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Josephus: Jewish War, Book 1

Sections 1 - 119

Translated by William Whiston (1737). A few spellings have been changed. See key to translations for an explanation of the format.

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Whiston divided this book into 33 chapters, of which the first 22 are displayed here, as follows:
Chapter 1. How the city Jerusalem was taken, and the temple pillaged [by Antiochus Epiphanes]. As also concerning the actions of the Maccabees, Matthias and Judas; and concerning the death of Judas.
Chapter 2. Concerning the successors of Judas, who were Jonathan and Simon, and John Hyrcanus.
Chapter 3. How Aristobulus was the first that put a diadem about his head; and after he had put his mother and brother to death, died himself, when he had reigned no more than a year.
Chapter 4. What actions were done by Alexander Jannaeus, who reigned twenty-seven years.
Chapter 5. Alexandra reigns nine years, during which time the Pharisees were the real rulers of the nation.
Chapter 6. When Hyrcanus who was Alexander's heir, receded from his claim to the crown Aristobulus is made king; and afterward the same Hyrcanus by the means of Antipater, is brought back by Aretas. At last Pompeius is made the arbitrator of the dispute between the brothers.
Chapter 7. How Pompeius had the city of Jerusalem delivered up to him but took the temple by force. How he went into the holy of holies; as also what were his other exploits in Judaea.
Chapter 8. Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, who ran away from Pompeius, makes an expedition against Hyrcanus; but being overcome by Gabinius he delivers up the fortresses to him. After this Aristobulus escapes from Rome and gathers an army together; but being beaten by the Romans, he is brought back to Rome; with other things relating to Gabinius, Crassus and Cassius.
Chapter 9. Aristobulus is taken off by Pompeius's friends, as is his son Alexander by Scipio. Antipater cultivates a friendship with Caesar, after Pompeius's death; he also performs great actions in that war, wherein he assisted Mithridates.
Chapter 10. Caesar makes Antipater procurator of Judaea; as does Antipater appoint Phasaelus to be governor of Jerusalem, and Herodes governor of Galilee; who, in some time, was called to answer for himself [before the Sanhedrim], where he is acquitted. Sextus Caesar is treacherously killed by Bassus and is succeeded by Marcus.
Chapter 11. Herodes is made procurator of all Syria; Malichus is afraid of him, and takes Antipater off by poison; whereupon the tribunes of the soldiers are prevailed with to kill him.
Chapter 12. Phasaelus is too hard for Felix; Herodes also overcomes Antigonus in battle; and the Jews accuse both Herodes and Phasaelus but Antonius acquits them, and makes them tetrarchs.
Chapter 13. The Parthians bring Antigonus back into Judaea, and cast Hyrcanus and Phasaelus into prison. The flight of Herodes, and the taking of Jerusalem and what Hyrcanus and Phasaelus suffered.
Chapter 14. When Herodes is rejected in Arabia, he makes haste to Rome where Antonius and Caesar join their interest to make him king .
Chapter 15. Antigonus besieges those that were in Masada, whom Herodes frees from confinement when he came back from Rome, and presently marches to Jerusalem where he finds Silo corrupted by bribes.
Chapter 16. Herodes takes Sepphoris and subdues the robbers that were in the caves ; he after that avenges himself upon Machaeras, as upon an enemy of his and goes to Antonius as he was besieging Samosata.
Chapter 17. The death of Joseph [Herodes's brother] which had been signified to Herodes in dreams. How Herodes was preserved twice after a wonderful manner. He cuts off the head of Pappus, who was the murderer of his brother and sends that head to [his other brother] Pheroras, and in no long time he besieges Jerusalem and marries Mariamne.
Chapter 18. How Herodes and Sosius took Jerusalem by force; and what death Antigonus came to. Also concerning Cleopatra's avaricious temper.
Chapter 19. How Antonius at the persuasion of Cleopatra sent Herodes to fight against the Arabians; and how after several battles, he at length got the victory. Also concerning a great earthquake.
Chapter 20. Herodes is confirmed in his kingdom by Caesar, and cultivates a friendship with the emperor by magnificent presents; while Caesar returns his kindness by bestowing on him that part of his kingdom which had been taken away by Cleopatra with the addition of Zenodorus' country also.
Chapter 21. Of the [temple and] cities that were built by Herodes and erected from the very foundations; and also of those other edifices that were erected by him; and what magnificence he showed to foreigners; and how fortune was in all things favourable to him.
Chapter 22. The murder of Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, the high priests; and also of Mariamme the queen.


[Preface.]   [1] Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations; while some men who were not concerned in the affairs themselves have got together vain and contradictory stories by hearsay, and have written them down after a sophistic manner; [2] and while those that were there present have given false accounts of things, and this either out of a humour of flattery to the Romans, or of hatred towards the Jews; and while their writings contain sometimes accusations, and sometimes encomiums, but no where the accurate truth of the facts; [3] I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians; Josephus, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, [am the author of this work].

