5 Maccabees Chapter 58 (from The Five Books of Maccabees)


Cotton H.Sir : 

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P. 429 – 432 Book 5 B.C. 29 [PDF: 479/482 of p.524]

CHAPTER 58.1)Foot note p. 429 a. Compare Josephus, Ant. XV. 11. Bell. I. 17.

(i) The history of the murder which Herod committed on his wife Mariamne.

1 Now Josephus2)Foot note p. 429 b. The person who was left in charge of Mariamne and her mother, as related above, at ch. lvii. 4 ; and see the note there., the husband of Herod’s sister, had revealed to Mariamne [B.C. 29.] that Herod had ordered him to put her and her mother to death, as soon as he himself should perish in his 2 going up to Augustus. And she already had a dislike of Herod, since the time when he killed her father and brother ; and to this no little addition of hatred was made, when she was informed of the orders which he had given against her. 

3 Therefore when Herod arrived out of Egypt, he found her totally overcome by hatred towards him : at which being greatly troubled, he tried to 4 reconcile her to him by all possible methods. But his sister came on a certain day, after some quarrels which had taken place between her and p. 430 Mariamne, and said to him, Certainly Joseph my husband has gone aside with Mariamne. But 5 Herod paid no attention to her words, knowing how pure and chaste Mariamne was. After this, 6 Herod went to see Mariamne on the night which followed that day, and behaved kindly and affectionately towards her, recounting his love for her, saying much upon this head : to whom she said, 7 ” Did you ever see a man love another, and order him to be put to death ? and is he a hater unless he shews such proofs ?” Then Herod 8 perceived that Josephus had discovered to Mariamne the secret which he had entrusted to him ; and believed that he would not have done that, unless she had given herself up to him : and he believed 9 that which his sister had told him on this subject ; and immediately departing from Mariamne, he hated and detested her.

Which his sister learning, went to the 10 cup-bearer, and giving him money, delivered to him some poison, and said ; Carry this to the king, and say to him, Mariamne the king’s wife gave me this poison, and this money, commanding that it might be mixed in the king’s drink. This the 11 cup-bearer did. And the king seeing the poison, doubted not of the truth of the thing : whereupon he gives orders to behead Josephus his brother-in-law immediately; and also orders Mariamne to be put in chains, until the seventy elders should be present, and should pass a due sentence upon her.

So Herod’s sister feared3)Foot note p. 430 c. It is observable, that this account of Mariamne’s condemnation and death differs in some few circumstances from that which is given by Josephus., lest what she had 12 p. 431 done should be discovered, and she herself should perish, if Mariamne were set free : so she said to him, O king, if you put off Mariamue’s death till tomorrow, you will not be at all able to effect it : 13 for as soon as it shall become known that you wish to kill her, the whole house of her father will come, and all their servants and neighbours, and will interpose ; and you will not be able to 14 obtain her death until after great tumults. And 15 Herod said, Do as it seems best to you. And Herod’s sister sent in all haste a man to bring out Mariamne to the place of slaughter, setting upon her her maids, and other women, to insult her4)Foot note p. 431 d. It deserves remark, that the author of this hook takes no notice whatsoever of the story which appears in Josephus, of Alexandra joining with the wicked Salome and her creatures, in their indecent revilings of her own daughter Mariamne. In truth, such an act would have been not only most unworthy of a mother, but also unlike the straight-forward conduct of that spirited, but unfortunate queen., and upbraid her with all manner of indecency : 16 but she answered nothing to any of them, nor even moved her head5)Foot note p. 431 e. I am not satisfied as to the correctness of this rendering : Gabriel’s Latin has ” apicem protulit ;” and the French version is here too loose to afford any certain in formation. Perhaps the sense may be, ” she did not utter a single syllable, or letter.” in the least : nor was her colour changed by all this treatment, nor did any fear or confusion appear in her, nor was her gait 17 altered; but with her wonted manner she proceeded to the place whither she was led to be slain ; and bending her knees, she held out her 18 neck voluntarily: and departed this life, renowned for religion and chastity, marked by no crime, branded with no guilt ; howbeit she was not wholly free from haughtiness, according to the p. 432 habit of her family. And of this not the least cause 19 was the obsequious attention and affection of Herod towards her, by reason of the elegance of her form ; from whence she suspected no change in him towards her.

Now Herod had begotten of her two sons6)Foot note p. 432 f. Josephus informs us that she bare him three sons, but that the youngest of them died while pursuing his studies at Rome. 20 namely, Alexander and Aristobulus ; who, when their mother was slain, were living at Rome ; for he had sent them thither, to learn the literature and language of the Romans. Afterwards, 21 Herod repented that he had killed his wife ; and he was affected with grief to that degree on account of her death, that by it he contracted a disease, of which he had nearly died.

Mariamne being dead, her mother Alexandra [B.C. 28.] 22 laid plans to put Herod to death ; which coming to his knowledge, he made away with her.


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. 429 a. Compare Josephus, Ant. XV. 11. Bell. I. 17.
2. Foot note p. 429 b. The person who was left in charge of Mariamne and her mother, as related above, at ch. lvii. 4 ; and see the note there.
3. Foot note p. 430 c. It is observable, that this account of Mariamne’s condemnation and death differs in some few circumstances from that which is given by Josephus.
4. Foot note p. 431 d. It deserves remark, that the author of this hook takes no notice whatsoever of the story which appears in Josephus, of Alexandra joining with the wicked Salome and her creatures, in their indecent revilings of her own daughter Mariamne. In truth, such an act would have been not only most unworthy of a mother, but also unlike the straight-forward conduct of that spirited, but unfortunate queen.
5. Foot note p. 431 e. I am not satisfied as to the correctness of this rendering : Gabriel’s Latin has ” apicem protulit ;” and the French version is here too loose to afford any certain in formation. Perhaps the sense may be, ” she did not utter a single syllable, or letter.”
6. Foot note p. 432 f. Josephus informs us that she bare him three sons, but that the youngest of them died while pursuing his studies at Rome.

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