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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
The Jews in their dispersion through the Greco-Roman world. In the present article the Jewish race is considered in its relations to the Hellenic and the Roman peoples. The geographical distribution of the race; the civil government to which it was subjected; its juridical system; the social and economic condition of its communities; the success of its propagandistic efforts,which prepared the way for Christianity; and, finally, the first effect upon its legal situation of the triumph of the new religion—these are the points to be summarily dealt with.
I. The first and most remarkable phenomenon presented by Judaism during the Greco-Roman period is its dispersion along the shores of the Mediterranean. This dispersion was due to numerous causes, and those in part obscure; but one of the most important must be sought in the many vicissitudes, crowned by a final catastrophe, which Judaism encountered in the country of its origin.
After the overthrow in 588 B.C. of the kingdom of Judah by the Chaldeans, and the deportation of a considerable portion of its inhabitants to the valley of the Euphrates, the Jews had two principal rallying-points; viz., Babylonia and Palestine. But though a majority of the Jewish race—especially the wealthy families—were to be found in Babylonia, the existence it led there, under the successive rules of the Achæmenidæ, the Seleucids, the Parthians, and the Neo-Persians, or Sassanians, was obscure and devoid of political influence. The poorest but most fervent element among the exiles returned to Palestine during the reigns of the first Achæmenidæ. There, with the reconstructed Temple at Jerusalem as its center, it organized itself into a community, animated by a remarkable religious ardor and a tenacious attachment to the Bible, which thenceforth constituted the palladium of its nationality, and it enjoyed, under the direction of its high priests, a tolerably broad autonomy.
No sooner had this little nucleus increased in numbers with the accession of recruits from various quarters, than it awoke to a consciousness of itself, and strove for political enfranchisement. A tentative effort in this direction, under Artaxerxes Ochus, led to fresh deportations. In South Syria, however, the rule of the Persians passed first to the Macedonians (332 B.C.), who were succeeded by the Ptolemies in the third century B.C.—a period in which Syria was the theater of incessant wars—and finally, in the second century, by the Seleucids. The Ptolemies treated the sentiments and customs of the Jews with the same delicacy and consideration that they showed toward those of their other subjects. Thanks to their tolerance, the Hellenic civilization took root in Judea, and made there considerable advances. The Seleucids, on the contrary, under Antiochus Epiphanes, wished to force prematurely upon the Jews a transformation which could be achieved only in the course of centuries. Their ill-advised policy gave rise to violent reactions, both religious and political, culminating in the revolt of the Maccabees (167 B.C.).
After numerous vicissitudes, and especially owing to internal dissensions in the Seleucid dynasty, on the one hand, and to the interested support of the Romans, on the other, the cause of Jewish independence finally triumphed. Under the Hasmonean princes, who were at first high priests and then kings, the Jewish state displayed even a certain luster, and annexed several territories. Soon, however, discord in the royal family, and the growing disaffection of the pious, the soul of the nation, toward rulers who no longer evinced any appreciation of the real aspirations of their subjects, made the Jewish nation an easy prey to the ambition of the Romans, the successors of the Seleucids. In 63 B.C. Pompey invaded Jerusalem, and Gabinius subjected the Jewish people to tribute.
Many years, however, passed before Judea became definitely incorporated into the Roman empire. In Judea the Romans pursued the same vacillating and changeful policy as throughout the Orient. First they granted the Jews an ethnarch; then a king—a foreigner, it is true—the Idumean Herod, under whose rule the Jewish state attained its greatest material prosperity. After the death of Herod (4 B.C.), the dissolution of his dynasty, and the deposition of his son Archelaus (6 C.E.), Judea proper became a mere department of the province of Syria, governed by a special procurator residing in Cæsarea.
Vicissitudes of Roman Rule.
During this period the Jewish community possessed special privileges, both religious and juridical: in short, it constituted, as under the Achæmenidæ and the Lagides, a hierocracy under the protection of a foreign master. This régime, interrupted for several years (41-44) by the restoration of the Herodian dynasty in favor of Herod Agrippa, could be upheld only by dint of tact and precaution. The agents of Rome, like the Seleucids before them, were unable to satisfy a people at once so impressionable and turbulent. Repeated blunders brought about the formidable insurrection of 66-70, terminating in the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, the center of the national and religious life of the Jews throughout the world.
After this catastrophe, Judea formed a separate Roman province, governed by a legate, at first "pro prætore," and later, "pro consule," who was also the commander of the army of occupation. The complete destruction of the Holy City, and the settlement of several Grecian and Roman colonies in Judea, indicated the express intention of the Roman government to prevent the political regeneration of the Jewish nation. Nevertheless, forty years later the Jews put forth efforts to recover their former freedom. With Palestine exhausted, they strove, in the first place, to establish upon the ruins of Hellenism actual commonwealths in Cyrene, Cyprus, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. These efforts, resolute but unwise, were suppressed by Trajan (115-117); and under Hadrian the same fate befell the last and glorious attempt of the Jews of Palestine to regain their independence (133-135). From this time on, in spite of unimportant movements under Antoninus, Marcus Aurelius, and Severus, the Jews of Palestine, reduced in numbers, destitute, and crushed, lost their preponderance in the Jewish world. The Jews no longer had reason to cling to a soil where the recollection of their past grandeur only helped to render more bitter the spectacle of their present humiliation, where their metropolis had become, under the name "Ælia Capitolina," a Roman colony, a city entirely pagan, to enter which was forbidden the Jews, under pain of death.
II. The vicissitudes just described exerted a decisive influence upon the dispersion of the Jewish people throughout the world. Successive revolutions in Cœle-Syria had caused, century after century, the emigration of Jews in great numbers, who, having combined with one of the competitors, chose to follow him in his retreat rather than to expose themselves to the vengeance of the conqueror. Thus, as far back as Jeremiah, a small diaspora was formed in Egypt (Jeremiah 24:8, 26:22, -). When Ptolemy I. evacuated Syria many of the Jews voluntarily followed him to his kingdom (Hecatæus, of Abdera, 14, cited by Josephus, "Contra Ap." 1:22; idem, "Ant." 12:1). A similar thing occurred in 198 (Jerome, "Ad Dan.," 11:708); and under Ptolemy VI. Philometor, the son of the high priest Onias, disappointed in his expectations, betook himself with a considerable number of followers to Egypt, and there set up a rival temple to that of Jerusalem ("Ant." 13:3). On the other hand, during the wars of the third and second centuries B.C., thousands of Jews were made captives and reduced to slavery, passing from owner to owner and from land to land until their enfranchisement. This enfranchisement indeed usually occurred very soon, it being precipitated by the fact that, through their unswerving attachment to their customs, they proved inefficient servants. Besides, owing to the close solidarity which is one of the lasting traits of the Jewish race, they had no difficulty in finding coreligionists who were willing to pay the amount of their ransom. The inscriptions of Delphi have preserved an instance of these enfranchisements of Jewish slaves by payment of money (Collitz, "Griech. Dialektinschr." 2:2029; the amount paid was 4 minas, or about $80). The celebrated rhetorician Cecilius of Calacte was originally a Jewish slave (Suidas, s.); he was confounded by Plutarch with the questor of Verres, Cecilius Niger, who was perhaps his patron.
The Jews thus freed, instead of returning to Palestine, usually remained in the land of their former slavery, and there, in conjunction with their brethrenin faith, established communities. According to the formal testimony of Philo ("Legatio ad Caium," § 23), the Jewish community in Rome owed its origin to released prisoners of war. The political importance which it had already acquired in the proceedings against Flaccus (59 B.C.) shows that it did not consist merely of a few captives brought by Pompey (63 B.C.), but rather of prisoners made in earlier wars—in Asia Minor, for instance. The great Jewish insurrections under Vespasian, Trajan, and Hadrian, terminating, as they did, so disastrously, threw upon the market myriads of Jewish captives. Transported to the West, they became the nuclei of communities in Italy, Spain, Gaul, etc. Among these captives was the historian of the Jewish people, Flavius Josephus. Under Domitian the Jewish slaves in Rome were sold at very low prices. Even the poet Martial, whose purse was never well filled, possessed one ("Epig." 7:35; the interpretation, however, is uncertain). The names of many Jews found in the tumulary inscriptions in Rome betray their servile origin. To these sales of prisoners of war must be added, as further sources of the Diaspora, the deportations, more or less voluntary, effected by the various governments, either to chastise the rebels or to populate the uninhabited parts of their territories. Not to mention the great Babylonian exile, and the transportation of Jews to Hyrcania by Ochus (Syncellus, 1:486; Orosius, 3:7), Ptolemy I., according to tradition, took with him to Egypt 30,000 (?) Jews, in order to garrison the frontiers (Pseudo-Aristæus, ed. Schmidt, p. 255; "Ant." 12:1). The same king compelled Jews to settle in Cyrenaica ("Contra Ap." 2:4). Antiochus the Great, it is said, transferred to the sparsely populated districts of Phrygia and Lydia 2,000 Jewish families drawn from Mesopotamia ("Ant." 12:3, § 4). Tiberius sent 4,000 Jews of Rome to wage a war in Sardinia (Tacitus, "Annales," 2:85), many of whom perished, while the survivors must have formed the nucleus of a Jewish community in that country. Many rulers, without resorting to violent measures, made successful efforts to attract Jewish colonists to the newly founded cities by conceding to them important privileges. Such was the policy, if not of Alexander, at any rate of Seleucus Nicator, Ptolemy Philadelphus, the successors of Antiochus Epiphanes (in Antioch), etc.
Fecundity of the Jews.
Nor must it be forgotten that the Jews were a prolific race. Their law made it their duty to rear all their children. Judea, a land by no means fertile, must quickly have become overpopulated. The need thus arose of spreading to the adjacent districts (Galilee, Peræa), which soon became Judaized; then to the neighboring countries (Egypt, Syria); and, finally, to places beyond the sea, and this upon the slightest hope of meeting there with coreligionists. This phenomenon is not a characteristic of the Jews alone; it is seen in the colonies of Egyptians, Syrians, and Phenicians in Greece, in Rome, and in the important commercial centers of Italy; and they, like the Jews, spread their national cults. But the Jew emigrates more readily, since his creed is linked to a book, not to a place.
Besides, owing to the barrier which their deeply rooted religious observances formed around them, the Jews never became absorbed in the surrounding populations. On the contrary, an active religious propaganda, to be treated more fully later on, caused each small group of Jewish families to become the center around which numerous proselytes of other races clustered. Many of these adherents afterward fully embraced the Jewish faith. It may be said that if proselytism was not the conscious design of the Diaspora, it at all events powerfully contributed toward its consolidation and expansion.
Thus, as early as the middle of the second century B.C. the Jewish author of the third book of the Oracula Sibyllina, addressing the "chosen people," says: "Every land is full of thee and every sea" (Sibyllines, 3:271; compare I Macc. 15); and if these words contained some exaggeration, the prophecy became true in the subsequent century. The most diverse witnesses, such as Strabo, Philo, Seneca, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, and Josephus, all bear testimony to the fact that the Jewish race was disseminated over the whole civilized world (Strabo, frag. 6, cited by Josephus, "Ant." 14:7, § 2; Philo, "In Flaccum," 7; Seneca, frag. 41-43, in Augustine, "Civ. Dei," 6:10; Acts 2:9-11; Josephus, "B. J." 2:16, § 4; 7:3, § 3). King Agrippa, in a letter to Caligula, enumerates among the provinces of the Jewish Diaspora almost all the Hellenized and non-Hellenized countries of the Orient (Philo, "Legatio ad Caium," § 36); and this enumeration is far from being complete, as Italy and Cyrene are not included. The epigraphic discoveries from year to year augment the number of known Jewish communities.
