"A Sight Unfit to See": Jewish Reactions to the Roman Imperial Cult

David Noy

University of Wales

In 39 or 40 c.e., the Emperor Gaius Caligula decided to have a statue of himself installed in the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem. He ordered the governor of Syria, Petronius, to use as much military force as necessary to erect it. Petronius was confronted with thousands of protesting Judaean Jews before he had even left Syria, and procrastinated as long as possible. Jews throughout the Roman world were horrified at the greatest threat to the monotheistic and aniconic nature of their worship for 200 years: the statue was to them ?a sight unfit to see? (Philo, Leg. 224), and they were appalled that:


.... the created and corruptible nature of man was made to appear uncreated and incorruptible by a deification which our nation judged to be the most grievous impiety, since sooner could God change into a man than a man into God.[1]


Philo, an Alexandrian Jew who was a member of a delegation which had gone to protest to Caligula about a completely different issue, happened to be in Rome at the time. So was Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great and currently ruler of a client kingdom to the north-east of Judaea, including Galilee.  When he was personally informed by Caligula about the statue, he apparently had a stroke, but recovered sufficiently to write to Caligula with a lengthy argument against the statue (Philo, Leg. 203-337). Caligula?s mind was changed, either by Agrippa?s reasoning, or, according to Josephus (Ant. 18.290-309), by having made Agrippa a rash promise to grant him a favour in return for a particularly good meal. 

The general question of the relationship between the Jews and the imperial cult has received very little attention in modern literature.[2]  It is, of course, universally assumed that Jews would not have been willing to acknowledge an emperor?s divinity, since it would clearly infringe monotheistic principles. Their readiness to tolerate the presence of statues and other representations of him seems to have been more variable; the strictness with which the Second Commandment was interpreted depended on geographical location and Jewish-gentile relations in any particular place, among many other factors. The extent to which an emperor would have been willing for the Jews not to acknowledge his divinity is less clear.  It will be argued here that Caligula was exceptional, and that usually there was no pressure from central authorities for Jews to compromise with the cult, although the issue may have been less clear-cut at a local level.

The Jewish sources assume that Caligula wished to turn the Temple into an imperial cult centre, and this view has been followed by most modern scholars, although Slingerland (1997, 84) raises the possibility that he only wished to have his statue displayed in the way that many pagan temples displayed statues of notable people. Philo (Leg. 203) attributes the action to his wish for revenge on the Jews for another incident. At the city of Jamnia, where there was a Jewish majority in the population but a significant non-Jewish element, in the previous winter the non-Jews erected an altar to Caligula which the Jews tore down, horrified ?that the sanctity which truly belongs to the Holy Land should be destroyed?.[3]  Events at Jamnia may themselves have developed from what had happened at Alexandria. During anti-Jewish riots there in August 38, the Greeks set up images of Caligula in the synagogues,


and in the largest and most notable a bronze statue of a man mounted on a chariot and four.[4]


Philo (Leg. 346) says that the practice spread to other cities too.

There is no reason to think that Caligula?s policy of self-deification had begun as early as August 38, but the eagerness of the Alexandrian Greeks to deify him, no doubt as a deliberate provocation of the Jews more than out of anything they felt about him,[5] may have encouraged him to pursue a course of action whose logical culmination was the attempted takeover of the Temple. Caligula may or may not have wanted to punish the Jews, either for the incident at Jamnia, or, as Philo (Leg. 115, 198, 265, 332, 353) also claims, because they were the only people in the Empire who would not treat him as a god.  However, it was natural for any ruler aiming at divinity to be tempted by the largest temple in the Roman Empire.  It is uncertain whether he postponed or abandoned his intention: according to Philo (Leg. 333-4), who is very ambiguous about how the episode ended, he ordered Petronius to make no changes in the Temple, but said that anyone in the neighbouring regions outside Jerusalem who wished to set up ?altars or temples or any statues or images on behalf of myself and my family? must not be obstructed. 

