« PreviousContinue »
her when she was a virgin, Agrippa gave her in marriage to his brother Herod, and begged for him of Claudius the kingdom of Chalcis.
2. Now about this time there was a sedition between the Jews and the Greeka, at the city of Alexandria ; for when Caius was dead, the nation of the Jews, which had been very much mortified under the reign of Caius, and reduced to very great distress by the people of Alexandria, recovered itself, and immediately took up their arms to fight for themselves. So Claudius sent an order to the president of Egypt to quiet that tumult : he also sent an edict, at the request of king Agrippa and king Herod, both to Alexandria and to Syria, whose contents were as follows: *Tiberius Claudius Cæsar Augustus Germanicus, high priest, and tribune of the people, ordains thus : Since I am assured that the Jews of Alexandria, called Alexandrians, have been joint inhabitants in the earliest times with the Alexan. drians, and have obtained from their kings equal privileges with them, as is evi. dent by the public records that are in their possession, and the edicts themselves; and that after Alexandria had been subjecied to our empire by Augustus, their rights and privileges have been preserved by those presidents who have at divers times been sent thither; and that no dispute had been raised about those rights and privileges, even when Aquila was governor of Alexandria ; and that when the Jewish ethnarch was dead, Augustus did not prohibit the making such ethnarchs, as willing that all men should be so subject to the Romans) as to continue in the observation of their own customs, and not be forced to transgress the ancient rules of their own country religion ; but that in the time of Caius, tue Alexandrians be. came insolent towards the Jews that were among them, which Caius, out of his great madness and want of understanding, reduced the nation of the Jews very low, because they would not transgress the religious worship of their country, and call him a god. I will, therefore, that the nation of the Jews be not deprived of their rights and privileges, on account of the madness of Caius; but that those rights and privileges which they formerly enjoyed, be preserved to them, and that they may continue in their own customs. And I charge both parties to take very great care that no troubles may arise after the promulgation of this edict."
3. And such were the contents of this edict on behalf of the Jews that was sent 10 Alexandria. But the edict that was sent into the other parts of the habitable earth was this which follows: "Tiberius Claudius Cæsar Augustus Germanicus, high priest, tribune of the people, chosen consul the second time, ordains thus : Upon the petition of king Agrippa and king Herod, who are persons very dear to me, that I would grant the same rights and privileges should be preserved to tho Jews which are in all the Roman empire, which I have granted to those at Alex. andria, I very willingly comply therewith ; and this grant I make not only for the sake of the petitioners, but as judging those Jews for whom I have been petitioned Worthy of such a favour, on account of their fidelity and friendship to the Ro. mans. I think it also very just that no Grecian city should be deprived of such rights and privileges, since they were preserved to them under the great Augus. tus. It will therefore be fit to permit the Jews, who are in all the world under us, to keep their ancient customs without being hindered so to do. And I do now charge them also to use this my kindness to them with moderation, and not to show a contempt of the superstitious observances of other nations, but to keep their own laws only. And I will that this decree of mine be engraven on tables by the magistrates of the cities and colonies, and municipal places, both those within Italy and those without it, both kings and governors, by the means of their ambassadors, and to have them exposed to the public for full thirty days, in such place whence it may plainly be read from the ground."*
This form was so known and frequent among the Romans, as Dr. Hudson here tells us, from the peat Selden, that it used to be thus represented at the bottom of the edicts by the initial letters only, U. A P.R. L. P. Unde De Plano Recté Lego Possit, “Whence it may plaiuly be read from the ground."
