Titus Flavius Josephus (/dʒoʊˈsiːfəs/; 37 – c. 100), born Joseph ben Matityahu(Hebrew: יוסף בן מתתיהו, Yosef ben Matityahu; Greek: Ἰώσηπος Ματθίου), was a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer, who was born in Jerusalem—then part of Roman Judea—to a father of priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry.
He initially fought against the Romans during the First Jewish–Roman War as head of Jewish forces in Galilee, until surrendering in 67 CE to Roman forces led by Vespasianafter the six-week siege of Jotapata. Josephus claimed the Jewish Messianicpropheciesthat initiated the First Roman-Jewish War made reference to Vespasian becoming Emperor of Rome. In response Vespasian decided to keep Josephus as a slave and interpreter. After Vespasian became Emperor in 69 CE, he granted Josephus his freedom, at which time Josephus assumed the emperor’s family name of Flavius.
Flavius Josephus fully defected to the Roman side and was granted Roman citizenship. He became an advisor and friend of Vespasian’s son Titus, serving as his translator when Titus led the Siege of Jerusalem, which resulted—when the Jewish revolt did not surrender—in the city’s destruction and the looting and destruction of Herod’s Temple (Second Temple).
Josephus recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the first century CE and the First Jewish–Roman War, including theSiege of Masada. His most important works wereThe Jewish War (c. 75) and Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94). The Jewish Warrecounts the Jewish revolt against Roman occupation (66–70). Antiquities of the Jews recounts the history of the world from a Jewish perspective for an ostensibly Roman audience. These works provide valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of Early Christianity. (See main article Josephus on Jesus).