5 Maccabees Chapter 59 (from The Five Books of Maccabees)


Cotton H.Sir : 

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 |16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 |

21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 |34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 |

41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 |52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 |


P. 432 – 446 Book 5 B.C. 16 [PDF: 482/496 of p.524]

CHAPTER 59.1)Foot note p. 432 a. Compare Joseph. Antiq. XVI. 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 16, 17- Bell. I. 17.

(i) The history of the coming’ of the two sons of Herod, Alexander and Aristobulus, as soon as they heard that their mother had been put to death by Herod.

1 When news was brought to Alexander and Aristobulus of the murder committed on their mother by Herod, [B.C 16.] they were overcome by excessive grief ; and departing from 2 Rome2)Foot note p. 432 b. From the text of this verse it would appear that the brothers quitted Rome immediately after hearing of their mother’s death : but from Josephus we collect that p. 433 they did not return until several years after ; namely, in the year B.C. 16. they came into the Holy City, paying no p. 433 respect to their father Herod as they had formerly been wont to do, through the hatred of him which they felt in their minds on account of their 3 mother’s death. Now Alexander had married the daughter of king Archelaus3)Foot note p. 433 c. He was king of Cappadocia. (Josephus.). : and Aristobulus had married the daughter of Herod’s sister4)Foot note p. 433 d. Namely, Bernice, daughter of Joseph and Salome.4 Therefore when Herod perceived that they paid him no respect, he saw that he was hated by them, and he avoided them : and this did not escape the observation of the young men, and of his family.

5 Now king Herod had married a wife before Mariamne, by name Dosithea5)Foot note p. 433 e. Josephus calls her Doris., by whom 6 he had a son named Antipater. [B.C. 13.] When therefore Herod was assured respecting his two sons, as was observed above, he brought his wife Dosithea to his palace, and attached to himself his son Antipater, committing to him all his business ; and he appointed him by will his successor. 7 And that Antipater persecuted his brothers Alexander and Aristobulus, designing to procure peace to himself while his father lived, that after his 8 death he might have no rival. Wherefore he said to his father, ” In truth my brothers are seeking an inheritance6)Foot note p. 433 f. That is, they are devising means of securing to themselves the succession to the throne, which they know you have destined for me. because of the family of their mother, because it is more noble than the family of my mother ; and therefore they have a better right than I have to the fortune of p. 434 which the king has judged me worthy : for this 9 cause they are striving to put you to death, and me also they will slay soon after.” And this 10 he frequently repeated to Herod, sending also secretly to him persons to insinuate to him things
which might produce in him a greater hatred towards them.

In the mean time Herod goes to Rome to 11 Augustus, [B.C. 12.] taking with him his son Alexander. And when he had come into Augustus’ presence, Herod complained to him of his son, requesting that he would reprove him. But Alexander said ; “Indeed I do not deny my 12 anguish on account of the murder of my mother without any fault ; for even brute beasts themselves shew affection to their mothers much better than men, and love them more : but any 13 design of parricide I utterly deny, and I clear myself of it before God : for I am possessed of the same feelings toward my father as toward my mother : nor am I that sort of man as to 14 bring upon me guilt for crime towards my parent, and more especially eternal torments.” 

Alexander then wept with bitter and most 15 vehement weeping ; and Augustus pitied him, and all the chiefs of the Romans, who were standing near, wept also. Then Augustus asked Herod to 16 take back his sons into his former kindness and intimacy : and he desired Alexander to kiss his father’s feet, who did so. He also ordered Herod to embrace and kiss him, and Herod obeyed him. Afterwards Augustus ordered a magnificent 17 present for Herod, and it was carried to him : and after passing some days with him, Herod p. 435 returned to the Holy House ; and calling to him 18 the elders of Judah, he said : ” Know ye that Antipater is my eldest son and firstborn, but his mother is of an ignoble family : but the mother of Alexander and Aristobulus my sons is of the family of the high priests and kings. 19 Moreover, God hath enlarged my kingdom, and hath extended my power ; and therefore it seems good to me to appoint these my three sons to equal authority ; so that Antipater shall have no command over his brothers, nor shall 20 his brothers have command over him. Obey therefore all three, O ye assembly of men, nor interfere in any thing which their minds may be able to agree on ; nor propose any thing which may produce misleadings and disagreement 21 among them. And do not drink with them, nor talk too much with them. For from thence it will come to pass, that some one of them may unguardedly utter to you the designs 22 which he has against his brother : upon which, that you may conciliate them to you, will follow your agreements7)Foot note p. 435 g. That is, by which means you will be led to become partisans of one individual or the other, from motives of personal interest, instead of remaining faithful counsellors and supporters of their united authority. with every one of them, according to what seems good to him ; and you will bring them to destruction, and yourselves will 23 be destroyed also. It is your parts indeed, my sons, to be obedient to God, and to me ; that you may live long, and that your affairs may prosper.” Soon afterwards he embraced and kissed them, and commanded the people to retire.

