Articles and book excerpts used in and referred to on Issues, Etc.
The Roman Governors
from Josephus: The Essential Works
by Paul L. Maier
Archelaus mourned his father for seven days,
and then feasted the people, according to the custom of the Jews. Addressing
the crowds from a golden throne, he thanked them for their allegiance. He said
he would not take on himself the authority of king until Caesar ratified
Herod's will, but after that he would be kinder to them than his father had
Pleased by Archelaus' speech, the people quickly put his good intentions to the test by asking for various favors. Some wanted the taxes reduced, while others begged him to release the prisoners. In order to gain the good will of the people, Archelaus promised to attend to these requests.
Toward evening, great crowds of people who had been dissatisfied under Herod's reign gathered. They mourned those whom Herod had put to death for cutting down the golden eagle from the gate of the temple. They cried out that Herod's advisers should be put to death, and that the high priest he appointed be deprived of his office. Archelaus was provoked by these clamors, but tried to quiet them in a peaceful manner. He sent an officer to pacify the mob, but they threw stones at him.
It was now the feast of the Passover, and multitudes came to Jerusalem from the country, among whom the rioters began to spread sedition. Fearing rebellion, Archelaus sent a tribune with a cohort to seize the leaders of the insurrection. But they stoned the soldiers, killing many of them, though a few escaped, including the wounded tribune. Archelaus then sent his army against them, and they killed about 3,000 of the rioters, driving the rest into the hills. Archelaus' heralds now commanded everyone to return to his own home, and they all withdrew without finishing the festival.
Archelaus, accompanied by Nicolas, set out for Rome together with many of the royal family. They went supposedly to aid Archelaus in securing the throne, but in reality to protest the massacre at the temple. His younger brother, Antipas. had also gone to Rome to claim the crown on the basis of Herod's will, in which he was made heir, rather than the codicil. Many of the relatives supported him out of hatred for Archelaus.
At Caesarea, Archelaus met Sabinus, the procurator of Syria, who had set out for Judea to take charge of Herod's property. But Varus, governor of Syria, interposed, and Sabinus agreed to remain at Caesarea and leave Archelaus in possession of the treasures and fortresses of Judea until a decision had been made at Rome. But no sooner had Varus gone to Antioch and Archelaus set sail for Rome, than Sabinus hurried to Jerusalem. He seized the palace, commanded the treasury officials to give an accounting, and tried to obtain possession of the fortresses. However, everyone remained faithful to Archelaus' instructions and refused to obey any orders unless they came from Rome.
Revolt in Jerusalem
Meanwhile, Archelaus and Antipas disputed their rights to the crown before Caesar. Nicolas of Damascus supported Archelaus successfully enough to incline Caesar to confirm Archelaus' rule. Before Caesar came to a decision, however, news came that Judea was in rebellion. The feast of Pentecost had arrived, and the Jews had gathered to avenge the greed of Sabinus. Dividing themselves into three groups, they camped on the north, south, and west of the temple, and pro-ceeded to besiege the Romans. Frightened, Sabinus sent to Varus for help, seized Phasael, the highest tower, and signaled his troops to attack the Jews. The Jews had mounted the roofs of the porticoes surrounding the temple courts, and from there hurled stones on their enemies. The Romans set fire to the porticoes, and the Jews were either burned alive or slaughtered by the enemy when they attempted to retreat. The Romans then broke into the sacred treasury, and the soldiers stole a great part of it, while Sabinus took 400 talents for himself. Maddened by this outrage, the Jews besieged Sabinus and his forces inside the palace.
Most of the royal troops deserted to join the Jewish besiegers, who offered to let Sabinus and his men leave unharmed. Sabinus would gladly have done so, but he was afraid to trust the Jews and so waited for help from Varus.
The whole country was without any government and erupted in violence. Two thousand of Herod's army, who had been disbanded, followed his cousin Achiabus in rebellion until driven into the hills. Judas, son of Ezekias the bandit, plundered Galilee, while Simon, a slave of Herod, crowned himself king and burned the royal palace in Jericho until he was caught and beheaded. Athronges, a huge shepherd, also put on a diadem. With his burly brothers, he conducted a guerilla campaign, and others also spread ruin and desolation over the country.
Varus, fearful for the safety of the legion besieged in Jerusalem, hurried to relieve Sabinus with two other legions, assisted by an army under Aretas [IV], king of Arabia. Many cities were burned and sacked on the way, especially by the Arabs. When Varus approached Jerusalem, the Jewish forces besieging Sabinus quickly fled into the country and dispersed. The inhabitants of the city then declared that they were not in revolt, but instead blamed the multitudes who had come into the city to celebrate the festival. Sabinus, ashamed to look Varus in the face, stole away to the seacoast. Varus sent his troops across the country to capture those who had been involved in the sedition, and crucified 2,000 of the ringleaders. But some 10,000 were still gathered in Idumea.
Varus sent the Arabs home because he could not restrain their excesses. With his own troops, he then marched against the insurgents, who surrendered to him. He pardoned the common soldiers, but sent the officers to Rome for trial. Having settled matters, Varus left a garrison in Jerusalem and hurried back to Antioch.
|Augustus Divides the
A delegation of Jews arrived in Rome at this time to ask for the elimination of royal authority in Judea, and were supported by 8,000 of the Jews in Rome, Caesar called together a council in the temple of Apollo to hear the envoys, as well as Archelaus, Philip, his brother, and their supporters.
