Friday, May 2, 2008

Comparing Josephus & Scripture

Josephus was a Jewish historian that lived between AD 37 and died sometime after AD 100. He became a Roman ctiizen and was commissioned to write a history of the Jewish People. It is absolutely mind boggling to read about Titus’ destruction of Jerusalem in all the gory details provided by Josephus in the "War of the Jews". It is, without a doubt, an "MA" (mature audiences) rated exercise. Then to compare side by side with some of the prophetic passages from scripture is, at minimum, revealing. The comparisons are too numerous to do in a single blog entry. This may be an ongoing series. Bear in mind that when I compare Josephus with scripture, I am not intending to elevate the writings of Josephus to scriptural status. All Josephus quotes are taken from Josephus Complete Works , translated by William Whiston, A.M. Here’s a few to whet your curiosity and perhaps encourage study.

De 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
57 And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.

The Coming of Titus to besiege Jerusalem Books 5 & 6 (AD 66-73)
Josephus, War of the Jews Book 6 Chap 3 vs4
4. There was a certain woman that dwelt beyond Jordan, her name was Mary; her father was Eleazar, of the village Bethezob, which signifies the house of Hyssop.
............She then attempted a most unnatural thing; and snatching up her son, who was a child sucking at her breast, she said, "O thou miserable infant! for whom shall I preserve thee in this war, this famine, and this sedition? As to the war with the Romans, if they preserve our lives, we must be slaves. This famine also will destroy us, even before that slavery comes upon us. Yet are these seditious rogues more terrible than both the other. Come on; be thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets, and a by-word to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of us Jews." As soon as she had said this, she slew her son, and then roasted him, and eat the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed.

Mt 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

War of the Jews Preface 4.
Accordingly, it appears to me that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews are not so considerable as they were;

Mt 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

War of the Jews Book 5 Chap 1 vs 1
Now Titus was upon his march into the enemys’s country....after these came the ensigns with the eagle.

Mt 24:16-19 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

Josephus War of the Jews Book 6 Chap 8 vs 9
But when they went in numbers into the lanes of the city with their swords drawn, they slew those whom they overtook without and set fire to the houses whither the Jews were fled, and burnt every soul in them, and laid waste a great many of the rest; and when they were come to the houses to plunder them, they found in them entire families of dead men, and the upper rooms full of dead corpses, that is, of such as died by the famine; they then stood in a horror at this sight, and went out without touching any thing. But although they had this commiseration for such as were destroyed in that manner, yet had they not the same for those that were still alive, but they ran every one through whom they met with, and obstructed the very lanes with their dead bodies, and made the whole city run down with blood, to such a degree indeed that the fire of many of the houses was quenched with these men's blood. And truly so it happened, that though the slayers left off at the evening, yet did the fire greatly prevail in the night; and as all was burning, came that eighth day of the month Gorpieus [Elul] upon Jerusalem, a city that had been liable to so many miseries during this siege, that, had it always enjoyed as much happiness from its first foundation, it would certainly have been the envy of the world.

Book 6 Chap 9 vs 3
Now the number of those that were carried away captive during this whole war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand; as was the number of those that perished during the whole siege eleven hundred thousand. (1,100,000)

No matter what your eschatolgical views may be, I think we do a disservice to ourselves and our prophetic understandings of scripture by ignoring this historic book written during the time of our Christian New Testament beginnings. I would venture to say that more folk would be able to recall passages from the fictional Left Behind series than from the actual historical accounts laid down by Josephus of the siege of Jerusalem during this period. All would agree Josephus gives a detailed account of the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem prophesied by Jesus when he said "See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Matt 24:2 More later.

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