Josephus: Jewish Antiquities, Book 14

Sections 324 - 491


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

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{13.}   [324] G   When Antony afterwards came to Syria, Cleopatra met him in Cilicia and made him a captive of love. And once again a hundred of the most influential Jews came before him to accuse Herod and his friends, putting forward their most skilful speakers. [325] But Messala spoke against them on behalf of the young men in the presence of Hyrcanus, who had by then become Herod's kinsman by marriage. And when Antony had listened to both sides at Daphne and inquired of Hyrcanus which were the better leaders of the nation, [326] G   he replied, "Herod and his people," whereupon Antony, who had from of old been friendly with them because of the hospitable relations which he had formed with their father when he was with Gabinius, appointed both Herod and Phasael tetrarchs, and entrusted to them the government of the Jews ; he also wrote letters (to this effect), and put in chains fifteen of their adversaries, but as he was about to kill them, Herod's intercession saved their lives.   

[327] Not even on their return from the embassy, however, did they remain quiet, but again a thousand men met Antony at Tyre, where he had decided to go. And as Antony had already been heavily bribed by Herod and his brother, he ordered the local magistrate to punish the envoys of the Jews, who were bent on revolution, and to establish Herod in power. [328] G   But Herod hastily went out to them - for they had taken up a position on the beach before the city -, and urged them, Hyrcanus being with him, to go away, saying that great harm would befall them if they proceeded to a contest. [329] But as they refused to take his advice, the Romans immediately rushed upon them with their daggers and killed some and wounded a still greater number, while the rest escaped to their homes and remained there in great terror without moving. But when the populace cried out against Herod, Antony in a rage killed those who had been taken prisoners.    

[330] G   Two years later Syria was occupied by Pacorus, the son of the Parthian king, and Barzaphranes, the Parthian satrap. At the same time Ptolemaeus, the son of Mennaeus, died, and his son Lysanias on succeeding to his throne made a pact of friendship with Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, in which matter he found the satrap useful, for he had great influence with him. [331] And Antigonus promised to give the Parthians a thousand talents and five hundred women, if they would deprive Hyrcanus of power and give it over to him, and destroy Herod and his people. [332] G   He did not in fact give them these, but nevertheless the Parthians for the sake of these rewards marched against Judaea, bringing Antigonus back to his country ; Pacorus went along the sea-coast while the satrap Barzaphranes went through the interior. [333] Now whereas the Tyrians excluded Pacorus, the people of Sidon and Ptolemais admitted him. However, Pacorus sent out a troop of cavalry to Judaea to make a reconnaissance of the country and also to co-operate with Antigonus under the command of the cupbearer of the king, who had the same name as himself. [334] G   And as some of the Jews near Mount Carmel came to Antigonus and were ready to join him in the invasion, Antigonus expected to take some part of the territory with their help, namely, the place called The Grove {Drymoi} ; and although some opponents engaged them, these men got away to Jerusalem, and on being joined by others, formed a large body and came against the palace, which they proceeded to besiege. [335] But Phasael and Herod came to the assistance of the besieged, and in the battle which was fought in the market-place the young men defeated the enemy ; and after pursuing them into the temple, they sent some soldiers to the adjacent houses to guard them, but as the soldiers were left without reinforcements, the people rose against them and burnt them to death in the houses. [336] G   For this outrage Herod, however, soon afterwards took vengeance on his adversaries, and engaging them in battle, killed many of them.   

[337] During the daily skirmishes that took place the enemy were waiting for the arrival of the multitude from the country who were coming for the celebration of Pentecost, as it is called, which is a festival. [338] G   And when this day came, there were many tens of thousands of armed and unarmed men gathered round the temple. The newcomers held the temple and the city except for the palace and its environs, for these Herod was protecting with a few soldiers. [339] And so, while Phasael guarded the wall, Herod with a company attacked the enemy in the suburbs and after a stout fight routed many tens of thousands ; some of them fled to the city, others to the temple, and still others to some outer ramparts which were there. And Phasael also gave him assistance. [340] G   Thereupon Pacorus, the Parthian general, at Antigonus' request came to the city with a few horsemen, ostensibly to put an end to the uprising, but in reality to help Antigonus obtain power. [341] And when Phasael met him and received him hospitably, Pacorus persuaded him to go on an embassy himself to Barzaphranes, for this was part of a plot he had devised against him. Phasael, suspecting nothing, let himself be persuaded although Herod did not approve of what was being done because of the faithlessness of the barbarians, and advised him, instead, to attack Pacorus and the others who had come.   

