Empire, Oil, and Disaster - blog about my new book

A religious sect getting more and more attention of the world. Jews in the Middle East already have problems with them. Coincidentally, a terrible terract happens in the largest city of the empire. The same religious sect is blamed for it. The year is 64 AD. The sect is Christians. The place is Rome of the emperor Nero.
Beware of September Ides!

Location: United States

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yosef bio details

Born 37 BC in Jerusalem. One version: Father of a priestly descent, mother claiming royal blood. Second version: a sadducee and aristocrat. Supposed to be very well educated. Assumed to live in a desert with a hermit Bannus for three years (until age of 19). Claimed to be a Pharisee in his autobiography, but showed dislike to them in his books.

In 64 at the age of ~27 (64-37=27) he went to Rome and negotiated the release of Jewish priests. Upon return found the country on a brink of revolt. Claims to be moderate, but joined (or was forced to join?) Zealots and Sicarii rebels once they killed Roman garrison of Jerusalem. Then he was sent North to organize resistance to Romans in Galilee,

John of Gischala (Yohanan mi-Gush Halav) was another leader there, who organized a privae militia of peasants. John and Joseph had a lot of quarrelling resulting in seize the city of Sepphoris. In the Spring 67 Joseph's men were defending Jotapata (Yodfat) that stood on the road to Sepphoris (on the plains of Zebulon?)

Surrendered to Legio XV Apploinaris under questionable circumstances.

Whatever the truth of this implausible story, Josephus was brought before Vespasian and his son Titus. To Vespasian, he explained about an ambiguous oracle that said that

a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth.
[Numbers 24.17-19]

Almost every Jew believed that this prophecy referred to the coming of the Messiah. However, who said that the ruler who was to rise out of Israel was to be a Jew? Why should Vespasian not become king or emperor? Ridiculous though this may seem to a modern reader, Vespasian was impressed. After all, in Gaul and Hispania an insurrection had started against the emperor Nero, and it was clear to any intelligent observer that civil war was bound to break out. Besides, everybody had observed the comet, resembling a sword, that had stood over the country during the preceding months. Instead of having Joseph crucified, the Roman general kept him in detention. The former Jewish commander became friends with Titus, who was of the same age.


House of Yosef in Jerusalem

First of all - about the material. Most stone building in Jerusalem were constructed from limestone or dolomite. Now, there were several kinds of limestone: Senonian limestone - located east of Jerusalem and most available and cheap stone, Cenomanian a.k.a. mizzi ahmar and mizzi yahudz (arabic) limestone - more expensive and hard to handle, and Turonian layers providing mizze helu and meleke. Meleke is soft and easy once digged, but hardens on contact with the athmosphere, It was also most often used with religious structures and very rare now. I have no more details, but I'd expect that house of a priest would be made of the most appropriate stone - meleke.

The color. Limestone in area has multiple colors -- pale, sand, golden, pink and off-white. With the time meleke stone of the Western wall became nearly bright white -- phenomena noticeable with some Greek monasteries made of limestone too. So, I'd assume Yosef's house was made of pale of off-white meleke limestone.

Floor Plan. It seems that normal plan for a house in the area includes 4-6 rooms on the first floor, two floors and flat roofs with the space on them to dine or relax in the evening. Four room floor plan was pretty straightforward: entrance room, back room, another room on the right or left of the entrance room, and another room behind it with or without a door to the back room. Not much privacy. On another hand, if one sent the servants away (was it even possible?), they could have enjoyed relative privacy on the roof, provided they did not talk out loud and noisy like a bunch of Americans in a Parisian cafe these days. But other than that, all conspiracy has to be done either in eateries, or in even more private places outside. Gethsemane garden comes to mind...

The guests more likely were provided with the second floor room, likely above the main or secondary back room, because front ones could have been non-existent and providing access to the roof (stairs take place too).

Misc links:
And, of course, all-knowlegdable wikipedia...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jotapata (Yodfat)