Thursday, December 24, 2015

Larry's multiple "bad guy" reports of Nero

Larry, don’t you think that the historians mockery of Nero had its origins in the jealousy of later emperors who of course could influence others with a heavy hand?

How could later emperors be jealous of Nero?? He hardly had a good reputation to be jealous of! When you have multiple “bad-guy” reports, it’s hard simply to write them off.

Geoff (Not published by Larry)
Larry, but the multiple “bad guy” reports were written by the employees of the Flavian emperors shortly after Nero’s death. Was it 14 years Nero was emperor? Yet I cannot recall one sign of any assassination attempt, so the populace at least must have been satisfied with him. And anyone who takes part in chariot racing on a circuit must be extremely brave, to be admired, and no mean athlete, don’t you agree? Just the sort of person to lead an army!  Given his passion for the arts and music it seems as though he was a very well balanced fellow indeed. The reputation of the Flavians is badly tarnished by what they did with the spoils from the temple, and that with no reprimand from any historian of the time.  Do you believe the history handed down to us by such people?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How the Writings Attributed to Josephus Were Produced (Mason's interpretation is totally wrong)

Gregory Sterling the Dean of Yale Divinity School wrote (see page 104 of Understanding Josephus edited by Steve Mason) some comments on how ancient historians went about their business.  Sterling (taking aim at his foot) says:

1. "The practice of rewriting texts and offering the retelling as an authorial composition was common in antiquity.  Historians of events situated in the distant past often made a virtue out of necessity by rewriting existing literary sources." (Were the historians fabricating or were they telling downright lies?  Did they quote accurately known authors without their original writings? And who did all the imaginative creative work?  They must have been highly literate people, and have had good contacts with Roman libraries and the Roman elite. Who were some of these historians?  Were they the early Church Fathers?  They certainly had great literary capability.  They beavered away for years at places of education.  and they had one very important tool, the codex by which they could easily modify texts without rewriting a complete bookroll.  In fact they made a virtue of the codex which other historical writers didn't.  I have in mind the early Church Fathers at Caesarea.  They were well connected with Judaism and Rome's elite.) 

2. "Imitations of a past author's style or spirit was acceptable: slavish reproductions were open to the charge of plagiarism."  (So imitating a past author's style or spirit was acceptable; really!!  And if you could get away with it so were slavish reproductions or plagiarism.)     

3. "Eastern peoples also rewrote texts although not always for the same reasons as their counterparts in the West."  (And even westerners were not innocent! Well!! Well!!)  

4. "These traditions converge in the Jewish Antiquities of Josephus." (This is academic speak for its all there in Josephus.  Apparently, Josephus calls his re-tellings a "translation from the Hebrew", would you believe, i.e. Antiquities was not originally written in Greek.  It was translated from Latin. Josephus was not the original writer of Antiquities.  He was a fabricated character.   It did finish up in Greek after the Church Fathers had translated and edited it making numerous interpolations.  It was originally written in Latin for the Roman Court at the request of the emperor Claudius.  Its purpose was to explain the meaning of Judaism at the time.  The Church Fathers wrote War in Greek from scratch.)   

So now you know how the writings attributed to Josephus were produced.  The Christian Gregory Sterling has educated us.  And Steve Mason, another Christian, has given his blessing to what Gregory wrote.  May be they are not blinded by their faith after all.  But it has a modern day ring.  For isn't that how much theological stuff is produced, by professors and their Ph.D students alike, building packs of cards citing one another, just like Eusebius?  
But is the explanation of the lies in Josephus so simple as Gregory Sterling portrays it?   And presumably Steve Mason thinks the same?  Sterling says "these traditions converge in the Jewish Antiquities".  Well why doesn't he show how these 'traditions converge' and what does he mean by that expression?  Neither Sterling nor Mason give any detailed examples. They, like most scholars in the field, brag about how they know Josephus is unreliable, but then ignorantly continue to quote him without further consideration.       

Mason Has Done a Runner (And you have to wonder why)

He has been appointed to the Chair in Ancient Mediterranean Religions and Cultures at the University of Groningen. He says "My move to Groningen is bringing me back to my main career trajectory". The Chair was established by the Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Kocku von Stuckrad, and Prof. Mladen Popović, Chair of the Department of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Origins and Director of the Qumran Institute, which Mason became a member of. Mladen Popović says: “Steve is a great addition to the Faculty. He is an international authority and senior scholar in Jewish and Early Christian religion and culture in Judaea and the Roman Empire. With the leading commentary series on Flavius Josephus he makes a fundamental contribution to the unlocking of this uniquely important Jewish historian for the wider study of classical antiquity. Mason builds bridges between different disciplines that are concerned with the ancient Mediterranean, and he is capable of making connections to modern issues of, for instance, politics and international relations. Building bridges around the ancient Mediterranean can be seen as the common thread that runs through Mason’s career; bridges between disciplines and between ancient and modern times. He studied Judaism and Early Christianity at McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada). After his Ph.D. (University of St. Michael's College, 1986, by way of the universities of Jerusalem and Tübingen) he worked at The Pennsylvania State University, as Head of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, and at Toronto’s York University, most recently as Canada Research Chair in Greco-Roman Cultural Interaction. Since 2011 he has held the Kirby Laing Chair in New Testament at the University of Aberdeen. Mason was the first Dirk Smilde Fellow at the Qumran Institute in Groningen from January through May 2014. Mason explains that his appointment in Groningen is bringing him back to his main career trajectory: the integration of ancient Mediterranean studies: “My recent Chair in New Testament, an accommodation to established disciplinary boundaries, was a departure from my main career trajectory. The move to Groningen is bringing me back to the interdisciplinary study of ancient history, texts, and cultures. I believe that a critical understanding of our shared past, recent and ancient, throws light on our modern identities, including the sources and potential resolutions of conflict. This is a vision that I know I share with my colleagues in Groningen.”  I am sorry, but you are going to be stuck with your original image of a Josephus expert for a long time.  It's an uncomfortable status to have.

