Brief Account of Events Said to Have Occurred
2. Primary Sources
Antiquities 15.1.1-17.8.3 (15.1-17.199)
War 1.18.1-33.9; 347-673
3. More Detailed Account of Events Said to Have Occurred
with Citation of Sources
Brief Account of Events Said to Have Occurred
From 37 until 4 BCE, Herod
reigned in Jerusalem and gradually, with the approval of the Romans,
expanded his kingdom; his kingdom included both Jews and Gentiles, but
he did not follow the Hasmonean policy of forcibly converting gentiles
to Judaism. Early in his reign, Antonius and Octavian had a falling
out, which led to another civil war. In 31 BCE, Octavius, with
the support of the Roman senate, fought and defeated Antonius at the
battle of Actium in Greece; both Antonius and Cleopatra managed to escape
and arrived in Alexandria; but, when they realized that there was no
way of escaping Octavius, they committed suicide. Herod convinced the
victorious Octavius to confirm him in his former position as King of
the Jews. Herod had serious trouble with his family and his court in
general. He executed executed Mariamme, of Hasmonean descent, because
he suspected her of being disloyal. Herod had hoped that his sons, Alexander
and Aristobolus, his sons by Mariamme. and Antipater, his son by Doris,
his first wife, would inherit his kingdom, pending Roman approval. Many
years after their mother's death, however, Alexander and Aristobolus
were executed for conspiring against their father. At the end of his
life, Herod also had Antipater executed for conspiring to poison him;
Herod had planned to bequeath his kingdom to Antipater. Herod was not
greatly appreciated by the Jews generally (see Testament of Moses
 for an unflattering description of Herod's reign presented as a
prophecy.) In a desire
to aggrandize himself
and perpetuate his memory, he undertook many expensive building projects
in parts of his kingdom and beyond. In 19 BCE, Herod undertook
to rebuild and enlarge the Temple in Jerusalem.
Josephus, Antiquities 15.1.1-17.8.3
(15.1-17.199) (Translated by W. Whiston)
Josephus, War 1.18.1-33.9; 347-673
(Translated by W. Whiston)
Oil Lamp from
the Herodian Period
minted in Alexandria (Egypt) bearing the images of Anthony and
Cleopatra on either side
More Detailed Account of Events Alleged to Have Occurred with
Citation of Sources
(*=significant apparent disagreement
plunders the wealthy of Jerusalem in order to give gifts
to Antonius and others; he kills forty-five of the leading members
of Antigonus' supporters. Josephus
quotes from Strabo to the effect that Antonius beheaded Antigonus
(Ant. 15.1.2; 9-10). He rewards
those who supported him during the siege, in particular the Pharisee
Pollion and his disciple Samaias, who advised the people during
the siege to open the gates to Herod. (This same Pollion was the
one who spoke during Herod's trial, and foretold that, if Herod's
life was spared, Herod would one day persecute Hyrcanus and the
members of the Synhedrion.) Antonius executes
Antigonus in Antioch by beheading him, in order to strengthen
Herod's hold on the kingship.
15.1.1-2; 1-10; War 1.18.1-4; 347-59; see Plutarch, Ant.
gives Cleopatra control of Coele-Syria, the coastal region from
the Eleutherus River to Egypt, Cilicia and Cyprus. Cleopatra also
has designs on Herod's kingdom as well as that of the Nabataean
king Malchus, and tries to convince Antonius to grant to her these
territories. (Octavius and Antonius had agreed to share power, the
former controlling the west and the latter the east; the other member
of the second triumvirate, Lepidus, originally was given Africa
to rule, but was deposed from power in 36 BCE and banished to Circeii.)
15.3.8; 79; 4.1; 95; War 1.18.4-5; 360-62; see Plutarch,
Ant. 36; Dio Cassius 49.32.4-5
is released from his Parthian imprisonment and goes to reside in
Babylonia, where there is a significant Jewish population. With
Herod's encouragement, he leaves Babylonia and returns to Jerusalem,
where Herod is at least outwardly respectful to him. Herod appoints
the undistinguished Hananel as High Priest, a Babylonian Jew of
a high-priestly family, and not of Hasmonean descent. Herod's mother-in-law
enlists the aid of Cleopatra to persuade Antonius to intervene and
appoint her son, Aristobolus as High Priest. (Aristobolus is the
brother of Mariamme, Herod's wife, son of Alexandra and grandson
of Hyrcanus II and Aristobolus II.) Herod finally relents
and replaces Hananel with Aristobolus. Herod restricts Mariamme
to the palace, being suspicious of her loyalty to him; she appeals
to Cleopatra for help, who advises her to steal away to Egypt with
her son. Her attempt to leave Jerusalem is thwarted, but Herod,
fearing Cleopatra, takes no punitive measures. He does arrange
to have Aristobolus drowned at his villa in Jericho for fear of
his growing popularity; he was High Priest for only a year.