The following table, which is doubtless incomplete, attempts to summarize modern knowledge concerning the geography of the Diaspora, according to the literary texts and the inscriptions:
|Arabia:||Yemen, Island Iotaba (Procopius. "Pers." 1:19).|
|Phenicia:||Aradus, Berytus (Le Bas-Waddington, No. 1854C).|
|Cœle-Syria:||Damascus (Josephus, "B. J." 2:20, § 2; 7:8, § 7).|
|Syria:||Antioch ("B. J." 7:3, §§ 3 et seq.), Palmyra ("C. I. G." No. 4486; Le Bas-Waddington, Nos. 2619 et seq.), Tafas ("Bull. Corr. Hell." 1897, p. 47).|
|Mesopotamia:||Nisibis ("Ant." 18:9, § 1), Callinicum (Ambrosius, "Ep." ).|
|Babylonia:||Sura. Pumbedita, Nehardea ("Ant." 18:9, § 1), Seleucia (ib. 18:9, § 9), Ctesiphon (ib.).|
|Elam (Susiana)||(Acts 2:9-11).|
|Hyrcania||(Syncellus, 1:486: Orosius, 3:7).|
|Media. Armenia||(Faustus of Byzantium, ed. Langlois, 4:55).|
|Pontus||(Philo, "Legatio ad Caium," § 36; Acts 2:9-11, 2).|
|Mysia:||Adramyttium (Cicero, "Pro Flacco," 28), Pergamos (ib.; "Ant." 14:10, § 22), Parium (?) (ib. 14:10, § 8; read Παριανοί, not Πάριοι).|
|Ionia:||Smyrna ("C. I. G." No. 9897; "Vita Polyearpi," 12 et seq.; "Rev. Etudes Juives," 7:161), Ephesus ("Ant." 14:10. §§ 25 et seq.; Acts 18:19 et seq.), Phocæa ("Bull. Corr. Hell." 10:327 = "Rev. Etudes Juives," 12:236), Miletus ("Ant." 14:10, § 21), Samos (I Macc. ).|
|Lydia:||Sardes ("Ant." 14:10, §§ 17 et seq.), Thyatira ("C. I. G." No. 3509 [doubtful]; Acts 16:14; compare Schürer, "Abhandlungen . . . Weizsäcker," pp. 39 et seq.), Tralles ("Ant." 14:10, § 21), Hypæpa ("Rev. Etudes Juives," 10:74), Magnesia of Sipylus (ib. 76), Nysa ("Ath. Mitth." 22:484).|
|Caria:||Iasus (Le Bas-Waddington. No. 294), Halicarnassus ("Ant." 14:10, § 23), Cos (I Macc.; "Ant." 14:7, § 2; 10, § 5), Myndos (I Macc.; inscription in "Rev. Etudes Juives," 42:1), Cnidus (ib.), Rhodes (ib.).|
|Phrygia:||Apamea ("Pro Flacco," 28; Ramsay, "Cities," 1:538, No. 399a; coins symbolizing the Ark of Noah), Laodicea ("Pro Flacc." 28; "Ant." 14:10, § 20), Acmonia (Ramsay, "Cities," 1:649 et seq.), Hierapolis (Ramsay, ib. 1:545, Nos. 411, 118, 28 [?]), Eumeneia (Ramsay, ib. , No. 232, p. 386 [doubtful]).|
|Lycia:||Limyra. ("Reisen in Lykien," 2:66), Tlos ("Eranos Vindob." 99), Phaselis (I Macc. 15:23), Corcyus ("Rev. Etudes Juives," 10:75).|
|Pisidia:||Antioch (Acts 13:14).|
|Pamphylia:||Side (I Macc. 15:23).|
|Galatia:||Germa ("Bull. Corr. Hell." 7:24 = "Rev. Etudes Juives," 10:77).|
|Lycaonia:||Iconium (Acts 14:1), Lystra (ib. 16:1).|
|Cilicia:||Tarsus, Elaioussa (?) ("Jour. Hell. Stud." 12:234 [college of Σάββατιςταί?]).|
|Cyprus:||Salamis (Acts 13:5), Paphos (ib. verse 6).|
|Cimmerian Bosporus:||Panticapeum (Latyschew, "Inser. Euxini," Nos. 52, 53), Gorgippia (ib. Nos. 400, 401; a combination of pagan and Jewish formulas), Tanais (ib. Nos. 449, 450, 452, 456 et seq.; fraternities of άδελφοὶ σειβόμενοι θεὸν ὕψιστον).|
|Scythia:||Olbia (Stephani, in "Bull. Acad. Petersb." 1860, 1:246; "C. I. G." No. 2079?).|
|Thrace:||Constantinople ("Rev. Etudes Juives," 26:167 et seq.), Philippi (Acts 16:13).|
|Macedonia:||Thessalonica (Acts 17:2; "Rev. Etudes Juives," 10:78), Berœa. (Acts 17:10).|
|Continental Greece:||Thessalia (Philo, "Legatio ad Caium," § 36; Acts 18:1 et seq.), Etolia (ib.), Bœotia (ib.), Athens (Acts 17:17; "C. I. A." 3:2, Nos. 3545-3547), Corinth (Phillo, c. § 36; Acts 18:1), Argos (ib.), Laconia ("Inser. Brit. Mus." No. 149 = "Rev. Etudes Juives," 10:77), Mantinea ("Bull. Corr. Hell." 1896, p. 159, No. 27 = "Rev. Etudes Juives," 24:148), Patras ("C. I. G." No. 9896).|
|Archipelago:||Eubœa (Philo, c. § 36; Acts 18:1), Ægina ("C. I. G." No. 9894), Syros (De Rossi, in "Bull. Crist." 1876, p. 116), Melos ("Ant." 17:12, § 1), Delos (ib. 14:10, § 14).|
|Crete:||Gortyna (I Macc. 15:23).|
|Sicily:||Syracuse ("C. I. G." No. 9895), Messina (Gregory the Great, "Letters"), Agrigentum (ib.), Panormus (ib.).|
|Italy (South):||Apulia and Calabria ("Cod. Theod." 12:1,157), Venusia ("C. I. L." 9:6195 et seq., and Ascoli's monograph), Tarentum ("C. I. L." 9:6400-6402), Fundi (ib. 10:6299), Capua (ib. 3905), Naples (ib. 1971).|
|Italy (Central):||Rome, Terracina (Gregory the Great, c.), Faleria (Rutilius Namatianus, 5:377 et seq.).|
|Italy (North, and Istria):||Ravenna (Anon. "Val." 81.), Bologna (Ambrose, "Exh. Virgin." 1), Milan (Cassiodorus, "Var." 5:37; "Rev. Archéologique," 1860, p. 348), Brescia ("C. I. L." 5:1,4411), Genoa (Cassiodorus, c. 2:27), Aquilea (Garrucci, "Cim. Randanini," p. 62), Pola ("C. I. L." 5:1,88; a "metuens").|
|Pannonia||("C. I. L." 3:1,3688; "Eph. Epigr." , No. 593).|
|Gaul||(first mentioned in "Vita Hilarii" [d. 366]; Sidonius Apollinaris, 3:4).|
|Germany:||Colonia Agrippina ("Cod. Theod." 16:8,4).|
|Spain||("Concil. Ilib. Can." 49, 50, 78): Adra ("C. I. L." 2:1982), Minorea ("Epist. Severiani," in ed. Migne, 20:730), Tortosa ("Inser. Trilingual," in Chwolson, "C. I. H." No. 83).|
|Egypt:||Alexandria, Leontopolis, Athribis ("Bull. Corr. Hell." 13:178 = "Rev. Etudes Juives," 17:235), Arsinoite Nome ("Rev. Etudes Juives," 37:220), Oxyrhynchus (ib.), Thebaid.|
|Cyrenaica:||Cyrene, Berenice ("C. I. G." No. 5361), Boreum (Procopius, "De Ædif." 6:2).|
|Proconsular Africa.||(Zeugitana, Byzacum, Tripolitene [Monceaux, in "Rev. Etudes Juives," 44:1 et seq.]): Carthage (Tertullian, "Adv. Jud. Init.": P. Delattre, "Gamart ou la Necropole Juive de Carthage"; "C. I. L." 8:1091 [Addit. p. 929], Supp. 14,097-14,114), Naro (Hammam Lif; "C. I. L." , Supp. 12,511), Utica (ib. 8:1205 [Addit. p. 931]), Simittæ (Shemton; "Migne Patrologia," 46:881), Œa (Tripolis; Augustine, "Epist." 71, 3, 5), Locus Judæorum Augusti (Iscina, "Medinat al-Sultan" [Tab. Penting.]).|
|Numidia:||Hippo Regius (Augustine, "Serm." 196, 4), Cirta ("C. I. L." Nos. 7150, 7155, 7530 [Addit. p. 965], 7710), Henshir Fuara (ib. , Suppl. 1670; a "metuens," 8:4321 [Addit. p. 956]).|
|Mauretania;||Sitifls ("C. I. L." 8:8423,8499), Cæsarea ("Acta Marcianae," 4), Tipasa ("Passio Sanctæ Salsæ," 3), Volubilis (Berger, "Bull. Arch. Com. Trav. Hist." 1892, p. 94), Auzia ("C. I. L." , Suppl. 20,760).|
Comparative Density of Jewish Populations.
There is only scant information of a precise character concerning the numerical significance of these diverse Jewish conglomerations; and this must be used with caution. After Palestine and Babylonia, it was in Syria, according to Josephus, that the Jewish population was densest; particularly in Antioch, and then in Damascus, in which latter place, at the time of the great insurrection, 10,000 (according to another version 18,000) Jews were massacred ("B. J." 2:20, § 2; 7:8, § 7). Philo ("In Flaccum," § 6) gives the number of Jewish inhabitants in Egypt as 1,000,000; one-eighth of the population. Alexandria was by far the most important Jewish community, the Jews in Philo's time inhabiting two of the five quarters of the city (ib. § 8). To judge by the accounts of wholesale massacres in 115, the number of Jewish residents in Cyrenaica, at Cyprus, and in Mesopotamia must also have been large. In Rome itself, at the commencement of the reign of Augustus, there were over 8,000 Jews: this is the number that escorted the envoys who came to demand the deposition of Archelaus. Finally, if the sums confiscated by the propretor Flaccus in 62 represented actually the tax of a didrachma per head for a single year, the inference may be safely drawn that in Asia Minor the Jewish population numbered 45,000 males, or a total of at least 180,000 persons (Cicero, "Pro Flacco," 28, § 68 [the sums confiscated amounted to more than 120 pounds of gold]).
Unfriendly Attitude of Greeks.
