Against Apion: Volume 1.
001 Epaphroditus, most excellent of men, I think it will be clear to those who have read what I have written on our Antiquities, that our Jewish nation is very ancient and has from the start had its own identity, and there I reported how we came to inhabit this country where we now live, for it contains the history of five thousand years as given in our sacred books and then interpreted by me into the Greek tongue. 002 However, I notice how often people listen to scornful comments against us by some who are hostile to us. They seem to disbelieve what I have written about the antiquity of our nation, taking the fact that the most famous Greek history writers do not mention us to be a clear indication that we are of recent origin. 003 Therefore I feel bound to write briefly on these topics, to rebut those who accuse us whether from spite or deliberate falsehood and to correct the ignorance of others, and also to teach the great antiquity of our nation to whoever wishes to know the truth about it.
004 I shall use as witnesses those whom the Greeks themselves regard most highly for their general knowledge of antiquity, and shall show how those who have written about us so scornfully and falsely may be rebutted out of their own writings. 005 I shall try to explain why so few Greeks have mentioned our nation in their histories and also highlight those Greeks who have not ignored our history, for the sake of those who don't already know them, or pretend not to know them.
006 But first I am very surprised at those who think that when enquiring about the ancient past we should listen only to the Greeks and learn about it from them alone, trusting neither ourselves nor anyone else; for quite the reverse seems to me to be true, if we do not wish be led by empty opinions but want to deduce the truth from the actual facts. 007 They will find that almost everything about the Greeks happened not long ago - only yesterday, one might say. I speak of the building of their cities, the invention of their arts and the writing up of their laws, and as for writing down their history, it is almost the last thing they care about. 008 They themselves admit that it was the Egyptians, the Chaldeans and the Phoenicians, among whom I will not reckon us for the present, who preserved the most ancient and lasting human tradition. 009 All these peoples live in places very little subject to natural disasters, and they have taken special care not to forget anything of note that was done among them, and the wisest of them wrote it reverently into the public record.
010 The land of Greece iself was many times destroyed, blotting out the memory of past actions, so that they were always inventing new lifestyles and they each thought the world began with them, though it was recently and with difficulty that they knew of writing, for those who want to trace their oldest literature claim that they learned it from the Phoenicians and from Cadmus. 011 There is no proof that they have any writing extant from that time, in their temples or in any other public monuments. This is because there is great doubt about the time of the Trojan war, so many years later, and it is a big question whether the Greeks used writing at that time, and the most probable opinion is that their present form of writing was unknown at that time.
012 The Greeks do not acknowledge as genuine any of their writings claiming to predate Homer's poetry, which is clearly later than the siege of Troy. Some even say that he did not leave his poetry in writing, but that its memory was preserved in songs that were gathered later and that this is why so many variants are found in them. 013 Those among them who undertook to write about their history, those around Cadmus of Miletus and Acusilaus of Argos and any others after him, were writing shortly before the Persian invasion of Greece. 014 But of those among them who first introduced philosophy and astronomy and theology, such as Pherkydes the Syrian and Pythagoras and Thales, it is generally agreed that whatever they knew was learned from the Egyptians and Chaldeans; what little these wrote is reckoned to be the oldest of all writings among the Greeks; and even then are hardly believed to be genuine.
015 Is it not absurd then for the Greeks to proudly claim to be the only experts in antiquity and to have accurately passed on the truth about those early times? For can we not easily see from those authors how little basis they had for their writings, but rather imagined how things occurred? In their books they often contradict each other and are not ashamed to hold the most conflicting views.
016 It would be idle to try to show the Greeks what they know better than I, how much Hellanicus and Acusilaus disagree in their genealogies, how often Acusilaus corrects Hesiod, or Ephorus proves Hellanicus to have lied in most of his history, as Timaeus does to Ephorus and later writers do to Timaeus and all do to Herodotus. 017 About the Sicilian History, Timaeus could not agree with Antiochus and Philistius, or with Callias, no more than do the writers of the Athides agree about affairs in Athens, or the historians who wrote of the Argives agree about them. 018 Need I say more about particular cities and smaller places, when there are such great differences between the most approved writers about the Persian invasion and of the exploits then performed? Some accuse even Thucydides of writing much that is false, though he seems to have written the most exact history of his own time.
019 If one wished to study the question, many reasons for these divergences could be found, but I attribute them mainly to two things, of which the first seems to me the main one. 020 In the beginning the Greeks took no care to preserve public records of each one's actions, which could clearly give rise to mistakes and lying by those who would later write about those ancient deeds. 021 Indeed, the recording of such ancient deeds was neglected not only by the other Greeks, but even among the Athenians no such records are extant, though they claim to be originators and promoters of learning. They say that their most ancient public records are the written laws of Draco about murders, but that was just a little before the tyrant Pisistratus. 022 As for the Arcadians, who boast so much about their antiquity, it was still later and with some difficulty that they became literate.
023 It is inevitable that great differences arise among writers, when original records are lacking to inform those who seek knowledge and to put a check on liars. 024 But there is also a second reason. Those who quickly rushed into writing history were not so devoted to the truth, though they always profess to be; their real aim was to prove how well they could write 025 and how to make an impression upon others. Some turned to writing mythology and some sought favour with cities or kings, by writing in praise of them. Still others set to finding fault with deeds of others, or with other writers, expecting in this way to gain a reputation. 026 The latter are the most contrary to true history, whose hallmark is for all its practitioners to show consistency in what they speak and write, while these, by writing conflicting views about the same things, imagine that they give the appearance of writing the most truly of all. 027 So we may indeed yield to the Greek writers on the level of language and eloquent composition; but we shall not defer to them about the truth of ancient history and least of all regarding what pertains to the affairs of our own particular countries.
028 I need hardly prove that among the Egyptians and Babylonians the priests were entrusted with writing down their records from the earliest antiquity and they pondered on them, that the Chaldean priests did so among the Babylonians, and that the Phoenicians mingled with the Greeks and used their alphabet, both for everyday things and for passing on the history of public actions, since all are agreed on this. 029 But I shall try to say briefly how our ancestors took no less care to write down their records, for I won't claim that they took even more care than those I have mentioned, and that they entrusted this work to their high priests and prophets and that these records have been preserved with the utmost care down to our own times; indeed if I dare to say so, will continue to be so preserved.
030 From the start they assigned for that purpose the best of those in charge of the divine worship, and took care that the stock of the priests should continue unmixed and pure. 031 Whoever shares in the priesthood must procreate with a wife of the same group, irrespective of money or other advantages, and he must study his wife's genealogy from the ancient tables and have many witnesses to it. 032 This is our practice not only in Judea, but wherever any of our nation live, and even out there an exact catalogue of our priests' marriages is kept, 033 I mean in Egypt and Babylon, or anywhere in the rest of the world that our priests are scattered. They send to Jerusalem, in writing, their parents' names as well as those of their more remote ancestors, indicating also who are the witnesses. 034 But whenever ther is a war, as when Antiochus Epiphanes invaded our country, or when Pompey the Great and Quintilius Varus did so, and especially in our own times, 035 the priests who survive them write new genealogical tables from the old records and examine the status of the female survivors, and they do not register women who have been taken prisoner, for in many cases these will have been subjected to intercourse with foreigners.
036 The best proof of our diligence is this: we have in our records the names of our high priests from father to son for the period of two thousand years. If any of the aforementioned priests sinned, he was barred from standing at the altar, or taking part in any other act of worship. 037 This is just, and even necessary, because not every one is allowed to write history on his own initiative, and there should be no inconsistency in what is written, since only the prophets learned from the inspiration of God himself, and others have written sagely of what happened in their own times.
038 We do not have thousands of discordant and conflicting books, but only twenty-two which contain the records of all our past and which are properly believed. 039 Of these, five come from Moses, containing his laws and the tradition from the origin of mankind until his death; this period was little short of three thousand years. 040 From the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, who reigned after Xerxes, king of Persia, the prophets after Moses wrote down in thirteen books what was done in their times. The other four books contain hymns to God and precepts for human living. 041 It is true, our history since Artaxerxes has also been written but it is not esteemed as highly as the former, as there was no clear succession of prophets during that time.
