History of the Jews

Herod robs King David's tomb
Herod arrests, binds son Alexander
Trachonites revolt. Caesar angry at Herod
Herod accuses sons to assembly of judges
Herod's sons killed


AS for Herod, he had spent vast sums about the cities, both without and within his own kingdom; and as he had before heard that Hyrcanus, who had been King before him, had opened David's sepulcher, and taken out of it three thousand talents of silver [which is roughly worth more than sixty million dollars U.S. today], and that there was a much greater number left behind, and indeed enough to suffice all his wants, he had a great while an intention to make the attempt; and at this time he opened that sepulcher by night, and went into it, and endeavored that it should not be at all known in the city, but took only his most faithful friends with him. As for any money, he found none, as Hyrcanus had done, but that furniture of gold, and those precious goods that were laid up there; all which he took away.

However, he had a great desire to make a more diligent search, and to go farther in, even as far as the very bodies of David and Solomon; where two of his guards were slain, by a flame that burst out upon those that went in, as the report was. So he was terribly affrighted, and went out, and built a propitiatory monument of that fright he had been in; and this of white stone, at the mouth of the sepulcher, and that at great expense also. And even Nicolaus his historiographer 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, 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.

And as he was desirous to put handsome colors on the death of Mariamne and her sons, which were barbarous actions in the king, he tells falsehoods about the incontinence of Mariamne, and the treacherous designs of his sons upon him; and thus he proceeded in his whole work, making a pompous encomium upon what just actions he had done, but earnestly apologizing for his unjust ones. Indeed, a man, as I said, may have a great deal to say by way of excuse for Nicolaus; for he did not so properly write this as a history for others, as somewhat that might be subservient to the King himself. As for ourselves, who come of a family nearly allied to the Asamonean kings, and on that account have an honorable place, which is the priesthood, we think it indecent to say any thing that is false about them, and accordingly we have described their actions after an unblemished and upright manner. And although we reverence many of Herod's posterity, who still reign, yet do we pay a greater regard to truth than to them, and this though it sometimes happens that we incur their displeasure by so doing.

And indeed Herod's troubles in his family seemed to be augmented by reason of this attempt he made upon David's sepulcher; whether Divine vengeance increased the calamities he lay under, in order to render them incurable, or whether fortune made an assault upon him, in those cases wherein the seasonableness of the cause made it strongly believed that the calamities came upon him for his impiety; for the tumult was like a civil war in his palace, and their hatred towards one another was like that where each one strove to exceed another in calumnies. However, Antipater used stratagems perpetually against his brethren, and that very cunningly; while abroad he loaded them with accusations, but still took upon him frequently to apologize for them, that this apparent benevolence to them might make him be believed, and forward his attempts against them; by which means he, after various manners, circumvented his father, who believed all that he did was for his preservation.

Herod also recommended Ptolemy, who was a great director of the affairs of his kingdom, to Antipater; and consulted with his mother about the public affairs also. And indeed these were all in all, and did what they pleased, and made the King angry against any other persons, as they thought it might be to their own advantage; but still the sons of Marianme were in a worse and worse condition perpetually; and while they were thrust out, and set in a more dishonorable rank, who yet by birth were the most noble, they could not bear the dishonor. And for the women, Glaphyra, Alexander's wife, the daughter of Archclaus, hated Salome, both because of her love to her husband, and because Glaphyra seemed to behave herself somewhat insolently towards Salome's daughter, who was the wife of Aristobulus, which equality of hers to herself Glaphyra took very impatiently.

Now, besides this second contention that had fallen among them, neither did the king's brother Pheroras keep himself out of trouble, but had a particular foundation for suspicion and hatred; for he was overcome with the charms of his wife, to such a degree of madness, that he despised the king's daughter, to whom he had been betrothed, and wholly bent his mind to the other, who had been but a servant. Herod also was grieved by the dishonor that was done him, because he had bestowed many favors upon him, and had advanced him to that height of power that he was almost a partner with him in the kingdom, and saw that he had not made him a due return for his labors, and esteemed himself unhappy on that account. So upon Pheroras's unworthy refusal, he gave the damsel to Phasaelus's son; but after some time, when he thought the heat of his brother's affections was over, he blamed him for his former conduct, and desired him to take his second daughter, whose name was Cypros. Ptolemy also advised him to leave off affronting his brother, and to forsake her whom he had loved, for that it was a base thing to be so enamored of a servant, as to deprive himself of the king's good-will to him, and become an occasion of his trouble, and make himself hated by him.

Pheroras knew that this advice would be for his own advantage, particularly because he had been accused before, and forgiven; so he put his wife away, although he already had a son by her, and engaged to the King that he would take his second daughter, and agreed that the thirtieth day after should be the day of marriage; and sware he would have no further conversation with her whom he had put away; but when the thirty days were over, he was such a slave to his affections, that he no longer performed any thing he had promised, but continued still with his former wife. This occasioned Herod to grieve openly, and made him angry, while the King dropped one word or other against Pheroras perpetually; and many made the king's anger an opportunity for raising calumnies against him. Nor had the King any longer a single quiet day or hour, but occasions of one fresh quarrel or another arose among his relations, and those that were dearest to him; for Salome was of a harsh temper, and ill-natured to Mariamne's sons; nor would she suffer her own daughter, who was the wife of Aristobulus, one of those young men, to bear a good-will to her husband, but persuaded her to tell her if he said any thing to her in private, and when any misunderstandings happened, as is common, she raised a great many suspicions out of it; by which means she learned all their concerns, and made the damsel ill-natured to the young man.

And in order to gratify her mother, she often said that the young men used to mention Mariamne when they were by themselves; and that they hated their father, and were continually threatening, that if they had once got the kingdom, they would make Herod's sons by his other wives country schoolmasters, for that the present education which was given them, and their diligence in learning, fitted them for such an employment. And as for the women, whenever they saw them adorned with their mother's clothes, they threatened, that instead of their present gaudy apparel, they should be clothed in sackcloth, and confined so closely that they should not see the light of the sun. These stories were presently carried by Salome to the king, who was troubled to hear them, and endeavored to make up matters; but these suspicions afflicted him, and becoming more and more uneasy, he believed every body against every body. However, upon his rebuKing his sons, and hearing the defense they made for themselves, he was easier for a while, though a little afterwards much worse accidents came upon him.

