Josephus: Jewish War, Book 1

Sections 1 - 119  

Translated by H.St.J. Thackeray (1927). The section numbers in the Greek text are shown in red; the traditional chapter numbers (as in Whiston's translation) are shown in green.  

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


{Preface.}   [1] The war of the Jews against the Romans - the greatest not only of the wars of our own time, but, so far as accounts have reached us, well nigh of all that ever broke out between cities or nations - has not lacked its historians. Of these, however, some, having taken no part in the action, have collected from hearsay casual and contradictory stories which they have then edited in a rhetorical style ; [2] G   while others, who witnessed the events, have, either from flattery of the Romans or from hatred of the Jews, misrepresented the facts, their writings exhibiting alternatively invective and encomium, but nowhere historical accuracy. In these circumstances, [3] Josephus, son of Matthias, a Hebrew by race, a native of Jerusalem and a priest, who at the opening of the war myself fought against the Romans and in the sequel was perforce an onlooker - propose to provide the subjects of the Roman Empire with a narrative of the facts, by translating into Greek the account which I previously composed in my vernacular tongue and sent to the barbarians in the interior.   

[4] G   I spoke of this upheaval as one of the greatest magnitude. The Romans had their own internal  disorders. The Jewish revolutionary party, whose numbers and fortunes were at their zenith, seized the occasion of the turbulence of these times for insurrection. As a result of these vast disturbances the whole of the Eastern Empire was in the balance ; the insurgents were fired with hopes of its acquisition, their opponents feared its loss. [5] For the Jews hoped that all their fellow-countrymen beyond the Euphrates would join with them in revolt ; while the Romans, on their side, were occupied with their neighbours the Gauls, and the Celts were in motion. Nero's death, moreover, brought universal confusion ;  many were induced by this opportunity to aspire to the sovereignty, and a change which might make their fortune was after the heart of the soldiery.   

[6] G   I thought it monstrous, therefore, to allow the truth in affairs of such moment to go astray, and that, while Parthians and Babylonians and the most remote tribes of Arabia with our countrymen beyond the Euphrates and the inhabitants of Adiabene were, through my assiduity, accurately acquainted with the origin of the war, the various phases of calamity through which it passed and its conclusion, the Greeks and such Romans as were not engaged in the contest should remain in ignorance of these matters, with flattering or fictitious narratives as their only guide.   

[7] Though the writers in question presume to give their works the title of histories, yet throughout them, apart from the utter lack of sound information, they seem, in my opinion, to miss their own mark. They desire to represent the Romans as a great nation, and yet they continually depreciate and disparage the actions of the Jews. [8] G   But I fail to see how the conquerors of a puny people deserve to be accounted great. Again, these writers have respect neither for the long duration of the war, nor for the vast numbers of the Roman army that it engaged, nor for the prestige of the generals, who, after such herculean labours under the walls of Jerusalem, are, I suppose, of no repute in these writers' eyes, if their achievement is to be underestimated.   

[9] I have no intention of rivalling those who extol the Roman power by exaggerating the deeds of my compatriots. I shall faithfully recount the actions of both combatants ; but in my reflections on the events I cannot conceal my private sentiments, nor refuse to give my personal sympathies scope to bewail my country's misfortunes. [10] G   For, that it owed its ruin to civil strife, and that it was the Jewish tyrants who drew down upon the holy temple the unwilling hands of the Romans and the conflagration, is attested by Titus Caesar himself, who sacked the city ; throughout the war he commiserated the populace who were at the mercy of the revolutionaries, and often of his own accord deferred the capture of the city and by protracting the siege gave the culprits time for repentance. [11] Should, however, any critic censure me for my strictures upon the tyrants or their bands of marauders or for my lamentations over my country's misfortunes, I ask his indulgence for a compassion which falls outside an historian's province. For of all the cities under Roman rule it was the lot of ours to attain to the highest felicity and to fall to the lowest depths of calamity. [12] G   Indeed, in my opinion, the misfortunes of all nations since the world began fall short of those of the Jews ; and, since the blame lay with no foreign nation, it was impossible to restrain one's grief. Should, however, any critic be too austere for pity, let him credit the history with the facts, the historian with the lamentations.   