Scholars know an awful lot of Rome's apparent history even though their historical manuscripts that they depend on are much later than those of Christianity.  Those manuscripts have more than likely been subject to abuse by the early Church Fathers. The scholars cite each other like there is no tomorrow.  And many like those who write Judaism and Rome know far more about Roman history than they do about Judaism.   

Mason's 'Critical Understanding'

So long as it doesn't contradict his Christian beliefs!  Typically, his beliefs get in the way of truth, as with most Christian scholars.  He has not picked-up on the many fabrications and interpolations in the writings attributed to Josephus presented as history.  Like most other commentators with a faith background he takes events in that literature literally.  He joins Martin Goodman, Barbara Levick and many others.  Mason believes what Josephus wrote.  

When was Antiquities Written? Was there an Earlier Version?   

On page 64 of Understanding Josephus, Mason asks a number of questions, which he rather arrogantly claims he is asking for the first time: "For whom did Josephus write, and what did he mean to tell them?  How can we match what is in his works to the particular social situations in which he wrote? How did his first hearers and readers in Rome understand his lengthy treatise?"

It didn't occur to Mason to ask when Antiquities was written?  Given Gregory Sterling's comments about the way historians rewrote ancient texts, this is a fair question for such a large work.  According to Note 3 to the Preface of Antiquities, it was published in CE 93 about 18 years after War. Mason believes this.  He writes: (Josephus and the New Testament, page 102): "We can decide the matter for Josephus only by asking whether there were Gentiles in Rome at the end of the first century who were eager to learn about Judaism."  He assumes with other scholars that Antiquities was written at the end of the first century.  You don't have to be a Mason to recognise that Antiquities is replete with interpolations (many obvious with no context) and editorial.  These are sure signs of a document that has been written originally and then tampered with.  The 'matter' of Gentiles being interested in Judaism had surfaced in the court of the emperor Claudius, and probably a long time before that. Because of the length of time it would have taken to write, an earlier version (the original) would have been written well before any 'war' with the Romans. 

Paul Berry writes extensively in the Christian Inscription at Pompeii, that the Romans regarded the Greek people and language as beneath them.  Berry actually devotes 6 pages of his book  (p.40-45) to the subject.  He says they did not consider fluency in Greek in keeping with the Roman character.  In one of his citations, he quotes the Roman poet Juvenal, who describes the clatter of the back streets: "All that Greek!  When it should be so much the greater shame not to fully command our Latin.  They simply tremble in that lingo -- their ire, their gaiety, their woe -- all poured forth from the inmost soul.  How else?  In that baby-talk Greek.  Permissible maybe in girls, yet even those eighty-six years old still vibrating in Greek?  A deplorable speech for the mature."  So who did produce the Greek version?  The finger of guilt points to the early Church Fathers of Ceasarea  

In the Preface to Antiquities, Josephus says it was "a large subject", and very strangely , "it was "difficult to translate", so the "work went slowly".  Translate into Greek from which language?  Greek was supposed to have been well understood by priests and Jews in general, and they had the Jewish bible in Greek.  And why a translation at all if Josephus was the original writer?   The answer must be that Antiquities was originally written in Latin by a different Jew who had lived in Rome for a long time and had mixed with the Roman elite from whom he had learned the language.  

In the short space of the two pages of the Preface, the words law, or lawgiver or legislator occur 12 times.  The writer's aim is clear.  He sees the legislator Moses as the dispenser of Gods' laws which if a person obeys he will have "perfect virtue".  But Moses was not of the tribe of Aaron and therefore not a high priest or priest which Josephus supports.   Moses not only legislated for priests but prophets also.  In his books Understanding Josephus, and Josephus, Judea and Christian Origins, Mason doesn't mention prophets once.  What did happen to the prophets?  Moses said,  "I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them" (Num.11.29).   And "he (Moses) took the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders.  When the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again" (Num.11.25).  The footnote has: or, "they prophesied and continued to do so".  "Moses placed the gold altar in the Tent of Meeting in front of the curtain and then burned incense on it." (Ex.40.26).  The prophets have been written out of history, and hence out of Antiquities, by the Church Fathers who were Christian priests, with the mutual agreement of the Romans who had had terrible wars with the prophets and their followers across the Mediterranean world.  The prophetic movement was indeed the early Christians, Jews and Gentiles, who obeyed the Spirit.  From the time of Judas Maccabeus the priests had been thrown out of the temple.  