For Pheroras came to Alexander, the husband of Glaphyra, who was the daughter of Archelaus, as we have already told you, and said that he had heard from Salome that Herod has enamored on Glaphyra, and that his passion for her was incurable. When Alexander heard that, he was all on fire, from his youth and jealousy; and he interpreted the instances of Herod's obliging behavior to her, which were very frequent, for the worse, which came from those suspicions he had on account of that word which fell from Pheroras; nor could he conceal his grief at the thing, but informed him what word: Pheroras had said. Upon which Herod was in a greater disorder than ever; and not bearing such a false calumny, which was to his shame, was much disturbed at it; and often did he lament the wickedness of his domestics, and how good he had been to them, and how ill requitals they had made him. So he sent for Pheroras, and reproached him, and said,

"Thou vilest of all men! art thou come to that unmeasurable and extravagant degree of ingratitude, as not only to suppose such things of me, but to speak of them? I now indeed perceive what thy intentions are. It is not thy only aim to reproach me, when thou usest such words to my son, but thereby to persuade him to plot against me, and get me destroyed by poison. And who is there, if he had not a good genius at his elbow, as hath my son, but would not bear such a suspicion of his father, but would revenge himself upon him? Dost thou suppose that thou hast only dropped a word for him to think of, and not rather hast put a sword into his hand to slay his father? And what dost thou mean, when thou really hatest both him and his brother, to pretend kindness to them, only in order to raise a reproach against me, and talk of such things as no one but such an impious wretch as thou art could either devise in their mind, or declare in their words? Begone, thou art such a plague to thy benefactor and thy brother, and may that evil conscience of thine go along with thee; while I still overcome my relations by kindness, and am so far from avenging myself of them, as they deserve, that I bestow greater benefits upon them than they are worthy of."

Thus did the King speak. Whereupon Pheroras, who was caught in the very act of his villainy, said that

"it was Salome who was the framer of this plot, and that the words came from her."

But as soon as she heard that, for she was at hand, she cried out, like one that would be believed, that no such thing ever came out of her mouth; that they all earnestly endeavored to make the King hate her, and to make her away, because of the good-will she bore to Herod, and because she was always foreseeing the dangers that were coming upon him, and that at present there were more plots against him than usual; for while she was the only person who persuaded her brother to put away the wife he now had, and to take the king's daughter, it was no wonder if she were hated by him. As she said this, and often tore her hair, and often beat her breast, her countenance made her denial to be believed; but the peverseness of her manners declared at the same time her dissimulation in these proceedings; but Pheroras was caught between them, and had nothing plausible to offer in his own defense, while he confessed that he had said what was charged upon him, but was not believed when he said he had heard it from Salome; so the confusion among them was increased, and their quarrelsome words one to another.

At last the king, out of his hatred to his brother and sister, sent them both away; and when he had commended the moderation of his son, and that he had himself told him of the report, he went in the evening to refresh himself. After such a contest as this had fallen out among them, Salome's reputation suffered greatly, since she was supposed to have first raised the calumny; and the king's wives were grieved at her, as knowing she was a very ill-natured woman, and would sometimes be a friend, and sometimes an enemy, at different seasons: so they perpetually said one thing or another against her; and somewhat that now fell out made them the bolder in speaking against her.

There was one Obodas, King of Arabia, an inactive and slothful man in his nature; but Sylleus managed most of his affairs for him. He was a shrewd man, although he was but young, and was handsome withal. This Sylleus, upon some occasion coining to Herod, and supping with him, saw Salome, and set his heart upon her; and understanding that she was a widow, he discoursed with her. Now because Salome was at this time less in favor with her brother, she looked upon Sylleus with some passion, and was very earnest to be married to him; and on the days following there appeared many, and those very great, indications of their agreement together. Now the women carried this news to the king, and laughed at the indecency of it; whereupon Herod inquired about it further of Pheroras, and desired him to observe them at supper, how their behavior was one toward another; who told him, that by the signals which came from their heads and their eyes, they both were evidently in love.

After this, Sylleus the Arabian being suspected, went away, but came again in two or three months afterwards, as it were on that very design, and spake to Herod about it, and desired that Salome might be given him to wife; for that his affinity might not be disadvantageous to his affairs, by a union with Arabia, the government of which country was already in effect under his power, and more evidently would be his hereafter. Accordingly, when Herod discoursed with his sister about it, and asked her whether she were disposed to this match, she immediately agreed to it.

But when Sylleus was desired to come over to the Jewish religion, and then he should marry her, and that it was impossible to do it on any other terms, he could not bear that proposal, and went his way; for he said, that if he should do so, he should be stoned by the Arabs. Then did Pheroras reproach Salome for her incontinency, as did the women much more; and said that Sylleus had debauched her. As for that damsel which the King had betrothed to his brother Pheroras, but he had not taken her, as I have before related, because he was enamored on his former wife, Salome desired of Herod she might be given to her son by Costobarus; which match he was very willing to, but was dissuaded from it by Pheroras, who pleaded that this young man would not be kind to her, since his father had been slain by him, and that it was more just that his son, who was to be his successor in the tetrarchy, should have her. So he begged his pardon, and persuaded him to do so. Accordingly the damsel, upon this change of her espousals, was disposal of to this young man, the son of Pheroras, the King giving for her portion a hundred talents.

Herod arrests and binds his son Alexander

BUT still the affairs of Herod's family were no better, but perpetually more troublesome. Now this accident happened, which arose from no decent occasion, but proceeded so far as to bring great difficulties upon him. There were certain eunuchs which the King had, and on account of their beauty was very fond of them; and the care of bringing him drink was entrusted to one of them; of bringing him his supper, to another; and of putting him to bed, to the third, who also managed the principal affairs of the government; and there was one told the King that these eunuchs were corrupted by Alexander the king's son with great sums of money.

And when they were asked whether Alexander had had criminal conversation with them, they confessed it, but said they knew of no further mischief of his against his father; but when they were more severely tortured, and were in the utmost extremity, and the tormentors, out of compliance with Antipater, stretched the rack to the very utmost, they said that Alexander bare great ill will and innate hatred to his father; and that he told them that Herod despaired to live much longer; and that, in order to cover his great age, he colored his hair black, and endeavored to conceal what would discover how old he was; but that if he would apply himself to him, when he should attain the kingdom, which, in spite of his father, could come to no one else, he should quickly have the first place in that kingdom under him, for that he was now ready to take the kingdom, not only as his birth-right, but by the preparations he had made for obtaining it, because a great many of the rulers, and a great many of his friends, were of his side, and those no ill men neither, ready both to do and to suffer whatsoever should come on that account.

When Herod heard this confession, he was all over anger and fear, some parts seeming to him reproachful, and some made him suspicious of dangers that attended him, insomuch that on both accounts he was provoked, and bitterly afraid lest some more heavy plot was laid against him than he should be then able to escape from; whereupon he did not now make an open search, but sent about spies to watch such as he suspected, for he was now overrun with suspicion and hatred against all about him; and indulging abundance of those suspicions, in order to his preservation, he continued to suspect those that were guiltless; nor did he set any bounds to himself, but supposing that those who staid with him had the most power to hurt him, they were to him very frightful; and for those that did not use to come to him, it seemed enough to name them [to make them suspected], and he thought himself safer when they were destroyed.

