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THE GOLDEN EAGLE IS CUT TO PIECES. HEROD'S BARBARITY WHEN HE WAS READY TO DIE. HE ATTEMPTS TO KILL HIMSELF. HE COMMANDS ANTIPATER TO BE SLAIN. HE SURVIVES HIM FIVE DAYS AND THEN DIES.
1. NOW Herod's distemper became more and more severe to him, and this because these his disorders fell upon him in his old age, and when he was in a low-spirited condition; for he was already seventy years of age, and had been brought by the calamities that happened to him about his children, whereby he had no pleasure in life, even when he was in health; the grief also that Antipater was still alive aggravated his disease, whom he resolved to put to death now not at random, but as soon as he should be well again, and resolved to have him slain [in a public manner].
2. There also now happened to him, among his other calamities, a certain popular sedition. There were two men of learning in the city [Jerusalem,] who were thought the most skillful in the laws of their country, and were on that account had in very great esteem all over the nation; they were, the one Judas, the son of Sepphoris, and the other Mattbias, the son of Margalus. There was a great concourse of the young men to these men when they expounded the laws, and there got together every day a kind of an army of such as were growing up to be men. Now when these men were informed that the king was wearing away with low-spirited, and with a distemper, they dropped words to their acquaintance, how it was now a very proper time to defend the cause of God, and to pull down what had been erected contrary to the laws of their country; for it was unlawful there should be any such thing in the temple as images, or faces, or the like representation of any animal whatever. Now the king had put up a golden eagle over the great gate of the temple, which these learned men exhorted them to cut down; and told them, that if there should any danger arise, it was a glorious thing to die for the laws of their country; because that the soul was immortal, and that an eternal enjoyment of happiness did await such as died on that account; while the mean-spirited, and those that were not wise enough to show a right love of their souls, preferred a death by a disease, before that which is the result of a virtuous behavior.
3. At the same time that these men made this speech to their disciples, a rumor was spread abroad that the king was dying, which made the young men set about the work with greater boldness; they therefore let themselves down from the top of the temple with thick cords, and this at midday, and while a great number of people were in the temple, and cut down that golden eagle with axes. This was presently told to the king's captain of the temple, who came running with a great body of soldiers, and caught about forty of the young men, and brought them to the king. And when he asked them, first of all, whether they had been so hardy as to cut down the golden eagle, they confessed they had done so; and when he asked them by whose command they had done it, they replied, at the command of the law of their country; and when he further asked them how they could be so joyful when they were to be put to death, they replied, because they should enjoy greater happiness after they were dead. (48)
4. At this the king was in such an extravagant passion, that he overcame his disease [for the time,] and went out, and spake to the people; wherein he made a terrible accusation against those men, as being guilty of sacrilege, and as making greater attempts under pretense of their law, and he thought they deserved to be punished as impious persons. Whereupon the people were afraid lest a great number should be found guilty and desired that when he had first punished those that put them upon this work, and then those that were caught in it, he would leave off his anger as to the rest. With this the king complied, though not without difficulty, and ordered those that had let themselves down, together with their Rabbins, to be burnt alive, but delivered the rest that were caught to the proper officers, to be put to death by them.
5. After this, the distemper seized upon his whole body, and greatly disordered all its parts with various symptoms; for there was a gentle fever upon him, and an intolerable itching over all the surface of his body, and continual pains in his colon, and dropsical turnouts about his feet, and an inflammation of the abdomen, and a putrefaction of his privy member, that produced worms. Besides which he had a difficulty of breathing upon him, and could not breathe but when he sat upright, and had a convulsion of all his members, insomuch that the diviners said those diseases were a punishment upon him for what he had done to the Rabbins. Yet did he struggle with his numerous disorders, and still had a desire to live, and hoped for recovery, and considered of several methods of cure. Accordingly, he went over Jordan, and made use of those hot baths at Callirrhoe, which ran into the lake Asphaltitis, but are themselves sweet enough to be drunk. And here the physicians thought proper to bathe his whole body in warm oil, by letting it down into a large vessel full of oil; whereupon his eyes failed him, and he came and went as if he was dying; and as a tumult was then made by his servants, at their voice he revived again. Yet did he after this despair of recovery, and gave orders that each soldier should have fifty drachmae a- piece, and that his commanders and friends should have great sums of money given them.