15.2.1-3.4; 11-61; War 1.22.2; 437
appeals to Cleopatra for justice in the matter of Herod's murder
of her son. Cleopatra convinces Antonius to inquire into the case,
so that he summons Herod to Laodocia (near Antioch) to meet him.
(Antonius is in the process of marching against the Armenians.)
Herod leaves his brother-in-law, Joseph (married to Herod's sister
Salome), with orders to kill Mariamme if he should die. Joseph,
in an attempt to prove Herod's love to Mariamme and Alexandra reveals
Herod's instructions. In Herod's absence, the rumor arises that
he has been executed; Alexandra persuades Joseph to let them take
refuge with the Roman legion stationed near the city. Herod is exonerated
by Antonius, and writes a letter describing the positive outcome
of his interview with Antonius. When the letter arrives mother
and daughter abandon their plan to flee to the Romans. When Herod
returns Herod's sister Salome reveals the plan of Alexandra and
Mariamme, and accuses Mariamme of infidelity with Salome's husband
Joseph. Mariamme denies the accusation, but Herod still has
||While on his
Armenian campaign, Antonius grants Cleopatra portions of Herod's
kingdom, the balsam plantations near Jericho, as well as parts of
the Nabatean (Arab) kingdom. Herod is forced to lease back the territorial
concessions from Cleopatra. Returning to Egypt, after accompanying
Antonius as far as the Euphrates River, Cleopatra visits Jerusalem,
and tries to seduce Herod. He refuses her advances, and contemplates
killing her, but does not for fear of Antonius.
15.4.1-88; see Plutarch, Ant. 36; Dio Cassius 22; 32; 49.32.5
(Both, however, date these concessions to 36 BCE.)
the tribute to Cleopatra, as does Malchus, the Nabataean king, for
a while. When Malchus ceases his tribute payments, Antonius orders
Herod to make war on this kingdom. He is reluctant, and suggests
that Antonius would be better to use Herod's soldiers in his war
against Octavius, which began again in 32 BCE. He defeats the Nabataeans
once at Diospolis in Coele-Syria, but, after an initial second victory
at Canatha in Coele-Syria, is attacked and defeated by Cleopatra's
general Athenion in charge of her forces in Coele-Syria, who takes
the Jews by surprise. Afterwards the Nabateans return and deal the
Jews even more losses. After this, Herod undertakes raids into Nabataean
15.4.4-5.1; 107-20; War 1.19.1-4; 364-69
||There is an
earthquake in Judea, which kills many destroys much property and
livestock. The army, however, camp is unharmed, since it encamped
in the open. The Nabataeans plan to attack the Jews thinking that
the earthquake has weakened the nation; they kill the envoys sent
by the Jews to make peace. The Jews defeat the Nabataeans across
the Jordan River near Philadelphia. Josephus records two versions
of Herod's speech to his troops designed to encourage them in light
of the disaster of the earthquake and the impending invasion.
15.4.2-5; 121-60; War 1.19.3-6; 367-85
*The two versions of Herod's speech differ, but they agree in the
essential points made.
with the support of the Roman senate, defeats Antonius at the battle
of Actium in Greece; both Antonius and Cleopatra manage to escape
and arrive in Alexandria. Herod's enemies expect that Octavius
will depose him as king. Herod has Hyrcanus II killed for treason,
because he allegedly sends a letter to Malchus, the Nabatean king,
asking him to give him and his family refuge in case Herod seeks
to do away with them. (Josephus notes that the sources available
to him, one of which is called Memoirs of King Herod, do
not agree on whether Hyrcanus II [and his daughter Alexandra] was
guilty of treason or not. He indicates that there is another account
of why Herod executes Hyrcanus II.) Herod helps Quintus Didius,
governor of Syria, prevent a troop of Antonius' gladiators from
reaching Egypt from Cyzicus in order to help Antonius. Herod
leaves Judea under the care of his brother Pheroras, and appears
before Octavius in Rhodes; he unapologetically concedes his former
loyalty to Antonius, but promises to be equally loyal to Octavius,
who reinstates him as king, noting that Herod has already been of
service to him in the assistance rendered to Quintus Didius. Herod
returns to Judea, and, when Octavius arrives in Syria with the goal
of invading Egypt, Herod meets Octavius in Ptolemais, and is warmly
received by the Roman general; he provides Octavius with supplies
for his war with Antonius. Relations between Herod and Mariamme
deteriorate, in part due to rumors spread by his sister Salome against
her and her mother Alexandra.
15.6.1-7.3; 161-214; War 1.20.1-3; 386-95; see Dio
Cassius 51.1-18; Plutarch, Ant. 56-65; Suet., Aug.
*In War Josephus has Herod and Caesar give long speeches,
whereas in Ant. the information is given mostly as narrative.
Antonius in Egypt; when they realize that there is no way of escaping
Octavius, Antonius and Cleopatra commit suicide. Herod goes
to meet Octavius in Egypt, who returns to him the territory appropriated
by Cleopatra, as well adding to it Gadara, Hippus, Samaria, Gaza,
Anthedon, Joppa and Straton's Tower. Herod escorts Octavius to Antioch,
and then returns to Jerusalem. Herod has Mariamme executed for her
disloyalty to Herod. Afterwards, Herod has great remorse for his
deed. Herod contracts an illness, which many see as divine retribution.