Caligula?s assassination in 41 ended the threat to the Temple. His attitude to Judaism was an aberration among the Julio-Claudians, since both his predecessors and his successors were willing to respect Jewish religious practices and beliefs.[6]  This was exemplified by an event in Tiberius?s reign, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, probably after the fall of Sejanus in 31. The events are known only from Philo (Leg. 299-305), and their interpretation has caused much debate. Pilate had some gilded shields (clipei) installed in the governor?s residence (formerly Herod?s palace) at Jerusalem. The shields were aniconic (i.e. not decorated with the divine, human or animal imagery which might have been used on such objects), but carried the names of the dedicator, Pilate, and dedicatee, Tiberius. Philo describes it as a deliberate provocation of the Jews, and reports that a delegation led by the four sons of Herod the Great went to Pilate and demanded the shields? removal. Pilate refused, but when the Jewish leaders wrote to Tiberius, the emperor ordered that the shields should be moved to Caesarea. Philo does not explain why they caused such outrage.  The Jews cannot have had any objection in principle to such shields, which were displayed in synagogues in Alexandria.[7]  If they were installed with a pagan dedication ceremony, as suggested by Davies (1986), their removal would not have solved the problem.  A more satisfactory suggestion, proposed by Fuks (1982) and partly reconciled with Davies? theory by Grabbe (1994, 397), is that they had ?Son of the Divine Augustus? (divi Augusti filius) inscribed on them.  Thus they were indirectly linked to the imperial cult, and were offensive to Jewish feelings at Jerusalem but not at Caesarea.  Tiberius was sensitive enough to such feelings to be willing to order the shields? removal.

A slight confirmation of Jewish dislike of imperial nomenclature with divine connotations may be visible in a papyrus contract for a loan of barley dated 3 c.e. (CPJ 411).  The borrower, Sambathion son of Dionysios, is assumed to be a Jew because of his name; the lender, Herakles is apparently not Jewish. The first part, written for or on behalf of Herakles, uses the expression ?Caesar, son of the god? (Ka?saroj q[e]oà [u?o]à) in the dating formula, but only ?Caesar? is used in the date in Sambathion?s part.

Josephus (Ant. 19.300) mentions the setting up of a statue of Claudius by pagans in the synagogue at Dora in Phoenicia, but this was a local initiative not encouraged by the emperor himself, and therefore not part of any official policy of forcing emperor-worship on to the Jews.  Domitian condemned his own relatives Flavius Clemens and Flavia Domitilla for atheism and Jewish practices (Dio 57.14.1-2), although these were not illegal in themselves.  The most likely explanation is that conversion to Judaism could be seen as a sort of treason if it led to the convert?s refusal to acknowledge the emperor?s divinity.[8]  A convert would not benefit from the privileges granted to those born as Jews, although probably only in the case of someone in a prominent position would conversion lead to punishment.  In fact no emperor after Caligula tried to force those born as Jews to take part in the imperial cult.  One of the complaints made against the Jews by Apion and rebutted by Josephus was their failure to erect statues of the emperors; Josephus (C. Ap. 2.73) replied that Roman magnanimity should be admired:


in not requiring their subjects to violate their national laws, and being content to accept such honours as the religious and legal obligations of the donors permit them to pay. 


Tacitus (Hist. 5.5.4) also noted, without condemning, the Jews? rejection of statues of the emperors.

It seems that, with the exception of Caligula?s abortive policy, a ?live and let live? attitude usually prevailed on both sides.  The rabbis who wrote the material collected together in the Mishnah and the Talmud discussed at some length what they described as ?alien worship? (?Abodah Zarah), and expressed various attitudes towards it ranging from outright hostility to benign indifference (as long as it was only performed by those born as gentiles).  Presumably the worship of Divus Augustus or Divus Hadrianus was to be seen as no worse or better than the worship of Mercury or Venus, which could be tolerated as long as it was practised outside Israel by people unconnected with Judaism.[9]  They were all invalid, so why distinguish between them?[10]  A story about how pagans worshipped an image of the emperor carved from a tree in a bath-house does not seem to express any particular distaste for worshipping the emperor rather than another god; it is the idolatry itself which is wrong.[11]  Some rabbis took such a lenient view that they allowed Jewish craftsmen to make ?appurtenances of idolatry? for gentiles; the leniency was based on the assumption that there was no danger of Jews finding idolatry attractive.[12]  Even when there was an outbreak of Jewish anti-paganism in Cyrene during the revolt of 115-17, the Caesareum was only one of the temples destroyed, along with temples of Apollo, Zeus, Demeter, Artemis and Isis.[13]

However, a passage in the Mishnah (?Abodah Zarah 3.1, tr. J. Neusner) ostensibly quoting some second-century rabbis expresses strong hostility to any contact with statues, especially those holding symbols of power:


?All images are prohibited because they are worshipped once a year?, the words of R. Meir.  And sages say, ?Prohibited is only one which has in its hand a staff, bird or sphere.?  Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says, ?Any which has anything at all in its hand.?


