The Descent of Emperor Vespasian from King Herod
The current narrative concerning the Roman general Vespasian portrays him as a military genius of low origins. It is understood he rose to power to become emperor thanks to the support of the army and the essential gaining of influential networks whilst in Judea. Vespasian may indeed have been a great general, and currently there may appear to be no reason to doubt his presented genealogy. The investigation here, however, aims to demonstrate that he was not Rome’s first non-noble ruler, but was in fact of royal Herodian blood.
The view of Titus Flavius Vespasianus (C.E. 9 – 79) is of a man who championed the poor against the rich to rise to power to become emperor, thanks to the support of the army and the essential gaining of influential networks. Coming to an understanding that Vespasian was from a very humble background is logical, based on what the individual known as Suetonius tells us; past works on Vespasian that present his background as being the above include publications by Bernard William Henderson; Barbara M. Levick; Barry Strauss.
However, as will hopefully become clear, all is not as it seems. Vespasian may indeed have been a great general and currently there may appear to be no reason to doubt his presented genealogy, however certain factors raise suspicion. Firstly, The Jewish War, a work produced by the man known to us as Flavius Josephus, was written after C.E 70, the same period as the gospels, as agreed by scholars. The New Oxford Annotated Bible states that scholars generally agree that the gospels were written 40 to 60 years after the presented death of Jesus. (ref: New Revised Standard Version: 1380) Further, associate professor at the University of Miami, Robin Faith Walsh, in her publication The Origins of Early Christian Literature, has stated that the gospels are creative works produced by educated elites interested in Judean teachings, practices and paradoxographical subjects in the aftermath of the Jewish war. (ref: Walsh 2021: Synopsis)
The current understanding of Vespasian’s background is based on the information presented by the man known to us as Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, under Vespasian. There, Suetonius feels the need to apologise for Vespasian’s lack of distinction:
‘This house was, it is true, obscure and without family portraits, yet it was one of which our country had no reason whatever to be ashamed...’ (ref: Suet., Vesp. 1)
Throughout his description of Vespasian, Suetonius feels the need to remind the reader of his humble origins, he also writes that Vespasian apparently scorned the Roman desire to manufacture a noble ancestry. (ref: Suet., Vesp. 12) We are told that he did not accept the flattery of him regarding a distant descent from a patrician family, of which claimed descent from one of the key gods. However, Vespasian deified his family not long after the beginning of his reign, and elevated their status above others, establishing a priest hood for them to be worshipped. (ref: Henderson, Bernard William, 1969: Five Roman Emperors: Vespasian , Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Trajan, A.D. 69-117, 29)
The data presented here points to Vespasian being a descendant of Herod the Great, through his mother, known to us as ‘Vespasia Polla’. But what information allows such a claim? It is only when critically investigating the claimed parallels, of which there are over forty, presented below, between the The Jewish War, Jewish Antiquities, and the Gospels, and attempting to thoroughly investigate the ancestry of the individual known to us as Titus Flavius Josephus, who gives his birth name as Yosef ben Matityahu, that data regarding Vespasian’s ancestry becomes suspect. An understanding and acceptance, void of any bias, of the most likely reason as to why the New Testament (New Law) was written is also paramount.
Current research into the likely hood of ‘common’ or lesser-educated people being able to write the kind of classic mythic style of prose found within the scriptures of the New Testament, shows that conclusion to be impossible. Another important factor to acknowledge is the necessity of paying for the copying and circulating of the writings. The most recent publication to examine this comes from Robyn Faith Walsh, Assistant Professor of early Christianity, ancient Judaism, and Roman archaeology. In her book The Origins of Early Christian Literature, by Cambridge University Press, she states:
'By contrast, Greek and Latin authors describe themselves writing within (and for) literary networks of fellow writers-a competitive field of educated peers and associated literary specialists who possessed the necessary training and technical means for producing and publishing their own writings. This is a more plausible social context for the gospel writers... ...To assume that sources like the Synoptics emerged from the folk speech of established early Christian groups presumes a social environment for these writers that agitates against what is known about ancient authorship practices. It privileges a presumed social formation (religious communities) over an axiomatic one (networks of literate specialists) without demonstrating why such a move is warranted. Moreover, religion is not a matter of “more or less” in this scholarly construction; it is a matter of “only”: the author’s assumed religious community is the only considered social context, leaving more plausible associations-like broad networks of elite cultural producers - largely unexamined.' (ref: Walsh 2021: 29-30)
Of course, Vespasian’s rise to power came during the period of the Roman-Jewish War. This war came as a result of religious and political differences between Rome and the people of Judea. This period also saw Emperor Nero hated by the senate and aristocracy, and civil war breaking out in Rome itself.
In regards to the language of the Gospels, research by the late Angel Sáenz-Badillos is also important to note. Badillos stated that Aramaic was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and Israel) and remained so in the first century C.E. The importance of Greek was increasing, but Aramaic use was also expanding, and it would eventually be dominant among Jews around C.E 200. (ref: Badillos 1996: A history of the Hebrew language, 170–7)
Two Jewish sects known as the Scribes and Pharisees, the latter of which would lay the foundation for what would become rabbinic Judaism, can be viewed as the ‘good guys’ in the war, as they were trying to bring a much-needed change to the world: basic human rights for the 'common' people, an end to slavery within the Roman Empire, a new governmental system based upon Democracy. Regarding the bringing of an end to slavery see, Catherine Hezser, who states in the publication Jewish Slavery in Antiquity, that although slaves of Jewish origin were certainly held by Jewish masters in antiquity, rabbis considered enslavement a reversal of the Exodus experience. See Hezser, Jewish Slavery in Antiquity, 10; The Social Status of Slaves in the Talmud Yerushalmi and in Graeco-Roman Society, in Peter Schafer (ed.), The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco Roman Culture, vol. 3, Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 93, Tubingen 2002, 108. Also see Finklestein, Louis. 1966: The Pharisees The Social Background of Their Faith, Vol I, Third Edition, 292.
All of the above points can be deciphered from reading the Talmud, which teaches the value of thinking and reasoning, and practical ethics over that of mere religious belief. The Pharisees were also opposed to the use of religion to steal from the people, as it was the priests of this era who compiled the laws, including some for themselves:
‘Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD'S heave offering to Aaron the priest.’ (Numbers 18:28)
The man known as Josephus writes of religion as being a most profitable ‘business’, by saying:
'... and they went on to make the altar every day fat with sacrifices, of great value.' (Jos., Ant, 9.8.2); the tithes and sacrifices were divided up by percent to the High Priests who sent the majority to the king of the location, in Judea, that would have been King Herod, for example, who in turn, sent tribute to the emperor of Rome. Josephus also states, in Life, 62-67:
‘My colleagues, having amassed a large sum of money from the tithes which they accepted as their priestly due...’
The exact amount of money from tithes the High Priests and king were expecting to receive was known, as records were kept. The people were having great wealth taken from them on a constant basis. When this system was disrupted by the Pharisees, the nobility must have felt they were being ‘robbed’. The Sicarii or zealots, therefore, are described as ‘robbers’ to make them appear to be the bad guys. It seems the aristocracy was obsessed with power and greed to the point of very much pushing the idea of daily sacrifices. (ref: Jos., War, 6.2.1)
The main battle between the Jews was of that between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, a battle that caused great concern for the aristocracy of Rome. The Sadducees received their support from the aristocracy, and, therefore, supported the monarchy, whilst the middle and lower classes followed the more democratic Pharisees, leading to a class struggle. In Antiquities 13, 296-300, Josephus states:
‘And concerning these matters the two parties came to have controversies and serious differences, the Sadducees having the confidence of the wealthy alone but no following among the populace, while the Pharisees have the support of the masses.’
Problems arose for the Sadducean sect, consisting of high priests, aristocratic families, and merchants, because they were viewed as corrupt by the people (commoners), and the Hasmonean Jewish leaders showed support for the Pharisees, to a point where they had gained power over the Hasmonean (Maccabean) rulers. The Jewish leaders of the Pharisees, and the Hasmonean leadership had been in conflict for many years, that conflict would produce a bitter divide between the Pharisees and the Sadducees under later Hasmonean rulers, such as Alexander Jannaeus (127-76 B.C.E.). The Pharisees had become so popular with the people it meant they had gained both public support and wealth from contributions from the public because they were fighting on their behalf, which meant the Pharisees were running things. Several passages in War allude to the power and influence the Pharisees had: Jos., War, 1.110-112: here we read the Pharisees were ‘...the real administrators of the state...In short, the enjoyments of royal authority were theirs...If [Salome] ruled the nation, the Pharisees ruled her’; War, 2.162: the Pharisees ‘hold the position of leading sect.’; War, 2.166: they ‘cultivate harmonious relations with the community.’; War, 2.411-418: ‘the principal citizens assembled with the chief priests and the most notable Pharisees to deliberate on the position of affairs.’
Further passages are found in Antiquities: 13.288-297, 400-401; 17.41; 18.15. Once they had gained this authority and position of power, the enemies of the Pharisees called upon Rome’s aristocracy to help overthrow them and their influence. Rome then made Herod king of Judea, and so, in that sense, King of the Jews. The political power of the Pharisaic sect came from influence, not authoritative governmental positions, that is, the sect did not consist of power hungry elites.
