Chapter XX.—The Events which took Place in Jerusalem during the Reign of Nero.
1. Josephus again, in the twentieth book of his Antiquities, relates the quarrel which arose among the priests during the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea.
2. His words are as follows 460 : “There arose a quarrel between the high priests on the one hand and the priests and leaders of the people of Jerusalem on the other. 461 And each of them collected a body of the boldest and most restless men, and put himself at their head, and whenever they met they hurled invectives and stones at each other. And there was no one that would interpose; but these things were done at will as if in a city destitute of a ruler.
3. And so great was the shamelessness and audacity of the high priests that they dared to send their servants to the threshing-floors to seize the tithes due to the priests; and thus those of the priests that were poor were seen to be perishing of want. In this way did the violence of the factions prevail over all justice.”
4. And the same author again relates that about the same time there sprang up in Jerusalem a certain kind of robbers, 462 “who by day,” as he says, “and in the middle of the city slew those who met them.”
5. For, especially at the feasts, they mingled with the multitude, and with short swords, which they concealed under their garments, they stabbed the most distinguished men. And when they fell, the murderers themselves were among those who expressed their indignation. And thus on account of the conp. 123 fidence which was reposed in them by all, they remained undiscovered.
6. The first that was slain by them was Jonathan the high priest; 463 and after him many were killed every day, until the fear became worse than the evil itself, each one, as in battle, hourly expecting death.
Jos. Ant. XX. 8. 8. Felix showed himself throughout very mean and cruel, and his procuratorship was marked with continual disturbances.122:461
This disturbance arose toward the end of Felixs term, under the high priest Ishmael, who had been appointed by Agrippa but a short time before. No cause is given by Josephus for the quarrel.122:462
B. J.II. 13. 3. These open robberies and murders, which took place in Jerusalem at this period, were in part a result of the conduct of Felix himself in the murder of Jonathan (see the next note). At least his conduct in this case started the practice, which was kept up with zeal by the ruffians who were so numerous at that time.123:463
This high priest, Jonathan, had used his influence in procuring the appointment of Felix as procurator, and was therefore upon intimate terms with him, and took the liberty of advising and rebuking him at pleasure; until at last he became so burdensome to Felix that he bribed a trusted friend of Jonathan to bring about his murder. The friend accomplished it by introducing a number of robbers into the city, who, being unknown, mingled freely with the people and slew Jonathan and many others with him, in order to turn away suspicion as to the object of the crime. See Jos. Ant. XX. 8. 5. Josephus has omitted to mention Jonathans appointment to the high priesthood, and this has led Valesius to conclude that he was not really a high priest, but simply one of the upper class of priests. But this conclusion is unwarranted, as Josephus expressly calls him the high priest in the passage referred to (cf. also the remarks of Reland, quoted in Havercamps ed. of Josephus, p. 912). Wieseler (p. 77, note) thinks that Jonathan was not high priest at this time, but that he had been high priest and was called so on that account. He makes Ananias high priest from 48 to 57, quoting Anger, De temporum in Act. Ap. ratione.