Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume I/Church History of Eusebius/Book II/Chapter 6
Chapter VI.—The Misfortunes which overwhelmed the Jews after their Presumption against Christ.
1. After the death of Tiberius, Caius received the empire, and, besides innumerable other acts of tyranny against many people, he greatly afflicted especially the whole nation of the Jews. These things we may learn briefly from the words of Philo, who writes as follows:
2. “So great was the caprice of Caius in his conduct toward all, and especially toward the nation of the Jews. The latter he so bitterly hated that he appropriated to himself their places of worship in the other cities, and beginning with Alexandria he filled them with images and statues of himself (for in permitting others to erect them he really erected them himself). The temple in the holy city, which had hitherto been left untouched, and had been regarded as an inviolable asylum, he altered and transformed into a temple of his own, that it might be called the temple of the visible Jupiter, the younger Caius.”
3. Innumerable other terrible and almost indescribable calamities which came upon the Jews in Alexandria during the reign of the same emperor, are recorded by the same author in a second work, to which he gave the title, On the Virtues. With him agrees also Josephus, who likewise indicates that the misfortunes of the whole nation began with the time of Pilate, and with their daring crimes against the Saviour.
4. Hear what he says in the second book of his Jewish War, where he writes as follows: “Pilate being sent to Judea as procurator by Tiberius, secretly carried veiled images of the emperor, called ensigns, to Jerusalem by night. The following day this caused the greatest disturbance among the Jews. For those who were near were confounded at the sight, beholding their laws, as it were, trampled under foot. For they allow no image to be set up in their city.”
5. Comparing these things with the writings of the evangelists, you will see that it was not long before there came upon them the penalty for the exclamation which they had uttered under the same Pilate, when they cried out that they had no other king than Cæsar.
6. The same writer further records that after this another calamity overtook them. He writes as follows: “After this he stirred up another tumult by making use of the holy treasure, which is called Corban, in the construction of an aqueduct three hundred stadia in length.
7. The multitude were greatly displeased at it, and when Pilate was in Jerusalem they surrounded his tribunal and gave utterance to loud complaints. But he, anticipating the tumult, had distributed through the crowd armed soldiers disguised in citizen’s clothing, forbidding them to use the sword, but commanding them to strike with clubs those who should make an outcry. To them he now gave the preconcerted signal from the tribunal. And the Jews being beaten, many of them perished in consequence of the blows, while many others were trampled under foot by their own countrymen in their flight, and thus lost their lives. But the multitude, overawed by the fate of those who were slain, held their peace.”
8. In addition to these the same author records many other tumults which were stirred up in Jerusalem itself, and shows that from that time seditions and wars and mischievous plots followed each other in quick succession, and never ceased in the city and in all Judea until finally the siege of Vespasian overwhelmed them. Thus the divine vengeance overtook the Jews for the crimes which they dared to commit against Christ.
- Caius’ hostility to the Jews resulted chiefly (as mentioned above, chap. 5, note 4) from their refusal to pay him divine honors, which he demanded from them as well as from his other subjects. His demands had caused terrible disturbances in Alexandria; and in Jerusalem, where he commanded the temple to be devoted to his worship, the tumult was very great and was quieted only by the yielding of the emperor, who was induced to give up his demands by the request of Agrippa, who was then at Rome and in high favor with him. Whether the Jews suffered in the same way in Rome we do not know, but it is probable that the emperor endeavored to carry out the same plan there as elsewhere.
- Philo, Legat. ad Caium, 43.
- ἐν ταῖς ἄλλαις πόλεσι. The reason for the use of the word “other” is not quite clear, though Philo perhaps means all the cities except Jerusalem, which he mentions a little below.
- “‘Caius the younger,’ to distinguish him from Julius Cæsar who bore the name Caius, and who was also deified” (Valesius).
- This work is probably the same as that mentioned in the beginning of chap. 5. (See chap. 5, note 1.) The work seems to have borne two titles ἡ πρεσβεία and περὶ ἀρετῶν. See Schürer, ibid. p. 859, who considers the δευτέρω here the addition of a copyist, who could not reconcile the two different titles given by Eusebius.
- This is rather an unwarranted assumption on the part of Eusebius, as Josephus is very far from intimating that the calamities of the nation were a consequence of their crimes against our Saviour.
- Josephus, B. J. II. 9. 2.
- σημαῖαι καλοῦνται
- John xix. 15.
- Josephus, B. J. II. 9. 4.
- Heb. קָרְבָּן; Greek κορβᾶν and κορβανᾶς. The word denoted originally any offering to God, especially an offering in fulfillment of a vow. The form κορβανᾶς, which Josephus has employed here, was used to denote the sacred treasure or the treasury itself. In Matt. xxvii. 6, the only place where this form of the word occurs in the New Testament, it is used with the latter meaning. Upon this act of Pilate’s, see above, chap. 5, note 9.
- Josephus, in Ant. XVIII. 3. 2, says that the aqueduct was 200 stadia long. In the passage which Eusebius quotes the number given is 400, according to the Greek mss. of Josephus, though the old Latin translation agrees with Eusebius in reading 300. The situation of the aqueduct we do not know, though the remains of an ancient aqueduct have been found to the south of Jerusalem, and it is thought that this may have been the same. It is possible that Pilate did not construct a new aqueduct, but simply restored one that had been built in the time of Solomon. Schultz (Jerusalem, Berlin, 1845) suggests the number 40, supposing that the aqueduct began at Bethlehem, which is 40 stadia from Jerusalem.
- See B. J. II. 10, 12 sqq.