The process of unravelling Vespasian’s true ancestry, and, therefore, understanding the motives of himself and his relatives during the war, begins with what can be considered as allegorical parallels between the ministry of Jesus, presented in the Gospels, and The Jewish War. Examples of the parallels are as follows, all of which can be found in the Loeb Classical Library translation of Josephus, whose reliability as to the truth regarding the history of the fall of Jerusalem in C.E. 70 has been doubted. Barbara Levick stated that this individual was '...a disingenuous source close to the Emperor, once seen as obsequious and unenlightening, more recently reassessed as a skilled worker in figured speech and irony, just as skilled as his Latin contemporaries...' (ref: Levick 2017: Vespasian, Introduction)
1. The Roman military operations began in Galilee for Vespasian and his son Titus. The ministry of Jesus described in the Gospels began in Galilee. Titus, and Trajan, on the orders of Vespasian, captured Japhia/Jaffa/Joppa/Japho/Yafia. The battles Jesus has in Nazareth in the Gospels are in the same location. Realistically we have no idea of where in the Galilee this ‘Nazareth’ would have been located. Oxford professors of the past who produced the Encyclopedia Biblica brought into question the etymology of the name ‘Nazareth’ (volume 3, column 3358, 3360), as did Ethelred Luke Taunton, an English Roman Catholic priest, in The Fortnightly Review (volume 86, page 70, 1906). Thus far no credible evidence prior to the name being presented in the Gospels exists for the area adjacent to Japhia (Mentioned in the Bible (Jos., 19:12) and the Egyptian Amarna letters of XIV B.C.E.) being called Nazareth and archaeological reports do not appear to show that particular area as being known by that name nor inhabited at the turn of the era. (ref: Atiqot vol. 98 , 25-92; despite empirical evidence (Zvi Gal) the Church appears to officially view Nazareth as existing continuously since 2000 B.C.E. (B. Bagatti: Excavations in Nazareth (1969) vol. I, 319); Rene Salm (supported by Philip R. Davies and Hans-Peter Kuhnen) 2013: A Critique of Dr. Ken Dark’s writings relative to the Sisters of Nazareth convent site; 2021: A Critique of Yardenna Alexandre’s article, “The Settlement History of Nazareth)
What structural excavated findings have been uncovered actually appear to be associated with burials and agricultural activity from earlier and later periods, approximately Iron Age and Middle-Late Roman periods. (ref: Taylor, Joan E. 2014: Missing Magdala and the Name of Mary ‘Magdalene’, PEQ, Vol. 146, 3 (2014), 210; 1993: Christians and the Holy Places, 230; Clemens, Kopp 1963: The Holy Places of the Gospels, Nazareth, 49-86)
Professor Ken Dark has written publications documenting his excavations here (Dark 2020: Roman-Period and Byzantine Nazareth and its Hinterland; The Sisters of Nazareth convent. A Roman-period, Byzantine and Crusader site in central Nazareth) and appears to hypothesise that a structure under the Sisters of Nazareth Convent is a ‘courtyard house’, dating to before the existence of kokhim (loculi)-type tombs under the structure (evidence supports Middle-Late Roman agricultural installations as more likely); he hypothesises this for other tombs excavated in the area. No ‘under inhabited building’ tomb custom of this kind is known in ancient or modern Judaism. Dark does mention (p. 18) that the tombs under the Sisters of Nazareth Convent are part of an ‘extensive cemetery’; the tombs are likely Middle-Late Roman.
Dark offers a scenario which is logically un-realistic - from the beginning of the first-century C.E. a residence existed at the Sisters of Nazareth location. The residence was abandoned by the middle of the first century C.E. and then a kokh-type tomb was created under the abandoned site. The kokh-type tomb was then abandoned before the end of the first century C.E.; Dark appears to be using dates for kokh tomb usage in Jerusalem two centuries earlier for his tomb usage hypothesis in Galilee. Hans-Peter Kuhnen and Morechai Aviam have found no pre-C.E. 50-100 Jewish kokh tombs in the Nazareth area. (ref: Aviam 2004: First Century Jewish Galilee: an archaeological perspective – in D.R. Edwards (ed.), Religion and Society in Roman Palestine. Old Questions, New Approaches. New York and London, 7-27; Jews, Pagans and Christians in the Galilee: 25 Years of Archaeological Excavations and Surveys – Hellenistic to Byzantine Periods; see also Keddie 2019: Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins.
According to Kuhnen (Palästina in Griechisch-Römischer Zeit. (Handbuch der Archäologie. Vorderasien II, 2.) München: C. H. Beck. 1990:254-55, 407-408) the kokh tombs were used long after C.E. 100; Dark appears to be of the view that kokh tomb usage ended in the Galilee around C.E. 100. The people in the area look to have rejected Roman culture and revolted when King Herod died, as well as revolting around C.E. 67. In Dark’s publication (pages 169-170) he feels there are no grounds for believing that the Japhia area was the biblical Nazareth.
However, we look to be dealing here with literary fraud. On the basis we have no idea where this ‘Nazareth’ would have been, it is suspicious, some may argue merely coincidental, that Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine is said to have discovered the location of ‘Nazareth’. We read that Helena proclaimed the area was the location of 'Mary's Well' and Constantine is stated as building a church next to the ancient Judean town of Japhia and calling it ‘Nazareth’. Further, we have the individual known as Eusebius who describes the pilgrimage of Helena to the Holy Land (Life of Constantine, III, 42-43) but does not mention her visit to ‘Nazareth’; localization of New Testament sites in the Galilee appears to be the work of Byzantine historiographers.
Intriguingly, when examining the name Naz-ara or Naz-aret, what is presented is firstly the root or branch, that is, Nazareth or Nazarene is a Greek form of the Hebrew word netzer/netser, meaning ‘branch’, again, that is, the root and branch of messianic lineage. Secondly the word aret, meaning excellence or moral virtue, a term used to define the aristocracy, that is, as exemplary of aret, a model of excellence. Further, the root of the word aret is the same as the word aristo or aristos, used pluraly to indicate the nobility. The word aristo links to the New Testament, for example, in Matthew 26:26 we read 'take eat my body, in Matthew 22:4 we read 'behold my dinner', which is aristo. This word also ties in with the Greek and Roman god Apollo, whose son was Aristaios. Apollo appears in a virgin birth story similar to Jesus’s, where he impregnates a woman whose husband is called Ariston, or aristo. Essentially, what we appear to have with Naz-aret is the phrase ‘Jesus from [the] root [of the] aristocracy/nobility’ (Mark 1:9; Matt 21:11).
An issue which deserves more attention, then, is if the above meaning behind the word/name is not the case and if the data shows only the nobility/elite could have written the New Testament literature, why use the name of a supposed obscure unattested hamlet, creating an unnecessary location problem?
2. At the Sea of Galilee, Jesus tells his disciples ‘...Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ (Matt. 4:19; Mk: 1:17) At this point in The Jewish War, Titus and Vespasian have won a naval battle and the Jews are in the sea. We read:
‘When any who had been sunk rose to the surface, an arrow quickly reached or a raft overtook them; if in their despair they sought to board the enemy’s fleet, the Romans cut off their heads or their hands...As they streamed forth from them many were speared in the water...’
The parallel here is that Titus essentially tells the Roman soldiers to not be afraid to follow him and that ‘God’ is on his side. The Romans are portrayed as trying to catch the Jews in the sea, like fish, therefore, they were ‘fishing’ for the Jewish men in Lake Tiberias, also called The Sea of Galilee. (Jos., War, 3.10.6)
3. In Luke 19:39–41, it describes the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, with him saying: ‘...I say to you, that if these should be silent the stones will cry out.’ ‘...but now they are hid from thine eyes...’
In The Jewish War, exactly at this point, Titus has his entrance into the city and fires a stone from a catapult that goes into the city; the stones are eventually blackened so as to not to be seen. The Jews have a watchman who cries out when he sees the stone coming. However, here Josephus did not write that the watchman said a stone is coming, he wrote that the watchman cried out the Son comes/cometh, which would appear to be a spelling mistake, something Josephus is not known for. An agreed explanation, however, has as yet not been given within academia. In the Loeb translation (Jewish War, Book V, Verses 268–272, pages 284–285) it reads the Sonny’s coming - ὁ υἱός ἔρχομαι.