(The senate changed Octavius' name to Augustus and gave him the
title of princeps and imperator. Although officially
the senate had all authority, in actuality a dyarchy was in place;
it is customary to called this form of government the principate.)
15.7.3-7; 215-46 War 1.20.3; 396; for Roman sources, see
illness, Herod absents himself to Samaria. In Jerusalem, Alexandra
conspires to usurp control from Herod; she attempts to convince
the commanders of the two fortresses in Jerusalem to rebel against
the ailing Herod, but to no avail. They betray her to Herod, who
has her executed.
Costobar (Herod's sister Salome's second husband whom she divorced),
executed for his role in hiding the sons of Baba, members of a family
of supporters of the Hasmonean Antigonus whom Costobar allowed to
escape and concealed from Herod. Salome betrays her former husband.
The sons of Baba are killed also. Herod also executes Antipater,
Lysimachus and Dositheus for allegedly conspiring with Costobar
||In honor of
Caesar (Augustus), i.e., Octavius, Herod introduces a quinquennial
athletic competition as well as other competitions. He builds a
theater in Jerusalem and an amphitheater near the city in the plain.
(A theater would be used for plays and musical concerts, whereas
the amphitheater would be used for gladiatorial contests and animal
spectacles.) These innovations offend many Jews, who see them as
contrary to Jewish custom. Jews also take offense at the practice
of having condemned criminals killed by wild animals as entertainment. But
especially offensive to them are the images of men on the trophies
(tropaia) on display in the city; these they consider to
be idolatrous (They seem to believe that these images are or may
be worshipped). Although Herod alleviates the religious concerns
of most, some continue to be offended and plot to assassinate Herod.
The conspiracy is discovered and those involved are executed. Herod's
informant is murdered afterwards.
15.8.1-4; 267-91; War 1.21.8; 415
500 soldiers to Aelius Gallus to be used in a war against Sabaeans
15.9.3; 317; see Strabo , Geog.16.4.23
the city of Samaria and renames it Sabaste (Greek for augustus)
in honor of Caesar Augustus. He builds a temple to Caesar in the
center of the city. He also builds fortresses in Gaba in Galilee
and Hesebonitis (Heshbon) in Perea.
15.8.5; 292-98; War 1.21.2; 403
is beset by a two-year drought and pestilence in the thirteenth
year of his reign; many die during this period, and the survivors
grumble against Herod. Herod converts his gold and silver ornaments
in his palace into coinage and with them buys grain from Petronius,
the prefect of Egypt. Herod also gives food relief to those
outside of his kingdom. This beneficence gains him much gratitude
and respect from the Jews and other nations.
himself a palace in Jerusalem, and marries another woman named Mariamme,
the daughter of Simon son of Boethus. He appoints Simon High Priest
in place of Jesus son of Phabes. Josephus gives a full account of
Herod's nine marriages and numerous offspring. Herod has nine wives
in his lifetime: Doris, Mariamme (I); Mariamme (II); Malthace, Olympias,
Cleopatra (of Jerusalem), Pallas, Phaedra, Elpis and two unnamed
15.9.3; 317-22; War 1.21.1; 402; see Ant. 17.1.3;
19-22; War 16.28.4; 562-63
his sons Alexander and Aristobolus (by the first Mariamme) to Rome
for their education. Caesar Augustus adds the territories of Trachonitis,
Batanaea and Auranitis to Herod's kingdom. He also makes Herod one
of the procurators of Syria, which gives him an income and more
status in the region. Herod rids Trachonitis of its brigands who
were in the habit of pillaging the Damascenes. Zenodorus, whose
eparchy Auranitis was given to Herod goes to Rome to protest, but
returns unsatisfied. Then M. Vipsanius Agrippa comes to Mitylene,
where Herod meets with him. Some Gadarenes also come to Agrippa
to complain about Herod, but are put in chains and handed over to
Herod, who releases them. Zenodorus sold his eparchy to the
Arabs, who claim that it belongs to them and not Herod. Herod does
not take any severe action against them.
15.10.1-3; 342-50; War 1.20.4; 398-400
the rebuilding of the port city of Straton's Tower, which he renames
Caesarea, in honor of
Caesar Augustus. He builds a circular breakwall to create a harbor
suitable to hold for large fleets of ships, and a temple to
Roma and Augustus on a mound, so that it is visible from sea. Herod
also rebuilds Anthedon, and renames it Agrippium, in honor of Marcus
15.9.6; 331-41; War 1.21.5-8; 408-16
the fortress named the Herodion.
cities (including Antipatris, in honor of his father, and Phasaelis,
in honor of his brother). He gives money to Phaelis, Balanea and
other towns in Cilicia in order to relieve the annual tax burden
of the populace. In order to curry favor with Caesar Augustus and
leading Romans as well as the non-Jewish population of his kingdom,
he makes donations to foreign cities for construction projects and
for other purposes, and even provides funds to build pagan temples.
