Skip to main content

Full text of "Pseudo-Josephus, Joseph ben Gorion"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 



AFBIL, 1899 


This chronicle of the Jewish race, from Adam to the 
time of Titus, is written in Rabbinical Hebrew, which, 
however, approaches nearer to the classical language than 
the majority of mediaeval prose compositions, and was 
much read by the Jews of the Middle Ages. Only four 
MSS. of the text are known to me — two in the Vatican 
Library \ which, however, are defective, one in Turin, and 
one in Paris, all of which agree with the editio princeps, 
besides some fragments in the Bodleian Library (MSS. 
no. 793, ff. 2i8 b to 246; no. 2585, ff. 104 to 106; d. 64, 
ff. 118 to 120; e. 30, fol. 56). The printed editions, on 
the other hand, are by no means few. The earliest are 
those of Mantua (1476-9), which has the best support 
from the MSS., of Constantinople (1510), divided into 
books and chapters, and containing considerable additions, 
and thirdly the Venice edition (1544). The numerous 
later editions are mostly based on the Constantinople 
text. The preface, written in the thirteenth century by 

1 The title anwn rnmp o'O'n «m te 'c, quoted by Dr. Vogelstein (Gesckickte 
der Juden in Rom, I, p. 186, n. 6), does not belong to the original MS., but 
is merely due to the compiler of the index, a converted Jew named 
J. Baptista Jona. 



Yehudah Leon ben Moses Mosconi (see Magazin Berliner, 
1878, 310 "iyiN, p. 017), mentions a shorter and a longer 
text, to which I shall refer later. The date of the 
original composition has been a matter of much dispute. 
The veteran Professor Chwolson (in the Sammelband of the 
DWO '•XVD, 1897, &bb) TIC, p. 5) contends that the Hebrew 
text, as found in the editio princeps, was written towards the 
latter half of the ninth century, on the following grounds : 
(1) the learned Mussulman Ibn Hazm, who died in the year 
1063 A.D., was acquainted with the translation from Hebrew 
into Arabic made by a Jew in Yemen. The passage in 
which he mentions it is found in a Leyden MS. (Catal., 
no. 1982), and was kindly sent to me by Dr. Steinschneider, 
who received it from Dr. Schreiner in Hebrew characters. 
I subjoin the extract in Arabic characters, as copied for me 
by Dr. KampfFmeyer, with some slight variations. 

aj^.tII j^>\ Sit jjfJi sJyi) LJJj JiS &jl« »jLi> Ja-ftj^i i J-«-»-l i^iii 

u-j-yk ellil eJLlJJ *J>i ^j Jls pj I4lk.1l 5>j Updi J L-~» ]^i 

-jkUkcj ^,Li».j Jj]^— 1 jjt) l*X». ^ eJJLll Ijui Ji5 uvjijA ^ 

..5LJ1 L^-glc- *^r<> (^J ^ y ~ .g-c ^. g ~ U (jLi> ^tjS'sJ Jj icU* 

«• lju* ^jiS\ 

" Yusuf ibn Koryon lived until the time of Christ (on whom he 
peace), and gave an account of their kings and wars till the 
murder of Yahya son of Zacharia (on whom be peace), of whom 
he speaks most favourably, and whom he praises highly, asserting 
that he was unjustly killed for speaking the truth. He also speaks 
favourably of baptism, which he does not disapprove, nor regard 
as Tiseless. Speaking of that king (Herod son of Herod), he says : 
' This king put to death many of the sages of Israel, and of their 
great and good men.' And he mentions no more than this of the 
history of Jesus Christ the Son of Mary (on whom be peace)." 

Professor Chwolson next argues (2) that " from the time 
of the composition of the original work in Italy until its 


