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was now increased by the agitation of his spirits, and he expired in great agonies of body, and horror of mind, having reigned only one year.
The royal diadem brought neither honour nor happiness to this miserable monarch, who must have been, from the time he assumed it, a prey to the most tormenting passions, and totally unfit for the duties of the high-priesthood.
Whilst the people depended on the aid and protection of God alone, the high-priest might govern in civil as well as in sacred affairs, till it should please the LORD to raise them up a king of David's line; but they could have no right themselves to transfer the crown and title to another family without a divine commission. The prophecis gave them reason to expect a son of David, as a future king of the Jews; and though the nature of his kingdom was not at that time perfectly understood, yet it was their duty to wait and see what the LORD would bring forth; and, as Gon "had renewed the diadem, and taken off the crown, from the house of Judah,” those were usurpers who presumed to wear it, "till He should come whose right it was.”
THE REIGNS OF ALEXANDER JANÆUS, ALEXANDRA, AND ARISTOBULUS, OVER JUDEA.
As soon as Aristobulus was dead, Salome, his widow, set at liberty his three brothers whom he had imprisoned; and Alexander, the eldest, surnamed Janaus, took the kingdom. At this time the government of Syria was divided between Antiochus Grypus, and his
Ezek. xxi. 26.
brother Antiochus Cyzicenus, who harassed each other with continual wars; of which advantage being taken by Tyre, Sidon, and other parts of the empire, they assumed their liberty, and tyrants took possession of them.
After Alexander had settled his affairs at home, he attacked some of these places, and dealt very deceitfully with Lathymus the heir to the crown of Egypt, who came to their assistance; on which a bloody battle ensued, wherein Alexander's army was totally defeated, and he lost thirty thousand men: and must have been entirely undone, had not Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, come to his assistance.
When Alexander returned to Jerusalem, he went, at the feast of tabernacles, to officiate in the temple as high-priest; where he had great indignity offered to him by the people, who called him reproachful names, and pelted him with citrons. They were instigated to this by the Pharisees, who bore him an inveterate hatred. Enraged by these insults, Alexander took instant revenge by killing six thousand of them: from this time he chose his guards out of the heathen nations, never daring to trust himself with Jews. At last there broke out a civil war between him and his people, which continued about six years, and occasioned the death of fifty thousand persons: a decisive battle was fought, and Alexander conquered them. He exercised the most horrid barbarities, by which he so terrified the whole party, that they gave him no farther disturbance.
After these civil wars were ended, he had contentions with neighbouring kings; but at the end of three years returned to Jerusalem, and was well received by his subjects: soon after this he died of a disease which was at first brought on by excessive drinking.
Alexander, by his will, appointed that the supreme authority
authority should descend to his royal consort Alexandra, who made her eldest son Hyrcanus high-priest, but the administration was entirely in the power of the Pharisees. They immediately revoked the decree which John Hyrcanus had made against their traditional constitutions, and put many of the Sadducees to death, by the queen's leave, for she dreaded a fresh civil war. The late king's friends, seeing no end to these persecutions, went in a body, with the queen's youngest son Aristobulus at their head, to remonstrate against these proceedings; requesting that, if they could have no other defence, they might be placed in the different garrisons of the kingdom, out of the reach of their enemies. To this the queen readily consented, for she heartily commiserated their case; but this was the utmost she could do for them. The Jews were threatened with a powerful invasion by the king of Armenia, but sent ambassadors, who accommodated the difference.
In a short time after, queen Alexandra fell sick and died, being then seventy-three years old. She was a princess of great wisdom and discretion: and, if she had not inclined too much to the Pharisees, no exceptions could have been made to her government.
When Alexandra made Hyrcanus high-priest, she left Aristobulus, his younger brother, to lead a private life: this by no means suited his aspiring temper; as soon, therefore, as his mother was past all hopes of recovery, he used measures to obtain the supreme authority, and Hyrcanus was obliged to submit to him. Hyrcanus retired to live upon his private fortune, but was afterwards prevailed on, by one of his adherents to attempt the recovery of the kingdom; and he sought the assistance of Aretas, king of Arabia, who supplied him with an army; which being joined by the Jews, Hyrcanus gained a complete victory.
In the mean time the Roman empire spread far and near. Pompey, a famous general, had lately reduced Syria to the form of a Roman province; and Scaurus, one of his lieutenants, being sent with an army as far as Damascus, Aristobulus gained him on his side by the payment of a large sum of money. Scaurus threatened Aretas with the Roman arms in case he did not retire, which obliged him to raise the siege and retreat.
Not long after Pompey himself came to Damascus, where he was attended by ambassadors from several nations, and among the rest from Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. Pompey ordered the brothers to appear before him; they accordingly attended, and many Jews came also to remonstrate against both: alledging, that they had changed the old, and introduced a new form of government; desiring that they might not have a king, but that justice might be administered by the highpriest, agreeably to the law of GOD.
Pompey, having heard all parties, saw the injustice of Aristobulus, but left the determination of the affair till he could go to Judea. Aristobulus immediately armed in his defence; and when Pompey arrived he found him shut up in a strong fortress. Pompey was not long before he marched against him, and laid siege to Jerusa lem. Aristobulus then, by the promise of a large sum of money, prevailed on him to retire; but failing in the payment, exasperated Pompey, who marched forward, and was received into Jerusalem by Hyrcanus's party. Here he met with resistance from the other faction; and there was great confusion in the city. In three months time Pompey prevailed, and put the principal incendiaries of the war to death.
Before he left Jerusalem, Pompey, with several other chief officers, went into the Temple, and caused the most sacred parts of it, even the most holy place, to be
opened. He visited the treasuries also, but left them untouched: he thought it however advisable to destroy the walls of Jerusalem; and though he restored Hyrcanus to the high-priesthood, yet he deprived him of all the new conquests of his predecessors, would not permit him to wear a diadem, and obliged him to pay an annual tribute to the Romans. Pompey had hitherto gained great honour, and met with wonderful success; but after this he sunk in his character, and in his power, which is attributed by Jewish historians to his profaning the sanctuary.
THE JEWISH GOVERNMENT CHANGED.
ALEXANDER, the son of Aristobulus, attempted to recover the kingdom of Judea. Hyrcanus, being too weak to take the field against him, would have fortified Jerusalem by rebuilding the walls, but this his treaty with the Romans forbad; he was therefore obliged to send to them for forces, upon which Gabinius, who was then the Roman governor of Syria, came to his relief. Alexander submitted, Hyrcanus* was confirmed in the high-priesthood; but the civil administration was taken from the Sanhedrim, the land divided into five provinces, and courts of justice appointed over each of them; and from this time, instead of the prince, the supreme authority was invested in the Nobles.
Gabinius was a very wicked man, and exercised great extortion and oppression: he was soon removed from his government, and sent into exile, where he lived in a state of poverty for some years.
*He was taken prisoner by Pompey but made his escape.