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and was alternately the vassal of each — Syria and Egypt.
Under the government of the first three Ptolemies — those
enlightened and magnificent princes, Soter, Philadelphus,
and Evergetes, the Jews were protected, both at persecution

, i • * i i • i ii • • of the Jews

home and in Alexandria, and their country enjoy- by Antioch-
ed peace and prosperity, until the ambition of An- us-
tiochus the Great again plunged the nation in difficulties.
He had seized Judea, which was then a province of the
Egyptian kings, but was defeated by Ptolemy Philopator.
This monarch made sumptuous presents to the temple, and,
even ventured to enter the sanctuary, but was prevented by
the high priest. Although filled with fear in view of the
tumult which this act provoked, he henceforth hated and
persecuted the Jews. Under his successor, Judea was again
invaded by Antiochus, and again was Jerusalem wrested

116 From the Captivity to Christ. [Chap. XI.

from his grasp by Scopas, the Egyptian general. Defeated,
however, near the source of the Jordan, the country fell into
the hands of Antiochus, who was regarded as a deliverer.
And it continued to be subject to the kings of Syria, uutil,
with Jerusalem, it suffered calamities scarcely inferior to
those inflicted by the Babylonians.

It is difficult to trace, with any satisfaction, the internal
government of the Jews during the two hundred years when
the chief power was in the hands of the high priests — this
Therein of period marked bv the wars between Svria and

the high £_, J f

priests. Egypt, or rather between the successors of the

generals of Alexander. The government of the high priests
at Jerusalem was not exempt from those disgraceful out-
rages which occasionally have marked all the governments of
the world — whether in the hands of kings, or in an oligarchy
of nobles and priests. Nehemiah had expelled from Jerusa-
lem, Manasseh, the son of Jehoiada, who succeeded Eliashib
in the high priesthood, on account of his unlawful marriage
with a stranger. Manasseh, invited to Samaria by the father
of the woman he had married, became high priest of the
temple on Mount Gerizim, and thus perpetuated the schism
between the two nations. Before the conquests of Alexan-
der, while the country was under the dominion of Persia, a
high priest by the name of John murdered his brother Jesus
within the precincts of the sanctuary, which crime was pun-
ished by the Persian governor, by a heavy fine imposed upon
Their the whole nation. Jadclua was the higdi priest in

turbulent or

reigns. the time of Alexander, and by his dignity and tact

won over the conqueror of Asia. Onias succeeded Jaddua,
and ruled for twenty-one years, and he was succeeded
by Simon the Just, a pontiff on whose administration
Jewish tradition dwells with delight. Simon was suc-
ceeded by his uncles, Eleazar and Manasseh, and they by
Onias II., son of Simon, through whose misconduct, or indo-
lence, in omitting the customary tribute to the Egyptian
king, came near involving the country in fresh calamities —
averted, however, by his nephew Joseph, who pacified the

Chap. XL] Matiathias. 117

Egyptian court, and obtained the former generalship of the
revenues of Judea, Samaria, and Phoenicia, which he enjoyed
to the time of Autiochus the Great. Onias II. was succeeded
by his son Simon, under whose pontificate the Egyptian
monarch was prevented from entering the temple, and he by
Onias III., under whose rule a feud took place with the sons
of Joseph, disgraced by murders, which called for the inter-
position of the Syrian king, who then possessed Judea.
Joshua, or Jason, by bribery, obtained the pontificate, but he
allowed the temple worship to fall into disuse, and was even
alienated from the Jewish faith by his intimacy with the
Syrian court. He was outbidden in his high office by Onias,
his brother, who was disgraced by savage passions, and who
robbed the temple of its golden vessels. The people, indig-
nant, rose in a tumult, and slew his brother, Lysimachus.
Meanwhile, Jason, the dispossessed high priest, recovered his
authority, and shut up Onias, or Menelaus, as he called
himself, in a castle. This was interpreted by Antiochus as
an insurrection, and he visited on Jerusalem a ter- po nlar
rible penalty — slaughtering forty thousand of the tumults,
people, and seizing as many more for slaves. He then abol-
ished the temple services, seized all the sacred vessels, collect-
ed spoil to the amount of eighteen hundred talents, defiled the
altar by the sacrifice of a sow, and suppressed every sign of
Jewish independence. He meditated the complete extirpa-
tion of the Jewish religion, dismantled the capitol, M . s ,
harassed the country people, and inflicted unprece- the Jews -
dented barbarities. The temple itself was dedicated to Jupi-
ter Olympius, and the reluctant and miserable Jews were
forced to join in all the rites of pagan worship, including the
bacchanalia, which mocked the virtue of the older Romans.
From this degradation and slavery the Jews were rescued
by a line of heroes whom God raised up — the Asmoneans, or
Maccabees. The head of this heroic familv was _„ ..

