HOW HEROD TWICE SAILED TO AGRIPPA; AND HOW UPON THE COMPLAINT IN IONIA AGAINST THE GREEKS AGRIPPA CONFIRMED THE LAWS TO THEM.
1. WHEN Herod had despatched these affairs, and he understood that Marcus Agrippa had sailed again out of Italy into Asia, he made haste to him, and besought him to come to him into his kingdom, and to partake of what he might justly expect from one that had been his guest, and was his friend. This request he greatly pressed, and to it Agrippa agreed, and came into Judea; whereupon Herod omitted nothing that might please him. He entertained him in his new-built cities, and showed him the edifices he had built, and provided all sorts of the best and most costly dainties for him and his friends, and that at Sebaste and Cesarea, about that port that he had built, and at the fortresses which he had erected at great expenses, Alexandrium, and Herodium, and Hyrcania. He also conducted him to the city Jerusalem, where all the people met him in their festival garments, and received him with acclamations. Agrippa also offered a hecatomb of sacrifices to God; and feasted the people, without omitting any of the greatest dainties that could be gotten. He also took so much pleasure there, that he abode many days with them, and would willingly have staid longer, but that the season of the year made him make haste away; for as winter was coming on, he thought it not safe to go to sea later, and yet he was of necessity to return again to Ionia.
2. So Agrippa went away, when Herod had bestowed on him, and on the principal of those that were with him, many presents; but king Herod, when he had passed the winter in his own dominions, made haste to get to him again in the spring, when he knew he designed to go to a campaign at the Bosptiorus. So when he had sailed by Rhodes and by Cos, he touched at Lesbos, as thinking he should have overtaken Agrippa there; but he was taken short here by a north wind, which hindered his ship from going to the shore; so he continued many days at Chius, and there he kindly treated a great many that came to him, and obliged them by giving them royal gifts. And when he saw that the portico of the city was fallen down, which as it was overthrown in the Mithridatic war, and was very large and fine building, so was it not so easy to rebuild that as it was the rest, yet did he furnish a sum not only large enough for that purpose, but what was more than sufficient to finish the building; and ordered them not to overlook that portico, but to rebuild it quickly, that so the city might recover its proper ornaments. And when the high winds were laid, he sailed to Mytilene, and thence to Byzantium; and when he heard that Agrippa was sailed beyond the Cyanean rocks, he made all the haste possible to overtake him, and came up with him about Sinope, in Pontus. He was seen sailing by the ship-men most unexpectedly, but appeared to their great joy; and many friendly salutations there were between them, insomuch that Agrippa thought he had received the greatest marks of the king's kindness and humanity towards him possible, since the king had come so long a voyage, and at a very proper season, for his assistance, and had left the government of his own dominions, and thought it more worth his while to come to him. Accordingly, Herod was all in all to Agrippa, in the management of the war, and a great assistant in civil affairs, and in giving him counsel as to particular matters. He was also a pleasant companion for him when he relaxed himself, and a joint partaker with him in all things; ill troubles because of his kindness, and in prosperity because of the respect Agrippa had for him. Now as soon as those affairs of Pontus were finished, for whose sake Agrippa was sent thither, they did not think fit to return by sea, but passed through Paphlagonia and Cappadocia; they then traveled thence over great Phrygia, and came to Ephesus, and then they sailed from Ephesus to Samos. And indeed the king bestowed a great many benefits on every city that he came to, according as they stood in need of them; for as for those that wanted either money or kind treatment, he was not wanting to them; but he supplied the former himself out of his own expenses: he also became an intercessor with Agrippa for all such as sought after his favor, and he brought things so about, that the petitioners failed in none of their suits to him, Agrippa being himself of a good disposition, and of great generosity, and ready to grant all such requests as might be advantageous to the petitioners, provided they were not to the detriment of others. The inclination of the king was of great weight also, and still excited Agrippa, who was himself ready to do good; for he made a reconciliation between the people of Ilium, at whom he was angry, and paid what money the people of Chius owed Caesar's procurators, and discharged them of their tributes; and helped all others, according as their several necessities required.
