HEROD EJECTS ANTIGONUS, THE SON OF ARISTOBULUS OUT OF JUDEA, AND GAINS THE FRIENDSHIP OF ANTONY, WHO WAS NOW COME INTO SYRIA, BY SENDING HIM MUCH MONEY; ON WHICH ACCOUNT HE WOULD NOT ADMIT OF THOSE THAT WOULD HAVE ACCUSED HEROD: AND WHAT IT WAS THAT ANTONY WROTE TO THE TYRIANS IN BEHALF .
1. NOW (22) Ptolemy, the son of Menneus, brought back into Judea Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, who had already raised an army, and had, by money, made Fabius to be his friend, add this because he was of kin to him. Marion also gave him assistance. He had been left by Cassius to tyrannize over Tyre; for this Cussiris was a man that seized on Syria, and then kept it under, in the way of a tyrant. Marion also marched into Galilee, which lay in his neighborhood, and took three of his fortresses, and put garrisons into them to keep them. But when Herod came, he took all from him; but the Tyrian garrison he dismissed in a very civil manner; nay, to some of the soldiers he made presents out of the good-will he bare to that city. When he had despatched these affairs, and was gone to meet Antigonus, he joined battle with him, and beat him, and drove him out of Judea presently, when he was just come into its borders. But when he was come to Jerusalem, Hyrcanus and the people put garlands about his head; for he had already contracted an affinity with the family of Hyrcanus by having espoused a descendant of his, and for that reason Herod took the greater care of him, as being to marry the daughter of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, add the granddaughter of Hyrcanus, by which wife he became the father of three male and two female children. He had also married before this another wife, out of a lower family of his own nation, whose name was Doris, by whom he had his eldest son Antipater.
2. Now Antonius and Caesar had beaten Cassius near Philippi, as others have related; but after the victory, Caesar went into Gaul, [Italy,] and Antony marched for Asia, who, when he was arrived at Bithynia, he had ambassadors that met him from all parts. The principal men also of the Jews came thither, to accuse Phasaelus and Herod; and they said that Hyrcanus had indeed the appearance of reigning, but that these men had all the power: but Antony paid great respect to Herod, who was come to him to make his defense against his accusers, on which account his adversaries could not so much as obtain a hearing; which favor Herod had gained of Antony by money. But still, when Antony was come to Ephesus, Hyrcanus the high priest, and our nation, sent an embassage to him, which carried a crown of gold with them, and desired that he would write to the governors of the provinces, to set those Jews free who had been carried captive by Cassius, and this without their having fought against him, and to restore them that country, which, in the days of Cassius, had been taken from them. Antony thought the Jews’ desires were just, and wrote immediately to Hyrcanus, and to the Jews. He also sent, at the same time, a decree to the Tyrians; the contents of which were to the same purpose.
3. “Marcus Antonius, imperator, to Hyrcanus the high priest and ethnarch of the Jews, sendeth greeting. It you be in health, it is well; I am also in health, with the army. Lysimachus, the son of Pausanias, and Josephus, the son of Menneus, and Alexander, the son of Theodorus, your ambassadors, met me at Ephesus, and have renewed the embassage which they had formerly been upon at Rome, and have diligently acquitted themselves of the present embassage, which thou and thy nation have intrusted to them, and have fully declared the goodwill thou hast for us. I am therefore satisfied, both by your actions and your words, that you are well-disposed to us; and I understand that your conduct of life is constant and religious: so I reckon upon you as our own. But when those that were adversaries to you, and to the Roman people, abstained neither from cities nor temples, and did not observe the agreement they had confirmed by oath, it was not only on account of our contest with them, but on account of all mankind in common, that we have taken vengeance on those who have been the authors of great injustice towards men, and of great wickedness towards the gods; for the sake of which we suppose it was that the sun turned away his light from us, (23) as unwilling to view the horrid crime they were guilty of in the case of Caesar. We have also overcome their conspiracies, which threatened the gods themselves, which Macedonia received, as it is a climate peculiarly proper for impious and insolent attempts; and we have overcome that confused rout of men, half mad with spite against us, which they got together at Philippi in Macedonia, when they seized on the places that were proper for their purpose, and, as it were, walled them round with mountains to the very sea, and where the passage was open only through a single gate. This victory we gained, because the gods had condemned those men for their wicked enterprises. Now Brutus, when he had fled as far as Philippi, was shut up by us, and became a partaker of the same perdition with Cassius; and now these have received their punishment, we suppose that we may enjoy peace for the time to come, and that Asia may be at rest from war. We therefore make that peace which God hath given us common to our confederates also, insomuch that the body of Asia is now recovered out of that distemper it was under by the means of our victory. I, therefore, bearing in mind both thee and your nation, shall take care of what may be for your advantage. I have also sent epistles in writing to the several cities, that if any persons, whether free-men or bond-men, have been sold under the spear by Caius Cassius, or his subordinate officers, they may be set free. And I will that you kindly make use of the favors which I and Dolabella have granted you. I also forbid the Tyrians to use any violence with you; and for what places of the Jews they now possess, I order them to restore them. I have withal accepted of the crown which thou sentest me.”
