Containing The Interval Of Three Years And A Half.
From The Departure Out Of Babylon To Fadus, The Roman Procurator.
How Claudius Restored To Agrippa His Grandfathers Kingdoms And Augmented His Dominions; And How He Published An Edict In Behalf.
1. NOW when Claudius had taken out of the way all those soldiers whom he suspected, which he did immediately, he published an edict, and therein confirmed that kingdom to Agrippa which Caius had given him, and therein commended the king highly. He also made all addition to it of all that country over which Herod, who was his grandfather, had reigned, that is, Judea and Samaria; and this he restored to him as due to his family. But for Abila (17) of Lysanias, and all that lay at Mount Libanus, he bestowed them upon him, as out of his own territories. He also made a league with this Agrippa, confirmed by oaths, in the middle of the forum, in the city of Rome: he also took away from Antiochus that kingdom which he was possessed of, but gave him a certain part of Cilicia and Commagena: he also set Alexander Lysimachus, the alabarch, at liberty, who had been his old friend, and steward to his mother Antonia, but had been imprisoned by Caius, whose son [Marcus] married Bernice, the daughter of Agrippa. But when Marcus, Alexander's son, was dead, who had married 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 Greeks, 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 requests of king Agrippa and king Herod, both to Alexandria and to Syria, whose contents were as follows:
"Tiberius Claudius Caesar 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 Alexandrians, and have obtained from their kings equal privileges with them, as is evident by the public records that are in their possession, and the edicts themselves; and that after Alexandria had been subjected 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, the Alexandrians became 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 to Alexandria. But the edict that was sent into the other parts of the habitable earth was this which follows:
"Tiberius Claudius Caesar 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 the Jews which are in all the Roman empire, which I have granted to those of Alexandria, 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 favor, on account of their fidelity and friendship to the Romans. 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 Augustus. 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 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 the ambassadors, and to have them exposed to the public for full thirty days, in such a place whence it may plainly be read from the ground." (18)
(17) Here St. Luke is in some measure confirmed, when he reforms us, Ch. 3:1, that Lysanias was some time before tetrarch of Abilene, whose capital was Abila; as he is further confirmed by Ptolemy, the great geographer, which Spanheim here observes, when he calls that city Abila of Lysanias. See the note on B. XVII. Ch. 11. Sect. 4, Note 23; and Prid. at the years 36 and 22. I esteem this principality to have belonged to the land of Canaan originally, to have been the burying-place of Abel, and referred to as such, Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51. See Authent. Rec. Part. II. p. 883-885.
(18) This form was so known and frequent among the Romans, as Dr. Hudson here tells us from the great Selden, that it used to be thus represented at the bottom of their edicts by the initial letters only, U. D. P. R. L. P, Unde De Plano Recte Lege Possit; "Whence it may be plainly read from the ground."