3. But now, when Agrippa and Herod were in Ionia, a great multitude of Jews, who dwelt in their cities, came to them, and laying hold of the opportunity and the liberty now given them, laid before them the injuries which they suffered, while they were not permitted to use their own laws, but were compelled to prosecute their law-suits, by the ill usage of the judges, upon their holy days, and were deprived of the money they used to lay up at Jerusalem, and were forced into the army, and upon such other offices as obliged them to spend their sacred money; from which burdens they always used to be freed by the Romans, who had still permitted them to live according to their own laws. When this clamor was made, the king desired of Agrippa that he would hear their cause, and assigned Nicolaus, one of his friends, to plead for those their privileges. Accordingly, when Agrippa had called the principal of the Romans, and such of the kings and rulers as were there, to be his assessors, Nicolaus stood up, and pleaded for the Jews, as follows: "It is of necessity incumbent on such as are in distress to have recourse to those that have it in their power to free them from those injuries they lie under; and for those that now are complainants, they approach you with great assurance; for as they have formerly often obtained your favor, so far as they have even wished to have it, they now only entreat that you, who have been the donors, will take care that those favors you have already granted them may not be taken away from them. We have received these favors from you, who alone have power to grant them, but have them taken from us by such as are no greater than ourselves, and by such as we know are as much subjects as we are; and certainly, if we have been vouchsafed great favors, it is to our commendation who have obtained them, as having been found deserving of such great favors; and if those favors be but small ones, it would be barbarous for the donors not to confirm them to us. And for those that are the hinderance of the Jews, and use them reproachfully, it is evident that they affront both the receivers, while they will not allow those to be worthy men to whom their excellent rulers themselves have borne their testimony, and the donors, while they desire those favors already granted may be abrogated. Now if any one should ask these Gentiles themselves, which of the two things they would choose to part with, their lives, or the customs of their forefathers, their solemnities, their sacrifices, their festivals, which they celebrated in honor of those they suppose to be gods? I know very well that they would choose to suffer any thing whatsoever rather than a dissolution of any of the customs of their forefathers; for a great many of them have rather chosen to go to war on that account, as very solicitous not to transgress in those matters. And indeed we take an estimate of that happiness which all mankind do now enjoy by your means from this very thing, that we are allowed every one to worship as our own institutions require, and yet to live [in peace]; and although they would not be thus treated themselves, yet do they endeavor to compel others to comply with them, as if it were not as great an instance of impiety profanely to dissolve the religious solemnities of any others, as to be negligent in the observation of their own towards their gods. And let us now consider the one of these practices. Is there any people, or city, or community of men, to whom your government and the Roman power does not appear to be the greatest blessing '. Is there any one that can desire to make void the favors they have granted? No one is certainly so mad; for there are no men but such as have been partakers of their favors, both public and private; and indeed those that take away what you have granted, can have no assurance but every one of their own grants made them by you may be taken from them also; which grants of yours can yet never be sufficiently valued; for if they consider the old governments under kings, together with your present government, besides the great number of benefits which this government hath bestowed on them, in order to their happiness, this is instead of all the rest, that they appear to be no longer in a state of slavery, but of freedom. Now the privileges we desire, even when we are in the best circumstances, are not such as deserve to be envied, for we are indeed in a prosperous state by your means, but this is only in common with others; and it is no more than this which we desire, to preserve our religion without any prohibition; which as it appears not in itself a privilege to be envied us, so it is for the advantage of those that grant it to us; for if the Divinity delights in being honored, it must delight in those that permit them to be honored. And there are none of our customs which are inhuman, but all tending to piety, and devoted to the preservation of justice; nor do we conceal those injunctions of ours by which we govern our lives, they being memorials of piety, and of a friendly conversation among men. And the seventh day we set apart from labor; it is dedicated to the learning of our customs and laws, (1) we thinking it proper to reflect on them, as well as on any [good] thing else, in order to our avoiding of sin. If any one therefore examine into our observances, he will find they are good in themselves, and that they are ancient also, though some think otherwise, insomuch that those who have received them cannot easily be brought to depart from them, out of that honor they pay to the length of time they have religiously enjoyed them and observed them. Now our adversaries take these our privileges away in the way of injustice; they violently seize upon that money of ours which is owed to God, and called sacred money, and this openly, after a sacrilegious manner; and they impose tributes upon us, and bring us before tribunals on holy days, and then require other like debts of us, not because the contracts require it, and for their own advantage, but because they would put an affront on our religion, of which they are conscious as well as we, and have indulged themselves in an unjust, and to them involuntary, hatred; for your government over all is one, tending to the establishing of benevolence, and abolishing of ill-will among such as are disposed