The Hebrew Historian of the First Century A.D.

Book of Jesus Volume I

Jesus of Nazareth

Chapter 17


Some writers have thought the early Church fathers inserted among the works of Josephus this testimony concerning Jesus: However, it may not be amiss if, over and above, we make use of Josephus the Jew for a further witness, who in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities, when he was writing the history of what happened under Pilate, makes mention of our Savior in these words:


"Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as had a veneration for truth. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles: he was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did not forsake him; for he appeared unto them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had spoken of these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him: whence the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."


If, therefore, we have this historian's testimony that he not only brought over to himself the twelve apostles, with the seventy disciples, but many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles also, he must manifestly have had somewhat in him extraordinary, above the rest of mankind; for how otherwise could he draw over so many of the Jews and of the Gentiles, unless he performed admirable and amazing works, and used a method of teaching that was not common? Moreover, the scripture of the Acts of the Apostles (21:20) bears witness, that there were many ten thousands of Jews, who were persuaded that he was the Christ of God, who was foretold by the prophets.


Now that our Savior taught his preaching three years is demonstrated both by other necessary reasonings, and also out of the holy Gospels, and out of Josephus' writings, who was a wise man among the Hebrews, etc.


Josephus relates in the fifth book of the (Jewish) war, "that Jerusalem was taken in the third (second) year of Vespasian, as after forty years since they had dared to put Jesus to death . . ."


Now Josephus, an author and writer of your own, says of Christ, that he was a just and good man, shewed and declared so to be by divine grace, who gave aid to many by signs and miracles.


From that time began the destruction of the Jews, as Josephus, the philosopher of the Jews, hath written; who also said this, that from the time the Jews crucified Christ, who was a good and a righteous man (that is if it be fit to call such a one a man, and not God) the land of Judea was never free from trouble. These things the same Josephus the Jew has related in his writings.


He (Josephus) speaks of the divinity of Christ, who is our true God, in a way very like to what we use, declaring that the same name of Christ belongs to him, and writes of his ineffable generation of the Father after such a manner as cannot be blamed . . . (From the Photius Cod. Lib. xlvii, about A.D. 860).


We have found Josephus, who hath written about the taking of Jerusalem (of whom Eusebius Pamphilii makes frequent mention in his Ecclesiastical History), saying openly in his Memoirs of the Captivity, that Jesus officiated in the temple with the priests. Thus have we found Josephus saying -- a man of ancient times, and not very long after the apostles, etc. (About A.D. 980, Suidas in voce.)


* * * * * * * * *


Josephus goes on to describe priestly vestments of the time:

"There were peculiar garments appointed for the priests, and for all the rest, which they called chanaelal, or priestly garments; and also for the high priest, which they called chanmae-rabbae, and denotes the high priest's garments, such was therefore the habit of the rest.


"But when the priest approaches the sacrifices, he purifies himself with the purification which the Law prescribes; in the first place he puts on that which is called machanase, which means somewhat that is fast tied. It is a girdle composed of fine twined linen, and is put about the privy parts, the feet being inserted like into a pair of breeches, but above half of it is cut off, and it ends at the thighs and is there tied fast.


"Over this, he wore a linen vestment made of fine flaxed double. This vestment reaches down to the feet, and sets close to the body, and has sleeves that are tied fast to the arms. It is girded to the breast a little above the elbow by a girdle often going round four fingers broad but so loosely woven that you would think it were the skin of a serpent. It is embroidered with flowers of scarlet and purple and blue, and fine turned linen, but the warp was nothing but fine linen.


"The beginning of its circumvolution is at the breast, and when it has often gone around, it is there tied and hangs loosely there down to the ankles. I mean that all the time the priest is not about any laborious service, for in this position it appears in the most agreeable manner to the spectators, but when he is obliged to assist at the offering sacrifices and to do the appointed service that he may not be hindered in his operations by its motion, he throws it to the left and bears it on his shoulders.


