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HOW HEROD, WHEN HE HAD MARRIED MARIAMNE TOOK JERUSALEM WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF SOSIUS BY FORCE; AND HOW THE GOVERNMENT OF HE ASAMONEANS WAS PUT AN END TO
1. AFTER the wedding was over, came Sosius through Phoenicia, having sent out his army before him over the midland parts. He also, who was their commander, came himself, with a great number of horsemen and footmen. The king also came himself from Samaria, and brought with him no small army, besides that which was there before, for they were about thirty thousand; and they all met together at the walls of Jerusalem, and encamped at the north wall of the city, being now an army of eleven legions, armed men on foot, and six thousand horsemen, with other auxiliaries out of Syria. The generals were two: Sosius, sent by Antony to assist Herod, and Herod on his own account, in order to take the government from Antigonus, who was declared all enemy at Rome, and that he might himself be king, according to the decree of the Senate.
2. Now the Jews that were enclosed within the walls of the city fought against Herod with great alacrity and zeal (for the whole nation was gathered together); they also gave out many prophecies about the temple, and many things agreeable to the people, as if God would deliver them out of the dangers they were in; they had also carried off what was out of the city, that they might not leave any thing to afford sustenance either for men or for beasts; and by private robberies they made the want of necessaries greater. When Herod understood this, he opposed ambushes in the fittest places against their private robberies, and he sent legions of armed men to bring its provisions, and that from remote places, so that in a little time they had great plenty of provisions. Now the three fortifications were easily erected, because so many hands were continually at work upon it; for it was summer time, and there was nothing to hinder them in raising their works, neither from the air nor from the workmen; so they brought their engines to bear, and shook the walls of the city, and tried all manner of ways to get its; yet did not those within discover any fear, but they also contrived not a few engines to oppose their engines with. They also sallied out, and burnt not only those engines that were not yet perfected, but those that were; and when they came hand to hand, their attempts were not less bold than those of the Romans, though they were behind them in skill. They also erected new works when the former were ruined, and making mines underground, they met each other, and fought there; and making use of brutish courage rather than of prudent valor, they persisted in this war to the very last; and this they did while a mighty army lay round about them, and while they were distressed by famine and the want of necessaries, for this happened to be a Sabbatic year. The first that scaled the walls were twenty chosen men, the next were Sosius's centurions; for the first wall was taken in forty days, and the second in fifteen more, when some of the cloisters that were about the temple were burnt, which Herod gave out to have been burnt by Antigonus, in order to expose him to the hatred of the Jews. And when the outer court of the temple and the lower city were taken, the Jews fled into the inner court of the temple, and into the upper city; but now fearing lest the Romans should hinder them from offering their daily sacrifices to God, they sent an embassage, and desired that they would only permit them to bring in beasts for sacrifices, which Herod granted, hoping they were going to yield; but when he saw that they did nothing of what he supposed, but bitterly opposed him, in order to preserve the kingdom to Antigonus, he made an assault upon the city, and took it by storm; and now all parts were full of those that were slain, by the rage of the Romans at the long duration of the siege, and by the zeal of the Jews that were on Herod's side, who were not willing to leave one of their adversaries alive; so they were murdered continually in the narrow streets and in the houses by crowds, and as they were flying to the temple for shelter, and there was no pity taken of either infants or the aged, nor did they spare so much as the weaker sex; nay, although the king sent about, and besought them to spare the people, yet nobody restrained their hand from slaughter, but, as if they were a company of madmen, they fell upon persons of all ages, without distinction; and then Antigonus, without regard to either his past or present circumstances, came down from the citadel, and fell down at the feet of Sosius, who took no pity of him, in the change of his fortune, but insulted him beyond measure, and called him Antigone [i.e. a woman, and not a man;] yet did he not treat him as if he were a woman, by letting him go at liberty, but put him into bonds, and kept him in close custody.
3. And now Herod having overcome his enemies, his care was to govern those foreigners who had been his assistants, for the crowd of strangers rushed to see the temple, and the sacred things in the temple; but the king, thinking a victory to be a more severe affliction than a defeat, if any of those things which it was not lawful to see should be seen by them, used entreaties and threatenings, and even sometimes force itself, to restrain them. He also prohibited the ravage that was made in the city, and many times asked Sosius whether the Romans would empty the city both of money and men, and leave him king of a desert; and told him that he esteemed the dominion over the whole habitable earth as by no means an equivalent satisfaction for such a murder of his citizens'; and when he said that this plunder was justly to be permitted the soldiers for the siege they had undergone, he replied, that he would give every one their reward out of his own money; and by this means be redeemed what remained of the city from destruction; and he performed what he had promised him, for he gave a noble present to every soldier, and a proportionable present to their commanders, but a most royal present to Sosius himself, till they all went away full of money.
