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Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – circa 100) was a 1st-century Roman-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War which resulted in the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He has been credited by many as recording some of the earliest history of Jesus Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – circa 100) was a 1st-century Roman-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War which resulted in the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He has been credited by many as recording some of the earliest history of Jesus Christ outside of the gospels, this being an item of contention among historians. Josephus was a law-observant Jew who believed in the compatibility of Judaism and Graeco-Roman thought, commonly referred to as Hellenistic Judaism. His most important works were The Jewish War (c. 75 AD) and Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94 AD). Josephus also wrote an autobiography of his life, which was so distinguished that the Romans awarded him citizenship. The Jewish War, also referred to in English as The Wars of the Jews and The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, is a description of Jewish history from the capture of Jerusalem by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164 BC to the fall and destruction of Jerusalem in the First Jewish–Roman War in AD 70. The book was written around 75 A.D. It was later translated into Greek, probably under the supervision of Josephus himself. Josephus’ work remains one of the only accounts of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Authorized The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem - ( Free Audiobook Download ) ( Annotated ) for Kindle Edition offers reader special Kindle enabled features, including interactive table of contents.Easy to use table of contents take you right to the chapter and verse you are looking for


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Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – circa 100) was a 1st-century Roman-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War which resulted in the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He has been credited by many as recording some of the earliest history of Jesus Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – circa 100) was a 1st-century Roman-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War which resulted in the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He has been credited by many as recording some of the earliest history of Jesus Christ outside of the gospels, this being an item of contention among historians. Josephus was a law-observant Jew who believed in the compatibility of Judaism and Graeco-Roman thought, commonly referred to as Hellenistic Judaism. His most important works were The Jewish War (c. 75 AD) and Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94 AD). Josephus also wrote an autobiography of his life, which was so distinguished that the Romans awarded him citizenship. The Jewish War, also referred to in English as The Wars of the Jews and The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, is a description of Jewish history from the capture of Jerusalem by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164 BC to the fall and destruction of Jerusalem in the First Jewish–Roman War in AD 70. The book was written around 75 A.D. It was later translated into Greek, probably under the supervision of Josephus himself. Josephus’ work remains one of the only accounts of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Authorized The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem - ( Free Audiobook Download ) ( Annotated ) for Kindle Edition offers reader special Kindle enabled features, including interactive table of contents.Easy to use table of contents take you right to the chapter and verse you are looking for

30 review for The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem - ( Free Audiobook Download ) ( Annotated )

  1. 5 out of 5

    William2

    The Jewish War started strong and I wondered at first if it might hold a candle to Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. It doesn't in the end. Much of it comes across as a piece of special pleading. Josephus wrote the book during a time of growing hostility under Roman Emperor Domitian (reigned 81-96 CE) toward those of the Jewish faith. The Jews had long had an official exemption from participation in the state rites, yet the increasingly tyrannical Domitian firmly believed in the The Jewish War started strong and I wondered at first if it might hold a candle to Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. It doesn't in the end. Much of it comes across as a piece of special pleading. Josephus wrote the book during a time of growing hostility under Roman Emperor Domitian (reigned 81-96 CE) toward those of the Jewish faith. The Jews had long had an official exemption from participation in the state rites, yet the increasingly tyrannical Domitian firmly believed in the traditional Roman religion, and personally saw to it that ancient customs and morals were observed throughout his reign as a means of justifying the divine nature of Flavian rule. Josephus's friends and protectors, the Flavian emperors Vespasian and Titus, were dead by this time. Moreover, Josephus was writing against a work by Justin of Tiberias that portrayed him as an instigator of the revolt in Galilee. So The Jewish War is very much Josephus' apologia. He loses no opportunity to excoriate the character of his fellow Jews, though he grudgingly admires their fighting ability, or to praise the valor, insight, patience, fair play, discipline and training of the Romans. All the Jews by contrast are murderous banditti who pollute their own sanctuary and turn on each other in a heinous fratricidal civil war that precedes the arrival of the Romans. The Jewish leaders—John, Simon, the Zealots, the Idumeans—are the scum of the earth. Josephus often uses that very phrase. They, he says, possess no conscience or moral bearing. It all gets to be a bit much in the end. Though the book lacks crucial balance I nevertheless recommend it for two reasons: (1) its uniqueness as a document; and (2) it's detailed and vivid depictions of ancient Judea. Nothing I've read has ever provided me with such a detailed look at both ancient Jerusalem and the broader landscape of Judea.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Gustafson