4. “Marcus Antonius, imperator, to the magistrates, senate, and people of Tyre, sendeth greeting. The ambassadors of Hyrcanus, the high priest and ethnarch [of the Jews], appeared before me at Ephesus, and told me that you are in possession of part of their country, which you entered upon under the government of our adversaries. Since, therefore, we have undertaken a war for the obtaining the government, and have taken care to do what was agreeable to piety and justice, and have brought to punishment those that had neither any remembrance of the kindnesses they had received, nor have kept their oaths, I will that you be at peace with those that are our confederates; as also, that what you have taken by the means of our adversaries shall not be reckoned your own, but be returned to those from whom you took them; for none of them took their provinces or their armies by the gift of the senate, but they seized them by force, and bestowed them by violence upon such as became useful to them in their unjust proceedings. Since, therefore, those men have received the punishment due to them, we desire that our confederates may retain whatsoever it was that they formerly possessed without disturbance, and that you restore all the places which belong to Hyrcanus, the ethnarch of the Jews, which you have had, though it were but one day before Caius Cassius began an unjustifiable war against us, and entered into our province; nor do you use any force against him, in order to weaken him, that he may not be able to dispose of that which is his own; but if you have any contest with him about your respective rights, it shall be lawful for you to plead your cause when we come upon the places concerned, for we shall alike preserve the rights and hear all the causes of our confederates.”
5. “Marcus Antonius, imperator, to the magistrates, senate, and people of Tyre, sendeth greeting. I have sent you my decree, of which I will that ye take care that it be engraven on the public tables, in Roman and Greek letters, and that it stand engraven in the most illustrious places, that it may be read by all. Marcus Antonius, imperator, one of the triumvirate over the public affairs, made this declaration: Since Caius Cassius, in this revolt he hath made, hath pillaged that province which belonged not to him, and was held by garrisons there encamped, while they were our confederates, and hath spoiled that nation of the Jews that was in friendship with the Roman people, as in war; and since we have overcome his madness by arms, we now correct by our decrees and judicial determinations what he hath laid waste, that those things may be restored to our confederates. And as for what hath been sold of the Jewish possessions, whether they be bodies or possessions, let them be released; the bodies into that state of freedom they were originally in, and the possessions to their former owners. I also will that he who shall not comply with this decree of mine shall be punished for his disobedience; and if such a one be caught, I will take care that the offenders suffer condign punishment.”
6. The same thing did Antony write to the Sidonians, and the Antiochians, and the Aradians. We have produced these decrees, therefore, as marks for futurity of the truth of what we have said, that the Romans had a great concern about our nation.
(22) In this and the following chapters the reader will easily remark, how truly Gronovius observes, in his notes on the Roman decrees in favor of the Jews, that their rights and privileges were commonly purchased of the Romans with money. Many examples of this sort, both as to the Romans and others in authority, will occur in our Josephus, both now and hereafter, and need not be taken particular notice of on the several occasions in these notes. Accordingly, the chief captain confesses to St. Paul that “with a great sum he had obtained his freedom,” Act_22:28; as had St. Paul’s ancestors, very probably, purchased the like freedom for their family by money, as the same author justly concludes also.
(23) This clause plainly alludes to that well-known but unusual and very long darkness of the sun which happened upon the :murder of Julius Cesar by Brutus and Cassius, which is greatly taken notice of by Virgil, Pliny, and other Roman authors. See Virgil’s Georgics, B. I., just before the end; and Pliny’s Nat. Hist. B. IL ch. 33.