Josephus: Jewish Antiquities, Book 15

Sections 161 - 298

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.  

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{6.}   [161] Herod's other affairs were now very prosperous, and he was secure from assault on every side. Yet there came upon him a danger that would endanger his entire dominions, after Antony had been beaten at the Battle of Actium by Caesar [Octavian]; [162] G   for at that time both Herod's enemies and friends despaired of his affairs, for it was not probable that he would remain without punishment, who had showed so much friendship for Antony. [163] So it happened that his friends despaired, and had no hopes of his escape; but as for his enemies, they all outwardly appeared to be troubled at his case, but were privately very glad of it, as hoping to obtain a change for the better. [164] G   As for Herod himself, he saw that there was no one of royal dignity left but Hyrcanus, and therefore he thought it would be for his advantage not to allow him to be an obstacle in his way any longer; for if he himself survived, and escaped the danger he was in, he thought it the safest way to put it out of the power of such a man to make any attempt against him, at such junctures of affairs, who was more worthy of the kingdom than himself; and in case he should be slain by Caesar, his envy prompted him to desire to slay the man who would otherwise be king after him.  

[165] While Herod had these things in his mind, there was a certain occasion afforded to him: for Hyrcanus was of so mild a temper, both then and at other times, that he desired not to meddle with public affairs, nor to concern himself with sedition, but left all to fortune, and contented himself with what that brought him: [166] G   but Alexandra [his daughter] was a lover of strife, and was exceedingly desirous of a change of the government, and told her father not to bear for ever Herod's injurious treatment of their family, but to anticipate their future hopes, as he safely might; [167] and urged him to write about these matters to Malchus, who was then ruler of Arabia, asking him to receive them, and to secure them [from Herod], because if they went away, and Herod's affairs proved to be as it was likely they would be, by reason of Caesar's enmity to him, they should then be the only persons who could take the government; and this, both on account of the royal family they were of, and on account of the good disposition of the multitude towards them. [168] G   While she used these persuasions, Hyrcanus put off her request; but as she showed that she was a woman, and a contentious woman too, and would not desist either night or day, but was always speaking to him about these matters, and about Herod's treacherous designs, she at last prevailed on him to intrust Dositheus, one of his friends, with a letter, wherein his intentions were declared; and he desired the Arabian ruler to send to him some horsemen, who should receive him, and conduct him to Lake Asphaltitis, which is three hundred stades from the borders of Jerusalem, [169] and he did therefore trust Dositheus with this letter, because he was a careful attendant on him, and on Alexandra, and had no small reasons to bear ill-will towards Herod; for he was a kinsman of one Joseph, whom Herod had slain, and a brother of those who were formerly slain at Tyre by Antony: [170] G   yet these motives did not induce Dositheus to serve Hyrcanus in this affair; for, preferring the hopes he had from the present king to those he had from him, he gave Herod the letter. [171] So he took his kindness in good part, and bid him besides do what he had already done, that is, go on in serving him, by rolling up the letter and sealing it again, and delivering it to Malchus, and then to bring back his letter in answer to it; for it would be much better if he could know Malchus's intentions also. [172] G   And when Dositheus was very ready to serve him in this point also, the Arabian ruler sent a reply, that he would receive Hyrcanus, and all those who should come with him, and even all the Jews that were of his party; that he would, moreover, send forces sufficient to secure them in their journey; and that he should not lack anything that he should desire. [173] Now as soon as Herod had received this letter, he immediately sent for Hyrcanus, and questioned him about the agreement he had made with Malchus; and when he denied it, he showed his letter to the Sanhedrin, and put the man to death immediately.  

[174] G   And this account we give the reader, as it is contained in the commentaries of king Herod: but other historians do not agree with them, for they suppose that Herod did not find, but rather made, this an occasion for thus putting Hyrcanus to death, and that by treacherously laying a snare for him; [175] for thus do they write: That Herod and he were once at a banquet, and that Herod had given no occasion to suspect [that he was displeased at him], but put this question to Hyrcanus, Whether he had received any letters from Malchus? and when he answered that he had received letters, but those of greetings only; [176] G   and when he asked further, whether he had not received any presents from him? and when he had replied that he had received no more than four horses to ride on, which Malchus had sent him; then Herod charged these matters against him as the crimes of bribery and treason, and gave order that he should be led away and slain. [177] And in order to demonstrate that he had been guilty of no offence, when he was thus brought to his end, they alleged how mild his temper had been, and that even in his youth he had never given any demonstration of boldness or rashness, and that the case was the same when he came to be king, but that he even then committed the management of the greatest part of public affairs to Antipater ; [178] G   and that he was now above eighty years old, and knew that Herod's government was in a secure state. He also came over the Euphrates, and left those who greatly honoured him beyond that river, though he was to be entirely under Herod's government; and that it was a most incredible thing that he should attempt anything by way of innovation, and entirely contrary to his character, but that this was a plot of Herod's contrivance.  