He defends this latter action to the Jews by saying that he has
been ordered to do so. Many Jews in Herod's kingdom resent Herod
for his undermining of their religious and cultural distinctiveness
through his policy of accommodation; in response Herod forbids public
gatherings and requires all citizens to take an oath of loyalty
to him, which most do. Those who do not cooperate with Herod's policies
are secretly executed. Polion, the Pharisee, Samaias and most of
their disciples refuse to take an oath of loyalty, but are exempted
from punishment, on account of Pollion's earlier support of Herod.
Likewise the Essenes are exempt from taking the oath. Herod punishes
thieves severely, by selling them into permanent foreign slavery,
which is contrary to the Jewish law.
15.9.5; 326-30; 15.10.4; 365-72; 16.1.1; 1-5; 16.5.2-3; 142-49;
War 1.21.9; 417-18; 21.11; 422-25; 21.12; 428
in Herod's reign
that the Essene Manaemus predicted that he would be king of the
Jews when he was still a youth, Herod summons him to ask him how
long his reign would be. Manaemus replies that he has twenty
or even thirty years as king. Because of Manaemus, Herod holds the
Essenes in high esteem.
visits Syria, and the Gadarenes and Zenodorus take this opportunity
to complain to him about Herod. Augustus, however, pays no
attention to Herod's detractors. Zenodorus dies suddenly, and Augustus
annexes his territory, that which lay between Trachonitis and Galilee
including Ulatha and Paneas and the surrounding area, to Herod's
kingdom. He gives Herod equal authority with the Syrian procurators.
Herod is the third most influential man in the Roman empire, behind
Augustus and Agrippa. Herod obtains the tetrarchy of the trans-Jordanic
Perea for his brother Pheroras.
15.10.3; 354-64; War 1.20.4; 399; 24.5; 483; see Dio Cassius
*In War 1.20.4; 399, Josephus says that Augustus appointed
Herod as procurator (epitropos) of all Syria, which seems
||In order to
alleviate the growing dissatisfaction with Herod's rule among Jews,
Herod remits one third of the taxes. Herod undertakes to rebuild
the Temple to make it as large and magnificent as Solomon's Temple.
Josephus includes a speech given by Herod to the populace in order
to convince them of the desirability of this undertaking. A year
and a half later, the sanctuary is completed.
15.11.1-2; 380-87; 11.6; 421-23; War 1.21.1; 401
a law that thieves (who break into houses) will be sold into slavery.
He is criticized by some Jews for violating the Torah's prohibition
on selling Israelites as slaves to foreigners.
Caesar Augustus in Italy and brings back with him his two sons by
the first Mariamme, Alexander and Aristobolus. They resent their
father for his execution of their mother, and Herod hears of this
and becomes disaffected with them. Aristobolus marries Berenice,
the daughter of Salome, Herod's sister, and Alexander marries Glaphyra,
the daughter of the king of Cappadocia, Archaelus.
visits Asia, whereupon Herod goes to meet him and convinces him
to come to Judea. Herod shows Agrippa the cities that he has constructed
or rebuilt, and then arrives in Jerusalem, where he is well received
by Herod and the populace. Agrippa returns to Rome, but in the spring
is back in the east leading an expedition to the Bosphorus.
Herod hastens to join him, finally meeting up with him at Sinope
in Pontus. Herod assists Agrippa in the campaign. On the return
trip, they travel together to various cities distributing gifts
and hearing petitions; they arrive at Ephesus and then sail to Samos.
16.2.1-2; 12-26; see Philo, Legatio 37; 294-97
||The Jews of
Ionia (in Asia) complain to Agrippa in Herod's presence that they
are being deprived of their right to live according to their own
laws and practice their religion without interference, contrary
to many Roman decrees. These Jews are not allowed to celebrate the
Sabbath and other holy days, and the money collected to be sent
to the Temple in Jerusalem is confiscated. Also they are forced
to participate in military service and spend their money on civic
religious duties. Nicolas of Damascus, who is traveling with Herod
and Agrippa, addresses Agrippa in support of the complaints of the
Ionian Jews; Josephus includes Nicolas' speech in his account.
Agrippa upholds the rights of the Ionian Jews. Agrippa goes
to Lesbos from Samos, while Herod goes to Caesarea and then to Jerusalem,
where he explains how he was instrumental in guaranteeing the rights
of Jews in Asia. He also remits one quarter of the taxes.
||Upon his return
Herod discovers increasing dissension in his household. His two
sons Alexander and Aristobolus are as resentful as ever towards
Herod for his execution of their mother and are reputed to be desirous
of ruling in his place. Herod's sister Salome is an enemy
of the two sons of the first Mariamme, as is Pheroras. It is rumored
that the two sons are plotting with the king of Cappadocia, the
father-in-law of Alexander, to influence Augustus have Herod
removed from power. In an effort to show his two sons that their
ascent to power is not guaranteed, Herod brings his son Antipater,
by his first wife, Doris, to the court and honors him. Antipater,
emboldened by this, successfully does all he can to alienate Herod
further from Alexander and Aristobolus; Antipater's position becomes
more secure, and he is declared to be heir to Herod's throne; Antipater
even manages to bring his mother, Doris, to the court. Herod decides
to send Antipater to Rome with Agrippa as a way of commending him
to Caesar Augustus.
