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[369] In a little time after this calamity, Herod came to bring them succors; but he came too late. Now the occasion of that blow was this, that the officers would not obey orders; for had not the fight begun so suddenly, Athenio had not found a proper season for the snares he laid for Herod: however, he was even with the Arabians afterward, and overran their country, and did them more harm than their single victory could compensate. But as he was avenging himself on his enemies, there fell upon him another providential calamity; for in the seventh 1 year of his reign, when the war about Actium was at the height, at the beginning of the spring, the earth was shaken, and destroyed an immense number of cattle, with thirty thousand men; but the army received no harm, because it lay in the open air. In the mean time, the fame of this earthquake elevated the Arabians to greater courage, and this by augmenting it to a fabulous height, as is constantly the case in melancholy accidents, and pretending that all Judea was overthrown. Upon this supposal, therefore, that they should easily get a land that was destitute of inhabitants into their power, they first sacrificed those ambassadors who were come to them from the Jews, and then marched into Judea immediately. Now the Jewish nation were affrighted at this invasion, and quite dispirited at the greatness of their calamities one after another; whom yet Herod got together, and endeavored to encourage to defend themselves by the following speech which he made to them:

1 This seventh year of the reign of Herod [from the conquest or death of Antigonus], with the great earthquake in the beginning of the same spring, which are here fully implied to be not much before the fight at Actium, between Octavius and Antony, and which is known from the Roman historians to have been in the beginning of September, in the thirty-first year before the Christian era, determines the chronology of Josephus as to the reign of Herod, viz. that he began in the year 37, beyond rational contradiction. Nor is it quite unworthy of our notice, that this seventh year of the reign of Herod, or the thirty-first before the Christian era, contained the latter part of a Sabbatic year, on which Sabbatic year, therefore, it is plain this great earthquake happened in Judea.

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