[13] Yet I, on my side, might justly censure those erudite Greeks who, living in times of such stirring actions as by comparison reduce to insignificance the wars of antiquity, yet sit in judgement on these  current events and revile those who make them their special study - authors whose principles they lack,  even if they have the advantage of them in literary skill. For their own themes they take the Assyrian and Median empires, as if the narratives of the ancient historians were not fine enough. [14] G   Yet, the truth is, these modern writers are their inferiors no less in literary power than in judgement. The ancient historians set themselves severally to write the history of their own times, a task in which their connexion with the events added lucidity to their record ; while mendacity brought an author into disgrace with readers who knew the facts. [15] In fact, the work of committing to writing events which have not previously been recorded and of commending to posterity the history of one's own time is one which merits praise and acknowledgement. The industrious writer is not one who merely remodels the scheme and arrangement of another's work, but one who uses fresh materials and makes the framework of the history his own. [16] G   For myself, at a vast expenditure of money and pains, I, a foreigner, present to Greeks and Romans this memorial of great achievements. As for the native Greeks, where personal profit or a lawsuit is concerned, their mouths are at once agape and their tongues loosed ; but in the matter of history, where veracity and laborious collection of the facts are essential, they are mute, leaving to inferior and ill-informed writers the task of describing the exploits of their rulers. Let us at least hold historical truth in honour, since by the Greeks it is disregarded.   

[17] To narrate the ancient history of the Jews, the origin of the nation and the circumstances of their  migration from Egypt, the countries which they traversed in their wanderings, the extent of the territory which they subsequently occupied, and the incidents which led to their deportation, would, I considered, be not only here out of place, but superfluous ; seeing that many Jews before me have accurately recorded the history of our ancestors, and that these records have been translated by certain Greeks into their native tongue without serious error. [18] G   I shall therefore begin my work at the point where the historians of these events and our prophets conclude. Of the subsequent history, I shall describe the incidents of the war through which I lived with all the detail and elaboration at my command ; for the events preceding my lifetime 1 shall be content with a brief summary.   

[19] I shall relate how Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, took Jerusalem by storm and, after holding it for three years and six months, was expelled from the country by the Hasmonaeans ; next how their descendants, in their quarrel for the throne, dragged the Romans and Pompey upon the scene ; how Herod, son of Antipater, with the aid of Sossius, overthrew the Hasmonaean dynasty ; [20] G   of the revolt of the people, after Herod's death, when Augustus was Roman Emperor and Quintilius Varus provincial governor ; of the outbreak of war in the twelfth year of Nero's principate, the fate which befell Cestius and the success which attended the Jewish arms in overrunning the country in the opening engagements.   

[21] Then I shall proceed to tell how they fortified the neighbouring towns ; how Nero, apprehensive for the Empire in consequence of the reverses of Cestius, entrusted the conduct of the war to Vespasian ; of his invasion of Jewish territory, accompanied by his elder son ; of the strength of the forces, Roman and auxiliary, with which he penetrated into Galilee, and of the towns of that province which he captured either by main force or by negotiation. [22] G   In this connexion I shall describe the admirable discipline  of the Romans on active service and the training of the legions ; the extent and nature of the two Galilees, the limits of Judaea, the special features of the country, its lakes and springs. I shall give a  precise description of the sufferings of the prisoners taken in the several towns, from my own observation or personal share in them. For I shall conceal nothing even of my own misfortunes, as I shall be addressing persons who are well aware of them.   

[23] I shall next relate how, at the moment when the Jewish fortunes were on the decline, Nero's death occurred, and how Vespasian's advance upon Jerusalem was diverted by the call to imperial dignity ; the portents of his elevation which he received, and the revolutions which took place in Rome ; [24] G   his proclamation by his soldiers as Emperor against his will ; the civil war which, on his departure for Egypt to restore order to the realm, broke out among the Jews, the rise of the tyrants to power and their mutual feuds.    

[25] My narrative will proceed to tell of the second invasion of our country by Titus, starting from Egypt ; how and where he mustered his forces, and their strength; the condition to which civil war had reduced the city on his arrival ; his various assaults and the series of earthworks which he constructed ; further, the triple line of our walls and their dimensions ; the defences of the city and the plan of the temple and sanctuary, [26] G   the measurements of these buildings and of the altar being all precisely stated ; certain festival customs, the seven degrees of purity, the ministerial functions of the priests, their vestments and those of the high priest, with a description of the Holy of Holies. Nothing shall be concealed, nothing added to facts which have been brought to Light.  