to it. This is therefore what we implore from thee, most excellent Agrippa, that we may not be ill-treated; that we may not be abused; that we may not be hindered from making use of our own customs, nor be despoiled of our goods, nor be forced by these men to do what we ourselves force nobody to do; for these privileges of ours are not only according to justice, but have formerly been granted us by you. And we are able to read to you many decrees of the senate, and the tables that contain them, which are still extant in the capitol, concerning these things, which it is evident were granted after you had experience of our fidelity towards you, which ought to be valued, though no such fidelity had been; for you have hitherto preserved what people were in possession of, not to us only, but almost to all men, and have added greater advantages than they could have hoped for, and thereby your government is become a great advantage to them. And if any one were able to enumerate the prosperity you have conferred on every nation, which they possess by your means, he could never put an end to his discourse; but that we may demonstrate that we are not unworthy of all those advantages we have obtained, it will be sufficient for us, to say nothing of other things, but to speak freely of this king who now governs us, and is now one of thy assessors; and indeed in what instance of good-will, as to your house, hath he been deficient? What mark of fidelity to it hath he omitted? What token of honor hath he not devised? What occasion for his assistance of you hath he not regarded at the very first? What hindereth; therefore, but that your kindnesses may be as numerous as his so great benefits to you have been? It may also perhaps be fit not here to pass over in silence the valor of his father Antipater, who, when Caesar made an expedition into Egypt, assisted him with two thousand armed men, and proved inferior to none, neither in the battles on land, nor in the management of the navy; and what need I say any thing of how great weight those soldiers were at that juncture? or how many and how great presents they were vouchsafed by Caesar? And truly I ought before now to have mentioned the epistles which Caesar wrote to the senate; and how Antipater had honors, and the freedom of the city of Rome, bestowed upon him; for these are demonstrations both that we have received these favors by our own deserts, and do on that account petition thee for thy confirmation of them, from whom we had reason to hope for them, though they had not been given us before, both out of regard to our king's disposition towards you, and your disposition towards him. And further, we have been informed by those Jews that were there with what kindness thou camest into our country, and how thou offeredst the most perfect sacrifices to God, and honoredst him with remarkable vows, and how thou gavest the people a feast, and acceptedst of their own hospitable presents to thee. We ought to esteem all these kind entertainments made both by our nation and to our city, to a man who is the ruler and manager of so much of the public affairs, as indications of that friendship which thou hast returned to the Jewish nation, and which hath been procured them by the family of Herod. So we put thee in mind of these things in the presence of the king, now sitting by thee, and make our request for no more but this, that what you have given us yourselves you will not see taken away by others from us."
4. When Nicolaus had made this speech, there was no opposition made to it by the Greeks, for this was not an inquiry made, as in a court of justice, but an intercession to prevent violence to be offered to the Jews any longer; nor did the Greeks make any defense of themselves, or deny what it was supposed they had done. Their pretense was no more than this, that while the Jews inhabited in their country, they were entirely unjust to them [in not joining in their worship] but they demonstrated their generosity in this, that though they worshipped according to their institutions, they did nothing that ought to grieve them. So when Agrippa perceived that they had been oppressed by violence, he made this answer: That, on account of Herod's good-will and friendship, he was ready to grant the Jews whatsoever they should ask him, and that their requests seemed to him in themselves just; and that if they requested any thing further, he should not scruple to grant it them, provided they were no way to the detriment of the Roman government; but that while their request was no more than this, that what privileges they had already given them might not be abrogated, he confirmed this to them, that they might continue in the observation of their own customs, without any one offering them the least injury. And when he had said thus, he dissolved the assembly; upon which Herod stood up and saluted him, and gave him thanks for the kind disposition he showed to them. Agrippa also took this in a very obliging manner, and saluted him again, and embraced him in his arms; after which he went away from Lesbos; but the king determined to sail from Samos to his own country; and when he had taken his leave of Agrippa, he pursued his voyage, and landed at Cesarea in a few days' time, as having favorable winds; from whence he went to Jerusalem, and there gathered all the people together to an assembly, not a few being there out of the country also. So he came to them, and gave them a particular account of all his journey, and of the affairs of all the Jews in Asia, how by his means they would live without injurious treatment for the time to come. He also told them of the entire good fortune he had met with and how he had administered the government, and had not neglected any thing which was for their advantage; and as he was very joyful, he now remitted to them the fourth part of their taxes for the last year. Accordingly, they were so pleased with his favor and speech to them, that they went their ways with great gladness, and wished the king all manner of happiness.
(1) We may here observe the ancient practice of the Jews, of dedicating the sabbath day, not to idleness, but to the learning their sacred rites and religious customs, and to the meditation on the law of Moses; the like to which we meet with elsewhere in Josephus also against Apion, B. I. sect. 22.