Tiberius Julius Alexander

views updated


TIBERIUS JULIUS ALEXANDER (b. c. 14/16 c.e.), procurator of Judea. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Tiberius was the son of the *alabarch*Alexander Lysimachus, the brother of *Philo. When a young man he entered Roman military service, thereby becoming in Jewish eyes a man who "did not continue in the religion of his forefathers" (Jos., Ant., 20: 100), but there is no knowledge of any formal act of apostasy on his part. In 42 he was appointed epistrategos (military commander) of the Thebaid (Upper Egypt). In 46–48 he was appointed procurator of Judea. Josephus (Ant., 10:100 – 03) records only two events about his term of office: the great famine in Judea, relieved with the help of Queen *Helena; and the crucifixion of the sons of *Judah the Galilean at the order of Tiberius, which points to some national ferment at that time, although Josephus states elsewhere (Wars, 2:220) that Tiberius kept the nation at peace "by abstaining from all interference with the customs of the country." In 63 he is mentioned as a high-ranking officer on the staff of the eastern army group of Corbulo. Tiberius reached the peak of his civil service career in 66 when he was appointed by Nero as prefect of Egypt. Shortly after his appointment there was a severe clash between the Jewish and Greek populations of *Alexandria (Jos., Wars, 2:487ff.). Tiberius first tried to mediate, but when his attempt was scornfully rejected by the Jews, he ordered his soldiers to quell the rebels with the utmost rigor. The number of Jewish dead is said to have reached 50,000. In July 69, Tiberius was instrumental in acclaiming *Vespasian, then the commander of the Roman army in Judea, as emperor. Late in 69 or early in 70, Tiberius reached the climax of his military career, when he was promoted by Vespasian to be the highest-ranking officer in *Titus' army in Judea, second only to Titus himself. He is mentioned by Josephus (Wars, 6:236f.) as taking part in the council summoned by Titus to decide about the fate of the Temple, and is said to have voted not to destroy it. There is virtually no information about him after this event.


Tcherikover, Corpus, 2 (1960), no. 418; Lepape, in: Bulletin de la Société Archéologique d'Alexandrie, 8:29 (1934), 331 f.; E.G. Turner, in: Journal of Roman Studies, 44 (1954), 54–64; V. Burr, Tiberius Iulius Alexander (1955); Schwartz, in: Annuaire de l' Institut de Philologie et d'Histoire Orientales et Slaves, 13 (1958), 591ff.; A. Stein, Die Praefekten von Aegypten in der roemischen Kaiserzeit (1950), 37ff.