•> 1 ne Macca-

Mattathias, a man of priestly origin, living in the bees -
town of Modin, commanding a view of the sea — an old man
of wealth and influence who refused to depart from the faith

118 From the Captivity to Christ. [Chap. XI.

of his fathers, while most of the nation had relapsed into the
paganism of the Greeks. He slew with his own hand an
apostate Jew, who offered sacrifice to a pagan deity, and
then killed the royal commissioner, Apelles, whom Antiochus
had sent to enforce his edicts. The heroic old man, who
resembled William Tell, in his mission and charae-


ter, summoned his countrymen, who adhered to the
old faith, and intrenched himself in the mountains, and
headed a vigorous revolt against the Syrian power, even
fighting on the Sabbath day. The ranks of the insurrection-
ists were gradually filled with those who were still zealous
for the law, or inspired with patriotic desires for independ-
ence. Mattathias was prospered, making successful raids
Hjg from his mountain fastnesses, destroying heathen

successes. altars, and punishing apostate Jews. Two sects
joined his standard with peculiar ardor — the Zadikim, who
observed the written law of Moses, from whom the Sadducees
of later times sprang, and the more zealous and austere
Chasidim, who added to the law the traditions of the elders,
from whom the Pharisees came.

Old men are ill suited to conduct military expeditions
when great fatigue and privation are required, and the aged
Mattathias sank under the weight which he had so nobly
supported, and bequeathed his power to Judas, the most val-
iant of his sons.

This remarkable man, scarcely inferior to Joshua and Da-
ms son v ^ m m ihtary genius and heroic qualities, added
Judas. prudence and discretion to personal bravery.
When his followers had gained experience and courage by
various gallant adventures, he led them openly against his
enemies. The governor of Samaria, Apollonius, was the first
whom he encountered, and whom he routed and slew.
Seron, the deputy governor of Coelesyria, sought to redeem
the disgrace of the Syrian arms ; but he also was defeated
at the pass of Bethoron. At the urgent solicitation of
Philip, governor of Jerusalem, Antiochus then sent a strong
force of forty thousand foot and seven thousand horse to

Chap, xl] Judas Maccabeus. 119

subdue the insurgents, under the command of Ptolemy
Macron. Judas, to resist these forces, had six thousand
men ; but he relied on the God of Israel, as his fathers had
done in the early ages of Jewish history, and in a sudden
attack he totally routed a large detachment of the Hjg heroi
main army, under Gorgias, and spoiled their camp., deeds -
He then defeated another force beyond the Jordan, and the
general fled in the disguise of a slave, to Antioch. Thus
closed a triumphant campaign.

The next year, Lysias, the lieutenant-general of Anti-
ochus, invaded Judea with a large force of sixty-five thou-
sand men. Judas met it with ten thousand, and gained a
brilliant victory, which proved decisive, and which Syria m-

vades Pal-
led to the re-establishment of the Jewish power at estine.

Jerusalem. Judas fortified the city and the temple, and as-
sumed the offensive, and recovered, one after another, the
cities which had fallen under the dominion of Syria. In the
mean time, Antiochus, the bitterest enemy which the Jews
ever had, died miserably in Persia — the most powerful of
all the Syrian kings.

On the accession of Antiochus Eupater, Lysias again
attempted the subjugation of Judea. This time Another un-
he advanced with one hundred thousand foot, invasion.
twenty thousand horse, and thirty-two elephants. But this
large force wasted away in an unsuccessful attack on Jeru-
salem, harassed by the soldiers of the Maccabees. A treaty
of peace was concluded, by which full liberty of worship
was granted to the Jews, with permission to be ruled by
their own laws.

Demetrius, the lawful heir of Antiochus the Great, had
been detained at Rome as a hostage, in consequence
of which Antiochus Eupater had usurped his Continued

. -ri • f t-» i i hostilities

throne. Escaping irom Kome, he overpowered between
his enemies and recovered his kingdom. But he Palestine.
was even more hostile to the Jews than his predecessor, and
succeeded in imposing a high priest on the nation friendly
to his interests. His cruelties and crimes once more aroused

120 From the Captivity to Christ. [Chap. XI.

the Jews to resistance, and Judas gained another decisive
victory", and ISTicanor, the Syrian general, was slain.

