The Parable of the Pounds – Luke 19

06 Aug
August 6, 2013

Pastor Jim Jones, Community of Faith Church

In this post I will explore what is commonly call “The Parable of the Pounds” in order to demonstrate how our approach to interpreting the Bible works. We will start by reviewing the parable itself.

he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’ When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’ He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’ Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’
Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’ He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’
(And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) ‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’ ”
(Luke 19:11-27)

The Traditional Interpretation

The basic way I hear this parable preached, is like this: Jesus is the young ruler who goes away to be made king. Before he leaves, he entrusts his servants with money (pounds). When Jesus returns as king he rewards those that increased the money entrusted to them, and punishes the one who did noting. Even though the parable is talking about pounds which is a form of money, pounds is understood as representing faith or responsibility. Usually the sermon will conclude with an expectation to hear from God in heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” This is a natural fit with our capitalistic, free market world, even if the end is a bit hard for us to hear. The servant that was afraid, has what little he has, taken from him, and given to the one that had the most. Then those that opposed king Jesus, are slaughtered in front of him. Let me ask you, does this sound like Jesus?

I will suggest that by using cultural models, history from the time of Jesus, and the larger biblical context, you will see that this parable is saying exactly the opposite of the common interpretation.

I have provided a bibliography for all the quotes used in this post, with additional resource to explore this topic in more detail. All Bible quotations are from the NRSV. Let’s take this one step at a time, and explore the challenges to the traditional interpretation.

The Challenge of Cultural Understanding

An important aspect of the biblical cultural outlook is the concept of limited good. Within the limited good view, all goods are understood as limited, in short supply, and already divided up. Whether you are dealing with something tangible such as land, or something intangible like honor, the limited view would apply.

Land is an easy way to understand the concept. There is only so much land and it is already divided. If I want more land it has to come from someone else. Now extend this idea to almost all areas of life and you have the limited good view.

As a result, the ideal to strive for, is maintaining the status quo. If someone increases in goods of some kind, the assumption is that it has come at someone else’s expense. Bruce Malina is a New Testament professor, that has done much to pioneer and promote the use of cultural anthropology as a tool to inform our understanding of the Bible. He explains that for people living durning the New Testament time and place, their perception was that:

… all the desired things in life, such as land, wealth, prestige, blood, health, semen, friendship and love, manliness, honor, respect and status, power and influence, security and safety – literally all goods in life – exist in finite, limited quantity and are always in short supply… Since all good exist in limited amounts that cannot be increased or expanded, it follows that individuals, alone or with their families, can improve their social positions only at the expense of others. Hence any apparent relative improvement in someone’s position with respect to any good in life is viewed as a threat to the entire community. Obviously, others are being deprived and denied something that is theirs, whether they know it or not.
(Malina, 2001:89)

When someone in a group increase in some perceived good, others in the group will experience envy. Envy is not wishing to have something similar to what someone else has, that is how we experience envy in our culture. But in the time and place of Luke’s Gospel, envy becomes a desire to restore balance to the community, by putting someone back in their proper place! This could involve defamation of character, stealing, shunning, or even violence.

If it seems odd that something abstract like honor could be limited, think about money in our culture as an example. The value of money is what a culture agrees it to be, and so like honor, is abstract. If you go into a community where some have a million dollars and others have a thousand dollars, and you change it so that everyone has a million dollars, the ones that had a million dollars to being with have lost out because the relative value of a million dollars has changed. To experience wealth there needs to be un inequality, some need to be without. To regain that experience of wealth, some will have to get more than a million dollars or take it from the others. In either case the inequality is restored.

