Containing The Interval Of Fourteen Years.
From The Death Of Alexander And Aristobulus To The Banishment Of Archelaus.
An Embassage To Caesar; And How Caesar Confirmed Herod's Testament.
1. SO when Varus had settled these affairs, and had placed the former legion at Jerusalem, he returned back to Antioch; but as for Archelaus, he had new sources of trouble come upon him at Rome, on the occasions following: for an embassage of the Jews was come to Rome, Varus having permitted the nation to send it, that they might petition for the liberty of living by their own laws. (17) Now the number of the ambassadors that were sent by the authority of the nation were fifty, to which they joined above eight thousand of the Jews that were at Rome already. Hereupon Caesar assembled his friends, and the chief men among the Romans, in the temple of Apollo, (18) which he had built at a vast charge; whither the ambassadors came, and a multitude of the Jews that were there already came with them, as did also Archelaus and his friends; but as for the several kinsmen which Archelaus had, they would not join themselves with him, out of their hatred to him; and yet they thought it too gross a thing for them to assist the ambassadors [against him], as supposing it would be a disgrace to them in Caesar's opinion to think of thus acting in opposition to a man of their own kindred. Philip (19) also was come hither out of Syria, by the persuasion of Varus, with this principal intention to assist his brother [Archelaus]; for Varus was his great friend: but still so, that if there should any change happen in the form of government, (which Varus suspected there would,) and if any distribution should be made on account of the number that desired the liberty of living by their own laws, that he might not be disappointed, but might have his share in it.
2. Now upon the liberty that was given to the Jewish ambassadors to speak, they who hoped to obtain a dissolution of kingly government betook themselves to accuse Herod of his iniquities; and they declared that he was indeed in name a king, but that he had taken to himself that uncontrollable authority which tyrants exercise over their subjects, and had made use of that authority for the destruction of the Jews, and did not abstain from making many innovations among them besides, according to his own inclinations; and that whereas there were a great many who perished by that destruction he brought upon them, so many indeed as no other history relates, they that survived were far more miserable than those that suffered under him; not only by the anxiety they were in from his looks and disposition towards them, but from the danger their estates were in of being taken away by him.
That he did never leave off adorning these cities that lay in their neighborhood, but were inhabited by foreigners; but so that the cities belonging to his own government were ruined, and utterly destroyed that whereas, when he took the kingdom, it was in an extraordinary flourishing condition, he had filled the nation with the utmost degree of poverty; and when, upon unjust pretenses, he had slain any of the nobility, he took away their estates; and when he permitted any of them to live, he condemned them to the forfeiture of what they possessed. And besides the annual impositions which he laid upon every one of them, they were to make liberal presents to himself, to his domestics and friends, and to such of his slaves as were vouchsafed the favor of being his tax-gatherers, because there was no way of obtaining a freedom from unjust violence without giving either gold or silver for it. That they would say nothing of the corruption of the chastity of their virgins, and the reproach laid on their wives for incontinency, and those things acted after an insolent and inhuman manner; because it was not a smaller pleasure to the sufferers to have such things concealed, than it would have been not to have suffered them.
That Herod had put such abuses upon them as a wild beast would not have put on them, if he had power given him to rule over us; and that although their nation had passed through many subversions and alterations of government, their history gave no account of any calamity they had ever been under, that could be compared with this which Herod had brought upon their nation; that it was for this reason that they thought they might justly and gladly salute Archelaus as king, upon this supposition, that whosoever should be set over their kingdom, he would appear more mild to them than Herod had been; and that they had joined with him in the mourning for his father, in order to gratify him, and were ready to oblige him in other points also, if they could meet with any degree of moderation from him; but that he seemed to be afraid lest he should not be deemed Herod's own son; and so, without any delay, he immediately let the nation understand his meaning, and this before his dominion was well established, since the power of disposing of it belonged to Caesar, who could either give it to him or not, as he pleased.
That he had given a specimen of his future virtue to his subjects, and with what kind of moderation and good administration he would govern them, by that his first action, which concerned them, his own citizens, and God himself also, when he made the slaughter of three thousand of his own countrymen at the temple. How then could they avoid the just hatred of him, who, to the rest of his barbarity, hath added this as one of our crimes, that we have opposed and contradicted him in the exercise of his authority? Now the main thing they desired was this: That they might be delivered from kingly and the like forms of government, (20) and might be added to Syria, and be put under the authority of such presidents of theirs as should be sent to them; for that it would thereby be made evident, whether they be really a seditious people, and generally fond of innovations, or whether they would live in an orderly manner, if they might have governors of any sort of moderation set over them.
3. Now when the Jews had said this, Nicolaus vindicated the kings from those accusations, and said, that as for Herod, since he had never been thus accused (21) all the time of his life, it was not fit for those that might have accused him of lesser crimes than those now mentioned, and might have procured him to be punished during his lifetime, to bring an accusation against him now he is dead. He also attributed the actions of Archlaus to the Jews' injuries to him, who, affecting to govern contrary to the laws, and going about to kill those that would have hindered them from acting unjustly, when they were by him punished for what they had done, made their complaints against him; so he accused them of their attempts for innovation, and of the pleasure they took in sedition, by reason of their not having learned to submit to justice and to the laws, but still desiring to be superior in all things. This was the substance of what Nicolaus said.