Whal Things were done by Agrippa at Jerusalem, when he was returned back into Judea ; and what it was that Petronius wrote to the Inhabitants of Doris,
in Behalf of the Jews. § 1. Now Claudius Cæsar, by these decrees of his which were sent to Alex. andria, and to all the habitable earth, made known what opinion he had of the Jews. So he soon sent Agrippa away to take his kingdom, now he was advanced to a more illustrious dignity than before, and sent letters to the presidents and procurators of the provinces, that they should treat him very kindly. Accordingly he returned in haste, as was likely he would, now he returned in so much greater prosperity than he had before. He also came to Jerusalem, and offered all the sacrifices that belonged to him, and omitted nothing* which the law required; on which account he ordained that many of the Nazarites should have their heads shorn. And for the golden chain which had been given him by Caius, of equal weight with that iron chain where with his royal hands had been bound, he hung it up within the limits of the temple, over the treasury, that it might be a me-morial of the severe fate he had lain under, and a testimony of his change for the better; that is might be a demonstration how the greatest prosperity may have a fall, and that God sometimes raises up what is fallen down : for this chain thus dedicated afforded a document to all men, that king Agrippa had been once bound in a chain for a small cause, but recovered his former dignity again ; and a little while afterwards got out of his bonds, and was advanced to be a more illustrious king than he was before. Whence men may understand, that all that partake of human nature, how great soever they are, may fall; and that those that fall may gain their former illustrious dignity again.
2. And when Agrippa had entirely finished all the duties of the divine wor. ship, he removed Theophilus, the son of Ananus, from the high priesthood, and bestowed that honour of his on Simon, the Son of Boethus, whose name was also Cantheras, whose daughter king Herod had married, as I have related above. Simon, therefore, had the righ) priesthood with his brethren, and with his father, in like manner as the sons of Simon, the son of Onias, who were three, had it formerly under the government of the Macedonians, as we have related in a for mer book.
3. When the king had settled the high priesthood after this manner, he re. turned the kindness which the inhabitants of Jerusalem had showed him; for he released them from the tax upon houses, every one of which paid it before, think. ing it a good thing to requite the tender affection of those that loved him. He also made Silas the general of his forces, as a man who had partaken with him in many of his troubles. But after a very little while the young men of Doris, preferring a rash attempt before piety, and being naturally bold and insolent, car. ried a statue of Cæsar into a synagogue of the Jews, and erected it there. This procedure of theirs greatly provoked Agrippa ; for it plainly tended to the dissolution of the laws of his country. So he came without delay to Publius Pe. tronius, who was then president of Syria, and accused the people of Doris. Noi
* Josephus shows both here and ch. vii. sect. 3, that he had a much greater opinion of king Agrip 1. than Simion the learned Rabbi, than the people of Cesarea and Sebaste, chap. vii. sect. 4, and ch. ix. sect. 1, and indeed than his double dealing between the senate and Claudius, ch. iv. sect. 2, than his daughter of James, the brother of John, and his imprisonment of Peter, or his vain-glorious behaviour before he died, both in Acts, xii. 1, 2, 3, and here, ch. iv. sect. 1, will justify or allow. Josephus's cha racter was probably taken from his son Agrippa jun.
+ This treasury chamber seeing to have been the very same in which our Saviour taught, and where the ponple offered their charity money for the repairs or other uses of the temple. Mark, xii. 41, &c; Luke, xxi. 1; John, viji. 20.
did he less resent what was done than did Agrippa ; for he judged it a piece of impiety to transgress the laws that regulate the actions of nen. So he wrote the following letter to the people of Doris, in an angry strain : “ Publius Petronius, the president under Tiberius Claudius Cæsar Augustus Germanicus, to the magistrates of Doris, ordains as follows: Since some of you have had the boldness, or madness rather, after the edict of Claudius Cæsar Augustus Germanicus was published, for permitting the Jews to observe the laws of their country, not to obey the same, but have acted in entire opposition thereto, as forbidding the Jews to assemble together in their synagogue, by removing Cæsar's statue, and setting it up therein, and thereby have offended not only the Jews, but the emperor himself, whose statue is more commodiously placed in his own temple, than in a foreign one, where is the place of assembling together; while it is but a part of natural justice, that every one should have the power over the places belonging peculiarly to themselves, according to the determination of Cæsar; to say nothing of my own determination, which it would be ridiculous to mention after the emperors's edict, which gives the Jews leave to make use of their own customs, as also gives order, that they enjoy equally the rights of citizens with the Greeks themselves. I therefore ordain, that Proculus Vitellius the centurion bring those men to me, who, contrary to Augustus's edict, have been so insolent as to do this thing, at which those very men, who appear to be of principal repu tation among them, have an indignation also, and allege for themselves, that it was not done with their consent, but by the violence of the multitude, that they may give an account of what hath been done. I also exhort the principal magistrates among them, unless they have a mind to have this action esteemed to be done with their consent, to inform the centurion of those that were guilty of it, and take care that no handle be hence taken for raising a sedition or quar. rel among them; which those seem to me to hunt after, who encourage such doings; while both I myself, and king Agrippa, for whom I have the highest honour, have nothing more under our care, than that the nation of the Jews may have no occasion given them of getting together under the pretence of avenging themselves, and become tumultuous. And that it may be more publicly known what Augustus hath resolved about this whole matter, I have subjoined those edicts which he hath lately caused to be published at Alexandria, and which, although they may be well known to all, yet did king Agrippa, for whom I have the highest honour, read them at that time before my tribunal, and pleaded that the Jews ought not to be deprived of those rights which Augustus hath granted them. I therefore charge you, that you do not, for the time to come, seek for any occasion of sedition or disturbance, but that every one be allowed to follow their own religious customs.'