    Let us begin by preparing ourselves for Josephus' account of "The Jewish Revolt" with a breathtaking tour of The Temple Mount prepared by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHLD6... With the loot from the Temple destruction and the sale of thousands of prisoners into slavery, Vespasian financed The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Vespasian did not live to see the completion of his Colosseum. His son Titus, who defeated the Jews, inaugurated it ten Let us begin by preparing ourselves for Josephus' account of "The Jewish Revolt" with a breathtaking tour of The Temple Mount prepared by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHLD6... With the loot from the Temple destruction and the sale of thousands of prisoners into slavery, Vespasian financed The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Vespasian did not live to see the completion of his Colosseum. His son Titus, who defeated the Jews, inaugurated it ten years after his victory with games that lasted for more than a hundred days. Thus, the destruction of the Temple devoted to the worship of God, the creator of life and the repository of human blessings, financed an entertainment facility dedicated to the worship of artful killing and death. To make a cultural comparison, here is a virtual tour of the completed Colosseum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAWTJ... Now we are almost ready for "The Jewish Revolt," but we need some additional information about its author since Josephus has become an integral feature of the story by his own treachery. In some respects, the reader is listening to a criminal spin his alibi. But listen we must, because this is the only eyewitness account we have of so many of the strategies, tragedies and gory details of the Jewish War. Like a cynical lead investigator, the reader has to sort through the contradictions of this apologia whenever Josephus appears as a player to come away with a broader sense of what actually happened at the scene of the crime. Josephus was born into a priestly family. He was educated in a rabbinic school and studied with the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes trying decide on which sect to join. After living with an ascetic hermit in the desert for three years of meditation he returned to Jerusalem as a Pharisee. A few years later, Josephus is given a minor diplomatic role, traveling to Rome to appeal to Nero on behalf of some fellow priests who had been charged with an unspecified crime. He wins their acquittal. Back in Jerusalem, as war is about to break out, Josephus sides with the moderates to argue against the nationalists who are willing to take on the Roman empire. When the nationalists win the day and war is inevitable, he accepts their appointment as commander of Galilee. As the Romans reduce every fortified town and village in Galilee, they finally surround Jotapata where Josephus is holed up with a few survivors. Here is where Josephus' account becomes the cringeworthy indictment of his own character that follows him in his footsteps almost two thousand years later. First, his troops catch him trying to escape from the death trap. He claims that it was only his intention to go out and rally reinforcements in order to return and rescue them. He manages to talk himself out of being executed by his own troops who then decide that rather than surrender to the Romans, they should each commit suicide. Josephus argues that suicide is a dishonorable death and that instead, they should draw lots to kill one another. Naturally, "lucky" Josephus draws one of the last two tickets and when it comes down to himself and a lone survivor, he suggests that they should surrender to the Romans. When taken to Vespasian, Josephus makes the outlandish prophesy that his captor will one day become emperor. Hearing other Jews assert that Josephus has the gift of prophesy, Vespasian spares him. When the prophesy comes true shortly after Nero's death, Josephus is released and is literally handed the keys to the kingdom that will later award him a house in Rome that had once belonged to Vespasian himself, tax free estates in Judea and a pension to write his histories. Josephus, son of Matthias, will eventually take the name Flavius Josephus in honor of his new patrons and write his history of the Jewish revolt. The original text was written in Aramaic. Later Josephus has it translated into Greek for the Gentile community. Most upper class Romans were fluent in Greek as were Vespasian and Titus, who reviewed the text before releasing it for distribution. This edited edition also serves as an apologia for his tarnished reputation. As a side point of interest, ancient scrolls were about 10 inches wide and 30 feet long. They were often referred to as a book, but by modern standards they would be considered a long chapter. Scribes were paid per hundred lines of script. In the first century, reading books was a rich man's pleasure. One can only imagine how magnificent and imposing the interior of the Royal Library of Alexandria must have looked with its collection of thousands upon thousands of scrolls containing the written word of the ancient world! Now, back to "The Jewish Revolt" as told by a traitor and a scholar who was indeed an eyewitness. Josephus begins his account by giving a history of the region from the Maccabaean revolt in 65 B.C. up to a very detailed account of the murderous reign of the warlord and despot, Herod. After more than a third of the book, the reader suddenly experiences whiplash when a massacre of Jewish men, women and children makes war imminent. This is what the reader has been waiting for! Agrippa warns the gathered citizenry against going into battle against an empire that has conquered nation after nation after nation. Even skeptical scholars suggest that Josephus was very likely present when Agrippa delivered his famous, passionate appeal, but that he greatly embellished it. The nationalist faction wins the day against the moderates, but that factionalism will play out and devolve into fratricide within the walls of Jerusalem while both sides are battling the Romans laying siege outside. The reader will soon identify the tactical folly committed by the radicals in assuming that they could possibly win a defensive war against the only nation on earth that maintained a peacetime army that trained strenuously every day, a disciplined army supported by calvary, archers and siege engines that the Jewish forces lacked. As a behind-the-lines eyewitness, Josephus gives us the only description of the composition, deployment, command and tactics of units of the first century Roman war machine. There is a respite in the fighting as Rome finds itself between emperors and Vespasian lacks imperial orders. Finally Vespasian becomes Emperor and his son Titus assumes command of the Roman forces. In short order, Titus reduces all of the surrounding fortress cities and encircles Jerusalem. Famine, panic and desperation consume the city. Surrounded by the Romans who breach wall after wall, Jerusalem is wracked by murderous, factional infighting. Time after time, using Josephus as a mediator, Titus offers clemency if Jerusalem will only surrender. Both factions reject every offer, executing anyone suspected of surrendering. Breaching the final wall, the Romans enter without mercy and lay waste to the city. Amid the smoldering ruins, Titus allows Josephus to help himself to any spoils from the ruins as a reward for his service. He passes on the loot but accepts some copies of the Scriptures, the release of his brother, fifty friends and several women and children of acquaintances lined up for deportation and enslavement as well as three friends who were being crucified. One of those crucified actually survives his ordeal. Titus also rewards him with an estate outside of Jerusalem as compensation for his former property within the destroyed city. The looting of the Temple and the taking of thousands of prisoners deflates the price of both gold and slaves throughout the region. There will still be enough profit to build the famous Colosseum It is only natural to assume that ten years later in Rome, Titus would invite his famous historian to join him in the royal box for some entertaining games in the Colosseum. The same literary lion who devoted nine pages of his history to a minutely detailed description of the wonders of the destroyed Temple. How could Flavius Josephus refuse his Emperor and patron? Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant! Hail Caesar, those of us about to die salute you!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Evan Leach