In writing his version of Antiquities, 'Josephus' (read the Church Fathers) says in the Preface that he was "imitating the generosity of the high priest Eleazar" who supposedly shared the Jewish laws with the Egyptian king Ptolemy II.  But Eleazar didn't appear that generous, because Josephus says the interpreters that Eleazar supposedly sent to Alexandria gave Ptolemy "only the books of the law" ("while there were a number of other matters in our sacred books").  So this was how 'Josephus' was going to imitate the generosity of "our high priest".  This is inconsistent with the actual story in Antiquities.  It is clear that 'Josephus' (the Church Fathers) is a supporter of  high priests.  The whole story is a pack of lies.  There were tens of thousand Jews living in Egypt at the time.  Many would have understood Hebrew and Greek, and be able to translate from one language to the other.  Also there was a temple at Leontopolis in Egypt which presumably was different in some way from that in Jerusalem.  It probably did not have animal sacrifice.  There would have been Jews there who were capable translators.  In the text of 'Josephus', it is quite clear that the Jews of Egypt (supporters of prophets) and the priests of Judea were enemies.  

'Josephus' has it that Epaphroditus encouraged him to get on with his Antiquities as he and other Greeks were keen to know the history of "our nation".  I only know one such Epaphroditus. He was Nero's secretary, Tiberias Claudius Epaphroditus.  But that Epaphroditus was earlier than the time 'Josephus' was supposed to have written Antiquities.  And do you think that the secretary to Nero would have known Latin?  You bet he did.  Epaphroditus was keen for Claudius and the rest of the Roman elite to know about the form of Judaism practiced by this original writer of Antiquities, but it would have to be in Latin. 

Does this all sound somewhat suspicious?  Do you think Josephus was a fraudster? 

Larry Loves to Cut and Run 

I wrote to his blog
Of course the codex was the principal method of transmitting propaganda. The editing of Antiquities and the writing of War are two prime examples. Never mind that the historians of the day used the codex also to write their histories at the behest of their masters, the Flavians. How else would Josephus have interpolated 13.5.9 to the time of Antiochus (about Essenes, Pharisees and Sadducees) into Antiquities. So many witnesses you say to Nero being bad, that they must be believed! Well, I would remind you of a number of a number deaths at the time: Nero, Agrippina, Poppea, Burrus, Epaphroditus and Seneca. I find it much more difficult to accept that these were not murdered by the same elite who mocked Nero. Dirty business and the creation of the codex went together.  

Larry replied:
"I presume that you have some basis for your wild claim about “the codex was the principal method of transmitting propaganda”: Some actual manuscripts, for example? Some textual references to that effect? Or (as I suspect) your own imagination?  
Ancient writers used wooden-frame tablets (wax writing surface) often for making notes, drafting preliminary thoughts, etc., to be sure. But the published version of literary texts was a bookroll. Which we can establish if you care to consult the 14,000 plus items on the LDAB database.  As for your final comments, I have no idea what you mean, “dirty business and the creation of the codex went together,” but, Geoff, it all sounds rather raving loony."

Well Larry, you knew what you were asking for when you wrote "some actual manuscripts, for example?"  It appears that only one fragment of a parchment manuscript from the time of Josephus does exist (See below).  

Then I wrote to a latin Scholar (Mary 
I wrote to a Latin scholar (a professor) the following email dated  22/02/2016: "I am interested in the earliest codices used in Rome.  What I am interested in is the possibility that the codex was used by the elite for communicating propaganda. I believe Martial had some of his poems produced in codex form and sold in a shop. It seems to me that the contemporary elite would have spotted an opportunity before the technology was available in a shop."  
The reply came back on the same day: "That is certainly a possibility. The whole history of the transition from roll to codex is more complicated than people often imagine." 

My replies to Larry's Blog which he refused to publish

Larry loves to take the mick but won't allow a response - I wrote several replies to his blog but he refused to publish them.  I wrote:  

1. "Larry, I don’t think my comment about Ant.13.5.9 being an interpolation was raving loony. This text sticks out like a veritable sore thumb as an interpolation. I repeat, how else would Josephus or another writer have incorporated that text without having a codex available to edit a page. Remember there were no word processors to rapidly produce large quantities of text. And similar considerations apply to other small areas of the writings attributed to Josephus which must have been in codex form. These writings were the propaganda of Josephus and the Roman elite, acting together, with purpose. Do you have any evidence of a section of text being sewn into one of your 14000 bookrolls? That is the only other explanation."