And at last his domestics were come to that pass, that being no way secure of escaping themselves, they fell to accusing one another, and imagining that he who first accused another was most likely to save himself; yet when any had overthrown others, they were hated; and they were thought to suffer justly who unjustly accused others, and they only thereby prevented their own accusation; nay, they now executed their own private enmities by this means, and when they were caught, they were punished in the same way. Thus these men contrived to make use of this opportunity as an instrument and a snare against their enemies; yet when they tried it, were themselves caught also in the same snare which they laid for others: and the King soon repented of what he had done, because he had no clear evidence of the guilt of those whom he had slain; and yet what was still more severe in him, he did not make use of his repentance, in order to leave off doing the like again, but in order to inflict the same punishment upon their accusers.

And in this state of disorder were the affairs of the palace; and he had already told many of his friends directly that they ought not to appear before him, her come into the palace; and the reason of this injunction was, that [when they were there], he had less freedom of acting, or a greater restraint on himself on their account; for at this time it was that he expelled Andromachus and Gamellus, men who had of old been his friends, and been very useful to him in the affairs of his kingdom, and been of advantage to his family, by their ambassadors and counsels; and had been tutors to his sons, and had in a manner the first degree of freedom with him. He expelled Andromachus, because his son Demetrius was a companion to Alexander; and Gamellus, because he knew that he wished him well, which arose from his having been with him in his youth, when he was at school, and absent at Rome. These he expelled out of his palace, and was willing enough to have done worse by them; but that he might not seem to take such liberty against men of so great reputation, he contented himself with depriving them of their dignity, and of their power to hinder his wicked proceedings.

Now it was Antipater who was the cause of all this; who when he knew what a mad and licentious way of acting his father was in, and had been a great while one of his counselors, he hurried him on, and then thought he should bring him to do somewhat to purpose, when every one that could oppose him was taken away. When therefore Andromachus and his friends were driven away, and had no discourse nor freedom with the King any longer, the king, in the first place, examined by torture all whom he thought to be faithful to Alexander, Whether they knew of any of his attempts against him; but these died without having any thing to say to that matter, which made the King more zealous [after discoveries], when he could not find out what evil proceedings he suspected them of. As for Antipater, he was very sagacious to raise a calumny against those that were really innocent, as if their denial was only their constancy and fidelity [to Alexander], and thereupon provoked Herod to discover by the torture of great numbers what attempts were still concealed.

Now there was a certain person among the many that were tortured, who said that he knew that the young man had often said, that when he was commended as a tall man in his body, and a skillful marksman, and that in his other commendable exercises he exceeded all men, these qualifications given him by nature, though good in themselves, were not advantageous to him, because his father was grieved at them, and envied him for them; and that when he walked along with his father, he endeavored to depress and shorten himself, that he might not appear too tall; and that when he shot at any thing as he was hunting, when his father was by, he missed his mark on purpose, for he knew how ambitious his father was of being superior in such exercises. So when the man was tormented about this saying, and had ease given his body after it, he added, that he had his brother Aristobulus for his assistance, and contrived to lie in wait for their father, as they were hunting, and kill him; and when they had done so to fly to Rome, and desire to have the kingdom given them.

There were also letters of the young man found, written to his brother, wherein he complained that his father did not act justly in giving Antipater a country, whose [yearly] revenues amounted to two hundred talents. Upon these confessions Herod presently thought he had somewhat to depend on, in his own opinion, as to his suspicion about his sons; so he took up Alexander and bound him: yet did he still continue to be uneasy, and was not quite satisfied of the truth of what he had heard; and when he came to recollect himself, he found that they had only made juvenile complaints and contentions, and that it was an incredible thing, that when his son should have slain him, he should openly go to Rome [to beg the kingdom]; so he was desirous to have some surer mark of his son's wickedness, and was very solicitous about it, that he might not appear to have condemned him to be put in prison too rashly; so he tortured the principal of Alexander's friends, and put not a few of them to death, without getting any of the things out of them which he suspected. And while Herod was very busy about this matter, and the palace was full of terror and trouble, one of the younger sort, when he was in the utmost agony, confessed that Alexander had sent to his friends at Rome, and desired that he might be quickly invited thither by Caesar, and that he could discover a plot against him; that Mithridates, the King of Parthia, was joined in friendship with his father against the Romans, and that he had a poisonous potion ready prepared at Askelori.

To these accusations Herod gave credit, and enjoyed hereby, in his miserable case, some sort of consolation, in excuse of his rashness, as flattering himself with finding things in so bad a condition; but as for the poisonous potion, which he labored to find, he could find none. As for Alexander, he was very desirous to aggravate the vast misfortunes he was under, so he pretended not to deny the accusations, but punished the rashness of his father with a greater crime of his own; and perhaps he was willing to make his father ashamed of his easy belief of such calumnies: he aimed especially, if he could gain belief to his story, to plague him and his whole kingdom; for he wrote four letters, and sent them to him, that he did not need to torture any more persons, for he had plotted against him; and that he had for his partners Pheroras and the most faithful of his friends; and that Salome came in to him by night, and that she lay with him whether he would or not; and that all men were come to be of one mind, to make away with him as soon as they could, and so get clear of the continual fear they were in from him.

Among these were accused Ptolemy and Sapinnius, who were the most faithful friends to the king. And what more can be said, but that those who before were the most intimate friends, were become wild beasts to one another, as if a certain madness had fallen upon them, while there was no room for defense or refutation, in order to the discovery of the truth, but all were at random doomed to destruction; so that some lamented those that were in prison, some those that were put to death, and others lamented that they were in expectation of the same miseries; and a melancholy solitude rendered the kingdom deformed, and quite the reverse to that happy state it was formerly in. Herod's own life also was entirely disturbed; and because he could trust nobody, he was sorely punished by the expectation of further misery; for he often fancied in his imagination that his son had fallen upon him, or stood by him with a sword in his hand; and thus was his mind night and day intent upon this thing, and revolved it over and over, no otherwise than if he were under a distraction. And this was the sad condition Herod was now in.

But when Archelaus, King of Cappadocia, heard of the state that Herod was in, and being in great distress about his daughter, and the young man [her husband], and grieving with Herod, as with a man that was his friend, on account of so great a disturbance as he was under, he came [to Jerusalem] on purpose to compose their differences; and when he found Herod in such a temper, he thought it wholly unseasonable to reprove him, or to pretend that he had done any thing rashly, for that he should thereby naturally bring him to dispute the point with him, and by still more and more apologizing for himself to be the more irritated: he went, therefore, another way to work, in order to correct the former misfortunes, and appeared angry at the young man, and said that Herod had been so very mild a man, that he had not acted a rash part at all. He also said he would dissolve his daughter's marriage with Alexander, nor could in justice spare his own daughter, if she were conscious of any thing, and did not inform Herod of it.

When Archelaus appeared to be of this temper, and otherwise than Herod expected or imagined, and, for the main, took Herod's part, and was angry on his account, the King abated of his harshness, and took occasion from his appearing to have acted justly hitherto, to come by degrees to put on the affection of a father, and was on both sides to be pitied; for when some persons refuted the calumnies that were laid on the young man, he was thrown into a passion; but when Archclaus joined in the accusation, he was dissolved into tears and sorrow after an affectionate manner. Accordingly, he desired that he would not dissolve his son's marriage, and became not so angry as before for his offenses. So when Archclaus had brought him to a more moderate temper, he transferred the calumnies upon his friends; and said it must be owing to them that so young a man, and one unacquainted with malice, was corrupted; and he supposed that there was more reason to suspect the brother than the soft.