042 How firmly we trust in these books of ours is proven by what we do, for in the many ages that have passed, nobody has dared either to add anything to them, or take anything from them, or make any change in them. From their earliest childhood, all Jews believe that these books contain the very decrees of God, and hold firmly to them, and, if necessary, will gladly die for them. 043 Many captives have endure racks and all kinds of death in the theatres, rather than say a single word against our laws and the records that contain them. 044 But who among the Greeks would suffer for theirs? They would rather let all their writings be destroyed than suffer any harm, 045 for they regard them as pleasing works of literature, composed as the writers felt inclined, and they rightly have the same opinion of their older literature, since they see some of the present generation daring to write about matters where they were not present, not even taking the trouble to find out about them from those who knew. 046 For instance, some have written and published histories about our late war without been involved or even ever going near the places when the actions took place. They just put together a few things by hearsay and then shamelessly claim to have written history.
047 On the contrary, having been involved in all the actions of that whole war, I have written a true history of it and of all its episodes. 048 I served as general of those among us called Galileans, as long as it was possible for us to put up any opposition, and then I was taken prisoner by the Romans and Vespasian and Titus had me kept under guard and constantly in their presence. At first I was in chains, but was later set free and sent to accompany Titus when he came from Alexandria to the siege of Jerusalem. 049 During that time none of the events escaped my knowledge, for I saw and wrote down carefully what happened in the Roman camp, and I was the only one who understood the information that was brought by the deserters.
050 Later I came to have leisure in Rome, and after gathering all my material for my work, I used others to help me in learning the Greek tongue and so I wrote the story of those events. I was so sure of the truth of what I reported that I appealed first of all to the witness of those who were in command in that war, Vespasian and Titus, 051 for I first presented those books to them and later to many of the Romans who had fought alongside them. I also sold them to many of our own people who were familiar with Greek philosophy; among whom were Julius Archelaus, the venerable Herod and the amazinf king Agrippa himself. 052 All of these can witness how careful I was about the truth, and they would have spoken out if, from ignorance or partiality, I falsely portrayed or omitted any of the events.
053 Still, some malicious people have attempted to take issue with my history as a kind of scholastic exercise, a strange sort of accusation and calumny, since anyone who undertakes to truly deliver the history of things past should first know them well himself, either by having been involved in them, or having learned of them from those who knew them. 054 I believe I may claim to have composed both my works with the benefit of such knowledge; for, as I said, I have derived the Antiquities from our sacred books, since as a priest by birth I was familiar with the philosophy contained in those books. 055 Then I wrote the history of the war as one who was involved in many of its actions, an eye-witness in most of them and not unaware of anything that was said or done in it. 056 How brazen a man must be to contradict me about the truth of those matters, men who claim to have used the memoirs of the emperors but were unfamiliar with the deeds of us who were their opponents.
057 I felt obliged to make this digression to show the frivolity of some who profess to write about this history; 058 and I think I have sufficiently shown that the so-called Barbarian nations have passed on the history of ancient times better than the Greeks. Next I will reply to those who seek to prove that our system is only of recent origin, since they claim that the Greek writers have said nothing about us. 059 I shall call on the writings of foreigners for proofs of our antiquity, and I prove that those who condemn our nation do so most unjustly.
060 My people do not inhabit a maritime country, nor do we delight in trade, nor in the consequent mingling with others. Our cities are remote from the sea and as we live in a fruitful country, we devote all our efforts to cultivating it and educating our children well, and we think it to be the most essential thing in life to observe the laws that were given us and keep the rules of piety handed down to us. 061 Besides what we have already noted, since we have had our own special way of living, in ancient ages we had no mingling with the Greeks such as they had with the Egyptians through their exporting and importing of goods, just as they also mixed with the Phoenicians who were a coastal people, on account of their love of profit through trading and merchandise. 062 Nor did our ancestors resort to robbery as did some others; nor did they engage in foreign wars in order to gain more wealth, although our country contained many thousands of brave men. 063 So it was that by trading and navigation the Phoenicians soon came to be known to the Greeks and through them the Egyptians also, as well as all the peoples whose wares the Phoenicians, in their long sea-voyages, brought to the Greeks. 064 The Medes and later the Persians, when they were masters of Asia, were well known to them, and even more so the Persians, who led their armies to our part of the world. The Thracians were known to them by the proximity of their countries and the Scythians by means of those who sailed to Pontus.
065 In general, all maritime nations and those living near the eastern or western seas were best known to those who wished to write anything; but those who lived further from the sea were for the most part unknown to them. 066 This seems to have happened with regard to Europe too, where the city of Rome, which for so long has held such power and done such great deeds in war, is yet never even mentioned by Herodotus or Thucydides, or by any of their contemporaries, for it was very late and with difficulty that the Romans became known to the Greeks. 067 Their most esteemed historians, for example Ephorus, were so unaware of the Gauls and the Spaniards, that he thought of the Spaniards, who inhabit such a large part of the western world, as no more than a single city. And yet they ventured to describe as their customs things they never did or said! 068 The reason they did not know the truth about them was that they had no contact with them; and they wrote such falsities because they wished to appear to know more than others. Is it any wonder, then, if our nation too was unknown to many of the Greeks, nor had they occasion to mention us in their writings, as we lived so far from the sea, with a lifestyle so special to ourselves?
069 Suppose we tried to prove the Greeks that their nation is not ancient because nothing is said of them in our records. Would not they laugh at us and give the same reasons for our silence that I have now given, and adduce their neighbouring nations as witnesses to their own antiquity? 070 I will try to do the very same thing, by bringing the Egyptians and Phoenicians as my main witnesses, for nobody can dismiss their testimony as false, since they are known to have been hostile towards us. This is generally true of the Egyptians, while among the Phoenicians the Tyrians were mostly hostile to us. 071 I cannot say the same of the Chaldeans, since the first leaders and ancestors of our race came from them, and due to this relationship they mention the Jews in their records. 072 When I have proved this as far as concerns these groups, I will go on to show that even some of the Greek writers have mentioned the Jews, so that those who envy us may not have even this pretext to contradict what I have said about our nation.
073 Let me begin with the writings of the Egyptians, though not those written in their own language. Manetho was of Egyptian origin and was a master of Greek learning, as is clear from his writing the history of his country in Greek, but translating it, as he says himself, from their sacred books. He finds much fault with Herodotus for his ignorance and lies about Egyptian matters. 074 This Manetho, in the second book of his Egyptian History, writes this about us, and I will set down his very words, as if putting the man himself in the witness-box: 075 "[We had] a king named Timaeus, under whom, I don't know why, God turned away from us for some ruffians from the east unexpectedly invaded our country and easily subdued it without a fight. 076 After capturing our rulers, they burned down our cities and demolished the temples of the gods and cruelly treated all the inhabitants, killing some 077 and leading their children and wives into slavery. Finally they appointed as king one of themselves, named Salitis. This man lived in Memphis and imposed taxes on both the upper and lower parts of the land, placing garrisons in the most suitable places, but he took most care of his eastern border, foreseeing that the Assyrians, who were then the dominant power, would desire that kingdom and invade them. 078 As he found in the city of Sethroite on the Bubastic river-channel suited for this purpose, (though for some theological reason it was called Avaris,) he rebuilt it and fortified it around with walls place a numerous garrison of two hundred and forty thousand warriors to defend it. 079 There he came every summer to gather his corn and pay his soldiers their wages and to exercise his warriors and thereby to deter foreigners. After a reign of thirteen years, he died.