[4] Now at the time when this great concussion of affairs happened, the affairs of the Romans were themselves in great disorder. Those Jews also who were for innovations, then arose when the times were disturbed; they were also in a flourishing condition for strength and riches, insomuch that the affairs of the East were then exceeding tumultuous, while some hoped for gain, and others were afraid of loss in such troubles; [5] for the Jews hoped that all of their nation which were beyond Euphrates would have raised an insurrection together with them. The Gauls also, in the neighbourhood of the Romans, were in motion, and the Celts were not quiet; but all was in disorder after the death of Nero. And the opportunity now offered induced many to aim at the royal power; and the soldiery affected change, out of the hopes of getting money. [6] I thought it therefore an absurd thing to see the truth falsified in affairs of such great consequence, and to take no notice of it; but to suffer those Greeks and Romans that were not in the wars to be ignorant of these things, and to read either flatteries or fictions, while the Parthians, and the Babylonians, and the remotest Arabians, and those of our nation beyond Euphrates, with the Adiabeni, by my means, knew accurately both whence the war begun, what miseries it brought upon us, and after what manner it ended.

[7] It is true, these writers have the confidence to call their accounts histories; wherein yet they seem to me to fail of their own purpose, as well as to relate nothing that is sound. For they have a mind to demonstrate the greatness of the Romans, while they still diminish and lessen the actions of the Jews, [8] as not discerning how it cannot be that those must appear to be great who have only conquered those that were little. Nor are they ashamed to overlook the length of the war, the multitude of the Roman forces who so greatly suffered in it, or the might of the commanders, whose great labours about Jerusalem will be deemed inglorious, if what they achieved be reckoned but a small matter.

[9] However, I will not go to the other extreme, out of opposition to those men who extol the Romans nor will I determine to raise the actions of my countrymen too high; but I will prosecute the actions of both parties with accuracy. Yet shall I suit my language to the passions I am under, as to the affairs I describe, and must be allowed to indulge some lamentations upon the miseries undergone by my own country. [10] For that it was a seditious temper of our own that destroyed it, and that they were the tyrants among the Jews who brought the Roman power upon us, who unwillingly attacked us, and occasioned the burning of our holy temple, Titus Caesar, who destroyed it, is himself a witness, who, daring the entire war, pitied the people who were kept under by the seditious, and did often voluntarily delay the taking of the city, and allowed time to the siege, in order to let the authors have opportunity for repentance. [11] But if any one makes an unjust accusation against us, when we speak so passionately about the tyrants, or the robbers, or sorely bewail the misfortunes of our country, let him indulge my affections herein, though it be contrary to the rules for writing history; because it had so come to pass, that our city Jerusalem had arrived at a higher degree of felicity than any other city under the Roman government, and yet at last fell into the sorest of calamities again. [12] Accordingly, it appears to me that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews are not so considerable as they were; while the authors of them were not foreigners neither. This makes it impossible for me to contain my lamentations. But if any one be inflexible in his censures of me, let him attribute the facts themselves to the historical part, and the lamentations to the writer himself only.

[13] However, I may justly blame the learned men among the Greeks, who, when such great actions have been done in their own times, which, upon the comparison, quite eclipse the old wars, do yet sit as judges of those affairs, and pass bitter censures upon the labours of the best writers of antiquity; which moderns, although they may be superior to the old writers in eloquence, yet are they inferior to them in the execution of what they intended to do. While these also write new histories about the Assyrians and Medes, as if the ancient writers had not described their affairs as they ought to have done; [14] although these be as far inferior to them in abilities as they are different in their notions from them. For of old every one took upon them to write what happened in his own time; where their immediate concern in the actions made their promises of value; and where it must be reproachful to write lies, when they must be known by the readers to be such. [15] But then, an undertaking to preserve the memory of what hath not been before recorded, and to represent the affairs of one's own time to those that come afterwards, is really worthy of praise and commendation. Now he is to be esteemed to have taken good pains in earnest, not who does no more than change the disposition and order of other men's works, but he who not only relates what had not been related before, but composes an entire body of history of his own: [16] accordingly, I have been at great charges, and have taken very great pains [about this history], though I be a foreigner; and do dedicate this work, as a memorial of great actions, both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians. But for some of our own principal men, their mouths are wide open, and their tongues loosed presently, for gain and law-suits, but quite muzzled up when they are to write history, where they must speak truth and gather facts together with a great deal of pains; and so they leave the writing such histories to weaker people, and to such as are not acquainted with the actions of princes. Yet shall the real truth of historical facts be preferred by us, how much soever it be neglected among the Greek historians.

[17] To write concerning the Antiquities of the Jews, who they were [originally], and how they revolted from the Egyptians, and what country they travelled over, and what countries they seized upon afterward, and how they were removed out of them, I think this not to be a fit opportunity, and, on other accounts, also superfluous; and this because many Jews before me have composed the histories of our ancestors very exactly; as have some of the Greeks done it also, and have translated our histories into their own tongue, and have not much mistaken the truth in their histories. [18] But then, where the writers of these affairs and our prophets leave off, thence shall I take my rise, and begin my history. Now as to what concerns that war which happened in my own time, I will go over it very largely, and with all the diligence I am able; but for what preceded mine own age, that I shall run over briefly.

