Prefect of Judea to Military Tribune, Rome
There is growing excitement and growing tension in Jerusalem and the surrounding region, as the Feast of the Passover Approaches. There has been one major incident this week, which had been preceded by various rumours, a message from the Jews’ chief priest, Caiaphas, and a personal visit by him few days later. The rumours, and later message and visit, concerned a man going by the name Jesus who came to Jerusalem, although at the time of Caiaphas visit he had not yet arrived. Nevertheless, the high priest seemed to consider Jesus some kind of threat.
So far, although this Jesus has caused a little public unrest, it has been nothing our soldiers could not control. Any perceived threat by Caiaphas or his priests would appear to be mainly to themselves, not Rome, however we might still be forced to intervene at some point to maintain public order during the festival. The Pharisees appear to be worried that their authority as religious leaders will be undermined.
The public unrest I spoke about above is, to date, two incidents, one of which was really just high spirits in a crowd as the Passover festival draws closer and which resulted in a few minor injuries cause by the crowd’s own movement. The other a minor disturbance at the temple, dealt with quickly by a detachment of two contubernium of legionaires; no one was hurt. There was also an earlier report of the theft of a colt, that was later returned and found to have had reported stolen in error.
The first incident occurred when this Jesus entered Jerusalem. He came in riding the colt, that had formerly been reported as stolen, and appeared to be playing the part of a king for the crowd, which, at one point, was shouting “Blessed is the King of Israel”. It is our suspicion that the chanting crowd that followed Jesus on the donkey, all the way to the temple, was incited by a group of his followers, however we have been unable to confirm this. As the donkey carrying him approached the temple, the assembled people began to throw palm leaves ahead of the donkey as it made its way along the street.
This act of entering on a Donkey was, apparently, intended as a deliberate affront to the Jews’ priests. It might also be inferred that it was a slight to Rome however the watch commander wisely decided to let the incident pass, as to attempt to intervene to quell the crowd might have caused a greater disturbance, than the relatively good natured atmosphere prevailing. The crowd dispersed at dusk without further trouble and the man named Jesus we think left the city for the night time, thought to be going to the village of Bethany, nearby.
Tesserarius Laurentius is to be commended for his restraint in this matter. This is not the first time he has demonstrated good judgement whilst in command He might in due course be considered as a candidate for promotion to Centurion, to succeed his current officer.
The following day was another incident, initiated directly by Jesus according to witnesses. He had apparently re-entered the city soon after daybreak and made his way to the temple. No legionnaires arrived in time to take action in the matter, which was apparently over quickly.
Reports from witnesses indicate that Jesus entered the outer courts of the temple, where he was heard to shout angrily at the money changers and seen to tip over some of their tables of business. He apparently considered their presence sacrilege and attempted to drive them out. No one was hurt although the business in the outer temple courts was disrupted for a short time.
I intend to have this Jesus watched until after the Passover feast, to try and ensure no further incidents that might incite the crowd to further unrest. With so amy people in the city for the passover, the garrison is spread thinly already.
In regular matters we have collected approximately 2000 Denarius in additional tax in Jerusalem this week, due to the large number of people who have come to the city for the festival.
Your Servant, Sire,