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Friday, November 17 2017
The Roman Emperors: Claudius
"And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar ... A certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome"
Claudius was the fourth Roman emperor that ruled after the assassination of Julius Caesar. Claudius succeeded Caligula (who was assassinated) and reigned 13 years until he too was assassinated by the mother of his successor - the infamous Nero.
Officially named Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, Claudius was born August 1, 10 B.C. at Lugdunum (a Roman colony in what is today Lyon, France) of influential parents. Drusus, his father, was the son of Livia, the wife of Caesar Augustus and his mother Antonia was the daughter of Mark Antony, who is popularly known from his association with Cleopatra (see also A Biography Of Jesus Christ: The Years In Cleopatra's Egypt).
Claudius reportedly had some sort of disability that seriously affected his speech and walk, but not his intellect. Emperor Caligula, the nephew of Claudius, appointed Claudius a Senator and Consul in 37 AD, which marked the beginning of his rise to power.
When Caligula was assassinated in 41 AD by a number of Senators who wished to restore the Roman Republic, the Germans of the Imperial bodyguard, in an effort to protect their own positions, took it upon themselves to hastily appoint a successor to the man whose life they had just failed to protect. Their by-chance choice was Caligula's uncle, Claudius, who, amidst the chaos, they happened to find hiding behind a curtain in the Imperial Palace. They dragged their unwilling candidate out, and with the backing of the Roman military, proclaimed him Emperor - the most powerful man in "the world" (i.e. the Roman Empire - everywhere and everyone else didn't matter to the full-of-themselves Romans).
Despite the unwilling manner of his rise to power, Claudius wasted no time in avenging his nephew's murder, and firmly taking control of the empire which he thereafter ruled with an iron fist. Claudius survived a number of assassination attempts himself, which, along with the vivid memory of his predecessor's death, made him (quite justifiably) paranoid for his own safety. The slightest suspicion of disloyalty resulted in execution - more than 35 Senators and 300 Roman military officers lost their lives in that way - a typical "get them before they might get me" purge.
The reign of Claudius included the invasion and conquest of Britain in 43 AD, the addition of Thrace, Lycia, and Mauretania to the territorial empire, and the granting of Roman citizenship to the provinces - an imperial "freedom" (a political label for a malignant power that destroyed genuine freedom i.e. according to the Romans, the invaded and occupied countries were made "free" by their foreign rulers) that was sarcastically mentioned by the apostle Paul in referring to being born in Roman-occupied Turkey ("And Paul said, But I was free born" Acts 22:28 KJV).
Although Claudius treated Jews, especially those in Asia and Egypt, comparatively well at first, around 49 AD he banished them all from Rome. Christians were included in the expulsion since they were viewed as merely a Jewish sect. Paul met Aquila and Priscilla in Greece after they were expelled from Rome by Claudius.
"18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them." (Acts 18:1-2 KJV)
Claudius is mentioned a second time in the Holy Scriptures as a historic reference point for a fulfillment of a prophecy.
"11:27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar." (Acts 11:27-28 KJV)
After three failed marriages, Claudius took his niece Agrippina, who had a son by her previous husband, as his incestuous wife. Agrippina was politically ambitious for her son, and very soon began scheming to have him succeed Claudius as emperor in place of the heir-apparent - Britannica, a son of Claudius from one of his own previous marriages.
Claudius died on October 13, 54 AD from a meal of poison, or poisoned, mushrooms that Agrippina deliberately gave to him. Her son Lucius Domitius immediately became the new emperor - Nero.
This Day In History, November 17
375: Valentinian, Emperor of the western Roman empire, died of apoplexy (a stroke) in Pannonia (a Roman province in central Europe) after being enraged by the insolence of "barbarian" envoys who were defeating Rome's legions in the forests of Germany and refusing to bow before the defeated "divine" Caesar. Germany later succeeded Rome as the "Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation" (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).
474: Roan Emperor Leo II died after a reign of 10 months. He was succeeded by his father Zeno, who becomes sole ruler of the Byzantine (East Roman) Empire.
1278: 680 Jews were arrested (293 were hanged) in England for counterfeiting coins.
1292: John Balliol became King of Scotland.
1539: Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto arrived at the location of what is today Mobile, Alabama.
1558: The Elizabethan era began, with the coronation Queen Elizabeth I of England. She restored the Church of England, which had been established by King Henry VIII in 1534, after her half-sister Queen Mary (Mary Tudor) had turned England back under the control of the Church of Rome.
1636: Henrique Diaz, Brazilian general, won a decisive battle against Dutch colonial forces in Brazil.
1796: Napoleon defeated an Italian army near the Alpone River in Italy.
1855: Scottish explorer David Livingston discovered (for Europeans) Victoria Falls in Africa.
1869: The Suez Canal opened after 10 years of construction.
1903: The Russian Socialist movement divided into two factions, the Bolsheviks who supported Vladimir Lenin, and the Mensheviks who followed Georgi Plekhanov (see also Why Are Politicians Called Left Or Right? and When Do Liberals Become Conservatives?).
1913: The first ship passed through the Panama Canal.
1917: During the First World War (1914-1918; see also The Assassination That Triggered Two World Wars), British Field Marshal Edmund Allenby's troops entered the Jerusalem hills prior to the taking of the city (listen to our Sermon The Balfour Declaration). That same day, German General von Falkenhayn left Jerusalem for Nablus, the Biblical Shechem, 40 miles to the north, while falsely assuring the Ottomans (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) that reinforcements would be sent.
1918: Influenza deaths in the U.S. were reported as higher than the number of U.S. troops killed in battle during the First World War (although the U.S. entered the First World War during only the last 18 months of the 4 year war that devastated Europe from 1914 to 1918).
1919: King George V of the United Kingdom proclaimed Armistice Day. It was later observed as Remembrance Day, while a U.S. observance of Armistice Day became known as Veteran's Day.
1941: Less than a month before Japan's attack on the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Japanese Prime Minister General Tojo outlined a three-point plan he said was aimed at peace in East Asia.
1954: General Gamal Abdel Nasser became Egyptian head of state following the fall of President Mohamed Naguib.
1966: The Great Leonid meteor storm was observed in western North America, estimated at 144,000 meteors per hour / 40 per second - the most intense meteor shower ever observed. The meteor storm lasted less than 1 hour and was caused when the earth passed through a dense patch of the Leonid meteor stream. Leonids enter the atmosphere at 162,000 m.p.h., the fastest of any shower meteors, and burn up at an altitude between 80 and 55 miles.
1967: The U.S. unmanned Surveyor 6 spacecraft became the first man-made vehicle to land and take off from the Moon (the Russians were the first to land an unmanned vehicle on the moon).
1970: The Russian Luna 17 spacecraft landed an 8-wheeled lunar vehicle on the moon.
1973: During the Watergate break in investigation, Richard Nixon made his famous denial to the Associated Press, "People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook." Nixon resigned the next year when he could no longer deny and impede his impeachment and criminal prosecution. Nixon was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford (who was chosen as vice-president to replace Spiro Agnew, Nixon's first vice-president, who resigned because of convictions for tax evasion), so Nixon never did any prison time as did numerous members of his regime.
1997: Muslim terrorists disguised as police opened fire on tourists in Egypt, killing over 70 British, Swiss, German and Japanese people.