Cestius Gallus

Cestius Gallus, son of C. Cestius Gallus Cameronus, was governor (legatus) of Syria A.D. 64, 65, when the Jews broke out into the rebellion which ended in the destruction of their metropolis and Temple by Titus. Maddened by the tyranny of Gessius Florus (q.v.),they applied to Gallus for protection; but, though he sent Neapolitanus, one of his officers, to investigate the case, and received from him a report favorable to the Jews, he took no effectual steps either to redress their injuries or to prepare for any outbreak into which their discontent might drive them. When at last he found it necessary to act, he marched from Antioch, and, having taken Ptolemais and Lydda, advanced on Jerusalem. There he drove the Jews into the upper part of the city and the precincts of the Temple, and might, according to Josephus, have finished the war at once, had he not been dissuaded by some of his officers from pursuing his advantage. Soon after he unaccountably (comp. Mt 24:15-16) drew off his forces, and was much harassed in his retreat by the Jews, who took from him a quantity of spoil. Nero was at the time in Achaia, and Gallus sent messengers to him to give an account of his affairs as favorable as possible to himself. The emperor, however, much exasperated, commissioned Vespasian to conduct the war; and the language of Tacitus seems to imply that Gallus died before the arrival of his successor, his death being probably hastened by vexation. (Josephus, Life, 43; War, 2:14, 3; 16, 1 and 2; 18, 9 and 10; 19, 1-9; 20, 1; 3:1; Tacit. Hist. 5:10; Sueton. Vesp. 4.) — Smith, Dictionary of Biography, 2:226. SEE JERUSALEM.

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