Containing The Interval Of Sixty-Nine Years
From The Death Of Herod Till Vespasian Was Sent
To Subdue The Jews By Nero.
MANY TUMULTS UNDER CUMANUS, WHICH WERE COMPOSED BY QUADRATUS. FELIX IS PROCURATOR OF JUDEA. AGRIPPA IS ADVANCED FROM CHALCIS TO A GREATER KINGDOM.
1. NOW after the death of Herod, king of Chalcis, Claudius set Agrippa, the son of Agrippa, over his uncle's kingdom, while Cumanus took upon him the office of procurator of the rest, which was a Roman province, and therein he succeeded Alexander; under which Cureanus began the troubles, and the Jews' ruin came on; for when the multitude were come together to Jerusalem, to the feast of unleavened bread, and a Roman cohort stood over the cloisters of the temple, (for they always were armed, and kept guard at the festivals, to prevent any innovation which the multitude thus gathered together might make,) one of the soldiers pulled back his garment, and cowering down after an indecent manner, turned his breech to the Jews, and spake such words as you might expect upon such a posture. At this the whole multitude had indignation, and made a clamor to Cumanus, that he would punish the soldier; while the rasher part of the youth, and such as were naturally the most tumultuous, fell to fighting, and caught up stones, and threw them at the soldiers. Upon which Cumanus was afraid lest all the people should make an assault upon him, and sent to call for more armed men, who, when they came in great numbers into the cloisters, the Jews were in a very great consternation; and being beaten out of the temple, they ran into the city; and the violence with which they crowded to get out was so great, that they trod upon each other, and squeezed one another, till ten thousand of them were killed, insomuch that this feast became the cause of mourning to the whole nation, and every family lamented their own relations.
2. Now there followed after this another calamity, which arose from a tumult made by robbers; for at the public road at Beth-boron, one Stephen, a servant of Caesar, carried some furniture, which the robbers fell upon and seized. Upon this Cureanus sent men to go round about to the neighboring villages, and to bring their inhabitants to him bound, as laying it to their charge that they had not pursued after the thieves, and caught them. Now here it was that a certain soldier, finding the sacred book of the law, tore it to pieces, and threw it into the fire. (14) Hereupon the Jews were in great disorder, as if their whole country were in a flame, and assembled themselves so many of them by their zeal for their religion, as by an engine, and ran together with united clamor to Cesarea, to Cumanus, and made supplication to him that he would not overlook this man, who had offered such an affront to God, and to his law; but punish him for what he had done. Accordingly, he, perceiving that the multitude would not be quiet unless they had a comfortable answer from him, gave order that the soldier should be brought, and drawn through those that required to have him punished, to execution, which being done, the Jews went their ways.
3. After this there happened a fight between the Galileans and the Samaritans; it happened at a village called Geman, which is situate in the great plain of Samaria; where, as a great number of Jews were going up to Jerusalem to the feast [of tabernacles,] a certain Galilean was slain; and besides, a vast number of people ran together out of Galilee, in order to fight with the Samaritans. But the principal men among them came to Cumanus, and besought him that, before the evil became incurable, he would come into Galilee, and bring the authors of this murder to punishment; for that there was no other way to make the multitude separate without coming to blows. However, Cumanus postponed their supplications to the other affairs he was then about, and sent the petitioners away without success.
4. But when the affair of this murder came to be told at Jerusalem, it put the multitude into disorder, and they left the feast; and without any generals to conduct them, they marched with great violence to Samaria; nor would they be ruled by any of the magistrates that were set over them, but they were managed by one Eleazar, the son of Dineus, and by Alexander, in these their thievish and seditious attempts. These men fell upon those that were ill the neighborhood of the Acrabatene toparchy, and slew them, without sparing any age, and set the villages on fire.
5. But Cumanus took one troop of horsemen, called the troop of Sebaste, out of Cesarea, and came to the assistance of those that were spoiled; he also seized upon a great number of those that followed Eleazar, and slew more of them. And as for the rest of the multitude of those that went so zealously to fight with the Samaritans, the rulers of Jerusalem ran out clothed with sackcloth, and having ashes on their head, and begged of them to go their ways, lest by their attempt to revenge themselves upon the Samaritans they should provoke the Romans to come against Jerusalem; to have compassion upon their country and temple, their children and their wives, and not bring the utmost dangers of destruction upon them, in order to avenge themselves upon one Galilean only. The Jews complied with these persuasions of theirs, and dispersed themselves; but still there were a great number who betook themselves to robbing, in hopes of impunity; and rapines and insurrections of the bolder sort happened over the whole country. And the men of power among the Samaritans came to Tyre, to Ummidius Quadratus, (15) the president of Syria, and desired that they that had laid waste the country might be punished: the great men also of the Jews, and Jonathan the son of Ananus the high priest, came thither, and said that the Samaritans were the beginners of the disturbance, on account of that murder they had committed; and that Cumanus had given occasion to what had happened, by his unwillingness to punish the original authors of that murder.