    Over 1,900 years ago, in July of 67, forty-one prominent Jewish leaders huddled in a dark cave below the city of Yodfat, in Galilee. One year before, the entire province of Judea had risen in revolt from the Roman Empire, and Roman forces had been systematically decimating the northern part of the province as a result. Yodfat had just fallen, and its citizens were being massacred by the thousands. Trapped and despairing, the leaders decided that mass suicide was preferable to falling into Roman Over 1,900 years ago, in July of 67, forty-one prominent Jewish leaders huddled in a dark cave below the city of Yodfat, in Galilee. One year before, the entire province of Judea had risen in revolt from the Roman Empire, and Roman forces had been systematically decimating the northern part of the province as a result. Yodfat had just fallen, and its citizens were being massacred by the thousands. Trapped and despairing, the leaders decided that mass suicide was preferable to falling into Roman hands, and prepared to kill themselves. But one of the forty-one, the Galilean commander Josephus, urged surrender instead. Incensed by his cowardice, his countrymen prepared to kill him until Josephus came up with an alternate plan. Instead of killing themselves, the Jews would draw lots one after another, and take turns killing one another in order. Somehow, Josephus ended up drawing the next to last straw. And when thirty-nine of his compatriots lay dead, he was able to convince the last remaining man that discretion was the better part of valor after all, and the two of them climbed out of that bloody cavern to offer their surrender to the victorious Romans. At least, according to Josephus that is. Memorial to the Defenders of Yodfat Upon defection to the Romans, Josephus was able to somehow save his own skin (in large part by claiming that divine inspiration revealed to him that the Roman commander Vespasian would become Emperor, which shortly came true). But unsurprisingly, Josephus’ countrymen saw the defection and survival of one of their generals as something less than divine intervention, and Josephus was driven to write this history of the First Roman-Jewish War in an attempt to clear his name. Josephus’ account actually starts way back in the time of Octavian and Antony, with a description of the tumultuous reign of the infamous King Herod the Great (known to many readers from the New Testament). He goes on to cover the intervening years between Herod’s death and the revolt of 66, as successive Roman governors exploited their Jewish subjects, culminating in the greed of Gessius Florus. When Jewish anger finally erupted in revolution, Josephus was named commander of the Galilean province, which was to bear the full brunt of the initial Roman assault. Holding Galilee against multiple Roman legions and their auxiliaries was an impossible task, but Josephus did the best he could (at least according to his own account) before the northern part of the province fell. Then, Vespasian and his son, Titus (also destined to reign as Caesar) turned their eyes to the south, where Jerusalem awaited. Even by the standards of ancient warfare, the fall of Jerusalem was brutal. While the Romans were occupied in the north, Jews in the south turned on themselves (in Josephus’ words) like a “wild beast grown mad, which, for want of food from abroad, fell now upon eating its own flesh.” At a time when every able-bodied soldier was badly needed, a series of petty tyrants fought each other for control of Jerusalem and the surrounding territories. The incredulous Romans sat back and let this play out for a while, before Titus finally descended to lay siege to the city. Unfortunately for the Jews, Titus waited until the city’s population was vastly inflated due to the Passover (when over a million Jews from the countryside flocked to the city to celebrate the festival) before beginning the siege. This exacerbated an already desperate food situation, and the result was famine on a horrific scale. Hundreds of thousands died of starvation, while the survivors turned to increasingly desperate measures. By the height of the siege, “some persons were driven to that terrible distress as to search the common sewers and old dunghills of cattle, and to eat the dung which they got there.” Many begged their own soldiers to kill them, judging death by the sword to be preferable than starvation. In one particularly harrowing story, a woman killed and ate her own infant son. Josephus, now firmly on the Roman side, begged the citizens to surrender. While the majority of the populace was desperate enough, the armed garrison was determined to fight to the last. The city paid the price: in the summer of 70 the city finally fell after a seven month siege, the temple was destroyed, and Jerusalem was effectively leveled. Those who had somehow survived the siege “were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination.” The Arch of Titus, commemorating Titus’ victory in the Siege of Jerusalem. With that, the war was effectively over. But his people never forgave Josephus, who was viewed as a 1st century Benedict Arnold. He spent most of the rest of his life in Rome, living in comfort but always conscious that many Jews considered him a traitor. The Jewish War is his most famous book, and while the reader has to watch out for Josephus’ self-serving tendencies and occasional bias, this is an important primary source for both Jewish history and the history of the Roman Empire. Josephus’ work isn’t as pleasurable to read as, say, Thucydides, but he tells an epic (and tragic) story well enough. Not a “must read” by any stretch, but readers interested in history, particularly Jewish and/or Roman history, will find plenty of interest here. 3 stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    From the horse's mouth. Josephus, a priest in the temple in Jerusalem, a military leader of Jewish resistance against Vespasian, a romanised citizen. The history is written in the style of the time. The Penquin edition, abridged from the original,is still enormously readable. Valuable insight to early christianity and the might of Rome.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    If you are looking for epic, this is it. From the dysfunctional family intrigues of the paranoid Herod's palace to the mass suicide of the Jews at Masada, Josephus--who apparently was at the siege of Jerusalem--relates the story of the Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire. I started reading this book because it was referenced in two others I have been reading; one on the copper scroll of Qumran--a list of treasures that may have been saved from the temple-- and another on the treasure that If you are looking for epic, this is it. From the dysfunctional family intrigues of the paranoid Herod's palace to the mass suicide of the Jews at Masada, Josephus--who apparently was at the siege of Jerusalem--relates the story of the Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire. I started reading this book because it was referenced in two others I have been reading; one on the copper scroll of Qumran--a list of treasures that may have been saved from the temple-- and another on the treasure that Titus took back to Rome that has since disappeared into the coffers of history. But I also found that the book puts a good deal of the events of the New Testament in context. With the background of the factional conflicts in the temple, particularly between the priests installed by Herod and those by the Jews themselves, it is easy to see how some of the actions of Christ could be seen as controversial or even threatening--like the raid on the moneychangers and the halting of lawfully carried out lapidation--given the Herodian expectations of conspiracy and the pressures on the temple caused by this. It also puts some of Christ's prophecies into perpective. Josephus himself has an almost modern sensibility, and his decriptions of the siege, the atrocities, the violence, the betrayals, the power stuggles and the intrigues is tinged with both horror and sympathy, outrage and sadness. It is often a moving chronicle of a people and thier struggles against a dominating power and the price they pay for thier survival.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kori Johnson