p. 436 But that which Herod did came to no happy 24 result, nor were the hearts of his sons united in agreement. For Antipater wanted every thing to be put into his hands, as his father had formerly appointed : and to his brothers it did not seem at all fair that he should be thought equal to them. Now Antipater was endued with 25 perseverance, and all bad and feigned friendship ; but not so his two brothers : Antipater therefore set spies on his brothers, who should bring him tidings of them : he also planted others who should carry false reports of them to Pilate8)Foot note p. 436 h. This manifestly is a mistake of the author or copier, for Herod. Pilate does not appear in Jewish history till more than thirty years had elapsed after this transaction namely, in the reign of Tiberius Caesar. See Luke iii. 1.. But when Antipater was in presence of the king, 26 and heard any one relating such things of his brothers, he repelled the charge from them, declaring that the authors were unworthy of credit, and entreating the king not to believe the reports. Which Antipater did, that he might not inspire 27 the king with any doubt or suspicion9)Foot note p. 436 i. The reader will have remarked the just retaliation upon Herod by his crafty son who now practises against his own father, and with equal success, that system of duplicity and false accusation which Herod and his father Antipater had ever employed for their own advancement. of himself. From hence the king entertained no doubt that 28 he was well-inclined towards his brothers, and wished them no harm.

Which when Antipater found out, [B.C. 9.] he bent to 29 his purpose Pheroras his uncle, and his aunt, (for these were at enmity with his brothers on their mother’s account,) offering Pheroras a most valuable present, requesting him to inform the king p. 437 that Alexander and Aristobulus had laid a plan 30 to murder the king. (Now Herod was well inclined towards Pheroras his brother, and attended to whatever he said ; inasmuch as he paid every year to him a large sum out of the provinces which he governed on the bank of the 31 Euphrates.) And this Pheroras did. Afterwards Antipater went to Herod, and said to him ; “O king, in truth my brothers have laid a plot to 32 destroy me. Antipater moreover gave money to the king’s three eunuchs, that they should say, Alexander has given us money, that he might make a wicked use of us, and that we might slay thee : and when we shrank from it, he threatened us with death.”

33 And the king was wroth with Alexander, and ordered him to be put in chains : and he seized and put to the torture all the servants of Alexander, till they should confess what they knew about 34 Alexander’s plot for murdering him. And many of these, though they died under the torture, never told a falsehood respecting Alexander : but some of them, being unable to endure the violence of the torment, devised falsehoods through a desire 35 of liberating themselves ; asserting that Alexander and Aristobulus had planned to attack the king, and slay him, and flee to Rome ; and having received an army from Augustus, to march against the Holy House, to slay their brother Antipater, and to seize on the throne of Judaea. And the king commanded Aristobulus to be seized 36 and put in chains : and he was bound, and was placed with his brother. p. 438 But when news of Alexander was brought to 37 his father-in-law Archelaus10)Foot note p. 438 k. The king of Cappadocia. as mentioned above, at verse ‘A., [B.C. 8.]  he went to Herod, pretending to be in a great fury against Alexander: as if, on hearing a report of the 38 intended parricide, he had come on purpose to see whether his daughter, the wife of Alexander, was privy to the business, and had not revealed it to him, that he might put her to death : but that, if she was not privy to any thing of the kind, he might separate her from Alexander, and take her to his own home.

