down; and this part it was that we resolved to raise again in the days of Nero].

Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits, their height was eight, and their breadth about twelve; and the whole structure, as also the structure of the royal cloister, was on each side much lower, but the middle was much higher, till they were visible to those that dwelt in the country for a great many furlongs, but chiefly to such as lived over against them, and those that approached to them. The temple had doors also at the entrance, and lintels over them, of the same height with the temple itself. They were adorned with embroidered veils, with their flowers of purple, and pillars interwoven; and over these, but under the crown-work, was spread out a golden vine, with its branches hanging down from a great height, the largeness and fine workmanship of which was a surprising sight to the spectators, to see what vast materials there were, and with what great skill the workmanship was done.

He also encompassed the entire temple with very large cloisters, contriving them to be in a due proportion thereto; and he laid out larger sums of money upon them than had been done before him, till it seemed that no one else had so greatly adorned the temple as he had done. There was a large wall to both the cloisters, which wall was itself the most prodigious work that was ever heard of by man. The hill was a rocky ascent, that declined by degrees towards the east parts of the city, till it came to an elevated level. This hill it was which Solomon, who was the first of our kings, by Divine revelation, encompassed with a wall; it was of excellent workmanship upwards, and round the top of it. He also built a wall below, beginning at the bottom, which was encompassed by a deep valley; and at the south side he laid rocks together, and bound them one to another with lead, and included some of the inner parts, till it proceeded to a great height, and till both the largeness of the square edifice and its altitude were immense, and till the vastness of the stones in the front were plainly visible on the outside, yet so that the inward parts were fastened together with iron, and preserved the joints immovable for all future times. When this work [for the foundation] was done in this manner, and joined together as part of the hill itself to the very top of it, he wrought it all into one outward surface, and filled up the hollow places which were about the wall, and made it a level on the external upper surface, and a smooth level also. This hill was walled all round, and in compass four furlongs, [the distance of] each angle containing in length a furlong: but within this wall, and on the very top of all, there ran another wall of stone also, having, on the east quarter, a double cloister, of the same length with the wall; in the midst of which was the temple itself. This cloister looked to the gates of the temple; and it had been adorned by many kings in former times; and round about the entire temple were fixed the spoils taken from barbarous nations; all these had been dedicated to the temple by Herod, with the addition of those he had taken from the Arabians.

4. Now on the north side of the temple was built a citadel, whose walls were square, and strong, and of extraordinary firmness. This citadel was built by the kings of the Asamonean race, who were [also high priests] {prophets} before [Herod] {God}, and they called it the Tower, in which were reposited the [vestments] {ornaments}of the [high priest] {prophet}, which [the high priest only] {he} put on at the time when he was to [offer sacrifice] {prophesy}.

[These vestments king Herod kept in that place; and after his death they were under the power of the Romans, until the time of Tiberius Caesar; under whose reign Vitellius, the president of Syria, when he once came to Jerusalem, and had been most magnificently received by the multitude, he had a mind to make them some requital for the kindness they had shewn him; so, upon their petition to have those holy vestments in their own power, he wrote about them to Tiberius Caesar, who granted his request: and this their power over the sacerdotal vestments continued with the Jews till the death of king Agrippa; but after that, Cassius Longinus, who was president of Syria, and Cuspius Fadus, who was procurator of Judea, enjoined the Jews to reposit those vestments in the tower of Antonia, for that they ought to have them in their power, as they formerly had. However, the Jews sent ambassadors to Claudius Caesar, to intercede with him for them; upon whose coming, king Agrippa, junior, being then at Rome, asked for and obtained the power over them from the emperor, who gave command to Vitellius, who was then commander in Syria, to give it them accordingly].

Before that time they were kept under the seal of [the high priest, and of] the treasurers of the temple; which treasurers, the day before a festival, went up to the [Roman] captain of the temple guards, and viewed their own seal, and received the [vestments] {ornaments}; and again, when the festival was over, they brought it to the same place, and showed the captain of the temple guards their seal, which corresponded with his seal, and reposited them there.

[And that these things were so, the afflictions that happened to us afterwards about them are sufficient evidence. But for the tower itself, when Herod the king of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the temple, he gratified Antonius, who was his friend, and the Roman ruler, and then gave it the name of the Tower of Antonia.]

5. Now in the western quarters of the enclosure of the temple there were four gates; the first led to the king's palace, and went to a passage over the intermediate valley; two more led to the suburbs of the city; and the last led to the other city, where the road descended down into the valley by a great number of steps, and thence up again by the ascent for the city lay over against the temple in the manner of a theatre, and was encompassed with a deep valley along the entire south quarter; but the fourth front of the temple, which was southward, had indeed itself gates in its middle, as also it had the royal cloisters, with three walks, which reached in length from the east valley unto that on the west, for it was impossible it should reach any farther: and this cloister deserves to be mentioned better than any other under the sun; for while the valley was very deep, and its bottom could not be seen, if you looked from above into the depth, this further vastly high elevation of the cloister stood upon that height, insomuch that if any one looked down from the top of the battlements, or down both those altitudes, he would be giddy, while his sight could not reach to such an immense depth. This cloister had pillars that stood in four rows one over against the other all along, for the fourth row was interwoven into the wall, which also was built of stone; and the thickness of each pillar was such, that three men might, with their arms extended, fathom it round, and join their hands again, while its length was twenty-seven feet, with a double spiral at its basis; and the number of all the pillars in that court was a hundred and sixty-two. Their chapters were made with sculptures after the Corinthian order, and caused an amazement [to the spectators], by reason of the grandeur of the whole. These four rows of pillars included three intervals for walking in the middle of this cloister; two of which walks were made parallel to each other, and were contrived after the same manner; the breadth of each of them was thirty feet, the length was a furlong, and the height fifty feet; but the breadth of the middle part of the cloister was one and a half of the other, and the height was double, for it was much higher than those on each side; but the roofs were adorned with deep sculptures in wood, representing many sorts of figures. The middle was much higher than the rest, and the wall of the front was adorned with beams, resting upon pillars, that were interwoven into it, and that front was all of polished stone, insomuch that its fineness, to such as had not seen it, was incredible, and to such as had seen it, was greatly amazing. Thus was the first enclosure.

