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"Who Were Pontius Pilates Roman Soldiers?" Topic

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Lee49411 Jan 2020 5:29 p.m. PST

Ive heard that the Tenth Legion was stationed in Israel. BUT other sources claim that Pilate had no Legion at his disposal but rather was assigned a Cohort as Governor of Judea. So who were the Roman Soldiers that keep popping up in The Bible? And where were they from? Best I've been able to determine is that they were actually Auxilliaries likely from Syria or perhaps Thrace. As you can tell this is NOT my period of History but I'd love to learn more! Thanks

wmyers11 Jan 2020 6:53 p.m. PST

I have read due to the provincial status of Judea, at the time of Christ's death, only Auxiliaries were posted.

There was no Legion stationed in Jerusalem, Pontious Pilate was only the rank of Equestrian so he could not garrison a full legion under his command. Jerusalem was garrisoned by Cohors II Italica, it was only one Auxiliary cohort.

X Fretensis was stationed in Jerusalem after the first revolt, c.AD70.


Lost Wolf11 Jan 2020 9:40 p.m. PST

interesting. I had never thought about this before. Would the number of Roman soldiers be enough to quell an uprising or was it the threat of sending more soldiers?

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2020 2:50 a.m. PST

At the time of Christ, there were ally troops available under Herod and his successors.
Rome had Legions in Egypt and other nearby provinces, so quite close at hand.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2020 11:46 a.m. PST

A lot of different Roman soldiers keep popping up in the Bible, and the ones in the Gospels aren't always the ones in Acts. If you read the bit in Acts when they have to get Paul out of Jerusalem, it's obvious from the order quoted that the garrison at that time can only have been a (forgive the mangled Latin) Cohors Equitata Milliaria--the double-strength part-mounted auxiliary cohort they kept about one of per province. That's been confirmed archaeologically, but I couldn't tell you which one from memory.

And a nominal thousand men to garrison Jerusalem at Passover would be a nerve-wracking assignment. None of them got out alive in the rising of 66 AD.

mikec260 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2020 3:06 p.m. PST

IIRC it was a cohort of Gallic Auxilia.

JimDuncanUK13 Jan 2020 8:00 a.m. PST

Pontius Pilates Bodyguards:

Look no further than:

The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), once known as the Royal Regiment of Foot

The regiment is known by the nickname Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard which apparently was the result of a 17th-century boasting contest with the French Régiment de Picardie regarding the respective seniority of each regiment.

Picardie, the senior French infantry regiment, was formed in 1562, whereas the Scots had been raised in 1625 as Hepburn's Regiment and only entered French service in 1635 but, it is said, claimed a lineage from Scots in French service dating back to the C13th.


Versions of this tradition vary but the story turns on the existence of either one regiment or the other dating back to service under Pontius Pilate at the time of Christ's crucifixion. The most common version tells of the name 'Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard' being tossed by the French as a jibe against the Scots. They replied that if their regiment had been on guard the night of the Crucifixion, the Sepulchre would not have been empty the next morning.

Personal logo COL Scott ret Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2020 10:14 p.m. PST

Very interesting discussion, one of many reasons to keep going to TMP.

jefritrout14 Jan 2020 2:13 p.m. PST

I recently read that it was a cohort of the XII Legion, which makes some sense, since they were encamped in Raphana which was a couple of miles Southeast of the Sea of Galilee. I am not sure where I got this information, but the 12th was involved in fights in Cappodacia, against the Parthians, and involved in the suppressing the Great Jewish Revolt. They then fought in Armenia and on the Euphrates frontier.

My disclaimer is that I painted the XII Legion because our club was planning on fighting some of the campaigns in Armenia.

Marcus Brutus15 Jan 2020 9:03 a.m. PST

The Governor of Judea was under the authority of the Governor of Syria. Four legions plus supporting troops were garrisoned at Antioch the capital of Syria. At major Jewish festivals where Jerusalem would have large numbers of pilgrims in attendance I believe it was customary for the Jewish garrison to be reinforced with a detachment from Antioch. So at the time of the trial of Christ (during Passover) Pilate would likely have been reinforced, possibly with Legion infantry.

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