King Aretas

Join Me on a fascinating journey to Syria. For the researcher there are many interesting sites to visit. Kadesh the ancient battle field. This is where Ramsess II and Muwatalis faught a very famous battle in 1297 BC.
Another interesting site is Tell Qarqar. Shamaneser III from Nineveh fought against a mighty coalition of 12 nations. You can read the account of the battle on the Kurk stela in the British museum.
Mention is made of King Ahab of Samaria who had the greatest amount of soldiers and chariots. For the first time the name of an Israelite king appears on Assyrians records. Guess what happened what I read Aramaic Agabu mat sir-ilu, King Ahab of Israel for the first time?
My heart was strangely warmed. The Bible is not a book of legens, it is the word of God. A book that changes the lives of its readers. Excavations at the citadel of Aleppo also yielded valuable information. The Hitite script sheds more lighte on the battle of Qarqar of 853 BC.
The Biblical name of Palmyra was Tadmor. This is where king Solomon left his footprints. Qatna is a recent discovery. Some of the cuneiform inscriptions have been translated. Here you can read more about the human side of the ancient rulers. They also had the experiences of being disappointed and frustrated.
Mari next the Eufrates yielded a total of 20,000 clay tablets. The information helps one to appeciate the historicity of Abram.
At Ugarit, modern Rash Shamra you can read more about the religious practices of the Canaanites. What the Bible has to say about the cruelty of their rituals is confirmed by the clay tablets.
While studying their erotic cruel practices of sacrificing their babies, I marvel at God’s grace by not detroying them earlier in their history.
At Tartous I made a very interesting discovery. We read about the Canaanite deity called Baal in the Bible. Is this fact or fiction?
When I took a slide of his statue, something happened to my heart. Why was it stangely warmed? The Bible is not fiction. It speaks a real world with real people with real problems.
Maaluula is a very unique little village. People who live here still speaks Aramaic. When you ask the priest nicely, he will recite the Lord’s prayer in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus.
Damascus is the capital of modern Syria. But it was also the capital of ancient Syria. Certain names like Haseal mentioned in the Bible was discovered on ancient clay tablets and on Assyrian monuments. The museum is a feast. When you study the information the get a picture of what is was like in Bible times.
Also on display is the first modern alphabet with 31 characters. It is written in Phoenician script which is related to the Hevbrew of the Bible.
The Bible speaks of the street called Straight in Damascus. You can still visit the very same street. Paul had to go to this specific street and ask for the a certain man, Eneas, to pray vir him. The story of Saul’s conversion is not a legend, but a fact.
You can only visit a window in the ancient city wall. It reminds you of Paul’s experience when he had to escape for his life. In a little museum you are shown a typical basket in which he could been lowered down the city wall. Who was it that wanted to kill Paul? Besides the Jews there was another person who did not like him.
2 Corinthians 12:32,33 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.

Now this is what the Bible says. Was there really a king by the name of Aretas? Can we get confirmation from outside sources that the Book is correct?. One of the modern seven wonders is the rose red Nabetean city of Petra. The spade of the archaeologist dug very deep in this history soil of Petra. What did they find?

Coins telling the story that the Bible is true. Let me give you a brief history of King Aretas. King Aretas was a Nabathaen King who reigned from 9 B.C. to 40 AD. His full title, as depicted on numersous inscriptions, was “Aretas, 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. Please look at the dates he ruled – 9 BC to 40 AD. What happened during these years? Jesus was born. Who was the ruling king in Judea?
Which prophet was announcing the coming of the Messiah in 4 BC? Where was he preaching and baptising?
John 1:28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Before moving on, let’s ask the archaeologists if they have any evedience of a place called Bethabara? Place of the crossing. The oldest mosaic map of the holy land was discovered in Madeba. On this map from the sixth century AD. the site is clearly seen next to the Jordan.
What happened to my heart when I looked the Madabah 6th century map? The Bible is true. Much archaeological has been done in this previous military zone. This is the place where John baptized his converts.
This was the site where king Aretas from Petra passed when visiting Judea. Betabara, the crossing. This is also the site where Herod the Tetrarch passed from Mukawir to Tiberias. This is also the place where John the Baptist rebuked him for breaking up his brother’s marriage. What does Josephus say 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. Shall we go to the Bible to check if Josephus is speaking the truth?
Luke 3:19,20 And with many other exhortations he preached to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.
My heart was strangely warmed when I read these verses from the Bible.
Mukawir is where Herod the Tetrarch had his fortress. Does this interesting history wants us to remember Who else was alive in those days?
Let’s ask Josephus to tell us more about Aretas:
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. – Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.1
Aretas IV invaded Judea, and captured territories along the West Bank of the Jordan River, including the areas around Qumran. This was long before the discovery of the dead sea scrolls.

