Joseph Atwill, author of Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus, from time to time challenges some of my points on this blog and I have tended to respond only in generalities. A week ago I posted what I see is the difference between two types of mythicist arguments: There are two types of Jesus mythicism. Here’s how to tell them apart. Type 1 I described as scholarly; it is one that engages in depth with the scholarly output of biblical studies and strives to follow the best in historical methods and logically valid argument; Type 2, on the other hand, I described as non-scholarly because it does none of those things.
I think all arguments that are taken seriously by others ought to be addressed seriously, and that applies to creationist arguments, holocaust denial arguments, and Joseph Atwill’s conspiracy theory argument. Is not the aim of any argument to try to persuade? So why not, at least at some point, try to set out a persuasive argument against a view that is embraced by others but that we consider to be flawed?
I will only focus on one particular argument in Caesar’s Messiah in this post. Hopefully that will be enough for now to prompt maybe one person at some time to think through afresh one explanation for Christian origins that they may have been wondering about.
The opening of chapter 1 announces the main argument:
I shall show that intellectuals working for Titus Flavius, the second of the three Flavian Caesars, created Christianity. Their main purpose was to replace the xenophobic Jewish messianism that waged war against the Roman Empire with a version of Judaism that would be obedient to Rome.
One of the individuals involved with the creation of the Gospels was the first-century historian Flavius Josephus. (p. 12)
In chapter 2 Joseph Atwill begins first serious comparison between the gospels and the works of Josephus in order to demonstrate that the gospels are a coded satire of Titus’s march on Jerusalem.
In Matthew 4:18-19 and Luke 5:9-10 we read how Jesus, while walking along the “Sea” of Galilee, called disciples to become “fishers of men”. Later in Matthew 11:23 (also in Luke 10:13f) Jesus prophecies doom for Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum for rejecting his word.
Joseph Atwill argues that Jesus’ calling his disciples to become “fishers of men” and his pronouncement of doom upon Chorazin are satires of a slaughter by Romans of rebellious Jews in the lake of Galilee.
In support, he quotes the following sections from Josephus’s War, Book 3, chapter 10:
This lake is called by the people of the country the Lake of Gennesareth . . . they had a great number of ships . . . and they were so fitted up, that they might undertake a Seafight. But as the Romans were building a wall about their camp, Jesus and his party . . . made a sally upon them.
. . . Sometimes the Romans leaped into their ships, with swords in their hands, and slew them; but when some of them met the vessels, the Romans caught them by the middle, and destroyed at once their ships and themselves who were taken in them. And for such as were drowning in the sea, if they lifted their heads up above the water, they were either killed by darts, or caught by the vessels; but if, in the desperate case they were in, they attempted to swim to their enemies, the Romans cut off either their heads or their hands . . . (p. 39)
The passage reads like a single unit about a sea battle but the thee dotted lines at the beginning of the second paragraph represent over 3000 words of Whiston’s translation. The main thrust of the story is omitted. To see the full passage see below where I have copied the totality between “The lake is called by the people . . .” to “their heads of their hands.”
Atwill introduces the above words of Josephus with a comparison to “fishing for men”:
In War of the Jews, Josephus describes a sea battle where the Romans caught Jews like fish. The battle occurred at Gennesareth, where Titus attacked a band of Jewish rebels led by a leader named Jesus. (p. 39, my bolded emphasis in all quotations)
If you have not read the Josephan passage do so now. Josephus makes no comparison at all with the Romans catching Jews like fish. The image never surfaces in Josephus’ account of the battle. If one reads the passage in full (as I have copied below) one encounters a grisly image of slaughter of desperate humans struggling in the water. Heads and hands are cut off. Victims are not “caught like fish” but are stabbed with spears, shot with arrows, cut with swords.
Atwill has transferred the image of “fishing for men” from the gospels and gratuitously injected it into the passage in Josephus.
But an uneducated peasant could not have understood that there was another “prophecy” that came to pass within the passages above. I am referring to Christ’s exhortation to become “fishers”or “catchers” of men, while standing on the spot where Jews would be caught like fish during the coming war with Rome.
However, any patricians who knew the details of the sea battle at Gennesareth would have seen the irony in a Messiah who was named “Savior” inventing the phrase “fishers of men” while standing on the beach where the Jews were caught like fish. The grim comedy is self-evident. . . . .
The other “fulfilled” prophecy that of Jesus’ prediction that his followers would become fishers for men, is not so straightforward. It could be understood only by someone who, like the residents of the Flavian court, had knowledge of the details of the sea battle between the Romans and the Jewish fishermen at Gennesareth. Only such individuals could have seen the prophetic irony in Jesus using the expression while standing on the very beach where the Jews would later be caught like fish.
. . . . The structure of the comedy is important. Jesus speaks of “catching men” in a seemingly symbolic sense. Josephus then records that Jesus was indeed a “true” prophet. His vision of “catching men” at Gennesareth did come to pass, the joke being that it came to pass literally, and not in the symbolic manner that Jesus seemed to have meant with the phrase. (pp. 39f)
Nothing in Josephus hints that he had any image of the Jewish victims being “caught like fish”. Nothing. To make up for Josephus’s silence Atwill finds occasions to repeat the image and impute it to Josephus many times.
I have often addressed the topic of intertextuality, demonstrating places where the gospel narratives are evidently derived from a reading of passages in the Old Testament and perhaps other literature, too. In every one of those cases there are clearly distinctive images or words found in both texts that suggest a real link in the author’s mind. If Josephus compared the Roman slaughter of Jews to catching fish then Atwill would have some material with which to make a case.
Origin of the “fishers of men” image
Atwill does not address the well-known sources for the image of “fishers of men” in the gospels: Jeremiah 16:16 and Ezekiel 47:10. The first link contains commentary references to long-known origins of the image.
Nor does he address the source of Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus calling disciples to become “fishers of men”: Mark 1:16-17.
We would expect a scholarly argument to acknowledge what is clear to every scholar of the gospels — that Matthew and Luke were copying Mark, not Josephus. A scholarly account would at least address this common understanding even if to present reasons why it was deemed inadequate as an explanation. A scholarly argument would be expected to focus on the first gospel that used the expression (Mark) and that was copied by others (Matthew and Luke). Unfortunately Atwill does not discuss the Gospel of Mark in this context at all. Perhaps the reason is that the Gospel of Mark does not contain another passage found in both Matthew and Luke that Atwill wants to link with “fishers of men”.
Woe to the Coracin fish!
Josephus breaks from his narrative of the conflict between the Jews and Romans to set the scene, to portray the landscape and lake of Galilee. In one part Josephus writes, quoting Atwill:
The country also that lies over against this lake hath the same name of Gennesareth . . . Some have thought it to be a vein of the Nile, because it produces the Coracin fish as well as the lake does which is near to Alexandria.
For Josephus the interesting detail about the fish is that it is not shaped like most other fish and is also found in Egypt. Atwill sees here a link with Jesus pronouncement of a curse upon the town of Chorazain.
In other words, Atwill imputes a fishing analogy into Josephus’s account that is simply not there and on the basis of that entirely creative imputation builds another “link” with the gospels when Jesus says,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. (Luke 10:13-14)
Atwill concludes from this “juxtaposition”,
So, while at the Sea of Galilee Jesus predicted woe for the Chorazain, and said that henceforth his disciples would follow him and become fishers for men. Titus’ experience was strangely parallel to Jesus’ prophecies in that he literally brought woe for the Chorazainians and his soldiers literally followed him and became “fishers of men.” That is, they fished for the inhabitants of the village named for the Coracin fish. (p. 41)
Atwill links “fishers of men” with “Chorazain” even though in the gospels the two references have no relationship at all. They are separated by several chapters and each appears in a quite different context and with no thematic or conceptual link.
Josephus does mention a city that does face destruction in this particular episode — Tarichese. Given Atwill’s argument one would expect Jesus to have pronounced doom on Tarichese instead of “Chorazain”, but Tarichese is never mentioned in any of the gospels. And the only “Chorazain” Josephus mentions is the “Coracin fish”, and he does not even refer to anyone actually catching it. Nor does Josephus mention Bethsaida or Capernaum as doomed to destruction as per Jesus’ prophecy.