    Reading about Jesus' prophecies of the Jewish War in the New Testament is one thing . . . reading the actual account is another. This book is an eyewitness account of the Jewish War. I was horrified at the things the Jews did to their own country--their doings were what caused them to lose the war. And yet, even while killing each other and defiling God's temple, they still expected God to save them from the Romans. I was almost horrified to tears on the monstrosities they committed. One woman Reading about Jesus' prophecies of the Jewish War in the New Testament is one thing . . . reading the actual account is another. This book is an eyewitness account of the Jewish War. I was horrified at the things the Jews did to their own country--their doings were what caused them to lose the war. And yet, even while killing each other and defiling God's temple, they still expected God to save them from the Romans. I was almost horrified to tears on the monstrosities they committed. One woman even cooked and ate her own child when she was driven mad by the famine that took hold of Jerusalem while the Romans were laying siege to it. The whole book though, gave a wonderful demonstration of God's power and providence and I truly loved it, even while it horrified me. It was wonderfully horrible and horribly wonderful.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Watson

    What a story. Was there ever such a time. A nation destroyed by a tyrannical empire, tearing itself to pieces by self-destructive factionalism and fanaticism. Told so well, objectively but not too much so, by a man who was present, on the side of the Romans, to participate in his own nation's destruction. It deserves 9 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Flavius Josephus' "Jewish Wars" is a great book with extraordinary rewards for at least four categories of reader. Churchgoers will be fascinated by the portrait that it provides of Judea at the time Christ was alive. Those interested in political history will discover a complex and detailed portrait of the workings of the Roman Empire. Those interested in military history will find an excellent description of the techniques and horrors of war in the first century of the Common Era. Finally, the Flavius Josephus' "Jewish Wars" is a great book with extraordinary rewards for at least four categories of reader. Churchgoers will be fascinated by the portrait that it provides of Judea at the time Christ was alive. Those interested in political history will discover a complex and detailed portrait of the workings of the Roman Empire. Those interested in military history will find an excellent description of the techniques and horrors of war in the first century of the Common Era. Finally, the "Jewish Wars" contains thought provoking discussion on the need for Jews to have their own state. Those who have attended church regularly for a number of years will certainly remember homilies in which the priest or minister has made an assertion about the historical era that Jesus lived in when attempting to explain the meaning of a reading. In fact there exist only two significant sources about the historical social, and cultural context of Jesus: the New Testament books and Josephus' writings. For anyone intending to continue attending Church, the "Jewish Wars" will have great rewards. Josephus provides an analysis of Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. He describes the religious practices of the Jews in the first century and he gives a gripping account of the wars in the Judea during the period. For those interested in the history, the "Jewish Wars" provides a wealth of detail on multiple aspects of the Roman Empire. Josephus gives an account of the training and techniques of the roman army as well as its methods when engaged in battle. He describes the style of government and diplomacy used by the Romans to control the territories on the periphery of their empire. He explains how how palace politics affected wars in the distance provinces and how wars in the provinces impacted politics at the centre. Tacitus and Suetonius brilliant describe the political struggles in Roman but Josephus gives us the single best picture of politics in the Roman Provinces. As a general who fought against the Romans for several years, Josephus provides great detail on the techniques of battles and sieges conducted by the Roman legions. His book is a rich source on siege engines, armour, and battlefield tactics. The "Jewish Wars" is a treasure trove for the lover of military history. For those who dislike war, Josephus offers a passionate and cogent description of the horrors of war. At the end of every account of a battle, Josephus laments the loss of life. His descriptions of the brutality of sieges are remarkable. He describes the miseries of hunger that the civilians trapped in cities under siege and notes that at times people will resort to cannibalism. He tells how innocent people will often be slaughtered or sold into slavery after the siege ends. All in all, Josephus makes a powerful case for peace and against war. Finally, at front and centre of the "Jewish Wars" is Josephus' argument that it is better for a people to enjoy peace and prosperity under a foreign power than to fight a war of independence that will entail an enormous loss of life and property. Josephus began as a resistance fighter and then went over to the Romans hoping that if enough Jews sided with the Romans, the deaths and destruction that ultimately occurred would be averted. Thus Josephus can be viewed either as a turncoat or as a rational man trying to save his people from the disaster that would result from their fighting a war against a such a vastly stronger enemy. However, whether one agrees with Josephus or not, it is quite clear that he makes a brilliant case for the course that he chose. "The Jewish Wars" is an excellent book for many reasons and I recommend it highly to anyone who is interested in either the Roman Empire, the beginnings of Christianity or the history of the Jewish people.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I bought this book to read before a trip to Israel in 1999. It's a very readable English translation. This gives Josephus' account of the war between the Romans and the Jews in the 1st century. Most fascinating (and horrible) are the accounts of the destruction of Gamla and Jerusalem and the final siege of Masada. Scholars are critical of Josephus because he puts too much of himself into the story and because it is probably biased in favor of his Roman benefactors. (Josephus began fighting I bought this book to read before a trip to Israel in 1999. It's a very readable English translation. This gives Josephus' account of the war between the Romans and the Jews in the 1st century. Most fascinating (and horrible) are the accounts of the destruction of Gamla and Jerusalem and the final siege of Masada. Scholars are critical of Josephus because he puts too much of himself into the story and because it is probably biased in favor of his Roman benefactors. (Josephus began fighting against the Romans, but then came over to their side when he was captured and convinced of the hopelessness of the rebellion. He tried to convince the Jews not to fight, but to accept Roman rule. He wrote this history for the Romans' benefit after the war.) Nevertheless, there are very few good historical accounts of this place and time. Reading it gives you a taste of what life would have been like in that ancient land during this terrible period. It's well worth the time spent reading it, especially if you plan to visit the places described.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marks54

