NameAlexander the Herodian
Birth030 BC
Death007 BC, executed by his father
MotherMariamne I the Hasmonean (57bc-029bc)
Misc. Notes
Herod's favorite sons were the sons of Mariamne I, Alexander and Aristobulus. After they had returned from Rome and had married Glaphyra and Berenice, troubles domestically began to come to the forefront. Salome, Herod's sister and mother of Berenice, hated these two sons and tried desperately to establish her own son. It may well be that to a certain degree the arrogance of the two sons of Mariamne I was because of being a part of the Hasmonean dynasty. Salome aggravated them by speaking ill of their mother whom Herod had killed, which caused them to defend her. Salome and Pheroras (brother of Herod and Salome) reported to Herod that his life was in danger because the two sons were not going to leave the murder of their mother unavenged and that Archelaus, king of Cappadocia (father of Glaphyra), would help them to reach the emperor and bring charges against their father.

In order to somehow correct things and to show them that there might be another who could be heir to the throne, he recalled his exiled son Antipater. In the spring of 13 B.C. Herod sent Antipater to Rome in the company of Agrippa (friend of Augustus), who left the east to go to Rome, so that he might present Antipater to the emperor.

But instead of helping correct things, Antipater used every conceivable means to acquire the throne. He used slander against his two half brothers. The problems between Herod and Mariamne's two sons became so great that Herod decided to accuse his two sons before the emperor. In 12 B.C. the two sons went with Herod and they were tried before Augustus in Aquileia.

After the case was heard Augustus was able to reconcile Herod and his sons, and having restored domestic peace, the father, the two sons, and Antipater returned home. When they arrived home Herod named Antipater as his first successor and next after him were to be Alexander and Aristobulus.

Not long after they had arrived home Antipater, being helped by Herod's sister Salome and Herod's brother Pheroras, began to slander the two sons of Mariamne. Alexander and Aristobulus became more hostile in their attitude. Herod became suspicious and became more and more fearful about the situation. Antipater played on Herod's fears. He even caused the friends of Alexander to be tortured so that they might confess any attempt to take Herod's life and one friend made the admission that Alexander, with the help of Aristobulus, had planned to kill him and then flee to Rome to lay claim on his kingdom. For this Alexander was committed to prison.

When the Cappadocian king Archelaus, Alexander's father-in-law, heard of this state of affairs, he began to fear for his daughter and son-in-law and thus made a journey to Jerusalem to see if there could be reconciliation. He appeared before Herod very angry over his good-for-nothing son-in-law and threatened to take his daughter back with him. This was actually a very sly maneuver on the part of Archelaus because, in doing this, Herod defended his son against Archelaus and Archelaus accomplished the reconciliation he desired and then returned to his home. This probably happened in 10 B.C. Thus there was peace once again in Herod's household.

During this same period Herod had troubles with some foreign enemies and with the emperor. Syllaeus, who ruled in the place of the Arabian king Obodas and who was very hostile to Herod, gave shelter to forty rebels of Trachonitis and tried to relieve his country from paying a debt contracted with Herod. Herod demanded that he hand over the rebels and pay the debt.

With the consent of the governor of Syria, Saturninus, Herod invaded Arabia and enforced his rights (around 9 B.C.). This was only to be a disciplinary measure with no intentions of territorial gain, but Syllaeus had meanwhile gone to Rome and distorted the picture with the result that Augustus became suspicious and indicated to Herod that their friendship was at an end and that he would no longer treat him as a friend but as a subject. In order to justify himself Herod sent an embassy to Rome and when this failed he sent a second under the leadership of Nicolas of Damascus (Jos. Antiq. xvi. 9. 1-4 ; 271-299).

Meanwhile the domestic conflicts again came to the forefront. A certain Eurycles from Lacedemon, a man of bad character, inflamed the father against the sons and the sons against the father. As other mischief-makers became involved, Herod's patience was exhausted and he put Alexander and Aristobulus into prison, and laid a complaint against them before the emperor of their being involved in treasonable plots.

Meanwhile Nicolas of Damascus had accomplished his mission and had again won over the emperor to Herod. When the messengers who were bringing the accusations of Herod reached Rome, they found Augustus in a favorable mood and he gave Herod absolute power to proceed in the matter of his sons as he wished but advised him that the trial should take place outside of Herod's territory at Berytus (Beirut), before a court of which Roman officials would form part and to have the charges against his sons investigated.

Herod accepted the advice of the emperor. Although the governor of Syria, Saturninus, and his three sons thought that the sons were guilty but should not be put to death, the court almost unanimously pronounced the death sentence upon the sons. Tiro, an old soldier, publicly proclaimed that the trial had been unjust and the truth suppressed. But he and 300 others were not considered to be friends of Alexander and Aristobulus and thus they were executed. Therefore, at Sebaste (Samaria), where Herod had married Mariamne thirty years before, her two sons were executed by strangling, prob. in 7 B.C.

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Last Modified 27 Jul 2003Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh