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POLITICAL STATE OF THE JEWS UNDER THE ROMAN PROCCRAToRs, to THE SUBVERsion of THEIR civil AND EcclesiasticAL POLITY.
I. Powers and functions of the Roman Procurators.-H. Political and civil state of the Jews under their administration.—III. .1ccount of Pontius Pilate.—IV..And of the Procurators Felix and Festus.
I. THE Jewish kingdom, which the Romans had created in favour of Herod the Great, was of short duration; expiring on his death, by the divison of his territories, and by the dominions of Archelaus, which comprised Samaria, Judaea, and Idumaa, being reduced to a Roman province annexed to Syria, and governed by the Roman procurators. These officers not only had the charge of collecting the imperial revenues, but also had the power of life and death in capital causes: and on account of their high dignity they are sometimes called governors (Hyspoves). They usually had a council, consisting of their friends and other chief Romans in the province; with whom they conferred on important questions." During the eontinuance of the Roman republic, it was very unusual for the governors of provinces to take their wives with them. Augustus” disapproved of the introduction of this practice, which however was in some instances permitted by Tiberius. Thus Agrippina accompanied Germanicus” into Germany and Asia, and Plancina was with Piso, whose insolence towards Germanicus she contributed to inflame:* and though Caecina Severus afterwards offered a motion to the senate, to prohibit this indulgence, (on account of the serious inconveniences, not to say abuses, that would result from the political influence which the wives might exercise over their husbands,) his motion was rejected,” and they continued to attend the procurators to their respective provinces. This circumstance will account for Pilate's wife being at Jerusalem. (Matt. xxvii. 19.) The procurators of Judaea resided principally at Caesarea,” which was reputed to be the metropolis of that country, and occupied the splendid palace which Herod the Great had erected there. On the great festivals, or when any tumults were apprehended, they repaired to Jerusalem, that, by their presence and influence, they might restore order. For this purpose they were accompanied by cohorts (X-rapa, Acts x. 1.) or bands of soldiers, not legionary cohorts, but distinct 1 Josephus (Ant. Jud. lib. xx. c. 4. § 4. and de Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 16, § 1) mentions instances in which the Roman procurators thus took council with their assessors. 2 Suetonius, in Augusto. c. 24. 3 Tacitus, Annal. lib. ii. c. 54, 55. lib. i. c. 40, 41. * Ibid. lib. i. c. 40. 5 Ibid. lib. iii. c. 33,34.
34 * Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xviii. c. 3. § 1. lib. xx. c. 5. §4. De Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 9. § 2. Tacit. Hist. lib. ii. c. 79.
companies of military: each of them was about one thousand strong."
| Biscoe on the Acts, ch. ix. § 1. pp. 330–335.
* Suetonius in Claudio, c. xxviii.
*See Dr. Lardner's Credibility, part i. book ii, c. ii. where the various passages are adduced and fully ...
* Cod, lib. i. tit. 9.1. 8. de Judaeis-As the Christians were at first regarded as ...sect of the Jews (Acts xxviii.24), they likewise enjoyed the same privilege, This circumstance will account for Saint Paul's blaming the Corinthian Christians or carrying their causes before the Roman prietor, instead of leaving them to Referees chosen from among their brethren. (I Cor. vi. 1–7.)
they pretended was of this kind, they went with it immediately to the governor, who re-examined it and pronounced sentence. That they had not the power of life and death is evident from Pilate's anting to them the privilege of judging, but not of condemning esus Christ, and also from their acknowledgment to Pilate—It is not lawful for us to put any man to death (John xviii. 31.); and likewise from the power vested in Pilate of releasing a condemned criminal to them at the passover (John xviii. 39, 40.), which he could not have done if he had not had the power of life and death, as well as from his own declaration that he had power to crucify and power to release Jesus Christ." (John xix. 10.) III. Of the various procurators that governed Judaea under the Romans, Pontius PiLATE is the best known, and most frequently mentioned in the sacred writings. He is supposed to have been a native of Italy, and was sent to govern Judaea about the year A. D. 26 or 27. Pilate is characterised by Josephus as an unjust and cruel governor, sanguinary, obstinate, and impetuous; who disturbed the tranquillity of Judaea by persisting in carrying into Jerusalem the effigies of Tiberius Caesar that were upon the Roman ensigns, and by other acts of oppression, which produced tumults among the Jews.” Dreading the extreme jealousy and suspicion of Tiberius he delivered up the Redeemer to be crucified, contrary to the conviction of his better judgment; and in the vain hope of conciliating the Jews whom he had oppressed. After he had held his office for ten years, having caused a number of innocent Samaritans to be put to death, that injured people sent an embassy to Vitellius, proconsul of Syria; by whom he was ordered to Rome, to give an account