Theocracy, Temple and tax: Ingredients for the Jewish-Roman War of 66-70 CE
James S McLaren Australian Catholic University (j.mclaren@patrick.acu.edu.au) The Jewish-Roman war that commenced in the summer of 66 CE has been the subject of much reflection and analysis. The way the war unfolded impacted greatly on the wider world. The Flavian rulers clearly used the war for their program of self-adulation. On a broader level, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem impacted upon the shape and substance of Judaism and Christianity. It is of no surprise, therefore, that the war remains the subject of much scholarly investigation. This interest is further enhanced by the unusual ‘good fortune’ that the extensive account of the participant and eyewitness Josephus has survived. Given the vast array of existing critical analysis of the war there is a sense in which the ground is already well trodden. However, it is also apparent that certain aspects of the war have yet to receive due attention. The following discussion focuses on three such elements associated with the beginning of the war: the census and tax dispute of 65/66 CE; the temple orientation of the revolt; and, the theocratic manifesto of the revolt. All three are interconnected and help point to the specific circumstances in which the war began. As such, they are also cause for caution regarding the direction of much of the existing analysis of the war.

At the outset it is important ‘to lay one’s cards on the table’. No historical investigation undertaken is abstract. The task here, understanding the beginning of the war, may be labelled neutral, but the process of putting together the reconstruction of what happened is never without ‘valued added’ components, namely, the perspective of the interpreter and

2 the sources they employ. Four premises shape the nature of this particular investigation. Each one warrants outlining in some detail.

i. How the available source material is used. The extensive narrative of Josephus is an obvious focal point of any investigation of the war. It is very detailed and it was written by a participant who experienced life on both sides of the conflict. The latter has resulted in much discussion about the bias of Josephus and it means the account must be employed with caution. There is, however, an even more significant reason for caution in the use of Josephus. The apparent wealth of the detail in his account can lull us into viewing the purpose of our activity as one where the goal is to clarify and correct what Josephus has written. Inadvertently we can fall into simply working from the structure provided by Josephus. Although we can claim to work at correcting his explanation of what happened, the success of which is highly debatable, more often than not we tend to allow his description of the build up to war and the sequencing of events during the war to stand as the solid point of reference.1 As such, Josephus takes pride of place as the main source of information. Probably the most significant negative consequence of this orientation is that any other available source material is measured against Josephus’ account. Rather than sources being placed on the table alongside one another, priority is given to Josephus. As a result an interpretation of what happened becomes the framework for understanding what happened.

Obviously, the existence of a detailed narrative about the war is extremely attractive for an historical reconstruction and it is appropriate that such a source should feature prominently

This case has been argued in some detail in J.S. McLaren, Turbulent Times? Josephus and Scholarship on Judaea in the First Century CE (JSPSup 29; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998) esp. 179-218.

3 in the investigation. However, it should not act as the filter through which other sources are used, nor should the effort be one of harmonizing divergent sources to comply with what Josephus narrates. Yes, Josephus is very close to the event in question, but what he offers is an interpretation constructed after the event. We must, therefore, ensure that all available sources are treated on their own merit, no matter how minute the amount of information they appear to contain. Alongside Josephus we should place such material as: the coinage minted by the Jews; various Roman accounts of the war; and, other intriguing snippets of information like the inscribed ostraca from Masada and dated letters from the Wadi Murabba’at caves.2 It is also important to draw on any information regarding the functioning of Roman rule in the provinces that can help provide a broader context for what was happening in Judea in 66 CE.

There are positives and negatives associated with each source. For example, on the plus, Josephus provides much detail about people and events he claims were involved, and he provides his own analysis of why the war took place. On the negative, the account is constructed after the event and is selected and framed with hindsight. The coinage, on the other hand, has the benefit of being constructed for those involved in the revolt as it takes place. As such, if any priority is to be allocated among the sources it should be given to the coinage. Although it lacks a users’ ‘manual’ the chronological proximity of the coinage to the war as it unfolded is unique.


For the inscribed ostraca, “A[nani]as the High Priest, ‘Aqavia his son”, see Y. Yadin and J. Naveh, The Aramaic and Hebrew Ostraca and Jar Inscriptions in Masada I. The Yigael Yadin Excavations 1963-1965 Final Reports. (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1989) 37-38, no.461, plate 30. For the relevant documents from Wadi Murabba’at (Mur. 17-19, 22, 25, 29, 30) see P. Benoit, J.T. Milik and R. de Vaux (eds) Les grottes de Murabba’at (DJD II; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960).

4 ii. Acknowledging the consequences of our chronological distance from the events.3 Knowing how the war ends places us in a very difficult situation. No matter how much we might want to put ourselves in the circumstances of when the war commenced we cannot but help know the final outcome. In fact, the endgame of this particular war has had a massive impact on existing investigations into how it should be understood. The destruction of Jerusalem by the overwhelming might of Roman military power makes the decision to fight look like a forlorn one. How could the Jews ever have hoped to defeat, let alone hold out against, the well-trained and all-conquering legions of Rome? Going to war against Rome defied common sense. The terrible end of the war highlights the extent to which the decision to rebel against Rome was a foolish act. It is important to note that Josephus set in motion such an understanding of the whole war. Positioned on the eve of the war commencing in his narrative, Josephus has the character Agrippa II speak to the Jews in Jerusalem about the stupidity of trying to oppose Rome (War 2.346-404). Sensible Jews, like Josephus, realized before the war that fighting against Rome would end in disaster (War 2.449, 556, 651; Life 1723).

Although it is understandable that our investigations tend to look back from the endpoint in order to understand the unfortunate circumstances that resulted in such a terrible outcome, it is important that we turn our attention around and approach the war from the other end. We need to look forward, without reference to the known endpoint. In 66 CE it is likely that various opinions were being advocated about what would happen should the Jews decide to

On an even more fundamental level this study is based on the premise that investigation of actual historical events is legitimate and that we can expand our understanding of the what and why of such events. For a different perspective on the consequence of our distance for such inquiry see S. Mason, ‘Contradiction or Counterpoint? Josephus and Historical Method’, RRJ 6.2-3 (2003) 145-88. Mason presents a fundamental challenge regarding our ability to establish the historical situations that are narrated in Josephus’ texts where he is the only surviving account. His arguments warrant a detailed response in their own right and will be the subject of a forthcoming