Upon which Herod was very much displeased at Pheroras, who indeed now had no one that could make a reconciliation between him and his brother. So when he saw that Archclaus had the greatest power with Herod, he betook himself to him in the habit of a mourner, and like one that had all the signs upon him of an undone man. Upon this Archclaus did not overlook the intercession he made to him, nor yet did he undertake to change the king's disposition towards him immediately; and he said that it was better for him to come himself to the king, and confess himself the occasion of all; that this would make the king's anger not to be extravagant towards him, and that then he would be present to assist him.

When he had persuaded him to this, he gained his point with both of them; and the calumnies raised against the young man were, beyond all expectation, wiped off. And Archclaus, as soon as he had made the reconciliation, went then away to Cappadocia, having proved at this juncture of time the most acceptable person to Herod in the world; on which account he gave him the richest presents, as tokens of his respects to him; and being on other occasions magnanimous, he esteemed him one of his dearest friends. He also made an agreement with him that he would go to Rome, because he had written to Caesar about these affairs; so they went together as far as Antioch, and there Herod made a reconciliation between Archclaus and Titus, the president of Syria, who had been greatly at variance, and so returned back to Judea.

Trachonites revolt. Caesar angry at Herod due to accusations

WHEN Herod had been at Rome, and was come back again, a war arose between him and the Arabians, on the occasion following: The inhabitants of Trachonitis, after Caesar had taken the country away from Zenodorus, and added it to Herod, had not now power to rob, but were forced to plough the land, and to live quietly, which was a thing they did not like; and when they did take that pains, the ground did not produce much fruit for them. However, at the first the King would not permit them to rob, and so they abstained from that unjust way of living upon their neighbors, which procured Herod a great reputation for his care. But when he was sailing to Rome, it was at that time when he went to accuse his son Alexander, and to commit Antipater to Caesar's protection, the Trachonites spread a report as if he were dead, and revolted from his dominion, and betook themselves again to their accustomed way of robbing their neighbors; at which time the king's commanders subdued them during his absence; but about forty of the principal robbers, being terrified by those that had been taken, left the country, and retired into Arabia, Sylleus entertaining them, after he had missed of marrying Salome, and gave them a place of strength, in which they dwelt.

So they overran not only Judea, but all Celesyria also, and carried off the prey, while Sylleus afforded them places of protection and quietness during their wicked practices. But when Herod came back from Rome, he perceived that his dominions had greatly suffered by them; and since he could not reach the robbers themselves, because of the secure retreat they had in that country, and which the Arabian government afforded them, and yet being very uneasy at the injuries they had done him, he went all over Trachonitis, and slew their relations; whereupon these robbers were more angry than before, it being a law among them to be avenged on the murderers of their relations by all possible means; so they continued to tear and rend every thing under Herod's dominion with impunity.

Then did he discourse about these robberies to Saturninus and Volumnius, and required that they should be punished; upon which occasion they still the more confirmed themselves in their robberies, and became more numerous, and made very great disturbances, laying waste the countries and villages that belonged to Herod's kingdom, and killing those men whom they caught, till these unjust proceedings came to be like a real war, for the robbers were now become about a thousand; - at which Herod was sore displeased, and required the robbers, as well as the money which he had lent Obodas, by Sylleus, which was sixty talents, and since the time of payment was now past, he desired to have it paid him; but Sylleus, who had laid Obodas aside, and managed all by himself, denied that the robbers were in Arabia, and put off the payment of the money; about which there was a hearing before Saturninus and Volumnius, who were then the presidents of Syria. At last he, by their means, agreed, that within thirty days' time Herod should be paid his money, and that each of them should deliver up the other's subjects reciprocally. Now, as to Herod, there was not one of the other's subjects found in his kingdom, either as doing any injustice, or on any other account, but it was proved that the Arabians had the robbers amongst them.

When this day appointed for payment of the money was past, without Sylleus's performing any part of his agreement, and he was gone to Rome, Herod demanded the payment of the money, and that the robbers that were in Arabia should be delivered up; and, by the permission of Saturninus and Volumnius, executed the judgment himself upon those that were refractory. He took an army that he had, and let it into Arabia, and in three days' time marched seven mansions; and when he came to the garrison wherein the robbers were, he made an assault upon them, and took them all, and demolished the place, which was called Raepta, but did no harm to any others. But as the Arabians came to their assistance, under Naceb their captain, there ensued a battle, wherein a few of Herod's soldiers, and Naceb, the captain of the Arabians, and about twenty of his soldiers, fell, while the rest betook themselves to flight. So when he had brought these to punishment, he placed three thousand Idumeans in Trachonitis, and thereby restrained the robbers that were there. He also sent an account to the captains that were about Phoenicia, and demonstrated that he had done nothing but what he ought to do, in punishing the refractory Arabians, which, upon an exact inquiry, they found to be no more than what was true.

However, messengers were hasted away to Sylleus to Rome, and informed him what had been done, and, as is usual, aggravated every thing. Now Sylleus had already insinuated himself into the knowledge of Caesar, and was then about the palace; and as soon as he heard of these things, he changed his habit into black, and went in, and told Caesar that Arabia was afflicted with war, and that all his kingdom was in great confusion, upon Herod's laying it waste with his army; and he said, with tears in his eyes, that two thousand five hundred of the principal men among the Arabians had been destroyed, and that their captain Nacebus, his familiar friend and kinsman, was slain; and that the riches that were at Raepta were carried off; and that Obodas was despised, whose infirm state of body rendered him unfit for war; on which account neither he, nor the Arabian army, were present.

When Sylleus said so, and added invidiously, that he would not himself have come out of the country, unless he had believed that Caesar would have provided that they should all have peace one with another, and that, had he been there, he would have taken care that the war should not have been to Herod's advantage; Caesar was provoked when this was said, and asked no more than this one question, both of Herod's friends that were there, and of his own friends, who were come from Syria, Whether Herod had led an army thither? And when they were forced to confess so much, Caesar, without staying to hear for what reason he did it, and how it was done, grew very angry, and wrote to Herod sharply.

The sum of his epistle was this, that whereas of old he had used him as his friend, he should now use him as his subject. Sylleus also wrote an account of this to the Arabians, who were so elevated with it, that they neither delivered up the robbers that had fled to them, nor paid the money that was due; they retained those pastures also which they had hired, and kept them without paying their rent, and all this because the King of the Jews was now in a low condition, by reason of Caesar's anger at him. Those of Trachonitis also made use of this opportunity, and rose up against the Idumean garrison, and followed the same way of robbing with the Arabians, who had pillaged their country, and were more rigid in their unjust proceedings, not only in order to get by it, but by way of revenge also.

