Josephus: Jewish Antiquities, Book 13

Sections 270 - 432

Translated by R. Marcus (1943). The section numbers in the Greek text are shown in red; the traditional chapter numbers (as in Whiston's translation) are shown in green.

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{10 .}   [270] G   But when Antiochus took over the royal power in Syria, he was wary of marching upon Judaea, for he heard that his brother on his mother's side -  he too was called Antiochus - was collecting a force  against him from Cyzicus. [271] And so he decided to remain in his own land and prepare himself to meet the incursion of his brother, who was surnamed Cyzicenus because he had been brought up in the city of Cyzicus, being the son of Antiochus surnamed Soter, who had met death among the Parthians ; this Antiochus (Soter) was a brother of Grypus' father Demetrius, for it so happened that Cleopatra had been married to the two brothers, as we have narrated elsewhere. [272] G   And Antiochus Cyzicenus came into Syria and waged continuous war upon his brother for many years. But during all this time Hyrcanus lived in peace ; [273] for after the death of Antiochus  (Sidetes) he too revolted from the Macedonians, and no longer furnished them any aid either as a subject or as a friend ; instead, his government progressed and flourished greatly during the reign of Alexander Zebinas and especially under these brothers. For the war between them gave Hyrcanus leisure to exploit Judaea undisturbed, with the result that he amassed a limitless sum of money. [274] G   Moreover, when Cyzicenus ravaged his land, he openly showed his intention, and seeing that Antiochus had been deserted by his Egyptian allies and that both he and his brother were faring badly in their struggle with each other, he showed contempt for both of them.   

[275] And so he marched against Samaria, a very strongly fortified city; how this city was founded by Herod under the name of Sebaste, as it is now called, we shall relate in the proper place. And he attacked and besieged it vigorously ; for he hated the Samaritans as scoundrels because of the injuries which, in obedience to the kings of Syria, they had done to the people of Marisa, who were colonists and allies of the Jews. [276] G   Accordingly he made a trench round the city on all sides, and a double wall for a distance of some eighty stades, and placed his sons Antigonus and Aristobulus in charge. And as they pressed the siege, the Samaritans were finally brought by famine to such a state of need that they were forced to take for food even things that are not used for that purpose, and at the same time to call upon Antiochus Cyzicenus for help. [277] He readily came to their assistance, but he was defeated by Aristobulus and was pursued by the brothers as far as Scythopolis, where he made his escape. The brothers then returned to Samaria and once more shut up the Samaritans within the wall, so that a second time they had to call upon this same Antiochus for aid ; [278] G   he thereupon applied to Ptolemy Lathyrus for six thousand men, which the latter sent to him against the wish of his mother, who all but drove him from the kingdom when she heard of it ; and with these Egyptians Antiochus at first invaded and ravaged Hyrcanus' territory like a brigand, for he dared not meet him in battle face to face - his force was not adequate for that - , but supposed that by damaging his territory he would compel Hyrcanus to raise the siege of Samaria. [279] However, after losing many of his men by falling into ambushes, he went off to Tripolis, leaving Callimandrus and Epicrates to direct the war against the Jews.   

[280] G   But as Callimandrus attacked the enemy too recklessly, he was put to rout and killed on the spot. As for Epicrates, out of greed tor money he openly betrayed Scythopolis and other places near it to the Jews, but could not bring the siege of Samaria to an end. [281] And so Hyrcanus captured the city after besieging it for a year, but not being content with that alone, he effaced it entirely and left it to be swept away by the mountain-torrents, for he dug beneath it until it fell into the beds of the torrents, and so removed all signs of its ever having been a city. [282] G   Now about the high priest Hyrcanus an extraordinary story is told how the Deity communicated with him, for they say that on the very day on which his sons fought with Cyzicenus, Hyrcanus, who was alone in the temple, burning incense as high priest, heard a voice saying that his sons had just defeated Antiochus. [283] And on coming out of the temple he revealed this to the entire multitude, and so it actually happened. This, then, was how the affairs of Hyrcanus were going.   

[284] G   At this time not only were the Jews in Jerusalem and in the country (of Judaea) in a flourishing condition, but also those who lived in Alexandria and  in Egypt and Cyprus. [285] For Queen Cleopatra, who was at war with her son Ptolemy, surnamed Lathyrus, appointed as her generals Chelkias and Ananias, sons of the Onias who had built the temple in the nome of Heliopolis, which was similar to the one at Jerusalem, as we have related before. [286] G   And having entrusted her army to them, Cleopatra did nothing without their approval, as Strabo of Cappadocia also testifies, when he writes as follows. [287] "For the majority, both those who came back from exile and those who were later sent to Cyprus by Cleopatra, immediately went over to Ptolemy. And only the Jews of the district named for Onias remained faithful to her, because their fellow-citizens Chelkias and Ananias were held in special favour by the queen." This, then, is what Strabo says.   

[288] G   As for Hyrcanus, the envy of the Jews was aroused against him by his own successes and those  of his sons : particularly hostile to him were the Pharisees, who are one of the Jewish schools, as we have related above { 13.171 }. And so great is their influence with the masses that even when they speak against a king or high priest, they immediately gain credence. [289] Hyrcanus too was a disciple of theirs, and was greatly loved by them. And once he invited them to a feast and entertained them hospitably, and when he saw that they were having a very good time, he began by saying that they knew he wished to be righteous and in everything he did tried to please God and them - for the Pharisees profess such beliefs ; [290] G   at the same time he begged them, if they observed him doing anything wrong or straying from the right path, to lead him back to it and correct him. But they testified to his being altogether virtuous, and he was delighted with their praise. However, one of the guests, named Eleazar, [291] who had an evil nature and took pleasure in dissension, said, Since you have asked to be told the truth, if you wish to be righteous, give up the high-priesthood and be content with governing the people." [292] G   And when Hyrcanus asked him for what reason he should give up the high-priesthood, he replied, "Because we have heard from our elders that your mother was a captive in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes." But the story was false, and Hyrcanus was furious with the man, while all the Pharisees were very indignant.   