5 go to war against Rome. Some would have expressed fear about how such a war would end but most of those who went to war did so in the hope and/or expectation of victory. The war was not seen as a lost cause before it began according to those who rebelled. When people decide to go to war it is normally with the expectation of a positive outcome. Ironically, to try to engage with the mindset of those who went to war in 66 CE we need to shed the determinism associated with the known endpoint and enter into a speculative world of trying to construct what motivated the rebels to go to war. In order to gain a sense of what was happening in 66 CE we must appear to discard what is rational in favour of an irrational approach. The war was not a lost cause, nor was it necessarily believed to be a futile last stand. For many Jews 66 CE was a time of hope.

iii. Going to war involves making a choice. In any war there are likely to be parties described as being aggressors who initiate conflict and others who are labelled as defenders that respond to a given situation. For all those directly involved as participants decisions are made to fight, even when it is one of responding to an aggressive act, especially at the early stages of a given conflict.4

We can presume that every generation of the Jewish people who resided in Judea during the era of Roman domination learnt about aspects of their heritage and ancestral customs. As such, there were always people who could be categorised as idealists and others who were realists in terms of cultural engagement and/or isolation. What may have altered from one

study. For the present investigation it is important to reiterate that although Josephus provides the only surviving extensive literary account of the war he is not the only source at our disposal. 4 This point has a direct bearing on the existing discussion regarding the role of the Jewish aristocracy in the 66-70 CE war. Even if we are to follow the line of argument that some of the aristocrats only became involved out of their sense of responsibility as the leaders of the community there was still an element of choice in that decision. Some aristocrats chose to leave the city, some to side with Agrippa II and some to fight against Rome.

6 generation to the next was the balance between the respective groups. The potential for war is, therefore, ever present. Certain situations may have contributed to a heightened degree of tension at any given moment. It is also possible that a series of incidents could be seen as building up an increased level of tension. However, for a war to begin a choice still needed to be made. The fact that the war in Judea commenced in 66 CE is not necessarily an accident.5 Relations between the Jews and Romans may have been strained for sometime and they may have reached breaking point. However, that the war actually began in 66 CE requires a choice being made by some Jews that had not been made in 65 CE or any of the preceding years. First and foremost, our attention must centre on what was happening in the summer of 66 CE and the months leading up to the war. As much as it may appear tempting to view the war as an inevitable clash between Jews and the Romans as the foreign ruling power, such an approach ignores the vital role of a choice being made by a sufficient number of Jews in one particular year that was not made in any previous year.6

iv. Roman indecision about how to administer Judea. Direct Roman involvement in the affairs of the Jews in Judea and the surrounding territory had commenced in 63 BCE. By 66 CE Rome had claimed oversight of how the territory would be administered for over 120 years. As to how it should be governed, however, Rome sent the local population a very mixed message. Furthermore, exactly how much of the territory they controlled was also subject to change. Most of the time a local ruler was favoured, in the form of an ethnarch or king. Yet having subjected part of the territory to direct rule by a

How the war unfolded and how long it lasted, however, was also likely to be subject to external factors beyond the control of any of the participants. Key examples of such factors include the demise of Corbulo, the suicide of Nero and the subsequent rivalry for power in Rome. 6 This investigation focuses on what the community as a whole did, not what small minority groups may have decided upon at other times during Roman rule. In other words, it is possible that some groups believed they had

7 Roman official early in the first century CE, they later reverted back to a local king within another thirty one years. The untimely death of Agrippa I saw a return of direct Roman rule but with redefined boundaries. We are not dealing with a situation where Rome introduced a single system of rule from day one. Roman hegemony remained constant but alternative ways of administering the territory were employed. In the 60’s CE many adult Jews could remember the time of Agrippa I, and some may have even thought it possible that his son would still be ceded further territory and/or responsibilities in due course. At the same time, it is not a case of all Jews now being used to life under Roman rule, as though it was all that they had ever experienced.7

The preceding comments pave the way for an analysis of the three elements of the revolt identified at the outset of this paper. No longer do we need to find ourselves constrained by the framework of Josephus that looks back on a failed war in order to make sense of life for the Jews in the situation that confronted them after 70 CE. Nor do we need to presume that it was only a matter of time before war broke out. While it remains possible that some type of ‘system-wide’ failure helped make the war a disaster waiting to happen we can also look for factors that point toward constructive decisions being made to go to war. In particular, the very existence of the coinage minted during the war acts as a tangible reminder of the constructive nature of the war, at least in the eyes of those responsible for its production.
been at war with Rome well before 66 CE (eg. some of the bandits and/or the sicarii mentioned in Josephus’ prewar narrative). 7 See the comments by D.R. Schwartz, ‘Rome and the Jews: Josephus on ‘Freedom’ and ‘Autonomy’’, in A.K. Bowman, H.M. Cotton, M. Goodman, S. Price (eds), Representations of Empire. Rome and the Mediterranean World (OUP; Oxford, 2002) 75; cf. P.A. Brunt, Roman Imperial Themes (Oxford: OUP, 1990) who views the Jews as having long existed under Roman rule by the time the war commences. This fourth premise is particularly important for situating the war in relation to other revolts that occurred in the Roman Empire. Note also that the precise meaning of Josephus’ comment about the territory of Archelaus being turned into a province is unclear (War 2.117). Judea may have been placed under the direct control of the legate of Syria. See H.M. Cotton, ‘Some aspects of the Roman administration of Judaea/Syria-Palaestina’ in W. Eck with E. Müller-Luckner (eds), Lokale

8 The coinage conveys a sense of hope and expectation, free of the bitterness of experience derived from harsh suppression of the revolt as it is in the pages of Josephus’ narrative.

The census and subsequent tax dispute It is understandable that the census undertaken by Quirinius in 6 CE has attracted much attention. Josephus goes out of his way to ensure that his readers see the census as highly significant, especially in the extensive commentary that accompanies the account in Antiquities 18. Very few details about the exact nature of the census are provided. Instead, Josephus uses the reference to the census as the occasion to introduce his readers to the ‘fourth philosophy’ that is linked with a person named as Judas. Apparently this new philosophy was totally opposed to Roman rule and saw the imposition of the census as turning the Jews into slaves (War 2.118; Ant. 18.4). Josephus is explicit in stating that some Jews were totally opposed to the census. He is equally direct and overt in claiming that Jews who adopted such a line of thinking did not represent the majority, accepted view. They were radical Jews who stood outside the mainstream of Jewish thinking. Such laboured signposting by Josephus has been readily noticed by scholarship.8

In terms of the actual census Josephus does not make matters easy by the different approach he takes in the two texts to narrating the event. In War 2.117-18 the focus is on Judas, with Coponius being the only Roman official named. There is no reference to the actual census. In Antiquities (17.355, 18.1-10, 26), however, Quirinius is the key Roman named and the

Autonomie und römische Ordnungsmacht in den kariserzeitlichen Provinzen vom1. bis 3. Jahrhundert (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1999). 8 Probably one of the more obvious examples of this scholarly activity pertains to the role of the fourth philosophy in the dynamic of Jewish-Roman relations before the war and the nature of the group’s contribution to the beginning of the war.

