Cleansing of the Temple: Before or after Palm Sunday?


Pretty much yes.

The thing is, the Temple incident by itself probably wasn’t really fatal. Speaking (ostensibly) of the temple’s destruction and performing a demonstration in the precincts is a serious matter and would have earned Jesus a degree of notoriety, but if taken alone, it wouldn’t really automatically merit Him a death sentence. Especially since at that time, He didn’t have a reputation yet: He was still just some random nobody. Quite a number of people have also expressed their misgivings about the temple; I mean, Jeremiah centuries ago (the prophet whom Jesus was quoting in the synoptics) also spoke out against it. Jesus wasn’t the first person to criticize the temple, nor would He be the last.

In fact, as some people point out, the place where the ‘cleansing’ would have happened is in the marketplace somewhere in the outermost court of the gentiles (probably within the royal stoa, a basilica along the southern part of the Temple Mount) - which was a mere extension of the original Temple Mount and thus, not considered part of the sanctuary proper. That explains why gentiles were allowed in it: it was not sacred ground. That explains why some scholars are hesitant to speak of the event as the ‘cleansing’ of the temple: because Jesus was technically not doing the action within the sanctuary itself, but ‘outside’.

Disrupting the temple market would have of course antagonized the priests, but it’s hardly likely that this was a big riot - Jesus going berserk and unleashing unbridled fury - like some people imagine it was: it was more likely to have been a calculated, symbolic action by Jesus (just like the triumphal entry). That, and the fact that Jesus was not in the sanctuary itself, I think explains why the temple guards - or the Romans in the Antonia Fortress - didn’t arrest Him then and there: there wasn’t a huge rebellion involved or anything. It was just one man prophesying and symbolically turning over some tables for good measure.

But by the raising of Lazarus, Jesus had already amassed a following who hail Him as a messianic figure. You would notice in Josephus that a number of messianic movements follow a similar pattern: the ringleaders do or claim to do something supernatural - usually something that has prophetic/messianic overtones (i.e. miraculously demolishing the walls of Jerusalem, finding long-lost artifacts buried by Moses, divide the rivers of the Jordan, etc.)

[A] man who made light of mendacity and in all his designs catered to the mob, rallied them, bidding them go in a body with him to Mount Gerizim, which in their belief is the most sacred of mountains. He assured them that on their arrival he would show them the sacred vessels which were buried there, where Moses had deposited them. His hearers, viewing this tale as plausible, appeared in arms. They posted themselves in a certain village named Tirathana, and, as they planned to climb the mountain in a great multitude, they welcomed to their ranks the new arrivals who kept coming. But before they could ascend, Pilate blocked their projected route up the mountain with a detachment of cavalry and heavily armed infantry, who in an encounter with the first comers in the village slew some in a pitched battle and put the others to flight. Many prisoners were taken, of whom Pilate put to death the principal leaders and those who were most influential among the fugitives.


It came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain charlatan, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it. Many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them. After falling upon them unexpectedly, they slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem.


[A]bout this time, someone came out of Egypt to Jerusalem, claiming to be a prophet. He advised the crowd to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of a kilometer. He added that he would show them from hence how the walls of Jerusalem would fall down at his command, and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those collapsed walls. Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. The Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more.


This is from John:

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” …] So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

…] When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there [in Bethany], they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

…] The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”


And my post #39 was, in turn, a response to your #38. I wrote:

Steve, I read your posts carefully at the time, and I have reread them now. My objection still stands. You are making statements that are unsubstantiated by any evidence. Take this one, for example, from your post #38:

No, there is no “accounting” to do, as I see it. Tiberius died in March 37. Jesus may have been crucified in April 33, in which case four years (minus three weeks or so) elapsed between the two dates. Alternatively, Jesus may have been crucified in April 30. In that case, seven years (minus three weeks or so) elapsed between the two deaths. So what? You never explained why you think there is something to “account” for. You never presented any evidence.