[293] Then a certain Jonathan, one of Hyrcanus' close friends, belonging to the school of Sadducees, who hold opinions opposed to those of the Pharisees, said that it had been with the general approval of all the Pharisees that Eleazar had made his slanderous statement ; and this, he added, would be clear to Hyrcanus if he inquired of them what punishment Eleazar deserved for what he had said. [294] G   And so Hyrcanus asked the Pharisees what penalty they thought he deserved - for, he said, he would be convinced that the slanderous statement had not been made with their approval if they fixed a penalty commensurate with the crime -, and they replied that Eleazar deserved stripes and chains ; for they did not think it right to sentence a man to death for calumny, and anyway the Pharisees are naturally lenient in the matter of punishments. [295] At this Hyrcanus became very angry and began to believe that the fellow had slandered him with their approval. And Jonathan in particular inflamed his anger, [296] G   and so worked upon him that he brought him to join the Sadducaean party and desert the Pharisees, and to abrogate the regulations which they had established for the people, and punish those who observed them. Out of this, of course, grew the hatred of the masses for him and his sons, [297] but of this we shall speak hereafter. For the present I wish merely to explain that the Pharisees had passed on to the people certain regulations handed down by former generations and not recorded in the Laws of Moses, for which reason they are rejected by the Sadducaean group, who hold that only those regulations should be considered valid which were written down (in Scripture), and that those which had been handed down by former generations b need not be observed. [298] G   And concerning these matters the two parties came to have controversies and serious differences, the Sadducees having the confidence of the wealthy alone but no following among the populace, while the Pharisees have the support of the masses. But of these two schools and of the Essenes a detailed account has been given in the second book of my Judaica { BJ 2.119 }.   

[299] And so Hyrcanus quieted the outbreak, and lived happily thereafter ; and when he died after administering the government excellently for thirty-one years, he left five sons. Now he was accounted by God worthy of three of the greatest privileges, the rule of the nation, the office of high-priest, and the gift of prophecy ; [300] G   for the Deity was with him and enabled him to foresee and foretell the future ; so, for example, he foretold of his two elder sons that they would not remain masters of the state. And the story of their downfall is worth relating, to show how far they were from having their father's good fortune.   

{11.}   [301] After their father's death the eldest son Aristobulus saw fit to transform the government into  a kingdom, which he judged the best form, and he was the first to put a diadem on his head, four hundred and eighty-one years and three months after the time when the people were released from the Babylonian captivity and returned to their own country . [302] G   Now of his brothers he loved only Antigonus, who was next in age, and considered him worthy of a position like his own, while he kept his other brothers in chains. He also imprisoned his mother, who had disputed the royal power with him - for Hyrcanus had left her mistress of the realm -, and carried his cruelty so far that he caused her to die of starvation in prison. [303] And to the death of his mother he added that of his brother Antigonus, whom he seemed especially to love and had made his associate in the kingdom, for he was alienated from him by calumnies which at first he did not believe, disregarding the things that were said, partly because he loved Antigonus and partly because he believed that he was being calumniated out of envy. [304] G   But on one occasion when Antigonus had returned from a campaign with glory,  as the season of the festival during which tabernacles are erected to God was at hand, it chanced that Aristobulus fell ill, and Antigonus, arrayed in great splendour and with his heavy-armed soldiers about him, went up to the temple to celebrate the festival and to pray earnestly for his brother's recovery ; [305] thereupon the unscrupulous men who were bent on disrupting the harmonious relation between them, found in Antigonus' ambitious display and in the successes he had achieved, a pretext to go to the king and maliciously exaggerate the pomp of his appearance at the festival, [306] G   saying that everything that had been done was out of keeping with the behaviour of a private person and that his actions rather had the indications of one who imagined himself a king, and that he had come with a strong body of troops with the intention of killing Aristobulus, reasoning that it would be absurd for him to believe that he had won any great distinction in having a share in high office when he might just as well be king himself.   

[307] Aristobulus reluctantly began to believe these charges, and taking care not to be suspected by his brother and at the same time thinking of his own safety, stationed his bodyguards at intervals in a dark underground passage - for he was lying ill in the castle afterwards called Antonia - and gave orders that none of them should touch Antigonus if he were unarmed, but should kill him if he came to the king with his armour on. [308] G   Moreover he himself sent to Antigonus, asking him to come unarmed. But the queen and the men who were plotting with her against Antigonus persuaded the messenger to say the opposite, namely that his brother had heard that he had equipped himself with arms and military gear, and invited him to come to him armed, in order that he might see his equipment. [309] Accordingly, Antigonus, who had no suspicion of foul play and was confident of his brother's friendly feeling towards him, came to Aristobulus just as he was, in full armour, to show him his arms. But when he reached Straton's Tower, as it is called, just where the very dark passage was, the bodyguards killed him. [310] G   Now his death clearly proves that there is nothing more powerful than envy and calumny, nor anything that more easily disrupts friendship and the ties of nature than these influences. [311] And in this connexion one  may well wonder at the story of a certain Judas of the Essene group, who had never been known to speak falsely in his prophecies, but when he saw Antigonus passing by the temple, cried out to his companions and disciples, who were together with him for the purpose of receiving instruction in foretelling the future, [312] G   that it would be well for him to die as one who had spoken falsely, since Antigonus was still alive, although he had foretold that he would die at the place called Straton's Tower, and now he saw him alive ; for the place where he had foretold that Antigonus would be murdered was some six hundred stades from where he now was, and the greater part of the day had already passed, so that his prophecy was unfortunately likely to prove false. [313] But as he was saying this and lamenting, the news came that Antigonus had been killed in the underground passage, which was also called Straton's Tower - by the same name, that is, as Caesarea on the sea-coast. It was this fact, therefore, that had confused the prophet.   