The emissaries spoke first, and charged their former king. Heron, with the greatest extortions and cruelties, claiming that under him the Jews had endured the worst suffering since their captivity in Babylon. Archelaus, they continued, had inaugurated his reign by slaughtering 3,000 Jews in the temple precincts to prove he was not a bastard son of Herod. Therefore, they petitioned Caesar to deliver them from kings and to annex their country to Syria and let it be ruled by Roman governors. They would show how well they could behave under moderate rulers.
Statue of Augustus as commander-in-chief (about 20 B.C.), addressing his troops. It was found at the Villa of Livia (Augustus' wife), at Prima Porta on the Via Flaminia just north of Rome. The symbols on the breastplate indicate Augustus' achievements of prosperity and peace for the Empire (Vatican Museum).
Then Nicolas spoke for Archelaus and refuted
the charges against the kings, declaring the Jews to be rebellious and by
nature disobedient to their sovereigns. Having listened attentively to both
sides, Caesar dismissed the council. A few days later, he appointed Archelaus
not as king, but ethnarch of Judea, Idumea, and Samaria, promising to make him
king should he prove deserving. Antipas received Galilee and Perea, while
Philip obtained Batanea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, and Panias. Salome, Herod's
sister, received the government and revenues of several cities, and other
members of Herod's family inherited the bequests he had left them in his will.
Caesar divided the thousand talents which Herod had left him among Herod's
children, keeping for himself only a few items in honor of the deceased.
A young Jew later appeared in Rome, who pretended to be the prince Alexander whom Herod had ordered to be killed. He looked very much like the dead Alexander, and had been trained to act his part by a Jew who was well acquainted with affairs at the Herodian court. He completely deceived the Jews in Crete and Melos, who furnished him with money to go to Rome and claim the Jewish throne. He explained his escape from death by claiming the executioners had taken compassion on him and his brother Aristobulus, allowing them to escape after substituting corpses resembling them. As soon as this impostor arrived in Puteoli and Rome, the Jews joyously acclaimed him as the true Alexander, and provided him with all the trappings of royalty.
Caesar, suspecting a cheat, sent one of his freedmen, Celadus, who had known Alexander well, to conduct the youth into his presence. When Celadus saw the pretender, he knew at once that this was not the real Alexander, because his body was coarse and rough compared to Alexander's, which had been softener! by luxury. He confronted him as an impostor, but promised that Caesar would spare his life if he would point out the man who had concocted the scheme.1 The false Alexander agreed and went with Celaclus to Caesar, identifying his instructor. Caesar was amused by the affair, and, seeing that the pretender was a strong young fellow, he made him an oarsman in one of his galleys. But he put to death the scoundrel who had induced him.
Archelaus assumed the ethnarchy of Judea and splendidly rebuilt the palace at Jericho, adding a palm tree plantation. But he transgressed the law in marrying Glaphyra, Alexander's widow, for marrying a brother's wife [unless she is childless] is abhorrent among Jews. Archelaus also ruled with such cruelty that in the tenth year of his reign, both the Jews and the Samaritans accused him before Caesar. After hearing his defense, Caesar banished Archelaus to Vienne, a city in Gaul, and confiscated his property.
Before he had been summoned to Rome, Archelaus dreamed that ten thick ears of wheat were being eaten by oxen, and no one could interpret the dream except a certain Essene named Simon. He told Archelaus that the oxen signified suffering; the ears the number of years in his reign, which was now at an end. Five days later, Caesar's summons arrived.
Judea now became a province, and Coponius, a Roman of the equestrian order, was sent out as procurator with full authority, including administration of capital punishment. Quirinius, a Roman senator of consular rank, was also sent by Caesar to be governor of Syria and assessor of property there and in Judea, where he was to sell Archelaus' estate. While the Jews reluctantly agreed to register their property, a certain Judas of Gamala claimed that this was tantamount to slavery, so he and a Pharisee named Saddok called for revolution, starting a fourth philosophy which led to ruin. Let me describe the various schools of thought among the Jews.
Excavations at Qumran, near the northwestern corner of the Dead Sea, site of the Essene community which wrote and later hid the famed "Dead Sea Scrolls." The scrolls were discovered by accident in the caves of the Judean escarpment to the west (background).
|The Pharisees regard
observance of their doctrine and commandments as of most importance, and they
believe that souls have power to survive death and receive rewards or
punishments. They are very influential among the townspeople, and all rites of
worship are performed according to their exposition.
The Sadducees teach that the soul dies along with the body, and they observe no tradition apart from the [written] laws. Whenever they assume office, however, they submit to the formulas of the Pharisees, because the masses would not tolerate them otherwise.
|The Essenes believe in the immortality of the soul and strive for righteousness, but they use a different ritual of purification for their sacrifices and so are barred from the temple sanctuary. The 4,000 in this sect hold their property in common, and do not bring wives or slaves into the community, but live off by themselves.2 Always dressed in white, they do not change their clothes until they are worn threadbare. They deem oil defiling, and purify themselves in cold water. A candidate joins their order only after a three-year probation, and they are also extraordinarily interested in ancient writings. So strictly do they observe the Sabbath that they will not even defecate on that day.||
The hole in the rock near the center of the photograph marks Cave 4 in the Judean escarpment overlooking Qumran, where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
The fourth philosophy [the Zealots'] agrees
with the Pharisees except that they have an overwhelming desire for liberty
with the conviction that God alone is their leader. They will easily endure any
sort of pain or death so long as they do not have to call man their master.