**Patrick, **thank you for those two long posts. You have put yourself to a great deal of trouble and I am indebted to you for that.

As a matter of interest, what translation of Josephus are you using? Mine is Feldman’s (for the Antiquities) and in 20:169 he provides some additional information, in a footnote, about the unnamed Egyptian:

He is probably the Egyptian for whom Paul was mistaken and who, according to Acts XXI. 38, “recently stirred up a revolt and led the 4000 men of the sicarii out into the wilderness.”



A case could be made for St John having the best chronological data, but I dont think it is necessary to say one is more accurate than the other. My studies lead me to think that John featured different stories from those of the other writers. For example, the marriage at Cana, and the (first) temple cleansing.

Indeed, and no, Im not prepared to accept that there wasn’t a connection between the temple cleansing(s) and Jesus’ arrest.

Fair question, but I think that the first time caught the authorities completely off guard. By the time of the second cleansing, they were plotting and waiting for a suitable excuse to arrest him. It makes your wonder if Jesus timed it for that very reason. Im darned sure I wouldnt have. :whistle:


If I can speculate, I think you are dipping your toe into Josephus only as far as you are forced to where he mentions NT characters, and then defend an early crucifixion date by saying that’s not good enough.

I have to give John Hagan’s “Year of the Passover” a plug here, for Hagan realized that to really understand those times, and Josephus, you have to go “all-in” and devote serious time and study to it.

When that is done, as Hagan found, you get the complete history and nuance of those times and the people who lived them. Then the famous passages that relate directly to JB and Jesus make sense. In fact, the New testament can help shed light on Josephus as well- a complimentary source. And a late crucifixion date makes all the sense in the world.

Bart wants linkages. OK. Let me line things up.

-JB was arrested and executed before Jesus’ own crucifixion, according to the NT.

-The NT says that JB was executed because of the request of Herodias, Antipas’ wife.

-Josephus, however, states JB was arrested and executed in Macherus in southern Perea because Antipas did not want him disturbing the soldiers in his army. Herodias is not mentioned.

-Josephus states that, at some point, Antipas’ army was destroyed by Aretas’ army.

-Josephus states Tiberius was furious with Aretas for this, and instructed Syrian President Lucius Vitellius to move against Aretas and behead him.

-Derived from Josephus, Vitellius assumed power in early A.D. 35.

-Also from Josephus, Vitellius was in Jerusalem for the Passovers of both A.D. 36 and A.D. 37.

So the link is that arrest and execution of JB by Antipas was early in the campaign against Aretas. Antipas was based out of Macherus in souther Perea at that time, so the assumption was that Antipas intended to invade Nabotea and subdue Petra, the home base of the Naboteans and where King Aretas lived.

Using other evidence, Hagan and others conclude that JB was arrested in late A.D. 34, was executed in early A.D. 35, with the defeat of Antipas’ army in the fall of A.D. 35, Jesus’ execution in the spring of A.D. 36.

Now, a critic might say, “Well, there is no reason to link JB’s death to Antipas’ campaign against Aretas. It could have been any number of campaigns. And there was always trouble and kings were always fighting for some reason or another.”

Here is where a close reading of Josephus comes in play. The “war” against Aretas is the only conflict that Antipas was known to engage in, and Josephus is usually very meticulous in documenting the actions of the Jewish Kings and High Priests.

Antipas as a man was far more a “lover” than a “fighter” and his total capitulation to the much-younger Herodias in that regard might be regarded as a lack of courage. In the battle with Aretas, Antipas did not even bother to show up, letting his generals run the show- badly. Antipas also was addicted to astrology and fortune-telling.

Herod Antipas was the youngest Royal son of Herod the Great. He grew up and was educated in Rome, and knew all of them, included Tiberius, who could have been like an older brother. Antipas knew the social graces, and knew his place as he was also thrown in with his older brothers. Antipas had military training as was standard for the day, but that was about it.

Antipas was probably a very smooth operator and a very likable person. Herod the Great in one of his wills gave his entire kingdom to him. Herod the Great’s sister Salome was a great champion of Antipas.