Aretas IV seems to have had two wives, apparently successively rather than together, the first was called Huldu, and the second Shaqilath. If you are working on a computer you are possibly also working on internet. There are many links that take you to different related articles and pictures. The Bible works on the same principle.
Let’s go to a royal link while you are looking at the Herodion where Herod was buried. The Bible mentions his name. Archaeologists discovered many evidences of the existence of Herod the great.
There had long been ties between Herod the Great and the Nabataeans. Herod was the son of an Idumean (Edomite) father and a Nabataean mother. Where do you think he spent most of his early years? Petra.
When Herod was forced to flee Jerusalem and sought to secure help from Rome, he is said to have attempted to find asylum in Petra but was repulsed by the king of the Nabataeans, Aretas IV.
Later when Herod received the kingship of the Jewish State from the Roman Senate and returned to Jerusalem, various political relations existed between him and the Nabataeans. However as the Nabataeans continued to expand their sphere of influence, skirmishes soon began to take place along their common border.
In an attempt to end the fighting, Aretas IV gave one of his daughters, Huldu, also called Phasaelis, in marriage to Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great.
After a marriage of 25 years, Herod Antipas divorced Phasealis, or Huldu as she is also called. Can you recall the name of his new wife and her daughter? Less well known is that the spurned Nabataean wife went quietly home to Petra. Aretas launched an expedition against his old son-in-law and new enemy.
What is the recipe for making life long enemies? Divorce your wife and break up another marriage. Walking in beautiful Petra I thought of the hurtfull drama that expired here.
The enjoyment of sin,is very short lived. It never satisfies. The painful consequences lasts as long as we are alive. Petra speaks to us: Stay with your spouse. Your character will definately develop through the hardships of ajusting. But, your faithfullness will be rewarded. If you are contemplating divorce, please think again.
Aretas IV assembled an army and defeated Herod Antipas’ army, but the Nabataean king was unable to do more. The Romans decided to come to Herod’s defense to defend his honor, and the honor of the Empire.
Some historians feel that during a brief revival of Nabataean rule in Damascus under Aretas IV, the apostle Paul made his famously undignified exit from the city.
The Bible tells us that this was when ‘the governor under King Aretas guarded the city… in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.’ (2 Corinthians 11:32-33.)
I researched many sources about the origin of the Nabateans, but information is limited. One scholar has the following hypothisis:
They were traders who never lost on a deal. Ancient sources speaks about the anger of different civilizations. In order to stay out of trouble, they destroyed all the transaction deals.
Maybe you have also encountered the Nabatean culture in your business dealings with some people. This happens in many court cases. Certain documents disappear as in the case of the ancient Nabateans. While doing research on the history of the Nabateans, I thought of the message of Daniel 9 and Leviticus 16.
In the great heavenly pre-advent judgement God is busy destroying certain records. Guess what these records are? All our confessed sins. That’s good news. The devil, accuser in the heavenly court case, will not be able to produce evidences against our sinful past. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC.
The Edomites who had their capital at Petra rejoiced when the Babylonian king destroyed their neighbours.
Obadiah says Edom Mistreated His Brother
Verses 10-16 “For violence against your brother Jacob, Shame shall cover you, And you shall be cut off forever. In the day that you stood on the other side — In the day that strangers carried captive his forces, When foreigners entered his gates And cast lots for Jerusalem — Even you were as one of them. “But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother. In the day of his captivity; Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah. In the day of their destruction; Nor should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress. You should not have entered the gate of My people in the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped; Nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained in the day of distress. “For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head. For as you drank on My holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been.
Another early text that mentions Nabataeans is a stele in the Damascus Museum which bears a Nabataean inscription that mentions a “king of the Nabataeans.” The stele is dated to the 3rd century BC making it the oldest known Nabataean text.
In my research of the Nabateans I once again rejoiced that the science of archaeology confirms the authenticity of the Bible.
Read the book my dear friend because it is the manual that tells us how to get to a land where people do not hurt or die.

Updated on 21st Mar 2022

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles