Josephus was an ancient historian who recorded a great deal of Jewish and Roman history. His works primarily explain Jewish history during the first century. Titus Flavius Josephus was the birth name of Josephus, and he came from a wealthy family. His father was a priest named Matthias, and his mother descended from royalty. Josephus was born around 37 A.D., which is where he appears on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History.
Early Life, Since his father was a priest, Josephus was trained to become a priest as well. Eventually, he turned toward military action. Apparently, Josephus had become an exceptional priest who was trusted and respected enough to conduct political affairs for the Jewish people. Around 60 A.D., he was given the responsibility of negotiating the release of some Jewish prisoners with Rome. He managed to free the priests and when he returned the Jews decided to make him a commander of the Galilean forces.
Military Life Shortly after becoming a military commander, the Jews revolted against Rome. General Vespasian showed up with his son Titus and began to retake Judea. Josephus led one of the first forces that Vespasian would encounter in Galilee. Josephus knew he was not a match for the Roman army, and he had to hide out with his soldiers. While they were in hiding, they decided to kill themselves through a process that Josephus was the only surviving member. He surrendered to the Romans and became a negotiator for them to ensure peace. His military life was over, but his life as a member of Vespasian’s court had just begun.
Negotiator and Historian Titus had used him as a negotiator to get the people to surrender peacefully, but the Jews did not listen to him. Jews were ultimately defeated, but he remained in the care of the Jews. He eventually married a Greek woman and had children while in the service of Vespasian and then Titus. He changed his name to Flavius and served these emperors in Rome. Many Jewish people consider him a traitorous individual, and they did not respect his works. Josephus’ works survive to this day. His works primarily focus on the First Jewish War, Masada and various Roman emperors who lived in the first century. Josephus mentions Jesus and the start of Christianity and the early church. Josephus’ works were used to record Jewish theory and philosophy to the world. He compared Jewish thought with classical Greek wisdom and he also outlines the importance of Hebrew culture and why the Jews were so rebellious against the Romans.
His accounts of the conflicts and struggles of the Jewish people during the first century are also notable because he personally experienced most of the historical events that he wrote about. His position as an adviser to Vespasian and Titus allowed him to witness the inner workings of Roman life from the highest level of its society. Many Roman citizens could not view the Rome from this perspective. Though many Jews believe that Josephus was a traitor to his people, his works continue to be used as a critical historical source that tells the tale of his people and their struggles during the first century.