lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)
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Josephus records (X.2), about Hezekiah:
Yet, while he was very zealous and diligent about the worship of God, did he soon afterwards fall into a severe distemper, insomuch that the physicians despaired of him, and expected no good issue of his sickness, as neither did his friends: and besides the distemper itself, there was a very melancholy circumstance that disordered the king, which was the consideration that he was childless, and was going to die, and leave his house and his government without a successor of his own body; so he was troubled at the thoughts of this his condition, and lamented himself, and entreated of God that he would prolong his life for a little while till he had some children, and not suffer him to depart this life before he was become a father. Hereupon God had mercy upon him, and accepted of his supplication, because the trouble he was under at his supposed death was not because he was soon to leave the advantages he enjoyed in the kingdom, nor did he on that account pray that he might have a longer life afforded him, but in order to have sons, that might receive the government after him. And God sent Isaiah the prophet, and commanded him to inform Hezekiah, that within three days' time he should get clear of his distemper, and should survive it fifteen years, and that he should have children also.
The Bible, however, doesn't say anything about Hezekiah praying for deliverance so that he can live long enough to have children. After searching up and down it, I have come to the conclusion Josephus's interpretation is probably a midrash on Hezekiah's psalm of praise in Isaiah 38, verses 18-19
For the grave cannot praise you, death can not celebrate you: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for your truth. The living, the living, he shall praise you, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known your truth. כִּי לֹא שְׁאוֹל תּוֹדֶךָּ מָוֶת יְהַלְלֶךָּ לֹא־יְשַׂבְּרוּ יוֹרְדֵי־בוֹר אֶל־אֲמִתֶּךָ׃ חַי חַי הוּא יוֹדֶךָ כָּמוֹנִי הַיּוֹם אָב לְבָנִים יוֹדִיעַ אֶל־אֲמִתֶּךָ׃

Moving on, Hezekiah's son Menashe is presented by the Book of Kings as the worst king in all Israelite history, and so indeed I was taught in cheder:

He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel. For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, In Jerusalem will I put my name. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel. [...] Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. וַיַּעַשׂ הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי ה׳ כְּתוֹעֲבֹת הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר הוֹרִישׁ ה׳ מִפְּנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ וַיָּשָׁב וַיִּבֶן אֶת־הַבָּמוֹת אֲשֶׁר אִבַּד חִזְקִיָּהוּ אָבִיו וַיָּקֶם מִזְבְּחֹת לַבַּעַל וַיַּעַשׂ אֲשֵׁרָה כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אַחְאָב מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לְכָל־צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם וַיַּעֲבֹד אֹתָם׃ וּבָנָה מִזְבְּחֹת בְּבֵית ה׳ אֲשֶׁר אָמַר ה׳ בִּירוּשָׁלִַם אָשִׂים אֶת־שְׁמִי׃ וַיִּבֶן מִזְבְּחוֹת לְכָל־צְבָא הַשָּׁמָיִם בִּשְׁתֵּי חַצְרוֹת בֵּית־ה׳׃ וְהֶעֱבִיר אֶת־בְּנוֹ בָּאֵשׁ וְעוֹנֵן וְנִחֵשׁ וְעָשָׂה אוֹב וְיִדְּעֹנִים הִרְבָּה לַעֲשׂוֹת הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי ה׳ לְהַכְעִיס׃ וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת־פֶּסֶל הָאֲשֵׁרָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה בַּבַּיִת אֲשֶׁר אָמַר ה׳ אֶל־דָּוִד וְאֶל־שְׁלֹמֹה בְנוֹ בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה וּבִירוּשָׁלִַם אֲשֶׁר בָּחַרְתִּי מִכֹּל שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אָשִׂים אֶת־שְׁמִי לְעוֹלָם׃ וְלֹא אֹסִיף לְהָנִיד רֶגֶל יִשְׂרָאֵל מִן־הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי לַאֲבוֹתָם רַק אִם־יִשְׁמְרוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִים וּלְכָל־הַתּוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה אֹתָם עַבְדִּי מֹשֶׁה׃ וְלֹא שָׁמֵעוּ וַיַּתְעֵם מְנַשֶּׁה לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־הָרָע מִן־הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר הִשְׁמִיד ה׳ מִפְּנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ [...] וְגַם דָּם נָקִי שָׁפַךְ מְנַשֶּׁה הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד עַד אֲשֶׁר־מִלֵּא אֶת־יְרוּשָׁלִַם פֶּה לָפֶה לְבַד מֵחַטָּאתוֹ אֲשֶׁר הֶחֱטִיא אֶת־יְהוּדָה לַעֲשׂוֹת הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי ה׳׃
Which is why I was astonished to read in Antiquities (X.3):
And when they persevered in the same course of life, God raised up war against them from the king of Babylon and Chaldea, who sent an army against Judea, and laid waste the country; and caught king Manasseh by treachery, and ordered him to be brought to him, and had him under his power to inflict what punishment he pleased upon him. But then it was that Manasseh perceived what a miserable condition he was in, and esteeming himself the cause of all, he besought God to render his enemy humane and merciful to him. Accordingly, God heard his prayer, and granted him what he prayed for. So Manasseh was released by the king of Babylon, and escaped the danger he was in; and when he was come to Jerusalem, he endeavored, if it were possible, to cast out of his memory those his former sins against God, of which he now repented, and to apply himself to a very religious life. He sanctified the temple, and purged the city, and for the remainder of his days he was intent on nothing but to return his thanks to God for his deliverance, and to preserve him propitious to him all his life long. He also instructed the multitude to do the same, as having very nearly experienced what a calamity he was fallen into by a contrary conduct. He also rebuilt the altar, and offered the legal sacrifices, as Moses commanded. [...] And indeed, when he had changed his former course, he so led his life for the time to come, that from the time of his return to piety towards God he was deemed a happy man, and a pattern for imitation.