[179] And this was the fate of Hyrcanus ; and thus did he end his life, after he had endured various and manifold turns of fortune in his lifetime. For he was made high priest of the Jewish nation at the beginning of his mother  Alexandra's reign, who held the government nine years; [180] G   and when, after his mother's death, he took the kingdom himself, and held it three months, he was driven from it, by his brother Aristobulus. He was then restored by Pompey, and received all sorts of honour from him, and enjoyed them for forty years; [181] but when he was again deprived by Antigonus, and was maimed in his body, he was made a captive by the Parthians, and thence returned home again after some time, on account of the hopes that Herod had given him; none of which came to pass according to his expectation, but he still struggled with many misfortunes through the whole course of his life; and, what was the heaviest calamity of all, as we have related already, he came to an end which was undeserved by him. [182] G   His character appeared to be that of a man of a mild and moderate disposition, who allowed the administration of affairs to be generally done by others under him. He was averse to much meddling with the public, nor had shrewdness enough to govern a kingdom. And both Antipater and Herod came to their greatness by reason of his mildness; and at last he met with such an end from them as was not fitting either to justice or piety.  

[183] Now Herod, as soon as he had put Hyrcanus out of the way, made haste to Caesar; and because he could not have any hopes of kindness from him, on account of the friendship he had for Antony, he had a suspicion of Alexandra, lest she should take this opportunity to bring the multitude to a revolt, and introduce a sedition into the affairs of the kingdom; [184] G   so he committed the care of everything to his brother Pheroras, and placed his mother Cypros, and his sister [ Salome ], and the whole family at Masada, and gave him a charge, that if he should hear any sad news about him, he should take care of the government. [185] But as to Mariamme his wife, because of the misunderstanding between her and his sister, and his sister's mother, which made it impossible for them to live together, he placed her at Alexandreium, with Alexandra her mother, and left his treasurer Joseph and Sohemus of Ituraea to take care of that fortress. These two had been very faithful to him from the beginning, and were now left to guard the women. [186] G   They also had it in charge, that if they should hear any mischief had befallen him, they should kill them both, and, as far as they were able, to preserve the kingdom for his sons, and for his brother Pheroras.  

[187] When he had given them these instructions, he made haste to Rhodes, to meet Caesar; and when he had sailed to that city, he took off his diadem, but remitted nothing else of his usual dignity. And when, upon his meeting him, he requested that he would let him speak to him, he therein exhibited a very noble specimen of a great soul; for he did not resort to supplications, [188] G   as men usually do upon such occasions, nor offered him any petition, as if he were an offender; but, in an undaunted manner, gave an account of what he had done; [189] for he spoke thus to Caesar: That he had the greatest friendship for Antony, and did everything he could that he might obtain the government; that he was not indeed in the army with him, because the Arabians had diverted him; but that he had sent him both money and corn, [190] G   which was but too little in comparison of what he ought to have done for him; "for if a man owns himself to be another's friend, and knows him to be a benefactor, he is obliged to hazard everything, to use every faculty of his soul, every member of his body, and all the wealth he has, for him, in which I confess I have been too deficient. However, I am conscious that so far I have done right, that I have not deserted him upon his defeat at Actium ; [191] nor upon the evident change of his fortune have I transferred my hopes from him to another, but have preserved myself, though not as a valuable fellow soldier, yet certainly as a faithful counsellor, to Antony, when I demonstrated to him that the only way that he had to save himself, and not to lose all his authority, was to slay Cleopatra ; [192] G   for when she was once dead, there would be room for him to retain his authority, and rather to bring you to make a compact with him, than to continue at enmity any longer. None of which advice would he listen to, but he preferred his own rash resolution before it, which has happened unprofitably for him, but profitably for you. [193] Now, therefore, in case you decide about me, and my alacrity in serving Antony, according to your anger at him, I admit that there is no room for me to deny what I have done, nor will I be ashamed to admit, and that publicly too, that I had a great kindness for him. But if you will put him out of the case, and only examine how I behave myself to my benefactors in general, and what sort of friend I am, you will find by experience that we shall do and be the same to yourself, for it is but changing the names, and the firmness of friendship that we shall bear to you will not be disapproved by you."  

