12.15.2014

Today In AD 37: Nero Born

Although in popular culture Nero is blamed for killing Christians in the arena, to Jews he was a good friend.

The Talmud in tractate Gittin 56a-b records that Nero believed that God wanted the Temple destroyed, but would wreck his vengeance on whoever did actually destroy it:  "He desires to lay waste His House and to lay the blame on me."

Nero's visit to Jerusalem is not recorded in non-Jewish sources,  but may be linked to the outrage recorded when he tried to erect a statue in the Temple?

His second wife Poppaea was well attested as friendly to Jews, and can probably be described as having been amongst theosebeis or 'God fearers'.



In Christian tradition Nero became the Anti-Christ, partly for his actions, partly because his death was roughly contemporary with the death of Jesus. Amongst the many descriptions of him in this way, see here:
The Christian poet Commodian (fl AD 260) also writes of the Antichrist, when Nero will return from hell.
"Then, doubtless, the world shall be finished when he shall appear. He himself shall divide the globe into three ruling powers, when, moreover, Nero shall be raised up from hell, Elias shall first come to seal the beloved ones; at which things the region of Africa and the northern nation, the whole earth on all sides, for seven years shall tremble. But Elias shall occupy the half of the time, Nero shall occupy half. Then the whore Babylon, being reduced to ashes, its embers shall thence advance to Jerusalem; and the Latin conqueror shall then say, I am Christ, whom ye always pray to; and, indeed, the original ones who were deceived combine to praise him. He does many wonders, since his is the false prophet" (Instructiones, XLI).



If you enjoyed this video by Adrian Murdoch, check out his book on The Emperors of Rome; Kindle UK, Kindle US, etc

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