Front cover image for The Alexandrian riots of 38 C.E. and the persecution of the Jews : a historical reconstruction

The Alexandrian riots of 38 C.E. and the persecution of the Jews : a historical reconstruction

Dismisses the explanation given by Philo of Alexandria, in his "In Flaccum" and "Legatio ad Gaium", to the "pogrom" in Alexandria in the year 38, and proposes a new interpretation. Contends that there were two events that brought on the riots: a visit to the city by Herod Agrippa, on his way from Rome to his kingdom in Judaea, and Gaius Caligula's decision to introduce the religious cult of the Emperor in the eastern, Greek part of the Empire. Agrippa was the first foreigner to receive praetorian honors, which caused him to be mocked by the mob in Alexandria and drew attention to the issue of rights of Jewish "foreigners" in the city. Caligula's decision was followed by an edict issued by Flaccus, the prefect of Alexandria, introducing images of the Emperor into synagogues. Flaccus' edict was met by resistance, probably armed, on the part of Jews, since it was an infringement of their religious rights as one of the city's "politeuma". A second edict by Flaccus deprived most of the city's Jews of their privileges and of legal protection. The latter edict called for the enclosure of those Jews who did not have full citizenship in Alexandria (in fact, a majority of the Jews) in a small area of the city; leaving this sector was forbidden. Thus, despite the fact that many Jews were tortured and killed, the behavior of both Flaccus and of the mob were in the framework of the law and cannot be categorized as a pogrom. Moreover, the mob violence was directed not against all Jews, only against Jewish immigrants. Argues that the subsequent arrest of Flaccus by Caligula had nothing to do with the Alexandrian riots, as Philo claimed. (From the Bibliography of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism)
Print Book, English, 2009
Brill, Leiden, 2009