Judas then adopted a policy which was pregnant with
The jews important consequences. Pie formed a league
form an ni- w ith the Romans, then bent on the conquest of

Iiance with ' *

the ltouians. ^he East. The Roman senate readily entered into
a coalition with the weaker State, in accordance with its uni-
form custom of protecting those whom they ultimately ab-
sorbed in their vast empire: but scarcely was the treaty
ratified when the gallant Judas died, leaving the defense of
his country to his brothers, b. c. 161.

Jonathan, on whom the leadership fell, found the forces
Jonathan tinder his control disheartened by the tyranny of
Maccabeus t ] ie foigh priest, Alcimus, whom the nation had

master ot or* '

Judea. accepted. Leagued with Bacchides, the Syrian

general, the high priest had every thing his own way, until
Jonathan, emerging from his retreat, delivered his country-
men once again, and another peace was made. Several
years then passed in tranquillity, Jonathan being master of
Judea. A revolution in Syria added to his power, and his
brother Simon was made captain-general of all the country
from Tyre to Egypt. Jonathan, unfortunately, was taken
in siege, and the leadership of the nation devolved upon
Simon, the last of this heroic family. He ruled with great
wisdom, consolidated his power, strengthened his alliance
with Rome, repaired Jerusalem, and restored the peace of
the country. He was, on a present of one thousand pounds of
gold to the Romans, decreed to be prince of Judea, and taken
under the protection of his powerful ally. But

His rule. \ . A •

the peace with Syria, from the new complications
to which that kingdom was subjected from rival aspirants
to the throne, was broken in the old age of Simon, and he
was treacherously murdered, with his oldest son, Judas, at
a banquet in Jerusalem. The youngest son, John Hyr-
johnHyrca- canus, inherited the viijor of his family, and Avas

nus as high ,,,.., . ,

priest. declared high priest, and sought to revenge the

murder of his father and brother. Still, a Syrian army

Chap. XL] Pharisees and Sadducees. 121

overran the country, and John Hyrcanus, shut up in Jeru-
salem, was reduced to great extremities. A peace was
finally made between him and the Syrian monarch, Anti-
ochus, by which Judea submitted to vassalage to the king
of Syria. An unfortunate expedition of Antiochus into
Parthia enabled Hyrcanus once again to throw off the Syr-
ian yoke, and Judea regained its independence, which it
maintained until compelled to acknowledge the Roman
power. Hyrcanus was prospered in his reign, and destroyed
the rival temple on Mount Gerizim, while the temple of
Jerusalem resumed its ancient dignity and splendor.

At this period the Jews, who had settled in Alexandria,
devoted themselves to literature and philosophy in that lib-
eral and elegant city, and were allowed liberty The Jews in
of worship. But they became entangled in the Alexandna -
mazes of Grecian speculation, and lost much of their ancient
spirit. By compliance with the opinions and customs of the
Greeks, they reached great honors and distinction, and
even high posts in the army.

Hyrcanus, supreme in Judea, now reduced Samaria and
Idumea, and was only troubled by the conflicting parties of
Pharisees and Sadducees, whose quarrels agitated the State.
He joined the party of the Sadducees, who asserted The rule of
free will, and denied the more orthodox doc- nus. yr '
trines of the Pharisees, a kind of epicureans, opposed to se-
verities and the authority of traditions. It is one proof of
the advance of the Hebrew mind over the simplicity of former
ages, that the State could be agitated by theological and phi-
losophical questions, like the States of Greece in their high-
est development.

Hyrcanus reigned twenty-nine years, and was succeeded
by his son, Aristobulus, e. c. 106. His brief and succeeded
inglorious reign was disgraced by his starving to by hl8 s,,u *
death his mother in a dungeon, and imprisoning his three
brothers, and assassinating a fourth, Antigonus, who was a
victorious general. This prince died in an agony of remorse
and horror on the spot where his brother was assassinated.

122 From the Captivity to Christ. [Chap. XI.

Alexander Jannaus succeeded to the throne of the Asmo-
nean princes, who possessed the whole region of Palestine,
except the part of Ptolemais, and the city of Gaza. In an
attempt to recover the former he was signally defeated, and
came near losing his throne. He was more successful in his
attack on Gaza, which finally surrendered, after Alexander
had incurred immense losses.

