Chronology of the War

    Part 4:

Josephus in Galilee

December 66 - May 67

This continues the chronology of the Judaeo-Roman war of 66-73 CE, as told by Josephus.

The series  began with the War Chronology Introduction.

                                    G. J. Goldberg

Life versus War
The Phases of Josephus' Activity Before the Coming of Vespasian
       Estimating Dates
The Major Cities and The Situation in Galilee
Map of Galilee
Chronological Table
"The principal instigator of the mob was Jesus son of Sapphias, the chief magistrate of Tiberias, an unprincipled man who had an instinct for introducing disorder into matters of consequence, and who exceeded all others in the fomenting of sedition and revolution.

Taking a copy of the laws of Moses into his hands, he now stepped into the midst of the people and said: 'Fellow citizens! If you cannot for your own sakes bring yourselves to condemn Josephus, then have regard for the laws of your country, which your commander-in-chief intended to betray -- and for their sakes hate the crime and bring this insolent criminal to his just punishment!'

When he had said this and the crowd had loudly applauded him, he took some soldiers and hurried to the house I was lodging in with the intent to kill me at once.

I was wholly insensible of this, having fallen asleep from fatigue. But Simon, who was entrusted with guarding my person and had alone remained with me, seeing the onrushing citizens, awoke me and told me of the danger, and urged me to die honorably as a general, by my own hand, before my enemies arrived to force me to it or to kill me themselves.

Such were his words; but I committed my fate to God and hastened to go out to the people.

Changing my garment for one of black and suspending my sword from my neck, I proceeded, by a different road on which I expected no enemy would encounter me, to the hippodrome.

I appeared among the people suddenly, flung myself on my face, and watered the ground with my tears -- and so became to them all an object of compassion."

                             Josephus The Life 27-28 134-139

At the age of 29, with no leadership or military experience, Josephus took command of the Jewish forces in Galilee. Or he tried to: the local politicians who had spent their lives building a power base there resented the intrusion of the haughty Jerusalemite. Josephus found himself battling his own countrymen more than the Romans.

Part 4 of the War Chronology covers Josephus' tumultuous and controversial activities as commander of Galilee up until the Roman invasion. Merging the two accounts of the War and the Life, with parallel references, the complex activities are organized into phases and presented in convenient summary form.  Included are a map of the key locations in Galilee and a table of the political situation in the major cities.


When Josephus was made commander of Galilee (see the War Chronology Part 3), he was thrust into a complex and brutal power struggle with the local politicians, ambitious businessmen, factional supporters and gangs of guerillas. For a man 30 years old with no apparent leadership experience his actions in Galilee are remarkable, fortifying key defensive points while staving off a series of attempts by his opponents to murder him. These actions are all the more amazing in that he did not have the unequivocal support of the leaders of Jerusalem, who recalled him after a few months and ordered he be taken from Galilee dead or alive. Yet somehow Josephus was able to make himself popular with "the people" of Jerusalem and, most powerfully, the ones he simply calls "the Galileans", who supported him against the aristocracy and the wealthy middle class of the major cities.

Such is his story -- and there is nothing more controversial in Josephus studies than his actions in Galilee. Is his account an objective rendering of the facts, or was it filled with tendentious statements, a plea to protect himself after the war from accusations of betraying, on the one hand, his country, and on the other, the Roman Empire?

Life versus War

The truth of his account is an issue that will not be gone into deeply here. At present what we want to do is to organize what Josephus himself says occurred in Galilee in the months preceding the Roman invasion under General Vespasian.

To do so one immediately must face the fact there are two accounts of this period, the one in Book 2 of the Jewish War and that told in the Life, Josephus' autobiography. Almost the entire book of the Life is devoted to Josephus' actions in Galilee told in great detail, while that of the War is much shorter. Since these accounts do not always agree some choices must be made in order to combine them into a single chronology.

The scholarly debate on this subject requires a more careful study, but the present state can be summarized by two camps. One sees the Jewish War as the true account, and the Life, written 20 years later, as an attempt to whitewash Josephus' reputation and defend himself from accusations of anti-Roman leanings. A modern writer taking this view is Shaye J. D. Cohen in Josephus in Galilee and Rome (1979). The other view sees continuity between the two accounts, their differences due to their different purposes and times of writing and not arising from deliberate distortion; a proponent of this is Tessa Rajak in Josephus: The Historian and his Society (1983): "when his memory was jogged and he was compelled to concentrate more closely on what had happened, he reached a more accurate view" and with the help of "discussion or reading, he encountered the truth in what was said by friends or adversaries" (Rajak, p. 147). The conflicts between the two positions are examined by Per Bilde in Flavius Josephus between Galilee and Rome (1988).

There is also the theory, suggested by the Josephus scholar R. Laqueur in 1920, that Josephus wrote a memoir shortly after the war, which was greatly shortened and summarized for his first book; and that when he had the opportunity, and had improved his knowledge of Greek, he returned to the memoir and published it in its entirety. Josephus does tell us he kept a record while he was held prisoner in the Roman camp during the war, from 67 to 69 CE (Against Apion 1 49); not only did he have time to write, but as one who presented himself as wanting to cooperate with the Romans it made sense for him to write an account of his activities in Galilee for their benefit.

