Archelaus

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

ARCHELAUS

ARCHELAUS , ethnarch of Judea (4 b.c.e.–c. 6 c.e.), son of Herod by his Samaritan wife Malthace. In his fourth will Herod designated Archelaus king of Judea and Samaria, which constituted the major portion of his kingdom. The testament required confirmation by Augustus. Archelaus prepared to set out for Rome for this purpose immediately after the period of mourning for his father. Before he was able to depart, events in Judea adversely affected his position. At his first meeting in the Temple with the representatives of the people, they demanded relief from the heavy burden of taxation imposed by Herod. Archelaus sought to postpone the matter until his return from Rome in order to allow their passions to cool. However, the extremist elements among the people assembled and decreed mourning for the scholars Judah son of Ẓipporai and Mattathias b. Margalot and their associates, who had been put to death at Herod's command for tearing down the Roman eagle from the Temple gates. The extremists presented additional demands: the punishment of Herod's advisers who had caused the death of these scholars; the appointment of another high priest in place of *Joezer, son of Boethus; and the expulsion of the Greek officials from the royal court. It was the period of the festival of Passover and multitudes of pilgrims were streaming to Jerusalem. Archelaus, fearing disorders, sent a company of troops against the instigators. This act aroused popular anger and, when the soldiers were stoned, Archelaus ordered them to suppress the uprising by force. In the clash which followed approximately 3,000 people were killed. As a result, when Archelaus reached Rome to petition the emperor to confirm his father's testament, a delegation of the people had also arrived there from Judea to request that the authority of the House of Herod be abolished and that Judea be annexed to the province of Syria. The delegation was supported by 8,000 Jews resident in Rome. The Greek cities also sent envoys requesting their transfer to the immediate authority of the imperial legate of Syria. A third deputation of the Herodian family, however, demanded either the equal partition of the entire kingdom among all the sons of Herod, or awarding the throne to Antipas. Meantime, the position in Judea had deteriorated, and the Syrian governor *Quintilius Varus was compelled to suppress the revolt by force. The emperor's decision was influenced in large measure by these disorders in Judea. He did not nullify Herod's will completely, but made one basic change: abolishing the monarchy, and granting Judea, Idumea, and Samaria to Archelaus with the title of ethnarch, promising him the title of king later if he proved successful in his rule. The areas allotted to Herod's other two sons, *Herod Philip and *Antipas, were also confirmed and the title tetrarch bestowed on them. The Greek cities of Gaza, Gadara (Hammath-Gadar), and Susita (Hippos) were annexed to the province of Syria. Meanwhile peace had been restored in Judea after the war with Quintilius Varus. Archelaus ruled with a strong hand, suppressing the rebellious elements in the country with the utmost cruelty and brutality. He replaced the high priest Joezer by his brother Eleazar, who in turn was supplanted by Joshua, son of Seth. He inherited his father's passion for building, and erected the city of Archelais near Jericho, and built a new palace in Jericho in place of that destroyed during the disturbances. He planted the plain with palm trees and installed an irrigation system in it. His bad relations with the people deteriorated further as a result of his marriage to *Glaphyra, widow of his stepbrother *Alexander, by whom she had had children, such a marriage being prohibited by biblical law (Lev. 18:18). In 6 c.e. a delegation of the people again complained of him to Augustus. This time, the emperor dismissed Archelaus from his ethnarchy, exiled him to Vienne in Gaul, and confiscated his property. Judea was annexed to the Syrian province and placed under a procurator responsible to the authority of the governor of Syria. Archelaus died in exile c. 16 c.e.

bibliography:

Jos., Ant., 17:200–355; Jos., Wars, 1:668 ff.; 2:1–100, 114–6; Matt. 2:22; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 4 (19502), 167, 170 ff.

[Abraham Schalit]