chapter  15
19 Pages

How One Becomes a Traitor

WithESTHER BENBASSA

Within the memory of the Jewish people, the military chief and historian Flavius Josephus stands out as the archetypal traitor.1 He took part in the Jewish revolt against Rome that began in 66 AD. When his camp was besieged, he betrayed his fellows and surrendered to Vespasian. From the Roman side, he witnessed the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. He abjured neither his faith nor his God, yet remained loyal to Rome. His betrayal led Jews to consign him to forgetfulness, which was most unfortunate, both for him and for the Jewish people, deprived thereby of his brilliant insights into the period. His writings in Greek became part of Christian culture, to be introduced to Jews only nine hundred years later, in a Hebrew adaptation published in Italy in the tenth century.