16.3.1-3; 66-86; War 1.23.1-2; 445-51
goes to Rome accompanying Agrippa, who returns there from ten years
in Asia. There Antipater continues his efforts at alienating
his father from Alexander and Aristobolus, causing Herod to contemplate
putting his sons to death. Herod takes Alexander and Aristobolus
before Caesar Augustus in Rome and accuses them of plotting against
him and attempting to poison him. Alexander defends himself and
his brother successfully, and Augustus reconciles father and sons.
The sons are to obey their father and Herod is free to choose to
bequeath his kingdom to whomever he considers the most worthy.
Josephus provides speeches for both Herod and Alexander in Antiquities.
16.4.1-3; 87-126; War 1.23.3; 452-54
*In War 1.23.3; 452, Josephus says that the tribunal was
held in Rome, whereas in Ant. 16.4.1; 90, it is in Aquilea.
||On his return
trip from Rome, Herod stops in Athens, and donates funds to endow
the then ailing Olympic Games. He is given the position of president
of the celebration.
1.21.12; 426-28; Ant. 16.5.3; 149
||On his way
to Jerusalem, Herod, traveling with his three sons, visits Archaleus,
king of Cappadocia, the father-in-law of Alexander, who is glad
to see Herod reconciled to his sons. In Jerusalem, Herod announces
publicly that he intends to divide his kingdom among Antipater,
Alexander and Aristobolus. In War, Josephus includes a speech
given by Herod to the people expressing his resolution about his
sons. While away, Herod's generals suppressed a rebellion in Trachon.
16.45-6; 127-35; War 1.23.4-5; 455-65
||At great expense,
Herod celebrates the completion of the rebuilding of Caesarea.
the tomb of David and Solomon, and when he intends to enter more
deeply into the tomb in search for money or valuables two of his
bodyguards are killed by a fire of supernatural origin. As a propitiation
to God, Herod builds a memorial made of white marble at the entry
of the tomb.
at Herod's court worsens. Antipater continues to conspire against
Alexander and Aristobolus, having outside sources make false reports
of their disloyalty to Herod. This has the effect of increasing
his regard for Antipater, at the expense of h is half-brothers.
Herod's sister Salome detests the sons of the first Mariamme and
Glaphyra, the wife of Alexander, who looks down on Salome's daughter,
Berenice, wife of Aristobolus, and Salome herself as lowborn. Pheroras
falls in love with a slave-girl and dishonors his wife (and niece),
Herod's daughter Salampsio, and in so doing dishonors Herod. Herod
gives his daughter to his nephew Phasael, son of his brother Phasael,
and eventually convinces Pheroras to leave the slave-girl and marry
his other daughter Cypros, which he agrees to do, but reneges
on his promise thereby further dishonoring Herod. Salome convinces
her daughter Berenice to turn against her husband, Aristobolus,
and to report to her anything incriminating about him, which she
then forwards to Herod. Herod begins to believe everything that
he hears about everyone. Pheroras tells Alexander that Herod desires
his wife Glaphyra, which causes Alexander to confront his father,
who then takes his brother to task for spreading such a report about
him and attempting to incite Alexander to kill him. Pheroras blames
Salome for the plot, who denies it. Pheroras is also accused of
earlier having plotted to kill Herod, while he accuses his sister
Salome of plotting to marry Syllaeus, the procurator of Obadas,
king of Arabia, Herod's enemy. Both Salome and Pheroras are
acquitted of charges.
16.7.2-6; 188-228; War 1.24.1-6; 467-87
a rumor that three of his high-ranking eunuchs have been bribed
by his son Alexander to be part of a conspiracy to usurp power. Under
torture, these eunuchs disclose that Alexander is hostile to Herod
and has made preparations to assume the kingship. Herod sends spies,
and soon everyone is betraying everyone else, even those who are
innocent. Many die under torture to extract from them incriminating
evidence. Herod even becomes suspicious of old and trusted friends,
and takes punitive action against them. Antipater makes matters
worse by his usual practice of calumination. One associate of Alexander
reveals under torture that Alexander and Aristobolus plan to kill
their father; on this basis Herod imprisons Alexander. Searching
for more evidence, Herod tortures more of Alexander's associates,
one of whom claims that Alexander has sent messages to Rome that
Herod has switched allegiances from the Romans to the Parthians
and that Alexander has had a poison prepared to administer to Herod.
