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Flavius Josephus

QUESTION: What was Flavius Josephus' original Hebrew name? What is his history?


Born into a priestly and prestigious line of individuals c. AD 37, Josephus ben Matthias, more commonly known as Flavius Josephus, was to become a highly influential name in Jewish communities. The term "ben" means "son of."

His father was a priest and, along with his brothers, Flavius Josephus was extremely well educated and early on developed a deep interest in learning. He ended up excelling in his studies and quickly progressed beyond the others, seeking new heights.

He had a discipleship under an ascetic hermit named Banus and associated with such sects as the Essenes and Pharisees, the latter of which he officially joined when he was eighteen. By this time he was known as a learned and worldly young man, dedicated to both religious and political issues.

Religiously, Flavius Josephus sought utmost chastity and lived under Banus with the strictest physical diligence, eating only foods that grew on their own, wearing clothes only made from trees, and bathing frequently in cold water.

Politically, Flavius Josephus pleaded release from prison on the behalf of several fellow priests who were awaiting to be tried by Nero. He also openly opposed the Jewish revolt against Rome after seeing the power it flaunted, knowing the damage his people would receive from Rome's reaction.

A year later, around AD 67, Flavius Josephus seemingly changed stances and sided with forces in Galilee to strengthen several cities there, store up extra necessities, and train the military.

His hopes to stand against a possible onslaught of a certain Vespasian, however, were greatly defeated and Flavius Josephus found himself in jail. Yet, in the course of being conquered by Vespasian, Flavius Josephus gained his favor and was miraculously released from imprisonment.

Upon his release, Flavius Josephus left Galilee with Vespasian's son, Titus, for Jerusalem and Flavius Josephus served as a Roman interpreter and mediator, amid yet another approach of battle. The Roman forces were rising against the Jews, once again, and Flavius Josephus found himself in the middle of things.

Though he pleaded with his people to surrender for the sake of saving the city, Flavius Josephus watched as his side was once more overcome in a raging battle. Jerusalem was taken and destroyed.

Escaping to Rome, Flavius Josephus became a citizen and settled with Titus once again, this time as a client of the emperor on an imperial pension. It was here that, previously named simply Josephus, Flavius was added to his title; it was under such a name that several works of literature were embarked upon. Each of which were historical sentiments to his fellow Jews and of his own personal life.

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