"Moses indeed called this belt Abaneth. But we have learned from the Babylonians to call it Ermia, for so it is by them called. This vestment has no loose or hollow parts anywhere in it, but only a narrow aperture about the neck, and it is tied with certain strings hanging down from the edge over the breast and back and is fastened above each shoulder. It is called Massalazemes.


"Upon his head he wears a cap, not brought to a conic form, nor circling the whole head, but still covering more than half of it, which is called Masnaemphthes, and its make is such that it seems to be a crown being made of thick swathes, but the contexture is on linen.


"And it is doubled round many times and sewed together besides, with a piece of fine linen covering the whole cap from the upper part, and reaches down to the forehead and hides the seams of the swathes, which would otherwise appear indecently. This adheres closely upon the solid part of the head, and is thereto so firmly fixed that it may not fall off during sacred service about the sacrifices.


"So we have now shown you what is the habit of the Gemruletz-co the priest. The high priest is indeed adorned with the same garments that we have discussed without abating one, only over these he puts on a blue vestment.


"This is a long robe reaching to his feet (in our language it is called meeir) and is tied round with a girdle embroidered with the same colors and flowers as the former, with a mixture of gold interwoven to the bottom of which garments are hung fringes in color like pomegranates with golden bells, and between two pomegranates a bell.


"Now this vesture was not composed of two parts, nor was it sewn together upon the shoulders and the side, but it was one long vestment so woven as to have aperture for the neck, not an oblique one, but parted all along the breast and back. A border was sewn to it, lest the aperture should loop too indecently. It was also parted where the hems come out, besides this the high priest put on a third garment called the aphol. Its make was after this manner.


"It was woven to the depth of a cubit of several colors, with gold intensified and embroidered, but it left the middle of the breast uncovered. It was made with sleeves also, nor did it appear to be at all differently made from a short coat but in the void place of this garment there was inserted a piece of the bigness of a span, embroidered with gold and the gold colors of the ephod, and was called essen, or the oracle.


"It was united to it by golden rings at every corner, the like rings being annexed to the ephod, and a blue ribund was made use of to tie them together by those rings, and that space between the rings might not appear empty, they contrived to fill it up with stripes of blue ribunds. There were also two sardonyxes upon the ephod at the shoulders to fasten in it in the nature of buttons, each end running to the sardonyxes of gold that they might be buttoned by them. On these were engraved the names of the sons of Jacob, in our own country letters and in our own tongue, six on each of the stones on either side. And the elder sons' names were on the right shoulder.


"Twelve stones also there upon the breast, extraordinary in largeness and beauty. And they were an armament not to be purchased by man, because of the immense value. These stones, however, stood in three rows by four in a row, and were inserted into the breastplate itself, and they were set in arches of gold that were themselves inserted into the breastplate, and were so made that they might not fall out.



"The first three stones:


1. sardonyx 2. topaz 3. sapphire


"The second row:


1. carbuncle 2. jasper 3. sapphire


"The first of the third row, being the north of the whole number:


1. lizurie 2. amethyst 3. agate



"The first of the fourth row:


1. chrysolite 2. onyx 3. beryl,


"Now the names of the sons of Jacob were engraved in these stones, each having the honor of a name in the order according to when they were born, and whereas the rings were too weak of themselves to bear the weight of the stones, they made two other rings of a larger size at the edge of that part of the breastplate which reached the neck, and inserted into the very texture of the breastplate to receive chains finely wrought, which connected them with golden bands up to the shoulders, whose extremity turned backwards, went into the ring on the prominent part of the back of the ephod, and this was for the security of the breast plate, that it might not fall from its place.


"There was also a girdle sewn to the breastplate, which was of the aforementioned colors, with gold intermixed, which when it had gone once around was tied up again upon the seam, and there hung down also golden loops that admitted its fringes at each extremity of the girdle and included them entirely."


The Christ Child



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