Wars of the Jews     by Flavius Josephus
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Book I, Chapter 15

Antigonus Besieges Those That Were In Masada, Whom Herod Frees From Confinement When He Came Back From Rome, And Presently Marches To Jerusalem Where He Finds Silo Corrupted By Bribes

1. Now during this time Antigonus besieged those that were in Masada, who had all other necessaries in sufficient quantity, but were in want of water; on which account Joseph, Herod's brother, was disposed to run away to the Arabians, with two hundred of his own friends, because he had heard that Malichus repented of his offenses with regard to Herod; and he had been so quick as to have been gone out of the fortress already, unless, on that very night when he was going away, there had fallen a great deal of rain, insomuch that his reservoirs were full of water, and so he was under no necessity of running away. After which, therefore, they made an irruption upon Antigonus's party, and slew a great many of them, some in open battles, and some in private ambush; nor had they always success in their attempts, for sometimes they were beaten, and ran away.

2. In the mean time Ventidius, the Roman general, was sent out of Syria, to restrain the incursions of the Parthians; and after he had done that, he came into Judea, in pretense indeed to assist Joseph and his party, but in reality to get money of Antigonus;, and when he had pitched his camp very near to Jerusalem, as soon as he had got money enough, he went away with the greatest part of his forces; yet still did he leave Silo with some part of them, lest if he had taken them all away, his taking of bribes might have been too openly discovered. Now Antigonus hoped that the Parthians would come again to his assistance, and therefore cultivated a good understanding with Silo in the mean time, lest any interruption should be given to his hopes.

3. Now by this time Herod had sailed out of Italy, and was come to Ptolemais; and as soon as he had gotten together no small army of foreigners, and of his own countrymen, he marched through Galilee against Antigonus, wherein he was assisted by Ventidius and Silo, both whom Dellius, (22) a person sent by Antony, persuaded to bring Herod [into his kingdom]. Now Ventidius was at this time among the cities, and composing the disturbances which had happened by means of the Parthians, as was Silo in Judea corrupted by the bribes that Antigonus had given him; yet was not Herod himself destitute of power, but the number of his forces increased every day as he went along, and all Galilee, with few exceptions, joined themselves to him. So he proposed to himself to set about his most necessary enterprise, and that was Masada, in order to deliver his relations from the siege they endured. But still Joppa stood in his way, and hindered his going thither; for it was necessary to take that city first, which was in the enemies' hands, that when he should go to Jerusalem, no fortress might be left in the enemies' power behind him. Silo also willingly joined him, as having now a plausible occasion of drawing off his forces [from Jerusalem]; and when the Jews pursued him, and pressed upon him, [in his retreat,] Herod made all excursion upon them with a small body of his men, and soon put them to flight, and saved Silo when he was in distress.

4. After this Herod took Joppa, and then made haste to Masada to free his relations. Now, as he was marching, many came in to him, induced by their friendship to his father, some by the reputation he had already gained himself, and some in order to repay the benefits they had received from them both; but still what engaged the greatest number on his side, was the hopes from him when he should be established in his kingdom; so that he had gotten together already an army hard to be conquered. But Antigonus laid an ambush for him as he marched out, in which he did little or no harm to his enemies. However, he easily recovered his relations again that were in Masada, as well as the fortress Ressa, and then marched to Jerusalem, where the soldiers that were with Silo joined themselves to his own, as did many out of the city, from a dread of his power.

5. Now when he had pitched his camp on the west side of the city, the guards that were there shot their arrows and threw their darts at them, while others ran out in companies, and attacked those in the forefront; but Herod commanded proclamation to be made at the wall, that he was come for the good of the people and the preservation of the city, without any design to be revenged on his open enemies, but to grant oblivion to them, though they had been the most obstinate against him. Now the soldiers that were for Antigonus made a contrary clamor, and did neither permit any body to hear that proclamation, nor to change their party; so Antigonus gave order to his forces to beat the enemy from the walls; accordingly, they soon threw their darts at them from the towers, and put them to flight.

6. And here it was that Silo discovered he had taken bribes; for he set many of the soldiers to clamor about their want of necessaries, and to require their pay, in order to buy themselves food, and to demand that he would lead them into places convenient for their winter quarters; because all the parts about the city were laid waste by the means of Antigonus's army, which had taken all things away. By this he moved the army, and attempted to get them off the siege; but Herod went to the captains that were under Silo, and to a great many of the soldiers, and begged of them not to leave him, who was sent thither by Caesar, and Antony, and the senate; for that he would take care to have their wants supplied that very day. After the making of which entreaty, he went hastily into the country, and brought thither so great an abundance of necessaries, that he cut off all Silo's pretenses; and in order to provide that for the following days they should not want supplies, he sent to the people that were about Samaria (which city had joined itself to him) to bring corn, and wine, and oil, and cattle to Jericho. When Antigonus heard of this, be sent some of his party with orders to hinder, and lay ambushes for these collectors of corn. This command was obeyed, and a great multitude of armed men were gathered together about Jericho, and lay upon the mountains, to watch those that brought the provisions. Yet was Herod not idle, but took with him ten cohorts, five of them were Romans, and five were Jewish cohorts, together with some mercenary troops intermixed among them, and besides those a few horsemen, and came to Jericho; and when he came, he found the city deserted, but that there were five hundred men, with their wives and children, who had taken possession of the tops of the mountains; these he took, and dismissed them, while the Romans fell upon the rest of the city, and plundered it, having found the houses full of all sorts of good things. So the king left a garrison at Jericho, and came back, and sent the Roman army into those cities which were come over to him, to take their winter quarters there, viz. into Judea, [or Idumea,] and Galilee, and Samaria. Antigonus also by bribes obtained of Silo to let a part of his army be received at Lydda, as a compliment to Antonius.

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Matt Curtin
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