Now Herod was forced to bear all this, that confidence of his being quite gone with which Caesar's favor used to inspire him; for Caesar would not admit so much as an ambassador from him to 'make an apology for him; and when they came again, he sent them away without success. So he was cast into sadness and fear; and Sylleus's circumstances grieved him exceedingly, who was now believed by Caesar, and was present at Rome, nay, sometimes aspiring higher. Now it came to pass that Obodas was dead; and Aeneas, whose name was afterward changed to Aretas, took the government, for Sylleus endeavored by calumnies to get him turned out of his principality, that he might himself take it; with which design he gave much money to the courtiers, and promised much money to Caesar, who indeed was angry that Aretas had not sent to him first before he took the kingdom; yet did Aeneas send an epistle and presents to Caesar, and a golden crown, of the weight of many talents.

Now that epistle accused Sylleus as having been a wicked servant, and having killed Obodas by poison; and that while he was alive, he had governed him as he pleased; and had also debauched the wives of the Arabians; and had borrowed money, in order to obtain the dominion for himself: yet did not Caesar give heed to these accusations, but sent his ambassadors back, without receiving any of his presents. But in the mean time the affairs of Judea and Arabia became worse and worse, partly because of the anarchy they were under, and partly because, as bad as they were, nobody had power to govern them; for of the two kings, the one was not yet confirmed in his kingdom, and so had not authority sufficient to restrain the evil-doers; and as for Herod, Caesar was immediately angry at him for having avenged himself, and so he was compelled to bear all the injuries that were offered him. At length, when he saw no end of the mischief which surrounded him, he resolved to send ambassadors to Rome again, to see whether his friends had prevailed to mitigate Caesar, and to address themselves to Caesar himself; and the ambassador he sent thither was Nicolans of Damascus.

Herod writes Caesar about his sons

THE disorders about Herod's family and children about this time grew much worse; for it now appeared certain, nor was it unforeseen beforehand, that fortune threatened the greatest and most insupportable misfortunes possible to his kingdom. Its progress and augmentation at this time arose on the occasion following: One Eurycles, a Lacedemonian, (a person of note there, but a man of a perverse mind, and so cunning in his ways of voluptuousness and flattery, as to indulge both, and yet seem to indulge neither of them,) came in his travels to Herod, and made him presents, but so that he received more presents from him. He also took such proper seasons for insinuating himself into his friendship, that he became one of the most intimate of the king's friends. He had his lodging in Antipater's house; but he had not only access, but free conversation, with Alexander, as pretending to him that he was in great favor with Archclaus, the King of Cappadocia; whence he pretended much respect to Glaphyra, and in an occult manner cultivated a friendship with them all; but always attending to what was said and done, that he might be furnished with calumnies to please them all.

In short, he behaved himself so to every body in his conversation, as to appear to be his particular friend, and he made others believe that his being any where was for that person's advantage. So he won upon Alexander, who was but young; and persuaded him that he might open his grievances to him with assurance and with nobody else. So he declared his grief to him, how his father was alienated from him. He related to him also the affairs of his mother, and of Antipater; that he had driven them from their proper dignity, and had the power over every thing himself; that no part of this was tolerable, since his father was already come to hate them; and he added, that he would neither admit them to his table, nor to his conversation. Such were the complaints, as was but natural, of Alexander about the things that troubled him; and these discourses Eurycles carried to Antipater, and told him he did not inform him of this on his own account, but that being overcome by his kindness, the great importance of the thing obliged him to do it; and he warned him to have a care of Alexander, for that what he said was spoken with vehemency, and that, in consequence of what he said, he would certainly kill him with his own hand.

Whereupon Antipater, thinking him to be his friend by this advice, gave him presents upon all occasions, and at length persuaded him to inform Herod of what he had heard. So when he related to the King Alexander's ill temper, as discovered by the words he had heard him speak, he was easily believed by him; and he thereby brought the King to that pass, turning him about by his words, and irritating him, till he increased his hatred to him and made him implacable, which he showed at that very time, for he immediately gave Eurycles a present of fifty talents; who, when he had gotten them, went to Archclaus, King of Cappadocia, and commended Alexander before him, and told him that he had been many ways of advantage to him, in making a reconciliation between him and his father. So he got money from him also, and went away, before his pernicious practices were found out; but when Eurycles was returned to Lacedemon, he did not leave off doing mischief; and so, for his many acts of injustice, he was banished from his own country.

But as for the King of the Jews, he was not now in the temper he was in formerly towards Alexander and Aristobulus, when he had been content with the hearing their calumnies when others told him of them; but he was now come to that pass as to hate them himself, and to urge men to speak against them, though they did not do it of themselves. He also observed all that was said, and put questions, and gave ear to every one that would but speak, if they could but say any thing against them, till at length he heard that Euaratus of Cos was a conspirator with Alexander; which thing to Herod was the most agreeable and sweetest news imaginable.

But still a greater misfortune came upon the young men; while the calumnies against them were continually increased, and, as a man may say, one would think it was every one's endeavor to lay some grievous thing to their charge, which might appear to be for the king's preservation. There were two guards of Herod's body, who were in great esteem for their strength and tallness, Jucundus and Tyrannus; these men had been cast off by Herod, who was displeased at them; these now used to ride along with Alexander, and for their skill in their exercises were in great esteem with him, and had some gold and other gifts bestowed on them. Now the King having an immediate suspicion of those men, had them tortured, who endured the torture courageously for a long time; but at last confessed that Alexander would have persuaded them to kill Herod, when he was in pursuit of the wild beasts, that it might be said he fell from his horse, and was run through with his own spear, for that he had once such a misfortune formerly. They also showed where there was money hidden in the stable under ground; and these convicted the king's chief hunter, that he had given the young men the royal hunting spears and weapons to Alexander's dependents, at Alexander's command.

After these, the commander of the garrison of Alexandrium was caught and tortured; for he was accused to have promised to receive the young men into his fortress, and to supply them with that money of the king's which was laid up in that fortress, yet did not he acknowledge any thing of it himself; but his son came ill, and said it was so, and delivered up the writing, which, so far as could be guessed, was in Alexander's hand. Its contents were these:

"When we have finished, by God's help, all that we have proposed to do, we will come to you; but do your endeavors, as you have promised, to receive us into your fortress."

After this writing was produced, Herod had no doubt about the treacherous designs of his sons against him. But Alexander said that Diophantus the scribe had imitated his hand, and that the paper was maliciously drawn up by Antipater; for Diophantus appeared to be very cunning in such practices; and as he was afterward convicted of forging other papers, he was put to death for it.

So the King produced those that had been tortured before the multitude at Jericho, in order to have them accuse the young men, which accusers many of the people stoned to death; and when they were going to kill Alexander and Aristobulus likewise, the King would not permit them to do so, but restrained the multitude, by the means of Ptolemy and Pheroras. However, the young men were put under a guard, and kept in custody, that nobody might come at them; and all that they did or said was watched, and the reproach and fear they were in was little or nothing different from those of condemned criminals: and one of them, who was Aristobulus, was so deeply affected, that he brought Salome, who was his aunt, and his mother-in-law, to lament with him for his calamities, and to hate him who had suffered things to come to that pass; when he said to her,

"Art thou not in danger of destruction also, while the report goes that thou hadst disclosed beforehand all our affairs to Syllcus, when thou wast in hopes of being married to him?"

