Joseph Ben-gorion

Joseph ben-Gorion (also called Josippon), is the name of the reputed author of the celebrated Hebrew chronicle סֵפֶר יוֹסַיפוֹן, the book of Josippon, or יוֹסַיפוֹן הָעַבֵרַי, the Hebrew Josippon, a work which, by the statement of the author, is placed in the sera of Christ, for he says of himself that he is "the priest of Jerusalem" (and this can refer only to the celebrated Jewish historian Flavius Josephus [q.v.]), and furthermore that he was appointed governor of the whole Jewish nation by Titus; and from the days of Saadia (A.D. 950) up to our own time it was quoted both by Jewish and Christian writers as a genuine work of Josephus. Of late, however, critical inquiry has determined the work to be a production of the Middle Ages. The conjecture is that the author was a Jew, and that he flourished about the 9th or 10th century. Zunz, in the Zeitschrift. f. Wissenschaft. d. Judenth. (Berl. 1822, p. 300 sq.), asserted that Joseph ben-Gorion flourished in the 9th century, and that his work must since his day have undergone frequent emendations and alterations. Later Zunz (in his notes on Benjamin of Tudela, ed. Asher, 1841, 2, 246) changed his opinion somewhat, and regarded Joseph as "the [Hebrew] translator and editor of Josephus," and assigns him to "the middle of the latter half of the 10th century," and says of him that his accounts of several nations of his time are as important as his orthography of Italian towns is remarkable." To the same period Steinschneider (Jewish Liter., London, 1857, p. 77) also assigns the work, but he believes the author to have been a native. of Northern Italy, and considers the chronicle "the Hebrew edition of the Latin Hegesippus," and "an offshoot from the fully developed Midrash of Arabian and Latin literature." A still more modern critic, the celebrated Jewish historian Grätz (Gesch. d. Juden, 5, 281, and note 4 in the Appendix of the same volume), holds that the Jewish book, which he also assigns to the 10th century, is simply a translation of an Arabic book of Maccabees, entitled History of the Maccabees of Joseph ben-Gorion (of which parts were published in the Polyglots, Paris, 1645; Lend. 1657) under the title of the Arabic book of Maccabees, and which is extant in two MSS. in the Bodleian library (Uri

Catalogue, Nos. 782, 829), made by a skilful Italian Jew, who enriched it with many original additions. His reason for assigning it to the earlier part of the 10th century is that Danash b.-Tanaim (who flourished about 955) knew the work and spoke of parts of it (comp. Milman's Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 2, 6, note).

But as to the chronicle itself. It consists of six books. It begins its record with Adam; explains the genealogical table in Genesis 11; then passes on to the history of Rome, Babylon, Cyrus, and the fall of Babylon; resumes again the history of the Jews; describes the times of Daniel, Zerubbabel, Esther, etc.; gives an account of Alexander the Great, his connection, his exploits, and expeditions of his successors; and then continues the history of the Jews; of Heliodorus's assault on the Temple; the translation of the O.T. into Greek; the deeds of the Maccabees; the events of the Herodians; and the last war which terminated in the destruction of the Temple by Titus. The authorities quoted in this remarkable book are:

1. Nicolaus the Damascene; 2. Strabo of Cappadocia; 3. Titus Livius; 4. Togthas of Jerusalem; 5. Porophius of Rome; 6. The history of Alexander, written in the year of his death by Magi; 7. The book of the antediluvian patriarch Cainan b.-Enos; 8. Books of the Greeks, Medians, Persians, and Macedonians; 9. Epistle of Alexander to Aristotle about the wonders of India; 10. Treaties of alliance of the Romans: 11. Cicero, who was in the Holy of Holies of the Temple during the reign of Pompey; 12. The intercalary years of Julius Caesar, composed for the Nazarites and Greeks; 13. The chronicles of the Roman emperors; 14. The constitutional diploma which Vespasian venerated so highly that he kissed every page of it; 15. The Alexandrian Library with its 995 volumes; 16. Jewish histories which are lost;. and, 17. The national traditions which have been translated orally.

The first printed edition of this work appeared in Mantua, 1476-1479, with a preface by Abraham ben-Salmon Conato. A reprint of this edition (the text vitiated), with a Latin version by Münster, was published at Basle, 1541. There appeared an edition from a MS. containing a somewhat different version of the work, and divided into ninety-seven chapters, edited by Tam Ibn-Jachja ben-David (Constantinople, 1510). New editions of it were published in Venice, 1544; Cracow, 1589; Frankfort-on-the- Main, 1689; Amsterdam, 1723; Prague, 1784; Zolkiew, 1805; Vilna, 1819. It was partly translated into Arabic by Zechariah ben-Said el-Temeni about 1223, and into English by Peter Morwyng (Lond. 1558, 1561, 1575, 1579, 1602). There are two other Latin translations, besides the one by Münster, 1541; one was made by the learned English Orientalist, John Gagnier (Oxford, 1716), and one by Breithaupt; the last has also the Hebrew text and elaborate notes, and will always continue to be the student's edition. There are German translations by Michael Adam (Zurich, 1546), Moses b.- Bezaliel (Prague, 1607), Abraham ben-Mordecai Cohen (Amsterdam, 1661), and Seligmann Reis (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1707). Compare, besides the authorities already cited, Zunz, Die Gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der Juden (Berlin, 1832), p. 146-154; Delitzsch, Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Poesie (Leipzig, 1836), p. 37-40; Carmoly in Jost's Annalen (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1839), 1. 149 sq.; Milman, Hist. of the Jews, 3, 131; Fürst, Bibliotheca Judaica, 2, 111-114; Steinschneider, Catalogus Libr. Uebr. in Bibliotheca Bodleiana, 1547-1552; Kitto, Bibl. Cyclopoedia, s.v.

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