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Agrippa Gate

The City of Jerusalem had three walls, save only where it was defended by valleys that no man could pass; there indeed it had one only. The first wall compassed the New City; the beginning of it was at the Tower Hippicos, and the ending at the valley of Cedron. This King Agrippa built, for before his days the New City was without defence. But fearing the Emperor-in those days Claudius Caesar was Emperor-lest he should be suspected of rebellion, he did not finish it according to his purpose. And indeed, if it had been so finished, it had been such that no man could have taken it. For the stones whereof it was built, being twenty cubits long, and ten cubits broad, could not easily be undermined or shaken with the battering rams.

The height of it, when King Agrippa left building, was ten cubits only; but the Jews afterwards raised it to twenty cubits, adding thereto battlements and pinnacles, so that the measure of the whole was twenty-and-five cubits. The third wall, which is also the old wall, being the wall of the City of Sion, had its beginning in that corner of the Temple which looked to the north-west, and passed thence to the Tower Hippicos, and from the tower compassed the Upper City, along the valley of Hinnom, having its ending in the corner of the Temple that looked to the south-east. As for the second wall, it was built from the old wall, and had its ending at the Tower of Antony; and it compassed the Lower City.

On these walls there were towers, twenty cubits broad, and twenty in height, very strongly built and of beautiful stones, so that the Temple itself was not more fair. On every tower were chambers well furnished, and cisterns for rain. Of these towers the first wall had ninety, and the second fourteen, and the third sixty. Now the compass of the whole City was thirty-and-three furlongs.

New Conflict

Following Herod's death Judea came under direct Roman rule, the Romans exercising their authority through their appointed representative, the procurator (governor) based in Caesarea. Heavy taxes, Jewish messianic hopes, the longing for freedom and the two nations' conflicting religious beliefs exacerbated tension between the Jews and the Romans throughout Rome's rule. When the Emperor Caligula (37-41) declared himself a god he demanded that the entire Roman Empire worship him and ordered the procurator to put his statue in the Temple. In a mass demonstration thousands of Jews pleaded with the procurator not to violate the Temple's sanctity. When he ordered them to disperse they lay on the ground, prepared to die for their beliefs. In an very extraordinary act, he disobeyed orders and refrained from erecting the statue in the Temple. After Caligula was assassinated, more than anyone else in Rome it was Agrippa (grandson of Herod and Miriam, the daughter of King Yanai and the Queen Shlom-Zion, a Hasmonean princess) who helped Claudius succeed to the throne.. In gratitude Claudius appointed him King Agrippa I of Judea (41-44); his realm included the northern Negev, the Galilee and Golan, both sides of the Jordan River, and large parts of southern Syria (Bashan) and northern Jordan (Gilead). Once again a Jewish king of Hasmonean descent (on his mother's side) ruled Jerusalem.

Despite Agrippa's Roman education, connections with the emperor and the Hellenistic cities in his kingdom, he lived in Jerusalem as a religious Jew and was a popular king. He began building the third wall on the north side of Jerusalem to protect the new neighborhoods, almost doubling the size of the walled city to a total of 1500-1,800 dunam, or 375-450 acres). When the procurator complained, Agrippa was compelled to stop construction. Josephus wrote that had he completed this wall at Jerusalem's most vulnerable point, the city would have been invincible.