In the chronology given below I choose to regard the Life as the more accurate account. The greater detail is compelling: it is filled with facts and plans that would be irrelevant for either a fiction writer or a polemicist to bother writing about.

Also in the Life Josephus permits more gray areas in his own actions. In the War he flatly states he was made commander of Galilee; in the Life he notes he was only one of three that were assigned to Galilee, and only became sole commander when two of them decided to return to Jerusalem. In War he takes credit for building walls to fortify numerous Galilean cities; in the Life he astoundingly admits that he was forced into fortifying the cities as a stratagem to account for a large amount of wealth he had appropriated. He also admits in the Life that he did send some plunder from Syrian cities to relatives in Jerusalem, rather than keeping it for the war effort, something he criticized others for. Another point is that the Life treats Josephus' enemies in more detail and sometimes more objectively than does the War.

The Phases of Josephus' Activity in Galilee before the Coming of Vespasian

With the Life so full of detail and incident, and with its repetition of players and locales, simply reading the story from start to finish leaves one confused as to what actually happened. It is thus useful to organize events in some fashion.

Upon examination, the story breaks up into distinct phases. At the highest level one can make the following identification, to which I've added estimates of the minimum time each phase lasted:

Phase 1. The Three Commanders of Galilee [3-4 weeks]

Phase 2. Josephus Left in Sole Command [2-3 weeks]

Phase 3. Opposition to Josephus in the Major Cities [6+ weeks]

Phase 4. Jerusalem Envoys Attempt to Remove Josephus [4-5 weeks]

Phase 5. Increasing Military Action against the Romans [3-4 weeks]

Josephus' troubles began when he became the sole commander of Galilee (Phase 2). This was not what Jerusalem had intended: each section had multiple commanders, probably from different political parties. It also upset the local ambitious leaders who regarded him as an outsider trespassing on the territory that they had worked so hard to become strong in; John of Gischala was the most ambitious and the most dangerous of these. The colleagues had been allies of John in his business ventures, having outvoted Josephus so as to allow John to make an enormous profit: "Unsupported and outvoted by the other two, I held my peace." (Life 13 73). When these men left, John lost his friends in the Galilee government and so was almost forced to make his own arrangements to gain power, becoming a source of deadly trouble for Josephus.

Why was Josephus left alone? Josephus makes two points: That his colleagues were allowed by the Sanhedrin to either stay or go; and that his colleagues were only interested in money, and returned to Jerusalem as soon as they had enough. When they received the message that they were free to leave Galilee if they chose, the colleagues "having amassed a large sum of money from the tithes which they accepted as their priestly due, decided to return home; but, on my request, consented to stay until we had brought matters into order." (Life 12 63) So Josephus emphasizes that he did not want to be left in sole command. But what matters needed to be brought into order? The only planned event afterwards is the demolition of Herod's blasphemously decorated palace as the Sanhedrin had ordered them; afterwards, Josephus, at Gischala, allowed is colleagues to return to Jerusalem."

A more cynical reading of this all would be Josephus bribed them to leave. For, he states, "I even declined to accept from those wo brought them the tithes which were due to me as a priest." (Life 15 80) Thus the colleagues took the tithes, but Josephus did not take his share. On the one hand, this looks like care to avoid any appearance of impropriety; but, if this was Josephus' policy from the beginning, the result of this decision was that any collected tithes only needed to be divided between the two colleagues, not three ways. In effect, Josephus has transferred money from himself to his colleagues in a subtle way.

This led to Phase 3. While he was successful in many ways as leader, he had a difficult time maintaining the goal of his moderate party: defending the nation with sufficient strength so as to encourage the Romans to negotiate favorable terms (such was Ananus' motive as described in War 4.5.2 320). But Josephus could not keep the powerful cities under control, and eventually he was forced into violence: he took Tiberias by force in the imprisonment of the most prominent people of Tiberias and the cutting off their leader's hand.

This violence on the part of Josephus opened him to charges of either incompetence or tyranny, which his opponents immediately pounced on, persuading the Jerusalem leadership to remove Josephus from his command. This established Phase 4: Josephus' cunning resistance to those sent to remove him and his ultimate success in maintaining his position and defeating his worst opponents. The last phase follows, consisting of the increased battles leading up to the arrival of Vespasian.

Some themes are constant throughout the phases. One is Josephus' frequently expressed horror of civil war between Jews; he criticizes those he sees as breaking the populace into factions, and himself refuses to war against his own people. Skeptics will note that the factions challenged his own authority, so it was natural to detest it, and that in any case he did eventually use violence against them.  Another frequent theme is his respect for property. Whether it is loot from Herod's palace, treasure stolen from the king's overseer by the young men of Dabarittha, or plunder taken by his soldiers at Tiberias and Sepphoris, Josephus always tried to return it to their rightful owners in order to preserve good will. This is consistent with his aristocratic and wealthy background: he  had no personal need for more wealth, but only needed the rights of the propertied classes to be respected. From his insistence on these themes one might detect the defensive purpose of the Life: Josephus seems to have been accused of tyrannical violence against his own people and theft of property. And at one point Josephus indeed makes a confession: "I did take a portion of the spoils after defeating the Syrian inhabitants of the surrounding cities, and admit to having sent these to my kinsfolk in Jerusalem." (Life 15 81). But these battles and plunder are not described elsewhere in the Life.

