The Romans and Agrippa II

Marcus Julius Agrippa II (50-100 C.E.) was in Rome in 44 C.E. when his father died. Sometime after 52 C.E. he assumed the government of a small kingdom that Claudius granted him as recompense for the loss of his father's vast kingdom. By 53 C.E., however, he had received wider territories in Palestine that were increased again in 54 C.E. at the accession of Nero. His reign may be defined as unconditionally Roman. When called upon he provided troops for all Roman ventures in the area, and he named (and renamed) his cities in honor of the Roman emperors, who also appeared on the coins minted during his reign. Agrippa's relationship with his sister Berenice was popularly considered incestuous: she lived with him and acted as though she were his queen. Their sister Drusilla was married to Antonius Felix, governor of Judea from c. 52-60 C.E., a marriage to which the Jews were intensely opposed and resentful: shortly after he arrived to assume his duties as procurator, Felix had lured the sixteen-year-old from her then new husband

Azizus, the king of Emesa, whom Agrippa had forced to adopt Jewish customs and undergo the rite of circumcision before he would agree to the marriage.

Under Porcius Fetus (60-62 C.E.), the next procurator, the seething hatred of Rome coalesced into near anarchy. Two events stand out in the reign of Agrippa II that illustrate the mounting tensions between the Romans and the Jews and their respective attitudes to the growing Christian movement: the trial of Paul before Festus, Agrippa, and Berenice; and the martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus.

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