[27] I shall then describe the tyrants' brutal treatment of their fellow-countrymen and the clemency of the Romans towards an alien race, and how often Titus, in his anxiety to save the city and the temple, invited the rival parties to come to terms with him. I shall distinguish between the sufferings and calamities of the people, culminating in their defeat, as attributable respectively to the war, the sedition, and the famine. [28] G   Nor shall I omit to record either the misfortunes of the deserters or the punishments inflicted on the prisoners ; the burning of the Temple, contrary to Caesar's wishes, and the number of the sacred treasures rescued from the flames ; the taking of the whole city and the signs and portents that preceded it ; the capture of the tyrants, the number of the prisoners and the destiny allotted to each ; [29] nor yet how the Romans crushed the last remnants  of the war and demolished the local fortresses ; how Titus paraded the whole country and restored order ; and lastly his return to Italy and triumph.   

[30] G   All these topics I have comprised in seven books. While I have left no pretext for censure or accusation to persons who are cognisant of the facts and took part in the war, my work is written for lovers of the truth and not to gratify my readers. I will now open my narrative with the events named at the beginning of the foregoing summary.   

{1.}   [31] At the time when Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, was disputing with Ptolemy VI the suzerainty of Syria, dissension arose among the Jewish nobles. There were rival claims to supreme power, as no individual of rank could tolerate subjection to his peers. Onias, one of the chief priests, gaining the upper hand, expelled the sons of Tobias from the city. [32] G   The latter took refuge with Antiochus and besought him to use their services as guides for an invasion of Judaea. The king, having long  cherished this design, consented, and setting out at the head of a huge army took the city by assault, slew a large number of Ptolemy's followers, gave his soldiers unrestricted licence to pillage, and himself plundered the temple and interrupted, for a period of three years and six months, the regular course of the daily sacrifices. [33] The high priest Onias made his escape to Ptolemy and, obtaining from him a site in the nome of Heliopolis, built a small town on the model of Jerusalem and a temple resembling ours. We shall revert to these matters in due course.   

[34] G   Not content with his unlooked for success in capturing the city and with the plunder and wholesale carnage, Antiochus, carried away by his ungovernable passions and with the rankling memory of what he had suffered in the siege, put pressure upon the Jews to violate the code of their country by leaving their infants uncircumcised and sacrificing swine upon the altar. [35] These orders were disobeyed by all, and the most eminent defaulters were massacred. Bacchides, who was sent by Antiochus to command the garrison, with these impious injunctions to back his innate brutality, was guilty of every excess of iniquity, torturing distinguished individuals one after another, and daily parading before the eyes of all the appearance of a captured city, until by the extravagance of his crimes he provoked his victims to venture on reprisals.   

[36] G   These began with Matthias, son of Asamonaeus, a priest of a village called Modein, who  forming an armed band of himself and his family of five sons, slew Bacchides with choppers. Fear of the large garrison drove him to seek refuge at the moment in the hills ; [37] but, on being joined by many of the common people, he summoned courage to descend, fought and defeated the generals of Antiochus, and drove them out of Judaea. This success brought him supreme power ; his expulsion of the foreigners led his countrymen willingly to submit to his rulership, which, on his death, he bequeathed to Judas, the eldest of his sons.   

[38] G   Judas, assuming that Antiochus would not remain inactive, besides recruiting a native force,  made an alliance - he was the first to do so - with the Romans ; and when Epiphanes again invaded the country struck hard and forced him to retire. [39] Flushed with this success, he attacked the garrison, not yet ousted from the capital, expelled the troops from the upper city and confined them to the lower portion of the town, known as Acra. Being now master of the temple, he cleansed the whole area and walled it round, replaced the old and polluted vessels for the services by others which he caused to be made and brought into the sanctuary, built another altar and reinstalled the expiatory sacrifices. [40] G   The city was just recovering its hallowed character when Antiochus died, leaving his son Antiochus heir, alike to his kingdom, and to his detestation of the Jews.   