[314] G   But Aristobulus was soon seized by remorse for the murder of his brother, and this was followed  by illness, his mind being so troubled by his guilty deed that his inward parts were corrupted by intense  pain, and he vomited blood. And once one of the servants who waited on him was carrying this blood away and slipped and spilled it - by divine providence, I believe - on the very spot where the stains made by the blood of the murdered Antigonus were still to be seen. [315] Thereupon a cry went up from those who saw this that the servant had spilled the blood there deliberately, and when Aristobulus heard it, he asked what the reason for it was, and as they did not tell him, he became still more determined to find out, for in such cases men naturally suspect the worst in what is covered by silence. [316] G   But when, under his threats and the constraint of fear, they told him the truth, he was stricken in mind by his consciousness of guilt, and weeping freely, with deep groans exclaimed, "I was not destined, I see, to escape the notice of God in committing such impious and unholy crimes, but swift punishment has overtaken me for the murder of my kin. [317] How long, then, O most shameless body, will you keep within you the life that is forfeit to the spirits of my brother and mother ? Why, instead of giving this up to them at one stroke, do I merely offer my blood drop by drop as a libation to those who have been so foully murdered ? " [318] G   And scarcely had he spoken these words when he died ; in his reign of one year, with the title of Philhellene, he conferred many benefits on his country, for he made war on the Ituraeans  and acquired a good part of their territory for Judaea and compelled the inhabitants, if they wished to remain in their country, to be circumcised and to live in accordance with the laws of the Jews. [319] He had a kindly nature, and was wholly given to modesty, as Strabo also testifies on the authority of Timagenes, writing as follows. " This man was a kindly person and very serviceable to the Jews, for he acquired additional territory for them, and brought over to them a portion of the Ituraean nation, whom he joined to them by the bond of circumcision."   

[320] G   {12.}   On the death of Aristobulus his wife Salina, by the Greeks called Alexandra, released his brothers - for Aristobulus had imprisoned them, as king, we have said before -, and appointed as king Jannaeus, also known as Alexander, who was best fitted for this office by reason of his age and his evenness of temper : [321] but it had been his fate to be hated by his father from the time he was born, and never to come into his sight so long as he lived. Now the reason for this hatred is said to have been as follows. [322] G   Of all his sons Hyrcanus loved best the two elder ones, Antigonus and Aristobulus ; and once when God appeared to him in his sleep, he asked Him which of his sons was destined to be his successor. And when God showed him the features of Alexander, he was grieved that this one should be the heir of all his possessions, and so he let him be brought up in Galilee from his birth. God, however, did not deceive Hyrcanus. [323] For after the death of Aristobulus it was he who took over the royal power, putting to death one of his brothers who had designs on the throne, while he held in honour his other brother who preferred to live without taking part in public affairs.   

[324] G   Then, leaving his realm in a condition which he thought advantageous to himself, Alexander marched against Ptolemais, and after defeating its  inhabitants in battle, he shut them up in the city  and surrounding it, besieged them. For of the cities on the coast there remained only Ptolemais and Gaza to be subdued by him, and also Straton's Tower and Dora, which the local ruler Zoilus held. [325] Now as Antiochus Philometor and his brother Antiochus, surnamed Cyzicenus, were fighting each other and destroying their own forces, no help could be given by them to the people of Ptolemais ; [326] G   but while they were being hard pressed in the siege, Zoilus, who held Straton's Tower, appeared with a company of soldiers that he maintained, and as he had ambitions to make himself absolute ruler because of the struggle between the two kings, he gave some slight help to the people of Ptolemais. [327] Nor were the kings so friendly to them that they could hope for any assistance from them, for both of them were in the position of athletes whose strength is exhausted but who are ashamed to yield, and so continue to prolong the contest by periods of inactivity and rest. [328] G   The only hope that was left them was in the sovereigns of Egypt and in Ptolemy Lathyrus, the ruler of Cyprus, who had been driven from his realm by his mother Cleopatra, and had come to Cyprus. And so the people of Ptolemais sent to him and begged him to come to their aid and save them from the hands of Alexander, by whom they were endangered. [329] The envoys led him to hope that when he crossed to Syria, he would have the people of Gaza on the side of those of Ptolemais, as well as Zoilus, and they told him further that the Sidonians and many others would join him ; being, therefore, full of high hope, he made haste to sail.   

