Concerning The Interval Of One Hundred And Sixty-Seven Years.
From The Taking Of Jerusalem By Antiochus Epiphanes,
To The Death Of Herod The Great.
THE PARTHIANS BRING ANTIGONUS BACK INTO JUDEA, AND CAST HYRCANUS AND PHASAELUS INTO PRISON. THE FLIGHT OF HEROD, AND THE TAKING OF JERUSALEM AND WHAT HYRCANUS AND PHASAELUS SUFFERED.
1. Now two years afterward, when Barzapharnes, a governor among the Parthians, and Paeorus, the king's son, had possessed themselves of Syria, and when Lysanias had already succeeded upon the death of his father Ptolemy, the son of Menneus, in the government [of Chalcis], he prevailed with the governor, by a promise of a thousand talents, and five hundred women, to bring back Antigonus to his kingdom, and to turn Hyrcanus out of it. Pacorus was by these means induced so to do, and marched along the sea-coast, while he ordered Barzapharnes to fall upon the Jews as he went along the Mediterranean part of the country; but of the maritime people, the Tyrians would not receive Pacorus, although those of Ptolemais and Sidon had received him; so he committed a troop of his horse to a certain cup-bearer belonging to the royal family, of his own name [Pacorus], and gave him orders to march into Judea, in order to learn the state of affairs among their enemies, and to help Antigonus when he should want his assistance.
2. Now as these men were ravaging Carmel, many of the Jews ran together to Antigonus, and showed themselves ready to make an incursion into the country; so he sent them before into that place called Drymus, [the woodland (18) ] to seize upon the place; whereupon a battle was fought between them, and they drove the enemy away, and pursued them, and ran after them as far as Jerusalem, and as their numbers increased, they proceeded as far as the king's palace; but as Hyrcanus and Phasaelus received them with a strong body of men, there happened a battle in the market-place, in which Herod's party beat the enemy, and shut them up in the temple, and set sixty men in the houses adjoining as a guard to them. But the people that were tumultuous against the brethren came in, and burnt those men; while Herod, in his rage for killing them, attacked and slew many of the people, till one party made incursions on the other by turns, day by day, in the way of ambushes, and slaughters were made continually among them.
3. Now when that festival which we call Pentecost was at hand, all the places about the temple, and the whole city, was full of a multitude of people that were come out of the country, and which were the greatest part of them armed also, at which time Phasaelus guarded the wall, and Herod, with a few, guarded the royal palace; and when he made an assault upon his enemies, as they were out of their ranks, on the north quarter of the city, he slew a very great number of them, and put them all to flight; and some of them he shut up within the city, and others within the outward rampart. In the mean time, Antigonus desired that Pacorus might be admitted to be a reconciler between them; and Phasaelus was prevailed upon to admit the Parthian into the city with five hundred horse, and to treat him in an hospitable manner, who pretended that he came to quell the tumult, but in reality he came to assist Antigonus; however, he laid a plot for Phasaelus, and persuaded him to go as an ambassador to Barzapharnes, in order to put an end to the war, although Herod was very earnest with him to the contrary, and exhorted him to kill the plotter, but not expose himself to the snares he had laid for him, because the barbarians are naturally perfidious. However, Pacorus went out and took Hyrcanus with him, that he might be the less suspected; he also (19) left some of the horsemen, called the Freemen, with Herod, and conducted Phasaelus with the rest.
4. But now, when they were come to Galilee, they found that the people of that country had revolted, and were in arms, who came very cunningly to their leader, and besought him to conceal his treacherous intentions by an obliging behavior to them; accordingly, he at first made them presents; and afterward, as they went away, laid ambushes for them; and when they were come to one of the maritime cities called Ecdippon, they perceived that a plot was laid for them; for they were there informed of the promise of a thousand talents, and how Antigonus had devoted the greatest number of the women that were there with them, among the five hundred, to the Parthians; they also perceived that an ambush was always laid for them by the barbarians in the night time; they had also been seized on before this, unless they had waited for the seizure of Herod first at Jerusalem, because if he were once informed of this treachery of theirs, he would take care of himself; nor was this a mere report, but they saw the guards already not far off them.
5. Nor would Phasaelus think of forsaking Hyrcanus and flying away, although Ophellius earnestly persuaded him to it; for this man had learned the whole scheme of the plot from Saramalla, the richest of all the Syrians. But Phasaelus went up to the Parfilian governor, and reproached him to his face for laying this treacherous plot against them, and chiefly because he had done it for money; and he promised him that he would give him more money for their preservation, than Antigonus had promised to give for the kingdom. But the sly Parthian endeavored to remove all this suspicion by apologies and by oaths, and then went [to the other] Pacorus; immediately after which those Parthians who were left, and had it in charge, seized upon Phasaelus and Hyrcanus, who could do no more than curse their perfidiousness and their perjury.