[19] [For example, I shall relate] how Antiochus, who was named Epiphanes, took Jerusalem by force, and held it three years and three months, and was then ejected out of the country by the sons of Asamonaeus: after that, how their posterity quarrelled about the government, and brought upon their settlement the Romans and Pompeius; how Herodes also, the son of Antipater, dissolved their government, and brought Sosius upon them; [20] as also how our people made a sedition upon Herodes's death, while Augustus was the Roman emperor, and Quintilius Varus was in that country; and how the war broke out in the twelfth year of Nero, with what happened to Cestius; and what places the Jews assaulted in a hostile manner in the first sallies of the war.

[21] As also [I shall relate] how they built walls about the neighbouring cities; and how Nero, upon Cestius's defeat, was in fear of the entire event of the war, and thereupon made Vespasianus general in this war; and how this Vespasianus, with the elder of his sons made an expedition into the country of Judaea; what was the number of the Roman army that he made use of; and how many of his auxiliaries were cut off in all Galilee; and how he took some of its cities entirely, and by force, and others of them by treaty, and on terms. [22] Now, when I am come so far, I shall describe the good order of the Romans in war, and the discipline of their legions; the amplitude of both the Galilees, with its nature, and the limits of Judaea. And, besides this, I shall particularly go over what is peculiar to the country, the lakes and fountains that are in them, and what miseries happened to every city as they were taken; and all this with accuracy, as I saw the things done, or suffered in them. For I shall not conceal any of the calamities I myself endured, since I shall relate them to such as know the truth of them.

[23] After this, [I shall relate] how, When the Jews' affairs were become very bad, Nero died, and Vespasianus, when he was going to attack Jerusalem, was called back to take the government upon him; what signs happened to him relating to his gaining that government, and what mutations of government then happened at Rome, [24] and how he was unwillingly made emperor by his soldiers; and how, upon his departure to Egypt, to take upon him the government of the empire, the affairs of the Jews became very tumultuous; as also how the tyrants rose up against them, and fell into dissensions among themselves.

[25] Moreover, [I shall relate] how Titus marched out of Egypt into Judaea the second time; as also how, and where, and how many forces he got together; and in what state the city was, by the means of the seditious, at his coming; what attacks he made, and how many ramparts he cast up; of the three walls that encompassed the city, and of their measures; of the strength of the city, and the structure of the temple and holy house; [26] and besides, the measures of those edifices, and of the altar, and all accurately determined. A description also of certain of their festivals, and seven purifications of purity, and the sacred ministrations of the priests, with the garments of the priests, and of the high priests; and of the nature of the most holy place of the temple; without concealing any thing, or adding any thing to the known truth of things.

[27] After this, I shall relate the barbarity of the tyrants towards the people of their own nation, as well as the indulgence of the Romans in sparing foreigners; and how often Titus, out of his desire to preserve the city and the temple, invited the seditious to come to terms of accommodation. I shall also distinguish the sufferings of the people, and their calamities; how far they were afflicted by the sedition, and how far by the famine, and at length were taken. [28] Nor shall I omit to mention the misfortunes of the deserters, nor the punishments inflicted on the captives; as also how the temple was burnt, against the consent of Caesar; and how many sacred things that had been laid up in the temple were snatched out of the fire; the destruction also of the entire city, with the signs and wonders that went before it; and the taking the tyrants captives, and the multitude of those that were made slaves, and into what different misfortunes they were every one distributed. [29] Moreover, what the Romans did to the remains of the wall; and how they demolished the strong holds that were in the country; and how Titus went over the whole country, and settled its affairs; together with his return into Italy, and his triumph.

[30] I have comprehended all these things in seven books, and have left no occasion for complaint or accusation to such as have been acquainted with this war; and I have written it down for the sake of those that love truth, but not for those that please themselves [with fictitious relations]. And I will begin my account of these things with what I call my first chapter.

[1.]   [31] At the same time that Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, had a quarrel with the sixth Ptolemaeus about his right to the whole country of Syria, a great sedition fell among the men of power in Judaea, and they had a contention about obtaining the government; while each of those that were of dignity could not endure to be subject to their equals. However, Onias, one of the high priests, got the better, and cast the sons of Tobias out of the city; [32] who fled to Antiochus, and besought him to make use of them for his leaders, and to make an expedition into Judaea. The king being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favoured Ptolemaeus, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months. [33] But Onias, the high priest, fled to Ptolemaeus, and received a place from him in the nome of Heliopolis, where he built a city resembling Jerusalem, and a temple that was like its temple, concerning which we shall speak more in its proper place hereafter.

[34] Now Antiochus was not satisfied either with his unexpected taking the city, or with its pillage, or with the great slaughter he had made there; but being overcome with his violent passions, and remembering what he had suffered during the siege, he compelled the Jews to dissolve the laws of their country, and to keep their infants uncircumcised, and to sacrifice swine's flesh upon the altar; [35] against which they all opposed themselves, and the most approved among them were put to death. Bacchides also, who was sent to keep the fortresses, having these wicked commands, joined to his own natural barbarity, indulged all sorts of the extremest wickedness, and tormented the worthiest of the inhabitants, man by man, and threatened their city every day with open destruction, till at length he provoked the poor sufferers by the extremity of his wicked doings to avenge themselves.

