The Antiquities of the Jews, 15.342–15.379

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. AJ 15.299–15.341 | J. AJ 15.342–15.379 | J. AJ 15.380–16.0 | About This Work »

3421. When Herod was engaged in such matters, and when he had already re-edified Sebaste, [Samaria,] he resolved to send his sons Alexander and Aristobulus to Rome, to enjoy the company of Caesar; 343who, when they came thither, lodged at the house of Pollio, who was very fond of Herod’s friendship; and they had leave to lodge in Caesar’s own palace, for he received these sons of Herod with all humanity, and gave Herod leave to give his, kingdom to which of his sons he pleased; and besides all this, he bestowed on him Trachon, and Batanea, and Auranitis, which he gave him on the occasion following: 344One Zenodorus had hired what was called the house of Lysanias, who, as he was not satisfied with its revenues, became a partner with the robbers that inhabited the Trachonites, and so procured himself a larger income; for the inhabitants of those places lived in a mad way, and pillaged the country of the Damascenes, while Zenodorus did not restrain them, but partook of the prey they acquired. 345Now as the neighboring people were hereby great sufferers, they complained to Varro, who was then president [of Syria], and entreated him to write to Caesar about this injustice of Zenodorus. When these matters were laid before Caesar, he wrote back to Varro to destroy those nests of robbers, and to give the land to Herod, that so by his care the neighboring countries might be no longer disturbed with these doings of the Trachonites; 346for it was not an easy firing to restrain them, since this way of robbery had been their usual practice, and they had no other way to get their living, because they had neither any city of their own, nor lands in their possession, but only some receptacles and dens in the earth, and there they and their cattle lived in common together. However, they had made contrivances to get pools of water, and laid up corn in granaries for themselves, and were able to make great resistance, by issuing out on the sudden against any that attacked them; 347for the entrances of their caves were narrow, in which but one could come in at a time, and the places within incredibly large, and made very wide but the ground over their habitations was not very high, but rather on a plain, while the rocks are altogether hard and difficult to be entered upon, unless any one gets into the plain road by the guidance of another, for these roads are not straight, but have several revolutions. 348But when these men are hindered from their wicked preying upon their neighbors, their custom is to prey one upon another, insomuch that no sort of injustice comes amiss to them. But when Herod had received this grant from Caesar, and was come into this country, he procured skillful guides, and put a stop to their wicked robberies, and procured peace and quietness to the neighboring people.

3492. Hereupon Zenodorus was grieved, in the first place, because his principality was taken away from him; and still more so, because he envied Herod, who had gotten it; So he went up to Rome to accuse him, but returned back again without success. 350Now Agrippa was [about this time] sent to succeed Caesar in the government of the countries beyond the Ionian Sea, upon whom Herod lighted when he was wintering about Mitylene, for he had been his particular friend and companion, and then returned into Judea again. 351However, some of the Gadarens came to Agrippa, and accused Herod, whom he sent back bound to the king without giving them the hearing. But still the Arabians, who of old bare ill-will to Herod’s government, were nettled, and at that time attempted to raise a sedition in his dominions, and, as they thought, upon a more justifiable occasion; 352for Zenodorus, despairing already of success as to his own affairs, prevented [his enemies], by selling to those Arabians a part of his principality, called Auranitis, for the value of fifty talents; but as this was included in the donations of Caesar, they contested the point with Herod, as unjustly deprived of what they had bought. Sometimes they did this by making incursions upon him, and sometimes by attempting force against him, and sometimes by going to law with him. 353Moreover, they persuaded the poorer soldiers to help them, and were troublesome to him, out of a constant hope that they should reduce the people to raise a sedition; in which designs those that are in the most miserable circumstances of life are still the most earnest; and although Herod had been a great while apprised of these attempts, yet did not he indulge any severity to them, but by rational methods aimed to mitigate things, as not willing to give any handle for tumults.

3543. Now when Herod had already reigned seventeen years, Caesar came into Syria; at which time the greatest part of the inhabitants of Gadara clamored against Herod, as one that was heavy in his injunctions, and tyrannical. 355These reproaches they mainly ventured upon by the encouragement of Zenodorus, who took his oath that he would never leave Herod till he had procured that they should be severed from Herod’s kingdom, and joined to Caesar’s province. 356The Gadarens were induced hereby, and made no small cry against him, and that the more boldly, because those that had been delivered up by Agrippa were not punished by Herod, who let them go, and did them no harm; for indeed he was the principal man in the world who appeared almost inexorable in punishing crimes in his own family, but very generous in remitting the offenses that were committed elsewhere. 357And while they accused Herod of injuries, and plunderings, and subversions of temples, he stood unconcerned, and was ready to make his defense. However, Caesar gave him his right hand, and remitted nothing of his kindness to him, upon this disturbance by the multitude; 358and indeed these things were alleged the first day, but the hearing proceeded no further; for as the Gadarens saw the inclination of Caesar and of his assessors, and expected, as they had reason to do, that they should be delivered up to the king, some of them, out of a dread of the torments they might undergo, cut their own throats in the night time, and some of them threw themselves down precipices, and others of them cast themselves into the river, and destroyed themselves of their own accord; 359which accidents seemed a sufficient condemnation of the rashness and crimes they had been guilty of; whereupon Caesar made no longer delay, but cleared Herod from the crimes he was accused of. Another happy accident there was, which was a further great advantage to Herod at this time; for Zenodorus’s belly burst, and a great quantity of blood issued from him in his sickness, and he thereby departed this life at Antioch in Syria; 360so Caesar bestowed his country, which was no small one, upon Herod; it lay between Trachon and Galilee, and contained Ulatha, and Paneas, and the country round about. He also made him one of the procurators of Syria, and commanded that they should do every thing with his approbation; 361and, in short, he arrived at that pitch of felicity, that whereas there were but two men that governed the vast Roman empire, first Caesar, and then Agrippa, who was his principal favorite, Caesar preferred no one to Herod besides Agrippa, and Agrippa made no one his greater friend than Herod besides Caesar. 362And when he had acquired such freedom, he begged of Caesar a tetrarchy for his brother Pheroras, while he did himself bestow upon him a revenue of a hundred talents out of his own kingdom, that in case he came to any harm himself, his brother might be in safety, and that his sons might not have dominion over him. 363So when he had conducted Caesar to the sea, and was returned home, he built him a most beautiful temple, of the whitest stone, in Zenodorus’s country, near the place called Panium. 364This is a very fine cave in a mountain, under which there is a great cavity in the earth, and the cavern is abrupt, and prodigiously deep, and frill of a still water; over it hangs a vast mountain; and under the caverns arise the springs of the river Jordan. Herod adorned this place, which was already a very remarkable one, still further by the erection of this temple, which he dedicated to Caesar.