4. When Caesar had heard these pleadings, he dissolved the assembly; but a few days afterwards he appointed Archelaus, not indeed to be king of the whole country, but ethnarch of the one half of that which had been subject to Herod, and promised to give him the royal dignity hereafter, if he governed his part virtuously. But as for the other half, he divided it into two parts, and gave it to two other of Herod's sons, to Philip and to Antipas, that Antipas who disputed with Archelaus for the whole kingdom. Now to him it was that Peres and Galilee paid their tribute, which amounted annually to two hundred talents, (22) while Batanea, with Trachonitis, as well as Auranitis, with a certain part of what was called the House of Zenodorus, (23) paid the tribute of one hundred talents to Philip; but Idumea, and Judea, and the country of Samaria paid tribute to Archelaus, but had now a fourth part of that tribute taken off by the order of Caesar, who decreed them that mitigation, because they did not join in this revolt with the rest of the multitude. There were also certain of the cities which paid tribute to Archelaus: Strato's Tower and Sebaste, with Joppa and Jerusalem; for as to Gaza, and Gadara, and Hippos, they were Grecian cities, which Caesar separated from his government, and added them to the province of Syria. Now the tribute-money that came to Archelaus every year from his own dominions amounted to six hundred talents.
5. And so much came to Herod's sons from their father's inheritance. But Salome, besides what her brother left her by his testament, which were Jamnia, and Ashdod, and Phasaelis, and five hundred thousand [drachmae] of coined silver, Caesar made her a present of a royal habitation at Askelo; in all, her revenues amounted to sixty talents by the year, and her dwelling-house was within Archelaus's government. The rest also of the king's relations received what his testament allotted them. Moreover, Caesar made a present to each of Herod's two virgin daughters, besides what their father left them, of two hundred and fifty thousand [drachmae] of silver, and married them to Pheroras's sons: he also granted all that was bequeathed to himself to the king's sons, which was one thousand five hundred talents, excepting a few of the vessels, which he reserved for himself; and they were acceptable to him, not so much for the great value they were of, as because they were memorials of the king to him.
(17) See Of the War, B. II. Ch. 2. Sect. 3.
(18) See the note, Of the War, B. II. Ch. 6. Sect. 1.
(19) He was tetrarch afterward.
(20) If any one compare that Divine prediction concerning the tyrannical power which Jewish kings would exercise over them, if they would be so foolish as to prefer it before their ancient theocracy or aristocracy, 1 Samuel 8:1-22; Antiq. B. VI. Ch. 4. Sect. 4, he will soon find that it was superabundantly fulfilled in the days of Herod, and that to such a degree, that the nation now at last seem sorely to repent of such their ancient choice, in opposition to God's better choice for them, and had much rather be subject to even a pagan Roman government, and their deputies, than to be any longer under the oppression of the family of Herod; which request of theirs Augustus did not now grant them, but did it for the one half of that nation in a few years afterward, upon fresh complaints made by the Jews against Archelaus, who, under the more humble name of an ethnarch, which Augustus only would now allow him, soon took upon him the insolence and tyranny of his father king Herod, as the remaining part of this book will inform us, and particularly Ch. 13. Sect. 2.
(22) Since Josephus here informs us that Archelaus had one half of the kingdom of Herod, and presently informs us further that Archelaus's annual income, after an abatement of one quarter for the present, was 600 talents, we may therefore gather pretty nearly what was Herod the Great's yearly income, I mean about 1600 talents, which, at the known value of 3000 shekels to a talent, and about 2s. 10d. to a shekel, in the days of Josephus, see the note on Antiq. B. III. Ch. 8. Sect. 2, amounts to 680,000 sterling per annum; which income, though great in itself, bearing no proportion to his vast expenses every where visible in Josephus, and to the vast sums he left behind him in his will, Ch. 8. Sect. 1, and Ch. 12. Sect. 1, the rest must have arisen either from his confiscation of those great men's estates whom he put to death, or made to pay fine for the saving of their lives, or from some other heavy methods of oppression which such savage tyrants usually exercise upon their miserable subjects; or rather from these several methods not together, all which yet seem very much too small for his expenses, being drawn from no larger a nation than that of the Jews, which was very populous, but without the advantage of trade to bring them riches; so that I cannot but strongly suspect that no small part of this his wealth arose from another source; I mean from some vast sums he took out of David's sepulcher, but concealed from the people. See the note on Antiq. B. VII. Ch. 15. Sect. 3.
(23) Take here a very useful note of Grotias, on Luke 3:1, here quoted by Dr. Hudson:
"When Josephus says that some part of the house (or possession) of Zenodorus (i.e. Abilene) was allotted to Philip, he thereby declares that the larger part of it belonged to another. This other was Lysanias, whom Luke mentions, of the posterity of that Lysanias who was possessed of the same country called Abilene, from the city Abila, and by others Chalcidene, from the city Chaleis, when the government of the East was under Antonius, and this after Ptolemy, the son of Menneus; from which Lysanias this country came to be commonly called the Country of Lysanias; and as, after the death of the former Lyanias, it was called the tetrarchy of Zenodorus, so, after the death of Zenodorus, or when the time for which he hired it was ended when another Lysanias, of the same name with the former, was possessed of the same country, it began to be called the Tetrarchy of Lysanias."
However, since Josephus elsewhere (Antiq. B. XX. Ch. 7. Sect. 1) clearly distinguishes Abilene from Cilalcidcue, Groius must be here so far mistaken.