[194] G   By this speech, and by his behaviour, which showed Caesar the frankness of his mind, he greatly gained upon him, who was himself of a generous and magnificent spirit, insomuch that those very actions, which were the foundation of the accusation against him, procured him Caesar's goodwill. [195] Accordingly, he restored to him his diadem again; and encouraged him to show himself as great a friend to himself as he had been to Antony, and then held him in great esteem. Moreover, he added this, that Quintus Didius had written to him that Herod had very readily assisted him in the affair of the gladiators. [196] G   So when he had obtained such a kind reception, and had, beyond all his hopes, procured his crown to be more entirely and firmly settled upon him than ever by Caesar's donation, as well as by that decree of the Romans, which Caesar took care to procure for his greater security, he conducted Caesar on his way to Egypt, and made presents, even beyond his ability, to both him and his friends, and in general behaved himself with great magnanimity. [197] He also requested that Caesar would not put to death one Alexander, who had been a companion of Antony ; but Caesar had sworn to put him to death, and so he could not obtain this petition. [198] G   And now he returned to Judaea again with greater honour and assurance than ever, and frightened those who had expectations to the contrary, because he had acquired from his very dangers greater splendour than before, by the favour of God to him. So he prepared for the reception of Caesar, as he was going out of Syria to invade Egypt; [199] and when he came, he entertained him at Ptolemais with all royal magnificence. He also bestowed presents on the army, and brought them provisions in abundance. He also proved to be one of Caesar's most cordial friends, and put the army in array, and rode along with Caesar, and had a hundred and fifty men, well appointed in all respects, after a rich and sumptuous manner, for the better reception of him and his friends. [200] G   He also provided them with what they should want, as they passed over the dry desert, insomuch that they lacked neither wine nor water, which last the soldiers stood in the greatest need of; and besides, he presented Caesar with eight hundred talents, and procured to himself the goodwill of them all, because he was assisting them in a much greater and more splendid degree than the kingdom he had obtained could afford; [201] by which means he more and more demonstrated to Caesar the firmness of his friendship, and his readiness to assist him; and what was of the greatest advantage to him was this, that his liberality came at a opportune time also. And when they returned again out of Egypt, his assistance was in no way inferior to the good offices he had formerly done for them.  

{7.}   [202] G   However, when he came into his kingdom again, he found his house all in disorder, and his wife Mariamme and her mother Alexandra very uneasy; [203] for as they supposed (what was easy to be supposed) that they were not put into that fortress [ Alexandreium ] for the security of their persons, but as into a garrison for their imprisonment, and that they had no power over anything, either of others or of their own affairs, they were very uneasy; [204] G   and Mariamme supposing that the king's love to her was but hypocritical, and rather pretended (as advantageous to himself) than real, she looked upon it as fallacious. She also was grieved that he would not allow her any hopes of surviving him, if he should come to any harm himself. She also recollected what commands he had formerly given to Joseph, insomuch that she endeavoured to please her keepers, and especially Sohemus, being well aware how all was in his power. [205] And at first Sohemus was faithful to Herod, and neglected none of the things he had given him in charge; but when the women, by kind words and liberal presents, had gained his affections over to them, he was by degrees overcome, and at length revealed to them all the king's injunctions, and this on that account principally, that he did not so much as hope he would come back with the same authority he had before; [206] G   so that he thought he should both escape any danger from him, and supposed that he did hereby much gratify the women, who were likely not to be overlooked in the settling of the government; nay, that they would be able to make him abundant recompense, since they must either reign themselves, or be very near to him that should reign. [207] He had a further ground of hope also, that though Herod should have all the success he could wish for, and should return again, he could not contradict his wife in what she desired, for he knew that the king's fondness for his wife was inexpressible. These were the motives that drew Sohemus to reveal what instructions had been given him. [208] G   So Mariamme was greatly displeased to hear that there was no end of the dangers she was under from Herod, and was greatly uneasy at it, and wished that he might obtain no favours [ from Caesar ], and esteemed it almost an insupportable task to live with him any longer; and this she afterwards openly declared, without concealing her resentment.  

[209] And now Herod sailed home with joy, at the unexpected good success he had had; and went first of all, as was proper, to this his wife, and told her, and her only, the good news, as preferring her before the rest, on account of his fondness for her, and the intimacy there had been between them, and greeted her; [210] G   but so it happened, that as he told her of the good success he had had, she was so far from rejoicing at it, that she rather was sorry for it; nor was she able to conceal her resentments, but, depending on her dignity, and the nobility of her birth, in return for his greetings, she gave a groan, and showed evidently that she rather grieved than rejoiced at his success, and this till Herod was disturbed at her, as affording him, not only marks of her suspicion, but evident signs of her dissatisfaction. [211] This much troubled him, to see that this surprising hatred of his wife to him was not concealed, but open; and he took this so ill, and yet was so unable to bear it, on account of the fondness he had for her, that he could not continue long in any one mind, but sometimes was angry at her, and sometimes reconciled himself to her; but by always changing one passion for another, he was still in great uncertainty, [212] G   and thus was he entangled between hatred and love, and was frequently disposed to inflict punishment on her for her insolence towards him; but being deeply in love with her in his soul, he was not able to get rid of this woman. In short, though he would gladly have her punished, yet he was afraid lest, before he was aware, he should, by putting her to death, bring a heavier punishment upon himself at the same time.  