Estimating Dates

Josephus is lax about giving clues to when events occurred. We can make guesses based on a few principles. His tenure in Galilee began in December 66 or January 67, as indicated in Part 3 of the War Chronology. The next firm date he gives is when he leaves Tiberias and enters Jotapata on 21 Artemisius [June 8 67, Niese] to face Vespasian's army. (War 3.7.3 142) We can work backwards from this: Josephus tells us the Romans spent the 5 days immediately preceding building a road. This suggests Vespasian began operations about mid-May; his arrival links to Josephus also via the garrison's arrival at Sepphoris (War 4 32, continued at 59; Life 394) and Josephus' assault on the city (War 61, probably the same as Life 365).

From Dec 1 to May 15 is about 22 weeks. Thus we need to apportion this amount of time among the phases and sub-phases of Josephus' tenure. We are assisted in this by estimation of travel times. There are many movements between cities, and to each we can assign one day maximum, as Galilee is a small place. Travel to Jerusalem takes a minimum of 3 days, if the travel can take place through often-hostile Samaria, and longer otherwise. This means at least 1 week to send a message and get a reply, as in the initial report back to the assembly and in the pro-Josephus delegation following the recall. Putting this together I made the date estimates given in the table.


The Major Cities and the Situation in Galilee

Galilee was a thickly populated area, comprising 204 towns, "none of which had a population less than 15,000." The largest cities are identified by Josephus as Sepphoris, Tiberias, Gischala, and Gamala. The people who were not citizens of these or other major cities are called by Josephus simply "the Galileans."

Between the original revolt in Jerusalem and Josephus arrival, each city had developed its factions for and against revolution, and one or the other gained the upper hand at various times.

What drove a city over the edge to revolution? In each case, Josephus identifies the crucial factor as the ethnic warfare being waged with nearby Hellenistic cities. There had already been terrible fighting between the Galilean cities and those of Syria and the Decapolis in the first days of the revolt and before Josephus' arrival (see War Chronology 3). Local leaders took the violence that was occurring with their neighbors and used it as a reason to make a complete break with the Romans.

The capitol, Sepphoris, however, was surrounded by small villages, and had no nearby non-Jewish city to do battle with. This would seem to be an essential factor in explaining why the revolutionary party never managed to gain an upper hand there.

The following table summarizes the situation in the major cities at the time Josephus and his two colleagues arrived to make their initial study of the region.

City Pro-Romans or moderates Anti-Roman upper/middle class Anti-Roman lower class Ethnic enemy Times taken by Josephus
Sepphoris The majority     None; safe and "surrounded by villages" 2
Tiberias Julius Capellus and magistrates Justus son of Pistus Jesus son of Sapphias and sailors Decapolis (Gadara, Hippos esp.); also political rival to Tarichaeae and Sepphoris 4
Gischala   John son of Levi   Gadara, Gabara, Sogane, and Tyre 0
Gamala Philip son of Jacimus; Chares and Jesus, relatives of Philip; (Jesus was the brother-in-law of Justus son of Pistus)   Joseph son of a midwife Trachonitis in Batanea Voluntarily joined

Map of Galilee

Chronological Table: Josephus in Galilee until the Campaign of Vespasian

Each phase of Josephus' action is marked by a color in the heading row and down the leftmost column.

Phase 1. The Three Commanders of Galilee. (December-January 66/67)
Phase 2. Josephus Left in Sole Command. Fortifications begun (January 67)
Phase 3. (February-March 67)
      a. Opposition to Josephus Begins. First plots of John and Justus.
      b. The Dabarittha affair: ending in the taking of Tiberias and imprisonment of leaders.
      c. Fortifications substantially completed
Phase 4. The Recall.
    The affair of the envoys and the subduing of John and Justus. (March-April 67)
Phase 5. Increased Roman incursions. (April-May 67)



Jewish War


Josephus' location Events - Brief descriptions Events - Detailed descriptions 

(Abbreviation: Jos = Josephus)

Phase 1. The Three Commanders of Galilee
  Life 7 28-29     Three commanders Josephus, Joazar, and Judas, all priests, sent to Galilee to collect weapons and coordinate revolutionary activities, restraining them from expending their energy separately on the ethnic war that had characterized the region since the revolt and up to the defeat of Cestius. And to keep them peaceful, "as parts hadn't yet revolted from Rome." 

Rebellious cities were already conducting their own battles against local enemies, not only Greeks but also Jewish cities they rivaled for regional domination.

