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"The Wars of the Jews" by
Josephus Flavius

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  Josephus Flavius: The Jewish Wars




Book I: Chapter 4

WHAT ACTIONS WERE DONE BY ALEXANDER JANNEUS, WHO REIGNED TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS. 1. AND now the kingís wife loosed the kingís brethren, and made Alexander king, who appeared both elder in age, and more moderate in his temper than the rest; who, when he came to the government, slew one of his brethren, as affecting to govern himself; but had the other of them in great esteem, as loving a quiet life, without meddling with public affairs.

2. Now it happened that there was a battle between him and Ptolemy,who was called Lathyrus, who had taken the city Asochis. He indeed slew a great many of his enemies, but the victory rather inclined to Ptolemy. But when this Ptolemy was pursued by his mother Cleopatra, and retired into Egypt, Alexander besieged Gadara, and took it; as also he did Amathus, which was the strongest of all the fortresses that were about Jordan, and therein were the most precious of all the possessions of Theodorus, the son of Zeno. Whereupon Theodopus marched against him, and took what belonged to himself as well as the kingís baggage, and slew ten thousand of the Jews. However, Alexander recovered this blow, and turned his force towards the maritime parts, and took Raphia and Gaza, with Anthedon also, which was afterwards called Agrippias by king Herod.

3. But when he had made slaves of the citizens of all these cities, the nation of the Jews made an insurrection against him at a festival; for at those feasts seditions are generally begun; and it looked as if he should not be able to escape the plot they had laid for him, had not his foreign auxiliaries, the Pisidians and Cilicians, assisted him; for as to the Syrians, he never admitted them among his mercenary troops, on account of their innate enmity against the Jewish nation. And when he had slain more than six thousand of the rebels, he made an incursion into Arabia; and when he had taken that country, together with the Gileadires and Moabites, he enjoined them to pay him tribute, and returned to Areathus; and as

Theodorus was surprised at his great success, he took the fortress, and demolished it.

4. However, when he fought with Obodas, king of the Arabians, who had laid an ambush for him near Golan, and a plot against him, he lost his entire army, which was crowded together in a deep valley, and broken to pieces by the multitude of camels. And when he had made his escape to Jerusalem, he provoked the multitude, which hated him before, to make an insurrection against him, and this on account of the greatness of the calamity that he was under. However, he was then too hard for them; and, in the several battles that were fought on both sides, he slew not fewer than fifty thousand of the Jews in the interval of six years. Yet had he no reason to rejoice in these victories, since he did but consume his own kingdom; till at length he left off fighting, and endeavored to come to a composition with them, by talking with his subjects. But this mutability and irregularity of his conduct made them hate him still more. And when he asked them why they so hated him, and what he should do in order to appease them, they said, by killing himself; for that it would be then all they could do to be reconciled to him, who had done such tragical things to them, even when he was dead. At the same time they invited Demetrius, who was called Eucerus, to assist them; and as he readily complied with their requests, in hopes of great advantages, and came with his army, the Jews joined with those their auxiliaries about Shechem.

5. Yet did Alexander meet both these forces with one thousand horsemen, and eight thousand mercenaries that were on foot. He had also with him that part of the Jews which favored him, to the number of ten thousand; while the adverse party had three thousand horsemen, and fourteen thousand footmen. Now, before they joined battle, the kings made proclamation, and endeavored to draw off each otherís soldiers, and make them revolt; while Demetrius hoped to induce Alexanderís mercenaries to leave him, and Alexander hoped to induce the Jews that were with Demetrius to leave him. But since neither the Jews would leave off their rage, nor the Greeks prove unfaithful, they came to an engagement, and to a close fight with their weapons. In which battle Demetrius was the conqueror, although Alexanderís mercenaries showed the greatest exploits, both in soul and body. Yet did the upshot of this battle prove different from what was expected, as to both of them; for neither did those that

invited Demetrius to come to them continue firm to him, though he was conqueror; and six thousand Jews, out of pity to the change of Alexanderís condition, when he was fled to the mountains, came over to him. Yet could not Demetrius bear this turn of affairs; but supposing that Alexander was already become a match for him again, and that all the nation would [at length] run to him, he left the country, and went his way.

6. However, the rest of the [Jewish] multitude did not lay aside their quarrels with him, when the [foreign] auxiliaries were gone; but they had a perpetual war with Alexander, until he had slain the greatest part of them, and driven the rest into the city Berneselis; and when he had demolished that city, he carried the captives to Jerusalem. Nay, his rage was grown so extravagant, that his barbarity proceeded to the degree of impiety; for when he had ordered eight hundred to be hung upon crosses in the midst of the city, he had the throats of their wives and children cut before their eyes; and these executions he saw as he was drinking and lying down with his concubines. Upon which so deep a surprise seized on the people, that eight thousand of his opposers fled away the very next night, out of all Judea, whose flight was only terminated by Alexanderís death; so at last, though not till late, and with great difficulty, he, by such actions, procured quiet to his kingdom, and left off fighting any more.

7. Yet did that Antiochus, who was also called Dionysius, become anorigin of troubles again. This man was the brother of Demetrius, and the last of the race of the Seleucidse. 3 Alexander was afraid of him, when he was marching against the Arabians; so he cut a deep trench between Antipatris, which was near the mountains, and the shores of Joppa; he also erected a high wall before the trench, and built wooden towers, in order to hinder any sudden approaches. But still he was not able to exclude Antiochus, for he burnt the towers, and filled up the trenches, and marched on with his army. And as he looked upon taking his revenge on Alexander, for endeavoring to stop him, as a thing of less consequence, he marched directly against the Arabians, whose king retired into such parts of the country as were fittest for engaging the enemy, and then on the sudden made his horse turn back, which were in number ten thousand, and fell upon Antiochusís army while they were in disorder, and a terrible battle ensued. Antiochusís troops, so long as he was alive, fought it out, although a mighty slaughter was made among them by the Arabians; but

when he fell, for he was in the forefront, in the utmost danger, in rallying his troops, they all gave ground, and the greatest part of his army were destroyed, either in the action or the flight; and for the rest, who fled to the village of Cana, it happened that they were all consumed by want of necessaries, a few only excepted.

8. About this time it was that the people of Damascus, out of their hatred to Ptolemy, the son of Menhens, invited Aretas [to take the government], and made him king of Celesyria. This man also made an expedition against Judea, and beat Alexander in battle; but afterwards retired by mutual agreement. But Alexander, when he had taken Pella, marched to Gerasa again, out of the covetous desire he had of Theodorusís possessions; and when he had built a triple wall about the garrison, he took the place by force. He also demolished Golan, and Seleucia, and what was called the Valley of Antiochus; besides which, he took the strong fortress of Gamala, and stripped Demetrius, who was governor therein, of what he had, on account of the many crimes laid to his charge, and then returned into Judea, after he had been three whole years in this expedition. And now he was kindly received of the nation, because of the good success he had. So when he was at rest from war, he fell into a distemper; for he was afflicted with a quartan ague, and supposed that, by exercising himself again in martial affairs, he should get rid of this distemper; but by making such expeditions at unseasonable times, and forcing his body to undergo greater hardships than it was able to bear, he brought himself to his end. He died, therefore, in the midst of his troubles, after he had reigned seven and twenty years.