[36] Accordingly Matthias, the son of Asamonaeus, one of the priests who lived in a village called Modin, armed himself, together with his own family, which had five sons of his in it, and slew Bacchides with daggers; and thereupon, out of the fear of the many garrisons [of the enemy], he fled to the mountains; [37] and so many of the people followed him, that he was encouraged to come down from the mountains, and to give battle to Antiochus's generals, when he beat them, and drove them out of Judaea. So he came to the government by this his success, and became the prince of his own people by their own free consent, and then died, leaving the government to Judas, his eldest son.

[38] Now Judas, supposing that Antiochus would not lie still, gathered an army out of his own countrymen, and was the first that made a league of friendship with the Romans, and drove Epiphanes out of the country when he had made a second expedition into it, and this by giving him a great defeat there; [39] and when he was warmed by this great success, he made an assault upon the garrison that was in the city, for it had not been cut off hitherto; so he ejected them out of the upper city, and drove the soldiers into the lower, which part of the city was called the Citadel. He then got the temple under his power, and cleansed the whole place, and walled it round about, and made new vessels for sacred ministrations, and brought them into the temple, because the former vessels had been profaned. He also built another altar, and began to offer the sacrifices; [40] and when the city had already received its sacred constitution again, Antiochus died; whose son Antiochus succeeded him in the kingdom, and in his hatred to the Jews also.

[41] So this Antiochus got together fifty thousand footmen, and five thousand horsemen, and fourscore elephants, and marched through Judaea into the mountainous parts. He then took Bethsura, which was a small city; but at a place called Bethzacharia, where the passage was narrow, Judas met him with his army. [42] However, before the forces joined battle, Judas's brother Eleazar, seeing the very highest of the elephants adorned with a large tower, and with military trappings of gold to guard him, and supposing that Antiochus himself was upon him, he ran a great way before his own army, and cutting his way through the enemy's troops, he got up to the elephant; [43] yet could he not reach him who seemed to be the king, by reason of his being so high; but still he ran his weapon into the belly of the beast, and brought him down upon himself, and was crushed to death, having done no more than attempted great things, and showed that he preferred glory before life. [44] Now he that governed the elephant was but a private man; and had he proved to be Antiochus, Eleazar had performed nothing more by this bold stroke than that it might appear he chose to die, when he had the bare hope of thereby doing a glorious action; [45] nay, this disappointment proved an omen to his brother [Judas] how the entire battle would end. It is true that the Jews fought it out bravely for a long time, but the king's forces, being superior in number, and having fortune on their side, obtained the victory. And when a great many of his men were slain, Judas took the rest with him, and fled to the toparchy of Gophna. [46] So Antiochus went to Jerusalem, and staid there but a few days, for he wanted provisions, and so he went his way. He left indeed a garrison behind him, such as he thought sufficient to keep the place, but drew the rest of his army off, to take their winter-quarters in Syria.

[47] Now, after the king was departed, Judas was not idle; for as many of his own nation came to him, so did he gather those that had escaped out of the battle together, and gave battle again to Antiochus's generals at a village called Adasa; and being too hard for his enemies in the battle, and killing a great number of them, he was at last himself slain also. Nor was it many days afterward that his brother John had a plot laid against him by Antiochus's party, and was slain by them.

[2.]   [48] When Jonathan, who was Judas's brother, succeeded him, he behaved himself with great circumspection in other respects, with relation to his own people; and he corroborated his authority by preserving his friendship with the Romans. He also made a league with Antiochus the son. Yet was not all this sufficient for his security; [49] for the tyrant Tryphon, who was guardian to Antiochus's son, laid a plot against him; and besides that, endeavoured to take off his friends, and caught Jonathan by a wile, as he was going to Ptolemais to Antiochus, with a few persons in his company, and put him in bonds, and then made an expedition against the Jews; but when he was afterward driven away by Simon, who was Jonathan's brother, and was enraged at his defeat, he put Jonathan to death.

[50] However, Simon managed the public affairs after a courageous manner, and took Gazara, and Joppa, and Jamneia, which were cities in his neighbourhood. He also got the garrison under, and demolished the citadel. He was afterward an auxiliary to Antiochus, against Tryphon, whom he besieged in Dora, before he went on his expedition against the Medes; [51] yet could not he make the king ashamed of his ambition, though he had assisted him in killing Tryphon; for it was not long ere Antiochus sent Cendebaeus his general with an army to lay waste Judaea, and to subdue Simon; [52] yet he, though he was now in years, conducted the war as if he were a much younger man. He also sent his sons with a band of strong men against Antiochus, while he took part of the army himself with him, and fell upon him from another quarter. [53] He also laid a great many men in ambush in many places of the mountains, and was superior in all his attacks upon them; and when he had been conqueror after so glorious a manner, he was made high priest, and also freed the Jews from the dominion of the Macedonians, after one hundred and seventy years of the empire [of Seleucus].

