Tiberius, Tacfarinas, and the Jews
Arctos Acta Philologica Fennica, 42, pp.267-284 (2008)
Three ancient sources: Josephus in c. AD 93, Tacitus in c. AD 120, and a similar account by Suetonius, preserve relatively detailed accounts of the expulsion of the Jews from Rome in AD 19 by the emperor Tiberius. They are in broad agreement that the emperor acted against the adherents of Egyptian cults at Rome at this time as well as against the Jews, and that he did so on religious or moral grounds. Also, in addition to his expulsion of the Jews from Rome, he conscripted 4,000 of those affected by his new religious measures and sent them to Sardinia. It was probably the continued success of the revolt by Tacfarinas in Africa in AD 19 which provoked Tiberius to institute conscription at Rome. Tiberius sent the conscripts to Sardinia, but only as a stop on their journey to fight against the ‘bandit’ Tacfarinas in Africa, not as their final destination. As for the Jews in Rome, the burden of conscription seems to have fallen rather heavily upon them in AD 19, so that it caused a great controversy when many of them refused to accept their conscription. It was these Jews alone that were expelled from Rome, not the community as a whole.