Festus, Porcius°

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FESTUS, PORCIUS °, Roman procurator of Judea 60–62 c.e. Under his rule the sect of Jewish patriots known as the *Sicarii greatly increased in number, although, according to Josephus, the procurator made every effort to curb their activity. Festus sent his troops to suppress a "deceiver" who led the people into the wilderness promising them victory, and many of them were killed (Jos., Ant., 20:188). Soon after his appointment Nero decided the dispute in *Caesarea between the Syrians and the Jews in such a way as to make the Syrians the masters of the city; this aroused considerable unrest among the Jewish population. Another legacy of the procuratorship of Felix was the trial of the apostle Paul, whom Festus sent to Rome to be tried after a number of hearings. During his procurator-ship Agrippa ii added an upper story to the former Hasmonean palace in order to be able to overlook the Temple court. The priests countered by erecting a wall screening the Temple from the palace. For military reasons Festus ordered this wall to be demolished but nevertheless permitted the priests to send a delegation to Rome to appeal his decision. Nero was persuaded by his wife, *Poppaea Sabina, to decide in their favor and the wall was allowed to stand. Festus died suddenly in Ereẓ Israel in 62 c.e. and was later succeeded by *Albinus.


Jos., Wars, 2:271; Jos., Ant. 20:182, 185–8; Acts 24:27; 25:1–26: 32; Schuerer, Hist, 194, 233f., 239f.; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 5 (19635), 36–37; Paul-Wissowa, 43 (1953), 220–7, no. 36.

[Lea Roth]