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XX.1.4 refers to a Jew with a very odd name:
Fadus, as soon as he was come procurator into Judea, found quarrelsome doings between the Jews that dwelt in Perea, and the people of Philadelphia [i.e. Rabbat-Ammon, present-day Amman], about their borders, at a village called Mia, that was filled with men of a warlike temper; for the Jews of Perea had taken up arms without the consent of their principal men, and had destroyed many of the Philadelphians. When Fadus was informed of this procedure, it provoked him very much that they had not left the determination of the matter to him, if they thought that the Philadelphians had done them any wrong, but had rashly taken up arms against them. So he seized upon three of their principal men, who were also the causes of this sedition, and ordered them to be bound, and afterwards had one of them slain, whose name was Hannibal; and he banished the other two, Areram and Eleazar.

"Ḥanniba`al" means the Ba`al [the Master] is gracious, referring to the ancient pagan gods of the Phoenicians. One does not expect to see a Jew bearing that name, any more than today a name like Christopher. (As an aside, in [livejournal.com profile] papersky's books The King's Peace and The King's Name, the Phoenicians were at an early stage converted to Judaism (this is all well off-screen); at my suggestion she gave the name Elḥanan (G-d is gracious) to the Hannibal equivalent in that world.)

Ch. 2 tells the story, which I had previously come across in Ancient Jewish Novels and elsewhere, of the royal family of Adiabene, a kingdom in present-day Iraq, which (royal family) converted to Judaism, and bestowed a large amount of money towards the Temple in Jerusalem.


He had indeed Monobazus, his elder brother, by Helena also, as he had other sons by other wives besides. Yet did he openly place all his affections on this his only begotten son Izates, 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.

How can Izates be his only begotten son when you've just told us about his elder brother Monobazus! The online commentary explains:

Josephus here uses the word monogene, an only begotten son, for no other than one best beloved, as does both the Old and New Testament, I mean where there were one or more sons besides, Genesis 22:2; Hebrew 11:17. See the note on B. I. ch. 13. sect. 1.
[W]hen Helena, his mother, heard of her son's death, she was in great heaviness, as was but natural, upon her loss of such a most dutiful son; yet was it a comfort to her that she heard the succession came to her eldest son. Accordingly, she went to him in haste; and when she was come into Adiabene, she did not long outlive her son Izates. But Monobazus sent her bones, as well as those of Izates, his brother, to Jerusalem, and gave order that they should be buried at the pyramids which their mother had erected; they were three in number, and distant no more than three furlongs from the city Jerusalem.

The pyramids of Jerusalem!? Apparently so: the online commentary says:

These pyramids or pillars, erected by Helena, queen of Adiabene, near Jerusalem, three in number, are mentioned by Eusebius, in his Eccles. Hist. B. II. ch. 12, for which Dr. Hudson refers us to Valesius's notes upon that place.—They are also mentioned by Pausanias, as hath been already noted, ch. 2. sect. 6. Reland guesses that that now called Absalom's Pillar may be one of them.

Jewish tradition says that in the last century of the Second Temple, the office of High Priest was corrupt, and was bought for money. These high priests were not spritually worthy of the office, the story goes, and when they went into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, G-d would strike them dead, and they would have to be pulled out by the rope attached to them.

According to Josephus, the office of High Priest was indeed, transferred to man to man during the Second Temple period, rather than bequeathed from father to son; and he is incensed at the cause of this (XIV.2-3):

Accordingly, when Hyrcanus* came, full of assurance, by the permission of the king of Parthia, and at the expense of the Jews, who supplied him with money, Herod received him with all possible respect, and gave him the upper place at public meetings, and set him above all the rest at feasts, and thereby deceived him. He called him his father, and endeavoured, by all the ways possible, that he might have no suspicion of any treacherous design against him. He also did other things, in order to secure his government, which yet occasioned a sedition in his own family; for being cautious how he made any illustrious person the high priest of God, he sent for an obscure priest out of Babylon, whose name was Ananelus, and bestowed the high priesthood upon him.