Herod believes this report, and Alexander aggravates the situation
by disclosing in writing all who have been involved in the plot
to depose Herod and the nature of their involvement; included are
Pheroras, Salome and many of Herod's trusted "friends." Some of
these he imprisons, while others he executes.
16.8.1-5; 229-60; War 1.24.7-25.1; 488-98
king of Cappadocia and father-in-law of Alexander, comes to Jerusalem
and stealthily convinces Herod that Alexander is not disloyal,
but the blames lies with the king's "friends." Archaleus is also
instrumental in reconciling Herod with his brother Pheroras, on
whom now all the blame for the conspiracy has been shifted. Herod
is grateful to Archaleus for his assistance; Herod travels with
him to Antioch on his way to Rome.
16.8.6; 261-70; War 1.25.1-6; 499-511
||Upon his return
from Rome, Herod goes to war with the Arabs, who are under the leadership
of Syllaeus. Herod takes decisive action against the Arabs, who
give refuge to brigands from Trachonitis, who attack Judea; the
Arabs also refuse to pay a debt owed to Herod. Syllaeus, who has
aspirations to be named the next king, is in Rome when Herod defeats
the Arabs, and complains to Caesar Augustus about Herod. Augustus
takes offense that Herod took military action without permission
outside of the borders of his kingdom. The delegation sent by Herod
to Rome cannot assuage Augustus' wrath. A second delegation,
however, led by Nicolas of Damascus is successful in restoring Herod
to a position of favor, by proving that Syllaeus lied about what
16.9.1-4; 271-99; 9.8; 335-55;
Eurycles from Lacedemon arrives at Herod's court, and manages to
inveigle his way into the confidence of Herod, Antipater and Alexander.
When Alexander in confidence complains to him about his father's
treatment of him, the murder of his mother and Herod's preference
for Antipater, Eurycles reports this to Antipater and then to Herod,
who is now even more suspicious of Alexander. A letter allegedly
written by Alexander surfaces, in which he requests the governor
of the fortress of Alexandrion to admit him and his brother Aristobolus
after they have murdered their father. Herod puts his sons under
guard, but when Salome discloses that Aristobolus, her son-in-law,
has warned her to beware of Herod's wrath for her betrayal of Herod
to Syllaeus, Herod puts Alexander and Aristobolus in chains, who
still protest in writing their innocence of any plot against Herod. They
do concede, however, that they made plans to flee to Archaleus in
Cappadocia, who would send them on to Rome, for fear of Herod's
suspicion. Herod sends a delegation to Caesar Augustus in Rome to
bring charges against his two sons.
16.10.1-7; 300-34; War 1.26.1-27.1; 513-36
advises Herod to convene a council at Berytus to determine what
should be done about Alexander and Aristobolus. It is revealed at
this time that Alexander has the support of some of the military,
with whom he has conspired to kill Herod. Hearing this, Herod has
no doubts that his two sons should be executed, which is carried
out in Sabaste. In addition, certain members of the military
implicated in the plot are killed.
16.11.1-7; 356-94; War 1.27.1-6; 536-51
takes steps to prevent the children of Alexander and Aristobolus
from contending with him for power by arranging their marriages
to his political advantage. He is named Herod's successor and has
supremacy in the court; he has the support of Pheroras, his wife
and a group of women in Herod's court, including Antipater's mother.
(These women insult two young daughters of Herod.) Pheroras' wife
and the other women supporting Antipater are under the influence
of the Pharisees (who have prophesied that Pheroras and his son
will replace Herod as king). (She paid their fines earlier imposed
by Herod.) Salome opposes Antipater, and reports to Herod the activities
of Antipater's supporters. Herod puts to death those Pharisees and
their supporters responsible for making the prediction of his dynastic
demise. He also orders Pheroras to send his wife away, which he
refuses to do. Herod tells Antipater and his mother to have
nothing to do with Pheroras, his wife and the women and to make
sure that the women do not meet together. They agree, but secretly
Antipater continues to meet with Pheroras. Since Antipater
is suspicious that his hatred of his father may increase and lead
to his own downfall, he arranges to go to Rome.
17.1.1-3; 1-22; 2.4-3.2; 32-53; War 1.28.1-29.2; 552-73
*Ant. says that Pheroras' wife insults two young daughters
a group of Jewish soldiers from Babylon in the toparchy of Batanea
to serve as a buffer between the brigands in Trachonitis and the
rest of his kingdom. The name of the town is called Bathyra.
goes to Rome with gifts for Caesar Augustus and Herod's will naming
him his successor and his son Herod by the second Mariamme, the
daughter of the High Priest Simon, as high priest; the latter is
named the second in line to the throne. In Rome Antipater accuses
Syllaeus of various misdeeds, including conspiring against Herod
by bribing one of Herod's bodyguards, Corinthus, to kill him (He
has two Arab accomplices). Those responsible for the plot are sent
ot Rome to stand trial.
17.3.2; 54-57; War1.29.2-3; 573-77
Pheroras and his wife to Pheroras' tetrarchy. He dies there, and
Herod brings his body to Jerusalem for burial
17.3.3; 58-60; War 1.29.4; 578-81
evidence that Pheroras has been poisoned at the instigation of Syllaeus.
