October 18, 2018

Differentiating the Powers

The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus, Book XI, Chapter 3, Sections 1-6

2. Now, in the first year of the king’s reign, Darius feasted those that were about him, and those born in his house, with the rulers of the Medes, and princes of the Persians, and the toparchs of India and Ethiopia, and the generals of the armies of his hundred and twenty-seven provinces. But when they had eaten and drunk to satiety, and abundantly, they every one departed to go to bed at their own houses, and Darius the king went to bed; but after he had rested a little part of the night, he awaked, and not being able to sleep any more, he fell into conversation with the three guards of his body, and promised, that to him who should make an oration about points that he should inquire of, such as should be most agreeable to truth, and to the dictates of wisdom, he would grant it as a reward of his victory, to put on a purple garment, and to drink in cups of gold, and to sleep upon gold, and to have a chariot with bridles of gold, and a head tire of fine linen, and a chain of gold about his neck, and to sit next to himself, on account of his wisdom; “and,” says he, “he shall be called my cousin.” Now when he had promised to give them these gifts, he asked the first of them, “Whether wine was not the strongest?”–the second, “Whether kings were not such?” — and the third, “Whether women were not such? or whether truth was not the strongest of all?” When he had proposed that they should make their inquiries about these problems, he went to rest; but in the morning he sent for his great men, his princes, and toparchs of Persia and Media, and set himself down in the place where he used to give audience, and bid each of the guards of his body to declare what they thought proper concerning the proposed questions, in the hearing of them all.

3. Accordingly, the first of them began to speak of the strength of wine, and demonstrated it thus: “When,” said he,” I am to give my opinion of wine, O you men, I find that it exceeds every thing, by the following indications: It deceives the mind of those that drink it, and reduces that of the king to the same state with that of the orphan, and he who stands in need of a tutor; and erects that of the slave to the boldness of him that is free; and that of the needy becomes like that of the rich man, for it changes and renews the souls of men when it gets into them; and it quenches the sorrow of those that are under calamities, and makes men forget the debts they owe to others, and makes them think themselves to be of all men the richest; it makes them talk of no small things, but of talents, and such other names as become wealthy men only; nay more, it makes them insensible of their commanders, and of their kings, and takes away the remembrance of their friends and companions, for it arms men even against those that are dearest to them, and makes them appear the greatest strangers to them; and when they are become sober, and they have slept out their wine in the night, they arise without knowing any thing they have done in their cups. I take these for signs of power, and by them discover that wine is the strongest and most insuperable of all things.”

4. As soon as the first had given the forementioned demonstrations of the strength of wine, he left off; and the next to him began to speak about the strength of a king, and demonstrated that it was the strongest of all, and more powerful than any thing else that appears to have any force or wisdom. He began his demonstration after the following manner; and said,” They are men who govern all things; they force the earth and the sea to become profitable to them in what they desire, and over these men do kings rule, and over them they have authority. Now those who rule over that animal which is of all the strongest and most powerful, must needs deserve to be esteemed insuperable in power and force. For example, when these kings command their subjects to make wars, and undergo dangers, they are hearkened to; and when they send them against their enemies, their power is so great that they are obeyed. They command men to level mountains, and to pull down walls and towers; nay, when they are commanded to be killed and to kill, they submit to it, that they may not appear to transgress the king’s commands; and when they have conquered, they bring what they have gained in the war to the king. Those also who are not soldiers, but cultivate the ground, and plough it, and when, after they have endured the labor and all the inconveniences of such works of husbandry, they have reaped and gathered in their fruits, they bring tributes to the king; and whatsoever it is which the king says or commands, it is done of necessity, and that without any delay, while he in the mean time is satiated with all sorts of food and pleasures, and sleeps in quiet. He is guarded by such as watch, and such as are, as it were, fixed down to the place through fear; for no one dares leave him, even when he is asleep, nor does any one go away and take care of his own affairs; but he esteems this one thing the only work of necessity, to guard the king, and accordingly to this he wholly addicts himself. How then can it be otherwise, but that it must appear that the king exceeds all in strength, while so great a multitude obeys his injunctions?”

