Josephus: Jewish Antiquities, Book 15

Sections 1 - 160

Adapted from the translation by W. Whiston. The section numbers in the Greek text are shown in red; the traditional chapter numbers are shown in green.  

 See key to translations for an explanation of the format. Click on the G symbols to go to the Greek text of each section.  


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 [1] How Sossius and Herod took Jerusalem by force; and besides that, how they took Antigonus captive, has been related by us in the foregoing book. We will now proceed in the narrative. [2] G   And since Herod had now the government of all Judaea put into his hands, he promoted such of the private men in the city as had been of his party, but never left off avenging and punishing every day those who had chosen to join the party of his enemies. [3] But Pollion the Pharisee, and Sameas, a disciple of his, were honoured by him above all the rest; for when Jerusalem was besieged, they advised the citizens to receive Herod, for which advice they were well requited. [4] G   This Pollion, at the time when Herod was once upon his trial of life and death, foretold, in way of reproach, to Hyrcanus and the other judges, how this Herod, whom they allowed then to escape, would afterwards inflict punishment on them all; and this did happen later, while God fulfilled the words he had spoken.  

[5] At this time Herod, now he had got Jerusalem under his power, carried off all the royal ornaments, and despoiled the wealthy men of what they had got; and when, by these means, he had heaped together a great quantity of silver and gold, he gave it all to Antony, and his friends that were about him. [6] G   He also slew forty-five of the principal men of Antigonus's party, and set guards at the gates of the city, so that nothing might be carried out together with their dead bodies. They also searched the dead, and whatsoever was found, either of silver or gold, or other treasure, it was carried to the king; nor was there any end of the miseries he brought upon them; [7] and this distress was in part caused by the covetousness of their ruler, who was still in want of more, and in part by the Sabbatical year, which was still going on, and forced the country to lie uncultivated, since we are forbidden to sow our land in that year. [8] G   Now when Antony had received Antigonus as his captive, he determined to keep him for his triumph; but when he heard that the nation grew seditious, and that, out of their hatred to Herod, they continued to bear goodwill to Antigonus, he resolved to behead him at Antioch, [9] for otherwise the Jews could in no way be brought to be quiet. And Strabo of Cappadocia attests to what I have said, when he speaks thus: "Antony ordered Antigonus the Jew to be brought to Antioch, and there to be beheaded. And this Antony seems to me to have been the very first man who beheaded a king, as supposing he could no other way bend the minds of the Jews so as to receive Herod, whom he had made king in his stead; [10] G   for by no torments could they be forced to call him king, so great a fondness they had for their former king; so he thought that this dishonourable death would diminish the value they had for Antigonus's memory, and at the same time would diminish the hatred they bore towards Herod." Thus far Strabo.  

{2.}   [11] Now after Herod was in possession of the kingdom, Hyrcanus the high priest, who was then a captive among the Parthians, came to him again, and was set free from his captivity, in the following manner: [12] G   Barzapharnes and Pacorus, the generals of the Parthians, took Hyrcanus, who was first made high priest and afterwards king, together with Herod's brother Phasael, as captives, and took them away into Parthia. [13] Phasael indeed could not bear the reproach of being in bonds; and thinking that death with glory was better than life at any cost, he became his own executioner, as I have previously related.  

[14] G   But when Hyrcanus was brought into Parthia the king Phraates treated him after a very gentle manner, because he had already learned what an illustrious family he came from; on which account he set him free from his bonds, and allowed him to reside in Babylon, where there were Jews in great numbers. [15] These Jews honoured Hyrcanus as their high priest and king, as did all the Jewish nation that dwelt as far as the Euphrates; which respect was very much to his satisfaction. [16] G   But when he was informed that Herod had received the kingdom, new hopes came upon him, because he himself still had a kind disposition towards him, and expected that Herod would bear in mind what favour he had received from him; and when he was upon his trial, and when he was in danger of  having a capital sentence pronounced against him, he delivered him from that danger, and from all punishment. Accordingly, he talked of that matter with the Jews that came often to him with great affection; [17] but they endeavoured to retain him among them, and desired that he would stay with them, reminding him the kind offices and honours they did him, and that those honours they paid him were not at all inferior to what they could pay to either their high priests or their kings; and what was a greater motive to convince him, they said, was this, that he could not have those dignities [in Judaea] because of that mutilation in his body, which had been inflicted on him by Antigonus; and that kings are not likely to requite men for those kindnesses which they received when they were private persons, the height of their fortune making usually no small changes in them.  

[18] G   Now although they suggested these arguments to him for his own advantage, yet Hyrcanus still desired to depart. Herod also wrote to him, and persuaded him to request of Phraates, and the Jews that were there, that they should not grudge him the royal authority, which he should have jointly with himself, for now was the proper time for himself to make him amends for the favours he had received from him, as having been brought up by him, and saved by him also, as well as for Hyrcanus to receive it. [19] And as he wrote thus to Hyrcanus, so also he sent Saramallas, his ambassador, to Phraates, and many presents with him, and requested of him in the most obliging way that he would be no hinderance to his gratitude towards his benefactor. [20] G   But this zeal of Herod's did not flow from that motive, but because, having been made ruler of that country without having any just claim to it, he was afraid, and that upon reasons good enough, of a change in his condition, and so made what haste he could to get Hyrcanus into his power, or indeed to put him quite out of the way; which last thing he achieved afterwards.  

