Imagini ale paginilor


with a summary statement of the situation: "And now Judea was full of bands of robbers, and as the several companies of the seditious lit upon anyone to lead them, he was created a king immediately.”ı

7. The expedition of Varus, governor of Syria, for the relief of Sabinus, temporary procurator of Judea, who was besieged by the Jews in the royal fortresses in Jerusalem, resulted in: (a) the complete reduction of Galilee, including the burning of Sepphoris, and the sale of its inhabitants as slaves, together with fire and slaughter along the line of march; (b) the surrender of Jerusalem; (c) the traversing of the whole country for the apprehension of the rebels; (d) the crucifixion of two thousand of the leading participants in the revolt.2

8. An embassy of Jews went to Augustus "to petition for the liberty of living according to their own laws," "to plead for the autonomy of their nation." "The main thing they desired was that they might be delivered from kingly and similar governments, and might be added to Syria, and be put under the authority of such chief magistrates as should be sent to them."3

9. A deputation of the Jewish and Samaritan aristocracy appeared before Augustus to accuse Archelaus, after about nine years of his rule, because of "his barbarous and tyrannical usage of them." That the complaints were serious is evidenced by the summoning of Archelaus to Rome, and his immediate banishment to Gaul.4

IO. A serious revolt of the Jews took place upon the attempt by Quirinius to make a census of Judea for the purposes of taxation according to the Roman method. This was "the enrolment" ordered by Augustus under Quirinius of Syria, with Coponius as procurator of Judea. Only by the persuasion of the high-priest, Joazar, was the census carried through without bloodshed.5


II. The sect of the Zealots was formed under Judas the Galilean and Sadduc, a Pharisee."

I War, ii, 4, §§1-3; Antiquities, xvii, 10, §§4-8.

2 War, ii, 5, §§1-3; Antiquities, xvii, 10, §§9, 10.

3 War, ii, 6, §§1, 2; Antiquities, xvii, 11, §§1, 2.

4 War, ii, 7, 83; Antiquities, xvii, 13, §2.

5 War, ii, 8, §1;

Antiquities, xviii, 1, §1.
Antiquities, xviii, 1, §§1, 6.

6 War, ii, 8, §1;

12. A complaint was made by Judea in A. D. 17 against the burdensome and oppressive taxation to which the province was subjected.1

13. Out of respect to Jewish conviction it had been the custom of Roman rulers to bring into Jerusalem only such standards as bore no image of eagle or emperor. Pilate determined to set this concession aside. Under cover of night he introduced standards bearing the emperor's bust. The act resulted in a vigorous revolt, which was quieted only by the removal of the offensive emblems."

14. "After this Pilate raised another disturbance by expending the sacred treasure, which is called Corban, on an aqueduct, whereby he brought water from a distance of four hundred furlongs." He distributed his soldiers among the clamorous crowds in private dress, and at a signal they fell upon the Jews with staves. Many perished by beatings, and many more were trodden to death in the precipitous flight which followed this unexpected charge.3

15. The popular uprisings in the time of Pilate of which the Synoptic Gospels give some hint are: (a) "Now there were some present at that very season which told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices;"4 (b) "them that had made insurrection, men who in the insurrection had committed murder."5

16. The imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist by Herod Antipas happened, Josephus says, because he "feared lest the great

I Tacitus, Annals, ii, 42. For the period from about A. D. 9 to about A. D. 26, Josephus seems to have been without sources in the writing of his works. These seventeen years he covers in about as many lines, the larger part of the content of which is general Roman history. For Palestine, he knows little more than the succession of high-priests (Antiquities, xviii, 2, §2). Unfortunately, this is the important period in the life of Jesus, that is, from his thirteenth to his thirtieth years. We should like to know of the active external, social, and political factors that had the most potent part in the formation of his judgments about the future of his people. Happily we are favored with a fairly adequate recital of the trend of events, even in detail, during those highly impressionable years which preceded his visit to the capital as a youth of twelve (Luke 2:41-50). How events in Palestine moved during the later fifteen obscure years we are able to infer with some certainty from the subsequent history. The first record of Josephus, when he is again enabled by his sources to take up the narrative, is of "a very great tumult among the Jews" under the procurator, Pontius Pilate (see 13 above).

2 War, ii, 9, 82, 3; Antiquities, xviii, 3, §1.

3 War, ii, 9, 84; Antiquities, xviii, 3, §2. 4 Luke 13:1.

5 Mark 15:7.

influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion."

17. The hostile intentions of Herod Antipas toward Jesus were doubtless wholly based upon his fear of the possible political influence of Jesus in a direction like to that suspected of John the Baptist."

$7. GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THESE EVENTS FOR JESUS When it is had in mind that this survey of some of the principal events, falling within the lifetime of Jesus, that had social, religious, or political significance, covers less than one half of his life,3 and that we may assume with confidence a similar series for the unrecorded portion, it becomes apparent at once that he had a mass of contemporary history of such a kind that it was safe to base upon it large deductions for the future. Viewed from the standpoint of Roman policy, these events make evident an attitude of growing intolerance and severity on the part of the direct rulers of Palestine. Considered from the Jewish position, they exhibit a constantly deepening sense of national oppression, and a determination that was leading to more effectively organized protestation and open revolt, in the hope for a betterment of conditions.