When Herod had thus excused himself to Antony, he resolved that he would not entirely permit the child or Alexandra to be treated dishonourably; but his wife Mariamne lay vehemently at him to restore the high priesthood to her brother; and he judged it was for his advantage so to do, because if he once had that dignity, he could not go out of the country. [...]

So king Herod immediately took the high priesthood away from Ananelus, who, as we said before, was not of this country, but one of those Jews that had been carried captive beyond Euphrates; for there were not a few ten thousands of this people that had been carried captives, and dwelt about Babylonia, whence Ananelus came. He was one of the stock of the high priests and had been of old a particular friend of Herod; and when he was first made king, he conferred that dignity upon him, and now put him out of it again, in order to quiet the troubles in his family, though what he did was plainly unlawful, for at no other time [of old] was any one that had once been in that dignity deprived of it. It was Antiochus Epiphanes who first brake that law, and deprived Jesus, and made his brother Onias high priest in his stead. Aristobulus was the second that did so, and took that dignity from his brother [Hyrcanus]; and this Herod was the third, who took that high office away [from Arianflus], and gave it to this young man, Aristobulus, in his stead.

* This is Hyrcanus II, who had been High Priest, but had had his ears cut off by his nephew, Antigonus, rendering him ineligible to serve as High Priest.

However, though the high priesthood was often transferred from person to person afterwards, it was always for political reasons, not money; e.g. (XX.1):

Herod also, the brother of the deceased Agrippa, who was then possessed of the royal authority over Chalcis, petitioned Claudius Caesar for the authority over the temple, and the money of the sacred treasure, and the choice of the high priests, and obtained all that he petitioned for. So that after that time this authority continued among all his descendants till the end of the war Accordingly, Herod removed the last high priest, called Cimtheras, and bestowed that dignity on his successor Joseph, the son of Cantos.

XX.5.115 tells of an incident which is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud (where the perpetrator is named Apustumus), is deemed to have happened on the seventeen of Tammuz and is still counted amongst the incidents mourned on that day (which falls this year this Saturday, though it will be commemorated on Sunday instead):

[S]ome of those that raised the foregoing tumult, when they were travelling along the public road, about a hundred furlongs from the city, robbed Stephanus, a servant of Caesar, as he was journeying, and plundered him of all that he had with him; which things when Cumanus heard of, he sent soldiers immediately, and ordered them to plunder the neighboring villages, and to bring the most eminent persons among them in bonds to him. Now as this devastation was making, one of the soldiers seized the laws of Moses that lay in one of those villages, and brought them out before the eyes of all present, and tore them to pieces; and this was done with reproachful language, and much scurrility; which things when the Jews heard of, they ran together, and that in great numbers, and came down to Cesarea, where Cumanus then was, and besought him that he would avenge, not themselves, but God himself, whose laws had been affronted; for that they could not bear to live any longer, if the laws of their forefathers must be affronted after this manner. Accordingly Cumanus, out of fear lest the multitude should go into a sedition, and by the advice of his friends also, took care that the soldier who had offered the affront to the laws should be beheaded, and thereby put a stop to the sedition which was ready to be kindled.

We have now entered into the three weeks leading up to the ninth of Av, on which date both the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, and the Second Temple by the Romans. Conventionally it is explained the First Temple was destroyed as punishment for the Jews' idolatry, and the Second Temple through שנאת חינם, baseless hatred—which last didn't need G-d's intervention to lead to the Destruction of the Temple; as The Jewish War makes clear, the Romans could pretty much have stood back and let the Jews destroy themselves. Anyhow, here's why Josephus thought G-d brought the Destruction of the Temple upon the Jews (XX.8.165): (Jonathan was the High Priest.)