These, then, are the philosophies among the Jews.
Having liquidated Archelaus' estate, Quirinius appointed Ananus, the son of Seth, as high priest.3 Meanwhile, Herod Antipas and Philip were administering their tetrarchies. Herod fortified Sepphoris, while Philip improved Panias at the source of the Jordan and called it Caesarea [Philippi]. He also raised Bethsaida on Lake Gennesaritis [Sea of Galilee] to city status by adding townspeople.
During the administration of Coponius in Judea, the priests, as was their custom, threw open the gates of the temple at midnight during Passover. But some Samaritans, who had slipped into Jerusalem, scattered human bones in the porticoes and throughout the temple. As a result, from then on, the priests excluded everyone from the temple [sanctuary].
Coponius returned to Rome and was succeeded by Marcus Ambivulus and then Annius Rufus, during whose administration Caesar [Augustus] died at age 77, having ruled 57 years. The third emperor4 was Tiberius, son of Caesar's wife Julia [Livia], who dispatched Valerius Gratus to succeed Rufus as governor over the Jews. Gratus deposed Ananus from the high priesthood and made three more changes before appointing Joseph Caiaphas to the office. Having stayed eleven years in Judea, Gratus retired to Rome and was succeeded by Pontius Pilate.
The tetrarch Herod, meanwhile, had attained a high place among the friends of Tiberius. He built a city on Lake Gennesaritis and named it Tiberias, settling a mixed population there, mainly Galilean, as well as slaves whom he liberated. Their freedom was on condition that they not move away, since the city was built on the site of tombs, which would render the settlers unclean.
[The following segments on Pontius Pilate and Jesus of Nazareth are not condensed but translated word for word.]
|Pontius Pilate Now when Pilate, the governor of Judea, brought his army from Caesarea and moved it into winter quarters at Jerusalem, he intended to subvert the Jewish customs by introducing into the city busts of the emperor that were attached to the military standards when our law forbids the making of images. For this reason, the previous governors used standards that had no such ornaments whenever they entered the city. Pilate was the first to bring these images into Jerusalem and set them up there, doing so without the knowledge of the people because he entered at night. But when they discovered it, the people went in a multitude to Caesarea and for many days implored him to remove the images.||
Statue of Tiberius, second Roman emperor (Vatican museum). Augustus had selected 4 others to suceed himself rather than his stepson, Tiberius, but they died before he did. A two-by-three-foot stone, discovered at Caesarea in 1961, records the name of Pontius Pilate. The left facing of the stone had been chipped away for reuse, so that only "TIVSPILATVS" remains of Pilate's name in the middle line (Israel museum, Jerusalem).
A section of the aqueduct constructed by Pontius Pilate to improve Jerusalem's water supply. This segment runs at ground level through an olive orchard near Bethlehem.
|He refused to yield, since to do so would be an insult to the emperor. But because they did not stop appealing to him, on the sixth day he stationed his troops into position with concealed weapons as he himself mounted the speaker's podium. This had been constructed in the stadium, which hid the army that lay in wait. When the Jews again petitioned him, he gave a prearranged signal to his soldiers to surround them, and threatened to punish them with immediate death if they did not end their riot and return to their own homes. But they threw themselves on the ground and bared their throats, declaring that they would gladly welcome death rather than dare to transgress the wisdom of their laws. Pilate, astounded at the firmness of their guard-ing of the laws, immediately transferred the images from Jerusalem to Caesarea.5|
But he spent money from the sacred treasury
for the construction of an aqueduct to bring water into Jerusalem, tapping the
source of the stream at a distance of 200 stadia.6 They [the Jews], however, were not pleased
with what had been done about the water, and tells of thousands of men gathered
and shouted against him, insisting that he abandon such plans. Some of them
even hurled insults and abused the man, as such throngs commonly do. So he
ordered a large number of soldiers to be dressed in civilian clothing, under
which they carried clubs, and sent them so as to surround them [the
demonstrators], whom he ordered to withdraw. But when they boldly abused him,
he gave his troops the prearranged signal. They, however, inflicted much
greater blows than Pilate had ordered, punishing equally those who were rioting
and those who were not, showing no mercy in the least. Caught unarmed, as they
were, by men who had prepared their attack, many of them were killed on the
spot, while others ran away wounded. And so ended the uprising.7
At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.8
Scandals at Rome
Paulina, a virtuous lady of noble descent at Rome, was married to the equally reputable Saturninus. But an equestrian named Decius Mundus was so in love with her that he offered her 200,000 Attic drachmas if they could share a bed a single time. When she refused, Mundus' freedwoman, Ida, bribed the priests of Isis - of whom Paulina was a devotee - to inform her that the god Anubis had fallen in love with her and invited her to share his table and bed at the temple, which she did. After supper, when the doors were shut and the lights extinguished, a hidden Mundus was not refused when he sought intercourse with her. Indeed, she performed a night-long service for him, assuming that he was the god. Two days later, when Mundus informed her that he had adopted the name Anubis and saved a substantial sum to boot, she told her husband of the horror, and he informed the emperor. Tiberius crucified both the priests and Ida, razed the temple, and ordered the statue of Isis thrown into the Tiber. Mundus received only exile, because his was a crime of passion.