[54] This Simon also had a plot laid against him, and was slain at a feast by his son-in-law Ptolemaeus, who put his wife and two sons into prison, and sent some persons to kill John, who was also called Hyrcanus. [55] But when the young man was informed of their coming beforehand, he made haste to get to the city, as having a very great confidence in the people there, both on account of the memory of the glorious actions of his father, and of the hatred they could not but bear to the injustice of Ptolemaeus. Ptolemaeus also made an attempt to get into the city by another gate; but was repelled by the people, who had just then admitted of Hyrcanus; [56] so he retired presently to one of the fortresses that were about Jericho, which was called Dagon. Now when Hyrcanus had received the high priesthood, which his father had held before, and had offered sacrifice to God, he made great haste to attack Ptolemaeus, that he might afford relief to his mother and brethren.

[57] So he laid siege to the fortress, and was superior to Ptolemaeus in other respects, but was overcome by him as to the just affection [he had for his relations]; for when Ptolemaeus was distressed, he brought forth his mother, and his brethren, and set them upon the wall, and beat them with rods in every body's sight, and threatened, that unless he would go away immediately, he would throw them down headlong; [58] at which sight Hyrcanus's commiseration and concern were too hard for his anger. But his mother was not dismayed, neither at the stripes she received, nor at the death with which she was threatened; but stretched out her hands, and prayed her son not to be moved with the injuries that she suffered to spare the wretch; since it was to her better to die by the means of Ptolemaeus, than to live ever so long, provided he might be punished for the injuries he done to their family. [59] Now John's case was this: When he considered the courage of his mother, and heard her entreaty, he set about his attacks; but when he saw her beaten, and torn to pieces with the stripes, he grew feeble, and was entirely overcome by his affections. [60] And as the siege was delayed by this means, the year of rest came on, upon which the Jews rest every seventh year as they do on every seventh day. On this year, therefore, Ptolemaeus was freed from being besieged, and slew the brethren of John, with their mother, and fled to Zenon, who was also called Cotylas, who was tyrant of Philadelphia.

[61] And now Antiochus was so angry at what he had suffered from Simon, that he made an expedition into Judaea, and sat down before Jerusalem and besieged Hyrcanus; but Hyrcanus opened the sepulchre of David, who was the richest of all kings, and took thence about three thousand talents in money, and induced Antiochus, by the promise of three thousand talents, to raise the siege. Moreover, he was the first of the Jews that had money enough, and began to hire foreign auxiliaries also.

[62] However, at another time, when Antiochus was gone upon an expedition against the Medes, and so gave Hyrcanus an opportunity of being revenged upon him, he immediately made an attack upon the cities of Syria, as thinking, what proved to be the case with them, that he should find them empty of good troops. [63] So he took Medaba and Samaga, with the towns in their neighbourhood, as also Shechem, and Argarizin; and besides these, [he subdued] the nation of the Cuthaeans, who dwelt round about that temple which was built in imitation of the temple at Jerusalem; he also took a great many other cities of Idumaea, with Adoreon and Marissa.

[64] He also proceeded as far as Samaria, where is now the city Sebaste, which was built by Herodes the king, and encompassed it all round with a wall, and set his sons, Aristobulus and Antigonus, over the siege; who pushed it on so hard, that a famine so far prevailed within the city, that they were forced to eat what never was esteemed food. [65] They also invited Antiochus, who was called Cyzicenus, to come to their assistance; whereupon he got ready, and complied with their invitation, but was beaten by Aristobulus and Antigonus; and indeed he was pursued as far as Scythopolis by these brethren, and fled away from them. So they returned back to Samaria, and shut the multitude again within the wall; and when they had taken the city, they demolished it, and made slaves of its inhabitants. [66] And as they had still great success in their undertakings, they did not suffer their zeal to cool, but marched with an army as far as Scythopolis, and made an incursion upon it, and laid waste all the country that lay within Mount Carmel.

[67] But then these successes of John and of his sons made them be envied, and occasioned a sedition in the country; and many there were who got together, and would not be at rest till they brake out into open war, in which war they were beaten. [68] So John lived the rest of his life very happily, and administered the government after a most extraordinary manner, and this for thirty-three entire years together. He died, leaving five sons behind him. He was certainly a very happy man, and afforded no occasion to have any complaint made of fortune on his account. He it was who alone had three of the most desirable things in the world, - the government of his nation, and the high priesthood, and the gift of prophecy. [69] For the Deity conversed with him, and he was not ignorant of any thing that was to come afterward; insomuch that he foresaw and foretold that his two eldest sons would not continue masters of the government; and it will highly deserve our narration to describe their catastrophe, and how far inferior these men were to their father in felicity.

[3.]   [70] For after the death of their father, the elder of them, Aristobulus, changed the government into a kingdom, and was the first that put a diadem upon his head, four hundred seventy and one years and three months after our people came down into this country, when they were set free from the Babylonian slavery. [71] Now, of his brethren, he appeared to have an affection for Antigonus, who was next to him, and made him his equal; but for the rest, he bound them, and put them in prison. He also put his mother in bonds, for her contesting the government with him; for John had left her to be the governess of public affairs. He also proceeded to that degree of barbarity as to cause her to be pined to death in prison.