translation from Hebrew into Arabic in Yemen, and the 
return of this translation to Spain (where Ibn Hazm was 
living), we must allow at least 150 or 175 years." This 
seems to me a rather liberal allowance of time, and 
perhaps we might reduce the interval at least to fifty 
years. Rapoport 1 and Gratz (Geschichte der Juden, V, 
3rd ed., p. 235, n. 2 and p. 295) propose the end of the ninth 
or beginning of the tenth century, and the latter is now 
the date most generally accepted by scholars. Weiss 
(Jiidische Tradition, IV, p. 224, n. 5) places the author 
a little earlier than the celebrated liturgist Eleazar Kalir, 
who lived in the ninth century. Drs. Vogelstein and Rieger 
(Geschichte der Juden in Rom, I, p. 185 sqq.) argue for the 
tenth century, but the pages which they devote to our 
author contain little that is new on the subject. I must 
further mention the ingenious arguments of Dr. Konrad 
Trieber (Nachrichten der K. Gesellschaft d. Wiss. zu Gottin- 
gen, Fhil.-H.iat. Klasse, 1895, Heft 4) in support of the view 
that the Yosippon was composed in the fourth century, 
on the ground of its pure and classical Hebrew. " Unser 
Autor selbst schreibt in reinem, biblischem Hebraisch, seine 
Sprache und sein Ton ist schlicht und sachlich, erhebt sich 
aber in tragischen Momenten . . . zu kunstlerischer Vollen- 
dung." This favourable verdict on his style, however, is 
unfortunately reversed by Professor Siegmund Fraenkel 
(ZDMG., vol. L, p. 418 sqq.), who shows that the Hebrew 
is more than half Rabbinic, although the writer borrows 
the phraseology of the Bible wherever he can do so. 
In my opinion, the arguments by which the date must be 
determined are mainly these : (1) That no Jewish writer men- 
tions Yosippon before Dunash b. Tamim, whom Munk places 
about the middle of the tenth century (see Journ. Asiat., 
1850, p. 18, n. 2); (2) That it is not named in the writings 
of the Geonim, although it must be admitted that a great 
many of these are lost ; (3) That there is no trace of it in 
the collection of chronicles and fragments to which I have 

1 See more fully in Zunz, Oottesdienstliche Vortrage, 1892, p. 158, and notes. 

C C 3 


devoted two volumes of the Anecdota Ooconiensia (1887 
and 1895), no * even in that of A. D. 1100, written in Arabic 
and in Egypt. According to Mosconi again (loc. cit., 
p. 012), the earliest evidence for the text of Yosippon is in 
connexion with the names of Abraham b. David, Abraham 
b. P^V?N and Samuel TMn (circ. A.D. 1060), who made 
abridgements of the book. It may be inferred from 
Mosconi's preface that he had not seen the Great Yosippon 
(iukd major) from which the ordinary Hebrew text (mro 
minor), as in the editio princeps, is abridged. We have 
in a MS. recently acquired by the Bodleian Library (MS. 
Heb. d. 11) fragments of a "Great Yosippon" (5>njn J1BW) 
which may possibly belong to this Yosippon "»JND. They 
are there attributed to the little known Yerahmeel 
b. Shelomoh (see Med. Jew. Chron., I, introd., p. xx sqq.), 
of whom I propose to speak farther on, giving a collection 
of his unpublished compositions. 

I may mention as a curiosity that Yosippon appears 
to have been known in Persia at the beginning of the 
fourteenth century. See Prof. Bacher in the Rev. des 
fitudes J wives, XXXVII, p. 145. 

With regard to the Arabic version, there is no reason 
to doubt Ibn Hazm's statement quoted above, that it was 
made by a Jew resident in Yemen. Among the MS. 
fragments obtained from Cairo in the last few years by the 
Eodleian Library are six leaves (MS. Heb. e. 45, ff. 101 sqq.) 
of this version written in the Rabbinical character of Yemen, 
and containing the history of Aristobulus (Dl^riDX), &c, 
and of Crassus. The fragment begins as follows : — 

"vuddk^k nhm. roe n^y p«ii rnvsna Drwoa 'vdb ptb jvnna 

D^TVIDK mn fNJOT^N "]b"\ 'Bl !>Kp TT^K }DnNl nbpB tODWlDD 
IVl^K 1162 ,L N N31 D1MBJK nJ3K nyD 2Tff\ T1KD }0 DUpTA 13N 

bnpi Diaxua noma m-ixna dun'm *pbi fro pio rrbis yonix 
frm ^x rbvm NT'DN rrnNl rbaii. (See the Arabic version 
of 2 Maccabees xxxix.) The corresponding Hebrew, on 
fol. 57 of the Mantua edition, is as follows : — 


