Photo Credit: Government Press Office
Josephus Flavius' 'The Jewish War'

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday gave visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a copy of Josephus Flavius’ ‘The Jewish War’ which was printed in Tuscany, Italy, in 1526, the Kremlin press service announced.

The book was published in the Tuscan dialect.

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The prime minister instructed his staff to hand the book over to the National Library of Israel, according to Netanyahu’s press service.

Netanyahu wrapped up his brief working visit to Russia where he held talks with Putin on several issues, including the Iranian threat in Syria.

‘The Jewish War’ (Latin Bellum Judaicum or De Bello Judaico) was Josephus’ first work after arriving in Rome, following the repression of the Great Revold of the year 70. In 78 CE he finished the seven-volume account in Greek. It starts with the period of the Maccabees and concludes with accounts of the fall of Jerusalem, and the succeeding fall of the fortresses of Herodion, Macharont and Masada and the Roman victory celebrations in Rome, the mopping-up operations, Roman military operations elsewhere in the Empire and the uprising in Cyrene.

In the wake of the suppression of the Jewish revolt, Josephus would have witnessed the marches of Titus’s triumphant legions leading their Jewish captives, and carrying treasures from the despoiled Temple in Jerusalem. It was against this background that Josephus wrote his War, claiming to be countering anti-Judaean accounts. He disputes the claim that the Jews worshipped a defeated God, and were naturally hostile to Roman civilization. Instead, he blames the Jewish War on what he calls “unrepresentative and over-zealous fanatics” among the Jews, who led the masses away from their traditional aristocratic leaders (such as himself), with disastrous results.

Josephus also blames some of the Roman governors of Judea, presenting them as corrupt and incompetent administrators. According to Josephus, the traditional Jew was, should be, and can be a loyal and peace-loving citizen. Jews can, and historically have, accepted Rome’s hegemony because their faith declares that God himself gives empires their power.

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