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Against Apion by Flavius Josephus


The former part of this second book is written against the calumnies of Apion, and then, more briefly, against the like calumnies of Apollonius Molo. But after that, Josephus leaves off any more particular reply to those adversaries of the Jews, and gives us a large and excellent description and vindication of that theocracy which was settled for the Jewish nation by Moses, their great legislator.

Called by Tiberius Cymbalum Mundi, The drum of the world.

This seems to have been the first dial that had been made in Egypt, and was a little before the time that Ahaz made his [first] dial in Judea, and about anno 755, in the first year of the seventh olympiad, as we shall see presently. See 2 Kings 20:11; Isaiah 38:8.

The burial-place for dead bodies, as I suppose.

Here begins a great defect in the Greek copy; but the old Latin version fully supplies that defect.

What error is here generally believed to have been committed by our Josephus in ascribing a deliverance of the Jews to the reign of Ptolemy Physco, the seventh of those Ptolemus, which has been universally supposed to have happened under Ptolemy Philopater, the fourth of them, is no better than a gross error of the moderns, and not of Josephus, as I have fully proved in the Authentic. Rec. Part I. p.200-201, whither I refer the inquisitive reader.

Sister's son, and adopted son.

Called more properly Molo, or Apollonius Molo, as hereafter; for Apollonins, the son of Molo, was another person, as Strabo informs us, lib. xiv.

Furones in the Latin, which what animal it denotes does not now appear.

It is great pity that these six pagan authors, here mentioned to have described the famous profanation of the Jewish temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, should be all lost; I mean so far of their writings as contained that description; though it is plain Josephus perused them all as extant in his time.

It is remarkable that Josephus here, and, I think, no where else, reckons up four distinct courts of the temple; that of the Gentiles, that of the women of Israel, that of the men of Israel, and that of the priests; as also that the court of the women admitted of the men, [I suppose only of the husbands of those wives that were therein,] while the court of the men did not admit any women into it at all.

Judea, in the Greek, by a gross mistake of the transcribers.

Seven in the Greek, by a like gross mistake of the transcribers. See of the War, B. V. ch.5. sect.4.

Two hundred in the Greek, contrary to the twenty in the War, B. VII. ch, 5. sect.3.

This notorious disgrace belonging peculiarly to the people of Egypt, ever since the times of the old prophets of the Jews, noted both sect.4 already, and here, may be confirmed by the testimony of Isidorus, an Egyptian of Pelusium, Epist. lib. i. Ep.489. And this is a remarkable completion of the ancient prediction of God by Ezekiel 29:14, 15, |that the Egyptians should be a base kingdom, the basest of the kingdoms,| and that, |it should not exalt itself any more above the nations.|

The truth of which still further appears by the present observation of Josephus, that these Egyptians had never, in all the past ages since Sesostris, had one day of liberty, no, not so much as to have been free from despotic power under any of the monarchies to that day. And all this has been found equally true in the latter ages, under the Romans, Saracens, Mamelukes, and Turks, from the days of Josephus till the present ago also.

This language, that Moses, |persuaded himself| that what he did was according to God's will, can mean no more, by Josephus's own constant notions elsewhere, than that he was |firmly persuaded,| that he had |fully satisfied himself| that so it was, viz. by the many revelations he had received from God, and the numerous miracles God had enabled him to work, as he both in these very two books against Apion, and in his Antiquities, most clearly and frequently assures us. This is further evident from several passages lower, where he affirms that Moses was no impostor nor deceiver, and where he assures that Moses's constitution of government was no other than a theocracy; and where he says they are to hope for deliverance out of their distresses by prayer to God, and that withal it was owing in part to this prophetic spirit of Moses that the Jews expected a resurrection from the dead. See almost as strange a use of the like words, |to persuade God,| Antiq. B. VI. ch.5. sect.6.

That is, Moses really was, what the heathen legislators pretended to be, under a Divine direction; nor does it yet appear that these pretensions to a supernatural conduct, either in these legislators or oracles, were mere delusions of men without any demoniacal impressions, nor that Josephus took them so to be; as the ancientest and contemporary authors did still believe them to be supernatural.

