« AnteriorContinuar »
sent presents to Pompey, at that time commander in chief of all the Roman forces in the east, and whom they made the arbitrator of their differences. But he, fearing that Aristobulus, against whom he intended to declare, might obstruct his intended expedition against the Nabathæans, dismissed them with a promise, that as he had subdued Aretas, he would come into Judea and decide their controversy.
This delay gave such offence to Aristobulus, that he suddenly departed from Judea, without even taking leuve of the Roman general, who, on his part, was no less offended at this want of respect. The consequence was, that Pompey entered Judea with those troops with which he had designed to act against the Nabathæans, and summoned Aristobulus to appear before him. The Jewish prince would gladly have been excused, but was forced, by his own people, to comply with Pompey's summons, to avoid a war with that general. He came, accordingly, more than once or twice to him, and was dismissed with great promises, and marks of friendship. But, at last, Pompey insisted that he should deliver, into his hands, all the fortified places he possessed, which let Aristobulus plainly see, that he was in the interest of his brother; and, upon this, he fed to Jerusalem, with a dosign to oppose the Romans to the utmost of his power. He was quickly followed by Pompey, and, to prevent hostilities, was, at last, forced to go and throw himself at the feet of the haughty Roman, and to promise him a considerable sum of money, as the reward of his forbearance. This submission was accepted ; but Gabinus, being sent with some troops to receive the stipulated sum, was repulsed by the garrison of Jerusalem, who shut the gates against him, and refused to fulfil the agreement
. This disappointment so exasperated Pompey, that he immediately marched, with his whole army, against the city.
The Roman general first sent proposals of peace; but finding the Jews resolved to stand out to the last, he began the siege in form. As the place was strongly fortified, both by nature and art, he might have found it very difficult to have accomplished his design, had not the Jews been suddenly seized with a qualm of conference of the sabbath-day. From the time of the Maccabees, they made no scruple of taking up arins against an offending enemy on the sabbath ; but now they discovered, that though it was lawful, on that day, to stand in their defence, in case they were actually attacked ; yet it was unlawful to do any thing towards the preventing of those preparatives, which the enemy made towards such future assaults. As, therefore, they never moved an hand, to hinder the erection of mounds and batteries, or the making of breaches in their walls, on the sabbath ; the besiegers, at last, made such a considerable breach on that day, that the garrison could no longer resist them. The city was, therefore, taken, in the year 63, B. C. twelve thousand of the inhabitants were slaughtered, and many more died by their own hands; while the priests, who were offering up their usual prayers and sacrifices in the temple, chose rather to be butchered along with their brethren, than suffer divine service to be one moment interrupted. At last, after the Romans had satiated their cruelty, with the death of a vast number of the inhabitants, Hyrcanus was restored to the pontifical dignity, with the title of prince ; but forbid to assume the title of king, to wear a diadem, or to extend his territories beyond the limits of Judea. To prevent future revolts, the walls were pulled down, and Scaurus was left governor with a sufficient force. But before he departed, the Roman general gave the Jews a still greater offence, than almost any thing he had hitherto 'done, and that was, by entering into the most sacred recesses of the temple, where he took a view of the golden table, candlestick, censers, lamps, and all the other sacred vessels ; but out of respect to the deity, forbore to touch any of them ; and when he came out, commanded the priests to purify the temple according to custom.
