FLORUS, GESSIUS (or, incorrectly, Cestius):
Last procurator of Judea (64-66). Florus was notorious for his cruelty and rapacity, and was so much detested by the Jews that in comparisonwith him Albinus was considered a just man. Florus, indeed, hastened the outbreak of the revolution by rendering the condition of the Jews unbearable. He protected the Sicarii in return for a share of their plunder, and during his administration many towns were sacked. When the Jews of Cæsarea opposed the obstruction of the entrance to their synagogue by the Greeks, they bribed Florus not to interfere. Florus accordingly went to Samaria. Finding themselves overpowered, the Jews sent to him an embassy of twelve, imploring his protection against the Greeks; but Florus, instead, threw the ambassadors into prison. Later he sent to Jerusalem, demanding from the warden of the Temple treasury seventeen talents of gold. His demand being refused and even ridiculed, he went to Jerusalem and ordered his soldiers to attack the upper market-place.
The Jews were killed, regardless of sex or age, and the houses plundered. On that day (16th of Iyyar, 66) more than 3,600 were slaughtered; many were scourged and crucified. Queen Berenice in vain implored him on her knees to stop the carnage. Florus even demanded a friendly reception for the troops appointed to seize the Temple. But the people opposed him with so much vigor and determination that he left Jerusalem with the larger number of his troops. When the insurrection had broken out, Florus gave full liberty to the Greeks of Cæsarea to attack the Jews. The majority of the latter were killed; the remainder, by the command of Florus, were sent to the galleys.
- Josephus, Ant. xx. 11, § 1;
- B. J. ii. 14, § 4;
- Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii. 445-450 et seq.;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 585, 601 et seq.