While this priest-king was celebrating the Feast of Tab-
ernacles, a meeting, incited by the Pharisaic party, broke
out, which resulted in the slaughter of ten thousand people.
While invading the country to the east of the Jordan, the re-
bellion was renewed, and the nation, for six years, suffered
all the evils of civil war. Routed in a battle with the Syrian
monarch, whose aid the insurgents had invoked, he was
obliged to flee to the mountains ; but recovering his authority,
Turbulent at the head of sixty thousand men, — which shows
Alexander, the power of Judea at this period, — he marched
upon Jerusalem, and inflicted a terrible vengeance, eight hun-
dred men being publicly crucified, and eight thousand more
forced to abandon the city. Under his iron sway, the coun-
try recovered its political importance, for his kingdom com-
prised the greater part of Palestine. He died, after a
turbulent reign of twenty-seven years, b. c. 77, invoking his
queen to throw herself into the arms of the Pharisaic party,
which advice she followed, as it was the most powerful and

The high priesthood devolved on his eldest son, Hyrcanus
Queen Alex- H., while the reins of government were held by
andra. j^g q Ue en, Alexandra. She reigned vigorously and

prosperously for nine years, punishing the murderers of the
eight hundred Pharisees who had been executed.

Hyrcanus was not equal to his task amid the bitterness of
party strife. His brother Aristobulus, belonging to the
party of the Sadducees, and who had taken Damascus, was
popular with the people, and compelled his elder brother to
abdicate in his favor, and an end came to Pharisaic rule.

But now another family appears upon the stage, which

Chap. XI.] Jerusalem taken by Pompey. 123

ultimately wrested the crown from the Asmodean princes.
Antipater, a noble Idumean, was the chief minister The id nme .
of the feeble Hyrcanus. He incited, from motives an fami 'y-
of ambition, the deposed prince to reassert his rights, and
influenced by his counsels, he fled to Aretas, the king of
Arabia, whose capital, Petra, had become a great commer-
cial emporium. Aretas, Antipater, and Hyrcanus, marched
with an army of fifty thousand men against Aristobulus, who
was defeated, and fled to Jerusalem.

At this time Pompey was pursuing his career of conquests
in the East, and both parties invoked his interference, and both
offered enormous bribes. This powerful Roman was then at
Damascus, receiving the homage and tribute of ah parties
Oriental kings. The Egyptian monarch sent as a au!°of e Pom-
present a crown worth four thousand pieces of pey '
gold. Aristobulus, in command of the riches of the temple,
sent a golden vine worth five hundred talents. Pompey, in-
tent on the conquest of Arabia, made no decision ; but, hav-
ing succeeded in his object, assumed a tone of haughtiness
irreconcilable with the independence of Judea. Aristobulus,
patriotic yet vacillating, — " too high-minded to yield, too
weak to resist," — fled to Jerusalem and prepared for resistance.

Pompey approached the capital, weakened by those ever-
lasting divisions to which the latter Jews were Jerusalem
subjected by the zeal of their religious disputes, ^nd^of the
The city fell, after a brave defense of three months, Pom P e y-
and might not have fallen had the Jews been willing to abate
from the rigid observance of the Sabbath, during which the
Romans prepared for assault. Pompey demolished the for-
tifications of the city, and exacted tribute, but spai'ed the
treasures of the temple which he profaned by his heathen
presence. He nominated Hyrcanus to the priesthood, but
withheld the royal diadem, and limited the dominions of
Hyrcanus to Judea. He took Aristobulus to Rome to grace
his triumph.

Rut he contrived to escape, and, with his son Alexander,
again renewed the civil strife ; but taken prisoner, he was

124 From the Captivity to Christ. [Chap. XI

again sent as a captive to the " eternal city." Gabinius,
Reorangiza- the Roman general — for Hyrcanus had invoiced
government the aid of the Romans — now deprived the high
priest of the royal authority, and reorganized the whole
government of Judea ; establishing five independent San-
hedrims in the principal cities, after the form of the great
Sanhedrim, which had existed since the captivity. This
form lasted until Julius Caesar reinvested Hyrcanus with
the supreme dignity.

Jerusalem was now exposed to the rapacity of the Roman
Jerusalem generals who really governed the country. Cras-
Eoman gen^ sus plundered all that Pompey spared. He took
erais. from the temple ten thousand talents — about ten

million dollars when gold and silver had vastly greater value
than in our times. These vast sums had been accumulated
from the contributions of Jews scattered over the world —
some of whom were immensely wealthy.

Aristobulus and his son Alexander were assassinated
during the great civil war between the partisans of Cae-
Herod gov- S ar and Pompey. After the fail of the latter,

ernorof Gal l J . . '

iiee. Caasar connrnied Hyrcanus in the high priest-

hood, and allowed him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
But Antipater, presuming on the incapacity of Hyrcanus, re-
newed his ambitious intrigues, and contrived to make his son,
Phasael, governor of Jerusalem, and Herod, a second son,
governor of Galilee.

