Titus Flavius Josephus – an Hebrew Historian

“Truth is a thing that is immortal and eternal.”

Titus Flavius Josephus, originally named Yosef ben Matityahu, was born in 37 AD in Jerusalem and died in 100 AD in Rome. He was a Hebrew historian, priest and academic scholar who composed several books on the Hebrew revolt of 66–70 and on prior Hebrew history. Against Matityahu went to battle against the Romans during the First Hebrew–Roman War as commander of Hebrew troops in Galilee, before conceding in 67 CE to Roman troops commanded by Vespasian after the 6-week blockade of Jotapata. He believed the Hebrew Messianic prophecies that initiated the First Hebrew–Roman War were alluding to Vespasian becoming Emperor of Rome. After his surrender, Vespasian kept as a slave and interpreter. When Vespasian became Emperor in 69 CE, he gave Josephus his freedom, and Josephus took the emperor’s family name of Flavius.

Flavius Josephus defected to the Roman army and became a Roman citizen. Josephus became an advisor to Vespasian’s son Titus, serving as Titus’ translator when he commanded the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Because the siege didn’t stop the Hebrew revolution, the city’s ruin and the destruction of Herod’s Second Temple came shortly afterward.

Josephus chronicled Hebrew history, with an emphasis on the first century CE and the First Hebrew–Roman War (66–70 CE), especially the Siege of Masada. His most influential publications were The Jewish War (c. 75) and Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94).

The Jewish War recounts the Jewish revolution against Roman occupation. Antiquities of the Jews describes the world’s history from a Hebrews viewpoint for a Greek and Roman audience. Josephus’ writings are a vital source of our knowledge of Hebrew people, their history and antiquity of ancient Palestine during the first century.

Other Works

(c. 97) Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Against Apion, Contra Apionem, or Against the Greeks, on the Antiquity of the Jewish People (usually abbreviated CA)

(c. 99) The Life of Flavius Josephus, or Autobiography of Flavius Josephus (abbreviated Life or Vita)

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