6. He then returned back and came to Jericho, in such a low-spirited state of body as almost threatened him with present death, when he proceeded to attempt a horrid wickedness; for he got together the most illustrious men of the whole Jewish nation, out of every village, into a place called the Hippodrome, and there shut them in. He then called for his sister Salome, and her husband Alexas, and made this speech to them: "I know well enough that the Jews will keep a festival upon my death however, it is in my power to be mourned for on other accounts, and to have a splendid funeral, if you will but be subservient to my commands. Do you but take care to send soldiers to encompass these men that are now in custody, and slay them immediately upon my death, and then all Judea, and every family of them, will weep at it, whether they will or no."
7. These were the commands he gave them; when there came letters from his ambassadors at Rome, whereby information was given that Acme was put to death at Caesar's command, and that Antipater was condemned to die; however, they wrote with, that if Herod had a mind rather to banish him, Caesar permitted him so to do. So he for a little while revived, and had a desire to live; but presently after he was overborne by his pains, and was disordered by want of food, and by a convulsive cough, and endeavored to prevent a natural, death; so he took an apple, and asked for a knife for he used to pare apples and eat them; he then looked round about to see that there was nobody to hinder him, and lift up his right hand as if he would stab himself; but Achiabus, his first cousin, came running to him, and held his hand, and hindered him from so doing; on which occasion a very great lamentation was made in the palace, as if the king were expiring. As soon as ever Antipater heard that, he took courage, and with joy in his looks, besought his keepers, for a sum of money, to loose him and let him go; but the principal keeper of the prison did not only obstruct him in that his intention, but ran and told the king what his design was; hereupon the king cried out louder than his distemper would well bear, and immediately sent some of his guards and slew Antipater; he also gave order to have him buried at Hyrcanium, and altered his testament again, and therein made Archclaus, his eldest son, and the brother of Antipas, his successor, and made Antipas tetrarch.
8. So Herod, having survived the slaughter of his son five days, died, having reigned thirty-four years since he had caused Antigonus to be slain, and obtained his kingdom; but thirty-seven years since he had been made king by the Romans. Now as for his fortune, it was prosperous in all other respects, if ever any other man could be so, since, from a private man, he obtained the kingdom, and kept it so long, and left it to his own sons; but still in his domestic affairs he was a most unfortunate man. Now, before the soldiers knew of his death, Salome and her husband came out and dismissed those that were in bonds, whom the king had commanded to be slain, and told them that he had altered his mind, and would have every one of them sent to their own homes. When these men were gone, Salome, told the soldiers [the king was dead], and got them and the rest of the multitude together to an assembly, in the amphitheater at Jericho, where Ptolemy, who was intrusted by the king with his signet ring, came before them, and spake of the happiness the king had attained, and comforted the multitude, and read the epistle which had been left for the soldiers, wherein he earnestly exhorted them to bear good-will to his successor; and after he had read the epistle, he opened and read his testament, wherein Philip was to inherit Trachonitis, and the neighboring countries, and Antipas was to be tetrarch, as we said before, and Archelaus was made king. He had also been commanded to carry Herod's ring to Caesar, and the settlements he had made, sealed up, because Caesar was to be lord of all the settlements he had made, and was to confirm his testament; and he ordered that the dispositions he had made were to be kept as they were in his former testament.
9. So there was an acclamation made to Archelaus, to congratulate him upon his advancement; and the soldiers, with the multitude, went round about in troops, and promised him their good-will, and besides, prayed God to bless his government. After this, they betook themselves to prepare for the king's funeral; and Archelaus omitted nothing of magnificence therein, but brought out all the royal ornaments to augment the pomp of the deceased. There was a bier all of gold, embroidered with precious stones, and a purple bed of various contexture, with the dead body upon it, covered with purple; and a diadem was put upon his head, and a crown of gold above it, and a secptre in his right hand; and near to the bier were Herod's sons, and a multitude of his kindred; next to which came his guards, and the regiment of Thracians, the Germans. also and Gauls, all accounted as if they were going to war; but the rest of the army went foremost, armed, and following their captains and officers in a regular manner; after whom five hundred of his domestic servants and freed-men followed, with sweet spices in their hands: and the body was carried two hundred furlongs, to Herodium, where he had given order to be buried. And this shall suffice for the conclusion of the life of Herod.