This was later interpreted in the Babylonian Talmud (?Abodah Zarah 40b) as referring to imperial statues, and specifically to those made to be worshipped rather than for decoration.  Hadas-Lebel (1979, 424-5) suggests that the ambiguous language used in the Mishnah reflects the danger of opposing the cult too explicitly in the 2nd and early 3rd centuries.  The Babylonian Talmud (?Abodah Zarah 41a) is more explicitly hostile to the arbitrary power represented by symbols like the sword which ?has the authority to kill the whole world?, but the attribution of this statement to ?a Tanna? (i.e. a sage from the period before the redaction of the Mishnah, c. 200 c.e.) must be spurious if Hadas-Lebel?s argument is followed.  In fact, it is not certain that the original point at issue was imperial statues at all, since she acknowledges that the description could also apply to divine statues; even if imperial statues were meant, it might not be emperor-worship which was the main issue, since that surely took place more than once a year.  The one apparent reference to the imperial cult in rabbinic literature is thus in fact rather ambiguous.  Urbach (1959, 239) argues that the equanimity with which the rabbis could regard other forms of ?idolatry? did not apply to emperor-worship; it was more tempting to Jews, and statues of the emperor could not be desecrated in the way that other idols could.  However, the issue does not seem to be dealt with at all by the rabbis anywhere else.  The emperor?s birthday, funeral and the anniversary of his accession are included in a list of pagan festivals, and the cremation of the dead emperor is associated with idolatry, perhaps showing knowledge of the procedure of apotheosis, but the point at issue is Jews avoiding contact with pagans, not their possible participation in the rituals.[14] 

This lack of interest in the imperial cult is not surprising in the Talmud, redacted in the 5th-6th centuries when the cult was no longer an issue.  It is more surprising in the Mishnah, put together at a time when Christian refusal to take part in the imperial cult was being taken by both the state and by individual pagans as evidence of Christian disloyalty, however strongly the Christians protested against this interpretation.  It would be dangerous to read too much into this, as there are plenty of real-life issues affecting the Jews which are not dealt with in the Mishnah, but it fits what seems to be the general situation of the Jews being exempted uncontentiously from all participation in the cult.  This also appears to be reflected in the non-Jewish sources.  While there is much interest in such aspects of Judaism as monotheism and the Law, and derision of practices like circumcision and abstinence from pork, there seem to be no comments at all by non-Jews on Jewish exemption from the imperial cult.  Sevenster (1975, 152) states that Jewish rejection of the imperial cult ?was fertile ground for the seed of anti-Semitism?, but offers no actual examples of a link between the two other than under Caligula.  It may be significant that, at Acmonia, a woman named Julia Severa who was high-priestess of the imperial cult in the reign of Nero also had a synagogue built:[15] for her, at least, the two things were quite compatible.  In the same city, one man named Tyronnius was high priest of the imperial cult, while another of the same name (possibly, although of course not necessarily, a relative) was a Jewish archisynagogos. [16] 

There is no record of any specific legislation exempting the Jews from the imperial cult, and Smallwood (1977, 137) describes it as ?a privilege so obvious that it is never specified?.  It followed naturally from their general exemption from any practice which would infringe their beliefs and traditions. This originated with Julius Caesar, was confirmed by Augustus and later emperors, and continued after 70 c.e. so that the Jews? payment of the fiscus Iudaicus could be seen as buying their privileges. Tertullian (Apol. 18.8) uses the expression ?freedom paid for by tax? (vectigalis libertas); he is referring explicitly to the right to read the Torah, but the expression presumably applies to the whole range of Jewish ?freedom?.  Winter (1994, 98-103) argues plausibly that the episode at Corinth in Acts 18:12-17 where the Jews denounced the Christians to the proconsul Gallio was an unsuccessful Jewish attempt to have the Christians excluded from Jewish exemption from the imperial cult.  Jews who undertook municipal offices were exempted from the pagan rituals which such functions normally required, at least from the time of Severus and Caracalla.[17]  Diocletian is said in a rabbinic text to have exempted the Jews from pouring libations to idols,[18] which should probably be seen in the context of the persecution of the Christians; the loyalty tests imposed on Christians from time to time especially after 250, which often involved some form of participation in the imperial cult, were not imposed on Jews.


