We might want to track back a little and see the final events, because of course, it did not come as easily as it may sound here. What is most interesting is that many agreed even at that time, that Antipater was not really the one to blame, but the two Hasmonean brothers. Here is a fascinating paragraph from Josephus, following his description of all the destruction done by Pompey:
“For this misfortune which befell Jerusalem Hyrcanus and Aristobulus were responsible, because of their dissension. For we lost our freedom and became subject to the Romans, and the territory which we had gained by our arms and taken from the Syrians we were compelled to give back to them, and in addition the Romans exacted of us in a short space of time more than ten thousand talents; and the royal power which had formerly been bestowed on those who were high priests by birth became the privilege of commoners.”
Pompey put Hyrcanus in control of Judea, under strictly Roman rule, and left for Rome. He took Aristobulus and his family with him, in chains, except for one son who managed to escape before boarding the ship. For some reason, Aristobulus’ wife was left behind. General Scaurus, who was given a large part of Syria as his reward for his activities during the troubles in Judea, was left in charge of all military actions he deemed necessary. Antipater remained in Judea, advising Hyrcanus and plotting his own future steps.
Left to his own devices, General Scaurus decided to march against the Nabateans and tried to reach Petra, but Petra was highly fortified. Scaurus’ army ravaged the surrounding land, and as a result, had no access to food. The army suffered from hunger and General Scaurus was not sure how to advance. The situation presented an opportunity for Antipater, which he saw and seized at once. As always, he had control over weak Hyrcanus, and so he convinced Hyrcanus to supply General Scaurus' army with food from Judea. The grateful general, who knew that Antipater was a close friend of Aretas, the Nabatean king, suggested that Antipater would act as an envoy and persuade Aretas to surrender and pay a sum of money, thus saving his country from destruction. Aretas agreed and Scaurus ended the war.
In the meantime, events in Judea were not going well. Hyrcanus could not hold against Aristobulus’ son who continued to try and fight him, and so a Roman by the name of Gabinius was made governor of Judea. Gabinius, with the help of Mark Antony, fought and killed thousands of the rebels who fortified themselves in various towns. Truth be told, Gabinius tried to prevent any carnage. Quite systematically he asked each rebel town, before attacking it, to submit to Roman rule and freely receive pardon – but most of them refused and the Romans captured town after town. Strangely, Gabinius did not want to leave scorched earth behind his army. He gave orders to rebuilt any ruined city he marched through, and Josephus mentions a long list of these cities and towns that had been rebuilt – Samaria, Azotus, Scythopolis, Anthedon, Raphia, Adora, Marisa, and Gaza, among others. Eventually, Gabinius reached a town called Alexandreion, where Alexander, Aristobulus’ son, was staying with his soldiers. His mother, Aristobulus’ wife who was left behind by Pompey, was also there, and she took matters into her own hands after a short, but fierce siege.
It is hard to tell if she first spoke to Gabinius or worked it out first with her son, but the result of her negotiations was that Alexander gave up the fight and surrendered to the Romans. She received a promise from Gabinius that her children would not be harmed, as a reward. It seems that the Hasmonean women largely escaped their male relatives’ insane behavior; perhaps the gene of madness went strictly in the male line.
Satisfied with the results of his campaigns, Gabinius nevertheless realized that order had to be restored in a drastic fashion. So he put Hyrcanus in charge of the temple only, and then set out to divide Judea into districts. These districts were Jerusalem, Gadara, Amathus, Jericho, and Sephoris. Each district was to be governed by a Council. In other words, the Hasmoneans lost all power and Judea was a Roman province.
One might think that at this stage the Hasmoneans would give up, but no, they did not. Aristobulus escaped from Rome, traveled back to Judea, and started rebuilding Alexandreion and fortifying it. Gabinius knew he had to crush this once and for all...
Stay tuned as the madness continues.