The Biblical Antiquities of Philo

translated by M. R. James


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Pseudo-Philo is the name commonly used for the unknown, anonymous author of Biblical Antiquities. This text is also commonly known today under the Latin title Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum (Book of Biblical Antiquities), a title that is not found, per se, on the Latin manuscripts of Pseudo-Philo's Biblical Antiquities. Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities is preserved today in 18 complete and 3 fragmentary Latin manuscripts that date between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries CE. In addition, portions of Pseudo-Philo's Biblical Antiquities parallel material also found in the Chronicles of Jerahmeel, a 14th century Hebrew composition. The Latin text of Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities circulated in some Latin collections of writings by Philo of Alexandria. Scholars have long recognized the pseudonymous character of the text now known as Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities. Primary in this regard is a vastly differing approach to and use of the Jewish Scriptures than that of Philo of Alexandria. For the sake of convenience and due to the lack of a better option, scholars continue to follow the lead of Philo scholar Leopold Cohn in calling the author “Pseudo-Philo.”

This volume "is a Bible history, reaching, in its present imperfect form, from Adam to the death of Saul. It has come to us in Latin manuscripts, and by accident the name of the Jewish philosopher of the first century, Philo, has been attached to it.

"Its importance lies in this, that it is a book of the first century - a product of the same school as the Fourth Book of Esdras and the Apocalypse of Baruch, and written, like them, in the years which followed the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It is thus contemporary with some of the New Testament writings, and throws light upon them as well as upon the religious thought of the Jews of its time.".

Chapter I.
Genealogy from Adam to Noah, with the names of the sons and daughters of the early patriarchs.

Chapter XVIII

Chapter XXXV
The call of Gideon.

Chapter LII
Sin of Hophni and Phinehas. Eli rebukes them, their refusal to repent.

Chapter II
Genealogy from Cain to Lamech; the names of Cain's cities, short accounts of Jubal and Tubal, and the song of Lamech.

Chapter XIX
The farewell and death of Moses.

Chapter XXXVI
He defeats Midian: his sin and death.

Chapter LIII
Call of Samuel: Eli's submission to God's will.

Chapter III
The Flood and the covenant with Noah, mainly in the words of Genesis, but with the addition of two important speeches of God.

Chapter XX
Joshua succeeds him. The spies sent to Jericho. Withdrawal of the manna, pillar of cloud, and fountain.

Chapter XXXVII
Abimelech succeeds. [Gap in the text.] Parable of the trees. Death of Abimelech. [Gap in the text.]

Chapter LIV
The ark captured by the Philistines: Saul brings the news. Death of Eli and of his daughter-in-law.

Chapter IV.
The descendants of Shem, Ham and Japhet, and the territories occupied by them. The genealogy continued to Abraham. In this occur accounts of the first appearing of the rainbow, the prophecy of Milcah, and the beginning of divination.

Chapter XXI
Joshua warned of his end: his prayer: he writes the Law upon stones and builds an altar.

Jair apostatizes and is destroyed by fire.

Chapter LV
Grief of Samuel. The ark and Dagon: the Philistines plagued: they take counsel as to the return of the ark: it is sent back.

Chapter V
The review and census of the descendants of Noah.

Chapter XXII
The altar built by the tribes beyond Jordan. The sanctuary at Shiloh.

Chapter XXXIX
Israel oppressed by Ammon. Jephthah is persuaded to help. His negotiations with Getal, King of Ammon: his vow: God's anger.

Chapter LVI
The people ask for a king, prematurely. Saul comes to Samuel.

Chapter VI
The Tower of Babel begun. Abraham's rescue from the fire.

Chapter XXIII
Joshua's last speech, with the story of Abraham's vision and of the giving of the Law.

Chapter XL
Seila, Jephthah's daughter: her readiness to die: her lamentation and death. Death of Jephthah.

Chapter LVII
Samuel presents him to the people and he is made king.
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Chapter VII
Destruction of the Tower, and dispersion of the builders.

Chapter XXIV
His farewell and death.

Chapter XLI
The Judges Abdon (Addo) and Elon.

Chapter LVIII
LVIII. He is sent against Amalek, and spares Agag. Agag is slain, after begetting a son who is to be Saul's slayer.

Chapter VIII
The genealogy from Abraham to the going down into Egypt. The names of Job's children.

Chapter XXV
Kenaz (Cenez) elected ruler by lot. Detection by the lot of sinners among the tribes. Their confessions: account of the Amorite idols.

Chapter XLII
Manoah and his wife Eluma. Samson promised.

Chapter LIX
Samuel anoints David: David's psalm: the lion and the bear.

Chapter IX
The oppression in Egypt. Amram refuses to separate from his wife. Miriam's vision. The birth of Moses.

Chapter XXVI
God directs the disposal of the accursed objects: the sinners are burned. The commands of God are carried out: account of the twelve precious stones.

Chapter XLIII
Birth, exploits and death of Samson.

Chapter LX
Saul oppressed by an evil spirit: David's song.

Chapter X
The plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea. Israel in the desert.
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Chapter XXVII
Kenaz's victory, single-handed, over the Amorites.
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Chapter XLIV
Micah and his mother Dedila. The idols described. God's anger.
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Chapter LXI
David's first victory, over Midian. Goliath defies Israel: David slays him (story of Orpah and Ruth).

Chapter XI
The giving of the Law. The Decalogue.

Chapter XXVIII
His last days: the speech of Phinehas: vision and death of Kenaz.

Chapter XLV
The Levite Bethac at Nob. The Benjamite outrage.

Chapter LXII
Saul's envy of David. David's parting with Jonathan: their farewell speeches and covenant.

Chapter XII
The Golden Calf.

Chapter XXIX
Zebul succeeds: an inheritance given to the daughters of Kenaz: a sacred treasury founded: death of Zebul.

Chapter XLVI
Israel attacks Benjamin and is thrice defeated. Prayer of Phinehas.

Chapter LXIII
The priests of Nob slain: God's sentence against Doeg. Death of Samuel.

Chapter XIII
The Tabernacle, and the institution of certain Feasts.

Chapter XXX
Israel oppressed by Sisera. Deborah's speech.

Chapter XLVII
Parable of the Lion, spoken by God in answer to Phinehas. Benjamin is defeated: names of the surviving chiefs. Death of Micah.

Chapter LXIV
Saul expels the sorcerers to make a name for himself: God's anger. The Philistines invade: Saul goes to Sedecla, the witch of Endor. Appearance and speech of Samuel.

Chapter XIV
The numbering of the people.

Chapter XXXI
The stars fight against Sisera: his death.

Chapter XLVIII
Departure of Phinehas from among men. Wives are found for the Benjamites. Conclusion of the period of the Judges.

Chapter LXV
Defeat of Saul: he summons the Amalekite (Edab, son of Agag) to kill him. The text ends abruptly in the midst of a message from Saul to David.

Chapter XV
The spies.

Chapter XXXII
Deborah's hymn, with the description of the sacrifice of Isaac and the giving of the Law.

Chapter XLIX
Israel is at a loss for a ruler. Lots are cast in vain. Advice of Nethez. The lot falls on Elkanah, who refuses to be ruler. God promises Samuel.

Chapter XVI

Chapter XXXIII
Last words and death of Deborah.

Chapter L
Peninnah's reproaches to Hannah: Hannah's prayer.

Chapter XVII
Aaron's Rod.

Chapter XXXIV
Aod, the wizard of Midian, seduces Israel by his sorceries.

Chapter LI
Birth of Samuel: hymn of Hannah.