Even if not required to take part in the cult, Jews were neither physically nor socially isolated from it.  It was practised in and around Judaea in cities where non-Jews formed a majority of the population.  Herod the Great established a prominently situated temple to Augustus and Rome at Caesarea, and another at Panion, incorporated into his kingdom in 20 b.c.e.[19]  Pilate seems to have encouraged the cult at Caesarea, where he founded a building called the Tiberieum.[20]  The cult was also practised at Sebaste, founded by Herod, where Septimius Severus restored the temple.[21]  In the 2nd century, Aelia Capitolina, the Roman colony founded by Hadrian to replace the destroyed Jerusalem, had a temple of Hadrian Olympius, probably on the site of the Jewish Temple, but Aelia was then an explicitly non-Jewish city.  There is also a rabbinic reference to ?the pedestals which gentiles set up during the persecution [by Hadrian]?,[22] which could be (but need not be) for imperial statues.  At Neapolis in Samaria, a temple of the imperial cult was built on the Senate?s authority under the Emperor Philip.[23]  Agrippa I may even have flirted with the idea of claiming divine status for himself among his non-Jewish subjects.[24]  According to Acts (12.20-23), representatives of the people of Tyre and Sidon who listened to a speech made by Agrippa said, ?It is a god speaking, not a man?, leading to Agrippa?s being struck down by God for usurping divine honours.  Josephus (Ant. 19.343-50) tells a similar story in slightly more detail; he adds that Agrippa did not reject the flattery, and puts the episode in the context of a festival at Caesarea in honour of Claudius.  It is thus clear that ruler-worship was a serious issue in and around Judaea even if Jews were not expected to participate.

Although not willing to treat the emperor as a god, the Jews were usually prepared to give him the highest honours available to a mortal. The distinction between honours allowed by the Law and those forbidden is made by Philo (Flac. 50, 97).  The practice of offering daily sacrifices for the emperor at the Temple in Jerusalem began in the time of Augustus, and continued until the outbreak of the revolt in 66 c.e.[25]  There were also special sacrifices at the accession of a new emperor, and sacrifices could be made for his safety or to celebrate his victories.  They were, however, on his behalf and not to him, as Caligula complained (Philo, Leg. 232, 355-7).  The fact that Jews would only make sacrifices at Jerusalem, and would not make them at all after 70 c.e., may also have led to some misunderstanding: when the Alexandrian Greeks pointed out that the Alexandrian Jews refused to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving for Caligula?s recovery from illness (Philo, Leg. 354-5), they were only stating the truth as they would have seen it, since a Jewish sacrifice at Alexandria would have been out of the question.

Prayers for the emperor?s safety were also said in synagogues in the Diaspora, and inscriptions were erected in his honour, but it can only have been the living emperor who was honoured in this way, perhaps together with his living relatives.  This practice is first attested by Philo (Leg. 133), at Alexandria. He describes an anti-Jewish riot when the synagogues were destroyed:


I say nothing of the tributes to the emperors which were pulled down or burnt at the same time, the shields and gilded crowns and the slabs and inscriptions, consideration for which should have made them spare the rest.


Agrippa I, as reported by Philo (Leg. 279-80), told Caligula that no-one excelled the Jews in loyalty to his house, expressed with ?prayers, preparation of votive offerings, quantity of sacrifices, not only at general festivals but also on a daily basis?.  The prayers and votive offerings could have been made anywhere in the Roman Empire, although the sacrifices were restricted to Jerusalem.  The destruction of the Alexandrian synagogues meant that the Jews ?no longer had the sacred buildings where they could set forth their thankfulness? to the imperial house.[26]  The honours were apparently limited to inscriptions and prayers, however; Philo (Leg. 148) says that ?neither image nor bust nor painting? in honour even of Augustus was installed in the synagogues of Alexandria.

