Containing The Interval Of Twenty-Two Years.
From Fadus The Procurator To Florus.
Felix Is Made Procurator Of Judea; As Also Concerning Agrippa, Junior And His Sisters.
1. SO Claudius sent Felix, the brother of Pallas, to take care of the affairs of Judea; and when he had already completed the twelfth year of his reign, he bestowed upon Agrippa the tetrarchy of Philip and Batanea, and added thereto Trachonites, with Abila; which last had been the tetrarchy of Lysanias; but he took from him Chalcis, when he had been governor thereof four years. And when Agrippa had received these countries as the gift of Caesar, he gave his sister Drusilla in marriage to Azizus, king of Emesa, upon his consent to be circumcised; for Epiphanes, the son of king Antiochus, had refused to marry her, because, after he had promised her father formerly to come over to the Jewish religion, he would not now perform that promise. He also gave Mariamne in marriage to Archelaus, the son of Helcias, to whom she had formerly been betrothed by Agrippa her father; from which marriage was derived a daughter, whose name was Bernice.
2. But for the marriage of Drusilla with Azizus, it was in no long time afterward dissolved upon the following occasion: While Felix was procurator of Judea, he saw this Drusilla, and fell in love with her; for she did indeed exceed all other women in beauty; and he sent to her a person whose name was Simon (13) one of his friends; a Jew he was, and by birth a Cypriot, and one who pretended to be a magician, and endeavored to persuade her to forsake her present husband, and marry him; and promised, that if she would not refuse him, he would make her a happy woman. Accordingly she acted ill, and because she was desirous to avoid her sister Bernice's envy, for she was very ill treated by her on account of her beauty, was prevailed upon to transgress the laws of her forefathers, and to marry Felix; and when he had had a son by her, he named him Agrippa. But after what manner that young man, with his wife, perished at the conflagration of the mountain Vesuvius, (14) in the days of Titus Caesar, shall be related hereafter. (15)
3. But as for Bernice, she lived a widow a long while after the death of Herod [king of Chalcis], who was both her husband and her uncle; but when the report went that she had criminal conversation with her brother, [Agrippa, junior,] she persuaded Poleme, who was king of Cilicia, to be circumcised, and to marry her, as supposing that by this means she should prove those calumnies upon her to be false; and Poleme was prevailed upon, and that chiefly on account of her riches. Yet did not this matrimony endure long; but Bernice left Poleme, and, as was said, with impure intentions. So he forsook at once this matrimony, and the Jewish religion; and, at the same time, Mariamne put away Archclaus, and was married to Demetrius, the principal man among the Alexandrian Jews, both for his family and his wealth; and indeed he was then their alabarch. So she named her son whom she had by him Agrippinus. But of all these particulars we shall hereafter treat more exactly. (16)
(13) This Simon, a friend of Felix, a Jew, born in Cyprus, though he pretended to be a magician, and seems to have been wicked enough, could hardly be that famous Simon the magician, in the Acts of the Apostles, 8:9, etc., as some are ready to suppose. This Simon mentioned in the Acts was not properly a Jew, but a Samaritan, of the town of Gittae, in the country of Samaria, as the Apostolical Constitutions, VI. 7, the Recognitions of Clement, II. 6, and Justin Martyr, himself born in the country of Samaria, Apology, I. 34, inform us. He was also the author, not of any ancient Jewish, but of the first Gentile heresies, as the forementioned authors assure us. So I suppose him a different person from the other.
I mean this only upon the hypothesis that Josephus was not misinformed as to his being a Cypriot Jew; for otherwise the time, the name, the profession, and the wickedness of them both would strongly incline one to believe them the very same. As to that Drusilla, the sister of Agrippa, junior, as Josephus informs us here, and a Jewess, as St. Luke informs us, Acts 24:24, whom this Simon mentioned by Josephus persuaded to leave her former husband, Azizus, king of Emesa, a proselyte of justice, and to marry Felix, the heathen procurator of Judea, Tacitus, Hist. 5. 9. , supposes her to be a heathen; and the grand-daughter of Antonius and Cleopatra, contrary both to St. Luke and Josephus. Now Tacitus lived somewhat too remote, both as to time and place, to be compared with either of those Jewish writers, in a matter concerning the Jews in Judea in their own days, and concerning a sister of Agrippa, junior, with which Agrippa Josephus was himself so well acquainted. It is probable that Tacitus may say true, when he informs us that this Felix (who had in all three wives, or queens, as Suetonius in Claudius, Sect. 28, assures us) did once marry such a grandchild of Antonius and Cleopatra; and finding the name of one of them to have been Drusilla, he mistook her for that other wife, whose name he did not know.
(14) This eruption of Vesuvius was one of the greatest we have in history. See Bianchini's curious and important observations on this Vesuvius, and its seven several great eruptions, with their remains vitrified, and still existing, in so many different strata under ground, till the diggers came to the antediluvian waters, with their proportionable interstices, implying the deluge to have been above two thousand five hundred years before the Christian era, according to our exactest chronology.
(15) This is now wanting.
(16) This also is now wanting.