But she immediately carried these words to her brother. Upon this he was out of patience, and gave command to bind him; and enjoined them both, now they were kept separate one from the other, to write down the ill things they had done against their father, and bring the writings to him, So when this was enjoined them, they wrote this, that they had laid no treacherous designs, nor made any preparations against their father, but that they had intended to fly away; and that by the distress they were in, their lives being now uncertain and tedious to them.

About this time there came an ambassador out of Cappadocia from Archelaus, whose name was Melas; he was one of the principal rulers under him. So Herod, being desirous to show Archelaus's ill will to him, called for Alexander, as he was in his bonds, and asked him again concerning his fight, whether and how they had resolved to retire Alexander replied, To Archclaus, who had promised to send them away to Rome; but that they had no wicked nor mischievous designs against their father, and that nothing of that nature which their adversaries had charged upon them was true; and that their desire was, that he might have examined Tyrannus and Jucundus more strictly, but that they had been suddenly slain by the means of Antipater, who put his own friends among the multitude [for that purpose].

When this was said, Herod commanded that both Alexander and Melas should be carried to Glaphyra, Archelaus's daughter, and that she should be asked, whether she did not know somewhat of Alexander's treacherous designs against Herod? Now as soon as they were come to her, and she saw Alexander in bonds, she beat her head, and in a great consternation gave a deep and moving groan. The young man also fell into tears. This was so miserable a spectacle to those present, that, for a great while, they were not able to say or to do any thing; but at length Ptolemy, who was ordered to bring Alexander, bid him say whether his wife was conscious of his actions. He replied,

"How is it possible that she, whom I love better than my own soul, and by whom I have had children, should not know what I do?"

Upon which she cried out that she knew of no wicked designs of his; but that yet, if her accusing herself falsely would tend to his preservation, she would confess it all. Alexander replied,

"There is no such wickedness as those (who ought the least of all so to do) suspect, which either I have imagined, or thou knowest of, but this only, that we had resolved to retire to Archelaus, and from thence to Rome."

Which she also confessed. Upon which Herod, supposing that Archelaus's ill-will to him was fully proved, sent a letter by Olympus and Volumnius; and bid them, as they sailed by, to touch at Eleusa of Cilicia, and give Archelaus the letter. And that when they had ex-postulated with him, that he had a hand in his son's treacherous design against him, they should from thence sail to Rome; and that, in case they found Nicolaus had gained any ground, and that Caesar was no longer displeased at him, he should give him his letters, and the proofs which he had ready to show against the young men. As to Archelaus, he made his defense for himself, that he had promised to receive the young men, because it was both for their own and their father's advantage so to do, lest some too severe procedure should be gone upon in that anger and disorder they were in on occasion of the present suspicions; but that still he had not promised to send them to Caesar; and that he had not promised any thing else to the young men that could show any ill-will to him.

When these ambassadors were come to Rome, they had a fit opportunity of delivering their letters to Caesar, because they found him reconciled to Herod; for the circumstances of Nicolaus's ambassador had been as follows: As soon as he was come to Rome, and was about the court, he did not first of all set about what he was come for only, but he thought fit also to accuse Sylleus. Now the Arabians, even before he came to talk with them, were quarrelling one with another; and some of them left Sylleus's party, and joining themselves to Nicolaus, informed him of all the wicked things that had been done; and produced to him evident demonstrations of the slaughter of a great number of Obodas's friends by Sylleus; for when these men left Sylleus, they had carried off with them those letters whereby they could convict him.

When Nicolaus saw such an opportunity afforded him, he made use of it, in order to gain his own point afterward, and endeavored immediately to make a reconciliation between Caesar and Herod; for he was fully satisfied, that if he should desire to make a defense for Herod directly, he should not be allowed that liberty; but that if he desired to accuse Sylleus, there would an occasion present itself of speaking on Herod's behalf. So when the cause was ready for a hearing, and the day was appointed, Nicolaus, while Aretas's ambassadors were present, accused Sylleus, and said that he imputed to him the destruction of the King [Obodas], and of many others of the Arabians; that he had borrowed money for no good design; and he proved that he had been guilty of adultery, not only with the Arabian, but Reinan women also. And, he added, that above all the rest he had alienated Caesar from Herod, and that all that he had said about the actions of Herod were falsities. When Nicolaus was come to this topic, Caesar stopped him from going on, and desired him only to speak to this affair of Herod, and to show that he had not led an army into Arabia, nor slain two thousand five hundred men there, nor taken prisoners, nor pillaged the country. To which Nicolaus made this answer:

"I shall principally demonstrate, that either nothing at all, or but a very little, of those imputations are true, of which thou hast been informed; for had they been true, thou mightest justly have been still more angry at Herod."

At this strange assertion Caesar was very attentive; and Nicolaus said that there was a debt due to Herod of five hundred talents, and a bond, wherein it was written, that if the time appointed be lapsed, it should be lawful to make a seizure out of any part of his country.

"As for the pretended army," he said, "it was no army, but a party sent out to require the just payment of the money; that this was not sent immediately, nor so soon as the bond allowed, but that Sylleus had frequently come before Saturninus and Volumnius, the presidents of Syria; and that at last he had sworn at Berytus, by thy fortune, that he would certainly pay the money within thirty days, and deliver up the fugitives that were under his dominion. And that when Sylleus had performed nothing of this, Herod came again before the presidents; and upon their permission to make a seizure for his money, he, with difficulty, went out of his country with a party of soldiers for that purpose. And this is all the war which these men so tragically describe; and this is the affair of the expedition into Arabia. And how can this be called a war, when thy presidents permitted it, the covenants allowed it, and it was not executed till thy name, O Caesar, as well as that of the other gods, had been profaned? And now I must speak in order about the captives. There were robbers that dwelt in Trachonitis; at first their number was no more than forty, but they became more afterwards, and they escaped the punishment Herod would have inflicted on them, by making Arabia their refuge. Sylleus received them, and supported them with food, that they might be mischievous to all mankind, and gave them a country to inhabit, and himself received the gains they made by robbery; yet did he promise that he would deliver up these men, and that by the same oaths and same time that he sware and fixed for payment of his debt: nor can he by any means show that any other persons have at this time been taken out of Arabia besides these, and indeed not all these neither, but only so many as could not conceal themselves. And thus does the calumny of the captives, which hath been so odiously represented, appear to be no better than a fiction and a lie, made on purpose to provoke thy indignation; for I venture to affirm that when the forces of the Arabians came upon us, and one or two of Herod's party fell, he then only defended himself, and there fell Nacebus their general, and in all about twenty-five others, and no more; whence Sylleus, by multiplying every single soldier to a hundred, he reckons the slain to have been two thousand five hundred."

