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Josephus on Herod’s Domestic Intrigue in the Jewish War

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Abstract This article argues that women and domestic intrigue are prominent within the Herod narrative in Josephus’ Jewish War for a specific rhetorical reason. While the first half of the narrative presents the famous king in encomiastic terms, using him to illustrate Josephus’ contention that Jews generally were content to remain loyal to Rome, the second half of the account subtly presents a rather different thesis. Attention to domestic drama allowed Josephus to suggest that Herod was a man who was unable to control either his own emotions or his turbulent family, and so was unfit to rule. Ultimately for Josephus, the ideal constituency for Judaea is not monarchy (as represented by Herod) but the theocratic reign of priests.

Affiliations: 1: School of Divinity, New College, University of Edinburgh Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX United Kingdom


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