[41] The latter, accordingly, having collected 50,000 infantry, some 5000 horse and 80 elephants, pushed through Judaea into the hill country. After capturing the small town of Bethsuron, he was met at a spot called Bethzacharia, where there is a narrow defile, by Judas at the head of his forces. [42] G   Before the opposing armies came into action, Eleazar, brother of Judas, observing the tallest of the elephants, surmounted by a huge howdah and an array of gilded battlements, and concluding that it bore Antiochus, rushed out far beyond his own lines and, cutting through the enemy's ranks, made his way to the elephant. [43] Being unable to reach the supposed monarch because of his height from the ground, he struck the beast below the belly, brought its whole weight down upon himself, and was crushed to death ; having achieved nothing more than to attempt great things, holding life cheaper than renown. [44] G   The elephant-rider was, in fact, a commoner ; yet, even had he happened to be Antiochus, his daring assailant would have gained but the reputation of courting death in the bare expectation of a brilliant exploit. [45] To Eleazar's brother the incident proved an omen of the issue of the engagement. For, long and stubborn as was the resistance of the Jews, the king's forces, with superior numbers and favoured by fortune, were victorious ; and, after the loss of many of his men, Judas fled with the remainder to the province of Gophna. [46] G   Antiochus proceeded to Jerusalem, where, owing to a shortage of supplies, he stayed but a few days ; he then left what he considered a sufficient garrison and withdrew the rest of his army to winter quarters in Syria.  

[47] After the king's retreat, Judas did not remain inactive. Rallying the survivors of the combat and joined by numerous new recruits from his nation, he gave battle to the generals of Antiochus at the village of Acedasa ; where, after winning the honours of the day and slaying a large number of the enemy, he was slain himself. A few days later his brother  John also perished, a victim of a conspiracy of the partisans of Antiochus.   

{2.}   [48] G   Jonathan, his brother, who succeeded him, amongst other safeguards against his countrymen, strengthened his authority by an alliance with Rome, and made a truce with the young Antiochus. None, however, of these precautions proved a sufficient protection. [49] For the tyrant Tryphon, guardian of the young Antiochus, who was already conspiring against his ward and attempting to make away with his friends, treacherously arrested and imprisoned Jonathan, when on a mission with a small retinue to Antiochus at Ptolemais, and started on a campaign against Judaea. Repulsed by Simon, Jonathan's brother, and indignant at his defeat he then put his captive to death.  

[50] G   Simon's administration of affairs was excellent. He captured the towns of Gazara, Joppa, and Jamnia,  in the vicinity of the capital, and, after overpowering the garrison at Jerusalem, razed the citadel to the ground. Subsequently, he made alliance with Antiochus against Tryphon, whom the king, before his expedition against the Medes, was besieging at Dora. [51]  Yet Simon's contribution to the fall of Tryphon failed to shame the king out of his cupidity ; for not long after Antiochus sent his general Cendebaeus at the head of an army to ravage Judaea and make a vassal of Simon. [52] G   The latter, though advanced in years, took command of the war with juvenile energy ; and, sending his sons ahead with the most ablebodied of his troops, proceeded himself, with a division of his army, to the attack on another front. [53] Having, further, posted numerous ambuscades in different parts of the hills, he was successful in all the engagements, and after a brilliant victory was appointed high-priest and liberated the Jews from the Macedonian supremacy which had lasted for 170 years.  

[54] G   He too, however, fell a victim to treachery, being murdered at a banquet by his son-in-law  Ptolemaeus. The latter, after incarcerating Simon's  wife and two of his sons, sent a body of men to kill the third, John, also called Hyrcanus. [55] This youth, forewarned of their approach, hastened to reach the city, fully confident of the people's support, both from their recollection of his father's achievements and their hatred of Ptolemaeus' enormities. Ptolemaeus also rushed to gain entrance by another gate, but was repelled by the populace, who had with alacrity already admitted Hyrcanus. [56] G   Ptolemaeus forthwith withdrew to one of the fortresses above Jericho, called Dagon ; while Hyrcanus, having gained the high priestly office held by his father before him, offered sacrifice to God and then started in haste after Ptolemaeus to bring aid to his mother and brethren.   