(1) I see little difference in the several accounts in Josephus about the Egyptian temple Onion, of which large complaints are made by his commentators. Onias, it seems, hoped to have :made it very like that at Jerusalem, and of the same dimensions; and so he appears to have really done, as far as he was able and thought proper. Of this temple, see Antiq. B. XIII. ch. 3. sect. 1--3, and Of the War, B. VII. ch. 10. sect. 8. (2) Why this John, the son of Simon, the high priest and governor of the Jews, was called Hyrcanus, Josephus no where informs us; nor is he called other than John at the end of the First Book of the Maccabees. However, Sixtus Seuensis, when he gives us an epitome of the Greek version of the book here abridged by Josephus, or of the Chronicles of this John Hyrcanus, then extant, assures us that he was called Hyrcanus from his conquest of one of that name. See Authent. Rec. Part I. p. 207. But of this younger Antiochus, see Dean Aldrich's note here. (3) Josephus here calls this Antiochus the last of the Seleucidae, although there remained still a shadow of another king of that family, Antiochus Asiaticus, or Commagenus, who reigned, or rather lay hid, till Pompey quite turned him out, as Dean Aldrich here notes from Appian and Justin. (4) Matthew 16:19; 18:18. Here we have the oldest and most authentic Jewish exposition of binding and loosing, for punishing or absolving men, not for declaring actions lawful or unlawful, as some more modern Jews and Christians vainly pretend. (5) Strabo, B. XVI. p. 740, relates, that this Selene Cleopatra was besieged by Tigranes, not in Ptolemais, as here, but after she had left Syria, in Seleucia, a citadel in Mesopotamia; and adds, that when he had kept her a while in prison, he put her to death. Dean Aldrich supposes here that Strabo contradicts Josephus, which does not appear to me; for although Josephus says both here and in the Antiquities, B. XIII. ch. 16. sect. 4, that Tigranes besieged her now in Ptolemais, and that he took the city, as the Antiquities inform us, yet does he no where intimate that he now took the queen herself; so that both the narrations of Strabo and Josephus may still be true nevertheless. (6) That this Antipater, the father of Herod the Great was an Idumean, as Josephus affirms here, see the note on Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 15. sect. 2. It is somewhat probable, as Hapercamp supposes, and partly Spanheim also, that the Latin is here the truest; that Pompey did him Hyrcanus, as he would have done the others from Aristobulus, sect. 6, although his remarkable abstinence from the 2000 talents that were in the Jewish temple, when he took it a little afterward, ch. 7. sect. 6, and Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 4. sect. 4, will to Greek all which agree he did not take them. (7) Of the famous palm trees and balsam about Jericho and Engaddl, see the notes in Havercamp's edition, both here and B. II. ch. 9. sect. 1. They are somewhat too long to be transcribed in this place. (8) Thus says Tacitus: Cn. Pompelna first of all subdued the Jews, and went into their temple, by right of conquest, Hist. B. V. ch. 9. Nor did he touch any of its riches, as has been observed on the parallel place of the Antiquities, B. XIV. ch. 4. sect. 4, out of Cicero himself. (9) The coin of this Gadara, still extant, with its date from this era, is a certain evidence of this its rebuilding by Pompey, as Spanheim here assures us. (10) Take the like attestation to the truth of this submission of Aretas, king of Arabia, to Scaurus the Roman general, in the words of Dean Aldrich. "Hence (says he) is derived that old and famous Denarius belonging to the Emillian family [represented in Havercamp's edition], wherein Aretas appears in a posture of supplication, and taking hold of a camel's bridle with his left hand, and with his right hand presenting a branch of the frankincense tree, with this inscription, M. SCAURUS EX S.C.; and beneath, REX ARETAS." (11) This citation is now wanting. (12) What is here noted by Hudson and Spanheim, that this grant of leave to rebuild the walls of the cities of Judea was made by Julius Caesar, not as here to Antipater, but to Hyrcanas, Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 8. sect. 5, has hardly an appearance of a contradiction; Antipater being now perhaps considered only as Hyrcanus's