Now this Archelaus was a prudent, wise, and 39 eloquent man. And when Herod had heard his words, and was satisfied of his prudence and honesty, he wonderfully got possession of his heart; and he trusted himself to him, and relied on him without the slightest hesitation. Archelaus therefore, 40 finding Herod’s inclination towards him, after a long intimacy, said to him one day when they had retired together ; “Truly, O king, by reflecting 41 on your affairs I have found, that you being now in advanced age are much in want of repose of mind, and to have solace in your sons ; whereas on the contrary you have derived from them grief and anxiety. Moreover I have 42 thought respecting these your two sons, and I do not find that you have been deficient in deserving well of them ; for you have promoted them, and made them kings, and have left undone nothing, which might drive them wickedly to contrive your death, nor have they any cause for entering on this business. 43 But perhaps this p. 439 has come from some malicious person, who is desiring evil against you and them, or who through envy or enmity has induced you to 44 abhor them. If therefore he has gained influence over you, who are an old man, endued with knowledge, information, and experience, changing you from paternal mildness to cruelty and 45 fury against your children ; how much easier could he have wrought on them, who are young, inexperienced, and unguarded, and with no knowledge of men and their guile’s, so that he has gained from them that which he wished in 46 this matter. Consider therefore your affairs, O king ; and do not give ear to the words of informers, nor do any thing hastily against your children ; and enquire who that is who has been contriving evil against you and them.” 47 And the king replied to him ; “Indeed the thing is as you have mentioned : I wish that I knew who has induced them to do this.” Archelaus answered, “This is your brother Pheroras.” The king replied, “It may be so.” 48 After this, the king became greatly changed in his behaviour towards Pheroras : which Pheroras perceiving, was afraid of him ; and coining to 49 Archelaus, said to him ; “I perceive how that the king is changed towards me ; wherefore I in-treat you to reconcile his mind to me, removing the feelings which he cherishes in his heart 50 against me.” To whom Archelaus replied ; “I will do it indeed, if you will promise to disclose to the king the truth concerning the plots which you have laid against Alexander and Aristobulus.” And to this he assented.

p. 440 And after a few days, Archelaus said to the 51 king ; “O king, truly a man’s relatives are to him as his own limbs : and as it is good for a man, if any one of his limbs becomes affected by some disease which befalls it, to restore it by medicines, even although it may cause him pain ; and it is not good to cut it off, lest the 52 pain should be increased, the body be weakened, and the limbs should fail ; and thus from the loss of that limb, he should feel the want of many conveniences : but let him endure the 53 pains of the medical treatment, that the limb may become better, and may be healed, and his body may return to its former perfectness and strength. So is it meet for a man, so often as 54 any one of his relatives is altered towards him, from any abominable cause whatsoever, to reconcile him to himself; alluring him to civility 55 and friendship, admitting his excuses, and dismissing the charges against him : and that he do not put him hastily to death, nor remove him too long away from his presence. For the 56 relatives of a man are his supporters and assistants, and in them consists his honour and glory; and through them he obtains that which otherwise he would not be able to obtain. Pheroras 57 truly is the king’s brother, and the son of his father and of his mother : and he confesses his fault, entreating the king to spare him, and to dismiss from his mind his error.” And the king replied, “This I will do.” And he ordered 58 Pheroras to come before him ; who, when he was in the presence, said to him ; “I have sinned now in the sight of the great and good God. and to p. 441 the king, devising mischief’s, and plans which might injure the affairs of the king and his 59 sons, by lying falsehoods. But that which induced me to act thus was, that the king took away from me a certain woman, my concubine, 60 and separated her and me.” The king said to Archelaus, “I have now pardoned Pheroras, as you requested me : for I find that you have cured the disease which was in our affairs by your soothing methods, even as an ingenious physician heals the corruptions of a sick body. 61 Wherefore I entreat you. to pardon Alexander, reconciling your daughter to her husband ; for I regard her as my daughter, since I know that she is more prudent than he, and that she turns him aside from many things by her prudence 62 and her exhortations. Wherefore I pray you not to separate them and destroy him : for he agrees with her, and obtains many advantages 63 from her guidance.” But Archelaus answered, “My daughter is the king’s handmaid : but him my soul hath lately detested, by reason of his evil design. Let the king therefore permit me to separate him from my daughter, whom the king may unite to whomsoever of his servants 64 he pleases.” To whom the king replied ; “Do not go beyond my request ; and let your daughter remain with him, and do not contradict me.” And Archelaus said ; “Surely I will do it ; and ” will not contradict the king in any thing which he shall enjoin me.”

65  Soon afterwards, Herod orders Alexander and Aristobulus to be loosed from their chains, and to come before him : who, when they were in his p. 442 presence, prostrated themselves before him, confessing their faults, excusing themselves, and begging for pardon and forgiveness. And he 66 commanded them to stand up, and causing them to come near him, he kissed them, and ordered them to depart to their own homes, and to return the next day. And they came to eating and drinking with him, and he reinstated them in a place of greater honour. And to Archelaus he gave 67 seventy talents and a golden couch, enjoining likewise all the chief men of his friends to offer valuable presents to Archelaus : and they did so. This being accomplished, Archelaus departed from 68 the city of the Holy House to his own country ; whom Herod accompanied, and at length, having taken leave of him, returned to the Holy House.