The Jews of Rome suffered at this time. Four Jewish scoundrels encouraged Fulvia, a woman of high rank who became a Jewish proselyte, to send purple and gold to the temple in Jerusalem, which they promptly stole for themselves. Fulvia's husband reported this to his friend, Tiberius, who then banished the whole Jewish community from Rome. The consuls drafted 4,000 of them for military service and sent them to the island of Sardinia.
The Samaritans too were not exempt from troubles. A demagogue persuaded them to go with him to Mount Gerizim, where he would show them the sacred vessels which Moses had supposedly buried there. A great multitude arrived at the mountain armed, but Pilate blocked their route of ascent with cavalry and heavily armed infantry. In the clash that followed, some were killed and the rest scattered or taken prisoner. Pilate then executed the ringleaders and those who were most influential.
After the uprising was quelled, the Samaritan council went to Vitellius, the governor of Syria, and accused Pilate of massacre. Vitellius sent Marcellus, one of his friends, to take charge of Judea, ordering Pilate to return to Rome and defend himself before the emperor against the Samaritan charges. And so Pilate, having spent ten years in Judea, hurried to Rome in obedience to Vitellius' orders, since he could not refuse them. But before he reached Rome, Tiberius had already died.
Vitellius was received magnificently in Jerusalem, where the Jews were celebrating the Passover. He reduced some of the taxes and transferred the vestments of the high priest from the Antonia to the temple. He also removed Joseph Caiaphas from that office and appointed Jonathan, son of Ananus, in his place.
After his return to Antioch, Vitellius negotiated an agreement with Artabanus, king of Parthia. This took place on a bridge over the Euphrates, after which Herod [Antipas] the tetrarch feasted them in a luxurious pavilion. But Herod rushed the news of the successful negotiations to Tiberius, preceding Viteihus' report. Vitellius was furious with Herod and would get his revenge on the accession of Gaius [Caligula].
Herod's brother, Philip, died at this time, a moderate ruler who dispensed justice on an itinerant basis. Since he died childless, Tiberius annexed his territory to the province of Syria. Herod himself now quarreled with Aretas [IV], king of Petra, whose daughter he had married. But Herod had since fallen in love with Herodias, wife of his half-brother [also named] Herod, and he promised to marry her and dismiss Aretas' daughter. However, she heard about the agreement, and asked Herod for permission to visit Machaerus. From there she hurried on to her father in Arabia, and told him of Herod's plans. This and a boundary dispute led Aretas to attack Herod, whose whole army was destroyed. Herod wrote about this to Tiberius, who was furious, and ordered Vitellius, governor of Syria, to declare war on Aretas.
[The following segment is not condensed, but translated word for word.]
John the Baptist
Now, to some of the Jews the destruction of Herod's army seemed to come from God as a very just recompense, a punishment for what he did to John who was called the Baptist. For Herod had executed him, though he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to exercise virtue, both in practicing justice toward one another and in piety toward God, and, so doing, to join in baptism. For thus, it seemed to him, would baptismal washing be acceptable, if it were used not to gain pardon for whatever sins they committed, but as a purification of the body, implying that the soul was already thoroughly cleansed by righteous conduct. When others also joined the crowds about him- for they were deeply stirred at hearing his words - Herod grew alarmed: such great influence over the people could lead to an uprising. for they seemed ready to do anything John might advise. Accordingly, Herod decided that it would be much better to strike first and get rid of him before any insurrection might develop, than to get himself into trouble and be sorry not to have acted once a rebellion had begun. And so. due to Herod's suspicions, John was brought in chains to Machaerus, the fortress that we have previously mentioned,9 and there put to death. But the Jews believed that the destruction which overtook Herod's army came as vengeance against Herod [for executing John], God wishing to do him harm.10
Vitellius, meanwhile, prepared for war against Aretas and was planning to march two legions through Judea. But he rerouted their course after Jewish leaders appealed that he not bring military standards bearing images on their soil. He and Herod the tetrarch, however, offered sacrifice in Jerusalem, where they received the news of Tiberius' death. This caused Vitellius to call off his war with Aretas, and he returned to Antioch.
The island of Capri, where Agrippa and Caligula waited for Tiberius to die. The imperial palace crowns the summit of the precipice near the center.
|Herod Agrippa and
Agrippa was the son of the Aristobulus who had been strangled by his father, Herod [the Great]. Agrippa had spent huge amounts of money cultivating friends in Rome, and returned to Judea in poverty. He was contemplating suicide until his sister Herodias and Herod the tetrarch gave him a job as market-supervisor in Tiberias. Tiring of that, he borrowed great sums and returned to Rome and the good graces of Tiberius, who had moved to the island of Capri. Agrippa became a close friend of his young grandnephew Gaius [Caligula]. One day, while they were out riding on Capri, Agrippa expressed the hope that Gaius would soon succeed Tiberius as emperor, since he was much worthier.
This was overheard by the chariot driver and
eventually reported to Tiberius, who angrily had Agrippa arrested. While he
waited in chains in front of the palace, a horned owl alighted on the tree on
which he was leaning. Another prisoner, a German, predicted that Agrippa would
soon be released and attain the highest point of honor and power. "But
remember," he continued, "when you see this bird again, your death will follow
within five days."