ncN -i*jjd3^n dn i^n Nam n^y on!>M -vyn ^y Ditf^aa nyi • • • 
Tuoaiw pai Dwraa pa ab& nwyb ib pnnni -jam DibinDns 
nan -rye ua dwdjki DibinDns ma N\in nya • • • ab& wi 
'a iiaa b»n s^sa vi>y bsn tbwwz th Dito^Dai • ntur px bx 
b~\y\ ins new an ny dn DibiriDnt* s-n pcs-in vnaa m iat 
ncrte niajo b»n d^n ii oyn bo ina^i loyo Dyn n^T tin 
non^oi? Diswai ri5opi> n^i * bs ^ao uib* t6i oma iaitf n!> ib>n 
Dwwaa ny isa new rnin' ^ni d"dii ^n ind naa ^na «a ib'k 
s^k D3 i^bm ^tyn ova vw ' • • : roi T3 nenW> DibinonN i>y 
D^ainons inb«i -ny c«on nanoa niani> lain ntw* ins miaa 
yaia inro »a ny d^vh n^yvaa inix ljrean tra-i rion Dn^i mb 
jo lrtNa-n Ditwaa bt< viinb»i inna^i pni> ha^i wtn ^y new i>nan 
.♦owroa tidx noii i>N mr6e»i *ny imDtn niaon 

On fol. 102 the MS. fragment begins a new section, thus : 

Diai'N nsy iron ^n dun* aa *wy xoh tap : wita did-o -iaa 
nb W tamtnp jo W>j TNpa mala ih onta jfaa onta ^y 
^n ^aia mpota rva ^n nji ina -oDya rwon }o -ikdb did-o 
taionta ;» rra no y*oi mojp f«a Kartata atam r6ta rva 
.... -iryta n^» tap' t&h npita "j^i '•a -nasta jntuta jndi. 
(2 Maccabees xli.) Corresponding to ed. Mant., ff. 57 d 
and 58 : — 

ten* vr>&>n yom rutyn naipr6 \ti • non ta ae^i dk>d yci 
naa ^na didij nn m^E"i nci Dna lyt^a vj vsyv ai mso ii nnna 
riN nnp> n* n^i « byn bx t*y\ obwv xy\ didij "iiay^i n«D 
nnn nwai ant ^inam onaa D'ai'N db> nvw « ^na ib^n anrn 

• • • iry^N ion brn ;na nc rrn 

A comparison of the Arabic version with the Hebrew 
text of the Mantua edition will show that the former iB 
considerably the shorter. It agrees, except for slight 
variations, with the Arabic version contained in two 
British Museum MSS. (nos. i, xi and 31), in two Bodleian 
MSS. (Marshall Or. 139, Hunt. 238), and in the edition 
printed at Beyrouth about ten years ago. (This edition 


is now not to be bought, but I was fortunate enough 
to obtain the loan of a copy through Mr. H. W. Hogg.) 
The Arabic Mace, ii also exhibits the same text, though 
still further shortened. That the Arabic was intended as 
a compendium of the Hebrew is indeed definitely stated 
in another fragment (MS. Heb. d. 64, fol. 121), consisting 
of a single leaf, also in the Rabbinical character of Yemen, 
and containing on the verso the first nine lines of the 
Arabic version. The entire passage, so far as it can be 
read, is as follows l : — 

cm txa 
jinu p ?i[dv ^k 31d]3»^n asris^N p -wtuk nd nojhn tan 
nnybv -itaatt "oil vxrbx rvafo m» >a "limta "waaK '•a 
Trbx onmijn rc&t* mxcy nnax "ud DncwK '•a ro • • • • ^ni 
enJN nhx nen nt? "tax din axm^ h[w] • ruy tai ma jk ^n 

rot • ro nhs' icfo i»i> ihs nWrcn n[$>B>vi]o -6in ium iun 

• DTm ipry\ by\r\) jw noi [ju]oi now li'iN na>i na^ Dim de> "l^ix 

• o^ni dtd iwvu ne»!>K fv 'oai * no-uirn nam Hats** idu ^ai 
h[d] kcnb 'ND'a W3D nta jiiNiDiw na[n]i na 11 wa ^xap mm 

IMD^ H^K |WtOV$>K DH fn • }ND&03 pN ^3 UDD'' ^K DilB 

.NMITpNOl ' • N3 pN3 

" This is an abbreviated version of the book attributed to Joseph 
b. Gorion, consisting of the history of the Jews at the time of the 
second temple, and the history of their kings and ... in their days, 
from the beginning of the restoration of the temple and their 
return to it, until its destruction and the dispersion. The book 
begins : Adam begat Seth, ..." 

The Arabic seems to me here to be shorter than any known 
text of the original Hebrew. Dr. Trieber (op. cit., p. 409) ex- 
presses a desire that the " arabische Uebersetzung zuganglich 
gemacht und fur die Herstellung eines gesauberten Textes 
verwendet wiirde," not knowing of the Beyrouth edition, 
which is as inaccessible as a MS. Prof. Wellhausen, in 
his "Der arabische Josippus" (Abhandlungen d. K. Ges. 