Nevertheless, Antipater did not leave off his 69  plots against his brothers, [B.C. 6.] that he might make them odious. Now it happened that 70 a certain man11)Foot note p. 438  B  l. Josephus informs us that he was a Lacedaemonian, by name Eurycles, of a sordid and treacherous disposition ; so much so, that when he returned to his own country, after having kindled fatal discord in Herod’s family, the Lacedaemonians banished him from the realm. came to Herod, having some valuable and handsome articles, with which kings are usually won ; these he presented to the king, who, 71 taking them from him, repaid him for them ; and the man obtained a very high place in his affections, and having been taken into his retinue, enjoyed his confidence : this man was named Eurycles. When therefore Antipater perceived that 72 this man had wholly engrossed his father’s favour, he offered him money, requesting that he would p. 443 dexterously insinuate to Herod, and maintain that his two sons Alexander and Aristobulus were planning to murder him ; which the man 73 promised him to do. He soon afterwards went to Alexander, and became intimate and familiar with him to that degree, that he was known to be in his friendship, and it was made known to the 74 king that he was intimate with him. After this, he went aside with the king, and said to him ; “Certainly you have this right over me, O king, that nothing ought to prevent me from giving you good advice : and in truth I have a matter which the king ought to know, and which 75 I ought to unfold to you.” The king said to him, “What have you?” The man answered him, I heard Alexander saying, “Truly God hath deferred vengeance on my father for the death of my mother, of my grandfather, and of my relatives, without any crime, that it may take place by my hand : and I hope that I shall take 76 vengeance for them upon him. And now he has agreed with some chiefs to attack you, and he wished to implicate me in the plans which he had formed : but I held it to be a crime, on account of the king’s acts of kindness towards 77 me, and his liberality. But my intention is to admonish him well, and to report this to him, for he has both eyes and understanding.” 

78 And when the king had heard these words, he by no means set them at nought, but speedily 79 began to make enquiry as to their truth : but he found out nothing on which he could rely, except a letter forged in the name of Alexander and p. 444 Aristobulus to the governor of a certain town12)Foot note p. 444  C  m. Of Alexandrium. (Josephus.).. And 80 there was in the letter, ” We wish to kill our father, and to flee to you ; wherefore prepare us a place wherein we may remain until the people assemble round us, and our affairs are settled.” And this indeed was confirmed to the king, and 81 appeared probable : wherefore he seized the governor of that city and put him to the torture, that he might confess what was inserted into that letter. Which this man denied, clearing himself 82 from the charge: nor was any thing proved against them in this matter, or in any thing else which the informer had charged upon them. But Herod 83 ordered them to be seized and bound with chains and fetters. Then he went to Tyre13)Foot note p. 444  D  n. Josephus relates that Herod brought his sons to a public mock trial at Berytus, himself accusing them in most violent language, and allowing no defence to be made. Of course the unhappy youths were condemned. He then carried them off to Tyre and Caesarea., and from Tyre to Caesarea, carrying them with him in chains. And all the captains and all the soldiers 84 pitied them : but no one interceded for them with the king, lest he should admit that to be true of himself which the informer had asserted.

Now there was in the army a certain old 85 warrior14)Foot note p. 444  E  o. Josephus records his name, which was Tero (or Tiro). who had a son in the service of Alexander. When therefore the old man saw the wretched condition of Herod’s two sons, he pitied their change of fortune marvellously, and cried out with as loud a voice as he was able, “Pity is gone ; goodness and piety have vanished away ; p. 445 86 truth is removed out of the world.” Then he said to the king, “O thou merciless to thy children, enemy of thy friends, and friend to thy enemies, receiving the words of informers and 87 of persons who wish no good to thee !” And the enemies of Alexander and Aristohulus ran up to him, and reproved him, and said to the king ; “O king, it is not love towards you and towards your sons which has induced this man to speak 88 thus; but he has wished to babble out the hatred which he bare in his heart towards you, and to speak ill of your counsel and administration, as 89 being a faithful adviser. And indeed some observers have informed us of him, that he had already covenanted with the king’s barber, to slay him with the razor while he was shaving 90 him.” And the king ordered the old man, and his son, and the barber, to be seized ; and the old man and the barber to be scourged with rods till they should confess. And they were beaten with rods most cruelly, and were subjected to various kinds of tortures ; but they confessed nothing of those 91 things which they had not done. When therefore the son of the old man saw the sad condition of his father, and the state to which he had come, he pitied him, and thought that he would be liberated, if he himself should confess that which was laid to his father, after receiving from the king a 92 promise for his life. Wherefore he said to the king; “O king, give me security for my father and myself, that I may tell you that which you are seeking.” And the king said, ” You may have 93 this. To whom he said ; ” Alexander had already agreed with my father that he should kill p. 446 you : but my father agreed with the barber, as has been told you.”