[72] But vengeance circumvented him in the affair of his brother Antigonus, whom he loved, and whom he made his partner in the kingdom; for he slew him by the means of the calumnies which ill men about the palace contrived against him. At first, indeed, Aristobulus would not believe their reports, partly out of the affection he had for his brother, and partly because he thought that a great part of these tales were owing to the envy of their relaters: [73] however, as Antigonus came once in a splendid manner from the army to that festival, wherein our ancient custom is to make tabernacles for God, it happened, in those days, that Aristobulus was sick, and that, at the conclusion of the feast, Antigonus came up to it, with his armed men about him; and this when he was adorned in the finest manner possible; and that, in a great measure, to pray to God on the behalf of his brother. [74] Now at this very time it was that these ill men came to the king, and told him in what a pompous manner the armed men came, and with what insolence Antigonus marched, and that such his insolence was too great for a private person, and that accordingly he was come with a great band of men to kill him; for that he could not endure this bare enjoyment of royal honour, when it was in his power to take the kingdom himself.

[75] Now Aristobulus, by degrees, and unwillingly, gave credit to these accusations; and accordingly he took care not to discover his suspicion openly, though he provided to be secure against any accidents; so he placed the guards of his body in a certain dark subterranean passage; for he lay sick in a place called formerly the Citadel, though afterwards its name was changed to Antonia; and he gave orders that if Antigonus came unarmed, they should let him alone; but if he came to him in his armour, they should kill him. He also sent some to let him know beforehand that he should come unarmed. [76] But, upon this occasion, the queen very cunningly contrived the matter with those that plotted his ruin, for she persuaded those that were sent to conceal the king's message; but to tell Antigonus how his brother had heard he had got a very the suit of armour made with fine martial ornaments, in Galilee; and because his present sickness hindered him from coming and seeing all that finery, he very much desired to see him now in his armour; because, said he, in a little time thou art going away from me.

[77] As soon as Antigonus heard this, the good temper of his brother not allowing him to suspect any harm from him, he came along with his armour on, to show it to his brother; but when he was going along that dark passage which was called Strato's Tower, he was slain by the body guards, and became an eminent instance how calumny destroys all good-will and natural affection, and how none of our good affections are strong enough to resist envy perpetually.

[78] And truly any one would be surprised at Judas upon this occasion. He was of the sect of the Essenes, and had never failed or deceived men in his predictions before. Now this man saw Antigonus as he was passing along by the temple, and cried out to his acquaintance, (they were not a few who attended upon him as his scholars,) [79] "O strange!" said he, "it is good for me to die now, since truth is dead before me, and somewhat that I have foretold hath proved false; for this Antigonus is this day alive, who ought to hare died this day; and the place where he ought to be slain, according to that fatal decree, was Strato's Tower, which is at the distance of six hundred furlongs from this place; and yet four hours of this day are over already; which point of time renders the prediction impossible to be fill filled." [80] And when the old man had said this, he was dejected in his mind, and so continued. But in a little time news came that Antigonus was slain in a subterraneous place, which was itself also called Strato's Tower, by the same name with that Caesareia which lay by the sea-side; and this ambiguity it was which caused the prophet's disorder.

[81] Hereupon Aristobulus repented of the great crime he had been guilty of, and this gave occasion to the increase of his distemper. He also grew worse and worse, and his soul was constantly disturbed at the thoughts of what he had done, till his very bowels being torn to pieces by the intolerable grief he was under, he threw up a great quantity of blood. [82] And as one of those servants that attended him carried out that blood, he, by some supernatural providence, slipped and fell down in the very place where Antigonus had been slain; and so he spilt some of the murderer's blood upon the spots of the blood of him that had been murdered, which still appeared. Hereupon a lamentable cry arose among the spectators, as if the servant had spilled the blood on purpose in that place; [83] and as the king heard that cry, he inquired what was the cause of it; and while nobody durst tell him, he pressed them so much the more to let him know what was the matter; so at length, when he had threatened them, and forced them to speak out, they told; whereupon he burst into tears, and groaned, and said, [84] "So I perceive I am not like to escape the all-seeing eye of God, as to the great crimes I have committed; but the vengeance of the blood of my kinsman pursues me hastily. O thou most impudent body! how long wilt thou retain a soul that ought to die on account of that punishment it ought to suffer for a mother and a brother slain! How long shall I myself spend my blood drop by drop? let them take it all at once; and let their ghosts no longer be disappointed by a few parcels of my bowels offered to them." As soon as he had said these words, he presently died, when he had reigned no longer than a year.

[4.]   [85] And now the king's wife loosed the king's brethren, and made Alexander king, who appeared both elder in age, and more moderate in his temper than the rest; who, when he came to the government, slew one of his brethren, as affecting to govern himself; but had the other of them in great esteem, as loving a quiet life, without meddling with public affairs.

