Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Mystery about Jesus

In Ant. 18.3.3 we read “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.” This mention appears after the mention of the ensigns of the army which Pilate attempted to introduce into Jerusalem and the construction of a new water tunnel with sacred money. Numerous scholars have commented on the authenticity of this Jesus passage. In agreement with Gary Goldberg, “The Coincidences of the Testimonium of Josephus and the Emmaus Narrative of Luke", The Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 13 (1995) pp. 59-77, I consider the passage essentially authentic.

Earlier in Ant 17.13.1 we read

“1. WHEN Archelaus was entered on his ethnarchy, and was come into Judea, he accused Joazar, the son of Boethus, of assisting the seditious, and took away the high priesthood from him, and put Eleazar his brother in his place. He also magnificently rebuilt the royal palace that had been at Jericho, and he diverted half the water with which the village of Neara used to be watered, and drew off that water into the plain, to water those palm trees which he had there planted: he also built a village, and put his own name upon it, and called it Archelais. Moreover, he transgressed the law of our fathers and married Glaphyra, the daughter of Archelaus, who had been the wife of his brother Alexander, which Alexander had three children by her, while it was a thing detestable among the Jews to marry the brother's wife. Nor did this Eleazar abide long in the high priesthood, Jesus, the son of Sie, being put in his room while he was still living.

2. But in the tenth year of Archelaus's government”

The death, funeral and the testament of Herod the Great is recorded in Ant 17.8. This passage, in Ant 17.13.1, is about one of his sons, Archelaus who was appointed by Augustus as ruler of Judea. His appointment as ethnarch included the power to appoint and remove the high priest. His first act was to remove Joazar and appoint Eleazar in his place. Then Josephus says: “Nor did this Eleazar abide long in the high priesthood, Jesus, the son of Sie, being put in his room while he was still living.” I have not checked but this phrase “being put in his room while he was still living” appears to be unique. At this point in time, Joazar, the previous High Priest, is still alive. The next sentence notes Archelaus served ten years and then the principal men of Judea and Samaria filed charges against him in Rome.

There is no further mention of Jesus, son of Sie, in Antiquities. It seems strange that Josephus would omit this information about the removal or death of Jesus, son of Sie. Josephus was very careful in his recitation of the names of the high priests, their appointments and their removals.

In the next book, Josephus says in Ant 18.2.1: “WHEN Cyrenius had now disposed of Archelaus's money, and when the taxings were come to a conclusion, which were made in the thirty-seventh year of Caesar's victory over Antony at Actium, he deprived Joazar of the high priesthood, which dignity had been conferred on him by the multitude, and he appointed Ananus, the son of Seth, to be high priest;"

Thus Josephus notes Joazar was twice removed but only once appointed. Josephus recognizes the problem and states that Joazar had “the dignity [of the priesthood] conferred on him by the multitude.” But this addition does not solve the problem of no mention of the death or removal of Jesus, son of Sie.

Joazar is first mentioned by Josephus in this passage (Ant 17.6.4):

“But the people, on account of Herod's barbarous temper, and for fear he should be so cruel and to inflict punishment on them, said what was done was done without their approbation, and that it seemed to them that the actors might well be punished for what they had done. But as for Herod, he dealt more mildly with others [of the assembly] but he deprived Matthias of the high priesthood, as in part an occasion of this action, and made Joazar, who was Matthias's wife's brother, high priest in his stead. Now it happened, that during the time of the high priesthood of this Matthias, there was another person made high priest for a single day, that very day which the Jews observed as a fast. The occasion was this: This Matthias the high priest, on the night before that day when the fast was to be celebrated, seemed, in a dream, to have conversation with his wife; and because he could not officiate himself on that account, Joseph, the son of Ellemus, his kinsman, assisted him in that sacred office. But Herod deprived this Matthias of the high priesthood, and burnt the other Matthias, who had raised the sedition, with his companions, alive. And that very night there was an eclipse of the moon.”

There is no question that Joazar is a prominent high priest as he mentioned again after his removal in Ant 18.1.1 in these words:

“1. NOW Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to he a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance. Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power over the Jews. Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus's money; but the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar, who was the son of Beethus, and high priest; so they, being over-pesuaded by Joazar's words, gave an account of their estates, without any dispute about it.”[i]

Joazar is twice removed as high priest by Josephus. Why? I suggest that the clue is Jesus, son of Sie, whose appointment is noted by not his death or removal. Josephus, who is a member of a high priestly family and proud of his genealogy and the accuracy of the genealogy records of the members of the priesthood, has deliberately obscured the reference to Jesus, son of Sie. Josephus knows the significant of the name of Jesus. He also knows that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a descendent of Joseph, the son of Ellemus, who served as High Priest for a single day (see Siverton). I suggest that Josephus, who believed in the veracity of Daniel 7-12 and considered Daniel to be one of the greatest of the prophets, was also aware that “the son of man” phrase which appears 108 times in the OT; twice in the Book of Daniel, 29 times in the Gospel of Luke and not at all in the writings of Josephus, is an allusion to a person who is the eschatological high priest.

This is a work in progress. (emphasis in bold added).

Copyrighted 2009

[i] Since Josephus called Jonathan, and other individuals, a High Priest even after their removal, his practice with respect Joazar (in Ant 18.1.1) is not unusual.


Blogger Eddie said...

Hi Richard,
My name is Eddie and I have been reading your blog with great interest. Would you mind telling me how you know Mary a descendant of Joseph, the son of Ellemus? I don't know who 'Siverton' is and the web isn't helping me make the connection between Mary, Joseph (Ellemus)and Siverton. I think it would be interesting to find Mary's genealogy is Levitical, but I need a little more information to go on if you don't mind helping me out.

Thanks for any consideration along these lines.

God bless,


1:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely onto something here :) Keep up the good work. P.S. Amos is Asamoneus uterine brother to Johanan ben Simeon.

11:03 PM


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