Books

Personal history Premium

18 May 2017 | by Martin Hammond

 

Personal history

The Jewish War

Josephus, translated by Martin Hammond
(Oxford World’s Classics, 608 PP, £10.99)
tablet bookshop price £9.90 • tel 01420 592974

It is June of the year 67, the second year of the Jewish war against Rome, and the Galilean campaign is going badly for the Jews. The Romans under Vespasian have taken Jotapata. Josephus, commander of the Judaean forces in Galilee, is hiding nearby in a cave with 40 others.

They are betrayed, and Vespasian sends a pair of tribunes to lure them out – to lure him out, Josephus says. His companions urge him to die rather than surrender; if he does not kill himself, they will kill him. But Josephus, a prophet, has foreseen Vespasian’s ascendancy; he must get out, and pass on the message. In an emotive speech, he convinces the others to draw lots and kill one another rather than surrender; he will throw in his lot with the rest. Fate, or Providence, intervenes and Josephus is left with just one other man, whom he persuades to live. Thus Josephus walks out and into the arms of his future patron. At the Siege of Jerusalem three years later, he will act for Vespasian’s son Titus as interpreter and ambassador, begging his ­fellow Jews to accept the inevitability of Roman victory, and accept it gracefully.





Register for free articles a month or subscribe now from £53* for 6 months unlimited access to article content.
Subscribe now and enjoy access to all parts of the tablet website, Including its 175 year archive...
Subscribe


Article List


TABLET WORLD…
Latest Issue

Digital/PDF Version

PDF version (iPad-friendly)

Previous Issues
Latest Tweet
Share Us
Tablet Subscription

Manage my subcription here

Manage
Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign Up
Top