1 Cf. the introduction to MS. Marshall (Or.) 139. 


cl. Wiss. zu Gottingen, Phil.-Hist. Klasse, neue Folge, Bd. I, 
no. 4, Berlin, 1897), rightly concludes that the version was 
made from the Hebrew, although he had only the inferior 
Paris MS. at his disposal. 

It remains to consider the possible date at which such 
a work might have been produced in Yemen. That 
settlements of Jews existed there certainly before the 
eleventh century is shown by the early epitaphs given 
by Prof. Chwolson in his Corpus Inscriptionum Hebrai- 
carum (p. 126 sqq.) of the years 687 to 749. We have 
positive evidence that a congregation existed there early 
in the twelfth century ; see the article on Nathan'el al- 
Fayyumi, by Dr. R. Gottheil, in the Festschrift zwm 8o sten 
Geburtstage M. Steinschneiders, p. 144. 

In order not to omit anything, I shall conclude with 
a list of names of places in Yemen occupied by Jews. 
Besides being important in connexion with the above 
remarks, perhaps it may also serve as a contribution 
towards the Jewish geography of Yemen. The list has 
been collected, with the help of Prof. Biichler (Vienna), 
from the colophons of all the known Yemen MSS. except 
those in America. The names are arranged alphabetically, 
with an indication of the MSS. in which they are found. 
Professor Margoliouth kindly compared them with the 
forms found in Hamdani (H.) and Yakut (Y.), and his 
comparisons are added. 

DIN JV3 Brit. Mus. Orient. 2746. Cf. Glaser, die Abessinier, 

p. 11 sq. 
'DOT Oxford 2346. Cf. (j^j OuJ Hamdani. 
•0t6m^N or ^ro^K Brit. Mus. Orient. 2417. J\J H. 

biy nu ndd Ramsgate, brim emo (jvk'k-o). 

}V"U iru MS. Schechter. 

bib* Oxford 2338. J^ill H. 

Utrufo nnp xriD Berlin, p. 62; Brit. Mus. Orient. 1483 nnjfo. 

Cf. c_ >\je- ^ait. 
WStrvbtt Brit. Mus. Orient. 2387. 


*»D"ubK Oxford 2498. 

Wfotl Brit. Mus. Orient. 2227. 

D313n Berlin, p. 61. ^Loi t H. 

ytO*l Oxford 2333. 

1KB H NflO Oxford 2523, 2. 

">K»*1 Brit.Mus. Orient. 1479; Add.9398; Berlin, p.61. .LoH. 

>3K"d$>n rra ncoa Oxford 2328. U L-, H. 

NlJni'K Berlin, p. 95. 

^t^jnta Brit. Mus. Orient. 2365. ^iUj H. 

H3tn or H33H Berlin, p. 68. 

Waspt nnp MS. Schechter. 

B>N3n Brit. Mus. Orient. 2348, 2365 ; 2350 »B*3n and B»3n }3N. 

uCJ^-*- P ro per name ? cf. ^j*^ H. 
'itdnta Brit. Mus. Orient. 2218. Freedman of -.Is* ? 
tOJnfo NTIO Berlin, p. 115. jJ*1 H. 
NIDn Nn» Oxford 2493. ^W*? 
bhn Brit. Mus. Orient. 2348. SUa,:C? Y. 
WINXn^K Oxford 2523. i^Uc^ 1 ? H. 
p3Vnb« NnO Brit. Mus. Orient. 2212. ^li-io. H. 
3tnn i>N3i MS. Schechter. 
n^iei'N n^lO Brit. Mus. Orient. 2422; Berlin, pp. 62, 68. 

iby, H. 
"•^IB^N Oxford 2346 ; Brit. Mus. Orient. 1470, 2349. 
*VD^K Brit. Mus. Orient. 2212. j£o\ H. 
SHB^N Brit. Mus. Orient. 1472. v^t H. 
•"Ittt^K Oxford 2517. 
nnata Brit. Mus. Orient. 2746. 
U^a^N Oxford 2346. 
"iKDi^K 1V3 Brit. Mus. Orient. 1472. 
proiw "D MS. Wertheimer. 
fUroiw Brit. Mus. Orient. 2212. 

bprbtt Hjd Brit. Mus. Orient. 2218. Ji*. H.; Jjts* H. 
nnioi'N or nilD^N Brit. Mus. Orient. 2672. ^JLl (tribal 

name 1). 
HODID^N l»3 Berlin, p. 62. 
niNDlD^N Brit. Mus. Orient. 1483. 