080 After him another man called Beon reigned for forty-four years; after him Apachnas reigned fro thirty-six years and seven months; and then Apophis reigned for sixty-one years and then Jannas for fifty years and one month. 081 Finally Assis reigned for forty-nine years and two months. These six were their first leaders, always making war on the Egyptians and seeking to destroy them to the very roots. 082 This whole nation was styled HYKSOS, that is, Shepherd-kings. For the first syllable HYK, according to the sacred dialect, means a king, as is SOS a shepherd in the local dialect, and of these the word HYKSOS is formed. 083 But some say that these people were Arabs." In another copy it is said that this word does not denote Kings, but on the contrary, means Captive Shepherds and this due to the particle HYK, since in Egyptian HYK, with the aspiration, means Shepherds and HAK means captives, and this to me seems the more in accord with ancient history. 084 "These people, whom we have before named kings and shepherds and their descendants kept possession of Egypt five hundred and eleven years." 085 After these, he says, "The kings of Thebais and the other parts of Egypt rebelled against the shepherds and there a fierce and lengthy war between them." 086 He says that under a king called Misphragmuthosis, the shepherds were subdued and driven out of other parts of Egypt, and shut up within an area of ten thousand acres. 087 This place Manetho calls Avaris and says that the shepherds surrounded it with a large, strong wall, to defend all their possessions and booty within a stronghold. 088 He says that Thummosis the son of Misphragmuthosis attempted to take them by force, besieging them with four hundred and eighty thousand men, but that, unable to take the place by siege, they came to an agreement for them to leave Egypt unharmed, to go wherever they wished.
089 After this treaty they went off with all their families and effects, no less than two hundred and forty thousand and journeyed from Egypt, through the wilderness, towards Syria. 090 Being afraid of the Assyrians who then dominated Asia, they built a city in the country which is now called Judea, large enough to contain so many thousands of people, and gave it the name Jerusalem. 091 In another book Manetho says that this nation, so called Shepherds, were also called Captives, in their sacred books. This account of his is the truth, for pasturing sheep was the employment of our ancestors in the most ancient ages and as they led such a wandering life they were called Shepherds. 092 Nor were they called Captives by the Egyptians without reason, since one of our ancestors, Joseph, told the king of Egypt that he was a captive and later with the king's permission sent for his brothers to come to Egypt. I shall examine these things more in detail, elsewhere.
093 Now I produce some Egyptian witnesses to our antiquity, for I call on Manetho again and what he has to say about the relevant time-scale. 094 He says: "After the nation of shepherds left Egypt for Jerusalem, Tethmosis the king of Egypt, who drove them out, reigned for twenty-five years and four months and then died and after him his son Chebron ruled for thirteen years, and after him Amenophis, for twenty years and seven months. 095 His sister Amesses ruled for twenty-one years and nine months, then Mephres, for twelve years and nine months, and Mephramuthosis, for twenty-five years and ten months; 096 Thmosis, for nine years and eight months; Amenophis for thirty years and ten months; Horus, for thirty-six years and five months; his daughter Acencheres, for twelve years and one month; then her brother Rathotis, for nine years.
097 Acencheres reigned for twelve years and five months; another Acencheres, for twelve years and three months; Armais, for four years and one month; Ramesses, for one year and four months; Armesses Miammoun, for sixty-six years and two months; then Amenophis, for nineteen years and six months. 098 Then came Sethosis and Ramesses, who had an army of cavalry and a naval force and appointed his brother Armais as his deputy over Egypt, giving him all the other royal authority, except not to wear a crown or molest the queen, the mother of his children, or the other royal concubines. 099 Meanwhile the king made an expedition against Cyprus and Phoenicia and against the Assyrians and the Medes, all of whom he subdued, some with war and some without, since they feared his large army. Flushed by his successes, he went on still more boldly destroying cities and countries off to the east. 100 After a long time, Armais, who was behind left in Egypt, began to do all that his brother had forbidden, forcing himself on the queen and regularly abusing the other concubines. At his friends' persuasion he even donned the crown and set up in opposition to his brother. 101 But the overseer of the priests of Egypt wrote an account to Sethosis, telling him of all this and how his brother had set up as his rival, so he immediately returned to Pelusium and regained his own kingdom. 102 The country was named Egypt after him, for Manetho says that Sethosis was called Egyptus, and his brother Armais was called Danaus.
103 This is Manetho's account, and if we add up the years assigned to this period, it is clear that those he calls the Shepherds were our ancestors, who were brought back from Egypt and came to inhabit this land three hundred and ninety three years before Danaus came to Argos, although the Argives regard him as their most ancient king. 104 From the Egyptian records Manetho testifies to us on two main points, first, that we came to Egypt from another country, and also that our rescue from it was so long ago that it precedes the siege of Troy by almost a thousand years. 105 Some items that Manetho adds not from the Egyptian records but as he confesses himself, he drew from mythology of uncertain origin, I will later tackle in detail, and show that they are nothing but incredible fables.
106 Let me now pass from these to some Phoenician records concerning our nation and present the evidence drawn from them. 107 Among the Tyrians there are exact public records going back many years, about matters of significance done by them or with each other. 108 It is recorded there that the temple was built by king Solomon in Jerusalem a hundred and forty-three years and eight months before the Tyrians built Karchedon [Carthage.] 109 The building of our temple is reported in their annals, for Hiram, the king of Tyre, was a friend of our king Solomon, carrying on this friendship from his own father. 110 He saw it as sharing in a glorious project to contribute to the splendor of Solomon's building and so he gave him a hundred and twenty talents of gold and for its roof he cut down the best of timber from the mountain called Libanus to send to him. In return, Solomon gave him many gifts, including an area of Galilee called Chabulon.
111 Their friendship was also based on a shared passion for philosophy, for they sent each other problematic riddles for the other to resolve. In these, Solomon had the upper hand as he was the wiser in several respects, and many of the letters between them are still preserved among the Tyrians. 112 Not to give just my word for this, I offer the witness of Dios, a man who is believed to have written the Phoenician history in accurate detail. In his Histories of the Phoenicians he writes in this way: 113 "After Abibalus died, his son Hiram took over the kingdom. He strengthened and enlarged the eastern parts of the city and made a causeway to join to the city the temple of Olympian Zeus, which had earlier stood on a separate island, and he adorned it with donations of gold. Then he went up to Libanus and had timber cut down for temple building. 114 They also say that when Solomon was tyrant of Jerusalem, he sent riddles for Hiram to solve and asked to receive others back on condition that whoever could not find the answer would pay money to the one who solved them. 115 When Hiram agreed to this, but was unable to solve the riddles, he had to pay a lot of money in penalties. A Tyrian called Abdemon is said to have solved some and posed others which Solomon could not solve, and then he had to pay a lot of money back to Hiram." These items attested by Dius confirm things we have already said.
116 Let me also adduce Menander the Ephesian, who wrote the Acts of individual kings both among the Greeks and the Barbarians, having studied hard to learn their history from their own records. 117 Writing about the kings who reigned in Tyre, he says of Hiram, "After the death of Abibalus, his son Hiram took over the kingdom. He lived for fifty-three years and reigned for thirty-four. 118 He levellout out the Wide Place and dedicated the golden pillar in Zeus's temple. He also went and cut timber from the mountain called Libanus and provided the cedar-wood for the roofs of the temples. He pulled down the old temples and built new ones and he also consecrated the temples of Hercules and of Astarte. 119 He first built the temple of Hercules in the month of Peritius and the other when he invaded the people of Utica, who would not pay him tribute, and when he had subdued them, he returned home. 120 In his reign there was a younger son of Abdemon, who mastered the problems sent by king Solomon of Jerusalem."
121 The time from this king to the building of Carthage is calculated so: "After the death of Hiram, his son Baleazarus took over the kingdom. He lived forty-three years and reigned for seven years. 122 After him came his son Abdastartus, who lived for twenty-nine years and reigned for nine of them. But four sons of his nurse schemed against him and killed him, the eldest of whom reigned for twelve years. After them came Methusastartus, son of Deleastartus who lived for fifty-four years and reigned for twelve years. 123 And after him came his brother Aserymus who lived for fifty-four years and reigned for nine years. He was killed by his brother Pheles, who took over the kingdom and reigned for but eight months, though he lived fifty years: he was killed by Ithobalus, the priest of Astarte, who reigned for thirty-two years and lived for sixty-eight years. 124 He was succeeded by his son Badezorus, who lived for forty-five years and reigned for six years. 125 He was succeeded by Matgenus his son, who lived for thirty-two years and reigned for nine years. Pygmalion succeeded him, and lived for fifty-six years, reigning for forty-seven years. Now in the seventh year of his reign, his sister fled from him and built the city of Carthage in Libya."