  L 8 30-31 War 574 Sepphoris   Visits Sepphoris, achieves good relations.
  L 12 62     The Sanhedrin After appraising the situation, writes to "the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem" for instructions. The reply: he is to stay in Galilee with his companions and "take care" of Galilee.
  L12 64-67   Bethmaus

(4 stadia from TIberias); then Upper Galilee

Herod's palace looted Informs Tiberians the Jerusalem council ordered he demolish Herod's palace because of its pagan animal decorations. This is supported by Justus son of Pistus, reluctantly agreed to bye the pro-Roman aristocrats led by Capellus; but when Jos leaves Bethmaus for Upper Galilee, the lower-class Tiberias party led by Jesus b. Sapphias "joined by some Galileans" sets the palace on fire, loots it, then murders the Greek residents in Tiberias.
  L 13 68   Tiberias   Jos recovers some of the plunder, mostly silver, and entrusts it to Capellus and 10 councilors to hold for the king.
  L 13 70-76 War 2.21.1-2 585-594 Gischala John son of Levi, war profiteer, makes money on corn and oil. Meets with John son of Levi; John wants to sell king's stored corn to repair walls, but since "the authority entrusted to me by the Jerusalem authorities extended to that district" Jos refuses; his two priest colleagues were bribed and "outvoted Josephus" two to one. Then John sells kosher Gischala oil to the "Jewish inhabitants of Caesarea Philippi who had been shut up at the king's order by Aequus Modius." He makes a profit of ten to one.
  L 14 77     Two colleagues return to Jerusalem; Jos left alone Josephus' two colleagues are allowed to return to Jerusalem, as they had wanted to do as soon as they had collected enough tithes. 
 Phase 2. Josephus in Sole Command
  L 14 77-79 War 2.20.5 570   Forms a command structure He proceeds to the matter of obtaining arms and fortifying the towns; hires brigands as mercenaries to get them on his side; makes 70 of the "Galilean authorities" as fellow travelers and judges, so they would be "hostages for the loyalty of the district".

(More cynical than War.) All bribery is avoided.

    War 2.20.6 576

War 2.20.8 581-583

  Begins gathering of arms and army, fortification of cities Jos levies army of 100,000 young men, armed with old arms collected from the populace. Organized and trained them following Roman methods (War 2.20.7 582). Many of these are implied to be former brigands: Josephus cautions that before battle he will check if they have abstained from "their habitual malpractices, theft, robbery and rapine, and ceased to defraud their countrymen." Jos readies 60,000 infantry, 350 cavalry, 4500 mercenaries, and a personal bodyguard of 600. These were maintained in the towns.
  L 15 80-83     Maintains moral integrity of his governance, gains the loyalty of "the Galileans" States his honesty: no bribery, gifts, harassing women. But he "did take a portion of the spoils after defeating the Syrian inhabitants of the surrounding cities [when?] and admit to having sent these to my kinsfolk in Jerusalem." Because of this honesty the Deity delivered Josephus out of the hands of his enemies, and brought about his "subsequent preservation amid numerous perils."
Phase 3. (a) Opposition to Josephus Begins
  L 17 87 War 2.21.6 614 HQ Cana John requests travel to Tiberian baths Josephus has the loyalty of the "people of Galilee" (the Galileans?), which makes John jealous; asks to go to Tiberias for the baths, really plotting there.
  L 17 87-93 War 2.21.6 615-616   John and Justus plot to take Tiberias from Josephus John wants Tiberians to give him their allegiance, which many do because of their natural inclination to any sedition, including Justus and his father Pistus. Jos warned of this by governor Silas.
  L 17-18 90-96 War 2.21.6 616-619 Tiberias Jos attacked in the stadium, escapes by boat to Tarichaeae. Jos and 200 march to Tiberias overnight; met by the populace at dawn. Addresses them from a parapet in the stadium; John sends assassin, Jos jumps down, is whisked onto a boat by his bodyguards, and thence to Tarichaeae, escaping "beyond all expectation" from his enemies.
  L 19-21 97-103 War 2.21.7 620-624 Tarichaeae Galileans rush to Jos aid. John retreats. News spreads throughout Galilee, and "the Galileans" come from all quarters in arms willing to follow Jos in an attack on Tiberias; but Jos, "horrified at the thought of opening a civil war", dissuades them, telling them civil strife will help the Romans. This urge to attack and Jos' restraint is repeated when John retreats to Gischala. 
  L 22 104-111   Sepphoris Brigand chief Jesus hired to kill Jos, but is captured. Goes to Sepphoris. Sepphorans, now loyal to Rome, pay brigand chief Jesus with 800 men to attack Josephus. Jos hears of this from a deserted, and with "a large body of the Galileans and some of the Tiberians" [note the distinction] capture him in the market-place of Sepphoris; then attains his loyalty.
  L23 112-113     Attempted circumcision of king's deserters Two nobles of King Agrippa desert from Trachonitis to Josephus; those around him want to circumcise them, Jos prevents, "declaring that every one should worship the deity in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience and under no constraint"; also that they are refugees who should be encouraged.
  L 24 114-121   Simonias (a village on the frontier of Galilee, due West of Nazareth);


