It is difficult to get a
balanced picture of the 13th Roman prefect of Judea,
since Josephus focused
blame for the Jewish revolt against Rome squarely on his misrule. A native
of Asia Minor, Florus made a point of publicly displaying his contempt for Jewish
principles & Jews of any rank. Like his predecessor (Lucceius
Albinus) he gave freedom to bandits for a share of their spoils. He
tolerated (or encouraged) insults of Jewish religion & used Roman
cavalry & soldiers in displays of force against any group of
Jews. When Jews in Caesarea resorted to
violence, Florus escalated the conflict. by rebuffing the pleas of leading
Jews to ignore protesters' insults. Rather, in retaliation he
ordered his soldiers to plunder the Upper Market in Jerusalem.
Josephus claims that this led to the massacre of thousands of Jews
including women & children. Those who were not slain by the soldiers'
raid were brought to Florus, who had them tortured & crucified even if
they were of noble status. Berenice, sister of
king Agrippa II, sought to intercede by
pleading for mercy for Jerusalem's Jews, but Florus did not show her any
respect. Instead he called in Roman troops from Caesarea. Fearful that the
Romans meant to seize the temple & the tower of Antonia, many Jews
incited rebellion. Florus withdrew his forces. But by then the
damage had been done. Even Agrippa's plea to obey Florus until Nero
could send a replacement could not slow the impetus to rebellion. Florus
disappears from the historical stage in the ensuing political chaos. His
fate went unrecorded.
_____, War 2.277-343,
402-407, 418-420, 457, 531, 558;
Tacitus, Histories 5.10.
Perspective on the
World of Jesus
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Mahlon H. Smith
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