126 So the whole time from Hiram's reign to the building of Karchedon, amounts to one hundred fifty-five years and eight months. Since the temple was built in Jerusalem in his twelfth year, from the building of the temple, until the building of Carthage was one hundred and forty-three years and eight months. 127 What more testimonies do I need from the Phoenician histories, since what I have said is so fully proven already? Our ancestors came into this country long before the building of the temple, for we could not build it until we had possession of the whole land by war. This is the point that I have clearly proved in my Antiquities, from our sacred writings.
128 I will now relate what has been written about us in the Chaldean histories, records in large agreement with our books in other things. 129 Berosus shall be witness to what I say: he was by birth a Chaldean, well known by the learned, having published among the Greeks the Chaldean books of astronomy and philosophy. 130 Following the most ancient records of that nation, this Berosus gives us the story of the flood and of its destruction of mankind and agrees with Moses's narrative, and of the ark where Noah, the origin of our race, was preserved, when it was brought to the highest part of the Armenian mountains. 131 Then he lists the descendants of Noah with their dates and finally comes down to Nabolassar, king of Babylon and of the Chaldeans. 132 When relating the acts of that king, he tells how he sent his son Nabuchodonosor with a large army against Egypt and against our land, after hearing that they had rebelled from him, and how he subdued them all and burned our temple in Jerusalem; also that he entirely deported our people from their own country and moved them to Babylon, so that our city was desolate for a period of seventy years, until Cyrus king of the Persians. 133 This Babylonian king, he says, conquered Egypt and Syria and Phoenicia and Arabia and in his exploits surpassed all who had reigned before him in Chaldea and Babylon. 134 I will quote Berosus himself as follows:
135 "When his father Nabolassar heard that the ruler he had set over Egypt and the regions of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia had rebelled, he could not endure it, so entrusting parts of his army to Nabuchodonosor his son, who was still young, he sent him against him. 136 Nabuchodonosor fought and defeated the rebel and brought the country under their rule again. But his father Nabolassar fell ill at this time and died in the city of Babylon, after a reign of twenty-nine years. 137 Hearing soon of the death of his father Nabolassar, he set in order the affairs of Egypt and the other territory and left some of his friends in charge of the captives he had taken from the Jews and Phoenicians and Syrians and of the nations under Egypt, to bring his heavily armed troops and the rest of his baggage to Babylonia, while he sped back across the desert to Babylon with just a small force. 138 He found that affairs had been well managed by the Chaldeans and that his kingdom had been preserved for him by the best of them, so he now controlled all of his father's dominions; and then he ordered the captives to be placed as colonies in the most suitable places of Babylonia. 139 He proceeded to elegantly adorn the temple of Belus and the other temples with the spoils he had taken in the war, and rebuilt the old city and added another outside it and built it so that none who might later besiege it would be able to divert the river for an easier access to the city. This he did by building three walls round the inner city and three around the outer, built partly of brick and asphalt and some of brick alone.
140 When he had well fortified the city with walls, and had magnificently adorned the gates, he added a new, higher and more splendid palace near the one where his father had lived. It would probably take too long to describe it, but large and as magnificent as it was, it was completed in fifteen days. 141 Now in this palace he built lofty terraces, supported by stone pillars and made what were called the Hanging Gardens planting them with all sorts of trees, creating the appearance of mountain scenery to please his queen who had been reared in Media and loved the mountains."
142 This is what given about the aforesaid king, besides many other things in the third book of the Chaldean History, where he censures the Greek writers for their baseless speculation that Babylon was built by Semiramis of Assyria and their lying claim that those wonderful buildings were due to her. 143 In these matters the Chaldean History must be the most credible. And we find a confirmation of what Berosus says in the archives of the Phoenicians, about the king of the Babylonians, that he conquered all Syria and Phoenicia. 144 Philostratus agrees with the others in the history he composed, where he mentions the siege of Tyre; as does Megasthenes, in his fourth book on India, where he tries to prove that the aforesaid king of the Babylonians was superior to Hercules in bravery and size, for he says that he conquered most of Libya and Iberia.
145 Now as to what I said earlier about the temple in Jerusalem, that it was burned by the Babylonians invaders, but was opened again when Cyrus became king of Asia, shall be clearly shown from what Berosus adds about it, for in his third book he says: 146 "Nabuchodonosor, after he began to build the aforesaid wall, fell sick and departed this life, after reigning forty-three years and his son Evilmerodach came to power. 147 He ruled lawlessly and licentiously and a plot was hatched against him by Neriglissar, his sister's husband who killed him when he had reigned for just two years. After he was killed, Neriglissar, who schemed against him, succeeded him in the kingdom and reigned for four years. 148 his son Laborosoardoch ruled the kingdom for nine months though he was only a child; but because of his public bad behaviour he was conspired against and tortured to death by his friends. 149 After his death, the conspirators gathered and by common consent put the crown upon the head of Nabonnedus, a Babylonian and one of their group. It was in his reign that the ramparts of the city of Babylon were finely built with burned brick and asphalt.
150 In the seventeenth year of his reign, Cyrus came from Persia with a large army, and having already conquered all the rest of Asia, he hurried to Babylonia. 151 When Nabonnedus saw him coming to attack him, he met him with his forces and was defeated in the battle and fled with a few of his troops but was shut up within the city of Borsippus. 152 Then Cyrus took Babylon and had the outer walls of the city demolished, since the city had proved formidable and had cost him a large amount of trouble to take, and marched to to besiege Nabonnedus in Borsippus. 153 Nabonnedus did not withstand the siege, but gave himself up and was at first kindly treated by Cyrus, who let him reside in Carmania but sent him out of Babylonia. So Nabonnedus spent the rest of his time in that country and there died."
154 These accounts agree with the truth in our books, for it is written in them that Nabuchodonosor, in the eighteenth year of his reign, devastated our temple and for fifty years it lay hidden; but that in the second year of the reign of Cyrus its foundations were laid and it was finished again in the second year of Darius. 155 I will now add the records of the Phoenicians, for it will not be amiss to give the reader the many proofs that exist. 156 This is their calculation of the times of their several kings: "Nabuchodonosor besieged Tyre for thirteen years in the days of Ithobal, their king. 157 After him Baal reigned for ten years; and after him judges were appointed, among them Ecnibalus, son of Baslacus, for two months; Chelbes, son of Abdeus, for ten months; Abbar, the high priest, for three months; Mitgonus and Gerastratus, the sons of Abdelemus, judged for six years; after whom Balatorus reigned for one year. 158 after his death they sent to Babylon for Merbalus, who reigned for four years; after his death they sent for his brother Hiram, who reigned for twenty years. Under his reign Cyrus the Persian came to power."
159 So the whole period is fifty-four years and three months, for in the seventh year of the reign of Nabuchodonosor he began to besiege Tyre and Cyrus the Persian took power in the fourteenth year of Hiram. 160 So the records of the Chaldeans and Tyrians agree with our writings about this temple, and the testimonies here produced are an indisputable and undeniable proof of the antiquity of our nation. I suppose that what I have said will suffice for any but the most contentious.
161 But now I should satisfy the queries of those who disbelieve the records of barbarians and think nobody may be credited except the Greeks, by appealing to many of these very Greeks who knew of our nation and listing some who have mentioned us in their writings. 162 Pythagoras of Samos, lived in very ancient times and was esteemed above all philosophers in wisdom and piety. Now clearly he not only knew our doctrines, but was in large measure a follower and admirer of them. 163 No acknowledged writing of his is extant but many have written his history, of whom the most celebrated is Hermippus, a very careful historian. 164 In his first book about Pythagoras he says that after the death of one of his associates, Calliphon of Croton, Pythagoras affirmed that this man's soul conversed with him both night and day and warned him not to pass over a place where an ass had fallen down, and not to drink from thirst-producing waters and to abstain from all blasphemy. 165 He adds that in his acts and words he was imitating the doctrines of the Jews and Thracians, which he took to himself. For the man himself truly said that he took many of the laws of the Jews into his own philosophy. 166 Nor was our nation unknown of old to several of the Greek cities and indeed was thought worthy of imitation by some of them. 167 Theophrastus too, writing about laws, says that "the laws of the Tyrians forbid men to swear foreign oaths." Among which he lists some others and particularly that called Corban: which can only be found among the Jews and declares what a man may call devoted to God.
