Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume I/Church History of Eusebius/Book II/Chapter 26
Chapter XXVI.—The Jews, afflicted with Innumerable Evils, commenced the Last War Against the Romans.
1. Josephus again, after relating many things in connection with the calamity which came upon the whole Jewish nation, records, in addition to many other circumstances, that a great many of the most honorable among the Jews were scourged in Jerusalem itself and then crucified by Florus. It happened that he was procurator of Judea when the war began to be kindled, in the twelfth year of Nero.
2. Josephus says that at that time a terrible commotion was stirred up throughout all Syria in consequence of the revolt of the Jews, and that everywhere the latter were destroyed without mercy, like enemies, by the inhabitants of the cities, “so that one could see cities filled with unburied corpses, and the dead bodies of the aged scattered about with the bodies of infants, and women without even a covering for their nakedness, and the whole province full of indescribable calamities, while the dread of those things that were threatened was greater than the sufferings themselves which they anywhere endured.” Such is the account of Josephus; and such was the condition of the Jews at that time.
- Josephus, B. J. II. 14. 9. He relates that Florus, in order to shield himself from the consequences of his misrule and of his abominable extortions, endeavored to inflame the Jews to rebel against Rome by acting still more cruelly toward them. As a result many disturbances broke out, and many bitter things were said against Florus, in consequence of which he proceeded to the severe measures referred to here by Eusebius.
- μυρίους ὅσους. Josephus gives the whole number of those that were destroyed, including women and children, as about thirty-six hundred (no doubt a gross exaggeration, like most of his figures). He does not state the number of noble Jews whom Florus whipped and crucified. The “myriads” of Eusebius is an instance of the exaggerated use of language which was common to his age, and which almost invariably marks a period of decline. In many cases “myriads” meant to Eusebius and his contemporaries twenty, or thirty, or even less. Any number that seemed large under the circumstances was called a “myriad.”
- Gessius Florus was a Greek whose wife, Cleopatra, was a friend of the Empress Poppæa, through whose influence he obtained his appointment (Jos. Ant. XX. 11. 1). He succeeded Albinus in 64 a.d. (see above, chap. 23, note 35), and was universally hated as the most corrupt and unprincipled governor Judea had ever endured. Josephus (B. J. II. 14. 2 sqq. and Ant. XX. 11. 1) paints him in very black colors.
- Josephus (B. J. II. 14. 4) puts the beginning of the war in the twelfth year of the reign of Nero (i.e. a.d. 66) in the month of Artemision, corresponding to the month Iyar, the second month of the Jewish year. According to Josephus (Ant. XX. 11. 1) this was in the second year of Gessius Florus. The war began at this time by repeated rebellious outbreaks among the Jews, who had been driven to desperation by the unprincipled and tyrannical conduct of Florus,—though Vespasian himself did not appear in Palestine until the spring of 67, when he began his operations in Galilee.
- Jos. B. J. II. 18. 2.