To make a long story short, Antipas received only a quarter of Herod’s kingdom after Herod the Great’s death. Importantly, his tetrarchy was the most peaceful area of Herod’s kingdom, and unlikely to face any military threat. To the south Judea and Samaria was ruled by his older brother Archelaus. To the north his known-warrior half-brother Herod Philip ruled- a territory that bordered several potentially hostile kingdoms. To the east was the Decapolis, which formed a buffer with the border with Nabotea- though apparently Antipas did control some minor areas there.

So from all indications Antipas was not a warrior-king by any stretch of the imagination. And he was given that section of the Empire to rule precisely for that reason- someone knew Antipas well.

Then, the critic might ask, why would Antipas even consider an action against Aretas if he was such an easy-going guy?

The key here is the death of the TRUE warrior-king of the Herod family, Herod Philip, in early A.D. 34. After his death, instead of awarding Philip’s tetrarchy to Antipas, the last of the first-generation Herods, Tiberius chose to sit on it and let the Syrian President administer it- as he did for the Decapolis.

Herodias was probably furious at this insult from Rome.

So we have another dimension to deal with- Herod Antipas feeling the need to prove himself in front of Tiberius after the death of his brother Philip in A.D. 34. This is well after the early crucifixion dates that usually put Jesus’ death at A.D. 29, 30, or 33.



Indeed, and no, Im not prepared to accept that there wasn’t a connection between the temple cleansing(s) and Jesus’ arrest.

There was a connection. But the final straw probably came when Jesus said the Temple would be destroyed by the Gentiles. A direct threat to God’s Temple would be very serious.


Thank you, Steve. It’ll take me a little while to sift through all your points, but for the time being let me ask you a couple of preliminary questions about things you say you found in Josephus.

What translation are you using? In Feldman’s translation, which is the only one I have, Antipas’ reason for arresting John the Baptist is stated as follows (18:118):

When others too joined the crowds about him, because they were aroused to the highest degree by his sermons, Herod became alarmed. Eloquence that had so great an effect on mankind might lead to some form of sedition, for it looked as if they would be guided by John in everything that they did. Herod decided therefore that it would be much better to strike first and be rid of him before his work had led to an uprising, than to wait for an upheaval, get involved in a difficult situation and see his mistake.

The key words here are aroused, sedition, uprising, and *upheaval. *It looks as though Antipas is worried about widespread disaffection or revolt among his Galilean subjects in general, rather than mutiny by his troops. Is there a significant difference in your translation? In his footnotes to this section, Feldman notes that the wording in Greek varies from one manuscript to another, but even so, there is nothing here about John the Baptist “disturbing the soldiers in his army.”

Steve, I can’t see anything in Josephus to support that timing or, indeed, any very precise timing at all. Having first stated what Aretas’ reasons were for launching his invasion – to avenge the insult to his family by Antipas repudiating Aretas’ daughter when he married Herodias, and a border dispute – Josephus then adds (18:116):

But to some of the Jews the destruction of Herod’s army seemed to be divine vengeance, and certainly a just vengeance, for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist.

That one short sentence is the only time Josephus mentions John the Baptist and the war against Aretas in the same breath. The only legitimate deduction about the timing is that the execution of John the Baptist came first and the destruction of Antipas’ army came later. How much later, there is no way of telling. It could have been very soon afterward, or it could have been several years later. My Jerusalem Bible gives early 29 as the probable date of John’s death. I have seen suggestions that it may have been a year or two later than that, but Josephus doesn’t say anything that would help to pinpoint the date either way, does he? And I haven’t found anything in Josephus to support your timing of “early in the campaign against Aretas.” Once again, I can only ask you to look and see whether the translation you’re using is materially different from Feldman’s on this point.


I read your article. There is actually reason to believe that His ministry was two years.


