Judean Piracy, Judea and Parthia, and the Roman Annexation of Judea: The Evidence of Pompeius Trogus
Hasmonean State, Josephus, Justin, Nabatean Arabs, Parthian Empire, Pompeius Trogus, Pompey the Great, Roman Republic, Seleucid Empire
Pompey the Great’s 63 BCE conquest of the Jewish kingdom known as the Hasmonean State has traditionally been viewed as an inevitable event since the Roman Republic had long desired to annex the Middle Eastern nations. The prevailing consensus is that the Romans captured the Hasmonean state, removed its high-priest kings from power, and made its territory part of the Republic merely through military force. However, Justin’s Epitome of the Philippic Histories of Pompeius Trogus is a neglected source of new information for understanding relations between the Romans and the Jews at this time. Trogus’s brief account of this period alludes to a more specific reason, or at least, circumstance for Pompey’s conquest of Judea. His work contains evidence that the Jews were involved in piracy, of the type the Republic had commissioned Pompey to eradicate. In addition to this activity that adversely affected Roman commercial interests in the Mediterranean, the Jews were also involved with the Seleucid Empire and the Nabatean Arabs, both of whom had dealings with the Parthians. Piracy, coupled with Rome’s antagonism towards the Parthians, negatively impacted the Republic’s attitude towards the Jews. Considering the evidence from Trogus, Roman fears of Jewish piracy and Jewish links to the Republic’s Parthian enemies were not unfounded.
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©2022 Kenneth Atkinson. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Atkinson, Kenneth, "Judean Piracy, Judea and Parthia, and the Roman Annexation of Judea: The Evidence of Pompeius Trogus" (2022). Faculty Publications. 5310.
First published in Electrum, 29: 127-145 (2022) published by Jagiellonian University. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4467/20800909EL.22.009.15779