[21] Accordingly, when Hyrcanus came, full of assurance, by the permission of the king of Parthia, and at the expense of the Jews, who supplied him with money, Herod received him with all possible respect, and gave him the upper place at public meetings, and set him above all the rest at feasts, and thereby deceived him. He called him his father, and endeavoured, by all the ways possible, that he might have no suspicion of any treacherous design against him. [22] G   He also did other things, in order to secure his government, which yet caused a sedition in his own family; for being cautious how he made any illustrious person the high priest of God, he sent for an obscure priest out of Babylon, whose name was Ananelus, and bestowed the high priesthood upon him.  

[23] However, Alexandra, the daughter of Hyrcanus, and wife of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus the king, who had also borne to Alexander [two] children, could not bear this indignity. Now her son was  extrembly handsome, and was called Aristobulus; and her daughter, Mariamme, was married to Herod, and was also eminent for her beauty. [24] G   This Alexandra was much disturbed, and took this indignity offered to her son exceedingly badly, that while he was alive, anyone else should be summoned to have the dignity of the high priesthood conferred upon him. Accordingly, she wrote to Cleopatra (a musician assisting her in taking care to have her letters carried) asking her to intercede with Antony, in order to gain the high priesthood for her son.  

[25] But as Antony was slow in granting this request, his friend Dellius came into Judaea upon some affairs; and when he saw Aristobulus, he stood in admiration at the tallness and handsomeness of the boy, and no less at Mariamme, the king's wife, and was open in his commendations of Alexandra, as the mother of most beautiful children. [26] G   And when she came to talk with him, he persuaded her to get pictures drawn of them both, and to send them to Antony, for when he saw them, he would deny her nothing that she should ask. [27] Accordingly, Alexandra was encouraged by these words of his, and sent the pictures to Antony. Dellius also talked extravagantly, and said that these children seemed not derived from men, but from some god or other. His design in doing so was to entice Antony into lewd conduct with them, [28] G   but Antony was ashamed to send for the girl, as being the wife of Herod, and avoided it, because of the reproaches he should have from Cleopatra on that account; and he sent, in the most decent manner he could, for the young man; adding this, "unless he thought it hard upon him to do so." When this letter was brought to Herod, [29] he did not think it safe for him to send one so handsome as was Aristobulus, in the prime of his life, for he was sixteen years of age, and of so noble a family, and particularly not to Antony, the principal man among the Romans, and one who would abuse him in an erotic manner, and besides, one that openly indulged himself in such pleasures as his power allowed him without control. [30] G   He therefore wrote back to him, that if this boy should only go out of the country, all would be in a state of war and uproar, because the Jews hoped for a change in the government, and to have another king over them.  

[31] When Herod had thus excused himself to Antony, he resolved that he would not entirely permit the boy or Alexandra to be treated dishonourably; but his wife Mariamme begged him vehemently to restore the high priesthood to her brother; and he judged it was for his advantage so to do, because if he once had that dignity, he could not go out of the country. So he called his friends together, [32] G   and told them that Alexandra privately conspired against his royal authority, and endeavoured, by the means of Cleopatra, so to bring it about, that he might be deprived of the government, and that by Antony's means this youth might have the management of public affairs in his stead; [33] and that this procedure of hers was unjust, since she would at the same time deprive her daughter of the dignity she now had, and would bring disturbances upon the kingdom, for which he had taken a great deal of pains, and had acquired it with extraordinary hazards; [34] G   but yet, while he well remembered her wicked practices, he would not leave off doing what was right himself, but would even now give the youth the high priesthood; and that he formerly set up Ananelus, because Aristobulus was then so very young a child. [35] Now when he had said this, not at random, but as he thought with the best discretion he had, in order to deceive the women, and those friends whom he had taken to consult with, Alexandra, out of the great joy she had at this unexpected promise, and out of fear from the suspicions she lay under, fell to weeping; and made the following apology for herself; [36] G   she said, that as to the [high] priesthood, she was very much concerned for the disgrace her son was under, and so did her utmost endeavours to procure it for him; but that as to the kingdom, she had made no attempts, and that if it were offered her [for her son], she would not accept it; and that now she would be satisfied with her son's dignity, while he himself held the civil government, and she had thereby the security for all the rest of her family, that arose from his peculiar ability in governing; [37] that she was now overcome by his benefits, and thankfully accepted this honour showed by him to her son, and that she would hereafter be entirely obedient. And she asked him to excuse her, if the nobility of her family, and that freedom of acting which she thought that allowed her, had made her act too precipitately and imprudently in this matter. [38] G   So when they had spoken thus to one another, they came to an agreement, and all suspicions, so far as it appeared, were vanished away.  

{3.}   [39] So king Herod immediately took the high priesthood away from Ananelus, who, as we said before, was not from this country, but one of those Jews that had been carried captive beyond the Euphrates; for there were not a few ten thousands of the people who had been taken as captives, and dwelt in Babylonia, [40] G   whence Ananelus came. He was one of the stock of the high priests and had been of old a particular friend of Herod; and when he was first made king, he conferred that dignity upon him, and now put him out of it again, in order to reduce the troubles in his family, though what he did was plainly unlawful, for at no other time [of old] was anyone who had once been in that dignity deprived of it. [41] It was Antiochus Epiphanes who first broke that law, and deprived Jesus, and made his brother Onias high priest in his stead. Aristobulus was the second that did so, and took that dignity from his brother [ Hyrcanus ]; and this Herod was the third, who took that high office away [from Ananelus], and gave it to this young man, Aristobulus, in his stead.  

