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(41-54 C.E.)

CLAUDIUS° (Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus), Roman emperor 41–54 C.E. Claudius was partly assisted in his accession to the throne by the diplomacy of *Agrippa I , whom he appointed as king of Judea, restoring all the lands ruled by his grandfather *Herod . After Agrippa's death, he reestablished the rule of the procurators, although in 49 he allotted Agrippa II parts of northern Palestine. He nevertheless continued to receive sympathetically Jewish embassies and granted the Jews, inter alia, the right to appoint the high priest, to administer the Temple and its funds, and to look after the high-priestly vestments. On the death of Caligula, rioting broke out between the Jews and Greeks of Alexandria over the question of equal civic rights. Claudius quelled the riots and issued two edicts: in one he reaffirmed the rights of the Jews of Alexandria to keep their religion and ethnarch, while directing both parties to maintain the peace. In another edict, issued to the world at large, Claudius reaffirmed the same privileges to the rest of the Jews in the Roman Empire. He also decided in favor of the Jews in their dispute with the Samaritans, and banished *Cumanus Ventidius , procurator at the time. Influenced by his friendship with the family of Agrippa he took steps to secure the rights of Jews in other parts of the empire, put down disturbances against them in Alexandria, and had their privileges restored. According to Suetonius, Claudius banished the Jews from Rome, but the details are obscure. Disputes between Jews and members of the Christian sect in Rome had caused disturbances and Claudius apparently either banished certain Jews or prohibited them from assembling, which led to their voluntary departure, sometime between 41 and 50 C.E. It is generally accepted that the emperor's aim was the preservation of peace and not an act of hostility toward the Jews.


Pauly-Wissowa, 6 (1899), 2792; H.I. Bell, Jews and Christians in Egypt (1924), 1–37; Tcherikover, Corpus, 2 (1960), 36–55, no. 153; Alon, Toledot, 220–9; A. Tcherikover, Ha-Yehudim ve-ha-Yevanim ba-Tekufah ha-Hellenistit (1963), 323–7.

[Lea Roth]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.