Wednesday, December 24, 2008
PERSIAN ASTROLOGERS UPSET TAX REGISTRATION, INSTIGATE HEROD TO KILL CHILDREN
PRAEFECTUM IMPERII IN JUDAEA
UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION FROM THE LATIN
IMPERIAL POST SERVICE DENARII FUND CITE
DRAFT:ASSISTANT TO ASSISTANT PREFECT
FROM:JUDEAN PREFECT JERUSALEM
TO:OFFICE OF PROVINCES ROME
ROME OFFICE OF PROVINCES FOR BUREAU OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS
E.O. MCMXVII: N/A
TAGS: PLEX, PEMP, PFSC
SUBJECT: PERSIAN ASTROLOGERS UPSET TAX REGISTRATION, INSTIGATE HEROD TO KILL CHILDREN
Unclassified. Please Protect Accordingly.
I. (U) Summary: Imperial efforts to register the residents of Judea for tax purposes have been complicated by local political events. Client-"king" Herod has taken an unnecessarily pro-active approach regarding a child predicted to be a challenger to his position, and ordered the killing of all unweaned children in and around Bethlehem. Imperial and local security forces are watching border crossings for the three Persian astrologers implicated in the instigation of Herod's suspicions. End summary.
II. (U) The astrologers appear to have traveled into Judea by night, over less-frequented roads. According to local contacts, they were carrying undeclared baggage full of precious metals and aromatics, and chose their routes and timing to avoid paying Customs duties. Little is known about their activities. They were observed by locals in Jerusalem asking about the welfare and whereabouts of a child born to be "King of the Jews." Herod's steward (strictly protect) told us that the "king" met the astrologers in secret, and instructed them to find the child so that he could worship him.
III. (U) The astrologers were apparently tipped off regarding Herod's mala fide intentions regarding the child, and may have slipped out of Judea by avoiding daylight travel and mandatory Customs posts. (Note: Post plans to make up for the lost revenue by imposing a one-time regional death-registration tax for children under the age of two. End note.)
IV. (U) Although generally amenable to Roman demarches concerning Judean governance, Herod is known to be touchy about threats to his position. His half-Nabatean, half-Idumean ancestry has inspired local concerns about his qualifications to "rule" (even as our client) the Jewish people, and further fed Herod's fear and suspicions. His killing of children under two years of age in and around Bethlehem is another example of his tendency to take matters into his own hands in a manner prejudicial to the peaceful ordering of Roman governance. Post requests language from Rome to make an official demarche against such behavior.
V. (U) Comment: As in all areas where Roman concepts of the rule of law have not taken firm root, local actors, especially those in high places, feel no compunction in wrecking Rome's plans for fiscal registration and revenue, in pursuit of their own private vendettas. Parents in Bethlehem who are concerned about the treatment of their children have proved to be uncooperative in registering for and paying taxes. Several have made threats against local and Roman law enforcement authorities. Unknown actors have daubed "Romans Go Home" and other graffiti on the perimeter wall of the chancery. In light of these actions, Post believes that this is an opportune time to raise again the requests made earlier this year for another cohort of well-trained Roman or Gallic troops, and for four extra denarii per month for working-level staff, in the form of danger pay and hardship allowance. End Comment.