Knowing that he could no longer afford to allow the endless revolts, Gabinius sent a body of soldiers against Aristobulus. He was not taking any chances… the commanders of this enormous force were Anthony, Sisenna, and Servilius, all considered extraordinary generals. But strange as
it may sound, Aristobulus had certain advantages. First, he was on his own terrain, which he knew very well. Second, thousands of Jews clamored to join his army for this seemingly suicidal revolt. Some of these people were still enchanted by his former glory; others simply would join any revolt against the hated oppressor. Till the last family member was dead, the Hasmoneans never lost their hypnotic charm that could sway people and convince them to do the impossible. For example, the Legate of Jerusalem, whose title can be explained as deputy-general of the province for the Romans, defected to Aristobulus with a force of one thousand well-armed men! This act is incomprehensible, but the result was extremely important to Aristobulus, since many of the men who wanted to join his army had no weapons to use in the war, and he had no supplies to equip them with either. So he sent the unarmed men home, and marched toward the strong fortress of Machaerus, where he intended to fortify himself and fight the Romans.
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.”
An ancient temple in Petra
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When I think about an éminence grise, the first person that comes to mind is always Talleyrand. Of course, over the centuries, there were many others, but he stands out as a worldly, sophisticated, brilliant man with no principles or integrity. Someone who could, and did, make and break empires, while sipping a glass of champagne and indulging in all the activities a clergyman like himself should not indulge in, though never in excess. He was the epitome of the 18th century intellectual, the dandy, the stylish aristocrat, and you may have disliked him but nevertheless appreciated his charm, his manners and his sparkling conversation.
Hi everyone, sorry for not being able to post anything new and exciting... we had no power for almost a week and while Hillel is used to reading with oil lamps, I was having trouble working under those conditions. We were very lucky here because we had no horrible damage in most of the area, with only a few exceptions, but life is not back to normal