Herod developed great talents, and waited for his time.
After the battle of Philippi Herod made acceptable offer-
ings to the conquering party, and received the crown of
Judea, which had been recently ravaged by the Parthians,
through the intrigues of Antigonas, the surviving son of
Receives the Aristobulus. By his marriage with Mariamne, of
dea. the royal line of the Asmoneans, he cemented the

power he had won by the sword and the favor of Rome. He
was the last of the independent sovereigns of Palestine. He
reigned tyrannically, and was guilty of great crimes, having
caused the death of the aged Hyrcanus, and the imprison-

Chap. XL] Death of Herod. 125

ment and execution of his wife on a foul suspicion. Pie paid
the same court to Augustus that he did to Antony, and was
confirmed in the possession of his kingdom. The last of the
line of the Asmonseans had perished on the scaffold, beautiful,
innocent, and proud, the object of a boundless passion to a
tyrant who sacrificed her to a still greater one — suspicion. Al-
ternating between his love and resentment, Herod sank into a
violent fit of remorse, for he had more or less concern in the mur-
der of the father, the grandfather, the brother, and the uncle
of his beautiful and imperious wife. At all times, even amid
the glories of his palace, he was haunted with the image of the
wife he had destroyed, and loved with passionate . d rej
ardor. He burst forth in tears, he tried every tyrannically.
diversion, banquets and revels, solitude and labor — still the
murdered Mariamne is ever present to his excited imagination.
He settles down in a fixed and indelible gloom, and his stern
nature sought cruelty and bloodshed. His public administra-
tion was, on the whole, favorable to the peace and happiness
of the country, although he introduced the games and the
theatres in which the Romans sought their greatest pleasures.
For these innovations he was exposed to incessant dangers ;
but he surmounted them all by his vigilance and energy. He
rebuilt Samaria, and erected palaces. But his great- H is misera-
est work was the building of Csesarea — a city of ble llfe "
palaces and theatres. His policy of reducing Judea to a mere
province of Rome was not pleasing to his subjects, and he
was suspected of a design of heathenizing the nation.
Neither his munificence nor severities could suppress the
murmurs of an indignant people. The undisguised hostility
of the nation prompted him to an act of policy by which he
hoped to conciliate it forever. The pride and glory of the
Jews was their temple. This Herod determined to rebuild
with extraordinary splendor, so as to approach its magnifi-
cence in the time of Solomon. He removed the old struc-
ture, dilapidated by the sieges, and violence, and wear of
five hundred years; and the new edifice gradually arose,
glittering with gold, and imposing with marble pinnacles.

126 From the Captivity to Christ. [Chap. XL

But in spite of all his magnificent public worts, whether to
gratify the pride of his people, or his own vanity — in spite
of his efforts to develop the resources of the country over
which he ruled by the favor of Rome — in spite of his talents
and energies — one of the most able of the monarchs who
The hatred had sat on the throne of Judea, he was obnoxious

in which he , . .. . r> ^ ■ i • 1 i • i

was held. to his subjects io r his cruelties, and his sympathy
with paganism, and he was visited in his latter days by a
terrible disorder which racked his body with pain, and in-
flamed his soul with suspicions, while his court was distracted
with cabals from his own family, which poisoned his life, and
led him to perpetrate unnatural cruelties. He had already
executed two favorite sons, by Mariamne whom he loved, all
from court intrigues and jealousy, and he then executed his
son and heir, by Doris, his first Avife, whom he had divorced
to marry Mariamne, and under circumstances so cruel that
Augustus remarked that he had rather be one of his swine
than one of his sons. Among other atrocities, he had ordered
the massacre of the Innocents to prevent any one to be born
" as king of the Jews." His last act was to give the fatal
mandate for the execution of his son Antipater,

His death. . . 1

whom he hoped to make his heir, and then almost
immediately expired in agonies, detested by the nation, and
leaving a name as infamous as that of Ahab, b. c. 4.

Herod had married ten wives, and left a numerous family.
By his will, he designated the sons of Malthace, his sixth
wife, and a Samaritan, as his successors. These were Arche-
His kingdom laus, Antipas, and Olympias. The first inherited
amon^'nis Idumea, Samaria, and Judea ; to the second were
sons- assigned Galilee and Persea. Archelaus at once

assumed the government at Jerusalem ; and after he had

Online LibraryJohn LordAnceint states and empires → online text (page 10 of 55)