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Based on these sources, it appears that Pilate was an equestrian of the Pontii family, and succeeded Valerius Gratus as prefect of Judaea in AD 26.

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According to the canonical Christian gospels, Pilate presided at the trial of Jesus and, despite stating that he personally found him not guilty of a crime meriting death, sentenced him to be crucified.

Pilate is thus a pivotal character in the New Testament accounts of Jesus.

As governor of Judaea, Pilate would have small auxiliary forces of locally recruited soldiers stationed regularly in Caesarea and Jerusalem, such as the Antonia Fortress, and temporarily anywhere else that might require a military presence.

The total number of soldiers at his disposal would have numbered about 3,000.

He would not ordinarily be visible to the throngs of worshippers because of the Jewish people's deep sensitivity to their status as a Roman province.

Equestrians such as Pilate could command legionary forces but only small ones, and so in military situations, he would have to yield to his superior, the legate of Syria, who would descend into Palestine with his legions as necessary.After Herod Agrippa's death in 44, when Judaea reverted to direct Roman rule, the governor held the title procurator.When applied to governors, this term procurator, otherwise used for financial officers, connotes no difference in rank or function from the title known as "prefect".He is best known today for the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.The sources for Pilate's life are an inscription known as the Pilate Stone, which confirms his historicity and establishes his title as prefect; a brief mention by Tacitus; Philo of Alexandria; Josephus; the four canonical gospels; the Acts of the Apostles; the First Epistle to Timothy; the Gospel of Nicodemus; the Gospel of Marcion; and other apocryphal works.The procurators' and prefects' primary functions were military, but as representatives of the empire they were responsible for the collection of imperial taxes, and also had limited judicial functions.

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