Containing The Interval Of Twenty-Two Years.
From Fadus The Procurator To Florus.
How There Happened A Quarrel Between The Jews And The Samaritans; And How Claudius Put An End To Their Differences.
1. NOW there arose a quarrel between the Samaritans and the Jews on the occasion following: It was the custom of the Galileans, when they came to the holy city at the festivals, to take their journeys through the country of the Samaritans; (11) and at this time there lay, in the road they took, a village that was called Ginea, which was situated in the limits of Samaria and the great plain, where certain persons thereto belonging fought with the Galileans, and killed a great many of them. But when the principal of the Galileans were informed of what had been done, they came to Cumanus, and desired him to avenge the murder of those that were killed; but he was induced by the Samaritans, with money, to do nothing in the matter; upon which the Galileans were much displeased, and persuaded the multitude of the Jews to betake themselves to arms, and to regain their liberty, saying that slavery was in itself a bitter thing, but that when it was joined with direct injuries, it was perfectly intolerable, And when their principal men endeavored to pacify them, and promised to endeavor to persuade Cureanus to avenge those that were killed, they would not hearken to them, but took their weapons, and entreated the assistance of Eleazar, the son of Dineus, a robber, who had many years made his abode in the mountains, with which assistance they plundered many villages of the Samaritans.
When Cumanus heard of this action of theirs, he took the band of Sebaste, with four regiments of footmen, and armed the Samaritans, and marched out against the Jews, and caught them, and slew many of them, and took a great number of them alive; whereupon those that were the most eminent persons at Jerusalem, and that both in regard to the respect that was paid them, and the families they were of, as soon as they saw to what a height things were gone, put on sackcloth, and heaped ashes upon their heads, and by all possible means besought the seditious, and persuaded them that they would set before their eyes the utter subversion of their country, the conflagration of their temple, and the slavery of themselves, their wives, and children, (12) which would be the consequences of what they were doing; and would alter their minds, would cast away their weapons, and for the future be quiet, and return to their own homes. These persuasions of theirs prevailed upon them. So the people dispersed themselves, and the robbers went away again to their places of strength; and after this time all Judea was overrun with robberies.
2. But the principal of the Samaritans went to Ummidius Quadratus, the president of Syria, who at that time was at Tyre, and accused the Jews of setting their villages on fire, and plundering them; and said withal, that they were not so much displeased at what they had suffered, as they were at the contempt thereby showed the Romans; while if they had received any injury, they ought to have made them the judges of what had been done, and not presently to make such devastation, as if they had not the Romans for their governors; on which account they came to him, in order to obtain that vengeance they wanted. This was the accusation which the Samaritans brought against the Jews. But the Jews affirmed that the Samaritans were the authors of this tumult and fighting, and that, in the first place, Cumanus had been corrupted by their gifts, and passed over the murder of those that were slain in silence; - which allegations when Quadratus heard, he put off the hearing of the cause, and promised that he would give sentence when he should come into Judea, and should have a more exact knowledge of the truth of that matter.
So these men went away without success. Yet was it not long ere Quadratus came to Samaria, where, upon hearing the cause, he supposed that the Samaritans were the authors of that disturbance. But when he was informed that certain of the Jews were making innovations, he ordered those to be crucified whom Cumanus had taken captives. From whence he came to a certain village called Lydda, which was not less than a city in largeness, and there heard the Samaritan cause a second time before his tribunal, and there learned from a certain Samaritan that one of the chief of the Jews, whose name was Dortus, and some other innovators with him, four in number, persuaded the multitude to a revolt from the Romans; whom Quadratus ordered to be put to death: but still he sent away Ananias the high priest, and Ananus the commander [of the temple], in bonds to Rome, to give an account of what they had done to Claudius Caesar.
He also ordered the principal men, both of the Samaritans and of the Jews, as also Cumanus the procurator, and Ceier the tribune, to go to Italy to the emperor, that he might hear their cause, and determine their differences one with another. But he came again to the city of Jerusalem, out of his fear that the multitude of the Jews should attempt some innovations; but he found the city in a peaceable state, and celebrating one of the usual festivals of their country to God. So he believed that they would not attempt any innovations, and left them at the celebration of the festival, and returned to Antioch.
3. Now Cumanus, and the principal of the Samaritans, who were sent to Rome, had a day appointed them by the emperor whereon they were to have pleaded their cause about the quarrels they had one with another. But now Caesar's freed-men and his friends were very zealous on the behalf of Cumanus and the Samaritans; and they had prevailed over the Jews, unless Agrippa, junior, who was then at Rome, had seen the principal of the Jews hard set, and had earnestly entreated Agrippina, the emperor's wife, to persuade her husband to hear the cause, so as was agreeable to his justice, and to condemn those to be punished who were really the authors of this revolt from the Roman government: - whereupon Claudius was so well disposed beforehand, that when he had heard the cause, and found that the Samaritans had been the ringleaders in those mischievous doings, he gave order that those who came up to him should be slain, and that Cureanus should be banished. He also gave order that Celer the tribune should be carried back to Jerusalem, and should be drawn through the city in the sight of all the people, and then should be slain.
(11) This constant passage of the Galileans through the country of Samaria, as they went to Judea and Jerusalem, illustrates several passages in the Gospels to the same purpose, as Dr. Hudson rightly observes. See Luke 17:11; John 4:4. See also Josephus in his own Life, Sect. 52, where that journey is determined to three days.
(12) Our Savior had foretold that the Jews' rejection of his gospel would bring upon them, among other miseries, these three, which they themselves here show they expected would be the consequences of their present tumults and seditions: the utter subversion of their country, the conflagration of their temple, and the slavery of themselves, their wives, and children See Luke 21:6-24.