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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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HEROD hastily left Rome in order to go to the relief of Massada, which was besieged by Antigonus. Ventidius, the Roman general who had been sent out to restrain the incursions of the Parthians, came into Judea under pretence of assisting Herod’s brother, Joseph, but really that he might frighten Antigonus into giving him bribes. This Antigonus did, and Ventidius went out of the country with the greater part of his army. He left his lieutenant, Silo, with a small force, that it might not be too evident that he had taken bribes. Silo also received bribes from Antigonus, and hovered between the two parties that he might enrich himself.

Herod, having come to Ptolemais, immediately raised an army and marched towards Massada, that he might relieve his bride and relatives who were shut up there. Joppa stood in his way, so he, with the assistance of Silo, who had joined him, took the city, and, marching onwards, easily relieved Massada, [309] and sat down before Jerusalem, where he besieged Antigonus. And now Silo showed his perfidy, for in order that Jerusalem might not be taken he commanded his won soldiers to mutiny against him, and to demand that they should be led into winter quarters on account of the scarcity of provisions about Jerusalem. Herod, however, defeated Silo’s plans by supplying him with plenty of provisions. And in order that there might be abundance for the future, he ordered the people of Samaria to bring supplies and store them in Jericho. Antigonus, hearing of this, sent out a body of men to fight the collectors or provisions. Herod then took with him five Jewish and five Roman cohorts and marched to Jericho, which he found deserted. The city was plundered by the Romans under him. This, for the time being, broke up the siege of Jerusalem. The Roman army retired into winter quarters, and Herod marched into Galilee, which he overran. Here he expelled the garrisons stationed in different parts by Antigonus, and then employed himself in delivering the country of daring bands of robbers who infested the mountainous districts of Upper Galilee. A great number of them he drove beyond the river Jordan, the rest he surprised in their dens, and killed them all by letting down armed men in chests from the precipices above. These men slew the robbers and their families, and burnt up a great many of them in their caves. Herod then returned to Samaria, leaving a part of his army in Galilee. But when he had gone, a sedition arose, and a number fell upon the general Herod had left, and slew him and laid waste the country. Herod hastily returned, suppressed the sedition, and exacted a tribute from his enemies.

By this time the Parthians had been driven from Syria, so Ventidius, by Antony’s command, sent a thousand horsemen and two legions, under the command of Macheras, to aid Herod against Antigonus. The latter wrote to Macheras promising him money for his assistance. Macheras, in order that he might act as a spy upon Antigonus, pretended friend- [310] ship to him and marched to Jerusalem. But Antigonus, who suspected his designs, repulsed him from the city. At which the Roman was so enraged that he slew every Jew he met with, not sparing friends of Herod.

Herod was of course amazed at this, and set out for Samosata, which city Antony was besieging, to lay his complaint before him. Macheras, however, overtook Herod and pacified him. Still Herod marched on to Samosata, and helped Antony to take the city, who accordingly heaped more honors upon him, and commanded Sosius, the governor of Syria, to march into Judea with a large army, that he might aid Herod in taking his kingdom.

When Herod left for Samosata he put his brother Joseph in command in Judea, but charged him not to risk a battle with Antigonus during his absence. Joseph did not follow this advice. When he knew that Herod was a great distance off, he marched with five cohorts upon Jericho. J oseph was attacked upon the way by the soldiers of Antigonus, and he and all his soldiers were slain. Antigonus cut off Joseph’s head from his dead body. By this victory affairs in Galilee were thrown into the greatest disorder. The men of Antigonus’s party drowned a number of the principal followers of Herod in the lake. Herod heard of these calamities as he was returning from Samosata, and burned to revenge the death of his brother. He collected eight hundred men, and, with two Roman legions, which Sosius had sent on in advance, he hurried into Galilee and drove his enemies from the country. Antigonus sent a large army under Pappus, one of his generals, into Samaria. Herod made an incursion into the enemy’s country and destroyed five cities, and then made his headquarters at a village called Cana. Here a great multitude of Jews flocked to his standard. Pappus and his army marched upon Herod, and a great battle was fought, in which Herod was completely victorious. Herod caused Pappus’ head to be cut off, and sent it to Pappus’s brother, [311] Phernas, who was the man that had slain Joseph. Herod would have marched immediately to Jerusalem, but winter detained him. As soon as it grew warm enough he marched to Jerusalem, and pitched his camp before the temple. He gave orders for the carrying on of the siege, and then went to Samaria, in order to espouse Mariamne, who had been betrothed to him for some time. On his return he was joined by Sosius with a large army, and together they vigorously carried on the siege. But although famine raged in Jerusalem, and the people were very hard pressed, the city held out for five months. At length a band of Herod’s chosen men clambered over the walls into the city, quickly followed by Sosius’ centurions. Soon the whole outside army poured into the city, and a terrible scene of carnage took place. Women, children, and feeble old men were ruthlessly put to the sword. Antigonus, frightened at the awful scene, came in great terror to Sosius and fell at his feet. But the stern Romans laughed at him, calling him by the feminine name Antigone, as if he were a girl, and put him in bonds. Having conquered his enemies, Herod now wished to retrain his foreign allies from profaning the holy places of the temple, and from entirely despoiling and depopulating the city. He complained to Sosius that the Romans, by thus emptying the city of both money and men, would leave him king of a desert, and said that he thought the dominion of the whole world too small a reward for the slaughter of so many citizens. Sosius replied that is was but just to allow the soldiers this plunder as a reward for what they had suffered during the siege. Herod made answer that he would give every one of the soldiers a reward out of his own money. He accordingly made handsome presents to all the soldiers, and gave a royal bounty to Sosius, who then went away, taking Antigonus with him to Rome, where the unfortunate captive was beheaded.

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