[86] Now it happened that there was a battle between him and Ptolemaeus, who was called Lathyrus, who had taken the city Asochis. He indeed slew a great many of his enemies, but the victory rather inclined to Ptolemaeus. But when this Ptolemaeus was pursued by his mother Cleopatra, and retired into Egypt, Alexander besieged Gadara, and took it; as also he did Amathus, which was the strongest of all the fortresses that were about Jordan, and therein were the most precious of all the possessions of Theodorus, the son of Zenon. [87] Whereupon Theodorus marched against him, and took what belonged to himself as well as the king's baggage, and slew ten thousand of the Jews. However, Alexander recovered this blow, and turned his force towards the maritime parts, and took Raphia and Gaza, with Anthedon also, which was afterwards called Agrippias by king Herodes.

[88] But when he had made slaves of the citizens of all these cities, the nation of the Jews made an insurrection against him at a festival; for at those feasts seditions are generally begun; and it looked as if he should not be able to escape the plot they had laid for him, had not his foreign auxiliaries, the Pisidians and Cilicians, assisted him; for as to the Syrians, he never admitted them among his mercenary troops, on account of their innate enmity against the Jewish nation. [89] And when he had slain more than six thousand of the rebels, he made an incursion into Arabia; and when he had taken that country, together with the Gileadites and Moabites, he enjoined them to pay him tribute, and returned to Areathus; and as Theodorus was surprised at his great success, he took the fortress, and demolished it.

[90] However, when he fought with Obedas, king of the Arabians, who had laid an ambush for him near Golan, and a plot against him, he lost his entire army, which was crowded together in a deep valley, and broken to pieces by the multitude of camels. And when he had made his escape to Jerusalem, he provoked the multitude, which hated him before, to make an insurrection against him, and this on account of the greatness of the calamity that he was under. [91] However, he was then too hard for them; and, in the several battles that were fought on both sides, he slew not fewer than fifty thousand of the Jews in the interval of six years. Yet had he no reason to rejoice in these victories, since he did but consume his own kingdom; till at length he left off fighting, and endeavoured to come to a composition with them, by talking with his subjects. [92] But this mutability and irregularity of his conduct made them hate him still more. And when he asked them why they so hated him, and what he should do in order to appease them, they said, by killing himself; for that it would be then all they could do to be reconciled to him, who had done such tragic things to them, even when he was dead. At the same time they invited Demetrius, who was called Eucaerus, to assist them; and as he readily complied with their requests, in hopes of great advantages, and came with his army, the Jews joined with those their auxiliaries about Shechem.

[93] Yet did Alexander meet both these forces with one thousand horsemen, and eight thousand mercenaries that were on foot. He had also with him that part of the Jews which favoured him, to the number of ten thousand; while the adverse party had three thousand horsemen, and fourteen thousand footmen. Now, before they joined battle, the kings made proclamation, and endeavoured to draw off each other's soldiers, and make them revolt; while Demetrius hoped to induce Alexander's mercenaries to leave him, and Alexander hoped to induce the Jews that were with Demetrius to leave him. [94] But since neither the Jews would leave off their rage, nor the Greeks prove unfaithful, they came to an engagement, and to a close fight with their weapons. [95] In which battle Demetrius was the conqueror, although Alexander's mercenaries showed the greatest exploits, both in soul and body. Yet did the upshot of this battle prove different from what was expected, as to both of them; for neither did those that invited Demetrius to come to them continue firm to him, though he was conqueror; and six thousand Jews, out of pity to the change of Alexander's condition, when he was fled to the mountains, came over to him. Yet could not Demetrius bear this turn of affairs; but supposing that Alexander was already become a match for him again, and that all the nation would [at length] run to him, he left the country, and went his way.

[96] However, the rest of the [Jewish] multitude did not lay aside their quarrels with him, when the [foreign] auxiliaries were gone; but they had a perpetual war with Alexander, until he had slain the greatest part of them, and driven the rest into the city Berneselis; and when he had demolished that city, he carried the captives to Jerusalem. [97] Nay, his rage was grown so extravagant, that his barbarity proceeded to the degree of impiety; for when he had ordered eight hundred to be hung upon crosses in the midst of the city, he had the throats of their wives and children cut before their eyes; and these executions he saw as he was drinking and lying down with his concubines. [98] Upon which so deep a surprise seized on the people, that eight thousand of his opposers fled away the very next night, out of all Judaea, whose flight was only terminated by Alexander's death; so at last, though not till late, and with great difficulty, he, by such actions, procured quiet to his kingdom, and left off fighting any more.

[99] Yet did that Antiochus, who was also called Dionysius, become an origin of troubles again. This man was the brother of Demetrius, and the last of the race of the Seleucids. Alexander was afraid of him, when he was marching against the Arabians; so he cut a deep trench between Antipatris, which was near the mountains, and the shores of Joppa; he also erected a high wall before the trench, and built wooden towers, in order to hinder any sudden approaches. [100] G   But still he was not able to exclude Antiochus, for he burnt the towers, and filled up the trenches, and marched on with his army. And as he looked upon taking his revenge on Alexander, for endeavouring to stop him, as a thing of less consequence, he marched directly against the Arabians, [101] whose king retired into such parts of the country as were fittest for engaging the enemy, and then on the sudden made his horse turn back, which were in number ten thousand, and fell upon Antiochus's army while they were in disorder, and a terrible battle ensued. Antiochus's troops, so long as he was alive, fought it out, although a mighty slaughter was made among them by the Arabians; [102] G   but when he fell, for he was in the forefront, in the utmost danger, in rallying his troops, they all gave ground, and the greatest part of his army were destroyed, either in the action or the flight; and for the rest, who fled to the village of Cana, it happened that they were all consumed by want of necessaries, a few only excepted.