Yet it turns out it's all there in the Book of Chronicles. I think I'm going to have to read Chronicles now, and see what else is different from the Book of Kings.

Josiah is famous for the repairs to the Temple undertaken in his day unearthing what is now generally taken to be the book of Deuteronomy (how does anyone know it was Deuteronomy?), by Hilkiah the high priest. Josephus, however, names him Eliakim (X.4.56), who was Hilkiah's son (but not successor) as named elsewhere:

But when he was now in the eighteenth year of his reign, he sent to Eliakim the high priest, and gave order, that out of what money was overplus, he should cast cups, and dishes, and vials, for ministration [in the temple]; and besides, that they should bring all the gold or silver which was among the treasures, and expend that also in making cups and the like vessels. But as the high priest was bringing out the gold, he lighted upon the holy books of Moses that were laid up in the temple; and when he had brought them out, he gave them to Shaphan the scribe, who, when he had read them, came to the king, and informed him that all was finished which he had ordered to be done. He also read over the books to him, who, when he had heard them read, rent his garment, and called for Eliakim the high priest, and for [Shaphan] the scribe, and for certain [other] of his most particular friends, and sent them to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum, (which Shallum was a man of dignity, and of an eminent family,) and bid them go to her, and say that [he desired] she would appease God, and endeavor to render him propitious to them, for that there was cause to fear, lest, upon the transgression of the laws of Moses by their forefathers, they should be in peril of going into captivity, and of being cast out of their own country; lest they should be in want of all things, and so end their days miserably.

Later on (X.151-153), however, Josephus names this priest as Elcias. As can be seen from the above text, Josephus also says he found the books of Moses, not the book of Moses: Josephus evidently identifies with the traditional Jewish interpretation that what he found was Moses' autograph copy of the whole Torah (Pentateuch).

I'm struck also by the suggestion of this story that the king was not able to read. See this set of notes of mine for a discussion on literacy in Biblical Israel.

Huldah replies that:
"God had already given sentence against them, to destroy the people, and cast them out of their country, and deprive them of all the happiness they enjoyed; which sentence none could set aside by any prayers of theirs, since it was passed on account of their transgressions of the laws, and of their not having repented in so long a time, while the prophets had exhorted them to amend, and had foretold the punishment that would ensue on their impious practices; which threatening God would certainly execute upon them, that they might be persuaded that he is God, and had not deceived them in any respect as to what he had denounced by his prophets; that yet, because Josiah was a righteous man, he would at present delay those calamities, but that after his death he would send on the multitude what miseries he had determined for them.
This is also the account given in both 2 Kings and Chronicles; what's missing, and missing also in Chronicles, is (2 Kings 21:11-15):

Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations, and has done more evil than all that the Amorites who came before him did, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols; therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears shall tingle. I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipes a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.

Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

יַעַן אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה מְנַשֶּׁה מֶלֶךְ־יְהוּדָה הַתֹּעֵבוֹת הָאֵלֶּה הֵרַע מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר־עָשׂוּ הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר לְפָנָיו וַיַּחֲטִא גַם־אֶת־יְהוּדָה בְּגִלּוּלָיו׃ לָכֵן כֹּה־אָמַר ה׳ אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הִנְנִי מֵבִיא רָעָה עַל־יְרוּשָׁלִַם וִיהוּדָה אֲשֶׁר כָּל־שֹׁמְעָהּ תִּצַּלְנָה שְׁתֵּי אָזְנָיו׃ וְנָטִיתִי עַל־יְרוּשָׁלִַם אֵת קָו שֹׁמְרוֹן וְאֶת־מִשְׁקֹלֶת בֵּית אַחְאָב וּמָחִיתִי אֶת־יְרוּשָׁלִַם כַּאֲשֶׁר־יִמְחֶה אֶת־הַצַּלַּחַת מָחָה וְהָפַךְ עַל־פָּנֶיהָ׃ וְנָטַשְׁתִּי אֵת שְׁאֵרִית נַחֲלָתִי וּנְתַתִּים בְּיַד אֹיְבֵיהֶם וְהָיוּ לְבַז וְלִמְשִׁסָּה לְכָל־אֹיְבֵיהֶם׃ יַעַן אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ אֶת־הָרַע בְּעֵינַי וַיִּהְיוּ מַכְעִסִים אֹתִי מִן־הַיּוֹם אֲשֶׁר יָצְאוּ אֲבוֹתָם מִמִּצְרַיִם וְעַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה׃

וְגַם דָּם נָקִי שָׁפַךְ מְנַשֶּׁה הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד עַד אֲשֶׁר־מִלֵּא אֶת־יְרוּשָׁלִַם פֶּה לָפֶה לְבַד מֵחַטָּאתוֹ אֲשֶׁר הֶחֱטִיא אֶת־יְהוּדָה לַעֲשׂוֹת הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי ה׳׃

X.7.105 was a sheer delight to read, although not on a pleasant subject:

Now as to Zedekiah himself, while he heard the prophet speak, he believed him, and agreed to every thing as true, and supposed it was for his advantage; but then his friends perverted him, and dissuaded him from what the prophet advised, and obliged him to do what they pleased. Ezekiel also foretold in Babylon what calamities were coming upon the people, which when he heard, he sent accounts of them unto Jerusalem. But Zedekiah did not believe their prophecies, for the reason following: It happened that the two prophets agreed with one another in what they said as in all other things, that the city should be taken, and Zedekiah himself should be taken captive; but Ezekiel disagreed with him, and said that Zedekiah should not see Babylon, while Jeremiah said to him, that the king of Babylon should carry him away thither in bonds. And because they did not both say the same thing as to this circumstance, he disbelieved what they both appeared to agree in, and condemned them as not speaking truth therein, although all the things foretold him did come to pass according to their prophecies.

If you know the history, you will know in advance, as I did, that the reason both prophets were right was because Nebuchadrezzar would indeed carry Zedekiah away to Babylon, but he would put his eyes out before he did so.

The first high priest then at the temple which Solomon built was Zadok; after him his son Achimas received that dignity; after Achimas was Azarias; his son was Joram, and Joram's son was Isus; after him was Axioramus;

Axioramus? What kind of Hebrew name is that? There isn't even any letter X in Hebrew! Wikipedia provides a list of High Priests, and though this ia part of a sublist of priests missing from Chronicles, Seder `Olam Zuta gives his name as Yehoiada`. How one gets from Yehoiada` to Axioramus, though, I don't know.