Tiberias district

First engagement with Roman troops: the Plain of Esdraelon.  Agrippa sends a force under Aequus Modius to destroy Gamala, but only a siege is begun. Meanwhile, Aebutius the decurion in charge of the Plain of Esdraelon learns Jos is near in Simonias, 60 stadia from him, and marches overnight with 100 cavalry, 200 infantry, and Gaba citizens as auxiliaries. Engages with large force of Jos. Aebutius forced to withdraw to Gaba. With 2000 infantry Jos pursues, removes corn from Besara belonging to Queen Berenice (near Ptolemais, 20 stadia from Gaba). Jos then prevents Neopolitanus from doing any more damage in the district of Tiberias, where his cavalry had been making trouble.
  L 25 122-125     Gabara goes over to John of Gischala. John attempts to win "the three chief cities of Galilee"-- Tiberias, Sepphoris, and Gabara. Sepphoris stays pro-Roman, Tiberias is friendly, Gabara goes over to his side under Simon, an associate of John's. People of Gabara had a "dread of the Galileans", so kept the defection quiet.
Phase 3. (b) The Dabarittha Affair and the Revolt of Tiberias
  L 26 126-131 War 2.21.3 595-597 Tarichaeae Young men of Dabarittha plunder royal train; Jos secretly returns money to Agrippa. Young men of Dabarittha (by Mt. Tabor) attack wife of king's overseer Ptolemy on the Great Plain, bring gold and silver to Jos at Tar. Jos retains it to return to Ptolemy because of the Law (Exodus 23:4), but lies to the men about it; Jos has two friends of the king take it to Agrippa.
  L 27 132-136 War 2.21.3 598-600   Failure to distribute plunder causes revolt of Tiberians under Jesus son of Sapphias. This caused rumor of Jos intending to betray the country; discussion in hippodrome about him, led by Jesus son of Sapphias "chief magistrate of Tiberias", who claims Jos intended to betray the Law of Moses (holding a copy in his hands). Then hurries with soldiers to Jos house, where he was asleep.
  L 137-144 War 2.21.4 601-609   Jos hangs sword around neck, pleas for mercy, promises to use the money to build walls. Jos' assistant Simon urged Jos "die honourably, as a general, by my own hand, before my foes arrive to force me to such action or to kill me themselves." But Jos changes to black, hangs sword from neck, goes to hippodrome secretly, flings himself on ground. Causes dissension among groups by saying, as a "stratagem", that he had retained money to build fortifications for Tarichaeae; the "Galileans and Tiberians" were resentful, but then Jos promised to "provide fortifications for Tiberias and for any other of their cities which needed them." [He hadn't planned any walls before? Cf. War] 
  L 30 145-8 War 2.21.5 610-613   Rebel leaders beaten in Jos' house. Afterwards, the leaders and brigands and 600 men come to set Jos house on fire. Jos invites them in to "receive the money" then beats the one they sent in, cut off one hand, and threw him out the door, which scared everyone off.
  L 31 149-154   Hippos Jos helps the two threatened noble deserters to return to Agrippa. Another plot: the noble refugees needed to obey the Law; accused them of being sorcerers who made it impossible to defeat the Romans. Jos repeats the freedom to worship argument, and joked that the Romans would not need such an army if they had sorcerers. Doesn't really work, and another attempt to kill them is made. So takes them on a boat to the district of Hippos (a Decapolis city, just outside Agrippa's territory). They manage to return to Agrippa, get a pardon.
  L 32-34 155-173 War 2.21.8-10


Tiberias, Tarichaeae, Tiberias Tiberias revolts; Jos takes city with fake navy. Imprisons many, cuts off leader's hand. The fake Navy: Tiberias asks Jos for the promised walls. Jos travels from there to Tarichaeae, in advance dismissing the Tarichaean soldiers to their homes as the next day was the Sabbath, leaving Jos on the road with only 7 soldiers and some friends. But then word is of approaching Roman troops, and Tiberias plans to defect to the King. Ordering heads of Tarichaean families to launch boats, Jos sails across to Tiberias. Eventually imprisons entire council plus many other citizens, and cuts off the hand of the leader Cleitus.
  L 35 174-178   Tarichaeae Dinner with captives Justus and Pistus. Jos meets with prisoners Justus and his father Pistus, has dinner. Hints to them he is actually in favor of peace with the Romans and recommend they bide their time. Reminds them that other leaders had acted much more harshly than Jos [Galileans had cut off Justus' brothers hands; Gamalans had murdered his brother-in-law]. "I remarked that I was well aware myself of the unrivaled might of the Roman arms, but, on account of the brigands, kept my knowledge to myself. I advised them to do the same, to bide their time and not to be intolerant of my command…"
Phase 3 (c). Fortifications Substantially Completed
  L 37 187-188 War 2.20.6 572   Completion of major fortification phase. By now Jos has fortified the following: 

Gaulanitis (which had revolted from the king as far as Solyma): Gamala,Seleucia, Sogane; 

Upper Galilee: Jamnia, Ameroth, Acharabe;

Lower Galilee: Tarichaeae, Tiberias, Sepphoris[?], villages of the cave of Arbela, Beersubae, Selame, Jotapata, Kapharath, Komus, Soganae, Papha, and Mt. Tabor. Stocked with arms and grain.

Phase 4. The Recall to Jerusalem
  L 38-40 180-203 War 2.21.8 626-628   Influenced by John of Gischala, Ananus recalls Josephus from his command. Four envoys sent to replace him as commanders of Galilee. John persuades Jerusalem council to remove Josephus: to clip his "sprouting wings" so that he would not suffer to the "pinnacle of fame", and that Jos could at any time "march with a large army upon Jerusalem." Used Simon son of Gamaliel: "He was John's old and intimate friend, and, at the time, was at variance with me." After resistance, Ananus was bribed: "As the result of bribery, Ananus and his party agreed to expel me from Galilee, while every one else in the city remained ignorant of the plot." (198) A delegation of prominent men of different parties sent "to approach the Galilean and ascertain the reason for their devotion to me." These were given 40,000 pieces of silver, and support from "a Galilean named Jesus who was staying in Jerusalem with a company of 600 armed men", given 3 months pay; and 300 more paid citizens; along with John's brother and 100 of their armed men. Ordered to either send Jos to Jerusalem alive or kill him.

Orders sent to Tiberias, Sepphoris, and Gabara to assist them. 

Delegation: Jonathan and Ananias, lower ranked Pharisees; Jozar, priestly Pharisee; Simon, priest. Jonathan appears to be the eldest and the leader. Simon is the youngest.

  L 41 204-7 War 2.21.7 629 Plain of Asochis HQ (near Cana) (Sahel el Buttauf, running E-W, in the break in the hills between Jotapata (N) and Nazareth (S). Jos is informed of the plot and decides to return to Jerusalem. The Galileans beg him to stay. Jos hears this. "My information reached me in a letter from my father, to whom the news was confided by Jesus son of Gamala, an intimate friend of mine, who had been present at the conference." (204) Deeply distressed, he decides to obey "the earnest request in my father's letter that I would come to him, as he longed to see his son before his death." Tells others of his plans to leave in 3 days, but he is begged to stay by all who heard him; and "the Galileans" feared they would be left prey to "the brigands" and told all of Galilee about his departure; so there was a large assembly in the great plain "with their wives and children" where his HQ was.
  L 42 208-11     Revelatory dream telling Jos to stay in Galilee and fight. That same night Jos, having retired to his couch grieved and distraught by the tidings in the letter, beholds "a marvelous vision in my dreams." A figure appears telling him that what grieves him now will bring him greatness and happiness; and that he must strengthen himself to fight the Romans. Jos goes in to the plain, when "the whole crowd of Galileans, which included women and children, flung themselves on their faces and with ears implored me not to abandon them to their enemies." But Jos does not comply, so they seek to coerce him, "bitterly inveighing against the people of Jerusalem for not allowing their country to remain in peace." [Do they see Jos as a peace bringer and negotiator, rather than as one to carry out the war?]
  L 43 212-15   Chabolo Jos stays. Gathers army, confronts Roman commander Placidus. Jos breaks down from their cries and consents to remain. With 5000 of them armed, and adding his own 3000 infantry and 80 cavalry, they march to Chabolo to prevent further incursion by Placidus, sent by Cestius Gallus to burn the Galilean villages near Ptolemais. There is no engagement as Placidus declines battle.
  L 44 216-225     Messenger from the Jerusalem envoys is made drunk, reveals all to Jos. The envoys (led by Jonathan) from Jerusalem arrive. They send a letter attempting to trick him into meeting them without bringing a large force. The messenger's abrupt manner makes Josephus immediately suspicious; reading the letter without the soldier aware of it, Jos invites him to drink (after giving him some money for traveling expenses to test his greed) and offers him a drachma for every cup he drinks. Eventually, drunk, he tells of the plot to kill him. 
  L 44 226-8     Jos sends counter-invitation to the envoys. Jos writes reply saying how he has longed to go home; but he can't leave Chabolo because of Placidus, and invites them to come. Sends it via the soldier along with "30 Galileans of the highest repute" together with personal spies.
  L 45 229     Envoys order Jos to meet at Gabara. Envoys respond with orders that in 3 days he appear at the village of Gabara (6 mile NE of Chabolo) without military escort. They go to Japha, "the largest village of Galilee" (a few miles SW of Nazareth) and are met by a crowds, including women and children, who denounced them. They continue to Sepphoris, who respond to them neutrally, as they were inclined toward the Romans; then to Asochis, where they meet a crowd as before, order them beaten. At Gabara meet John with 3000 armed men.