[330] G   Meanwhile, however, the people of Ptolemais had been persuaded to change their plans by Demaenetus, who had their confidence at that time and influenced the people ; he said that it would be better for them to risk a contest with the Jews, although the outcome was uncertain, than to accept open servitude by delivering themselves up to an absolute ruler, and in addition not only have the present war on their hands, but also a much more serious one arising from Egypt. [331] For Cleopatra would not permit Ptolemy to provide himself with an army from the neighbouring cities but would come against them with a great force, since she was eager to drive her son out of Cyprus too. Moreover, if Ptolemy were disappointed in his expectations, he could again find a refuge in Cyprus, whereas they themselves would be in the greatest danger. [332] G   Now though Ptolemy on the way over learned of the change of mind of the people of Ptolemais, he nevertheless sailed on, and landing at Sycamina, as it is called, there disembarked his force. [333] The army with him, both foot and horse, numbered some thirty thousand in all, and these he led to the neighbourhood of Ptolemais and encamped there ; but as they would neither admit his envoys nor listen to his proposals he was in great anxiety.   

[334] G   However when Zoilus and the people of Gaza came to him with the request that he would aid them, as their territory was being ravaged by the Jews under Alexander, Alexander in fear of Ptolemy Lathyrus. raised the siege and led his army home again, and thereafter resorted to cunning ; for while secretly sending for Cleopatra to attack Ptolemy, he openly proposed a friendly alliance to him, thus acting a part. [335] He also promised to give him four hundred talents of silver, asking him in return to put the local ruler Zoilus out of the way and to assign his territory to the Jews. And so Ptolemy at that time gladly formed a friendship with Alexander, and laid hands on Zoilus. [336] G   But later, when he heard that Alexander had secretly sent to his mother Cleopatra, he broke the sworn agreements he had made with him, and attacked Ptolemais, and when it refused to admit him, besieged it. Then, leaving his generals and a part of his force to carry on the siege, he set out with the rest of his army to subdue Judaea. [337] But when Alexander learned of Ptolemy's intention, he also collected an army, consisting of about fifty thousand natives, or eighty thousand, as some writers state, and taking this force went out to meet Ptolemy. Ptolemy, however, made a sudden attack on Asochis, a city of Galilee, on the Sabbath, and taking it by storm, captured about ten thousand persons and a great deal of booty besides.   

[338] G   He also made an attempt on Sepphoris at a little distance from the city which had just been sacked, but lost many of his men, and went on to fight Alexander. Alexander met him in the neighbourhood of the river Jordan, at a place called Asophon, not far from the river Jordan, and pitched his camp close to the enemy. [339] He had, moreover, eight thousand front-line fighters, whom he called "hundred-fighters." carrying long shields covered with bronze. Now Ptolemy's front-line fighters also had round shields covered with bronze, but as his troops were inferior to the enemy in other respects, they were more cautious about risking an engagement. [340] G   However they were not a little encouraged by the tactician Philostephanus, who told them to cross the river, which was between their camp and the enemy's. And Alexander decided not to prevent their crossing, thinking that he would the more easily take the enemy if they had the river behind them and so were unable to flee. [341] And at first both sides equally performed deeds of prowess and daring, and great was the slaughter in both armies ; but as Alexander's men were getting the upper hand, Philostephanus divided his force and skilfully came to the relief of those who were giving ground. [342] G   And as no one came to aid that part of the Jewish force which was falling back, it had to flee ; and not even those near them helped them, but joined in their flight. Ptolemy's men, however, did just the opposite, [343] for they followed the Jews and killed them, until finally, when they were completely routed, they tracked them down to slaughter them until their swords became blunted with killing, and their hands were utterly tired. [344] G   It was said, in fact, that thirty thousand of them perished - Timagenes says there were fifty thousand -, while as for the rest, some were taken captive, and others escaped to their native places.   

[345] After this victory Ptolemy overran other territory, and when evening fell, halted in some villages  of Judaea, which he found full of women and infants ;  he thereupon commanded his soldiers to cut their throats and chop them up and then to fling the pieces into boiling cauldrons and to taste of them. [346] G   This order he gave that those who had escaped from the battle and had returned to their homes might get the notion that the enemy were eaters of human flesh, and so might be the more terrified by this sight. [347] And both Strabo and Nicolas say that they treated the Jews in the manner which I have just mentioned. Ptolemy's men also took Ptolemais by storm, as we have shown elsewhere.   

{13.}   [348] G   When Cleopatra saw her son growing in power, and ravaging Judaea with impunity and holding Gaza subject to him, she decided not to be idle while he, having grown greater, was at her gates  and coveted the throne of Egypt ; [349] and so she at once set out against him with a sea and land force, appointing as leaders of her entire army the Jews Chelkias and Ananias. At the same time she sent the greater part of her wealth and her grandsons and her testament to Cos for safe keeping. [350] G   Then she commanded her son Alexander to sail toward Phoenicia with a great fleet, while she herself came to Ptolemais with her entire force, and when the inhabitants refused to admit her, besieged the city. [351] Thereupon Ptolemy  left Syria and hastened to Egypt, thinking to get possession of it suddenly while it was left without an army, but he was disappointed of his hope. It was just at this time that Chelkias, one of Cleopatra's two commanders, died in Coele-Syria while in pursuit of Ptolemy.   

[352] G   When Cleopatra heard of her son's attempt and learned that his plans concerning Egypt had not  prospered as he had expected, she sent a portion of her army against him and drove him out of the  country. And so he left Egypt once more and spent the winter at Gaza. [353] Meanwhile Cleopatra besieged the garrison in Ptolemais and took it and the city itself. And when Alexander came to her with gifts and such marks of attention as were to be expected after the harsh treatment he had suffered at the hands of Ptolemy - for he had no other course of safety than this -, some of her friends advised her to take these things and at the same time invade his country and occupy it, and not suffer such an abundance of resources to belong to one man, who was a Jew. [354] G   Ananias, however, gave the opposite advice, saying that she would commit an injustice if she deprived an ally of his own possessions, "especially one who is our kinsman. For I would have you know that an injustice done to this man will make all us Jews your enemies." [355] By this exhortation of Ananias Cleopatra was persuaded not to do Alexander any wrong, but instead she made an alliance with him at Scythopolis in Coele-Syria.   

