A Chronology of the the

First Jewish Revolt against Rome

according to Josephus

compiled by G. J. Goldberg
The War is a tangle: a confusing muddle of many factions, many places and people and dates.

The goal in these pages is to provide a summary format so that the events of the War can be taken in at a glance. Using boldface for important people and events and "thread columns" to track the factions, it is hoped the sequence of events and identities of the parties will be made perfectly clear at each phase of the war.

The references given are to Josephus' The Jewish War unless otherwise specified.

To give a full account, events drawn from Josephus' autobiography, the Life, are intertwined at appropriate places.

August-September 66 CE
1. Revolt in Jerusalem

The outbreak of the revolt among the priests of the Temple; the opposition of the wealthy supporters of King Agrippa and Rome; and the ill-fated career of Menahem the Messiah.


October-November 66 
2. The Campaign of Cestius Gallus

   The greatest victory of the rebellion occurred early in the war, when the Twelfth Legion under the Syrian Legate Cestius Gallus was destroyed by the Judaean fighters. 

Part 2 of the War Chronology provides a map and chronology of Cestius' campaign, and an analysis of his military mistakes and the religious significance of the victory for the rebels.

November 66 - March 67
3. The New Government

 Just four years previously, the High Priest Ananus illegally seized power and ordered the death of James, the brother of the Jesus called the Messiah -- an act for for which Ananus was deposed as High Priest. Now that the Romans had been defeated, Ananus was again in power, this time as  revolutionary commander of Jerusalem. 

  Part 3 of the War Chronology looks at the people who formed the new government and their first official acts.

December 66 - May 67
4. Josephus in Galilee

At the age of 29, with no leadership or military experience, Josephus took command of the Jewish forces in Galilee. Or he tried: 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.  With a map of Galilee  and a table of the political situation in the major cities. 

January 67 - December 69 
5. The Success of Vespasian

After the Jewish rebels defeated Cestius and the Twelfth Legion, Emperor Nero turned to a reliable old soldier, Flavius Vespasian, to conduct the war against Judaea. After three years Jerusalem would still be unconquered, but Nero would be gone and Vespasian would have achieved the throne of the Empire. In Part 5 of the Chronology of the War according to Josephus, the campaigns of Vespasian in Galilee and Judaea and his accession to the throne are outlined in three tables, two maps, and a summary.

An introduction to Roman military terminology can be found in The Organization of the Roman Army.

January 68 - May 70
6. The Factions Battle for Power

With Galilee defeated, Jerusalem became rocked by political division. Which was the correct course of action? Perhaps the cause was lost and therefore the Romans should be negotiated with; or perhaps the Romans were afraid to attack the fortified capital, meaning the new leader of the revolution would be King of Israel and therefore of the world. In Part 6, the sequence of events in this factional struggle are detailed in two tables and five maps.

March 70 - September 70
7. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem

After Rome survived its own nearly disastrous civil war it turned its attention back to Jerusalem. The Judean rebels felt secure in the strength of the city walls and in the favor of heaven. Nothing could persuade them to surrender -- not even the pleas of Josephus. Part 7 of the Chronology describes the battles and the horrendous suffering of the city that brought its destruction.

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