03.05.18 53 B.C. Parthians Attack and Kill the Roman General Crassus
Even though Jerusalem was under Roman domination, Roman General Crassus invaded the Holy City and sacked it – his men stealing whatever they wanted. From there he traveled north-eastward to Parthia with the intent to expand the Roman Empire. However, at Carrhae (modern Harran, Turkey) the Parthians killed him along with 30,000 troops. With the use of cataphracts, the Parthians defeated with superior Roman forces and what was left of them went home defeated and deeply humiliated. It was the beginning of three centuries of conflicts between the two empires, and Israel was on the frontier of both of them. In retaliation, the Parthians later invaded Jerusalem, a city they held until Antipater, the father of Herod the Great, drove them out.
The Roman armies were killing machines that relied on heavy infantry and were skilled in siege warfare. The Parthians, however, had two types of cavalry: the heavy-armed and armored cataphracts and the light brigades of archers who were skilled horsemen, but they had not yet developed techniques of siege warfare. Nearly all Parthian soldiers, who rode on horseback, were also highly skilled in archery, a military skill that had not been developed by the Romans. Hence, the two empires were closely matched in military strength, but each always feared the other would attack first.
The Parthian Empire did not have a lasting direct influence upon the Jews or the biblical lands, which may be why it was not mentioned in Daniel’s prophecies. As noted below, the Parthians controlled Jerusalem for a brief period and were interested in obtaining access to the Mediterranean Sea, but it was never attained. While the capitols of the two empires were thousands of miles apart from each other, they had grown to the point of meeting each other just east of the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
03.05.18.Q1 What happened to those who violated the second Jewish temple (see also 16.01.06.Q1)?
There were three powerful men who violated the second Jewish temple and consequently experienced death in a manner that was a clear testimony to observers who said that Divine judgment had fallen upon them.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
He persecuted the Jews in an attempt to either convert them to Hellenism or exterminate them. He also placed an idol to Zeus in the temple and sacrificed a pig to this pagan deity. Antiochus died a miserable and shameful death in Persia (2 Macc. 9).
After he conquered the Jewish lands in 63 B.C., he entered the Holy of Holies, but later he was murdered in the shores of Egypt. His naked body was left on the beach to feed wild birds and animals.
In 53 B.C., he plundered the temple treasury, but a short time later he and his Roman army perished in the hot thirsty desert sands fighting the Parthians.
. Jayne, “Magi.” 4:31-34; Some historical sources place the battle at 55 B.C..
. The use of Cataphracts was a new technology that won the battle for the Parthians. See “Cataphracts” in Appendix 26.
. Jayne, “Magi.” 4:34.
. McKay, “Parthians.” 3:1156.
. See also 16.01.06.Q1 “What happened to those who opposed Jesus?”