4. This destruction befell the city of Jerusalem when Marcus Agrippa and Caninius Gallus were consuls of Rome (30) on the hundred eighty and fifth olympiad, on the third month, on the solemnity of the fast, as if a periodical revolution of calamities had returned since that which befell the Jews under Pompey; for the Jews were taken by him on the same day, and this was after twenty-seven years' time. So when Sosius had dedicated a crown of gold to God, he marched away from Jerusalem, and carried Antigonus with him in bonds to Antony; but Herod was afraid lest Antigonus should be kept in prison [only] by Antony, and that when he was carried to Rome by him, he might get his cause to be heard by the senate, and might demonstrate, as he was himself of the royal blood, and Herod but a private man, that therefore it belonged to his sons however to have the kingdom, on account of the family they were of, in case he had himself offended the Romans by what he had done. Out of Herod's fear of this it was that he, by giving Antony a great deal of money, endeavored to persuade him to have Antigonus slain, which if it were once done, he should be free from that fear. And thus did the government of the Asamoneans cease, a hundred twenty and six years after it was first set up. This family was a splendid and an illustrious one, both on account of the nobility of their stock, and of the dignity of the high priesthood, as also for the glorious actions their ancestors had performed for our nation; but these men lost the government by their dissensions one with another, and it came to Herod, the son of Antipater, who was of no more than a vulgar family, and of no eminent extraction, but one that was subject to other kings. And this is what history tells us was the end of the Asamonean family.
(1) Reland takes notice here, very justly, how Josephus's declaration, that it was his great concern not only to write "an agreeable, an accurate," and "a true" history, but also distinctly not to omit any thing [of consequence], either through "ignorance or laziness," implies that he could not, consistently with that resolution, omit the mention of [so famous a person as] "Jesus Christ." (2) That the famous Antipater's or Antipas's father was also Antipater or Antipas (which two may justly be esteemed one and the same frame, the former with a Greek or Gentile, the latter with a Hebrew or Jewish termination) Josephus here assures us, though Eusebias indeed says it was Herod. (3) This "golden vine," or "garden," seen by Strabo at Rome, has its inscription here as if it were the gift of Alexander, the father of Aristobulus, and not of Aristobulus himself, to whom yet Josephus ascribes it; and in order to prove the truth of that part of his history, introduces this testimony of Strabo; so that the ordinary copies seem to be here either erroneous or defective, and the original reading seems to have been either Aristobulus, instead of Alexander, with one Greek copy, or else "Aristobulus the son of Alexander," with the Latin copies; which last seems to me the most probable. For as to Archbishop Usher's conjectures, that Alexander made it, and dedicated it to God in the temple, and that thence Aristobulus took it, and sent it to Pompey, they are both very improbable, and no way agreeable to Josephus, who would hardly have avoided the recording both these uncommon points of history, had he known any thing of them; nor would either the Jewish nation, or even Pompey himself, then have relished such a flagrant instance of sacrilege. (4) These express testimonies of Josephus here, and Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 6. sect. 6, and B. XV. ch. 4. sect. 2, that the only balsam gardens, and the best palm trees, were, at least in his days, near Jericho and Kugaddi, about the north part of the Dead Sea, (whereabout also Alexander the Great saw the balsam drop,) show the mistake of those that understand Eusebius and Jerom as if one of those gardens were at the south part of that sea, at Zoar or Segor, whereas they must either mean another Zoar or Segor, which was between Jericho and Kugaddi, agreeably to Josephus: which yet they do not appear to do, or else they directly contradict Josephus, and were therein greatly mistaken: I mean this, unless that balsam, and the best palm trees, grew much more southward in Judea in the days of Eusebius and Jerom than they did in the days of Josephus. (5) The particular depth and breadth of this ditch, whence the stones for the wall about the temple were probably taken, are omitted in our copies of Josephus, but set down by Strabo, B. XVI. p. 763; from whom we learn that this ditch was sixty feet deep, and two hundred and fifty feet broad. However, its depth is, in the next section, said by Josephus to be immense, which exactly agrees to Strabo's description, and which numbers in Strabo are a strong confirmation of the truth of Josephus's description also. (6) That is, on the 23rd of Sivan, the annual fast for the defection and idolatry of Jeroboam, "who made Israel to sin;" or possibly some other fast might fall into that month, before and in the days of Josephus. (7) It deserves here to be noted, that this Pharisaical, superstitious notion, that offensive fighting was unlawful to Jews, even under the utmost necessity, on the Sabbath day, of which we hear nothing before the times of the Maccabees, was the proper occasion of Jerusalem's being taken by Pompey, by Sosius, and by Titus, as appears from the places already quoted in the note on Antiq. B. XIII. ch. 8. sect. 1; which scrupulous superstition, as to the