Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume I/Church History of Eusebius/Book II/Chapter 19
Chapter XIX.—The Calamity which befell the Jews in Jerusalem on the Day of the Passover.
1. While Claudius was still emperor, it happened that so great a tumult and disturbance took place in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, that thirty thousand of those Jews alone who were forcibly crowded together at the gate of the temple perished, being trampled under foot by one another. Thus the festival became a season of mourning for all the nation, and there was weeping in every house. These things are related literally by Josephus.
2. But Claudius appointed Agrippa, son of Agrippa, king of the Jews, having sent Felix as procurator of the whole country of Samaria and Galilee, and of the land called Perea. And after he had reigned thirteen years and eight months he died, and left Nero as his successor in the empire.
- This disturbance (described by Jos. B. J. II. 12. 1, and Ant. XX. 5. 3) took place in 48 a.d. while Cumanus was procurator of Judea. During the Passover feast the procurator, as was the custom, brought extra troops to Jerusalem to guard against any uproar which might arise among the great mass of people. One of the soldiers, with the view of insulting the Jews, conducted himself indecently in their presence, whereupon so great an uproar arose that the procurator felt obliged to collect his troops upon the temple hill, but the appearance of the soldiers so greatly alarmed the multitude assembled there that they fled in all directions and crushed each other to death in their eagerness to escape. Josephus, in his Jewish War, gives the number of the slain as ten thousand, and in the Antiquities as twenty thousand. The latter work was written last, but knowing Josephus’ fondness for exaggerating numbers, we shall perhaps not accept the correction as any nearer the truth. That Eusebius gives thirty thousand need not arouse suspicion as to his honesty,—he could have had no object for changing “twenty” to “thirty,” when the former was certainly great enough,—we need simply remember how easily numbers become altered in transcription. Valesius says that this disturbance took place under Quadratus in 52 a.d. (quoting Pearson’s Ann. Paull. p. 11 sqq., and Tacitus, Ann. XII. 54). But Eusebius, in his Chron., gives the eighth year of Claudius (48 a.d.), and Orosius, VII. 4, gives the seventh year. Jost and Ewald agree with Eusebius in regard to the date.
- Eusebius simply sums up in the one sentence what fills half a page in Josephus.
- Herod Agrippa II., son of Herod Agrippa I. At the time of his father’s death (44 a.d.) he was but seventeen years of age, and his youth deterred Claudius from giving him the kingdom of his father, which was therefore again converted into a Roman province, and Fadus was sent as procurator. In 49 a.d. Agrippa was given the kingdom of Chalcis which had belonged to his uncle Herod (a brother of Agrippa I.), and in 53 a.d. he was transferred to the tetrarchies of Philip and Lysanias with the title of King. He was never king of the Jews in the same sense in which his father was, as Judea remained a Roman province throughout his reign, while his dominion comprised only the northeastern part of Palestine. He enjoyed, however, the right of appointing and removing the high priests, and under Nero his domain was somewhat increased by the addition of several cities of Galilee, and Perea. He sided with the Romans in the Jewish war, and afterwards went to Rome, where he died in 100 a.d., the last prince of the Herodian line. It was before this Agrippa that Paul made his defense recorded in Acts xxvi.
- Felix, a freedman of Claudius, succeeded Cumanus as procurator of Judea in 52 (or, according to Wieseler, 53) a.d. The territory over which he ruled included Samaria and the greater part of Galilee and Perea, to which Judea was added by Nero, according to Josephus, B. J. II. 13. 2. Ewald, in the attempt to reconcile Tacitus, Ann. XII. 54, and Josephus, Ant. XX. 5. 2–7. 1,—the former of whom makes Cumanus and Felix contemporary procurators, each over a part of the province, while the latter makes Felix the successor of Cumanus,—concludes that Felix was sent to Judea as the assistant of Cumanus, and became procurator upon the banishment of the latter. This is not impossible, though we have no testimony to support it. Compare Wieseler, p. 67, note. Between 59 and 61 (according to Wieseler, in 60; see chap. 22, note 1, below) he was succeeded by Porcius Festus. For the relations of these two procurators to the apostle Paul, see Acts xx. sqq. Eusebius, in his Chron., puts the accession of Felix in the eleventh year of Claudius (51 a.d.), and the accession of Festus in the fourteenth year (54 a.d.), but both of these dates are clearly incorrect (cf. Wieseler, p. 68, note).
- Eusebius evidently supposed the Roman province at this time to have been limited to Samaria, Galilee, and Perea; but in this he was wrong, for it included also Judea (see preceding note), Agrippa II. having under him only the tetrarchies mentioned above (note 3) and a few cities of Galilee and Perea. He had, however, the authority over the temple and the power of appointing the high priests (see Jos. Ant. XX. 8. 11 and 9. 1, 4, 6, 7), which had been given by Claudius to his uncle, the king of Chalcis (Jos. Ant. XX. 1. 3).
- Claudius ruled from Jan. 24, 41 a.d., to Oct. 13, 54.