Papus & Lulianos: Murder and Immediate Revenge
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The Gemara Taanis (18a) says that on the twelfth day of Adar circa 3874/114CE, during the tumultuous aftermath of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash and Rome's iron rule over Eretz Yisroel, was the day the wicked Tureinos (Roman Emperor Trajan) murdered the two great tzaddikim Papus and Lulianos. Tureinos's daughter was found murdered. He blamed the Jews for her murder and decreed that they should be wiped out. In order to save Am Yisroel, Papus and Lulianos came forward and claimed to be the murderers in order that they should be punished and the Jewish nation spared.
When they were brought before Tureinos for sentencing Tureinos said to the them that if they are from the same nation as Chananiah, Mishael, and Azarya their God should save them just as he saved Chananiah, Mishael, and Azarya from Nevuchadnetzar. They answered that Nevuchadnetzar was a worthy King and Chananiah, Mishael, and Azarya were tzaddikim therefore Hashem made a Nes for them. Tureinos however is a Rasha, since according to the Maharsha he knew the Jews did not murder his daughter and was using it as an excuse for bloodshed.
Furthermore they said, they were not Tzadikim like Chananiah, Mishael, and Azarya and were not worthy of a miracle. If they would be killed by Tureinos it was because their death was already decreed and if Tureinos would not kill them Hashem would end their lives through some other means like bears, lions, or leopards. Hashem, they said, wanted Tureinos to kill them so that he can later avenge their blood with his.
Unimpressed with their speech Tureinos killed them on the spot. It didn't take long for their words to ring true. Before Tureinos had a chance to leave the scene he was assassinated by two ministers who brutally clubbed him to death.
According to the book History of the Jewish People/Yavneh to Pumpedisa it was not actually Trajan who this story happened with, rather it was Kitus, the governor of Eretz Yisroel. Kitus was assassinated on that day by two ministers of newly appointed Emperor Hadrian who succeeded Trajan and wanted to get rid of Trajan's close ally Kitus.
The gemara in Pesachim (50a) says that no one can stand in the special place in Gan Eden where these two tzaddikim merited to stand.Back to top