Matthias (father of Josephus)

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Matthias (Greek: Ματθίας; 6–70) was a first-century AD Jewish priest at the Temple in Jerusalem and the father of historian Josephus.


Matthias came from a wealthy family and through his father he descended from the priestly order of the Jehoiarib, which was the first of the twenty four-orders of Priests in the Temple in Jerusalem.[1] He was the son born to Josephus and his wife, an unnamed Jewish noblewoman. The parents of Matthias were distant relatives. Matthias’ mother was a descendant of Josephus’ paternal great grandfather, Simon Psellus.[2] His paternal grandparents were Matthias Curtus and his unnamed Jewish wife.[1] Through his paternal grandfather, he was the descendant of the High Priest Jonathon. Jonathon may have been Alexander Jannaeus, the High Priest and Hasmonean ruler who governed Judea from 103 BC-76 BC.[1]

Matthias married an unnamed Jewish noblewoman, who had descended from royalty and of the former ruling Hasmonean Dynasty.[3] Matthias with his wife had two sons:


He was a contemporary to the Herodian Dynasty governing Judea and the surrounding territories. Matthias followed his paternal ancestors and served as a Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem. He was an aristocratic priest. One of his duties was to oversee the affairs of the Jewry in Jerusalem and Palestine during the Roman occupation.[5]

Josephus in his writings highly praises his father and describes him as a distinguished Jew. He describes him that way because not just of his birth alone but he was praised for his sense of justice for being a very eminent man in Jerusalem.[4] Matthias and his family had connections to the Sadducees.[6]

Matthias and his wife were alive during the First Jewish–Roman War. The war occurred from 66 until 73. In the year 70 during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem, Matthias; his wife and Josephus’ first wife were in the city during the siege. The three were held as prisoners by the Jewish rebels because they didn’t trust them.[1] Josephus who was commander-in-chief in Galilee received news through his father about the situation in Jerusalem. Josephus through his intervention was able to save his brother from Roman imprisonment, however he was unable to save his father; mother and his first wife as the three perished during the siege.


  1. ^ a b c d Schürer 1973, p. 45–46.
  2. ^ "JOSEPHUS LINEAGE" (PDF). History of the Daughters (Fourth ed.). Sonoma, California: L P Publishing. December 2012. p. 349–350.
  3. ^ a b Nodet 1997, p. 250.
  4. ^ a b Mason 2001, p. 13.
  5. ^ Mills 1990, p. 470.
  6. ^ Hunsinger, Earl (April 4, 2008). "The Life and Times of Flavius Josephus". iBuzzle.