2. “Larry, I found this extract in The History of It speaks of the development of the codex using parchment at the critical time when Josephus would have been writing.  The papyrus or parchment codex was a Roman innovation. The earliest certain reference to a parchment notebook appears in the Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian composed in the last years of the reign of the Emperor Domitian, the final decade of the first century CE. 2.C.5 About 85 CE, the poet Martial left the first surviving mention of literary works published in parchment codices, emphasizing their compactness, their handiness for the traveller, and providing the name of the shop where such novelties could be bought. From this early period only a single leaf fragment of a parchment codex has survived, with writing on both sides of the parchment–a fragment of an anonymous work entitled De bellis Macedonicis found at Oxyrthynchus (elephantnose fish), Egypt, and acquired by the British Museum in 1900.”

3."Larry, it appears that small codices could be purchased in a shop as a novelty at the time of Martial who refers to them as compact and handy for the traveller. The parchment would have been written on each side. The traveller would no longer have had to carry a bundle of bookrolls written single-sided on papyrus which wore out the text as they were rolled and unrolled. Apparently papyrus from Egypt was in short supply in Rome. Animal skins were easily available.  This suggests to me that the technology of codex production using parchment had filtered down from elite circles to have become common-place in shops. The lesson would not have been lost on the elite who would have recognised the advantages of the codex for spreading information. Of course the climate in Europe didn’t exactly encourage the survival of what must have been a large quantity of Roman manuscripts written in Latin, especially if they had been carried around, and not left in libraries. And Rome had more than its fair share of fires."

4. "Larry, looking at the LDAB database one might easily conclude that most ancient manuscripts were written in Greek, and that Romans must have been illiterate.  Never mind that Egypt where most of the LDAB database originates had a dry climate in sharp contrast to the European climate.

So you see Larry, the Roman elite were ahead of the game."  The codex was in use at the time Josephus was writing.  The fragment of the De bellis Macedonicis codex found in Egypt was written in Latin on both sides and is of the same period at which Josephus was writing. 

Larry's rant about me being ignorant (showing that he read my posts but did not have the grace to publish them)

"The Codex and Ignorance February 5, 2016
One persistent commenter in response to my earlier posting about Christian preference for the codex has confidently posited things that only illustrate his ignorance of the data about ancient manuscripts. I shall, therefore, neither post his comments nor name him. Instead, I take this opportunity to correct his ignorance. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant of some specialized subject–we’re all in that situation on this or that one. But it’s passing strange for someone so obviously inadequately informed then to make confident (even arrogant) claims based on his ignorance. That is not acceptable. But now to the corrections."

We are all learning Larry. The ignorance seems to be coming from you.

"First, he incorrectly claimed that people must have used the codex much more regularly than the MSS data indicate, for otherwise how would they have made insertions of material into texts? Several errors here. For one thing, the way ancient texts were altered (by omissions, additions, other changes) wasn’t mechanically by physically adding or cutting out bits. Instead, it was in the copying process. Each time a given text was copied, there was the opportunity of making changes, either accidentally or deliberately. Texts on rolls could be changed just as easily as those on codices."

So Larry reckons that the way documents were changed or edited was by copying them, a process which would have been necessary in the case of a bookroll, but not in the case of a codex, as I show in the section on Turner below.

"The physical book-form had nothing to do with it. Furthermore, as to codices, the earliest form seems to have been “single gathering” construction, a number of sheets laid on top of one another and then folded and stitched together. You couldn’t remove individual leaves, as each leaf was one half of a folded sheet. And on all the sheets, except the most inside one, one leaf had material from the early part of the text, and the other leaf had material from another, later part of the text. So, if you removed one sheet, you made two deletions, not one. And if you added a sheet or removed one, you would have to take the whole codex apart and then re-sew it together again. As for multiple-gathering codices, there also removing or adding leaves wasn’t an easy task. You see? One really needs to study the physical items closely before making claims."

The physical book form had everything to do with it. A codex could be taken apart easily by a skilled craftsman or scribe, as I show in the section on Turner. Leaves could then be exchanged for edited new leaves, whether it was in single gatherings (four pages, double-sided) or multiple gatherings. This would have involved far less work than a rewrite.
"Second, he claimed that, because the data on the Leuven Database of Ancient Books was heavily based on papyri from Egypt (where conditions more readily made for the survival of papyri), we can’t apply these data (particularly the obvious preponderance of the bookroll for literary texts all through the first three centuries AD) generally. In Rome (he claimed), things could be different, and he proposed that there the codex was more heavily used. Well, again, ignorance is the mother of the claim. For we do have data about preferred bookforms in Rome and the West from the early centuries. For example, there is the library found in Herculaneum, which comprised a few hundred papyrus bookrolls of literary texts that were carbonized in the eruption of Mt. Visuvius in 79 AD. So, wrong again. All actual data confirm that the bookroll was the preferred bookform for literary texts in this early period, East or West, Greek or Latin. Martial’s famous Epigrams include mention of what he describes as an experiment of a local bookseller in preparing small, portable leather codices of his poetry for travellers. But it’s clear that this was a rather isolated experiment, and not indicative of any larger pattern. I’ve actually gone through the LDAB listing of all second-century non-Christian codices (there aren’t that many), and confirmed that they largely are workaday collections of recipes, astronomical tables, magical formulas, etc., with a few examples of copies of literary texts."