    This is the history of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans around the year 70 ad. The author was a general for the Jews who was captured by the Romans and talked his way into an advisory role so he could write the history of the conflict. It is a fascinating story of how the Romans administered their empire and how they went about maintaining order in the far reaches of their empire. Not to give too much away, but rebelling against the Romans turned out to be a very bad idea. The story reads This is the history of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans around the year 70 ad. The author was a general for the Jews who was captured by the Romans and talked his way into an advisory role so he could write the history of the conflict. It is a fascinating story of how the Romans administered their empire and how they went about maintaining order in the far reaches of their empire. Not to give too much away, but rebelling against the Romans turned out to be a very bad idea. The story reads amazingly well, although the beginning historical background is thick with hard to remember names. The capture of Jerusalem and the assault on Masada are especially interesting. The book is also notable for providing contemporary evidence of the life of Christ from a non-christian contemporary source. I actually listened to this on audio, but it was one of the best audio books I have ever read. Highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    The Jewish people rose up against mighty Rome in 66 A.D.; and for seven improbable years, against all odds, they defied the seemingly invincible legions of the Roman Empire. It is an epic story – one of courage and folly combined – and Flavius Josephus tells it well in his book The Roman-Jewish War. Josephus, who was born in 37 A.D. in what was then Roman Judea, was in his late twenties and early thirties when the events of the Roman-Jewish War unfolded; he wrote his history of the war around 75 The Jewish people rose up against mighty Rome in 66 A.D.; and for seven improbable years, against all odds, they defied the seemingly invincible legions of the Roman Empire. It is an epic story – one of courage and folly combined – and Flavius Josephus tells it well in his book The Roman-Jewish War. Josephus, who was born in 37 A.D. in what was then Roman Judea, was in his late twenties and early thirties when the events of the Roman-Jewish War unfolded; he wrote his history of the war around 75 A.D., shortly after the war’s end, when his memories of the war’s blood and horror were no doubt quite vivid. And he quite literally saw the war from both sides – initially a leader of the Jewish resistance, he decided after being captured by the Romans that the war was unwinnable, and spent the rest of the war as a sort of hostage negotiator, trying to convince his fellow Jewish rebels to lay down their arms. It was a turn of events that put him in a uniquely propitious position to tell this story. The early passages of The Roman-Jewish War go all the way back to Herod’s predecessors in Judea, and Josephus quickly proceeds to a consideration of the rule of Herod himself – Herod I, or “Herod the Great,” as he no doubt liked to call himself. Game of Thrones fans may derive a familiar frisson from Josephus’ chapters on Herod’s murder of his wife Mariamme and various other family members including his heir Antipater. Small wonder, with the members of the ruling family scheming against each other and killing each other off, that little practical administration of Judea was getting done, or that the Judea of that time was a chaotic place; and when Rome instituted direct rule, the stage was set for a full-scale uprising by the Jewish people. The Roman-Jewish War began toward the end of the reign of the emperor Nero, and continued through the chaos of 69 A.D., the “Year of the Four Emperors,” when Galba, Otho, and Vitellius each ruled for a short time before being overthrown, until the emperor Vespasian finally established some stability at the capital. Josephus, who befriended both Vespasian and Vespasian’s son Titus (leading Roman general throughout the war, and a future emperor himself), unsurprisingly speaks of both these Roman leaders in terms of the highest praise, as when he writes how wise it was, how divinely inspired, that during the political turmoil at Rome Vespasian and Titus “held up operations against the Jews, feeling that while they were so anxious about things at home the invasion of a foreign country would be inopportune” (p. 274). Josephus no doubt knew that he would be accused by some of his former fellow rebels of having turned traitor. It is almost certainly for that reason that Josephus emphasizes his attempts to keep the Jewish people from bringing destruction upon themselves, as when he remonstrates with the rebels during the Siege of Jerusalem: “Who doesn’t know the writings of the old prophets and the oracle pronounced against this unhappy city and now about to be fulfilled? They foretold the day of her fall….And aren’t the City and Temple full of your dead bodies? It is God then, God Himself, who is bringing with the Romans fire to purge the Temple and is blotting out the City, brimful of corruption, as if it had never been” (p. 345). It is scarring to read the passages from The Roman-Jewish War that chronicle the final fall of Jerusalem to the Romans and the destruction of the Second Temple: “As the flames shot into the air the Jews sent up a cry that matched the calamity and dashed to the rescue, with no thought now of saving their lives or husbanding their strength; for that which hitherto they had guarded so devotedly was disappearing before their eyes” (p. 357). It is comparably painful to read of the looting of the Temple, with its irreplaceable and sacred artifacts of what was already, in 70 A.D., a millennia-old faith – “Most of the spoils that were carried were heaped up indiscriminately, but more prominent than all the rest were those captured in the Temple at Jerusalem” (p. 359). And then there is Josephus’ account of the mass suicide of the last Jewish defenders in the fortress at Masada. Like Herodotus and Thucydides before him, Josephus will quote at length a masterpiece of rhetoric, whether he was there to hear a particular speech or not. In this case, the speaker is one Eleazar; and after acknowledging that the Jewish war against Rome failed in part because of infighting among the Jewish rebels, he speaks as follows: “For those wrongs let us pay the penalty not to our bitterest enemies, the Romans, but to God – it will be easier to bear. Let our wives die unabused, our children without knowledge of slavery: after that, let us do each other an ungrudging kindness, preserving our freedom as a glorious winding-sheet….One thing only let us spare – our store of food: it will bear witness when we are dead to the fact that we perished, not through want but because, as we resolved at the beginning, we chose death rather than slavery.” (p. 399) When I read this passage, I thought of how, for many years, members of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) swore at Masada an oath that “Masada shall not fall again.” And it never has, and I don’t think it ever will. For this Penguin Books edition of The Roman-Jewish War, E. Mary Smallwood of Cambridge University has provided helpful footnotes, along with appendices, maps, and a chronological table of events of that time. It was 1,878 years, it occurs to me, between the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the establishment of מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Medinat Yisra’el, the State of Israel, in 1948. Josephus’ The Roman-Jewish War captures well the unconquerable spirit that sustained the Jewish people through two thousand years of exile and persecution, until their homeland could be restored.