People say that because Jesus’ ministry began and ended on Passover. Since John only mentions three Passovers, the span in-between them appears to be only 2 years. However, there is also reason to believe that Jesus avoided going to the AD 29 Passover. (assuming he died in AD30) and, if so, the span between John’s cleansing of the temple, and the synoptic’s cleansing would have been 3 years afterall. That’s how I see it.


If you are going to argue that Whiston’s translation of Josephus, which has been the recognized authoritative translation for over 200 years, is not accurate, then you’ve lost my interest.


And why?


I’ll admit I’m kind of using the Whiston translation - but then again, since it’s pretty much the only full translation that’s available in the 'net, you might say I’m stuck with it.

I’m trying to look for other translations. I know of the Loeb Classical Library one(s), but I don’t have those; I also know of Steve Mason’s translations, but I also don’t have those. Some of the Brill translations (Mason, Feldman, Begg) are available over at Project on Ancient Cultural Engagement (PACE), but the problem is they’re not complete.

Seriously - I’d appreciate it if anyone’s going to make a new, public domain translation of Josephus. The Greek’s available on the net, after all.

Or, next best thing, I want to see those other early modern - 19th-20th century - translations of Josephus like those of Robert Traill (he translated The Jewish War and Life; Google books has War, but I want to see an HTML version) or Richard Shilleto or David Margoliouth. Or even Henry St. John Thackeray’s, the Josephus scholar of the early 20th century (one of the nine volumes of his translation is here).

IMHO one of the greatest weaknesses of Whiston is that his translation was made out of editions (Siwart Haverkamp, 1726; Arnoldus Arlenius, 1544) that by today’s standards, is rather antiquated and not as accurate as later critical editions, like say, Niese’s Greek text. (If we’re going to make a comparison with the Bible, Arlenius’ and Haverkamp’s texts would be like the Textus Receptus, and Whiston would be like the KJV.) I’m not even going to touch on those ‘dissertations’ that Whiston included originally.


No, you are wrong. I have never said a word against Whiston’s excellent translation, which you can find online here:

In connection with the two points I raised in my post #28, namely the missing “soldiers” and the timing of John the Baptist’s death, you will see that there is no material difference between the two translations.

In Whiston’s numbering, the reference is Book XVIII, Chapter 5, section 2. Here is his section 2 in full, as it appears at

2. Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, [for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,] thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure to him.

Let us now compare Whiston with Feldman. Here are the two passages I quoted. First, on the missing “soldiers”:

Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, [for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,] thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late.

When others too joined the crowds about him, because they were aroused to the highest degree by his sermons, Herod became alarmed. Eloquence that had so great an effect on mankind might lead to some form of sedition, for it looked as if they would be guided by John in everything that they did. Herod decided therefore that it would be much better to strike first and be rid of him before his work had led to an uprising, than to wait for an upheaval, get involved in a difficult situation and see his mistake.

Second, on the timing:

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist:

But to some of the Jews the destruction of Herod’s army seemed to be divine vengeance, and certainly a just vengeance, for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist.

As you can see, by appealing to Whiston you have, in fact, conceded the two points I made in my post #28:

No, that is only partly correct. You are misquoting Josephus, who never says anything about “disturbing the soldiers.”

That is incorrect as well. There is nothing in Josephus to support that timing. In accordance with the text of the Jewish Antiquities, whether you use Whiston’s translation or Feldman’s translation, it is equally possible that a period of a few years may have elapsed between the execution of John the Baptist and the outbreak of fighting between Aretas and Herod Antipas.

**Conclusion.—**There is nothing at all in Josephus, not a single word, to support your original contention that the Crucifixion of Jesus can be confidently dated to the year 36.


Yes, my copy is Feldman’s translation for the Loeb Classical Library, but I have only the last two volumes of the set, Books 18 to 20 of the Antiquities, together with the impressive editorial apparatus that fills the second half of the final volume. The index alone, covering the whole ten-volume set from Aaron to Zur, takes up over two hundred pages, from pp. 159 to 383.

