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not to depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh should come. We therefore find the Romans leaving the Jews still to govern themselves. Hyrcanus was continued in the High-priesthood with the appellation of prince, but the walls of Jerusalem were demolished, the Jewish territory was reduced, and the nation was compelled to pay a disgraceful tribute. Aristobulus and his sons were carried to Rome, to adorn Pompey's triumph. It was however but a short period before this disturber of the public peace obtained his liberty, and Judea was again thrown into desolating dissensions.
Pompey was overpowered by the partizans of Julius Cæsar; who, at the death of that renowned warrior, usurped the supreme authority at Rome. Antipater had assisted him in his wars in Egypt, and was rewarded by the office of lieutenant of Judea, 48 B. C. He soon obtained important posts for his two sons,—the government of Jerusalem for Phasael, and of Galilee for Herod. Cæsar confirmed Hyrcanus in the Priesthood, and conferred such favors upon the Jewish nation, that it could hardly be perceived that they were in bondage to any people.
There was nothing stable, however, among this people, nor even in the thrones of the mighty. Julius Cæsar, one of the most splendid men that adorns the page of civil history, was assassinated in the senate-house; and Hyrcanus was ejected from his rank and station, by Antigonus, the son of his great rival. His vengeance fell also upon the governors of Jerusalem and Galilee. But Herod fled into Egypt, and from thence to Rome; where he put himself under the protection of Mark Antony, who was then in power. Antony gave him the kingdom of Judea. He collected an army; and after a long and distressing war, took the holy city, 37 B. C. Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, was put to death. He was the last of the Asmonean family. They had reigned in Judea for one hundred and twenty-nine years.
The sceptre now passed, for the first time, into the hands of a foreign prince, but still the Jews continued to be governed by their own laws, and their Sanhedrim was the general court of Judicature. We feel, however, when we behold so great an event as this, that the coming of Shiloh is near.
Herod was a monster of cruelty. He was ever filled with jealousy, and all his real and supposed enemies he put, as
far as lay in his power, to most cruel deaths. The adherents of Antigonus first felt his rage. Their blood flowed freely, and their estates filled his empty coffers. Only two were spared from the Sanhedrim. Disqualified himelf for the priesthood, he made Ananel, an inferior and obscure priest, High Priest; but he soon displaced him, and gave the office to Aristobulus, the brother of his wife Mariamne; but him however he in a short period caused to be drowned in a bath. To give himself authority and power with the Jewish nation, he married Mariamne, a beautiful and accomplished woman of the Asmonean family, the grand-daughter of Hyrcanus; but though he loved her passionately, she, for his murder of her brother, as bitterly hated him; and in his fury for it, he put her to death. He condemned also her mother and three of his own sons to the loss of life, and exhausted the treasure and spirit of the nation, by his cruel oppressions.
As might naturally be expected, this monster in wickedness despised the Jewish religion and laws. The High Priest he set up and removed, without any regard to hereditary right. He made it continually the great object of his reign, to introduce Roman luxury, and the worship of heathen gods. He built Grecian Temples, and set up idols for worship, and established theatres and games in honor of Augustus the Roman Emperor.
Having reigned in this manner fourteen years, and amassed great treasures, the people became exceedingly disgusted with him; wherefore, to gain their favor, he resolved, 17 B. C. to rebuild the Temple. For about nine years, he employed upon it 18,000 men. He made it considerably larger than the Temple which was built by Solomon. Its length and breadth were now one hundred cubits. It was built of immense stones of white marble, which were covered with large plates of pure gold. · Its enclosure was about a furlong square. This was surrounded by a high wall, on the inside of which were erected three galleries, the narrowest about thirty feet wide, and fifty high, but the largest was forty-five feet wide, one hundred high. These galleries were supported by 162 pillars of marble, each about twenty-seven feet in circumference. The wall of this enclosure, had four gates towards the west and one on each of the other sides. The Temple was encom passed with beautiful porches, which were paved with marble. Solomon's porch was at the east gate of the Tem
ple, called beautiful. The women had their separate court, and entered by the east gate, which was overlaid with Corinthian brass. A golden eagle, the arms of the Roman empire, was placed over each gate. And when the Temple was finished, it was with great solemnity dedicated to God. As the whole was executed as a repair of the Temple built by Zerubbabel, it was called the second Temple, into which “ the Desire of all nations should come.” And as it was continually receiving additions for many years after, the Jews might say in the time of our Savior, with propriety, “ Forty and six years was the Temple in building."