9 connection between Judas and the census is made explicit.9 These changes are best explained by acknowledging that Josephus alters the way in which he presents his main theme in this part of the narrative: isolating ideological opposition to Rome from the mainstream of Jewish society. For Josephus, reporting the taking of the census in itself does not appear to have been the main concern. Hence, it is not surprising that he makes no effort to refer to any later census registration as part of his account. Josephus displays little interest in describing practical administrative activities.10

Within this setting we come to the main point. Near the end of War 6 Josephus draws to a close his account of the capture of Jerusalem. In 6.420 he lists the number of Jewish casualties. In order to justify the large numbers given Josephus provides what amounts to a very significant piece of information. In War 6.422 he states that Cestius Gallus had undertaken a count of the population. Although not explicitly identified as such, this is a reference to the taking of a census in Judea, while Cestius was governor of Syria.11 Josephus claims that the primary purpose of the census was to provide Nero with accurate information about the number of Jews, in order to impress upon the emperor the value of seeking a conciliatory path in dealing with them (War 6.422).12 It is interesting that Josephus decided to provide an explanation for the census and that he framed it in such a manner. Although Nero is generally depicted in a negative manner (War 2.250), nowhere is he

In the indirect references to Judas elsewhere in Jewish War Quirinius is named in War 2.433 while in War 7.253 Quirinius and the census are mentioned as part of the extra detail provided. 10 It is intriguing that Josephus provides very little detail about placing Galilee under direct Roman control after the death of Agrippa I ( War 2.220; Ant 19.360-63). 11 On the various terms used by Josephus to describe registrations (Ant 18.4, 26; Ant 17.355, 18.2, 3; War 6.422, Ant 7.319; and War 7.253, Ant 18.3) see K.H. Rengstorf (ed), A Complete Concordance to Flavius Josephus (Leiden: Brill, 1972) I.177, 213 and II.116-117. 12 Two of the few scholars who refer to the incident, E.M. Smallwood, The Jews under Roman Rule: From Pompey to Diocletian (Leiden: Brill, 1976) 284-85 and M. Hengel, The Zealots: investigations into the Jewish Freedom Movement in the Period from Herod I until AD 70 (trans. D. Smith; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1989) 130

10 presented as displaying particular animosity toward the Jews in Jewish War.13 Josephus appears to be deflecting attention away from the important piece of information that this brief aside reveals, namely, evidence for at least one further census being undertaken in Judea just before the war.14

The reference to the census undertaken by Cestius in War 6.422 is very important.15 As with the first census, it is the legate of Syria who oversees the registration. It is also possible that we are provided with clues about the actual means by which the census was carried out. In the context of celebrating Passover the priests undertook a count of the population (War 6.423). It would appear, therefore, that Cestius employed the chief priests to undertake the census. The situation in 6 CE indicates that a similar approach to completing the task was adopted by Quirinius. According to the Antiquities 18 account, the high-priest Joazar is identified as playing a key role in the process. Quirinius called upon him to mediate with the Jews (Ant 18.3). It would also appear that he was deemed culpable for the registration from the perspective of certain Jews (Ant 18.26). Whether these two examples represented the normal practice is a matter of speculation given the paucity of information. What we should

repeat this alleged motivation without any question. Hengel claims the method of completing the registration indicates the “sensitivity of the Jews” regarding the whole process. 13 Josephus notes that the case regarding Caesarea was brought before the Emperor’s court but makes no adverse comment at the time in the narrative ( War 2.284). 14 As noted by M. Stern, ‘The Province of Judaea’ in S. Safrai and M. Stern (eds), The Jewish People in the First Century: Historical Geography, Political History, Social, Cultural and Religious Life and Institutions (CRINT, 1:1; Assen: Van Gorcum, 1974) 331. A key issue to ponder is the reason that Josephus chooses to comment on the motivation of Cestius’ action. It is not necessary in terms of the immediate narrative context in War 6. Mention of the motivation only draws greater attention to the registration when it was not important to the flow of the narrative. The comment highlights the fact that it was not placed in the description of events leading up to the beginning of the war. Why did Josephus leave out the registration from his selection of those events to describe in War 2? Was it because of concern about its relevance for how the war commenced? 15 Not the least because of the extremely limited reference to it in existing scholarship. I am not aware of any discussion that acknowledges the link between the registration and the tax dispute. The importance of this reference is indicated by the claim by Brunt (533) that the supposed absence of reference to further registrations by Josephus other than the one in 6 CE is an indication that there were fewer censuses taken than previously thought by scholars!

11 note is that in the two censuses cited by Josephus leading priests are connected with completing the task. We will return to this observation later.

Reconstructing the practice of census registration in the Roman Empire is fraught with difficulty because of the absence of detailed information from many of the provinces.16 Although it is unlikely that Augustus introduced one system that was universally applied throughout the empire, he did initiate a co-ordinated process of using censuses in the provinces. Furthermore, the bulk of what evidence does exist relates to those provinces that came under the direct authority of the emperor. The main purpose of the census was to help determine the level of direct taxation applicable in a given territory. People and land were registered. Rome claimed tax for living and for working the land.17 The tributum capitis was paid with money while the method of paying the tributum soli component of the tax varied among the provinces. It is significant that in Judea the latter appears to have also been paid with money (Ant 18.3). The tax was due on an annual basis but specific information about the process of collection is scarce. An intriguing question is the regularity with which registrations took place. Although there is ample evidence to indicate that a census was held on a fourteen-year cycle in Egypt, a fifteen-year cycle appears to be the norm elsewhere from the reign of Augustus onwards.18 Updating the registration lists had two main consequences: adjusting the tax assessment and deciding how to reconcile any outstanding


For detailed discussion of the census and taxation of provinces in the Roman Empire see R. Duncan-Jones, Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy (Cambridge: CUP; 1990) 187-98 and Money and government in the Roman Empire (Cambridge: CUP; 1994) 47-63 and P.A. Brunt, 531-40. There is some evidence for the means of registration used in the province of Arabia and that used in Egypt. It is likely that the actual process of collection varied according to the local circumstances of a given province. 17 It is understandable that some Jews would see this as amounting to slavery (Ant 18.4). See Hengel, 127-38. On the question of the forms of taxation used by Herod see J. Pastor, Land and Economy in Ancient Palestine (Routledge: London, 1997). 18 See Duncan-Jones, Money 59-63.