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    An excellent ancient history of the Jewish Wars which led to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. His first hand account of the siege of Jerusalem is both gripping and harrowing. It's also wonderful to get a lot of background context to a lot of Bible passages which are now more clearer to me after having read this. It's a must read for Bible scholars and history buffs.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    5 stars for being an interesting "first-hand" historical document, 3 stars for being dense and tough to get through

  14. 5 out of 5

    James Cambias

    A fascinating account of the very bloody Jewish revolt against Rome, told by a man who got to see both sides very clearly. It's actually pretty even-handed, since Josephus was a Jew but also was trying to flatter his patron the Roman emperor Vespasian (who commanded the legions that put down the revolt). So he is realistic about the Jewish rebels sincere desire for freedom -- and the horrible infighting and brigandage which doomed their uprising to failure. He praises the Roman conduct of the A fascinating account of the very bloody Jewish revolt against Rome, told by a man who got to see both sides very clearly. It's actually pretty even-handed, since Josephus was a Jew but also was trying to flatter his patron the Roman emperor Vespasian (who commanded the legions that put down the revolt). So he is realistic about the Jewish rebels sincere desire for freedom -- and the horrible infighting and brigandage which doomed their uprising to failure. He praises the Roman conduct of the war even as he lays the blame for starting it squarely on their administration of the province. The footnotes and appendices are very helpful, especially since there are a LOT of people with the same names -- lots of Johns, Simons, multiple Herods, multiple Agrippas, etc. It's useful to read this chronicle in parallel with the New Testament, since this was the important stuff going on while the rise of Christianity doesn't even rate a mention in Josephus. The Roman persecutions of the early Christian Church were quite likely just part of their general heavy-handed (and, it should be noted, very successful) suppression of the Jewish revolt.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Edward Hetzler

    History with a personal touch History with a personal touch This is not a rigorous academic history in the modern sense. It is part collected stories, part personal experiences and part philosophy. What makes this interesting is that it is written by a man who actually participated in some of the events he is writing about. Unlike a modern history there are no dates. Everything is referenced by who was the ruler at the time. This can lead to confusion because within a royal family the names get History with a personal touch History with a personal touch This is not a rigorous academic history in the modern sense. It is part collected stories, part personal experiences and part philosophy. What makes this interesting is that it is written by a man who actually participated in some of the events he is writing about. Unlike a modern history there are no dates. Everything is referenced by who was the ruler at the time. This can lead to confusion because within a royal family the names get recycled frequently. Josephus is frequently quoted out of context and accused of not being accurate. It is enlightening to read his book from start to finish. Taken as a whole this book paints a more believable picture of Judea in the first century than some of the stories I was exposed to growing up.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Loved it. How could a Jew not love it? It filled me with longing for Jerusalem. For all in doubt about the right of the Jewish revival in Israel this is a must read, also for Jews with self doubts. This history is not mere legend or myth, it is real and vivid and our return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of our nation long after Rome's grandeur has decayed is nothing short of a miracle.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

    I've listened the first half of this book. Josephus is an excellent historian of the inter-Testamentary period and the early Roman period of the Jewish people and lands. If you're interested in what led up to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, this is the book to read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Benedict

    This is quite a story of real life events by an eyewitness. Tho book has has some of the most powerful writing about events to be found anywhere. The author was there at Masada.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    The ancient history book still reads relatively well, though in sections I had trouble focusing on what was going on. This is in part because several parts include people with similar names, making it difficult to remember which person is which; because Josephus has a preachy agenda in places that gets away from the facts of the story; and because Josephus uses generous quotes from speeches as a rhetorical device. The latter has its good and bad points. First among the bad, of course, is the fact The ancient history book still reads relatively well, though in sections I had trouble focusing on what was going on. This is in part because several parts include people with similar names, making it difficult to remember which person is which; because Josephus has a preachy agenda in places that gets away from the facts of the story; and because Josephus uses generous quotes from speeches as a rhetorical device. The latter has its good and bad points. First among the bad, of course, is the fact that the speeches are simply a rhetorical device--not probably real. Second is that those speeches take away from the action or repeat points already made. However, one good thing about the speeches is that they provide a kind of window (even if fictionalized via Josephus himself) into the point of view of the particular historical actor. This is important when otherwise the point of view is largely Josephus's own, which can be rather skewed and biased for or against certain parties. The story itself largely involves that of the recent war between the Romans and Jews in which Jerusalem and its temple are destroyed. For this tale, Josephus returns us back to Maccabees and the eventual rise of Herod the Great. But as the narrative continues, more and more focus is placed on the so-called "robbers"--a group of miscreants, in Josephus's view, who foment rebellion against the Romans. What's perhaps most interesting about the history is how much of it focuses on Josephus himself and how self-serving the history appears to be. I've read around Josephus quite a bit, but actually reading his work through, I was surprised how central he becomes to the action in the second half of the book. At first, he himself is one of these rebels, though I don't think he ever calls himself a robber. He seems somewhat central to the movement, and people in one particular town really look to him for leadership in the war against the Romans. In order not to trouble the town (as the Romans are largely after him), Josephus volunteers to leave, but the people won't have it. They want to stick by him. But then one day, he says that he had a dream from God. In it, God tells him that he put the Romans in charge and that the Jews should surrender. The people won't hear of it. They opt to kill themselves so as not to fall under the cruelties of the Roman guard (which Josephus denotes are not cruel--that they will have mercy). The people draw lots to see who will do the killing of the community--Josephus ends up being one of them. In the end, the community is killed, and rather than killing himself, Josephus surrenders. He is treated well by the Romans. And then he becomes their voice to try to get the rebellious Jews to see reason and to surrender. Throughout, then, Josephus talks of how terrible these various rebels are, how destructive, how they pollute the temple, how they kill their own people. He promotes the Romans as merciful, and yet he also describes crucifixions and the taking of prisoners and the use of them as gladiators and feed for wild beasts in the arena. I didn't come away feeling the Romans were all that nice. What I did feel was sorrow for those caught in the middle of all of this--likely to be killed by other Jews if not supportive enough or by Romans if caught.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Herman Gigglethorpe