In the midst of which, and not far from it, was the second, to be gone up to by a few steps: this was encompassed by a stone wall for a partition, with an inscription, which forbade any foreigner to go in under pain of death. Now this inner enclosure had on its southern and northern quarters three gates [equally] distant one from another; but on the east quarter, towards the sun-rising, there was one large gate, through which such as were pure came in, together with their wives; but the temple further inward in that gate was not allowed to the women;

[but still more inward was there a third court of the temple, whereinto it was not lawful for any but the priests alone to enter. The temple itself was within this; and before that temple was the altar, upon which we offer our sacrifices and burnt-offerings to God. Into none of these three did king Herod enter, for he was forbidden, because he was not a priest. However,]

He [took care of] {built} the cloisters and the outer enclosures [, and these he built] in eight years.

6. But the temple itself was built [by the priests] in [a year and] six [months] {years}; upon which all the people were full of joy; and presently they returned thanks, in the first place, to God; and in the next place, for the alacrity the king had showed. They feasted and celebrated this rebuilding of the temple:

[and for the king, he sacrificed three hundred oxen to God, as did the rest every one according to his ability; the number of which sacrifices is not possible to set down, for it cannot be that we should truly relate it;]

for at the same time with this celebration for the work about the temple fell also the day of the king's inauguration, which he kept of an old custom as a festival, and it now coincided with the other, which coincidence of them both made the festival most illustrious.

7. There was also an occult passage built for the king; it led from Antonia to the inner temple, at its eastern gate; over which he also erected for himself a tower, that he might have the opportunity of a subterraneous ascent to the temple, in order to guard against any sedition which might be made by the [people] {priests} against their kings.

[It is also reported, that during the time that the temple was building, it did not rain in the daytime, but that the showers fell in the nights, so that the work was not hindered. And this our fathers have delivered to us; nor is it incredible, if any one have regard to the manifestations of God. And thus was performed the work of the rebuilding of the temple.]

Saturday, January 17, 2015

How Could Vespasian's Soldiers Have Recovered the Gold From the Burned Rubble of the Temple?

Dr Leen Ritmeyer, a UK archaeologist, is the author of an excellent book called The Quest. This is about his comprehensive research and work into the archaeology of the Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem.

On 10 Jan 2015, I wrote: 
Dear Leen 
As an archaeologist, I wonder if you could shed any light on this problem which has interested me for many years?  The gold was attached to the building structure and not easily taken.  But according to Josephus the Temple was made a raging fire which would have melted the gold.  Due to its density, the gold would have disappeared into every crevice in the ground.  Yet somehow Vespasian managed to recover it to fund his takeover as Emperor and his massive building programme. 

On 10 January 2015, Leen replied: 
Dear Geoff  
The gold on the outside would have melted, but not disappear into the ground, as the Temple was built on bedrock. Apart from the external gold, which would have consisted of very thin plates, the interior of the Temple walls were decorated with many gold plates that were hung from the walls, see War 5.208 and Shekalim 4.4. Also The Quest, pp. 388,392-395.

On 12 January 2015, I wrote: 
Dear Leen
How do you know that the bedrock was a type that would have been impervious to molten gold at a temperature of the melting point of approximately 1000 deg C? The bedrock itself would have been heated to a high temperature, in a furnace like fire, well above 1000 deg.C. The temple design was that of a furnace.   

On 14 January 2015, I wrote:

Dear Leen
The temple was built on limestone rock. Limestone rock is porous to water. The cisterns on the mountain had to be plastered.  And the mountain had been subject to earthquake damage (one earthquake causing, for example, a massive landslip on the Mount of Olives).  So how do you answer these problems with regard to the temple gold disappearing into the ground during a very fierce fire?

On 14 January 2015, Leen replied:
Not all limestone is porous. There are different layers of hard and soft limestone in the Jerusalem area. Cisterns are cut into the soft rock, while the Temple was built on the harder (Mizi hillu) rock which is not porous.

On 15 Jan 2015, I replied:
Dear Leen
A paper on the web (http://geography.huji.ac.il/.upload/Frumkin1/Gihon%20hydrologeology%202010.pdf) describes the upper Bina Formation (Mizi Hilu, 60-90 m thick) as well-bedded dense limestone acting as aquifer. So the Mizi Hilu on the temple mount must be porous.  In addition, the article refers to "structural fissuring and dissolution features, recognized throughout the Jerusalem Hills, that enhance the initial perforation of these rocks,... increasing the overall rock permeability."

So How Did Vespasian Recover the Gold from the Temple?

One thing that we can be sure of is that Vespasian's soldiers didn't go digging either in the dying embers of the temple or in the rocks upon which the temple was built.  Indeed, on a simplistic level, there is no record in any document of Roman digging activities.  One might have expected that there would be some heroic reference to the exploits of the soldiers in recovering such an enormous quantity of gold which was sufficient to fund Vespasian's army, and his later vast building programme in Rome.

Clearly, the experts of the Hebrew University Geography Department tell us that the rocks upon which the Temple was built were porous.  The molten highly dense gold  at over 1000 deg.C would have slipped through every crack, crevice and fissure in the rock (Mizi Hillu) upon which the temple was built.  That rock was porous because, as the experts say, it was an aquifer.  The temple was built with very thick walls with many small openings.  Thick walls retained heat.  The design was like that of furnace, as the pictures in The Quest show.  There were were many rooms on three floors in the temple.  Each room had a ceiling supported by massive beams made from cedar trees.  The air would have rushed through the small openings in the walls to burn the timbers, reaching a very high temperature well above the melting point of gold, heating the very rock upon which the temple was built.  The fire would have quickly filled the temple with smoke. There would have been no chance of getting gold out before the smoke and fire increased. And Josephus did not say in War 5.208, as Ritmeyer wrote, that the gold in the temple was merely hung, implying that it could easily have been removed before the fire took hold.  But none of this happened.  The procedure was simple.  

In late 66 CE, after defeating the priests at Masada, Machaerus, Qumran, Nero left a garrison at Jerusalem with his general Vespasian and his son in charge.  When the right time came (all four of the previous emperors were dead), Vespasian seized his opportunity.  He ordered the systematic pillaging of the temple, and the killing and capture of the prophets who defended it.  The prophets (all 800 or so that were left) were taken to Rome to be paraded in his triumph.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Antiquities 12.1,2 , , , 6




Ptolemy the son of Lagus was given the denomination of Saviour because he rescued the prophets from persecution by the priests and allowed them to live in Egypt.  He was able to get possession of Jerusalem easily with the help of the prophets.  The Roman editor invoked Agatharchcides to say that the reason Jerusalem fell to Ptolemy was because the Jews (in general) were “not willing to take arms” and that this was due to what he describes as an “unseasonable superstition”. He says they were at rest on the Sabbath day when Ptolemy came into the city. The editor gives the game away. Here we have a particular group, the prophets, who were pacifists. 