Another gospel passage that Atwill argues is related to the massacre scene in Josephus is the reference in Luke 5 where Jesus tells his would-be disciples to “fear not” after they learn they are in the company of a man with great power. In Luke 5:4-11 we read:
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Atwill compares this command with Titus urging his men to not have any fear in battle with the Jews. The fear in Luke (the scene does not appear in Mark or Matthew) is a reference to fear of Jesus himself, not what will be involved in later in “fishing for men”. It is a common trope found in the most obvious source for the gospels, Old Testament scenes of prophets meeting God for the first time. Just type the word “afraid” into the BibleGateway and you will see it begins with Abraham, Sarah and on through Moses and others.
When one reads the passage from Josephus in which the Jews were “caught” [there is no such passage as we have pointed out above] it is also recorded that the soldiers who did the “catching” [the soldiers are never said by Josephus to be “catching”] were told not to be afraid and indeed “followed” someone. As the next excerpts show, the person being followed was Titus, who told his troops not to be afraid. (p. 42)
A scholarly account can only be credible if it addresses the most common and obvious explanations for sources. It cannot ignore what is already understood when it presents a new argument. A scholarly account must also refer to evidence, not assumptions that the author of a source had the evidence (that the Romans were in effect “fishing for men”) in mind even though he did not actually express it.
Sent by his father
In Josephus we read that Titus was sent to battle by his father Vespasian. Atwill draws another parallel with the gospels:
Like Jesus, Titus had been sent by his father. . . . Titus, again like Jesus at Gennesareth, is in a sense beginning his ministry there. (p. 42)
Again, we have Atwill reading images into the text that are not there to begin with. Atwill has taken words from other gospels or narratives and transferred them to the passages in Matthew and Luke that contain no suggestion that Jesus is calling disciples in direct response to being “sent by his father” to do so. Atwill is not addressing the words of the text but again is reading other ideas from elsewhere into them.
Unusual parallels? The same nature as parallels with Moses?
Atwill adds a disclaimer:
The previous examples, in and of themselves, are not convincing evidence that there is a deliberate parallel between Jesus’ ministry and Titus’ campaign. It is, after all, quite possible that it was just an unfortunate coincidence that Jesus chose the beach at Gennesareth as the spot where he described his future ministry as fishing for men. . . .
But no, there are no parallels to begin with. The only parallel is between the Gospels’ “fishers of men” and Atwill’s imagining that a scene in Josephus could be related to the same metaphor. That’s an imaginary parallel, not a real one. It has no textual evidence to support it.
To summarize, though there were thousands of other possible locations, both Jesus and Titus can be said to have had the onset of their narratives at Gennesareth, and in a manner that involved fishing for men—parallels that are unusual enough to at least permit questioning whether they were the product of coincidence. (pp. 42-44)
No, they the parallels are imagined, not “unusual enough” for anything.
Further, the parallels are of the same nature as the typological relationship shown above between Jesus and Moses. The connections between Jesus and Titus are made up of parallel concepts, locations, and sequences. (p. 44)
There are very real parallels between Jesus and Moses, especially in the Gospel of Matthew, that are well recognized among biblical scholars, because the textual relationships, the images and themes, are indeed very similar. Moses delivers teaching or commands from a mountain just as Jesus delivers instructions from a mountain. In both narratives there is a mountain mentioned (not simply imagined in one of the accounts) and in both there are clear teachings with the latter even making an explicit comparison with the former (“You have heard it said [a command from Moses]….”). Moses came through waters of the Red Sea to wander 40 years in the wilderness just as Jesus was baptized and went to wander 40 days in the wilderness: the coming through water, the wilderness, the number 40 — they are all explicit images in both texts. It is simply not the case that the parallels Atwill has asserted between Josephus and the gospels are “of the same nature as the typological relationship between Jesus and Moses.” The are parallel concepts and sequences between Moses and Jesus; the only parallel between Josephus and the gospels is the location, the lake a of Galilee.
Just the beginning
The overlaps between Jesus’ prophecies and Titus’ accomplishments make the “fishers of men” parallel more difficult to accept as random. And this is just the beginning of the uncanny parallels between the two men who called themselves the “son of God” and whose “ministries” began in Galilee and end in Jerusalem. (See chart on page 43.) (p. 44)
The sequence of parallels would indeed by “uncanny” if they were more than in the imagination of Joseph Atwill.