[342] G   And so Hyrcanus and Phasael went off on the embassy, and Pacorus escorted them, leaving with Herod two hundred horsemen and ten of the Freemen, as they were called. But when they came to Galilee, those of the enemy who were stationed in that region met them with arms. [343] And though Barzaphranes at first received them cordially and gave them gifts, he then began to plot against them. Phasael and his party were thereupon brought to Ecdippa overlooking the sea ; and when they there heard that Antigonus had promised the Parthians a thousand talents and five hundred women at their expense, they now had suspicions of the barbarians. [344] G   Furthermore someone informed them that a plot was being hatched against them to be carried out by night, and that an unseen guard was placed round them ; and they would have been seized had it not been that the enemy were waiting until the Parthians at Jerusalem should have seized Herod lest upon their doing away with the envoys first, Herod should learn of it and escape. And these reports were actually so, and their guards were seen. [345] Accordingly some of the men urged Phasael to mount his horse immediately and not wait any longer ; especially was he pressed to do this by Ophellius, who had heard these things from Saramalla, at that time the wealthiest man in Syria, and he promised him boats for his flight, for the sea was near. [346] G   Phasael, however, did not think it right to desert Hyrcanus or to endanger his brother ; but he went to Barzaphranes and told him that he was doing the wrong thing in forming such plots against them, for if it was money he wanted, he would get more from him (Phasael) than Antigonus was giving him, and that in anv case it was a terrible thing to kill envoys who had come to him trustfully and were doing no wrong. [347] But in reply to this speech the barbarian swore that there was no truth in these suspicions and that, on the contrary, the suspicions that disturbed Phasael were false : he then went off to join Pacorus.   

[348] G   But when he had gone, some of the Parthians put Hyrcanus and Phasael in chains, and they bitterly reviled the Parthians for their perfidy. Now the cup-bearer who had been sent to Herod had orders to lead him outside the walls and seize him. [349] But fortunately messengers had been sent by Phasael to inform him of the faithlessness of the Parthians ; and so, when Herod learned that the enemy had seized them, he went to Pacorus and the influential Parthians as the masters of the others. [350] G   But they, although they knew everything, deceitfully pretended innocence and said that he should go with them before the wall in order to meet the bearers of letters, for they had not yet been seized by their adversaries but had come with a report of all that Phasael had accomplished. [351] Herod, however, did not believe them, for he had heard from others of his brother's capture ; and at the prompting of Hyrcanus' daughter, to whose daughter he was betrothed, he became still more suspicious of the Parthians. Now though the others paid no attention to her, he himself had faith in her as a very sensible woman.   

[352] G   While the Parthians deliberated what they should do - for they did not like the idea of openly attacking so powerful a man - and postponed the matter to the next day, Herod, who was in great perturbation and gave more weight to what he had heard about his brother and the Parthians' plot than to the other side, decided when evening came to take this opportunity to flee and not to delay as if there were some uncertainty of danger from the enemy. [353] Accordingly he set out with those soldiers whom he had there, and mounted the women on beasts of burden, including his mother and sister and the daughter of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, whom he was to marry, and her mother, who was a daughter of Hyrcanus : he also took his youngest brother and all the servants and the rest of the crowd that was with them, and unknown to the enemy followed the road to Idumaea. [354] G   And no enemy would have been found so hard of heart that on witnessing what was taking place at that time he would not have pitied their fate as the wretched women led their infants and with tears and wailing left behind their native country and their friends in chains ; nor did they expect anything better for themselves.   

[355] Nevertheless Herod let his spirit rise above the blow caused by this misfortune, and being himself of good courage in the face of misfortune, went to the others along the road and urged each of them also to have courage and not give himself wholly over to grief, for this, he said, would hinder them in their flight, in which alone their safety lay. [356] G   And so at Herod's exhortation they tried to bear their troubles. But once when a wagon overturned and his mother was in danger of death, he was near to taking his own life because of his anguish on her account and his fear that as a result of the delay caused by the overturn the enemy might overtake them in pursuit. [357] Indeed he had drawn his sword and was about to stab himself when those about him restrained him and prevailed upon him by their number and also by telling him that it was not right for him to abandon them and leave them in the power of their foes, for it was not the act of a noble man to free himself from danger and disregard that of his friends. [358] G   And so, being forced to desist from his rash act against himself by shame at their words and by the number of those who stayed his hand from carrying out his plan, he revived his mother and procured for her such care as was possible in the short time at his disposal, and continued on his way, making the journey to the fortress of Masada at great speed. Many were the battles he fought with the Parthians who harassed him in pursuit, and he was victorious in all of them.   

[359] But during his flight he was not safe from the Jews either, for they too attacked his party when they were sixty stades from the city and engaged them in hand to hand combat along the road ; [360] G   but these too he routed and crushed as if he were in no such helpless and difficult position but were excellently prepared for war and had a great advantage; and later when he became king, he built a wonderful palace on the spot where he defeated the Jews, and founded a city round it, which he called Herodia. [361] Now when he came to a place in Idumaea called Oresa, he was met by his brother Joseph, and he held a council to see what he must do about his general situation, for a great number of people, apart from his mercenaries, accompanied him, and the fortress of Masada, in which he proposed to take refuge, was too small to hold so great a crowd. [362] G   He therefore sent most of them away, numbering over nine thousand, and told them to seek safety in flight to various places in Idumaea, and gave them provisions for the journey. Those, however, who were lightly armed and his nearest relatives he took with him and reached the fortress, where he left the women and their followers, who numbered some eight hundred, for 'there was sufficient grain and water and other necessities in the place ; and he himself set out for Petra in Arabia. [363] But when day came, the Parthians plundered all the possessions of the people of Jerusalem, as well as the palace, leaving untouched only the funds of Hyrcanus, which amounted to three hundred talents. [364] G   Much of Herod's property, however, escaped - especially all that with his usual foresight he had succeeded in removing beforehand to Idumaea. But the Parthians were not satisfied with what they found in the city, and so they went out and ravaged the Jews' country as well, and also  destroyed the important city of Marisa.    