[213] When Herod's sister and mother perceived that he was in this mood with regard to Mariamme they thought they had now got an excellent opportunity to exercise their hatred against her and provoked Herod to wrath by telling him, such long stories and calumnies about her, as might at once excite his hatred and his jealousy. [214] G   Now, though he willingly enough heard their words, yet he had not courage enough to do anything to her as if he believed them; but still he became worse and worse disposed to her, and these ill feelings were more and more inflamed on both sides, while she did not hide her disposition towards him, and he turned his love to her into wrath against her. [215] But when he was just going to put this matter past all remedy, he heard the news that Caesar was the victor in the war, and that Antony and Cleopatra were both dead, and that he had conquered Egypt; whereupon he made haste to go to meet Caesar, and left the affairs of his family in their present state. [216] G   However, Mariamme recommended Sohemus to him, as he was setting out on his journey, and professed that she owed him thanks for the care he had taken of her, and asked of the king for him a place in the government; [217] upon which an honourable employment was bestowed upon him accordingly. Now when Herod came into Egypt, he was introduced to Caesar with great liberality, as already a friend of his, and received very great favours from him; for he made him a present of those four hundred Galatians who had been Cleopatra's guards, and restored that country to him again, which, by her means, had been taken away from him. He also added to his kingdom Gadara, Hippos, and Samaria; and, besides those, the maritime cities, Gaza, and Anthedon, and Joppa, and Strato's Tower.  

[218] G   Upon these new acquisitions, he grew more magnificent, and conducted Caesar as far as Antioch; but upon his return, as much as his prosperity was augmented by the foreign additions that had been made him, so much the greater were the distresses that came upon him in his own family, and chiefly in the affair of his wife, wherein he formerly appeared to have been most of all fortunate; for the affection he had for Mariamme was no way inferior to the affections of such as are on that account celebrated in history, and this very justly. [219] As for her, she was in other respects a chaste woman, and faithful to him; yet had she somewhat of a woman rough by nature, and treated her husband imperiously enough, because she saw he was so fond of her as to be enslaved to her. She did not also consider properly with herself that she lived under a monarchy, and that she was at another's disposal, and accordingly she would behave herself in an arrogant manner to him, which yet he usually put off in a jesting way, and bore with moderation and good temper. [220] G   She would also criticise his mother and his sister openly, on account of the meanness of their birth, and would speak unkindly of them, insomuch that there was before this a disagreement and unpardonable hatred among the women, and it was now come to greater reproaches of one another than formerly, [221] which suspicions increased, and lasted a whole year after Herod returned from Caesar. However, these misfortunes, which had been kept under some decency for a great while, burst out all at once upon such an occasion as was now offered; [222] G   for as the king was one day about noon lain down on his bed to rest, he called for Mariamme, out of the great affection he had always for her. She came in accordingly, but would not lie down by him; and when he was very desirous of her company, she showed her contempt of him; and added, by way of reproach, that he had caused her father and her brother to be slain. [223] And when he took this insult very unkindly, and was ready to use violence to her, in a precipitate manner, the king's sister Salome, observing that he was more than ordinarily disturbed, sent in to the king his cup-bearer, who had been prepared long beforehand for such a design, and bid him tell the king how Mariamme had persuaded him to give his assistance in preparing a love potion for him; [224] G   and if he appeared to be greatly concerned, and to ask what that love potion was, to tell him that she had the potion, and that he was desired only to give it him; but that in case he did not appear to be much concerned at this potion, to let the thing drop; and that if he did so, no harm should thereby come to him. When she had given him these instructions, she sent him in at this time to make such a speech. [225] So he went in, after a composed manner, to gain credit to what he should say, and yet somewhat hastily, and said that Mariamme had given him presents, and persuaded him to give him a love potion. And when this moved the king, he said that this love potion was a mixture that she had given him, whose effects he did not know, which was the reason of his resolving to give him this information, as the safest course he could take, both for himself and for the king. [226] G   When Herod heard what he said, and was ill disposed before, his indignation grew more violent; and he ordered that eunuch of Mariamme, who was most faithful to her, to be brought to torture about this potion, as well knowing it was not possible that any thing small or great could be done without him. [227] And when the man was under the utmost agonies, he could say nothing concerning the thing he was tortured about, but so far he knew, that Mariamme's hatred against him was occasioned by something that Sohemus had said to her. [228] G   Now as he was saying this, Herod cried out aloud, and said that Sohemus, who had been at all other times most faithful to him, and to his government, would not have betrayed what injunctions he had given him, unless he had had a closer relationship than ordinary with Mariamme. [229] So he gave order that Sohemus should be seized on and slain immediately; but he allowed his wife to take her trial; and got together those who were most faithful to him, and laid an elaborate accusation against her for this love potion and composition, which had been charged upon her by way of calumny only. However, he kept no measure in what he said, and was in too great a passion for judging well about this matter. [230] G   Accordingly, when the court was at length satisfied that he was so resolved, they passed the sentence of death upon her; but when the sentence was passed upon her, this measure was suggested by himself, and by some others of the court, that she should not be thus hastily put to death, but be laid in prison in one of the fortresses belonging to the kingdom: [231] but Salome and her party laboured hard to have the woman put to death; and they prevailed with the king to do so, and advised this out of caution, lest the multitude should be tumultuous if she were permitted to live; and thus was Mariamme led to execution.  