5. Now when this man had held his peace, the third of them, who was Zorobabel, began to instruct them about women, and about truth, who said thus: “Wine is strong, as is the king also, whom all men obey, but women are superior to them in power; for it was a woman that brought the king into the world; and for those that plant the vines and make the wine, they are women who bear them, and bring them up: nor indeed is there any thing which we do not receive from them; for these women weave garments for us, and our household affairs are by their means taken care of, and preserved in safety; nor can we live separate from women. And when we have gotten a great deal of gold and silver, and any other thing that is of great value, and deserving regard, and see a beautiful woman, we leave all these things, and with open mouth fix our eyes upon her countenance, and are willing to forsake what we have, that we may enjoy her beauty, and procure it to ourselves. We also leave father, and mother, and the earth that nourishes us, and frequently forget our dearest friends, for the sake of women; nay, we are so hardy as to lay down our lives for them. But what will chiefly make you take notice of the strength of women is this that follows: Do not we take pains, and endure a great deal of trouble, and that both by land and sea, and when we have procured somewhat as the fruit of our labors, do not we bring them to the women, as to our mistresses, and bestow them upon them? Nay, I once saw the king, who is lord of so many people, smitten on the face by Apame, the daughter of Rabsases Themasius, his concubine, and his diadem taken away from him, and put upon her own head, while he bore it patiently; and when she smiled he smiled, and when she was angry he was sad; and according to the change of her passions, he flattered his wife, and drew her to reconciliation by the great humiliation of himself to her, if at my time he saw her displeased at him.”

6. And when the princes and rulers looked one upon another, he began to speak about truth; and he said, “I have already demonstrated how powerful women are; but both these women themselves, and the king himself, are weaker than truth; for although the earth be large, and the heaven high, and the course of the sun swift, yet are all these moved according to the will of God, who is true and righteous, for which cause we also ought to esteem truth to be the strongest of all things, and that what is unrighteous is of no force against it. Moreover, all things else that have any strength are mortal and short-lived, but truth is a thing that is immortal and eternal. It affords us not indeed such a beauty as will wither away by time, nor such riches as may be taken away by fortune, but righteous rules and laws. It distinguishes them from injustice, and puts what is unrighteous to rebuke.”

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An Aristocracy Headed by Yahweh, a People of Happiness

*Editor’s Note* – In the historic documents of Flavius Josephus, specifically “The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged,” Book 4 and Chapter 8, Section 2, we find what is written below. As a preamble to this section, I first want to somewhat apologize (although not my work) for how the piece is written, i.e. as one long paragraph. In today’s world, few people can focus long enough to read the below work say nothing about deciphering it and finding understanding. Written work today is presented in short, choppy, sentences and paragraphs to match the manufactured attention spans of most. However, it is of my opinion that there is much knowledge and comparative understanding to gain by reading the below and then rereading it.

“Titus Flavius Josephus born Yosef ben Matityahu was a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer, who was born in Jerusalem” (link). The portion of his work, gathered from ancient historical documents, is presented as translated by William Whiston.

The quote is from Moses. He gathered his congregation to inform them that at the age of 120 it was time to pass the leadership of the Israelites, near the end of their 40-year wanderings in the “wilderness,” on to a successor as appointed by Yahweh – Joshua.

In so doing, he addresses the congregation and explains the only way in which they can find happiness and prosperity. Following this speech, he leaves with the leaders and people, in written form, “suggestions” as to the structure of an aristocratic government, one in which he claims is the one that will work, provided that the leader(s) of the Israelites seeks Yahweh and follows his commands. To do this, and to pass this down to the people, requires amazing leadership, of which cannot ever be found on this earth again. 

What this writing gives us, is a partial explanation of how Yahweh’s governmental structure for man works. Looking at modern-day governments, it’s easy to see that man’s governmental structure fails – as any honest historian will tell you.

Throughout this time, and under the direction of Yahweh, no appointment to leadership of any person, beginning with Moses (Joshua), the senators, judges, tribal leaders on down, could hold any office that did not meet the specific and strict requirements of virtue as directed by Yahweh. It must be stated that this “aristocracy” can only work with Yahweh at the head and all others in leadership roles must pass His test. Moses explains to the congregation what will happen to them when they refuse Yahweh’s protectorship. 