Then the king commanded that old man and 94 his son to be slain, and the barber. He likewise ordered both his sons Alexander and Aristobulus to be taken to Sebaste, and there to be slain and fixed on a gibbet: and they were taken, killed, and fixed on a gibbet. Now Alexander left two sons who survived 95 him, namely, Tyrcanes and Alexander, by the daughter of king Archelaus : and Aristobulus left three sons, namely, Aristobulus, Agrippa, and Herod. But the history of Herod’s son Antipater 96 has already been described15)Foot note p. 444  F  p. What are the ” former accounts” here spoken of, it is not easy to determine. The subsequent history of Antipater must be sought in the 17th book of the Antiquities of Josephus. In truth, the conclusion of this tragedy, is quite in keeping with the former melancholy scenes of it : Antipater becoming at last afraid of his father, whose ferocious and indiscriminate massacres he had not only witnessed, but had abetted for some time past, seeks means to destroy him by poison : but Herod detecting the plot, although tormented by a complication of diseases, and almost at death’s door, summons his last energies to order Antipater to be slain, which is instantly done. He himself follows his son to the grave within five days, one year after the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ. in our former accounts.

END OF BOOK 5


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. 432 a. Compare Joseph. Antiq. XVI. 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 16, 17- Bell. I. 17.
2. Foot note p. 432 b. From the text of this verse it would appear that the brothers quitted Rome immediately after hearing of their mother’s death : but from Josephus we collect that p. 433 they did not return until several years after ; namely, in the year B.C. 16.
3. Foot note p. 433 c. He was king of Cappadocia. (Josephus.).
4. Foot note p. 433 d. Namely, Bernice, daughter of Joseph and Salome.
5. Foot note p. 433 e. Josephus calls her Doris.
6. Foot note p. 433 f. That is, they are devising means of securing to themselves the succession to the throne, which they know you have destined for me.
7. Foot note p. 435 g. That is, by which means you will be led to become partisans of one individual or the other, from motives of personal interest, instead of remaining faithful counsellors and supporters of their united authority.
8. Foot note p. 436 h. This manifestly is a mistake of the author or copier, for Herod. Pilate does not appear in Jewish history till more than thirty years had elapsed after this transaction namely, in the reign of Tiberius Caesar. See Luke iii. 1.
9. Foot note p. 436 i. The reader will have remarked the just retaliation upon Herod by his crafty son who now practises against his own father, and with equal success, that system of duplicity and false accusation which Herod and his father Antipater had ever employed for their own advancement.
10. Foot note p. 438 k. The king of Cappadocia. as mentioned above, at verse ‘A.
11. Foot note p. 438  B  l. Josephus informs us that he was a Lacedaemonian, by name Eurycles, of a sordid and treacherous disposition ; so much so, that when he returned to his own country, after having kindled fatal discord in Herod’s family, the Lacedaemonians banished him from the realm.
12. Foot note p. 444  C  m. Of Alexandrium. (Josephus.).
13. Foot note p. 444  D  n. Josephus relates that Herod brought his sons to a public mock trial at Berytus, himself accusing them in most violent language, and allowing no defence to be made. Of course the unhappy youths were condemned. He then carried them off to Tyre and Caesarea.
14. Foot note p. 444  E  o. Josephus records his name, which was Tero (or Tiro).
15. Foot note p. 444  F  p. What are the ” former accounts” here spoken of, it is not easy to determine. The subsequent history of Antipater must be sought in the 17th book of the Antiquities of Josephus. In truth, the conclusion of this tragedy, is quite in keeping with the former melancholy scenes of it : Antipater becoming at last afraid of his father, whose ferocious and indiscriminate massacres he had not only witnessed, but had abetted for some time past, seeks means to destroy him by poison : but Herod detecting the plot, although tormented by a complication of diseases, and almost at death’s door, summons his last energies to order Antipater to be slain, which is instantly done. He himself follows his son to the grave within five days, one year after the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *