The Nation of Parthia becomes an important player in the story of the Magi because if they came from Babylonia or Persia they were under the rule of Parthia. Parthia was Rome's greatest threat in the East, and both wanted to control Israel as a buffer zone between the two Empires. Next week I will explore the Magi more, but this week I wanted to examine the relationship between Rome and Parthia. From The Essence of Perfection:
When the Roman general Pompey (106–48 BCE) conquered Jerusalem in 63 BCE, he had two goals in mind— establish Roman supremacy in the East and reestablish Hellenism by bolstering the Greek city-states in the region. He was a member of the First Triumvirate of Rome along with Julius Caesar (100–44 BCE) and Crassus (112?–53 BCE), who is best remembered for defeating Spartacus. The Triumvirate was intended to keep the peace by splitting the empire, but it was soon apparent that the empire was not big enough for the three egomaniacs. Civil war broke out between the factions of Julius Caesar and Pompey after the death of Crassus, who met his demise, along with most of his army, at the hands of the Parthians. At the time, the Parthians were the Roman Empire’s greatest rival in the region, and the foremost hindrance to further Roman expansion into Asia-Minor. Rulers in the region had to select which was the best political power to align with. This was all the more confusing when Rome was embroiled in one of its many civil wars.
Such was the case when Antipater, ruler of Idumea, allied himself first with Pompey and, strategically, later with Caesar after Pompey’s defeat. When Antipater was killed in 43 BCE, soon after Caesar’s assignation, his sons Herod and Phasael were named tetrarchs (“rulers of fourths”) of Galilee by Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony). Marcus was a friend of Caesar and theoretical an ally of Lepidus and Octavian in the Second Triumvirate, another group of Roman egomaniacs determined to destroy one another. The Parthians, main rivals of Rome in the region at the time, invaded Judea in 40 BCE in an attempt to help the Hasmoneans to regain power. After Phasel was captured and committed suicide, Herod seized the opportunity to achieve power by traveling to Rome and getting himself named king of Judea by the Roman Senate. When Marcus Antonius and his army overpowered the Parthians in 37 BCE, Herod’s title became official.
14 years ago I became interested in the date that Jesus was born. This led to several years of research, I quickly realized that there was no valid information that provided any real answers to this question. Since this website is getting some interest I will post from time to time some of the information I learned during this quest.