observation of such a rigorous rest upon the Sabbath day, our Savior always opposed, when the Pharisaical Jews insisted on it, as is evident in many places in the New Testament, though he still intimated how destructive that superstition might prove to them in their flight from the Romans, Matthew 25:20. (8) This is fully confirmed by the testimony of Cicero, who: says, in his oration for Flaecus, that "Cneius Pompeius, when he was conqueror, and had taken Jerusalem, did not touch any thing belonging to that temple." (9) Of this destruction of Gadara here presupposed, and its restoration by Pompey, see the note on the War, B. I. ch. 7. sect. 7. (10) Dean Prideaux well observes, "That nevertheless the clamor against Gabinius at Rome, Josephus gives him a able character, as if he had acquitted himself with honor in the charge committed to him" [in Judea]. See at the year 55. (11) This history is best illustrated by Dr. Hudson out of Livy, who says that "A. Gabinius, the proconsul, restored Ptolemy of Pompey and Gabinius against the Jews, while neither of them say any thing new which is not in the other to his kingdom of Egypt, and ejected Archelaus, whom they had set up for king," etc.. See Prid. at the years 61 and 65. (12) Dr. Hudson observes, that the name of this wife of Antipater in Josephus was Cypros, as a Hebrew termination, but not Cypris, the Greek name for Venus, as some critics were ready to correct it. (13) Take Dr. Hudson's note upon this place, which I suppose to be the truth: "Here is some mistake in Josephus; for when he had promised us a decree for the restoration of Jerusalem he brings in a decree of far greater antiquity, and that a league of friendship and union only. One may easily believe that Josephus gave order for one thing, and his amanuensis performed another, by transposing decrees that concerned the Hyrcani, and as deluded by the sameness of their names; for that belongs to the first high priest of this name, [John Hyrcanus,] which Josephus here ascribes to one that lived later [Hyrcanus, the son of Alexander Janneus]. However, the decree which he proposes to set down follows a little lower, in the collection of Raman decrees that concerned the Jews and is that dated when Caesar was consul the fifth time." See ch. 10. sect. 5. (14) Those who will carefully observe the several occasional numbers and chronological characters in the life and death of this Herod, and of his children, hereafter noted, will see that twenty- five years, and not fifteen, must for certain have been here Josephus's own number for the age of Herod, when he was made governor of Galilee. See ch. 23. sect. 5, and ch. 24. sect. 7; and particularly Antiq. B. XVII. ch. 8. sect. 1, where about forty-four years afterwards Herod dies an old man at about seventy. (15) It is here worth our while to remark, that none could be put to death in Judea but by the approval of the Jewish Sanhedrim, there being an excellent provision in the law of Moses, that even in criminal causes, and particularly where life was concerned, an appeal should lie from the lesser councils of seven in the other cities to the supreme council of seventy-one at Jerusalem; and that is exactly according to our Savior's words, when he says, "It could not be that a prophet should perish out of Jerusalem," Luke 13:33. (16) This account, as Reland observes, is confirmed by the Talmudists, who call this Sameas, "Simeon, the son of Shetach." (17) That Hyreanus was himself in Egypt, along with Antipater, at this time, to whom accordingly the bold and prudent actions of his deputy Antipater are here ascribed, as this decree of Julius Caesar supposes, we are further assured by the testimony of Strabo, already produced by Josephus, ch. 8. sect. 3. (18) Dr. Hudson justly supposes that the Roman imperators, or generals of armies, meant both here and sect. 2, who gave testimony to Hyrcanus's and the Jews' faithfulness and goodwill to the Romans before the senate and people of Rome, were principally Pompey, Scaurus, and Gabinius ;of all whom Josephus had already given us the history, so far as the Jews were concerned with them. (19) We have here a most remarkable and authentic attestation of the citizens of Pergamus, that Abraham was the father of all the Hebrews; that their own ancestors were, in the oldest times, the friends of those Hebrews; and that the public arts of their city, then extant, confirmed the same; which evidence is too strong to be evaded by our present ignorance of the particular occasion of such ancient friendship and alliance between those people. See the like full evidence of the kindred of the Lacedemonians and the Jews; and that became they were both of the posterity of Abraham, by a public epistle of those people to the Jews, preserved in the First Book of the Maccabees, 12:19-23; and thence by Josephus, Antiq. B. XII. ch. 4 sect. 10; both which authentic records are highly valuable. It is also well worthy of observation, what Moses Chorenensis, the principal Armenian historian, informs us of, p. 83, that Arsaces, who raised the Parthian empire, was of the :seed of Abraham by Chetura; and that thereby was accomplished that prediction which said, "Kings of nations shall proceed from thee," Genesis 17:6. (20) If we compare Josephus's promise in sect. 1, to produce all the public decrees of the Romans in favor of the Jews, with his excuse here for omitting many of them, we may observe, that when he came to transcribe all those decrees he had collected, he found them so numerous, that he thought he should too much tire his readers if he had attempted