In a world where to gain means someone else’s loss, gaining is considered deviant behavior. Wealthy people are viewed with suspicion. Listen to Malina and Rohrbaugh explain the concept of rich and poor in a culture using the limited good model:

Essential to understanding poverty is the notion of “limited good.”… An honorable man would thus be interested only in what is rightfully his and would have no desire to gain anything more, that is, to take what is another’s. Acquisition was, by it very nature, understood as stealing. The ancient Mediterranean attitude was that every rich person is either unjust or the heir of an unjust person… Profit making and the acquisition of wealth were automatically assumed to be the result of extortion or fraud. The notion of an honest rich man was a first-century oxymoron… To be labeled “rich” was therefore a social and moral statement as much as an economic one. It meant the power of capacity to take from someone weaker what was rightfully not yours. Being rich was synonymous with being greedy.
(Malina and Rohrbaugh, 2003:400)

If we read through Luke’s gospel, we see that he is writing from the perspective of limited good, including the corresponding suspicion of rich people. Here are some key passages leading up to the setting where Jesus tells the parable of the pounds. I will not go into detail on these, but notice the consistent way that wealth and rich people are dealt with in Luke’s Gospel.

This first passage happens as Mary, the mother of Jesus, was reflecting on her pregnancy:

And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
(Luke 1:46-55)

Then we come to John the Baptist, just before the ministry of Jesus:

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”
(Luke 3:7-10)

Now to direct teaching form Jesus:

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
(Luke 6:24-25)

Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’
(Luke 12:13-21)

No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
(Luke 16:13)

‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.
(Luke 16:19-25)

A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother.” ’ He replied, ‘I have kept all these since my youth.’ When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’
Those who heard it said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ He replied, ‘What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.’
Then Peter said, ‘Look, we have left our homes and followed you.’ And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.’
(Luke 18:18-30)

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’
(Luke 19:1-10)

And this brings us immediately to the parable of the pounds. With all that Luke records up to this point, Luke is clearly operating from a limited good perspective, in which the rich, gain, and wealth are used negatively. Let me ask you, how likely is it, that at this point, Luke is going to use a story about gaining wealth where one is praised for making a 1000% return on their investment, and another who made 500%, would be used as a metaphor for the way of the kingdom of God?

This alone, I would suggest, is reason enough to bring the common interpretation into question. But there is much more.

The first two servants (slaves) are praised for their ability to gain or increase the money given to them. Actions that to this point in Luke’s gospel, are not actions to be praised. The third servant was condemned for not gaining and keeping the money safe. It was suggested to the servant that he should have at least put the money in the bank so it could collect interest.

How do the actions of the third servant match up with Luke’s cultural context? Within that limited good culture, the third servant has actually done the honorable thing by protecting that which was entrusted to him, and did not engage in activities that would take from his neighbors in order to gain for his master!

The master’s comments to the third servant is also telling. He told the servant that he should have at least deposited the money in the bank to gain interest. Keep that in mind and look at the following passages:

The Challenge of Interest

If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them.
(Exodus 22:25)

If any of your kin fall into difficulty and become dependent on you, you shall support them; they shall live with you as though resident aliens. Do not take interest in advance or otherwise make a profit from them, but fear your God; let them live with you. You shall not lend them your money at interest taken in advance, or provide them food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, to be your God.
(Leviticus 25:35-38)

If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your needy neighbour. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near’, and therefore view your needy neighbour with hostility and give nothing; your neighbour might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbour in your land.’
(Deuteronomy 15:7-11)

The Challenge of Jesus’ Listeners

At this point I want to take some time and look at who Jesus’ listeners were in their social position, and how they contrast from us. From our social position, the common interpretation does not pose any social problems, to gain is not in itself a problem, and we don’t have any issues with charging interest to our neighbors. Jesus’ followers lived in a peasant society in which the top two percent of the population owned almost everything and everyone else worked out a living on other people’s land. They lived by torah, which as sited earlier, prescribed a community life of justice where one does not exact interest from your neighbor.

Their families and village communities were steadily disintegrating under the increasing pressures of offerings to the Jerusalem Temple, taxes to Herodian kings, and tribute to their Roman conquerors. Large numbers of Galilean, Samaritan, and Judean peasants eagerly responded to the pronouncements of peasant prophets that God was again about to liberate them from their oppressive rulers and restore cooperative community life under the traditional divine principles of justice.
(Horsley, 2005:23)

For Jesus’ followers, they were all too familiar with the rich taking what little they had to make the rich richer. How would one of Jesus followers respond to the king’s statement to the third servant: “Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.”? Perhaps with the words in our text: “Lord, he has ten pounds!”, only to hear from the king: “I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” How would this be good news about the coming kingdom to a peasant follower of Jesus? The third servant was right in calling the king who he is: “I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.”