Such prayers presumably continued in the synagogues where dedicatory inscriptions have been found recording that the synagogue was built or an object in it was installed ?for the safety of the emperor? (pro salute imperatoris).  Turcan (1979, 1057) associates pro salute dedications with oriental divinities, particularly in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.  However, in Egypt, there was already a tradition from the Ptolemaic period of dedicating synagogues to rulers; the monarchs? divine titulature was conspicuously omitted in the inscriptions.[27]  The Roman evidence comes from the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries, and has a very wide geographical distribution:


·       For the safety of the emperor[s?].  Mindius Faustus with his family built and made (it) from his own gifts, and set up the ark for the holy law. (JIWE i 13, Ostia, probably 2nd century. Pro salute Aug(usti/ustorum) in Latin, with the rest of the text in Greek)


·       For the safety of our Lord Emperor Caesars L. Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus and M. Aurelius Antoninus {and L. Septimius G}eta his sons, from a vow of the Jews.  Also for Iulia Domna Augusta.  (CIJ ii 972, Kaisun in Galatia, 197 c.e., Greek)


·       [For the safety of the] emperors [L. Septimius Severus Pe]rtinax [and M. Aurelius Antoninus] the Augusti [and Iulia Augusta mother of the ca]mp ... [Secu]ndus ... the synagogue ... [collapsed with a]ge [restored from the gro]und.  (CIJ i2 678a (pp. 60-1 of proleg.), Mursa (Osijek) in Pannonia, Latin)


·       To the Eternal God, for the safety of our Lord Severus Alexander Pius Felix Augustus and Iulia Mammaea Augusta, mother of the Augustus, Cosmius the pr(aepositus) sta(tionis), the spondilla of the synagogue of the Jews, willingly fulfilled a vow.  (CIJ i2 677 (p. 59 of proleg.), Intercisa in Pannonia, Latin)[28]  


Jewish communities, or individual benefactors within the communities, could thus express their respect for (but not veneration of) the emperor.  Individual Jews might also find themselves in situations where they were expected to use the emperor?s name in an oath for some sort of official declaration.  In principle, Jews should have been exempt from any oaths which they regarded as an infringement of their monotheism.  A papyrus shows that one Jew living just south of the Dead Sea was willing to swear by the fortune (tyche) of the emperor:[29]  


[ - - ] son of Levi, I swear by the tyche of the Lord Caesar (Ômnumi tÚchn kur?ou Ka?saroj) that I have in good faith registered as written above, concealing nothing.


Greek-speaking Christians, in contrast, refused to swear by the emperor?s tyche;[30] Latin-speaking Christians would make an oath by his safety (salus) but not by his guardian spirit (genius).[31]


More surprisingly, in a notification of death from the Fayûm dated 101 c.e. (CPJ 427), Soteles, son of Josepos and husband of Sarra, reports the death of his son Josepos.  The names leave no doubt about the family?s Jewishness.  The papyrus is written in three different hands. The third hand, which the editors take as Soteles? own, reads:


Soteles, son of Josepos, the above-mentioned, I swear by the Emperor Caesa[r Nerva] Trajan Augu[stus]...


There may be a precedent for this from Ptolemaic Egypt; when the Jews and Samaritans of Alexandria referred a dispute to Ptolemy VI Philometor, they all swore an oath ?by God and the king?.[32]  


The reactions of individual Jews must have varied according to beliefs and circumstances; a Jewish inhabitant of a largely pagan village might more easily be pressurized by an authority figure into making a compromise than a Jew in a big city would be, and compromise with the imperial cult might be less noticeable than compromise with, say, the cult of Serapis.  600 fugitive Judaean rebels who were handed over to the Roman authorities at Alexandria in 70 c.e. refused to acknowledge the emperor as lord (despÒthj), even under severe torture (Josephus, B.J. 7.418-19), but this should probably be seen as a political rather than a religious statement. One sage, R. Nahum bar Simai, refused throughout his life to look at any coin because of the emperor?s image on it, and at his funeral the ?icons? (which in the context must be statues on public display) were covered with mats, presumably on the route of the procession, so that he would not see in death what he had never seen in life; however, he was seen as an example of extreme and unparallelled strictness, earning him the title of ?most holy?.[33]  Jews in general were not criticised for accepting the emperor?s divinity and thus undermining their monotheism.  When Christians wanted to attack Jews on theological grounds, they took all their examples of Jewish compromising with idolatry from the Bible; there do not seem to be any Christian complaints about the Jews compromising with the imperial cult.[34]  Generally, Jews seem to have been content to ignore the cult, and the proponents of the cult were content to ignore the Jews.