Pompey having thus subdued the Jewish nation, set out for Romu, carrying along
with him Aristobulus and his two sons, Alexander and Antigonus, as captives, to adorn his future triumph. Aristobulus himself, and his son Antigonus, were led in triumph; but Alexander found means to escape into Judea, where he raised an army of ten thousand foot and fifteen hundred horse, and began to fortify several strong holds, from whence he made incursions into the neighbouring country. As for Hyrcanus, he had no sooner found himself freed from his rival brother, than he relapsed into his former indolence, leaving the care of all his affairs to Antipater, who, like a true politician, failed not to turn the weakness of the prince to his own advantage, and the aggrandizing of his family. He foresaw, however, that he could not easily compass his ends, unless he ingratiated himself with the Romans, and therefore spared neither pains nor cost to gain their favour. Scaurus soon after received from him a supply of corn and other provisions, without which, his army, which he had led against the metropolis of Arabia, would have been in danger of perishing; and after this, he prevailed on the king to pay three hundred talents to the Romans, to prevent them from ravishing his country. Hyrcanus was now in no condition to face his enemy Alexander, and, therefore, had again recourse to the Romans, Antipater, at the same time, sending as many troops as he could spare to join them. Alexander ventured a battle, but was defeated with considerable loss, and besieged in a strong fortress, named Alexandrion. Here he would have been forced to surrender, but his mother, partly by her address, and partly by the services she found means to do the Roman general, prevailed upon him to grant her son a pardon for what was past. The fortresses were then deirolished, that they might not give occasion to fresh revolts ; Hyrcanus was again restored the pontifical dignity ; and the province was divided into five several districts, in each of which a separate court of judicature was erected. The first of these was at Jerusalem, the second at Gadara, the third at Amath, the fourth at Jericho, and the fifth at Sephoris in Galilee. Thus was the government changed from a monarchy to an aristocracy, and the Jews now fell under a set of domineering lords.
Soon after this, Aristobulus found means to escape from his confinement at Rome, and raised new roubles in Judea, but was again defeated and taken prisoner ; his son also renewed his attempts, but was, in like manner, defeated with the loss of near ten thousand of his followers ; after which, Gabinius, having settled the affairs of Judea to Antipater's mind, resigned the government of his province to Crassus. The only transaction during his government was his plundering the temple of all its money and sacred utensils, amounting, in the whole, to ten thousand attic talents, i.e. above two millions of our money.
After this sacrilege Crassus set out on his expedition against Parthia, where he perished, and his death was, by the Jews, interpreted as a divine judgment for his impiety.
The war between Cæsar and Pompey afforded the Jews some respite, and, likewise, an opportunity of ingratiating themselves with the former, which the political Antipater readily embraced. His services were rewarded by the emperor. He confirmed Hyrcanus in his priesthood, added to it the principality of Judea, to be entailed on his posterity for ever, and restored the Jewish nation to their antient rights and privileges ; ordering, at the same time, a pillar to be erected, whereon all these grants, and his own decree, should be engraved, which was accordingly done ; and soon after, when Cæsar himself came into Judea, he granted liberty, also, to fortify the city, and rebuild the wall which had been demolished by Pompey.
During the life-time of Cæsar, the Jews were so highly favoured, that they could be said scarcely to feel the Roman yoke. After his death, however, the nation fell into great disorders, which were not finally quelled till Herod was created king of Judca, by Marc Authony, in 40, B. C.; was fully established on the throne, by the taking of Jerusalem, by his allies, the Romans, in 37, B. C. The immediate consequence of this, was another cruel pillage and massacre ; then followed the death of Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, who had, for three years, maintained his ground against Herod, put to death his brother Phasael, and cut off Hyrcanus's ears, in order, the more effectually, to incapacitate him for the high-priesthood.
The Jews gained but little by this change of masters. The new king proved one of the greatest tyrants mentioned in history. He began his reign with a cruel persecution of those, who had sided with his rival Antigonus, great numbers of whom he put to death, seizing and confiscating their effects for his own use. Nay, such was his jealousy in this last respect, that he caused guards to be placed at the city gates, in order to watch the bodies of those of the Antigonian faction, who were carried out to be buried, lest some of their riches should be carried along with them.
