Before P. Quintilius Varus lost both the battle and his life

Hatra, temple
Hatra, temple

in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, he was previously Roman proconsul in Syria from 6 – 4 BC and ruthlessly put down the Jewish rebellion in 4 BC after Herod the Great’s death.

The great Varus had ruled in Syria and Palestine, clearly with God’s approval, yet he suddenly suffered such a humiliating defeat in Germania. For the Jews, this could only be explained by assuming that God had rejected him.

The story of Saul’s rejection in 1 Sam. 15 has its historical model in Varus’ defeat; even the ambush in the valley that was fatal for Varus is mentioned in 1 Sam. 15:5.

Jesus and Paul were also people of their time and inevitably influenced by Rome, but in different ways. More on this in later theses.