For the War, I have the Penguin edition translated by Williamson and with E. M. Smallwood’s notes and appendixes, last revised in 1981.


Do you at least concede that John the Baptist was imprisoned in Macherus in southern Perea, and that is where Herod and his entourage along with Herodias and her daughter Salome, were celebrating Herod Antipas is birthday?

And then the question becomes why is Herod there next to the very inhospitable Lake Asphaltitis when he could have been in the very pleasant city of Tiberias on the shores of the freshwater lake Gennesareth? And why wasn’t his brother King Herod Philip with him there celebrating? He was Salome’s husband after all.

And a related question to answer is if Herod Antipas was going to war with a major enemy in King Aretas of Nabatea, why was his older brother Herod Philip not with him to help with with his armies? Herod Philip had stood beside Herod Antipas when they both petitioned Rome to remove Archelaus from his Ethnarcy in Judea and Samaria.

Aside from the negative, what positive things do you find in Josephus, in either translation, that supports Jesus’s crucifixion in AD 33 over a crucifixion in AD 36?

With all this very reasonable evidence and logical deduction that support a late crucifixion, I find it curious that you’re not even going to admit the possibility, however remote, in your opinion, that an AD 36 date is possible.


Steve, to answer your last question first: I am not arguing that 36 is impossible. I am only saying that there is no evidence ***in Josephus ***to support that hypothesis.

Similarly, I am not saying that Josephus provides evidence for 33, 30, or any other year. Each and every one of those years, including 36, is fully consistent with the scanty data on the subject that can be gleaned from the Antiquities.

The hilltop (mountaintop) fortress at Machaerus, corresponding to the one at Masada on the other side of the Dead Sea: I have no reason to doubt Josephus’ word that John was imprisoned and killed at Machaerus. Consequently, I accept that Machaerus must presumably be the setting of the birthday party episode, though I certainly agree with you that, on the face of it, it looks like an odd choice of venue.

Are we specifically told that Herod Philip was not there, or alternatively that he was there? I don’t think so.


Here’s Henry St. John Thackeray’s rendition (from here):

Now about this time a quarrel arose between Aretas king of Petra [Or “(Arabia) Petraea.”] and Herod on the following ground.

Herod the Tetrarch married the daughter of Aretas and had now lived with her a long time. On the eve of a journey to Rome he lodged in the house of Herod, his half-brother on the father’s side; the mother of this Herod was the daughter of Simon the high priest. There he fell in love with Herodias his brother’s wife (she was the daughter of their brother Aristobulus and sister of Agrippa the Great [Herod Agrippa I.]) and had the effrontery to propose marriage. She met his advances and a compact was made that she should leave her home and come to him on his return from Rome; it was part of the compact that he should divorce the daughter of Aretas. The agreement settled, he set sail for Rome. On his return, after discharging his commission in that city, his wife, who had got wind of the compact with Herodias, bade her husband, who was still unaware that she knew all, send her away to Machaerus - on the frontier between the dominions of Aretas and Herod - without revealing her intentions. Herod, accordingly, let her go, not suspecting that the poor woman had any inkling of the plot. She, however, had long since sent word to Machaerus, which at that time [Slight emendation (τότε) of the MS reading τῷ τε (“and to him who was subject …”).] was subject to her father, and so found that the general in command [Or “governor.”] there had everything in readiness for her (intended) journey. No sooner, therefore, had she arrived (at Machaerus) than she was off again into Arabia, escorted by one general after another in turn, and so reached her father post haste and told him of Herod’s intentions.

Aretas seized this occasion for hostilities and also for raising the question of frontiers in the region of Gamala; [Possibly a lacuna in the text.] the two belligerents mustered their armies and opened war, sending their generals as their representatives in the field. A battle took place in which the whole of Herod’s army was cut to pieces as the result of the defection a contingent from Philip’s tetrarchy which enlisted with Herod’s forces and then deserted. Herod reported the matter to Tiberius, who was indignant at the aggression of Aretas and wrote instructions to Vitellius to go to war with him and either to take him alive and bring him a prisoner to Rome or to kill him and send him his head. Such were the injunctions of Tiberius to the governor of Syria.