[42] G   And now Herod seemed to have healed the divisions in his family; yet was he not without suspicion, as is frequently the case in people seeming to be reconciled to one another, but thought that, as Alexandra had already made attempts at subversion, so did he fear that she would continue to do so, if she found a fit opportunity for so doing; [43] so he gave a command that she should dwell in the palace, and meddle in no public affairs. Her guards also were so careful, that nothing she did in private life every day was concealed. [44] G   All these hardships put her out of patience, and little by little and she began to hate Herod; for as she had the pride of a woman to the utmost degree, she had great indignation at this suspicious guard that was about her, because she was prepared rather to undergo anything that could befall her, than to be deprived of her liberty of speech, and, under the notion of an honorary guard, to live in a state of slavery and terror. [45] She therefore sent to Cleopatra, and made a long complaint of the circumstances she was in, and entreated her to do her utmost for her assistance. Cleopatra hereupon advised her to take her son with her, and come away immediately to her into Egypt. [46] G   This advice pleased her; and she had this contrivance for getting away: She got two coffins made, as if they were to carry away two dead bodies and put herself into one, and her son into the other and gave orders to such of her servants as knew of her intentions to carry them away in the night time. Now their road was to be thence to the sea-side and there was a ship ready to carry them into Egypt. [47] Now Aesopus, one of her servants, happened to meet Sabbion, one of her friends, and spoke of this matter to him, as thinking he had known of it beforehand. When Sabbion heard this, ( he had formerly been an enemy of Herod, and been suspected as one of those that laid snares for and gave the poison to [his father] Antipater, ) he expected that this discovery would change Herod's hatred into kindness; so he told the king of this private stratagem of Alexandra. [48] G   Then Herod allowed her to proceed to the execution of her project, and caught her in the very act; but still he overlooked her offence; and though he yearned to do it, he dared not inflict anything that was severe upon her, for he knew that Cleopatra would not bear that he should have her accused, on account of her hatred to him; but he made a show as if it were rather the generosity of his soul, and his great moderation, that made him forgive them. [49] However, he fully proposed to himself to put this young man out of the way, by one means or other; but he thought he might in probability be better concealed in doing it, if he did it not immediately, nor directly after what had lately happened.  

[50] G   And now, upon the approach of the feast of Tabernacles, which is a festival very much observed among us, he let those days pass over, and both he and the rest of the people were therein very merry; yet the envy which at this time arose in him caused him to make haste to do what he intended, and provoked him to it; [51] for when this youth Aristobulus, who was now in the seventeenth year of his age, went up to the altar, according to the law, to offer the sacrifices, wearing the ornaments of his high priesthood, and when he performed the sacred offices, he seemed to be exceedingly comely, and taller than men usually were at that age, and to exhibit in his countenance a great deal of that noble family he was sprung from, - [52] G   a warm zeal and affection towards him appeared among the people, and the memory of the actions of his grandfather Aristobulus was fresh in their minds; and their affections so far overcame them, that they could not forbear to show their favour for him. They at once rejoiced and were aroused, and mingled with good wishes their joyful acclamations which they made to him, till the goodwill of the multitude was made too evident; and they more rashly proclaimed the happiness they had received from his family than was fit to do under a monarchy. [53] Upon all this, Herod resolved to complete what he had intended against the young man. When therefore the festival was over, and he was feasting at Jericho with Alexandra, who entertained them there, he was then very pleasant towards the young man, and drew him into a lonely place, and at the same time played with him in a juvenile and playful manner. [54] G   Now the nature of that place was hotter than ordinary; so they went out in a group, of a sudden, for a stroll; and as they stood by the pools, of which there were large ones about the house, they went to cool themselves [by bathing], because it was in the midst of a hot day. [55] At first they were only spectators of Herod's servants and acquaintance as they were swimming; but after a while, the young man, at the instigation of Herod, went into the water among them, while such of Herod's acquaintance, as he had appointed to do it, dipped him as he was swimming, and plunged him under water, in the dark of the evening, as if it had been done in sport only; nor did they desist till he was entirely suffocated. [56] G   And thus was Aristobulus murdered, having lived no more in all than eighteen years, and kept the high priesthood one year only; which high priesthood Ananelus now recovered again.  

[57] When this sad accident was reported to the women, their joy was soon changed to lamentation, at the sight of the dead body that lay before them, and their sorrow was immoderate. The city also [ of Jerusalem ], upon the spreading of this news, was in very great grief, every family looking on this calamity as if it had not belonged to another, but that one of themselves was slain. [58] G   But Alexandra was more deeply affected, upon her knowledge that he had been killed [on purpose]. Her sorrow was greater than that of others, by her knowing how the murder was committed; but she was under the necessity of bearing up under it, out of her expectation of a greater mischief that might otherwise follow; [59] and she often came to an inclination to kill herself with her own hand, but still she restrained herself, in hope that she might live long enough to avenge the unjust murder thus secretly committed; nay, she further resolved to endeavour to live longer, and to give no occasion to think she suspected that her son was slain on purpose, and supposed that she might thereby be enabled to avenge it at a proper opportunity. [60] G   Thus did she restrain herself, so that she might not be observed to entertain any such suspicion. However, Herod endeavoured that none outside should believe that the child's death was caused by any design of his; and for this purpose he did not only use the ordinary signs of sorrow, but fell into tears also, and exhibited a real distress of soul; and perhaps his emotions were overcome on this occasion, when he saw the child's countenance so young and so beautiful, although his death was supposed to tend to his own security. So far at least this grief served as to make some apology for him; [61] and as for the funeral, he took care that it should be very magnificent, by making great preparation for a sepulchre to lay his body in, and providing a great quantity of spices, and burying many ornaments together with him, till the very women, who were in such deep sorrow, were astonished at it, and received in this way some consolation.  

