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fal, and laid siege to the tower of Acra, which overlooked the Temple. This brought from Antioch the young king, with an hundred thousand foot, twenty thousand horse, thirty-two elephants and three hundred chariots of war. The watch-word of Judas was “ VICTORY IS OF God.” Having given this, he attacked the enemy, and made a great slaughter, but was unable to resist such a mighty force, and retreated into Jerusalem. The monarch pursued and laid siege to the sanctuary. The Jews defended themselves with bravery, and were reduced to the lowest extremities, when the royal army was called away to quell a rebellion in Syria. A truce was granted, and the king was admitted within the walls. These he promised to leave untouched; but beholding their strength, he disregarded his oath and levelled them with the dust.
The apostate High Priest Menelaus, now hoped for a restoration to his office, but his character was well understood by the Syrian government, and they condemned him to a horrid death, and appointed Alcimus, a man of equal baseness, to the office. The people however, refused to admit him to the altar. It had been predicted by the prophet Isaiah, that there should“ be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt," and Onias, the proper heir to the priesthood, indignant at this appointment, went thither, and on the ground of this prophecy, petitioned Ptolemy to grant him liberty to erect a temple in his dominions. The Egyptian king assigned him a place in Heliopolis, the city of the sun. A temple was erected after the model of the temple of Jerusalem, and divine worship was instituted. This temple stood 224 years, when it was destroyed by Vespasian.
Alcimus, rejected of the people, sought protection of Demetrius, the monarch of Syria. Powerful armies were sent to his support. For protection, Judas sought an alliance with the Romans. A league of mutual defence was made. But before the embassy had returned, the royal armies were but too successful; the small army of Judas was surrounded, and he fell covered with wounds, a martyr to his country, 160 B. C.
The death of this illustrious warrior was a severe stroke to the Jewish nation. They were at once scattered and devoured as sheep before ravenous wolves. Their calamities had never been greater than they now were, since the captivity. Still, however, hoping in God, the Jews flocked
around Jonathan, the brother of Judas, and made him their leader.
Jonathan appears not to have possessed the military prowess of his brother; but he was a man of courage and pru. dence. He continued at the head of the nation seventeen years, when he and his children, and about a thousand of his guards were treacherously assassinated by Tryphon, a Syr. ian usurper, in the city of Ptolemạis, 144 B. C. But two years was he troubled by the Syrians, with whom his brother had had such terrible conflicts. For finding so able a commander at the head of the Jewish forces, and being disturbed by their own internal divisions, they made peace, and solemnly engaged never to renew the war.
Jonathan improved the season of peace for the restoration of civil and ecclesiastical order. He repaired the wall of Jerusalem, and formed alliances with the Romans. The wicked Alcimus, having the presumption to break down the wall which he had built round the sanctuary, by order of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, to separate the Gentiles from the Jews, was, it is said, smitten of God, and perished in agony. The priesthood remained vacant for seven years, when the people pressed it upon Jonathan, and the appointment was confirmed by the Syrian monarch..
Tryphon, the base murderer of Jonathan, aiming at the throne of Syria, immediately besieged Jerusalem; but the people elevated Simon, the surviving brother of Judas and Jonathan, to the head of the army, and he was afraid to make any attack. Simon continued both general and High Priest, for the term of eight years; when he was treacherously murdered by his son-in-law, B. C. 135. His reign was one of much prosperity to the Jewish nation. They had friendly alliances with the Romans and Lacedemonians; enjoyed the civil and religious institutions of their fathers, and were victorious over the petty marauders who troubled them. Simon erected at Modin, a very costly monument of white marble, over the sepulchre of his father and brothers, which was for centuries a famous sea-mark, and which was standing so late as the days of Eusebius, 200 years after Christ.
With the death of Simon terminates what is usually called the history of the Maccabees. This history is chiefly contained in the first book of the Maccabees, which was probably written by some contemporary author, who had been an actor in the scenes which he so minutely and feel
ingly describes. It was never admitted into the sacred ca. non, but approaches nearer the style of sacred history than any work extant, and is generally received as an accurate account of the events of that period. From it Josephus chiefly copied the history of that period. The second book of Maccabees consists of several pieces compiled together. It is written with much less accuracy than the first, and contains much that is extravagant and fabulous.
The Apocryphal books, which are often printed and bound with the sacred volume, were all probably written in these latter days of the Jewish church. They are therefore venerable for their antiquity; and some of them, as the first book of Maccabees, impart valuable historical information; others, as the books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, afford much useful instruction; but none of them have any title to inspiration. They were never admitted into the canon of the Jews, to whom alone were committed the oracles of God. They formed no part of the Septuagint version. They were never quoted, either as prophetic or doctrinal, by our Saviour or his apostles. Some of their authors disclaim all pretensions to inspiration: and some of them contain things which are weak and low; utterly inconsistent with probability and chronology, and at variance with the general character of divine truth. They are considered as canonical, and as of equal authority with the writings of Moses and the prophets by the church of Rome; but they certainly ought never to be connected or circulated with the sacred volume.
