Josephus on Herod's Domestic Intrigue in the Jewish War

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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 Judaca is not monarchy (as represented by Herod) but the theocratic reign of priests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-314
Number of pages20
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • literary tropes
  • women
  • rhetorical motifs
  • Josephus
  • Herod
  • Jewish War
  • monarchy

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