The explanatory note there states: 'Probably, as Reland suggests, ha-eben (‘the stone’) was corrupted to habben (‘the son’). However, this does not explain why the word ‘stone’ appears just before and a few lines after the incorrect word. We read in Whiston’s translation, that Adriaan Reland also stated: ‘...many will here look for a mystery, as though the meaning were that the Son of God came now to take vengeance on the sins of the Jewish nation.’ (Whiston, Chapter 6, Paragraph 3 (266) (footnote)
In terms of scripture, this is true, but the evidence and the period in which Christianity is thought to have separated from Judaism does not support this as being something the Jews would have thought or called out. This is supported by the fact that the Jewish people rejected the message of the Gospels. The examples above are just some of the parallels, but further, there are at least forty more correlations between the New Testament and the works of Josephus:
(1) ‘Jesus, who was called Christ’ (Matt. 27:17; Antiquities, 20.9.1) (2) ‘The Egyptian’ (Acts 21:38; Antiquities, 20.8.6) (3) ‘Punishment of the Jews’ (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19; Luke 21:23-24; Jewish War, Preface; Calamities of the Jews, 6.5.4) (4) ‘Binding and Loosing’ (Matt 16:19; Jewish War, 1.5.2 ) (5) ‘The Weaker Sex’ (1 Peter 3:7; Jewish War, 1,18.2) (6) ‘Render unto Caesar...’ (Matt. 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; Jewish War, 1.13.5) (7) ‘My Father’s house has many Mansions’ (John 14:2; Jewish War, 1.13.5 (Note: same as above) (8) ‘The New Testament’ (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; 1 Cor. 11:25; Heb; 9:15; Jewish War, 2.2.6, 2.2.3) (9) ‘Pilate’ (Mark 15:1, 43-46; Matt. 27:1-2, 57-58; Luke 3:1-2, 13.1-5, 23:1, 50-53; John 18:28-40, 19:1, 38-39; Acts 3:13-15, 4:27-31, 13:28-33; 1 Tim. 6:13-16; Jewish War, 2.9.2) (10) ‘Felix, Procurator of Galilee’ (Acts 24:25; Jewish War, 2.12.18) (11) ‘Roman Jews’ (Acts 22:25-29; Jewish War, 2.15.9) (12) ‘King Agrippa’s wisdom on the Jews’ (Acts 26:28; Jewish War, 2.16.4) (13) ‘Public Mourners’ (Matt. 12:17; Jewish War, 3.9.5) (14) ‘Zacharias, son of Baruch’ (Matt. 23:35; Jewish War, 4.5.4) (15) ‘Houses of Prayers’ (Acts 16:13, 16; Luke 6:12; Jewish War, 4.7.2) (16) ‘Blood of Josephus’ (Take my own blood as a reward if it may but procure your preservation, i.e., ‘save you’ (John 6:56, ‘eat of my flesh, and drink my blood’ [to save you.]; Jewish War, 5.9.4) (17) ‘Seven Lamps’ (Rev. 1:12, 13, 20; 2:1, 5; 11:4; Jewish War, 3.6.7, 7.7; 7.5.5) (18) ‘Seven Heads’ (Rev. 4:5; 13:1; 17:3, 7; Antiquities, 3.7.7) (19) ‘Twelve Stones’ (Rev. 21:16, 19-20; Jewish War, 5.5.7; Antiquities, 3.7.5) (20) ‘John the Baptist’ (Matt. 3:4, Mark 1:6; ‘Banus’ in Vita and Antiquities, 18.5.2) (21) ‘Hairs of your head’ (Matt. 10:30, ...even the very hairs of your head are numbered.; Antiquities, 11.5.3) (22) ‘Eating ‘Common’ things’ (Acts 10:14-15, 28; 11:8-9, Rom. 14:14; Antiquities, 11.2.7) (23) ‘Grace at Meal’ (Mark 8:6, John 6:11, 23, Acts 27:35; Antiquities, 12.2.12) (24) ‘Ointment in an alabaster box’ (Mark 14:3; Matt. 26:7; Luke 7:37; Antiquities, 17.4.2) (25) ‘Judas/Theudas’ (Acts 5:36-37; Antiquities, 17.10.5, 20.5.1) (26) ‘Glad Tidings’, ‘The Gospels’ or ‘Good News’ (Luke 2:10; 1 Th. 3:6; Antiquities, 19.8.2) (27) ‘Only Begotten Son’ - used to say the wrong thing in Antiquities, 1. 13.1. The phrase, ‘Only-Begotten Son’, was a figure of speech used as a term of endearment, used for a son considered a ‘favorite’ out of more than one, by the father or mother of that son. (John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son; Antiquities, 20.2.1) (28) ‘Famine’ (Acts 11:28; Antiquities, 20.2.1) (29) ‘Simon the Magician’ (Acts 8:9; Antiquities, 20.7.2) (30) ‘Our Father [Abba] who art in Heaven’ (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6; Antiquities, 4.4.7 - Josephus says ‘Aaron’ died in the month called ‘Abba’ by the Hebrews; also, O Father [Abba], why hast thee forsaken me? Josephus: One man will be obliged to hear the voice of his son imploring help of his father, when his hands are still bound. - Jewish War, 7.10.7.) (31) Tomorrow ye shall be with me in heaven (Luke 23:43; Antiquities, 6.14.2 - Tomorrow thou shalt be with me in Hades) (32) ‘Beaten with 40 stripes, save one’ (2 Cor. 2:24; Antiquities, 4.8.21) (33) ‘Gold, Incense, and Myrrh’ (Matt. 2:11; Antiquities, 3.8.3) (34) For we do not follow cunningly devised fables (2 Peter 1:16), And hath not preserved his writings from those indecent fables... and, he might have securely forged such lies – Antiquities, Preface, 4), ‘They followed fables...’ - Antiquities, Preface, 4) (35) ‘Babylon the Great’ (Rev. 17:1-18; 18:1-24; Antiquities, 8.6.1) (36) ‘666’ (Rev. 13:18; Antiquities, 8.7.2) (37) ‘False Prophets’ (Mark 13:22; Antiquities, 13.11.2, 8.9.1) (38) ‘Filthy Lucre’ (1 Tim. 3:3; Tit. 1:7; 1 Pet. 5:2; Antiquities, 6.3.2, 15.7.9) (39) ‘Age 30’ (Luke 3:23; Vita. 1. 15.1) (40) ‘James, the brother of Jesus’ (Mark 6:3; Matt. 13:55; Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18; 1 Co. 15:7; Gal. 1:19, 2:9, 2:12; Jas. 1:1; Antiquities, 20.9.1)
The work of Josephus is carefully written, large and detailed, therefore, I am doubtful many would argue against the fact it shows he had much to say. A connection between the aristocracy of Rome and the creation of the Christian scriptures is not new. In Christ and the Caesars (1877), a work heavily criticised at the time, Professor Bruno Bauer of Berlin University argued a link between the creation of the Gospel of Mark and the beginning of the writing of The Jewish War. Bauer even stated that the author of the Gospel of Mark was an Italian, at home both in Rome and Alexandria, that the Gospel of Matthew was written by a Roman, nourished by the spirit of Seneca, and Christianity is Stoicism triumphant in a Jewish garb and Jewish theology from Philo of Alexandria, developed by Josephus. (Ref: Moggach 2003: 184)
Lucius Annaeus Seneca’s work can be seen as the source for several statements found within the New Testament, examples are 'we tie knots and bind up words in double meanings, and then try to untie them' (Letter 45) and 'the soul alone renders us noble'. (Letter 44) He also says 'God is near you, he is with you, he is within you', and talks of a holy spirit. He promotes a personal god, as opposed to public gods, the idea of prayer, that is giving the perception that everyone is praying, and the concept of original sin. His ideological concepts include faith healing, ghosts, angels, and the ideas of Heaven and Satan.
A thorough examination of Seneca’s Epistle Morales and his influence within the New Testament can be found in Joseph Barber Lightfoot’s Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. (Revised text (1888): 278-293)
Another statement by Bauer is as follows:
‘… Seneca is mentioned nowhere in the parallel passages of the New Testament. Neither is Plato when a basic passage is borrowed from him.’
‘But the concurrence in style found between the main tenets of Seneca and the parallel passages in the New Testament remains in all these considerations, a sure proof that the authors of these parallels like, e.g., the first ones with whom we began this chapter, had before their own eyes, the writings of the Roman sage (i.e., Seneca). Fleury compared only the parallels between Seneca’s short sentences or keywords and the Bible, but if one considers the stylistic form of composition and diction on both sides, one will realize that on the part of the Roman, content, and form develop as originals and have their natural motivation, whereas, in the New Testament, given material is sharpened to make new points.’
Seneca’s writing reveals a high, unselfish nobility of spirit that conflicted with the greed and maliciousness that characterized court life at the time. It must be noted that he would later be regarded as having many Christian qualities, similar to that of a Christian saint. After Bauer published his findings, others within academia began studying ancient texts as literature, eventually leading to the publication, The Encyclopedia Biblica (1900-1910). That work gave the original meanings of words used in the biblical texts, some of which offended many. Given the number of parallels and the context in which the Gospels and The Jewish War were written, Emperor Vespasian, his son Titus, and the man known to us as Flavius Josephus all come under investigation.
During the fifth and the fifteenth centuries, the work of Josephus seems to have been held in high regard by Christians; handwritten Bibles of some of the Eastern Christian churches of Armenia and Syria included his books. Little was written, but casket carvings, paintings, and icons from this period portray the C.E. 70 destruction of Jerusalem as the fulfilment of Jesus’s doomsday prophecy. Scriptural criticism was discouraged by the church in this period and instead belief through faith rather than evidence was encouraged. (ref: Cross, Catherine. 2015: The Mediterranean Scenes on the Franks Casket: Narrative and Exegesis, JWCI, Vol. 78, 1-40; Karkov, CE. 2017: The Franks Casket speaks back: The bones of the past, the becoming of England. In: Frojmovic, E and Karkov, CE, (eds.) Postcolonising the Medieval Image. 37-61)
Josephus’s background and genealogy have caused much trouble for many scholars, including Steve Mason. Josephus says his ‘great-grandfather’s grandfather was named Simon surnamed ‘Psellus’- (which means ‘stutterer’). Mason, who is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on Josephus today, states in his book Flavius Josephus, Translation and Commentary: (Mason 2008: Volume 9, Page 8, Life of Josephus)
‘It remains unclear why Josephus should have chosen Simon as the patriarch of his family, rather than one of Simon’s ancestors or Simon’s son Matthias, who actually married into the Hasmonean line. Perhaps the coincidence in name with the contemporary Hasmonean Simon provided a motive. If Simon Psellus was already a priest, then Josephus has spoken ambiguously at Ant. 16.187 in attributing his priestly heritage to the Hasmoneans.’
