Friday, August 20, 2010

Which 'Josephus' is Closer to the Original? Pseudo-Hegesippus Book 4 Chapter 2 or Bellum Judaicum Book 4 Chapter 1?

In our continuing examination of the two Josephan narratives that have come down to us in Greek and Latin. The next section of Pseudo-Hegesippus reads:

With these words he kindled the courage of the soldiers, who repairing the wall the most part withdrew themselves from the siege through the broken openings. For already a lack of food was at hand, and the broken walls were thought about to yield to the siege machines, furthermore there was but one (water) well within the city and that was very close to the walls. Which thing put them in great fear and they slipped away in great numbers. Those who truly thought (the fight) should be continued fought obstinately. In the meantime the Romans undermining the highest tower overthrew it with great force, by which misfortune the city was greatly alarmed, all were disturbed and fearing the ruin of the entire city. From which Chares sick in body, making sounds of great terror breathless from fright accomplished (his) death. The Romans however having broken the city open refrained from entry, until Titus having returned and aroused by the smart of his father's danger rushed into the city with a few and inflicted a great slaughter on the Jews. However those who were in the higher elevations rolling rocks prohibited the Romans from access, they hurled darts violently, and shot arrows. By the Jews rocks pushed forward were easily rolled down, missiles came through, arrows came down not without danger to those whom they struck. Missiles thrown by the Romans against the higher elevations of the mountain were ineffective, the attempt was ineffectual and dangerous to themselves, when suddenly a storm of wind arose and bent back the arrows of the Jews, repelled their darts; and indeed carried those against the enemy which the Roman army was hurling. Thus oppressed by the restraints of their own elements and the commotions of the winds in the final sacking of the captured city all whosoever who were discovered there perished . We learned four thousands however to have been killed by the Romans, five thousands to have perished at a precipice, grace to have been granted to no age. [Pseudo-Hegesippus 4.3]

The parallel section in Jewish War reads:

So Vespasian encouraged his army by this speech; but for the people of Gamala, it happened that they took courage for a little while, upon such great and unaccountable success as they had had. But when they considered with themselves that they had now no hopes of any terms of accommodation, and reflecting upon it that they could not get away, and that their provisions began already to be short, they were exceedingly cast down, and their courage failed them; yet did they not neglect what might be for their preservation, so far as they were able, but the most courageous among them guarded those parts of the wall that were beaten down, while the more infirm did the same to the rest of the wall that still remained round the city. And as the Romans raised their banks, and attempted to get into the city a second time, a great many of them fled out of the city through impracticable valleys, where no guards were placed, as also through subterraneous caverns; while those that were afraid of being caught, and for that reason staid in the city, perished for want of food; for what food they had was brought together from all quarters, and reserved for the fighting men.

And these were the hard circumstances that the people of Gamala were in. But now Vespasian went about other work by the by, during this siege, and that was to subdue those that had seized upon Mount Tabor, a place that lies in the middle between the great plain and Scythopolis, whose top is elevated as high as thirty furlongs and is hardly to be ascended on its north side; its top is a plain of twenty-six furlongs, and all encompassed with a wall. Now Josephus erected this so long a wall in forty days' time, and furnished it with other materials, and with water from below, for the inhabitants only made use of rain water. As therefore there was a great multitude of people gotten together upon this mountain, Vespasian sent Placidus with six hundred horsemen thither. Now, as it was impossible for him to ascend the mountain, he invited many of them to peace, by the offer of his right hand for their security, and of his intercession for them. Accordingly they came down, but with a treacherous design, as well as he had the like treacherous design upon them on the other side; for Placidus spoke mildly to them, as aiming to take them, when he got them into the plain; they also came down, as complying with his proposals, but it was in order to fall upon him when he was not aware of it: however, Placidus's stratagem was too hard for theirs; for when the Jews began to fight, he pretended to run away, and when they were in pursuit of the Romans, he enticed them a great way along the plain, and then made his horsemen turn back; whereupon he beat them, and slew a great number of them, and cut off the retreat of the rest of the multitude, and hindered their return. So they left Tabor, and fled to Jerusalem, while the people of the country came to terms with him, for their water failed them, and so they delivered up the mountain and themselves to Placidus.

But of the people of Gamala, those that were of the bolder sort fled away and hid themselves, while the more infirm perished by famine; but the men of war sustained the siege till the two and twentieth day of the month Hyperberetmus, [Tisri,] when three soldiers of the fifteenth legion, about the morning watch, got under a high tower that was near them, and undermined it, without making any noise; nor when they either came to it, which was in the night time, nor when they were under it, did those that guarded it perceive them. These soldiers then upon their coming avoided making a noise, and when they had rolled away five of its strongest stones, they went away hastily; whereupon the tower fell down on a sudden, with a very great noise, and its guard fell headlong with it; so that those that kept guard at other places were under such disturbance, that they ran away; the Romans also slew many of those that ventured to oppose them, among whom was Joseph, who was slain by a dart, as he was running away over that part of the wall that was broken down: but as those that were in the city were greatly aftrighted at the noise, they ran hither and thither, and a great consternation fell upon them, as though all the enemy had fallen in at once upon them. Then it was that Chares, who was ill, and under the physician's hands, gave up the ghost, the fear he was in greatly contributing to make his distemper fatal to him. But the Romans so well remembered their former ill success, that they did not enter the city till the three and twentieth day of the forementioned month.