deputy and minister; although he afterwards made a cipher of Hyrcanus, and, under great decency of behavior to him, took the real authority to himself. (13) Or twenty-five years of age. See note on Antiq. B. I. ch. 12. sect. 3; and on B. XIV. ch. 9. sect. 2; and Of the War, B. II. ch. 11. sect. 6; and Polyb. B. XVII. p. 725. Many writers of the Roman history give an account of this murder of Sextus Caesar, and of the war of Apamia upon that occasion. They are cited in Dean Aldrich's note. (14) In the Antiquities, B. XIV. ch. 11. sect. 1, the duration of the reign of Julius Caesar is three years six months; but here three years seven months, beginning nightly, says Dean Aldrich, from his second dictatorship. It is probable the real duration might be three years and between six and seven months. (15) It appears evidently by Josephus's accounts, both here and in his Antiquities, B. XIV. ch. 11. sect. 2, that this Cassius, one of Caesar's murderers, was a bitter oppressor, and exactor of tribute in Judea. These seven hundred talents amount to about three hundred thousand pounds sterling, and are about half the yearly revenues of king Herod afterwards. See the note on Antiq. B. XVII. ch. 11. sect. 4. It also appears that Galilee then paid no more than one hundred talents, or the seventh part of the entire sum to be levied in all the country. (16) Here we see that Cassius set tyrants over all Syria; so that his assisting to destroy Caesar does not seem to have proceeded from his true zeal for public liberty, but from a desire to be a tyrant himself. (17) Phasaelus and Herod. (18) This large and noted wood, or woodland, belonging to Carmel, called apago by the Septuagint, is mentioned in the Old Testament, 2 Kings 19:23; Isaiah 37:24, and by I Strabo, B. XVI. p. 758, as both Aldrich and Spanheim here remark very pertinently. (19) These accounts, both here and Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 13. sect. 5, that the Parthians fought chiefly on horseback, and that only some few of their soldiers were free-men, perfectly agree with Trogus Pompeius, in Justin, B. XLI. 2, 3, as Dean Aldrich well observes on this place. (20) Mariamac here, in the copies. (21) This Brentesium or Brundusium has coin still preserved, on which is written, as Spanheim informs us. (22) This Dellius is famous, or rather infamous, in the history of Mark Antony, as Spanheim and Aldrich here note, from the coins, from Plutarch and Dio. (23) This Sepphoris, the metropolis of Galilee, so often mentioned by Josephus, has coins still remaining, as Spanheim here informs us. (24) This way of speaking, "after forty days," is interpreted by Josephus himself, "on the fortieth day," Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 15. sect. 4. In like manner, when Josephus says, ch. 33. sect. 8, that Herod lived "after" he had ordered Antipater to be slain "five days;" this is by himself interpreted, Antiq. B. XVII. ch. 8. sect. 1, that he died "on the fifth day afterward." So also what is in this book, ch. 13. sect. 1, "after two years," is, Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 13. sect. 3, "on the second year." And Dean Aldrich here notes that this way of speaking is familiar to Josephus. (25) This Samosata, the metropolis of Commagena, is well known from its coins, as Spanheim here assures us. Dean Aldrich also confirms what Josephus here notes, that Herod was a great means of taking the city by Antony, and that from Plutarch and Dio. (26) That is, a woman, not, a man. (27) This death of Antigonus is confirmed by Plutarch and. Straho; the latter of whom is cited for it by Josephus himself, Antiq. B. XV. ch. 1. sect. 2, as Dean Aldrich here observes. (28) This ancient liberty of Tyre and Sidon under the Romans, taken notice of by Josephus, both here and Antiq. B. XV. ch. 4. sect. 1, is confirmed by the testimony of Sirabe, B. XVI. p. 757, as Dean Aldrich remarks; although, as he justly adds, this liberty lasted but a little while longer, when Augtus took it away from them. (29) This seventh year of the reign of Herod [from the conquest or death of Antigonus], with the great earthquake in the beginning of the same spring, which are here fully implied to be not much before the fight at Actium, between Octavius and Antony, and which is known from the Roman historians to have been in the beginning of September, in the thirty-first