6. But Quadratus put both parties off for that time, and told them, that when he should come to those places, he would make a diligent inquiry after every circumstance. After which he went to Cesarea, and crucified all those whom Cumanus had taken alive; and when from thence he was come to the city Lydda, he heard the affair of the Samaritans, and sent for eighteen of the Jews, whom he had learned to have been concerned in that fight, and beheaded them; but he sent two others of those that were of the greatest power among them, and both Jonathan and Ananias, the high priests, as also Artanus the son of this Ananias, and certain others that were eminent among the Jews, to Caesar; as he did in like manner by the most illustrious of the Samaritans. He also ordered that Cureanus [the procurator] and Celer the tribune should sail to Rome, in order to give an account of what had been done to Caesar. When he had finished these matters, he went up from Lydda to Jerusalem, and finding the multitude celebrating their feast of unleavened bread without any tumult, he returned to Antioch.
7. Now when Caesar at Rome had heard what Cumanus and the Samaritans had to say, (where it was done in the hearing of Agrippa, who zealously espoused the cause of the Jews, as in like manner many of the great men stood by Cumanus,) he condemned the Samaritans, and commanded that three of the most powerful men among them should be put to death; he banished Cumanus, and sent Color bound to Jerusalem, to be delivered over to the Jews to be tormented; that he should be drawn round the city, and then beheaded.
8. After this Caesar sent Felix, (16) the brother of Pallas, to be procurator of Galilee, and Samaria, and Perea, and removed Agrippa from Chalcis unto a greater kingdom; for he gave him the tetrarchy which had belonged to Philip, which contained Batanae, Trachonitis, and Gaulonitis: he added to it the kingdom of Lysanias, and that province [Abilene] which Varus had governed. But Claudius himself, when he had administered the government thirteen years, eight months, and twenty days, died, and left Nero to be his successor in the empire, whom he had adopted by his Wife Agrippina's delusions, in order to be his successor, although he had a son of his own, whose name was Britannicus, by Messalina his former wife, and a daughter whose name was Octavia, whom he had married to Nero; he had also another daughter by Petina, whose name was Antonia.
(14) Reland notes here, that the Talmud in recounting ten sad accidents for which the Jews ought to rend their garments, reckons this for one,
"When they hear that the law of God is burnt."
(15) This Ummidius, or Numidius, or, as Tacitus calls him, Vinidius Quadratus, is mentioned in an ancient inscription, still preserved, as Spanhelm here informs us, which calls him Urnmidius Quadratus.
(16) Take the character of this Felix (who is well known from the Acts of the Apostles, particularly from his trembling when St. Paul discoursed of
" righteousness, chastity, and judgment to come, " Acts 24:5
and no wonder, when we have elsewhere seen that he lived in adultery with Drusilla, another man's wife, (Antiq. B. XX. ch. 7. sect. 1) in the words of Tacitus, produced here by Dean Aldrich:
"Felix exercised," says Tacitas, "the authority of a king, with the disposition of a slave, and relying upon the great power of his brother Pallas at court, thought he might safely be guilty of all kinds of wicked practices."
Observe also the time when he was made procurator, A.D. 52; that when St. Paul pleaded his cause before him, A.D. 58, he might have been "many years a judge unto that nation," as St. Paul says he had then been, (Acts 24:10); but as to what Tacitus here says, that before the death of Cumanus, Felix was procurator over Samaria only, does not well agree with St. Paul's words, who would hardly have called Samaria a Jewish nation. In short, since what Tacitus here says is about countries very remote from Rome, where he lived; since what he says of two Roman procurators, the one over Galilee, the other over Samaria at the same time, is without example elsewhere; and since Josephus, who lived at that very time in Judea, appears to have known nothing of this procuratorship of Felix, before the death of Cureanus, - I much suspect the story itself as nothing better than a mistake of Tacitus, especially when it seems not only omitted, but contradicted by Josephus; as any one may find that compares their histories together. Possibly Felix might have been a subordinate judge among the Jews some time before under Cureanus, but that he was in earnest a procurator of Samaria before I do not believe. Bishop Pearson, as well as Bishop Lloyd, quote this account, but with a doubtful clause; Sic fides Tacito, "If we may believe Tacitus." Pears. Annal. Paulin, p. 8; Marshall's Tables, at A.D. 49.