King Aretas was a Nabathaen King who reigned
from 9 B.C. to 40AD. His
as depicted on numersous inscriptions,
King of the Nabataens, Friend of
his People." Being
the most powerful neighbor of Judea, he frequently
took part in the state affairs of that country,
and was influential in shaping the destiny
of its rulers.
His daughter Phasaelis married Herod Antipas
(4 BC – AD 39), otherwise known as Herod
the Tetrarch. When Herod divorced Phasaelis
to take his brother's wife Herodias, mother
of Salome, in 36, Phaesalis fled to her father.
Relations between Herod and Aretas IV were
already strained over border disputes, and
with his family honour shamed, Aretas IV invaded
Judea, and captured territories along the West
Bank of the Jordan River, including the areas
The classical author Josephus connects this
battle, which occurred during the winter of
AD 36/37, with the beheading of John the Baptist,
which occurred about the same time.
Historian Josephus Writes
About King Aretas
"About this time Aretas, the king of Petra, and
Herod the Tetrarch had a quarrel on account of the following. Herod the tetrarch
had married the daughter of Aretas and had lived with her a great while; but
once when he was on his way to Rome he lodged with his half-brother, also named
Herod but who had a different mother, the high priest Simon's daughter. There
he fell in love with Herodias, this latter Herod's wife, who was the daughter
of their brother Aristobulus and the sister of Agrippa the Great.
Aretas also had a quarrel with Herod about
their boundaries in the area of Gabalis. So they raised armies on both sides
and prepared for war, sending their generals to fight instead of themselves.
Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.1
The Apostle, Paul, writes that
he had to sneak out of Damascus in a basket
through a window in the wall to escape King
Aretas because the Jews of Damascus were lying
in wait for him.
Coins of King Aretas IV
Aretas IV minted large quantities of silver
and bronze coins of various denominations.
During his 10th and 11th years he
suffered a temporary economic crisis that
forced him to mint bronze coins as substitutes
for silver ones. On the large bronze coins
of these two years, the head of the king
accompanied by the inscription “Aretas
King of Nabatea, the lover of his people"
11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas
the King kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous
to apprehend me.