year before the Christian era, determines the chronology of Josephus as to the reign of Herod, viz. that he began in the year 37, beyond rational contradiction. Nor is it quite unworthy of our notice, that this seventh year of the reign of Herod, or the thirty-first before the Christian era, contained the latter part of a Sabbatic year, on which Sabbatic year, therefore, it is plain this great earthquake happened in Judea. (30) This speech of Herod is set down twice by Josephus, here and Antiq. B. XV. ch. 5. sect. 3, to the very same purpose, but by no means in the same words; whence it appears that the sense was Herod's, but the composition Josephus's. (31) Since Josephus, both here and in his Antiq. B. XV. ch. 7. sect. 3, reckons Gaza, which had been a free city, among the cities given Herod by Augustus, and yet implies that Herod had made Costobarus a governor of it before, Antiq. B. XV. ch. 7. sect. 9, Hardain has some pretense for saying that Josephus here contradicted himself. But perhaps Herod thought he had sufficient authority to put a governor into Gaza, after he was made tetrarch or king, in times of war, before the city was entirely delivered into his hands by Augustus. (32) This fort was first built, as it is supposed, by John Hyrcanus; see Prid. at the year 107; and called "Baris," the Tower or Citadel. It was afterwards rebuilt, with great improvements, by Herod, under the government of Antonius, and was named from him "the Tower of Antoni;" and about the time when Herod rebuilt the temple, he seems to have put his last hand to it. See Antiq. B. XVIII. ch. 5. sect. 4; Of the War, B. I. ch. 3. sect. 3; ch. 5. sect. 4. It lay on the northwest side of the temple, and was a quarter as large. (33) That Josephus speaks truth, when he assures us that the haven of this Cesarea was made by Herod not less, nay rather larger, than that famous haven at Athens, called the Pyrecum, will appear, says Dean Aldrich, to him who compares the descriptions of that at Athens in Thucydides and Pausanias, with this of Cesarea in Josephus here, and in the Antiq. B. XV. ch. 9. sect. 6, and B. XVII. ch. 9. sect. 1. (34) These buildings of cities by the name of Caesar, and institution of solemn games in honor of Augustus Caesar, as here, and in the Antiquities, related of Herod by Josephus, the Roman historians attest to, as things then frequent in the provinces of that empire, as Dean Aldrich observes on this chapter. (35) There were two cities, or citadels, called Herodium, in Judea, and both mentioned by Josephus, not only here, but Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 13. sect. 9; B. XV. ch. 9. sect. 6; Of the War, B. I. ch. 13. sect. 8; B. III. ch. 3. sect. 5. One of them was two hundred, and the other sixty furlongs distant from Jerusalem. One of them is mentioned by Pliny, Hist. Nat. B. V. ch. 14., as Dean Aldrich observes here. (36) Here seems to be a small defect in the copies, which describe the wild beasts which were hunted in a certain country by Herod, without naming any such country at all. (37) Here is either a defect or a great mistake in Josephus's present copies or memory; for Mariamne did not now reproach Herod with this his first injunction to Joseph to kill her, if he himself were slain by Antony, but that he had given the like command a second time to Soemus also, when he was afraid of being slain by Augustus. Antiq. B. XV. ch. 3. sect. 5, etc. (38) That this island Eleusa, afterward called Sebaste, near Cilicia, had in it the royal palace of this Archclaus, king of Cappadocia, Strabo testifies, B. XV. p. 671. Stephanus of Byzantiam also calls it "an island of Cilicia, which is now Sebaste;" both whose testimonies are pertinently cited here by Dr. Hudson. See the same history, Antiq. B. XVI. ch. 10. sect. 7. (39) That it was an immemorial custom among the Jews, and their forefathers, the patriarchs, to have sometimes more wives or wives and concubines, than one at the same the and that this polygamy was not directly forbidden in the law of Moses is evident; but that polygamy was ever properly and distinctly permitted in that law of Moses, in the places here cited by Dean Aldrich, Deuteronomy 17:16, 17, or 21:15, or indeed any where else, does not appear to me. And what our Savior says about the common Jewish divorces, which may lay much greater claim to such a permission than polygamy, seems to