Atwill, Joseph. 2011. Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus: Flavian Signature Edition. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
The full account from Wars 3:10 from which Atwill selected sections to make his parallel with the gospels:
This lake is called by the people of the country the Lake of Gennesareth. The city itself is situated like Tiberias, at the bottom of a mountain, and on those sides which are not washed by the sea, had been strongly fortified by Josephus, though not so strongly as Tiberias; for the wall of Tiberias had been built at the beginning of the Jews’ revolt, when he had great plenty of money, and great power, but Tarichese partook only the remains of that liberality, Yet had they a great number of ships gotten ready upon the lake, that, in case they were beaten at land, they might retire to them; and they were so fitted up, that they might undertake a Sea-fight also. But as the Romans were building a wall about their camp, Jesu and his party were neither affrighted at their number, nor at the good order they were in, but made a sally upon them; and at the very first onset the builders of the wall were dispersed; and these pulled what little they had before built to pieces; but as soon as they saw the armed men getting together, and before they had suffered any thing themselves, they retired to their own men. But then the Romans pursued them, and drove them into their ships, where they launched out as far as might give them the opportunity of reaching the Romans with what they threw at them, and then cast anchor, and brought their ships close, as in a line of battle, and thence fought the enemy from the sea, who were themselves at land. But Vespasian hearing that a great multitude of them were gotten together in the plain that was before the city, he thereupon sent his son, with six hundred chosen horsemen, to disperse them.
2. But when Titus perceived that the enemy was very numerous, he sent to his father, and informed him that he should want more forces. But as he saw a great many of the horsemen eager to fight, and that before any succors could come to them, and that yet some of them were privately under a sort of consternation at the multitude of the Jews, he stood in a place whence he might be heard, and said to them, “My brave Romans! for it is right for me to put you in mind of what nation you are, in the beginning of my speech, that so you may not be ignorant who you are, and who they are against whom we are going to fight. For as to us, Romans, no part of the habitable earth hath been able to escape our hands hitherto; but as for the Jews, that I may speak of them too, though they have been already beaten, yet do they not give up the cause; and a sad thing it would be for us to grow wealthy under good success, when they bear up under their misfortunes. As to the alacrity which you show publicly, I see it, and rejoice at it; yet am I afraid lest the multitude of the enemy should bring a concealed fright upon some of you: let such a one consider again, who we are that are to fight, and who those are against whom we are to fight. Now these Jews, though they be very bold and great despisers of death, are but a disorderly body, and unskillful in war, and may rather be called a rout than an army; while I need say nothing of our skill and our good order; for this is the reason why we Romans alone are exercised for war in time of peace, that we may not think of number for number when we come to fight with our enemies: for what advantage should we reap by our continual sort of warfare, if we must still be equal in number to such as have not been used to war. Consider further, that you are to have a conflict with men in effect unarmed, while you are well armed; with footmen, while you are horsemen; with those that have no good general, while you have one; and as these advantages make you in effect manifold more than you are, so do their disadvantages mightily diminish their number. Now it is not the multitude of men, though they be soldiers, that manages wars with success, but it is their bravery that does it, though they be but a few; for a few are easily set in battle-array, and can easily assist one another, while over-numerous armies are more hurt by themselves than by their enemies. It is boldness and rashness, the effects of madness, that conduct the Jews. Those passions indeed make a great figure when they succeed, but are quite extinguished upon the least ill success; but we are led on by courage, and obedience, and fortitude, which shows itself indeed in our good fortune, but still does not for ever desert us in our ill fortune. Nay, indeed, your fighting is to be on greater motives than those of the Jews; for although they run the hazard of war for liberty, and for their country, yet what can be a greater motive to us than glory? and that. it may never be said, that after we have got dominion of the habitable earth, the Jews are able to confront us. We must also reflect upon this, that there is no fear of our suffering any incurable disaster in the present case; for those that are ready to assist us are many, and at hand also; yet it is in our power to seize upon this victory ourselves; and I think we ought to prevent the coming of those my father is sending to us for our assistance, that our success may be peculiar to ourselves, and of greater reputation to us. And I cannot but think this an opportunity wherein my father, and I, and you shall be all put to the trial, whether he be worthy of his former glorious performances, whether I be his son in reality, and whether you be really my soldiers; for it is usual for my father to conquer; and for myself, I should not bear the thoughts of returning to him if I were once taken by the enemy. And how will you be able to avoid being ashamed, if you do not show equal courage with your commander, when he goes before you into danger? For you know very well that I shall go into the danger first, and make the first attack upon the enemy. Do not you therefore desert me, but persuade yourselves that God will be assisting to my onset. Know this also before we begin, that we shall now have better success than we should have, if we were to fight at a distance.”