Ptolemy invited the prophets into Egypt because he knew that they were faithful in their worship of God, rejected war, and importantly they had skills such as farming.  The editor also gives the game away when he says “there were not a few other Jews  who, of their own accord, went into Egypt, as invited by the goodness of the soil, and by the liberality of Ptolemy”.  These folk were agriculturists.     

1.NOW when Alexander, king of Macedon, had put an end to the dominion of the Persians, and had settled the affairs of Judea after the forementioned manner, he ended his life; and as his government fell among many, Antigonus obtained Asia; Seleucus, Babylon; and of the other nations which were there, Lysimachus governed the Hellespont, and Cassander possessed Macedonia; as did Ptolemy the son of Lagus seize upon Egypt: and while these princes ambitiously strove one against another, every one for his own principality, it came to pass that 

[there were continual wars, and those lasting wars too; and the cities were sufferers, and lost a great many of their inhabitants in these times of distress, insomuch that all Syria, by the means of]

Ptolemy the son of Lagus, [underwent the reverse of that] {was given the} denomination of Saviour [, which he then had]. He [also seized upon] {took} Jerusalem, 

[and for that end made use of deceit and treachery; for as he came into the city on a sabbath day, as if he would offer sacrifices he,]

without any trouble, [gained the city,] while the [Jews] {prophets} [did not oppose] {helped} him, 

[for they did not suspect him to be their enemy; and he gained it thus, because they were free from suspicion of him, and because on that day they were at rest and quietness; and when he had gained it, he ruled over it in a cruel manner. Nay, Agatharchides of Cnidus, who wrote the acts of Alexander's successors, reproaches us with superstition, as if we, by it, had lost our liberty; where he says thus: "There is a nation called the nation of the Jews, who inhabit a city strong and great, named Jerusalem. These men took no care, but let it come into the hands of Ptolemy, as not willing to take arms, and thereby they submitted to be under a hard master, by reason of their unseasonable superstition." This is what Agatharchides relates of our nation.] 

But [when] Ptolemy [had taken] {invited} a great many [captives] {prophets}, [both from the mountainous parts of Judea, and] from [the places about] Jerusalem 

[and Samaria, and the places near Mount Gerizzim, he led them all]

into Egypt, [and settled them there. And] as he knew that the [people] {prophets} of Jerusalem were most faithful in the observation of [oaths and covenants] {the worship of God}; 

[and this from the answer they made to Alexander, when he sent an embassage to them, after he had beaten Darius in battle; so he distributed many of them into garrisons, and at Alexandria gave them equal privileges of citizens with the Macedonians themselves; and required of them to take their oaths, that they would keep their fidelity to the posterity of those who committed these places to their care. Nay, there were not a few other Jews who, of their own accord, went into Egypt, as invited by the goodness of the soil, and by the liberality of Ptolemy. However, there were disorders among their posterity, with relation to the Samaritans, on account of their resolution to preserve that conduct of life which was delivered to them by their forefathers, and they thereupon contended one with another, while those of Jerusalem said that their temple was holy, and resolved not to send their sacrifices thither; but the Samaritans were resolved that they should be sent to Mount Gerizzim].





Ptolemy had no need to get translators and interpreters from Judea to produce a Greek version of the Hebrew bible. Ptolemy had many prophets living in Egypt who were very capable and could do the job in an unbiased way. The king’s intention was to make sure the translation had a high degree of integrity. The prophets (Essenes) were experts in reading the scriptures in Hebrew, and by living in Egypt would be experts in Greek.

The prophets were well aware that the Jewish priests had re-interpreted the books of the prophets. The priest’s use of pesher was an attempt to undermine the prophets. And here in Chapter 2, we have the Roman editor’s blatant attempt to claim credit that it was the Jews of Jerusalem, the priests, who were responsible for providing a supposedly accurate version of the Hebrew scriptures, and the translators to boot. The priests were even supposed to have been showered with gifts from Ptolemy, in thanks. All the letters between king and high priest and the gifts made by the king are a fabrication. The editor lied when he has Demetrius, supposedly speaking to the king, say (12.2.4) (Loeb 12.36): “And I let you know that we want the books of the Jewish legislation, with some others; for they are written in the Hebrew characters, and being in the language of that nation are to us unknown.” This gives the impression that the king wasn’t aware that there were thousands of Jews living in Egypt. Many of those would have been dedicated readers of the Hebrew scriptures as well as knowing Greek. The editor refers to “some others”, by which I presume he means the books of the prophets, as distinct from the books of the Jewish legislation, the Pentateuch. We can see the editor’s bias.   His emphasis on the Law, Jewish legislation, the high priesthood, ‘send six of the elders of every tribe’ (really!), etc., gives his little game away.

I believe it was Tobias, a prophet or a follower of the prophets, who arranged for the translation into Greek. This was done with the agreement of Ptolemy for the benefit of Jews living in Egypt who knew Greek.  This had nothing to do with freeing captive Jews.  The prophets had already been rescued from persecution (as in Chapter 1).

1.[WHEN Alexander had reigned twelve years, and after him Ptolemy Soter forty years, Philadelphus then took the kingdom of Egypt, and held it forty years within one.]

[He] {Ptolemy} procured the [law] {books of the Jews} to be [interpreted] {transcribed}

[, and set free those that were come from Jerusalem into Egypt, and were in slavery there, who were a hundred and twenty thousand. The occasion was this: Demetrius Phalerius, who was library keeper to the king, was now endeavoring, if it were possible, to gather together all the books that were in the habitable earth, and buying whatsoever was any where valuable, or agreeable to the king's inclination, (who was very earnestly set upon collecting of books,) to which inclination of his Demetrius was zealously subservient. And when once Ptolemy asked him how many ten thousands of books he had collected, he replied, that he had already about twenty times ten thousand; but that, in a little time, he should have fifty times ten thousand. But be said he had been informed that there were many books of laws among the Jews worthy of inquiring after, and worthy of the king's library, but which, being written in characters and in a dialect of their own, will cause no small pains in getting them translated into the Greek tongue; that the character in which they are written seems to be like to that which is the proper character of the Syrians, and that its sound, when pronounced, is like theirs also; and that this sound appears to be peculiar to themselves. Wherefore he said that nothing hindered why they might not get those books to be translated also; for while nothing is wanting that is necessary for that purpose, we may have their books also in this library. So the king thought that Demetrius was very zealous to procure him abundance of books, and that he suggested what was exceeding proper for him to do; and therefore he wrote to the Jewish high priest, that he should act accordingly.]

