Saturday, November 2, 2013

Jewish Life Under the Roman Kings and Emperors and Later from : 31 BCE- 632 CE

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                 
                                                                       Roman Emperor

The last Jewish  king of Judah was Zedekiah from 597 to 586 BCE.   Judah was the southern partition of Israel that took place in 933 BCE after the death of King Solomon.  The northern partition remained as the kingdom of Israel.  It included the tribe of Judah and most of Benjamin and also absorbed Simeon which had been rather isolated in the south.    Judah kept Jerusalem as their capital which had the Temple.  In 586 the Babylonians attacked and Judah succumbed.  Large numbers of people were deported then.  10 of the  12 original tribes had been stolen by the Assyrians earlier.  They mixed in together so that the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar wound up with a large Jewish population.   The remaining people tried to be a subject state under Gedaliah, a member of the former royal house but he was assassinated in 582 BCE.  Gedaliah was appointed the governor of Judah  by the Babylonians .  His center was at Mizpah, but was murdered by the commander Ishmael ben Nethaniah and his followers.  They had been planning a revolt against Babylon  with the help of powerful neighbors.  Gedaliah's supporters then fled to Egypt.  

Cyrus II, king of Persia in 538 allowed the Jews to return from Babylon after he had overrun the Babylonian Empire which had included Palestine.  He even told them to rebuild their Temple.  . The descendants of the exiles in Babylonia kept their national and religious ideals so after 539 BCE when they returned  they had a renewal of Jewish life.  Cyrus died in 529 BCE.  
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1. Augustus: (27 BCE-14CE)  Roman Emperor ruled from 31 BCE to 14 CE.  He was not friendly towards Jews.  This emperor was the one that confirmed Herod as king and returned to him the areas that had been taken away through Cleopatra's influence.  Herod in turned named the cities of  Sebaste (Greek name for Augustus) and Caesarea in his honor.  When Herod died it was Augustus who carried out his will and divided his territory among his 3 heirs; Archelaus, Philip and Antipas.  Later he converted Judea into a region governed by a procurator living in Caesara.
                                                 Temple that  Herod had rebuilt

Herod I, known as the Great, was the crowned king of Judea and ruled from 73 BCE to 4 BCE.  He was the son of Antipater the Idumean from Idumea, originally called Edom,  and his mother was a Nabatean. Herod's sister was Salome (Shulamit) who died in 10 CE.  Herod left her the town of Jabneh in his will.  She was always saying bad things about Herod's wife, Mariamne which caused Mariamne to be executed for adultery.  Nabateans were people of Arab extraction who lived in Edom in the 6th century BCE.  Their capital was Petra.  They were originally typical nomads and soon learned to develop agriculture under almost desert conditions by water conservation.  They had a chain of agricultural settlement across the Negev Desert.  They were subdued by the Romans in 63 BCE and their country was annexed in 106 CE and became the Provincia Arabia.

Antipater was the ruler of Judea from 63 to 43 BCE and had a lot of influence by supporting Hyreanus in his war against his brother Arisobulus. Later he helped the Romans.  He joined Julius Caesar after his victory over Pompey and recruited Jewish and Nabatean troops for his army.  He came financial administrator of Judea in 47 and was an effective ruler of the country.  He appointed his sons, Phasael and Herod to the chief administrative posts.  He was poisoned during a carouse.  This man had grown rich from trade with Arabia.