    If you're interested in the historical background for the New Testament, be sure to read this although Jesus isn't mentioned here. The period of his ministry in the context of The Jewish War seems like a brief respite between royal succession crises and rebellions against the Romans. Every other bandit seemed to think he could be a king, and the Hasmonean and Herod dynasties were doomed by infighting. Josephus himself was involved in the final war that led to the destruction of the Second Temple. If you're interested in the historical background for the New Testament, be sure to read this although Jesus isn't mentioned here. The period of his ministry in the context of The Jewish War seems like a brief respite between royal succession crises and rebellions against the Romans. Every other bandit seemed to think he could be a king, and the Hasmonean and Herod dynasties were doomed by infighting. Josephus himself was involved in the final war that led to the destruction of the Second Temple. At first he fought against the Romans, and then surrendered to them after backing out of a suicide pact. (Honor-preserving suicide was rather common in the ancient world, from Rome to China). Then he made a "prophecy" saying the Roman commander Vespasian will be the emperor. Josephus was then hired to try to convince the Jewish rebels to surrender. Josephus emphasized the strength and superior tactics of Roman armies and Titus's clemency to prevent other provinces from revolting against Rome. The Roman victory according to Josephus was a punishment from God for the Jews defiling the temple and violating the commandments. So this book often reads like Roman propaganda. The amount of violence in the ancient world makes me wonder how they managed to maintain settlements at all. You'll see everything from cannibalism to stabbings in broad daylight in this book. Josephus blamed the beginning of the destruction of the Second Temple on a Jewish effort to burn the parts that were connected to an area captured by the Romans. Then, after many atrocities by both sides, an anonymous Roman soldier ignored Titus's orders and threw firebrands into the temple proper. Like Suetonius, Zosimus, and other ancient historians, Josephus included various miracles, prophetic dreams, and omens in his book. Maybe this sort of stuff happened more often in the Olden Days. Or Josephus was making it up. Who knows? One example that stands out is when the priests heard voices during Pentecost saying "We are leaving this place" shortly before the Second Temple is destroyed. And there's a story about a root named Baaras that could supposedly exorcise demons, but often killed those who tried to gather it. The Oxford World's Classics translation is readable, though dry at times. Chances are Josephus isn't known for his great prose even in the original. Some anachronistic diction forces readers out of the narrative. Did anyone within the Roman Empire know about "kowtowing"? And "terrorist" is frequently used to refer to the bandits and rebels, which sounds too modern for an ancient source.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    It's probably one of the hardest books I've ever read. I suppose that's to be expected from a really long book from antiquity. As far as the actual content, I really enjoyed it. It helps give a clear picture of the causes of the Jewish War with Rome, starting with the reign of Herod, and the war itself, ending with the destruction of Jerusalem and other holdouts, namely Masada. Josephus does a good job showing how Herod and the subsequent rulers oppressed the Jewish people and ultimately sparked It's probably one of the hardest books I've ever read. I suppose that's to be expected from a really long book from antiquity. As far as the actual content, I really enjoyed it. It helps give a clear picture of the causes of the Jewish War with Rome, starting with the reign of Herod, and the war itself, ending with the destruction of Jerusalem and other holdouts, namely Masada. Josephus does a good job showing how Herod and the subsequent rulers oppressed the Jewish people and ultimately sparked the uprising. For me, it also gives a solid explanation of what the Romans were like in the time of Jesus. Why were their many Jews clamoring for Jesus to be the Messiah that would restore the kingdom and expel the Romans? If you had bloody dictator after bloody dictator crushing you, you'd probably want someone to overthrow them too. Why does Herod's genocide of babies in Bethlehem find its way into another text like this instead of being mentioned only in the Bible? I think a guy who murders his wives, sons, other family members, other leaders, or really anyone without prejudice is not out of character when he kills a few kids in a small village outside of Jerusalem. Perhaps the most difficult part of reading this is seeing through Josephus' own ego. He really is quite stuck on himself. The Jews lost this war, at least from what I can draw from his book, because they did not unite in the fight against Rome. Who could they have rallied around? According to him, he himself was quite the battlefield tactician, and seemed to be the only one with enough common sense in the whole Jewish nation. They also lost the war because they forsook God and relied on themselves instead. The siege of Jerusalem at the close of the story is one of the most brutal events you'll ever read about. The city was in a state of civil war, even as the Romans closed in, and all kinds of atrocities occurred that really make Titus and his army sound like liberators. The Romans do indeed burn the Temple in 70 AD, but Josephus makes it seem the Jews in the city were equally at fault for its destruction. It's worth noting Josephus' audience was originally the Romans, so he's not going to paint Titus in an unflattering light. I take that with a grain of salt. It's a challenge, but if you want a greater understanding of 1st century Rome and Judea, it's worth reading.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lukerik

    About a third of the way through Josephus gives a speech to Agripppa II in which he lays out in awe inspiring terms the power of the Romans and the futility of resistance. I think it’s a great piece of writing and I’m sure it represents Josephus’s own views. The whole book turns on this speech. Everything before it is a history of the region from 170 BC and therefore overlaps with the end of Jewish Antiquities, but one book is not a substitute for another. In the account of Herod the Great, for About a third of the way through Josephus gives a speech to Agripppa II in which he lays out in awe inspiring terms the power of the Romans and the futility of resistance. I think it’s a great piece of writing and I’m sure it represents Josephus’s own views. The whole book turns on this speech. Everything before it is a history of the region from 170 BC and therefore overlaps with the end of Jewish Antiquities, but one book is not a substitute for another. In the account of Herod the Great, for example, in Antiquities he is represented as suffering from poor mental health which people took advantage of. In War the machinations of others are emphasised. The account here is far more artistically arranged, but perhaps the truth lies somewhere between the two versions. Everything after the speech is an account of the rebellion, much of it an eye-witness account. Not that that makes it reliable. I realise Josephus is something of a divisive figure. Personally I liked him for his intelligence and cunning, but you can’t trust the little fucker. One thing in particular that stretched my credulity was the outbreak of transvestitism in Jerusalem, but there are many internal inconsistencies and obviously something dodgy happened in that cave. I understand he gives a different account of the cave in his autobiography, which I haven’t yet read. This is an emotionally charged and partisan account, full of rage. It leaves you guessing as to the real motives of his enemies and also his friends. I largely trust his account of the horrors of the war though. His depiction of piles of starved Jewish corpses is something that we can all look at photographs of. A brilliant book. I’ve not read anything quite like it before. Part of me hopes I never will again