[232] G   When Alexandra observed how things went, and that there were small hopes that she herself should escape the like treatment from Herod, she changed her behaviour to quite the reverse of what might have been expected from her former boldness, and this after a very indecent manner; [233] for out of her desire to show how entirely ignorant she was of the crimes laid against Mariamme, she leaped out of her place, and reproached her daughter in the hearing of all the people; and cried out that she had been a wicked woman, and ungrateful to her husband, and that her punishment came justly upon her for such her insolent behaviour, for she had not made proper returns to him who had been their common benefactor. [234] G   And when she had for some time acted after this hypocritical manner, and been so outrageous as to tear her hair, this indecent and dissembling behaviour, as was to be expected, was greatly condemned by the rest of the spectators, as it was principally by the poor woman who was to suffer; [235] for at the first she gave her not a word, nor was disturbed at her peevishness, and only looked at her, yet did she out of a greatness of soul reveal her concern for her mother's offence, and especially for her exposing herself in a manner so unbecoming her; [236] G   but as for herself, she went to her death with an unshaken firmness of mind, and without changing the colour of her face, and thereby clearly revealed the nobility of her descent to the spectators, even in the last moments of her life.  

[237] And thus died Mariamme, a woman of an excellent character, both for chastity and greatness of soul; but she wanted moderation, and was too contentious in her nature; yet had she all that can be said in the beauty of her body, and her majestic appearance in conversation; and [238] G   thence arose the greatest part of the reasons why she did not prove so agreeable to the king, nor live so pleasantly with him, as she might otherwise have done; for while she was most indulgently used by the king, out of his fondness for her, and did not expect that he could do any hard thing to her, she took too unbounded a liberty. [239] Moreover, that which most afflicted her was, what he had done to her relations, and she ventured to speak of all they had suffered by him, and at last greatly provoked both the king's mother and sister, till they became enemies to her; and even he himself also did the same, on whom alone she depended for her expectations of escaping the ultimate punishment.  

[240] G   But when she was once dead, the king's affections for her were kindled in a more outrageous manner than before; his old passion for her we have already described, for his love to her was not of a calm nature, nor such as we usually meet with among other husbands; for at its commencement it was of an enthusiastic kind, nor was it by their long cohabitation and intimacy together brought under his power to manage; [241] but at this time his love to Mariamme seemed to seize him in such a peculiar manner, as looked like divine vengeance upon him for the taking away her life; for he would frequently call for her, and frequently lament for her in a most unbecoming manner. Moreover, he thought of everything he could make use of to divert his mind from thinking of her, and contrived feasts and assemblies for that purpose, but nothing would suffice; [242] G   he therefore laid aside the administration of public affairs, and was so far conquered by his passion, that he would order his servants to call for Mariamme, as if she were still alive, and could still hear them. [243] And when he was in this way, there arose a pestilential disease, and carried off the greatest part of the populace, and of his best and most esteemed friends, and made all men suspect that this was brought upon them by the anger of God, for the injustice that had been done to Mariamme. [244] G   This circumstance affected the king still more, till at length he forced himself to go into desert places, and there, under pretence of going hunting, bitterly afflicted himself; yet he had not borne his grief there for many days before he fell into a most dangerous illness himself: [245] he had an inflammation upon him, and a pain in the back of his head, joined with madness; and as for the remedies that were used, they did him no good at all, but proved contrary to his case, and so at length brought him to despair. [246] G   All the physicians also that were about him, partly because the medicines they brought for his recovery could not at all conquer the disease, and partly because his diet could be no other than what his disease inclined him to, asked him to eat whatever he had a mind to, and so left the small hopes they had of his recovery in the power of that diet, and committed him to fortune. And thus did his illness go on, while he was at Samaria, now called Sebaste.  