 Herod I  had been appointed governor of Galilee by his father when he was just a teenager and showed he had a strong hand by executing dissidents.  The Sanhedrin called him up on that and was only saved from death by the intervention of Hyrcanus and Sextus Caesar, governor of Syria.  When Herod's father died, he overtook the attempt by Antigonus, son of Aristobulus II, to take over his position in the Galilee.  The Parthians made Antigonus King in 40 BCE.  That's when Herod escaped to Rome and was appointed king of Judea by the senate.  He captured Jerusalem in 37 with the help of a large Roman force and because Antigonus was put to death.  Earlier that same year, he had married Mariamne, the Hasmonean, who was the granddaughter of  Hyrcanus, the high priest.  Herod then had a free hand in internal affairs but was kept from conducting an independent foreign policy.  The people loved the Hasmoneans, and he was merciless in suppressing this opposition.  He was extravagant in spending, so taxed the people heavily.  Mark Antony demanded large sums from the government as well.  Herod turned against the Nabateans that he had defeated, enlarging his territory, so he murdered all possible rivals  including his brother-in-law, Aristobulus III, the last Hasmonean high priest.  Then he put to death his wife Mariamne, their 2 sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, and even his firstborn, Antipater.  On the positive side, he had increased the wealth of his state, rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem on a great scale and built the 2 cities.  The land had been dubbed "Palestine" in about 135 CE by the Romans, and outside of this area, he was regarded as a generous patron and a spokesman and protector of the Jews.  When he died, his will said he divided his kingdom among his remaining sons of Archelaus, who ruled Judea from 4 BCE to 6 CE whose mother was Malthace the Samaritan;  Herod Antipas (20 BCE-39 CE) whose mother was also Malthace of Samaria, and became tetrarch of the Galilee and Perea.  He named the sea "Tiberias" for the Emperor.  He married Herodias, wife of his brother Herod.   Philip was the 3rd son of Herod who died in 34 CE.  He was educated in Rome and was appointed tetrarch and received the territories of Gaulanitis, Trachonitis, and Bashan and the city of Paneas, which he renamed Caesarea Philippi.  He had an equable termperament, different from his family that way and administered his territories justly.  His wife was Salome.  .

Note:  Edom (Idumea) was a country in SE Palestine, also called Mount Seir.  It was a mountainous country and easily fortified and was fertile.  It lay south of the Dead Sea and bordered on the Red Sea at Elath and Ezion Geber.  The Edomites were Semitic, traditionally descendants of Esau, and lived by hunting.  They were the traditional enemies of the Israelites and had fought against King Saul and were defeated by King David who partly annexed their land.  They got their independence under king Jerhoram, but wars between the 2 states were frequent.   

A grandson of Herod, Agrippa I (Marcus Julius or HErod Agrippa I, was king of Judea from 10 BCE to 44 CE.  He was the son of Aristobulus. Agrippa I was beloved by his Jewish subjects because of his respect for the Jewish religion and showed this by carrying his first fruits to the Temple.  He caused the governor of Syria to be suspicious of him by convening several other subject kings in Tiberias and by his efforts to strengthen the fortifications of Jerusalem.  He died suddenly while watching the games in Caesarea.  After his death, his kingdom was again converted into an annex of the province of Syria.

His son was Agrippa II.  (Marcus Julius or Herod Agrippa II) and lived from 28 CE to 93).  He was the last king of the house of Herod.  However,  when his father had died, Judea reverted to the rule of the Procurators. They were governors of Judea under the Roman emperors from the year 6 CE to 66 CE.  There were altogether 14 of them; 7 between 6 and 41 CE and the others between 44 and 66 CE.  They were subordinate to the Syrian legate.  The Syrian could exercise his authority over the Procurator if he was charged with abusing his office.  The Procurators of Judea had the administrative status of members of the Equates class.  They governed in place of the legate of Syria.  They acted as independent governors armed with full administrative authority.  They had full powers to punish including the death penalty.  Usually they lived in Caesarea.  If they were in Jerusalem, they lived in Herod's palace.   In the year 50 CE, Agrippa II received the principality of Chalcis, and was made responsible for supervising the Temple in Jerusalem.  Emperor Claudius gave him the title of king.  He was not a king of Judea but enjoyed royal prestige there, but he quarreled with the priests and inscribed coins with heathen emblems, so the people were hostile towards him.  when the Jews revolted against Rome in 66, he went to Jerusalem to restore calm, but had to flee for his life.  Then he went along with Titus during the siege of Jerusalem.  He was rewarded by receiving extended dominions outside of Palestine.  His sister was Berenice, the Judean Princess.

2. Tiberias, Roman emperor, ruled from 14 CE and died 37 CE. In 19 CE he expelled Jews from Rome because of a fraud on a Roman lady sympathetic to Jews.  4,000 young Jews were sent to Sardinia to fight the brigands.  Judea was harshly administered under his rule, the time when Jesus was crucified.

3. Caligula/Gaius, Roman emperor ruled from 37 CE  and died by assassination in 41 CE.  He gave Agrippa, grandson of Herod, the tetrachy of NE Judea and the title of king.  He insisted on being worshipped as a god and this caused huge problems for Jews which caused anti-Jewish disturbances in Alexandria when Agrippa visited in 38.  Philo headed the Jewish delegation sent to intercede with Caligula.  His assassination prevented serious consequences in the Jewish world.

