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[126] There were some bold young men of the village of Dabaritta, who observed that the wife of Ptolemy, the king's procurator, was to make a progress over the great plain with a mighty attendance, and with some horsemen that followed as a guard to them, and this out of a country that was subject to the king and queen, into the jurisdiction of the Romans; and fell upon them on a sudden, and obliged the wife of Ptolemy to fly away, and plundered all the carriages. They also came to me to Tarichese, with four mules' loading of garments, and other furniture; and the weight of the silver they brought was not small, and there were five hundred pieces of gold also. Now I had a mind to preserve these spoils for Ptolemy, who was my countryman; and it is prohibited 1 by our laws even to spoil our enemies; so I said to those that brought these spoils, that they ought to be kept, in order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with them when they came to be sold. But the young men took it very ill that they did not receive a part of those spoils for themselves, as they expected to have done; so they went among the villages in the neighborhood of Tiberias, and told the people that I was going to betray their country to the Romans, and that I used deceitful language to them, when I said, that what had been thus gotten by rapine should be kept for the rebuilding of the walls of the city of Jerusalem; although I had resolved to restore these spoils again to their former owner. And indeed they were herein not mistaken as to my intentions; for when I had gotten clear of them, I sent for two of the principal men, Dassion, and Janneus the son of Levi, persons that were among the chief friends of the king, and commanded them to take the furniture that had been plundered, and to send it to him; and I threatened that I would order them to be put to death by way of punishment, if they discovered this my command to any other person.

1 How Josephus could say here that the Jewish laws forbade them to "spoil even their enemies, while yet, a little before his time, our Savior had mentioned it as then a current maxim with them, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy," Matthew 5:43, is worth our inquiry. I take it that Josephus, having been now for many years an Ebionite Christian, had learned this interpretation of the law of Moses from Christ, whom he owned for the true Melah, as it follows in the succeeding verses, which, though he might not read in St. Matthew's Gospel, yet might he have read much the same exposition in their own Ebionite or Nazarene Gospel itself; of which improvements made by Josephus, after he was become a Christian, we have already had several examples in this his life, sect. 3, 13, 15, 19, 21, 23, and shall have many more therein before its conclusion, as well as we have them elsewhere in all his later writings.

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