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At this season, it is said, he met with Simon Magus (the magician), whom he had formerly rebuked in Samaria ; and found he was practising sorcery at Rome, and almost idolized by the people. It is also related that the brethren besought Peter to escape from Rome; but he was taught by a vision that Christ would have him suffer there. He was crucified with his head downwards, saying it was too great an honour for him to suffer in the same position as his Lord, A.D. 66. Great uncertainty attends all the traditions respecting the apostles, and some have doubted whether Peter ever was at Rome.
CHAP. XI. HISTORY OF THE JEWS DURING THE REIGN OF NERO.-GOVERN
MENT OF FELIX.-PORCIUS FESTUS.-MARTYRDOM OF JAMES. -GOVERNMENT OF ALBINUS. ---FLORUS.-STATE OF JERUSALEM AND OF JUDEA. - OVERTHROW OF CESTIUS, ESCAPE OF
THE CHRISTIANS FROM JERUSALEM. FELIX was permitted to continue in the government of Judea by Nero, because his brother Pallas had been one of the chief instruments in settling him on the throne : and, under this wicked governor, the Jews became more weary of the yoke they had always hated.
Drusilla, daughter of Herod Agrippa, was persuaded by Felix to give up her own husband, the king of Emesa, who had even been circumcised for her sake, in order to marry him. His next offence was his uniting with some of the most daring leaders of the armed robbers who wasted the country, on condition of sharing their spoils; and when Jonathan, the highpriest, spoke to him of his evil deeds, he hired some who were called Sicarii, the worst of the Galilean zealots and assassins by profession, to murder him in the Temple. Thus encouraged by the only man who had authority to punish them, the robbers and assassins became so bold that no one felt secure; for they pretended the law of Moses gave them a right to kill all whom they judged to be enemies of God. Many impostors also arose, pretending to work miracles; and, assembling the people in desert places, they addressed them on the impiety of obedience to the Roman government. As fast as these disturbers of the peace were seized and crucified, others stirred
up the people afresh; but the believers in Christ were happily kept from being led away by these deceivers, through the gracious warnings left them by the Lord himself.
A Jew, by birth an Egyptian, gathered, at this period, 30,000 followers; and, leading them to the Mount of Olives, whence they could view the city, he declared the walls would fall down to admit of his triumphal entrance. Felix marched out against him at the head of his cavalry, and the impostor fled. Many of his followers were killed or imprisoned, and the rest were scattered, A.D. 55. The quarrels among the priests was another sad feature in this scene of confusion : it is said, the chief priests took by force the tithes belonging to the lower orders, so that numbers of them perished from hunger.
Cæsarea, however, was the scene of those events which led the Jews to throw off all appearance of submission to the Romans. The quarrel began between the Greek and Jewish inhabitants, both contending for the pre-eminence : the former, pointing to the proofs that it was a Pagan city; the latter, urging their claims because it was founded by Herod. An absurd report, concerning the origin of the Jews, was common among these proud heathens ; namely, that they had been chased out of Egypt as a company of lepers : and one day, when the Jews went to their synagogue, they found a Greek, in mockery of the ceremonials used in the cleansing of a leper, killing a bird over an earthen vessel. This insult led to acts of violence on both sides : but, as the Roman soldiers aided the Greeks by the command of Felix, many of the Jews were killed, and the richest houses spoiled. Their wealth was quite sufficient to make the governor their enemy. It was towards the close of the government of Felix, that Paul reasoned with him concerning righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, so as to make him tremble: but the guilty Roman sent away his reprover, promising to call for him when he had a convenient season. He hoped, also, that Paul would gratify his avarice by giving him money, for he had let even criminals escape for the sake of gain; and therefore sent for him oftener and conversed with him.
In A.D. 62, Felix was recalled, and left Paul bound to please the Jews, yet the serious accusations they brought against him would have cost him his life, had not his brother Pallas interceded for him with the emperor. Porcius Festus, the
GOVERNMENT OF FESTUS.
successor of Felix, bore the character of an upright, but rather severe governor. He caused a short interval of tranquillity by keeping down the robbers, punishing the assassins, and putting to death an impostor, who had led multitudes into the desert. But the Greeks of Cæsarea obtained a decree from Nero, which deprived the Jews of equal rights of citizenship with themselves; and from that time there was no more hope of peace between them.