[356] G   Thereupon Alexander, being rid of his fear of Ptolemy, at once marched on Coele-Syria and took Gadara after a siege of ten months, and also took Amathus, the greatest stronghold of those occupied beyond the Jordan, where Theodorus, the son of Zenon, kept his best and most valuable possessions. This man fell upon the Jews unexpectedly and killed ten thousand of them, and plundered Alexander's baggage. [357] These misfortunes did not, however, dismay Alexander, who marched on the cities of the coast, Raphia and Anthedon, the name of which King Herod later changed to Agrippias, and took this too by storm. [358] G   And when he saw that Ptolemy had withdrawn from Gaza to Cyprus, and his mother Cleopatra to Egypt, in his anger with the Gazaeans for having summoned Ptolemy to help them, he besieged their city and plundered their territory. [359] But Apollodotus, the general of the Gazaeans, fell upon the camp of the Jews by night with two thousand mercenaries and ten thousand slaves, and so long as night lasted, the Gazaeans were victorious, for they made the enemy believe that it was Ptolemy who had attacked them ; but when day came, and this belief proved false, the Jews, on learning the true state of things, reformed their ranks and attacked the Gazaeans and slew about a thousand of them. [360] G   The Gazaeans, however, held their ground and did not yield either through lack of supplies or because of the number of their slain - for they were ready to suffer any fate rather than fall into the hands of the enemy -, and their courage was heightened by the expectation that Aretas, the king of the Arabs, would come to their assistance. [361] But first, as it happened, Apollodotus was put to death, for his brother Lysimachus, who was envious of his prestige with the people of the city, killed him ; he then united the army and delivered the city to Alexander. [362] G   On first entering, Alexander acted peacefully, but subsequently he loosed his force on the Gazaeans and let his men avenge themselves on them. And so they went off, some in one direction and others in another, killing the Gazaeans. These, however, were by no means mean-spirited, but on the contrary defended themselves against the Jews with whatever weapons came to hand and slew as many of them as they themselves had lost. [363] And some of them, being left alone, set fire to their houses in order that nothing might remain in them for the enemy to take out as spoil. Others with their own hands made away with their children and wives, this being the means by which they were compelled to deliver them from slavery to their foes. [364] G   Of the councilmen there were five hundred in all who took refuge in the temple of Apollo - for the attack had come just when they were sitting in council - , but Alexander slew them there, and having pulled the city down upon them, returned to Jerusalem after spending a year on the siege.   

[365] About this same time Antiochus, surnamed Grypus, met death as the victim of a plot formed by  Heracleon ; he was forty-five years of age and reigned twenty-nine. [366] G   And his son Seleucus, on succeeding to his throne, waged war with his father's brother, who was surnamed Cyzicenus, and after defeating him, captured and killed him. [367] But not long afterward Antiochus, the son of Cyzicenus, who was called Eusebes {"the Pious"}, came to Aradus, and having put on the diadem, waged war with Seleucus, and after defeating him, drove him a out of the whole of Syria. [368] G   Seleucus thereupon fled to Cilicia, and coming to Mopsuestia, again tried to exact money from its inhabitants. But the people of Mopsuestia were indignant at this, and setting fire to his palace, destroyed him together with his friends. [369] Then while Antiochus the son of Cyzicenus, was reigning over Syria, Antiochus, the brother of Seleucus, made war on him, but was defeated and perished with his army. And after his death his brother Philip put on the diadem and began to reign over a part of Syria. [370] G   Thereupon Ptolemy Lathyrus sent for their fourth brother, called Demetrius Akairos {"the Ill-timed"}, from Cnidus and made him king at Damascus. [371] These two brothers were courageously opposed by Antiochus, but he soon died ; for he went to the aid of Laodice, queen of the Samenians, who was waging war with the Parthians, and fell fighting bravely. And so Syria was held by the two brothers Demetrius and Philip, as has been related elsewhere.  

[372] G   As for Alexander, his own people revolted against him - for the nation was aroused against him - at the celebration of the festival, and as he stood beside the altar and was about to sacrifice, they pelted him with citrons, it being a custom among the Jews that at the festival of Tabernacles everyone holds wands made of palm branches and citrons - these we have described elsewhere { AJ 3.245 }; and they added insult to injury by saying that he was descended from captives and was unfit to hold office and to sacrifice ; [373] and being enraged at this, he killed some six thousand of them, and also placed a wooden barrier about the altar and the temple as far as the coping (of the court) which the priests alone were permitted to enter, and by this means blocked the people's way to him. [374] G   He also maintained foreign troops of Pisidians and Cilicians, for he could not use Syrians, being at war with them. And after subduing the Arabs of Moab and Galaaditis, whom he forced to pay tribute, he demolished Amathus, as Theodorus did not venture to meet him in the field. [375] Then he engaged in battle with Obedas, the king of the Arabs, and falling into an ambush in a rough and difficult region, he was pushed by a multitude of camels into a deep ravine near Garada, a village of Gaulanis, and barely escaped with his own life, and fleeing from there, came to Jerusalem. [376] G   But when the nation attacked him upon this misfortune, he made war on it and within six years slew no fewer than fifty thousand Jews. And so when he urged them to make an end of their hostility toward him, they only hated him the more on account of what had happened. And when he asked what he ought to do and what they wanted of him, they all cried out, "to die" ; and they sent to Demetrius Akairos, asking him to come to their assistance.   

