Aristobulus II
Aristobulus II was the Jewish High Priest
Kohen Gadol
The High Priest was the chief religious official of Israelite religion and of classical Judaism from the rise of the Israelite nation until the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem...

 and King of Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

, 66 BC to 63 BC, from the Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...



Aristobulus was the younger son of Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus was king of Judea from 103 BC to 76 BC. The son of John Hyrcanus, he inherited the throne from his brother Aristobulus I, and appears to have married his brother's widow, Shlomtzion or "Shelomit", also known as Salome Alexandra, according to the Biblical law of Yibbum...

, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome. After the death of Alexander in 76 BC, his widow succeeded to the rule of Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

 and installed her elder son Hyrcanus II as High Priest. When Salome died in 67 BC, Hyrcanus succeeded to the kingship as well. Aristobulus felt he should rule because he was a better leader and fighter than Hyrcanus


Hyrcanus shared his mother's religious views, sympathetic to the Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

. In contrast to this, Alexander Jannaeus had supported the Saducees.

Aristobulus agreed with his father's Sadducean stance and rebelled against his elder brother. Hyrcanus advanced against him at the head of his mercenaries and his followers. The brothers met in battle near Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 and many of Hyrcanus' soldiers went over to Aristobulus, and thereby gave the latter the victory.

Hyrcanus took refuge in the citadel of Jerusalem; but the capture of the Temple by Aristobulus compelled Hyrcanus to surrender. A peace was then concluded, according to the terms of which Hyrcanus was to renounce the throne and the office of high priest, but was to enjoy the revenues of the latter office.

This agreement however did not last, as Hyrcanus feared that Aristobulus was planning his death and took refuge with Aretas III
Aretas III
Aretas III was king of the Nabataean kingdom from 87 to 62 BCE. Aretas ascended to the throne upon the death of his brother, Obodas I, in 87 BCE. During his reign, he extended his kingdom to cover what now forms the northern area of Jordan, the south of Syria, and part of Saudi Arabia...

, King of the Nabataeans
Thamudi3.jpgThe Nabataeans, also Nabateans , were ancient peoples of southern Canaan and the northern part of Arabia, whose oasis settlements in the time of Josephus , gave the name of Nabatene to the borderland between Syria and Arabia, from the Euphrates to the Red Sea...

. The Nabataeans advanced toward Jerusalem with an army of 50,000 and besieged the city for several months.

Roman intervention

During this civil war, the Roman general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus defeated the Kingdoms of Pontus
Pontus or Pontos is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος...

 and the Seleucids
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

. He sent his deputy Marcus Aemilius Scaurus
Marcus Aemilius Scaurus (praetor 56 BC)
Marcus Aemilius Scaurus was a Roman politician of the 1st century BC and son of Marcus Aemilius Scaurus and Caecilia Metella Dalmatica.Scaurus lost his father when he was very young, but his education was insured by several other family friends...

 to take possession of Seleucid Syria.

As the Hasmoneans were allies of the Romans, both brothers appealed to Scaurus, each endeavoring by gifts and promises to win him over to his side. Scaurus, moved by a gift of 400 talents, decided in favor of Aristobulus and ordered Aretas to withdraw his army. During his retreat, the Nabateans suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Aristobulus.

When Pompey arrived in Syria in 63 BCE, both brothers and a third party that desired the removal of the entire dynasty, sent their delegates to Pompey, who however delayed the decision. He favoured Hyrcanus II over Aristobulus II, deeming the elder, weaker brother a more reliable ally of the Roman Empire.

Aristobulus and his son were captured in 63 BCE. Marc Antony had been commander of the cavalry under Gabinius, consul of the Roman province of Syria. Marc Antony was the man who scaled Aristobulus' fortification and subdued his forces with several men. This is the point that Aristobulus II and his son were taken prisoner. However, Aristobulus II escaped in 57 BCE

Aristobulos, suspicious of Pompey, entrenched himself in the fortress of Alexandrium
Alexandrion or Alexandrium, sometimes referred to as Sartaba, was a fort constructed by the Hasmoneans on a mountain between Scythopolis and Jerusalem, near the Jordan Valley...

, but when the Romans summoned their army, he surrendered and undertook to deliver Jerusalem over to them. However, since many of his followers however were unwilling to open the gates, the Romans besieged and captured
Siege of Jerusalem (63 BC)
-Bibliography:** Josephus, Flavius. William Whiston, A.M., translator . . Auburn and Buffalo, New York: John E. Beardsley. Retrieved 15 July 2010.*****...

 the city by force, badly damaging city and temple. Hyrcanus was restored as High Priest, but deprived of political authority.

Aristobulus was on his way to Judaea with his son Alexander
Alexander of Judaea
Alexander , or Alexander Maccabeus, was the eldest son of Aristobulus II, king of Judaea. He married his cousin Alexandra Maccabeus, daughter of his uncle, Hyrcanus II. Their grandfather was Alexander Jannaeus, the second eldest son of John Hyrcanus...

, in 49 BC when "he was taken off by poison given him by those of Pompey's party". His son Alexander was beheaded by the Roman commander Scipio at Antioch.

His son Antigonus
Antigonus the Hasmonean
Antigonus II Mattathias was the last Hasmonean king of Judea. He was the son of King Aristobulus II of Judea...

 led a rebellion against Rome 40 BC but was defeated and killed in 37 BC.

See also

  • Hasmonean coinage
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