Now as for the affairs of the Jews, they grew worse and worse continually, for the country was again filled with robbers and impostors, who deluded the multitude. Yet did Felix catch and put to death many of those impostors every day, together with the robbers. He also caught Eleazar, the son of Dineas, who had gotten together a company of robbers; and this he did by treachery; for he gave him assurance that he should suffer no harm, and thereby persuaded him to come to him; but when he came, he bound him, and sent him to Rome. Felix also bore an ill-will to Jonathan, the high priest, because he frequently gave him admonitions about governing the Jewish affairs better than he did, lest he should himself have complaints made of him by the multitude, since he it was who had desired Caesar to send him as procurator of Judea. So Felix contrived a method whereby he might get rid of him, now he was become so continually troublesome to him; for such continual admonitions are grievous to those who are disposed to act unjustly. Wherefore Felix persuaded one of Jonathan's most faithful friends, a citizen of Jerusalem, whose name was Doras, to bring the robbers upon Jonathan, in order to kill him; and this he did by promising to give him a great deal of money for so doing. Doras complied with the proposal, and contrived matters so, that the robbers might murder him after the following manner: Certain of those robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments, and by thus mingling themselves among the multitude they slew Jonathan and as this murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time; and having weapons concealed in like manner as before, and mingling themselves among the multitude, they slew certain of their own enemies, and were subservient to other men for money; and slew others, not only in remote parts of the city, but in the temple itself also; for they had the boldness to murder men there, without thinking of the impiety of which they were guilty. And this seems to me to have been the reason why God, out of his hatred of these men's wickedness, rejected our city; and as for the temple, he no longer esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit therein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery, as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities.
The trigger for the revolt of the Judaeans against the Romans, which led eventually to the Destruction, was a clash between the Jewish and Greek ("Syrian") residents of Caesarea. The seeds of this clash were sown a little while in advance (XX.8.163):

And now it was that a great sedition arose between the Jews that inhabited Caesarea, and the Syrians who dwelt there also, concerning their equal right to the privileges belonging to citizens; for the Jews claimed the pre-eminence, because Herod their king was the builder of Cesarea, and because he was by birth a Jew. Now the Syrians did not deny what was alleged about Herod; but they said that Caesarea was formerly called Strato's Tower, and that then there was not one Jewish inhabitant. When the presidents of that country heard of these disorders, they caught the authors of them on both sides, and tormented them with stripes, and by that means put a stop to the disturbance for a time. But the Jewish citizens depending on their wealth, and on that account despising the Syrians, reproached them again, and hoped to provoke them by such reproaches. However, the Syrians, though they were inferior in wealth, yet valuing themselves highly on this account, that the greatest part of the Roman soldiers that were there were either of Caesarea or Sebaste, they also for some time used reproachful language to the Jews also; and thus it was, till at length they came to throwing stones at one another, and several were wounded, and fell on both sides, though still the Jews were the conquerors. But when Felix saw that this quarrel was become a kind of war, he came upon them on the sudden, and desired the Jews to desist; and when they refused so to do, he armed his soldiers, and sent them out upon them, and slew many of them, and took more of them alive, and permitted his soldiers to plunder some of the houses of the citizens, which were full of riches. Now those Jews that were more moderate, and of principal dignity among them, were afraid of themselves, and desired of Felix that he would sound a retreat to his soldiers, and spare them for the future, and afford them room for repentance for what they had done; and Felix was prevailed upon to do so.


Two of the principal Syrians in Caesarea persuaded Burrhus, who was Nero's tutor, and secretary for his Greek epistles, by giving him a great sum of money, to disannul that equality of the Jewish privileges of citizens which they hitherto enjoyed. So Burrhus, by his solicitations, obtained leave of the emperor that an epistle should be written to that purpose. This epistle became the occasion of the following miseries that befell our nation; for when the Jews of Caesarea were informed of the contents of this epistle to the Syrians, they were more disorderly than before, till a war was kindled.

[Josephus] Josephus notes         Jewish learning notes index


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