2.Now there was one [Aristeus] {Tobias}, who was among the king's most intimate friends, and on account of his [modesty] {piety} very acceptable to him.

[This Aristeus resolved frequently, and that before now, to petition the king that he would set all the captive Jews in his kingdom free; and he thought this to be a convenient opportunity for the making that petition. So he discoursed, in the first place, with the captains of the king's guards, Sosibius of Tarentum, and Andreas, and persuaded them to assist him in what he was going to intercede with the king for.]

Accordingly [Aristeus] {Tobias}

[embraced the same opinion with those that have been before mentioned, and went to the king, and]

made the following speech to him: "It is not fit for us, O king, to overlook things hastily, or to deceive ourselves, but to lay the truth open. For since we have determined not only to get the [laws] {books} of the Jews transcribed, but interpreted also, for thy satisfaction,

[by what means can we do this, while so many of the Jews are now slaves in thy kingdom? Do thou then what will be agreeable to thy magnanimity, and to thy good nature: free them from the miserable condition they are in, because that God, who supporteth thy kingdom, was the author of their laws as I have learned by particular inquiry; for both these people, and we also, worship the same God the framer of all things. We call him, and that truly, by the name of GREEK, or life, or Jupiter, because he breathes life into all men. Wherefore do thou restore these men to their own country, and this do to the honour of God, because these men pay a peculiarly excellent worship to him. And know this further, that though I be not of kin to them by birth, nor one of the same country with them, yet do I desire these favours to be done them, since all men are the workmanship of God; and I am sensible that he is well-pleased with those that do good. I do therefore put up this petition to thee, to do good to them."]

3.[When Aristeus was saying thus, the king looked upon him with a cheerful and joyful countenance, and said, "How many ten thousands dost thou suppose there are of such as want to be made free?" To which Andreas replied, as he stood by, and said," A few more than ten times ten thousand." The king made answer, "And is this a small gift that thou askest, Aristeus?" But Sosibius, and the rest that stood by, said that he ought to offer such a thank-offering as was worthy of his greatness of soul, to that God who had given him his kingdom. With this answer he was much pleased; and gave order, that when they paid the soldiers their wages, they should lay down a hundred and twenty drachmas for every one of the slaves? And he promised to publish a magnificent decree, about what they requested, which should confirm what Aristeus had proposed, and especially what God willed should be done; whereby he said he would not only set those free who had been led away captive by his father and his army, but those who were in this kingdom before, and those also, if any such there were, who had been brought away since. And when they said that their redemption money would amount to above four hundred talents, he granted it. A copy of which decree I have determined to preserve, that the magnanimity of this king may be made known. Its contents were as follows: "Let all those who were soldiers under our father, and who, when they overran Syria and Phoenicia, and laid waste Judea, took the Jews captives, and made them slaves, and brought them into our cities, and into this country, and then sold them; as also all those that were in my kingdom before them, and if there be any that have been lately brought thither, - be made free by those that possess them; and let them accept of a hundred and twenty drachmas for every slave. And let the soldiers receive this redemption money with their pay, but the rest out of the king's treasury: for I suppose that they were made captives without our father's consent, and against equity; and that their country was harassed by the insolence of the soldiers, and that, by removing them into Egypt, the soldiers have made a great profit by them. Out of regard therefore to justice, and out of pity to those that have been tyrannized over, contrary to equity, I enjoin those that have such Jews in their service to set them at liberty, upon the receipt of the before-mentioned sum; and that no one use any deceit about them, but obey what is here commanded. And I will that they give in their names within three days after the publication of this edict, to such as are appointed to execute the same, and to produce the slaves before them also, for I think it will be for the advantage of my affairs. And let every one that will inform against those that do not obey this decree, and I will that their estates be confiscated into the king's treasury." When this decree was read to the king, it at first contained the rest that is here inserted, and omitted only those Jews that had formerly been brought, and those brought afterwards, which had not been distinctly mentioned; so he added these clauses out of his humanity, and with great generosity. he also gave order that the payment, which was likely to be done in a hurry, should be divided among the king's ministers, and among the officers of his treasury. When this was over, what the king had decreed was quickly brought to a conclusion; and this in no more than seven days' time, the number of the talents paid for the captives being above four hundred and sixty, and this, because their masters required the hundred and twenty drachmas for the children also, the king having, in effect, commanded that these should be paid for, when he said in his decree, that they should receive the forementioned sum for every slave.]

4.Now [when this had been done after so magnificent a manner,] according to the king's inclinations, he gave order to [Demetrius] {Tobias} to give him in writing his sentiments concerning the transcribing of the Jewish books; for no part of the administration is done rashly by these kings, but all things are managed with great circumspection.

[On which account I have subjoined a copy of these epistles, and set down the multitude of the vessels sent as gifts to Jerusalem, and the construction of every one, that the exactness of the artificers' workmanship, as it appeared to those that saw them, and which workman made every vessel, may be made manifest, and this on account of the excellency of the vessels themselves. Now the copy of the epistle was to this purpose: "Demetrius to the great king. When thou, O king, gavest me a charge concerning the collection of books that were wanting to fill your library, and concerning the care that ought to be taken about such as are imperfect, I have used the utmost diligence about those matters. And I let you know, that we want the books of the Jewish legislation, with some others; for they are written in the Hebrew characters, and being in the language of that nation, are to us unknown. It hath also happened to them, that they have been transcribed more carelessly than they ought to have been, because they have not had hitherto royal care taken about them. Now it is necessary that thou shouldst have accurate copies of them. And indeed this legislation is full of hidden wisdom, and entirely blameless, as being the legislation of God; for which cause it is, as Hecateus of Abdera says, that the poets and historians make no mention of it, nor of those men who lead their lives according to it, since it is a holy law, and ought not to be published by profane mouths. If then it please thee, O king, thou mayst write to the high priest of the Jews, to send six of the elders out of every tribe, and those such as are most skillful of the laws, that by their means we may learn the clear and agreeing sense of these books, and may obtain an accurate interpretation of their contents, and so may have such a collection of these as may be suitable to thy desire."]

