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SEVERUS, LUCIUS SEPTIMIUS;

Emperor of Rome from 193 to 211 C.E. At the beginning of his reign he was obliged to war against his rival, Pescennius Niger, who had proclaimed himself Emperor of the East. Which ruler the Jews preferred is unkown, but the other Palestinians, including the Greeks and Syrians, and even the Samaritans, fought for Niger, so that when Severus proved victorious he deprived the inhabitants of Neapolis (Shechem) of their citizenship (Spartianus, "Vita Severi," ix.). It was not until Severus had conquered his last rival, Albinus (197), that he freed the Palestinians from the punishment which their fidelity to Niger had evoked (ib. xiv.).

On the conclusion of the Parthian war (199) Severus marched through Syria, and it was probably at that time that Palestine was detached from Syria and made a separate province (Krauss, in "R. E. J." xlvi. 220). while Sebaste (Samaria) became a Roman colony (Ulpian, in "Corpus Juris," "Digesta," xv.1, § 7). During this period one Claudius, who is not, however, characterized as a Jew, is said to have overrun all of Judea and Syria as a bandit, and to have succeeded in reaching the emperor himself, and threatening his life, nor was he afterward captured (Dion Cassius, "Epitome of Xiphilinus," lxxv. 2). Orosius (vii. 17) and Eusebius ("Chronicon") likewise mention a rebellion of the Samaritans and Jews, and it was probably for that reason that the Senate granted the emperor a triumph over the Jews ("Judaicum triumphum decreverat"; Spartianus, l.c. xvi.), which Severus, on account of his illness, permitted his son Caracalla to celebrate.

In 202 the emperor and his son both assumed the title of consul in Syria, and in his march to Alexandria Severus enacted for the inhabitants of Palestine a number of laws, including a prohibition against conversion to Judaism or Christianity (ib. xvii.). On the other hand, both Severus and Caracalla permitted Jews to fill offices of state, although they were obliged to bear all disadvantages connected with their status ("Digesta," ii. 3, § 3). The inscription on the synagogue of Ḳaisun names all the members of the house of Severus.

Bibliography:
  • Jost, Gesch. iv. 92;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., iv. 208;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 651, iii. 76;
  • Reinach, Textes d' Auteurs Grecs et Romains Relatifs an Judaïsme, i. 344-346, Paris, 1895;
  • Prosopographia Imperii Romani, iii. 213, No. 346.
G. S. Kr.
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