168 Nor was our nation unknown to Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who mentions it in his own way when he says in the second book about the Colchians: 169 "The only people who were originally circumcised were the Colchians, the Egyptians and the Ethiopians. The Phoenicians and the Syrians in Palestine admit that they learned it from the Egyptians. 170 And for those Syrians who live about the rivers Thermodon and Parthenius and their neighbours the Macrones, they say they have lately learned it from the Colchians, for these are the only people that are circumcised among mankind and appear to have done the very same as the Egyptians. Between the Egyptians and Ethiopians I could not find out which received it from the other." 171 He says that the Syrians in Palestine are circumcised. But none of the people of Palestine are circumcised except the Jews, so he must have known them in order to make this reference. 172 Cherilus also, an ancient poet, mentions our nation and how it joined in the expedition of king Xerxes of Persia against Greece, for in numbering all the nations, he lists ours last of all saying,
173 "Finally came a remarkable people from whose mouths came the Phoenician tongue though they lived in the Solymean mountains, near a broad lake. Their heads were shaggy though shorn in a circle, and over them they carried hides like horse-heads, hardened in the smoke." 174 It is clear to all, I think, that he is referring to us, as the Solymean mountains are in the country where we live, as is the lake called Asphaltitis, which is broader and larger than any other lake in Syria. 175 So that is how Cherilus mentions us. One can easily discover that not only the lowest sort of Greeks, but also those most admired for wisdom among them, not only knew the Jews, but when they met any of them, admired them too. 176 For Clearchus, the disciple of Aristotle and second to none among the Peripatetics, in his first book about sleep, reports a story that his master Aristotle told about a Jew and the conversation he had with him. The account, as written by him is this:
177 "It would be too much to report the whole story, but some points about this man's remarkable character and philosophy are worthy of mention. To speak plainly, Hyperochides, what I say will seem as remarkable to you as are dreams. Hyperochides modestly replied, That is why we are all eager to heart it. 178 "Then," said Aristotle, following the rule of rhetoric so as not to be unfaithful to our teachers, I must first describe the man's race." "Go on, if you please," said Hyperochides.
179 "Well, this man was by birth a Jew from Coele-Syria. These are descended from the Indian philosophers and are called Calami by the Indians and Judaei by the Syrians, taking the name of the place they live in, which is Judea. Their city has a very difficult name, for they call it Jerusalem. 180 This man, who was hospitably entertained by many, came down from the interior to the coast and became a Greek, not only in his language, but in his very soul. 181 So when we happened to be in Asia in the same places as this man, he conversed with us and other scholars to test our philosophy, and as he had lived with many learned men, he shared with us more than he received."
182 These are Aristotle's words, as reported by Clearchus, and he added much about this Jew's astonishing sobriety in his diet and his continent lifestyle. Those who so wish may learn more about him from the book itself, for I refrain from quoting any more than is required. 183 Clearchus said this as a digression, for his main point was something else. But Hecateus of Abdera, who was both a philosopher and a very competent man of action, who became prominent under king Alexander in his youth and was later with Ptolemy the son of Lagus, treated of the Jews not just marginally but wrote an entire book about them, from which I wish to briefly run over a few passages. 184 First let me situate him in time, for he mentions Ptolemy's battle with Demetrius near Gaza, which was fought in the eleventh year after the death of Alexander and in the hundred and seventeenth Olympiad, as Castor reports. 185 For in reference to this Olympiad he says, that "in this Olympiad Ptolemy, son of Lagus, defeated Demetrius, son of Antigonus, who was named Poliorcetes, in battle at Gaza." Now all agree that Alexander died in the hundred and fourteenth Olympiad, so it is clear that our nation flourished at his time, under Alexander.
186 Hecateus says in the same vein that Ptolemy occupied the places in Syria after the battle at Gaza, and many, when they heard of Ptolemy's fairness and kindness, went with him to Egypt and wanted to be associated with his realm. 187 One of the, he says, was Hezekiah the high priest of the Jews; a man of about sixty-six years of age and honoured by his own people. He was an intelligent man and a powerful speaker, as skilled as any man in the management of affairs. 188 Yet, he says, all the priests of the Jews took tithes of the produce of the land and managed public affairs and were at most fifteen hundred in number. 189 He mentions this Hezekiah a second time, saying that as he had such dignity and had become familiar with us, he took some of his companions and explained to them their distinctive identity, for he had all their dwellings and their political system down in writing.
190 Hecateus again tells of our regard for our laws and how we are more than ready to endure anything rather than transgress them. 191 He adds that, "though they are badly thought of by their neighbours and all who come to them and were often badly treated by the kings and satraps of Persia, yet they cannot be turned from acting as they think best. Even if stripped on this account and tortured and put to the most terrible kinds of death, they face it beyond all others, rather than renounce the faith of their fathers." 192 He gives several proofs of their amazing tenacity to their laws, and says: "Alexander was once in Babylon and wanted to rebuild the temple of Belus that had fallen into decay, and so ordered all his soldiers to bring earth there; but the Jews alone would not obey the command, and endured whipping and great losses until the king forgave them and left them in peace."
193 He says that, "when the Macedonians came into that land and demolished the temples and the altars, they helped them demolish them all but then endured losses to the satraps, or sometimes met with forgiveness;" adding further that "they deserve to be admired on that account." 194 He speaks of how prolific our nation is and says that the Persians formerly took many thousands of our people off to Babylon, and after Alexander's death not a few were moved into Egypt and Phoenicia, because of the rebellion that arose in Syria." 195 The same man notes in his history, how large and excellent is the country we inhabit and says, that "the land where the Jews live contains three million arourae, and the soil is generally excellent and fruitful, and that is the extent of Judea."
196 He describes our city of Jerusalem as very beautiful and large and inhabited from the most ancient times; and he deals with its population and the building of our temple, as follows: 197 "The Jews have in their land many strongholds and villages, but only one fortified city, about fifty furlongs in perimeter, inhabited by about a hundred and twenty thousand people, and they call it Jerusalem. 198 In the middle of the city is a wall of stone, five hundred feet long and a hundred feet wide, with double porticoes; where there is a square altar, not made of hewn stone, but assembled of white stones, each twenty feet long and ten feet high. Nearby is a large building, with an altar and a candlestick, both of gold and weighing two talents. 199 On these burns a light that is never extinguished, night or day. There is no image whatever within it, not even donations, and nothing at all is planted there, no grove or anything of that sort. The priests live there night and day, performing purifications and drinking no wine whatever while they are in the temple."
200 He attests that they went with king Alexander as allies and afterwards with his successors. I will add what he says he learned when he was in the army about the actions of a man who was a Jew. 201 This is what he says: "As I was going towards the Red Sea, among the accompanying Jewish cavalry was a man called Mosollamus, a man of lively mind, physically strong and admitted by all to be the best bowman of both the Greeks and the barbarians. 202 As many using the road, this man noticed how a seer was testing the entrails of a bird and holding them all up, so he asked why they were being kept waiting. 203 The seer showed him the bird from which he took his augury and said that if the bird stayed still, they ought all to wait, but if it got up and flew on, they should go on, and if it flew back, they must draw back. Without answering, he drew his bow and shot and killed the bird. 204 As the augur and some others were upset and cursed him, he asked, "You wretches, why are you so mad as to lay hands on this bird? For how can it give us any true information about our march, if it could not foresee how to save himself? For had it been able to know the future, it would not have come to this place, lest it be shot and killed by Mosollam the Jew."