III. This diffusion of Judaism throughout the Greco-Roman world could not but call forth vigorous resistance, especially in those parts where the Greek language and Greek civilization prevailed. Speaking broadly, the middle classes in the Greek cities were not favorably disposed toward the Jews. Their religious and racial peculiarities; their undisguised contempt of the Hellenic cults, pageants, and gymnastic displays—in short, of all that constituted the very essence of a Grecian city; perhaps, also, a secret apprehension that they might develop into commercial competitors; and, finally, the efficacy of their religious propagandism—all contributed toward the unpopularity of these newcomers. In certain cities, such as Parium and Tralles, the exercise of the Jewish cult and rites was prohibited by express decrees ("Ant." 14:10, § 8 [not "Paros"]). The cities of Ionia were several times on the point of expelling the Jewish inhabitants. At Seleucia in Babylonia, on one occasion, the Greeks together with the Syrians massacred more than 50,000 Jews (ib. 18:9, § 9). Throughout Syria they were attacked by the Greeks from the beginning of the war of 66; and when the war was terminated Antioch demanded their banishment.
The butcheries that almost at the same moment were perpetrated under Trajan in Mesopotamia, Cyprus, and Cyrene, show the high pitch to which the antagonism between the races had risen. In Cyprus especially it was simply a war of extermination; the Jews massacred all the Greek inhabitants of Salamis; and when the uprising was suppressed, residence on the island was forbidden to Jews under pain of death (Dio Cassius, 68:32). Nor were the relations more amicable in Alexandria, although Josephus maintains that they became strained only after the Grecian and Macedonian element of the middle class had been supplanted by the native. At times it was a silent rivalry and a desperate literary combat; at times a redoubtable popular outburstthat caused blood to flow in torrents, as in the days of Caligula, Nero, and Trajan. As a result of one of these conflicts, the Roman prefect of Egypt, in conjunction with the leading Alexandrians, decided to shut off the Jews in a ghetto admitting of easy surveillance, "whence they could not burst forth suddenly, and fling themselves upon the illustrious city and make war upon it" (Louvre Papyrus, No. 2376 bis, col. 6:15).
Attitude of the Rulers.
Against this attitude of revengeful intolerance on the part of the Greek middle class, the Jews found effective supporters, first in the Macedonian monarchs, and then in the Romans. It may be said that, without the broad and cosmopolitan views of the diadochi who favored, in the interest of their own power, the mingling and amalgamation of the various races, the Jewish Diaspora could neither have originated nor maintained itself. Apart from a few exceptions (Antiochus Epiphanes, Ptolemy Physcon), the Seleucids and the Lagids pursued a friendly policy toward the Jews, and met with a grateful attachment in return. Thus Seleucus Nicator granted them the privilege of settling in all his new colonies, with the rights of citizens; Ptolmey Soter entrusted them with the charge of the customhouse on the Nile; and Antiochus the Great installed them as planters and tax-gatherers in Lydia and Phrygia, while granting to them the free exercise of their customs ("Ant." 12:3, § 4 [doubtful]). There is reason to believe that the kings of Pergamos were actuated by similar principles; otherwise it would be hard to account for the rapid growth of the Jewish communities in the cities of Ionia.
At first the Romans showed little disposition to receive the Jews among them. In 139, at the time of their first appearance, they were expelled by the pretor Hispalus, in order to check their proselytizing endeavors (Val. Max. 1:32). Eighty years later, however, Rome possessed a large Jewish colony. Julius Cæsar, who prohibited foreign "collegia" in Rome, made a distinct exception in favor of the Jews, to whom he felt indebted ("Ant." 14:10, § 8), and who sincerely lamented his death. Augustus showed them similar good-will. Under Tiberius, in consequence of various scandals that attracted the attention of Sejanus, the Jews in 19 were expelled from Rome ("Ant." 18:3, § 5); while a "senatus consultum" ordered them to evacuate Italy if within a stated time they had not abjured their rites (Tacitus, "Annales," 2:85; Suetonius, "Tiberius," 36); and, under the pretext of military service, 4,000 Jews were deported to the deadly climate of Sardinia. The edict of expulsion, however, was not long enforced; and after the death of Sejanus the Jews reappeared in Rome. Under Caligula these disgraces were wiped out. Claudius used the disorders occasioned by a certain Chrestos as a pretext for interdicting Jewish gatherings in Rome (Dio Cassius, 60:6). It may indeed be the case that the whole account is inaccurate, and that a simple police measure is here represented as an edict of expulsion (Acts 18:2; Suetonius, "Claudius," 25; Orosius, 7:6,15). From that time on, the legal status of the Jews of Rome was never again disturbed, even at the height of the terrible insurrections under Vespasian, Trajan, and Hadrian.
At every period the Roman government kept their anti-Judaism for "home consumption." As far back as 161 B.C. (?) Rome formed an alliance with the Jews of Palestine—the first made by it with Orientals—and by virtue of this alliance, renewed several times and maintained at great cost, it incurred the moral obligation to defend the religious liberty of all the Jewish emigrants wherever it possessed influence. As early as 139 a circular note of the Roman government was issued to the friendly monarchies and republics on behalf of their new allies (I Macc. 25:16-24).
With the inheritance of Macedonia and Pergamos from the Seleucids and the Lagids, the duty devolved upon Rome of protecting the Jews, scattered in the various Greek cities now passing under its domination, against the malevolence of their inhabitants. It was, in particular, after Julius Cæsar that Rome took this duty to heart. Though undoubtedly the services which John Hyrcanus and Antipater rendered to the dictator during his campaign had something to do with his friendly attitude toward the Jews, still the latter was largely the result of his broad and humanitarian views rising above all distinctions of race and religion.
Influence of Cæsar.
His successors were actuated by similar sentiments; and as soon as an organized Jewish state came into existence, its rulers, Hyrcan, the Herods, and the Agrippas—personal friends of the triumvirate and of the successive emperors—were enabled to intercede successfully on behalf of their persecuted coreligionists. Thus it was that, upon the "invitation" of the Roman governors or emperors, several cities of Asia Minor (Laodicea, Miletus, Halicarnassus, Sardes, and Ephesus) issued decrees in behalf of the Jews, which Josephus has preserved ("Ant." 14:10); and thus, too, it was that Alexandria was compelled to perpetuate their rights by means of a bronze stele (Josephus, "Contra Ap." 2:4; "Ant." 14:10, § 1). When, under Augustus, the cities of Ionia wished to expel the Jews on account of their refusal to abandon their rites, Agrippa, chosen as arbiter, gave a decision in favor of the latter ("Ant." 12:3, § 2; 16:2, §§ 3-5).
Tiberius himself issued a circular letter to the local authorities (Philo, c. § 24); and, after the momentary crisis provoked by the monomania of Caligula, Claudius, immediately upon his accession, vouchsafed to the Jews a writ of tolerance covering the whole empire, which thenceforth constituted the unassailable charter of their privileges. It had only one condition attached to it; namely, that they should content themselves with exercising their own rites without showing contempt for those of others ("Ant." 19:5, §§ 2-3). Even after the great insurrection of 66-70 the imperial government persevered in its policy of toleration, and turned a deaf ear to the supplications of the Greeks in Alexandria and Antioch, who demanded the expulsion of the Jews, or, at least, the abolition of their privileges. These were, on the contrary, formally confirmed by Alexander Severus ("Vita," ). Altogether, Judaism, during the entire duration of the Romanempire, remained it recognized religion ("religio licita"); and, what is more, as will shortly be seen, a religion exceptionally privileged.
Right of Residence.
IV. These privileges were as follows:
1. From localities where they were legally established, the Jews could not be expelled except by means of a formal decision issued by the supreme authority (king or emperor)—a procedure followed under Tiberius with regard to Rome, under Trajan with regard to Cyprus, and under Hadrian with regard to Ælia. Occasionally at the time of their establishment in a city the Jews had special quarters assigned to them; thus, in Alexandria, the quarter called the "Delta," situated near the royal palace ("B. J." 2:18, § 7; "Ant." 14:7, § 2; in Sardis, ib. 10, §, 24); and, in Rome, the quarter "Trastevere." It does not appear, however, that their confinement to special quarters was strictly enforced; and there is evidence that in Alexandria—at all events up to the reign of Hadrian—they moved about freely.
2. In the quarters inhabited by them the Jews possessed the privilege of erecting association halls for purposes of common worship and for the reading of the Law. These halls were, in fact, their synagogues, also termed προσενχαί and σαββατεία (the word ἀνδρών seems to denote a sort of synagogue reserved exclusively for the males; "Ant." 16:16, § 4), for the principal day of meeting was the Sabbath. The pagans, under certain conditions, could obtain admission to those halls (Acts 13:44; "Ant." 19:6, § 3). The synagogues served also for purposes of manumission, or enfranchisement of slaves (Latyschew, , No. 52); and it is this fact that gave birth to the "manumissio in ecclesia" ("Cod. Theod." 4:7). Each Jewish community of any importance whatever had its synagogue: some, as Damascus, Salamis in Cyprus, and Alexandria, had several. The synagogue in Antioch eclipsed all others by its magnificence ("B. J." 7:3, § 3). Rome appears to have had as many synagogues as Jewish communities (viz., eight), all of which—at least up to the third century—were located outside of the "pomœrium." At times the authorities themselves designated the plot on which the synagogue was to be erected, in which cases the ground was doubtless given gratuitously (in Sardis, for instance, "Ant." 10:10, §, 24). In maritime cities the custom seems to have been to build the synagogues near the sea (as in Halicarnassus, ib. § 23: τὰς προσενχὰς ποιεῖσθαι πρὸς τ θαλάττῃ κατὰ τὸ πάτριον ἔθος).
Certain synagogues are said to have had the right of sanctuary, like that which has been recently discovered in Lower Egypt. In this case the right granted by one of the Ptolemies (Euergetes, I. or II.) had been ratified by Zenobia ("C. I. L." , Suppl., 6583; compare Derenbourg in "Jour. Asiatique," 1869, p. 373; "Eph. Epig." 4:26, No. 33). The synagogues were places of assembly and of prayer (as well as libraries; Jerome, "Epistolæ," 36), but not of sacrifice, as is erroneously stated in the decree of the Sardians. With the exception of Jerusalem, the sacrificial cult obtained only in the temple of Leontopolis in Lower Egypt, founded under Ptolemy Philometor (about 160 B.C.), and destroyed in 73 C.E. The cult there was conducted by priests who had emigrated from Palestine, and was always looked upon with suspicion by the orthodox.
Besides their synagogues, the ruins of some of which still exist, notably that of Hammam Lif, Tunis ("Rev. Et. Juives," 13:48), with its beautiful mosaic (see, also, the curious inscription of Phocæa [ib. 12:237], and Renan, "Mission de Phénicie," p. 761), the Jews had special cemeteries, built in the same style as the Christian catacombs. The best known are those of Venusia in Apulia, of Gamart near Carthage, and the five cemeteries in Rome: three in the vicinity of the Via Appia (Vigna Randanini, discovered in 1859, inscriptions published in 1862 by Garrucci; Vigna Cimarra, discovered in 1867, inscriptions published by Rossi and Berliner; Vigna Pignatelli, discovered in 1855 by N. Müller, "Römische Mittheilungen," 1:49 et seq.); one in the Via Labicana for the Suburan quarter (discovered in 1883, inscriptions published in 1887 by Marucchi); and one, the earliest discovered (by Bossio in 1602), but lost to sight again a century ago, outside the Porta Portuensis, for the Jews of Trastevere. To these must be added the cemetery in Portus. The Jewish graves are of extreme simplicity, and contain nothing but lamps and a few vases of gilded glass. Some more elaborate sepulchers ("cubicula") are decorated with paintings, from which the figures of animals are not always excluded (cemetery of the Vigna Randanini, cemetery of Carthage). There are also some sculptured sarcophagi. The epitaphs, usually in faulty Greek, are accompanied by characteristic symbols; e.g., chandelier with seven arms, palm and citron, oil-vases, trumpet ("shofar"), etc.