3654. At which time Herod released to his subjects the third part of their taxes, under pretense indeed of relieving them, after the dearth they had had; but the main reason was, to recover their good-will, which he now wanted; for they were uneasy at him, because of the innovations he had introduced in their practices, of the dissolution of their religion, and of the disuse of their own customs; and the people every where talked against him, like those that were still more provoked and disturbed at his procedure; 366against which discontents he greatly guarded himself, and took away the opportunities they might have to disturb him, and enjoined them to be always at work; nor did he permit the citizens either to meet together, or to walk or eat together, but watched every thing they did, and when any were caught, they were severely punished; and many there were who were brought to the citadel Hyrcania, both openly and secretly, and were there put to death; and there were spies set every where, both in the city and in the roads, who watched those that met together; 367nay, it is reported that he did not himself neglect this part of caution, but that he would oftentimes himself take the habit of a private man, and mix among the multitude, in the night time, and make trial what opinion they had of his government: 368and as for those that could no way be reduced to acquiesce under his scheme of government, he prosecuted them all manner of ways; but for the rest of the multitude, he required that they should be obliged to take an oath of fidelity to him, and at the same time compelled them to swear that they would bear him good-will, and continue certainly so to do, in his management of the government; 369and indeed a great part of them, either to please him, or out of fear of him, yielded to what he required of them; but for such as were of a more open and generous disposition, and had indignation at the force he used to them, he by one means or other made away, with them. 370He endeavored also to persuade Pollio the Pharisee, and Sameas, and the greatest part of their scholars, to take the oath; but these would neither submit so to do, nor were they punished together with the rest, out of the reverence he bore to Pollio. 371The Essenes also, as we call a sect of ours, were excused from this imposition. These men live the same kind of life as do those whom the Greeks call Pythagoreans, concerning whom I shall discourse more fully elsewhere. 372However, it is but fit to set down here the reasons wherefore Herod had these Essenes in such honor, and thought higher of them than their mortal nature required; nor will this account be unsuitable to the nature of this history, as it will show the opinion men had of these Essenes.

3735. Now there was one of these Essenes, whose name was Manahem, who had this testimony, that he not only conducted his life after an excellent manner, but had the foreknowledge of future events given him by God also. This man once saw Herod when he was a child, and going to school, and saluted him as king of the Jews; 374but he, thinking that either he did not know him, or that he was in jest, put him in mind that he was but a private man; but Manahem smiled to himself, and clapped him on his backside with his hand, and said, “However that be, thou wilt be king, and wilt begin thy reign happily, for God finds thee worthy of it. And do thou remember the blows that Manahem hath given thee, as being a signal of the change of thy fortune. 375And truly this will be the best reasoning for thee, that thou love justice [towards men], and piety towards God, and clemency towards thy citizens; yet do I know how thy whole conduct will be, that thou wilt not be such a one, 376for thou wilt excel all men in happiness, and obtain an everlasting reputation, but wilt forget piety and righteousness; and these crimes will not be concealed from God, at the conclusion of thy life, when thou wilt find that he will be mindful of them, and punish time for them.” 377Now at that time Herod did not at all attend to what Manahem said, as having no hopes of such advancement; but a little afterward, when he was so fortunate as to be advanced to the dignity of king, and was in the height of his dominion, he sent for Manahem, and asked him how long he should reign. 378Manahem did not tell him the full length of his reign; wherefore, upon that silence of his, he asked him further, whether he should reign ten years or not? He replied, “Yes, twenty, nay, thirty years;” but did not assign the just determinate limit of his reign. Herod was satisfied with these replies, and gave Manahem his hand, and dismissed him; and from that time he continued to honor all the Essenes. 379We have thought it proper to relate these facts to our readers, how strange soever they be, and to declare what hath happened among us, because many of these Essenes have, by their excellent virtue, been thought worthy of this knowledge of divine revelations.

« J. AJ 15.299–15.341 | J. AJ 15.342–15.379 | J. AJ 15.380–16.0 | About This Work »

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