[247] Now Alexandra resided at this time at Jerusalem; and being informed what condition Herod was in, she endeavoured to get possession of the fortified places that were about the city, [248] G   which were two, the one belonging to the city itself, the other belonging to the temple; and those that could get them into their hands had the whole nation under their power, for without the command of them it was not possible to offer their sacrifices; and to think of leaving off those sacrifices is to every Jew plainly impossible, who are still more ready to lose their lives than to leave off that divine worship which they have been accustomed to pay unto God. [249] Alexandra, therefore, talked with those who had the keeping of these strongholds, that it was proper for them to deliver the same to her, and to Herod's sons, lest, upon his death, any other person should seize upon the government; and that upon his recovery none could keep them more safely for him than those of his own family. [250] G   These words were not at all taken in good part by them; and as they had been in former times faithful [to Herod], they resolved to continue so more than ever, both because they hated Alexandra, and because they thought it a sort of impiety to despair of Herod's recovery while he was yet alive, for they had been his old friends; and one of them, whose name was Achiabus, was his actual cousin. [251] They sent messengers therefore to acquaint him with Alexandra's designs; so he made no longer delay, but gave orders to have her slain; yet was it still with difficulty, and after he had endured great pain, that he got clear of his illness. He was still sorely afflicted, both in mind and body, and made very uneasy, and readier than ever upon all occasions to inflict punishment upon those who fell into his hands. [252] G   He also slew the most intimate of his friends, Costobarus, and Lysimachus, and Gadias, who was also called Antipater; as also Dositheus, and that upon the following occasion.  

[253] Costobarus was an Idumaean by birth, and one of principal dignity among them, and one whose ancestors had been priests of Koze, whom the Idumaeans had [formerly] esteemed as a god; [254] G   but after Hyrcanus had made a change in their political government, and made them receive the Jewish customs and law, Herod made Costobarus governor of Idumaea and Gaza, and gave him his sister Salome to wife; and this was upon the death of [his uncle] Joseph, who was the governor before, as we have related already. [255] When Costobarus had come to be so highly advanced, it pleased him and was more than he hoped for, and he was more and more puffed up by his good success, and in a little while he exceeded all bounds, and did not think fit to obey what Herod, as their ruler, commanded him, or that the Idumaeans should make use of the Jewish customs, or be subject to them. [256] G   He therefore sent to Cleopatra, and informed her that the Idumaeans had always been under his ancestors, and that for the same reason it was but just that she should request that country for him from Antony, because he was ready to transfer his friendship to her; [257] and this he did, not because he was better pleased to be under Cleopatra's government, but because he thought that, upon the diminution of Herod's power, it would not be difficult for him to obtain for himself the entire government over the Idumaeans, and somewhat more also; for he raised his hopes still higher, as having no small pretences, both by his birth and by these riches which he had acquired by his constant attention to money-grabbing; and accordingly it was not a small matter that he aimed at. [258] G   So Cleopatra requested this country from Antony, but failed of her purpose. An account of this was brought to Herod, who was thereupon ready to kill Costobarus; yet, upon the entreaties of his sister and mother, he forgave him, and granted him a complete pardon; though he still had a suspicion of him afterwards for this attempt.  

[259] But some time afterwards, when Salome happened to quarrel with Costobarus, she sent him a notice of divorce and dissolved her marriage with him, though this was not according to the Jewish laws; for with us it is lawful for a husband to do so; but a wife; if she departs from her husband, cannot of herself be married to another, unless her former husband puts her away. [260] G   However, Salome chose to follow not the law of her country, but the law of her authority, and so renounced her wedlock; and told her brother Herod, that she left her husband out of her goodwill to him, because she perceived that he, with Antipater, and Lysimachus, and Dositheus, were raising a sedition against him; [261] as evidence of which, she alleged the case of the sons of Babas, that they had been by him preserved alive already for the interval of twelve years; [262] G   which proved to be true. But when Herod thus unexpectedly heard of it, he was greatly surprised at it, and was the more surprised, because the story appeared incredible to him. As for the facts relating to these sons of Babas, Herod had formerly taken great pains to bring them to punishment, as being enemies to his government; but they were now forgotten by him, on account of the length of time [since he had ordered them to be slain]. [263] Now the cause of his ill-will and hatred to them arose from this, that while Antigonus was king, Herod, with his army, besieged the city of Jerusalem, where the distress and miseries which the besieged endured were so pressing, that the greater number of them invited Herod into the city, and already placed their hopes on him. Now the sons of Babas were of great dignity, and had power among the multitude, and were faithful to Antigonus, and were always raising calumnies against Herod, and encouraged the people to preserve the government for that royal family which held it by inheritance. So these men acted thus politically, and, as they thought, for their own advantage; [264] G   but when the city was taken, and Herod had got the government into his hands, and Costobarus was appointed to hinder men from passing out at the gates, and to guard the city, so that those citizens who were guilty, and of the party opposite to the king, might not get out of it, Costobarus, being aware that the sons of Babas were held in respect and honour by the whole multitude, and supposing that their preservation might be of great advantage to him in the changes of government afterward, kept them by themselves, and concealed them in his own farms; [265] and when the thing was suspected, he assured Herod upon oath that he really knew nothing of that matter, and so overcame the suspicions that lay upon him; nay, after that, when the king had publicly proposed a reward for their discovery, and had put in practice all sorts of methods for searching out this matter, he would not confess it; but being persuaded that when he had at first denied it, if the men were found, he should not escape unpunished, he was forced to keep them secret, not only out of his goodwill to them, but out of a necessary regard to his own preservation also. [266] G   But when the king knew the thing, by his sister's information, he sent men to the places where they were reported to be concealed, and ordered both them, and those that were accused as guilty with them, to be slain, insomuch that there were now none at all left of the family of Hyrcanus, and the kingdom was entirely in Herod's own power, and there was nobody remaining of such dignity as could put a stop to what he did against the Jewish laws.  

