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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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HEROD DEFEATS THE ARABIANS. HE GAINS THE FRIENDSHIP OF OCTAVIUS.

[312] AS soon as Herod was established upon the throne he conferred many honors upon those Jews in Jerusalem who had espoused his cause. But he put to death those who had aided Antigonus. He turned his ornaments into money, and sent large sums to Antony, that he might be secure of his friendship.

Antony was now in Egypt, and had become so much in love with the beautiful Queen Cleopatra that she persuaded him to do almost anything she pleased. She had all her relatives put to death, and persuaded Antony to kill the principal men in Syria, that she might be mistress of their possessions. She then longed to be queen of Judea and Arabia, and wished Antony to kill both Herod and Malichus, the king of Arabia. Antony would not consent to do this, but gave portions of both countries to Cleopatra, taking from Judea a plantation of palm trees at Jericho, and also several cities. When afterwards Cleopatra came into Judea, Herod gave her handsome presents, and got back the places that had been torn from his kingdom by paying a yearly rent of two hundred talents.

When Antony was fighting against Octavius Caesar for the empire of the world, Herod made ready to go to his assistance. But Cleopatra persuaded Antony to send Herod against Malichus, in order to enforce the queen of Egypt's right of tribute over the king of the Arabians; so that if [313] Herod won she would become queen of Arabia, or, if he were worsted, of Judea.

This scheme, however, worked to the advantage of Herod. He defeated the Arabians at Diospolis. The worsted army then retired to Kanatha, a city of Celesyria, and was joined by great multitudes. Herod gave orders to his army not to attack the Arabians, but they disobeyed, and, falling upon the enemy, at first routed them. But Athenio, one of Cleopatra's generals, treacherously sent out a force from Kanatha to the rescue of the Arabians. Encouraged by this, the Arabians turned back and completely routed Herod's army. The Jewish king hastened to bring succor, but arrived too late. He, however, revenged himself by overrunning the enemy's country. And now a great calamity fell upon the Jews. For an earthquake shook their country and destroyed an enormous quantity of cattle and thirty thousand lives; but the army escaped unharmed, because they were out in the open air, away from falling buildings.

The Arabians, believing from the reports they heard that almost all the Jews had been killed, thought they could easily capture a land almost destitute of inhabitants. So, after putting to death ambassadors who had come to them from the Jews, they marched upon Judea. The people of Judea were affrighted at this invasion, and dispirited by the calamities that had overtaken them. Herod, however, encouraged them by word and example, and led out his army to fight against the invaders. The Arabians were defeated with a loss of five thousand men, and were besieged in their camp, in which they suffered so for want of water that in five days' time four thousand of them came out and voluntarily surrendered themselves to the Jews. On the sixth day the remaining part of the army, despairing of being able to save themselves, came out to fight, and seven thousand of them were slain. Herod thus so completely crushed the power and spirit of Arabia that he was chosen by that nation to be its ruler.

[314] In the mean time the battle of Actium had been fought, and Octavius Caesar had defeated Antony. Herod, alarmed on account of his friendship with Antony, set out to meet the young conqueror at Rhodes. He appeared before Octavius without his diadem and in the dress of a private person, but behaved with the dignity of a king. He addressed Caesar in a speech in which he manfully avowed the love and gratitude he bore Antony, who had made him king of the Jews, and said that he would have fought with Antony against Octavius had not the Arabian war prevented him; and that he did not desert Antony after the battle of Actium, but advised him to kill Cleopatra and resume the war, promising him money and assistance; that he acknowledged Octavius as his conqueror, and came to throw himself upon his mercy; but that he wished Octavius to consider how faithful a friend, and not whose friend, he had been.

Octavius, struck by Herod's manner and address, declared he wished him for his friend, and placed the royal diadem upon his head. Herod gave Caesar presents and returned to Judea. Afterwards, when Caesar was going through Syria to Egypt, Herod entertained him in such a royal and generous manner that, after the conquest of Egypt, Caesar restored to Herod the territory which Antony had given Cleopatra besides a number of cities. Nor did Caesar's kindness cease, for he subsequently made other additions to Herod's kingdom, and appointed him procurator of all Syria.


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