Containing The Interval Of Thirty-Two Years.
From The Death Of Queen Alexandra To The Death Of Antigonus.
How Herod Got Away From The King Of Arabia And Made Haste To Go Into Egypt And Thence Went Away In Haste Also To Rome; And How, By Promising A Great Deal Of Money To Antony He Obtained Of The Senate And Of Caesar To Be Made King Of The Jews.
1. AS for Herod, the great miseries he was in did not discourage him, but made him sharp in discovering surprising undertakings; for he went to Malchus, king of Arabia, whom he had formerly been very kind to, in order to receive somewhat by way of requital, now he was in more than ordinary want of it, and desired he would let him have some money, either by way of loan, or as his free gift, on account of the many benefits he had received from him; for not knowing what was become of his brother, he was in haste to redeem him out of the hand of his enemies, as willing to give three hundred talents for the price of his redemption. He also took with him the son of Phasaelus, who was a child of but seven years of age, for this very reason, that he might be a hostage for the repayment of the money. But there came messengers from Malchus to meet him, by whom he was desired to be gone, for that the Parthians had laid a charge upon him not to entertain Herod. This was only a pretense which he made use of, that he might not be obliged to repay him what he owed him; and this he was further induced to by the principal men among the Arabians, that they might cheat him of what sums they had received from [his father] Antipater, and which he had committed to their fidelity. He made answer, that he did not intend to be troublesome to them by his coning thither, but that he desired only to discourse with them about certain affairs that were to him of the greatest importance.
2. Hereupon he resolved to go away, and did go very prudently the road to Egypt; and then it was that he lodged in a certain temple; for he had left a great many of his followers there. On the next day he came to Rhinocolura, and there it was that he heard what was befallen his brother. Though Malehus soon repented of what he had done, and came running after Herod; but with no manner of success, for he was gotten a very great way off, and made haste into the road to Pelusium; and when the stationary ships that lay there hindered him from sailing to Alexandria, he went to their captains, by whose assistance, and that out of much reverence of and great regard to him, he was conducted into the city [Alexandria], and was retained there by Cleopatra; yet was she not able to prevail with him to stay there, because he was making haste to Rome, even though the weather was stormy, and he was informed that the affairs of Italy were very tumultuous, and in great disorder.
3. So he set sail from thence to Pamphylia, and falling into a violent storm, he had much ado to escape to Rhodes, with the loss of the ship's burden; and there it was that two of his friends, Sappinas and Ptolemeus, met with him; and as he found that city very much damaged in the war against Cassius, though he were in necessity himself, he neglected not to do it a kindness, but did what he could to recover it to its former state. He also built there a three-decked ship, and set sail thence, with his friends, for Italy, and came to the port of Brundusium; and when he was come from thence to Rome, he first related to Antony what had befallen him in Judea, and how Phasaelus his brother was seized on by the Parthians, and put to death by them, and how Hyrcanus was detained captive by them, and how they had made Antigonus king, who had promised them a sum of money, no less than a thousand talents, with five hundred women, who were to be of the principal families, and of the Jewish stock; and that he had carried off the women by night; and that, by undergoing a great many hardships, he had escaped the hands of his enemies; as also, that his own relations were in danger of being besieged and taken, and that he had sailed through a storm, and contemned all these terrible dangers of it, in order to come, as soon as possible, to him, who was his hope and only succor at this time.
4. This account made Antony commiserate the change that had happened in Herod's condition; (26) and reasoning with himself that this was a common case among those that are placed in such great dignities, and that they are liable to the mutations that come from fortune, he was very ready to give him the assistance he desired, and this because he called to mind the friendship he had had with Antipater because Herod offered him money to make him king, as he had formerly given it him to make him tetrarch, and chiefly because of his hatred to Antigonus; for he took him to be a seditious person, and an enemy to the Romans. Caesar was also the forwarder to raise Herod's dignity, and to give him his assistance in what he desired, on account of the toils of war which he had himself undergone with Antipater his father in Egypt, and of the hospitality he had treated him withal, and the kindness he had always showed him, as also to gratify Antony, who was very zealous for Herod.
So a senate was convocated; and Messala first, and then Atratinus, introduced Herod into it, and enlarged upon the benefits they had received from his father, and put them in mind of the good-will he had borne to the Romans. At the same time, they accused Antigonus, and declared him an enemy, not only because of his former opposition to them, but that he had now overlooked the Romans, and taken the government from the Parthians. Upon this the senate was irritated; and Antony informed them further, that it was for their advantage in the Parthian war that Herod should be king. This seemed good to all the senators; and so they made a decree accordingly.
5. And this was the principal instance of Antony's affection for Herod, that he not only procured him a kingdom which he did not expect, (for he did not come with an intention to ask the kingdom for himself, which he did not suppose the Romans would grant him, who used to bestow it on some of the royal family, but intended to desire it for his wife's brother, who was grandson by his father to Aristobulus, and to Hyrcanus by his mother,) but that he procured it for him so suddenly, that he obtained what he did not expect, and departed out of Italy in so few days as seven in all. This young man [the grandson] Herod afterward took care to have slain, as we shall show in its proper place. But when the senate was dissolved, Antony and Caesar went out of the senate house with Herod between them, and with the consuls and other magistrates before them, in order to offer sacrifices, and to lay up their decrees in the capitol. Antony also feasted Herod the first day of his reign. And thus did this man receive the kingdom, having obtained it on the hundred and eighty-fourth olympiad, when Caius Domitius Calvinus was consul the second time, and Caius Asinius Pollio [the first time].
6. All this while Antigonus besieged those that were in Masada, who had plenty of all other necessaries, but were only in want of water (27) insomuch that on this occasion Joseph, Herod's brother, was contriving to run away from it, with two hundred of his dependents, to the Arabians; for he had heard that Malchus repented of the offenses he had been guilty of with regard to Herod; but God, by sending rain in the night time, prevented his going away, for their cisterns were thereby filled, and he was under no necessity of running away on that account; but they were now of good courage, and the more so, because the sending that plenty of water which they had been in want of seemed a mark of Divine Providence; so they made a sally, and fought hand to hand with Antigonus's soldiers, (with some openly, with some privately,) and destroyed a great number of them.
At the same time Ventidius, the general of the Romans, was sent out of Syria, to drive the Parthians out of it, and marched after them into Judea, in pretense indeed to succor Joseph; but in reality the whole affair was no more than a stratagem, in order to get money of Antigonus; so they pitched their camp very near to Jerusalem, and stripped Antigonus of a great deal of money, and then he retired himself with the greater part of the army; but, that the wickedness he had been guilty of might be found out, he left Silo there, with a certain part of his soldiers, with whom also Antigonus cultivated an acquaintance, that he might cause him no disturbance, and was still in hopes that the Parthians would come again and defend him.
(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 Book 14, Ch. 15. Sect. 1. (Footnote 28)
(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.