By torture of the women-servants, he also uncovers the depth of
Antipater's animosity to him, and that both Antipater and Pheroras
withdrew from Jerusalem out of fear of Herod. (Pheroras even had
plans to flee to Petra.) Herod banishes Doris from the court, because
she is identified as the major cause of the dissension. Under torture
he learns from Antipater the Samaritan (not his son) that Antipater
conspired to poison him; his co-conspirators are Pheroras, his wife,
and even Herod's wife Mariamme, along with others. This is confirmed
later by Pheroras' widow, who adds that Pheroras relented of his
participation in the plan. Herod divorces Mariamme and removes her
son, Herod, from his will; he also removes his father-in-law, Simon,
as High Priest in favor of Matthatias from Jerusalem.
17.4.1-2; 61-78 War1.30.1-7; 582-600
||While in Rome
for seven months, Antipater has forged letters sent to Herod from
his associates there incriminating two of Herod's sons studying
in Rome, Archaleus son of Malthrace and Philip son of Cleopatra
of Jerusalem. Also he sends back more poison to Pheroras and his
wife to be used if the first dose does not kill Herod. Antipater
knows nothing of the disclosure of his plot to kill his father.
When he returns to Jerusalem, Antipater learns of his plight.
17.4.3-5.2; 79-92; War 1.30.1-3; 601-13
Quintilius Varus, proconsul of Syria, convene a council to determine
the fate of Antipater. Herod begins to bring the evidence against
Antipater, but Nicolas of Damascus must finish the task of prosecution.
In the end, Antipater is found guilty, and Herod places him in chains.
Also Antipater's plot to implicate Salome in sedition by means of
forged letters sent to Herod is revealed. Herod sends envoys to
Caesar Augustus with a letter accusing Antipater.
17.5.3-8; 89-145; War 1.31.4-32.7; 614-45
in Herod's Reign
that all boys two years of age and younger be killed in Bethlehem
and vicinity in an effort to eliminate the newly-born Messiah.Whether
true or not, (Ambrosius Theodosius) Macrobius (395-423) says that,
upon hearing of the slaughter of the boys in Syria that Herod ordered,
which included his own son, Augustus remarked that "it was
better to be Herod's pig than his son" (Melius est Herodis
porcum esse quam filium), which would be a pun if said in Greek
since the word "pig" (hus) sounds like the word
"son" (huios) (Saturnalia 2.4.11). More
probably Augustus' remark would be prompted by Herod's execution
of Aristobolus, Alexander and Antipater.
his will, naming Antipas, his son by Malthace as his heir, bypassing
his two eldest sons, Archelaus and Philip. He is nearly seventy-years
old and becomes seriously ill. Thinking that Herod has died from
his illness, Judas and Matthias, two "most learned of the Jews and
interpreters of the ancestral laws" induce some of their students
to pull down a golden eagle placed by Herod over the great gate
of the Temple as a votive offering; they consider this to be idolatrous,
and have rebuked Herod for this act already. Herod punishes those
involved; Matthias, Judas and some others involved are executed.
Herod also removes the High Priest Matthias, since he believes that
he was involved, replacing him with Joazar, the brother of his wife,
the second Mariamme.
17.6.1-4; 146-67; War 1.32.7-33.1-5; 645-56
worsens, and he seeks a cure in vain. He devises a plan to take
vengeance on the Jews for their hatred and ingratitude to him. He
would order all leading Jews to come to Jerusalem, where they would
be led into the hippodrome. Upon his death, he would have
his soldiers kill all these men. At least there would be lamentation
in the nation, though not for him.
17.6.5-6; 168-81; War 1.33.5-6; 656-60
a letter to Herod, giving him permission to deal with Antipater
as he sees fit, either death or banishment. Herod attempts to commit
suicide, but is prevented from doing so. Rumor spreads in the palace
that he has died, and, when Antipater hears of it, he tries to bribe
the guard to release him. The guard informs Herod, who sends one
of his bodyguard to execute Antipater.
17.7; 182-87; War 1.33.7; 661-64
his will, so that now Antipas is designated as tetrarch of Galilee
and Perea, Philip the tetrarch of Trachonitis, Batanaea and Paneas,
while Archelaus is bestowed the kingdom of Judea and Samaria. Salome
is to receive Jamnia, Azotus and Phasaelis.
17.8.1; 188-92; War 1.33.7-8; 664-69
five days after Antipater's execution. Before Herod's death becomes
widely known, Salome and her husband Alexas release the leading
Jews who have been assembled in the hippodrome, contrary to Herod's
instructions. He receives a splendid funeral and is buried in a
golden casket in the Herodion.
17.8.2-3; 193-99; War 1.33.8-9; 665-73
part of his fortification of the city of Jerusalem, Herod built
three towers incorporated into the into the city walls, one of
which still survives to this day, the so-called Tower of David.
