It is not surprising that disturbances rose in Judea. Helix, a trusted member of Hyrcanus' court, was left behind in Jerusalem when Hyrcanus was away, with an army, intending that he would defend Jerusalem should anyone threaten it. Unfortunately, Helix had other ideas, and decided that the time was ripe to seize power for himself. He took his army and marched against Phasael. Herod was on his way to visit Fabius, a new governor in Damascus, when he heard about it. Naturally he intended to turn back and go to his brother's aid, but he fell ill. Phasael, however, did quite well on his own, won the battle against Helix, and shut him up in a prison tower. The whole affair was temporary, since a truce was made between Helix and Phasael, and he let him out of prison. However, Phasael was most bitter against Hyrcanus, who was not only supportive of Helix, but allowed Malichus' brother to guard several fortresses, including Masada, which was considered the strongest of them all. Phasael felt that he could not trust Hyrcanus, and for good reason. So he contacted Herod, and as soon as Herod healed from his illness, he came to Judea and between the two of them they removed Malichus' brother's army from all the fortresses.
However, this was only the beginning. The whole region became quite restless. Antigonus, the son of the ever trouble making Aristobulus, made advances and sent bribes to Fabius. He had behind him the power of Ptolemy, the ruler of Chalchis in Lebanon, who was married to Antigonus' sister. He was also connected to Prince Marion of Tyre, who had at that point decided to invade the Galilee, and captured three important garrisons. Things did not look good, but Herod fought him and recaptured the garrisons. He went further and captured a Tyrian garrison, but made a gesture of good will by releasing it and giving presents to the more important citizens, with the clear view of engaging their favor for himself and turn them against Prince Marion. He then immediately turned his forces against Antigonus.
The battle against Antigonus was fierce, but Herod prevailed. The relief felt by the people of Jerusalem, including Hyrcanus, must have been great, because Herod was received as a savior and was crowned with wreathes. As mentioned in a previous posting, the final negotiations regarding Herod's marriage to the legendary beauty, the Hasmonean princess Mariamne, must have taken place at this point. He was already married to Doris, a native of Jerusalem, and had a son by her which was named Antipater after Herod's father, but in these days most men in power had several wives. It is most likely that Hyrcanus demanded that his granddaughter Mariamne would become the chief wife, and there is little doubt that Herod would agree, knowing how the two women were treated later, but this was years in the future since Mariamne was almost a child at this point. Doris may have not even known about the arrangement.
The region was still in chaos. Cassius was killed by Antony and Caesar in the battle of Philippi. Caesar went to Italy, but Antony went to Bithynia, where he was met by ambassadors from every part of the region. Among them were important Jews from Jerusalem, who had brought accusations against Herod and Phasael. These Jews were certainly not supported by Hyrcanus. They told Antony that Hyrcanus' rule was a sham, and Herod and Phasael usurped all power. This was a serious accusation, and perhaps a little too near the truth to be ignored. However, Antony was a friend of Herod, held him in great respect, and also, to tell the truth, received bribes from him, said to be quite large sums of money. The Jewish ambassadors had no chance and were dismissed without even getting an audience. In addition, Herod negotiated Hyrcanus' request to release any Jews that were held by Cassius as prisoners of war. Antony's decrees about these matters are most interesting, and I will post them here in future segments, but one line is truly worthy of mention right here. Antony wrote to Hyrcanus: "... Being, therefore, persuaded by both deeds and words that you have the friendliest feelings for us, and being aware of your obliging and pious nature, I regard your interests as my own." Judea could have had a golden age...