‘If Matthias II (Curtus) was born in 135 BCE and produced a son Josephus I in 68 BCE, he was a father at about the age of 77. This would have been a remarkable feat, especially in view of ancient mortality rates: When Abraham fathered Ishmael at 86 (Gen 16:16) it was a charter miracle of Israel’s history. Since Josephus does not draw attention either to this feat or to its counterpart in the next generation, it is unlikely that he notices, or expects his audience to notice, the chronological problem. More likely, he has accidentally omitted a couple of generations or fabricated much of the genealogy. Possibly our text is corrupt.’...‘If Josephus I was born in 68 BCE and fathered Matthias III at age 73 or 74 (in 6 CE), we are once again faced with a patriarchal feat unmentioned by Josephus.’
The genealogy of 'Flavius Josephus' is indeed undecipherable the way he presents it, a full examination of his genealogy and why it is indeed fabricated can be found in my book. (Davis 2020: Creating Christianity A Weapon Of Ancient Rome, Newly Revised and Updated. 89-134)
Priestly lineage was enthusiastically recorded by Jerusalem’s conservative ruling aristocracy, and it was the priest’s job to regulate the priestly courses. It is highly unlikely that Josephus would have claimed descent from the Hasmonean royal house if he was not of that lineage, especially considering the audience for his works. Therefore, he must have been a descendant of that royal house. There are only certain facts available to work with, those being that his genealogy can only be traced back through King Herod the Great and his first wife, Mariamne I.
As a son of Matthias, Josephus’s descent would be from the Hasmonean royal house, but because of what is known about that royal house, his genealogy makes no sense. Therefore, if we note the reasoning of Steve Mason above regarding a possible genealogical fabrication, and follow the advice of the late Sir Ronald Syme, that is, 'when the attempt is made to expose a fraud, attack on all fronts is to be commended'.., it is logical to examine more deeply other possible ancestral lines for Josephus, and this is where preconceptions and mere faith or superficial trust in the sources must be put aside.
In Syme's publication Emperors and Biography: Studies in the Historia Augusta - Ten ways are presented in the chapter The Bogus Names to examine the nomenclature of ancient history, which of course can be applied to other periods. 1. Indistinctive Names, 2. Imperial Gentilicia, 3. Names from earlier Vitae, 4. Recurrent and favourite Names, 5. The names of the Authors, 6. Names of Classical Authors, 7. Names from Literature, 8. Names of fun and Fantasy, 9. Perverted Names, 10. Fictitious Characters; meaning their names or attributes, or both, resemble eminent families in the Roman aristocracy.
Neither the Talmud nor other Jewish commentary give any clues relating to Josephus, despite the man himself stating he is a general, magistrate and teacher, again, as Steve Mason points out:
‘Although Josephus most often refers to himself as a general (στρατηγος), he is plainly much more than that: governor, chief magistrate, teacher, and supreme patron (ευεργετης, § 244; προστατης, § 250). He quickly evolves from membership in a triumvirate (§ 29) to sole mastery of the region (§§ 244, 259). Essentially, he is “the man,” whose position is legitimized not by an office, but by the populace’s overwhelming affirmation of his virtue, prestige, and authority (auctoritas, on which see Galinsky 1996: 10–41).’ (ref: Mason 2008: Flavius Josephus, Translation and Commentary, Volume 9, Introduction, XXXV)
This being the case, we must investigate other sources, including those that detail the Flavian dynasty. As we read, Josephus surrendered to the future Emperor Vespasian, and was treated exceptionally well thereafter, which is in complete contrast to the fate of other Jewish leaders: Jesus ben Ananias (Josephus, The Jewish War, 6.5.3) and Simon bar Giora (Josephus, The Jewish War, 7.2.1); Roman generals routinely took enemy generals to Rome to be publicly executed, Josephus, however, escaped this fate. He was treated immensely well, living in Vespasian’s house and, as we read, receiving the Flavian name through adoption. I find it very difficult to believe this, especially considering he tells us that during the siege of Jotapata (Yodefat) he had his men pour boiling oil down upon the Romans and boiling fenugreek over the Roman assault planks in C.E. 67. (ref: Jos., War, 3.271–279)
Leaving behind the Sadducean leaders and believers, and other Jews, the Herodians look to have been evacuated to Rome just before the siege of Jerusalem. Queen Berenice and King Agrippa II seem to have been treated very well by the Flavians, the reason could logically be viewed that, as is written, Agrippa tried to convince the people that they could not win against the might of Rome. When this failed, he supported Rome in the war and fought in Vespasian’s campaign. But when one researches Josephus’s genealogy and data concerning the Herodians and Flavians, including the statement: ‘Salute those of the [household] of Aristobulus. Salute Herodian, my kinsman’ (Romans 16:10) certain individuals stand out because of various dates, places, and other scattered items that link to the connections being investigated.
One important name that re-emerges with certain individuals is the name ‘Pollio’, those individuals being Vespasius Pollio (I) and Herod Pollio, grandson of Herod the Great and Mariamne I; Herod Pollio is also recorded as Herod II/III/IV/V and Herod King of Chalcis, he also had the titular rank of praetor. (supporting reference – Wagner, Sir Anthony Richard 1975: Pedigree and Progress: Essays in the Genealogical Interpretation of History, 174; Professor of Jewish History, Richard A. Freund, Digging Through The Bible, Chapter 4, page 612–615.) Both individuals above had the ‘Pollio’ name and a connection to the Herodians and the Flavians. In C.E. 44, at the age of 16, Julia Berenice (b. C.E. 28), sister of King Agrippa II and granddaughter of Aristobulus IV, became the second wife of Herod Pollio, her uncle, but he died when she was twenty; two sons are recorded from this marriage, Berenicianus and Hyrcanus, but no daughter. Herod Pollio’s first wife was a woman called Mariamne IV, who would have been educated in Rome. She married Herod apparently in the late twenties C.E., and was a daughter of Joseph ben Joseph, nephew of Herod the Great, and Olympias the Herodian, daughter of Herod the Great. A son is recorded from the marriage of Herod and Mariamne IV, his name was Aristobulus III (born c. C.E. 30’s), later becoming Aristobulus of Chalcis in C.E. 57. (ref: Jos., Bellum Judaicum, 7; William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 301–302.)
‘Pollio’ is a common name given to ancient Roman citizens, which the family of Herod the Great became. However, when dates and family trees for Vespasius and Herod Pollio are compared, using the gathering of scattered data, they are alike, only with different names having been used, the indication being that they were the same person:
Vespasius Pollio, whose wife is unnamed in history, is recorded as an equestrian from Nursia who became a tribunus militum in a legion three times; those of equestrian rank who served as military tribunes often became senators. The record also states him becoming a praefectus castrorum no earlier than the time of Augustus (63 B.C.E.- C.E. 14. - reigned 27 B.C.E.- C.E. 14.) (ref: Suet., Vesp.1.2-3; Alfoldy, G.,: Epigraphische Notizen aus Italien III. Inschriften aus Nursia - source: Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik, Bd. 77 (1989) 155–180.)
Herod Pollio (born 10-9 B.C.E. - died C.E. 48-49), son of Aristobulus IV and brother of Herod Agrippa I and Herodias, was taken to Rome after the death of Herod the Great, and was given the praetorian rank and a principality (Dio. 60.8.3) He was granted the kingdom of Chalcis (modern day Aanjar, next to the Beqaa Valley, which was a source of grain for the Roman provinces) in C.E. 41 by Emperor Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (10 B.C.E.- C.E. 54). The birth date for Herod Pollio is concluded from coinage, found in modern Lebanon (AJC 2, 170), the ages of the wives and sons and information provided in Josephus’s Antiquities 19.350. There we read Agrippa I was in his fifty-fourth year when he died in the summer of C.E. 44. If his fifty-fourth year began in late C.E. 43, his birth may be concluded as being in the late 11 B.C.E.; Aristobulus I/IV, returned from Rome in late 12 B.C.E, died 6-7 B.C.E.
Vespasius is recorded as having a son and daughter. The daughter’s name is recorded as Vespasia Polla/Pollia, Vespasius Pollio (II) is the name used for the son, although the name is not given in the historical record. (Supporting reference - Anderson D.D., James, Royal Genealogies 1732: 362) Suetonius records that this son became a senator with the rank of praetor, a position of which exercised extensive authority in the government. Polla is described as being superior to her husband, Titus Flavius Sabinus I, in social position, Suetonius states he: ‘farmed the public tax of a fortieth in Asia...’ and ‘... there existed for some time statues erected in his honor by the cities of Asia...’; Vespasian’s early education was the responsibility of Tertulla, his paternal grandmother. It appears, then, his mother and father were away on business for long periods. Suetonius also states that apparently many monuments of the family of the Vespasii were still to be seen in his time at a village called ‘Vespasiae’ between Nursia and Spoletum, therefore, in the Sabine country, affording strong proof of the renown and antiquity of the house.
