1000 Wells

Written on January 09th, 2007 by Shawn Anthony

Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities describes a very unsteady social, political, and religious situation(s) in the region(s) relevant Jesus’ life and itinerant journeys. Books 18 - 20 provide a wealth of historical background information concerning the times in which Jesus of Nazareth lived and preached. Antiquities 18.27-28 gives a brief account of Rome’s urban development: “… while Herod and Philip had each of them received their own tetrachy, and settled the affairs thereof. Herod also built a wall around about Sepphoris (which is the security of all Galilee), and made it the metropolis of the country. He also built a wall round Betharamphtha, which was itself a city also, and called it Julias, from the name of the emperor’s wife. When Philip also had built Paneas, a city at the fountains of the Jordan, he named it Caesarea. He also advanced the village of Bethsaida, situated at the lake of Gennesareth, unto the dignity of a city, both by the number of inhabitants it contained, and other grandeur, and called it by the name of Julias, the same name as Caesar’s daughter” (588). Antiquities 18.60-62 records a massive Jewish demonstration against an irrigation program embarked upon by Pilate, and funded by sacred money, which ended in the slaughter of many, many Jewish people: “… so he [Pilate] outfitted a great number of his soldiers in the clothing of the crowd, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to a place where they might surround them. So he directed the Jews himself to go away; but when they boldly cast reproached upon him, he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; (62) who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them …” (590). (Josephus, Flavius, William Whiston, and Paul L. Maier. The New Complete Works of Josephus. Rev. and expanded ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999.)

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