205 That is enough about Hecateus's testimonies, for those who wish to know more of them can easily find them in the book. But I do not hesitate to name Agatharchides, who mentions us to mock what he sees as our foolishness. 206 When telling the story of Stratonice, how she came from Macedonia into Syria, leaving her husband Demetrius, and when Seleueus would not marry her as she expected, stirred up a rebellion about Antioch while he was on a campaign from Babylon, 207 and how the king returned and when he took Antioch, she fled to Seleucia and though she could have quickly sailed away she obeyed a dream which stopped her doing so, and was caught and killed." 208 After telling this story and had joking about the of superstition of Stratonice, Agatharchides reports a similar example about us and writes as follows:
209 "The so-called Jews live in a city the strongest of all cities which the locals call Jerusalem, and are accustomed to rest each seventh day, when they do not bear arms, or work at farming, or attend to everyday tasks, but spread out their hands in their sanctuary and pray until the evening. 210 So when Ptolemy, son of Lagus, came into this city with his army, instead of guarding the city these men followed their mad custom and let their country to subjected to a harsh master, so that their law was shown to command a foolish practice. 211 This event taught all others except them to disregard dreams like this and not follow foolish thoughts delivered as a law, whenever in the uncertainty of human things, they are baffled about what to do." 212 This custom of ours seems ridiculous to Agatharchides, but to the unprejudiced it seems great and deserving of much praise, that some men always put the observance of their laws and of piety towards God, above their own safety and that of their country.
213 I think I can prove by examples by that some writers have omitted to mention our nation, not because they knew nothing of us, but because they envied us, or for some other unsavoury reasons. Hieronymus, for example, who wrote the history of the Successors, lived in the same time as Hecateus and was a friend of king Antigonus and ruler of Syria, 214 but whereas Hecateus wrote an entire book about us, Hieronymus never mentions us in his history, although he was reared very near our territory, so various are the inclinations of men. One of them thought we should be carefully remembered, while some malicious passion entirely blinded the other to the truth.
215 The foregoing records of the Egyptians and Chaldeans and Phoenicians, along with so many of the Greek writers, will certainly suffice to prove our antiquity. 216 Moreover, besides the aforementioned, Theophilus and Theodotus and Mnaseas and Aristophanes and Hermogenes, Euhemerus and Conon and Zopyrion and perhaps many others, for I have not found all the books, all distinctly mention us. 217 Many of the men mentioned above have strayed from the truth in their accounts of the earliest times, because they had not read our sacred books, but all of them witness to our antiquity, which is my present topic. 218 However, Demetrius Phalereus and the elder Philo, and Eupolemus, were not far wrong about us, and therefore we should forgiven their lesser mistakes as they were unable to follow our writings in detail.
219 There is one further aspect of my proposed prologue that remains to be treated and that is, to prove that those calumnies and insults which some have cast at our nation, are lies and to call those writers to witness against themselves. 220 Those who have read histories with sufficient care will I believe, find that this has happened to many authors because of their hostility to some people. Some of them have tried to discredit the nobility of nations and glorious cities and have said harsh things against some forms of government. So has Theopompus insulted the city of Athens, 221 as Polycrates did to the Spartans, and whoever wrote the Tripoliticus, for it was not Theopompus as some think, did the same to the city of Thebes. Timaeus too in his histories has maligned those people and others as well. 222 They do this mainly when they conflict with the most eminent people; some do so from envy and malice and others hoping that this foolish talk will make them a reputation, and indeed their hope may be fulfilled in the eyes of foolish people, but those of sober judgment still condemn them for their malignity.
223 The Egyptians were the first to libel us, and in order to please that nation, others began to pervert the truth, either by not admitting the truth that our ancestors came into Egypt from another country, or falsifying our exodus from it. 224 That nation had many reasons to hate and envy us. First of all because our ancestors had ruled over their country, and after they were saved from them and had returned to their own country they lived there in prosperity. Next, the difference of our religion from theirs has caused great enmity between us, while our way of worship so far exceed what their laws prescribe, as the nature of God exceeds that of brute beasts. 225 For it is their common tradition to regard animals as gods, though they have local differences in the worship they pay to each of them. They are entirely vain and foolish who from the beginning were used to such notions about their gods and would not follow our decent form of theology, though they could not but envy us when they saw our ways admired by many others. 226 Some of them have been so foolish and smallminded as not to scruple to contradict their own ancient records, indeed to contradict themselves in their own writings, being too blinded by their passions to notice it.
227 Let me speak of one of their principal writers, whom I called a little earlier as a witness to our antiquity. 228 Manetho promised to interpret the Egyptian history from their sacred writings, prefacing it by saying that our people had come into Egypt in their thousands and subdued its inhabitants. He further confessed that later we left that country and settled in the land which is now called Judea and there built Jerusalem and its temple. So far he followed his ancient records. 229 But then he clearly allows himself to write whatever rumours and reports were spread about the Jews and tells false stories to say that any of the Egyptian crowd suffering from leprosy and other ailments, had caught it from us, and that was why they were condemned to flee from Egypt together. 230 He mentions Amenophis, a fictitious king's name, though he dared not set down the number of years of his reign, as he accurately does for the other kings he mentions. He assigns mythic stories to this king, somehow forgetting what he had already said of the departure of the shepherds for Jerusalem five hundred and eighteen years earlier. 231 Tethmosis was king when they left and after his day the reigns of the intermediate kings, according to Manetho, added up to three hundred and ninety-three years, as he says, until the two brothers Sethos and Hermeus, one of whom, Sethos, was surnamed Egyptus and the other, Hermaeus, surnamed Danaus. He says that Sethos cast the other out of Egypt and reigned for fifty-nine years, and his eldest son Rameses reigned for sixty-six years after him. 232 When he acknowledged that our ancestors had gone out of Egypt so many years ago, he introduces his fictitious king Amenophis and says, "This king wished to see the gods, as Orus, one of his predecessors in that kingdom, had done before him. He communicated his desire to his namesake Amenophis, who was the son of Papius and seemed to share in some divine gift for wisdom and knowledge of future events."
233 Manetho adds that this namesake told him he would be able to see the gods, if only he would rid the whole country of lepers and other impure people. 234 Pleased with this advice, the king expelled from Egypt all who had any physical defect, eighty thousand in number, 235 and sent them to the quarries on the east side of the Nile, to work in them and remain separate from the rest of the Egyptians. He adds that some of the learned priests were afflicted with leprosy. 236 This Amenophis, wise man and prophet, was afraid that if any violence were done to them the gods would blame him and the king, though with prudent foreknowledge he knew that someone would come to the help of these diseased wretches and conquer Egypt and hold it for thirteen years. He did not dare tell the king of this, but left it behind him in writing and then killed himself, which left the king desolate.
237 Our writer goes on: "After those who were sent to work in the quarries had stayed in that miserable state for a long time, they requested the king to designate the city of Avaris, vacated by the shepherds, for them to live in and this he granted. In the ancient theology, the city had been dedicated to Typho. 238 But when these went there they found the place suitable for a revolt, and chose for themselves a ruler named Osarsiph from the priests of Heliopolis, and swore to obey him in all things. 239 He firstly made it a law that they should neither worship the Egyptian gods, nor abstain from any of those sacred animals which they so honoured, but kill and destroy them all, and associate with nobody except those of their own confederacy. 240 When he had made such laws as these and many more, contrary to the ways of the Egyptians, he set them to work at building walls around their city and make ready for war with king Amenophis. 241 He drew aside the other priests and those who like them were diseased and sent envoys to the shepherds whom Tethmosis had driven from the land to the city called Jerusalem, telling them of his situation that of the others so shamefully treated and asking them to come on a united expedition against Egypt. 242 He promised first, to bring them back to their ancient city and country of Avaris and provide plentifully for their troops; and to protect them and fight for them as required so that they could easily conquer the country. 243 All the shepherds were glad of this message and went off eagerly, two hundred thousand men in number, and soon reached Avaris. Hearing of their invasion, Amenophis the king of Egypt was greatly troubled, calling to mind what Amenophis, the son of Papis, had foretold. 244 So he first assembled the Egyptian population and took advice from their leaders and sent for their sacred animals, especially those that were mainly worshipped in their temples and charged the priests to carefully hide the images of their gods. 245 He left his son, the five-year-old Sethos, who was also named Ramesses after his father Rhampses, in the care of one of his friends and with three hundred thousand of the most warlike of the Egyptians, went to meet the enemy. 246 But then, thinking that to join battle with them would be to fight against the gods, he returned and came to Memphis, where he took Apis and the other sacred animals he had sent for to him and marched into Ethiopia, with his army and all the Egyptian followers, for the king of Ethiopia was his vassal. 247 So the latter received him and took care of all the people with him, while the country supplied all that was necessary to feed them. He assigned cities and villages for this exile, destined to be for thirteen years and he stationed an Ethiopian army at the borders of Egypt, to protect king Amenophis.
