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 MURDER OF ARISTOBULUS AND HYRCANUS, THE HIGH PRIESTS, AS ALSO OF MARIAMNE THE QUEEN.
1. HOWEVER, fortune was avenged on Herod in his external great successes, by raising him up domestical troubles; and he began to have wild disorders in his family, on account of his wife, of whom he was so very fond. For when he came to the government, he sent away her whom he had before married when he was a private person, and who was born at Jerusalem, whose name was Doris, and married Mariamne, the daughter of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus; on whose account disturbances arose in his family, and that in part very soon, but chiefly after his return from Rome. For, first of all, he expelled Antipater the son of Doris, for the sake of his sons by Mariamne, out of the city, and permitted him to come thither at no other times than at the festivals. After this he slew his wife's grandfather, Hyrcanus, when he was returned out of Parthin to him, under this pretense, that he suspected him of plotting against him.
Now this Hyrcanus had been carried captive to Barzapharnes, when he overran Syria; but those of his own country beyond Euphrates were desirous he would stay with them, and this out of the commiseration they had for his condition; and had he complied with their desires, when they exhorted him not to go over the river to lierod, he had not perished: but the marriage of his granddaughter [to Herod] was his temptation; for as he relied upon him, and was over-fond of his own country, he came back to it. Herod's provocation was this, - not that Hyrcanus made any attempt to gain the kingdom, but that it was fitter for him to be their king than for Herod.
2. Now of the five children which Herod had by Mariamne, two of them were daughters, and three were sons; and the youngest of these sons was educated at Rome, and there died; but the two eldest he treated as those of royal blood, on account of the nobility of their mother, and because they were not born till he was king. But then what was stronger than all this was the love that he bare to Mariamne, and which inflamed him every day to a great degree, and so far conspired with the other motives, that he felt no other troubles, on account of her he loved so entirely. But Mariamne's hatred to him was not inferior to his love to her. She had indeed but too just a cause of indignation from what he had done, while her boldness proceeded from his affection to her; so she openly reproached him with what he had done to her grandfather Hyrcanus, and to her brother Aristobulus; for he had not spared this Aristobulus, though he were but a child; for when he had given him the high priesthood at the age of seventeen, he slew him quickly after he had conferred that dignity upon him; but when Aristobulus had put on the holy vestments, and had approached to the altar at a festival, the multitude, in great crowds, fell into tears; whereupon the child was sent by night to Jericho, and was there dipped by the Galls, at Herod's command, in a pool till he was drowned.
3. For these reasons Mariamne reproached Herod, and his sister and mother, after a most contumelious manner, while he was dumb on account of his affection for her; yet had the women great indignation at her, and raised a calumny against her, that she was false to his bed; which thing they thought most likely to move Herod to anger. They also contrived to have many other circumstances believed, in order to make the thing more credible, and accused her of having sent her picture into Egypt to Antony, and that her lust was so extravagant, as to have thus showed herself, though she was absent, to a man that ran mad after women, and to a man that had it in his power to use violence to her. This charge fell like a thunderbolt upon Herod, and put him into disorder; and that especially, because his love to her occasioned him to be jealous, and because he considered with himself that Cleopatra was a shrewd woman, and that on her account Lysanias the king was taken off, as well as Malichus the Arabian; for his fear did not only extend to the dissolving of his marriage, but to the danger of his life.
4. When therefore he was about to take a journey abroad, he committed his wife to Joseph, his sister Salome's husband, as to one who would be faithful to him, and bare him good-will on account of their kindred; he also gave him a secret injunction, that if Antony slew him, he should slay her. But Joseph, without any ill design, and only in order to demonstrate the king's love to his wife, how he could not bear to think of being separated from her, even by death itself, discovered this grand secret to her; upon which, when Herod was come back, and as they talked together, and he confirmed his love to her by many oaths, and assured her that he had never such an affection for any other woman as he had for her, -
" Yes," says she, "thou didst, to be sure, demonstrate thy love to me by the injunctions thou gavest Joseph, when thou commandedst him to kill me." (37)
5. When he heard that this grand secret was discovered, he was like a distracted man, and said that Joseph would never have disclosed that injunction of his, unless he had debauched her. His passion also made him stark mad, and leaping out of his bed, he ran about the palace after a wild manner; at which time his sister Salome took the opportunity also to blast her reputation, and confirmed his suspicion about Joseph; whereupon, out of his ungovernable jealousy and rage, he commanded both of them to be slain immediately; but as soon as ever his passion was over, he repented of what he had done, and as soon as his anger was worn off, his affections were kindled again. And indeed the flame of his desires for her was so ardent, that he could not think she was dead, but would appear, under his disorders, to speak to her as if she were still alive, till he were better instructed by time, when his grief and trouble, now she was dead, appeared as great as his affection had been for her while she was living.
(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.