This whole very large passage is corrected by Dr. Hudson from Eusebius's citation of it, Prep. Evangel. viii.8, which is here not a little different from the present MSS. of Josephus.

This expression itself, that |Moses ordained the Jewish government to be a theocracy,| may be illustrated by that parallel expression in the Antiquities, B. III. ch.8. sect.9, that |Moses left it to God to be present at his sacrifices when he pleased; and when he pleased, to be absent.| Both ways of speaking sound harsh in the ears of Jews and Christians, as do several others which Josephus uses to the heathens; but still they were not very improper in him, when he all along thought fit to accommodate himself, both in his Antiquities, and in these his books against Apion, all written for the use of the Greeks and Romans, to their notions and language, and this as far as ever truth would give him leave. Though it be very observable withal, that he never uses such expressions in his books of the War, written originally for the Jews beyond Euphrates, and in their language, in all these cases. However, Josephus directly supposes the Jewish settlement, under Moses, to be a Divine settlement, and indeed no other than a real theocracy.

These excellent accounts of the Divine attributes, and that God is not to be at all known in his essence, as also some other clear expressions about the resurrection of the dead, and the state of departed souls, etc., in this late work of Josephus, look more like the exalted notions of the Essens, or rather Ebionite Christians, than those of a mere Jew or Pharisee. The following large accounts also of the laws of Moses, seem to me to show a regard to the higher interpretations and improvements of Moses's laws, derived from Jesus Christ, than to the bare letter of them in the Old Testament, whence alone Josephus took them when he wrote his Antiquities; nor, as I think, can some of these laws, though generally excellent in their kind, be properly now found either in the copies of the Jewish Pentateuch, or in Philo, or in Josephus himself, before he became a Nazarene or Ebionite Christian; nor even all of them among the laws of catholic Christianity themselves. I desire, therefore, the learned reader to consider, whether some of these improvements or interpretations might not be peculiar to the Essens among the Jews, or rather to the Nazarenes or Ebionites among the Christians, though we have indeed but imperfect accounts of those Nazarenes or Ebionite Christians transmitted down to us at this day.

We may here observe how known a thing it was among the Jews and heathens, in this and many other instances, that sacrifices were still accompanied with prayers; whence most probably came those phrases of |the sacrifice of prayer, the sacrifice of praise, the sacrifice of thanksgiving.| However, those ancient forms used at sacrifices are now generally lost, to the no small damage of true religion. It is here also exceeding remarkable, that although the temple at Jerusalem was built as the only place where the whole nation of the Jews were to offer their sacrifices, yet is there no mention of the |sacrifices| themselves, but of |prayers| only, in Solomon's long and famous form of devotion at its dedication, 1 Kings 8.; 2 Chronicles 6. See also many passages cited in the Apostolical Constitutions, VII.37, and Of the War, above, B. VII. ch.5. sect.6.

This text is no where in our present copies of the Old Testament.

It may not be amiss to set down here a very remarkable testimony of the great philosopher Cicero, as to the preference of |laws to philosophy: -- I will,| says he, |boldly declare my opinion, though the whole world be offended at it. I prefer this little book of the Twelve Tables alone to all the volumes of the philosophers. I find it to be not only of more weight,' but also much more useful.| -- Oratore.

we have observed our times of rest, and sorts of food allowed us [during our distresses].

See what those novel oaths were in Dr. Hudson's note, viz. to swear by an oak, by a goat, and by a dog, as also by a gander, as say Philostratus and others. This swearing strange oaths was also forbidden by the Tyrians, B. I. sect.22, as Spanheim here notes.

Why Josephus here should blame some heathen legislators, when they allowed so easy a composition for simple fornication, as an obligation to marry the virgin that was corrupted, is hard to say, seeing he had himself truly informed us that it was a law of the Jews, Antiq. B. IV. ch.8. sect.23, as it is the law of Christianity also: see Horeb Covenant, p.61. I am almost ready to suspect that, for, we should here read, and that corrupting wedlock, or other men's wives, is the crime for which these heathens wickedly allowed this composition in money.

Or |for corrupting other men's wives the same allowance.|

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