Aristobulus (IV)  [executed 7 BCE]

Heir to the Hasmonean dynasty that had ruled Judea for more than a century & progenitor of the branch of the house of Herod that dominated Palestinian politics for much of the 1st c. CE. Aristobulus was both descendent & ancestor of Jewish kings who controlled all Palestine, but lived much of his own life outside Judea. As second son of Herod by his favorite wife, the Hasmonean princess Mariamne, Aristobulus was next to his brother in Herod's line of succession but fell victim to his own arrogance & court intrigues. He was barely 3 yrs. old when his father executed his mother on false rumors of her infidelity spread by his paternal aunt Salome (29 BCE). When he reached age 10, Herod sent him & his older brother Alexander to Rome to be schooled in the household of Augustus (23 BCE). When the handsome youths returned to Jerusalem 6 yrs. later, they attracted the adulation of many Jews.  But the imperious manner of these Hasmonean princes who had lived for much of their lives at the very center of Roman imperial power frequently offended Herod & incited the jealousy of their older half-brother, Antipater III, who skillfully fed the aging king's fury with rumors of his favored sons' disloyalty. Finally in 7 BCE, after many failed attempts at reconciliation between the king & his presumed heirs, the ailing Herod had Aristobulus & Alexander strangled on charges of treason & elevated Antipater to the rank of his co-regent & heir apparent.  Yet Herod retained his affection for Aristobulus' children (his grand-children by Mariamne), three of whom -- Agrippa I, Herod III & Herodias -- rose to prominence in the politics of the next generation of Jewish rulers.

References: Josephus, Antiquities 15.342; 16.11, 133, 201249, 311, 322, 394
                   _____, War 1.478-479, 516-520, 528-529, 534-535, 550-551.

Other online resources:

Perspective on the World of Jesus

Copyright 1999-2017 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.

an American Theological Library Association Selected Religion Website
OCLC catalog no.: 62046512