The manuscripts found at Herculaneum were the charred remains of papyrus bookrolls. They could have been any age. And Herculaneum was not Rome where the development of the codex was taking place. It certainly is not clear that Martial's use of the codex was an isolated experiment. What I am saying is that the codex was being used by the elite (the Flavians) for propaganda purposes. Larry's argument about the LDAB database is misleading. He interprets the data from one place in Egypt as being generally applicable, including in Rome from where no parchment codices have survived from the period. This is unscientific to say the least, particularly, as I have said, that the dry climate of Egypt lent itself to the preservation of manuscripts. The codex was a Roman invention, double-sided on Parchment. The earliest parchment fragment in Latin, probably from Rome, only survived because it was taken to Egypt.

"My illinformed commenter could do well to take the time to do such work before making further claims. So, bottom line: The bookroll was overwhelmingly the preferred book form for literary texts all through antiquity till sometime in the 4th century AD, and continued to be used heavily even after that. E.g., per the LDAB, about 98% of second-century nonChristian copies of literary texts are bookrolls. By contrast, Christians overwhelmingly preferred the codex, with particular fervency for those literary texts that they treated as scripture."

Now I will correct what Larry should have said, if he was being honest. The bookroll was the overwhelmingly preferred bookform till sometime in the 4th century, for manuscripts produced in Egypt.  Ignorance is bliss for Larry.

The Typology of the Early Codex by Eric G Turner

This was one of the books recommended by Larry.   Turner writes on page 2: "The story of the codex in the Latin west of the Empire will not be my concern."  Thus Turner forms general conclusions about codices from his studies of papyrus codices found largely in Egypt.  (See  page 32).  This was Turner's big assumption and a big mistake.                   

Turner almost contradicts himself in a Chapter on The Priority of Parchment or Papyrus. On page 40 he writes: "Points in favor of  the priority of parchment are no doubt the Latin term "membranae" applied to parchment notebooks used for business purposes, as C H Roberts has shown, and then perhaps extended; and the references in Martial to what seem to be early parchment codices (such as the "Livius in membranis").  A stronger argument than any of these may be the consideration that in Egyptian book technique (Turner is back to Egypt) the papyrus roll was so firmly entrenched that a major shock was needed to prompt the experiments that resulted in its eventually being supplanted by the codex. ....There must have been a powerful motive for using the codex form."  The desire to publicize Christianity is often advanced as this motive.  But what was the shock? 

Could a Codex be Changed Easily without Re-writing the Text Completely?
In codex terminology, a sheet is a folded piece of parchment that makes four sides or pages of a manuscript.  A gathering is a number of these sheets sewn together along the folds.  Thus a sheet would have the first two pages as right and left pages written on two sides.  But the next two pages would be out of sequence with the first two.  Then a number of these gatherings would be sewn together to form a codex.  On page 73 at the start of the chapter: The Codex and the Scribe, Turner poses the question: "Did the scribe make up his codex and fasten it together before he copied his text into it?"  Turner says: "We may proceed some way toward an answer by first considering what is implied in the procedure of copying a codex. Palaeographers have assumed in the past that the great vellum codices were written sheet by sheet; that is, in order to be written, the sheets were separated from the gathering into which they had been assembled (and through the whole body of which gatherings they were pricked).  Each sheet was laid by itself in its turn on the scribe's knee or writing desk.  Only when writing was completed were they reassembled and then stitched."  Turner then says: "That this was the procedure is mainly a matter of inference, but it is in itself eminently sensible."

Thus according to Turner, this was the normal way a scribe wrote a codex.  So what might the scribe do if he wanted to change or edit a manuscript?  Using his normal skills, it would be little trouble to remove the stitching and change the text of the sheets that he wished to edit or introduce changes to.  And this could be done without the necessity of re-writing the complete manuscript as he would have to do in the case of a papyrus bookroll, Larry.  This argument is important as it will be used to illustrate the "shock" referred to previously.  It involves what Gregory Sterling referred to: "The practice of rewriting texts and offering the retelling as an authorial composition."  In particular, it involves the re-writing or editing the sheets and pages of an existing Antiquities parchment codex by Josephus. Sterling almost implies Antiquities was treated so.  Thus he wrote: "These traditions (re-writing or editing) converge in the Jewish Antiquities of Josephus."     

The Children and Grandchildren of Herod were Educated at Rome 
This was particularly important for my argument.   It meant that the elite of Judea would have known Latin extremely well in both its spoken and written forms.  They would have communicated with their Roman equivalents using the Roman language, not Greek which the Romans regarded as inferior.  The young Jewish students would have shared their history and beliefs with their Roman counterparts.  They would have explained that there were two kinds of priestliness established by Moses, prophets and priests between whom there was great rivalry.  This had boiled over into outright war at the time of Antiochus who supported the priests, and Judas Maccabeus who supported the prophets.  