12 amount of tax due.19 Hence, it was definitely in the interests of Rome to ensure such updates took place on a fairly regular basis. There is, however, only spasmodic evidence from the provinces of the census cycle in practice. Josephus’ off hand reference to a registration during the term of Cestius, therefore, is an important affirmation of such activity in Judea.

Unfortunately Josephus does not indicate the exact timing of the census undertaken by Cestius. The earliest date that it could have occurred is 63 CE, when it appears he took over as legate from Corbulo. Based on coinage he issued Cestius was certainly in office by 65/66 CE.20 Josephus describes Cestius visiting Jerusalem at Passover but does not specify the year (War 2.280).21 It is possible that Cestius’ visit to Jerusalem was entirely separate to the census. However, it is notable that the visit and the registration are connected with the Passover festival. Cestius may have decided to take a hands-on approach to the completion of the census, as he was a recent arrival to the post. As such, the timing of the visit becomes important. Unfortunately, the immediate narrative setting in War is of little help. Prior to the mention of the visit Josephus presents a general introduction about the criminal behaviour of Florus (War 2.277-79). Immediately after the visit Josephus narrates a dispute at Caesarea that is dated precisely to Artemisios, 66 CE (War 2.284-85) but there is no suggestion of a chronological connection between the two events.22 It is possible the census should be dated to the year the war began. It requires a very compact sequencing of events in the space of one or two months. Although slightly more spread out, a date of 65 CE for the visit is the more plausible if it is connected to the census. This is especially the case if the census was
19 20

It is possible a five-year lustrum was used to review taxes. See Duncan-Jones, Money 61-63. See A. Burnett, M. Amandry, P.P. Ripollès, Roman Provincial Coinage (British Museum Press: London, 1992) I.I 622 (coins dated year 114 [65/6] of the Caesarian era). 21 For 65 CE see E. Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (rev. and trans. G. Vermes, F. Millar and M. Black; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1973) I.265. For 66 CE see Smallwood 285.

13 regularly undertaken in accordance with the fifteen-year cycle commencing in 6 CE.23 Either way, at Passover in 65 CE or 66 CE, Cestius oversaw an update of the tax register in Judea.

It is important to recognise that the census undertaken by Cestius was part of the regular review of the register list. Despite what Josephus claims in War 6.422, the primary purpose of the registration was to update the tax assessment records for the province. The revised levy that Jews were to pay Rome in direct taxation was being decided. It is not a surprise, therefore, that tax features prominently in the narrative of Josephus about events in 66 CE in War 2. It is raised in speeches made by his characters and it is associated with a number of events he narrates about Florus’ governorship.24 What has been generally overlooked until now is acknowledgment of the direct connection between Cestius’ census and the dispute over tax that takes place in 66 CE.

Josephus’ account of the events in the summer of 66 CE is a mixture of substantial detail and gross oversimplification in which a heavy sense of authorial control is at work. In some instances his hand is very obvious with claims that are clearly implausible. For example, it is difficult to comprehend how the lengthy speech of Agrippa II could have taken place (War 2.345-404) and that a decision had been taken to replace Florus, as implied by Agrippa’s advice to be patient until Nero sent a replacement (War 2.406). There is no evidence that Cestius or any other Roman official intended to remove Florus. A major concern for Josephus

If anything, there is a change of scene indicated by the introductory comment in War 2.284, where Josephus harks back to an imperial decision made several years earlier. 23 Working forward from 6 CE, if Judea operated on the standard fifteen-year cycle the census was due in 65 CE. It is likely that the fourteen-year cycle used in Egypt was specific to that location. If it was used in Judea, the census was due in 62 CE, meaning the one undertaken by Cestius was overdue. A possible variable in these calculations is the impact of Agrippa I’s reign for determining the cycle. 24 Although deliberately separated by Josephus, the comments regarding the opposition to the census associated with 6 CE should also be connected with the situation in 66 CE. See J.S. McLaren, ‘Constructing Judaean History

14 in outlining what happened was to highlight the criminal behaviour of Florus. At the same time, he was explicit in depicting the majority of the Jews as suffering with great tolerance the abuse of Florus. It was only an unrepresentative minority of Jews who called for armed resistance (War 2.302-304, 325). Josephus depicts most of the sensible Jews, especially the aristocrats, as arguing for a peaceful resolution to affairs. (War 2.321-22, 422). Hence, there are also numerous references to private and public meetings designed to seek a conciliatory solution (War 2.315-17, 320, 336, 411). The subject matter and the commentary all work to achieving Josephus’ image of what happened.

Lurking within the account is the issue of taxation. It clearly has a function in the narrative to enhance the depiction of Florus as a corrupt governor (War 2.293, 331) and to enhance the peaceful orientation of the Jewish leaders (War 2.406). This, however, is best understood only as the makeover Josephus gives to what is actually the central topic of discussion between Roman officials and Jewish leaders in Jerusalem in the early summer of 66 CE: a dispute regarding taxation due for payment to Rome. Shifting attention from the situation in Caesarea, where Florus is depicted as behaving without honour, Josephus claims the governor moved to Jerusalem and extracted seventeen talents from the Temple treasury (War 2.293). Although Florus gave as his justification that the money was for the service of the Emperor (War 2.293), Josephus claims it was really for personal gain. An important detail not provided by Josephus is the means by which Florus was able to acquire the money. It is legitimate to speculate that it was provided to him by those Jews responsible for overseeing the treasury, given the lack of any reference to him forcibly extracting the money. Later,

in the Diaspora: Josephus’s Accounts of Judas’ in J.M.G. Barclay (ed), Negotiating Diaspora. Jewish Strategies in the Roman Empire (T & T Clark International: London, 2004) 90-108.

15 Florus is depicted as trying to gain access to the Temple, only to be denied by some Jews who had barricaded the precinct (War 2.328-330).

