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Michael Kusi August 2, 2008 Ancient Heroes and The Near East Mrs. Lemos Clash of Civilizations: A Study of the Roman Rule over the Judean Province prior to the Jewish Revolt The Romans and the Jews are two renowned ancient civilizations, and their strengths are embodied in their twin capital cities of Rome and Jerusalem, respectively. Rome is admired for its splendid extravagance and military might. Jerusalem is held in high esteem for its religious fervor and ancient customs. The Romans army under Pompey took over Jerusalem, and installed a king, Herod, as ruler of Judea. However, after Herods death, his son Archelolus, was installed as king. He proved to be unpopular and so in 6 AD the Romans overthrew him, and from 6 46 AD, the Romans ruled over Judea as governors. This act would prove to be fateful in the near future, as the Romans do not understand the Jews because of the differences in cultures. The Romans political and religious oppression of the Jews is because of both ideological misunderstandings and differences in culture. The Romans rule under a Senate, while the Jews are a theocracy. These two different belief systems clash with each other. The political ideologies of the Romans and the Jews are incompatible, because the Jews chafe under the Romans, who they considered to be tyrants. Although the rulers who descended from Herod are kind, the Roman governors frequently are not. The Jews yearn to be free, and groups such as the Zealots spring up to try and fulfill this desire. Furthermore, the Romans are a people

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worshipping many gods, while the Jews cling stubbornly to the beliefs of Judaism, thus setting up a clash of belief systems. The Romans think that Judaism was bizarre, whereas the Jews thought the Romans were both pagan and hedonistic. Finally, these political and religious differences result in social conflicts because of the inherent differences in culture. The Romans practice syncretism, and as a result they embrace different cultural doctrines such as Hellenism . The Jews dismiss such outside influences, and instead rely on their religious tenets from their sacred documents for guidance, such as the Talmud and the Torah. As a result of these

differences, war would ensue between the Jews and the Romans, and the Romans are utterly ruthless in their battles with the Jews. Jerusalem is destroyed, and the Jews are scattered across Asia and Europe. The political systems of the Romans and the Jews are inherently different, and this would cause conflict because the Jews chafed under the rule of the Romans. The Jews were ruled under the Hasmoseans in the second century BC. However, the Romans under Pompey in 63 BC conquer Judea and Jerusalem, and rule oven the region. Before this, they are ruled by the Seleucid Empire, which was an empire in the Middle East. They are descendants from the Maccabees who fought for the Jews freedom from the Seleucid Empire. The Romans by the time of the first century AD are ruled under a series of emperors, who descend from the Julian line. They would appoint governors and kings to rule over provinces, of which Judea was a part -Martin Goodman writes, As a result of almost continuous conquests Rome exercised political and military control by the mid-first century BC over almost the whole of the Mediterranean World ( Rome and Jerusalem, pg 32). However, they needed a reliable person to oversee their provinces and make sure that the people did not rebel.

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Under the Roman political system, there were kings who ruled over certain regions, and governors who ruled over others. The Romans chose Herod, because he was an Idumean Jew, and not likely to cause trouble. This was in line with the Roman policy to give lands to people who were obedient to them. Martin Goodman writes, The Roman Senate chose Herod to become king of Judea only for lack of a better opinion. Normal Roman practice in the subversion and control of countries which fell into their orbit was to hand over control to a selected scion of the native dynasty (Rome and Jerusalem, pg 53). The Romans chose Herod because he had proved his loyalty to Rome, and also because he could rule over the Jews with an iron hand. The Jews bristle at first under his authority, because their political system involved having a king who was of the Davidic line. Therefore, many of the Jews who are ruled under Herod see his kingship as illegitimate. However, many of the Jews come to accept Herod as their king, because he accommodated them. The Romans also rule through military governors, who, unlike Herod and his descendants, do not understand either the Jewish culture or their holy traditions. As a result, they make many grave mistakes that incense the Jews. The last and worse governor was Gestius Florus who regularly mistreats the Jews, because he was confident that he would not be punished. He would disrespect the Jews, and treat them with impunity and arrogance. Florus would steal from the populace, and over- tax them. He would often plunder their homes and ruin cities, because he wanted wealth. Florus does all these atrocities to provoke the Jews to combat, because he knew that Rome would punish a revolt more severely than a governors

