The Antiquities of the Jews, 17.299–17.323

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. AJ 17.250–17.298 | J. AJ 17.299–17.323 | J. AJ 17.324–17.338 | About This Work »

2991. 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: 300for 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. 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. 301Hereupon Caesar assembled his friends, and the chief men among the Romans, in the temple of Apollo, 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; 302but 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. 303Philip 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.

3042. 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; 305and 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. 306That 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; 307that 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. 308And 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. 309That 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; 310and 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; 311that 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; 312but 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. 313That 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? 314Now the main thing they desired was this: That they might be delivered from kingly and the like forms of government, 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.

3153. 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 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. 316He 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.

3174. 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. 318But 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 Perea and Galilee paid their tribute, which amounted annually to two hundred talents, 319while Batanea, with Trachonitis, as well as Auranitis, with a certain part of what was called the House of Zenodorus, 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. 320There 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.

3215. 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. 322The 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: 323he 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.

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