  L 45-47 233-245   Jotapata Jos delays, gathers army, has couriers to Jerusalem captured. Jos goes to Jotapata with 3000 men. Messages that he will not go to Gabara, which is in league with John. Hearing that John planned to send letters to every town in Galilee and Jerusalem to stir up what adversaries they can find, Jos has all roads blocked and letters intercepted. Directs Galileans to meet him at Gabara. His guards capture Jonathan's couriers.
  L 48 246-251   Gabara Showdown at Gabara Jonathan and followers and John in the "house of Jesus, which was a great castle, imposing as a citadel." The gathering Galileans again insist to them they would never receive another governor in his place. Josephus appears and is received with great cheering.
  L 49-50 252-261     Jos challenges envoys, reads captured courier letters to Galilean crowds. Josephus presents his case: Takes out the initial letter in which Jonathan claims he will hear Jos's complaints against John. Presents the Galileans as witnesses to his own good conduct. They acclaim him as "benefactor and savior (euergeten kai sotera)" [like a king]. Then Jos reads two of the intercepted letters, that were "full of abuse" and claimed Jos acted the tyrant rather than a general, etc. 
  L 51 262-265 War 2.21.7 630-631   Jos barely manages to prevent Galileans from killing the Jerusalem envoys. The Galileans want to kill Jonathan and his companions. Jos restrains them; tells Jonathan he will set them free if they promise to give a true report (knowing they won't). Still the crowd rushes the house; Jos can only stop them by taking to his horse and ordered them to follow him to Sogane, 20 stadia away (a couple miles). "By this maneuver I guarded myself against the imputation of initiating a civil war." [Theme of the evil of dissension.]
  L 52 266-270   Galilee frontier; then Japha Delegation of 100 sent to Jerusalem to complain about the envoys and factionalism. Jos sends 100 of the eldest leading men with 500 armed men to Jerusalem to "lodge a complaint against those who were splitting the country into factions." Also writes to his "friends in Samaria" to let them through, so as to take only 3 days. Jos escorts them to border of Galilee, then goes to Japha ("settles"). [see Life 60 309, below, for the outcome of the deputation]
  L 53 271     Envoys stir up rebellion against Josephus in Tiberias. Instead of returning to Jerusalem, Jonathan and the envoys proceed to Tiberias in response to a letter from its chief magistrate Jesus. They persuade a number of "aggrieved persons" to desert Jos. Jos is alerted by the man he left in charge, Silas.
  L 53 272-5   Tiberias Jos confronts envoys again but they allay his suspicions. At Tiberias the envoys tell Jos they were impressed by what he had done in Galilee, and that they had not left yet in order to arrest John (who had returned to Gischala). They swore this "by the most awe-inspiring oaths known to us" so that Jos "felt that it would be impious to disbelieve them." They asked him to make quarters elsewhere so that the people would not be inconvenienced on the Sabbath, which was the next day. 
  L 54 276   Tarichaeae Jos leaves Tiberias. Jos goes to Tarichaeae, but posts men in Tiberias and all along the road to relay information.
  L 54 277-9     Sabbath meeting in the Tiberias Synagogue to depose the "tyrant" Josephus. Meeting in the Tiberias Synagogue (proseuche, "oratory"), "a huge building, capable of accommodating a large crowd." Jonathan gives a short speech. Magistrate Jesus: "It is better for us to take our orders from four men than from one, men, too, of illustrious birth and intellectual distinction." [Cf. the original sending of three to Galilee; how 2 went home, leaving Josephus sole "tyrant"; so needed to be replaced by 4 (3 weren't enough last time).] Justus seconds the idea. But a riot was imminent had it not been for the arrival of the sixth hour [1 PM?], "at which it is our custom on the Sabbath to take our midday meal", which broke up the meeting until the following day. Jos is alerted by his spies.
  L 54-55 280-289   TIberias (Sunday) Josephus confronts crowd in Synagogue. Fictitious warning of Roman forces breaks up meeting. Jos arrives at Tiberias at the first hour [7 AM] the next morning [Sunday], and finds people already assembling in the Synagogue. To get rid of him, Jonathan invents fictitious message saying Roman cavalry had been sighted on the frontier nearby. Jos sets out, finds nothing, and returns; Jonathan presents letters to the assembly requesting Jos's aid on the frontier elsewhere, stating Roman forces would be there in three days. Tiberians denounce Jos for sitting there instead of assisting their countrymen [homoethnesi]. Jos proposes that there be five divisions, with the envoys taking the head of four of them, urging "it became brave men to give not merely advice but practical assistance by assuming the lead in an emergency." The people endorse this.
  L 56-58