A few of the children said that they followed the priests.  These had been exiled from the temple since the time of Judas when animal sacrifices were banned.  The priests had continued their work as priests working in the towns and cities, relying on the people for their livelihood.  The majority of the children said that they preferred the prophets with their traditions of bravery, as their ancestors the Hasmoneans had done.  The prophets were hard working in many practical jobs like farming, construction and leather working.   They were basically peaceful but were fearless while under persecution by the priests, bearing all sorts of punishments stoically.  They would give much of their spare time to the study of the bible, and officiating in the temple at the altar of incense.  Now this chatter did not go unnoticed by the Roman tutors and parents of the elite class. 

Claudius was Emperor with a Wife Agrippina and an Adopted Son Nero (See;postID=8511344089794594531;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=5;src=postname)
At this time Agrippa I had become king of Judea, having inherited the kingdom from his father Aristobulus.  (Josephus has two Aristobulus's existing at the same time).  Claudius and Agrippa were great friends.  Agrippa had been a pupil in Rome and had lived with Claudius.   

Ant.20.2 is really about the great friendship between Agrippa I, Nero, his mother the empress Agrippina, and the emperor Claudius.  When Nero was about sixteen, Agrippa invited Nero to stay in Judea.   Agrippa I gave him some lands that included Ein Gedi.  While Nero was at Ein Gedi, a prophet, James, employed by the king, came and taught him to worship God in the Spirit. There was opportunity for Nero to visit the king and his son in Masada.  Nero was familiar with Masada and its surrounding lands.  The Dead Sea is a fertile place being rich in ammonium salts. His father Claudius requested that Nero went home on different occasions.  James travelled with him.  James met and taught Agrippina to obey the Spirit and join the prophets. That the following text from Ant.20.2 was reconstructed from text that was about Nero, a simpleton could recognise, but apparently some professors do not.   

"About this time it was that [Helena] {Agrippina}, [queen of Adiabene] {the empress}, and her son [Izates] {Nero}, changed their course of life, and embraced the [Jewish customs] {Spirit of God}, and this on the occasion following: [Monobazus] {Claudius} [, the king of Adiabene] {Caesar}, who had also the name of [Bazeus] {Nero}, fell in love with his [sister] {brother’s daughter} [Helena] {Agrippina}, and took her to be his wife, and [begat] {adopted} her [with] child. ...And when his son was [born] {adopted}, he called him [Izates] {Nero}. He had indeed [Monobazus] {Britannicus}, his [elder brother] {son}, by [Helena] {Messalina} also, as he had [other sons] {a daughter Octavia} by [other wives] {her} besides. Yet did he openly place all his affections on this his [only begotten] {adopted} son [Izates] {Nero}, which was the origin of that envy which his other brethren, [by the same father,] bore to him; [while on this account they hated him more and more, and were all under great affliction that their father should prefer Izates before them]. Now although their father was very sensible of these their passions, yet did he forgive them, as not indulging those passions out of an ill disposition, but out of a desire each of them had to be beloved by their father. However, he sent [Izates] {Nero}, with many presents, to [Abennerig] {Agrippa}, the king of [Charax-Spasini] {Judea}, [and that out of the great dread he was in about him, lest he should come to some misfortune by the hatred his brethren bore him]; and he committed his son's preservation to him. Upon which [Abennerig] {Agrippa} gladly received the young man, and had a great affection for him, and... embraced him after the most affectionate manner, and bestowed on him the country called [Carra] {Ein Gedi}; it was a soil that bare amomum in great plenty: there are also [in it] the remains of that [ark] {pillar of salt}, wherein it is related that [Noah escaped the deluge] {Lot’s wife was buried} [, and where they are still shown to such as are desirous to see them.] Accordingly, [Izates] {Nero} abode in [that country] {Ein Gedi} [until his father's death].   ...3.Now, during the time [Izates] {Nero} abode at [Charax-Spasini] {Ein Gedi}, a [certain Jewish merchant] {prophet}, whose name was [Ananias] {James}, [got among the women] that belonged to the king, [and] taught [them] {him} to worship God [according to the Jewish religion] {in the Spirit}...He also, at the earnest entreaty of [Izates] {Nero}, accompanied him when he was sent for by his father to come to [Adiabene] {Rome}; ....and he said that he might worship God without {being circumcised] {sacrifice}; which worship of God was of a superior nature to [circumcision] {sacrifice}.  He added that God would forgive him, though he did not [perform the operation] {sacrifice}....5.But as to [Helena] {Agrippina}, the [king's] {emperor’s} [mother] {wife}, when she saw that [the affairs of Izates's kingdom were in peace, and that] her son was a happy man, and admired among all men, and even among foreigners, by the means of God's [providence] {Spirit} over him, she had a mind to go to the city of Jerusalem, in order to worship at that temple of God which was so very famous among all men, and to offer her thank-offerings there.  So she desired her [son] {HUSBAND} to give her leave to go thither; upon which he gave his consent to what she desired very willingly, and made great preparations for her dismission, and gave her a great deal of money, and she went down to the city Jerusalem[, her son conducting her on her journey a great way].  Now her coming was of very great advantage to the [people] {prophets} of Jerusalem; for whereas [a famine] {the priests} did oppress them at that time, and many [people] {prophets} died for want of what was necessary to procure food withal, [queen Helena] {Agrippina} sent some of her servants to Alexandria with money to buy a great quantity of corn, and others of them to Cyprus, to bring a cargo of dried figs. And as soon as they were come back, and had brought those provisions, which was done very quickly, she distributed food to those that were in want of it, and left a most excellent [memorial] {remembrance} behind her of this benefaction [, which she bestowed on our whole nation]. And when her [son Izates] {husband Claudius} was informed of this [famine] {persecution}, he sent great sums of money to the principal [men] {prophets} in Jerusalem."