248 This was the state of things in Ethiopia. But the Solymites came with the diseased Egyptians and treated people so cruelly that in the light of these dreadful impieties the former regime seemed like a golden age. 249 They not only set cities and villages on fire but did not stop short of sacrilege, destroying the images of the gods, to use them for roasting the sacred animals that used to be worshipped, and forcing the priests and prophets to kill those animals before ejecting them naked from the country. 250 They say that the priest, who settled their regime and laws was born in Heliopolis and named Osarsiph, from Osyris the god of Heliopolis, but that when he went over to these people, he changed his name to Moses.
251 This is the Egyptian story about the Jews, with much more, which I omit for the sake of brevity. But Manetho says that after this, Amenophis returned from Ethiopia with a large army, and his son Rampses also with an army and both of them fought the shepherds and the diseased people and beat them and killed many of them and pursued them to the borders of Syria. 252 Such are the accounts written by Manetho, and I will prove that he is a trifler who tells outright lies, but first I must make a distinction about what I am going to say about him, for he has granted and admitted that this nation was not originally Egyptian, but came in from another country and subdued Egypt and then left it again. 253 But I shall try to prove from Manetho's own accounts that the Egyptians who were so diseased in their bodies were not mingled with us later and that neither did Moses who brought the people out belong to their company, but lived many generations earlier.
254 For the first item of his fiction, Manetho purports the ludicrous notion that king Amenophis asked to see the gods. Which gods? If he meant the gods worshipped according to their laws, the ox, the goat, the crocodile and the baboon, he saw them already; 255 but how could he see the heavenly gods and what prompted the desire? Because another king before him had already seen them? Had he been told what sort of gods they were and how they were seen, so that he did not need any new device to gain this sight. 256 But the prophet through whom the king thought to achieve his aim was a wise man. If so, how did he not know that his desire was impossible? For it did not succeed. And what pretext was there to suppose that the gods would not be seen because of the people's diseased bodies, or leprosy? For the gods are not angry at imperfect bodies, but at wicked practices.
257 As to the eighty thousand lepers in such a bad condition, how was it possible to gather them together in one day? And why did the king not listen to the prophet, who said that the diseased should be expelled from Egypt, while the king only sent them to the quarries, as if seeking laborers rather than to purge his country. 258 Later he says that this prophet killed himself as he foresaw the anger of the gods and what would befall Egypt later and that he left the prediction in writing for the king. But how was it that this prophet did not foresee his own death from the first? 259 Why did he not immediately oppose the king's desire to see the gods? How did he feel that blessed fear of judgments that were not to happen to him? Or what worse could he suffer, that made him hurry to kill himself? 260 But now let us look at the silliest thing of all. The king, though he had been told of these things and terrified with the fear of what was to come, still did not expel these maimed people from his country, when he had already been told him he was to clear Egypt of them. Rather, says our writer, at their request he gave them the city that formerly belonged to the shepherds and was called Avaris.
261 When they had gone there in crowds, he says, they chose one who had formerly been priest of Heliopolis, and that this priest first told them neither to worship the gods, nor to abstain from those animals that were worshipped by the Egyptians, but to kill and eat them all and associate with nobody but the allies, and that he bound the people by oaths to continue in these laws, and then built a wall around Avaris, he made war on the king. 262 He adds that he sent to Jerusalem to call them to ally with him and promised them Avaris, as it had belonged to the ancestors of those who would come from Jerusalem and that on their arrival they made war on the king and occupied all of Egypt. 263 Then apparently the Egyptians came with an army of two hundred thousand men and Amenophis, the king of Egypt, not thinking he should fight against the gods, soon fled to Ethiopia, entrusting Apis and some of their other sacred animals to the priests, with orders to preserve them.
264 He went on to say that the Jerusalemites attacked the Egyptians, destroying their cities, burning their temples and killing their cavalry, in short, refraining from no evil or savagery; 265 and that the priest who settled their system and laws was by birth of Heliopolis, and named Osarsiph, from Osyris the god of Heliopolis, but that he changed his name and called himself Moses. 266 He adds that on the thirteenth year Amenophis, according to the destined duration of his woes, attacked from Ethiopia with a large army and defeated the shepherds and diseased people in battle and killed many of them and pursued them as far as the borders of Syria.
267 Manetho does not realise how improbable his lie is, for the lepers and those with them, although they might formerly have been angry at the king and those who had treated them so harshly, according to the prediction of the prophet, still, when they had emerged from the quarries and received from the king a city and a country, they would have grown milder towards him. 268 Even had they still hated him they could have conspired against him personally, but would hardly have made war against all the Egyptians, given the numerous relationships so large a group must have had with them. 269 But even if they had decided on war against the people, they would not have dared go to with their gods or to make laws so contrary to the ancestral ones in which they had been reared. 270 We must be thankful to Manetho for not laying the blame for this crime on those who came from Jerusalem, for he says that the Egyptians themselves were the most guilty and it was their priests who thought of imposing this oath on the people.
271 But still how absurd is it to suppose that none of these people's relatives or friends were persuaded to revolt and share with them the risks of war, so that these diseased people had to send and get their allies from Jerusalem! 272 What sort of friendship or relationship was there formerly between them? On the contrary, they were enemies whose customs greatly differed from theirs. But he says that they immediately agreed, once the others promised that they would conquer Egypt, as if they did not already know very well the country from which they had been forced out. 273 Perhaps they might have risked it had they been in want or misfortune, but as they lived in a prosperous city with a large country better than Egypt itself, why would they run such risks to come to the help of people who had been their enemies of old, who were diseased in body and whom none of their own relatives could endure? Surely they could not foresee that the king would flee from them. 274 Quite the contrary, he says himself that Amenophis's son had three hundred thousand men with him and met them at Pelusium. Those who were coming could not fail to know this; but how could they possibly guess that he would change his mind and flee?
275 Then he says that the invaders from Jerusalem conquered Egypt and committed terrible crimes, for which he rebukes them, as though he had not introduced them as enemies, or as though these things were worse when done by invited foreigners, when before they arrived the Egyptians themselves were doing the same and had sworn to continue doing so. 276 Subsequently, he says, Amenophis came back at them and conquered them in battle and killed his enemies and drove them before him as far as Syria. As if Egypt were so easily taken by people coming from anywhere else! 277 How was it that its former conquerors, aware that Amenophis was still alive, did not fortify the passes into it from Ethiopia, although they had plenty of opportunity to do so, nor have the rest of their forces ready in defense? No, "he pursued them across the sandy desert as far as Syria, slaughtering them" - but it is not easy for an army, even without fighting, to cross that desert country.
278 Our nation, therefore, according to Manetho, does not derive from Egypt, nor were any of the Egyptians mingled with us. For as they had been there a long time and in such poor conditions, one must suppose that many of the leprous, diseased people died in the quarries; many others must have died in the battles that happened later and more still in the final battle and flight.