4. Thus did Petronius take care of this matter, that such a breach of the law might be corrected, and that no such thing might be attempted afterwards against the Jews. And now king Agrippa took the [high) priesthood away from Simon Cantheras, and put Jonathan, the son of Ananus, into it again, and owned that he was more worthy of that dignity than the other. But this was not a thing accep. table to him, to recover that his former dignity. So he refused it, and said, “O king, I rejoice in the honour thou hast for me, and take it kindly, that thou wouldst give me such a dignity of thy own inclinations, although God hath judged that I am not at all worthy of the high priesthood. I am satisfied with having once put on the sacred garments; for I then put them on after a more holy manner than I should now receive them again. But if thou desirest that a person more worthy than myself should have this honourable employment, give me leave to name thee such a one. I have a brother that is pure from all sin against God, and of all offences against thyself; I recommend him to thee as one that is fit for this dig. nity.” So the king was pleased with these words of his, and passed by Jonathan, and, according to his brother's desire, bestowed the high priesthood upon Mat: ting. Nor was it long before Marcus gucceeded Petronius as president of Syria
Concerning Silas, and on what Account it was that King Agrippa was angry a him. How Agrippa began to encompass Jerusalem vith a Wall; and what
Benefits he bestowed on the Inhabitants of Berytus. § 1. Now Silas, the general of the king's horse, because he had been faithful to him under all his misfortunes, and had never refused to be a partaker with him in any of his dangers, but had oftentimes undergone the most hazardous dangers for him, was full of assurance, and thought he might expect a sort of equality with the king, on account of the firmness of the friendship he had showed to him. Accordingly, he would no where let the king sit as his superior, and took the like liberty in speaking to him upon all occasions ; till he became troublesome to the king, when they were merry together, extolling himself beyond measure, and otien putting the king in mind of the severity of fortune he had undergone, that he night, by way of ostentation, demonstrate what zeal he had showed in his ser. vice; and was continually harping upon this string, what pains he had taken for him, and much enlarged still upon that subject. The repetition of this so fre. quently seemed to reproach the king, insomuch that he took this ungovernable liberty of talking very ill at his hands. For the commemoration of times, when men have been under ignominy, is by no means agreeable to them; and he is a very silly man who is perpetually relating to a person what kindnesses he hath done him. At last, therefore, Silas had so thoroughly provoked the king's indig. nation, that he acted rather out of passion than good consideration, and did not only turn Silas out of his place, as general of his horse, but sent him in bonds into his own country. But the edge of his anger wore off by length of time, and made room for more just reasonings as to his judgment about this man, and he consi. dered how many labours he had undergone for his sake. So when Agrippa was solemnizing his birth-day, and he gave festival entertainments to all his subjects, he sent for Silas on the sudden to be his guest. But, as he was a very frank man, he thought he had now a just handle given him to be angry; which he could not conceal from those that came for him, but said to them, “What honour is this the king invites me to, which I conclude will soon be over? For the king hath not let me keep those original marks of the good will I bore him, which I once had from him; but he bath plundered me, and that unjustly also. Does he think, that I can leave off that liberty of speech, which, upon the consciousness of my deserts, I shall use more loudly than before, and shall relate how many misfor. Lunes I have delivered him from? how many labours I have undergone for him, whereby I procured him deliverance and respect ? as a reward for which I have borne the hardships of bonds, and a dark prison. I shall never forget this usage. Nay, perhaps, my very soul, when it is departed out of the body, will not forget the glorious actions I did on his account. This was the clamour he made, and be ordered the messengers to tell it to the king. So he perceived that Silas was incurable in his folly, and still susfered him to lie in prison.
