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Crassus succeeded him. He was very eager to acquire wealth; and, hearing that there were great treasures in the temple at Jerusalem, marched his army thither to seize them, and ransacked it of every thing he thought worth taking. He then made an unjust war against the king of Parthia, in which he was slain. It is said, that when the king of Parthia received the head of Crassus, he caused melted gold to be poured down his throat by way of mockery for his greedy desire of riches.
Calphurnius Bibulus had Syria assigned to him, but nothing remarkable happened to the Jews during his government: he returned just as the war was breaking out between Cæsar and Pompey.
It is very affecting, as well as interesting, to read the history of this contest, but it is foreign to our present subject: it is sufficient to say, that Pompey was slain, and Cæsar triumphant.
The Jews were very serviceable to Cæsar in Egypt, on which account he confirmed all the privileges that had been granted them in that country; and ordered a pillar to be erected, in which they were recorded with his decree in favour of them.
From Egypt, Cæsar passed into Syria: here he was addressed by Antigonus, the son of the late king Aristobulus, with complaints against Hyrcanus and Antipater; but Antipater, who was then with Cæsar, pleaded their cause so well, that Cæsar, instead of restoring Antigonus, made a decree that Hyrcanus should hold the office of high-priest, and the principality of Judea, in perpetual succession, and that Antipater should be the procurator of Judea under him. This Antipater, who was a man of great wisdom, and powerful interest, had two sons, Phasael and Herod: to the former, he gave the government of the country about Je
rusalem; to the latter, that of Galilee. Phasael behaved himself well, but Herod was of a very violent temper.
Julius Cæsar returned to Rome after the death of Pompey, great honours were decreed him, but a conspiracy was formed against him, and he was treacherously murdered. Julius had lately given permission to Hyrcanus to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem; and during his life the Jews were held in great honour and esteem by the Romans.
Antipater was poisoned at a banquet by Hyrcanus's butler, at the instigation of Malicus, who was next in power to him: his sons would have revenged his death, but that there was a treaty of marriage on foot between Herod and Mariamne, the high-priest's grand-daughter, which suited his ambitious views, as the Jews were greatly attached to the Asmonean family.
Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, made another at tempt to recover the kingdom: and so far succeeded, that Hyrcanus and Phasael were taken and put in chains, and Antigonus took possession of Jerusaleni. Here he was besieged by Herod, assisted by a Roman army. The city held out several months with great re-. solution, but was at length obliged to surrender. Antigonus submitted, and was led in chains to Rome, and. Herod took the kingdom; but, not thinking himself, secure whilst any of the royal family were alive, he prevailed on the Romans to put Antigonus to death as a common criminal. With him ended the sovereignty
of the famous Asmonean family.
THE REIGN OF HEROD THE GREAT.
As Herod was obliged to make his way to the throne
of Judea through much blood, so he found it necessary to establish himself in it by the same means, and he put numbers to death. Hyrcanus continued a prisoner at Seleucia in Babylonia; but was at length set at liberty, and was allowed to reside at Babylon, at which place were many Jews, who treated him with the reverence and respect due to their high-priest, and the honour due to a king; but he longed to return to his native country. Herod was equally desirous to get him into his power, and invited him with flattering promises, und sent an embassy to solicit leave for him to return; which the Parthian monarch granted, and the unfortunate old prince was for some time treated by Herod with apparent kindness and respect.
During the wars which were carried on between Casar Octavius and Marc Antony, (of which there is a full account in the Roman History) Herod continued a steadfast friend to Antony; but, finding he was in a désperate situation, and that he would not hearken to his advice, Herod resolved to make his peace with Cæsar. He had reason to apprehend, that the conqueror would restore Hyrcanus, who had once reigned under the protection of the Romans; to prevent this, he caused him to be put to death, after he had passed the eightieth year of his life, under pretence of his holding a treasonable correspondence with the king of Arabia.
Josephus tells us, that Hyrcanus was a man of eminent candour, justice, and moderation; but a lover of hls ease, and so conscious to himself of his own insufficiency for the offices of public administration, that he usually entrusted them to other hands, by which means Antipater and Herod made their fortunes.
Herod having obtained an audience of Cæsar, as he entered his presence, laid aside his diadem; he expressed himself
himself with so much intrepidity, that Cæsar, pleased with his spirit, caused him to put on his diadem again, accepted of his friendship, and confirmed him in the kingdom of Judea; upon which he made very large and magnificent presents to Cæsar, and all his friends, and from that time had more of his favour than any other tributary prince of the Roman empire.
Pleased with his success, Herod returned to Judea; but, on his arrival, found a damp to his joy in the troubles of his own family, which were repeated, till at length he caused his beloved wife, Mariamne, to be put to death in the fury of jealousy. When Herod's rage was quenched with her blood, his love for her revived; and the consideration of what he had done, filled his mind with agonies of remorse. These he endeavoured to stifle with feastings and diversions, but all i vain; the idea of Mariamne was for ever present, and he was sometimes in a state of distraction. Soon after, a pestilence happened which carried off great numbers: this was regarded as a judgment from GOD for the queen's death. Herod from this time was observed to act with more rigour and cruelty than he had ever done before, and so continued to do to the end of his life.
Cæsar Octavius, after the death of Marc Antony, returned to Rome in great triumph, and had the name of AUGUSTUS given to him: which signified something above human, sacred and venerable, and by this he was afterwards called.
Herod having cut off all the Asmonean family and party, thought himself secure in his kingdom, and ventured to deviate in many things from the ancient Jewish customs. He built two stately cities: one where Samaria formerly stood, called Sebastæ; the other Cæsarea. On
the latter he expended vast sums; and it became the safest and most convenient port in all the coast of Phoenicia: he also built a magnificent palace for himself, in which were two apartments; one in honour of Au. gustus, and the other of Agrippa, the emperor's chief favourite.
Herod having finished his buildings, and finding the people much offended because of the many breaches he had made upon their laws, in order to recover their good opinion, and make them some amends, formed a design for rebuilding the Temple, which, by length of time, and injury from enemies, was in a very decayed and ruinous condition, having stood five hundred years. In two years he got together all proper materials, when he pulled down the old Temple, to the very foundation, to make room for the new one, which in nine years and a half was so far finished as to be fit for divine service; though, to complete it, workmen were employed for many years afterwards. Thus did Herod, though he knew it not, make preparations for the reception of the true king of the Jews, whose presence was to glorify this Temple; which might still be called the second, because that was not taken away, nor suffered to lie waste, but only renewed and cleansed from the profanation of the heathen.
Whilst these things were doing in Judea, AUGUSTUS subdued all nations, and the temple of Janus was shut at Rome. In times of war the custom was to have its gates open, but shut in peace; and it was now the fifth time, since the building of that city, that it had been shut, which was in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of AUGUSTUS, and the thirty-third of HEROD'S, when a general peace prevailed for twelve years together all over the world.