When investigating the historical documentation further, we can find that a King Julius Tigranes VI of Armenia, born before C.E. 25 (Tac., Ann. 14.5.151) an apostate to Judaism and a Herodian Prince who served as a Roman Client King of Armenia in the first century (first reign C.E. 58-61 - second reign C.E. 66/7) married a noblewoman of Phrygia, in Anatolia (Asia Minor) (approximately six days walk from Chalcis) called Opgalli. Her royal title is ΒΑΣ ΟΠΓΑΛΛΥ and thus far her existence is known only through numismatic evidence of Tigranes’s second kingship; in a paper called Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions, found on page 347 in the American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. 2, Frank L. Kovacs states her inclusion on the coinage of Tigranes’s second-reign suggests a recent marriage or at least an enhanced importance.
Tigranes’s father was Gaius Julius Alexander, according to Josephus (Jos, Ant. 18.140) the second-born son of Alexander and Glaphyra, making Tigranes’s grandfather Alexander, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne I, Tigranes grandfather, therefore, is the brother of Aristobulus IV:
‘Alexander had a son of the same name with his brother Tigranes, and was sent to take possession of the kingdom of Armenia by Nero.’
Tigranes, who was raised in Rome (Tac., Ann. 14.26) is recorded as having a daughter called Julia, a Herodian Princess who married a Roman senator called M. Plancius Varus of Perge, the governor of Bithynia-Pontus under Emperor Vespasian. The name of this daughter was deciphered through the finding of a stone of the early second century that records an offering by a Julia Ammia to an unnamed deity in the town of Falerii in Etruria:
Ex Voto Matri Deum Mag(nae) Diacritamenae [I]ulia Tigranis regis f(ilia) Ammia [a] solo fecit idemque dedicavit (ref: CIL 11.380 = ILS 850; Tac., His. 2.63; Houston, George W., M. Plancius Varus and the Events of A.D. 69–70, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 103; Chaumont, Marie-Louise. 1992: Remarques Sur La Dedicace D’un Monument (Ex-Voto) Eleve A Cybele Par La Fille D’un Roi Tigrane A Falerii Veteres (Civita Castellana), Ancient Society, Vol. 23, 43-60.)
Tigrane’s son, Julia’s brother, Julius Alexander, entered mainstream Roman politics between C.E. 90 and C.E. 110 by becoming a consul suffectus. Julia’s and Julius’s paternal great-great-grandparents were Herod the Great and Mariamne. This Julia looks to have the feminine form of her father’s name, Julius; of course, it is also the same name as Julia Berenice (Berenike, Bernice), the second wife of Herod Pollio.
If we now look again at the name of Tigranes’s wife, Opgalli, important points must be noted. 1) 'Op' looks to be 'Ops' or 'Opis', fertility deity and earth goddess of Sabine origin 2) Galli can be ‘galla’, just as Mariamme can be ‘Miriam’, and ‘galla’ means the same as ‘polla’, the feminine form of Pollio (Martial, 10.64) (Cock, Chicken, Rooster), i.e. the same as Herod Pollio.
If Tigranes’s wife was the daughter of Herod Pollio, then the great-great-grandparents of Tigranes’s daughter would be Herod and Mariamne on both her father and mother’s side; interestingly, Julia’s brother, C. Julius Alexander, King in Cilicia, named his son C. Julius Alexander Berenicianus (Schwartz 1990: Josephus and Judean politics, 147-149) and a possible remote descendant of this son has been suggested based on an inscription of Heliopolis/Baalbek, thought to be dated to the second century C.E.:
Tiberius Claudius Antoninus Calpurnius Atticus Julius Berenicianus
Ti(berio) Claudio Antonino C[al]purnio Atti[co] [lul]io [B]erenic[iano] Ti(beri) Claudi A[ntoni]ni Attici [f(ilio) - (IGLSyr 6 2784)
Scholar, Edmund Groag, also suggested in Pauly-Wissowa (Stuttgart, 1917), 19:157–158), that Gaius Julius Alexander Berenicianus, presented on inscriptions of Ephesus and Laodicea, was a descendant of the Herodian house of Chalcis, i.e., the family of Queen Berenice – the question to answer now, then, is was Herod Pollio the father of ‘Opgalli’ and if so, who was her mother?
Exposing Vespasius Pollio As A Pseudonym Of Herod Pollio
We appear to have identified a son and daughter for both Vespasius Pollio and Herod Pollio, all of which were active within elite circles in the same period. If Vespasius Pollio was Herod Pollio, then some blanks in the historical data can be filled in. For example, it would provide details about the children of Vespasius Pollio and give the name/s of his wife or wives. It would also show his brother to have been King Agrippa I, which would explain why both King Agrippa II and Emperor Vespasian (born C.E. 9, according to Suetonius, Life of Vespasian) appear to have a physical family resemblance, as seen on the royal coinage. (below) This would be because of the sharing of the same common ancestry, which is their descent from King Herod the Great; King Agrippa II would be Vespasian’s first cousin, once removed, and great uncle on Vespasian’s mother’s side.
Emperor Vespasian and King Agrippa II
It is necessary to note that genealogies of ancient royals, that were made available to the public, usually began at a certain point, with a certain person, therefore, the genealogy was/is virtually impossible to trace back any further via superficial readings of the histories that were left to us. Also, important dates and details are often omitted, adding frustration for a historian. The reason critical information was not given seems to be because revealing those genealogies would reveal the connection to other royals (i.e., their royal lineage). But why would they want to hide their lineage? We must understand that the nobility was in control of everything, including the writing of religious literature, histories, stories, and who would rule. The common people vastly outnumbered the aristocracy, and, had they become aware of what was happening, in terms of them being manipulated by an oligarchy connected by blood, almost certainly royalty would have been killed and their whole system overturned through a mass revolution, which was precisely what was happening in Judea.
The people were given the hope that anyone could advance in life and perhaps even become emperor, as the illusion of different royal family dynasties had been created. In reality, it appears the same elite family circles kept their rule by only providing certain information to the public. To maintain their control and continue living very comfortably, the elite had to hide the fact that they were the only ones creating published writing. They were the only ones educated to a standard high enough to create the kind of prose seen in the histories and religious text that were produced. Essentially, the majority of the people of the Roman Empire only knew what the aristocracy allowed them to know.
Exposing Vespasius Pollio as a pseudonym of Herod Pollio would show Vespasius as a king, and therefore, his and his descendant’s right to rule. If the name Vespasius was a pseudonym, understanding a possible reason as to why it was chosen is a good idea. Regarding pseudonyms, Gilbert Highet, Scottish American classicist, academic writer, intellectual critic, and literary historian, remarked:
‘It is suggested, therefore, that some of the names in Juvenal’s topical references are cover-names only, which have merely a metrical correspondence (and perhaps also a faint similarity in sound) to the name of the real person known to Juvenal and his audience.’ (Juvenal the Satirist: A Study, 291)
And the introduction to Pliny’s epistles reads:
‘It has even been suggested that in his choice of pseudonyms Juvenal satirises some of Pliny’s correspondents.’
It is known that ancient royals used titles as a part of names, for example, ‘Ptolemy Soter’, a title bestowed upon many monarchs, is a Greek form of the Egyptian God-title, ‘Ptah-Mes Soter’, meaning ‘son of God the Saviour’, ‘Mes’ meaning ‘son of’, and ‘Soter’ meaning ‘Saviour’. In the Acts of the Apostles 12.20, we read:
‘Was and Herod in bitter hostility with [the] Tyrians and Sidonians; but with one accord they came to him, and having gained Blastus who [was] over the bedchamber of the king, sought peace, because was nourished their country by the kings.’
Acts is stating above that the people of these cities asked the king for peace because they received food supplies from his country. Therefore, Acts is informing us of relations between King Herod Pollio of Chalcis (Aanjar) and the population of Tyre and Sidon, two Lebanese cities; Josephus does not mention a meeting of the ambassadors of Tyre and Sidon with Agrippa - Chalcis was situated ‘under Mount Libanus’ (modern Mount Lebanon), and two types of coins for Herod Pollio were found mainly in the Lebanon:
‘But Ptolemy, the son of Menneus, who was the ruler of Chalcis, under Mount Libanus, took his brethren to him; and sent his son Philippion to Askelon, to Aristobulus’s wife...’ (Josephus, Ant 14.7.4)
Commentators on the New Testament have identified the Herod being spoken of in Acts 12:20 as being Agrippa I. However, it remains unclear why these cities would be in conflict with Agrippa, enough to ask for peace. When analysing what is presented in Acts, and comparing the information given in Antiquities, in which Josephus appears to conflate Herod Chalcis with others, it appears a mistake has been made. The events described in Acts 11:27-12:23 are as follows:
‘And in these days came down from Jerusalem prophets to Antioch; and having risen up one from among them, by name Agabus, he signified by the Spirit, A famine great is about to be over the whole habitable world; which also came to pass under Claudius Caesar. And the disciples according as was prospered anyone, determined, each of them, for ministration to send to the dwelling in Judea brethren; which also they did, sending [it] to the elders by [the] hand of Barnabas and Saul. And at that time put forth Herod the King [his] hands to ill-treat some of those of the assembly; and he put to death James the brother of John with a sword. And having seen that pleasing it is to the Jews he added to take also Peter...