4. Claudius, Roman emperor, ruled from 41 CE, poisoned in 54 CE, at once had issued edicts reaffirming Jewish religious autonomy in Alexandria.  In 44 had placed Judea under a procurator, but in 49, gave Agrippa's son, Agrippa II, regions of N. Judea to rule.  In 49-50 he expelled a number of Jews from  Rome, probably as a result of Jewish-Christian conflict.

5. Nero, Roman emperor, ruled from 54 CE to death, commits suicide in  68 CE , Turmoil going on in Judeaa culminated in the outbreak of the war against Rome.  His wife, Poppaea was sympathetic to Judaism.  Nero is mentioned in talmudical legend as being unfavorable towards Jews.

6.   Galba 68-69
7.  Otho 69
8.   Vitellius 69

9. Vespasian, Roman emperor from 69-79 CE.   He was sent by Nero in 67 to subdue the Judean rebellion and by 68 had conquered the Galilee, Transjordan and the Judean coast.  In 69 he became emperor.  He patronized Josephus and the Talmud speaks of his favorable treatment of Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai, a 1st century teacher, somewhat like a living library,  mentioned in the Mishnah or Baraita in this "Tannaitic Period" who was a pupil and intellectual heir of Hillel and a leader of the Pharisees. He engaged in many debates with the Sadducees and decided a number of halakhic rulings.  Many of his sayings are found in the Aggadah and ethics, showing his nobility and humility.  During the rebellion against Rome from 66 to 70, he was in the peace party in Jerusalem and was conveyed from the city by his pupils in a coffin.  He then came to Vespasian and predicted his rise to the Imperial throne.  As a reward he was allowed to continue teaching.  He founded the yeshivah (school)  at Jabneh which became the spiritual center of Judaism and the seat of the Sanhedrin after the fall of Jerusalem.  Under his influence, Judaism survived the cessation of the temple cult.  He set up another yeshiva at Eror Hayil.  He was the most admired rabbi of his time and was dubbed the Rabban.  His pupils included Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Joshua who were the leaders of Jewish intellectual life in the  following generations.

10. Titus, Roman emperor 79-81 CE, son of Vespasian, took command of the Roman army in Judea from his father in y0 when he destroyed Jerusalem after a 5 month siege.  He tried to preserve the Temple according to Josephus, but other sources say it was a deliberate destruction.  He wanted to eliminate the national religious center of the Jews.  He is called Titus the wicked.  He held this bitter battle in Jerusalem but did not mess with Jewish rights in other places.  His mistress was Berenice, a Jewish princess.  She may have had something to do with his attitude.

11. Domitian, Inp. Caesar Domitianus Augustus 81-96
12. Nerva , Imp. Caesar Nerva Augustus 96-98

13. Trajan, Roman emperor, ruled from 98 CE to 117 CE, Roman empire extends to Mesopotamia, Arabia, Balkans,  he wasn't known to be personally hostile to Jews, but his oriental policy led to a major clash.  In 105/106 he annexed the Nabatean kingdom including the Negev and Transjordan.  In 115-117 Jewish risings occurred in Cyrenaica, Egypt and Cyprus while he was involved in the Parthian war.  In Alexandria the Greeks attacked the Jews.  So in 116 he ordered a massacre of Jews in Mesopotamia where many of the  Babylonian Jews chose to remain.  Judea was kept under firm control and this bloody suppression was led by his general Lucius Quietus.  This suppression of various Jewish uprisings  ended the prosperity of the Jewish settlements in Egypt, Cyrenaica and Cyprus.

14.  Hadrian, Roman emperor rules from 117 CE to 138 CE, codifies Roman law, Jews revolt under Bar Kokhba from 132-135 in 3 year war, final diaspora/dispersion of Jews begins from 150-199 CE.  He had an eastern policy of the removal and execution of the savage governor of Judea, Lucius quietus and supported the Egyptian Jewry in disputes with the Greeks caused the Jews to think he was pretty good.  But, he had a prohibition on circumcision, thinking it was sexual mutilation.  This was a fundamental rite of Judaism.  He visited Judea in 130 and dealt with an implacable attitude of the Jews about this, so decided to start the Hellenization of the country by turning Jerusalem into a Roman colony to be named after himself, Aelia Capitolina.  The Jewish leader, Bar Kokhba (meaning son of the star, Ben Kosiba Simeon) ,  rebelled and thus the 3 year war of 132-135.  After Hadrian won, he received the title of Imperator.  Judea became a consular province called Syria-Palaestina.  The ruins of Jerusalem were reconstructed as a pagan city and a statue of Hadrian on a horse was placed on the site of the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place of the Temple, destroyed in 70 CE.