[365] In this way was Antigonus brought back to Judaea by the Parthian king and took over Hyrcanus and Phasael as prisoners. He was, however, very despondent over the escape of the women whom he had planned to give to the enemy, for this was the reward he had promised them together with money. [366] G   And being fearful that the people might restore Hyrcanus to the throne, he went up to him where he was being guarded by the Parthians, and cut off his ears, thus taking care that the high priesthood should never come to him another time, because he was now mutilated, and the law requires that this office should belong- only to those who are sound of body. [367] As for Phasael, one must admire his courage, for though he knew that he was marked for slaughter, he did not look upon death as terrible in itself bat believed that it was a most bitter and shameful thing to suffer at the hands of a foe ; and so, not having his hands free to destroy himself because of his chains, he dashed his head against a rock and removed himself from the world of the living, which he thought was the best thing to do in view of his helpless position, and thus he deprived the enemy of the power of killing him as they pleased. [368] G   But some say that when he had incurred this serious wound, Antigonus quietly sent physicians as if to heal it, and had him killed by deadly poisons which they applied to his wound. [369] However, before he breathed his last, Phasael heard from some woman that his brother Herod had escaped the enemy, and so he bore his death with cheerfulness, for he left behind one who would avenge his death and was able to punish his foes.   

{14.} G     [370] G   Herod, however, was not discouraged by the magnitude of the dangers that encompassed him ; instead they made him the keener in attempting perilous deeds. And so he went to Malchus, the Arab king, who had previously received many benefits from him, a in order to receive a return and to get money, which was what he most needed, either as a loan or as a gift from one who had obtained many sums from him. [371] For as he did not know what had happened to his brother, he was in haste to ransom him from the enemy, being ready to pay as his ransom as much as three hundred talents in coin. And for this purpose he also took along Phasael's son, who was seven years old, to offer him as security to the Arabs. [372] G   But he was met by messengers from Malchus, who through them ordered Herod to retire, for the Parthians, he said, had instructed him not to receive Herod ; this he used as a pretext for not repaying his debts, and the influential Arabs urged him on to this in order that they might withhold from Herod the sums which they had received in deposit from Antipater. [373] Thereupon he replied to them that he had come to them with no thought of making trouble but only to discuss matters which were of the greatest importance to him.   

{15.}   [374] G   Then, on deciding to retire, he very prudently took the road to Egypt. And on that occasion he lodged in a certain temple where he had left many of his followers. The next day he came to Rhinocoroura, where he heard of his brother's fate. [375] Malchus, however, had a change of heart and hurried after Herod, but gained nothing thereby, for Herod was by now a great way off, in his haste to reach Pelusium. But when he came there, the ships anchored there prevented him from sailing to Alexandria, whereupon he appealed to their commanders and was escorted by them to the city with respect and great deference, and was detained there by Cleopatra. [376] G   She was not able, however, to persuade him to remain, for he was eager to get to Rome although it was winter and Italy was reported to be disturbed and in great disorder.   

[377] And so from there he set sail for Pamphylia, and after encountering a violent storm barely reached Rhodes in safety by throwing the cargo overboard. There he was met by two of his friends, Sappinus and Ptolemaeus. [378] G   And finding the city damaged from the war against Cassius, he did not hesitate to help it even though he was in need of funds, but actually exceeded his means in restoring it. He also built a trireme, and setting sail from there for Italy with his friends, landed at Brundisium. [379] From there he went to Rome where he first of all related to Antony what had befallen him in Judaea, and how his brother Phasael had been seized by the Parthians and put to death, and that Hyrcanus was being held a prisoner by them, and that they had set up Antigonus as king after his promise to give them a thousand talents and five hundred women, who were to be of the first families and of their own race, and that he had removed the women by night and had escaped from the hands of his foes after enduring many hardships. [380] G   Then he said that his relatives shared his danger by being besieged, and told how he had sailed through a storm, and how he had made light of every danger in his haste to reach Antony, in whom lay his hope and only help.   

[381] Antony was moved to pity by the reverses of Herod, and indulged in the familiar reflection concerning those who are placed in so high a station, that they too are subject to the rule of fortune ; and partly in memory of Antipater's hospitality, [382] G   partly because of the money which Herod promised to give him if he became king, as he had promised once before when he was appointed tetrarch, but chiefly because of his hatred of Antigonus - for he considered him a seditious person and an enemy of the Romans he was eager to give Herod the assistance he asked for. [383] As for Caesar, because of the campaigns in Egypt on which Antipater had served with his father, and his hospitality and goodwill at all times, and also as a favour to Antony, who was very zealous on Herod's behalf, he was more ready to grant this rank and to co-operate in the things which Herod wished. [384] G   And so Messala and Atratinus after him convened the Senate, and presenting Herod, dwelt on the good deeds of his father, and recalled the loyalty which Herod himself had shown toward the Romans ; at the same time they brought accusations against Antigonus, whom they declared an enemy, not only because of the first offence he had committed against them but because he had received his kingly title from the Parthians, thus showing no regard for the Romans. [385] And when the Senate had been aroused by these charges, Antony came forward and informed them that it was also an advantage in their war with the Parthians that Herod should be king. And as this proposal was acceptable to all, they voted accordingly.   

[386] G   But this was the greatest sign of Antony's devotion to Herod, that not only did he obtain the kingship for him, which he had not hoped for - he had come to the capital not to claim the kingship for himself, for he did not believe the Romans would offer it to him, since it was their custom to give it to one of the reigning family, [387] but to claim it for his wife's brother, who was a grandson of Aristobulus on his father's side and of Hyrcanus on his mother's - but he also made it possible for Herod in only seven days altogether to obtain these unexpected grants and leave Italy. [388] G   This youth, however, Herod put to death, as we shall relate at the proper time { AJ 15.53 }. Now when the Senate was adjourned, Antony and Caesar went out with Herod between them, and the consuls and other magistrates leading the way, in order to sacrifice and to deposit the decree in the Capitol. [389] Then Antony entertained him on the first day of his reign. Thus did Herod take over royal power, receiving it in the hundred and eighty-fourth Olympiad, the consuls being Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus, for the second time, and Gaius Asinius Pollio { 40 B.C. }.  

[390] G   All this time Antigonus was besieging those in Masada, who had all other necessary provisions, and lacked only water ; on this account Herod's brother Joseph planned to flee with two hundred of his people to the Arabs, for he had heard that Malchus regretted the wrongs which he had done Herod. [391] But he was stopped by a rain which God sent in the night, for once the cisterns were filled with water, they no longer needed to flee ; instead, they were now encouraged, not merely because they had an abundance of what they had lacked before, but rather because this seemed an act of God's providence ; and so they sallied out, and engaging Antigonus' men, sometimes openly and sometimes from under cover, destroyed many of them. [392] G   Meanwhile Ventidius, the Roman general sent from Syria to keep back the Parthians, after disposing of them, made a side-march into Judaea, ostensibly to give aid to Joseph, but in reality the whole business was a device to obtain money from Antigonus ; at any rate he encamped very near Jerusalem and extorted from Antigonus as much money as he wanted. [393] Then he himself withdrew with the greater part of his force ; but in order that his extortion might not be detected, he left Silo behind with a certain number of soldiers ; to him also Antigonus paid court in order that he might not cause any trouble, hoping at the same time that the Parthians would once more give him help.   

{15.}   [394] G   By this time Herod had sailed from Italy to Ptolemais and had collected a not inconsiderable force of both foreigners and his countrymen, and was marching through Galilee against Antigonus. And he was supported by Silo and Ventidius, for they had been persuaded by Dellius, who had been sent by Antony, to join in restoring Herod to his country. [395] And so while Ventidius was quieting the disturbances that had been created in the cities by the Parthians, Silo remained in Judaea, having been corrupted by bribes from Antigonus. Nevertheless Herod's strength increased day by day as he went forward, and all Galilee, except for a few of its inhabitants, came over to his side. [396] G   But when he set out to reach those in Masada - for it was essential to save the people who were being besieged in the fortress, since they were his relatives - he found Joppa in his way, and as it was hostile to him, he had first to capture it in order that no stronghold should be left on his rear in the enemy's hands while he was moving on Jerusalem. [397] But as Silo made this a pretext for departing, and the Jews pursued him, Herod fell upon them with a small body of men and routed them, and so saved Silo, who was defending himself feebly ; and after taking Joppa he hastened to rescue his relatives in Masada. [398] G   Thereupon the local inhabitants joined him, some because of their friendship with his father, others because of his reputation, and still others as a return for benefits received from both of them, but the majority because of the hopes which they placed in him as one who would thereafter have a secure position as king.   

[399] Thus a strong force had been collected, and as it advanced, Antigonus occupied the most suitable places for passage with snares and ambushes, but did not the least, or at best only slight, damage thereby to the enemy. [400] G   Then Herod having recovered his relatives from Masada and taken the fortress of Oresa, went on to Jerusalem, where he was joined by Silo's army and many from the city who were intimidated by his strength. [401] When he encamped on the western side of the city, the guards who had been stationed in this quarter hurled javelins and shot arrows at them, [402] G   while some ran out in a compact body and fought hand to hand with his front-line men ; but Herod gave orders that his men should first make a proclamation before the wall that he had come for the good of the citizens and the welfare of the city, bearing no grudge even against those who were openly his foes, but, on the contrary, being ready to forget the offences which his most determined adversaries had committed against him. [403] But Antigonus in answer to Herod's proclamation told Silo and the Roman army that it would be contrary to their own notion of right if they gave the kingship to Herod who was a commoner and an Idumaean, that is, a half-Jew, when they ought to offer it to those who were of the (royal) family, as was their custom. [404] G   And, he argued, if they were now ill-disposed toward him and were determined to deprive him of the kingship on the ground that he had received it from the Parthians, there were at least many of his family who might lawfully receive the kingship, for they had committed no offence against the Romans, and were priests ; and thus they would be unworthily treated if they were deprived of this rank. [405] Such things they said to one another and were proceeding to imprecations when Antigonus permitted his men to battle with Herod's men from the wall. But the enemy shot their arrows and opposed them with so much spirit that they easily drove them from the towers.    

