LIFE OF FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS.
§ 1. THE FAMILY from which I am derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from the priests; and as nobility among several people is of a different origin, so with us to be of the sacerdotal dignity is an indication of the splendour of a family. Now, I am not only sprung from a sacerdotal family in general, but from the first of the twenty-four courses; and as among us there is not only a considerable difference between one family of each course and another, I am of the chief family of that first course also; nay, farther, by my mother I am of the royal blood; for the children of Asamoneus, from whom that family was derived, had both the office of the high priesthood, and the dignity of a king, for a long time together. I will accordingly set down my progenitors in order. My grandfather's father was namedJosephus's
grandfather. Simon, with the addition of Psellus: he lived at the same time with that son of Simon the high priest, who first of all the high priests was named Hyrcanus. This Simon Psellus had nine sons, one of whom was Matthias, called Ephlias: he married the daughter of Jonathan the high priest; which Jonathan was the first of the sons of Asamoneus, who was high priest, and was the brother of Simon the high priest also. This Matthias had a son called Matthias Curtus, and that in the first year of the government of Hyrcanus: His son's name was Joseph, born in the ninth year of the reign of Alexandra: his son Matthias was born in the tenth year of the reign of Archelaus; as was I born to Matthias on the first year of the reign of Caius Cæsar. I have three sons; Hyrcanus, the eldest, was born on the fourth year of the reign of Vespasian, as was Justus born on the seventh, and Agrippa on the ninth. Thus have I set down the genealogy of my family as I have found it described in the public records, and so bid adieu to those who calumniate me [as of a lower original].
2. NOW, MY father Matthias was not onlyHis father
Matthias. eminent on account of his nobility, but had a higher commendation on account of his righteousness; and was in great reputation in Jerusalem, the greatest city we have. I was myself brought up with my brother, whose name was Matthias, for he was my own brother, by both father and mother; and I made mighty proficiency in the improvements of my learning, and appeared to have both a great memory and understanding. Moreover, when I was a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the love I had to learning; on which account the high priests and principal men of the city came then frequently to me together, in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law; and when I was about sixteen years old, I had a mind to make trial of the several sects that were among us. These sects are three:—The first is that of the Pharisees, the second that of the Sadducees, and the third that of the Essens, as we have frequently told you;Pharisees,
for I thought that by this means I might choose the best, if I were once acquainted with them all; so I contented myself with hard fare, and underwent great difficulties, and went through them all. Nor did l content myself with these trials only; but when I was informed that one, whose name was Banus, lived in the desert, who used no other clothing than grew upon trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord, and
- We may hence correct the error of the Latin copy of the second book against Apion, sect. 7, 8 (for the Greek is there lost), which says, there were then only four tribes or courses of the priests, instead of twenty-four. Nor is this testimony to be disregarded, as if Josephus there contradicted what he had affirmed here; because even the account there given better agrees to twenty-four than to four courses, while he says that each of those courses contained about 5000 men, which, multiplied by only four, will make not more than 20,000 priests; whereas, the number 120,000, as multiplied by twenty-four, seems much the most probable, they being about one-tenth of the whole people, even after the captivity. See Ezra ii. 36–39; Nehem. vii. 39–42; 1 Esd. v. 24, 25; with Ezra ii. 64; Nehem, vii. 66; 1 Esd. v. 41. Nor will this common reading or notion of but four courses of priests agree with Josephus's own farther assertion elsewhere (Antiq. b. vii. ch. xiv. sect. 7), that David's partition of the priests into twenty-four courses had continued to that day.
- An eminent example of the care of the Jews about their genealogies, especially as to the priests. See Contr. Ap. b. i. ch. vii.