Both the synagogues and the cemeteries were placed under the protection of the laws. The synagogues, after the prevalence of Christianity, were frequently in danger from incendiaries, and energetic penal measures were needed to preserve them. An edict of Augustus places a theft of the sacred books of the Jews in the class of sacrilegious offenses. As for the graves, the Jews, in certain countries, borrowed from the pagans an efficacious device to protect them: an inscription apprised the violator that a heavy fine would be imposed upon him, to be paid altogether or in part either to the municipal or to the imperial treasury.
The Jewish Cult.
3. The cult, besides the daily meetings in the synagogue, embraced the celebration of the Sabbath and the other festal days, some of which latter were attended by banquets; the observance of the dietary laws and the laws of chastity; the rite of circumcision—in short, all that constituted "the customs of the fathers." The free exercise of these customs was legally assured to the Jews. In Halicarnassus, a decree, while recognizing the community, fixed a fine for any attempt, private or municipal, to obstruct the course of the law ("Ant." 14:10, § 23). For a deed of this character in Rome, the future pope, Calixtus, was condemned by the prefect of the city to forced labor in the Sardinian mines (Hippolytus, "Philosophumena," 9:12). The observance of only one custom, circumcision, was for ashort time prohibited by Hadrian; and this prohibition was one of the causes of the revolt in 132 (Spartian, "Hadrian," 14). To the period of this interdiction the Smyrniot inscription, "C. I. G." No. 3148, may be assigned, where the Jews participating in a subscription term themselves (30) οἱ ποτὲ Ιονδαῖοι. Later the interdiction was confined to the circumcision of non-Jews—a measure that was the outcome of another order of ideas. To the guaranties surrounding the religious liberty of the Jews may be added exemption from the worship of the emperors—which exemption was seriously menaced only under Caligula—and certain special decisions destined to reconcile their interest with their "superstition." Thus, Augustus decided that, in case the distributions of grain and money in which the Jews participated should fall on a Sabbath, their shares should be distributed among them on the following day (Philo, c. § 23). Likewise, in cities where the inhabitants were entitled to rations of oil—Antioch, for instance—the Jews received money instead, as the use of pagan oil was unlawful to them ("Ant." 12:3, § 1).
4. Every Jewish community was authorized, at least tacitly, to form for itself an autonomous organization, administrative, financial, and judicial. From this, however, it must not be hastily concluded, as has sometimes been done, that in Greek countries the Jewish agglomerations were on the same level with the pagan religious associations (θίασοι,ἕρανοι), which enjoyed important juridical privileges. These privileges resembled those possessed in certain commercial centers by corporations of Oriental merchants—Egyptians, Sidonians, Tyrians, and Syrians—grouped around a national cult; but there was a great difference between this cult, associated closely with those in Greece and Rome, and the exclusive cult of the God of Israel. No official document furnishes the slightest ground for the assumption that, in Greek territories, the Jewish communities were classed with the thiasi. At the best this designation might be extended to those fraternities devoted to the cult of the θεὸς ὕχιστος, in the Cimmerian Bosporus (notably in Tanais) and elsewhere—fraternities some of which seem to have been disguised synagogues, and some pagan "sodalicia" more or less impregnated with Jewish elements (Schürer, "Die Juden im Bosporischen Reiche," in "Sitzungsber. Akad." , Berlin, 1897; compare Cumont, "Hypsistos," in "Rev. de l'Instruction Publique en Belgique," 1897, Supplement).
These thiasi were the predecessors of the Judæopagan sect of the Hypsistarians, who were spread over Cappadocia in the fourth century (Greg. Naz. "Or." 18:5). But in many localities, even outside of Syria, θεὸς ὕχιστος did not mean Yhwh; the name designated rather Helios or the Phrygian Sabazios, whom the Romans for a long time confounded with the God of the Jews (Valerius Maximus, 1:3,2; Lydus, "De Mens." 4:38). The status of the recognized Jewish colonies in Greek countries was comparable rather to that of groups of Roman citizens in Greek cities, in that they formed a small state within the state, and had their own constitution, laws, assemblies, and special magistrates, while enjoying the protection of the general laws. In this way the community in Alexandria is designated πολιτεία αὐτοτελής, while the Jews of Berenice (Cyrenaica) called themselves a πολίτενμα. Only one text, of Roman origin, seems to refer to the Jewish communities as "thiasi"; but here the word stands for the Latin "collegia" ("Ant." 14:10, § 8). Even so, they were but imperfect collegia, enjoying neither a corporate personality nor, in consequence, the privilege of possessing capital or real estate. A rescript of Caracalla declared void a legacy bequeathed to the "universitas" of the Jews of Antioch ("Cod. Just." 1:9,1; compare 1:20, "Dig." 34:5).
The internal organization of these little Jewish colonies was modeled upon that of the Greek communes, and it remained faithful to the type, at least in appearance, even after the catastrophe of 70 C.E. had destroyed the national existence of the Jews. The influence of this catastrophe upon the autonomy of the Jewish communities has been exaggerated (Mommsen, in "Historische Zeitschrift," 1890, pp. 424 et seq.). It could have been only temporary, like that exerted by the edicts of Hadrian. Almost everywhere existed, side by side with the general assembly of the faithful ones (σύνοδος σύλλογος, συναγωγή), which was often of a periodic character, a council of elders (γορονσια, γέροντες, πρεσβύτεροι). At Hypæpa there were Ιουδαῑοι νεότευοι ("R. E. J.," 10:74). The president of the council of elders was called γερονσιάρχης, γερονσιάρχων, in one instance even ἐπιστάτης τῶν παλαιῶν (ib. 26:168, Constantinople; the meaning is contested). The number of the elders was proportioned to the importance of the community; at Alexandria they numbered at least 38 (Philo, "In Flaccum," § 10).
At the head of the administration was a single ἄρχων (at Antioch, for instance, "B. J." 7:3, § 3), or an assembly of ἄρχοντες; at Berenice these officials numbered nine ("C. I. G." No. 5361). The community of Alexandria had for a long time a single chief, styled the "ethnarch" or "genarch," who united the functions of supreme judge and administrator (Strabo, cited in "Ant." 14:7, § 2). Beginning with Augustus, these functions were divided between a gerusia and a committee of archons (Philo, "In Flaccum," §§ 10, 14; compare "Ant." 19:5, § 2). Only in Rome, and probably as a simple police regulation, the Jewish population was broken up into a number of small communities or synagogues named after their patrons, or their quarters, or the native place of their members, etc. Of such communities eight are known: Αὐγονστήσιοι, 'αγριππήσιοι, Βολύμνιοι (after Volumnius, prefect of Syria under Augustus?), Καμπήσιοι (from the Field of Mars), Σιβουρήσιοι (Subura), 'Εβραῖοι (Samaritans? Palestinians?), 'Ελαίας (Velia? Elea?), Καρκαρήσιοι, to which must perhaps be added the synagogue of the Rhodians (inscription in Garrucci, "Diss. Arch." 2:185, No. 37). Juvenal, in a celebrated passage (3:10 et seq.), seems to allude to a synagogue situated in the wood of Egeria, outside the gate of Capene. Each of these little communities had its gerusia, its γερονσιάρχης, its archons, one or more. The γερονσία is not mentioned in the inscriptions, but its existence is implied in that of the γερονσιάρχης, whomust not be taken as the head of the "assembly of archons." The language of the inscriptions would seem to favor the hypothesis that each community had one archon. At all events, it would hardly be safe to generalize the words of St. Chrysostom ("Hom. in S. Joh. Natal.") on the election of the archons in September and the annual duration of their functions. With reference to the nomination of the archons, the statement of the "Vita Alex. Sev." 45 is perhaps trustworthy; namely, that the names of the candidates were publicly posted, to invite objections. As a rule, the archon was not elected for life, as is shown in the mention of δὶς ἄρχων in the funeral inscriptions. This title was sometimes honorary, and extended to the children (νήπιος ἄρχων, μελλάρχων). Nevertheless, the διὰ βίον seems to have meant an archon for life.
Associated with the archon, chief of the administration, one finds in many communities one or probably several άρχισυνάγογοι, chiefs of the synagogue (rabbis?). Sometimes the same person combined the functions of archon and archisynagogue ("C. I. L." 10:1893). The archisynagogue preached on the Sabbath (Justin, "Dial. cum Tryph." ). This title, however, did not always indicate an actual office-holder: in Smyrna and Myndus it was borne by a woman. The ὑπερέτης (ḥazzan) was an employee of the synagogue. The designation γραμματεύς was that of the official clerk; but occasionally this title, which was the equivalent of the Hebrew "sofer," seems to have been a merely honorary one. Persons versed in the Law were called διδάσκαλος, νομομαθής, μαθητὴς σοφῶν, etc. Probably these also were but honorary appellations, like the titles of προστάτης, πατὴρ λαοῦ, "pater" and "mater synagogæ" or "pateressa." A certain woman in Rome was "mater" of two synagogues. Another, in Phocæa, obtained the privilege of προεδρία, that is, of sitting on the foremost bench ("Bull. Corr. Hell." 10:327; "R. E. J.," 12:237).
The large number of scattered Jewish communities were unconnected by any hieratic or administrative bond, unless the collecting of the didrachma (to be mentioned later) and the moral protectorate exercised over the Diaspora by the representatives of the Jewish state, as long as that was in existence, be so considered. After the dissolution of the commonwealth and the destruction of the Temple, the moral center of Judaism, the need was felt of a new center, at least for the maintenance of religious solidarity and of uniformity of legal practises. Such a center was the patriarchate of Tiberias, which was established toward the end of the second century, and became hereditary among the descendants of Hillel. Origen, with manifest exaggeration, compares the patriarch to a king ("Ep. ad Afric." 14). It would seem that in the fourth century, besides the patriarch of Palestine, there were in the Diaspora other dignitaries bearing the same title (compare, for example, "Cod. Theod." 16:8,1,2, where the plural is otherwise inexplicable; in ib. 16:8,29, if the text is correct, there is mention of Occidental patriarchs). During the same period there are found religious functionaries designated "hiereis," whose precise functions are not known. In the inscription "C. I. G." No. 9906, the title ἱερεύς is equivalent to "kohen": the deceased was an "Aaronide." In a general way the propounders of the Law and the dignitaries of the Jewish cult bore the official appellations of "primates," "maiores," or "proceres."