[406] G   Then it was that Silo showed openly that he had taken a bribe ; for he got a good many of his own soldiers to cry aloud about the lack of provisions, to demand money for food, and to insist that they be taken to suitable quarters for wintering, since the region about the city was a waste as a result of the ravaging by Antigonus' soldiers ; and so he began to move his camp and attempted to withdraw. [407] But Herod persisted in urging the officers under Silo and their soldiers not to desert him, for Caesar as well as Antony and the Senate had given him encouragement : he would, he said, take care that they should have plenty of provisions, and would readily furnish them with an abundance of the things they wanted. [408] G   After making this plea he at once set out into the country and left Silo no longer any pretext for withdrawing, for he brought back a greater mass of provisions than anyone had hoped for, and also instructed those around Samaria who had become friendly toward him to bring down to Jericho grain, wine, oil, cattle and all other things in order that there should be no lack of supplies for the soldiers for some days to come. [409] But these activities did not remain unknown to Antigonus, who at once sent off men throughout the country to obstruct and waylay those who were collecting food ; and in obedience to Antigonus' orders they mustered a large body of armed men near Jericho, and taking up posts in the hills, kept a look-out for the men who were bringing provisions. [410] G   Herod, however, did not remain still while this was being done, but took ten cohorts, five Roman and five Jewish, and a mixed mercenary force, to which he added a few mounted men, and marched on Jericho : and while he found the city deserted, he seized five hundred men occupying the heights with their wives and families, but after capturing them, released them ; then the Romans fell upon the city and plundered it, finding the houses full of all kinds of valuable things. [411] And after leaving a garrison at Jericho, the king returned and dismissed his Roman army to their winter quarters in the districts which had joined his side, a namely Idumaea, Galilee and Samaria. [412] G   At the same time Antigonus through bribery obtained Silo's consent to quarter a part of his army in Lydda, seeking to win Antony's favour thereby. And so the Romans put aside their arms and lived on the fat of the land.   

[413] Herod, however, did not choose to remain inactive, but sent off his brother Joseph to Idumaea with two thousand foot-soldiers and four hundred mounted men, while he himself went to Samaria, where he left his mother and his other relatives, who had by now made their way out of Masada, and proceeded to Galilee to capture some of the strongholds which had been occupied by the garrisons of Antigonus. [414] G   He reached Sepphoris in a snow-storm, and as Antigonus' garrison had quietly withdrawn, he came into possession of an abundance of provisions. [415] From here he then sent out a troop of cavalry and three companies of foot-soldiers against some brigands living in caves, for he had made up his mind to put an end to their depredations ; these caves were very near a village called Arbela. [416] G   Forty days later he himself came with his entire army, and under the enemy's bold attack the left wing of his line gave way, but when he appeared in person with a compact body of men he put to flight those who had before been victorious, and rallied those of his men who were fleeing. [417] And he pressed on in pursuit of the enemy as far as the river Jordan, to which they fled along different roads : and so he got into his hands all the people of Galilee except those who lived in the caves ; he then distributed money, giving each of his men a hundred and fifty drachmas, and considerably more to the officers, and dismissed them to their winter quarters. [418] G   Meanwhile Silo and the officers of the men who were in winter quarters came to him because Antigonus was unwilling to furnish them with food ; that worthy had fed them for a month and no longer ; he had, moreover, sent out orders to the inhabitants round about that they were to gather up all the provisions throughout the country and flee to the hills in order that the Romans might be entirely without necessary food and so perish of hunger. [419] Accordingly Herod entrusted the care of these men to Pheroras, his youngest brother, and ordered him to fortify Alexandreion also. And he quickly made it possible for the soldiers to have an abundance of the necessary provisions, and also restored Alexandreion. which had been left in ruins.  

[420] G   About the same time, while Antony was staying at Athens, Ventidius in Syria sent for Silo to join him against the Parthians, but instructed him first to assist Herod in the present war and then summon their allies to the Romans' own war. [421] But Herod, who was hastening against the brigands in the caves, sent Silo off to Ventidius. and set out against them by himself. [422] G   Now their caves were in hills that were altogether rugged, having their entrances half-way up the sheer cliffs and being surrounded by sharp rocks ; in such dens did they lurk with all their people. [423] Thereupon the king, whose men were unable either to climb up from below or creep upon them from above because of the steepness of the hill, had cribs built and lowered these upon them with iron chains as they were suspended by a machine from the summit of the hill. [424] G   The cribs were filled with armed men holding great grappling hooks, with which they were supposed to draw toward them any of the brigands who opposed them, and kill them by hurling them to the ground. The lowering of the cribs was proving to be a risky business because of the immense depth that lay below them, although the men within them had everything they needed. [425] But when the cribs were let down, none of the men standing near the entrances of the caves dared come forward; instead, they remained quiet out of fear, whereupon one of the soldiers in irritation at the delay caused by the brigands who dared not come out, girded on his sword, and holding on with both hands to the chain from which the crib was suspended, lowered himself to the entrance of a cave. [426] G   And when he came opposite an entrance, he first drove back with javelins most of those who were standing there, and then with his grappling hook drew his opponents toward him and pushed them over the precipice ; after this he attacked those within and slaughtered many of them, whereupon he re-entered the crib and rested. [427] Then fear seized the others as they heard the shrieking, and they despaired of their lives ; all action, however, was halted by the coming on of night ; and many, after sending spokesmen with the king's consent, surrendered and made their submission. [428] G   The same method of attack was used the following day, when the men in the baskets fell upon them still more fiercely and fought at their doors and threw flaming fire inside, and so the eaves, which had much wood in them, were set on fire. [429] Now there was an old man shut up within one of the caves with his seven children and his wife : and when they begged him to let them slip through to the enemy, he stood at the entrance and cut down each of his sons as he came out, and afterwards his wife, and after hurling their dead bodies over the precipice, threw himself down upon them, thus submitting to death rather than to slavery. [430] G   But before doing so, he bitterly reviled Herod for his meanness of spirit, although the king - for he was a witness of what was happening - stretched out his right hand and promised him full immunity. By such methods, then, all the caves were finally taken.   