[57] Attacking the fort, he proved superior in other ways, but was overcome by his righteous feelings. For Ptolemaeus, as often as he was hard pressed, brought forward his mother and brothers upon the ramparts and tortured them within full view of Hyrcanus, threatening to hurl them over the battlements, if he did not instantly retire. [58] G   At this spectacle indignation in the breast of Hyrcanus gave way to pity and terror. His mother, unshaken by her torments or the menace of death, with outstretched hands implored her son not to be moved by her outrageous treatment to spare the monster ; to her, death at Ptolemaeus' hands would be better than immortality, if he paid the penalty for the wrongs which he had done to their house. [59] John, as often as he took his mother's unflinching courage to heart and gave ear to her entreaties, was impelled to the assault ; but, when he beheld her beaten and mangled, he was unmanned and quite overcome by emotion. [60] G   The siege consequently dragged on until the year of repose came round, which is kept every seven years by the Jews as a period of inaction, like the seventh day of the week. Ptolemaeus, now relieved of the siege, put John's brothers and their mother to death and fled to Zenon, surnamed Cotulas, the despot of Philadelphia.   

[61] Antiochus, smarting under the blows which Simon had dealt him, led an army into Judaea and, sitting down before Jerusalem, besieged Hyrcanus ; who, opening the tomb of David, wealthiest of kings, extracted therefrom upwards of three thousand talents, with three hundred of which he bribed Antiochus to raise the blockade. The surplus he used to pay a mercenary force, being the first Jew to start this practice.   

[62] G   Subsequently, however, the campaign of Antiochus against the Medes gave him an opportunity for revenge. He at once flew upon the cities of Syria, expecting to find them, as he did, drained of efficient troops. [63] He thus captured Medabe and Samaga with the neighbouring towns, also Sichem and Argarizin, besides defeating the Cuthaeans, the race inhabiting the country surrounding the temple modelled on that at Jerusalem. He further took numerous cities in Idumaea, including Adoreon and Marisa.   

[64] G   Advancing to Samaria, on the site of which now stands the city of Sebaste, founded by King Herod, he blockaded it by a surrounding wall and entrusted the siege to his sons Aristobulus and Antigonus, who pressed it so vigorously that the inhabitants were reduced by the extremities of famine to make use of the most unheard of food. [65] They summoned to their aid Antiochus, surnamed Aspendius, who, readily complying, was defeated by the forces of Aristobulus. Pursued by the brothers as far as Scythopolis he got away ; they on their return to Samaria again confined its people within the walls, captured the town, razed it to the ground, and reduced the inhabitants to slavery. [66] G   Not allowing the flowing tide of success to cool their ardour, they proceeded with their army to Scythopolis, overran that district, and laid waste the whole country south of Mount Carmel.   

[67] The prosperous fortunes of John and his sons, however, provoked a sedition among his envious countrymen, large numbers of whom held meetings to oppose them and continued to agitate, until the smouldering flames burst out in open war and the rebels were defeated. [68] G   For the rest of his days John lived in prosperity, and, after excellently directing the government for thirty-one whole years, died leaving five sons ; truly a blessed individual and one who left no ground for complaint against fortune as regards himself. He was the only man to unite in his person three of the highest privileges : the supreme command of the nation, the high priesthood, and the gift of prophecy. [69] For so closely was he in touch with the Deity, that he was never ignorant of the future ; thus he foresaw and predicted that his two elder sons would not remain at the head of affairs. The story of their downfall is worth relating, and will show how great was the decline from their father's good fortune.   

{3.}   [70] G   On the death of Hyrcanus, Aristobulus, the eldest of his sons, transformed the government into  a monarchy, and was the first to assume the diadem, four hundred and seventy-one years and three months after the return of the people to their country, when released from servitude in Babylon. [71] Of his brothers, he conferred upon Antigonus, the next in seniority, for whom he had an apparent affection, honours equal to his own ; the rest he imprisoned in chains. His mother also, who had disputed his claim to authority, John having left her mistress of the realm, he confined in bonds, and carried his cruelty so far as to starve her to death in prison.   

[72] G   Retribution, however, overtook him in the person of his brother Antigonus, whom he loved and had made partner of his kingdom ; for he slew him also, owing to calumnies concocted by knavish courtiers. Aristobulus at first distrusted their statements, out of affection for his brother and because he attributed most of these fabricated reports to envy. [73] But one day when Antigonus had come in pomp from a campaign to attend the festival at which, according to national custom, tabernacles are erected in God's honour, Aristobulus happened to be ill ; and, at the close of the ceremony, Antigonus, surrounded by his bodyguard and arrayed with the utmost splendour, went up (to the Temple) and offered special worship on his brother's behalf. [74] G   Thereupon these villains went off to the king and told him of the military escort and of Antigonus's air of assurance, grander than became a subject, and that he was coming with an immense body of troops to put him to death, disdaining the mere honours of royalty when he might occupy the throne itself.   

