On the strife between the Samaritans and the Jews PDF Print E-mail

Josephus Flavius, The Wars of the Jews, II 12.3, translated by William Whiston.

3. After this there happened a fight between the Galileans and the Samaritans; it happened at a village called Geman, which is situate in the great plain of Samaria; where, as a great number of Jews were going up to Jerusalem to the feast [of tabernacles,] a certain Galilean was slain; and besides, a vast number of people ran together out of Galilee, in order to fight with the Samaritans. But the principal men among them came to Cumanus, and besought him that, before the evil became incurable, he would come into Galilee, and bring the authors of this murder to punishment; for that there was no other way to make the multitude separate without coming to blows. However, Cumanus postponed their supplications to the other affairs he was then about, and sent the petitioners away without success.

4. But when the affair of this murder came to be told at Jerusalem, it put the multitude into disorder, and they left the feast; and without any generals to conduct them, they marched with great violence to Samaria; nor would they be ruled by any of the magistrates that were set over them, but they were managed by one Eleazar, the son of Dineus, and by Alexander, in these their thievish and seditious attempts. These men fell upon those that were ill the neighborhood of the Acrabatene toparchy, and slew them, without sparing any age, and set the villages on fire.

5. But Cumanus took one troop of horsemen, called the troop of Sebaste, out of Cesarea, and came to the assistance of those that were spoiled; he also seized upon a great number of those that followed Eleazar, and slew more of them. And as for the rest of the multitude of those that went so zealously to fight with the Samaritans, the rulers of Jerusalem ran out clothed with sackcloth, and having ashes on their head, and begged of them to go their ways, lest by their attempt to revenge themselves upon the Samaritans they should provoke the Romans to come against Jerusalem; to have compassion upon their country and temple, their children and their wives, and not bring the utmost dangers of destruction upon them, in order to avenge themselves upon one Galilean only. The Jews complied with these persuasions of theirs, and dispersed themselves; but still there were a great number who betook themselves to robbing, in hopes of impunity; and rapines and insurrections of the bolder sort happened over the whole country. And the men of power among the Samaritans came to Tyre, to Ummidius Quadratus,  the president of Syria, and desired that they that had laid waste the country might be punished: the great men also of the Jews, and Jonathan the son of Ananus the high priest, came thither, and said that the Samaritans were the beginners of the disturbance, on account of that murder they had committed; and that Cumanus had given occasion to what had happened, by his unwillingness to punish the original authors of that murder.

6. But Quadratus put both parties off for that time, and told them, that when he should come to those places, he would make a diligent inquiry after every circumstance. After which he went to Cesarea, and crucified all those whom Cumanus had taken alive; and when from thence he was come to the city Lydda, he heard the affair of the Samaritans, and sent for eighteen of the Jews, whom he had learned to have been concerned in that fight, and beheaded them; but he sent two others of those that were of the greatest power among them, and both Jonathan and Ananias, the high priests, as also Artanus the son of this Ananias, and certain others that were eminent among the Jews, to Caesar; as he did in like manner by the most illustrious of the Samaritans. He also ordered that Cureanus [the procurator] and Celer the tribune should sail to Rome, in order to give an account of what had been done to Caesar. When he had finished these matters, he went up from Lydda to Jerusalem, and finding the multitude celebrating their feast of unleavened bread without any tumult, he returned to Antioch.

7. Now when Caesar at Rome had heard what Cumanus and the Samaritans had to say, (where it was done in the hearing of Agrippa, who zealously espoused the cause of the Jews, as in like manner many of the great men stood by Cumanus,) he condemned the Samaritans, and commanded that three of the most powerful men among them should be put to death; he banished Cumanus, and sent Color bound to Jerusalem, to be delivered over to the Jews to be tormented; that he should be drawn round the city, and then beheaded.