2. As for the walls of Jerusalem, that were adjoining to the new city [Bezetha, he repaired them at the expense of the public, and built them wider in breadth and higher in altitude; and he had made them too strong for all human power to demolish, unless Marcus, tbe then president of Syria, had by letter informed Clau. dius Cæsar of what he was doing. And when Claudius had some suspicion of attempts for innovation, he sent to Agrippa to leave off the building of those walls presently. So he obeyed, as not thinking it proper to contradict Claudius.
3. Now, this king was by nature very beneficent, and liberal in his gifts, and very ambitious to oblige people with such large donations; and he made himself very illustrious by the many chargeable presents he made them He took do
fight in giving, and rejoiced in living with good reputation. He was not at a'l like that Herod who reigned before him; for that Herod was ill natured, and se s vere in his punishments, and had no mercy on them that he hated; and every one perceived, that he was more friendly to the Greeks than to the Jews; for he adorned foreign cities with large presents in money; with building them baths and theatres besides ; nay, in some of those places he erected temples, and por. ticoes in others; but he did not vouchsafe to raise one of the least edifices in any Jewish city, or make them any donation that was worth mentioning. But Agrippa's temper was mild, and equally liberal to all men. He was humane to for. eigners, and made them sensible of his liberality. He was in like manner rather of a gentle and compassionate temper. Accordingly he loved to live continually at Jerusalem, and was exactly careful in the observance of the laws of his coun.. try. He therefore kept himself entirely pure ; nor did any day pass over his head without its appointed sacrifice.
4. However, there was a certain man of the Jewish nation at Jerusalem, who appeared to be very accurate in the knowledge of the law. His name was Si. mon. This man got together an assembly, while the king was absent at Cesarea, and had the insolence to accuse him as not living holily, and that he might justly be excluded out of the temple, since it belonged only to native Jews. But the general of Agrippa's army informed him, that Simon had made such a speech to the people. So the king sent for him; and, as he was then sitting in the theatre, be bid him sit down by him, and said to him with a low and gentle voice, " What is there done in this place that is contrary to the law ?” But he had nothing to say for himself, but begged his pardon. So the king was more easily reconciled to him than one could have imagined, as esteeming niildness a better quality in a king than anger, and knowing that moderation is more becoming in great men than passion. So he made Simon a small present, and dismissed him.
5. Now, as Agrippa was a great builder in many places, he paid a peculiar regard to the people of Berytus; for he erected a theatre for them, superior to many other of that sort both in sumptuousness and elegance, as also an amphi. theatre, built at vast expenses; and, besides these, he built them baths and porticoes, and spared for no costs in any of his edifices, to render them both handsome and large. He also spent a great deal upon their dedication, and exhibited shows upon them, and brought thither musicians of all sorts, and such as made the most delightful music of the greatest variety. He also showed his magnificence upon the theatre, in his great number of gladiators; and there it was that he exhibited the several antagonists, in order to please the spectators; no fewer indeed than seven hundred men to fight with seven hundred other men ;* and allotted all the malefactors he had for this exercise, that both the malefactors might receive their punishment, and that this operation of war might be a recreation in peace. And thus were these criminals all destroyed at once.
What other Acts were done by Agrippa until his Death; and after what Manner
he died. 11. WHEN Agrippa had finished what I have above related at Berytus, he removed 10 Tiberias, a city of Galilee. Now he was in great esteem among other kings. Accordingly there came to him Antiochus, king of Commagena; Sampsigeramus, king of Emesa ; and Cotys, who was king of the lesser Armenia ; and Polemo, who was king of Pontus; as also Herod his brother, who was king of
• A strange number of condemned criminals to be under the sentence of death at once; no lewer, en means, than 1400.