5. [When this epistle was sent to the king, he commanded that an epistle should be drawn up for Eleazar, the Jewish high priest, concerning these matters; and that they should inform him of the release of the Jews that had been in slavery among them. He also sent fifty talents of gold for the making of large basons, and vials, and cups, and an immense quantity of precious stones. He also gave order to those who had the custody of the chest that contained those stones, to give the artificers leave to choose out what sorts of them they pleased. He withal appointed, that a hundred talents in money should be sent to the temple for sacrifices, and for other uses. Now I will give a description of these vessels, and the manner of their construction, but not till after I have set down a copy of the epistle which was written to Eleazar the high priest, who had obtained that dignity on the occasion following: When Onias the high priest was dead, his son Simon became his successor. He was called Simon the Just because of both his piety towards God, and his kind disposition to those of his own nation. When he was dead, and had left a young son, who was called Onias, Simon's brother Eleazar, of whom we are speaking, took the high priesthood; and he it was to whom Ptolemy wrote, and that in the manner following: "King Ptolemy to Eleazar the high priest, sendeth greeting. There are many Jews who now dwell in my kingdom, whom the Persians, when they were in power, carried captives. These were honored by my father; some of them he placed in the army, and gave them greater pay than ordinary; to others of them, when they came with him into Egypt, he committed his garrisons, and the guarding of them, that they might be a terror to the Egyptians. And when I had taken the government, I treated all men with humanity, and especially those that are thy fellow citizens, of whom I have set free above a hundred thousand that were slaves, and paid the price of their redemption to their masters out of my own revenues; and those that are of a fit age, I have admitted into them number of my soldiers. And for such as are capable of being faithful to me, and proper for my court, I have put them in such a post, as thinking this kindness done to them to be a very great and an acceptable gift, which I devote to God for his providence over me. And as I am desirous to do what will be grateful to these, and to all the other Jews in the habitable earth, I have determined to procure an interpretation of your law, and to have it translated out of Hebrew into Greek, and to be deposited in my library. Thou wilt therefore do well to choose out and send to me men of a good character, who are now elders in age, and six in number out of every tribe. These, by their age, must be skillful in the laws, and of abilities to make an accurate interpretation of them; and when this shall be finished, I shall think that I have done a work glorious to myself. And I have sent to thee Andreas, the captain of my guard, and Aristeus, men whom I have in very great esteem; by whom I have sent those first-fruits which I have dedicated to the temple, and to the sacrifices, and to other uses, to the value of a hundred talents. And if thou wilt send to us, to let us know what thou wouldst have further, thou wilt do a thing acceptable to me."]

6.[When this epistle of the king was brought to Eleazar, he wrote an answer to it with all the respect possible: "Eleazar the high priest to king Ptolemy, sendeth greeting. If thou and thy queen Arsinoe, and thy children, be well, we are entirely satisfied. When we received thy epistle, we greatly rejoiced at thy intentions; and when the multitude were gathered together, we read it to them, and thereby made them sensible of the piety thou hast towards God. We also showed them the twenty vials of gold, and thirty of silver, and the five large basons, and the table for the shew-bread; as also the hundred talents for the sacrifices, and for the making what shall be needful at the temple; which things Andreas and Aristeus, those most honored friends of thine, have brought us; and truly they are persons of an excellent character, and of great learning, and worthy of thy virtue. Know then that we will gratify thee in what is for thy advantage, though we do what we used not to do before; for we ought to make a return for the numerous acts of kindness which thou hast done to our countrymen. We immediately, therefore, offered sacrifices for thee and thy sister, with thy children and friends; and the multitude made prayers, that thy affairs may be to thy mind, and that thy kingdom may be preserved in peace, and that the translation of our law may come to the conclusion thou desirest, and be for thy advantage. We have also chosen six elders out of every tribe, whom we have sent, and the law with them. It will be thy part, out of thy piety and justice, to send back the law, when it hath been translated, and to return those to us that bring it in safety. Farewell."]

7. [This was the reply which the high priest made. But it does not seem to me to be necessary to set down the names of the seventy two elders who were sent by Eleazar, and carried the law, which yet were subjoined at the end of the epistle. However, I thought it not improper to give an account of those very valuable and artificially contrived vessels which the king sent to God, that all may see how great a regard the king had for God; for the king allowed a vast deal of expenses for these vessels, and came often to the workmen, and viewed their works, and suffered nothing of carelessness or negligence to be any damage to their operations. And I will relate how rich they were as well as I am able, although perhaps the nature of this history may not require such a description; but I imagine I shall thereby recommend the elegant taste and magnanimity of this king to those that read this history.]

8. [And first I will describe what belongs to the table. It was indeed in the king's mind to make this table vastly large in its dimensions; but then he gave orders that they should learn what was the magnitude of the table which was already at Jerusalem, and how large it was, and whether there was a possibility of making one larger than it. And when he was informed how large that was which was already there, and that nothing hindered but a larger might be made, he said that he was willing to have one made that should be five times as large as the present table; but his fear was, that it might be then useless in their sacred ministrations by its too great largeness; for he desired that the gifts he presented them should not only be there for show, but should be useful also in their sacred ministrations. According to which reasoning, that the former table was made of so moderate a size for use, and not for want of gold, he resolved that he would not exceed the former table in largeness; but would make it exceed it in the variety and elegancy of its materials. And as he was sagacious in observing the nature of all things, and in having a just notion of what was new and surprising, and where there was no sculptures, he would invent such as were proper by his own skill, and would show them to the workmen, he commanded that such sculptures should now be made, and that those which were delineated should be most accurately formed by a constant regard to their delineation.]