[62] G   However, no such things could overcome Alexandra's grief; but the remembrance of this misfortune made her sorrow both deep and obstinate. Accordingly, she wrote an account of this treacherous scene to Cleopatra, and how her son was murdered; [63] but Cleopatra, as she had formerly been desirous to give her what satisfaction she could, and commiserating with Alexandra's misfortunes, made the case her own, and would not let Antony be quiet, but excited him to punish the child's murder; for it was an unworthy thing that Herod, who had been by him made king of a kingdom that no way belonged to him, should be guilty of such horrid crimes against those that were really of the royal blood. [64] G   Antony was persuaded by these arguments; and when he came to Laodiceia, he sent and commanded Herod to come and make his defence, as to what he had done to Aristobulus, because such a treacherous design was not well done, if he had any hand in it. [65] Herod was now in fear, both of the accusation, and of Cleopatra's ill-will to him, which was such that she was ever endeavouring to make Antony hate him. He therefore determined to obey the summons, for he had no possible way to avoid it. So he left his uncle Joseph in charge of the government, and gave him secret instructions, that if Antony should kill him, he also should kill Mariamme immediately; [66] G   because he had a tender affection for this his wife, and was afraid of the injury that should be offered him, if, after his death, she, for her beauty, should be engaged to some other man: [67] but his suspicion was nothing but this at the bottom, that Antony had fallen in love with her, when he had formerly heard somewhat of her beauty. So when Herod had given Joseph these instructions, and had indeed no sure hopes of escaping with his life, he went away to Antony.  

[68] G   But as Joseph was administering the public affairs of the kingdom, and for that reason was very frequently with Mariamme, both because his business required it, and because of the respects he ought to pay to the queen, he frequently fell to talking about Herod's kindness, and great affection towards her; [69] and when the women, especially Alexandra, used to turn his words into feminine raillery, Joseph was so over-desirous to demonstrate the kings inclinations, that he proceeded so far as to mention the charge he had received, and thence sought to demonstrate, that Herod was not able to live without her; and that if he should come to any dire fate, he could not endure a separation from her, even after he was dead. Thus spoke Joseph. [70] G   But the women, as was natural, did not take this to be an instance of Herod's strong affection for them, but of his severe usage of them, that they could not escape destruction, nor a tyrannical death, even when he was dead himself. And this saying [of Joseph] was the foundation of the women's severe suspicions about him afterwards.  

[71] At this time a report went around the city of Jerusalem among Herod's enemies, that Antony had tortured Herod, and put him to death. This report, as is natural, disturbed those who were in the palace, but chiefly the women; [72] G   upon which Alexandra endeavoured to persuade Joseph to go out of the palace, and flee away with them to the standards of the Roman legion, which then lay encamped about the city, as a guard to the kingdom, under the command of Julius; [73] for by this means, if any disturbance should happen about the palace, they would be in greater security, as having the Romans favourable to them; and besides, they hoped to obtain the highest authority, if Antony did but once see Mariamme, and by his means they should recover the kingdom, and lack nothing which was reasonable for them to hope for, because of their royal extraction.  

[74] G   But when they were in the midst of these deliberations, letters were brought from Herod about all his affairs, and proved contrary to the report, and to what they before expected; [75] for when he was come to Antony, he soon recovered his favour with him, by the presents he made him, which he had brought with him from Jerusalem; and he soon induced him, upon talking with him, to abandon his indignation at him, so that Cleopatra's persuasions had less force than the arguments and presents he brought to regain his friendship; [76] G   for Antony said that it was not good to require an account of a king, as to the affairs of his government, for at that rate he could be no king at all, but that those who had given him that authority ought to permit him to make use of it. He also said the same things to Cleopatra, that it would be best for her not busily to meddle in the acts of the king's government. [77] Herod wrote an account of these things, and enlarged upon the other honours which he had received from Antony; how he sat by him at his hearing causes, and took his meal with him every day, and that he enjoyed those favours from him, notwithstanding the reproaches that Cleopatra so severely laid against him, who having a great desire of his country, and earnestly entreating Antony that the kingdom might be given to her, laboured with her utmost diligence to have him put out of the way; [78] G   but that he still found Antony just to him, and no longer had any apprehensions of hard treatment from him; and that he would soon return, with a firmer additional assurance of his favour to him, in his reigning and managing public affairs; [79] and that there was no longer any hope for Cleopatra's covetous wishes, since Antony had given her Coele-Syria instead of what she had requested; by which means he had at once pacified her, and got clear of the entreaties which she made him to have Judaea bestowed upon her.  