Antonia, Tiberius' sister-in-law, took a special interest in Agrippa and tried to make him as comfortable as possible during the six months he spent in prison. Then Tiberius died, having appointed Gaius as his successor. One of Gaius' early acts was to put a diadem on Agrippa's head and appoint him king over the tetrarchy of Philip. He also gave him a golden chain equal in weight to the iron one that had bound him, and Agrippa returned home in triumph.
Extremely jealous over the success of her brother, Herodias prodded her husband Herod [Antipas] to embark for Rome and petition for the kingship also. He resisted as best he could, but finally gave in, and they sailed to Italy, where they met the emperor at Baiae. During their interview, Gaius was reading letters from Agrippa, in which he indicted Herod for conspiring with Sejanus, a Roman prefect, against Tiberius and for being in alliance now with Artabanus of Parthia against Gains. As proof, Agrippa cited 70,000 pieces of armor stored in Herod's armories. Gaius asked whether the arms were there, and when he received an affirmative, he took away Herod's tetrarchy and added it to Agrippa's kingdom, banishing Herod to Lyons in Gaul.11 He would have permitted Herodias to return and enjoy her property, but she chose exile with her husband.
Meanwhile, the Jews and Greeks of Alexandria had engaged in civil strife. Both sides sent three delegates to present their case before 02 Gaius, who was now overcome with delusions of divinity. The Greeks' spokesman, Apion, scurrilously attacked the Jews for neglecting to honor the emperor with altars, statues, and temples as the rest of the empire had done. Philo, representing the Jews, began his defense but was angrily cut off by Gaius, who would now avenge himself on the Jews.
Bust of Gaius "Caligula" (Louvre, Paris). Caligula was one of the worst of the Roman emperors, but his reign was mercifully short: A.D. 37-41. His assasination ended months of debauchery, cruelty and terror at Rome.
Gaius dispatched Petronius as legate of
Syria to succeed Vitellius, and ordered him to lead an army into Judea and set
up a statue of Gains inside the temple of God. When Petronius arrived with his
army at Ptolemais, he was met by many thousands of Jews who pleaded with him to
respect their laws and not erect the statue. He then went on to Tiberias, where
he received the same response from all the Jews They declared that they would
rather die than see their laws transgressed, and even now prepared to leave
their land untilled.
Struck by their resolve, Petronius decided to risk Gaius' anger rather than drench the country in blood. Convening an assembly of Jews in Tiberias, he told them that he would try to dissuade the emperor from carrying out his plan. And if he failed, he would endure suffering himself rather than see so many of them destroyed. He then told them to resume their agriculture and dismissed the multitude, who invoked many blessings on him. After returning to Antioch, he wrote to Gaius, reporting on his expedition into Judea, and added that unless the emperor wished to destroy both the country and its inhabitants, he ought to revoke his order.
King Agrippa, meanwhile, had treated Gaius to a lavish dinner in Rome, after which the emperor offered him any gift he desired. After declining repeatedly, he interceded for the Jews and asked Gains not to erect his statue in Jerusalem. The emperor acceded to the request, but when Petronius' letter arrived, he grew irate again and ordered Petronius' suicide for being so slow in executing his commands. Yet it so happened that the messengers carrying Gaius' dispatch to Petronius were detained by stormy weather. However, later messengers, announcing the subsequent death of Gaius, had a favorable voyage. So Petronius marveled at the providence of God in not receiving Gaius' letter until nearly a month after he had learned of his death.
[Here Joseph us introduces a long description of the massacre of Mesopotamian and Babylonian Jews by Parthians and Syrians.]
Gains' contempt of the Jews was typical of what he inflicted on the entire Roman empire. He terrorized all classes of citizens, putting some to death for their wealth, and insisted on his own divinity, calling Jupiter "brother." He pillaged the Greek temples of sculpture, and built a pontoon bridge across the gulf at Misname just for his chariot. At the races, people shouted for a tax reduction, but Gaius had them executed before the spectators. He even had sexual intercourse with his own sister.
Three conspiracies attempted to assassinate him. One group was at Cordova in Iberia, the second was led by the tribune Cassius Chaerea [at Rome], and the third by Annius Vinicianus. Chaerea was particularly insulted by the effeminate or obscene passwords Gaius would give him, and the reaction of his men when he had to pass them on. Chaerea and his conspirators met him in an alley that led to the palace baths and cut Gains down, in the fourth year of his reign.
Agrippa and Claudius
Gaius' uncle, Claudius, was kidnapped by praetorian guardsmen. who declared him emperor-they distrusted democracy-but the Senate was ringing with oratory in favor of liberty. and opposed the succession of Claudius. King Agrippa happened to be in Rome at this time, and became a mediator between the praetorian camp and the Senate. Find-ing that Claudius was perplexed and about to yield to the Senate, he incited him to bid for the empire. Agrippa then went to the Senate and diplomatically persuaded many of its members to withdraw their opposition to Claudius' succession, while the soldiers moved the rest. Chaerea and several of his accomplices were put to death, and Claudius became emperor.