[75] Gradually and reluctantly Aristobulus came to believe these insinuations. Taking precautions at once to conceal his suspicions and to secure himself against risks, he posted his bodyguards in an unlit subterranean passage - he was lying at the time in the castle formerly called Baris, afterwards Antonia - with orders to let Antigonus pass, if unarmed, but to kill him if he approached in arms. To Antigonus himself he sent instructions to come unarmed. [76] G   To meet the occasion the queen concerted with the conspirators a very crafty plot. They induced the messengers to keep the king's orders to themselves, and instead to tell Antigonus that his brother had heard that he had procured for himself some very fine armour and military decorations in Galilee ; that illness prevented him from paying a visit of inspection ; "but, now that you are on the point of departure, I shall be very glad to see you in your armour."   

[77] On hearing this, as there was nothing in his brother's disposition to arouse his suspicions, Antigonus went off in his armour as for a parade. On reaching the dark passage, called Straton's Tower, he was slain by the bodyguard ; affording a sure proof that calumny severs all ties of affection and of nature, and that of our better feelings none is strong enough to hold out interminably against envy.   

[78] G   Another feature of this case which may well excite astonishment was the conduct of Judas. He was of Essene extraction, and his predictions had never once proved erroneous or false. On this occasion, seeing Antigonus passing through the court of the temple, he exclaimed to his acquaintances a considerable number of his disciples were seated beside him - [79] "Ah me ! now were I better dead, since truth has died before me and one of my prophecies has been falsified. For yonder is Antigonus alive, who ought to have been slain to-day. The place predestined for his murder was Straton's Tower, and that is 600 stades from here ; and it is already the fourth hour of the day. So time frustrates the prophecy." [80] G   Having said this, the old man remained plunged in gloomy meditation. A little later came the news that Antigonus had been slain in the underground quarter, also called, like the maritime Caesarea, Straton's Tower. It was this identity of names which had disconcerted the seer.   

[81] Remorse for his foul deed had the instant effect  of aggravating the malady of Aristobulus. His mind ever distracted with thoughts of the murder, he fell into a decline ; until, sheer grief rending his entrails, he threw up a quantity of blood. [82] G   While removing this, one of the pages in attendance slipped, so divine providence willed, on the very spot where Antigonus had been assassinated, and spilt on the yet visible stains of the murder the blood of the murderer. An instantaneous cry broke from the spectators, believing that the lad had intentionally poured the bloody libation on that spot. [83] The king, hearing the cry, inquired what was its cause, and, when no one ventured to tell him, became more insistent in his desire to be informed. At length, under pressure of threats, they told him the truth. With tears filling his eyes and a groan such as his remaining strength permitted, he said : [84] G   "My lawless deeds, then, were not destined to escape God's mighty eye ; swift retribution pursues me for my kinsman's blood. How long, most shameless body, wilt thou detain the soul that is sentenced to a brother's and a mother's vengeance ? How long shall I make them these drop-by-drop libations of my blood ? Let them take it all at once, and let heaven cease to mock them with these dribbling offerings from my entrails." With these words on his lips he expired, after a reign of no more than a year.   

{4.}   [85] The widow of Aristobulus released his imprisoned brothers and placed on the throne  Alexander, who had the double advantage over the others of seniority and apparent moderation of character. However, on coming into power, he put to death one brother, who had aspirations to the throne ; the survivor, who was content with a quiet life, he held in honour.   

[86] G   He also had an encounter with Ptolemy, surnamed Lathyrus, who had taken the town of Asochis ;  although he killed many of the enemy, victory inclined to his opponent. But when Ptolemy, pursued by his mother Cleopatra, retired to Egypt, Alexander besieged and took Gadara and Amathus, the latter being the most important of the fortresses beyond Jordan and containing the most precious possessions of Theodorus, son of Zeno. [87] Theodorus, however, suddenly appearing, captured both his own treasures and the king's baggage and put some ten thousand Jews to the sword. Alexander, nevertheless, recovering from this blow, turned towards the coast and captured Gaza, Raphia, and Anthedon, a town which subsequently received from King Herod the name of Agrippias.   