5. The Jewish communities possessed the right to levy taxes upon their members (this is the meaning of the word αὐτοτελής as applied to the Jewry in Alexandria) to defray the common expenses, especially in connection with the maintenance of the synagogue. Details as to the character of these taxes are wanting; but they seem to a large extent to have served the purpose of supplementing the voluntary contributions, as is attested by numerous inscriptions. The principal levy, dictated by the demands of the community, was that of the didrachma, an annual poll-tax of a Tyrian half-shekel (=2 Greek drachmas), payable by each adult male member, and destined to sustain the treasury of the Temple in Jerusalem. The amounts collected from the several communities were then combined, and, through special confidential envoys, were sent, either in the original coins or in a converted form, to Jerusalem (Philo, "Legatio ad Caium," § 23). This practise, which in time involved a considerable export of gold to Palestine, met with a vigorous opposition on the part of the Greek cities; while the Roman government also at first assumed a hostile attitude toward it. Under the republic the Senate, alarmed at the annual amount of gold sent by the Italian communities, several times prohibited all exportation of this metal, and the propretor Flaccus confiscated the sums collected in Asia Minor for the Temple (Cicero, "Pro Flacco," ). Later, edicts of Cæsar, confirmed by Augustus, again authorized the practise, both as to Rome and the provinces; and when the cities of Asia Minor and of Cyrene attempted to oppose it, Agrippa intervened in favor of the Jews, while a series of edicts broke the resistance of the Greek cities (14 B.C.; "Ant." 14:6, §§, 2-7; Philo, c. § 40).
After the fall of the Temple (70), the Roman government, instead of simply abolishing a tax which had no further object, decided to impose it for the benefit of the treasury of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome ("B. J." 7:6, § 6; Dio Cassius, 66:7). This was the origin of the "fiscus Judaicus," a tax doubly irksome to the Jews; and the collection of which by the procurators ad hoc ("procuratores ad capitularia Judæorum"), according to the registers containing the names of those circumcised, was accompanied by the most odious vexations, notably under Domitian (Suetonius, "Domitian," 12). Nerva abolished the abuses and delations (there are still extant bronzes bearing the legend FISCI IVDAICI CALVMNIA SVBLATA), but not the tax itself, which was still collected in the time of Origen ("Epistola ad Afric." 14). There is reason to believe that it was gradually replaced by indefinite exactions, often levied without notice—a system of assessment which was finally abolished by Julian (Julian. Ep. 25; the text is obscure and doubtful). On this occasion, Julian destroyed the fiscal registers in which the names of the Jews were inscribed.
6. The Jewish communities possessed the privilege of settling their own legal affairs: they hadtheir own judges and their own code. This code—which was simply the Mosaic law, sedulously commented on by the Rabbis—was the sole study of the Jews and the Judaizers, to the exclusion of the Roman law—a fact mentioned with indignation by Juvenal ("Sat." 14:100 et seq.). In Alexandria the Jewish tribunal consisted for a long time of a single supreme judge, the ethnarch (Strabo, in "Ant." 14:7, § 2, διαιτᾷ κρίσεις καὶ συμβολαίων ἐπιμελεῖται). In Sardis, at the order of the Roman proquestor, the Jews were granted a court of their own (ib. 14:10, § 17). All these are but special instances of a general fact (Sanh. 32). In civil suits the autonomy of the Jewish courts applied only in cases where both parties were Jews; otherwise, even if the defendant was a Jew, the general local tribunal was alone competent, as is evident from the edict of Augustus restraining any court from ordering Jewish litigants to appear before it on the Sabbath ("Ant." 16:6, § 2). In penal cases, at the commencement of the common era, the Jewish magistrates exercised a wide disciplinary jurisdiction, including the right of incarcerating and flogging (Acts 9:2, 18:12-17, 22:19, 26:11; 2 Corinthians 11:24). It does not appear, however, that their jurisdiction extended to offenses against the common law: at any rate they did not have the right to inflict capital punishment.
The judicial autonomy of the Rabbis was kept up even after the admission of the Jews as Roman citizens. It was at this time that the supreme jurisdiction of the patriarch of Tiberias was at its height. Origen affirms that he pronounced death sentences and had them executed ("Epistola ad Afric." 14); but such decisions, of course, had no legal force; and if they were carried out, it was in secret, like the decisions of the Vehmgericht in the Middle Ages. Origen himself avers that in Judea the criminal jurisdiction had passed into the hands of the Romans ("C. Cels." ed. Spencer, 7:349). The "Theodosian Code" made of the rabbinical tribunals little more than courts of voluntary arbitration ("Codex. Theod." 2:1,10).
Exemption from Military Service.
7. The Hellenistic monarchies had compelled the Jews to perform military service; and this measure was productive of good results. Service in the field, however, was not compatible with a rigorous observance of the dietary laws and the Sabbath rest. On the Sabbath, according to the interpretation of the scholars, the faithful could neither carry arms nor traverse a distance of more than 2,000 ells (1,200 meters). Hence inconveniences frequently arose; as when the army of Antiochus Sidetes, which contained a contingent of Jewish soldiers, had to rest for two days because the festival of Pentecost fell on a Sunday (Nicolaus of Damascus, cited in "Ant." 13:8, § 4). Accordingly, the Romans, notwithstanding the effectual assistance which Cæsar obtained from the Jews, exempted them from military service, possibly in consideration of the payment of a pecuniary indemnity. This principle was proclaimed by the Pompeians in the year 49. At the commencement of the civil war, when the consul Lentulus raised two legions of Roman citizens in Asia, the Jews, at their own request, were exempted from the conscription; and instructions to this effect were forwarded to the local authorities ("Ant." 14:10, §§ 13 et seq.). In 43 Dolabella, proconsul of Asia, decided to the same effect; and his decisions were thereafter looked upon as precedents. The only levy of Jewish soldiers effected under the Roman empire was one under Tiberius, and that had a penal character (Suetonius, "Tiberius," 36).
V. Such, then, in their essential provisions, were the privileges granted to the Jews in the Greco-Roman world—privileges important enough to induce more than one Christian to embrace the Jewish faith in order to shield himself in times of persecution. Nevertheless, the medal had its reverse. If the Jews were privileged "peregrini," they were still "peregrini"; that is to say, they were deprived of all the rights and honors to which a citizen, in the cities of Greece and in the Roman state, was entitled. Furthermore, besides the regular taxes, the Jews were subjected to the payment of special taxes, from which the citizens were exempt. Mention has already been made of the didrachma. Besides this tax, the Jews of Palestine had to pay a very heavy land-tax (Appian, Syr. 50; text obscure and probably corrupted), against which they vainly made complaints to Emperor Niger ("Vita," ch. ). Very likely, too, in the Greek cities they were required, as a matter of principle, to pay a tax imposed upon foreign residents, the μετοικιον (a Jew is expressly classed among the μέτοικοι in the inscription of Iasus; Le Bas-Waddington, No. 294). All these encumbrances naturally inspired the Jews with the ambition of obtaining the privilege of citizenship, which alone could assure to them equality of treatment. This pretension, however, involved a contradiction: not that people in ancient times doubted that a man could be a citizen of two states at the same time, but because the Jews wished to combine the right of citizenship with the maintenance of their special prerogatives, their fiscal and judicial autonomy, their exemption from military service, etc. Moreover, the corporate life of the city in those days reposed essentially upon the worship of the deities common to all the inhabitants; and to this the Jews manifestly could not consent without surrendering their raison d'être.
In the Greek cities possessing republican institutions—and these were the only places where the right of citizenship had any value—the aspirations of the Jews remained unsuccessful—at any rate up to the time of the Roman conquest. The contrary assertions of Jewish historians have to be received with extreme caution. A typical instance of the kind is the affirmation of the Jews of Ionia, in the days of Augustus, that they had been granted by the diadochi the right of citizenship in the cities which Antiochus Theos (261-246) had enfranchised ("Contra Ap." 2:4). It is true that the Jews won before Agrippa the case against the municipalities that wished to expel them; but, although they succeeded in having their right of residence and their other liberties recognized, this does not furnish any evidence that they possessed citizen's rights, nor even those of "indigeni" (native-born; "Ant." 12:3, § 2; 16:2, §§ 3-5). The words οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐν τῇ πόλει 'Ιονδαῖοι [?] πολῖται in the decree issued atSardis in the time of Cæsar (ib. 14:10, § 24), must not be taken to mean that the Jewish residents of Sardis were considered citizens of that place, but only of Judea.
Right of Citizenship.
Likewise in Cyrene the Jews affirmed that they had obtained the "isonomia" of the Ptolemies ("Ant." 16:5, § 1); but this vague term must be construed in the sense of "isoteleia"; that is, equality in matters of taxation, which privilege had, in point of fact, been assured to them by Agrippa (ib. 6, § 5). The term certainly could not have indicated the right of citizenship in the proper sense. Strabo, in enumerating the four classes of inhabitants of the country, expressly separates the Jews from the citizens ("Ant." 14:7, § 2). There is more likelihood in the assertion of Josephus that Seleucus Nicator, in the cities founded by him, Antioch included, had granted to the Jews the rights of citizenship (πολιτεια) and social equality (ισοτιμία) along with the Greeks and the Macedonians ("Ant." 12:3, § 1; "Contra Ap." 2:4, § 39). However, as far as Antioch is concerned, this assertion is elsewhere qualified by Josephus himself, to the effect that it was only the successors of Antiochus Epiphanes who permitted to the Jews of Antioch ἐξ ἴσου τῆς πόλεως τοῖς ′′Ελλησι μετήχειν ("B. J." 7:3, § 3).
The privileges of the Jews of Antioch were engraved upon bronze steles, which Titus refused to destroy (ib. 7:5, § 2); and the Jews continued to designate themselves as 'Αντιοχεῖς ("Contra Ap." c.). The question concerning the 'Αντιοχεῖς of Jerusalem under Antiochus Epiphanes (II Macc. 4:9) is still unsettled. Be this as it may, these privileges do not seem to have included a participation in the government of the city—supposing that Antioch did actually have free institutions. The same assumption applies to the other foundations of Seleucus. So, likewise, in Alexandria, the fact that the Jews, with the express authorization of the Ptolemies, called themselves "Macedonians" and "Alexandrians" ("Contra Ap." 2:4; "B. J." 2:18, § 7; "Ant." 19:5, § 2), does not imply the possession of the right of citizenship (a right which, in a city not having an elective assembly and council, was of little advantage), but simply testifies to the equality of the Jews with the Greeks before the courts, the boards of taxation, etc.—an equality formally confirmed by Cæsar (Josephus, "Contra Ap." c.; "Ant." 14:10, § 1) and then by Claudius ("Ant." 19:5, § 2).
In short, the Jews in a certain number of Greek cities, particularly in those founded by the king, had been placed upon a footing of perfect equality with the Greeks in matters of taxation, the exercise of civil rights, the participation in the distributions, etc.; without, at the same time, possessing the privilege of full citizenship. Philo, with an affectation easily understood, declares that the Jews consider as their "real fatherland" the country they inhabit ("In Flaccum," 7); and it is possible that the rights of citizenship were accorded to individual Jews—St. Paul, for example, called himself a citizen of Tarsus (Acts 21:39 [the text is doubtful])—but no instance is known of a collective grant of this character.
