The historian known to posterity by the Latinized name Josephus was a member of Jerusalem's priestly aristocracy who, at age 30, was taken hostage in the great Jewish revolt against Rome [66-70 CE] & spent the rest of his life in Roman circles as a protégé of three emperors [Vespasian, Titus & Domitian]. His constant need to explain his role in the unsuccessful Jewish uprising that climaxed with the destruction of the Jerusalem temple led him to publish four works [in Greek] that are our prime source for information about events that shaped the history of Jews of the second temple period. Joseph bar Matthew [Greek: Matthias], as Josephus was originally known, was born soon after Caligula became Roman emperor [37/38 CE]. He was one of two sons of a Jewish priest who claimed descent from the Hasmonean family of priests who had won Jewish independence from the Greco-Syrian empire two centuries earlier.

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