5 Maccabees Chapter 49 (from The Five Books of Maccabees)


Cotton H.Sir : 

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P. 394 – 398 Book 5 B.C. 40 [PDF: 444/448 of p.524]

CHAPTER 49.1)Foot note p. 394 a. Compare Joseph. Antiq. XIV. 24, 2a. Bell. I. 11.

(i) The history of Antigonus the son of Aristobulus, and of his expedition against his uncle Hyrcanus: and of the succour which was obtained from the king of the Persians.

1 When Augustus and Antony had arrived at Rome, [B.C. 40.] Antigonus went to the king of the Persians2)Foot note p. 394 b. The Parthians, of whom Orodes was at this time king., and promised him a thousand talents of coined gold, and eight hundred3)Foot note p. 394 c. Josephus says, five hundred. virgins of the daughters of Judah and of its princes, beautiful and wise ; if he would send 2 with him a general leading a great army against Jerusalem, and would order him to make him king over Judah, and would take prisoner his uncle Hyrcanus, and kill Herod and his brother. To whom the king assenting, sent with him a 3 general with a great army : and they marched 4 until they came into the land of Syria ; and they slew a friend of Antony and certain Romans who were dwelling there. 

From thence they marched against the Holy 5 City ; professing security and peace, and that Antigonus had only come to pray in the sanctuary, and then would return to his own friends. And 6 they entered the city ; into which when they had gotten, they played foul, and began to kill men, and to plunder the city, according to the orders of the king of Persia to them. 7 And Herod and p. 395 his men ran forward to defend the palace of Hyrcanus : but he sent his brother, and commanded him to guard the way which leads from the walls 8 to the palace. And when he had possessed himself of each position, he chose out some of his men, and marched against the Persians who were 9 in the city ; and his brother followed with a certain number of his men; and they slew the greater part of the Persians who were in the city, but the rest fled out of the city.

10 And when the general of the Persians saw that things had not gone to his mind, he despatched messengers to Herod and his brother, to treat for 11 peace ; informing them, that now he was satisfied of their valour and bravery, that they ought to be preferred to Antigonus ; and that for that reason he would persuade his troops to aid Hyrcanus and 12 them rather than Antigonus: and this his wish he confirmed by the most solemn oaths, so that Hyrcanus and Phaselus believed him, but not Herod. 13 So Hyrcanus and Phaselus, going out to the general of the Persians, signified to him their reliance on him ; and he advised them to go to his 14 colleague who was at Damascus; and they went. And when they were come to him, he received them honourably, and made a display of holding them in high esteem, and treated them courteously; although he had secretly given orders that they 15 should be made prisoners. And some of the principal men of the land coming to them, told them of this very design ; advising them to flee, with 16 a promise of aiding their escape. But they did not trust these men, fearing lest it were some plot 17 against them ; wherefore they stayed. And when p. 396 night came on, they were seized : Phaselus indeed laid hands on himself; but Hyrcanus was bound in chains, and by order of the general of the Persians his ear was cut off4)Foot note p. 396 d. Josephus adds, that the mutilation of Hyrcanus took place at the suggestion of Antigonus ; and his remark is confirmed by an expression occurring at ch. liv. 9. of this book. We know both the object and the ground of this proceeding, from the following express and repeated command of God : ” And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach : no man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire : he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.” Lev. xxi. 16.17-18. 21., that he might never be high priest again; and he sent him to Herak5)Foot note p. 396 e. Josephus does not use this expression; but merely states, that Hyrcanus was sent into the country of the Parthians. Concerning the meaning of the word Herak, see the note on ch. liv. 1. of this book., to 18 the king of the Persians ; to whom when he came, the king ordered his chains to be struck off, and shewed him kindness ; and he remained in Herak 19 loaded with honours, until Herod demanded him from the king of the Persians : and when he was sent back to Herod, those things befell him6)Foot note p. 396 f. See the sequel of his history below, at ch. liv. which did befall him. After this, the general went up with 20 Antigonus into the Holy City : and it was told Herod what had been done to Hyrcanus and Phaselus: wherefore taking his mother Cypris, and his wife 21 Mariainne the daughter of Aristobulus, and her mother Alexandra, he sent them with horses and much baggage to Joseph his brother to mount p. 397 22 Sarah7)Foot note p. 397 g. This name has occurred frequently in this book, but I do not find it elsewhere : perhaps it may be derived from that part of ancient Idumaea, which in Scripture is called “the mountains of Seir.” See above, ch. xxi. 29; xxxv. 4. The spot in which Joseph secured the persons entrusted to his charge appears from Josephus (Ant. XIV. 24, 26, 27.) to have been the stronghold of Massada. But this creates some difficulty: for, although we know that Massada was a strong position, and was used as a place of defence by Herod, its situation does not well accord with the statement in the text. Massada is said to have been near to Engaddi, which was not far from Jericho ; so that it cannot well be taken for a part of mount Sarah in Idunaea. Consult ch. 26 and 27 of the XIVth book of Josephus’ Antiquities; and ch. 11 and 12 of the first book of his Wars ; all which passages favour the idea, that Massada was in Idumaea. Salmasius, in his ” Exercitationes Plinianae ad Solini Polyhistor.” cap. 35, affords some assistance, by desiring us to remember that the boundary line between Arabia Petraea (rather Idumaea) and Judaea was not accurately defined ; so that places which by one author are assigned to one country, by a second may be referred to the other. Such may be the case with the town in question. : but himself with an army of a thousand men marched slowly, and waited for those of the 23 Persians who might attempt to pursue him. And the general of the Persians pursued him with his army ; whom Herod attacked, and conquered, and 24 put to flight. After this, Antigonus’ troops also pursued him, and fought with him most fiercely : and these he smote8)Foot note p. 397 h. And on the spot where he defeated them, he afterwards, when he came to the throne, erected a castle and palace, bearing the name of Herodium. (Josephus.)., and slew great numbers of 25 them. Then he marched to the mountains of Sarah ; and found his brother Josephus, whom he ordered to secure the families in a safe place, and to provide all things which were necessary for 26 them : and he gave them abundance of money, that if need were, they might buy themselves provisions.

