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Antipater II the Idumaean (d. 43 BC) was the founder of the Herodian Dynasty and father of Herod the Great. Other members of the family with the name Antipater were his father Antipater I, Governor of Idumaea, and grandson Antipater III.

A native of Idumaea, southeast of Judeamarker between the Dead Seamarker and the Gulf of Aqabamarker, and which during the time of the Hebrew Bible had been known as the land of Edom, Antipater became a powerful official under the later Hasmonean kings and subsequently became a client of the Roman general Pompey the Great when Pompey conquered Judea in the name of Roman Republic.

When Julius Caesar defeated Pompey, Antipater aided Caesar in Alexandria, and was made chief minister of Judea, with the right to collect taxes. Antipater eventually made his sons Phasael and Herod the Governors of Jerusalem and Galilee respectively. After the assassination of Caesar, Antipater was forced to side with Gaius Cassius Longinus against Mark Antony. The pro-Roman politics of Antipater led to his increasing unpopularity among the devout, non-Hellenized Jews. He died by poison.

The diplomacy and artful politics of Antipater, as well as his insinuation into the Hasmonean court, paved the way for the rise of his son Herod the Great, who used this position to marry the Hasmonean princess Mariamne, endear himself to Rome and become king of Judea under Roman influence.

Personal details

Antipater was married to Cypros, a Nabataean noblewoman. They had four sons: Phasael, Herod, Joseph, and Pheroras, and a daughter, Salome, one of several Salomes among the Herodians. Antipater was a wealthy man, and was favored by his fellow Idumeans. Josephus – from whom the details of Judean politics in this period are derived – described him as seditious in his nature.

His genealogy was more a matter of public relations than confirmed history: although a spurious identification lists Antipater as descending from the Jewish remnant that returned from the Babylonian Captivity, it is more likely he was an Edomite. The Idumeans had been forcibly converted to Judaism under the Hasmoneans, so both Antipater and Herod the Great were of the Jewish faith, but were resented by the observant and nationalist Jews of Judea for their Edomite ancestry, their Hellenized culture, and their collusion with the Roman invaders.

Activity in the Hasmonean court

Antipater laid the foundation for Herod's ascension to the throne of Judea partly through his activities in the court of the Hasmoneans, the heirs of the Maccabees, who were the hereditary leaders of the Jews, and partly by currying favor with the Romans, who made him the first Roman Procurator of Judaea.

Antipater insinuated himself into the party of Hyrcanus II in his contest for power with his brother Aristobulus; both were Hasmonean princes. Their father, Alexander, had made Antipater general of all of Judea, for he had a rapport with the Arabians. Hyrcanus succeeded his mother as ruler, but bowed out in favor of his younger brother, Aristobulus. But Antipater continued to support Hyrcanus, and he advised Hyrcanus to put himself under the protection of the Arabian King Aretas III in Petramarker. Together they would attack Aristobulus in Jerusalemmarker. Pompey put down the trouble, and made Hyrcanus the ethnarch of Judea. Antipater remained in charge of affairs of the state.

The Roman province of Judeamarker in Syriamarker was split, and Idumaea was eventually given to Antipater to govern. These divisions would later be seats of power for the Herodean descendants of Antipater. When Caesar defeated Pompey, Antipater aided Caesar in Alexandria, and was made chief minister of Judea, with the right to collect taxes. Antipater eventually made his son, Phasael, governor of Jerusalem, and Herod became governor of Galilee. After the assassination of Caesar, Antipater was forced to side with Cassius against Mark Antony. The pro-Roman politics of Antipater led to his increasing unpopularity among the devout, non-Hellenized Jews, and he was poisoned.

The diplomacy and artful politics of Antipater, as well as his insinuation into the Hasmonean court, paved the way for the rise of his son Herod the Great, who used this position to marry the Hasmonean princess Mariamne, endear himself to Rome, and usurp the Judean throne, to become king of Judea under Roman influence.

Note: The number of Antipaters, Antipases, Herods, Philips, Marys, Josephs, Salomes, etc., at this time in history, makes differentiating among them quite a challenge.

References

  • Josephus, Flavius. William Whistom, translator. (2003) The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, Updated Edition(17th printing). The Antiquities of the Jews.The Wars of the Jews. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. ISBN 1-56563-167-6
  • Eisenman, Robert, 1997. James, the Brother of Jesus. Political background of Judea.


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