Wars of the Jews     by Flavius Josephus
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Book I, Chapter 17

The Death Of Joseph [Herods Brother] Which Had Been Signified To Herod In Dreams. How Herod Was Preserved Twice After A Wonderful Manner. He Cuts Off The Head Of Pappus, Who Was The Murderer Of His Brother And Sends That Head To [His Other Brother] Pheror

1. In the mean time, Herod's affairs in Judea were in an ill state. He had left his brother Joseph with full power, but had charged him to make no attempts against Antigonus till his return; for that Macheras would not be such an assistant as he could depend on, as it appeared by what he had done already; but as soon as Joseph heard that his brother was at a very great distance, he neglected the charge he had received, and marched towards Jericho with five cohorts, which Macheras sent with him. This movement was intended for seizing on the corn, as it was now in the midst of summer; but when his enemies attacked him in the mountains, and in places which were difficult to pass, he was both killed himself, as he was very bravely fighting in the battle, and the entire Roman cohorts were destroyed; for these cohorts were new-raised men, gathered out of Syria, and here was no mixture of those called veteran soldiers among them, who might have supported those that were unskillful in war.

2. This victory was not sufficient for Antigonus; but he proceeded to that degree of rage, as to treat the dead body of Joseph barbarously; for when he had got possession of the bodies of those that were slain, he cut off his head, although his brother Pheroras would have given fifty talents as a price of redemption for it. And now the affairs of Galilee were put in such disorder after this victory of Antigonus's, that those of Antigonus's party brought the principal men that were on Herod's side to the lake, and there drowned them. There was a great change made also in Idumea, where Macheras was building a wall about one of the fortresses, which was called Gittha. But Herod had not yet been informed of these things; for after the taking of Samosata, and when Antony had set Sosius over the affairs of Syria, and had given him orders to assist Herod against Antigonus, he departed into Egypt; but Sosius sent two legions before him into Judea to assist Herod, and followed himself soon after with the rest of his army.

3. Now when Herod was at Daphne, by Antioch, he had some dreams which clearly foreboded his brother's death; and as he leaped out of his bed in a disturbed manner, there came messengers that acquainted him with that calamity. So when he had lamented this misfortune for a while, he put off the main part of his mourning, and made haste to march against his enemies; and when he had performed a march that was above his strength, and was gone as far as Libanus, he got him eight hundred men of those that lived near to that mountain as his assistants, and joined with them one Roman legion, with which, before it was day, he made an irruption into Galilee, and met his enemies, and drove them back to the place which they had left. He also made an immediate and continual attack upon the fortress. Yet was he forced by a most terrible storm to pitch his camp in the neighboring villages before he could take it. But when, after a few days' time, the second legion, that came from Antony, joined themselves to him, the enemy were aftrighted at his power, and left their fortifications ill the night time.

4. After this he marched through Jericho, as making what haste he could to be avenged on his brother's murderers; where happened to him a providential sign, out of which, when he had unexpectedly escaped, he had the reputation of being very dear to God; for that evening there feasted with him many of the principal men; and after that feast was over, and all the guests were gone out, the house fell down immediately. And as he judged this to be a common signal of what dangers he should undergo, and how he should escape them in the war that he was going about, he, in the morning, set forward with his army, when about six thousand of his enemies came running down from the mountains, and began to fight with those in his forefront; yet durst they not be so very bold as to engage the Romans hand to hand, but threw stones and darts at them at a distance; by which means they wounded a considerable number; in which action Herod's own side was wounded with a dart.

5. Now as Antigonus had a mind to appear to exceed Herod, not only in the courage, but in the number of his men, he sent Pappus, one of his companions, with an army against Samaria, whose fortune it was to oppose Macheras; but Herod overran the enemy's country, and demolished five little cities, and destroyed two thousand men that were in them, and burned their houses, and then returned to his camp; but his head-quarters were at the village called Cana.

6. Now a great multitude of Jews resorted to him every day, both out of Jericho and the other parts of the country. Some were moved so to do out of their hatred to Antigonus, and some out of regard to the glorious actions Herod had done; but others were led on by an unreasonable desire of change; so he fell upon them immediately. As for Pappus and his party, they were not terrified either at their number or at their zeal, but marched out with great alacrity to fight them; and it came to a close fight. Now other parts of their army made resistance for a while; but Herod, running the utmost hazard, out of the rage he was in at the murder of his brother, that he might be avenged on those that had been the authors of it, soon beat those that opposed him; and after he had beaten them, he always turned his force against those that stood to it still, and pursued them all; so that a great slaughter was made, while some were forced back into that village whence they came out; he also pressed hard upon the hindermost, and slew a vast number of them; he also fell into the village with the enemy, where every house was filled with armed men, and the upper rooms were crowded above with soldiers for their defense; and when he had beaten those that were on the outside, he pulled the houses to pieces, and plucked out those that were within; upon many he had the roofs shaken down, whereby they perished by heaps; and as for those that fled out of the ruins, the soldiers received them with their swords in their hands; and the multitude of those slain and lying on heaps was so great, that the conquerors could not pass along the roads. Now the enemy could not bear this blow, so that when the multitude of them which was gathered together saw that those in the village were slain, they dispersed themselves, and fled away; upon the confidence of which victory, Herod had marched immediately to Jerusalem, unless he tad been hindered by the depth of winter's [coming on]. This was the impediment that lay in the way of this his entire glorious progress, and was what hindered Antigonus from being now conquered, who was already disposed to forsake the city.

7. Now when at the evening Herod had already dismissed his friends to refresh themselves after their fatigue, and when he was gone himself, while he was still hot in his armor, like a common soldier, to bathe himself, and had but one servant that attended him, and before he was gotten into the bath, one of the enemies met him in the face with a sword in his hand, and then a second, and then a third, and after that more of them; these were men who had run away out of the battle into the bath in their armor, and they had lain there for some time in, great terror, and in privacy; and when they saw the king, they trembled for fear, and ran by him in a flight, although he was naked, and endeavored to get off into the public road. Now there was by chance nobody else at hand that might seize upon these men; and for Herod, he was contented to have come to no harm himself, so that they all got away in safety.

8. But on the next day Herod had Pappus's head cut off, who was the general for Antigonus, and was slain in the battle, and sent it to his brother Pheroras, by way of punishment for their slain brother; for he was the man that slew Joseph. Now as winter was going off, Herod marched to Jerusalem, and brought his army to the wall of it; this was the third year since he had been made king at Rome; so he pitched his camp before the temple, for on that side it might be besieged, and there it was that Pompey took the city. So he parted the work among the army, and demolished the suburbs, end raised three banks, and gave orders to have towers built upon those banks, and left the most laborious of his acquaintance at the works. But he went himself to Samaria, to take the daughter of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, to wife, who had been betrothed to him before, as we have already said; and thus he accomplished this by the by, during the siege of the city, for he had his enemies in great contempt already.

9. When he had thus married Mariamne, he came back to Jerusalem with a greater army. Sosius also joined him with a large army, both of horsemen and footmen, which he sent before him through the midland parts, while he marched himself along Phoenicia; and when the whole army was gotten together, which were eleven regiments of footmen, and six thousand horsemen, besides the Syrian auxiliaries, which were no small part of the army, they pitched their camp near to the north wall. Herod's dependence was upon the decree of the senate, by which he was made king; and Sosius relied upon Antony, who sent the army that was under him to Herod's assistance.

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Matt Curtin
Last modified: Wed Apr 26 20:14:16 EDT 1998