The surviving tower may be the Phasael tower, named after Herod's
brother. The top portion of the tower, constructed of smaller
stones, was repaired by the crusaders of the 12th century and
later. The lower portion displays the typical masonry style of
Herod's building projects. (Josephus describes the city walls
and Herod's three towers in War 5.4.1-4; 135-75.)
the one side of this coin minted by Herod the Great is a crested
helmet with date (year three) and monogram in Greek "Of King
Herod." The other side features a shield with decorated rim.
On one side of this coin is found a tripod with a date (year three)
and monogram in Greek "Of King Herod." The other side has a helmet
and a star above flanked by two palm branches on either side.
Josephus reports that
that Herod the Great was buried at the Herodion, and recent excavations
may have uncovered what may be the remains of Herod's sarcophagus.
It seems that Herod's sarcophagus was broken into many pieces,
perhaps by the revolutionaries who took refuge in the Herodion
during the Jewish war with Rome. From the partial reconstruction,
it can be determined that the sarcophagus was ornate with floral
decoration. No bodily remains have turned up, however.
at Kiryat Sefer
the Second-Temple period, near an ancient road from Caesarea to
Jerusalem was located a village known as Kiryat Sefer. The village
was built around a synagogue, which was 9.6 m. wide on each side.
A center row of columns divided the synagogue, thereby creating
two aisles. Arches supported the roof. Around three of the synagogue's
interior walls were situated stone benches (the exception being
the entrance wall). On the western wall was situation an opening
into a small, plastered room, which probably served as a storage
room for objects used in the synagogue service.
4.1. Are there any indications
of the sources used in the two accounts of this period of Jewish history
(see Ant. 15.1.2; 9 ("And Strabo of Cappadocia attests
to what I have said, when he thus speaks: 'Antony ordered Antigonus
the Jew to be brought to Antioch, and there to be beheaded'");
Ant. 15.6.3; 174 ("And this account we give the reader,
as it is contained in the memoirs of king Herod: but others do not agree
with them, for they suppose that Herod did not find, but rather make,
this an occasion for thus putting him to death, and that by treacherously
laying a snare for him; for thus do they write..."); Ant.
16.7.1; 183-84 ("And even Nicolas the historian makes mention of
this monument built by Herod, though he does not mention his going down
into the sepulcher, as knowing that action to be of ill repute; and
many other things he treats of in the same manner in his book; for he
wrote in Herod's lifetime, and under his reign")? How many sources
did Josephus have on the reign of Herod (see Ant. 15.6.3; 174
"And this account we give the reader, as it is contained in the
memoirs of king Herod: but others do not agree with them..."; Ant.
16.7.1; 183-84 "And even Nicolas the historian makes mention of
this monument built by Herod...”)? What is his view of the
account of Nicolas of Damascus' work on Herod (see Ant. 16.7.1;
184: "For he [Nicolas of Damascus] wrote in Herod's lifetime, and
under his reign, and so as to please him, and as a servant to him, touching
upon nothing but what tended to his glory, and openly excusing many
of his notorious crimes, and very diligently concealing them....Indeed,
a man, as I said, may have a great deal to say by way of excuse for
Nicolas; for he did not so properly write this as a history for others,
as somewhat that might be subservient to the king himself")? How
might Josephus’ view of Nicolas’ work have influenced his
own historiography? What is the source that Josephus calls "the
memoirs of king Herod"?
4.2. Does Josephus' religious
biases influence his account of this period? In particular, how
has Josephus' "Pharisaic" historiography influenced his relating of
the events in Herod's reign (see Ant. 16.9.8; 395-403 on the
causes of Herod's domestic troubles: "Whether it be to be laid
to the charge of the young men, that they gave such an occasion to their
father's anger....or whether it be to be laid to the father's charge,
that he was so hard-hearted, and so very tender in the desire of government,
and of other things that would tend to his glory, that he would take
no one into a partnership with him...or, indeed, whether fortune have
not greater power than all prudent reasonings; whence we are persuaded
that human actions are thereby determined beforehand by an inevitable
necessity, and we call her Fate, because there is nothing which is not
done by her"; Ant. 17.3.3; 60; War 1.30.5; 593
on the death of Antipater as punishment for his murder of his brothers;
Ant. 17.6.5-6; 168-81; War 1.33.5-6; 656-60 on Herod's
illness as God's punishment) Does his or his sources' pro-Roman
bias influence his account? Is Nicolas of Damascus' History, which is
a major source for Josephus, too biased towards Herod and against the
Hasmoneans to be deemed reliable? Has Josephus adequately compensated
for the bias in his source (see Ant. 16.7.1; 183-84)?
4.3. Do you agree with Josephus
in his assessment of Herod as being driven by love of fame (Ant.
16.5.4; 150-59)? Does this explain the life of Herod? Should
a historian be making such judgments or is this improper historical
4.4. Are you satisfied that
Josephus' accounts are an accurate reflection of Jewish political history
of this period? Are his accounts complete? If not, what
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