[431] The king thereupon appointed Ptolemaeus general in that region, and departed for Samaria with six hundred mounted men and three thousand foot-soldiers to try the issue of battle with Antigonus. [432] G   Ptolemaeus, however, was unsuccessful in his command, and the men who had formerly disturbed Galilee fell upon him and took his life ; after doing this, they fled in a body to the marshes and other inaccessible places, harrying and plundering the entire country thereabout. [433] But Herod returned and punished thorn ; some of the rebels he slew, and those who had taken refuge in fortified places he subjected to a siege and killed, and demolished their strongholds as well. After putting an end to the rebellion in this way, he also fined the cities a hundred talents.   

[434] G   Meanwhile, after Pacorus had fallen in battle and the Parthians had been defeated, Ventidius at the urging of Antony sent Machaeras to the assistance of Herod with two legions and a thousand horse. [435] Now Machaeras, being invited by Antigonus and bribed by him, went off against Herod's wish, as if to reconnoitre his position ; but Antigonus, suspecting his intentions in coming, did not admit him, but kept him away with sling-shots, and so revealed his own purpose. [436] G   Thereupon Machaeras, perceiving that Herod had given him excellent advice and that he himself had made a mistake in disregarding his counsel, withdrew to the city of Emmaus and slaughtered all the Jews whom he met on the way, whether friends or foes, in anger at the treatment he had suffered. [437] Enraged at these acts, the king went to Samaria, for he had decided to go to Antony about these matters and say that he had no need of such allies, who would do more harm to him than to his enemies, and that he was quite able to crush Antigonus by himself. [438] G   But Machaeras, who accompanied him, begged him to remain, or, if he were bent on going, at least to leave his brother Joseph as their associate in the war with Antigonus. And so, at the earnest entreaty of Machaeras, Herod became reconciled and left his brother Joseph there with an army, warning him not to take any risks or to quarrel with Machaeras.   

[439] He himself hastened to Antony, who was just then besieging Samosata, a place near the Euphrates, with horsemen and foot-soldiers who had come to his assistance. [440] G   When he arrived at Antioch, he found many men gathered there who were anxious to reach Antony but dared not set out for fear of the barbarians who were attacking men on the way and slaying many of them : these he encouraged and became their leader on the road. [441] But two days' march from Samosata there was an ambush of barbarians lying in wait for those who were on their way to Antony. And as there were thickets covering the entrance to the plains, they had there placed in ambush not a few horsemen to remain quiet until those passing through should reach the place where horses could be used. [442] G   As the first men went through, Herod was guarding the rear, and when the men in ambush, numbering some five hundred, suddenly a fell upon them and routed those in front, the king rushed up and by the force of his charge at once drove the enemy back ; at the same time he raised the spirits of his men and filled them with courage : and when those who had before been fleeing turned back to fight, the barbarians were killed on all sides. [443] But the king pressed on, slaying as he went, and after recovering all the plunder that had been taken, consisting of a great many pack-animals and slaves, he went ahead. [444] G   And being attacked by a larger number of men in the thickets near the entrance to the plain, he engaged them too with a stout body of men and routed and killed many of them, thus making the road safe for those who followed. Thereupon they hailed him as their saviour and protector.   

[445] And when he came near Samosata, Antony sent his army with his own equipment to meet him, assigning these men as an honour to Herod and as an aid to him ; for he had heard of the barbarians' attacks upon them. [446] G   Moreover when Herod arrived, he was very glad to see him, and on learning of his feats on the way, he clasped his hand and expressed admiration of his prowess ; and Antony himself welcomed him with an embrace on seeing him, and showed him special honour, for he had recently appointed him king. [447] But not long afterwards Antiochus surrendered the stronghold, and thus the war came to an end ; thereupon Antony entrusted Syria to Sossius with instructions to aid Herod, and himself departed for Egypt. And so Sossius sent two legions ahead to Judaea to assist Herod, and himself followed with the greater part of his army.   

