HERACLIUS°, emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 610 to 641. He is known for his repression of the Jews as a punishment for their sympathy, aid, and collaboration (alleged andactual) with the Persians during their conquest of Jerusalem in 614. Information on such conduct comes mainly from monastic sources. When Jerusalem was recaptured by Heraclius in 629 he encouraged the indiscriminate slaughter of Jews and ultimately their expulsion from the city. After Edessa was retaken by Heraclius, the Jews continued to resist even after the Persians had surrendered and therefore they were expelled on Heraclius' orders. Shortly afterward the Arabs conquered Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. In 632, motivated by exaggerated stories of Jewish sympathy for Islam, Heraclius decreed the forced baptism of all Jews in the empire, but the decree was enforced only in Carthage. He also put into effect justinian 's novella 146, which interfered with synagogue services and found an echo in contemporary apocalyptic texts. Some scholars consider that Heraclius appears as the notorious King armilus destined to be slain by the Messiah according to the   Hebrew apocalypse Sefer Zerubbavel, written in the 630s. It is reported that Heraclius advised Dagobert, king of the Franks, to kill Jews who would not accept Christianity. Despite his anti-Jewish acts, the Jews of Constantinople were in a strong enough position after his death to participate in a street riot during which they invaded Hagia Sophia. The emperor and his retinue during their stay in Erez Israel were entertained bythe wealthy and prominent benjamin of tiberias , who later converted to Christianity. (See israel , history .) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Starr, Jews in the Byzantine Empire (1939), index; idem, in: JPOS, 15 (1935), 280–93; idem, in: Byzantinischeneu-grieschische Jahrbuecher, 16 (1940), 192–6; Hilkowitz, in: Zion, 4 (1927), 256–76; Baron, Social2, 3 (1957), 20–24; A. Sharf, in: Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 48 (1955), 103–15; Hilkowitz, in: Zion, 4 (1939), 307–16; Y. Ibn Shmuel, Midreshei Ge'ullah (19542), 56–92; A.A. Vasiliev, History of the Byzantine Empire, 1 (1965), 195–9. (Andrew p. Sharf)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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