After Nebuchadrezzar destroyed the Temple and carried the Jews off into exile, he installed Gedaliah as governor in Judaea, and many of the Jews who had fled into surrounding countries came back. But Gedaliah got assassinated by an extremist Jew (foreshadowing what would happen to another Israeli(te) prime minister two and a half thousand years later; and the Jews all fled to Egypt (where we'll see what happened to them in a couple of postings' time). I was surprised to see that according to Josephus, however, Gedaliah was forewarned that he would be assassinated, but refused to believe the warnings (X.9.173):

And when Johanan, and the rulers that were with him, observed the country, and the humanity of Gedaliah, they were exceedingly in love with him, and told him that Baalis, the king of the Ammonites, had sent Ishmael to kill him by treachery, and secretly, that he might have the dominion over the Israelites, as being of the royal family; and they said that he might deliver himself from this treacherous design, if he would give them leave to slay Ishmael, and nobody should know it, for they told him they were afraid that, when he was killed by the other, the entire ruin of the remaining strength of the Israelites would ensue. But he professed that he did not believe what they said, when they told him of such a treacherous design, in a man that had been well treated by him; because it was not probable that one who, under such a want of all things, had failed of nothing that was necessary for him, should be found so wicked and ungrateful towards his benefactor, that when it would be an instance of wickedness in him not to save him, had he been treacherously assaulted by others, to endeavor, and that earnestly, to kill him with his own hands: that, however, if he ought to suppose this information to be true, it was better for himself to be slain by the other, than to destroy a man who fled to him for refuge, and intrusted his own safety to him, and committed himself to his disposal.
[ETA: Actually, I've belatedly discovered that is in the Bible; it's just in Jeremiah, not Kings/Chronicles.]

Moving on, the Bible (Dan. 1:8-16) explains that Daniel and his companions adopted a vegetarian diet in the Babylonian court in order to keep from eating non-kosher foods:

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the chief eunuch that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and compassion with the chief eunuch. And the chief eunuch said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? Then you shall make me endanger my head to the king." Then Daniel said to the guard, whom the chief eunuch had put over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "Please, test your servants ten days: let them give us pulses to eat, and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the youths who eat of the king's food: and as you see, deal with your servants." So he consented to them in this matter, and tested them ten days. At the end of ten days their appearances were better, and more fleshed out than all the youths who ate of the king's food. Thus the guard took away their food and wine, and gave them pulses. וַיָּשֶׂם דָּנִיֵּאל עַל־לִבּוֹ אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יִתְגָּאַל בְּפַת־בַּג הַמֶּלֶךְ וּבְיֵין מִשְׁתָּיו וַיְבַקֵּשׁ מִשַּׂר הַסָּרִיסִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִתְגָּאָל׃ וַיִּתֵּן הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת־דָּנִיֵּאל לְחֶסֶד וּלְרַחֲמִים לִפְנֵי שַׂר הַסָּרִיסִים׃ וַיֹּאמֶר שַׂר הַסָּרִיסִים לְדָנִיֵּאל יָרֵא אֲנִי אֶת־אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר מִנָּה אֶת־מַאֲכַלְכֶם וְאֶת־מִשְׁתֵּיכֶם אֲשֶׁר לָמָּה יִרְאֶה אֶת־פְּנֵיכֶם זֹעֲפִים מִן־הַיְלָדִים אֲשֶׁר כְּגִילְכֶם וְחִיַּבְתֶּם אֶת־רֹאשִׁי לַמֶּלֶךְ׃ וַיֹּאמֶר דָּנִיֵּאל אֶל־הַמֶּלְצַר אֲשֶׁר מִנָּה שַׂר הַסָּרִיסִים עַל־דָּנִיֵּאל חֲנַנְיָה מִישָׁאֵל וַעֲזַרְיָה׃ נַס־נָא אֶת־עֲבָדֶיךָ יָמִים עֲשָׂרָה וְיִתְּנוּ־לָנוּ מִן־הַזֵּרֹעִים וְנֹאכְלָה וּמַיִם וְנִשְׁתֶּה׃ וְיֵרָאוּ לְפָנֶיךָ מַרְאֵינוּ וּמַרְאֵה הַיְלָדִים הָאֹכְלִים אֵת פַּת־בַּג הַמֶּלֶךְ וְכַאֲשֶׁר תִּרְאֵה עֲשֵׂה עִם־עֲבָדֶיךָ׃ וַיִּשְׁמַע לָהֶם לַדָּבָר הַזֶּה וַיְנַסֵּם יָמִים עֲשָׂרָה׃ וּמִקְצָת יָמִים עֲשָׂרָה נִרְאָה מַרְאֵיהֶם טוֹב וּבְרִיאֵי בָּשָׂר מִן־כָּל־הַיְלָדִים הָאֹכְלִים אֵת פַּת־בַּג הַמֶּלֶךְ׃ וַיְהִי הַמֶּלְצַר נֹשֵׂא אֶת־פַּת־בָּגָם וְיֵין מִשְׁתֵּיהֶם וְנֹתֵן לָהֶם זֵרְעֹנִים׃
Josephus, however, avoids making any mention of the religious reason they did so (X.10.190):
Now Daniel and his kinsmen had resolved to use a severe diet, and to abstain from those kinds of food which came from the king's table, and entirely to forbear to eat of all living creatures. So he came to Ashpenaz, who was that eunuch to whom the care of them was committed, and desired him to take and spend what was brought for them from the king, but to give them pulse and dates for their food, and any thing else, besides the flesh of living creatures, that he pleased, for that their inclinations were to that sort of food, and that they despised the other.