[103] About this time it was that the people of Damascus, out of their hatred to Ptolemaeus, the son of Mennaeus, invited Aretas [to take the government], and made him king of Coele Syria. This man also made an expedition against Judaea, and beat Alexander in battle; but afterwards retired by mutual agreement. [104] G   But Alexander, when he had taken Pella, marched to Gerasa again, out of the covetous desire he had of Theodorus's possessions; and when he had built a triple wall about the garrison, he took the place by force. [105] He also demolished Gaulane, and Seleuceia, and what was called the Valley of Antiochus; besides which, he took the strong fortress of Gamala, and stripped Demetrius, who was governor therein, of what he had, on account of the many crimes laid to his charge, and then returned into Judaea, after he had been three whole years in this expedition. And now he was kindly received of the nation, because of the good success he had. So when he was at rest from war, he fell into a distemper; [106] G   for he was afflicted with a quartan ague, and supposed that, by exercising himself again in martial affairs, he should get rid of this distemper; but by making such expeditions at unseasonable times, and forcing his body to undergo greater hardships than it was able to bear, he brought himself to his end. He died, therefore, in the midst of his troubles, after he had reigned seven and twenty years.

[5.]   [107] Now Alexander left the kingdom to Alexandra his wife, and depended upon it that the Jews would now very readily submit to her, because she had been very averse to such cruelty as he had treated them with, and had opposed his violation of their laws, and had thereby got the good-will of the people. [108] G   Nor was he mistaken as to his expectations; for this woman kept the dominion, by the opinion that the people had of her piety; for she chiefly studied the ancient customs of her country, and cast those men out of the government that offended against their holy laws. [109] And as she had two sons by Alexander, she made Hyrcanus the elder high priest, on account of his age, as also, besides that, on account of his inactive temper, no way disposing him to disturb the public. But she retained the younger, Aristobulus, with her as a private person, by reason of the warmth of his temper.

[110] G   And now the Pharisees joined themselves to her, to assist her in the government. These are a certain sect of the Jews that appear more religious than others, and seem to interpret the laws more accurately. [111] Now Alexandra hearkened to them to an extraordinary degree, as being herself a woman of great piety towards God. But these Pharisees artfully insinuated themselves into her favour by little and little, and became themselves the real administrators of the public affairs: they banished and reduced whom they pleased; they bound and loosed [men] at their pleasure; and, to say all at once, they had the enjoyment of the royal authority, whilst the expenses and the difficulties of it belonged to Alexandra. [112] G   She was a sagacious woman in the management of great affairs, and intent always upon gathering soldiers together; so that she increased the army the one half, and procured a great body of foreign troops, till her own nation became not only very powerful at home, but terrible also to foreign potentates, while she governed other people, and the Pharisees governed her.

[113] Accordingly, they themselves slew Diogenes, a person of figure, and one that had been a friend to Alexander; and accused him as having assisted the king with his advice, for crucifying the eight hundred men [before mentioned.] They also prevailed with Alexandra to put to death the rest of those who had irritated him against them. Now she was so superstitious as to comply with their desires, and accordingly they slew whom they pleased themselves. [114] G   But the principal of those that were in danger fled to Aristobulus, who persuaded his mother to spare the men on account of their dignity, but to expel them out of the city, unless she took them to be innocent; so they were suffered to go unpunished, and were dispersed all over the country. [115] But when Alexandra sent out her army to Damascus, under pretence that Ptolemaeus was always oppressing that city, she got possession of it; nor did it make any considerable resistance. [116] G   She also prevailed with Tigranes, king of Armenia, who lay with his troops about Ptolemais, and besieged Cleopatra, by agreements and presents, to go away. Accordingly, Tigranes soon arose from the siege, by reason of those domestic tumults which happened upon Lucullus's expedition into Armenia.

[117] In the mean time, Alexandra fell sick, and Aristobulus, her younger son, took hold of this opportunity, with his domestics, of which he had a great many, who were all of them his friends, on account of the warmth of their youth, and got possession of all the fortresses. He also used the sums of money he found in them to get together a number of mercenary soldiers, and made himself king; [118] G   and besides this, upon Hyrcanus's complaint to his mother, she compassionated his case, and put Aristobulus's wife and sons under restraint in Antonia, which was a fortress that joined to the north part of the temple. It was, as I have already said, of old called the Citadel; but afterwards got the name of Antonia, when Antonius was [lord of the East], just as the other cities, Sebaste and Agrippias, had their names changed, and these given them from Sebastus and Agrippa. [119] But Alexandra died before she could punish Aristobulus for his disinheriting his brother, after she had reigned nine years.

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