me true in this case also; that Moses, "for the hardness of their hearts," suffered them to have several wives at the same time, but that "from the beginning it was not so," Matthew 19:8; Mark 10:5. (40) This vile fellow, Eurycles the Lacedemonian, seems to have been the same who is mentioned by Plutarch, as (twenty-live years before) a companion to Mark Antony, and as living with Herod; whence he might easily insinuate himself into the acquaintance of Herod's sons, Antipater and Alexander, as Usher, Hudson, and Spanheim justly suppose. The reason why his being a Spartan rendered him acceptable to the Jews as we here see he was, is visible from the public records of the Jews and Spartans, owning those Spartans to be of kin to the Jews, and derived from their common ancestor Abraham, the first patriarch of the Jewish nation, Antiq. B. XII. ch. 4. sect. 10; B. XIII. ch. 5. sect. 8; and 1 Macc. 12:7. (41) See the preceding note. (42) Dean Aldrich takes notice here, that these nine wives of Herod were alive at the same time; and that if the celebrated Mariamne, who was now dead, be reckoned, those wives were in all ten. Yet it is remarkable that he had no more than fifteen children by them all. (43) To prevent confusion, it may not be amiss, with Dean Aldrich, to distinguish between four Josephs in the history of Herod. 1. Joseph, Herod's uncle, and the [second] husband of his sister Salome, slain by Herod, on account of Mariamne. 2. Joseph, Herod's quaestor, or treasurer, slain on the same account. 3. Joseph, Herod's brother, slain in battle against Antigonus. 4. Joseph, Herod's nephew, the husband of Olympias, mentioned in this place. (44) These daughters of Herod, whom Pheroras's wife affronted, were Salome and Roxana, two virgins, who were born to him of his two wives, Elpide and Phedra. See Herod's genealogy, Antiq. B. XVII. ch. 1. sect. 3. (45) This strange obstinacy of Pheroras in retaining his wife, who was one of a low family, and refusing to marry one nearly related to Herod, though he so earnestly desired it, as also that wife's admission to the counsels of the other great court ladies, together with Herod's own importunity as to Pheroras's divorce and other marriage, all so remarkable here, or in the Antiquities XVII. ch. 2. sect. 4; and ch. 3. be well accounted for, but on the supposal that Pheroras believed, and Herod suspected, that the Pharisees' prediction, as if the crown of Judea should be translated from Herod to Pheroras's posterity and that most probably to Pheroras's posterity by this his wife, also would prove true. See Antiq. B. XVII. ch. 2. sect. 4; and ch. 3. sect. 1. (46) This Tarentum has coins still extant, as Reland informs us here in his note. (47) A lover of his father. (48) Since in these two sections we have an evident account of the Jewish opinions in the days of Josephus, about a future happy state, and the resurrection of the dead, as in the New Testament, John 11:24, I shall here refer to the other places in Josephus, before he became a catholic Christian, which concern the same matters. Of the War, B. II. ch. 8. sect. 10, 11; B. III. ch. 8. sect. 4; B. VII. ch. 6. sect. 7; Contr. Apion, B. II. sect. 30; where we may observe, that none of these passages are in his Books of Antiquities, written peculiarly for the use of the Gentiles, to whom he thought it not proper to insist on topics so much out of their way as these were. Nor is this observation to be omitted here, especially on account of the sensible difference we have now before us in Josephus's reason of the used by the Rabbins to persuade their scholars to hazard their lives for the vindication of God's law against images, by Moses, as well as of the answers those scholars made to Herod, when they were caught, and ready to die for the same; I mean as compared with the parallel arguments and answers represented in the Antiquities, B. XVII. ch. 6. sect, 2, 3. A like difference between Jewish and Gentile notions the reader will find in my notes on Antiquities, B. III. ch. 7. sect. 7; B. XV. ch. 9. sect. 1. See the like also in the case of the three Jewish sects in the Antiquities, B. XIII. ch. 5. sect. 9, and ch. 10. sect. 4, 5; B. XVIII. ch. 1. sect. 5; and compared with this in his Wars of the Jews, B. II. ch. 8. sect. 2-14. Nor does St. Paul himself reason to Gentiles at Athens, Acts 17:16-34, as he does to Jews in his Epistles.