JUSTUS OF TIBERIAS, historian; a contemporary of *Josephus and his rival in describing the Jewish War (66–70/73 C.E.). The main source of knowledge of Justus – the disparaging polemic directed against him by Josephus in his Life – is of doubtful value, since Josephus may have falsified facts. Nevertheless two things are clear: that Justus came from a respected Tiberian family, and that "he did not lack Greek culture," as Josephus himself admits. Justus' name and that of his father (Pistus) also attest Hellenistic influence, and he was, moreover, appointed private secretary to *Agrippa II, a post which obviously demanded a thorough command of Greek. Apart from this it is difficult to find in Josephus anything further in Justus' favor. Josephus accuses him of personal turpitude, licentiousness, bribery, and theft. These accusations may be ignored. Of a more complex nature is the question of Justus' loyalties during the war. Josephus charges that Justus was the sworn enemy of the Romans and an associate of the *Zealots, doing everything in his power to draw Tiberias and Galilee into the revolt against Roman rule. In addition, Josephus states that Justus organized an attack on the Greek cities of the Decapolis, whose inhabitants were faithful allies of the Romans, adding that this attack is also mentioned in the memoirs of Vespasian. According to Josephus, Justus, while in Berytus (Beirut), was accused of treason against the Romans and would certainly have been sentenced to death but for Vespasian's friendliness to Agrippa. All this, however, does not necessarily prove that Justus was a Zealot. Possibly Agrippa explained the attack as a loyal Tiberian's vengeance against the Greeks for their bloody attacks on the Jews at the outbreak of the war.
Nevertheless, Justus was obviously no lover of Roman rule. In view of his friendship with Agrippa, Justus probably shared the views expressed by the latter in his speech to the rebels in Jerusalem (the account of which in Josephus undoubtedly has an historical basis). The gist of this was that Roman might was so decisive that it could not be overcome, and that there was therefore no sense fighting it. Agrippa himself,
It is generally believed that Justus also wrote a second book, a chronicle of the kings of Israel. Although a list which was in the possession of Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, between 858 and 868, seemed to make the description of the war merely part of the chronicle, the detailed nature of the description of the events in Galilee (as evidenced in Josephus) presupposes a separate work.
Schuerer, Gesch, index; A. Baerwald, Flavius Josephus in Galilaea (Ger., 1877); Niese, in: Historische Zeitschrift, 76 (1896), 227ff.; H. Luther, Josephus und Justus von Tiberias (1910); R. Laqueur, Der juedische Historiker Flavius Josephus (1920), 6ff.; H. Drexler, in: Klio, 19 (1925), 293ff.; A. Schalit, ibid., 26 (1933), 66–95; M. Stein, Ḥayyei Yosef (19393), introd., 5–16, and notes; A. Pelletier, Flavius Josèphe, Autobiographie (1959), xivff.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.