3. As Titus was saying this, an extraordinary fury fell upon the men; and as Trajan was already come before the fight began, with four hundred horsemen, they were uneasy at it, because the reputation of the victory would be diminished by being common to so many. Vespasian had also sent both Antonius and Silo, with two thousand archers, and had given it them in charge to seize upon the mountain that was over against the city, and repel those that were upon the wall; which archers did as they were commanded, and prevented those that attempted to assist them that way; And now Titus made his own horse march first against the enemy, as did the others with a great noise after him, and extended themselves upon the plain as wide as the enemy which confronted them; by which means they appeared much more numerous than they really were. Now the Jews, although they were surprised at their onset, and at their good order, made resistance against their attacks for a little while; but when they were pricked with their long poles, and overborne by the violent noise of the horsemen, they came to be trampled under their feet; many also of them were slain on every side, which made them disperse themselves, and run to the city, as fast as every one of them were able. So Titus pressed upon the hindmost, and slew them; and of the rest, some he fell upon as they stood on heaps, and some he prevented, and met them in the mouth, and run them through; many also he leaped upon as they fell one upon another, and trod them down, and cut off all the retreat they had to the wall, and turned them back into the plain, till at last they forced a passage by their multitude, and got away, and ran into the city.
4. But now there fell out a terrible sedition among them within the city; for the inhabitants themselves, who had possessions there, and to whom the city belonged, were not disposed to fight from the very beginning; and now the less so, because they had been beaten; but the foreigners, which were very numerous, would force them to fight so much the more, insomuch that there was a clamor and a tumult among them, as all mutually angry one at another. And when Titus heard this tumult, for he was not far from the wall, he cried out,” Fellow soldiers, now is the time; and why do we make any delay, when God is giving up the Jews to us? Take the victory which is given you: do not you hear what a noise they make? Those that have escaped our hands are ill an uproar against one another. We have the city if we make haste; but besides haste, we must undergo some labor, and use some courage; for no great thing uses to be accomplished without danger: accordingly, we must not only prevent their uniting again, which necessity will soon compel them to do, but we must also prevent the coming of our own men to our assistance, that, as few as we are, we may conquer so great a multitude, and may ourselves alone take the city:”
5. As soon as ever Titus had said this, he leaped upon his horse, and rode apace down to the lake; by which lake he marched, and entered into the city the first of them all, as did the others soon after him. Hereupon those that were upon the walls were seized with a terror at the boldness of the attempt, nor durst any one venture to fight with him, or to hinder him; so they left guarding the city, and some of those that were about Jesus fled over the country, while others of them ran down to the lake, and met the enemy in the teeth, and some were slain as they were getting up into the ships, but others of them as they attempted to overtake those that were already gone aboard. There was also a great slaughter made in the city, while those foreigners that had not fled away already made opposition; but the natural inhabitants were killed without fighting: for in hopes of Titus’s giving them his right hand for their security, and out of a consciousness that they had not given any consent to the war, they avoided fighting, till Titus had slain the authors of this revolt, and then put a stop to any further slaughters, out of commiseration of these inhabitants of the place. But for those that had fled to the lake, upon seeing the city taken, they sailed as far as they possibly could from the enemy.
6. Hereupon Titus sent one of his horsemen to his father, and let him know the good news of what he had done; at which, as was natural, he was very joyful, both on account of the courage and glorious actions of his son; for he thought that now the greatest part of the war was over. He then came thither himself, and set men to guard the city, and gave them command to take care that nobody got privately out of it, but to kill such as attempted so to do. And on the next day he went down to the lake, and commanded that vessels should be fitted up, in order to pursue those that had escaped in the ships. These vessels were quickly gotten ready accordingly, because there was great plenty of materials, and a great number of artificers also.
