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Josephus Explains Origins of Revolt

This passage from Josephus lays out the background for the Jewish revolt against Rome of 66 CE, which ended with the destruction of the Temple four years later. According to Josephus, the uprising was a reaction to the corrupt, unscrupulous administration of Florus, the last Roman procurator (54 -68).



Now Gessius Florus, who was sent as successor to Albinus by Nero, filled Judea with an abundance of miseries. . . . Florus was so wicked, and so violent in the use of his authority, that the Jews found Albinus, in retrospect, to have been practically their benefactor; so excessive were the mischiefs that Florus brought upon them. Albinus had concealed his wickedness and was careful that it might not be discovered to all men; but Gessius Florus, as though sent on purpose to show his crimes to everybody, made a ostentatious display of them to our nation, never omitting any sort of violence, nor any unjust sort of punishment. He was not moved by pity, and was never satisfied no matter how much gain he acquired; nor had he any more regard to great than to small acquisitions, but he became a partner with the robbers themselves.

A great many turned to robbery without fear, having him as security, and depending on him to pardon them for their crimes. There were no bounds to the nation's miseries. The devastations of the robbers drove people from their homes, and sent them fleeing in the belief that they could dwell more easily anywhere else in the world than in their own country. What more need I say upon this head? It was Florus who drove us to take up arms against the Romans, for we preferred to be destroyed all at once rather than little by little. Now this war began in the second year of the government of Florus, and the twelfth year of the reign of Nero.