p. 398 And having left his men with his brother 27 Josephus, himself with a few companions went into Egypt, that he might take ship and proceed to the country of the Romans. Cleopatra entertained 28 him courteously, and requested him to take the command of her armies and the management of all her affairs ; to whom he notified that it was quite necessary for him to go to Rome. And she 29 gave him money and ships : and he went till he reached Rome, and abode with Antony, and told him what Antigonus had done, and what he had committed against Hyrcanus and his brother, by help of the king of the Persians : and Antony 30 rode with him to Augustus and to the senate, and told them the self same thing.


Original Source: Transcribed from PDF copy of Book "The Five Books of Maccabees in English. With Notes and Illustrations", by HENRY COTTON, D.C.L.(Sir) Archdeacon of Cashel, and Late Student of Christ Church, Oxford. Publication date 1832 | PDF


References   [ + ]

1. Foot note p. 394 a. Compare Joseph. Antiq. XIV. 24, 2a. Bell. I. 11.
2. Foot note p. 394 b. The Parthians, of whom Orodes was at this time king.
3. Foot note p. 394 c. Josephus says, five hundred.
4. Foot note p. 396 d. Josephus adds, that the mutilation of Hyrcanus took place at the suggestion of Antigonus ; and his remark is confirmed by an expression occurring at ch. liv. 9. of this book. We know both the object and the ground of this proceeding, from the following express and repeated command of God : ” And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach : no man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire : he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.” Lev. xxi. 16.17-18. 21.
5. Foot note p. 396 e. Josephus does not use this expression; but merely states, that Hyrcanus was sent into the country of the Parthians. Concerning the meaning of the word Herak, see the note on ch. liv. 1. of this book.
6. Foot note p. 396 f. See the sequel of his history below, at ch. liv.
7. Foot note p. 397 g. This name has occurred frequently in this book, but I do not find it elsewhere : perhaps it may be derived from that part of ancient Idumaea, which in Scripture is called “the mountains of Seir.” See above, ch. xxi. 29; xxxv. 4. The spot in which Joseph secured the persons entrusted to his charge appears from Josephus (Ant. XIV. 24, 26, 27.) to have been the stronghold of Massada. But this creates some difficulty: for, although we know that Massada was a strong position, and was used as a place of defence by Herod, its situation does not well accord with the statement in the text. Massada is said to have been near to Engaddi, which was not far from Jericho ; so that it cannot well be taken for a part of mount Sarah in Idunaea. Consult ch. 26 and 27 of the XIVth book of Josephus’ Antiquities; and ch. 11 and 12 of the first book of his Wars ; all which passages favour the idea, that Massada was in Idumaea. Salmasius, in his ” Exercitationes Plinianae ad Solini Polyhistor.” cap. 35, affords some assistance, by desiring us to remember that the boundary line between Arabia Petraea (rather Idumaea) and Judaea was not accurately defined ; so that places which by one author are assigned to one country, by a second may be referred to the other. Such may be the case with the town in question.
8. Foot note p. 397 h. And on the spot where he defeated them, he afterwards, when he came to the throne, erected a castle and palace, bearing the name of Herodium. (Josephus.).

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