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incompetence. He hopes to incite the populace to rebel, so that he could crush them. However, the most pragmatic of the Jews advise caution, and therefore they went to the governor of Syria to entreat him to do something about Florus. The Jews complain to Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, to no avail. Martin Goodman ponders the inability of Cestius Gallus to understand; When Cestius Gallus did visit Jerusalem, a crowd of not less than three millions implored him to have compassion on the nation and loudly denounced Florus as the ruin of the country, but he did nothing (Rome and Jerusalem, pg 393). Cestius Gallus is biased toward Florus, and therefore he fails to heed the complaints of the Jews. He is indifferent toward their complaints, and therefore does nothing to aid the Jews. Gallus cannot comprehend the anger of the Jews toward their governors. However, he sends an official, Neapolitanus, to Jerusalem to check on the Jews. Albert T. Tamarin writes about this precarious scenario, Neapolitanus was persuaded to make a tour of the city without any bodyguards, just to test the loyalty of the population. He observed the burnt and plundered houses and the wretched market place. He moved about with only a single attendant and saw that the Jews were loyal to all Roman officials, except the office of Florus, the procurator ( Revolt in Judea, The Road to Masada, pg 52). He leaves to tell the news to Gallus that the Jews are happy, because they do not seem to be in a state of rebellion. However, he has misread the Jews, because the Jews wanted to go to the governor to solve their oppression at the hands of Florus. Therefore, since the governors attitude is assumed to be indifferent toward the Jews plight, the Jews would prepare for war. However, there are pragmatic voices, such as Agrippa, who urge the Jews not to go to war.

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Agrippa, who is the king of Judea, begs the Jews not to go to war, because he knew the might of the Roman Army. The Jews failed to heed his warning, with fateful consequences. Alfred T.Tamarin chronicles, Agrippa pointed out the terrible horrors that war entailed and urged the Jews to realize that all their fury against one Roman did not justify a war against Rome. He counseled submission and patience, and went on to say that all calls for independence and liberty were too late. Agrippa warned that a war with Rome would bring fearful destruction on the people and the land. The Holy Places would be destroyed. (Revolt In Judea, The Road to Masada, pg 48). He tried to appeal to their sense of dignity. Agrippa urges the Jews to have patience until Nero can appoint a new governor. However, the Jews do not listen to him, because they were angry at Florus for mistreating them. Alfred T. Tamarin states that the Jews turned against Agrippa, When Agrippa tried to convince the people to keep submitting to Florus until he was replaced by Nero, the Jews lost their tempers, abused the king, and proclaimed his banishment from Jerusalem. Some hotheads even had the audacity to throw stones at him. Agrippa convinced now that passions were out of control, withdrew to his own kingdom (Revolt in Judea, The Road to Masada, pg 47). They abuse King Agrippa, and therefore he gave up on them and decided to go back to his palace. The Jews do listen to the Zealots, who were people who passionately cry out for independence. The Zealots are a militia- like people who cried out for the independence of Israel They are first organized by Judas the Galilean, who was a charismatic figure who united the Zealots under him in around 35 AD. Josephus details the start of the Zealots, As for the fourth of the philosophies, Judas the Galilean set himself up as leader of it. This school agrees in all other respects with the opinions of the Pharisees, except that they have a passion for liberty that

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is almost unconquerable, since they are convinced that God alone is their leader and master ( Revolt in Jerusalem, pg 100). They urge the people to rise up and rebel against the Romans. Martin Goodman writes, The folly that ensued began to afflict the nation after Gessius Florus, who was governor, had by his overbearing and lawless actions provoked a desperate rebellion against the Romans (Rome and Jerusalem, pg 391). The Zealots, however, are regarded as a radical sect by many of the populace, including Josephus, and they are not welcomed by the Romans. The Romans are harsh toward the Zealots, who they regard as rebels against their authority. They execute Simon and Judas, who are two sons of the Judas from Galilee. The Zealots, however were one of many theological groups that the Jews set up. The Jews are very much a theocratic people, who looked up to their religious leaders for both religious guidance and political leadership. Central to their religious beliefs is their temple, which fascinated the scholars of the day. In charge of the Temple was the high priest, who had to keep charge of the Temple. Philo of Alexandria reflects on the wonders of the Temple by stating; But the high priest had renovated the Temple for worship, and the high priest was the one who directed their worship. He was the religious figure held in the highest esteem in Judaism. But the high priest of the Jews offers both prayers and thanksgiving not only for the whole race of men, beseeching him to make what he has created a partaker of his own fair and merciful nature ( The Jewish Temple, 109). The high priest is in charge of both the Temples maintenance, and the holy items that were in the Temple. Among