I wonder why he did so. [ETA: Hmm, might it to be with Josephus himself not being so particular when he was eating at the court of Titus?] Not only that, but he omits, in X.10.214, any mention of the angel that saved Daniel's companions from the flames:

So these men were convicted, and cast immediately into the fire, but were saved by Divine Providence, and after a surprising manner escaped death, for the fire did not touch them; and I suppose that it touched them not, as if it reasoned with itself, that they were cast into it without any fault of theirs, and that therefore it was too weak to burn the young men when they were in it. This was done by the power of God, who made their bodies so far superior to the fire, that it could not consume them. This it was which recommended them to the king as righteous men, and men beloved of God, on which account they continued in great esteem with him.
Cf. Dan. 4:24-28:
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and, rising in haste, said to his counsellors, "Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "Indeed, O king." He answered and said, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like a son of God." Then Nebuchadnezzar approached the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and said, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came out of the midst of the fire. And the princes, satraps and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God." אֱדַיִן נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר מַלְכָּא תְּוַהּ וְקָם בְּהִתְבְּהָלָה עָנֵה וְאָמַר לְהַדָּבְרוֹהִי הֲלָא גֻבְרִין תְּלָתָה רְמֵינָא לְגוֹא־נוּרָא מְכַפְּתִין עָנַיִן וְאָמְרִין לְמַלְכָּא יַצִּיבָא מַלְכָּא׃ עָנֵה וְאָמַר הָא־אֲנָה חָזֵה גֻּבְרִין אַרְבְּעָה שְׁרַיִן מַהְלְכִין בְּגוֹ־נוּרָא וַחֲבָל לָא־אִיתַי בְּהוֹן וְרֵוֵהּ דִּי רְבִיעָאָה דָּמֵה לְבַר־אֱלָהִין׃ בֵּאדַיִן קְרֵב נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר לִתְרַע אַתּוּן נוּרָא יָקִדְתָּא עָנֵה וְאָמַר שַׁדְרַךְ מֵישַׁךְ וַעֲבֵד־נְגוֹ עַבְדוֹהִי דִּי־אֱלָהָא עִלָּאָה פֻּקוּ וֶאֱתוֹ בֵּאדַיִן נָפְקִין שַׁדְרַךְ מֵישַׁךְ וַעֲבֵד נְגוֹ מִן־גּוֹא נוּרָא׃ וּמִתְכַּנְּשִׁין אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּא סִגְנַיָּא וּפַחֲוָתָא וְהַדָּבְרֵי מַלְכָּא חָזַיִן לְגֻבְרַיָּא אִלֵּךְ דִּי לָא־שְׁלֵט נוּרָא בְּגֶשְׁמְהוֹן וּשְׂעַר רֵאשְׁהוֹן לָא הִתְחָרַךְ וְסַרְבָּלֵיהוֹן לָא שְׁנוֹ וְרֵיחַ נוּר לָא עֲדָת בְּהוֹן׃ עָנֵה נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר וְאָמַר בְּרִיךְ אֱלָהֲהוֹן דִּי־שַׁדְרַךְ מֵישַׁךְ וַעֲבֵד נְגוֹ דִּי־שְׁלַח מַלְאֲכֵהּ וְשֵׁיזִב לְעַבְדוֹהִי דִּי הִתְרְחִצוּ עֲלוֹהִי וּמִלַּת מַלְכָּא שַׁנִּיו וִיהַבוּ גֶשְׁמְהוֹן דִּי לָא־יִפְלְחוּן וְלָא־יִסְגְּדוּן לְכָל־אֱלָהּ לָהֵן לֵאלָהֲהוֹן׃

Maybe Josephus sought to play up the role of G-d and downplay that of angels.

[Josephus] Josephus notes


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