[80] G   When these letters were brought, the women abandoned their plan of fleeing to the Romans, which they thought of while Herod was supposed to be dead; yet that purpose of theirs was not a secret; but when the king had conducted Antony on his way against the Parthians, he returned to Judaea, when both his sister Salome and his mother informed him of Alexandra's intentions. [81] Salome also added somewhat further against Joseph, though it was no more than a calumny, that he had often had criminal intimacy with Mariamme. The reason for her saying so was this, that she had for a long time borne ill-will towards her; for when they had differences with one another, Mariamme took great liberties, and reproached the rest for the meanness of their birth. [82] G   But Herod, whose affection to Mariamme was always very warm, was promptly disturbed at this, and could not bear the torments of jealousy, but was still restrained from doing any rash thing to her by the love he had for her; yet did his vehement affection and jealousy together make him ask Mariamme by herself about this matter of Joseph; [83] but she denied it upon her oath, and said all that an innocent woman could possibly say in her own defence; so that by little and little the king was prevailed upon to drop the suspicion, and left off his anger at her; and being overcome with his passion for his wife, he made an apology to her for having seemed to believe what he had heard about her, and returned her a great many acknowledgments of her modest behaviour, [84] G   and professed the extraordinary affection and kindness he had for her, till at last, as is usual between lovers, they both fell into tears, and embraced one another with a most tender affection. [85] But as the king gave more and more assurances of his belief of her fidelity, and endeavoured to draw her to a like confidence in him, Mariamme said, "Yet was not that the command you gave, that if any harm came to you from Antony, I, who had been no occasion of it, should perish with you, as a sign of your love for me?" [86] G   When these words were spoken by her, the king was shocked at them, and promptly let her go out of his arms, and cried out, and tore his hair with his own hands, and said, that now he had an evident demonstration that Joseph had had criminal conversation with his wife; [87] for he would never have uttered what Herod had told him alone by himself, unless there had been such a great familiarity and firm confidence between them. And while he was in this passion he was likely to have killed his wife; but being still overcome by his love to her, he restrained this his passion, though not without a lasting grief and consternation of mind. However, he gave orders to slay Joseph, without permitting him to come into his sight; and as for Alexandra, he bound her, and kept her in custody, as the cause of all this mischief.  

{4.}   [88] G   Now at this time the affairs of Syria were thrown in confusion by Cleopatra's constant pleas to Antony, that he should lay hands on everybody's dominions; for she persuaded him to take those dominions away from their several rulers, and bestow them upon her; and she had a mighty influence upon him, by reason of his being enslaved to her by his affections. [89] She was also by nature very covetous, and stopped at no wickedness. She had already poisoned her brother, because she knew that he would be king of Egypt, and this when he was but fifteen years old; and she got her sister Arsinoē to be killed, by the means of Antony, when she was a supplicant at the temple of Artemis in Ephesus; [90] G   for if there was any hope of getting money, she would violate both temples and sepulchres. Nor was there any holy place that was esteemed the most inviolable, from which she would not remove the ornaments it had in it; nor any place so profane, but was to suffer the most dreadful treatment possible from her, if it could but contribute somewhat to the covetous nature of this wicked creature: [91] yet all this did not suffice for so insatiable a woman, who was a slave to her lusts, but she still imagined that she needed everything she could think of, and did her utmost to gain it; for which reason she hurried Antony on perpetually to deprive others of their dominions, and give them to her. And as she went over Syria with him, she contrived to get it into her possession; [92] G   so he slew Lysanias, the son of Ptolemaeus, accusing him of his bringing the Parthians upon those countries. She also petitioned Antony to give her Judaea and Arabia; and, in order to get them, asked him to take these countries away from their present governors. [93] As for Antony, he was so entirely overcome by this woman, that one would not think her conversation alone could achieve it, but that he was some way or other bewitched to do whatsoever she would have him; yet did the grossest parts of her injustice make him so ashamed, that he would not always agree with her to do those flagrant enormities, that she tried to persuade him to do. [94] G   Therefore, so that he might not totally deny her, nor, by doing everything which she enjoined him, appear openly to be a wicked man, he took some parts of each of those countries away from their former rulers, and gave them to her. [95] Thus he gave her the cities that were within the river Eleutherus, as far as Egypt, excepting Tyre and Sidon, which he knew to have been free cities from the time of their ancestors, although she pressed him very often to bestow those on her also.  

[96] G   When Cleopatra had obtained this much, and had accompanied Antony in his expedition to Armenia as far as the Euphrates, she returned back, and came to Apameia and Damascus, and passed on to Judaea, where Herod met her, and leased from her parts of Arabia, and those revenues that came to her from the region about Jericho. This country bears that balsam, which its most precious thing, and grows there alone. The place bears also palm trees, both many in number, and excellent in their quality. [97] When she was there, and was very often with Herod, she endeavoured to have criminal intimacy with the king; nor did she affect secrecy in the indulgence of such sort of pleasures; and perhaps she felt in some measure a passion of love towards him; or rather, what is most probable, she laid a treacherous snare for him, by aiming to obtain such an adulterous relationship with him: however, upon the whole, she seemed overcome with love for him. [98] G   Now Herod had for a long while borne no goodwill to Cleopatra, because he knew that she was a woman irksome to all; and at that time he thought her particularly worthy of his hatred, if this attempt proceeded out of lust; he had also thought of preventing her intrigues, by putting her to death, if such were her endeavours. However, he refused to comply with her proposals, and called a counsel of his friends to consult with them whether he should not kill her, now he had her in his power; [99] because he would thereby deliver all those from a multitude of evils to whom she was already become irksome, and was expected to be still so in the time to come; and that this very thing would be much for the advantage of Antony himself, since she would certainly not remain faithful to him, if ever any such occasion or necessity should come upon him as that he should stand in need of her fidelity. [100] G   But when he intended to follow this advice, his friends would not let him; and told him that, in the first place, it was not right to attempt so great a thing, and place himself thereby in the utmost danger; and they urgently begged of him to undertake nothing rashly, [101] because Antony would never endure it, no, not though anyone should evidently lay before his eyes that it was for his own advantage; and that the appearance of depriving him of her presence, by this violent and treacherous method, would probably set his affections more on a flame than before. Nor did it appear that Herod could offer anything of tolerable weight in his defence, in making this attempt against such a woman as had the highest dignity of any of her sex at that time in the world; and as to any advantage to be expected from such an undertaking, if any such could be supposed in this case, it would appear to deserve condemnation, on account of the audacity he must display in doing it: [102] G   which considerations made it very plain that in so doing he would find his government filled with trouble, both great and lasting, both to himself and his posterity, whereas it was still in his power to reject the wickedness that she would persuade him to, and to come off honourably at the same time. [103] So by thus frightening Herod, and representing to him the hazard he must, in all probability, run by this undertaking, they restrained him from it. So he treated Cleopatra kindly, and gave her presents, and conducted her on her way to Egypt.  

