Josephus, Flavius (37?–95?), the Roman name of Joseph ben Matthias, a Jewish historian and military leader. His books are the only known source of information about many events in the last centuries of Judea. History of the Jewish Warhas a notable account of the Jewish Revolt of 66–70 and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70. Antiquities of the Jewsis a history of the Jewish people from the Creation to 66 A.D.
Josephus was born in Jerusalem. His father was a priest, and his mother was of royal blood. After gaining a thorough knowledge of Hebrew and Greek literature, he spent three years with a desert hermit. He then became a prominent Pharisee, and was made governor of Galilee by the Sanhedrin, the supreme council. He fought in the war against the Romans, but surrendered to Vespasian. His latter years were spent in Rome, where he was granted Roman citizenship.