At which time Titus, who was now returned, out of the indignation he had at the destruction the Romans had undergone while he was absent, took two hundred chosen horsemen and some footmen with him, and entered without noise into the city.
Now as the watch perceived that he was coming, they made a noise, and betook themselves to their arms; and as that his entrance was presently known to those that were in the city, some of them caught hold of their children and their wives, and drew them after them, and fled away to the citadel, with lamentations and cries, while others of them went to meet Titus, and were killed perpetually; but so many of them as were hindered from running up to the citadel, not knowing what in the world to do, fell among the Roman guards, while the groans of those that were killed were prodigiously great every where, and blood ran down over all the lower parts of the city, from the upper. But then Vespasian himself came to his assistance against those that had fled to the citadel, and brought his whole army with him; now this upper part of the city was every way rocky, and difficult of ascent, and elevated to a vast altitude, and very full of people on all sides, and encompassed with precipices, whereby the Jews cut off those that came up to them, and did much mischief to others by their darts, and the large stones which they rolled down upon them, while they were themselves so high that the enemy's darts could hardly reach them. However, there arose such a Divine storm against them as was instrumental to their destruction; this carried the Roman darts upon them, and made those which they threw return back, and drove them obliquely away from them; nor could the Jews indeed stand upon their precipices, by reason of the violence of the wind, having nothing that was stable to stand upon, nor could they see those that were ascending up to them; so the Romans got up and surrounded them, and some they slew before they could defend themselves, and others as they were delivering up themselves; and the remembrance of those that were slain at their former entrance into the city increased their rage against them now; a great number also of those that were surrounded on every side, and despaired of escaping, threw their children and their wives, and themselves also, down the precipices, into the valley beneath, which, near the citadel, had been dug hollow to a vast depth; but so it happened, that the anger of the Romans appeared not to be so extravagant as was the madness of those that were now taken, while the Romans slew but four thousand, whereas the number of those that had thrown themselves down was found to be five thousand: nor did any one escape except two women, who were the daughters of Philip, and Philip himself was the son of a certain eminent man called Jacimus, who had been general of king Agrippa's army; and these did therefore escape, because they lay concealed from the rage of the Romans when the city was taken; for otherwise they spared not so much as the infants, of which many were flung down by them from the citadel. And thus was Gamala taken on the three and twentieth day of the month Hyperberetens, (Tisri,) whereas the city had first revolted on the four and twentieth day of the month Gorpieus (Elul).
 [Jewish War 4.1.7 - 10]

There are many little things to notice about the two narratives but most important is the fact that IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ARGUE that Pseudo-Hegesippus is a 'copy' of Jewish War. It represents nothing short of a related but ultimately different manuscript tradition. The story of the siege of mount Tabor appears in Hegesippus AFTER THE NEXT SECTION. There is no logical reason to believe that the Latin translator just 'decided' to move the section. We see time and again that Pseudo-Hegesippus represents a slightly earlier manuscript tradition.

And about this account of the siege of Tiberias. One of the reason that we should suspect that it was added later by someone other than Josephus the Jewish general of the first century is because you'd expect a commander to know a thing or too about mount Tabor. This section COULD NOT HAVE BEEN written by 'first century Josephus' or anyone who had ever seen mount Tabor with his own eyes. This because as many travelers who visited the HILL have noted "Josephus is not consistent with numbers. For example, he says Mount Tabor is "thirty stadia" (18,200 feet), when in reality the mountain is only 1,920 feet." Notice again that there is an early tradition in Christianity that WRONGLY identifies the 'high mountain' of the Transfiguration with Tabor. It must be 'second century Josephus' and his claims about an 18,000 foot mountain in Galilee that caused ignorant Europeans to think this was the location of the scene. Ephrem seems to hint that the Marcionites thought Gerizim was the location (2849 feet).

We have already noted the confusion about Chares that seems to derive from a misreading of the early hypomnema related to Vita. Jewish War has more information from the hypomemna regarding Philip the son of Jacimus which does not appear in Hegesippus. 

Notice also the introduction of the supernatural regarding the 'divine wind' assisting the Romans again. It is impossible to believe that Josephus included these details in his original hypomnema. The supernatural explanation is stronger in Jewish War than in Pseudo-Hegesippus. This element was introduced by 'second century Josephus' as part of a much more overtly religious reworking of the original material.

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