[104] G   But Antony subdued Armenia, and sent Artabazes, the son of Tigranes, in bonds, with his children and satraps, to Egypt, and made a present of them, and of all the royal ornaments which he had taken out of that kingdom, to Cleopatra. [105] And Artaxias, the eldest of his sons, who had escaped at that time, took the kingdom of Armenia; but he was ejected by Archelaus and Nero Caesar, when they restored Tigranes, his younger brother, to that kingdom; but this happened a good while afterwards.  

[106] G   But then, as to the tributes which Herod was to pay Cleopatra for that country which Antony had given her, he acted fairly with her, because he deemed it unsafe for him to provide any cause for Cleopatra to hate him. [107] As for the king of Arabia, whose tribute Herod had undertaken to pay to her, for some time indeed he paid him as much as came to two hundred talents; but he afterwards became very reluctant and slow in his payments, and could hardly be brought to pay some parts of it, and was not willing to pay even them without some deductions.  

{5.}   [108] G   Hereupon Herod held himself ready to go against the king of Arabia, because of his ingratitude to him, and because, after all, he would do nothing that was right to him, although Herod made the Roman war an occasion of delaying his own; [109] for the Battle of Actium was now expected, which occurred into the hundred and eighty seventh Olympiad, where Caesar and Antony were to fight for the supreme power of the world; but Herod having enjoyed a country that was very fruitful, and that now for a long time, and having received great taxes, and raised great armies therewith, got together a body of men, and carefully furnished them with all necessities, and intended them as auxiliaries for Antony. [110] G   But Antony said he had no need of his assistance; but he commanded him to punish the king of Arabia; for he had heard both from him, and from Cleopatra, how perfidious he was; for this was what Cleopatra desired, who thought it for her own advantage that these two kings should harm each other as much as possible. [111] Upon this message from Antony, Herod returned back, but kept his army with him, in order to invade Arabia immediately. So when his army of horsemen and footmen was ready, he marched to Diospolis, and the Arabians came there also to confront them, for they were not unaware of this war that was coming upon them; and after a great battle had been fought, the Jews had the victory. [112] G   But afterwards another numerous army of the Arabians was gathered, at Cana, which is a place in Coele-Syria. Herod was informed of this beforehand; so he came marching against them with the greatest part of the forces he had; and when he had come near to Cana, he resolved to encamp himself; and he put up a paliside, so that he might choose a proper occasion for attacking the enemy; [113] but as he was giving those orders, the multitude of the Jews cried out that he should make no delay, but lead them against the Arabians. They went with great spirit, believing they were in very good order; and those especially were so who had been in the former battle, and had been conquerors, and had not permitted their enemies so much as to come to a close fight with them. [114] G   And when they were so inflamed, and showed such great alacrity, the king resolved to make use of that zeal the multitude then exhibited; and when he had assured them he would not be behindhand with them in courage, he led them on, and stood before them all in his armour, all the regiments following him in their several ranks: [115] whereupon a consternation fell upon the Arabians; for when they perceived that the Jews could not to be conquered, and were full of spirit, the greater part of them ran away, and avoided fighting; and they would have been quite destroyed, if Athenion had not attacked Herod and the Jews, and thrown them into disorder; [116] G   for this man was Cleopatra's general over the soldiers she had there, and was an enemy of Herod, and very keenly looked on to see what the outcome of the battle would be. He had also resolved, that if the Arabians did anything that was brave and successful, he would stay still; but if they were beaten, as it really happened, he would attack the Jews with those forces he had of his own, and with those that the country had gathered together for him. [117] So he fell upon the Jews unexpectedly, when they were fatigued, and thought they had already vanquished the enemy, and made a great slaughter of them; for as the Jews had spent their courage upon their known enemies, and were about to enjoy themselves in quietness after their victory, they were easily beaten by these that attacked them afresh, and in particular received a great loss in places where the horses could not be of service, and which were very stony, and where those that attacked them were better acquainted with the places than themselves. [118] G   And when the Jews had suffered this loss, the Arabians raised their spirits after their defeat, and returning back again, slew those that were already put to flight; and indeed all sorts of slaughter were now frequent, and of those that escaped, a few only returned into the camp. [119] So king Herod, when he despaired of the battle, rode up to them to bring them assistance; yet did he not come in time enough to do them any service, though he laboured hard to do it; but the Jewish camp was taken; so that the Arabians had unexpectedly a most glorious success, having gained that victory which by themselves they were no way likely to have gained, and slaying a great part of the enemy's army: [120] G   whence afterwards Herod could only act like a private robber, and make raids upon many parts of Arabia, and distress them by sudden incursions, while he encamped among the mountains, and avoided by any means to come to a pitched battle; yet did he greatly harass the enemy by his assiduity, and the great effort he took in this matter. He also took great care of his own forces, and used all the means he could to restore his affairs to their old state.  