...Herod and after having sought after him and not having found, having examined, the guards he commanded [them] to be led away [to death]. And having gone down from Judea to Caesarea he stayed [there]. Was and Herod in bitter hostility with [the] Tyrians and Sidonians; but with one accord they came to him, and having gained Blastus who [was] over the bedchamber of the king, sought peace, because was nourished their country by the kings. And on a set day Herod having put on apparel royal, and having sat on the tribunal, was making an oration to them. And the people were crying out, Of a god [the] the voice and not of a man! And immediately smote him an angel of [the] Lord, because he gave not the glory to God, and having been eaten of worms he expired. But the word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, having fulfilled the ministration, having taken with [them] also John who was surnamed Mark.’
In Antiquities we read:
19.341-344 ‘After the completion of the third year of his reign over the whole of Judaea, Agrippa came to the city of Caesareea, which had previously been called Strato’s Tower. Here he celebrated spectacles in honour of Caesar, knowing that these had been instituted as a kind of festival on behalf of Caesar’s well-being. For this occasion there were gathered a large number of men who held office or had advanced to some rank in the kingdom. On the second day of spectacles, clad in a garment woven completely of silver so that its texture was indeed wondrous, he entered the theatre at daybreak...Straightway his flatterers raised their voices from various directions-though hardly for his good-addressing him as a god...The king did not rebuke them nor did he reject their flattery as impious. But shortly thereafter he looked up and saw an owl perched on a rope over his head. At once, recognizing this as a harbinger of woes just as it had once been of good tidings, he felt a stab of pain in his heart. He was also gripped in his stomach by an ache that he felt everywhere at once and that was intense from the start...Even as he was speaking these words, he was overcome by more intense pain. They hastened, therefore, to convey him to the palace; and the word flashed about to everyone that he was on the very verge of death...Exhausted after five straight days by the pain in his abdomen, he departed this life in the fifty-fourth year of his life and the seventh of his reign.’
19.359-364 ‘He [Claudius] had accordingly resolved to send the younger Agrippa at once to take over the kingdom...He was, however, dissuaded by those of his freedmen and friends who had great influence with him...He therefore dispatched Cuspius Fadus as procurator of Judaea.’
20.15-18 ‘Herod, brother of the deceased Agrippa, who was at this time charged with the administration of Chalcis, also asked Claudius Caesar to give him authority over the temple and the holy vessels and the selection of the high priests – all of which requests he obtained.’
20.98-102;102-105 ‘The successor of Fadus was Tiberius Alexander, the son of that Alexander who had been alabarch in Alexandria...It was in the administration of Tiberius Alexander that the great famine occurred in Judaea...Herod, king of Chalcis, now removed Joseph, the son of Camei, from the high priesthood and assigned the office to Ananias...Herod, the brother of the great king Agrippa, died in the eigth year of the reign of Claudius Caesar. He left three sons – Aristobulus, born to him by his first wife [Mariamme], and Berenicianus and Hyrcanus, born to him by Berenice, his brother’s daughter.’
During the reign of Claudius, the empire suffered several famines. (Gapp, Sperber Kenneth, 1935: The Universal Famine under Claudius, Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 28, 258-265; Dio., Roman History, 60.11; Tac., Ann. 12.43.) The fourth year of Claudius’s reign (C.E. 45, after the death of Agrippa I), saw a famine occur in Judea, mentioned above in Acts 11:28. The third famine was in Greece, circa C.E. 50, the fourth in C.E. 52 in Rome. The above textual analysis of Acts and Antiquities describes the same period of famine in Judea, meaning that the king’s country mentioned above in Acts could not be Judaea, which suffered from lack of food at the time. Therefore, confusion between which of the two brothers is being referred to looks to have taken place, possibly due to the presented closeness and similarity of their deaths; it appears Tacitus also confuses Herod with Agrippa I (Ann. 12.23; GLAJJ 2, 75).
From what is written, they were likened to a god before their passing and both died in Caesarea. However, Herod of Chalcis fell ill when receiving delegation from Tyre and Sidion, Agrippa felt pain whilst watching shows in the theatre. Further, Josephus does not call Agrippa I ‘Herod’, but he does name Herod Antipas either Herod or Antipas, for example, Ant. 17.1.3; 18.4.5; War 2.9.1., and Acts calls Agrippa Junior ‘Agrippa’ (25:13). Herod is not a name attributed to Agrippa I by other early sources, such as Tacitus (Ann. 12.23), Philo (Flaccum 5.6; Legatio ad Gaium 28.35) and the Jewish Mishnah (Bikkurim 3.4; Sotah 7.8). The British Encyclopedia too states that Agrippa I was called Herod only in the New Testament.
Other than Josephus, one ancient source mentions Herod of Chalcis, that being Lucius Cassius Dio. In his sixtieth book of his Roman History, he states:
‘He [Claudius] enlarged the domain of Agrippa of Palestine… and bestowed on him the rank of consul; and to his brother Herod he gave the rank of praetor and a principality. And he permitted them to enter the senate and to express their thanks to him in Greek.’ (60.8.2)
Josephus cites an edict of Claudius, an edict, it is logical to assume, the author of Acts would have read. We may ask, then, how the author of Acts confused Herod and Agrippa?:
‘In addition, on the petition of Kings Agrippa and Herod, he issued an edict to Alexandria and Syria to the following effect: “Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Pontifex Maximus, of tribunician power, elected consul for the second time, speaks: Kings Agrippa and Herod, my dearest friends...It is my will that the ruling bodies of the cities and colonies and municipia in Italy and outside Italy, and kings and other authorities through their own ambassadors, shall cause this edict of mine to be inscribed, and keep it posted for not less than thirty days in a place where it can plainly be read from the ground.’ (Ant.19.290-294)
Another official paper of Claudius, written after the death of Agrippa, states:
‘I grant this request, in accordance with the precedent set by Vitellius, that excellent man for whom I have the greatest esteem...I know that in doing so I shall give great pleasure to King Herod himself and to Aristobulus the Younger...’ (Ant.20.12-15)
We have read, then, that King Herod of Chalcis was associated with an act of peace. Emperor Vespasian’s reign is recorded as a time of peace. He had the Forum Vespasiani, or the Templum Pacis (Pax) constructed to celebrate the pacification of the east (Dio., 65.15.1; Jos., War 7.5.7) many works of art were transferred here from Nero’s Domus Aurea. Coins were also minted in Rome under Vespasian that celebrated military victory or peace (ref: Jones, Brian William,1971: Some Thoughts on the Propaganda of Vespasian and Domitian, The Classical Journal, Vol. 66, 251) as did Nero’s. The names Vespasian, Vespasianus and Vespasius, therefore, look to be created titles using two components, concluded from the information found and connected, and through applying the methods suggested by Syme, mentioned above.
1) ‘Vas’ becomes ‘Bas’ (V and B are interchangeable - see Politzer, Robert L 1952: On b and v in Latin and Romance ) and vowels in ancient languages were fluid or interchangeable; in the Egyptian language they were seen as not being there and in Hebrew they were not indicated.
2) ‘Pasius’ becomes ‘Paci-us’ - paci being a dative singular of pax (peace); third declension. (t, c, or s, preceded by the accent, and followed by an i, y, and eu, plus another vowel in the final syllable, can change phonetically. S can change to IPA [ʒ] or [z], C to IPA [ʃ], and T changes into IPA [ʃ], the I or Y is sometimes omitted.)
John Walker’s system states:
'T, S, and C, before ia, ie, ii, io, iu, and eu, preceded by the accent, in Latin words, as in English, change to sh and zh, as Tatian, Statius, [and] Portius ... pronounced Tashean, Stasheus, [and] Porsheus.' (Walker, J., 1822: Rules for Pronouncing The Vowels of Greek and Latin Proper Names, rule 10, 4)
‘Vas/Bas’ ΒΑΣ is the royal abbreviation for the Greek word ‘Basilius’ βασιλεύς (King) and ‘Basilissa’ (Queen), just as ‘Imp’ is short for Imperatori (Emperor) or ‘Caes’ short for Caesari (Caesar), and ‘Pasius’ (‘Paci-us’) = Peace. Therefore, this ‘peace’ word used in the name Vespasius can logically be deduced as meaning ‘King-Peace’, or ‘Roman Peace’, because in the minds of the aristocracy, peace was guaranteed by destroying the opposition.
For the nobility, war was necessary to obtain a measure of peace, at least for them, even if it was only temporary. As is known in academia, the Herodians were schooled in Rome, in the Roman ways. Aristobulus IV was sent to Rome at the age of 12, along with his brother Alexander, to be schooled in the household of Augustus (20-28 B.C.E.), staying in the ‘house of Pollio’; Aristobulus and Alexander were later executed by Herod in 7 B.C.E. Agrippa II was raised and educated at the imperial court in Rome, and, according to Josephus, Herod Antipas the Tetrarch, his full brother Archelaus and his half-brother Philip were also raised and educated in Rome. (Josephus, Antiquities, 17.1.3)
Regarding Herod Pollio as ‘Vespasius Pollio’, we have learned he must have had a son and daughter, the latter recorded as Vespasia Polla, the former currently being called Vespasius Pollio II (Aristobulus of Chalcis?) in the writings of Suetonius. Vespasia Polla (Opgalli/Julia Polla/Julia of Chalcis/Mariamne – Julia being her name as a result of adoption, that is, her father’s marriage to Berenice?) married T. Flavius Sabinus I, a tax-gatherer in Asia and a banker among the Helvetii. (Suet., Vesp. 1) They had two sons, T. Flavius Sabinus II, and the future Emperor Vespasian, and a daughter who died in infancy. After the death of Sabinus I, we are told Vespasia prodded her sons to seek military glory as commanders instead of foot soldiers - Sabinus II was the first to gain senatorial rank. The marriage of Vespasia to Sabinus I must have been before her marriage to Tigranes as Opgalli. Based on the data gathered, she must be the daughter of Herod Pollio and Mariamne IV (born possibly just before or just after the beginning of what is classed as the Christian era, if her mother, Olympias, was born 22 B.C.E.)