6. In the mean time, the cup-bearer was sent [back], and laid a plot how to seize upon Herod, by deluding him, and getting him out of the city, as he was commanded to do. But Herod suspected the barbarians from the beginning; and having then received intelligence that a messenger, who was to bring him the letters that informed him of the treachery intended, had fallen among the enemy, he would not go out of the city; though Pacorus said very positively that he ought to go out, and meet the messengers that brought the letters, for that the enemy had not taken them, and that the contents of them were not accounts of any plots upon them, but of what Phasaelus had done; yet had he heard from others that his brother was seized; and Alexandra (20) the shrewdest woman in the world, Hyrcanus's daughter, begged of him that he would not go out, nor trust himself to those barbarians, who now were come to make an attempt upon him openly.
7. Now as Pacorus and his friends were considering how they might bring their plot to bear privately, because it was not possible to circumvent a man of so great prudence by openly attacking him, Herod prevented them, and went off with the persons that were the most nearly related to him by night, and this without their enemies being apprized of it. But as soon as the Parthians perceived it, they pursued after them; and as he gave orders for his mother, and sister, and the young woman who was betrothed to him, with her mother, and his youngest brother, to make the best of their way, he himself, with his servants, took all the care they could to keep off the barbarians; and when at every assault he had slain a great many of them, he came to the strong hold of Masada.
8. Nay, he found by experience that the Jews fell more heavily upon him than did the Parthians, and created him troubles perpetually, and this ever since he was gotten sixty furlongs from the city; these sometimes brought it to a sort of a regular battle. Now in the place where Herod beat them, and killed a great number of them, there he afterward built a citadel, in memory of the great actions he did there, and adorned it with the most costly palaces, and erected very strong fortifications, and called it, from his own name, Herodium. Now as they were in their flight, many joined themselves to him every day; and at a place called Thressa of Idumea his brother Joseph met him, and advised him to ease himself of a great number of his followers, because Masada would not contain so great a multitude, which were above nine thousand. Herod complied with this advice, and sent away the most cumbersome part of his retinue, that they might go into Idumea, and gave them provisions for their journey; but he got safe to the fortress with his nearest relations, and retained with him only the stoutest of his followers; and there it was that he left eight hundred of his men as a guard for the women, and provisions sufficient for a siege; but he made haste himself to Petra of Arabia.
9. As for the Parthians in Jerusalem, they betook themselves to plundering, and fell upon the houses of those that were fled, and upon the king's palace, and spared nothing but Hyrcanus's money, which was not above three hundred talents. They lighted on other men's money also, but not so much as they hoped for; for Herod having a long while had a suspicion of the perfidiousness of the barbarians, had taken care to have what was most splendid among his treasures conveyed into Idumea, as every one belonging to him had in like manner done also. But the Parthians proceeded to that degree of injustice, as to fill all the country with war without denouncing it, and to demolish the city Marissa, and not only to set up Antigonus for king, but to deliver Phasaelus and Hyrcanus bound into his hands, in order to their being tormented by him. Antigonus himself also bit off Hyrcanus's ears with his own teeth, as he fell down upon his knees to him, that so he might never be able upon any mutation of affairs to take the high priesthood again, for the high priests that officiated were to be complete, and without blemish.
10. However, he failed in his purpose of abusing Phasaelus, by reason of his courage; for though he neither had the command of his sword nor of his hands, he prevented all abuses by dashing his head against a stone; so he demonstrated himself to be Herod's own brother, and Hyrcanus a most degenerate relation, and died with great bravery, and made the end of his life agreeable to the actions of it. There is also another report about his end, viz. that he recovered of that stroke, and that a surgeon, who was sent by Antigonus to heal him, filled the wound with poisonous ingredients, and so killed him; whichsoever of these deaths he came to, the beginning of it was glorious. It is also reported that before he expired he was informed by a certain poor woman how Herod had escaped out of their hands, and that he said thereupon,
"I now die with comfort, since I leave behind me one alive that will avenge me of mine enemies."
11. This was the death of Phasaelus; but the Parthians, although they had failed of the women they chiefly desired, yet did they put the government of Jerusalem into the hands of Antigonus, and took away Hyrcanus, and bound him, and carried him to Parthia.
(18) This large and noted wood, or woodland, belonging to Carmel, called Drumos 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) Mariamne here, in the copies.