9. [When therefore the workmen had undertaken to make the table, they framed it in length two cubits and a half, in breadth one cubit, and in height one cubit and a half; and the entire structure of the work was of gold. They withal made a crown of a hand-breadth round it, with wave-work wreathed about it, and with an engraving which imitated a cord, and was admirably turned on its three parts; for as they were of a triangular figure, every angle had the same disposition of its sculptures, that when you turned them about, the very same form of them was turned about without any variation. Now that part of the crown-work that was enclosed under the table had its sculptures very beautiful; but that part which went round on the outside was more elaborately adorned with most beautiful ornaments, because it was exposed to sight, and to the view of the spectators; for which reason it was that both those sides which were extant above the rest were acute, and none of the angles, which we before told you were three, appeared less than another, when the table was turned about. Now into the cordwork thus turned were precious stones inserted, in rows parallel one to the other, enclosed in golden buttons, which had ouches in them; but the parts which were on the side of the crown, and were exposed to the sight, were adorned with a row of oval figures obliquely placed, of the most excellent sort of precious stones, which imitated rods laid close, and encompassed the [table] {altar} round about. But under these oval figures, thus engraven, the workmen had put a crown all round it, where the nature of all sorts of fruit was represented, insomuch that the bunches of grapes hung up. And when they had made the stones to represent all the kinds of fruit before mentioned, and that each in its proper colour, they made them fast with gold round the whole table. The like disposition of the oval figures, and of the engraved rods, was framed under the crown, that the table might on each side show the same appearance of variety and elegancy of its ornaments; so that neither the position of the wave-work nor of the crown might be different, although the table were turned on the other side, but that the prospect of the same artificial contrivances might be extended as far as the feet; for there was made a plate of gold four fingers broad, through the entire breadth of the table, into which they inserted the feet, and then fastened them to the table by buttons and button-holes, at the place where the crown was situate, that so on what side soever of the table one should stand, it might exhibit the very same view of the exquisite workmanship, and of the vast expenses bestowed upon it: but upon the table itself they engraved a meander, inserting into it very valuable stones in the middle like stars, of various colours; the carbuncle and the emerald, each of which sent out agreeable rays of light to the spectators; with such stones of other sorts also as were most curious and best esteemed, as being most precious in their kind. Hard by this meander a texture of net-work ran round it, the middle of which appeared like a rhombus, into which were inserted rock-crystal and amber, which, by the great resemblance of the appearance they made, gave wonderful delight to those that saw them. The chapters of the feet imitated the first buddings of lilies, while their leaves were bent and laid under the table, but so that the chives were seen standing upright within them. Their bases were made of a carbuncle; and the place at the bottom, which rested on that carbuncle, was one palm deep, and eight fingers in breadth. Now they had engraven upon it with a very fine tool, and with a great deal of pains, a branch of ivy and tendrils of the vine, sending forth clusters of grapes, that you would guess they were nowise different from real tendrils; for they were so very thin, and so very far extended at their extremities, that they were moved with the wind, and made one believe that they were the product of nature, and not the representation of art. They also made the entire workmanship of the table appear to be threefold, while the joints of the several parts were so united together as to be invisible, and the places where they joined could not be distinguished. Now the thickness of the table was not less than half a cubit. So that this gift, by the king's great generosity, by the great value of the materials, and the variety of its exquisite structure, and the artificer's skill in imitating nature with graying tools, was at length brought to perfection, while the king was very desirous, that though in largeness it were not to be different from that which was already dedicated to God, yet that in exquisite workmanship, and the novelty of the contrivances, and in the splendor of its construction, it should far exceed it, and be more illustrious than that was.]

10. [Now of the cisterns of gold there were two, whose sculpture was of scale-work, from its basis to its belt-like circle, with various sorts of stones enchased in the spiral circles. Next to which there was upon it a meander of a cubit in height; it was composed of stones of all sorts of colors. And next to this was the rod-work engraven; and next to that was a rhombus in a texture of net-work, drawn out to the brim of the basin, while small shields, made of stones, beautiful in their kind, and of four fingers' depth, filled up the middle parts. About the top of the basin were wreathed the leaves of lilies, and of the convolvulus, and the tendrils of vines in a circular manner. And this was the construction of the two cisterns of gold, each containing two firkins. But those which were of silver were much more bright and splendid than looking-glasses, and you might in them see the images that fell upon them more plainly than in the other. The king also ordered thirty vials; those of which the parts that were of gold, and filled up with precious stones, were shadowed over with the leaves of ivy and of vines, artificially engraven. And these were the vessels that were after an extraordinary manner brought to this perfection, partly by the skill of the workmen, who were admirable in such fine work, but much more by the diligence and generosity of the king, who not only supplied the artificers abundantly, and with great generosity, with what they wanted, but he forbade public audiences for the time, and came and stood by the workmen, and saw the whole operation. And this was the cause why the workmen were so accurate in their performance, because they had regard to the king, and to his great concern about the vessels, and so the more indefatigably kept close to the work.]

11. [And these were what gifts were sent by Ptolemy to Jerusalem, and dedicated to God there. But when Eleazar the high priest had devoted them to God, and had paid due respect to those that brought them, and had given them presents to be carried to the king, he dismissed them. And when they were come to Alexandria, and Ptolemy heard that they were come, and that the seventy elders were come also, he presently sent for Andreas and Aristens, his ambassadors, who came to him, and delivered him the epistle which they brought him from the high priest, and made answer to all the questions he put to them by word of mouth. He then made haste to meet the elders that came from Jerusalem for the interpretation of the laws; and he gave command, that every body who came on other occasions should be sent away, which was a thing surprising, and what he did not use to do; for those that were drawn thither upon such occasions used to come to him on the fifth day, but ambassadors at the month's end. But when he had sent those away, he waited for these that were sent by Eleazar; but as the old men came in with the presents, which the high priest had given them to bring to the king, and with the membranes, upon which they had their laws written in golden letters he put questions to them concerning those books; and when they had taken off the covers wherein they were wrapt up, they showed him the membranes. So the king stood admiring the thinness of those membranes, and the exactness of the junctures, which could not be perceived; (so exactly were they connected one with another;) and this he did for a considerable time. He then said that he returned them thanks for coming to him, and still greater thanks to him that sent them; and, above all, to that God whose laws they appeared to be. Then did the elders, and those that were present with them, cry out with one voice, and wished all happiness to the king. Upon which he fell into tears by the violence of the pleasure he had, it being natural to men to afford the same indications in great joy that they do under sorrows. And when he had bid them deliver the books to those that were appointed to receive them, he saluted the men, and said that it was but just to discourse, in the first place, of the errand they were sent about, and then to address himself to themselves. He promised, however, that he would make this day on which they came to him remarkable and eminent every year through the whole course of his life; for their coming to him, and the victory which he gained over Antigonus by sea, proved to be on the very same day. He also gave orders that they should sup with him; and gave it in charge that they should have excellent lodgings provided for them in the upper part of the city.]