In default of the right of Greek citizenship, the Jews fell back upon their right of Roman citizenship, which carried with it, even in Greek cities, numerous advantages. Altogether, in Roman cities they fared much better. From the time of Cicero there had been in Rome a compact group of Jewish citizens and electors. These were, no doubt, ancient slaves, enfranchised by one of those solemn ceremonials which conferred upon them the rights of citizenship in its plenitude (Philo, "Legatio ad Caium," § 23; Cicero, "Pro Flacco," 28; the λιβερτινοι of Jerusalem [Acts 6:9] belong doubtless to the same category). In the same period there were in Ephesus, Sardis, and throughout Asia Minor, a considerable number of Jews who possessed the rights of Roman citizenship. By what means they obtained it is not known ("Ant." 14:10, §§ 13, 14, 16-19). In Tarsus, Paul was both a Roman citizen and a citizen of the town (Acts 16:37-39). In Jerusalem, in 66 C.E., there were Jews who were Roman knights ("B. J." 2:14, § 9). The number of Jews admitted into Rome during the first two centuries of the empire can not be estimated; but it must have been considerable in view of the number of Jewish slaves that passed through Roman hands as the result of the three great insurrections. Still, the Jew who had become a Roman citizen does not appear to have possessed the "jus honorum," unless, indeed, he abjured, like Tiberius Alexander, nephew of Philo, his national customs; and the same thing held good of a Roman who embraced the Jewish faith. The law was not modified in this respect except by the constitution of Severus and Caracalla, which imposed upon the Jews certain contributions in forced labor ("necessitates") of a kind and degree compatible with their creed. From this time on the idea of local citizenship became greatly eclipsed by the wider conception of a Roman nationality—somewhat corresponding to a citizenship of the empire (Ulpian, L. 3, Dig. L. 2, § 3). Not long after this Caracalla's constitution made its appearance, which, for financial reasons, forced Roman citizenship upon all the subjects of the empire (L. 17, Dig. 1:5). By virtue of this constitution, the Jews obtained thereafter without difficulty the "jus honorum," and the exercise of all civil rights, "connubium, commercium, testamenti factio," and even the guardianship of non-Jews (Modestin, L. 15, § 6, Dig. 27:1). Nevertheless, as formerly they had been privileged "peregrini," they were now in certain respects privileged "cives": they had all the rights of citizens, but they exercised only those which did not conflict with their religious liberties. This may be inferred especially from the text already cited, according to which Alexander Severus "confirmed the privileges of the Jews." Among these privileges there was for some time, besides the exemption from military service, relief from service, more burdensome than honorary, to the curia.
VI. Having thus sketched the legal position of the Jews in the Greek states and in the Roman empire, it remains now to describe their social and economic condition, their occupations, and their relations with the pagans. On all these points save those which relate to Palestine and Babylonia and which do not come within the scope of the presentarticle, information is singularly defective, even as regards the two most important communities, those of Alexandria and Rome.
In nearly every part of the Diaspora the Jews lived clustered together in the cities. They doubtless possessed farms and orchards in the suburbs; but agriculture was no longer, as in Judea, their almost exclusive occupation. In Alexandria they were engaged in commerce and navigation (compare a Jewish horse-dealer, Danooul, mentioned in one of the Grenfell papyri from Fayum), and especially in the mechanical trades (Philo, "In Flaccum," passim). At the gatherings in the synagogue it was by their respective handicrafts that the faithful were grouped. In Rome the Jewish population, mostly of slavish origin and living in wretched quarters, followed the humblest callings, which drew upon them the sarcasm of the satiric poets. These overdrawn pictures, however, should not lead to the belief that all the Jews of Italy and Greece were mendicants (Martial, 12:57; compare Cleomedes, "Theor. Cycl." 2:1; but the expression "Bohemian Jews" is derived only from a false interpretation of Juvenal, 3:10 et seq.; compare Rönsch, "Neue Jahrbücher," 1881, p. 692, and 1885, p. 552), or fortune-tellers (Juvenal, 6:542; compare Procopius, "Bell. Goth." 1:9), or vendors of matches (Martial, 1:41; interpretation doubtful). The texts and the inscriptions refer to weavers, tent-makers, dealers in purple, butchers (Garrucci, "Cimitero Randanini," No. 44), tavern-keepers (Ambrose, "De Fide," 3:10,65), singers, comedians (Josephus, "Vita," § 3; Martial, 7:82; sarcophagus of Faustina [Munk, in Breslauer's "Jahrbuch für Israeliten," 2:85]), painters (Garrucci, "Diss. Arch." 2:154), jewelers ("Rev. Etudes Juives," 13:57 [Naron]), physicians (Celsus, "De Medic." 5:19,22; "C. I. L." 9:6213 [Venusia]), and even poets (Martial, 11:94) and men of letters (Cecilius, Josephus), without counting the preachers, lawyers, and theologians (Mattathias ben Heresh, etc.). At the end of the fourth century, in certain provinces of southern Italy, the "ordo" (highest class of citizens) of some cities seems to have been composed entirely, or at least principally, of Jews, a proof of their prosperity ("Cod. Theod." 12:1,158). In Egypt under the Ptolemies, from the ranks of the Jews came forth soldiers, farmers of the revenue (not only the famous Tobiad Joseph, but a certain Simon, son of Eleazar, mentioned on an ostrakon of Thebes [Willrich, "Jud. und Griech." p. 151]), civil functionaries (as the alabarchs Alexander and Demetrius), and generals (Onias, Desitheus, Helcias, Ananias). Later, however, Hadrian could or, perhaps, would find among them only "astrologers, soothsayers, and charlatans" ("Vita Saturnini," ). The days of glory for Judaism in Alexandria, which produced a Philo and indirectly a Josephus, were past (but compare Hippolytus, "Philosoph." 9:12). It is worthy of remark that scarcely ever before the Middle Ages are the Jews referred to as money-lenders, bankers, or usurers. These, their imputed callings, seem to have been forced upon them much later by circumstances and as a result of special legislation.
VII. Theoretically the intercourse of the Jews with the pagans was confined to commercial relations merely, and even these were greatly trammeled through the "laws of purity." The Jews lived apart, most frequently in separate quarters, grouped around their synagogues. The pious Jew could neither dine at the table of a pagan nor receive him at his own table. He was not permitted to frequent the theaters, the circuses, the gymnasia, nor even to read a secular book, "unless it be at twilight." Mixed marriages were prohibited under severe penalties. These rules were not, however, always and everywhere observed with the same rigor. Evidence of this fact appears in the Judæo-Alexandrian literature with its strong Hellenic infusion; in some of the professions pursued by the Jews; in the general and almost exclusive employment of Greek by the Jews of the Diaspora, even for religious services. In Rome the tumulary inscriptions are first in Greek—faulty enough, it is true—then in Latin. The Hebrew words are limited to a few hallowed formulas; almost all the proper names are Greek or Latin. But above all it is by the activity of the religious propagandism that the intimate contact and the reciprocal penetration of the two civilizations manifest themselves.
The fervor of proselytism was indeed one of the most distinctive traits of Judaism during the Greco-Roman epoch—a trait which it never possessed in the same degree either before or since. This zeal to make converts, which at first sight seems to be incompatible with the pride of the "chosen people" and with the contempt which the orthodox Jew professed for the foreigner, is attested by numerous documents (Esther 8:17; Judith 14:10; Matthew 23:15; Horace, "Sat." 1:4,142), and, better still, by facts themselves. Various methods were employed to increase the flock of Israel. The most brutal was that of forced conversion—that is to say, circumcision—such as had been imposed by John Hyrcanus on the Idumeans ("Ant." 13:9, § 1; "B. J." 1:2, § 6; Ammonius, s. 'Ιδουμαιοι), and by Aristobulus upon a portion of the Itureans (Galileans) ("Ant." 13:11, § 3). Next was the conversion of slaves owned by Jews as their individual property (Yer. Yeb. 8:1). But it was especially the moral propaganda, by word, example, and book, which was most productive of success throughout the whole extent of the Diaspora. It must be admitted that Judaism lacked certain of those attractive features which drew the multitude to the cult of Mithras and of the Egyptian deities. Its physical exactions repulsed those wanting in stout courage; its cult, devoid of imagery and sensuous rites, presented only an austere poesy separating its adepts from the world, and cutting them off to some extent from communion with the cultured. But the practical and legal character of its doctrine, furnishing a rule of life for every occasion, could not but appeal to a disorganized society. The purity and simplicity of its theology captivated the high-minded; while the mystery and quaintness of its customs, the welcome Sabbath rest, the privileges enjoyed at the hand of the public authorities, recommended the Jewish faith to those more materialistically inclined. Moreover,it knew how to insinuate itself by a very clever literature, in part pseudepigraphic, in part apologetic, claiming as its allies and forerunners the greatest geniuses of ancient Greece, the poets, the thinkers, and the sibyls. It also called into play the famous oracles (Oracle of Claros, in Macrobius, "Sat." 1:18,19 et seq.), and took on a Grecian aspect, while extenuating or concealing under the mantle of allegory and symbol those dogmas and observances that were shocking to rationalism. In brief, it was a religion essentially supple and elastic under an appearance of rigidity, and one which knew how to be at once authoritative and liberal, idealistic and materialistic, a philosophy for the strong, a superstition for the weak, and a hope of salvation for all.
Grades of Proselytes.
Finally, Judaism possessed the prudence and tact not to exact from its adepts at the outset full and complete adoption of the Jewish Law. The neophyte was at first simply a "friend" to the Jewish customs, observing the least enthralling ones—the Sabbath and the lighting of a fire on the previous evening; certain fast-days; abstention from pork. His sons frequented the synagogues and deserted the temples, studied the Law, and contributed their oboli to the treasury of Jerusalem. By degrees habit accomplished the rest. At last the proselyte took the decisive step: he received the rite of circumcision, took the bath of purity (Arian, "Diss. Epict." 2:9), and offered, doubtless in money, the sacrifice which signalized his definitive entrance into the bosom of Israel. Occasionally, in order to accentuate his conversion, he even adopted a Hebraic name ("Veturia Paula . . . proselita ann. XVI. nomine Sara," Orell. 2522 ["C. I. L." 6:29,756]; she was converted at the age of seventy). In the third generation, according to Deuteronomy 23:8, there existed no distinction between the Jew by race and the Jew by adoption, unless the latter belonged to one of the accursed races; before the period now under discussion, however, these had long been extinct. Aquila, whose Greek translation of the Bible superseded in the synagogues that of the Septuagint, and Bar Giora, chief of the insurgents in Jerusalem, were proselytes or sons of proselytes.
This gradual entrance into the fold of Judaism must have been a frequent occurrence in the first and second centuries. Juvenal refers to it in his famous words: "Quidam sortiti metuentem sabbata patrem. Nil præter nubes et cæli numen adorant," etc. ("Sat." 14:96 et seq.; compare Persius, 5:179; Tertullian, "Ad Nat." 1:13). The term "metuens" itself is technical, being a translation of the Greek φοβούμενοι, σεβόμενοι (e., τὸν θεόν), by which the Greek texts usually designate the proselytes (Acts 13:16,26,43; 17:4; "Ant." 14:7, § 2; compare "Eph. Epigr." , No. 838, and Schürer, "Juden im Bosporischen Reiche," p. 20). Efforts have been made to establish a sharp distinction between the σεβόμενοι or φοβούμενοι and the proselytes proper, the "gerim" of the Hebrew texts (in this sense so early as 2 Chronicles 30:25). It would seem more accurate to consider all these terms as synonymous, while admitting various degrees in proselytism. The simple Judaizers, (Ιουδαΐζοντες, "B. J." 2:18, § 2; in Phenicia and in Palestine some autonomous communities of θεοσβεῖς organized themselves [Cyril of Alexandria, in "Patrologiæ," 68:282]; the "cælicolæ" of the fourth century are of the same class), the "improfessi" (Suetonius, "Domit." 12), were naturally more numerous than the newly circumcised inscribed upon the register. The number of female proselytes by far exceeded that of the males, a circumstance which is sufficiently accounted for by the fear of circumcision on the part of the latter.