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maurice Williams

    Josephus is an excellent source of history because he was both an eyewitness and a participant. Though undoubtedly slanted toward his own personal opinion, the events Joseph described really did happen. He was part of the rebellion against Rome and did fight, however, but was defeated and captured. After his capture, he realized the hopelessness of war against Rome. I think he was surprised and saddened by the civil wars, murders, and political infighting of the Judeans within Jerusalem. He tried Josephus is an excellent source of history because he was both an eyewitness and a participant. Though undoubtedly slanted toward his own personal opinion, the events Joseph described really did happen. He was part of the rebellion against Rome and did fight, however, but was defeated and captured. After his capture, he realized the hopelessness of war against Rome. I think he was surprised and saddened by the civil wars, murders, and political infighting of the Judeans within Jerusalem. He tried to shame them out of their infighting and encouraged them to surrender because they faced certain defeat. He is sometimes referred to as a traitor because he did not support the rebellion to the end. I don't think this is fair to Josephus. Not every political movement in a country is righteous and justified. I wonder how I would act were I were a German citizen during the Nazi era or an Iraqi during Saddam Hussein's defiance of international law. I found Josephus to be a very rich source of information for a book I was writing. I am grateful that Josephus took the time to write such a detailed account of what he saw. He writes his history almost like a novel. This easy to understand translation makes for very interesting reading.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carl Palmateer

    A classic history written in the 1st Century A.D. This is important to understand as it is different from how history is written today. If it were a modern piece it would probably get a 2-3. Little sourcing, long monologues, limited cross references, etc. So read it as it is. The first point that caught me was the scope of the book. I thought it was about the Roman Jewish war of 66-70 AD. It starts about 200 years prior to that and carries through to 70 AD. The second point was how hard fought A classic history written in the 1st Century A.D. This is important to understand as it is different from how history is written today. If it were a modern piece it would probably get a 2-3. Little sourcing, long monologues, limited cross references, etc. So read it as it is. The first point that caught me was the scope of the book. I thought it was about the Roman Jewish war of 66-70 AD. It starts about 200 years prior to that and carries through to 70 AD. The second point was how hard fought the final war seemed to be. Usually it is presented something like, Jews revolted surprising Rome, some initial limited success, Rome reacted, marched in and crushed Jews, big finale at Masada, the end. Josephus details a bitter conflict, that although Rome was never in serious danger, cost Rome far more in blood and treasure than was expected. (and, of course, the author was a brilliant fellow, almost as brilliant as his benefactors Vespasian and Titus, the winners of the war).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ilya

    “It is hard to like Josephus as a person,” writes E. Mary Smallwood in her lovely introduction to the Penguin Classics edition. What an understatement. I was quite taken aback at what a slobbering piece of Roman (and, specifically, Flavian) propaganda this work is, to what lengths Josephus goes in justifying himself and blaming the victims (even if he is right about the vile atrocities committed by the Jewish partisans against civilians who wanted no part of the revolt and against each other). “It is hard to like Josephus as a person,” writes E. Mary Smallwood in her lovely introduction to the Penguin Classics edition. What an understatement. I was quite taken aback at what a slobbering piece of Roman (and, specifically, Flavian) propaganda this work is, to what lengths Josephus goes in justifying himself and blaming the victims (even if he is right about the vile atrocities committed by the Jewish partisans against civilians who wanted no part of the revolt and against each other). Worst of all is opportunistic, quasi-religious claptrap he fashions to suit his rhetorical needs. Cocktail trivia: it wasn’t the Zealots who held Masada but the Sicarii.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Josiah Muhr

    The story recounted by Josephus is certainly one that is at times hard to believe. However, his ability to recount history in an engaging and fascinating way is without question. Large portions of his version of the story may be exaggerated or biased, but the fact that we get the perspective of somebody who was there almost two-thousand years ago is incredible! For me, that kind of perspective, biased or not, is worth listening to.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Talmadge Walker

    A dry read overall, but there are points of interest, such as: The family problems of Herod the Great and his relations (If Josephus is to be believed, Herod apparently died of a combination of acute colitis and advanced stage syphilis.); Theological differences between the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes; And the degree to which some historians will toot their own horn. The Middle East in the 1st century AD was a pretty violent place.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Fred Fifield

    The story of how and why the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD four years after a Jewish revolt. The first third of the book is the history of Jerusalem from the middle of the 2nd Century BC to 66 AD. Then in a choice of spectacular short-sightedness they revolted against the Romans and, well, what did you think was going to happen?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cawkins Chuck

    What a great work of propaganda. Difficult for me to tell what was actual history. For Josephus goal one seems to have been to butter up Caesar and the Romans. Goal two was to justify his own betrayal of his country. If he ever read this work I can only guess that Joseph Goebbels would have been inspired.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Saul

    Read this for an ancient history class in college. As a contemporary writer in the 1st Century Josephus is one of the very few writers of that era and the only for that part of the world. It is a great source , through the lens of a "reformed" rebel to the Roman Empire", for the "Middle-East and period of history. As a primary source it is the only and very important one.

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