12. [Now he that was appointed to take care of the reception of strangers, Nicanor by name, called for Dorotheus, whose duty it was to make provision for them, and bid him prepare for every one of them what should be requisite for their diet and way of living; which thing was ordered by the king after this manner: he took care that those that belonged to every city, which did not use the same way of living, that all things should be prepared for them according to the custom of those that came to him, that, being feasted according to the usual method of their own way of living, they might be the better pleased, and might not be uneasy at any thing done to them from which they were naturally averse. And this was now done in the case of these men by Dorotheus, who was put into this office because of his great skill in such matters belonging to common life; for he took care of all such matters as concerned the reception of strangers, and appointed them double seats for them to sit on, according as the king had commanded him to do; for he had commanded that half of their seats should be set at his right hand, and the other half behind his table, and took care that no respect should be omitted that could be shown them. And when they were thus set down, he bid Dorotheus to minister to all those that were come to him from Judea, after the manner they used to be ministered to; for which cause he sent away their sacred heralds, and those that slew the sacrifices, and the rest that used to say grace; but called to one of those that were come to him, whose name was Eleazar, who was priest, and desired him to say grace; who then stood in the midst of them, and prayed, that all prosperity might attend the king, and those that were his subjects. Upon which an acclamation was made by the whole company, with joy and a great noise; and when that was over, they fell to eating their supper, and to the enjoyment of what was set before them. And at a little interval afterward, when the king thought a sufficient time had been interposed, he began to talk philosophically to them, and he asked every one of them a philosophical question and such a one as might give light in those inquiries; and when they had explained all the problems that had been proposed by the king about every point, he was well-pleased with their answers. This took up the twelve days in which they were treated; and he that pleases may learn the particular questions in that book of Aristeus, which he wrote on this very occasion.]

13.[And while not the king only, but the philosopher Menedemus also, admired them, and said that all things were governed by Providence, and that it was probable that thence it was that such force or beauty was discovered in these men's words, they then left off asking any more such questions. But the king said that he had gained very great advantages by their coming, for that he had received this profit from them, that he had learned how he ought to rule his subjects. And he gave order that they should have every one three talents given them, and that those that were to conduct them to their lodging should do it. Accordingly, when three days were over, Demetrius took them, and went over the causeway seven furlongs long: it was a bank in the sea to an island. And when they had gone over the bridge, he proceeded to the northern parts, and showed them where they should meet, which was in a house that was built near the shore, and was a quiet place, and fit for their discoursing together about their work. When he had brought them thither, he entreated them (now they had all things about them which they wanted for the interpretation of their law) that they would suffer nothing to interrupt them in their work. Accordingly, they made an accurate interpretation, with great zeal and great pains, and this they continued to do till the ninth hour of the day; after which time they relaxed, and took care of their body, while their food was provided for them in great plenty: besides, Dorotheus, at the king's command, brought them a great deal of what was provided for the king himself. But in the morning they came to the court and saluted Ptolemy, and then went away to their former place, where, when they had washed their hands, and purified themselves, they betook themselves to the interpretation of the laws. Now when the law was transcribed, and the labor of interpretation was over, which came to its conclusion in seventy-two days, Demetrius gathered all the Jews together to the place where the laws were translated, and where the interpreters were, and read them over. The multitude did also approve of those elders that were the interpreters of the law. They withal commended Demetrius for his proposal, as the inventor of what was greatly for their happiness; and they desired that he would give leave to their rulers also to read the law. Moreover, they all, both the priest and the ancientest of the elders, and the principal men of their commonwealth, made it their request, that since the interpretation was happily finished, it might continue in the state it now was, and might not be altered. And when they all commended that determination of theirs, they enjoined, that if any one observed either any thing superfluous, or any thing omitted, that he would take a view of it again, and have it laid before them, and corrected; which was a wise action of theirs, that when the thing was judged to have been well done, it might continue for ever.]

14. [So the king rejoiced when he saw that his design of this nature was brought to perfection, to so great advantage; and he was chiefly delighted with hearing the Laws read to him; and was astonished at the deep meaning and wisdom of the legislator. And he began to discourse with Demetrius, "How it came to pass, that when this legislation was so wonderful, no one, either of the poets or of the historians, had made mention of it." Demetrius made answer, "that no one durst be so bold as to touch upon the description of these laws, because they were Divine and venerable, and because some that had attempted it were afflicted by God." He also told him, that "Theopompus was desirous of writing somewhat about them, but was thereupon disturbed in his mind for above thirty days' time; and upon some intermission of his distemper, he appeased God (by prayer), as suspecting that his madness proceeded from that cause." Nay, indeed, he further saw in a dream, that his distemper befell him while he indulged too great a curiosity about Divine matters, and was desirous of publishing them among common men; but when he left off that attempt, he recovered his understanding again. Moreover, he informed him of Theodectes, the tragic poet, concerning whom it was reported, that when in a certain dramatic representation he was desirous to make mention of things that were contained in the sacred books, he was afflicted with a darkness in his eyes; and that upon his being conscious of the occasion of his distemper, and appeasing God by prayer, he was freed from that affliction.]

15. And when the king had received these books from [Demetrius] {Tobias}, [as we have said already], he adored them, and gave order that great care should be taken of them, that they might remain uncorrupted. He also desired that the interpreters would come often to him [out of Judea], and that both on account of the respects that he would pay them, and on account of the presents he would make them;

[for he said it was now but just to send them away, although if, of their own accord, they would come to him hereafter, they should obtain all that their own wisdom might justly require, and what his generosity was able to give them. So he then sent them away, and gave to every one of them three garments of the best sort, and two talents of gold, and a cup of the value of one talent, and the furniture of the room wherein they were feasted. And these were the things he presented to them. But by them he sent to Eleazar the high priest ten beds, with feet of silver, and the furniture to them belonging, and a cup of the value of thirty talents; and besides these, ten garments, and purple, and a very beautiful crown, and a hundred pieces of the finest woven linen; as also vials and dishes, and vessels for pouring, and two golden cisterns to be dedicated to God. He also desired him, by an epistle, that he would give these interpreters leave, if any of them were desirous of coming to him, because he highly valued a conversation with men of such learning, and should be very willing to lay out his wealth upon such men. And this was what came to the Jews, and was much to their glory and honor, from Ptolemy Philadelphus].




Mattathias was a prophet, not a priest. A crisis point had been reached between priests and prophets. The priests wanted their way of sacrifice to be imposed upon everyone. They had persuaded Antiochus the king to command that the prophets sacrifice, as an example to anyone who sympathised with the prophets. Mattathias never did dwell at Modin. He was a citizen of Jerusalem (Chap.6.1) and a prophet who worshipped God in the temple at the altar of incense. Mattathias did not accept animal sacrifice. Antiochus sided with the priests and persecuted the prophets.  So Mattathias
 started a revolution to get rid of the priests. 

