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 Main Index : History : Josephus : Against Apion : Book I Index : Chapter 28

Flavius Josephus Against Apion - BOOK I

Chapter 27 | Chapter 29

      Now, for the first occasion of this fiction, Manetho supposes what is no better than a ridiculous thing; for he says that" king Amenophis desired to see the gods." What gods, I pray, did he desire to see? If he meant the gods whom their laws ordained to be worshipped, the ox, the goat, the crocodile, and the baboon, he saw them already; but for the heavenly gods, how could he see them, and what should occasion this his desire? To be sure? it was because another king before him had already seen them. He had then been informed what sort of gods they were, and after what manner they had been seen, insomuch that he did not stand in need of any new artifice for obtaining this sight. However, the prophet by whose means the king thought to compass his design was a wise man. If so, how came he not to know that such his desire was impossible to be accomplished? for the event did not succeed. And what pretense could there be to suppose that the gods would not be seen by reason of the people's maims in their bodies, or leprosy? for the gods are not angry at the imperfection of bodies, but at wicked practices; and as to eighty thousand lepers, and those in an ill state also, how is it possible to have them gathered together in one day? nay, how came the king not to comply with the prophet? for his injunction was, that those that were maimed should be expelled out of Egypt, while the king only sent them to work in the quarries, as if he were rather in want of laborers, than intended to purge his country. He says further, that" this prophet slew himself, as foreseeing the anger of the gods, and those events which were to come upon Egypt afterward; and that he left this prediction for the king in writing." Besides, how came it to pass that this prophet did not foreknow his own death at the first? nay, how came he not to contradict the king in his desire to see the gods immediately? how came that unreasonable dread upon him of judgments that were not to happen in his lifetime? or what worse thing could he suffer, out of the fear of which he made haste to kill himself? But now let us see the silliest thing of all: - The king, although he had been informed of these things, and terrified with the fear of what was to come, yet did not he even then eject these maimed people out of his country, when it had been foretold him that he was to clear Egypt of them; but, as Manetho says, "he then, upon their request, gave them that city to inhabit, which had formerly belonged to the shepherds, and was called Avaris; whither when they were gone in crowds," he says, "they chose one that had formerly been priest of Hellopolls; and that this priest first ordained that they should neither worship the gods, nor abstain from those animals that were worshipped by the Egyptians, but should kill and eat them all, and should associate with nobody but those that had conspired with them; and that he bound the multitude by oaths to be sure to continue in those laws; and that when he had built a wall about Avaris, he made war against the king." Manetho adds also, that "this priest sent to Jerusalem to invite that people to come to his assistance, and promised to give them Avaris; for that it had belonged to the forefathers of those that were coming from Jerusalem, and that when they were come, they made a war immediately against the king, and got possession of all Egypt." He says also that "the Egyptians came with an army of two hundred thousand men, and that Amenophis, the king of Egypt, not thinking that he ought to fight against the gods, ran away presently into Ethiopia, and committed Apis and certain other of their sacred animals to the priests, and commanded them to take care of preserving them." He says further, that" the people of Jerusalem came accordingly upon the Egyptians, and overthrew their cities, and burnt their temples, and slew their horsemen, and, in short, abstained from no sort of wickedness nor barbarity; and for that priest who settled their polity and their laws," he says," he was by birth of Hellopolis, and his name was Osarsiph, from Osyris the god of Hellopolis, but that he changed his name, and called himself Moses." He then says that "on the thirteenth year afterward, Amenophis, according to the fatal time of the duration of his misfortunes, came upon them out of Ethiopia with a great army, and joining battle with the shepherds and with the polluted people, overcame them in battle, and slew a great many of them, and pursued them as far as the bounds of Syria."

Chapter 27 | Chapter 29

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