Finding that the sceptre had now about departed from Judah, the pious in Jerusalem were earnestly looking for the coming of Shiloh. They accurately computed also the seventy weeks in Daniel's prophecy, of the coming of Christ, and found that they were about completed. Devout people waited day and night in the Temple for the consolation of Israel; and they who had no special wish for the Messiah in his true character, were looking forward to him as a deliverer from the Roman yoke. So much expectation of the promised king, could not but be viewed by such a man as Herod with the deepest jealousy. And when the long looked for moment arrived, when the promised seed was born, when the glorious Savior of men entered our world, to set up that kingdom which should break and destroy all kingdoms, immediately this worst of tyrants resolved to destroy him. But by the overruling providence of God he was delivered out of his hands, and in the following year this inhuman tyrant died of a most loathsome disease and in great tortures, having reigned thirty-seven years.
He carried his brutality to the last. For to prevent the nation from rejoicing at his death, he convened all the distinguished men, shut them up in a castle, and ordered their instant death the moment he should expire. But the order was not executed. Such was the man into whose hands the Church had fallen, when her promised deliverer arose. He was called great, but he was chiefly great in crime, and was detestable as he was wicked and base. He left his dominion to three sons;—his kingdom to Archelaus; Gaulonites, Trachonites and Batanea, to Philip; Galilee and Perea, to Herod Antipas. . As this family were intimately connected with the rising Christian Church, some account of them will be both interesting and instructive.
Archelaus interred his father with great pomp. At the commencement of his reign, the Jews, indignant at the profanation of the Temple, pulled down the Roman eagle, which Herod had placed over each of the gates. This occasioned great contentions and much shedding of blood. His brother Herod contended wi:h him at the Roman court for the crown, but he held it about seven years. His reign was one of such violence and tyranny, that the people brought against him accusations to the emperor; and he was banished to Vienne in France, where he died. Such was the cruelty of his temper, that when Joseph and Mary heard that he reigned in the room of his father Herod, they were afraid to return into Judea with the holy child Jesus. He was succeeded by Roman governors, one of whom was Pontius Pilate. Of Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonites, little mention is made in the evangelical history
Herod Antipater, tetrarch of Galilee, was early engaged in war with the Arabs, because he divorced his wife the daughter of Aretas, their king, that he might marry Herodlas, the wife of his brother Philip, who was still living. For this connexion, John Baptist reproved him, and lost his life. Soon after John's death, Herod was sent into exile, and he and his wife and Salama all came to a miserable end.
There was another Herod, called Herod Agrippa, who reigned in Judea during the life of the Apostles. He was grandson of Herod the great. He murdered James and apprehended Peter. While at Cesarea, celebrating some games in honor of Claudius, the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon sent deputies to him to solicit his favor. Splendidly dressed, he made an oration, and the people shouted, . It is the voice of a god.' He was gratified by the impious flattery, and was smitten of heaven with a most tormenting disease, and eaten up of worms, having reigned about ten years. He was the father of Agrippa, Berenice, Drusilla and Mariamne.
The sceptre was now wholly departed from Judah, and the law giver from between his feet, for Shiloh had come. The Jews were no longer governed by their own rulers and laws, but by the Roman power. Herod the great had broken down the power of the Sanhedrim; though it still existed in form, so that Christ and his apostles, and Stephen the deacon, were brought before it. But it possessed not the power over life and death. “ It is not lawful,” said the Jews to Pilate, “ for us to put any man to death.” Such was the wonderful fulfilment of the ancient prophecy of Jacob. Other vast nations had long since lost their power, and been buried in oblivion, but Judah had retained her sceptre, because she was protected of heaven.
In the latter age of the Jewish nation, and at the time of our Savior's appearance, the Jews were divided into a great variety of religious sects. All these acknowledged the authority of the law of Moses, and united in their forms of worship, but they were so far separated by their peculiarities, as to be continually involved in the most bitter hostili. ties.
The largest and most popular was the sect of the Pharisees. Their rise is uncertain. They probably rose from some small beginning to their great power and consequence. As early as the days of Hyrcanus and Janneus, they threw the nation into great commotion. They believed in the existence of angels, both good and bad, in the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and future rewards and punishments; but they considered the tradition of the elders as of equal authority with the written law, and in many places they explained the latter by the former, and explained it in a way directly contrary to its true meaning. Thus they made the commandment of God of none effect by their traditions. These traditions, they contended, were delivered by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, and preserved through succeeding generations. By these they were instructed that thoughts and desires were not sinful, unless they resulted in evil actions; that fasting, ablution, and almsgiving, made atonement for sin, and that men could even perform works of supererogation. They expected justification through the merits of Abraham.
They derived their name from a Hebrew word which signifies to separate, because they pretended to an uncommon separation from the world, and devotedness to God. They valued themselves upon their frequent washings, fastings, and long prayers; their gravity of dress and gesture; their mortified looks; their scrupulous tithings; their building tombs for the prophets, that they might appear more righteous than their fathers who slew them; their care to avoid every kind of ritual impurity; enlarging their philacteries,* and the borders of their garments; and on their
.*These philacteries were pieces of parchment, &c.