[121] At this time it was that the battle happened at Actium, between Octavius Caesar and Antony, in the seventh year of the reign of Herod and then it was also that there was an earthquake in Judaea, such a one as had not happened at any other time, and this earthquake brought a great destruction upon the cattle in that country. [122] G   About ten thousand men also perished by the fall of houses; but the army, which lodged in the countryside, received no damage by this sad accident. [123] When the Arabians were informed of this, and when those who hated the Jews, and pleased themselves with aggravating the reports, told them of it, they raised their spirits, as if their enemy's country was quite overthrown, and the men were utterly destroyed, and thought there now remained nothing that could oppose them. [124] G   Accordingly, they took the Jewish envoys, who came to them after all this had happened, to make peace with them, and slew them, and came with great alacrity against their army; [125] but the Jews did not dare not withstand them, and were so cast down by the calamities they were under, that they took no care of their affairs, but gave themselves up to despair; for they had no hope that they should be upon a level again with them in battles, nor obtain any assistance elsewhere, while their affairs at home were in such great distress also. [126] G   When matters were in this condition, the king persuaded the commanders by his words, and tried to raise their spirits, which were quite sunk; and first he endeavoured to encourage and embolden some of the better sort beforehand, and then ventured to make a speech to the multitude, which he had before avoided to do, lest he should find them uneasy with it, because of the misfortunes which had happened; so he made a consolatory speech to the multitude, in the following manner:  

[127] "You are not unaware, my fellow soldiers, that we have had, not long since, many accidents that have put a stop to what we are about, and it is probable that even those who are most distinguished above others for their courage can hardly keep up their spirits in such circumstances; [128] G   but since we cannot avoid fighting, and nothing that has happened is of such a nature that it cannot by ourselves be restored into a good state, and this merely by one brave action well performed, I have decided both to give you some encouragement, and, at the same time, some information; both which parts of my design will tend to this point; that you may still continue in your own proper courage. [129] I will then, in the first place, demonstrate to you that this war is a just one on our side, and that on this account it is a war of necessity, and caused by the injustice of our adversaries; for if you are once satisfied of this, it will be a real cause of alacrity to you; after which I will further demonstrate, that the misfortunes we are under are of no great consequence, and that we have the greatest reason to hope for victory. [130] G   I shall begin with the first, and appeal to yourselves as witnesses to what I shall say. You are not ignorant certainly of the wickedness of the Arabians, which is of such a degree as to appear incredible to all other men, and to include some things that show the grossest barbarity and ignorance of God. The chief things wherein they have affronted us have arisen from covetousness and envy; and they have attacked us in a treacherous manner, and on the sudden. [131] And what need is there for me to mention many instances of their conduct? When they were in danger of losing their own government of themselves, and of being made slaves of Cleopatra, who else was it who freed them from that fear? for it was the friendship I had with Antony, and the kind disposition he has towards us, that has been the reason that even these Arabians have not been utterly undone, because Antony was unwilling to undertake anything which might be suspected by us of unkindness: [132] G   but when he had a mind to bestow some parts of each of our dominions on Cleopatra, I also managed that matter so, that by giving him presents of my own, I might obtain a security to both nations, while I undertook myself to answer for the money, and gave him two hundred talents, and became surety for those two hundred more which were imposed upon the land that was subject to this tribute; and this they have defrauded us of, [133] although it was not reasonable that Jews should pay tribute to any man living, or allow part of their land to be taxable; but although that was to be, yet ought we not to pay tribute for these Arabians, whom we have ourselves preserved; nor is it fitting that they, who have professed (and that with great integrity and sense of our kindness) that it is by our means that they keep their realm, should injure us, and deprive us of what is our due, and this while we have been still not their enemies, but their friends. [134] G   And whereas observation of compacts takes place among the bitterest enemies, but among friends is absolutely necessary, this is not observed among these men, who think gain to be the best of all things, let it be by any means whatsoever, and that injustice is no harm, if they may but get money by it: [135] is it therefore a question with you, whether the unjust are to be punished or not? when God himself has declared his mind that it ought to be so, and has commanded that we ever should hate injuries and injustice, which is not only just, but necessary, in wars between several nations; [136] G   for these Arabians have done what both the Greeks and barbarians deem to be an instance of the grossest wickedness, with regard to our ambassadors, whom they have beheaded, while the Greeks declare that such ambassadors are sacred and inviolable. And as for ourselves, we have learned from God the most excellent of our doctrines, and the most holy part of our law, by angels (or ambassadors); for this name brings God to the knowledge of mankind, and is sufficient to reconcile enemies one to another. [137] What wickedness then can be greater than the slaughter of ambassadors, who come to treat about doing what is right? And when such have been their actions, how is it possible they can either live securely in common life, or be successful in war? In my opinion, this is impossible; [138] G   but perhaps some will say, that what is holy, and what is righteous, is indeed on our side, but that the Arabians are either more courageous or more numerous than we are. Now, as to this, in the first place, it is not fitting for us to say so, for with those who have right on their side, with them is God himself; now where God is, there is both multitude and courage. [139] But to examine our own circumstances a little, we were conquerors in the first battle; and when we fought again, they were not able to oppose us, but ran away, and could not endure our attacks or our courage; but when we had conquered them, then came Athenion, and made war against us without declaring it; [140] G   and pray, is this an example of their manhood? or is it not a second instance of their wickedness and treachery? Why are we therefore of less courage, on account of something which ought to inspire us with stronger hopes? and why are we terrified of those men, who, when they fight upon the level, are continually beaten, and when they seem to be conquerors, they gain it by wickedness? [141] and if we suppose that anyone should deem them to be men of real courage, will not he be excited by that very consideration to do his utmost against them? for true valour is not shown by fighting against weak persons, but in being able to overcome the most hardy. [142] G   But then if the distresses we are ourselves under, and the miseries that have come by the earthquake, have frightened anyone, let him consider, in the first place, that this very thing will deceive the Arabians, by their assumption that what has befallen us is greater than it really is. Moreover, it is not right that the same thing that emboldens them should discourage us; [143] for these men, you see, do not derive their alacrity from any advantageous virtue of their own, but from their hope, as to us, that we are quite cast down by our misfortunes; but when we boldly march against them, we shall soon pull down their insolent conceit of themselves, and shall gain this by attacking them, that they will not be so insolent when we come to the battle; [144] G   for our distresses are not so great, nor is what has happened all indication of the anger of God against us, as some imagine; for such things are accidental, and adversities that come in the usual course of things; and if we allow that this was done by the will of God, we must allow that it is now over by his will also, and that he is satisfied with what has already happened; for if he had been willing to afflict us still more thereby, he would not have not changed his mind so soon. [145] And as for the war we are engaged in, he has himself demonstrated that he is willing it should go on, and that he knows it to be a just war; for while some of the people in the country have perished, all you who were in arms have suffered nothing, but are all preserved alive; whereby God makes it plain to us, that if you had universally, with your children and wives, been in the army, it would have come to pass that you would not have undergone anything that would have much hurt you. [146] G   Consider these things, and, what is more than all the rest, that you have God at all times for your Protector; and attack these men with a just bravery, who, in point of friendship, are unjust, in their battles perfidious, towards ambassadors impious, and always inferior to you in valour."  