it, which he thought a sufficient apology for his omitting the rest of them; yet do those by him produced afford such a strong confirmation to his history, and give such great light to even the Roman antiquities themselves, that I believe the curious are not a little sorry for such his omissions. (21) For Marcus, this president of Syria, sent as successor to Sextus Caesar, the Roman historians require us to read "Marcus" in Josephus, and this perpetually, both in these Antiquities, and in his History of the Wars, as the learned generally agree. (22) In this and the following chapters the reader will easily remark, how truly Gronovius observes, in his notes on the Roman decrees in favor of the Jews, that their rights and privileges were commonly purchased of the Romans with money. Many examples of this sort, both as to the Romans and others in authority, will occur in our Josephus, both now and hereafter, and need not be taken particular notice of on the several occasions in these notes. Accordingly, the chief captain confesses to St. Paul that "with a great sum he had obtained his freedom," Acts 22:28; as had St. Paul's ancestors, very probably, purchased the like freedom for their family by money, as the same author justly concludes also. (23) This clause plainly alludes to that well-known but unusual and very long darkness of the sun which happened upon the :murder of Julius Cesar by Brutus and Cassius, which is greatly taken notice of by Virgil, Pliny, and other Roman authors. See Virgil's Georgics, B. I., just before the end; and Pliny's Nat. Hist. B. IL ch. 33. (24) We may here take notice that espousals alone were of old esteemed a sufficient foundation for affinity, Hyrcanus being here called father-in-law to Herod because his granddaughter Mariarune was betrothed to him, although the marriage was not completed till four years afterwards. See Matthew 1:16. (25) This law of Moses, that the priests were to be "without blemish," as to all the parts of their bodies, is in Leviticus 21:17- 24 (26) Concerning the chronology of Herod, and the time when he was first made king at Rome, and concerning the time when he began his second reign, without a rival, upon the conquest and slaughter of Antigonus, both principally derived from this and the two next chapters in Josephus, see the note on sect. 6, and ch. 15. sect. 10. (27) This grievous want of water at Masada, till the place had like to have been taken by the Parthians, (mentioned both here, and Of the War, B. I. ch. 15. sect. 1,) is an indication that it was now summer time. (28) This affirmation of Antigonus, spoken in the days of Herod, and in a manner to his face, that he was an Idumean, i.e. a half Jew, seems to me of much greater authority than that pretense of his favorite and flatterer Nicolaus of Damascus, that he derived his pedigree from Jews as far backward as the Babylonish captivity, ch. 1. sect. 3. Accordingly Josephus always esteems him an Idumean, though he says his father Antipater was of the same people with the Jews, ch. viii. sect. 1. and by birth a Jew, Antiq. B. XX. ch. 8. sect. 7; as indeed all such convert of justice, as the Idumeans, were in time esteemed the very same people with the Jews. (29) It may be worth our observation here, that these soldiers of Herod could not have gotten upon the tops of these houses which were full of enemies, in order to pull up the upper floors, and destroy them beneath, but by ladders from the out side; which illustrates some texts in the New Testament, by which it appears that men used to ascend thither by ladders on the outsides. See Matthew 24:17; Mark 13:15; Luke 5:19; 17:31. (30) Note here, that Josephus fully and frequently assures us that there passed above three years between Herod's first obtaining the kingdom at Rome, and his second obtaining it upon the taking of Jerusalem and death of Antigonus. The present history of this interval twice mentions the army going into winter quarters, which perhaps belonged to two several winters, ch. 15. sect. 3, 4; and though Josephus says nothing how long they lay in those quarters, yet does he give such an account of the long and studied delays of Ventidius, Silo, and Macheras, who were to see Herod settled in his new kingdom, but seem not to have had sufficient forces for that purpose, and were for certain all corrupted by Antigonus to make the longest delays possible, and gives us such particular accounts of the many great actions of Herod during the same interval, as fairly imply that interval, before Herod went to Samosata, to have been very considerable. However, what is wanting in Josephus, is fully supplied by Moses Chorenensis, the Arme nian historian, in his history of that interval, B. II ch. 18., where he directly assures us that Tigranes, then king of Armenia, and the principal manager of this Parthian war, reigned two years after Herod was made king at Rome, and yet Antony did not hear of his death, in that very neighborhood, at Samosata, till he was come thither to besiege it; after which Herod brought him an army, which was three hundred and forty miles' march, and through a difficult country, full of enemies also, and joined with him in the siege of Samosata till that city was taken; then Herod and Sosins marched back with their large armies the same number of three hundred and forty miles; and when, in a little time, they sat down to besiege Jerusalem, they were not able to take it but by a siege of five months. All which put together, fully supplies what is wanting in Josephus, and secures the entire chronology of these times beyond contradiction.