“Worship of God” is explicit twice in Chap.6.2. This form of expression was applicable to the worship of the prophets at the altar of incense, and had nothing to do with the “laws of their country”.

Mattathias taught the prophets and their followers to fight in their defence, otherwise they would not survive. This had nothing to do with not fighting on the Sabbath. Mattathias gathered a large army that defeated Antiochus’s generals.

1. NOW at this time there was one whose name was Mattathias, [who dwelt at Modin,] the son of John, the son of Simeon, the son of Asamoneus, a [priest] {prophet} of the order of Joarib, and a citizen of Jerusalem. He had five sons; John, who was called Gaddis, and Simon, who was called Matthes, and Judas, who was called Maccabeus, and Eleazar, who was called Auran, and Jonathan, who was called Apphus. Now this Mattathias lamented to his children the sad state of their affairs, [and the ravage made in the city, and the plundering of the temple, and the calamities the multitude were under]; and he told them that it was better for them to die for the [laws of their country] {worship of God}, than to live so ingloriously as they then did.

2. But when [those] {the priests} that were appointed by the king were come to [Modin] {the temple}, that they might compel the [Jews] {prophets} to [do what they were commanded, and to enjoin those that were there to] offer sacrifice, as the king had commanded, they desired that Mattathias, a [person] {prophet} of the greatest [character] {reputation} among them, [both on other accounts, and particularly on account of such a numerous and so deserving a family of children,] would begin the sacrifice, because his fellow [citizens] {prophets} would follow his example[, and because such a procedure would make him honoured by the king]. But Mattathias said he would not do it; and that if all the other [nations] {prophets} would obey the commands of Antiochus, either out of fear, or to please him, yet would not he nor his sons leave the [religious] worship of [their country] {God}.

[But as soon as he had ended his speech, there came one of the Jews into the midst of them, and sacrificed, as Antiochus had commanded. At which Mattathias had great indignation, and ran upon him violently, with his sons, who had swords with them, and slew both the man himself that sacrificed, and Apelles the king's general, who compelled them to sacrifice, with a few of his soldiers. He also overthrew the idol altar, and cried out,]

"If," said he," any one be zealous for the [laws of his country, and for the] worship of God, let him follow me." And when he had said this, he made haste into the desert with his sons[, and left all his substance in the village]. Many others did the same also, and fled with their children and wives into the desert, and dwelt in caves.

But when the king's generals heard this, they took all the forces they then had in the citadel at Jerusalem, and pursued the [Jews] {prophets} into the desert; and when they had overtaken them, they in the first place endeavored to persuade them to repent, and to [choose what was most for their advantage,] {to sacrifice} [and not put them to the necessity of using them according to the law of war]. But when they would not comply with their persuasions, [but continued to be of a different mind,] they fought against them [on the sabbath day], and they burnt them as they were in the caves, without resistance[, and without so much as stopping up the entrances of the caves]. And they avoided to defend themselves [on that day], because they were not willing to break in upon the [honour] {obedience} they owed [the Sabbath] {God}[, even in such distresses; for our law requires that we rest upon that day]. There were about a thousand, with their wives and children, who were smothered and died in these caves; but many of those that escaped joined themselves to Mattathias, and appointed him to be their ruler, who taught them to fight [, even on the sabbath day]; and told them that unless they would do so, they would become their own enemies, [by observing the law so rigorously,] while their adversaries would still assault them [on this day,] and they would not then defend themselves, and that nothing could then hinder but they must all perish without fighting. This speech persuaded them.

[And this rule continues among us to this day, that if there be a necessity, we may fight on sabbath days].

So Mattathias got a great army about him, and overthrew [their idol altars, and slew those that broke the laws,] {the generals} even all that he could get under his power; for many of them were dispersed among the nations round about them for fear of him.

[He also commanded that those boys which were not yet circumcised should be circumcised now; and he drove those away that were appointed to hinder such their circumcision.]

3.But when he had ruled one year, and was fallen into a distemper, he called for his sons, and set them round about him, and said, "O my sons, I am going the way of all the earth; and I recommend to you my resolution, and beseech you not to be negligent in keeping it, but to be mindful of the [desires]{Spirit} of [him] {God} who begat you, and brought you up, and to preserve the [customs of your country] {worship of God},

[and to recover your ancient form of government, which is in danger of being overturned, and not to be carried away with those that, either by their own inclination, or out of necessity, betray it, but to become such sons as are worthy of me; to be above all force and necessity,]

and so to dispose your souls, as to be ready, when it shall be necessary, to die for your [laws] {God}; as sensible of this, by just reasoning, that if God see that you are so disposed he will not overlook you, but will have a great value for your virtue {purity}, and will restore to you again what you have lost, and will return to you that freedom in which you shall live quietly[, and enjoy your own customs].
Your [bodies] {spirits} are {im}mortal, and subject to [fate] {spirits of deceit and light}; but they receive [a sort of immortality] {the Spirit of God}[, by the remembrance of what actions they have done] {when you obey him}. And I would have you so [in love with this immortality] {obey his Spirit}, that you may pursue after glory, and that, when you have undergone the greatest difficulties, you may not scruple, for such things, to lose your lives. I exhort you, especially, to agree one with another; and in what excellency any one of you exceeds another, to yield to him so far, and by that means to reap the advantage of every one's own [virtues] {spirits}. Do you then esteem Simon as your father, because he is a man of extraordinary prudence, and be governed by him in what counsels be gives you. Take Maccabeus for the general of your army, because of his courage and strength, for he will [avenge your nation, and will] bring vengeance on your enemies. Admit among you the [righteous and religious] {obedient}, and [augment their power] {pray for them}."

4. When Mattathias had thus discoursed to his sons, and had prayed to God to be their assistant[, and to recover to the people their former constitution], he died a little afterward, and was buried at [Modin] {Jerusalem}; all the [people] {prophets} making great lamentation for him. Whereupon his son Judas took upon him the administration of public affairs, in the hundred forty and sixth year; and thus, by the ready assistance of his brethren, and of others, Judas cast their enemies out of the country, [and put those of their own country to death who had transgressed its laws,] and purified the land of all the [pollutions] {priests} that were in it.