An Epitome of Trogus Pompeius on the Jews, from
Justin Book XXXVI.
1 Antiochus [Sidetes] conquered the Jews also: who had asserted their liberty, during the Empire of the Macedonians, under his father Demetrius.* 2 They were now become so strong, that after this King they would not bear any other of the Macedonian race: nay they set up a government of their own; and afflicted Syria with great wars.**
*This is true. See Josephus, Antiq. XIII. 5, 6, 7, 10. 11. and 8.2, &c. Only here is a mistake, whe it is said that this Antiochus was the son of Demetrius: He was his brother, and the son of the former Demetrius.
**This is very true. See Josephus, Of the War, I.1, &c. Antiq. XIII.6 &c. 1 Macc. 13 &c;
Chap. II. 3 For the origin of the Jews was from Damascus; that most eminent city of Syria:* whence also sprung the Assyrian Kings by Queen Semiramis. 4 Its name was taken from its King, Damascus: In honour of whom the Syrians worship at the sepulchre of Arathes his wife, as at a temple: and esteem of her as of a Goddess, that deserved the highest religious veneration. 5 After Damascus, Azel was King, and afterwards Ador,** and Abraham, and Israhel. 6 But Israhel was made more famous than his ancestors by the good fortune of having ten sons.† 7 He therefore parted his Kingdom into ten shares, and bequeathed it so parted among his sons; and named them all Jews, after the name of Judas, who died after the partition was made: and he ordered that they should all honour Judas’s memory.†† However, his share was added to all the others shares. 8 The name of the youngest of these brethen was Joseph:‡ of whose extraordinary abilities his other brethren were afraid; and on that acccount they caught him in a close manner, and sold him to foreign merchants. 9 And when they had carried him into Egypt, he learnt the magick arts there with great sagacity:§ and in a little time became very dear to the King himself. 10 For he was a most skilful expounder of prodigies; and first reduced the art of interpreting dreams to a rule.§§ Nor did any thing of divine or humane laws seem unknown to him. 11 Insomuch that he foresaw a dearth of provisions many years before-hand: and all Egypt had perished by famine, had not the King at his suggestion, given a command, that the fruits of the earth should be laid up. In short, such great evidences were given of his skill, that the answers he made seemed to be the answers of a God, and not of a man. 12 Moses was his son:¶ who was in great esteem, not only from the knowledge he inherited from his father, but from the beauty of his countenance also.¶¶ 13 But as for the Egyptians, when they were afflicted with the scab and leprosy, they were admonished by an oracle to banish him, and those afflicted persons with him; lest that pestilential distemper should spread farther. 14 He therefore became the leader of these exiles; and stole away the Egyptian Gods:*** 15 which when the Egyptians went armed to recover, they were forced by tempests to return home again.††† 16 Moses therefore, in order to return to their old countrey of Damascus, seized upon mount Syna.‡‡‡ 17 In which journey, which was through the deserts of Arabia, when he and his people were tired with fasting seven days, they came at length to that place: and in the language of that nation called the seventh day, the Sabbath: and consecrated it for ever to fasting;§§§ because that day had put an end to their fasting, and to their wandring condition. 18 And because they remembred that they were driven out of Egypt, for fear their distemper should spread; and that they might, on the same account, be odious among their neighbours; they took care to have no communication with foreigners. Which order, begun on this occasion only, by degrees became a real part of their religion. 19 After Moses, his son Arvas succeeded to the Kingdom:¶¶¶ He had been before an Egyptian priest. 20 After which time it became a constant custom among the Jews,◊ to have the same persons for their Kings and their priests. And incredible it is how greatly they flourished by this union of justice and religion together.
*I know of no other foundation for this, but that Abraham, in his journey from haran to Canaan, seems to have staid and reigned some time at Damascus; as Nicolaus of Damascus says: in Joseph. Antiq. I.7.2. Or else, that Eleazar of Damascus, the servant of Abraham, and by some thought to have been his son, was supposed to be one of the Jews ancestors. See the Note on Antiq. XII.4.10.
**These two names seem to mean Azael and Adod, or, as ’tis often written, Ador: the same Kings, I suppose, which Josephus informs us the Syrians to his days worshipped, as gods. Antiq. IX.4.6.
† Ten sons, for twelve.
†† There were twelve tribes; but never more than two Kingdoms. Nor did Judas die sooner than the rest of his brethren. However, the name of Judæi or Jews is allowed by all to have been taken from this Judas.
‡ Benjamin was the youngest, and not Joseph.
‡‡ The reason of this is to be taken out of the Bible and Josephus; and not from uncertain guesses of the Pagans.
§ All power of working wonders was then included under magick arts.
§§ Here is a great deal that is very true. One would wonder where Trogus Pompeius had it. This is nearest the sacred history of almost any Heathen accounts that concerned the Jews: excepting the beginning of Ovid’s Metamorphosis: which whence it was taken, I do not know also.
¶ Moses was some generations after Joseph, and not of his family, nor tribe.
¶¶ This beauty of Moses is every where celebrated; but chiefly by Josephus, Antiq. II.9.6, 7.
*** These Egyptian gods were not stolen by the Israelites, but were carried by the Egyptians themselves into the Red Sea, and were drowned with them. See Essay on the Old Testament Append. pag. 239.
††† Of these tempests, when the Egyptians were drowned, see the same Append. pag. 154–155.
‡‡‡ See above concerning the origin of the Jews from Damascus, § 3. 4. 5. Here is some truth, mixed with falshood.
§§§It should rather be to feasting: for the sabbath was always a festival among the Jews.
¶¶¶ Arvas or Aaron was not the son, but the brother of Moses: he did not succeed to the Kingdom, but became the first High Priest.
◊ Not till above 1400 years after the death of Moses and Aaron, by my chronology.
Chap. III. 21 The riches of the nation lay in the gains they made of their balsam: which grows only in those countries.* 22 For here is a valley, shut up between ridges of continued mountains, as if by a wall: The valley contains the space of 200 acres: its name is Jericho. 23 In that valley there is a grove of trees, eminent both for its fertility and pleasant situation: nor can it be otherwise: considering that it is divided between the palm-trees, and the balsam-trees. 24 The balsam-trees in shape are like the turpentine trees: only they do not grow so tall; and they are cultivated in the manner of vines. 25 The balsam it self perspires out of the trees, at a certain time of the year. 26 Nor is this place to be less admired on account of its coolness, than of its fertility. I say this because the sun, which in this whole climate is exceeding hot, is yet here rendred naturally temperate; and that by a constant breeze of cool air. 27 In this countrey is the lake Asphaltites: which is called the Dead Sea: because it is very large; and because the waters are immoveable. 28 For it is neither moved by the winds: (the bitumen, which here makes the whole lake a sort of stagnant pool, hindring the effect of those winds.) 29 Nor will it bear navigable vessels: for whatsoever is without life sinks downright to the bottom. Nor does it bear up any material thing, but what is covered over with allum. 30 Xerxes, King of Persia, was the first who subdued the Jews.** 31 They afterward came, together with the Persians, under the dominion of Alexander the Great: and they were a long while under the power of the Macedonian Empire, and subject to the Kingdom of Syria. 32 When they fell off from Demetrius, they sought the friendship of the Romans: and were the first people of the east that obtained their liberty. The Romans, at that time, easily disposing of what did not belong to them.
**Xerxes never subdued the Jews: but was always their great friend. See Joseph. Antiq. XI.5.
The rest is true, and agreeable to Josephus, and to the history of the Maccabees.