Prosperous state of the Jews under Hyrcanus. Royalty re-established. Jerusalem taken
by the Romans. End of the Asmonean princes. Herod the Great. The Temple repaired and enlarged. Family of Herod. Sceptre departed from Judah. Religious sects among the Jews-Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians, Galileans, Karaites. Different orders of men-Scribes, Rabbis, Nazarites. Wickedness of the Jews, and of the Heathen. State of the Civil World. Reflections on the providence of God.
SIMON was succeeded in the Jewish government and priesthood, by his son, John Hyrcanus, 135 B. C. Antiochus Sidetes king of Syria, hearing of the death of Simon, marched against Jerusalem, determined to subdue it. A tremendous siege ensued, and the inhabitants almost perished by famine. They sued at length for peace. Antio
chus granted it, requiring the Jews to deliver up their arms, demolish their fortifications, and pay him an annual tribute. The sudden death of this monarch enabled the Jews soon after to cast off the foreign yoke, and they were never again subjected to the Syrian power. Hyrcanus maintained his authority twenty-nine years, and died in peace, greatly lamented. Under him the Jews enjoyed greater prosperity, and were raised to greater heights of glory, than they had ever attained since the Babylonish captivity. By him the capital of the Samaritans, and the Temple which was erected on Mount Gerizim, were destroyed. The Samaritans, however, continued to have an altar on that mount, and to worship there.
Under his reign the Edomites joined themselves to the Jews, and both Jacob and Esau became consolidated in one nation. The Jews recognized two kinds of proselytesproselytes of the gate and of justice. The former renounced idolatry, but did not conform strictly to the law of Moses; such were Naaman the Syrian, and Cornelius the centurion. They were admitted into the Temple to worship God, but came no further than into the outer court, which was hence called the court of the Gentiles. The others observed the whole Jewish law. They were initiated by baptism, sacrifice and circumcision, and were admitted to all the privileges of the Jews. Such did the Edomites become.
Hyrcanus was succeeded by his son Aristobulus. He assumed the title of king. He was the first Jewish ruler, who, after the Babylonian captivity, wore a crown. He was a prince and High Priest of great cruelty. He put to death his own mother and brother, and at the close of one year died in great horror of conscience, for his crimes. During his reign, the Itureans were vanquished, and compelled, as was the custom towards all captives, to receive circumcision, and be engrafted into the Jewish state.
Alexander Jannæus, his brother, ascended the throne upon the death of Aristobulus. He was a martial prince, and fought many successful battles with the surrounding nations. But he had a more terrible enemy at home than abroad.
This was the sect of the Pharisees, which had occasioned much trouble to John Hyrcanus, but which now came out in open war against this sovereign, and endeavored to drive him from the throne. They hired foreign troops, and compelled him once to flee to the mountains alone. At length, however, he gained a decisive victory over them, took 800
of them captive and caused them all to be crucified in one day. This rebellion lasted six years, and cost the lives of above 50,000 of the faction. He reigned twenty-six years, and left the throne to his wife, 79 B. C.
This woman committed the government entirely to the Pharisees, by which she acquirerl great popularity. But having the power in their hands, they immediately commenced a violent persecution of the Sadducees, a rival sect, who had been the supporters of Alexander. This was followed with much shedding of blood until they were placed for security, at their own request, in the several garrisons. Alexandra died in the ninth year of her reign.
Her son Hyrcanus had been made High Priest and immediately ascended the throne on the death of his mother. But he was driven from it in a short time, by Aristobulus, a younger brother. Antipater, governor of Idumea, and father of Herod took the part of Hyrcanus. The two contending parties appealed to Pompey, the Roman general, and made him arbitrator between them. The shrewd Roman heard them with apparent impartiality, but deferred a decision of the controversy. Aristobulus, jealous of his rival, prepared for war. The Roman general immediately caused him to be imprisoned, and marched his army against Jerusalem. The party of Hyrcanus received him with open arms, and the faction of Aristobulus, who had thrown themselves into the Temple, were but for about three months able to hold out against so powerful an enemy. Twelve thousand Jews were killed by the Romans, and many destroyed themselves. When the Temple was finally taken, the priests moved not from the altars, but suffered themselves to be butchered without resistance, by the soldiery, to the astonishment of Pompey.
Thus did the holy city and Temple fall into the hands of the Romans, 63 B. C. and on the very day which the Jews kept as a solemn fast, for the capture of Jerusalem and the
Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Pompey wished to see the interior of the Temple. But the Jews protested against it as an awful profanation. With his superior officers, however, he pressed in, lifted the veil, and looked within the Holy of holies. The whole he treated with great respect. All the treasures he left untouched; and he ordered the priests to offer sacrifice as directed by the law of Moses.
But, according to the prediction of Jacob, the sceptre was