Almost as an afterthought in the long speech allocated to Agrippa II reference is made to an amount of tax due, forty talents (War 2.405). Furthermore, in the final advice Agrippa offers to the Jews to avoid being charged with insurrection, he states that they should restore the porticoes and pay the tax (War 2.404). Clearly, an amount of tax was outstanding. On behalf of Rome Florus ordered that the amount of tax due be paid by the Jews. What are we to make of the two amounts mentioned? Furthermore, was the tax overdue from the previous cycle or was it part of the current assessment? Josephus is not always careful with figures. He may have simply made a mistake. However, in this instance it is possible that there were two separate amounts involved: the seventeen talents that were initially handed over to Florus and the remaining forty talents that completed the amount that was still outstanding. We probably have no means of determining whether either of these sums of money related to payment of tax levied from a previous year but as yet not paid. Given the recent census that had been completed by Cestius, it is likely that some adjustment of the tax levy had occurred and what was taking place in Jerusalem in 66 CE was a dispute over the payment of an increase in the levy. The unusual step of extracting the money from the Temple treasury probably indicates the governor was making it clear to the Jews that he would meet the assigned amount by whatever means necessary. Florus was responsible for ensuring that Rome was not short changed on the direct tax determined by the registration. The books did not balance after the relevant process of collection and so he decided to acquire the shortfall from the Temple.25

If it was a shortfall from the previous cycle, then demanding a communal type payment from the Temple treasury is understandable. However, the brief aside in War 2.406 may indicate that the relevant people had not


Florus’ initial demand was met and seventeen talents were handed over to him. The ‘need’ for Rome to be in receipt of more money, however, was ridiculed by the mock collection. Florus may have been confrontational in the way he handled the situation but, as Josephus has Agrippa II state, the refusal to pay the tax was an act of rebellion. Florus then set about teaching the Jews a lesson. He hit hard at aspects of the local economy, allowing his troops to destroy the upper market and pillage houses while Jews of equestrian rank were punished.

When the governor then tried to take control of the Temple he met with active resistance. Jews fought against the Romans and barred access to the Temple. Florus had gone too far in his attempt to assert Roman authority. He deemed the contents of the Temple treasury as accessible to the needs of Rome. Possibly in order to prevent serious trouble, those connected with the treasury were willing to go along with Florus’ demand to a certain degree. When he pushed the matter further and actually tried to take over the Temple he crossed a line in the sand. According to its custodians, the Temple and its treasury did not belong to Rome.26 Whether he meant to do so or not, Florus’ actions brought to the surface the fundamental question of who had authority to access the Temple treasury. Of course, preceding Florus’ effort to retrieve missing revenue was the apparent failure of the Jews to meet their allocated obligations as determined by the recent census undertaken by Cestius. All along the way choices had been made. Yet ahead lay further, crucial choices. For the Jews,
taken the collection for that particular year. If so, it is even more understandable that Florus opted for a strong-arm tactic of claiming the arrears from the Temple treasury. As to the amount of money mentioned, a point of comparison is the revenue listed for the regions allocated to Herod’s three sons in his will. Josephus lists an annual income of 200 talents for the territory of Antipas ( War 2.95; Ant 17.318), 100 talents for the territory of Philip ( War 2.95; Ant 17.319) and for the territory of Archelaus, in War 2.97 it is 400 talents while in Ant 17.320 it is 600 talents. Although only a guide at best, it does suggest that the amount claimed by Florus represented a significant proportion of the potential annual revenue.

17 should they seek to negotiate a way forward with the Roman officials or should they try to reinforce the notion that Rome does not control the Temple and its treasury? For the Romans, should they primarily try to restore order and assert their authority aggressively or by trying to negotiate a resolution?

The Temple orientation of the revolt As outlined above, the beginning of the war centres round a dispute over arrears in taxation in connection with the census of 65 CE. The crucial issue in the situation was who had authority regarding the Temple treasury. Florus’ attempt to push the point about asserting Roman control of the Temple met with open resistance from Jews. The governor and his troops were physically prevented from gaining access to the Temple. This initial action in relation to the war marks the first of several indications that it was primarily centred on the Temple, at least at the outset.

The Temple was a highly significant factor in the life of Jews during the first century CE. The size of the expanded complex, the economic activity associated with it, and the key place it had in the pilgrimage festivals, all contributed to the prominent role of the Temple. It was an important part of what symbolised the Jewish way of life.27 It is of little surprise, therefore, that the Temple should also feature in a war against a foreign power. What is particularly striking about the focus on the Temple is its pivotal role in the motivation for two of the key initiatives of the Jews at the start of the war: ceasing offering sacrifices on behalf of Rome


On the Temple in general see E.P. Sanders, Judaism. Practice & Belief 63 BCE-66 CE (SCM Press: London, 1992) 51-72. The layout of the Temple acted as a practical expression of the limitations asserted regarding access to its activities. 27 In part, the key role of the Temple is also implied by the existence of criticism regarding its operation and/or expressions of the role that will be played by the Temple in the future. See the summary list provided by Sanders 292-94.

18 and the Emperor; and, minting silver coinage. In other words, the Temple is both a symbol and a tangible element in the course of the war at one and the same time.

Sacrifices were offered in the Temple on behalf of Rome and the Emperor twice a day (War 2.197). This custom probably dates from the time of Augustus and was paid for by the Jews. It was part of a package deal devised during Herod’s reign by which the Jewish people could be construed as displaying their loyalty to Rome. Greco-Roman sacred space was provided by the construction of the three Temples of Rome and Augustus by Herod. At the same time, in Jewish sacred space the well being of the Empire was respected through the offering of the daily sacrifice.28 The custom indicated Roman hegemony over the Jews in a manner that respected the concerns of all interested parties. There was no need for Rome to intervene in the Jerusalem Temple, the Jewish deity was also caring for the welfare of Rome.29

By implication, stopping the custom would signify that the Jews no longer accepted their status as subjects of Rome. Hence, it is understandable that Josephus describes the decision to cease the practice as an act of war (War 2.409). It is also not surprising that Josephus is very careful in the way that he describes what happened. There are many gaps and unusual elements in his account. The readers are guided to be critical of the action. He also deflects attention away from any notion of the action being part of a positive decision to go to war. The case for restoring the sacrifices is given prime billing: prominent members of the community eager for peace are the proponents of this view (War 2.411); and their case is explained in some detail (War 2.412-417). The case for supporting the action of ceasing the

28 29

See J.S. McLaren, ‘Jews and the Imperial Cult: from Augustus to Domitian’, JSNT (forthcoming). Rome did exert authority over the Temple in other ways: retaining the vestments of the high-priest and determining who held the office. Even here Rome did not exhibit a consistent policy as both were delegated to Jews (Ant 18.90-95 cf 20.6-16).

