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Josephus, The Jewish War 2.169-2.174


Πεμφθεὶς δὲ εἰς Ἰουδαίαν ἐπίτροπος ὑπὸ Τιβερίου Πιλᾶτος νύκτωρ κεκαλυμμένας εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰσκομίζει τὰς Καίσαρος εἰκόνας, αἳ σημαῖαι καλοῦνται. τοῦτο μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν μεγίστην ταραχὴν ἤγειρεν Ἰουδαίοις: οἵ τε γὰρ ἐγγὺς πρὸς τὴν ὄψιν ἐξεπλάγησαν ὡς πεπατημένων αὐτοῖς τῶν νόμων, οὐδὲν γὰρ ἀξιοῦσιν ἐν τῇ πόλει δείκηλον τίθεσθαι, καὶ πρὸς τὴν ἀγανάκτησιν τῶν κατὰ τὴν πόλιν ἄθρους ὁ ἐκ τῆς χώρας λαὸς συνέρρευσεν. ὁρμήσαντες δὲ πρὸς Πιλᾶτον εἰς Καισάρειαν ἱκέτευον ἐξενεγκεῖν ἐξ Ἱεροσολύμων τὰς σημαίας καὶ τηρεῖν αὐτοῖς τὰ πάτρια. Πιλάτου δὲ ἀρνουμένου περὶ τὴν οἰκίαν πρηνεῖς καταπεσόντες ἐπὶ πέντε ἡμέρας καὶ νύκτας ἴσας ἀκίνητοι διεκαρτέρουν. Τῇ δ᾽ ἑξῆς ὁ Πιλᾶτος καθίσας ἐπὶ βήματος ἐν τῷ μεγάλῳ σταδίῳ καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸ πλῆθος ὡς ἀποκρίνασθαι δῆθεν αὐτοῖς θέλων, δίδωσιν τοῖς στρατιώταις σημεῖον ἐκ συντάγματος κυκλώσασθαι τοὺς Ἰουδαίους ἐν τοῖς ὅπλοις. περιστάσης δὲ τριστιχεὶ τῆς φάλαγγος Ἰουδαῖοι μὲν ἀχανεῖς ἦσαν πρὸς τὸ ἀδόκητον τῆς ὄψεως, Πιλᾶτος δὲ κατακόψειν εἰπὼν αὐτούς, εἰ μὴ προσδέξαιντο τὰς Καίσαρος εἰκόνας, γυμνοῦν τὰ ξίφη τοῖς στρατιώταις ἔνευσεν. οἱ δὲ Ἰουδαῖοι καθάπερ ἐκ συνθήματος ἀθρόοι καταπεσόντες καὶ τοὺς αὐχένας παρακλίναντες ἑτοίμους ἀναιρεῖν σφᾶς ἐβόων μᾶλλον ἢ τὸν νόμον παραβῆναι. ὑπερθαυμάσας δὲ ὁ Πιλᾶτος τὸ τῆς δεισιδαιμονίας ἄκρατον ἐκκομίσαι μὲν αὐτίκα τὰς σημαίας Ἱεροσολύμων κελεύει.1


Now Pilate, who was sent as procurator into Judea by Tiberius, sent by night those images of Caesar that are called ensigns into Jerusalem. This excited a very among great tumult among the Jews when it was day; for those that were near them were astonished at the sight of them, as indications that their laws were trodden under foot; for those laws do not permit any sort of image to be brought into the city. Nay, besides the indignation which the citizens had themselves at this procedure, a vast number of people came running out of the country. These came zealously to Pilate to Cesarea, and besought him to carry those ensigns out of Jerusalem, and to preserve them their ancient laws inviolable; but upon Pilate's denial of their request, they fell down prostrate upon the ground, and continued immovable in that posture for five days and as many nights. On the next day Pilate sat upon his tribunal, in the open market-place, and called to him the multitude, as desirous to give them an answer; and then gave a signal to the soldiers, that they should all by agreement at once encompass the Jews with their weapons; so the band of soldiers stood round about the Jews in three ranks. The Jews were under the utmost consternation at that unexpected sight. Pilate also said to them that they should be cut in pieces, unless they would admit of Caesar's images, and gave intimation to the soldiers to draw their naked swords. Hereupon the Jews, as it were at one signal, fell down in vast numbers together, and exposed their necks bare, and cried out that they were sooner ready to be slain, than that their law should be transgressed. Hereupon Pilate was greatly surprised at their prodigious superstition, and gave order that the ensigns should be presently carried out of Jerusalem.2

Works Cited

  • 1 Flavius Josephus, De Bello Judaico Libri VII: Machine Readable Text, ed. B. Niese (Medford, MA: Trustees of Tufts University, 2013), section: 2.169-2.174.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 2 Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews: Machine Readable Text, trans. William Whiston (Trustees of Tufts University, 2009), section: 2.169-2.174.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

Additional Bibliography

  • Josephus, De Bello Judaico Libri VII, in Flavii Iosephi opera, ed. Benedict Niese, vol. 6 (Berlin: Weidmann, 1885), section: 2.169-2.174.Link to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to Worldcat Bibliographic record
  • Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, in The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus: The Celebrated Jewish Historian. Comprising the History and Antiquities of the Jews, with the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and Dissertations Concerning Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, James the Just, and the Sacrifice of Isaac, Together with a Discourse on Hades, or Hell ; With His Autobiography, trans. William Whiston (Chicago: Donohue, Henneberry & Co., 1895), 498–707, section: 2.169-2.174.Link to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to Worldcat Bibliographic recordLink to HathiTrust Bibliographic record

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How to Cite This Entry

Bianca Gardner et al., “Josephus, The Jewish War 2.169-2.174,” in Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, entry published March 30, 2020,


Bianca Gardner et al., “Josephus, The Jewish War 2.169-2.174.” In Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, edited by Joseph L. Rife., edited by Joseph L. Rife. Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project, 2020. Entry published March 30, 2020.

About this Entry

Entry Title: Josephus, The Jewish War 2.169-2.174

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Joseph L. Rife, general editor, Vanderbilt University
  • Joseph L. Rife, editor, Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia
  • David A. Michelson, Daniel L. Schwartz, and William L. Potter, technical editors, “Josephus, The Jewish War 2.169-2.174
  • Bianca Gardner and Joseph L. Rife, entry contributors, “Josephus, The Jewish War 2.169-2.174

Additional Credit:

  • TEI encoding by William L. Potter
  • Electronic text added by Bianca Gardner
  • Testimonia identified by Joseph L. Rife
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