His jealousy next tempted him to decoy Hyrcanus, the banished pontiff, from Parthia, where he had taken refuge, that he might put him to death, though contrary to his solemn promises. His cruelty then fell upon his own family. He had inarried Mariamne, the daughter of Hyrcanus, whose brother Aristobulus, a young prince of great hopes, was made highpriest, at the intercession of his mother Alexandra. But the tyrant, conscious that Aristobulus had a better right to the kingdom than himself, caused him, soon after, to be drowned in a bath. The next victim was his beloved queen Mariamne herself. Herod had been summoned to appear, first, before Marc Anthony, and then before Augustus, in order to clear himself from some crimes laid to his charge. As he was, however, doubtful of the event, he left orders, that in case he was condemned, Mariamne should be put to death. This, together with the death of her father and brother, gave her such an aversion for him, that she showed it on all occasions. By this conduct the tyrant's resentment was, at last, so much inflamed, that, having got her falsely accused of infidelity, she was condemned to die, and executed accordingly. She suffered with great resolution, but with her ended all the happiness of her husband. His love for Mariamne increased so much after her death, that, for some time, he appeared like one quite distracted. His remorse did not get the better of his cruelty. The death of Mariamne was soon followed by that of her mother Alexandra, and this, by the execution of several other persons, who had joined, with her, in an attempt to secure the kingdom to the sons of the deceased queen.
Herod having now freed himself from the greatest part of his supposed enemies, began to show a greater contempt for the Jewish ceremonies than formerly, and introduced a number of heathemash games, which made him odious to his subjects. Ten bold fellows, at last, took it into their heads to enter the theatre, where the tyrant was celebrating some games, with daggers concealed under their clothes, in order to stab). him or some of his retinue. In case they should miscarry, they had the desperate satisfaction to think, that if they perished, the tyrant would be rendered still more odious by the punishment inflicted on them. They were not mistaken ; for Herod being informed of the design by one of his spics, and causing the assassins to be put to a most excruciating death, the people were so exasperated against the informer, that they cut and tore him to pieces, and threw his flesh to the dogs. Herod tried, in vain, to discover the authors of this affront; but, at last, having caused some women to be put to the rack, he extorted from them the names of the principal persons concerned, whom he immediately caused to be put to death, with their families. This produced such disturbances, that, apprehending nothing less than a general revolt, he set about fortifying Jerusalem with several additional works, rebuilding Samaria, and putting garrisons into several fortresses in Judea. Notwithstanding this, however, Herod had, shortly after, an opportunity of regaining the affections of his subjects, in some measure, by his
generosity to them during a famine ; but as he soon relapsed into his former cruelty, their love was again turned into hatred, which continued till his death.
Having thus brought down the Jewish affairs till the time of our Saviour, we shall proceed, in the next chapter, to record the circumstances of his nativity.
THE NATIVITY AND CHILDHOOD OF Christ.
Table of our Lord's genealogy---critical and explanatory remarks upon it---Zechariah
and Elisabeth---the vision of the angel in the temple---the conception of Christ---visit of Mary to Elizabeth---birth of John---prophetic song of Zacharias---private life of John--the taring, when, and how it took place--correspondent accounts from Josephus--the birth of Christ announced to the shepherds--the presentation--Simeon and Annavisit of the wise men from the east--who they were---the nature of the star---flight into Egypt ---Herod's cruelty and death-
. return of Christ to Nazareth---fulfilment of prophecies---Christ's conversation with the Rabbies---his private life
As John, in the beginning of his gospel, has amply attested the divine origin of our Saviour, so each of the other three evangelists asserts his descent from David, and consequently from Abraham. Matthew and Luke have each of them given detailed accounts of his genealogy ; but these are attended with several difficulties, whether considered in themselves or in relation to one another. That this subject may be the better understood, we have constructed the following table. It is divided into six columns, the first of which enumerates our Lord's ancestors, &s recited by Luke; the second exhibits a correspondent genealogy from the Old Testament ; the third gives the passages from which the second column is taken ; the fourth recites the genealogy according to Mata thew, which the fifth compares with the Old Testament, and the sixth establishes by proofs
Gen. i. 1.
Adam Gen. i. 27.
1 Chron. i. 1. Seth
Gen. iv. 25.
1 Chron. i. 1. Enos
Gen. v. 6.
I Chron, i. 1. Cainan Gen. y. 9.
I'Chron, i. 2. Mahalaleel Gen. v. 12.
I Chron. i. 2.