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Herodian Dynasty was Continuous (Kokkinos is wrong about the Coins of the Prefects)

In the book, Judea and Rome in Coins 65 BCE - 135 CE, Kokkinos wrote (page 89) that the period of Judean history from 6 - 36 CE was a "thoroughly misty period".   In my view this is an academic understatement.  He says that the coins of the period refer only "to individual emperors and their years of reign,".  He should have put a full stop after "reign", not a comma.  He continues in academic mode: "and therefore attribution to different prefects depends entirely on their names and chronology as worked out from Josephus." Kokkinos makes no comment on this.  The obvious extreme weakness here is that the only source for the information about the prefects is the writings attributed to Josephus.  What Kokkinos has not considered is that the prefects were the creation of Roman editors.  Given the unreliability of the writings attributed to Josephus, this must stand as a glaring misjudgment. 

So Kokkinos says that the coins of the period refer only "to individual emperors and their years of reign".  On page 90, he says that Octavian was named Augustus on 16 January 27 BCE, and the new Era (the Augustan Era of the years of Octavian's rule) backdated to 1 January.   I dispute the date of 1 January, and say that the Augustan Era was backdated to 31 BCE.   This was the year that Octavian effectively gained power at the battle of Actium. So we need to measure the Octavian/Augustan Era from 31 BCE to 14 CE.  The same method of marking coins was used to identify the years of Tiberius's rule (14 CE to 37 CE).  

In his will, Herod bequeathed his kingdom, divided into a tetrarchy (four kingdoms), to his four sons.  Like Herod, they were loyal supporters of Rome.  Aristobulus inherited the kingdom of Judea and Idumea,   Archelaus was made king of Samaria, Antipas king of Galilee, and Philip king of the north east  part of Herod's territory, Iturea and Trachonitis. When Archelaus was no longer king, Aristobulus took Samaria over, with the permission of
the Romans.  The four sons of Herod, Aristobulus, Archelaus, Antipas and Philip appear to have jointly issued coins, in the tradition of their father, with no image of themselves.  These coins are falsely regarded by scholars and numismatics alike as prefectural coins. Later Aristobulus' son Agrippa I did issue some coins with his image, for at least a part of his reign, presumably when he had recovered most of Herod's original territory.  

Some coins, supposedly only associated with Archelaus, are identified with Year 33 of Octavian's rule, which gives an actual date of 2 CE.  There are also coins marked Year 36 (5 CE) and Year 37 (6 CE).  Archelaus was supposedly removed from being king of Judea in 6 CE, according to Josephus.   Citing Dio, Kokkinos  says Archelaus was "banished sometime in 6 CE". He probably just died from an illness early in his rule.  Kokkinos remarks about the dating: "this is uncomfortable".  Thus the arrival for the first prefect of Judea, Coponius, all the other prefects, the liquidation of Archelaus's estate and the preparation for the census were creations of one Josephus (and Vespasian's other historians).  Vespasian could afford to re-write history - he had just stolen a vast fortune from the temple.   

Josephus did the same for the Roman appointment of high priests from the time of Judas Maccabeus.  There were no high priests from this time.  The priests were outcasts from the temple.  The Herodian period was simply a continuation of the Hasmonean period.  There were no separate periods.  From the time of Judas the history as recorded in Antiquities has been interfered with.  

A false history was created for the period 6 - 36 (and before for that matter).  It was really a partial period of  King Aristobulus's rule of Judea which the Roman historians (I include Josephus and other priests working for the Romans) rode roughshod over.  It was why in the writings attributed to Josephus they invented two Aristobulus's.  They falsified the death of the real Aristobulus at the hands of his father Herod.  This was to blacken Herod because he had served Rome well, assisting Augustus in the battle of Actium.   He had played a vitally important role in the battle and its aftermath.  This cost the death of his wife, father-in law and other relatives and friends.  Then the historians wrote another likely story about an Alexander, a nobody who happened to look like the real Alexander who had died, but who apparently left the real Aristobulus alive on the isle of Crete.  This tells you what Roman historians were like. ( 

Josephus himself gives the game away, as is obvious to a reader skilled in recognising created text.   He has nothing to say about the prefects and procurators except what he fabricates.  It is exactly the same with the high priests. He mentions only their appointment and subsequent replacement by the Roman authorities.  There are a few details, fabricated from an entirely Jewish problem, namely disputes between priests and prophets. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Attack in 63 BCE on the Temple by Herod to keep Hyrcanus King (Pompey's War was a later Roman Editor's Myth)