This would mean Emperor Vespasian was of royal blood and anyone descended from either him or his brother could trace their ancestry back to King Herod the Great, and then to his ancestry and/or that of his wives, including Mariamne I. This presents us with a somewhat controversial realisation. It means the Roman historians presenting Vespasian as a military man of very humble origins, who had ‘risen’ to become Emperor, is an illusion - Vespasian’s given birth date of 17 November, C.E. 9, as given by Suetonius, may also need to be reconsidered; the identity of Suetonius is also examined in my publication.
The Synoptic Gospels state Jesus died on the ninth hour and in the Bible the number seventeen symbolises ‘overcoming the enemy’ and ‘complete victory’. Given this connection, Vespasian’s birth date becomes suspect - could he have actually been born around the same time as Agrippa II? If so, my hypothesis, based on the above, is as follows: Herod Pollio (born 10-9 B.C.E.) married Mariamne (born 1 B.C.E- C.E. 1) in approximately C.E. 12-14. ‘Vespasia Polla’ would be born late C.E. 12 to late C.E. 14, Vespasian could be born approximately late C.E. 24 to late C.E. 26. This hypothesis is based on research presented by M.K. Hopkins in his paper The Age of Roman Girls at Marriage (Population Studies, Vol. 18, No. 3, 1965) and The Age of Roman Girls at Marriage: Some Reconsiderations by Brent D. Shaw (JRS, Vol. 77, 1987, 30-46). In his paper, on pages 317 and 326, Hopkins states:
‘We can reasonably suppose therefore that there was nothing extraordinary about these marriages and that many other girls from the highest aristocracy and from the imperial family would have married within this same age range 11 to 17...we can deduce that Tacitus thought Roman girls married young. Dio wrote that in Rome the age of 12 was considered the right time for marriage, but Ovid wrote of 14 being a nubile age.’
‘Whether pre-pubertal or not, girls’ age at marriage was by our standards very young and marriages were generally immediately consummated.’
The illusion, based on the evidence and the context surrounding that evidence, was that presenting Vespasian as a commoner gave the ordinary soldiers the hope that they too could perhaps one day become emperor, leading to their supporting of his bid for the throne. When Nero was assassinated in C.E. 68, Lucius Livius Ocella Sulpicius Galba became emperor and adopted and named the nobleman Piso Frugi or Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi Licinianus as his intended successor. Galba’s choice did not have a consensus agreement, and Licinianus had held no political office in Rome. Galba and Licinianus were murdered and overthrown by Marcus Salvius Otho, who was then overthrown by Aulus Vitellius - at that point, Vespasian’s allies, which included Mucianus and Tiberius Julius Alexander began flocking together against Vitellius.
Regarding Nero, he looks to have been a sensitive and talented man and not one for bloodshed, Nero was not known as being fearsome or cruel in the first century C.E. He became the target of much propaganda after his death, which came from the Roman elite after the war of C.E. 70, the Christian accusation being in spite of the fact that any Christians would have been protected under Roman law as Jews.
Modern scholars agree that the descriptions of Nero’s character and actions by the ancient historians form a one-sided picture and one far from the truth. Gibbon, in his The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, rejected the idea of Christians being a distinct group from Jews during Nero’s reign. This is also discussed by Brent D. Shaw in a 2015 paper: The myth of the Neronian Persecution. JRS, 105, 73-100, of which C.P. Jones has presented a paper in argument against Shaw’s-The Historicity of the Neronian Persecution: A Response to Brent Shaw, 2017: NTS 63, 146-152. Likewise Shaw has defended his paper-Response to Christopher Jones: The Historicity of the Neronian Persecution, 2018: NTS 64, 231-242. (also see Tacitus contradictions-Tac., Ann. 13.20; 14.2. Lost contemporary histories condemning Nero were by Fabius Rusticus, Cluvius Rufus, and Pliny the Elder.
To gain the support of the soldiers, letters were sent to all the armies, which likely promised modest bonuses and promotions:
‘In some cases good fortune served instead of merit. Of a donative to the troops Mucianus in his first speech had held out only moderate hopes, and even Vespasian offered no more in the civil war than others had done in times of peace, thus making a noble stand against all bribery of the soldiery, and possessing in consequence a better army... To all the armies and legates letters were despatched, and instructions were given to them that they were to attach the prætorians, who hated Vitellius, by the inducement of renewed military service.’ (Tac., Hist. 2.82)
A letter, apparently coming from Otho, although most certainly forged, and not accepted as genuine by modern scholarship, no doubt was seen as proof of endorsement of Vespasian for the soldiers, leading to a large part of Vespasian’s support coming from Otho’s troops (Suet., Vesp. 4.4.); although a claim that Vespasian’s revolt was a response to the demands of his troops can be found in Josephus. (Jos., Bellum Judaicum, 4.592-604.) Vitellius, a friend of Nero - who remained widely in favour with the common people in the empire, in part due to his building projects that could be used by the people (Macellum Magnum (C.E. 59); a port at Antium (C.E. 60); Thermae Neronis (C.E. 62 or 64) was too a victim of Vespasian’s propaganda, with his apparent luxury and cruelty being the focus. Tacitus repeats the propaganda of Vespasian, by writing:
‘Vitellius dozed away his time. Quick to take advantage of the privileges of an emperor, he gave himself up to idle pleasures and sumptuous banquets. Even at the midday he was the worse for drink and over-eating.’ (Tac., His. 1.62)
By the same token, Vespasian remained behind when he revolted, leaving the fighting to one of his generals. Can we argue that if the propaganda was focused on him, this too would have been viewed as ‘dozing away his time’? Vitellius was portrayed as an incapable usurper, who was lazy and gluttonous. But it is written that he was a former consul and governor of a province with an army, showing exceptional integrity.(Suet., Vitellius, 5) He, of course, was no saint, but looks to have been a man who was against slavery, even helping in a slave rebellion by rallying together the common people and slaves to fight for their freedom.(Tac., Hist. 3.2)
Tacitus provides much information about who was on which side during the war. Nero and Vitellius appeared to be on the side of the common people. Galba and Licinianus Frugi Piso appear to be on the side of Vespasian, as Tacitus writes:
‘Neither Vespasian’s desires nor sentiments were opposed to Galba, for he sent his son, Titus, to pay his respects to Galba to show his allegiance to him, as we shall explain at the proper time.’
There is confusing information about Otho, however, because Vitellius could not stand for him to be emperor, Otho may have had the same desire as Vespasian and his supporters. In regards to Galba, the legions under Lucius Verginius Rufus showed their preference for him to become emperor over Galba. Again, Tacitus tells us that:
‘The armies in Germany were vexed and angry, a condition most dangerous when large forces are involved. They were moved by pride in their recent victory and also by fear, because they had favoured the losing side. They had been slow to abandon Nero; and Verginius, their commander, had not pronounced for Galba immediately; men were inclined to think that he would not have been unwilling to be emperor himself; and it was believed that the soldiers offered him the imperial power.’ (Tac., His. 1.8)
This informs us that Rufus came close to becoming emperor himself, as did Mucianus:
‘The East was as yet undisturbed. Syria and its four legions were held by Licinius Mucianus, a man notorious in prosperity and adversity alike. When a young man he had cultivated friendships with the nobility for his own ends; later, when his wealth was exhausted, his position insecure, and he also suspected that Claudius was angry with him, he withdrew to retirement in Asia and was as near to exile then as afterwards he was to the throne. (Tac., His. 1.10)
But Tacitus goes on to say that:
‘...he was a man who found it easier to bestow the imperial power than to hold it himself.’
The footnotes of the Loeb Classical Library edition of Tacitus’s Histories tell us that:
‘Licinius Mucianus had been consul under Nero, and in C.E. 67 was appointed governor of Syria. After Vespasian claimed the imperial power, Mucianus became his strongest supporter...’
G. E. F. Chilver provided evidence showing Vespasian’s rise was orchestrated from the top (The army in politics, A.D. 68-70, JRS, Vol.47) and Phillip B. Sullivan stated in his paper, A Note on the Flavian Accession, that:
‘On the basis of ancient sources, both literary and epigraphic, one might be justified in arguing that, while the evidence supporting the contentions as to Berenice’s role is nowhere conclusive (there is no direct statement affirming her part), it is almost impossible to explain Vespasian’s success without reference to the Herods and to Tiberius Julius Alexander’ [brother of Tigranes?] (CJ 49 67-70)
Was Vespasian of peasant stock? The above data disagrees. In reality, behind the scenes, Vespasian was of Herodian royal blood, if somewhat removed from and not as relatively rich as the current ruling family, but a facade of upward mobility, a metaphorical ‘glass ceiling’, was created. It seems Vespasian’s royal genealogy was hidden through the use of literary ‘rules’, a mixing of languages, the meaning behind words, and phonetics. If one was in a position to use these ‘rules’ for their motives, an individual, or individuals, an oligarchy (Syme examined this in The Roman Revolution) could use them however they pleased; examples include the Scytale form of encryption used in ancient/classical Greece, the Ceasar cipher (Suet., Julius Ceasar, 34-35) and the 500-year-old secret code of King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Examples of the name distortion are given in Syme’s Emperors and Biography: Studies in the Historia Augusta; ‘Bogus Names’. The creation of titles, then, could become much more flexible, which is what is happening here.
