ARCHELAUS MAKES A FUNERAL FEAST FOR THE PEOPLE, ON THE ACCOUNT OF HEROD. AFTER WHICH A GREAT TUMULT IS RAISED BY THE MULTITUDE AND HE SENDS THE SOLDIERS OUT UPON THEM, WHO DESTROY ABOUT THREE THOUSAND OF THEM.
1. NOW the necessity which Archelaus was under of taking a journey to Rome was the occasion of new disturbances; for when he had mourned for his father seven days, (1) and had given a very expensive funeral feast to the multitude, (which custom is the occasion of poverty to many of the Jews, because they are forced to feast the multitude; for if any one omits it, he is not esteemed a holy person,) he put on a white garment, and went up to the temple, where the people accosted him with various acclamations. He also spake kindly to the multitude from an elevated seat and a throne of gold, and returned them thanks for the zeal they had shown about his father's funeral, and the submission they had made to him, as if he were already settled in the kingdom; but he told them withal, that he would not at present take upon him either the authority of a king, or the names thereto belonging, until Caesar, who is made lord of this whole affair by the testament, confirm the succession; for that when the soldiers would have set the diadem on his head at Jericho, he would not accept of it; but that he would make abundant requitals, not to the soldiers only, but to the people, for their alacrity and good-will to him, when the superior lords [the Romans] should have given him a complete title to the kingdom; for that it should be his study to appear in all things better than his father.
2. Upon this the multitude were pleased, and presently made a trial of what he intended, by asking great things of him; for some made a clamor that he would ease them in their taxes; others, that he would take off the duties upon commodities; and some, that he would loose those that were in prison; in all which cases he answered readily to their satisfaction, in order to get the good-will of the multitude; after which he offered [the proper] sacrifices, and feasted with his friends. And here it was that a great many of those that desired innovations came in crowds towards the evening, and began then to mourn on their own account, when the public mourning for the king was over. These lamented those that were put to death by Herod, because they had cut down the golden eagle that had been over the gate of the temple. Nor was this mourning of a private nature, but the lamentations were very great, the mourning solemn, and the weeping such as was loudly heard all over the city, as being for those men who had perished for the laws of their country, and for the temple. They cried out that a punishment ought to be inflicted for these men upon those that were honored by Herod; and that, in the first place, the man whom he had made high priest should be deprived; and that it was fit to choose a person of greater piety and purity than he was.
3. At these clamors Archelaus was provoked, but restrained himself from taking vengeance on the authors, on account of the haste he was in of going to Rome, as fearing lest, upon his making war on the multitude, such an action might detain him at home. Accordingly, he made trial to quiet the innovators by persuasion, rather than by force, and sent his general in a private way to them, and by him exhorted them to be quiet. But the seditious threw stones at him, and drove him away, as he came into the temple, and before he could say any thing to them. The like treatment they showed to others, who came to them after him, many of which were sent by Archelaus, in order to reduce them to sobriety, and these answered still on all occasions after a passionate manner; and it openly appeared that they would not be quiet, if their numbers were but considerable. And indeed, at the feast of unleavened bread, which was now at hand, and is by the Jews called the Passover, and used to he celebrated with a great number of sacrifices, an innumerable multitude of the people came out of the country to worship; some of these stood in the temple bewailing the Rabbins [that had been put to death], and procured their sustenance by begging, in order to support their sedition. At this Archclaus was aftrighted, and privately sent a tribune, with his cohort of soldiers, upon them, before the disease should spread over the whole multitude, and gave orders that they should constrain those that began the tumult, by force, to be quiet. At these the whole multitude were irritated, and threw stones at many of the soldiers, and killed them; but the tribune fled away wounded, and had much ado to escape so. After which they betook themselves to their sacrifices, as if they had done no mischief; nor did it appear to Archelaus that the multitude could be restrained without bloodshed; so he sent his whole army upon them, the footmen in great multitudes, by the way of the city, and the horsemen by the way of the plain, who, falling upon them on the sudden, as they were offering their sacrifices, destroyed about three thousand of them; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed upon the adjoining mountains: these were followed by Archelaus's heralds, who commanded every one to retire to their own homes, whither they all went, and left the festival.
(1) Hear Dean Aldrich's note on this place: "The law or Custom of the Jews (says he) requires seven days' mourning for the dead, Antiq. B. XVII. ch. 8. sect. 4; whence the author of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, ch. 22:12, assigns seven days as the proper time of mourning for the dead, and, ch. 38:17, enjoins men to mourn for the dead, that they may not be evil spoken of; for, as Josephus says presently, if any one omits this mourning [funeral feast], he is not esteemed a holy person. How it is certain that such a seven days' mourning has been customary from times of the greatest antiquity, Genesis 1:10. Funeral feasts are also mentioned as of considerable antiquity, Ezekiel 24:17; Jeremiah 16:7; Prey. 31:6; Deuteronomy 26:14; Josephus, Of the War B. III. ch. 9. sect. 5.