[88] G   After his reduction of these places to servitude,  the Jewish populace rose in revolt against him at one of the festivals ; for it is on these festive occasions that sedition is most apt to break out. It was thought that he would never have quelled this conspiracy, had not his mercenaries come to his aid. These were natives of Pisidia and Cilicia ; Syrians he did not admit to the force on account of their innate hatred of his nation. [89] After slaying upwards of six thousand of the insurgents, he attacked Arabia ; there he subdued the people of Galaad and Moab and imposed tribute upon them, and then returned once more to Amathus. Theodorus being overawed by his victories, he found the fortress abandoned and razed it to the ground.   

[90] G   He next attacked Obedas, king of Arabia. The latter having laid an ambuscade near Gaulane, Alexander fell into the trap and lost his entire army, which was cooped into a deep ravine and crushed under a multitude of camels. He himself escaped to Jerusalem, but the magnitude of his disaster provoked the nation, which had long hated him, to insurrection. [91] Yet once again he proved a match for them, and in a succession of engagements in six years killed  no fewer than fifty thousand Jews. His victories, however, by which he wasted his realm, brought him little satisfaction ; desisting, therefore, from hostilities, he endeavoured to conciliate his subjects by persuasion. [92] G   But his change of policy and inconsistency of character only aggravated their hatred ; and when he inquired what he could do to pacify them, they replied "Die ; even death would hardly reconcile us to one guilty of your enormities." They simultaneously appealed for aid to Demetrius, surnamed the Unready {Akairos}. Hopes of aggrandisement brought from him a prompt response. Demetrius arrived with an army, and the Jews joined their allies in the neighbourhood of Sichem.   

[93] Their combined forces, amounting to three thousand horse and fourteen thousand foot, were met by Alexander with one thousand horse and eight thousand foot, mercenaries ; besides these he had some ten thousand Jews who were still loyal to him. Before action the two kings endeavoured by proclamations to cause desertion from the opposite ranks ; Demetrius hoped to win over Alexander's mercenaries, Alexander the Jewish allies of Demetrius. [94] G   But, when neither would the Jews abate their resentment nor the Greeks their fidelity, they ended by referring the issue to the clash of arms. [95] The battle was won by Demetrius, notwithstanding many feats of gallantry and strength displayed by Alexander's mercenaries. The upshot, however, proved contrary to the expectations of both combatants. For Demetrius, the victor, found himself abandoned by those who summoned him ; while Alexander, who took refuge in the hills, was joined by six thousand Jews, moved by compassion for his reverse of fortune. This turn of affairs was more than Demetrius could stand ; and in the belief that Alexander was now once more his match and that the whole nation was streaming back to him, he withdrew.   

[96] G   The remainder of the people, however, did not, on the withdrawal of their allies, drop their quarrel, but waged continuous war with Alexander, until, after killing a very large number of them, he drove the rest into Bemeselis ; having subdued this town, he brought them up to Jerusalem as prisoners. [97] So furious was he that his savagery went to the length of impiety. He had eight hundred of  his captives crucified in the midst of the city, and their wives and children butchered before their eyes, while he looked on, drinking, with his concubines reclining beside him. [98] G   Such was the consternation of the people that, on the following night, eight thousand of the hostile faction fled beyond the borders of Judaea ; their exile was terminated only by Alexander's death. Having, by such deeds, at last with difficulty secured tranquillity for the realm, he rested from warfare.   

[99] A fresh cause of disturbance, however, arose  in the person of Antiochus, surnamed Dionysus, brother of Demetrius and the last of the Seleucid line. This prince having set out on a campaign against the Arabs, Alexander, in alarm, dug a deep dyke to intercept him, extending from the mountainside above Antipatris to the coast at Joppa, and in front of the trench erected a high wall with wooden towers inserted, in order to bar the routes where attack was easy. [100] G   However, he failed to check Antiochus, who burnt the towers, levelled the trench and marched across with his army. Deferring his vengeance on the author of this obstruction he at once pushed on against the Arabs. [101] The Arabian king began by retiring to territory more favourable for battle, and then suddenly wheeling round his cavalry, ten thousand strong, fell upon the troops of Antiochus while in disorder. A hard fought battle ensued. So long as Antiochus lived, his forces held out, though mercilessly cut up by the Arabs. [102] G   When he fell, after constantly exposing himself in the front while rallying his worsted troops, the rout became general. The bulk of his army perished either on the field or in the flight ; the rest took refuge in the village of Gana, where all save a few succumbed to starvation.   

