Pontius Pilate was the fifth Roman governor of Judea, ruling the province under the supervision of the Legate of Syria and, through him, of the Emperor.  He was the most famous of the governors because he was the one who presided over the trial and execution of Jesus of Nazareth.

We know almost nothing about the four governors who preceded Pilate, but know a great deal about him. The Gospels give a fairly sympathetic account of the man, who is described as reluctant to convict Jesus, and who washes his hands of the whole matter when the Jews insist on Jesus’ condemnation. But at least two other first-hand sources knew Pilate well and did not like him at all. Philo of Alexandria, the famous first century Jewish philosopher (c. 20 BCE – 50 CE) , described Pilate as inflexible, merciless, and obstinate. This view is supported by Josephus Flavius, the most famous of the first century historians, who describes Pilate’s violent behavior in detail, how he brought the Standards of Rome with pictures of Caesar on them into Jerusalem, in violation of Jewish law banning pictures, how he took the treasury of the Temple to finance construction of an aqueduct to supply Jerusalem’s water, and the furious anger of the Jewish community at these incidents. In the end, Pilate’s violent suppression of a Samaritan procession (in 36 CE) caused his superior, Vitellius, Legate of Syria, to march into Judea and send Pilate off packing, back to Rome. He had ruled Judea for 10 years.

The Pontius Pilate inscription, discovered at Caesarea, is offered as an exquisite reproduction of the stele, at https://www.biblicalreproductions.com.  Biblical Reproductions is licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Author: Walter Zanger