Drusilla

DRUSILLA (drū-sĭl'a, Gr. Drousilla). The youngest of the three daughters of Herod Agrippa I, her sisters being Bernice and Mariamme. At the age of fourteen she married Azizus, king of Emesa, but left him for Felix, procurator of Judea, who was captivated by her beauty and employed a Cyprian sorcerer to gain her for his wife. They had one son, Agrippa, who died in an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. When Paul unsparingly preached before Felix and Drusilla of righteousness, temperance, and judgment, Felix trembled (Acts.24.24-Acts.24.25). See also Herod.


DRUSILLA drōō sĭl’ ə (Δρούσιλλα, G1537). A diminutive or pet name for Drusa, chosen no doubt by Herod Agrippa I for his youngest daughter, who happened to be born in a.d. 38 when the mad Caligula, recently made emperor, was mourning the sudden death of his twenty-two-year-old sister Drusilla. Herod Agrippa, a companion of Caligula, was in Rome at the time. Drusus, son of Tiberius had also been a protector of the young Jewish prince. It was prob. in a.d. 53 that Drusilla, in her sixteenth year, was married to Azizus of Emesa, a small principality in the N of Syria, which included Palmyra. A year later, Felix, Claudius’ unprincipled freedman and that emperor’s notorious appointee to the procuratorship of Pal., persuaded Drusilla to leave her husband (Jos. Antiq. XX. vii. 2). She became Felix’ third wife (Suetonius, Claud. 28), and in that role appears briefly in the story of Paul’s imprisonment at Caesarea (Acts 24:24-27). According to Josephus, who was at the time a member of Vespasian’s household, Agrippa, Drusilla’s son by Felix, died in the eruption of Vesuvius on 24 August 79. Whether his widowed mother died with him is not known. Josephus’ account is ambiguous.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Wife of Felix, a Jewess, who along with her husband "heard (Paul) concerning the faith in Christ Jesus" during Paul’s detention in Caesarea (Ac 24:24).

Beta text gives the rendering "Drusilla the wife of Felix, a Jewess, asked to see Paul and to hear the word." The fact that Drusilla was a Jewess explains her curiosity, but Paul, who was probably acquainted with the past history of her and Felix, refused to satisfy their request in the way they desired, and preached to them instead concerning righteousness and self-restraint and the final judgment. At this "Felix was terrified" (Ac 24:25). Beta text states that Paul’s being left in bonds on the retirement of Felix was due to the desire of the latter to please Drusilla (compare Ac 24:27). Probably this explanation, besides that of the accepted text, was true also, as Drusilla, who was a member of the ruling house, saw in Paul an enemy of its power, and hated him for his condemnation of her own private sins.

The chief other source of information regarding Drusilla is Josephus. Drusilla was the youngest of the three daughters of Agrippa I, her sisters being Bernice and Mariamne. She was born about 36 AD and was married when 14 years old to Azizus, king of Emeza. Shortly afterward she was induced to desert her husband by Felix, who employed a Cyprian sorcerer, Simon by name, to carry out his purpose. She was also influenced to take this step by the cruelty of Azizus and the hatred of Bernice who was jealous of her beauty. Her marriage with Felix took place about 54 AD and by him she had one son, Agrippa, who perished under Titus in an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The mention by Josephus of "the woman" who perished along with Agrippa (Ant., XX, vii, 2) refers probably not to his mother Drusilla but to his wife.