19 sacrifices is not presented. The one individual named in the incident, Eleazar b. Ananias, is described as “a daring young man” (War 2.409), probably intended as a derogatory label.30 Although Eleazar’s colleagues in the action were fellow priests, Josephus is careful to avoid describing them as such (War 2.409, 417). Josephus claims Eleazar and his colleagues were supported by “the revolutionaries” (War 2.417) but it is the former that take the initiative and hold fast to their conviction in the face of supposed pressure to back down and reinstate the offerings. Irrespective of what the real level of protest was, the decision to cease offering sacrifices for the welfare of Rome stood. The Temple was no longer used to pay homage to Rome. The viewpoint of those supporting the approach that Josephus connects with Eleazar and his colleagues held sway.

Early in the war the other key initiative connected directly with the Temple was the decision to mint coinage.31 Silver coins were minted from the first year of the war and then bronze coins were added from the second year.32 The bronze coins obviously served a practical, economic function. However, it is important to recognise that there is another more significant explanation for the production of the silver coins at the beginning of the conflict. This was the first time Jews minted silver coinage. Boldly asserting their freedom from foreign control, Jews produced these coins for payment of the annual Temple tax. They were introduced in order to replace the Tyrian ‘shekels’. In quality and weight the new coins matched the Tyrian version. No longer were Jews constrained to use a foreign coin with images and legends that compromised their principles. Now they could pay the annual levy

30 31

See Mason 173-77, who argues that the depiction of Eleazar as a “hot-headed youth”. For more detail on the following summary see J.S. McLaren, ‘The Coinage of the First Year as a Point of Reference for the Jewish Revolt (66-70 CE)’ SCI 22 (2003) 135-52. 32 For the coinage produced by the Jews during the war see L. Kadman, The Coins of the Jewish War of 66-73 CE (Schocken Publishing House: Jerusalem, 1960) and Y. Meshorer, Ancient Jewish Coinage (vol, II; Amphora Books: NY, 1982).

20 with coins minted using language and symbols that adhered to Jewish sensibilities and requirements. Priority was given to ensuring that these coins were minted in time for use for Passover of 67 CE.

One further important aspect of the silver coinage points toward the central role of the Temple at the outset of the war. The use of aleph above the image on the observe side indicates that the coins belonged to the first year of a new era. On the basis of Josephus’ dating for the capture of Jerusalem in 70 CE the existence of ‘y[ear] 5’ coins shows that the calendar year must have commenced before Elul (War 6.435). It is likely, therefore, that the people responsible for minting the coins chose to identify Nisan as the one and only official start of the calendar year.33 As such, even though the war commenced during the first year of this new era, the timing of its beginning was subsumed within a broader concern to declare the new state as one that took its sequencing from the cycle of a key pilgrimage festival. Notably, it is the same festival for which the coinage would be used to pay the Temple tax on its eve. In symbolic and practical terms, at one and the same time, the Temple acted as a central theme for the beginning of the war.

The theocratic manifesto of the war Josephus presents himself and the vast majority of the Jews as being opposed to the war against Rome. This open antagonism means there is a consistent effort to undermine the possible motives of those who willingly went to war against Rome. Josephus depicts the involvement of most aristocratic Jews, including himself, as diligent but reluctant leaders of

Given the absence of a local mine the Temple treasury was the likely source for the silver used to mint the coins. Further evidence for the use of this dating system announcing a new era is found in the dated documents from Wadi Murabba’at. See H. Eshel, ‘Documents of the First Jewish Revolt from the Judean desert’ in A.J.

21 the community concerned to find a peaceful resolution.34 He has no desire to present any ‘manifesto’ for the war cause in positive terms. Hence, it is of little surprise that Josephus does not outline what Eleazar and his associates proclaimed at the time of barring sacrifices on behalf of Rome. Fortunately, Josephus does not extend this policy of silence to the remainder of the narrative. Instead, in the process of ridiculing the pro-war cause and from other brief asides, Josephus does provide some general insight regarding the basic tenor of the manifesto of those who actively opposed Rome.35

The rebel cause was primarily a fight for eleutheria. On a number of separate occasions Josephus indicates that eleutheria was held up as the motivation for going to war against Rome. When describing why Eleazar and his followers decided to attack Menahem, Josephus speaks of how they did not go to war against Rome to gain eleutheria only to now be ruled by such an upstart (War 2.443). Rallying his troops, Titus speaks of how the Jews were motivated by a desire for eleutheria (War 3.480). In his speech to the Jews in Jerusalem Ananus refers to eleutheria as the main pretext for going to war (War 4.177). In the ‘bookend’ speeches attributed to Agrippa II (War 2.345-404) and Eleazar b. Jairus (War 7.323-336, 341-88) eleutheria features as a key issue. For Agrippa II is it the utter foolishness of advocating such a cause, while for Eleazar eleutheria is part of the imperative that explains why the defenders must
Berlin and J.A. Overman (eds), The First Revolt. Archaeology, history, and ideology (Routledge: London, 2002) 157-63. 34 In War, it is a delayed involvement ( War 2.562-68) that was apparently designed to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict and, if unsuccessful, then to provide a co-ordinated resistance ( War 4.320-21). In Life the ‘peaceful’ orientation of Josephus is expressed explicitly (Life 17-19, 22-23, 28-29). Even if we accept that Josephus was a reluctant participant, he had no desire to promote the cause of those who actively rebelled against Rome. If, however, Josephus is to be understood as a willing rebel, then it means he was even more concerned to distance himself from the manifesto given the way the war unfolded. 35 See D.M. Rhoads, Israel in Revolution: 6-74 CE. A Political History Based on the Writings of Josephus (Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1976) 166-73 regarding the “polemical reversal” employed by Josephus against the rebels. T. Rajak, ‘Jewish millenarian expectations’ in Berlin and Overman 164-88 correctly cautions against depicting the rebels as being “motivated in their militancy by a conviction that they were welcoming the Messiah or ushering in the End of Time” (182). However, there is still scope to explore further the role of prophetic hope of Divine protection for the cause, as suggested by the summary statements of Josephus (War 6.288-315).

22 now choose death.36 Josephus’ desire to denigrate advocacy of eleutheria from Rome is made apparent by the way he also connects the concept with false prophets before the war (War 2.259, 264). As noted recently by Daniel Schwartz, eleutheria is used by Josephus in Jewish War “as a subversive goal which only idiots or villains could hope for in the Roman world”.37 Ironically, Josephus’ consistent criticism of the claim for eleutheria by those who went to war against Rome helps reinforce the conclusion that it was a key part of the manifesto asserted by the rebels.

