« הקודםהמשך »
prohibited under the most severe penalties, every copy burnt which the agents of the tyrant could procure, and the people required to sacrifice to idols, under pain of the most agonizing death. Numerous as were the apostates, (for the previous corruption of manners had but ill prepared the nation for such a trial) a remnant continued faithful; and the complicated miseries, which the people endured under this cruel yoke, excited a general impatience. At length the moment of deliverance arrived; Mattathias, a priest, 167. . eminent for his piety and resolution, and the father of five sons, equally zealous for their religion, encouraged the people, by his example and exhortations, “ to stand up for the Law;" and having soon collected an army of six thousand men, he eagerly undertook to free Judæa from the oppression and persecution of the Syrians, and to restore the worship of the God of Israel ; but being very old when he engaged in 'this important and arduous work, he did not live to see its completion. At his death his son Judas Maccabæus succeeded to the 166. command of the army; and having defeated the Syrians in several engagements, he drove them out of Judæa, and established his own authority 163, in the country. His first care was to repair and purify the temple for the restoration of divine
worship; and to preserve the memory of this event, the Jews ordained a feast of eight days, called the feast of the dedication, to be yearly observed. Judas Maccabæus was slain in battle, and his brother Jonathan succeeded him in the government. He was also made high priest, and from that time the Maccabæan princes continued to be high priests. Judas Maccabæus and his brothers were so successful, by their valour and conduct, in asserting the liberty of their country, that in a few years they not only recovered its independence, but regained almost all the possessions of the twelve tribes, destroying at the same time the temple on Mount Gerizim, in Samaria. But they and their successors were almost always engaged in wars, in which, though generally victorious, they were sometimes defeated, and their country for a short time oppressed.
Aristobulus was the first of the Maccabees who 107. assumed the name of king. About forty-two
years after, a contest arising between the two brothers, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, the sons of
Alexander Jaddæus, relative to the succession of 65. the crown, both parties applied to the Romans
for their support and assistance. Scaurus, the Roman general, suffered himself to be bribed by Aristobulus, and placed him on the throne. Not long after, Pompey returned from the East into 9
Syria, and both the brothers applied to him for his protection, and pleaded their cause before him. Pompey considered this as a favourable opportunity for reducing Palestine under the power of the Romans, to which the neighbouring nations had already submitted; and therefore, without deciding the point in dispute between the two brothers, he marched his army into Judæa, and after some pretended negotiation with Aristobulus and his party, besieged and took possession of Jerusalem. He appointed Hyrcanus high priest, but would not allow him to take the title of king; he gave him, however, the specious name of prince, with very limited authority. Pompey did not take away the holy utensils or treasures of the temple, but he made Judæa subject and tributary to the Romans; and Crassus, about nine years after, plundered the temple of every thing valuable belonging to it. Julius Cæsar confirmed Hyrcanus in the pontificate, and granted fresh privileges to the Jews; but about four years after the death of Julius Cæsar, Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, with the assistance of the Parthians, while the empire of Rome was in an unsettled state, deposed his uncle Hyrcanus, seized the government, and assumed the title
Herod, by birth an Idumæan (f), but of the Jewish religion, whose father Antipater, as well as himself, had enjoyed considerable posts of honour and trust under Hyrcanus (g), immediately set out for Rome, and prevailed upon the senate, through the interest of Anthony and Augustus, to appoint him king of Judæa. Armed with this authority, he returned, and began hostilities against Antigonus. About three years after, he took Jerusalem, and put an end to the government of the Maccabees or Asmonæans(h), after it had lasted nearly a hundred and thirty years. Antigonus was sent prisoner to Rome, and was there put to death by Antony. Herod married Mariamne, who lived to be theonly representative of the Asmonæan family(i), and afterwards caused her to be publicly executed from motives of unfounded jealousy. Herod considerably enlarged the kingdom of Judæa, but it continued
(f) The Idumæans were a branch of the ancient Edomites, and were converted to the Jewish religion about a hundred and twenty-nine years before Christ. Vide Lardner, vol. 1. p. 12. . (g) Lardner says, under the government of Alexander Jannæus and Alexandria also.
(h) So called from Asmonæus, one of their ancestors.
(i) Herod caused her brother Aristobulus, who was high priest, to be secretly murdered.
tributary to the Romans; he greatly depressed the civil power of the high priesthood, and changed it, from being hereditary and for life, to an office granted and held at the pleasure of the monarch; and this sacred office was now often given to those who paid the highest price for it; without any regard to merit; he was an inexorable cruel tyrant to his people, and even to his children, three of whom he put to death; a slave to his passions, and indifferent by what means he gratified his ambition; but to preserve the Jews in subjection, and to erect a lasting monument to his own name, he repaired the temple of Jerusalem (k) at a vast expence, and added greatly to its magnificence.
At this time there was a confident expectation of the Messiah among the Jews; and indeed a general idea prevailed among the heathen(1) also, that some extraordinary conqueror or deliverer would soon appear in Judæa. In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Herod, while Augustus was
emperor (k) As it appears that divine worship was not interrupted during these repairs, which continued forty-six years, it is evident that the temple was not wholly pulled down. Herod built also a magnificent palace for himself on Mount Sion. Both works were probably designed as an imitation of Solomon.
(1) Tac. Hist. lib. 5. cap. 13. Syet. in Vita Vesp.e.4.