    Plans for a public fast for success in battle. One in the envoy's party, Ananias, proposes a public fast should be announced for the following day, when everywhere should assemble unarmed "in order to attest their conviction before God that without his aid no armor could avail them." Jos, as usual, questions his motives [as he says of the brigands who agitated for war] -- the man is depraved, mischievous, not offering this from piety but as a trap. In preparation, Jonathan sends to John at Gischala to come, and Josephus, just before entering the synagogue the next day, prepares himself and two bodyguards with hidden swords and armor.

At the prayer service, Jos is questioned, then attacked. John of Gischala arrives.

The magistrate Jesus only allows Jos with the two men to enter, excluding the rest of his party. "We were proceeding with the ordinary service and engaged in prayer" [Monday] when Jesus asks about money -- as a delaying tactic while waiting for John to arrive. Inquires about the royal house goods (held by Capella and other aristocrats, who are present); and about using 20 gold pieces to pay the delegation to Jerusalem. This starts to anger the ground, as they see the trivialness of the charge. Jos says if he did wrong he will repay it; and wins the people against Jonathan. A tumult ensues, but John is reported to arrive just then and at last Jonathan gets to the point: "It is not for the [gold] that Josephus deserves to die, but for aspiring to make himself a despot and gaining a position of absolute power by deceitful speeches to the people of Galilee." They attack Jos, but he is protected by his armed guards and by the people throwing stones.
  L 59 304   Tarichaeae Jos escapes by boat to Tarichaeae. Outside, Jos finds John approaching with his troops. Jos obtains a boat and escapes across the lake to Tarichaeae, "beyond all expectation" coming safe out of the perilous situation.
  L 59 305-8     The Galileans rally around Josephus to attack Tiberias. Jos calls the leading Galileans and report what had happened. They urge him to make war on the others. Jos says they should restrain themselves until they hear the report of the delegates who had been sent to Jerusalem. This convinces them; John returns to Gischala.
  L 60 309-310     Delegation returns from Jerusalem. Delegation returns from Jerusalem; reports popular indignation against Ananus and Simon b. Gamaliel for having acted without the assembly (koinon); brings letters confirming Jos' appointment and ordering Jonathan and colleagues home immediately.
  L 60-61 311-316   Arbela (NW of Tiberias) Two of the envoys leave. Jos, going then to Arbela, has Galileans inform Jonathan of the order, who meets with John, and the leading men of Tiberias and Gabara. Decide to send the two senior envoys, Jonathan and Ananias, to Jerusalem (with 100 armed men) to make a case against Jos of maladministration. Tiberians prepare for battle, asserting that Jos will attack.
  L 62 317-323   Tiberias The two envoys are captured by Jos' men. Jos advances on Tiberias. Jonathan's party captured by Jos guards at Dabarittha at midnight. Jos lets 2 days pass so that Tiberians believe Jonathan has reached Jerusalem. With 10,000 men advances to Tiberias; concealing 3 divisions near Adamah, 1000 men in hills half-mile from Tiberias, took up visible position himself. Tiberians, thinking they had the upper hand, come out to mock him: prepare a funeral bier for Jos.
  L 63 324-326     Jos captures another envoy by a ruse. Jos' intent is to bring out the two Jerusalemites, Simon and Joazar, thinking it impious to wage war on people from the same city as he. Invites them out to talk about dividing the command, with as many guards as they like. Simon comes, Jos lures him away from his guards, "seizes him around the waist" and hands him to friends. 
  L 63-4 327-335 War 2.21.10


  Jos takes Tiberias. Jos assaults Tiberias by land and sea, setting a house on fire. The Tiberians immediately surrender. Dusk has fallen. Enters Tiberias with 10,000 men, summons leaders to stadium to find the authors of the revolt. Most sent in chains to Jotapata. The 4 envoys now released and sent to Jerusalem with 500 soldiers. Jos restores plunder to the Tiberians, punishing a soldier who did not return a garment. 
  L 66 368-372 War 2.21.7 622   Amnesty offered to followers of John of Gischala. Jos again refuses Galilean requests to war with John; instead offers amnesty to John's followers if they join J. 4,000 desert, leaving John in Gischala with only 1500 Tyrians.
Phase 5. Increasing Military Action Leading to the Coming of Vespasian
  L 67 373-380 War 2.21.7 645-646 Sepphoris Jos takes Sepphoris, but limits the damage. Sepphoris "about this time" requests assistance from Cestius Gallus. Jos finds out and takes the city by force. Galileans burn and loot the city. Jos attempts to stop them, reminding them "such treatment of one's compatriots was impious." So Jos circulated a rumor that the Romans were approaching, shows alarm himself, and all flee in fear. In this way Jos saved the Sepphorites from destruction. 
  L 68-69 381-389 cf. War 2.21.8 632  Asochis Agrippa's messenger to Tiberias captured; Jos arranges his escape. Galileans capture a messenger from Agrippa, revealing that Tiberias had asked the king for assistance. The Galileans meet with Jos at Asochis to demand the city be destroyed, detesting the Tiberians as much as the Sepphorites. Jos says he will allow it, but that many had betrayed their country, including "many of the most eminent men in Galilee." Asks them to wait to identify the guilty. Meanwhile, Jos secretly lets Agrippa's man escape back to the king. Thus Jos saves Tiberias from destruction.
  L 70 390-3     Justus flees. Justus son of Pistus defects to Agrippa.
  L 71 394-7   Garis (20 stadia from Sepphoris) Cestius sends troops to Sepphoris; Jos attacks and withdraws. Sepphoris repeats message to Cestius with urgency. A large force arrives under cover of night. Jos proceeds with his forces to Garis, makes a night attack on Sepphoris. Kill 12 infantry and some citizens, losing one man. In a subsequent encounter in the plain with cavalry Jos men were surrounded and routed. Jos loses a bodyguard named Justus. [Is that why he named one of his sons Justus?]
  L 71 398-402   Bethsaida Julias Jos engages Sulla's troops, falls from horse and fractures wrist. "About this time" Agrippa sends troops under Sulla to hold Bethsaida Julias, cutting off the roads to Galilean territory. Jos sends 2000 men and follows with 3000 more. Offers battle, Sulla accepts, Jos feigns fleeing, Sulla pursues and falls into an ambush. Jos wheels army about to attack, would have had complete success but is "thwarted by some evil genius (daimonos)." His horse stumbles on marshy ground, and Jos fractures some bones in his wrist.
  L 72 403-404   Capernaum, Tarichaeae Jos recuperates. Jos is carried to Capernaum [Cepharnocus, Capharnomon]. His men leave off pursuit of Sulla. Remains the day in fever, at night moves to Tarichaeae.
  L 73 405-406     Sulla drives off Jos' army. Next day Sulla offers battle; Jos' troops advance, but are ambushed by cavalry planted during the night; 6 are killed, the rest routed. 
  L 74 407     Vespasian arrives in Tyre. "Not long after this Vespasian arrived in Tyre, accompanied by King Agrippa." [Spring 67]


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