Extent of Proselytism.
It can not be doubted that Judaism in this way made numerous converts during two or three centuries; but the statements of Josephus, Philo, and even of Seneca, who represent the whole world as rushing toward Jewish observances, must be regarded as fanciful exaggerations ("Contra Ap." 2:39; Seneca, in "Aug. Civ. Dei," 6:11; Philo, "De Vita Moysis," § 2 [ed. Mangey, 2:137]). At the same time, it is an indisputable fact that proselytes were found in large numbers in every country of the Diaspora. The pagan authors, struck by this phenomenon, carefully distinguish the Jews by race from the Jews by adoption (Suetonius, "Tib." 36: "gentis eiusdem vel simila sectantes"; Dio Cassius, 37:17). In Antioch a large portion of the Greek population Judaized in the time of Josephus ("B. J." 7:3, § 3); and although they turned Christians in the days of Chrysostom, they had not forgotten the way to the synagogues. The same holds true of certain districts in Spain. In Damascus "almost all the women" observed the Jewish usages (ib. 1:20, § 2). Paul met with proselytes in Antioch of Pisidia, in Thyatira, in Thessalonica, and in Athens. The coins of Apamea representing the Ark of Noah, and the numerous associations of σεβόμενοι Θεόν ύψιστον, attest the diffusion of Jewish ideas and legends in Asia Minor. These associations (as in Gorgippia) may even represent veritable synagogues under a pagan mask, assumed for prudence' sake. In Rome, where the Jewish propaganda had taken the first step at the time of the embassy of Numenius (139 B.C.), its efforts and successes are indicated by Horace, Persius, and Juvenal.
The enormous growth of the Jewish nation in Egypt, Cyprus, and Cyrene can not be accounted for without supposing an abundant infusion of Gentile blood. Proselytism swayed alike the upper and the lower classes of society. The great number of Jews passing through the state of slavery must, of course, have catechized their comrades rather than their masters. Yet one hears also of distinguished recruits, and even illustrious ones: in the Orient, the chamberlain of Queen Candace (Acts 8:26), the royal family of Adiabene, and the kings of Emesa (Azizus) and of Cilicia (Polemo), united by marriage with the family of Herod ("Ant." 20:7, §§, 1,3); in Rome, the patrician Fulvia ("Ant." 18:3, § 5), Flavius Clemens and Flavia Domitilla, cousins of Domitian (Dio Cassius, 67:14; the text, read without preconception, leaves no doubt as to their conversion), and a page of Caracalla (Josephus, "Vita," § 1). The empress Poppea herself is termed θεοσεβής ("Ant." 20:8, § 11); and if Heliogabalus was not a Jew, he had at least adopted several Jewish usages, and intended to include Judaism in that strange amalgamin which he said all the existing cults should be reconciled under the auspices of the deity of Emesa.
The Jewish propaganda in the East did not meet with any other resistance than the attachment of the populations to their national religions. Thus Syllæus, minister of Obodas, king of the Nabatæans, when pressed to become a convert, declared that the Arabians would stone him ("Ant." 16:7, § 6). No Greek law can be cited designed to repress Jewish proselytism; but the Roman government showed less indulgence, especially after the great uprisings which laid bare the implacable hatred of the Jews toward their conquerors. While the religious liberty and the national customs of the Jews were scrupulously respected, severe measures were taken to prevent them from securing recruits, whom the Romans, in their patriotism, looked upon as real deserters. Under Domitian the crime of Judaizing, held to be identical with that of impiety or atheism, occasioned numerous forfeitures and condemnations to death or exile (Dio Cassius, 67:14).
Prohibition of Circumcision.
Nerva put an end to these proceedings, which often occasioned scandal (ib. 68:1); but though thereafter a partial adoption of Jewish customs was overlooked, a complete conversion continued to be prohibited. A rescript of Antoninus Pius, modifying a too general order of Hadrian, authorized the Jews to circumcise none except their own sons. The circumcision of a non-Jew, even if a slave, was punished with the same penalty as castration (L. ii .pr. Dig. 48:8 [Modestin]); namely, death for the "humiliores," deportation to an island for the "honestiores," and confiscation for all (L. § 5, § 2; Paulus, "Sent." 5:22, § 4). Both the Roman citizen who submitted himself or who submitted his slave to this operation, and the surgeon who performed the operation, were punished: the one with deportation and confiscation; the other with death (Paulus, ib. § 3). This relentless legislation was again enforced by Septimius Severus ("Vita," ch. ), and was maintained in full vigor up to the time of Origen ("Contra Cels." 2:13).
The effect of these laws was far-reaching, but in a direction different from that purposed by their authors. It is true the increase of the Jewish sect was checked; all the more so since in Talmudic circles the tendencies hostile to proselytism gained decidedly the upper hand. The enfeebling of Judaism, however, did not work to the profit of the pagan religions, which no longer had any hold upon the population. The half-proselytes, having no chance of becoming complete Jews, lent a readier ear to the evangelical preaching; and it was among these that Christianity made its first and its most numerous conquests (as early as the time of Paul; Acts 17:17).
Popular Views About the Jews.
The manifest success of the Jewish propaganda, and the stringent laws which were necessary to check it, biased the judgments of the ancient writers upon the Jews. To read them one would believe that Judaism had been to nearly all antiquity simply an object of horror and contempt. Its religious particularism, represented as atheism; its social particularism, represented as unsociability (ἀμιξΊα), and even as a hatred of mankind; its origin, disfigured by absurd legends; its creed and usages, placed in a most malevolent light, often highly mendacious—all this presents a picture in which the ridiculous and the odious vie with each other. At the most, a few philosophic minds showed admiration for the monotheism of Israel, its rejection of idols, and its family virtues (see Reinach, "Textes d'Auteurs Grecs et Romains Relatifs au Judaïsme," Paris, 1895, especially the Preface; and CLASSICAL WRITERS AND THE JEWS). On closer examination it becomes clear that this opinion of men of letters, almost unanimously unfavorable, derived its origin mainly from the Alexandrian controversy; and that the Alexandrian pamphleteers themselves were to a large extent under the influence of their Egyptian environment, where the hatred of the Jew had become a secular tradition. The truth is that, if Judaism lived in a continual antagonism to the champions of ultra-Hellenism and those of the old-school Romanism, it met, on the other hand, with wide-spread sympathy on the part of the masses, and of those of the élite who were free from national prejudices. It would have found even more appreciation if it had divested itself of its purely ethnic spirit; had sacrificed the accessary element (the manifold and vexatious usages) to the essential element (the religious and moral instruction); and had consummated at the proper time the transformation from a race to a religion—a transformation which is at once the program of its history and the problem of its destiny.
Relation to Christianity.
VIII. Failing to follow resolutely in this direction, Judaism did not succeed, any more than the religions sprung from Persia, Syria, and Egypt, in gathering up within itself the heritage of pagan classicism. Refusing to be absorbed in the new creed that sprang out of its own loins (the Romans perceived clearly this filiation from the time of Tacitus [in "Sulpicius Severus," 2:30] up to that of Rutilius Namatianus [1:389]), Judaism found itself, after the recent triumph of Christianity, in the precarious situation of a minority not yielding to coercion while suspected of a spirit of propagandism. The ancient exclusions based upon national differences were not resuscitated against Judaism. A century after the edict of Caracalla, there could be no question of diverse nationalities in the face of the all-embracing unity of the "orbis Romanus." The Jews were simply considered as a dissident sect, and classed in the same category as the heretics, the "cælicolæ," and even the pagans themselves. Such being the case in a society founded in an increasing degree upon the union of the Catholic Church with the state, Judaism could not fail to be the object of severe restrictions at the hands of the legislators. The progressive course of this severity can be traced through the numerous constitutions issued by the Christian emperors and preserved by the codes of Theodosius and Justinian: from the constitutions of Constantine, which still bear the imprint of a genuine spirit of tolerance and religious neutrality, to the measures, almost Draconian, of the sons and grandsons of Theodosius.
Naturally, account must also be taken of the individual dispositions of the emperors. Thus, against the attitude of the sons of Constantine must be set the humanity of Jovian and of Valentinian, not to mention Julian. The language went through the same process of evolution as the thought: it took on a tone increasingly contemptuous. 0Soon the very name of Judaism was not pronounced without the accompaniment of the most insulting epithets. The Jews were described as a sect which was baleful, disreputable, sacrilegious, perverse, abominable, whose assemblies were lacking in piety, etc. Only in rare instances was the word "sect" replaced by "nation"—an interesting proof that in the fourth century Judaism was on the point of putting off its national character, which it has only gradually reassumed under the pressure of restrictive legislation.
There is no need to enter into the details of this legislation, many points of which would call for an elaborate critical discussion, and which, moreover, no longer belong strictly to the period sketched in this article. A recapitulation of its principal provisions will suffice, grouped under three heads:
1. Measures Destined to Protect the Jewish Religion and Its Clergy:
Protection of Judaism.
Judaism was a recognized religion ("Codex Theodosianus," 16:8,9). Starting from this principle, which was never called into question, the emperors, even the least tolerant, ordered that Judaism be respected, and strove to shield its followers from insults on the part of the fanatics, particularly converts from Judaism, the most intractable of all. Of course, the Jews, in their turn, were required to respect the Christian religion and not to turn it into ridicule, even by indirect reference or by symbol—as, for example, at the Purim festival by burning a picture of Jesus under the name of Haman (ib. 16:8,18 [in 408]; compare 21 [in 412]). On this condition the Jews could freely celebrate their festivals and Sabbaths. On these days they could not be made to appear in court; nor, conversely, could they require Christians to do so (Constitutions of the years 400 ["Codex Justinianus," 1:9,13] and 412 ["Cod. Theod." 16:21]; compare "Codex Theodos." 8:8,8 and 20). Their assemblies were not to be disturbed (Law of 393, "Cod. Theod." 16:8,9), nor their houses and synagogues pillaged and burned. The frequent renewal of this prohibition (ib. 16:8,12 [in 397], 20 [in 412], 21, 25, 26) shows how laxly it was observed. This was the period when the Greeks, fanaticized by the bishop Cyril, drove the Jews out of Alexandria; when the violent actions of the Roman garrisons, under Constantius, provoked an alarming revolt in Palestine; and when Severus, Bishop of Minorca, forcibly converted the Jews of his diocese (418). Valentinian I. and Valens expressly conceded to the synagogues the character of "loca religiosa," and declared them exempt from military billeting (Law of 365, "Cod. Just." 1:9,4 = "Cod. Theod." 16:8,11).
The complement of these protective measures was the privileged situation accorded to the dignitaries and the employees of the synagogues. Placed on the same level with the members of the Catholic clergy, they were exempted from all burdensome services, from all contributions of forced labor, and particularly from the heavy responsibilities of the curia (Law of 397, "Cod. Theod." 16:8,13). Their right to expel from their communities the "false brothers" who did them the most harm, was acknowledged (Law of 392, ib. 16:8,8, and that of 416, ib. 23).