The call for eleutheria in the context of the war against Rome evidently related first and foremost to independence from foreign rule. The “freedom” proclaimed was from subjection to Roman authority. Josephus, however, has no interest in providing any explanation of the specific articulation of this general assertion of independence by the rebels. Removing signs of Roman control was one part of the process of asserting independence. However, it is safe to presume that there was also a positive component to the decision to rebel, a proposed system of governance for the Jews. “Freedom” did not mean anarchy.

It is possible that part of the assertion of “freedom” by the rebels should be connected to the manifesto that Josephus associates with the fourth philosophy – the catch cry that the Jews should have God alone as their leader (War 2.118; Ant 18.23). Even this connection, however, does not immediately help define the practical meaning of the newly asserted “freedom” in 66 CE. A more likely definition of this “freedom” is the ideal constitution advocated by Josephus in Against Apion. According to Josephus a theocracy was the best form of government. God stood at the head, with the priesthood, under the direction of the high36

In this context, also note the comments put into the mouth of Ananus ( War 4.175) and Josephus ( War 5.365).

23 priest, acting as the instruments of divine control (AA 2.184-85). This form of administration parallels what Josephus identifies as an aristocratic one (Ant 4.223, 11.111, 20.251), in which the Jews are under the leadership of the priests.38 The few hints of the structure of the initial wartime administration that can be gleaned from Josephus concur with this general concept of governance. Of particular significance, many of the people Josephus identifies as commanders were priests (War 2.563, 566-68). Although the serving high-priest does not hold a command, previous incumbents are named.39 Furthermore, when the non-priest Menahem presents himself as a ruler figure, it is rejected outright (War 2.434-36, 442-46).

The coinage produced by the Jews during the war also indicates that “freedom” was a central claim asserted by the rebels. Rome was careful to control the authority to issue coinage, especially those of the more precious metals. The very process of deciding to mint silver coins by the Jews, therefore, implied that they no longer saw themselves as subject to Roman control.40 Free of foreign domination, the Jews began the provision of material deemed necessary for the functioning of their state. As noted in the previous section, the silver coinage provided Jews with the appropriate means by which they could pay the upcoming Temple tax. In the second year of the war the next development involved providing bronze coinage that could be used for daily economic activity.


Schwartz 72. The depiction of the main leaders of the later stages of the war as “tyrants” motivated by personal gain should be seen as a further example of the denigration of the war cause. 38 On the variation in Josephus’ terminology (especially regarding Ant 6.36, 84, 268 cf. 20.229 and 11.111 cf. 20.234) see L.H. Feldman, Flavius Josephus. Translation and Commentary. III. Judean Antiquities 1-4 (ed. S. Mason; Leiden: Brill, 2000) 414. 39 Even with the evident change in leadership in 67-68 CE that Josephus so strongly criticises, the process of selection is altered but the office of high-priest is retained (War 4.152-57). 40 On the question of authority to issue coins in the Roman Empire see C.H.V. Sutherland, The Emperor and the Coinage. Julio-Claudian Studies (Spink and Son Ltd: London, 1976) 11-33 and A. Burnett, Coinage in the Roman World (Seaby: London, 1987) 17-18.

24 The decision to actually mint coins, and the nature of those coins, indicate that the war was the occasion of a new era. The legends used are particularly significant. On the obverse of the silver coins the unusual decision was made to specify the denomination and, even more important, that the coins were “of Israel”.41 The initial issue of bronze coins carried the legend “freedom of Zion”.42 Whether they were meant to describe a place and/or the notion of a national entity, “Israel” and “Zion”, along with the more specific location “Jerusalem”, are all identity markers of belonging to the God of the Jews. The absence of any reference to an individual on the coins reinforces the notion of a communal focus. Furthermore, the symbols used to decorate the coins and the language of the legends, a paleo-Hebrew script, were also designed to proclaim the independence of the Jews. They were free to mint coins of their own choosing, according to their own requirements and declaring their own message. The coins mark an important step above and beyond rejection of foreign rule: they declare the establishment of an independent state in which the Temple formed an important part of honouring the rule of God.43

Summary The Jewish-Roman war that commenced in 66 CE is the assertion of independence by Jews. They were actively shedding Roman rule. There are specific circumstances that explain not only the timing but also the reason for the war to begin when it did. There are a number of key players whose choice of action combined in a way that finally added up to what we now know as the war of 66-70 CE. At any stage, a different choice would have altered what

The significance of place rather than a person is also indicated by the reverse legend ‘Jerusalem [is] holy’. From year two onwards this legend reads ‘Jerusalem the holy’. 42 Note the change to ‘for the redemption of Zion’ in the year four coins. For a highly speculative explanation regarding this change in legend see B. Kaneal, ‘The Historical Background of the Coins “Year Four…of the Redemption of Zion”’ BASOR 129 (1953) 18-20. The most important point to note is that the focus continues to be ‘Zion’, not an individual.

25 happened. There was nothing inevitable about the war commencing in 66 CE or the manner in which it began. Fulfilling his role as the local representative of Rome, Florus set about the task of trying to recover tax arrears due from the province. The amount owing had been identified in the recent census undertaken by Cestius in 65 CE. We are not able to determine whether the debt related to a shortfall from the previous census period or to the new period. If the latter, he could not afford to allow the province to fall behind so early in the cycle, it would diminish his credentials as a governor. If the amount owed was from the previous cycle Florus’ action of balancing the ledger would enhance his status as an administrator who was able to tidy up a mess left by his predecessors. Either way, it was important for Florus to act. He recognised that the quickest way of recovering the funds was to order that the arrears be paid immediately from the reserves in the Temple treasury. Although a very large sum for an individual, it would not be noticed in terms of the wealth held in the Temple. From the perspective of Florus his course of action made good sense. However, the plan would only really work well if the governor had the compliance of the Jews, especially those directly connected with the Temple.

Florus’ plan did not work. Although an initial instalment of money was paid, the full amount due was not delivered. There was a debate among the Jews who oversaw the Temple treasury. There was compliance with the command in the first instance, but when Florus attempted to remove the middle person and take direct control of the Temple he encountered serious resistance. Florus had gone too far. His action was interpreted as trying to assert Roman control of the Temple. It was not a possession of Rome, available for use by a Roman official whenever he saw fit to do so. The Temple belonged to God, not to Rome. Jews

The hybrid coin type found at Gamala reinforces the focus on Jerusalem, especially as it was minted locally. For a description of the Gamala coin see D. Syon, ‘The Coins from Gamala. Interim Report’ INJ 12 (1992-93) 40-41.