"Otn«D$>N Brit. Mus. Orient. 1475. J\x~*. 

nytwebx KTIO Oxford 2631, fol. 54. yn^l H. 

"Uyo WlD Brit. Mus. Orient. 1475; Oxford 2328. j^u> H. 

iNDiD^N NT1D Brit. Mus. Orient. 1483; MS. Wertheimer. 

"•JIDXcfrN Oxford 2498. 
fbpdpa rV3 Berlin, p. 95. 

nnsno^K ndd Oxford 2346. r'jy- ? H - 

Tb^K 1B3 Brit. Mus. Orient. 1483. 
nwobN Oxford 2346. ^,l^_J\ H. 
B>Np3?N Brit. Mus. Orient. 2223. Name of a place or 

person % 
i^ID^N or fyivbx Oxford 2328. For n^1Q above. 
niD^N Oxford 2333; Berlin, 8° 338; niDD^K Brit. Mus. Orient. 

2215; •nttobx 2354. jyM % H. 
"rWy n» Oxford 2498. ^Lc H. 
py Oxford 1451, 1521 ; Berlin, pp. 95, 97. ^xc H. &c. 
"»Dy INT Berlin, p. 95. 
3JJ&N 1*3 Berlin, p. 95. 
'Myfo Berlin, p. 68. 
'Dtnyta Oxford 2328. ^jg. H. 
Dny^N NDD Oxford 2346; Brit. Mus. Orient. 2746. 
DViyi>N spa NflE Oxford 2346; Brit. Mus. Orient. 2354. 
^mnsi'N Brit. Mus. Orient. 2350. 

nriNV^N Oxford 2377, 2397; Brit. Mus. Orient. 2212. ^UaJI H. 
"Vshu Berlin, p. 95. 
3tH¥ Oxford 2488. 
atro WIO Oxford 2488. 
"TTy^K Oxford 2382. 
•>Jxt rP3 NflD Oxford 2497, 2498. 
K3X Oxford 2328, 2488, 2514; Berlin, pp. 67, 68, 95; Brit. 

Mus. Orient. 2227, 2349; Kohut 6. For *Ujl«o H. 
*»«¥•« Brit. Mus. Orient. 2417. For \\ - ^ , 
HDIpD^K K3Y Brit. Mus. Orient. 2223. « U ; - ? 

•HJJV^N Brit. Mus. Orient. 2349. j'ju«-o H. 
yiD • • • p Berlin, p. 68. 


^pta, D" 1 ? 133 Berlin, pp. 61, 71, 104. Tribal name. 

ri3Xp^N W1D Oxford 2522, 2523. L^ill H. 

nN3"l ttflD Oxford 2498. i»b, H. 

U'jrfot Brit. Mus. Orient. 2365. cr Ji^ ? 

flDnjn? Oxford 2328. 

DyJD Oxford 2338; Brit. Mus. Orient. 1482. »cLj H. 

^yjnta Brit. Mus. Orient. 2212. Id. 

•3-iniw Berlin, p. 73. 



Since the year 1887 new evidence has come to light 
for the history of the Yosippon-text. In that year the 
Bodleian Library acquired, from the late R. N. Rabinowitz, 
a manuscript (now MS. Heb. d. 11) consisting of 388 leaves 
on vellum, quarto, written in an old German Rabbinical 
character. (The general number will be found in the 
Supplement to my Catalogue, which will shortly be com- 
pleted.) I have already spoken of this MS., and given 
some quotations from it in Gratz's Monatsschrift for 1887, 
p. 504 sqq. According to the fragment of a calendar at 
the beginning of the volume it appears to have been written 
in the year 1325 a.d. by Eleazar b. Asher hal-levi. Among 
the various treatises which it contains is the greater 
part of the text of Yosippon, in which the name of the 
compiler, Yerahmeel, frequently occurs, and a bvun JWDV 
is also mentioned 1 . The writer is sometimes called in full, 
Yerahmeel ben Shelomoh vNcrrvn, and sometimes simply 
foerrv. Thus on fol. 26 the copyist says 1T5&N ^jn "iC" 
Nim m pjo pay nw *tb ^run jib^dvh n^nno |to airoi) *bn 
pawn iQD rpTin . Then follows a short passage of Yosippon, 
agreeing in the main with the ed. princeps, from "OJ na' 1 'ill 

1 On ff. 15a 1 " and 153 are marginal references, in an Italian cursive hand, 
to a nsi: ps'Dv (see my Med. Jew. Chrcm., I, p. ix, note 5).