The date of 63 BCE has been regarded by all scholars as being the end of Hasmonean rule in Judea and the beginning of direct Roman rule.  Roman rule under Augustus began by the mutual consent of Herod.  What really happened is revealed in Antiquities Book 15.  Defeat of the Jews by Pompey and Roman rule from 63 BCE is a myth created by Church Fathers, as Roman propaganda.   It was Herod who defeated the forces of Antigonus and thus kept his future father-in-law Hyrcanus as king.  Herod although not a Hasmonean was to maintain the Hasmonean prophetic tradition in a continuous family rule that ran from Judas the Maccabean up to 66 CE.  From the time of Judas, the priests were disenfranchised, thrown out of the temple, writing their Scrolls in secret.  The Scrolls were captured by the king Hyrcanus, and kept under lock and key.   The priests later rebelled, ransacked Agrippa's archives and deposited the Scrolls in the Judean desert.

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 guards.  These attacks occurred almost at the same time, in the summer of 66 CE (see  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.  The main reason was for killing king Agrippa a friend of Nero.  There had been a revolt by the priests 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 Cestius's defeat is 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 free 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 the seditious were the priests, and Cestius was Nero to whom the gates of Jerusalem were opened by the prophets.  There was no siege and there is no archaeological evidence for a siege.  It was 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 Church Fathers of Caesarea must have had access to Nero's war records. Qumran in Judea was changed to Jotapata in Galilee.  The text of 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 Church Fathers 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 Church Fathers used the one account of a real attack on Machaerus to produce two false attacks, one on Mount Gerizim and one on Mount Tabor.  They milked the one true story to produce as much exaggerated material as possible. 

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.  Gamala was attacked later by Hadrian.  That attack was against prophets or people of prophetic belief, as were most Jews around the Mediterranean, where there was massive unrest after Vespasian ordered the destruction of the temple.  There is absolutely no archaeological evidence of  Vespasian having been to Galilee or Samaria.  But there is strong archaeological evidence for a Roman army being present at Qumran, Masada and Machaerus.    

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 eight hundred or so prophets to Rome for his triumph. There was now a potential for a much bigger war as the Romans had betrayed the prophets who previously had been pro Roman.   

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, Nero knew that the priests had captured Qumran, Masada and Machaerus from their 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 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.  

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  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.  

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 a second fictitious attack on Jotapata.  Nero's plan was to take Qumran by storm in a surprise attack. The priests had previously captured the fortress of Qumran from a number of 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)" or May to June (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 of a "fight over one day" was probably extracted from Nero's war records. It must refer to the first attack which was by storm under Nero. 

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?  This short account about Japha was in fact the taking of Masada by storm.  The forces were under Nero.  Japha is said to have fallen on the twenty-fifth of the month Desius (Sivan) (see War 3.7.31 or 3.306).  This was approximately four or five days after the first battle for Qumran.

Galilee with its lake, was easy for the Church Fathers 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.  Even the character of Josephus was fabricated. It was at Jotapata that Josephus is supposed to have surrendered, in a most unlikely fashion - a suicide pact in which the last two to survive were Josephus and a friend.  Vespasian's battle for Jotapata, and Josephus's account are fictional. They were the creations of the Church Fathers for Vespasian's phoney war.  The real battle for Qumran was the battle for Japha. 

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.  Both testify to a false religion (not that I have found a true religion).  

The militant, blood thirsty theologies of the Koran and the Scrolls is there for all to see.    

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, Book 5, Chapters 4 and 5)


My thoughts are that War Book 5, Chapters 4 and 5 of War were extracted (by the editor of the writings attributed to Josephus) from their original place immediately before Book 15, Chapter 11 of Antiquities.  Book 5, Chapter 4 of War was originally a description of Hyrcanus's Jerusalem.  Book 5, 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.  

Book 5, 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, Book 5, Chapter 5 in what I believe is fabricated text.  Book 15, Chapter 11 of Antiquities follows-on from War, Book 5, Chapter 5 with Herod making the temple of God 'larger in compass'. 

Book 5, Chapter 5 of War has the entire compass of the temple including the tower of Antonia (the Hasmonean baris supposedly 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 (Book 5, 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.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.  

The towers of Mariamne and Alexandra were built by Herod. 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.  (See Ant 16 Chapter 5 in;postID=2603769634852080203;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=7;src=postname).  



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.  Herod was married to Mariamne. Alexandra, the mother of Mariamne, was Hyrcanus's wife.  The tower of Mariamne and Alexandra were built to the memory of both women by Herod.  The editor has it that the tower of Mariamne was built by Herod because he supposedly regretted the actual slaying of his wife.  While Augustus was fighting Cleopatra and Antony, Alexandra and Mariamne were killed at the fortress of Alexandrium by an Arab force which Herod couldn't get to stop the Arabians in time.  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.]

Blog Archive