3. The father-in-law of Herod Antipas of Judaea. Herod dismissed his wife, the daughter of Aretas, in consequence of having formed an incestuous connexion with Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, as we learn from the Evangelists. To revenge the wrongs of his daughter, Aretas made war upon Herod, and defeated him in a great battle. Herod applied for assistance to the Romans; and Vitellius, the governor of Syria, received an order to punish Aretas.
He accordingly marched against Petra; but while he was on the road, he received intelligence of the death of Tiberius (A. D. 37), and gave up the expedition in consequence. (J. AJ 18.5
. §§ 1, 3.) This Aretas seems to have been the same who had possession of Damascus at the time of the conversion of the Apostle Paul, A. D. 31. (2 Corinth.
11.32, 33; Acts
It is not improbable that Aretas obtained possession of Damascus in a war with Herod at an earlier period than Josephus has mentioned; as it seems likely that Aretas would have resented the affront soon after it was given, instead of allowing so many years to intervene, as the narrative of Josephus would imply. The Aretas into whose dominions Aelius Gallus came in the time of Augustus, is probably also the same as the father-in-law of Herod. (Strab. xvi. p.781
The following is a coin of Aretas, king of Damascus, but whether it belongs to No. 2 or No. 3 is doubtful. (Eckhel, iii. p. 330.) Perhaps it is a coin of No. 2, and may have been struck when he took possession of Syria at the invitation of the inhabitants of Damascus : in that case there would have been good reason for the inscription ΦΙΛΕΛΛΗΝΟΣ