{8.}   [267] It was on this account that Herod abandoned the laws of his country, and corrupted their ancient constitution, by the introduction of foreign practices, although this constitution yet ought to have been preserved inviolable; by which means we became guilty of great wickedness afterwards, while those religious observances which used to lead the multitude to piety were now neglected; [268] G   for, in the first place, he appointed solemn games to be celebrated every fifth year, in honour of Caesar, and built a theatre at Jerusalem, and also a very great amphitheatre in the plain. Both of them were indeed costly works, but opposite to the Jewish customs; for we have had no such shows handed down to us as fit to be used or exhibited by us; [269] yet did he celebrate these games every five years, in the most solemn and splendid manner. He also made proclamation to the neighbouring countries, and called men together out of every nation. The wrestlers also, and the rest of those that strove for the prizes in such games, were invited out of every land, both by the hopes of the rewards there to be bestowed, and by the glory of victory to be there gained. So the principal persons that were the most eminent in these sports were gathered together, for there were very great rewards for victory proposed, [270] G   not only to those that performed in gymnastic events, but to those that played the musicians also, and were called thymelikoi; and he spared no pains to induce all persons, the most famous for such exercises, to come to this contest for victory. [271] He also proposed no small rewards to those who competed for the prizes in chariot races, when they were drawn by two or four horses, and for race-horses. He also imitated everything, though it might be costly or magnificent, in other nations, out of an ambition that he might give a public demonstration of his grandeur. [272] G   Inscriptions also of the great actions of Caesar, and trophies of those nations which he had conquered in his wars, and all made of the purest gold and silver, encompassed the theatre itself; [273] nor was there anything that could contribute to his design, whether it were precious garments, or precious stones set in order, which was not also displayed to sight in these games. He had also made a great preparation of wild beasts, and of lions themselves in great abundance, and of such other beasts as were either of uncommon strength, or of such a sort as were rarely seen. [274] G   These were prepared either to fight with one another, or men who were condemned to death were to fight with them. And truly foreigners were greatly surprised and delighted at the vastness of the expenses here exhibited, and at the great dangers that were here seen; but to native Jews, this was no better than a dissolution of those customs for which they had so great a veneration. [275] It appeared also no better than an instance of barefaced impiety, to throw men to wild beasts, for the delight of the spectators; and it appeared an instance of no less impiety, to change their own laws for such foreign exercises: but, above all the rest, the trophies gave most distaste to the Jews; [276] G   for as they imagined them to be images, included within the armour that hung round about them, they were sorely displeased at them, because it was not the custom of their country to pay honours to such images.  

[277] Nor was Herod unacquainted with the consternation they were suffering; and as he thought it inappropriate to use violence against them, so he spoke to some of them by way of consolation, in order to free them from that superstitious fear they were under; yet could not he satisfy them, but they cried out with one accord, out of their great uneasiness at the offences they thought he had been guilty of, that although they should think of bearing all the rest yet would they never endure images of men in their city, meaning the trophies, because this was against the laws of their country. [278] G   Now when Herod saw them in such disorder, and that they would not easily change their resolution unless they received satisfaction in this point, he called to him the most eminent men among them, and brought them into the theatre, and showed them the trophies, and asked them what sort of things they took these trophies to be; [279] and when they cried out that they were the images of men, he gave order that they should be stripped of these outward ornaments which were about them, and showed them the naked pieces of wood; which pieces of wood, now without any ornament, became matter of great sport and laughter to them, because they had before always assumed the ornaments to be a disguise for images.  

[280] G   When therefore Herod had thus put off the multitude, and had dissipated the vehemence of passion which they had felt, the greatest part of the people were disposed to change their conduct, and not to be displeased at him any longer; [281] but still some of them continued in their displeasure against him, for his introduction of new customs, and esteemed the violation of the laws of their country as likely to be the origin of very great mischiefs to them, so that they deemed it an instance of piety to hazard themselves [to be put to death], rather than to seem as if they took no notice of Herod, who, upon the change he had made in their government, introduced such customs, and that in a violent manner, which they had never been used to before, and who was indeed in pretence a king, but in reality one that showed himself an enemy to their whole nation; [282] G   on which account ten men who were citizens [ of Jerusalem ] conspired together against him, and swore to one another to undergo any dangers in the attempt, and took daggers with them under their garments [for the purpose of killing Herod]. [283] Now there was a certain blind man among those conspirators who had thus sworn to one another, on account of the indignation he had against what he heard to have been done; he was not indeed able to provide any assistance to the rest in the undertaking, but was ready to undergo any suffering with them, if it so be that they should come to any harm, insomuch that he became a very great encourager of the rest of the conspirators.  

