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Chronology of the Jewish War, 66-70

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Roman portrait bust, said to be of Flavius Josephus. From Les Dossiers d' Archéologie (2001).
Roman portrait bust, said to be
of Flavius Josephus (from Les Dossiers d' Archéologie, 2001; ©!!!)
The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus offers a consistent chronology of the Jewish War that started in 66 and culminated in the destruction of the temple in 70. However, there is a problem. He uses the Macedonian names for the months, but does not say what he means. There are three possibilities:
  1. He uses the normal Macedonian calendar, which we can corroborate with the calendar of Tyre or Antioch;
  2. He uses Macedonian names for the Julian months of the Roman calendar (e.g., 1 Panemus = 1 July);
  3. He uses the Babylonian-Judaean lunar calendar (e.g., Artemisius = Iyar).
At first sight, it seems that Josephus used all systems but preferred the Roman one (which suggests that he had access to a Roman military source), except for the period before the legions arrived in Judaea and for Jewish liturgical dates.

This looks like a plausible solution, but is in fact too simple, because it implies that the killing of the emperor Vitellius (20 December 69) was recorded by the Romans before it actually happened.

In the following table, you will find a comparison. Preferred dates bold; certain dates red; religious festivals green; contemporary events (Year of the Four Emperors; Batavian revolt) here.


Reference

Date

Tyre

Roman

Jewish

Event

66





JW, 2.284 Artemisius 19 May-18 June May 15 May-12 June Beginning of rebellion
JW, 2.315 16 Artemisius 3 June 16 May 31 May Unrest in Jerusalem
JW, 2.430 15 Lous 3 September 15 August 27 August Antonia attacked
JW, 2.440 6 Gorpaeus 24 September 6 September 15 September Palace besieged
JW, 2.515 15-23 Tishri

20-28 September Festival of Tabernacles; Cestius in Lydda
JW, 2.528 30 Hyperberetaeus 16 November 20 October 9 November XII Fulminata attacks
JW, 2.555 8 Dius 25 November 8 November 15 November XII Fulminata defeated
67





JW, 3.142 17 Artemisius 4 June 17 May 21 May Roman advance-guard at Jotapata
id. 21 Artemisius 8 June 21 May 24 May Josephus at Jotapata
JW, 3.145 22 Artemisius 9 June 22 May 25 May Vespasian arrives at Jotapata
JW, 3.282 20 Daesius 6 July 20 June 21 June Roman attack repulsed
JW, 3.306 25 Daesius 13 July 25 June 26 June Fall of Japha
JW, 3.315 28 Daesius 15 July 27 June 28 June Fall of Gerizim
JW, 3.316 1 Panemus 20 July 1 July 2 July Fall of Jotapata
JW, 3.409 4 Panemus 23 July 4 July 5 July Vespasian at Ptolemais
JW, 3.542 8 Gorpaeus 26 September 8 September 6 September Fall of Tarichaeae
JW, 4.69, 83 23 Hyperberetaeus 9 November 23 October 21 October Fall of Gamala
68





JW, 4.413 4 Dystrus 21 March 4 March 26 February Fall of Gadara
JW, 4.449 2 Daesius 20 June 2 June 24 May Vespasian at Corea
JW, 4.450 3 Daesius 21 June 3 June 25 May Vespasian at Jericho
69





JW, 4.550 5 Daesius 23 June 5 June 13 June Vespasian invades Judaea
JW, 4.577 Xanthicus 18 April-18 May April 12 April-10 May Simon in Jerusalem
Tac., Hist. 2.79 - - 3 July - Vespasian proclaimed emperor
JW, 4.654 3 Apellaeus 20 December 3 December 8 December Death of Vitellius
70





JW, 5.99 14 Xanthicus 1 May 14 April 14 April Passover; John enters temple
JW, 5.133, 567 14 Xanthicus 1 May 14 April 14 April Titus encamps against Psephinus
JW, 5.302 7 Artemisius 25 May 7 May 7 May First wall taken
JW, 5.466 12 Artemisius 30 May 12 May 12 May Siege works building
id. 29 Artemisius 15 June 29 May 29 May Works finished
JW, 6.22 1 Panemus 20 July 1 July 28 June Jewish sally
JW, 6.67 3 Panemus 22 July 3 July 30 June Antonia attacked
JW, 6.68 5 Panemus 24 July 5 July 2 July Antonia falls
JW, 6.94 17 Panemus 5 August 17 July 14 July End of daily sacrifice
JW, 6.166 24 Panemus 12 August 24 July 21 July Romans fire portico
JW, 6.177 27 Panemus 15 August 27 July 24 July Western portico burns
JW, 6.220 8 Lous 27 August 8 August 4 August Earthworks complete
JW, 6.236 9 Lous 28 August 9 August 5 August Roman council of war
JW, 6.250 10 Lous 29 August 10 August 6 August Temple burns
JW, 6.374 20 Lous 8 September 20 August 16 August Siege of upper city
JW, 6.392 7 Gorpaeus 25 September 7 September 1 September Upper city attacked
JW, 6.407 8 Gorpaeus 26 September 8 September 2 September Fall of Jerusalem
74*





JW, 7.401 15 Xanthicus 3 May 15 April 31 March Fall of Masada

*
Flavius Josephus does not mention the year in which Masada fell. Most scholars have assumed 73, but archaeologists have discovered coins of that year on top of the rock. 74 is, therefore, much more plausible, although 73 cannot be ruled out.
 

Literature

This table was based on Barbara Levick, Vespasian (1999 London), pp.40-42; with some some modifications.
Jona Lendering © 2005
Latest revision: 6 September 2006



 
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