This provoked Caesar more than ever. So he turned to Sylleus full of rage, and asked him how many of the Arabians were slain. Hereupon he hesitated, and said he had been imposed upon. The covenants also were read about the money he had borrowed, and the letters of the presidents of Syria, and the complaints of the several cities, so many as had been injured by the robbers. The conclusion was this, that Sylleus was condemned to die, and that Caesar was reconciled to Herod, and owned his repentance for what severe things he had written to him, occasioned by calumny, insomuch that he told Sylleus, that he had compelled him, by his lying account of things, to be guilty of ingratitude against a man that was his friend.

At the last all came to this, Sylleus was sent away to answer Herod's suit, and to repay the debt that he owed, and after that to be punished [with death]. But still Caesar was offended with Aretas, that he had taken upon himself the government, without his consent first obtained, for he had determined to bestow Arabia upon Herod; but that the letters he had sent hindered him from so doing; for Olympus and Volumnius, perceiving that Caesar was now become favorable to Herod, thought fit immediately to deliver him the letters they were commanded by Herod to give him concerning his sons. When Caesar had read them, he thought it would not be proper to add another government to him, now he was old, and in an ill state with relation to his sons, so he admitted Aretas's ambassadors; and after he had just reproved him for his rashness, in not tarrying till he received the kingdom from him, he accepted of his presents, and confirmed him in his government.

Herod accuses sons before assembly of judges, then they are killed

SO Caesar was now reconciled to Herod, and wrote thus to him: That he was grieved for him on account of his sons; and that in case they had been guilty of any profane and insolent crimes against him, it would behoove him to punish them as parricides, for which he gave him power accordingly; but if they had only contrived to fly away, he would have him give them an admonition, and not proceed to extremity with them. He also advised him to get an assembly together, and to appoint some place near Berytus, which is a city belonging to the Romans, and to take the presidents of Syria, and Archelaus King of Cappadocia, and as many more as he thought to be illustrious for their friendship to him, and the dignities they were in, and determine what should be done by their approbation.

These were the directions that Caesar gave him. Accordingly Herod, when the letter was brought to him, was immediately very glad of Caesar's reconciliation to him, and very glad also that he had a complete authority given him over his sons. And it strangely came about, that whereas before, in his adversity, though he had indeed showed himself severe, yet had he not been very rash nor hasty in procuring the destruction of his sons; he now, in his prosperity, took advantage of this change for the better, and the freedom he now had, to exercise his hatred against them after an unheard of manner; he therefore sent and called as many as he thought fit to this assembly, excepting Archclaus; for as for him, he either hated him, so that he would not invite him, or he thought he would be an obstacle to his designs.

2. When the presidents, and the rest that belonged to the cities, were come to Berytus, he kept his sons in a certain village belonging to Sidon, called Platana, but near to this city, that if they were called, he might produce them, for he did not think fit to bring them before the assembly: and when there were one hundred and fifty assessors present, Herod came by himself alone, and accused his sons, and that in such a way as if it were not a melancholy accusation, and not made but out of necessity, and upon the misfortunes he was under.

Indeed, in such a way as was very indecent for a father to accuse his sons, for he was very vehement and disordered when he came to the demonstration of the crime they were accused of, and gave the greatest signs of passion and barbarity: nor would he suffer the assessors to consider of the weight of the evidence, but asserted them to be true by his own authority, after a manner most indecent in a father against his sons, and read himself what they themselves had written, wherein there was no confession of any plots or contrivances against him, but only how they had contrived to fly away, and containing withal certain reproaches against him, on account of the ill-will he bare them; and when he came to those reproaches, he cried out most of all, and exaggerated what they said, as if they had confessed the design against him, and took his oath that he had rather lose his life than hear such reproachful words.

At last he said that he had sufficient authority, both by nature and by Caesar's grant to him, [to do what he thought fit]. He also added an allegation of a law of their country, which enjoined this: That if parents laid their hands on the head of him that was accused, the standers by were obliged to cast stones at him, and thereby to slay him; which though he were ready to do in his own country and kingdom, yet did he wait for their determination; and yet they came thither not so much as judges, to condemn them for such manifest designs against him, whereby he had almost perished by his sons' means, but as persons that had an opportunity of showing their detestation of such practices, and declaring how unworthy a thing it must be in any, even the most remote, to pass over such treacherous designs [without punishment].

When the King had said this, and the young men had not been produced to make any defense for themselves, the assessors perceived there was no room for equity and reconciliation, so they confirmed his authority. And in the first place, Saturninus, a person that had been consul, and one of great dignity, pronounced his sentence, but with great moderation and trouble; and said that he condemned Herod's sons, but did not think they should be put to death. He had sons of his own, and to put one's son to death is a greater misfortune than any other that could befall him by their means. After him Saturninus's sons, for he had three sons that followed him, and were his legates, pronounced the same sentence with their father. On the contrary, Volumnius's sentence was to inflict death on such as had been so impiously undutiful to their father; and the greatest part of the rest said the same, insomuch that the conclusion seemed to be, that the young men were condemned to die. Immediately after this Herod came away from thence, and took his sons to Tyre, where Nicolaus met him in his voyage from Rome; of whom he inquired, after he had related to him what had passed at Berytus, what his sentiments were about his sons, and what his friends at Rome thought of that matter. His answer was,

"That what they had determined to do to thee was impious, and that thou oughtest to keep them in prison; and if thou thinkest any thing further necessary, thou mayst indeed so punish them, that thou mayst not appear to indulge thy anger more than to govern thyself by judgment; but if thou inclinest to the milder side, thou mayst absolve them, lest perhaps thy misfortunes be rendered incurable; and this is the opinion of the greatest part of thy friends at Rome also."

Whereupon Herod was silent, and in great thoughtfulness, and bid Nicolaus sail along with him.

Now as they came to Cesarea, every body was there talking of Herod's sons, and the kingdom was in suspense, and the people in great expectation of what would become of them; for a terrible fear seized upon all men, lest the ancient disorders of the family should come to a sad conclusion, and they were in great trouble about their sufferings; nor was it without danger to say any rash thing about this matter, nor even to hear another saying it, but men's pity was forced to be shut up in themselves, which rendered the excess of their sorrow very irksome, but very silent yet was there an old soldier of Herod's, whose name was Tero, who had a son of the same age with Alexander, and his friend, who was so very free as openly to speak out what others silently thought about that matter; and was forced to cry out often among the multitude, and said, in the most unguarded manner, that truth was perished, and justice taken away from men, while lies and ill-will prevailed, and brought such a mist before public affairs, that the offenders were not able to see the greatest mischiefs that can befall men. And as he was so bold, he seemed not to have kept himself out of danger, by speaking so freely; but the reasonableness of what he said moved men to regard him as having behaved himself with great manhood, and this at a proper time also, for which reason every one heard what he said with pleasure; and although they first took care of their own safety by keeping silent themselves, yet did they kindly receive the great freedom he took; for the expectation they were in of so great an affliction, put a force upon them to speak of Tero whatsoever they pleased.