The younger Agrippa had been appointed captain or governor of the Temple, when he was made king, and his domi. nions were enlarged by Claudius before his death. This last representative of the Asmonean family was satisfied with his dependent condition, and made great efforts to persuade his countrymen to submit quietly to their Roman governors : hence he was never popular at Jerusalem. He first offended the priests by erecting a lofty building from which he could see all their proceedings in the temple courts. They built a wall to shut out his view; and he, in his turn, ordered it to be thrown down. The high priest, with the governor's consent, went to Rome about this matter, and obtained the emperor's permission to let it stand: but whilst he was absent, Agrippa put Joseph in his place, and, shortly afterwards, gave the office to Ananias, the fifth son of Annas, and degraded Joseph. In A. D. 62, Festus died, as governor of Judea : and, before his successor, Albinus, could arrive at Jerusalem, the high priest, who was a Sadducee, and others of his sect, determined to destroy the Apostle James, as they knew he could not claim the protection given to Paul as a Roman citizen. It is said, James was so universally beloved and honoured on account of his holy life, that he was commonly called the Just; but he was condemned by the Sanhedrin for breaking the law of Moses ; and these judges, troubled, as they said, by the vastness of the mischief he had done, desired him to try to remedy the evil by a confession of his sin before the multitudes then gathered to keep the Passover. For this purpose they led him up to one of the pinnacles of the Temple; but James took this last opportunity of confessing Christ before the people, and told them that the Crucified One, even Jesus, was now sitting at the right band of God, and would shortly come again in the clouds of heaven. The high priest's party who surrounded him, loudly exclaimed, with pretended surprise, that
Justus himself was led away by this deadly error, and at once cast him down. He was not killed by the fall, and contrived to rise on his knees to pray for the people. Whilst they were throwing stones at him, one of the priests cried, “ Cease; what do you mean? this just man is praying for you;" but a bystander, seeing he was so much bruised that he could not live, ended his sufferings by a blow with a club. I have related these circumstances particularly, because even Albinus and Agrippa were displeased at the treatment of James; and, on account of it, deprived Ananias of the priesthood, and gave it to one Jesus, son of Damnai. Josephus also remarks, that the calamities of the Jews happened as a judgment upon them after the murder of James the Just, and mentions, in a more indirect way, the crucifixion of Christ.
Albinus was more rapacious and unjust than any former governor; and, whilst he let the robbers escape, upon the payment of enormous ransoms, he enriched himself, also, by loading the people with burdensome taxes. Agrippa, seeing that danger was at hand, withdrew to Berytus, and made that city the most splendid in his kingdom. This, together with a farther change of the high priests, increased his unpopularity at Jerusalem. Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, whom he appointed, found Jesus, the son of Damnai, unwilling to give place; and these rival high-priests, at the head of their different parties, attacked each other in the streets.
Albinus was displaced by Gessius Florus; and, before his recall, increased his unjust gains by opening the crowded prisons, and only executing some of the most noted malefactors, he allowed all the rest to escape by paying their ransoms: thus the province was filled with desperate criminals. At this critical period, 18,000 workmen were thrown out of employment, by the completion of the buildings of the Temple. The more prudent of the people entreated Agrippa to give them occupation in adding still farther to its magnificence, but he refused, and set them about paving the city with stone. He then ended the quarrels of the two high-priests by establishing Matthias in their place; and this was the last Jewish highpriest legally appointed. The conduct of Florus too much resembled that of his master, Nero; and it was so crafty, shameless, and cruel, that the people looked back to the
government of Albinus with regret. Cestius Gallus, a man of like spirit, was, at the same time, prefect of Syria : and it was in vain that the vast concourse of people assembled at the Passover sought his interference during his visit to Jerusalem, as Florus stood by his side ridiculing their complaints.
In a tumult that occurred shortly afterwards at Cæsarea, Florus made no effort to restore peace: and it appears from his whole conduct, he wished the Jews to revolt, thinking his oppression would be overlooked in case of war, and that it would give him better opportunities for plunder. He not only suffered the Jews at Cæsarea to be ill-treated, but, whilst the greatest excitement prevailed at Jerusalem on this account, he sent to demand seventeen talerits from the sacred treasury, to supply, as he pretended, the necessities of the emperor.
The enraged people added every epithet of hatred and contempt to the name of the governor: and some, bolder than the rest, in derision of his avarice, went about with a basket, ask. ing alms for the poor beggar, Florus! Being, however, afraid of his power, they pretended to give him a hearty welcome when he arrived at Jerusalem with his troops; but it was too late, his heart was full of vengeance, and he had no thought of mercy. His soldiers were sent to plunder the market, with orders to kill all whom they met, and those who escaped the sword were trampled to death by the horsemen in the narrow streets. As the Sanhedrin still refused to give up those who had insulted the governor, the most unoffending citizens were brought before his tribunal, scourged and crucified. That day 3,600 were destroyed; and even those who could plead the rights of Roman citizens did not escape. King Agrippa was not then at Jerusalem ; but his sister Berenice, who had come there to fulfil some vow, sent repeatedly to entreat Florus to prevent farther slaughter, and at length appeared before him with her head shorn and barefooted. But he would not listen; her countrymen were scourged and cut down in her presence, and she was obliged to retreat to her guarded palace, where she passed a sleepless night trembling for her own safety.
The next morning two fresh cohorts arrived from Cæsarea, and, though the priests and heads of the people showed every mark of submission, many more were trampled to death by the horsemen. The soldiers in their turn were beaten down by