The Jewish Ties of the Infamous Opponents of the Early Church

The bust of Nero, Capitoline, Rome, Italy.

Nero’s wife Poppaea Sabina was “a religious woman” who procured favour for the Jews (Josephus, Antiquities 20.159). She was buried according to Jewish custom as she wished (Tacitus, Annals 16.6, Histories 1.22) indicating that she was either a Jew, a Jewish proselyte or a “God-fearer” (Gentile supporter of Hellenistic Judaism).

Nero himself showed favour to the Jews expanding the borders of the kingdom of Herod Agrippa II (Josephus, Antiquities 20.159, Wars 2.252) and bestowing Armenia Minor upon Aristobulus, son of the Jewish king of Chalcis (Antiquities 20.158).

Nero is esteemed in the Talmud as an honoured convert to Judaism and the ancestor of the famous Rabbi Meir Baal Haness (Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 59 no. 4, The Emperor Nero in Talmudic Legend, University of Pennsylvania Press p. 321 ff.). It is no coincidence that Nero persecuted Christianity so harshly.

The bust of Julian the Apostate, Louvre, Paris, France.

Julian the Apostate was the first pagan Emperor after Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire. He promised the Jews that he would rebuild the temple destroyed by Christ’s people (Daniel 9.26, Romans 16.20). Apparently he also had no qualms about worshiping alongside Jews.

“Desiring to extend yet further favors to you, I have exhorted my brother, the venerable Patriarch Julos, to put a stop to the collection of the so-called Apostolé [a tax] among you; and henceforward no one will be able to oppress your people by the collection of such imposts, so that everywhere throughout my kingdom you may be free from care … when I return safely from the Persian war, I may restore the Holy City of Jerusalem, and rebuild it at my own expense, even as you have for so many years desired it to be restored; and therein will I unite with you in giving praise to the Almighty.”
-The Works of the Emperor Julian, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, volume 3, letter 51

“22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”
-Romans 11

Published by SloanVSutherland

"I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord"

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