September 11, 2006

Year-by-Year: Before 9 BC...

The rise to power of Augustus Caesar... and the beginning of his worldwide Census.!

The first historical event of the New Testament Period was a Registration in Israel.

Here is the least you need to know, before we can begin there. (FN.1)

Julius Caesar was killed in 44 BC, and his nephew Octavian Caesar started ruling the Roman Empire soon after that, sharing power with two other men. By 31 BC, Octavian’s partners were out of the picture, and he stood alone as the Emperor of Rome. And in 28 BC, the Roman Senate voted to give Octavian the title, “Honored One” or “Reverend”. The Latin word for this was “Augustus”.

Then, in 27 BC, “Augustus” Caesar made a decree. He told the Governor of every Province to take a census, to count all the people and measure their lands. Augustus wanted to take a registration of everyone in the civilized world. (FN.2)

So Augustus expanded the census. (FN.3) But the Jewish nation of Israel wasn’t included at that time, because Rome didn’t actually rule Israel, at least, not directly.

In those years, Israel sent Rome a “Tribute” instead of “taxes”. (FN.4) The Tribute gave Israel the right to live freely under Rome’s protection. And also, in those years, Augustus Caesar had formed a personal friendship with Israel’s King, Herod the Great.

Now, Herod had been Israel’s King since 37 BC. (FN.5) Herod used his great wealth and power to gain Caesar’s favor. Also, the King made sure he always did whatever kept his friend, the Emperor, happy. So for many years, Caesar simply didn’t need to take direct control in Israel.

Technically, Israel was still an Independent nation. And so there was no Roman census in Israel, in 27 BC.

But all of that was soon going to change… starting in 9 BC.

In that year – 9 BC – Herod did something that made Augustus very, very angry. So Caesar decided to punish Herod by stepping over Herod’s “Independent” power. (FN.6) That is… Caesar punished Herod by taking a census of Israel!

Or, to put it another way… Caesar added Israel, in 9 BC, into the ongoing, “worldwide” census, which he first decreed back in 27 BC. (FN.7)

But what did Herod do, to make Caesar so angry?

Well, that event is where we begin our story.

Take a peak now, into 9 BC . . .

Next Chapter: 9 BC

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