AUGUSTUS (called later Caius Julius Cæsar Octavianus):
The first Roman emperor that bore the honorary title of "Augustus"; born Sept. 23, 63
Augustus renewed the edicts which Julius Cæsar had promulgated in behalf of the Jews living at Cyrene and in Asia Minor, granting them perfect freedom of worship, sanctioning the collection of money for the Temple, and proclaiming as inviolable their sacred books and synagogues (Josephus, "Ant." xvi. 6, §§ 1-7). Particular regard was paid to their Sabbath; neither on that day, nor on its eve after the ninth hour, could the Jews be required to appear in court; while in Rome, if a public distribution of corn occurred on a Sabbath, needy Jews were entitled to claim their share on the day following. The contemporary Jewish population of Rome was quite considerable, as appears beyond question from the several synagogues the origin of which may be traced to the Augustan age. To one synagogue the name "of the Augustesians" (συναγὼγ Aὐγνστησίων) was given, in honor of the emperor.Friendship with Herod.
The friendship between Augustus and Herod the Great began after the victory at Actium (Sept. 2, 31
Under Augustus, moreover, Judea forfeited the actual or nominal independence it had possessed for a century and a half, and was made a Roman province. After the death of Herod (3
The rule of Archelaus, however, was tyrannous; and about ten years after his accession another embassy of leading Jews appeared before Augustus with an arraignment of his cruel despotism. The emperor thereupon summoned him to Rome, and banished him and his wife, Glaphyra, to Vienne, a city of Gaul, now in the lsère department, France. His wealth was confiscated, while Quirinius, a prominent senator, accompanied by Coponius, was delegated to Syria and Judea (6-7
The census proved highly unpopular, particularly among the Zealots, a band of resolute republicans led by Judas the Galilean, or the Gaulanite, and by Zadok, who saw in this innovation a menace to national and personal liberty, and opposed it accordingly, though without permanent success. In some places open resistance even may have occurred (Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 1, § 1; xx. 5, § 2; idem, "B. J." ii. 8, § 1; 17, § 8; Luke ii. 1-3; Acts v. 37). Judea thus became wholly a Roman province of the second order, not incorporated into Syria, as Josephus says, but having an imperial representative in the person of a procurator, who resided at Cæsarea.
New marks of loyalty were shown to Augustus by his Herodian protégés. Antipas fortified Sepphoris, the chief city of Galilee, dedicating it to the emperor; while the new fortress at Betharamptha he named "Julias," after the emperor's wife. Similarly, Philip built an important city at the head of the Jordan valley, styling it "Cæsarea Philippi," in distinction from its namesake built by Herod the Great; while he enlarged and embellished Bethsaida, near the Lake of Gennesaret, and called it also "Julias," after the daughter of Augustus (Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 2, § 1).
- Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, 4th ed., iii. 229 et seq.,
- Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 11-14;
- Berliner, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 21, 62;
- Mommsen, Römische Gesch. v. 504 et seq.;
- Schürer, Gesch. der Juden, i. index, s.v. Octavianus Augustus.