[147] When the Jews heard this speech, they were much raised in their spirits, and more disposed to fight than before. So Herod, when he had offered the sacrifices appointed by the law made haste, and took them, and led them against the Arabians; and for that purpose he crossed over the Jordan, [148] G   and pitched his camp near to that of the enemy. He also thought fit to seize upon a certain fortress that lay between them, because he hoped that it would be for his advantage, and would the sooner provoke a battle; and that if there were occasion for delay, he should by it have his camp fortified; [149] and as the Arabians had the same intentions upon that place, a contest arose about it; at first they were but skirmishes, after which there came more soldiers, and it proved a sort of battle, and some fell on both sides, till those of the Arabian side were beaten and retreated. [150] G   This was no small encouragement to the Jews immediately; and when Herod observed that the enemy's army was disposed to anything rather than to come to an engagement, he ventured boldly to attack the bulwark itself, and to pull it to pieces, and so to get nearer to their camp, in order to fight them; for when they were forced out of their trenches, they went out in disorder, and had not the least alacrity, or hope of victory; [151] yet did they fight hand to hand, because they were more in number than the Jews, and because they were in such a disposition of war that they were under a necessity of proceeding boldly; so they came into a terrible battle, in which not a few fell on each side. However, at length the Arabians fled; [152] G   and so great a slaughter was made upon their being routed, that they were not only killed by their enemies, but became the authors of their own deaths also, and were trodden down by the multitude, and the great current of people in disorder, and they were destroyed by their own weapons; so five thousand men lay dead upon the spot, [153] while the rest of the multitude soon ran within the bulwark for safety, but had no firm hope of safety, by reason of their lack of necessities, and especially of water. [154] G   The Jews pursued them, but could not get in with them; they sat round about the bulwark, and guarded against any assistance that would get in to them, and prevented any there, who had a mind to it, from running away.  

[155] When the Arabians were in these circumstances, they sent ambassadors to Herod, in the first place, to propose terms of agreement , and after that to offer him, so pressing was their thirst on them, to undergo whatsoever terms he pleased, if he would free them from their present distress; [156] G   but he would admit of no ambassadors, of no price of redemption, nor of any other moderate terms whatever, because he was very desirous of avenging those unjust actions which they had been guilty of towards his nation. So they were forced by other motives, and particularly by their thirst, to come out, and deliver themselves up to him, to be carried away captives; [157] and in five days' time the number of four thousand men were taken prisoners, while all the rest resolved to make a sally upon their enemies, and to fight it out with them, choosing rather, if so it must be, to die therein, than to perish gradually and ingloriously. [158] G   When they had reached this resolution, they came out of their trenches, but could in no way sustain the fight, being too much disabled, both in mind and body, and having no chance to exert themselves, and thought it an advantage to be killed, and a misery to survive; so at the first onset there fell about seven thousand of them, [159] after which blow they let all the courage they had put on before fall away, and stood amazed at Herod's warlike spirit under his own calamities; so for the future they yielded, and made him ruler of their nation; [160] G   whereupon he was greatly heartened at so opportune a success, and returned home with great prestige, on account of so bold and glorious an expedition as he had made. 

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