Gessius Florus was the Roman procurator of Judea from AD 64 until 66. Born
in Clazomenae, Florus was appointed to replace Lucceius Albinus as
procurator by the Emperor Nero due to his wife's friendship with Nero's
wife Poppaea. He was noted for his public greed and injustice to the
Jewish population, and is credited by Josephus as being the primary
cause of the Great Jewish Revolt.
Upon taking office in Caesarea, Florus began a practice of favoring the local Greek population of the city over the Jewish population. The local Greek population noticed Florus' policies and took advantage of the circumstances to denigrate the local Jewish population. One notable instance of provocation occurred while the Jews were worshiping at their local synagogue and a Hellenist sacrificed several birds on top of an earthenware container at the entrance of the synagogue, an act that rendered the building ritually unclean. In response to this action, the Jews sent a group of men to petition Florus for redress. Despite accepting a payment of eight talents to hear the case, Florus refused to listen to the complaints and instead had the petitioners imprisoned.
Florus further angered the Jewish population of his province by having seventeen talents removed from the treasury of the Temple in Jerusalem, claiming the money was for the Emperor. In response to this action, the city fell into unrest and some of the Jewish population began to openly mock Florus by passing a basket around to collect money as if Florus was poor. Florus reacted to the unrest by sending soldiers into Jerusalem the next day to raid the city and arrest a number of the city leaders. The arrested individuals were whipped and crucified despite many of them being Roman citizens.
After the outbreak of the Great Jewish Revolt, Florus was replaced as procurator by Marcus Antonius Julianus.