7. Now this lake of Gennesareth is so called from the country adjoining to it. Its breadth is forty furlongs, and its length one hundred and forty; its waters are sweet, and very agreeable for drinking, for they are finer than the thick waters of other fens; the lake is also pure, and on every side ends directly at the shores, and at the sand; it is also of a temperate nature when you draw it up, and of a more gentle nature than river or fountain water, and yet always cooler than one could expect in so diffuse a place as this is. Now when this water is kept in the open air, it is as cold as that snow which the country people are accustomed to make by night in summer. There are several kinds of fish in it, different both to the taste and the sight from those elsewhere. It is divided into two parts by the river Jordan. Now Panium is thought to be the fountain of Jordan, but in reality it is carried thither after an occult manner from the place called Phiala: this place lies as you go up to Trachonitis, and is a hundred and twenty furlongs from Cesarea, and is not far out of the road on the right hand; and indeed it hath its name of Phiala [vial or bowl] very justly, from the roundness of its circumference, as being round like a wheel; its water continues always up to its edges, without either sinking or running over. And as this origin of Jordan was formerly not known, it was discovered so to be when Philip was tetrarch of Trachonitis; for he had chaff thrown into Phiala, and it was found at Paninto, where the ancients thought the fountain-head of the river was, whither it had been therefore carried [by the waters]. As for Panium itself, its natural beauty had been improved by the royal liberality of Agrippa, and adorned at his expenses. Now Jordan’s visible stream arises from this cavern, and divides the marshes and fens of the lake Semechonitis; when it hath run another hundred and twenty furlongs, it first passes by the city Julias, and then passes through the middle of the lake Gennesareth; after which it runs a long way over a desert, and then makes its exit into the lake Asphaltitis.
8. The country also that lies over against this lake hath the same name of Gennesareth; its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty; its soil is so fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants accordingly plant all sorts of trees there; for the temper of the air is so well mixed, that it agrees very well with those several sorts, particularly walnuts, which require the coldest air, flourish there in vast plenty; there are palm trees also, which grow best in hot air; fig trees also and olives grow near them, which yet require an air that is more temperate. One may call this place the ambition of nature, where it forces those plants that are naturally enemies to one another to agree together; it is a happy contention of the seasons, as if every one of them laid claim to this country; for it not only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruit beyond men’s expectation, but preserves them a great while; it supplies men with the principal fruits, with grapes and figs continually, during ten months of the year and the rest of the fruits as they become ripe together through the whole year; for besides the good temperature of the air, it is also watered from a most fertile fountain. The people of the country call it Capharnaum. Some have thought it to be a vein of the Nile, because it produces the Coracin fish as well as that lake does which is near to Alexandria. The length of this country extends itself along the banks of this lake that bears the same name for thirty furlongs, and is in breadth twenty, And this is the nature of that place.
9. But now, when the vessels were gotten ready, Vespasian put upon ship-board as many of his forces as he thought sufficient to be too hard for those that were upon the lake, and set sail after them. Now these which were driven into the lake could neither fly to the land, where all was in their enemies’ hand, and in war against them; nor could they fight upon the level by sea, for their ships were small and fitted only for piracy; they were too weak to fight with Vespasian’s vessels, and the mariners that were in them were so few, that they were afraid to come near the Romans, who attacked them in great numbers. However, as they sailed round about the vessels, and sometimes as they came near them, they threw stones at the Romans when they were a good way off, or came closer and fought them; yet did they receive the greatest harm themselves in both cases. As for the stones they threw at the Romans, they only made a sound one after another, for they threw them against such as were in their armor, while the Roman darts could reach the Jews themselves; and when they ventured to come near the Romans, they became sufferers themselves before they could do any harm to the ether, and were drowned, they and their ships together. As for those that endeavored to come to an actual fight, the Romans ran many of them through with their long poles. Sometimes the Romans leaped into their ships, with swords in their hands, and slew them; but when some of them met the vessels, the Romans caught them by the middle, and destroyed at once their ships and themselves who were taken in them. And for such as were drowning in the sea, if they lifted their heads up above the water, they were either killed by darts, or caught by the vessels; but if, in the desperate case they were in, they attempted to swim to their enemies, the Romans cut off either their heads or their hands;
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