617 The purpose here is to fix not the author’s date (already established in 1.183) but the date of the earliest recorded events relevant to the Judean people (see end of 1.185). The real Hecataeus had made reference to Moses and the exodus (
apud Diodorus 40.3), but Josephus appears to know only this (pseudepigraphical) work which recorded history no earlier than Alexander. This testimony provides weak evidence for Judean antiquity compared to other witnesses in this Greek segment (e.g., Pythagoras and Herodotus), let alone in the non-Greek segments. Josephus’ vague claim at the end of 1.185 and his reference to the occupation of
Jerusalem “from the remote past” (1.196) are the best he can do to press this narrative for evidence of a more ancient past.