Beard, M., North, J. & Price, S. (1998), Religions of Rome.  Volume 1.  A History (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P.).


Borgen, P. (1995), ? ?Yes?, ?No?, ?How far??: the participation of Jews and Christians in pagan cults?, in T. Engberg-Pedersen (ed.), Paul in his Hellenistic Context (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark), 30-59.


Bowersock, G. (1982), ?The imperial cult: perceptions and persistence?, in B.F. Meyer & E.P. Sanders (eds.), Jewish and Christian Self-Definition vol.3: Self-Definition in the Graeco-Roman World (London: SCM Press), 171-82.


Cotton, H. (1995), ?The archive of Salome Komaise daughter of Levi: another archive from the ?Cave of Letters??, ZPE 105, 171-208.


Davies, P.S. (1986), ?The meaning of Philo?s text about the gilded shields?, JTS 37, 109-14.


Fuks, G. (1982), ?Again on the episode of the gilded Roman shields at Jerusalem?, HTR 75, 503-7.


Gager, J. (1983), The Origins of Anti-Semitism (New York: OUP).


Goldenberg, R. (1988), ?The place of other religions in ancient Jewish thought, with particular reference to early rabbinic Judaism?, in M.E. Marty & F.E. Greenspahn (eds.), Pushing the Faith.  Proselytism and Civility in a Pluralistic World (New York: Crossroad), 27-40.


Goodman, M. (1994). Mission and Conversion. Proselytizing in the Religious History of the Roman Empire (Oxford: OUP).


Grabbe, L.J. (1994), Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian (London: SCM Press).


Hadas-Lebel, M. (1979), ?Le paganisme à travers les sources rabbiniques des IIe et IIIe siècles?, ANRW II.19.2, 397-485.


Jones, D.L. (1980), ?Christianity and the Roman imperial cult?, ANRW II.23.2, 1023-54.


Levinskaya, I. (1996), The Book of Acts in its First Century Setting vol.5: The Book of Acts in its Diaspora Setting (Grand Rapids: Eerdman).


Millar, F. (1973), ?The imperial cult and the persecutions?, in Le Culte des Souverains dans l?Empire Romain (Vandoeuvres-Geneva: Fondation Hardt,  Entretiens sur l?Antiquité Classique 19), 145-75.


Sevenster, J. (1975), The Roots of Pagan Anti-Semitism in the Ancient World (Leiden: Brill, Novum Testamentum Supp.XLI).


Slingerland, H.D. (1997), Claudian Policymaking and the Early Imperial Repression of Judaism at Rome (Atlanta: Scholars Press, S.F.S.H.J. 160).


Smallwood, E.M. (1961), Philonis Alexandrini Legatio ad Gaium (Leiden: Brill).


Smallwood, E.M. (1977), The Jews under Roman Rule (Leiden: Brill).


Trebilco, P. (1991), Jewish Communities in Asia Minor (Cambridge: CUP).


Turcan, R. (1978), ?Le culte impérial au IIIe siècle?, ANRW II.16.2, 996-1084.


Urbach, E.E. (1959), ?The rabbinical laws of idolatry in the 2nd and 3rd centuries in the light of archaeological and historical facts?, IEJ 9 (1959), 149-65, 229-45.


Winter, B.W. (1994), ?Acts and Roman religion: B. the imperial cult?, in D.W.J. Gill & C. Gempf (eds.), The Book of Acts in its First Century Setting vol.2: The Book of Acts in its Graeco-Roman Setting (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 93-103.

[1] Philo, Leg. 118 (tr. F.H. Colson).