15. Antoninus Pius, 138-161
16.  Marcus Aurelius,  Roman emperor, 161-180.
17. Lucius Verus 161-169
18. Commodus, 176-192
19. Pertinax, 193
20. Didius Julianus, 193
21. Septimius Severus, 193-211
22. Clodius Albinus, 193-197
23. Pescennius Niger, 193-194
24. Caracalla, 198-217
25. Geta, 209-211
26. Macrinus, 217-218
27 Diadumenianus, 218
28. Elagabal, 218-222
                                              Goths invade Asia Minor 220 CE They were an east Germanic tribe made up of the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths.

                                              Persian Sassanids empire re-established in the East.  They were heirs of the ancient Achaemanean Empire.  These Sasanids controlled both sides of the Caspian Sea, the eastern part of the Fertile Crescent, and the whole territory between the Tigris and Indus Rivers.  Their winter capital was at Ctesiphon on the banks of the Tigris, and their summer capital at Ekbatana, the modern Hamadan.  Their religion was Zoroastrianism, and their language was called Pahlavi, or middle Persian.

29. Severus Alexander, 222-235
30. Maximinus, 235-238
31.. Gordian I, 238
32. Gordian II, 238
33. Balbinus, 238
34. Pupienus, 238
35. Gordian III 238-244
35. Philip, 244-249
36. Decius, 249-251
37, Trebonianus Gallus, 251-253
38. Volusianus, 251-253
39. Aemilianus, 253
40. Valerian, 253-260
41. Gallienus, 253-260
42. Claudius II, 268-270
43. Quintillus, 270
44. Aurelian, 270-275
45. Tacitus, 275-276
46. Florianus, 276
47. Probus, 276-282
48. Carus, 282-283
49. Carinus, 283-285
50. Numerianus, 283-284
51. Diocietian, 284-305
52. Maximian, 286-305
53. Constantius, 305-306
54. Galerius, 305-311
55. Severus, 306-307
56. Maxentius, 306-312

                                             Roman Empire invaded by Franks and Goths
 57. Constantine the Great, Roman emperor rules 307-337 and reunites eastern and western Roman empires with the new capital of Constantinople on the site of Byzantium 330, issues EDICT OF TOLERATION (Edict of Milan)  legalizing Christianity in 313, BY 315 decrees very anti-Jewish, converts to Christianity when dying 337, council of Nicaea 325.  Example of his extremism was in the city of Constantine in Algeria, Jews had settled there in 1st century CE but in 4th century the advent of Christianity forced Jews to leave and not to return until the local Nefzaona bedouin tribe adopted Judaism.
                                            Huns (Mongols) invade Europe 360.
58. Theodosius the Great, Roman emperor, rules 392-395

                                            Roman Empire now divided between West (ruled from Rome) and East (ruled from Byzantium/Constantinople.) Called the Byzantine Empire, controlled all of the Balkans and Asia Minor, the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, Egypt, and parts of North Africa.  Their official religion was Eastern orthodox Christianity and its language was Greek.  .

 Weak emperors, disintegrates.
                                             Alaric, King of the Visigoths, sacks Rome 410 CE
                                             Attila, the Hun, chieftain, attacks Roman provinces in 433.
                                             Vandals destroy Rome in 455.
59. Romulus Augustulus, Last  Roman emperor,   Western Roman empire ends in 455 CE with German chieftain, Odoacer, overthrowing him and the German chieftain becoming the king of Italy in 476, establishing the Ostrogothic kingdom by Theodoric the Great in 493.
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I.  Clovis, ruler of the Franks, converts to Christianity in 496.  Schism between western and eastern churches 484.
II. Justinian I, the Great 483-565, Byzantine emperor 597, issues his code of civil laws in 529, conquers Italy, part of Spain, plague spreads through Europe in 542,

III Arthur, king of Britons killed.
IV Mohammad, founder of Islam 570-632;   plague kills half the population of Europe, subsides 594.
                                                Muslims conquer Jerusalem 637, Persians in 641
                                            3  Jewish tribes in Medina, Arabia who settled there in 2nd century CE after fall of Jerusalem  forced to convert to Islam or were expelled, Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Qurayza, and Banu Nadir.  Some probably converted by their own volition.
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Textbook:  2nd edition, Middle East, Past  & Present by Yahya Armajani and Thomas M. Ricks

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