A common objection to the line of Roman kings beginning with Julius Caesar is that he ruled as a dictator only for a short period of time and was never proclaimed an emperor. Instead most modern historians follow the line that begins with Augustus, when the Roman Empire as a system of government emerged. Prior to that time, the Roman Republic was ruled by a Senate and then a Triumvirate. Several reasons suggest why the first horn of the beast – that is, the first king of Daniel 7:7,24 and Revelation 17:9-12 – is Julius Caesar and not Augustus Caesar.
- Whether Julius Caesar was a true “emperor” of Rome or merely a military dictator is immaterial to the prophecy. The word “king” is used throughout the Book of Daniel and can mean either a single king or a line of kings.
- Julius Caesar was the first Roman “king” to make an alliance with Judea in 47 BC. The Jews received benefits from Rome due to the troop support they gave Caesar during the Battle of the Nile. From a Jewish perspective, the first Roman “king” to have dominion in Judea was Pompey in 63 BC, who conquered the city of Jerusalem and desecrated the Temple. Pompey came at a time when the First Triumvirate was about to be formed. Julius Caesar was part of the First Triumvirate from almost the beginning of Rome’s occupation of Judea.
- Julius Caesar conquered lands to the north of Rome for the next 14 years. He arrived for the civil war with Pompey in regions close to Judea from 49 to 47 BC. Caesar sent his Jewish emissary Aristobulus to Judea in the spring of that year. Pompey responded by having Aristobulus poisoned and enlisted the aid of the Egyptian pharaoh, Ptolemy XIII, in preparation for a civil war with Caesar.
- Julius Caesar was made dictator for the first time on September 24th, 49 BC. From that date, the Romans and kingdoms in the east, including Macedonia and Syria, began their first “indiction.” An indiction was a fiscal period of 15 years used as a means of dating events and transactions in the Roman Empire. Indictions of 15 years were ever since then tied to the reigns of the Roman emperors.
- Flavius Josephus, Suetonius, Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria and Cassius Dio number the line of the “Twelve Caesars” from Julius to Domitian, while Tacitus counts from Augustus onward. Being a Jew and a contemporary of Josephus, the Apostle John who wrote Revelation would have understood the line of Roman kings to begin with Julius Caesar.
- It is a fact of history that the Jews, after their alliance with Julius Caesar in 47 BC, thought of him as their king. On the day after he assumed his fifth and last consulship in 45 BC, Julius Caesar, like the Persian kings Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes before him, decreed that the Jews should rebuild the walls around Jerusalem that had been destroyed by Pompey in 63 BC. He also gave the Jews tax relief and decreed that they should be governed according to their own laws.
- Cicero, Plutarch, Suetonius and Cassius Dio refer to a proposed law in the Roman Senate in 44 BC that would have made Caesar a king since most of the nations in the known world were under Roman rule. Some thought that the title of “emperor” or “dictator” sounded more agreeable, since Caesar did not like (or at least pretended not to like) being called a “king.”
- While it is true that Julius Caesar did not rule as the dictator of Rome for very long, he was the sole dictator from 48 to 44 BC. Brevity is no reason to discount Caesar as a Roman “king.” If so, we might also have to discount Gaius Caligula since he reigned for only four years from AD 37 to 41.
- Julius was the first in the dynasty of Caesars that would become known as the Roman emperors. Julius officially adopted his grand-nephew Octavian, later known as Augustus Caesar, naming him as his heir in the few last months of his life.
- Caesar is called a “king” in John 19:15 and Acts 17:7.
In early 46 BC, Julius Caesar, having conquered Ptolemy XIII in Egypt, marched on to Pontus in Asia Minor and defeated Pharnaces in one battle. He sent a letter to Rome with three words, “Veni. Vidi. Vici.” – “I came. I saw. I conquered.”
On his way to Asia Minor, he encamped with his troops in Judea. He recognized John Hyrcanus II as High Priest and decreed that his descendants would retain the priesthood and be exempt from taxes.
Caesar made Antipater I the Idumean governor of Judea. Antipater then made Phasaclus, his oldest son, the governor of Jerusalem and Herod the Great, his second oldest son, the governor of Galilee.