{14.}   [377] Thereupon Demetrius came with his army, and taking along those who had summoned him, encamped near the city of Shechem. And Alexander on his side took six thousand two hundred mercenaries and about twenty thousand Jews who favoured his cause, and went out to meet Demetrius, who had three thousand horse and forty thousand foot. [378] G   Now there was much activity in both camps, the one side attempting to cause Alexander's mercenaries to desert because they were Greeks, while the other made the same appeal to the Jews who were with Demetrius. But as neither side could persuade the other, they engaged in battle, and Demetrius was victorious, while all the mercenaries of Alexander met death after giving proof of their loyalty and courage. Many of Demetrius' soldiers, however, also died.   

[379] Alexander thereupon fled to the mountains, where out of pity for him at this reverse six thousand Jews gathered to his side. And at this Demetrius withdrew in alarm. But later on the Jews fought against Alexander and were defeated, many of them dying in battle. [380] G   The most powerful of them, however, he shut up and besieged in the city of Bethoma, and after taking the city and getting them into his power, he brought them back to Jerusalem ; and there he did a thing that was as cruel as could be : while he feasted with his concubines in a conspicuous place, he ordered some eight hundred of the Jews to be crucified, and slaughtered their children and wives before the eyes of the still living wretches. [381] This was the revenge he took for the injuries he had suffered ; but the penalty he exacted was inhuman for all that, even though he had, as was natural, gone through very great hardships in the wars he had fought against them, and had finally found himself in danger of losing both his life and his throne, for they were not satisfied to carry on the struggle by themselves but brought foreigners as well, [382] G   and at last reduced him to the necessity of surrendering to the king of the Arabs the territory which he had conquered in Moab and Galaaditis and the strongholds therein, in order that he might not aid the Jews in the war against him ; and they committed countless other insulting and abusive acts against him. [383] But still he seems to have done this thing unnecessarily, and as a result of his excessive cruelty he was nicknamed Thrakidas {the " Cossack }  by the Jews. Then his opponents, numbering in all about eight thousand, fled by night and remained in exile so long as Alexander lived. And he, being rid of the trouble they had caused him, reigned thereafter in complete tranquillity.   

[384] G   Now when Demetrius returned from Judaea to Beroea he besieged his brother Philip with ten thousand foot and a thousand horse. Thereupon Straton, the ruler of Beroea, allied with Philip, called in Azizus, the phylarch of the Arabs, and Mithridates Sinakes, the governor of the Parthians. [385] And so they came with a large force and besieged Demetrius in his barricaded camp, and under pressure of arrows and thirst they compelled the men inside with him to surrender. Then they carried off the spoil of the country, and taking Demetrius with them, sent him to Mithridates, who was then reigning over the Parthians, while those captives who happened to be citizens of Antioch they restored without ransom to the Antiochians. [386] G   But Mithridates, the king of Parthia, held Demetrius in the greatest honour until Demetrius' life came to an end through illness. Philip, however, immediately after the battle marched on Antioch, and after seizing it, became king of Syria.   

{15.}   [387] Then Antiochus, called Dionysus, who was a brother of Philip and had designs on the throne, came to Damascus, and getting the government of the city into his hands, became king. But when he  set out on a campaign against the Arabs, his brother  Philip heard of it and marched on Damascus. [388] G   Thereupon Milesius, who had been left to guard the citadel and the Damascenes, delivered up the city to him ; but as he showed himself ungrateful to Milesius and gave him none of the things which Milesius had hoped for when he admitted him, but on the contrary tried to make it seem as if he had taken the city through the fear inspired by him instead of rewarding Milesius as he ought for his services, he became an object of suspicion and was again driven out of Damascus ; [389] for once, when he had set out for the hippodrome, Milesius shut the gates on him and kept Damascus safe for Antiochus. And when Antiochus heard of Philip's experience, he returned from Arabia and at once took the field, marching on Judaea with eight thousand heavy-armed soldiers and eight hundred horse. [390] G   Thereupon Alexander, who feared an invasion by him, dug a deep trench, beginning at Chabarsaba, which is now called Antipatris, as far as the sea at Joppa, where alone it was possible to attack ; and he erected a wall and set up wooden towers and firing-platforms for a distance of a hundred and fifty stades, and then awaited Antiochus's attack. [391] But Antiochus burned all these constructions and so made his army pass through this way to Arabia. At first the Arab king retreated but afterward suddenly appeared with ten thousand horse, and though Antiochus on meeting them fought valiantly, he was killed just as he was gaining the victory and was coming to the aid of part of his army that was in difficulties. And when Antiochus fell, his army fled to the village of Kana, where the greatest part of it perished of hunger.   

[392] G   After his death Aretas began to reign over Coele-Syria, being called to the throne by those who held Damascus because of their hatred of Ptolemaeus, the son of Mennaeus. From there he marched on Judaea and defeated Alexander in a battle near the fortress of Adida, but after coming to terms with him, withdrew from Judaea.   

