Costobarus, Governor of Idumea & Gaza

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Costobarus of Idumea, Governor of Idumea & Gaza

Also Known As: "Castobanes"
Birthdate: (42)
Death: -28 (42)
Jerusalem, Israel (presumably executed by Herod in 28 BCE)
Immediate Family:

Husband of Salome daughter of Antipater II
Father of Berenice, Princess of Judaea; Antipater . and NN daughter of Salome & Costobarus Wife of Helcias Alexas

Occupation: Gouverneur d'Idumée
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Costobarus, Governor of Idumea & Gaza

Costobarus was the second husband of Salome I, sister of Herod the Great, and governor of Idumea. By Salome, Costobarus fathered Berenice and Antipater IV. Costobarus was accused of treason by Salome and presumably executed by Herod in 28 BCE.

^ Antiquities XV 7:10 indicates that the "sons of Babas" were executed "and those that were accused as guilty with them". Josephus never specifically states that Costobarus was executed; however, he was accused by Salome of complicity in keeping the sons of Babas alive against the orders of Herod so it is reasonable, although far from certain, that Costobarus was executed with the sons of Babas.


Josephus on Costobarus

'[Herod] was still sorely afflicted, both in mind and body, and made very uneasy, and readier than ever upon all occasions to inflict punishment upon those that fell under his hand. He also slew the most intimate of his friends, Costobarus, and Lysimachus, and Cadias, who was also called Antipater; as also Dositheus, and that upon the following occasion.

9. Costobarus was an Idumean by birth, and one of principal dignity among them, and one whose ancestors had been priests to the Koze, whom the Idumeans had [formerly] esteemed as a god; but after Hyrcanus had made a change in their political government, and made them receive the Jewish customs and law, Herod made Costobarus governor of Idumea and Gaza, and gave him his sister Salome to wife; and this was upon the slaughter of [his uncle] Joseph, who had that government before, as we have related already. When Costobarus had gotten to be so highly advanced, it pleased him and was more than he hoped for, and he was more and more puffed up by his good success, and in a little while he exceeded all bounds, and did not think fit to obey what Herod, as their ruler, commanded him, or that the Idumeans should make use of the Jewish customs, or be subject to them. He therefore sent to Cleopatra, and informed her that the Idumeans had been always under his progenitors, and that for the same reason it was but just that she should desire that country for him of Antony, for that he was ready to transfer his friendship to her; and this he did, not because he was better pleased to be under Cleopatra's government, but because he thought that, upon the diminution of Herod's power, it would not be difficult for him to obtain himself the entire government over the Idumeans, and somewhat more also; for he raised his hopes still higher, as having no small pretenses, both by his birth and by these riches which he had gotten by his constant attention to filthy lucre; and accordingly it was not a small matter that he aimed at. So Cleopatra desired this country of Antony, but failed of her purpose. An account of this was brought to Herod, who was thereupon ready to kill Costobarus; yet, upon the entreaties of his sister and mother, he forgave him, and vouchsafed to pardon him entirely; though he still had a suspicion of him afterward for this his attempt.

10. But some time afterward, when Salome happened to quarrel with Costobarus, she sent him a bill of divorce [12] and dissolved her marriage with him, though this was not according to the Jewish laws; for with us it is lawful for a husband to do so; but a wife; if she departs from her husband, cannot of herself be married to another, unless her former husband put her away. However, Salome chose to follow not the law of her country, but the law of her authority, and so renounced her wedlock; and told her brother Herod, that she left her husband out of her good-will to him, because she perceived that he, with Antipater, and Lysimachus, and Dositheus, were raising a sedition against him; as an evidence whereof, she alleged the case of the sons of Babas, that they had been by him preserved alive already for the interval of twelve years; which proved to be true. But when Herod thus unexpectedly heard of it, he was greatly surprised at it, and was the more surprised, because the relation appeared incredible to him. As for the fact relating to these sons of Babas, Herod had formerly taken great pains to bring them to punishment, as being enemies to his government; but they were now forgotten by him, on account of the length of time [since he had ordered them to be slain]. Now the cause of his ill-will and hatred to them arose hence, that while Antigonus was king, Herod, with his army, besieged the city of Jerusalem, where the distress and miseries which the besieged endured were so pressing, that the greater number of them invited Herod into the city, and already placed their hopes on him. Now the sons of Babas were of great dignity, and had power among the multitude, and were faithful to Antigonus, and were always raising calumnies against Herod, and encouraged the people to preserve the government to that royal family which held it by inheritance. So these men acted thus politically, and, as they thought, for their own advantage; but when the city was taken, and Herod had gotten the government into his hands, and Costobarus was appointed to hinder men from passing out at the gates, and to guard the city, that those citizens that were guilty, and of the party opposite to the king, might not get out of it, Costobarus, being sensible that the sons of Babas were had in respect and honor by the whole multitude, and supposing that their preservation might be of great advantage to him in the changes of government afterward, he set them by themselves, and concealed them in his own farms; and when the thing was suspected, he assured Herod upon oath that he really knew nothing of that matter, and so overcame the suspicions that lay upon him; nay, after that, when the king had publicly proposed a reward for the discovery, and had put in practice all sorts of methods for searching out this matter, he would not confess it; but being persuaded that when he had at first denied it, if the men were found, he should not escape unpunished, he was forced to keep them secret, not only out of his good-will to them, but out of a necessary regard to his own preservation also. But when the king knew the thing, by his sister's information, he sent men to the places where he had the intimation they were concealed, and ordered both them, and those that were accused as guilty with them, to be slain, insomuch that there were now none at all left of the kindred of Hyrcanus, and the kingdom was entirely in Herod's own power, and there was nobody remaining of such dignity as could put a stop to what he did against the Jewish laws.' From 'The Antiquities of the Jews' by Flavius Josephus, BOOK XV. Containing The Interval Of Eighteen Years. From The Death Of Antigonus To The Finishing Of The Temple By Herod, CHAPTER 7. How Herod Slew Sohemus And Mariamne And Afterward Alexandra And Costobarus, And His Most Intimate Friends, And At Last The Sons Of Babbas Also. ;


