Agrippa I and the Persecution of the Jews in Alexandria

In 38 C.E., Caligula crowned his childhood friend Agrippa I, the brother of Herodias and grandson of Herod the Great, King of the Jews. When he set out for Palestine to assume the throne, Agrippa stopped in Alexandria. His presence there seems to have provoked severe riots between the Jews and the Greeks and Egyptians. In collusion with their Roman governor A. Avillius Flaccus, the Alexandrians insulted Agrippa by staging a mock homage to his kingship. Agrippa had processed through the city surrounded by bodyguards in bright gleaming armor and the Alexandrians derided the pompous arrival by crowning their own "king of the Jews" and parading him through the streets. Flaccus permitted further outrages against the Jews: emperor images were installed in the synagogues; Jews were stripped of their rights as citizens; and a general persecution was approved. Because they refused to worship the emperor, Jews were dragged into the theater and flogged or forced to eat pork. Agrippa left Alexandria hurriedly but not before sending a letter to Caligula in which he reported the abuses of Flaccus. This, Agrippa's first act as King of the Jews, resulted in Flaccus' arrest and banishment.

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