Some of the Jews, however, regarded the destruction of Herod’s army as the work of God, who thus exacted very just retribution for John, surnamed the Baptist, Herod’s victim. John was a good man who bade the Jews first cultivate virtue by justice [Or: “righteousness”] towards each other and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for immersion [Gr. βάπτισις; in the previous clause βαπτισμός.], he said, would only appear acceptable to God if practised, not as an expiation for specific offenses, but for the purification of the body, when the soul had already been thoroughly cleansed by righteousness.

Now when all men [Text uncertain; MSS “the rest.”] listened to his words with the greatest delight and flocked to him, Herod feared that the powerful influence with which he exercised over men’s minds - for they seemed ready for any action which he advised - might lead to some form of revolt. He therefore decided to put him to death before any revolution arose through him. To forestall events appeared far better policy than a belated repentance when plunged in the turmoil of an insurrection. And so, through Herod’s suspicions, John was sent as a prisoner to Machaerus, the fortress already mentioned, and there put to death. The Jews supposed that the destruction of Herod’s army was the penalty expressly inflicted upon him by God to avenge John.


Thanks for the contribution, Patrick.

So Bart, you agree that Herod Antipas and his generals and his wife Herodias and daughter Salome were all at the fortress city of Macherus celebrating Antipas’ birthday. Salome danced provocatively for Antipas which ultimately led to Antipas ordering JB to be beheaded, with the head being brought to Salome to inspect.

I agree with you.

We differ in that I say it was an event in a chain of events that directly led to the defeat of Antipas’ army, Tiberius’ subsequent anger, and Tiberius’ instruction to Vitellius to avenge Antipas’ defeat- which Vitellius was fully prepared to do in early A.D. 37 on Jerusalem. But then Tiberius died and the invasion was off.

You, Bart, maintain that JB’s execution occurred in A.D. 32 or earlier, given that you support a crucifixion year of A.D. 33, and that there is no connection with JB’s death and Antipas’ later actions against Aretas.


For your consideration:

Enter the Tetrarch Herod Philip, ruler of the Trachonitits, Gaulonitis, and several other formerly patchwork kingdoms to the north. Antipas’ older half brother, fellow ruler, and proven warrior.

Two things we know with certainty from Josephus about Herod Philip. The first is that he married Salome, Herodias’ daughter who was the provocative dancer, and that Herod Philip died early in A.D. 34 apparently still married to Salome.

One very legitimate question is: where was Herod Philip when all this was happening in Macherus? Why wasn’t he at least at the birthday party?

If this happened in A.D. 32, why would Philip’s wife- Jewish Queen- behave so disgracefully as Salome did? Her mother, Herodias, was very close by to censure her. And if Salome hadn’t married Herod Philip yet, all the more reason why Herodias would not let her dance. Herodias from day one certainly had her eyes set on marrying off her daughter to Herod Philip, just as she was marrying Herod Antipas.

The most reasonable answer is that Herod Philip was not there because he was already dead. And Philip had been dead for a long enough period- likely a year-where Salome was out of the mourning period and a free woman. Early A.D. 35 fits the bill.

Herod Antipas and Herod Philip joining forces against King Aretas in an invasion, with southern Perea being the jump-off point, is something that Josephus would not have missed. Philip’s absence in all this drama is the elephant in the room.


Yes, Steve, your post #39 sets out very clearly, I think, the points we agree on and the points where we differ. Thank you for that.

Salome’s dance has puzzled a lot of people over the centuries. There have been all kinds of conjectures as to why Antipas even allowed, let alone encouraged, his stepdaughter, who was also his niece, to make a spectacle of herself like that. You ask some interesting questions — Was she already married to Philip? Was she still single? Was she a young widow? — but I wonder whether they will ever be answered with anything other than more conjectures.


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