of his maladministration to the emperor. But Tiberius being dead before he arrived there, his successor Caligula banished him to Gaul, where he is said to have committed suicide, about the year of Christ 41.3 IV. On the death of king Herod Agrippa, Judaea being again reduced to a Roman province, the government of it was confided to ANToNIUs FELIX; who had originally been the slave, then the freedman of Nero, and, through the influence of his brother Pallas, 1 The celebrated Roman jurist, Ulpian, states that the governors of the Roman provinces had the right of the sword; which implied the authority of punishing malefactors —an authority which was personal, and not to be transferred. )Lib. vi. c. 8. de Officio Proconsulis.) And Josephus states (de Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 8. s. 1.) that Coponius, who was sent to govern Judaea as a province after the banishment of Archelaus, was invested by Augustus with the power of life and death. (Dr. Gray's Connexion of Sacred and Profane Literature, vol. i. p. 273. See also Dr. Lardner's Credibility, c. ii. § 6.) The case of the Jews stoning . (Acts vii. 56, 57.) has been urged by some learned men as a proof that the former had the power of life and death, but the circumstances of that case do not support this assertion. Stephen, it is true, had been examined before the great council, who had heard witnesses against him, but no where do we read that they had collected votes or proceeded to the giving of sentence, or even to pronounce him guilty: all which ought to have been done, if the proceedings had been regular. Before Stephen could finish his defence, a sudden tumult arose; the p. who were
F. rushed with one accord upon him, and casting him out of the city, stoned
in before the affair could be taken before the Roman procurator. Pritii Introd. ad Nov. Test. p. 592.
: Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xviii. c. 3. § 1, 2.
also a freedman of that emperor, was raised to the dignity of procurator of Judaea. . He liberated that country from banditti and impostors (the very worthy deeds alluded to by Tertullus, Acts xxiv. 2.); but he was in other respects a cruel and avaricious governor, incontinent, intemperate, and unjust. So oppressive at length did his administration become, that the Jews accused him before Nero, and it was only through the powerful interposition of Pallas that Felix escaped condign punishment. . His wife, Drusilla, (mentioned Acts xxiv. 24.) was the sister of Agrippa junior, and had been married to Azizus king of the Emesenes: Felix, having fallen desperately in love with her, persuaded her to abandon her legitimate husband and live with him. The knowledge of these circumstances materially illustrates Acts xxiv. 25. and shows with what singular propriety St. Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come. the resignation of Felix, A. D. 60, the government of Judaea was committed to Pontius Festus, before whom Paul defended himself against the accusations of the Jews (Acts xxv.), and appealed from his tribunal to that of Caesar. Finding his province overrun with robbers and murderers, Festus strenuously exerted himself in suppressing their outrages. He died in Judaea about the year 62.” The situation of the Jews under the procurators was truly deplorable, particularly the two last mentioned. Distracted by tumults, excited on various occasions, their country was overrun with robbers that plundered all the villages whose inhabitants refused to listen to their persuasions to shake off the Roman yoke. . Justice was sold to the highest bidder; and even the sacred office of high priest was exposed to sale. But, of all the procurators, no one abused his power more than GEssius Florus, a cruel and sanguinary governor, and so extremely avaricious that he shared with the robbers in their booty, and allowed them to follow their nefarious practices with impunity. Hence considerable numbers of the wretched Jews, with their families, abandoned their native country; while those who remained, being driven to desperation, took up arms against the Romans, and thus commenced that war, which terminated in the destruction of Judaea, and the taking away of their name and nation.”
1 Tacit. Annal. lib. xii. c. 54. Hist. lib. v. c. 9. Sueton. in Claudio, c. 38. Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xx. c. 7. § 2. c. *ś 5. De Bell Jud. lib. ii.c. *: 8.
* Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xx. c. 8. § , 10. De Bell. Jud...lib. ii. c. 14. § 1.
3 Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xx. c. 8, 11. De Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 9, 10.
WOL. III. 15
COURTS OF JUDICATURE, LEGAL PROCEEDINGS, AND CRIMINAL
I. Inferior Judges.—II. Seat of Justice.—III. Appeals—Constitution of the Sanhedrim or Great Council.—IV. Form of Legal Proceedings among the Jews.-1. Citation of the parties.—2, 3. Form of pleading in civil and criminal cases.—4. Witnesses.— 5. The Lot, in what cases used judicially.—6. Forms of Acquittal.-7. Summary Justice, sometimes clamorously demanded.—V Erecution of Sentences, by whom, and in what manner performed.
I. ON the settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan,
* Josephus, De Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 20. § 5.