This man had thrust himself into the king's presence with the greatest freedom, and desired to speak with him by himself alone, which the King permitted him to do, where he said this:

"Since I am not able, O king, to bear up under so great a concern as I am under, I have preferred the use of this bold liberty that I now take, which may be for thy advantage, if thou mind to get any profit by it, before my own safety. Whither is thy understanding gone, and left thy soul empty? Whither is that extraordinary sagacity of thine gone whereby thou hast performed so many and such glorious-actions? Whence comes this solitude, and desertion of thy friends and relations? Of which I cannot but determine that they are neither thy friends nor relations, while they overlook such horrid wickedness in thy once happy kingdom. Dost not thou perceive what is doing? Wilt thou slay these two young men, born of thy queen, who are accomplished with every virtue in the highest degree, and leave thyself destitute in thy old age, but exposed to one son, who hath very ill managed the hopes thou hast given him,' and to relations, whose death thou hast so often resolved on thyself? Dost not thou take notice, that the very silence of the multitude at once sees the crime, and abhors the fact? The whole army and the officers have commiseration on the poor unhappy youths, and hatred to those that are the actors in this matter."

These words the King heard, and for some time with good temper. But what can one say? When Tero plainly touched upon the bad behavior and perfidiousness of his domestics, he was moved at it; but Tero went on further, and by degrees used an unbounded military freedom of speech, nor was he so well disciplined as to accommodate himself to the time. So Herod was greatly disturbed, and seeming to be rather reproached by this speech, than to be hearing what was for his advantage, while he learned thereby that both the soldiers abhorred the thing he was about, and the officers had indignation at it, he gave order that all whom Tero had named, and Tero himself, should be bound and kept in prison.

When this was over, one Trypho, who was the king's barber, took the opportunity, and came and told the king, that Tero would often have persuaded him, when he trimmed him with a razor, to cut his throat, for that by this means he should be among the chief of Alexander's friends, and receive great rewards from him. When he had said this, the King gave order that Tero, and his son, and the barber should be tortured, which was done accordingly; but while Tero bore up himself, his son seeing his father already in a sad case, and had no hope of deliverance, and perceiving what would be the consequence of his terrible sufferings, said, that if the King would free him and his father from these torments for what he should say, he would tell the truth. And when the King had given his word to do so, he said that there was an agreement made, that Tero should lay violent hands on the king, because it was easy for him to come when he was alone; and that if, when he had done the thing, he should suffer death for it, as was not unlikely, it would be an act of generosity done in favor of Alexander. This was what Tero's son said, and thereby freed his father from the distress he was in; but uncertain it is whether he had been thus forced to speak what was true, or whether it were a contrivance of his, in order to procure his own and his father's deliverance from their miseries.

As for Herod, if he had before any doubt about the slaughter of his sons, there was now no longer any room left in his soul for it; but he had banished away whatsoever might afford him the least suggestion of reasoning better about this matter, so he already made haste to bring his purpose to a conclusion. He also brought out three hundred of the officers that were under an accusation, as also Tero and his son, and the barber that accused them before an assembly, and brought an accusation against them all; whom the multitude stoned with whatsoever came to hand, and thereby slew them. Alexander also and Aristobulus were brought to Sebaste, by their father's command, and there strangled; but their dead bodies were in the night time carried to Alexandraum, where their uncle by the mother's side, and the greatest part of their ancestors, had been deposited.

And now perhaps it may not seem unreasonable to some, that such an inveterate hatred might increase so much [on both sides], as to proceed further, and overcome nature; but it may justly deserve consideration, whether it be to be laid to the charge of the young men, that they gave such an occasion to their father's anger, and led him to do what he did, and by going on long in the same way put things past remedy, and brought him to use them so unmercifully; 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 tae would take no one into a partnership with him, that so whatsoever he would have done himself might continue immovable; 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; wherefore I suppose it will be sufficient to compare this notion with that other, which attribute somewhat to ourselves, and renders men not unaccountable for the different conducts of their lives, which notion is no other than the philosophical determination of our ancient law.

Accordingly, of the two other causes of this sad event, any body may lay the blame on the young men, who acted by youthful vanity, and pride of their royal birth, that they should bear to hear the calumnies that were raised against their father, while certainly they were not equitable judges of the actions of his life, but ill-natured in suspecting, and intemperate in speaking of it, and on both accounts easily caught by those that observed them, and revealed them to gain favor; yet cannot their father be thought worthy excuse, as to that horrid impiety which he was guilty of about them, while he ventured, without any certain evidence of their treacherous designs against him, and without any proofs that they had made preparations for such attempt, to kill his own sons, who were of very comely bodies, and the great darlings of other men, and no way deficient in their conduct, whether it were in hunting, or in warlike exercises, or in speaking upon occasional topics of discourse; for in all these they were skillful, and especially Alexander, who was the eldest; for certainly it had been sufficient, even though he had condemned them, to have kept them alive in bonds, or to let them live at a distance from his dominions in banishment, while he was surrounded by the Roman forces, which were a strong security to him, whose help would prevent his suffering any thing by a sudden onset, or by open force; but for him to kill them on the sudden, in order to gratify a passion that governed him, was a demonstration of insufferable impiety.

He also was guilty of so great a crime in his older age; nor will the delays that he made, and the length of time in which the thing was done, plead at all for his excuse; for when a man is on a sudden amazed, and in commotion of mind, and then commits a wicked action, although this be a heavy crime, yet is it a thing that frequently happens; but to do it upon deliberation, and after frequent attempts, and as frequent puttings-off, to undertake it at last, and accomplish it, was the action of a murderous mind, and such as was not easily moved from that which is evil. And this temper he showed in what he did afterward, when he did not spare those that seemed to be the best beloved of his friends that were left, wherein, though the justice of the punishment caused those that perished to be the less pitied, yet was the barbarity of the man here equal, in that he did not abstain from their slaughter also. But of those persons we shall have occasion to discourse more hereafter.

Adapted from
Antiquities of the Jews
by Flavius Josephus
Creation of
the World
King Saul
conquers Amalekites
War with Syria Simon wars
with Trypho
Herod considers
suicide, sons killed
Abraham fights
King David
rules over Israel
Assyria wars
with Judah
Hyrcanus wars
with Aristobulus
Caesar taxes
Syria and Judea
Parting of
the Red Sea
against David
Babylon sets
up Judah's King
Herod the Great
spoils Jerusalem
King Agrippa
goes to Rome
Aaron's Priesthood King Solomon
King Cyrus frees
Jews from Babylon
The laws of
King Herod
Roman Senators
want democracy
Gideon delivers
Israel from Midianites
Kingdom of
Israel Splits
Esther saves
the Jews
King David's
tomb robbed
Claudius becomes
Roman Emperor
God destroys
the Philistines
Jews overcome
their enemies
Antiochus makes
war against Jerusalem
nine wives

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