[393] Thereupon Alexander once more marched on the city of Dium and captured it, and then led his army against Essa, where Zenon's most valuable possessions were, and surrounded the place with three walls ; and after taking the city without a battle, he set out against Gaulana and Seleucia. [394] G   After taking these cities as well, he captured in addition the Valley of Antiochus, as it is called, and the fortress of Gamala. And having serious ground for complaint against Demetrius, the governor of these districts, he deprived him of office, and having spent three whole years in the field, returned to his own country, where the Jews welcomed him eagerly because of his successes.   

[395] Now at this time the Jews held the following cities of Syria, Idumaea and Phoenicia : on the sea-coast, Straton's Tower, Apollonia, Joppa, Jamneia, Azotus, Gaza, Anthedon, Raphia and Rhinocorura ; [396] G   in the interior, toward Idumaea, Adora ; and Marisa, and the whole of Idumaea and Samaria and Mount Carmel and Mount Tabor and Scythopolis and Gadara ; in Gaulanitis they had Seleucia and Gamala ; [397] and in Moab, Essebon, Medaba, Lemba, Oronaim, Agalain, Thona, Zoara, the Valley of the Cilicians and Pella - this last city Alexander's men demolished because the inhabitants would not agree to adopt the national customs of the Jews -, and others of the principal cities of Syria which had been subdued.   

[398] G   But after these conquests King Alexander fell ill from heavy drinking, and for three years  afflicted with a quartan fever, but still he did not give up campaigning until, being exhausted from his labours, he met death in the territory of the Gerasenes while besieging Ragaba, a fortress across the Jordan. [399] And when the queen saw that he was on the point of death and no longer held to any hope of recovery, she wept and beat her breast, lamenting the bereavement that was about to befall her and her children, and said to him, "To whom are you thus leaving me and your children, who are in need of help from others, especially when you know how hostile the nation feels toward you ! " [400] G   Thereupon he advised her to follow his suggestions for keeping the throne secure for herself and her children and to conceal his death from the soldiers until she had captured the fortress. [401] And then, he said, on her return to Jerusalem as from a splendid victory, she should yield a certain amount of power to the Pharisees, for if they praised her in return for this sign of regard, they would dispose the nation favourably toward her.  These men, he assured her, had so much influence with their fellow-Jews that they could injure those whom they hated and help those to whom they were friendly ; [402] G   for they had the complete confidence of the masses when they spoke harshly of any person, even when they did so out of envy ; and he himself, he added, had come into conflict with the nation because these men had been badly treated by him. [403] "And so," he said, "when you come to Jerusalem, send for their partisans, and showing them my dead body, permit them, with every sign of sincerity, to treat me as they please, whether they wish to dishonour my corpse by leaving it unburied because of the many injuries they have suffered at my hands, or in their anger wish to offer my dead body any other form of indignity. Promise them also that you will not take any action, while you are on the throne, without their consent. [404] G   If you speak to them in this manner, I shall receive from them a more splendid burial than I should from you ; for once they have the power to do so, they will not choose to treat my corpse badly, and at the same time you will reign securely." With this exhortation to his wife he died, after reigning twenty-seven years, at the age of forty-nine.   

{16.}   [405] Thereupon Alexandra, after capturing the fortress, conferred with the Pharisees as her husband had suggested, and by placing in their hands all that concerned his corpse and the royal power, stilled their anger against Alexander, and made them her well-wishers and friends. [406] G   And they in turn went to the people and made public speeches in which they recounted the deeds of Alexander, and said that in him they had lost a just king, and by their eulogies they so greatly moved the people to mourn and lament that they gave him a more splendid burial than had been given any of the kings before him. [407] Now although Alexander had left two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, he had bequeathed the royal power to Alexandra. Of these sons the one, Hyrcanus, was incompetent to govern and in addition much preferred a quiet life, while the younger, Aristobulus, was a man of action and high spirit. As for the queen herself, she was loved by the masses because she was thought to disapprove of the crimes committed by her husband.   

[408] G   Alexandra then appointed Hyrcanus as high  priest because of his greater age but more especially because of his lack of energy ; and she permitted the Pharisees to do as they liked in all matters, and also commanded the people to obey them ; and whatever regulations, introduced by the Pharisees in accordance with the tradition of their fathers, had been abolished by her father-in-law Hyrcanus, these she again restored. [409] And so, while she had the title of sovereign, the Pharisees had the power. For example, they recalled exiles, and freed prisoners, and, in a word, in no way differed from absolute rulers. Nevertheless the queen took thought for the welfare of the kingdom and recruited a large force of mercenaries and also made her own force twice as large, with the result that she struck terror into the local rulers round her and received hostages from them. [410] G   And throughout the entire country there was quiet except for the Pharisees ; for they worked upon the feelings of the queen and tried to persuade her to kill those who had urged Alexander to put the eight hundred to death. Later they themselves cut down  one of them, named Diogenes, and his death was  followed by that of one after the other, [411] until the leading citizens came to the palace, Aristobulus among them - for he was obviously resentful of what was taking place, and let it he plainly seen that if only he should get the opportunity, he would not leave his mother any power at all -, and they reminded her of all that they had achieved in the face of danger, whereby they had shown their unwavering a loyalty to their master and had therefore been judged worthy by him of the greatest honours. [412] G   And they begged her not to crush their hopes completely, for, they said, after escaping the dangers of war, they were now being slaughtered at home like cattle by their foes, and there was no one to avenge them. [413] They also said that if their adversaries were to be contented with those already slain, they would bear with equanimity what had taken place, out of genuine devotion to their masters ; but if, on the other hand, these men were to continue in the same course, let them, they begged, at least be given their freedom ; for they would never bring themselves to seek any means of safety but what should come from her, and would welcome death in her palace so long as they might not have disloyalty on their conscience. [414] G   It would be disgraceful both for them and for her who ruled as queen, they added, if, being abandoned by her, they should be given shelter by the enemies of her husband ; for Aretas the Arab and the other princes would consider it of the utmost value to enlist such men as mercenaries, whose very name, they might say, had caused these princes to shudder before they had heard it (spoken aloud). [415] But if this could not be, and she had determined to favour the Pharisees above all others, let her, as the next best thing, station each of them in one of the garrisons, for, if some evil genius were thus wroth with the house of Alexander, they at least would show themselves (loyal) even though living in humble circumstances.   

