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the pride once more of the now prosperous Jews, who had by their persistent bravery earned their independence. In the year 113 B. C., the Jews began a new epoch in their history, after twenty-three years of almost incessant warfare.
Yet Simon was destined, like his brothers, to end his days by violence. He also, together with two of his sons, was treacherously murdered by his son-inlaw Ptolemy, who aspired to the exalted office of high-priest, leaving his son John Hyrcanus to reign in his stead, in the year 136 B.C. The rule of the Maccabees, — the five sons of Mattathias, — lasted thirty years. They were the founders of the Asmonean princes, who ruled both as kings and high-priests.
With the death of Simon, the last remaining son of Mattathias, this lecture properly should end; yet a rapid glance at the Jewish nation, under the rule of the Asmonean princes and the Idumæan Herod, may not be uninteresting.
John Hyrcanus, the first of the Asmonean kings, was an able sovereign, and reigned twenty-nine years. He threw off the Syrian yoke, and the Jewish king. dom maintained its independence until it fell under the Roman sway. His most memorable feat was the destruction of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim, which had been an eye-sore to the people of Jerusalem for two hundred years. He then subdued Idumæa, and compelled the people of that country to adopt the Jewish religion. He maintained a strict alliance with the Romans, and became master of Samaria and of Galilee, which were incorporated with his kingdom, so that the ancient limits of the kingdom of David were nearly restored. He built the castle of Baris on a rock within the fortifications that surrounded the hill of the Temple, which afterward was known as the tower of Antonia.
On his death, 108 B.C., Hyrcanus was succeeded by his son Aristobulus, - a weak and wicked prince, who assassinated his brother, and starved to death his mother in a dungeon. The next king of the Asmonean line, Alexander Jannæus, was brave, but unsuccessful, and died after an unquiet and turbulent reign of twenty-seven years, 77 B.C. His widow, Alexandra, ruled as regent with great tact and energy for nine years, and was succeeded by her son Hyrcanus II. This feeble and unfortunate prince had to contend with the intrigues and violence of his more able but unscrupulous brother, Aristobulus, who sought to steal his sceptre, and who at one time even drove him from his kingdom. Hyrcanus put himself under the protection of the Romans. They came as arbiters; they remained as masters. It was when Judæa was under the nominal rule of Hyrcanus II., driven hither
and thither by his enemies, and when his capital was in their hands, that Pompey, triumphant over the armies of the East, took Jerusalem after a desperate resistance, entered the Temple, and even penetrated to the Holy of Holies. To his credit he left untouched the treasures accumulated in the Temple, but he demolished the walls of the city and imposed a tribute. Judæa was now virtually under the dominion of the Romans, although the sovereignty of Hyrcanus was not completely taken away. On the fall of Pompey, Crassus the triumvir plundered the Temple of ten thousand talents, as was estimated, and the fate of Judæa, during the memorable civil war of which Caesar was the hero and victor, hung in trembling suspense. I will not enumerate the contentions, the deeds of violence, the acts of treachery, and the strife of rival parties which marked the tumultuous period in Judæa while Cæsar and Pompey were contending for the sovereignty of the world. These came to an end at last by the dethronement of the last of the Asmonean princes, and the accession of the Idumaan Herod by the aid of Antony (40 B. C.).
Herod, called the Great, was the last independent sovereign of Palestine. He was the son of Antipater, a noble Idumxan, who had ingratiated himself in the favor of Hyrcanus II., high-priest and sovereign, and who ruled as the prime minister of this feeble and incapable prince. By rendering some service to Ca. sar, Antipater was made procurator of Judæa, and appointed his son Herod to the government of Galilee, where he developed remarkable administrative talents. Soon after, he was raised by Sextus Cæsai to the military command of Cæle-Syria. After the battle of Philippi, Herod secured the favor of Antony by an enormous bribe, as he had that of Cassius on the death of Cæsar, and was made one of the tetrarchs of the province. In the mean time his father, Alexander, was poisoned at Jerusalem, and Antigonus, son of Aristobulus, who had gained ascendency, cut off the ears of Hyrcanus, and not only deprived him of the office of high-priest, but usurped his authority. Herod himself proceeded to Rome, and was successful in his intrigues, being by the favor of Antony made king of Judæa. But a severe contest was before him, since Antigonus was resolved to defend his crown. With the aid of the Romans, Herod, after a war of three years, subdued his rival and put him to death, together with every member of the Sanhedrim but two. His power was cemented by his marriage with Mariamne, the beautiful sister of Aristobulus, whom he made high-priest.
The Asmonean princes were now, by the death of Antigonus, reduced to Aristobulus and the aged Hyrcanus, both of whom were murdered by the suspicious tyrant who had triumphed over so many enemies. In a fit of jealousy Herod even caused the execution of his beautiful wife, whom he passionately loved, as he had already destroyed her grandfather, father, brother, and uncle. Supported by Augustus, whom he had managed to conciliate after the death of Antony, Herod reigned with undisputed authority over even an increase of territory. He doubtless reigned with great ability, tyrant and murderer as he was, and detested by the Jews as an Idumean. He reigned in a state of magnificence unknown to the Asmonean princes. He built a new and magnificent palace on the hill of Zion, and rebuilt the fortress of Baris, which he called Antonia in honor of his friend and patron, Antony. He also erected strong citadels in different cities of his kingdom, and rebuilt Samaria; he founded Cesarea and colonized it with Greeks, so that it became a great maritime city, rivalling Tyre in magnificence and strength. But Herod's greatest work, by which he hoped to ingratiate himself in the favor of the Jews, was the rebuilding of the Temple on a scale of unexampled magnificence. He was also very liberal in the distribution of corn during a severe famine. He was in such high favor with Augustus by his presents and his devotion to the imperial interests, that, next to Agrippa, he was the emperor's greatest favorite. His two sons by Mariamne were