Josephus and the Jews: The Religion and History of the Jews as Explained by Flavius Josephus

By F. J. Foakes-Jackson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
THE OUTBREAK OF THE WAR WITH ROME

Misgovernment of the Procurators. -- For the Jewish war and its terrific consequences Josephus is our only contemporary authority, most of Tacitus' account being hopelessly lost; and there is no orderly record from any other Jewish source in existence. Our historian lays the blame for the calamity on the misgovernment of the procurators and the excesses of the fanatics. But one has to read between the lines of the extremely unsatisfactory conclusion of the 'Antiquities' to understand the course of events under the last procurators Fadus, Tiberius Alexander, Cumanus, Felix, Festus and Albinus. These officials, with the possible exception of Festus, may have been as bad as Josephus depicts them; but nevertheless one can but feel compelled to make some allowance for the almost impossible position in which they were placed. It seems that the conduct of Gessius Florus, the last of the procurators, admits of no excuse whatever, though the explosion of the rebellion which took place under his misgovernment had long been preparing.1

Patriotism or brigandage. -- The great curse of Palestine for many years had been the prevalence of brigandage. Under the name of patriotism, formidable bands of marauders had taken to the mountains, and waged constant and relentless war with all peaceable persons; especially those who were not Jews by race or religion. Nothing but a government of relentless severity could cope with the evil. After the death of Herod Agrippa I it broke out worse than ever; and it may be

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1
War, ii. 14 (277 ff.).

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