Plots Against Aristobulus.
Father of Herod I.; died 43 B.C. He was the son of Antipas, a convert to Judaism, who was governor of Idumæa under the reigns of Alexander Jannæus and his queen dowager Alexandra, and rendered himself serviceable to the Jewish rulers, through his connections with his former congeners, of Arabia Petræa. Antipater, who seems to have succeeded his father as governor of Idumæa, had reason to fear that King Aristobulus II. would not retain him in his position. He therefore tried his utmost to dethrone Aristobulus, and to restore the weak Hyrcanus II., who would be an easy tool in his hands, to the throne which was rightfully his. With this view Antipater tried to persuade Hyrcanus, who was not only of a peaceful and kindly disposition but altogether free from suspicion, that his brother was plotting his death in order to secure himself upon the throne. Hyrcanus at first refused credence to Antipater, but finally allowed himself to be gained over. Antipater, who felt no attachment for Judaism or the Jewish state, and who stood ready to sacrifice their interests in order to serve his own ends, had made previous arrangements with Aretas, an Arabian chief, to give his help to Hyrcanus in return for a large sum of money and possession of twelve cities, which had been conquered from the Arabians by the Hasmoneans after long and hard fighting. Antipater then took Hyrcanus with him to Aretas, who forthwith proceeded with a large army against Aristobulus, and defeated him. ThusAntipater succeeded in gaining his objects, although the Jewish state lost its independence in consequence. The dispute was referred to Rome, and decision was given against Aristobulus.Hyrcanus and Antipater.
The remnant of independence which Pompey had allowed to Judea, whose nominal king was now Hyrcanus II., proved of great advantage to Antipater, as he now held Hyrcanus completely under his control. Hyrcanus needed a crafty and skilful counselor at his side, such as Antipater, to meet the difficulties of party opposition from within and of Roman greed from without. Antipater, however, retained his position of influence even after Hyrcanus was stripped of all political power by Gabinius (57 B.C.). His proconsul arranged "all affairs of Jerusalem according to the will of Antipater," a phrase which seems to indicate that Antipater was made the tax-collector of the Jewish realm.Changes of Policy.
When his personal interests did not conflict with those of the Jews the crafty Idumean was of great service to them. Thus, after the battle of Pharsalia (Aug. 9, 48 B.C.), he was quick to take sides with Cæsar; and the latter's friendship to the Jews was mainly due to the services rendered him by Antipater, in Egypt, nominally under the authority of Hyrcanus. Cæsar rewarded Antipater by appointing him governor (ἐπίτροπος) of Judea in the year 47 B.C.; and, what was of still greater advantage to Antipater, Hyrcanus was made ethnarch instead of Antigonus, son of Aristobulus II. Entirely ignoring Hyrcanus, he appointed his own sons, Phasael and Herod, governors of Jerusalem and of Galilee respectively. During the subsequent struggle between Cæsar and the Pompeians, Antipater exhibited great statesmanship in steering little Judea skilfully through the troublous times. As long as Cæsar lived he remained his partizan, foreseeing the ultimate victory of the great general; but after his assassination, Antipater sided with Cassius because the latter had seized Syria, and Judea could not have stood against him. He was as energetic in his services to Cassius as formerly to Cæsar, and was most prompt in delivering the 700 talents which the Jews had to contribute for Cassius' army. In the midst of his activity and rising success Antipater was poisoned (43 B.C.), while feasting with Hyrcanus, by the hireling of a certain Malich, who, like Antipater, was aspiring to an influential position in Judea. No good, however, came to Judea by his death, for the power of the Idumean house was not annihilated thereby, and his sons, particularly Herod, carried on the work of the destruction of Judea. So much was this the case that the hatred of the Jews concentrated itself mainly against the son, and legend has little to say of the actual founder of the Herodian dynasty. A fragment of a legend concerning the life of Antipater has, however, been preserved by Julius Africanus. According to this writer, Idumean robbers attacked Ascalon, and plundered a shrine of Apollo, taking with them the son of the temple-attendant Herod, because he was too poor to redeem his son Antipater.Antipater in Jewish Legend.
Antipater was thus brought up as an Idumean and later won the friendship of Hyrcanus II. (Julius Africanus, "Epistola ad Aristidem," v.; Migne, "Patrologie," x. 59). The Jewish origin of this legend is attested by Justin Martyr ("Dialogus cum Tryphone," lii.), who characterizes this statement of Herod's origin from Ascalon as Jewish. That this account is fabulous is shown by the manner in which the narrative endeavors to prove the Idumean origin of Herod. The legend refuses to regard him even as a half-Jew (Deut. xxiii. 8), but calls him a Philistine, a member of a race which owes its existence to unchastity (Gen. R. xxxvii. 5), and then seeks to reconcile its statement with actual fact. The non-Jewish origin of the Herodians is also demonstrated by the Mishnah Soṭah, iv., at end. See also Herod I. and Hyrcanus II.
- Josephus, Ant. xiv. 1, § 3; 2, § 1; 2, § 3; 3, § 2; 8, §§ 1-5; 9, § 2; 11, § 4;
- B. J. i. 6, §§ 2-5; 9, §§ 3-10;
- for other references see Niese's edition, index; Ewald, History of Israel, v. 396-398, 403, 407, 448;
- Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, 2d ed., iii. 134, 137, 149, 155;
- Schürer, Gesch. i. 233 et seq., 278 et seq., 282-285.