[103] On the death of Antiochus, the inhabitants of Damascus, from hatred of Ptolemaeus, son of Mennaeus, brought in Aretas and made him king of Coele-Syria. The latter made an expedition into Judaea, defeated Alexander in battle, and after concluding a treaty withdrew. [104] G   Alexander, for his part, captured Pella and proceeded against Gerasa, hankering once more after the treasures of Theodorus. Having blockaded the garrison by a triple line of walls, he carried the place without a battle. [105] He also conquered Gaulane and Seleuceia and took the so-called "Ravine of Antiochus," He further captured the strong fortress of Gamala and dismissed its commander, Demetrius, in consequence of numerous accusations. He then returned to Judaea after a campaign of three whole years. His successful career brought him a cordial welcome from the nation ; yet rest from war proved but the beginning of disease. [106] G   Afflicted by a quartan fever, he hoped to shake off the malady by a return to active life. He, accordingly, plunged into ill-timed campaigns and, forcing himself to tasks beyond his strength, hastened his end. He died, at any rate, amid stress and turmoil, after a reign of twenty-seven years.   

{5.}   [107] Alexander bequeathed the kingdom to his wife Alexandra, being convinced that the Jews would  bow to her authority as they would to no other, because by her utter lack of his brutality and by her opposition to his crimes she had won the affections of the populace. [108] G   Nor was he mistaken in these expectations ; for this frail woman firmly held the reins of government, thanks to her reputation for piety. She was, indeed, the very strictest observer of the national traditions and would deprive of office  any offenders against the sacred laws. [109] Of the two sons whom she had by Alexander, she appointed the elder, Hyrcanus, high priest, out of consideration alike for his age and his disposition, which was too lethargic to be troubled about public affairs ; the younger, Aristobulus, as a hot-head, she confined to a private life.   

[110] G   Beside Alexandra, and growing as she grew, arose the Pharisees, a body of Jews with the reputation of excelling the rest of their nation in the observances of religion, and as exact exponents of the laws. [111] To them, being herself intensely religious, she listened with too great deference ; while they, gradually taking advantage of an ingenuous woman, became at length the real administrators of the state, at liberty to banish and to recall, to loose and to bind, whom they would. In short, the enjoyments of royal authority were theirs ; its expenses and burthens fell to Alexandra. [112] G   She proved, however, to be a wonderful administrator in larger affairs, and, by continual recruiting doubled her army, besides collecting a considerable body of foreign troops ; so that she not only strengthened her own nation, but became a formidable foe to foreign potentates. But if she ruled the nation, the Pharisees ruled her.   

[113] Thus they put to death Diogenes, a distinguished man who had been a friend of Alexander, accusing him of having advised the king to crucify his eight hundred victims. They further urged Alexandra to make away with the others who had instigated Alexander to punish those men ; and as she from superstitious motives always gave way, they proceeded to kill whomsoever they would. [114] G   The most eminent of the citizens thus imperilled sought refuge with Aristobulus, who persuaded his mother to spare their lives in consideration of their rank, but, if she was not satisfied of their innocence, to expel them from the city. Their security being thus guaranteed, they dispersed about the country.   

[115] Alexandra sent an army to Damascus, on the pretext of the constant pressure put upon that city by Ptolemaeus ; the troops, however, returned to her without having achieved anything remarkable. [117] On the other hand, by means of treaties and presents, she won over Tigranes, king of Armenia, who was seated before Ptolemais, besieging Cleopatra. He, however, had to beat a hasty retreat, recalled by domestic troubles in Armenia, which Lucullus had invaded.   

[117] Alexandra now falling ill, her younger son Aristobulus seized his opportunity and with the aid of his followers - a numerous body, every one or whom was devoted to him because of his fiery nature - took possession of all the fortresses and, with the money which he found there, recruited a mercenary force and proclaimed himself king. [118] G   The complaints of Hyrcanus at these proceedings moved the compassion of his mother, who shut up the wife and children of Aristobulus in Antonia. This was a fortress adjoining the north side of the temple, which, as I said { 1.75}, was formerly called Baris, but afterwards took this new name under Antony's supremacy ; just as Augustus and Agrippa gave their names to the cities of Sebaste and Agrippias. [119] But before Alexandra could take action against Aristobulus for his deposition of his brother, she  expired, after a reign of nine years.    

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