Shipboard: On the way to Caesarea

The sea is only choppy and I must not grumble, but I am glad that it is a short voyage compared with that from Italy.

I had meant to tell you what Valerius said to me about Galilee. As you know, both Galilee and Peraea (which is east of Jerusalem on the far side of the river Jordan) are in possession of Antipas, son of the Herod who, by turning his coat skilfully during our civil wars, not only kept his kingdom but kept on adding to it. I complained to Valerius that these territories, but especially Galilee, ought to be under the Governor of Judaea. Common sense demands it. Galilee is Jewish, it is flourishing and rich, and Jerusalem is its national and historic capital. Its inhabitants look to Jerusalem as their sacred city and are always travelling to it. Would anyone in his senses dream of carving up a country into strips in such a way, and why should we tolerate it just because Herod had three sons for whom he wanted to provide? Valerius agreed with me at once. 'There is more in it than that, too,' he said, 'as you may soon find out. The Galileans, like all the Jews, hate the Romans, and they are as independent and stiff-necked as can be. But when they want to make trouble, they come out of Galilee, where they can change nothing and achieve nothing, and make it in Judaea, which means Jerusalem. The last serious rising about twenty years ago, when we took over the country, was raised by a rascal called Judas who belonged to Galilee.* That was a real rebellion. The unfortunate Procurator of Judaea is not allowed by Caesar to have any rebellions, while at the same time he is prevented from dealing with the beginnings of seditions in Galilee even if he knows of them, because it is the kingdom of Antipas and he must not interfere.' 'Then we ought,' I said, 'to get rid of Antipas.' Valerius smiled. 'I have been waiting for ten years,' he said, 'and he has never given me a handle. You may take it that Antipas will not allow sedition to start in Galilee if he can help it, because he knows the Romans might seize the chance to absorb his kingdom into Judaea. He keeps on good terms with the Roman Governor of Syria and he has friends in Rome. Like his villainous old father, he flatters the Jews by observing their customs and he keeps himself in power by paying court to the Romans. All the Herods are the same. They know that if it were not for the Romans the Jews would have them out in no time, for the Jews love them little though they love the Romans less.'

*Judas of Gamala headed a revolt on the death of Herod in 4 B.C. and again in A.D. 6-7, when the Romans first imposed their formal scheme of taxation. It was from the party of Judas and Zaddok, a Pharisee, that the 'Zealots' arose whose implacable hostility led to the fatal revolt of the Jews against the Romans.
I asked Valerius how it was that if all the Jews detest the Romans equally, he had managed to keep things quiet for ten years. 'It's quite true,' he said, 'that they all hate us. There is scarcely one of them that would speak to us, let alone eat with us, if he could help it, but they do not all hate us in the same degree. There are some of them at Jerusalem who would sooner put up with the Romans than lose the power and position that they hold. Their noble priestly families - as arrogant a crew as can be found in Asia - ruled the whole country before the time of Herod. Herod destroyed their power and almost destroyed them. Now they have raised their heads again. We have given them back much of their authority, especially in regard to their religion, and, in order to keep it, they are ready to tolerate us. They do not want another Herod to sweep them aside and send them to the executioner. Nor do they like sedition - unless it were likely to be successful - for they know the power of Rome. They have no use for a Judas, whether from Galilee or anywhere else, who by raising a popular revolt may bring them into conflict with Rome and end their privileges. They make a bargain with Rome. "We hate you and despise you," they say, "but on terms we can help you. Leave us alone and we will keep the country quiet for you.'"

You see, my friend, how quickly I am learning. I am to work with these priests at Jerusalem and look out for an opportunity which, I am not likely to get, of tripping up Antipas. Between you and Valerius and Secretary Alexander I shall soon be a statesman. All the same, I shall press for an increase in the garrison of Judaea. Four thousand men is not enough. I shall say, when I get the chance, that I need more troops to watch the frontiers of Galilee and Peraea.

I have not told you about the deputation after all, but I will write again before we land at Caesarea.

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