Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Herod's Attachment to Samaria is Confirmed in Jewish Antiquities

We should be confident that Herod was originally acknowledged as 'king of the Idumaeans and Samaritans' in Rome but not 'king of the Jews.'  As we noted in our previous post, the idea that Herod was 'king of the Jews' in 40 CE cannot account for the fact that the temple in Jerusalem was built by him in 12 BCE in his 'eighteenth year.'  But there are clear signs that Josephus's source knows of Herod's attachment to Samaritan (= that he was originally 'king of the Samaritans').  For in Antiquities 14.15.3 we hear that after coming from Rome Herod went to Samaria and apparently had a base of loyal supporters in that region:

for he brought an unexpected quantity of provisions, and sent to those friends of his who inhabited about Samaria to bring down corn, and wine, and oil, and cattle, and all other provisions, to Jericho, that those might be no want of a supply for the soldiers for the time to come.
Moreover in the material that immediately follows it is apparent that 'Judea' was inserted into an original understanding that he only received Samaria and Galilee (= that Galilee was once part of the territory of 'Samaria'):

So the king left a garrison at Jericho, and came back again, and sent the Roman army to take their winter quarters in the countries that were come over to him, Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria. And so much did Antigonus gain of Silo for the bribes he gave him, that part of the army should be quartered at Lydda, in order to please Antony. So the Romans laid their weapons aside, and lived in plenty of all things.  But Herod was not pleased with lying still, but sent out his brother Joseph against Idumea with two thousand armed footmen, and four hundred horsemen, while he himself came to Samaria, and left his mother and his other relations there, for they were already gone out of Masada, and went into Galilee, to take certain places which were held by the garrisons of Antigonus

The idea that Herod was beloved by his Samaritan subjects is still preserved in the sources available to the fourteenth century Samaritan chronicler Abu'l Fath.

Yet we should start to think about the fact that Josephus's account by wrongly designating Herod 'king of the Jews' also indirectly implies that 'Samaria' and 'Galilee' and the rest of the territories that belonged to Herod were already under the banner of 'Judea.'  The reality however that peeks through Josephus's narrative is that Herod was very much at home in Samaria.  He had wide popular support, repulsed advances from Antigonus there and most importantly perhaps married his wife Mariamne in Samaria (Ant 15.15.4).  His purpose in marrying Mariamne was clearly to gain legitimacy for any ambitions he might have in Judea.  Yet there is absolutely possibility that Josephus was already declared 'king of the Jews' at this time.

As Appian correctly reports, up until this point in his rise to power, Herod was only 'king of the Idumaeans and Samarians.'  His power base was Samaria and we read in what follows in Antiquities that:

After the wedding was over, came Sosius through Phoenicia, having sent out his army before him over the midland parts. He also, who was their commander, came himself, with a great number of horsemen and footmen. The king also came himself from Samaria, and brought with him no small army, besides that which was there before, for they were about thirty thousand; and they all met together at the walls of Jerusalem, and encamped at the north wall of the city, being now an army of eleven legions, armed men on foot, and six thousand horsemen, with other auxiliaries out of Syria. The generals were two: Sosius, sent by Antony to assist Herod, and Herod on his own account, in order to take the government from Antigonus, who was declared all enemy at Rome, and that he might himself be king, according to the decree of the Senate. 
As we have just related in our last post the idea that Herod was acknowledged from the very beginning to have been 'king of the Jews' by the senate is untrue.  It is contradicted by Appian's testimony and was developed by Nicolaus of Damascus to further the ambitions of his son Archelaeus.

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