If the traditional interpretation of this parable is wrong, what is an interpretation that is more consistent with the context of Jesus’ time and place? To answer this we need two more pieces of information. First is a key historical event of Jesus’ day that is recorded by Josephus (a first century Jewish historian), and second, an alternative theory for how to understand the way some of the parables work.

The Challenge of Archelaus

The historical event I mentioned, was the rise of King Archelaus. Archelaus was one of three surviving sons of king Herod the Great (the king who tried to kill Jesus as a baby). Herod the Great died shortly after trying to kill Jesus but his kingdom did not pass to just one of his sons, but to all three.

There was Herod Antipas who receives the area of the Galilee – this is the Herod at the time of Jesus’ trial.

Herod Phillip receives the cities to the West. Both Herod Antipas and Herod Phillip show up early in the ministry of Jesus when John the Baptist is speaking out against Herod divorcing his Nabatean wife so that he can marry the wife of his brother Phillip. John ultimately was beheaded over this.

And then there is the third son Archelaus. He was set to rule over Judaea, but there was great unrest. Herod the Great was very cruel and the occasion of his funeral provided opportunity to protest. Before Archelaus would assume the throne and wear the crown, he wanted to go to Rome and have his rulership conferred on him by Caesar. However before Archelaus could leave for Rome he got into a dispute with his countrymen and ended up using the army to kill 3,000 Jews in the temple during the Passover sacrifices. So when Archelaus went to Rome to be made king, a delegation of Jews also went to ask that he not be made king. The kingship was conferred, and when Archelaus returned to Jerusalem, he dealt harshly with those that opposed him. We can assume that he rewarded well those that supported him while he was away. (There is an excerpt from Josephus that details this account after the Bibliography at the conclusion of this post)

Here then, is a very dramatic account that happened within the lifetime of Jesus and his followers, of a young ruler who goes away to be made king, a delegation that follows to reject him, and his return as king to Jerusalem. This is the same outline as the parable Jesus tells. How can we take all this information and apply it to understand what Jesus is teaching in the parable? For that we need the last tool: an alternative way of understanding how some of the parables work – codification.

The Challenge of Codification

William Herzog has presented a way to understand the parables of Jesus based on the education model use by Paulo Freire, a teacher of modern day peasants.

One way to approach Jesus’ parables is to examine how they might have contributed to a “struggle over the appropriation of symbols, a struggle over how the past and the present shall be understood, a struggle to identify causes and assess blame, a contentious effort to give partisan meaning to local history,” in short, to examine how Jesus parables contributed to a first-century “pedagogy of the oppressed.”
(Herzog, 2005:55)

From this perspective, not all the parables are metaphors for what the King of God is like. Sometimes the parable functions to paint a picture of the current context, for the purpose of illustrating what is wrong. Within the context of this parable, Jesus and his followers are about to enter Jerusalem, Zacchaeus (a rich tax collector) has done the unbelievable, he has return ill-gotten gain back to the people, and so they ask Jesus the question, “Is now the time that the kingdom of God is going to appear?” I suggest that the following parable is not explaining what the kingdom of God will be like; rather, this is an example or “codification” of the current context. The codification works to reveal what is wrong with the way things currently are. Jesus begins to answer the question about when the kingdom of God would appear, by first showing how the kings of this world do things.

Interpreting the Parable

It is important to note, that the incident that caused Archelaus to kill 3000 countrymen, and Jesus entry into Jerusalem, are both at the Passover. Passover celebrates that great act of salvation in the bible when God rescues his people from the oppressive rule of Egypt. Every year they would gather in Jerusalem hoping that God would again send a deliverer – a Messiah – to once again throw off the harsh rule of the oppressor Rome.

Jesus knows how the people are suffering under Roman rule, but he is warning them not to desire a Roman solution to the Roman problem. Jesus uses the recent history of Archelaus to reflect on how the kings of this world act. In other words, for some time there was an expectation that God would send a Messiah as the restored King of Israel, in order to lead Israel in a military victory over Rome. But that is not the kind of king God sent. He sent Jesus with the uncomfortable message of loving our enemies – even Rome.

Jesus is telling us what we need to know about how the world works: the rich get richer and the poor loose even that which they have, and if you speak out against the system, you know what you can expect. This parable is not about how the Kingdom of God works.

Can you see how the standard way of looking at this passage confirms our current cultural norms of free market, capitalism, and the execution of our enemies; but this is completely backwards from what is being said in the text? It turns out that the one we thought was the example of doing it wrong, the peasant who hides the money, is actually the only one doing what is right within their context.

So after giving this example of what it looks like when the kings of this world ride into Jerusalem – rewarding the greedy, taking from the poor, and silencing those that would speak the truth; Jesus, the true king, shows us what it looks like when he rides into Jerusalem: humble, ridding on a donkey. Not on a war horse in a triumphal parade.

After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem…
Then they brought it [a colt] to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
‘Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!’
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’
As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’
(Luke 19:28, 35-44)

The poor followers don’t have a red carpet and all the decorations to welcome a returning king, so they use what they have. They lay out their coats for him, hold up palm branches and sing his praises. I am sure that Jesus appreciated what they were trying to do, but he laments because they are still trying to imitate Rome rather than the way of God as revealed in Jesus. And in ruffly 30 years from Jesus entry into Jerusalem as the king of peace, there would be a violent revolt against Rome, to which Rome responded just as Jesus predicted.

With all that we have covered from the use of limited good, condemnation of greed in the gospel of Luke, the prohibitions of interest in the Old Testament, the abuse of the servant that acted honorably, and the parallel history of the rise of Archelaus; might it be that this is a better interpretation?

 

A final note about limited good. Greed is often based on fear of scarcity, the fear that there is not enough to go around. The Bible talks about abundance in opposition to scarcity, so that one does not fear and act against neighbor in greed, so one can freely give and share. But doesn’t that contradict limited good? No. Limited good means that if some are greedy, then there will not be enough for all. Abundance means there is enough for all when all share, and recognize our material means are all God’s, we are just the custodians. Think back to Jesus’ comment to Peter:

Then Peter said, ‘Look, we have left our homes and followed you.’ And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.’
(Luke 18:28-30)

The reason they receive “much more” now is not because God blesses them with material private possessions, rather, followers of Jesus enter into a community that knows how to share, an extended family in which we have many houses and brothers and sisters “in this age.”

 

Bibliography

Bechtel, L. M. “Shame as a Sanction of Social Control in Biblical Israel: Judicial, Political, and Social Shaming” JSOT 49:47-76, 1991.

deSilva, David A. Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture. Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Herzog, William R. Parables as Subversive Speech: Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed. Kentucky: Westminster / John Knox Press, 1994.

_____. “Why Peasants Responded to Jesus” Christian Origins: A People’s History of Christianity, Volume 1. Richard A. Horsley, Ed. Minnesota: Augsburg Fortress, 2005.

Horsley, Richard A. “Jesus Movements and the Renewal of Israel” Christian Origins: A People’s History of Christianity, Volume 1. Richard A. Horsley, Ed. Minnesota: Augsburg Fortress, 2005.

Josephus. The Complete Works. William Whiston, Trans. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998.

Landry, David, Ben May, “Honor Restored: New Light on the Parable of the Prudent Steward (Luke 16:1-8a)” Journal of Biblical Literature 119:2 (Summer 2000)

Malina, Bruce J. The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology. Kentucky:Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

Malina, Bruce J., Richard L. Rohrbaugh. Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels. Minnesota: Augsburg Fortress, 2003.

Neyrey, Jerome H., Ed. The Social World of Luke-Acts: Models for Interpretation. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publisher, Inc., 1999.

Pilch, John J. The Cultural Dictionary of the Bible. Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1999.