279 It remains for me to deal with what Manetho says about Moses. The Egyptians acknowledge him as a wonderful and even divine person, and they want to claim him as one of themselves, wrongly and incredibly stating that he was a priest from Heliopolis, expelled from it along with others, because of his leprosy. 280 But their records it has been shown that he lived five hundred and eighteen years earlier and then brought our ancestors out of Egypt into the country we now inhabit. 281 It is evident from what he himself says that he was not subject in his body to any such affliction, for he forbade those with leprosy to stay in a city or to live in a village, but to go around alone with their clothes rent, and says that whoever touches them, or shares a dwelling with them, must be deemed unclean. 282 Even if one is healed of the disease and returns to normal, he decreed certain purifications and washings with spring water and shaving off all their hair and makes them offer many sacrifices of various kinds, before being finally admitted into the holy city. 283 On the contrary, if he had endured the same misfortune, one would expect him to have provided for such people to be more gently treated, having been equally unfortunate himself. 284 But he made these laws not only for those leprous people but also for whoever was maimed in the smallest part of their body, whom he does not allow to officiate as priests, and if this misfortune should afflict any priest already in office, the honour is removed from him.
285 Is one likely to make such laws against oneself, so insulting and injurious to the one who made them? 286 Nor is there any reason to believe the claim that he was formerly called Osarsiph, which bears no relation to his true name, Moses, which means someone saved from the water, for the Egyptians call water "Mou." 287 I think I have sufficiently shown that Manetho made little mistake about historical truth as long as he was following his annals; but that when he offers hearsay without reference to any certain source, he either forgeis it himself, implausibly, or relies on some who said this out of malice towards us.
288 Now I will enquire into what Chaeremon says, for purporting to write the history of Egypt, he too names this king Amenophis, just like Manetho, and names his son Ramesses. 289 Then he says that the goddess Isis appeared to Amenophis in his sleep and blamed him for the destruction of her temple in the war; but that the sacred scribe Phritobautes told him that he need no longer be troubled if he purged Egypt of the diseased population. 290 So he gathered two hundred and fifty thousand of those who were so diseased and expelled them from the country and that they were led by the scribe Moses and Joseph, another sacred scribe, whose names were originally Egyptian, as Moses had been Tisithen and Joseph, Peteseph. 291 These two, he said, came to Pelusium and found three hundred and eighty thousand who had been left there by Amenophis, as he was unwilling to let them into Egypt, and with these they made a pact and jointly invaded Egypt. 292 He says that Amenophis did not awaid their attack, but fled to Ethiopia leaving behind his pregnant wife who stayed hidden in some caves and there gave birth to a son, named Ramesses who, when he grew up drove the Jews, about two hundred thousand of them, into Syria, and then brought his father Amenophis home from Ethiopia.
293 This is Chaeremon's account. I believe that what I have said has plainly proved the falsity of both these accounts, for had there been any real basis to them, they could not disagree so much about the details, whereas those who write fiction will easily diverge from each other, since they simply invent whatever they please out. 294 Manetho says that the diseased people were expelled because of the king's desire to see the gods, 295 but Chaeremon claims it was his dream, sent to him by Isis, that caused it. The former says that it was Amenophis who foreshowed to the king this purgation of Egypt; but the latter says it was Phritobautes. On to the numbers of those expelled, how well they agree, with the former reckoning them as eighty thousand and the latter about two hundred and fifty thousand! 296 Manetho describes the diseased people as sent to work in the quarries at first and says that the city of Avaris was given them to live in. He says that it was not until after they had made war on the rest of the Egyptians that they invited the people of Jerusalem to come to their help; 297 while Chaeremon says only that they had left Egypt and found three hundred and eighty thousand men about Pelusium, who had been left there by Amenophis and with them they invaded Egypt again, upon which Amenophis fled into Ethiopia.
298 But then this Chaeremon commits the absurd blunder of not telling us who this army of so many thousands were, or where they came from; whether they were native Egyptians or came from a foreign country. Nor indeed has this man, who forged a dream from Isis about the leprous people, given the reason why the king would not let them into Egypt. 299 Chaeremon has Joseph expelled at the same time as Moses, though he died four generations or nearly a hundred and seventy years before Moses. 300 Besides, in Manetho's account Ramesses, the son of Amenophis, was a young man and helped his father in his war and left the country and fled with him to Ethiopia, while the other has him born in a cave after his father's death and then overcoming the Jews in battle and driving all two hundred thousand of them into Syria. 301 What nonsense! First he never told us who the three hundred and eighty thousand were, nor the fate of the two hundred and thirty thousand, whether they fell in war, or deserted to Ramesses. 302 Strangest of all, one cannot find out whom he calls Jews, or to which of these two groups he applies that name, to the two hundred and fifty thousand leprous people, or to the three hundred and eighty thousand around Pelusium. 303 But perhaps it will seem silly for me to go on refuting writers refute each other, and I would rather leave their refutation to others.
304 I shall now add to these accounts about Manetho and Chaeremon something about Lysimachus, who has taken up the same falsehood as they, but has gone far beyond them in his incredible fictions, which he clearly invented out of his virulent hatred of our nation. 305 He says, "in the days of Bocchoris, king of Egypt, the Jewish people being leprous and scabby and suffering from other ailments, fled to the temples and got their food there by imploring: and the large numbers of victims of these diseases caused a blight in Egypt. 306 Bocchoris the Egyptian king sent people to consult the oracle at Hammon about his blight. The god's reply was that he must purge his temples of impure and impious men, and expel them from the temples into desert places; but he must drown the scabby and the leprous, as the sun was angry that they were let live, and purge the temples so that the land would bring forth its fruits. 307 When Bocchoris received these oracles, he called the priests and temple attendants and ordered them to assemble the impure people and to deliver them to the soldiers, to bring them off to the desert, but to take the lepers and wrap them in sheets of lead and submerge them in the sea. 308 Thus the leprous and scabby people were to be drowned and the rest gathered and sent into desert places to die. These assembled to decide what do and, as night was coming on, kindled fires and lamps and kept watch, and fasted the next night in order to propitiate the gods and be saved.
309 Next day a man named Moses advised them to go on a journey and follow a particular road until they came to a habitable place, charging them to show no regard for any man, and to give not the best but the worst advice, and to destroy any temples and altars of the gods they came across. 310 The others agreed and carried it out and so journeyed across the desert. But when the difficulties of the journey were over, they came to an inhabited place where they abused the population and plundered and burned their temples. Then they reached the land called Judea where they built a city and lived there. 311 Their city was called Hiero-sula from their robbing of the temples, but at a later date when they rose to power they changed its name, that it might not cause them to be mocked, and called the city of Jerusalem and themselves Jerusalemites.
312 This man differs from the other authors in giving us a king of another name, who dispenses with the dream and the Egyptian prophet and goes to Hammon for an oracle about the scabby and leprous people, 313 for he says that the Jewish crowd was in the temples. Now it is unclear whether he attributes this name to these lepers, or only to the Jews who were subject to such diseases, for he describes them as the people of the Jews. 314 Does he mean foreigners or local people? If they were Egyptians, why do you call them Jews? But if they were foreigners, why do you not tell us where they came from? How is it that, after the king had drowned many of them in the sea and expelled the rest into the desert, there still remains so large a crowd? 315 Or how did they cross the desert and conquer the land we now live in and build the city and the renowned temple? 316 He should have said more too about our Legislator than merely his name, and said what family he came from, and assigned the reasons why he ventured to make such laws about the gods and the injuries done to people during that journey. 317 For if the people were of Egyptian origin, they would not so easily have changed the customs of their country, and if they were foreigners, they would surely have some laws that they had long cherished. 318 It is true they might reasonably have sworn never to be friendly to those who had expelled them, but if they acted as wickedly as he says it would be mad for them to resolve to wage endless war against all people, while they stook in need the help from all people. The madness belongs not to the people but to the one who tells such lies about them, who dares to give the name "Spoiler of temples" to their city, and that this name was later changed! 319 According to him, the name later brought insult and hatred while, it seems, those who built the city thought it a title of honour. So this fine fellow was so impelled to insult us, that he did not understand that among the Jews to despoil a temple is not expressed by the same word as it is among the Greeks. 320 Why bother to say any more in response to one who lies so shamelessly? But since this book is now long enough, I will make a new beginning and try in the following book to add what still remains to complete my work.
Translation © Patrick Rogers 2006