23:4-12: "Then said Pilate to the chief priests and [to] the
people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce,
saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry,
beginning from Galilee to this place. When Pilate heard of Galilee,
he asked whether the man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that
he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself
also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus,
he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long [season],
because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen
some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words;
but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood
and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him
at nought, and mocked [him], and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and
sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made
friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves."
Tiberius Caesar and the Senate of Rome"
Antipas letter to the Roman Senate about Jesus & John the
is from documents of records of the Roman Senate.
After many complaints/charges were apparently made about his
behavior regarding the deaths of both John the Baptist and Jesus,
the below document shows Herod Antipas, aware of his own tenuous situation,
defending himself to Rome. Remember, at this
time when Herod killed John the Baptist, the Jews did not have the
authority for capital punishment--it having been given to Rome under
an agreement which also allowed for no Roman idolatry in their Temple.
Noble Lords, Greeting:
It is true, as my opponent asserts, that I was defeated in battle
with Aretas, King of Arabia, but I was forced to fight when unprepared
for the conflict. I either had to fight or have the country overrun
by this wicked people. It is true I was defeated, but it was owing
to the want of time and better preparation. Aretas came upon me without
warning. Notwithstanding I was defeated his army was so crippled that
he had to withdraw his forces from the field, and had not been
able to rally them since. So our country was saved from the devastation
of a foreign foe.
I understand that the superstitious Jews say my defeat was for my
wickedness in beheading John the Baptist. My understanding of the
God of the Jews is, that He does not chastise the innocent for the
crimes of the guilty. What did my actions have to do with the poor,
suffering soldier? But if He had to punish all in order to reach me,
then where is His almighty power they boast so much of? I do not know
whether their God was angry at me or not. There is one thing
I know, the act was done with the holy intention of bringing the greatest
amount of good to the greatest number of people; and if this is so,
no court can gainsay it or condemn it.
The facts in the case are about as follows: John the Baptist had set
up a new mode of religion altogether different from the Jewish religion,
teaching baptism instead of circumcision, which had been the belief
and custom of the Jews in all ages past. According to their theory,
God appeared to Abraham hundreds of years before, and told him with
His own lips how and what to do to be saved; and the Jews have lived
according to this until it had become their nature, and all their
forefathers had lived in this way. David, Solomon, Isaac, Jacob,
and all the holy prophets had gone to heaven in this way of God's
own appointment. Now, the question came to them, as they suggested
it to me: Has God found that He was wrong? Has His wisdom failed Him?
Or has the unchanged changed, and He is wavering in His purpose? Such
would be the natural conclusion of a sensible man under the circumstances.
Now, John the Baptist had no authority from God for what he was doing,
as Abraham had. All he could say was, "He that sent me to baptize
is true;" and he cannot tell who he was. Then his going into
the wilderness: God had ordered Solomon to build the finest temple
that was ever built in the world, and made
promises that whosoever came to that house with his offerings his
prayers should be heard and answered. This temple had been the place
of their meeting for hundreds of years, for the Jews think this temple
the next place to heaven.
Now see the difference:
1st. John has no authorized authority.
2d. He changes God's place of worship.
3d. He changes the doctrines
4th. He changes the mode of application.
Now, the idea of Gamaliel was that John wanted to be some great man;
hence, he took this mode of eccentric life to establish it. And there
is nothing better qualified than the course he took to make an impression
upon the ignorant and unlearned--to go away out into the wilderness
by himself, get a few friends from Jerusalem to go out and hear him,
and come back and tell of the great wonders which they had seen in
the wilderness. Then John's appearance --his long, uncombed hair and
beard, his fantastic clothing, and his food, nothing but bugs and
beans-- such a course and such a character are well qualified to lead
the illiterate astray. These troubles on the Jewish mind were very
heavy, and gave such men as Hilderium, Shammai, Hillel, and others
great concern. And no wonder, for in their judgmnt it was vacating
the temple of religious worship; it was blocking the road to heaven,
and driving the poor and unsuspecting to ruin, as well as destroying
the whole nation. So it was, by their request, as so ordered, that
it was better to execute one to save the many from a worse fate. And
this is the true reason for the deed, and not to please the whim of
a dancing-girl, as you have heard. Now, my lords, if this is not satisfactory,
I would ask my accuser, Caius, to write any of the learned Jews, and
learn if my statement is not correct.
As to Agrippa's accusing me of having arms for seventy thousand soldiers,
it is correct; but they were left me by my father, Herod the Great.
And as they were needed to defend the province, and I did not know
it was necessary to report them, I never thought of keeping them secret.
But as to my being in league with Sejonius, I appeal to the virtue
of my conduct, and demand investigation.
As to what Pontius Pilate says in regard to my cowardice and disobedience
in the case of Jesus of Nazareth, I will say in my own defence: I
ws informed by all the Jews that this was the same Jesus that my father
aimed to destroy in his infancy; for I have it in my father's private
writings and accounts of his life, showing that when the report was
circulated of three men inquiring where was he that was born King
of the Jews, he called together the Hillel and Shammai schools, and
demanded the reading of the sacred scrolls; that it was decided he
was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea, as read and interpreted that
night by Hillel. So when my father learned that there was a birth
of a male child in Bethlehem under very strange circumstances, and
he could not learn who nor where the child was, he sent and had the
male children slain that were near his age. Afterward he learned that
his mother had taken him and fled into the wilderness. For this attempt
to uphold the Roman authority in the land of Judea the world has not
ceased to curse him to this day; and yet the Caesars have done a thousand
worse things, and done them a thousand times, and it was all well.
Just think how many lives have been lost to save the Roman Empire;
while those infants were only removed in their innocence from the
evil to come. The proper way to judge of action is to let the actor
judge, or the one with whom the action terminates. If this should
be done, and there is a life of happiness beyond for innocence to
dwell in, those infants as well as the Rachels should be thankful
to my father for the change. Again, my lords, Pilate is a higher officer
than I; and you know in our law the lower court always has the right
to appeal to the higher. As to Pilate's saying that Jesus was a Galilean,
he is mistaken. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, as the records
show. And as to his citizenship, he had none. He wandered about from
place to place, having no home, making his abode principally with
the poor. He was a wild fanatic, who had taken up the doctrines of
John (but not his baptism), and was quite an enthusiast. He had learned
sooth-saying, while in Egypt, to perfection. I tried to get him to
perform some miracle while in my court, but he was too sharp to be
caught in a trap; like all necromancers, he was afraid to show off
before the intelligent. From what I could learn he had reprimanded
some of the rich Jews for their meanness, and his reproaches were
not out of the way, from what I heard they would have been much better
men if they had practised what he preached.
So this is my defense. I submit it for your consideration, praying