The patriarchate, particularly, was the object of most deferential treatment, the patriarch receiving a rank in the official hierarchy as "vir spectabilis." Insults addressed to him were severely punished (Law of 396, ib. 16:8,11). For a long time he was authorized to collect through special envoys (Apostoli) a tax of "joyous accession" ("aurum coronarium"), which enabled him to display an almost royal pomp. However, the Apostolé, as the tax was called, already disadvised by Julian ("Epistola," ), was interdicted, and its proceeds confiscated for the benefit of the imperial treasury by Arcadius and Honorius, in 399 ("Cod. Theod." 16:8,24). It was reinstituted in 404 (ib. 17; in the same year the privileges of the Jewish dignitaries were again confirmed [ch. ]), but not for long.
The arrogance of the patriarch Gamaliel dealt a fatal blow to the institution of the patriarchate. In 415 Gamaliel was deprived of his rank and honors (ib. 22); and not long after—at his death, doubtless—the patriarchate was abolished. The apostolé, however, was continued; but in 429 it was converted into a tax for the benefit of the public treasury (ib. 29). Its history, it will be observed, strangely resembles that of the didrachma.
2. Civil and Political Status:
Status Under the Christian Emperors.
After being for a long time privileged "peregrini," the Jews, by an edict of Caracalla, had become "cives," enjoying all the rights attaching to this title, and, in addition, certain special privileges by virtue of their religion. The Christian emperors respected this status in principle, opposing, for instance, the local attempts to impose special "governors" and a system of fixed sale-prices upon the Jewish merchants (Law of 396, "Cod. Theod." 16:8,101), and likewise the attempts to compel the Jews of Rome to enter en bloc the burdensome corporation of the "navicularii" (ib. 13:5,18; in the year 390).
But although no injury was done to the civil rights of the Jews—except, as will presently be seen, in regard to slavery and matrimony—the same was not the case with their political rights. The idea that Jews could legally give orders to Christians—that they could hold a particle of the sacred authority of the emperor—soon came to be intolerable. As early as the year 404 it had been decided that Jews could not be employed as "agentes in rebus"; that is to say, as functionaries of the police and of the treasury (ib.; the word "militia" in this text has been misunderstood: it in no way designates the military career, which never had been open to the Jews). In 418, in a general manner, they were shut out from all public employments ("Cod. Theod." 16:8,24; compare "Constitutio Sirm." 6), while at the same time permitted to become advocates (this until the year 425 only) or decurions. This interdiction was renewed in a more explicit fashionin 438, and was extended to the judiciary offices and to the municipal dignities, particularly that of "defensor civitatis" ("Nov. Theod." 2:3,2="Cod. Just." 1:9,19).
Liability to the Curia.
Moreover, the Jews were required to hold curial offices, more onerous than honorable, and which, in the pagan epoch, had been considered incompatible with their religion. This last measure, already attempted by Septimius Severus, met, it appears, with vigorous resistance. Beginning with the year 321, Constantine ordered that all the municipal councils could press into this service those Jews whose fortunes rendered them liable, excepting "two or three" in each community, "ad solacium pristinæ observationis" ("Cod. Theod." 16:8,3). Later constitutions stated this exemption more precisely, while at the same time extending its range to priests, archisynagogues, chiefs, and functionaries of the Jewish synagogues (ib. 16:8,2 [in the year 330], 4, 13; 12:1,99; "Cod. Just." 1:9,5). But a law promulgated in the Orient—the date and author of which are unknown—reconsidered the reform, and exempted once again all the Jews from the curia. This law, in its turn, was abrogated, at least for the Occident, in 398 ("Cod. Theod." 12:1,158; compare "Cod. Just." 1:9,5, as regards the first abrogation, in 383). The property of the Jews liable to the curia was formally alienated to the curia ("Cod. Just." 1:9,10 [in 403]). It is worthy of note that even the curial Jews were considered as people of the lowest condition (ib. 1:9,19). It is hard to explain, therefore, that in the time of Pope Gelasius (492-496) there were still Jewish "clarissimi" (Mansi, "Concil." 8:131). Judicial autonomy disappeared at the same time as the curial privilege.
As early as the year 393, the Jews were required to conform in their marriages to the Roman laws, and polygamy was forbidden ("Cod. Just." 1:9,7). A law in 398 ordained that in all matters not strictly religious in character the Jews were amenable thereafter to the Roman law and to the judge of the common law. No doubt the parties concerned were also entitled to submit their case to the decision of their rabbi, if they wished to do so; but this decision, in case it conflicted with that of the governor, the superior judge, had only the value of a simple arbitrament ("Cod. Theod." 2:1,10; this constitution is reproduced in "Cod. Just." 1:9,8, with an omission, which seems to have attributed to the Roman judge jurisdiction even in litigations of a religious nature; but this omission can not be considered intentional). It must be assumed that, either through superstition or through respect for the judicial knowledge of the rabbis, many Christians in litigation with Jews consented to submit their contentions to the Jewish elders. This practise was forbidden by a constitution of 418 ("Cod. Just." 1:9,15).
3. Measures of Defense and Attack of a Religious Character:
Converts and Slaves.
Two principles are here dominant: (1) the prevention of the Jews from spreading their religion, especially to the detriment of Christianity; and (2) the encouragement of apostasy. To the first category belong the prohibition, under a penalty of a fine of 50 pounds in gold, of the erection of new synagogues, the preservation and maintenance of the old ones being, however, permitted ("Cod. Theod." 16:8,25 [in 423], 27; "Nov. Theod." 2:3,3; "Cod. Just." 1:9,19); the prohibition, under the death-penalty, of marriage with Christian women ("Cod. Just." 1:9,6 [in 388]; "Cod. Theod." 3:7,2; 9:7,5), or even of having any contact with the women of the imperial gyneceum ("Cod. Theod." 16:8,6 [in 339]; the sense is somewhat doubtful); and, finally, the prohibition, also under penalty of death, aggravated by confiscation, of the conversion of free Christians to the Jewish religion ("Cod. Just." 1:9,16,19 [in 439]; the convert, also, was punished with confiscation, "Cod. Theod." 16:8,7 [in 357]; compare ib. 16:8,1 [the date 315 is inaccurate]). A very delicate question, and one in regard to which legislation varied, concerned the detention by Jews of non-Jewish, especially Christian, slaves. Here the danger of seduction, or even of forcible circumcision, was a thing which was regarded as particularly to be dreaded. At first it was thought sufficient to renew the ancient law of Antoninus prohibiting the circumcision of even pagan slaves ("Const. Sirm." 4 [in 335], a renewal of a former constitution). The penalty for the master, it would appear, was only his loss of the slave, who was set free. But soon after, the emperor Constantius added thereto the death-penalty for the master, and in a general way forbade even the acquisition by Jews of slaves of another religion, under the penalty of their confiscation for the benefit of the treasury. In cases where the slaves were Christians, the confiscation of the owner's entire fortune was ordered ("Cod. Theod." 16:9,2 [in 339]). This law, truly exorbitant, although renewed in 384, could not be enforced (ib. 3:1,5).
In 415 the Jews were formally authorized to own Christian slaves on the condition of not converting them (ib. 16:9,3); but in 417 the influence of the clergy led—at least in the future—to the abrogation of this indulgent law. Christian slaves in actual detention by Jews could be retained by the latter, the death-penalty being applied to cases of attempted circumcision only (ib. 4; confirmed in 423 [ib. 5]); but even this provision was modified in 439 to exile and confiscation ("Cod. Just." 1:9,16).
In the same manner that the legislation opposed all expansion of the Jewish religion, it encouraged, and no less energetically, the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. The Church, however, had no right to receive such apostates as desired, in invoking its right of asylum, simply to escape the payment of their debts ("Cod. Theod." 9:45,2 [in 397]). In the first place, of course, the newly converted were protected with the whole rigor of the law against the malice and cruelty of their former coreligionists ("Const. Sirm." 4; "Cod. Theod." 16:8,1; "Cod. Just." 1:9,3; this constitution, the date of which as handed down  is certainly false, threatens delinquents with the penalty of being burned alive). Still worse, the converted Jewish child could not be disinherited by its parents, nor even be curtailed in its portion; while a provision singularly odious was added, viz., the fourth part of the residue was assured to it, even though it might have been convicted of a capital crimeagainst the "de cujus"; without prejudice, however, to the legal penalties ("Cod. Theod." 16:8,28 [in 426]).
By means of these measures and others of the same kind, confirmed by the novellæ of Justinian (45 and 146), it became possible, if not to induce numerous conversions (compare Procopius, "De Æd." 6:2), at all events to check definitively the spread of Judaism; to pen it up, both physically and morally, within the confines of Christian society; and, finally, to stamp upon it the seal of humiliation and terror which it was to bear, as a token of infamy, throughout the Middle Ages. The legislation of the councils that inspired most of the medieval laws concerning the Jews was but a reflection of the legislation of the Christian emperors. In Constantinople (Leo , "Constit." 55 [between 886 and 911]), as well as in the greater part of the Occidental states, such an attitude could not but bring about, sooner or later, a complete proscription of Judaism and its followers.
- Zorn, Historia Fisci Iudaici, 1734;
- Wesseling, Diatribe de Judæorum Archontibus, Utrecht, 1738;
- Fischer, De Statu et Jurisdictione Judæorum, Argentor, 1763;
- Levysch, De Judæorum sub Cæsaribus Condit., et de Legibus Eos Spectantibus, Leyden, 1828;
- Ch. Giraud, Essaisur l'Hist. du Droit Franç. au Moyen Age, 1846, pp. 1,328 et seq.;
- Fränkel, Die Diaspora zur Zeit des 2ten Tempels, in Monatsschrift, 1853;
- idem, Die Juden Unter den Ersten Röm. Kaisern, ib. 1854;
- Goldschmidt, De Judæorum apud Romanos Condicione, Halle, 1866;
- Friedländer, De Jud. Coloniis, Regimont. 1876;
- idem, Sittengeschichte Roms, 6th ed., 3:609-628;
- Schürer, Die Gemeindeverfassung der Juden in Rom, Leipsic, 1879;
- idem, Gesch. des Jüd. Volkes, 3d ed.;
- Hild, Les Juifs à Rome Devant l'Opinion Romaine, in Rev. Etudes Juives, ,;
- Manfrin, Gli Ebrei Sotto la Dominaz. Rom., 4 vols.;
- Th. Reinach, Textes d'Auteurs Grecs et Romains, 1895;
- Willrich, Juden und Griechen, Göttingen, 1895;
- Alf. Bertholet, Die Stellung der Isr. zu den Fremden, Freiburg, 1896;
- the histories of Jost, Herzfeld, Ewald, S. Cassel, Grätz, Renan, and Wellhausen;
- Renan, Les Apôtres, pp. 289 et seq.;
- Mommsen, Röm. Gesch. :
- idem, in Hist. Zeitschrift, 1890;
- Godefroy's Commentaries on the Justinian Code;
- Berliner, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, 1893;
- Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, 1895.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Diaspora'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/d/diaspora.html. 1901.
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26