Since Herod Antipas and his wife were banished to Gaul, both his palace in Tiberius and his Jerusalem palace had stood empty except for the palace guards who had stayed for lack of knowing what else to do. Thus, the arrival of Herod Agrippa in Palestine was a relief to them. He first went to Tiberius and moved Malcius Arilius, the captain of the guard, to the Jerusalem palace. Malcius Arilius was the son of the Malcius who had led the slaughter of the innocents back in the time of Herod the great. (See Part I, Chapter 3.)
About two months after Agrippa's arrival, he was at the Jerusalem palace listening to a report from Malcius Arilius about the current troop strength when a messenger arrived from Rome with a message from Caligula. The messenger read the message.
"My dear friend king Agrippa: I trust all is well with you. It seems the Jews in your region are loath to accept my divinity. They have torn down the altar to me in Jamnia. Thus, I have ordered a statue of myself to be built and to be placed in their temple in Jerusalem. I trust I can count on you to see that the statue is placed there. Affectionately yours,
Agrippa sighed. "But he can't be serious."
"I’m afraid he is, Your Majesty"
"Well, that would never do. Can't he see it would cause a real uprising with the Jews? They would never stand for it."
"So, is there any reply, Your Majesty?"
"Yes, there is a reply. Hold on one minute while I write him a letter of reply."
The messenger kept standing at attention as Agrippa penned the following:
My dear Caligula: I am fine and ruling well in my new territory which you so graciously gave me. I think I am in a much better position to understand the temperament and feelings of the people here than you are and I assure you that what you have ordered is sure to spark riots and bloodshed. The Jews will never stand for what they would consider to be a sacrilege of the highest order. Thus, I am pleading with you to rescind your order at once.
The messenger took the letter and left as quickly as he had come. Agrippa looked at Malcius and said, "That Caligula sure has some nerve, doesn't he, Malcius?"
"Yes, sir, he does."
"To order his statue placed in the temple--it would bring nothing but endless rioting."
"They could even refuse to pay the taxes I plan to impose.”
"It's fortunate that I was placed over this territory."
"A ruler must try to get along with his subjects--I mean must not unnecessarily overly aggravate them--don't you think so, Malcius?"
"Yes, sir. You must try your best, sir."
“And I think I have, so far, don't you, Malcius?"
"Oh, yes sir, you certainly have. You have gained much favor with the Jews. But, what about that sect which call themselves Christians?"
"What about them?"
"Oh, nothing--it's just that they are another group to be reckoned with and are certainly not favored much by the rest of the Jews."
"Thank you, Malcius for bringing that to my attention. You may go now."
"Thank you, Your Majesty." And he left.
Just as he was resting comfortably on his throne, Linus appeared to announce: "A ship's captain to see you, sir."
"Well, send him in."
The captain, a husky man, entered and bowed. "Your Majesty."
"Oh, it's you, Kantilus, Captain of the fleet. Well, what is it?"
"Well, Your Majesty, it's regarding the Phonetician cities of Tyre and Sidon."
"Yes? What about them?"
"Well, Your Majesty, we have been sending them grain and fruits and they have failed to send us anything in return."
The king's face flushed with anger. "Oh, they have, have they? Well, we shall see about that. Stop all future shipments to the area."
"Yes, Your Majesty." He bowed and left.
"I’ll teach those ingrates!"
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