The War of the Jews



By Flavius Josephus


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Josephus: The War of the Jews

Book 1

Book 2

Book 3

Book 4

Book 5

Book 6

Book 7











1. NOW as to Hades, wherein the souls of the of the good things they see,
and rejoice in the righteous and unrighteous are detained, it is necessary to
speak of it. Hades is a place in the world not regularly finished; a
subterraneous region, wherein the light of this world does not shine; from
which circumstance, that in this region the light does not shine, it cannot
be but there must be in it perpetual darkness. This region is allotted as a
place of custody for souls, ill which angels are appointed as guardians to
them, who distribute to them temporary punishments, agreeable to every
one’s behavior and manners.
2. In this region there is a certain place set apart, as a lake of unquenchable
fire, whereinto we suppose no one hath hitherto been cast; but it is
prepared for a day afore-determined by God, in which one righteous
sentence shall deservedly be passed upon all men; when the unjust, and
those that have been disobedient to God, and have given honor to such
idols as have been the vain operations of the hands of men as to God
himself, shall be adjudged to this everlasting punishment, as having been
the causes of defilement; while the just shall obtain an incorruptible and
never-fading kingdom. These are now indeed confined in Hades, but not in
the same place wherein the unjust are confined.
3. For there is one descent into this region, at whose gate we believe there
stands an archangel with an host; which gate when those pass through that
are conducted down by the angels appointed over souls, they do not go
the same way; but the just are guided to the right hand, and are led with
hymns, sung by the angels appointed over that place, unto a region of
light, in which the just have dwelt from the beginning of the world; not
constrained by necessity, but ever enjoying the prospect of the good
things they see, and rejoic in the expectation of those new enjoyments
which will be peculiar to every one of them, and esteeming those things
beyond what we have here; with whom there is no place of toil, no burning
heat, no piercing cold, nor are any briers there; but the countenance of the
and of the just, which they see, always smiles them, while they wait for
that rest and eternal new life in heaven, which is to succeed this region.
This place we call The Bosom of Abraham.
4. But as to the unjust, they are dragged by force to the left hand by the
angels allotted for punishment, no longer going with a good-will, but as
prisoners driven by violence; to whom are sent the angels appointed over
them to reproach them and threaten them with their terrible looks, and to
thrust them still downwards. Now those angels that are set over these
souls drag them into the neighborhood of hell itself; who, when they are
hard by it, continually hear the noise of it, and do not stand clear of the
hot vapor itself; but when they have a near view of this spectacle, as of a
terrible and exceeding great prospect of fire, they are struck with a fearful
expectation of a future judgment, and in effect punished thereby: and not
only so, but where they see the place [or choir] of the fathers and of the
just, even hereby are they punished; for a chaos deep and large is fixed
between them; insomuch that a just man that hath compassion upon them
cannot be admitted, nor can one that is unjust, if he were bold enough to
attempt it, pass over it.
5. This is the discourse concerning Hades, wherein the souls of all men are
confined until a proper season, which God hath determined, when he will
make a resurrection of all men from the dead, not procuring a
transmigration of souls from one body to another, but raising again those
very bodies, which you Greeks, seeing to be dissolved, do not believe
[their resurrection]. But learn not to disbelieve it; for while you believe
that the soul is created, and yet is made immortal by God, according to the
doctrine of Plato, and this in time, be not incredulous; but believe that God
is able, when he hath raised to life that body which was made as a
compound of the same elements, to make it immortal; for it must never be
said of God, that he is able to do some things, and unable to do others. We
have therefore believed that the body will be raised again; for although it be
dissolved, it is not perished; for the earth receives its remains, and
preserves them; and while they are like seed, and are mixed among the
more fruitful soil, they flourish, and what is sown is indeed sown bare
grain, but at the mighty sound of God the Creator, it will sprout up, and
be raised in a clothed and glorious condition, though not before it has been
dissolved, and mixed [with the earth]. So that we have not rashly believed
the resurrection of the body; for although it be dissolved for a time on
account of the original transgression, it exists still, and is cast into the earth
as into a potter’s furnace, in order to be formed again, not in order to rise
again such as it was before, but in a state of purity, and so as never to he
destroyed any more. And to every body shall its own soul be restored.
And when it hath clothed itself with that body, it will not be subject to
misery, but, being itself pure, it will continue with its pure body, and
rejoice with it, with which it having walked righteously now in this world,
and never having had it as a snare, it will receive it again with great
gladness. But as for the unjust, they will receive their bodies not changed,
not freed from diseases or distempers, nor made glorious, but with the
same diseases wherein they died; and such as they were in their unbelief,
the same shall they be when they shall be faithfully judged.
6. For all men, the just as well as the unjust, shall be brought before God
the word: for to him hath the Father committed all judgment: and he, in
order to fulfill the will of his Father, shall come as Judge, whom we call
Christ. For Minos and Rhadamanthus are not the judges, as you Greeks do
suppose, but he whom God and the Father hath glorified: CONCERNING
THE SAKE OF THOSE WHO SEEK AFTER TRUTH. This person, exercising the
righteous judgment of the Father towards all men, hath prepared a just
sentence for every one, according to his works; at whose judgment-seat
when all men, and angels, and demons shall stand, they will send forth one
voice, and say, JUST IS THY JUDGMENT; the rejoinder to which will bring a
just sentence upon both parties, by giving justly to those that have done
well an everlasting fruition; but allotting to the lovers of wicked works
eternal punishment. To these belong the unquenchable fire, and that
without end, and a certain fiery worm, never dying, and not destroying the
body, but continuing its eruption out of the body with never-ceasing grief:
neither will sleep give ease to these men, nor will the night afford them
comfort; death will not free them from their punishment, nor will the
interceding prayers of their kindred profit them; for the just are no longer
seen by them, nor are they thought worthy of remembrance. But the just
shall remember only their righteous actions, whereby they have attained
the heavenly kingdom, in which there is no sleep, no sorrow, no
corruption, no care, no night, no day measured by time, no sun driven in
his course along the circle of heaven by necessity, and measuring out the
bounds and conversions of the seasons, for the better illumination of the
life of men; no moon decreasing and increasing, or introducing a variety of
seasons, nor will she then moisten the earth; no burning sun, no Bear
turning round [the pole], no Orion to rise, no wandering of innumerable
stars. The earth will not then be difficult to be passed over, nor will it he
hard to find out the court of paradise, nor will there be any fearful roaring
of the sea, forbidding the passengers to walk on it; even that will be made
easily passable to the just, though it will not be void of moisture. Heaven
will not then be uninhabitable by men, and it will not be impossible to
discover the way of ascending thither. The earth will not be uncultivated,
nor require too much labor of men, but will bring forth its fruits of its own
accord, and will be well adorned with them. There will be no more
generations of wild beasts, nor will the substance of the rest of the animals
shoot out any more; for it will not produce men, but the number of the
righteous will continue, and never fail, together with righteous angels, and
spirits [of God], and with his word, as a choir of righteous men and
women that never grow old, and continue in an incorruptible state, singing
hymns to God, who hath advanced them to that happiness, by the means
of a regular institution of life; with whom the whole creation also will lift
up a perpetual hymn from corruption, to incorruption, as glorified by a
splendid and pure spirit. It will not then be restrained by a bond of
necessity, but with a lively freedom shall offer up a voluntary hymn, and
shall praise him that made them, together with the angels, and spirits, and
men now freed from all bondage.
7. And now, if you Gentiles will be persuaded by these motives, and leave
your vain imaginations about your pedigrees, and gaining of riches, and
philosophy, and will not spend your time about subtleties of words, and
thereby lead your minds into error, and if you will apply your ears to the
hearing of the inspired prophets, the interpreters both of God and of his
word, and will believe in God, you shall both be partakers of these things,
and obtain the good things that are to come; you shall see the ascent unto
the immense heaven plainly, and that kingdom which is there. For what
God hath now concealed in silence [will be then made manifest,] what
neither eye hath seen, nor ear hath heard, nor hath it entered into the heart
of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him.
8. In whatsoever ways I shall find you, in them shall I judge you entirely:
so cries the END of all things. And he who hath at first lived a virtuous lift,
but towards the latter end falls into vice, these labors by him before
endured shall be altogether vain and unprofitable, even as in a play,
brought to an ill catastrophe. Whosoever shall have lived wickedly and
luxuriously may repent; however, there will be need of much time to
conquer an evil habit, and even after repentance his whole life must be
guarded with great care and diligence, after the manner of a body, which,
after it hath been a long time afflicted with a distemper, requires a stricter
diet and method of living; for though it may be possible, perhaps, to break
off the chain of our irregular affections at once, yet our amendment cannot
be secured without the grace of God, the prayers of good men, the help of
the brethren, and our own sincere repentance and constant care. It is a
good thing not to sin at all; it is also good, having sinned, to repent; as it is
best to have health always, but it is a good thing to recover from a
To God be glory and dominion for ever and ever Amen.
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