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Phasael (died 40 BC; Hebrew: פַצָאֵל, Faṣā'ēl; Latin: Phasaelus; from Greek: Φασάηλος, Phasaelos), was a prince from the Herodian Dynasty of Judea.

Origins and early career

Phasael was born in the Hasmonean Kingdom to an aristocratic family of Edomite descent. His father, Antipater the Idumaean, was the close advisor of the Hasmonean king Hyrcanus II, and his mother Cypros was a Nabatean princess. Phasael was the elder brother of Herod.

Both Phasael and Herod began their careers under their father, Antipater, who was appointed procurator of Judea for the Roman Republic by Julius Caesar. Antipater appointed Phasael to be governor of Jerusalem, and Herod governor of Galilee.[1] When Phasael's brother Herod was summoned to be tried by the Sanhedrin he meant to come to Jerusalem with an army and make war, however Antipater and Phasael managed to convince him to be satisfied with making threats of force.

While Mark Antony was in Bithynia about 41 BC, accusations were brought before him against the two brothers, who were objects of hatred to many Jews, but the shrewd Herod succeeded in obtaining the dismissal of the charges.[2] It was impossible, however, for the Sanhedrin to rest content with the administrations of Herod and Phasael; and charges were again brought against them before Antony at Antioch. Once more the accusations proved to be fruitless, for even the weak Hyrcanus II pleaded for them. This led Antony to appoint the pair tetrarchs.[3]

Revolt of Antigonus and Phasael's downfall

Meanwhile, Antigonus the Hasmonean endeavored to seize the Jewish throne; and in Jerusalem there were frequent conflicts between his retainers and those of the two brothers, which were especially perilous on the Jewish Feast of Shavuot. Phasael defended the walls, and Herod the palace, thus routing their antagonists, whereupon Antigonus invoked the aid of the Parthian Empire. In spite of Herod's warning, Phasael allowed himself to be lured with Hyrcanus to the camp of the Parthian leader Barzapharnes under the pretext of peace talks. Both Hyrcanus and Phasael were imprisoned.[4] They were then handed over to Antigonus, who caused Hyrcanus to be mutilated, a disgrace which Phasael escaped by dashing out his own brains, having the satisfaction of knowing before he died that his brother Herod had escaped from Jerusalem and was safe.[5]


Josephus speaks of Phasael as a brave and noble man. His son, who likewise bore the name Phasael, and seems to have been posthumous, married Herod's daughter Salampsio, by whom he had five children.[6] The son of Herod by his concubine, Pallas, was called Phasael by Herod, who likewise honored his brother's memory by naming a city northeast of Jericho "Phasaelis," and a tower of his palace at Jerusalem "Phasaelus."

Family tree of the Herodian dynasty

Antipater the Idumaean
procurator of Judea
2.Mariamne I
3.Mariamne II
Herod I the Great
king of Judea
5.Cleopatra of Jerusalem
governor of Jerusalem
(1) Antipater
heir of Judaea
(2) Alexander I
prince of Judea
(2) Aristobulus IV
prince of Judea
(3) Herod II Philip
prince of Judea
(4) Herod Archelaus
ethnarch of Judea, Idumea
(4) Herod Antipas
tetrarch of Galilea & Perea
(5) Philip the Tetrarch
of Iturea & Trachonitis
Tigranes V of ArmeniaAlexander II
prince of Judea
Herod Agrippa I
king of Judea
Herod V
ruler of Chalcis
Aristobulus Minor
prince of Judea
Tigranes VI of ArmeniaHerod Agrippa II
king of Judea
ruler of Chalcis
Gaius Julius Alexander
ruler of Cilicia
Gaius Julius Agrippa
quaestor of Asia
Gaius Julius Alexander Berenicianus
proconsul of Asia
Lucius Julius Gainius Fabius Agrippa

See also


  1. ^ Josephus, Jewish Antiquities xiv. 9, § 2; Wars of the Jews (Bellum Judaicum) i. 10, § 4.
  2. ^ Ant. xiv. 12, § 2; B. J. i. 12, § 4.
  3. ^ Ant. xiv. 13, § 1; B. J. i. 12, § 5.
  4. ^ Ant. xiv. 13, §§ 5-6; B. J. i. 13, §§ 4-5.
  5. ^ Ant. xiv. 13, §§ 6-9; B. J. i. 13, §§ 6-8.
  6. ^ Ant. xviii. 5, § 4; according to B. J. i. 28, § 6, the elder Phasael was the husband of this Salampsio.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGottheil, R.; Samuel Krauss (1901–1906). "Phasael". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.