I have taken the liberty to embolden some of the words in order to help draw your attention to Moses’s words, given to him by Yahweh.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

“O you Israelites and fellow soldiers, who have been partners with me in this long and uneasy journey; since it is now the will of God, and the course of old age, at a hundred and twenty, requires it that I should depart out of this life; and since God has forbidden me to be a patron or an assistant to you in what remains to be done beyond Jordan; I thought it reasonable not to leave off my endeavors even now for your happiness, but to do my utmost to procure for you the eternal enjoyment of good things, and a memorial for myself, when you shall be in the fruition of great plenty and prosperity. Come, therefore, let me suggest to you by what means you may be happy, and may leave an eternal prosperous possession thereof to your children after you, and then let me thus go out of the world; and I cannot but deserve to be believed by you, both on account of the great things I have already done for you, and because, when souls are about to leave the body, they speak with the sincerest freedom. O children of Israel! there is but one source of happiness for all mankind, the favor of God for he alone is able to give good things to those that deserve them, and to deprive those of them that sin against him; towards whom, if you behave yourselves according to his will, and according to what I, who well understand his mind, do exhort you to, you will both be esteemed blessed, and will be admired by all men; and will never come into misfortunes, nor cease to be happy: you will then preserve the possession of the good things you already have, and will quickly obtain those that you are at present in want of, – only do you be obedient to those whom God would have you to follow. Nor do you prefer any other constitution of government before the laws now given you; neither do you disregard that way of Divine worship which you now have, nor change it for any other form: and if you do this, you will be the most courageous of all men, in undergoing the fatigues of war, and will not be easily conquered by any of your enemies; for while God is present with you to assist you, it is to be expected that you will be able to despise the opposition of all mankind; and great rewards of virtue are proposed for you, if you preserve that virtue through your whole lives. Virtue itself is indeed the principal and the first reward, and after that it bestows abundance of others; so that your exercise of virtue towards other men will make your own lives happy, and render you more glorious than foreigners can be, and procure you an undisputed reputation with posterity. These blessings you will be able to obtain, in case you hearken to and observe those laws which, by Divine revelation, I have ordained for you; that is, in case you withal meditate upon the wisdom that is in them. I am going from you myself, rejoicing in the good things you enjoy; and I recommend you to the wise conduct of your law, to the becoming order of your polity, and to the virtues of your commanders, who will take care of what is for your advantage. And that God, who has been till now your Leader, and by whose goodwill I have myself been useful to you, will not put a period now to his providence over you, but as long as you desire to have him your Protector in your pursuits after virtue, so long will you enjoy his care over you. Your high priest also Eleazar, as well as Joshua, with the senate, and chief of your tribes, will go before you, and suggest the best advices to you; by following which advices you will continue to be happy: to whom do you give ear without reluctance, as sensible that all such as know well how to be governed, will also know how to govern, if they be promoted to that authority themselves. And do not you esteem liberty to consist in opposing such directions as your governors think fit to give you for your practice, – as at present indeed you place your liberty in nothing else but abusing your benefactors; which error if you can avoid for the time to come, your affairs will be in a better condition than they have hitherto been. Nor do you ever indulge such a degree of passion in these matters, as you have oftentimes done when you have been very angry at me; for you know that I have been oftener in danger of death from you than from our enemies. What I now put you in mind of, is not done in order to reproach you; for I do not think it proper, now I am going out of the world, to bring this to your remembrance, in order to leave you offended at me, since, at the time when I underwent those hardships from you, I was not angry at you; but I do it in order to make you wiser hereafter, and to teach you that this will be for your security; I mean, that you never be injurious to those that preside over you, even when you are become rich, as you will be to a great degree when you have passed over Jordan, and are in possession of the land of Canaan. Since, when you shall have once proceeded so far by your wealth, as to a contempt and disregard of virtue, you will also forfeit the favor of God; and when you have made him your enemy, you will be beaten in war, and will have the land which you possess taken away again from you by your enemies, and this with great reproaches upon your conduct. You will be scattered over the whole world, and will, as slaves, entirely fill both sea and land; and when once you have had the experience of what I now say, you will repent, and remember the laws you have broken, when it is too late. Whence I would advise you, if you intend to preserve these laws, to leave none of your enemies alive when you have conquered them, but to look upon it as for your advantage to destroy them all, lest, if you permit them to live, you taste of their manners, and thereby corrupt your own proper institutions. I also do further exhort you, to overthrow their altars, and their groves, and whatsoever temples they have among them, and to burn all such, their nation, and their very memory with fire; for by this means alone the safety of your own happy constitution can be firmly secured to you. And in order to prevent your ignorance of virtue, and the degeneracy of your nature into vice, I have also ordained you laws, by Divine suggestion, and a form of government, which are so good, that if you regularly observe them, you will be esteemed of all men the most happy.”

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