[2] Outside the context of Caligula, it is scarcely mentioned in recent studies which approach it from the perspective either of Roman religion (e.g. Beard, North & Price 1998, 361) or of Judaism (e.g. Feldman 1993).

[3] Philo, Leg. 199-202 (tr. F.H. Colson); cf. Josephus, B.J. 2.195, where the Jews say that statues of mortals are forbidden anywhere in the Holy Land.

[4] Philo, Leg. 134 (tr. F.H. Colson); cf. Flac. 41.

[5] Philo, Flac.51-2; Smallwood 1961, 207.

[6] Slingerland (1997) challenges the generally accepted belief in the largely favourable attitude of Augustus towards the Jews and claims that the Julio-Claudians were consistently hostile to them, but his arguments are only relevant to the Jews of the city of Rome.

[7] Philo, Leg.133, discussed further below.

[8] Smallwood 1977, 379.

[9] Goodman 1994, 51-5.

[10] Goldenberg 1988, 28.

[11] Midrash Exodus Rabbah xv 17 (tr. S. Lehrman).

[12] Urbach 1959, 158; Goodman 1994, 120

[13] Goodman 1994, 126; CJZC 17.

[14] Mishnah, ?Abodah Zarah 1.3; Jer. Talmud, ?Abodah Zarah 1.2; Urbach 1959, 240.

[15] Trebilco 1991, 58-9.

[16] MAMA vi 264-5; Borgen 1995, 37.

[17] Bowersock (1982, 174) makes the link with non-participation in the imperial cult.  The texts are Digest (Modestinus, The Exemptions, Book 6) and (Ulpian, On the Proconsul?s Office, Book 3).

[18] Smallwood 1977, 540, citing Jer. Talmud, ?Abodah Zarah 5.4.

[19] Smallwood 1977, 79, 83.

[20] Smallwood (1977, 166) believes that this was a temple to Tiberius.

[21] Smallwood 1977, 490.

[22] Tosefta, ?Abodah Zarah 5.6 (tr. J. Neusner).

[23] Smallwood 1977, 528.

[24] Smallwood 1977, 195.

[25] According to Philo (Leg.157, 317), they were at Augustus?s expense, but Josephus (C.Ap.2.73) says that the Jews paid for them.  The suspension of these sacrifices in 66 amounted to an act of war with Rome (Josephus, B.J.2.409-10).

[26] Philo, Flac.48-9 (tr. F.H. Colson).

[27] JIGRE 13, 14(?) (Alexandria), 22 (Schedia), 24 (Xenephyris), 25 (Nitriai), 27 (Athribis), 117 (Arsinoe-Crocodilopolis): the standard formula begins ?on behalf of the king? (Øpr basil?wj).

[28] Spondilla has been taken as a latinization of spondaules (someone who played the flute on religoious occasions) or as a place-name.  However, Solin (1989) believes that the last line should be read a synag(oga) and that it only gives a location, not evidence of Jewish involvement.

[29] Conclusion to a land declaration, dated 25 April 127.  XHev/Se Gr.5, in Cotton 1995, 176 (her translation).  Written in Greek, probably from Nahal Hever in Provincia Arabia.  See also Millar 1973, 147.

[30] Acts of Polycarp 9-10, Acts of Apollonius 3.

[31] Jones 1980, 1038, 1042; Tertullian, Apol.32.2.

[32] Josephus, Ant. 13.76, discussed by Levinskaya 1996, 222 n.67.

[33] Jer. Talmud, ?Abodah Zarah 3.1 (tr. J. Neusner); Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah ix 10 (tr. A. Cohen).  Encyclopaedia Judaica 10.871 suggests a connection with avoidance of the imperial cult.  Another sage, R. Hiyya bar Ba (3rd or early 4th century according to E.J. 8.796-7), used metal cups ?on which was incised the silhouette of Rome?, and was told by R. Yohanan that this was acceptable on ?an object of no worth? (Jer. Talmud, ?Abodah Zarah 3.3). Hadas-Lebel (1979, 414) takes the image as being of the Tyche of Rome.

[34] E.g. Martyrdom of Pionius 10 raises the Golden Calf and some less well known biblical incidents; cf. Gager 1983, 154-6.

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