[448] G   Before this, however, Joseph had met his death in Judaea under the following circumstances. Forgetting the orders which his brother had given him when going off to Antony, he pitched camp in the hills - for when Machaeras gave him five cohorts, he hastened to Jericho with the intention of reaping all their grain - [449] and as the Roman army was newly recruited and had no experience of war, being raised mostly from Syria, he was left in a difficult position when the enemy attacked him there, and so he was killed, fighting bravely ; his entire army was also lost, six cohorts being destroyed. [450] G   And Antigonus seized the dead bodies and cut off Joseph's head, which his brother Pheroras ransomed for fifty talents. And after this the Galilaeans rebelled against the nobles in their country and drowned the partisans of Herod in the lake ; a good part of Judaea also revolted. Machaeras then fortified the place called Gittha.   

[451] But messengers came to the king to report these happenings, and at Daphne near Antioch they informed him of his brother's fate, which, however, he himself was expecting from certain dream visions which clearly foreshadowed his brother's death. [452] G   He therefore hastened on his way, and when he came to Mount Lebanon, took on eight hundred men of that region, and with a Roman legion as well came to Ptolemais ; from there he set out by night with his army and proceeded through Galilee. [453] When the enemy met him, they were defeated in battle and were shut up in the fortress from which they had set out the day before ; he then attacked them repeatedly at dawn, but not being able to do anything because of a severe storm which broke out, he led his army back to the villages nearby. But when a second legion came to him from Antony, the men who were holding the fortress were terrified and abandoned it by night. [454] G   And the king hastened to Jericho with the intention of taking revenge on them for his brother. And when he had found quarters, he entertained the men in authority, and after the party, sent away the guests and went to his room. [455] And from the following incident one may see how well disposed God was toward the king. a For the roof of the house collapsed without killing anyone who was caught within ; so that they all believed that Herod was a favourite of God for having escaped so great and unexpected a danger.   

[456] G   On the following day, however, six thousand of the enemy descended from the summits of the hills to fight, and struck terror into the Romans. The light-armed troops came close and cast javelins and stones at the king's men who had come out against them, and one of them struck the king himself in the side with a javelin. [457] Antigonus then sent a general named Pappus with a force to Samaria, wishing to give the enemy the impression that he was fighting with men to spare. And while he occupied himself with the general Machaeras, Herod took five cities, and after slaughtering those who were caught in them - about two thousand - and burning the cities themselves, returned to face Pappus, who had pitched his camp near a village called Isana.   

[458] G   Meanwhile many people streamed to him from Jericho and the rest of Judaea ; and when he drew near the enemy, they boldly advanced to attack him, but on engaging them in battle he overcame them, and to avenge his brother he followed and killed them as they fled to the village. [459] The houses were filled with armed men, and many took refuge on the housetops, but he seized these, and on pulling down the roofs of the houses, saw the space below filled with soldiers wedged in tightly together. [460] G   Accordingly his men hurled stones at them from above and slew them in heaps, one upon another. And the most terrible sight of any during the war was this mass of countless dead bodies lying one upon another within the walls of the houses. [461] It was this action which did most to break the spirits of the enemy, who were waiting to see what would happen ; for great crowds were seen coming together from a distance about the village, and they now fled ; and if a severe storm had not prevented, the king's army, made confident by their victory, would have marched on Jerusalem as well and ended the whole business ; for Antigonus was already considering headlong flight and withdrawal from the city.   

[462] G   At this point the king ordered his soldiers to have their supper, as it was late, and he himself, being tired out, went into a room to bathe. And here he came into very great danger, but by the providence of God, escaped it. [463] For he was naked and taking his bath, with only a single servant in attendance, in an inner chamber, where several of the enemy, who were armed, had taken refuge out of fear : and while he was bathing, one of them stole by with his sword drawn, and went out through the door, and after him a second and a third who were similarly armed, but in their consternation they did the king no injury, and were content to have got away into the open without suffering any harm. [464] G   The following day he cut off the head of Pappus, who had already been slain, and sent it to Pheroras in revenge for what his brother had suffered. For it was Pappus who had been his executioner.   

[465] When the storm subsided, he removed from there and came near to Jerusalem, encamping close to the city. This was in the third year after he had been made king at Rome. [466] G   He then moved his camp and came close to the wall, encamping before the temple, which was the point where the wall could most easily be assaulted, for he had made up his mind to attack at the same place where Pompey had attacked before. On this site he made three lines of earthworks and erected towers, employing a great many hands in the work and cutting the timber round about. [467] He then put capable men in charge of these works, and while his army was still encamped, himself went off to Samaria to marry the daughter of Alexander, son of Aristobulus, to whom he was betrothed, as I have said before { 14.300 }.   

{16.} G     [468] G   After the wedding Sossius, who had sent his forces ahead through the interior, came through Phoenicia, the general himself coming with a large number of horsemen and foot-soldiers. And the king also arrived from Samaria, leading a considerable army in addition to the one he had earlier, there being about thirty thousand. [469] All these assembled before the wall of Jerusalem and took up their position at the north wall of the city ; they made up an army of eleven divisions of foot-soldiers and six thousand mounted men, as well as auxiliaries from Syria ; and there were two commanders, Sossius, who had been sent as an ally by Antony, and Herod, acting on his own behalf, to take the royal power from Antigonus, who had been declared an enemy at Rome, and in his stead to become king himself in accordance with the decree of the Senate.   