Extract from SALOME by Tal Ilan

Salome, King Herod’s sister... 's second marriage was to an Idumean aristocrat, Costaborus. This man, who had ambitions and took pride in his Idumean heritage, plotted against Herod. According to Nicolaus, Salome first aided him in his treasonous actions, but then changed her mind, divorced him and accused him before Herod. Costobarus too was put to death (Ant. 15: 253–266). Salome had two children by Costobarus, a son, Antipater, and a daughter, Berenice.


Wagner, Sir Anthony Richard; ‘Pedigree and Progress: Essays in the Genealogical Interpretation of History’ gives his dates as c 60BCE - 26BCE (not 28BCE), and does not place him as the father of Antipater. Please see Discussion


ID: I82429

Name: Castobanes of Judea

Given Name: Castobanes

Surname: of Judea

Nickname: Costobar

Sex: M

_UID: 8A738E5D25339D4B9811F07341ADDBCDCA30

Change Date: 6 Oct 2005

Death: deceased

Marriage 1 Salome of Judea


Bernice of Judea

Forrás / Source:


See also: Eisenman, Robert The New Testament Code: The Cup of the Lord, the Damascus Covenant, and the Blood of Christ (2006) London: Watkins


Costobarus was an associate of Herod b. Antipater during the latter’s rise to power. Following the capitulation of Jerusalem - in the campaign by Mark Antony and Herod against the Hasmonean king Antigonus - Costobar controlled the exits from the city. At about this time, in c.37 BC, Antony appointed Herod as Tetrarch of Judæa: and Herod appointed Costobarus as Governor of Idumæa and Gaza. Soon afterwards, c.34 BC, Herod gave his sister Salome in marriage to Costobarus.

While Costobarus “gladly accepted these favours, which were more than he had expected”, [9] he was never “Herods’ man”: his focus was always towards Idumæa and his own ambitions in that direction. Costobarus was from a noble and priestly family in Idumæa; and he resented that the Hasmonean John Hyrcanus had made the Idumæans adopt the customs and laws of the Jews. He “did not think ... it ... proper for him to carry out the orders of Herod , or for the Idumæans to ... be subject to them.” He also had ambitions to rule Idumæa himself, and “to achieve greater things”. These attitudes led him to three acts which aroused Herod against him, and eventually led to his execution.

His first transgression to become known (but the second to be initiated) was to approach Cleopatra to ask Antony for Idumæa to be transferred to her (instead of to Herod), as it “had always belonged to her ancestors”. Costobarus was “ready to transfer his loyalty to her”, and hoped that he himself would eventually become its ruler. Cleopatra did ask: but Antony refused. Herod sought to kill Costobarus as soon as he found out, but his mother and sister prevented him: Herod even pardoned Costobarus on this occasion. But, from then, Herod no longer trusted Costobarus.

The next revelation (the third event in sequence) came as part of the divorce proceedings which Salome initiated against Costobarus. In c.27-25 BC, she issued him a writ of annulment (which the woman was not permitted to do under Jewish Law: but Salome was Salome!), and declared to Herod that she did this “out of loyalty to ... [Herod] himself”. [14] She then informed Herod that Costobarus was intending to flee the country in the company of Herod’s brother Pheroras, who was out of favour at this time because of his infatuation with a slave girl, and his consequent rejection of a family match which Herod had arranged.

Then Salome added the third revelation (but the first and longest running transgression): Costobarus had been protecting, for twelve (or ten) years past, Herod’s enemies from the early days - the sons of Baba. When Costobarus had been guarding the exits to Jerusalem in c.37 BC, these were some of the people Herod had wished to contain: but Costobarus hid them on his own estate (because of their popularity with the people), and later denied all knowledge of them. “And when the king [Herod] was informed of these things ... he sent to the place where they were reported to be staying, and had them kill these men and those who were accused with them ...” And so, Costobarus was executed, at last, in c.27-25 BC. [Some have found the reference to be ambiguous concerning Costobarus’ death, but the other two references in affirm it clearly.]

Despite all this intrigue, descendants of Costobarus and Salome are among the most notable in the history of the Herodian dynasty, and some were involved with the Jesus Movement as well. The next sub-section deals with the grandchildren Costobar and Saul; and the last sub-section gives an overview of all their immediate descendants.

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