Claudius (A.D. 45-54) was a much better emperor than his crazed nephew Caligula. Although he had motor handicaps, he conquered Britain and stabilized the government. But his fourth wife, Agrippina, poisoned him with a bowl of mushrooms.
|Claudius now confirmed Agrippa as king and added to his domain Judea and Samaria as well-all the lands formerly ruled by his grandfather. Herod [the Great] -but also Abilene which had been governed by Lysanias. He then celebrated a treaty with Agrippa in the mididle Of the Roman Forum. After this the king returned to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving in the temple, where he hung up the golden chain Gaius had given him on his accession.|
From such huge territories, Agrippa began to
amass great wealth. He spent some of it fortifying the north walls of
Jerusalem, and would have made them impregnable had not Marsus, the governor of
Syria, notified Claudius about it. Claudius, in turn, wrote Agrippa to stop
suspecting revolution. Marsus also broke up a gathering of kings whom Agrippa
was entertaining at Tiberias, greatly offending the king.
After his third year of rule over all of Judea. Agrippa came to Caesarea to celebrate games in honor of Caesar. For this occasion, a large number of men who held office or rank in his kingdom had assembled. On the second day of the games. he entered the theater at dawn, dressed in a garment of woven silver, which gleamed in the rays of the rising sun. His flatterers at once started addressing him as a god. 'May you be gracious to us!" they shouted!. "And if up to now we've feared you as a man, from now on we agree that you're more than a mortal!" The king did not censure them nor reject their flattery as impious. But then he looked up and saw an owl perched on a rope overhead, recognizing it immediately as a messenger of evil as it had once been of good. He felt a stab of pain in his heart and an intense ache in his stomach. Jumping up, he cried, "I, whom you call a god, am now under sentence of death!" They carried him into the palace, where he died after five days of unremitting pain in his abdomen. He was 54 years old and in the seventh year of his reign.12
Agrippa left three daughters, Bernice, Mariamme, and Drusilla, and one son, Agrippa. Since the last was only seventeen, Claudius again reduced the kingdom to a province, and sent Cuspius Fadus as procurator. Fadus punished some robber bands in Judea, and ordered the high priest's vestments returned to the Antonia. But the Jews sent envoys to Claudius, who countermanded that order, allowing the Jews to keep the vestments.
The reconstructed theater at Caesarea, with the Mediterranean in the background. The "Pilate" stone was discovered here, and this is also the site of Herod Agrippa's sudden seizure preceding his death five days later.
[At this point, Josephus introduces a
Iengthy report on the conver-sion of Helena, queen of Adiabene, and her son.
Izates, to Judaism. Both were buried near Jerusalem.]
An impostor, named Theudas, persuaded the masses to take their possessions and follow him to the Jordan, where, as a prophet, he would part the river and provide them easy passage. Fadus, however, attacked them with his cavalry and captured Theudas himself, whose head was cut off and brought to Jerusalem.
Tiberius Alexander succeeded Fadus as procurator, and he crucified James and Simon, the sons of Judas the Galilean who had aroused the people to rebellion when Quirinius was taking the census in Judea. Herod, the brother of King Agrippa who ruled Chalcis, now died, and Claudius assigned his kingdom to the younger Agrippa.
When Cumanus came as successor to Tiberius Alexandler, an uprising occurred in Jerusalem at the Passover. One of his troops who was standing on the porticoes of the temple for riot control uncovered his genitals and showed them to the multitude.13 In rage, some of the people started hurling stones at the soldiers, and Cumanus marched reinforcements to the Antonia. This frightened the masses, and in their rush to escape through narrow exits, some 20,000 were trampled to death. So there was mourning instead of feasting.
Some of the revolutionaries then robbed Stephen, a slave of Caesar, as he was traveling on a public highway, and Cumanus sent troops to sack neighboring villages in retribution, One of them found a copy of the laws of Moses. which he publicly tore in half while blaspheming. Infuriated, the Jews went to Caesarea and asked Cumanus for vengeance in behalf of God, and he beheaded the soldier who had outraged their laws.
At the time of a festival, the Galileans regularly passed through Samaritan territory on the way to the Holy City, but one group was attacked by Samaritans and many were killed. When the Galileans protested to Cumanus, he did nothing to avenge them, having been bribed by the Sarnaritans. So they took matters into their own hands and set fire to some Samaritan villages. Cumanus then clashed with the rebels, killing many, and the survivors were persuaded by magistrates from Jerusalem to lay down their arms or bring Rome's ven-geance down on the nation.
The Samaritan leaders appealed to Ummidius Quadratus, governor of Syria, and demanded the punishment of those Jews who had ravaged their country. The Jews, in turn, accused the Samaritans of creating the disturbance by committing murder, and principally Cumanus, for taking bribes. Quadratus crucified the Samaritan and Jewish rebels, and sent to Rome some of the leading Samaritans and Jews to plead their case before Claudius Caesar, as well as Cunlanus and Celer, his tribune. Claudius was about to decide in favor of the Sanlaritans when Agrippa the Younger, who was in Rome, urged Agrippina, wife of the emperor, to intercede. Claudius then heard the case more thoroughly and put the Samaritan delegation to death, condemned Cumanus to exile, and ordered Celer to be dragged around Jerusalem and put to death.