[284] G   When they had taken this resolution, and that by common consent, they went into the theatre, hoping that, in the first place, Herod himself could not escape them, as they should fall upon him so unexpectedly; and supposing, however, that if they missed him, they should kill a great many of those that were about him; and this resolution they took, though they should die for it, in order to suggest to the king what injuries he had done to the multitude. These conspirators, therefore, standing thus prepared beforehand, went about their design with great alacrity; [285] but there was one of those spies of Herod, who were appointed for such purposes, to fish out and inform him of any conspiracies that should be made against him, who found out the whole affair, and told the king of it, as he was about to go into the theatre. [286] G   So when he reflected on the hatred which he knew the greatest part of the people bore him, and on the disturbances that arose upon every occasion, he thought this plot against him not to be improbable. Accordingly, he retired into his palace, and called those that were accused of this conspiracy before him by their several names; [287] and as, upon the guards falling upon them, they were caught in the very act, and knew they could not escape, they prepared themselves for their ends with all the decency they could, and so as not at all to recede from their resolute behaviour, [288] G   for they showed no shame for what they were about, nor denied it; but when they were seized, they showed their daggers, and professed that the conspiracy they had sworn to was a holy and pious action; that what they intended to do was not for gain, or out of any indulgence to their passions, but principally for those common customs of their country, which all the Jews were obliged to observe, or to die for them. [289] This was what these men said, out of their undaunted courage in this conspiracy. So they were led away to execution by the king's guards that stood about them, and patiently underwent all the torments inflicted on them till they died. Nor was it long before that spy who had revealed them was seized on by some of the people, out of the hatred they bore to him; and was not only slain by them, but pulled to pieces, limb from limb, and given to the dogs. [290] G   This execution was seen by many of the citizens, yet not one of them would reveal the doers of it, till upon Herod's making a strict scrutiny after them, by bitter and severe tortures, certain women that were tortured confessed what they had seen done; and the authors of this act were so terribly punished by the king, that their entire families were destroyed because of their rash attempt; [291] yet the obstinacy of the people, and that undaunted constancy they showed in the defence of their laws, did not make Herod any easier to them, but he still strengthened himself after a more secure manner, and resolved to encompass the multitude in every way, lest such disaffection should end in an open rebellion.  

[292] G   Since, therefore, he now had the city fortified by the palace in which he lived, and by the temple which had a strong fortress by it, called Antonia, and was rebuilt by himself, he contrived to make Samaria a fortress for himself also against all the people, and called it Sebaste, [293] supposing that this place would be a stronghold against the country, not inferior to the former. So he fortified that place, which was a day's journey distant from Jerusalem, and which would be useful to him in common, to keep both the country and the city in awe. He also built another fortress for the whole nation; it was of old called Strato's Tower, but was by him named Caesarea. [294] G   Moreover, he chose out some select horsemen, and placed them in the Great Plain; and built [for them] a place in Galilee called Gaba, along with Esebonitis in Peraea. [295] And these were the places which he particularly built, while he always was inventing something further for his own security, and encompassing the whole nation with guards, that they might by no means get from under his power, nor fall into tumults, which they did continually upon any small commotion; and that if they did make any commotions, he might know of it, while some of his spies might be onto them from the neighbourhood, and might both be able to know what they were attempting, and to prevent it. [296] G   And when he went about building the walls of Samaria, he contrived to bring thither many of those who had been assisting to him in his wars, and many of the people in that neighbourhood also, whom he made fellow citizens with the rest. This he did out of an ambitious desire of building a (?) temple, and out of a desire to make the city more eminent than it had been before; but principally because he contrived that it might at once be for his own security, and a monument of his magnificence. He also changed its name, and called it Sebaste. Moreover, he divided the adjoining country, which was excellent in its kind, among the inhabitants of Samaria, that they might be in a happy condition, upon their first coming to reside there. [297] Besides all this, he surrounded the city with a wall of great strength, and made use of the steepness of the place for making its fortifications stronger; nor was the compass of the place made now so small as it had been before, but was such as rendered it not inferior to the most famous cities; for it was twenty stades in circumference. [298] G   Now within, and about the centre of it, he built a sacred place, of a stade and a half [in circuit], and adorned it with all sorts of decorations, and init he erected a temple, which was illustrious on account of both its size and beauty. And as to the several parts of the city, he adorned them with decorations of all sorts also; and as to what was necessary to provide for his own security, he made the walls very strong for that purpose, and made it for the greatest part a citadel; and as to the elegance of the building, it was taken care of also, that he might leave monuments of the fineness of his taste, and of his beneficence, to future ages.   

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