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the holy items in the Temple are scrolls, which are read out loud by selected people. The high priest is highly regarded as a leader to the Jewish people, who venerate him. Also, there are certain places where no one, other than the priests, could enter on pain of death. The Temple is also important for the Jews because it is at the center of their religious life. It is there that they carried out their religious festivities and celebrated their religious holidays. The most important religious holiday is Passover. This is a time when all the devout Jews congregated in Jerusalem. Josephus describes in detail the Jews that went to Jerusalem, There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, and Judaea, and Cappadocia, of Pontus, and Asia, of Phrygia and Pamphylia, of Egypt and the parts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians (Rome and Jerusalem, pg 59). The Jews take their religious beliefs very seriously. However, the Romans do not understand Judaism, and as a result, the Jews get incensed. Most of the Romans in ancient antiquity do not understand Judaism and think the religious traditions of the Jews were strange. Among the traditions that the Romans thought odd was the idea of the Temple as sacred. Martin Goodman records the traditional Roman attitude toward the Temple: Among all the aspects of Judaism, which pagan Romans found odd, much the least bizarre was the centrality in Jewish cult accorded to sacrifices,

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libations, and the burning of incense, and the special sanctity ascribed to the part of the building which housed the divinity ( Rome and Jerusalem, pg 376). Although the Romans do not embrace Judaism, they all try to accommodate the Jews, because they think that if they disrespect Yahweh, he will judge them. Martin Goodman writes about the genial treatment of the Romans by the Jews: Up to 66 CE Romans generally treated the Jerusalem Temple with exceptional tact, not least because it was to the emperors advantage to have the Jewish God as ally and protector. The Romans believed in syncretism, which is the blending of different religions in a given religious system. As a result, they would incorporate different gods into their belief systems, including those from Greece and Rome. This would lead to many men violating the Jewish traditions, and causing the Jews intense anger. The Roman soldiers would commit what the Jews consider blasphemy and make the Jews retaliate in kind. Josephus writes about a particular incident, One of the soldiers, who had found a copy of the laws of Moses that was kept in one of the villages, fetched it out where all could see and tore it in two while he uttered blasphemies and railed violently. The Jews, on learning of this, collected in large numbers, went down to Caesarea, where Cunmanus happen to be, and besought him to avenge not them but God, whose laws had been subjected to outrage ( Rome and Destruction, pg 386). This is considered a blasphemy against the Jews, because they are taught to treat their scriptures with respect. Therefore, they riot, because their religion has

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been disrespected. The soldier is handled over to the crowd, who executes him for blasphemy. All of these political and religious conflicts would lead to warfare between the Jews and Romans, with dire consequences for the Jews. The Jews revolted against the Romans because they felt that the Romans had been cruel to them. However, in the revolt that lasted from 66 AD to 70 AD, the Romans crushed the Jewish people, and 1.1 million Jews are slain. The Jews are scattered across Europe and Asia, and they never forgive the Romans for their wholesale slaughter of the Jewish people. The conflict between the Romans and the Jews can also be seen as the start of anti-Semitism, or the hatred of Jews. The Romans mistrust the Jews because of their foreign culture, and over time this mistrust turns into hatred. They intended to have no mercy on the Jews because the Jews had revolted, and this action is punished severely by Rome. However, a second revolt happens in 132 AD, and this revolt is punished more severely by Hadrian, who is the Roman emperor at the time. He drove out all of the Jews from the province of Judea and renamed the province Palestine. This name Palestine is derived from the word Philistine, which is the term for the Jews ancient enemies in antiquity. The cruel actions that the Romans took against the Jews would be repeated over time by different regimes in Europe and Asia.

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Work Cited List Ben-Dow, Meir. In the Shadow of the Temple New York: Harper Publishers, 1982.

Tamarin, Alfred. Revolt in Judea: The Road to Masada. New York: Four Winds Press, 1968

Goodman, Martin. Rome and Jerusalem New York: Random House Press, 2007

Holland, Tom. Rome and Her Enemies Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd. 2005

Vaughn, Andrew. Jerusalem in Bible and Archaeology: Atlanta: Society of Bible Literature, 2003

Hayward, C.T.R. The Jewish Temple. London: Routledge. 2003

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