Claudius now sent Felix, the brother of Pallas, to take charge of Judea, and removed Chalcis from Agrippa but gave him the tetrarchv of Philip. Felix fell in love with Agrippa's sister, Drusilla. who sur-passed all other women in beauty. He sent a Jewish magician named Atomus to lure her away from her husband and into Felix's arms. They married, and she gave birth to a son named Agrippa, who, with his wife, were later buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Bernice, another sister of Agrippa the Younger, was rumored to have had an affair with her brother.14
Bust of Nero (Uffizi, Florence). Nero (A.D. 54-68) was tutored by the philosopher Seneca, but then corrupted by associates. When the great fire of Rome blazed in A.D. 64 and Nero was accused of starting it, he falsely blamed the Christians.
|Nero, Felix, and
Claudius Caesar died after a reign of almost fourteen years. He was poisoned by his wife, Agrippina, to insure the succession of Nero, her son by a previous marriage, rather than Claudius' own son Britannicus. Subsequently, Nero poisoned Britannicus and openly murdered his own mother, Agrippina. But since many historians have written about Nero, I will return to the fate of the Jews.
In Judea, where matters were going from bad
to worse, Felix had to capture impostors and brigands on a daily basis. When
the high priest Jonathan continually urged him to improve his administration.
Felix hired sicarii ["dagger-men," i.e. terrorists] to murder him. When they
remained unpunished, the sicarii boldly attacked their enemies with hidden
daggers, even in the temple area. This is why, in my opinion, God Himself
turned away from our city and brought the Romans upon us.
An Egyptian impostor promised his followers to make the walls of Jerusalem fall down at his command. Felix attacked them on the Mount of Olives and killed 400, taking 200 prisoners, although the impostor escaped. At Caesarea, a quarrel broke out between Jews and Syrians over equal civil rights. The Jews claimed precedence because Herod had founded the city, while the Syrians asserted that the place had been Strato's Tower before Herod, without a single Jew living there. When both sides started stoning each other, Felix intervened with his troops and many Jews were killed. He then sent leaders of both parties to argue their case before Nero in Rome.
When Porcius Festus replaced Felix, the Jewish leaders accused the latter before Nero, and he would have been punished had not his brother Pallas interceded. Festus, meanwhile, had to contend with the sicarii who were plundering Judea, assorted impostors, and a newly erected western wall of the temple which blocked Roman surveillance as well as Agrippa's view. King Agrippa [II] had the right to appoint high priests, and enjoyed watching what went on inside the temple as he dined high in the Hasmonean palace to the west. The priests therefore built a high wall to block his view, which both he and Festus ordered demolished, but they appealed to Nero. Poppaea, Nero's wife, was sympathetic to the Jews and gained his permission to let the wall stand.
Albinus and Ananus
Upon Festus' death, Caesar sent Albinus to Judea as procurator. But before he arrived, King Agrippa had appointed Ananus to the priesthood, who was the son of the elder Ananus.15 This elder Ananus was extremely fortunate. For after he himself had been high priest for a long period, he had five sons, all of whom achieved that office, which was unparalleled. The younger Ananus, however, was rash and daring, and followed the school of the Sadducees, who are heartless when they sit in judgment.
[The following paragraph is not condensed, but translated word for word.]
Jesus' Brother James
Having such a character, Ananus thought that with Festus dead and Albinus still on the way he would have the proper opportunity. Convening the judges of the Sanhedrin, he brought before them the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, whose name was James, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned. But those of the city residents who were deemed the most fair-minded and who were strict in observing the law were offended at this. Accordingly, they secretly contacted the king [Agrippa II], urging him to order Ananus to desist from any more such actions, for he had not been justified in what he had already done.16 Some of them even went to meet Albinus, who was on his way from Alexandria, and informed him that Ananus had no authority to convene the Sanhedrin without his consent. Convinced by these words. Albinus wrote in anger to Ananus, threatening him with punishment. And King Agrippa, because of this, deposed him from the high priesthood, in which he had ruled for three months, and replaced him with Jesus, the son of Damnaeus.17
Later, Agrippa appointed Jesus, son of Gamaliel, as successor to Jesus, son of Damnaeus. These two high priests feuded as a result, and their partisans hurled stones at each other, typical of the lawless confusion in the city. When Albinus heard that Gessius Florus was coming to replace him, he cleared the prisons by executing those who deserved death. But he released - for a bribe - those guilty of lesser offenses, thus infesting the land with brigands. He also stole private property, burdened the nation with excessive taxes, and committed every sort of villainy.
Just now, too, the temple was finally completed, leaving 18,000 workers unemployed, although they did pave Jerusalem with white stone.
[At this point, Josephus lists the Jewish high priests from Aaron on.]
Conclusion of Jewish Antiquities
Gessius Florus, whom Nero sent as successor to Albinus, made the latter look like a paragon of virtue by comparison. Joining in partnership with the brigands to receive a share of the spoils, he virtually paraded his lawless wickedness before the nation. He stripped whole cities, ruined entire populations, and compelled us to go to war with the Romans. The war, in fact, began in the second year of his procuratorship and in the twelfth of Nero's reign. The details may be read in the 66 books that I have written on The Jewish War.
Here, then, after 20 books and 60,000 lines, is the end of my Antiquities, which records Jewish history in Egypt, Syria, and Palestine from man's creation to Nero's twelfth year. It also contains all that the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, and Romans inflicted on us. No one else, either Jew or gentile, would have been equal to this task. God-willing, I will in the future write of the later events in our history up to the present day, which is the thirteenth year of Domitian Caesar and the fifty-sixth of my life.18
1. Thus the version
in War. In Antiquities, it is Augustus himself who unmasks the impostor.