_____. “Steadfast Love” Handbook of Biblical Social Values. John J. Pilch, Bruce J. Malina, Eds. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1998.

Skenfeld, Katharine Doob. “Love (OT)” Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 4. David Noel Freedman, Ed. NY: Doubleday, 1992.

_____. Faithfulness in Action: Loyalty in Biblical Perspective. PA: Fortress Press, 1985.

 

Josephus records the rise of Archelaus in his work The Wars of the Jews.

Excerpts from 1.33.8 – 2.7.3
So Herod… died… After this, they betook themselves to prepare for the king’s funeral; and Archelaus omitted nothing of magnificence therein, but brought out all the royal ornaments to augment the pomp of the deceased… Now the necessity which Archelaus was under of taking a journey to Rome was the occasion of new disturbances; for when he had mourned for his father seven days, and had given a very expensive funeral feast to the multitude, (which custom is the occasion of poverty to many of the Jews, because they are forced to feast the multitude; for if any one omits it, he is not esteemed a holy person,)… he told them withal, that he would not at present take upon him either the authority of a king, or the names thereto belonging, until Caesar, who is made lord of this whole affair by the testament, confirm the succession… And here it was that a great many of those that desired innovations came in crowds towards the evening, and began then to mourn on their own account, when the public mourning for the king was over. These lamented those that were put to death by Herod, because they had cut down the golden eagle that had been over the gate of the temple. Nor was this mourning of a private nature, but the lamentations were very great, the mourning solemn, and the weeping such as was loudly heard all over the city, as being for those men who had perished for the laws of their country, and for the temple… At these clamors Archelaus was provoked, but restrained himself from taking vengeance on the authors, on account of the haste he was in of going to Rome, as fearing lest, upon his making war on the multitude, such an action might detain him at home… And indeed, at the feast of unleavened bread, which was now at hand, and is by the Jews called the Passover, and used to be celebrated with a great number of sacrifices, an innumerable multitude of the people came out of the country to worship; some of these stood in the temple bewailing the Rabbi’s [that had been put to death], and procured their sustenance by begging, in order to support their sedition. At this Archclaus was aftrighted, and privately sent a tribune, with his cohort of soldiers, upon them, before the disease should spread over the whole multitude, and gave orders that they should constrain those that began the tumult, by force, to be quiet. At these the whole multitude were irritated, and threw stones at many of the soldiers, and killed them; but the tribune fled away wounded, and had much ado to escape so. After which they betook themselves to their sacrifices, as if they had done no mischief; nor did it appear to Archelaus that the multitude could be restrained without bloodshed; so he sent his whole army upon them, the footmen in great multitudes, by the way of the city, and the horsemen by the way of the plain, who, falling upon them on the sudden, as they were offering their sacrifices, destroyed about three thousand of them… Archelaus went down now to the sea-side, with his mother and his friends, Poplas, and Ptolemy, and Nicolaus, and left behind him Philip, to be his steward in the palace, and to take care of his domestic affairs. Salome went also along with him with her sons, as did also the king’s brethren and sons-in-law. These, in appearance, went to give him all the assistance they were able, in order to secure his succession, but in reality to accuse him for his breach of the laws by what he had done at the temple… But now came another accusation from the Jews against Archelaus at Rome, which he was to answer to. It was made by those ambassadors who, before the revolt, had come, by Varus’s permission, to plead for the liberty of their country; those that came were fifty in number, but there were more than eight thousand of the Jews at Rome who supported them… So Caesar, after he had heard both sides, dissolved the assembly for that time; but a few days afterward, he gave the one half of Herod’s kingdom to Archelaus, by the name of Ethnarch, and promised to make him king also afterward, if he rendered himself worthy of that dignity. But as to the other half, he divided it into two tetrarchies, and gave them to two other sons of Herod, the one of them to Philip, and the other to that Antipas who contested the kingdom with Archelaus… And now Archelaus took possession of his ethnarchy, and used not the Jews only, but the Samaritans also, barbarously; and this out of his resentment of their old quarrels with him.

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