26 had assisted with the process of registering the population for the census and they had now paid off the demands of Rome out of funds from the Temple. However, in trying to take direct control of the Temple Florus crossed ‘the line in the sand’ for many Jews. His apparent lack of respect for Jewish interests was not without precedent. His failure to act appropriately in Caesarea indicated that Florus was not well disposed to the concerns of the Jews (War 2.287-88, 292). What happened in Caesarea, however, paled into insignificance in comparison to what he tried to do in Jerusalem. In the stand off that ensued Florus tried to assert his authority with physical force, targeting aspects of local economic activity. Before long he realised that he was faced with armed resistance by a large proportion of the community. He had no hope of quashing the trouble with the forces at his immediate disposal.

The nature and extent of the opposition to Florus became evident in the next main action. Ties with Rome were symbolically broken when priests stopped offering the sacrifices on behalf of Rome and the Emperor. This deed boldly affirmed that the Temple belonged to God. Rome had been rejected, the Jews were now independent of Roman rule. The claim for independence was soon reinforced by the decision to mint coinage and by the resistance offered when Cestius marched on Jerusalem. The production of silver coins to replace the Tyrian ‘shekel’ for use in the payment of the Temple tax reinforced the idea that the Jews were now in control of all aspects of the Temple. While not necessarily enthusiastically supported by all Jews, this assertion of independence did gain a wide spread following.44 The Jews were now under the rule of God in public affairs, with a number of priests being prominent in the war effort. In the context of making the break from Rome some Jews, like


See War 2.451, 520-21, 562-68 for some of the named participants.

27 Menahem, took the opportunity to champion other causes, but with little success.45 The two common factors throughout the beginning stages of the revolt were the Temple and elements of the priesthood. Ownership of the Temple was brought into question by the actions of Florus. The governor was barred from gaining access to the Temple treasury. The sacrifices offered on behalf of Rome were then stopped. In an interesting twist, the Temple then became the likely source for the new silver coinage that was minted for use for the Temple tax. In all of these actions priests connected with the Temple played a crucial role.46

Two suggestions are offered by way of a conclusion to this investigation of the beginning of the Jewish-Roman war. The first pertains to the context in which we choose to place this war. There is a long established view that the war is part of a broader era in Jewish history marked by its military activity. As a result, connections and comparisons are made between this war and such campaigns as the Maccabean revolt, the war of Varus and even the later Bar Kokhba war.47 While such a line of inquiry is understandable, it is important not to lose sight of the more specific Roman setting of the war. The supposed distinctiveness of the situation in Judea has resulted in a presumption that examination of the war has very little


The burning of the public archives (War 2.427) is intriguing. Josephus’ claim that the action was driven by a desire to win over those with debts has been readily adopted in arguments that seek to emphasise the economic problems in Judea and, as such, the extent to which the revolt was also a civil war. However, there is reason to be more cautious in our use of Josephus. His decision to provide ‘the’ motive for this action suggests Josephus wants the reader to believe there is no other explanation to consider. However, it is possible that the burning of financial records had another purpose. A copy of the census registration may have been housed there, making the entire action a symbolic renouncement of the need to pay taxes to Rome. 46 The significance of the inscribed ostraca found at Masada that mentions Ananias and ‘Aqavia, his previously unattested son, lies beyond the scope of this investigation. M.O. Wise, ‘The Life and Times of Ananias Bar Nedebaeus and His Family’ in M.O. Wise, Thunder in Gemini And Other Essays on the History, Language and Literature of Second Temple Palestine (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994) 51-102 offers a speculative reconstruction of the beginning of the war that incorporates the ostraca. At the very least, the ostraca warrants a detailed consideration of the idea that the capture of Masada is linked with the action in the Temple and the extent to which the beginning of the war was co-ordinated. 47 To this list Pompey’s invasion, the Herodian conquest and the ‘war of Quietus’ are often added to compound the militaristic character of the period.

28 to benefit from comparison with wars between Rome and its other provinces.48 The significant role played by taxation, however, indicates far more attention to the war of 66-70 CE in relation to the Roman context will be most beneficial. There were clearly factors at work specific to the Jews. One such ‘x’ factor argued for here is that the Jews refused to recognise Roman ownership of the Temple. By implication, any attempt by Rome to assert such control could result in a war. If Gaius had decided to order Petronius to persist with the placing of his statue in Jerusalem, war was a likely scenario. Florus’ approach to the problem of the tax arrears, therefore, brought into play a factor peculiar to Judea. However, for this factor to turn from a possible to an actual influence required enough prominent Jews to understand what Florus did as an assertion of ownership of the Temple. In turn, they also had to decide that an appropriate response was to openly oppose Florus’ actions.49 To comprehend more fully how these factors came to culminate into a war in 66 CE, much can be gleaned by comparison with what occurred elsewhere in the Roman Empire when officials and provincials came into dispute over lines of authority/responsibility, especially in terms of taxation.

The other suggestion relates to the nature of the Roman response to the war at its end. It is understandable that much attention has been placed on exploring connections between the actions of the Flavians and their new status as rulers of the Roman Empire. It is, however, also worth pondering the possible connections between what happened after the war and what occurred in 66 CE. Included among the Flavian actions were: destroying the Temple in


For example, see the comments of Brunt 517-19, 530 and S.L. Dyson, ‘Native Revolt Patterns in the Roman Empire’ ANRW II.3, 1975 139. 49 The case of Pilate obtaining money from the Temple for construction of an aqueduct highlights the importance of this factor ( War 2.175-77; Ant 18.60-62). Although some Jews opposed what Pilate had done, apparently even more Jews of sufficient influence accepted that the action did not amount to Roman assertion of ownership of the Temple, and Pilate was able to suppress the opposition.

29 Jerusalem and then closing the one at Leontopolis; relocating treasures from the Jerusalem Temple in the new Flavian Temple of Peace; and, introducing a tax to be paid by all Jews for the rebuilding of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, the fiscus iudaicus. Whether intended or not, there is a sense of symmetry: taxation and the Temple are central to the beginning of the war and they then feature prominently in the Flavian resolution to the conflict. It is possible the Romans understood very well what lay at the heart of the war and they wanted to leave a lasting sign that Rome did own everything.