2. Probably at Qumran, the community at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947.
3. The Annas of the New Testament Gospels, who was high priest from A.D. 6 to 15
4. Tiberius was actually the second emperor but the third "Caesar."
5. The shorter version of this episode in War (2:169 ff), adds the detail that the military standards brought into Jerusalem by night had also been covered or concealed and that the crowds at Caesarea prostrated themselves motionless around Pilate's "house" (probably Herod's palace for five days and nights. The ring of troops surrounding the Jews at the stadium was also ''three deep."
6. Almost 23 miles. The Greek stadion equates to 606.75 feet, about one-eighth of a Roman mile. According to war 2:175, the distance was 400 stadia. The lower number is far more likely, and probably refers to the so-called Lower Aqueduct that brought water from Ain-Arrub in the hills of Hebron. - Whether Pilate could have taken money from the temple treasury without complicity of the Jerusalem priesthood is extremely doubtful. Probably this was a tacit agreement between the two parties-the water, after all, fed the temple cisterns-and surplus from the half shekel temple offerings could be used for "the maintenance of the city wall and all the city's needs"-presumably including water supplv, according to the tractate Shekalim 4:2 in the Talmud.
7. The shorter version of this episode in War (2:175 ff.) defines the sacred treasury as the Corban, and records that Pilate had ordered his troops not to use swords, and that the fleeing mob trampled some of their compatriots to death.
8. This, the most famous passage in Josephus, is also the most controversial. The standard text of Antiquities 18:63 reads as fellows: About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was the achiever of extraordinary deeds and was a teacher of those who accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When he was indicted by the principal men among us and Pilate condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him originally did not cease to do so; for he appeared to them on the third day restored to life, as the prophets of the Deity had foretold these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day. Although the passage is so worded as early as Eusebius (c. AD 324), scholars have long suspected a Christian interpolation, since Josephus would not have believed Jesus to be the Messiah or in his resurrection and have remained, as he did, a non-Christian Jew. In 1972, however, Professor Schlomo Pines of the Hebrew Universitv in Jerusalem announced his discovery of an Arabic manuscript by the tenth-century Melkite historian Agapius, in which this Josephan passage is expressed in a manner appropriate to a Jew, and which corresponds so precisely to previous scholarly projections of what Josephus originally wrote that it is substituted in the text above. While the final sentence is not in Agapius, Pines justifiably concludes that it was in the original Josephan text.
9. Machaerus, near the northeastern corner of the Dead Sea, was one of the Maccabean-Herodian mountain fortresses constructed or rebuilt by Herod the Great. It lay in Perea, the trans-Jordanian territory which, with Galilee, fell under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas. The Gospels do not indicate where John was executed, but Josephus clearly does so in this passage. Similarly, the New Testament does not record the name of the "daughter of Herodias" whose dance secured John's execution (Mark 6:22; Matthew 14:6), but Josephus gives it in another context in which he discusses the Herodian dynasty: "Herodias ... had a daughter Salome, after whose birth she undertook to flout the precepts of our fathers by marrying Herod (Antipas), her husband's brother" (Antiquities 18:136).
10. The political motive for Herod executing John is not mentioned in the New Testament, where John's moral strictures against Herod are cited instead. The two, however, are by no means incompatible. It should also he noted that John's memory was honored by Jews for a considerable period after his death, since the defeat of Herod's army occurred five or six years later.
11. According to War 2:183, Herod Antipas was banished to Spain, where he died in exile. While Antiquities has "Lugdunum [Lyons] in Gaul" as the place of exile, some scholars have reduced the discrepancy by suggesting Lugdunum Convenarum as the site Josephus had in mind, which is near the Pyrenees and Spanish border.
12. Another account of this scene occurs in Acts 12:20 ff., which accords well with Josephus' version but adds the detail that Agrippa was seated on a throne and spoke to ambassadors from Tyre and Sidon.
13. Thus the version in Antiquities. In War, the indecent soldier turned his backside to the Jews and broke wind.
14. Paul of Tarsus appeared before Herod Agrippa II and Bernice at Caesarea. See Acts 25:13 ff., a context in which both Felix and Festus appear as well.
15. The Annas of the New Testament Gospels.
16. Either in convening the Sanhedrin without Albinus' permission, or in executing James, or both.
17. The very probable authenticity of this passage is discussed at the close of this chapter. The episode itself forms a striking parallel to the events of Jesus' trial. Brother defendants appear in both, condemnatory high priests and Sanhedrins appear in both, and Roman governors inclined toward the defendants appear in both. A further version of James' death appears in Hegesippus (as cited by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2:23), who also states that James was stoned to death.
18. AD 93-94. The envisioned work was never completed. Although Josephus' earlier work, The Jewish War, is captioned at this point for chronological purposes, introductory material in the War-more than two books' worth-has already been coalesced into this condensation from Antiochos Epiphanes' assault on the temple (c. 170 bc.) to this point. All marginal references from here on are from The Jewish War.
Taken from Josephus: The Essential Works, copyright 1994. Used by permission of Kregal Publications Grand Rapids, MI 49501. You can order Josephus: The Essential Works for a total of $24 by calling the Issues, Etc. resource line at 1-800-737-0172.
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