[470] G   It was with great zeal and bitterness, the entire nation being gathered together, that the Jews who were confined within the walls fought against Herod and his men ; many were the invocations made about the temple, and many were the things said to encourage the people, to the effect that God would deliver them from danger. [471] And everything on the land outside the city had been carried off, so that nothing was left that might serve as food for men or beasts ; and by secret raids also they caused a lack of provisions. [472] G   But when Herod observed this, he took steps against the raids, on the one hand, by posting ambushes in the most suitable places, and against the lack of provisions, on the other hand, by sending divisions of armed men to gather supplies from a distance, so that within a short time they had a great abundance of necessities. [473] And the three lines of earthworks had been raised with ease, for there were a great number of hands now continuously at work, and as it was summer, there was no hindrance to their erection either from the weather or from the workmen ; and so they brought up their engines and battered the wall, trying every expedient. [474] G   They did not, however, intimidate those within the city, who on their part contrived a good many counter-devices against those of their enemies ; they would dash out and set fire to their works, some of them half-finished, others completed ; they would also fight hand to hand, but while they were not inferior to the Romans in daring, they fell short of them in science. [475] Against the siege-engines they devised counter-defences when their first constructions gave way, and fought underground when they met the enemy in the mines ; and acting in desperation rather than with foresight, they persevered in the war to the very end - this in spite of the fact that a great army surrounded them and that they were distressed by famine and the lack of necessities, for a sabbatical year happened to fall at that time. [476] G   The first to mount the wall were twenty picked men, after these came Sossius' centurions, the first wall was taken in forty days, and the second in fifteen more ; and some of the porticoes round the temple were burnt, which Herod accused Antigonus of setting on fire, making an effort to draw upon him the hatred of the Jews by this charge.  [477] And when the outer precincts of the temple and the Lower City had been captured, the Jews fled into the inner precinct of the temple and the Upper City ; and fearing that the Romans would prevent them from offering the daily sacrifices to God, they sent an embassy to beg that they would permit them to have only victims brought in for them ; and this request he granted, in the belief that they would yield. [478] G   But when he saw that none of the things he expected of them was being done, and that, on the contrary, they were resisting strongly for the sake of Antigonus' kingship, he attacked them and took the city by storm. [479] And soon every quarter was filled with the blood of the slain, for the Romans were furious at the length of the siege, while the Jews on Herod's side were anxious not to leave a single adversary alive. [480] G   And so they were slaughtered in heaps, whether crowded together in alleys and houses or seeking refuge in the temple ; no pity was shown either to infants or the aged, nor were weak women spared, but even though the king sent word around, urging them to forbear, not one of them held his hand, but like madmen they fell upon persons of every age. [481] It was then that Antigonus, without stopping to reflect either on his former or his present fortunes, came down from the castle, and fell at Sossius' feet. He, however, did not in the least pity him for suffering a change of fortune, but applauded him unrestrainedly, and called him Antigone ; nevertheless he did not leave him unguarded, as a woman would have been, but had him put in chains and kept under guard.   

[482] G   And Herod, after checking his enemies, took care also to check his foreign allies ; for the crowd of strangers was bent on getting a view of the temple and the holy things in the sanctuary, [483] and the king held them back, in some cases by appeals, in others by threats, and sometimes even by arms, for he regarded victory as something more bitter than defeat if any of the things forbidden to men's eyes should be seen by them. [484] G   He also tried to prevent the plundering that went on throughout the city by strenuously arguing with Sossius that if the Romans emptied the city of its wealth and its men, they would leave him king of a wilderness, and that he would consider the sovereignty of the habitable world a poor recompense for the murder of so many citizens. [485] And when Sossius said that he had been right to permit his soldiers this plundering in return for their labours in the siege, Herod replied that he himself would distribute rewards to each of them out of his own purse. [486] G   In this way he purchased security for the rest of the city, and fulfilled his promise ; for he gave splendid gifts to every soldier and proportionate gifts to their officers, while to Sossius himself he made most regal presents, so that all went away with a goodly share of wealth.   

[487] This calamity befell the city of Jerusalem during the consulship at Rome of Marcus Agrippa and Caninius Gallus { 37 B.C. }, in the hundred and eighty-fifth Olympiad, in the third month, on the day of the Fast, as if it were a recurrence of the misfortune which came upon the Jews in the time of Pompey, [488] G   for they were captured by Sossius on the very same day, twenty-seven years later. And Sossius dedicated a golden crown to God and departed from Jerusalem, taking Antigonus in chains to Antony. [489] But Herod feared that if Antigonus were kept under guard by Antony and brought to Rome by him, he might plead the justice of his cause before the Senate and show that he was descended from kings while Herod was a commoner, and that his sons ought to reign by virtue of their lineage, [490] G   even though he himself had committed offences against the Romans ; and because of this fear Herod gave Antony a large bribe and persuaded him to put Antigonus out of the way. And when this was done, Herod was freed of his fear, and at the same time the rule of the Asamonaean line came to an end after a hundred and twenty-six years. Theirs was a splendid and renowned house because of both their lineage and their priestly office, as well as the things which its founders achieved on behalf of the nation. [491] But they lost their royal power through internal strife, and it passed to Herod, the son of Antipater, who came from a house of common people and from a private family that was subject to the kings. Such, then, is the account we have received of the end of the Asamonaean line.  

Book 15 →

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