The Pilgrimage of the Magi

In Book 6, after having described the war between the Romans and the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, Josephus takes us back to before the war and describes an oracle foretelling the coming of a ruler out of Israel which had deceived the “wise men”.

Now if any one consider these things, he will find that God takes care of mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and voluntarily bring upon themselves; for the Jews… what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, “about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea. However, it is not possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand. But these men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure, and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city and their own destruction.”

– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 6, 5:4

This passage of Josephus comes just after the star of Bethlehem passage and matches perfectly the exact preceding passage of Matthew about the pilgrimage of the wise men to see the star of Bethlehem:

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.”

– Matthew 2:1-6

At this point I think it is good to review the definition of “irony”:

  • “The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.”
  • “A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.”
  • “A literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.”

Josephus tells us that these “wise men” were deceived in thinking that it would be one of their own nation which would fulfill the Jewish prophecy and come out of Judaea to become governor of the Israel and the inhabitable earth.  So in the parallel passage in Matthew we find the exact same characters, the “wise men”, who seem to fully believe that their savior is now come, i.e. they are deceived but the characters in Matthew don’t seem to realize that they have been deceived. But these wise men come and ask where is he that is born king of the Jews and when Josephus informs them that it is Vespasian who would come out of Israel to be their governor, Herod and all of Jerusalem became very troubled; all of this is only something that would be known to the astute reader who was very familiar with the works of Josephus and would have recognized, that the wise men were deceived, therefore this fits exactly the third definition of irony where the full significance of the characters words are not clear to the character but to the educated reader/audience they would be.  This objectively demonstrates that the passage in Matthew is an ironic version of the passage in Josephus.  As we continue, we will see many examples of irony demonstrating that almost all of the Gospel passages, which were originally written in Greek, can be shown objectively to be ironic representations of a passage in Josephus, demonstrating that the Gospels are a Greek tragedy.  You do not personally need to find these parallels humorous for them to be satire, funny is subjective, but we can demonstrate objectively that the passages are ironic representations of Josephus and prove an ironic/satirical nature, even if the humor is so offensive as to be repulsive for modern taste/culture.

The New Testament is desperately trying to convince us that Jesus, born in Bethlehem is supposed to be fulfilling this prophecy, coming out of Bethlehem to save the Jews from the Assyrian, just as Josephus tries to convince us that the government of Vespasian was the one predicted by Jewish prophecy to come out of Israel to become ruler of the inhabitable Earth and that Josephus himself was sent by God to be a messenger and to save his people from their seditions. The thing is, Jesus {the literary figure Jesus described in the Bible;} did not become king, the invasion was not from the Assyrian but from the Roman, and the generals {“shepherds” or “reapers”;} did not lay waste to Assyria to free the Israelites, the Roman laid waste to Israel, obliterating the population. This would appear to be an absolutely failed prophecy, and can in no way make sense as claiming to be a fulfilled prophecy unless you say that Titus is Jesus who came out of Israel to become the ruler of the entire inhabitable Earth and brought peace unto the world through military domination and genocide, otherwise known as “Pax Romana”.

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