Far and away the most significant among those events which fell within the lifetime of Jesus, the event having within it most potency for the future of the Jewish people, was one that happened in the most impressionable years of Jesus, close to the period of his visit to Jerusalem as a youth. This event was the formation of the sect of the Zealots, under Judas the Galilean, in the year of the census, A. D. 6 or A. D. 7. To this sect Josephus attributes again and again in the course of his narrative all the disturbances, uprisings, revolts, + rebellions, and consequent distresses and miseries which came upon his people from the time of its organization to the end of the great war of A. D. 66-73. For any adequate understanding of the course of Jewish history, from the youth of Jesus till the last outpost was taken by the Romans in A. D. 73, there is necessary as full knowledge as is

[blocks in formation]

possible of the Zealots. The information which Josephus gives of the inner life and motives of the sect is scanty; he has utter disdain for the movement. We may use fully his account given in connection with its origin. Having told of the revolt at the time of the census, and its quieting by the high-priest who urged submission, he continues:

But one Judas, a Gaulanite, of a city whose name was Gamala, joining himself to Sadduc a Pharisee, was eager to draw them to a revolt. Both said that this taxation was nothing but a direct introduction of slavery, and exhorted the nation to arrest their liberty, as if they could procure them happiness and security for what they possessed, and if they failed in the happiness that would result from this, they would acquire honor and glory for magnanimity. They also said that God would not assist them unless they joined with one another energetically for success, and still further set about great exploits, and did not grow weary in executing the same. And the men heard what they said with pleasure, and so this bold attempt proceeded to a great height. All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected by them to an incredible degree: one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends who used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies, and murders of our principal men, under pretext indeed of the public welfare, but in reality from the hopes of private gain. Hence arose seditions, and owing to them political murders, which sometimes fell on their own people (from the madness of these men toward one another, and their desire that none of their rivals should be left), and sometimes on their enemies; a famine also came upon us, and reduced us to the last degree of despair, as did also the taking and demolishing of cities, nay, faction at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down by the enemies' fire. So greatly did the alteration and change from the custom of our fathers tend to bring all to destruction who thus banded together, for Judas and Sadduc, who introduced a fourth philosophic sect among us, and had a great many followers therein, filled our state with tumults at the time, and laid the foundations of future miseries by their system of philosophy which we were before unacquainted with, concerning which I shall discourse a little, and that the rather, because the infection which spread thence among our younger men, who were zealous for it, brought our nation to destruction.'

Josephus has made clear here the ultimate results of Zealotism to the nation. To indicate, even in outline form, the activities of the sect would be to sketch Jewish history from A. D. 7 to A. D. 73. No stronger general testimony could be borne to their influence than the fact that Josephus looks upon them as one of the sects of his people, and places them, in description, with Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. Hav

1 Antiquities, xviii, 1, §1.

ing described these other sects he passes to the Zealots, and here seems inclined to a more judicial statement of their characteristics:

But Judas the Galilean was the author of the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy. Its pupils agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions, but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is their only ruler, and lord. They also do not mind dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the tortures of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord. And since this immovable resolution of theirs is well known to a great many, I shall speak no further about that matter; for I am not afraid that anything I have said of them should be disbelieved, but rather fear that what I have said comes short of the resolution they show when they undergo pain.1

It is abundantly evident, then, that the movement was a theocratic revival of a vigorous and persistent type. But in the light of the knowledge, otherwise possessed, as to the place held in this age by that personalized theocratic expectation which centered about a Messiah, the inquiry forces itself to the front whether Josephus has not drawn his sketch in too broad outlines, and whether for the Zealots a simple, theocratic ideal or, on the other hand, the hope for a definite messianic person was the impelling motive of their movement. If the latter, we can expect no adequate indication of it from our historian, for he writes for the Roman world and to justify and glorify his people. Athwart his path to this goal, if the history be written to the truth, there lies always a great stumbling-block-the fact of the part played by the messianic hope; for in attachment to it, conceived under Zealot forms, lay true treason. So throughout his history of definite events he designates the Zealots as "robbers," against whom the men of repute among the Jews are themselves standing. Josephus assumes toward the messianic ideal an all but absolute silence throughout both the War and the Antiquities. Yet the mask cannot be forever worn, and once, toward the end, it falls away long enough to permit a sight of the reality behind it. After having described the terrors of the siege of Jerusalem and of the burning of the temple, he pauses in his narrative for some general observations, among which is this:

But what most stirred them up to the war was an ambiguous oracle that was found also in their sacred writings, that about that time one from their country should become ruler of the world. The Jews took this prediction to belong to

Antiquities, xviii, 1, §6.


« ÎnapoiContinuă »