ARETAS ('Apiras ; Arab. v. Pococke, Spec. Hist. Arab. p. 58, or, in another form, = vein, Pococke, i. c. 70, 76, 77, S9), the common name of several Arabian kings. r. The first of whom we have any notice was a contemporary of the Jewish high-priest Jason and of Antiochus Epiphanes about B.C. 170 (2 Mace. v. 8). 'In the end, therefore, he (Jason) had an unhappy return, being accused before Aretas, the king of the Arabians.' 2. Josephus (Antiq. xiii. 13. 3) mentions an Aretas, king of the Arabians (called Obedas, 'Op4Sas, xiii. 13. 5), contemporary with Alexander Jannmus (died B.C. 79) and his sons. After defeating Antiochus Dionysus, he reigned over Ccele-Syria, 'being called to the government by those that held Damascus by reason of the hatred they bore to Ptolemy the son of Mennmus' (Antiq. xiii. 15. 2). He took part with Ilyrcanus in his contest for the sovereignty with his brother Aristobulus, and laid siege to Jerusalem, but, on the approach of the Roman general Scaurus, he retreated to Philadelphia (De Bell. yud. i. 6. 3). Hyrcanus and Aretas were pursued and defeated by Aristobulus at a place called Papyron, and lost above 6000 men. Three or four years after, Scaurus, to whom Pompey had committed the government of Ccele-Syria, invaded Petriea, but finding it difficult to obtain provisions for his army, he consented to withdraw on the offer of 30o talents from Aretas (Joseph. Antiq. xiv. 5. 1). Haver camp has given an engraving of a denarius intended to commemorate this event, on which Aretas appears in a supplicating posture, and taking hold of a camel's bridle with his left hand, and with his right hand presenting a branch of the frankincense tree, with this inscription, M. SCAVRVS. EX. S. C., and beneath, REX ARETAS (Joseph. D.
Jud. i. S. I).
3. Aretas, whose name was originally' tEneas, succeeded Obodas ('01365as). He was the father in-law of Herod Antipas. The latter made pro posals of marriage to the wife of his half-brother Herod-Philip, Herodias, the daughter of Aristo bulus their brother, and the sister of Agrippa the Great. (On the apparent discrepancy between the Evangelists and Joscphus, in reference to the name of the husband of Herodias ; see Lardncr's Credi bility, etc. pt. i. b. ii. ch. 5 ; Works, ed. 1335, i. In consequence of this, the daughter of Aretas returned to her father, and a war (which had been fomented by previous disputes about the limits of their respective countries) ensued between Aretas and Herod. The army of the latter was
totally destroyed ; and on his sending an account of his disaster to Rome, the emperor immediately ordered Vitellius to bring Aretas prisoner alive, or, if slain, to send his head (Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 5. I). Vitellius immediately marched with an army against Petra, but halted during the passover at Jerusalem. Here he received, four days after his arrival, the news of the death of Tiberius (March 16, A. D. 37) ; upon which, after administering the oath of allegiance to his troops, he dismissed them to winter quarters, and returned to Antioch (Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 5, 3). An importance is attached to these occur rences from their connection with Paul's flight from Damascus, which we are informed (2 Cor. xi. 32) was when that city was kept by the governor under king Aretas. If we knew the exact date of this event, that of Paul's conversion might be de termined, for it preceded his journey to Jerusalem, which immediately followed his flight by three years (Gal. i. IS). Wieseler (who is followed by Conybeare and Howson and Dean Alford) con jectures that Caligula (who was no friend to Herod Antipas, but banished him to Lyons after giving his kingdom to Herod Agrippa) restored Damascus, which had been held by preceding Arabian kings, to Aretas, at the time when he made several other territorial grants soon after his accession. It is worthy of notice that no Damascene coins of Cali gula or Claudius are known, though such coins were struck under Augustus and Tiberius, and again under Nero and his successors. If, then, Paul's flight took place in A. D. 39, his conversion must have occurred in A. D. 36.
Dr. Neander is inclined to suppose a temporary forcible occupation of Damascus by Aretas at the time of the Apostle's escape (Hist. of Planting, etc., vol. i. p. 92), a view which is also favoured by Dr. Kitto (D. Bible Illust. vol. viii. 152-156). (See the article by Wieseler, in Herzog's Encyclo vol. i. 4SS ; Conyb. and Howson, Life of St. Paul, vol. i. loo, 132, 2d ed.; Alford's Greek Testament, vol. ii. 94 (Acts ix. 23).—J. E. R.