The ancient nobility were the creators of all of the main or known ancient languages (either directly or indirectly), and the aristocracy was in control of all publishing within the empire. They were also very knowledgeable about various religions, philosophy, and the Jewish religion and had close supporters to help them. Although there was no specific rule in place limiting who could publish literature, in reality the only people who had the means to do so were Nobles, merchants, and high-ranking people. In the book Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine, Professor of Jewish Studies, Catherine Hezser stated:
‘...within the Jewish lower society, the average literary rate must be considered lower than the Roman average, significantly less than 10-15 percent...’ [giving us a figure of approximately 5-6 percent, perhaps.] (Hezser 2001: 496.)
Rome’s aristocratic population became experts in using many languages, especially Latin and Greek, and the weapon of rhetoric, understood very well by the Roman elite; the ones privileged enough to receive a bilingual education were children of the ruling class. In a paper titled Slave Education in Roman Empire, in Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, S. L. Mohler states:
‘I am convinced that its administration was as democratic as its curriculum was snobbish for, as applied to education, liberalis means not that which is appropriate for any free individual, but that which is appropriate for a member of an aristocracy whose only serious occupation was the practice of law.’ (
Vol. 71, 265)
Latin was used for imperial administration and legislation, Koine Greek was used for the majority of the populations of the Roman Empire, which included the Jewish population. Within the New Testament, languages besides Koine Greek are incorporated, such as Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Egyptian and Phoenician. For example, the number 666 was written using Chi (600), Xi (60), and the Phoenician letter Bau (6). Of course, the use of rhetoric is presented within the scriptures, a decent presentation of this can be found in the publication Rhetoric and the New Testament. An example is as follows:
‘Easier it [for] a camel through the eye of the needle to pass, than [for] a rich man into the kingdom of God to enter. [i.e., ‘heaven’].’ Mark 10:25; Matt 19:24; Luke 18:25
The rhetoric in the book of Acts is known to scholars. But the above example was used to get people to give their money to the church in their will; previously a sacrifice was required, but tithes and bequests were pushed by priests of the new church, meaning it received money regularly. But the church also gained real property. Rhetorical statements are purposely created for a particular effect, and can be found in the form of questions.
It is clear, in my opinion, based on the evidence, that The Jewish War, Antiquities, and the New Testament (new law) were produced as supporting tools in an attempt to pacify of the East; the middle of the first century saw Judaism continuing to grow and convert more people. Nero was portrayed as the ‘Antichrist’ by later, undoubtedly, elite writers, very possibly posing as ‘believing Christian’ writers. Suetonius paints him as the ‘Beast’ in his De Vita Caesarum 16.2 (Twelve Caesars), and, as Dr. Shushma Malik argues in her book, The Nero-Antichrist: founding and fashioning a paradigm, scholars have read Nero into the texts and that:
‘...early twentieth-century biblical Antichrist studies were dominated by propagators of the Nero-Antichrist’s place in biblical scripture and very few questioned their logic.’
Vespasian’s portrayal and promotion as a commoner was necessary, not only for himself, but also his immediate family, and his other close relations. If we argue that the ancient historians presenting him as having humble origins did so because royals of a higher level possibly considered those royals of a lower level as being ‘peasant like’, then the description of his origins, from a royal point of view, could be considered accurate. However, the description is very misleading to everyone else, especially when we consider Vespasian was the patron of many future historians. He approved those histories written during his rule, making certain that biases against him were not published (Jos., Against Apion, 9; Jos., Life, 72; Ferrill, A. Otto, Vitellius, and the Propaganda of Vespasian, 1965: The Classical Journal, 267-269; Tac., Hist. 1.1; Pliny the Elder, Natural Histories, preface.) works were even destroyed. (Dio., Roman History, 66.13)
Vespasian, along with his son Titus, and his Herodian and Pisonian relatives won not only the military battles, but also the political and religious wars; I must note here that the son of Gaius and Arria appears to have been sent to govern Syria, a post that gave him control over the legions in Judea, this is recorded under the name of Caesennius Paetus (Jewish War, 7.59); a Caesennius Paetus is also recorded as being married to Vespasian’s niece.
The involvement of the family of Gaius Piso and Arria the Younger and their blood relationship to the Herodian and Flavian families is fully examined in Creating Christianity a Weapon of Ancient Rome; also see Senatus Consultum de Cn Pisone Patre, which confirms a marriage between the Piso and Balbii families, the Balbii of which were financial backers of Vespasian; ‘Balbii’ means ‘stutterer’, just as the name ‘Psellus’ does – see page 97 of Creating Christianity.
The Jewish War describes the bloody warfare that gave the Flavians and their supporters the victory they wanted. The Jewish armies were out-numbered and killed, the Judean cities were systematically destroyed, the dead littered the streets of Jerusalem, the farmland was decimated, and the second Temple destroyed. The ancient writers would then describe the defeat of all of Rome’s enemies and declare that Vespasian had brought peace to the empire, leading to him and his son Titus being described as the Messiah (Tac., Hist. 5.13.3), chosen by the gods, and as prophesied by Balaam (Numbers 24.17-19) and in Micah 5.2.
The Jewish War blames the Jews for destroying Judea, and states God had sent Vespasian to punish his people (War, 6.312-313), Suetonius and Tacitus also play along – Suet, Ves. 4.5; 5.1-27 Tac, His. 4.81.24-26; 5.13. The long Roman-Jewish War was as much a family battle (The violent rebellions of the Judaean people were against the Herodian rulers of Judea, who were relations of Vespasian, T. Flavius Sabinus II, and Arria the Younger) as it was a political and religious one. Political propaganda promoted Vespasian’s military victories, his supposed hesitancy to take power, even though he elevated the status of his family to that of gods, despite the narrative of them being simple farmers, and his distancing himself from Emperor Nero, a man of peace (Suet., Nero, 12, 18-the gates of the Temple of Janus were rarely closed, but when closed, they signified peace. The closed gates of the Temple of Janus featured on the coinage of Nero.) Nero was portrayed as a tyrant and the opponent of the righteous cause (Tac., Ann. 1; 13.20; Tac., Life of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, 6; Jos., Ant. 20.8.3.) despite Vespasian and Titus being the ones to crush the revolt, he is described as turning away from expansion through bloodshed. (Suet., Nero, 18) It was only when the man known to us as Gessius Florus added more sparks to an already developing fire of major rebellion that Nero eventually had to send in Vespasian, who he must have not perceived as being a threat to him.
It is not difficult to understand why the Roman historians wrote against him, his views and passions were not compatible with the traditional views of the Roman aristocracy regarding how an emperor and the nobility should act. (Roman citizens were prohibited from appearing on the stage, on pain of losing citizenship. See Balsdon, J. P. V. D. 1969: Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome, 279.) His rebuilding of Rome required huge expenses and funds were confiscated from the high society of Rome. Therefore, he gained many enemies in the elite circles.
By Vespasian and his family taking control, one desired result would have been the controlling of the spread of information and threat of ongoing mass rebellions; (though future rebellions occurred, for example, the Bar Kochba revolt (C.E. 131-late C.E.135). Some scholars hold the view it lasted from C.E. 132-136.) the Jewish scripture was the fuel igniting the people of Judea to rebel, to accept any Roman as a ‘God’ was unthinkable to them; there appears to be a hint of a previous effort to quell the source of the Jewish rebellion by appealing to Nero’s interests. The Gospels are written in the form of Acts and Scenes; Act One: Galilee, Act Two: On the way to Jerusalem, Act Three: Jerusalem. If this is the case, this effort may have been rejected by Nero, supported by the influence of his wife Poppaea Sabina, who has been described as a semi-proselyte.
Much of the populace of the Roman Empire had turned to Judaism, this, combined with the support the Pharisees had gained, became another crucial problem for the Roman and Jewish aristocracy to solve, as evidenced by the individual known to us as St. Augustine quoting Seneca’s views on Judaism, in which he says he actively opposed Jewish observances and ridiculed them. When speaking concerning those Jews, he stated:
‘When, meanwhile, the customs of that most accursed nation have gained such strength that they have been now received in all lands, the conquered have given laws to the conquerors.’ (Augustine., De civitatedei. 6.2. Augustine quoted from Seneca’s De superstitione (now lost). The statement regarding the vanquished Jews giving laws to the victors is found in chapter 2, note 56; also see Sen., Epistle, xcv. 47.)
To end, then, the reality of the situation being investigated here is that the number of converts to Judaism continued to grow. The control the Pharisees would have gained would undoubtedly have lead to them being able to overpower both the Jewish and Roman aristocracies, and the system of oppression that was in place. Nero was viewed as weak and was the enemy, not of the people, but of the majority of the nobility, of which the family of Vespasian were blood relations. Jerusalem was destroyed, and with it the Jewish people’s fight for a better quality of life. Once again power was given back to those who desired it, through a collaborative family effort, albeit, a hidden one.
Again, more information regarding this genealogy can be found in my book.