Jerusalem & Rome: The Roman domination of Judea. The life and times
of Herod; his rise to power and the destruction he wrought.
The Torah not only records the laws which G-d gave the Jewish people and the covenants which He made with them and their forefathers, but it also contains the blueprint of the future history of the Jewish people. According to Nachmanides (Ramban), the prophecies contained in Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy were fulfilled in the second Temple period. For instance, the Torah describes how Israel’s king will be led away by a foreign nation. “The L-rd shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; . . .” (Deuteronomy 28:26) This was fulfilled with the defeat of Aristobolus, which was described in the previous lecture.
In the words of Josephus (Antiquities Book XIV Chapter 4 Paragraph 5), “Now Pompey committed Coelesyria, as far as the river Euphrates and Egypt, to Scaurus, with two Roman legions, and then went away to Cilicia, and made haste to Rome. He also carried bound along with him Aristobulus and his children; for he had two daughters, and as many sons; the one of which ran away, but the younger Antigonus, was carried to Rome, together with his sisters.” In the aftermath of Aristobulus’ defeat, Antipater, an Idumean (a descendant of Esau), the advisor to the High Priest, Hyrcanus, Aristobulus’ brother, became the dominant power in Judea. He was succeeded by his son Herod, who was described by his contemporaries, in the words of Josephus (Antiquities Book XVII Chapter 11 Par. 2), “Although their nation had passed through many subversions and alterations of government, their history gave no account of any calamity they had ever been under, that could be compared with this which Herod had brought upon their nation.” It is clearly a fulfillment of the prophecy (Deuteronomy 28:43), “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.”
Eventually, power was taken away from the Herodians and Judea was ruled solely by the Romans, in fulfillment of the verse (Deut. 28:49), “The L-rd shall bring a nation against thee from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand.” (The symbol of Rome, by the way, was an eagle) The story of the rise of Antipater and Herod and the defeat of the remnants of the family of the Chashmonaim (Maccabees) is the subject of this lecture.
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