[416] G   Speaking in this vein at great length, they called upon the shades of Alexander to take pity on  those who had been killed and those who were in  danger, whereupon all the bystanders burst into tears. And Aristobulus in particular made plain his sentiments by denouncing his mother bitterly. [417] But still they themselves were to blame for their misfortunes, in allowing a woman to reign who madly desired it in her unreasonable love of power, and when her sons were in the prime of life. And so the queen, not knowing what to do consistent with her dignity, entrusted to them the guarding of the fortresses with the exception of Hyrcania, Alexandreion and Machaerus, where her most valuable possessions were. [418] G   And not long afterward she sent out her son Aristobulus with an army to Damascus against Ptolemaeus, the son of Mennaeus, as he was called, who was a troublesome neighbour to their city. He returned, however, without having accomplished anything noteworthy.   

[419] About this time news came that Tigranes, king of Armenia, with an army of three hundred thousand men had invaded Syria and was coming against Judaea. This naturally frightened the queen and her  people. And so they sent many valuable gifts and envoys to him as he was besieging Ptolemais. [420] G   For Queen Selene, also called Cleopatra, was then ruling over Syria and she induced the inhabitants to shut their gates against Tigranes. The envoys therefore met with him and asked him to grant favourable terms to the queen and her people. [421] Thereupon he commended them for coming so great a distance to do homage to him, and gave them reason to hope for the best. But hardly had Ptolemais been captured when news came to Tigranes that Lucullus, who was pursuing Mithridates, had failed to catch him, as he had fled to the Iberians, and had therefore ravaged Armenia and was besieging (the capital). And when Tigranes learned of this, he withdrew to his own country.   

[422] G   Some time after this the queen was stricken by a serious illness, whereupon Aristobulus decided to make an attempt to seize power, and slipped  away by night with one of his servants, and went to the fortresses where his father's friends had been stationed. [423] For while he had long resented the  things his mother was doing, he was just then especially fearful that on her death their whole family might come under the rule of the Pharisees, for he saw the incapacity of his brother, who was destined to succeed to the throne. [424] G   The only one informed of his deed was his wife, whom he had left in the city with their children. And he first came to Agaba, where he found Palaestes, one of the leading men, and was given shelter by him. [425] Now on the next day the queen became aware of Aristobulus' flight, and for a time she believed that his departure was not for the purpose of beginning a revolt. But when successive messengers came to report that he had captured the first fortress, and after that the second, and after that all of them - for when once the first had made a beginning they all hastened to submit to his will -, then at last both the queen and her people were in the greatest dismay. [426] G   For they knew that Aristobulus was not far from being able to seize the throne for himself, and they were very much afraid that he might exact satisfaction for the excesses which they had practised on his house. They therefore decided to place his wife and children in the fortress overlooking the temple. [427] And Aristobulus received such large contributions from many sources that there was already a veritable royal train about him. For in barely fifteen days he had occupied twenty-two fortresses, and obtaining resources from these, he gathered an army from Lebanon, Trachonitis and the local princes. These men readily submitted to him, being drawn to the stronger side, and at the same time believing that if they aided Aristobulus they could exploit his kingdom no less than those who were closely related to him, on the ground that they had been the means of his conquering it. [428] G   Meanwhile the elders of the Jews and Hyrcanus went to the queen and begged her to give them some counsel about the present situation. For, they said, Aristobulus was already master of almost the entire country by virtue of having occupied so many fortresses ; but it was not their place, however seriously ill she might be, to make plans by themselves while she was still alive ; and yet the danger was not at all far off. [429] Thereupon she told them to do whatever they thought expedient, saying that there were many resources left to them, namely a nation in a sound condition, an army, and money in the various treasuries. As for herself, she was no longer greatly concerned about affairs of state, as her physical strength was almost spent.   

[430] G   Not long after she had spoken these words, she died, having reigned nine years and having lived seventy-three years in all. She was a woman who showed none of the weakness of her sex : for being one of those inordinately desirous of the power to rule, she showed by her deeds the ability to carry out her plans, and at the same time she exposed the folly of those men who continually fail to maintain sovereign power. [431] For she valued the present more than the future, and making everything else secondary to absolute rule, she had, on account of this, no consideration for either decency or justice. At least matters turned out so unfortunately for her house that the sovereign power which it had acquired in the face of the greatest dangers and difficulties was not long afterward taken from it because of her desire for things unbecoming a woman, and because she expressed the same opinions as did those who were hostile to her family, and also because she left the kingdom without anyone who had their interests at heart. [432] G   And even after her death she caused the palace to be filled with misfortunes and disturbances which arose from the public measures taken during her lifetime. Nevertheless, in spite of reigning in this manner, she had kept the nation at peace. Such, then, was the end of Alexandra.  

Book 14 →

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