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their lives by their apostacv, an eminent priest, named Mattathias, began to signalize himself by his bravery and zeal for religion. He had, for some time, been obliged to retire to Modin, his native place, in order to avoid the persecution which raged at Jerusalem. During his recess there, Apelles, one of the king's officers, came to oblige the inhabitants to comply with the above-mentioned orders. By him, Mattathias and his companions were addressed in the most earnest manner, and had the most ample promises inade them of the king's favour and protection, if they would renounce their religion. But Mattathias auswered, that though the whole Jewish nation, and the whole world, were to conform to the king's edict, yet both he and his sons would continue faithful to their God to the last minute of their lives. At the same time, seeing one of his country men just going to offer sacrifices to an idol, he fell upon him and instantly killed him, agreeable to the law of Moses, in such cases. Upon this, his sons, fired with the same zeal, killed the officer and his men, overthrew the altar and idol, and, running about the city, cried out, that those who were zealous for the law of God should follow them; by which means, they quickly saw themselves at the head of a numerous troop, with. whom they soon after withdrew into some of the deserts of Judea. They were followed by many others, so that, in a short time, they found themselves in a condition to resist their enemies; and having considered the danger to which they were exposed, by their scrupulous observance of the sabbath, they resolved to defend themselves, in case of an attack upon that day, as well as upon any other.
In the year 167, B. C. Mattathias finding that his followers daily increased in number, began to try his strength, by attacking the Syrians and apostate Jews. As many of these as he took he put to death, but forced a much greater number to fly for refuge into foreign countries; and having soon struck his enemies with terror, he marched from city to city, overturned the idolatrous altars, opened the Jewish synagogues, made a diligent search after all the sacred books, and caused fresh copies of them to be written; he alsq caused the reading of the scriptures to be resumed, and all the males, born since the persecution, to be circumcised. In all this he was attended with such success, that he had extended his reformation through a considerable part of Judea, within the space of one year; and would, probably, have completed it, had he not been prevented by death.
Mattathias was succeeded by his son Judas, surnamed Maccabeus, the greatest unin spired hero of whom the Jews can boast. His troops amounted to no more than six. thousand men, yet, with these, he quickly made himself master of some of the strongest fortresses of Judea, and became terrible to the Syrians, Samaritans, and apostate Jews In one year, he defeated the Syrians in five pitched battles, and drove them quite out o the country; after which, he purified the temple, and restored the true worship, which had been interrupted for three years and a half. Only one obstacle now remained, viz the Syrian garrison above mentioned, which had been placed over against the temple. and which Judas could not, at present, reduce. In order to prevent them from inter rupting the worship, however, he fortified the mountain, on which the temple stood, with an high wall and strong towers round about, leaving a garrison to defend it ; making some additional fortifications, at the same time, to Bethzura, a fortress at abou, twenty miles distance.
In the mean time, Antiochus, being on his teturn from an unsuccessful expedition in Persia, received the disagreeable news, that the Jews had, all to a man, revolted. defeated his generals, driven their armies out of Judea, and restored their antient worship. This threw him into such a fury, that he commanded his charioteer to drive with the utmost speed, threatening utterly to extirpate the Jewish race. without leaving a single person alive. These words were scarcely uttered, when he was seized with a violent
pain in his bowels, which no remedy could cure or abate. But notwithstanding this violent shock, suffering himself to be hurried away by the transports of his fury, he gave orders for proceeding, with the same precipitation, in his journey. But while he was thus hastening forward, he fell from his chariot, and was bruised by the fall, that his attendants were forced to put him into a litter. Not being able to bear even the motion of the litter, he was forced to halt at a town called Tabæ, on the confines of Persia and Babylonia. Here he kept his bed, suffering inexpressible torments, occasioned chiefly by the vermin, which bred in his body, and the stench, which made him insupportable, even to himself. But the torments of his mind, caused by his reflecting on the former actions of his life, surpassed, by many degrees, those of his body. Polybius, who, in his account of this prince's death, agrees with the Jewish historians, tells us, that the uneasiness of his mind grew, at last, to a constant delirium, or state of madness, by reason of several spectres and apparitions of genii or spirits, which he imagined were continu ally reproaching him with many wicked actions, of which he had been guilty. At last, having languished for some time in this miserable condition, he expired, and by his death freed the Jews from the most inveterate enemy they had ever known,
Notwithstanding the death of Antiochus, however, the war was still carried on against the Jews; but through the valour and good conduct of Judas, the Syrians were constantly defeated; and in 163, B. C. a peace was concluded upon terms very advan tageous to the Jewish nation. This tranquillity, however, was of no long continuance ; the Syrian generals renewed their hostilities, and were attended with the same ill success as before. Judas defeated them in five engagements, but in the sixth, was abandoned by all his men, except eight hundred, who, together with their chief, were slain in the year 161, B. C.
The news of the death of Judas threw his countrymen into the utmost consternation, and seemed to give new life to all their enemies. He was succeeded, however, by his brother Jonathan, who conducted matters with no less prudence and success than Judas ad done, till he was treacherously seized and put to death by Tryphon, a Syrian usurper, who shortly after murdered his own sovereign. The traitor immediately prepared to invade Judea, but found all his projects frustrated by Simon, Jonathan's brother. This pontiff repaired all the fortresses of Judea, and furnished them with fresh garrisons; took Joppa and Gaza; and drove out the Syrian garrison from the fortress of Jerusalem; but was, at last, treacherously murdered by a son-in-law, named Ptolemy, about 135, B. C.
Simon was succeeded by his son Hyrcan, who not only shook off the yoke of Syria, but conquered the Samaritans, demolished their capital city, and became master of all Palestine, to which he added the provinces of Samaria and Galilee; all which he enjoyed till within a year of his death, without the least disturbance without, or internal discord. His reign was no less remarkable, on the account of his great wisdom and piety at home, than his conquests abroad. He was the first, since the captivity, who had assumed the royal title, and he raised the Jewish nation to a greater degree of splendor, that it had ever enjoyed since that time. The author of the fourth book of the Maccabees also informs us, that in him those dignities were centred, which never met in any other person, pamely, the royal dignity, the high-priesthood, and the gift of prophecy but the instances given of this last are very equivocal and suspicious. The last year of his reign, however, was imbittered by a quarrel with the Pharisees, and which proceeded such a length, as was thought to have shortened his days. Hyrcan had always been a great friend to that sect, and they had hitherto enjoyed the most honourable employments in the state; but, at length, one of them named Eleazar, took it into his head to question Hyrcan's legitimacy, alleging, that his mother had formerly been a
slave, and, consequently, that he was incapable of enjoying the high-priesthood This report was credited, or pretended to be so, by the whole sect, which irritated the high priest to such a degree, that he joined the Sadducees, and could never afterwards be reconciled to the Pharisees, who therefore raised all the troubles and seditions they could, during the short time he lived.
Hyrcan died in 107, B. C. and was succeeded by his eldest son Aristobulus, who conquered Iturea, but proved a most cruel and barbarous tyrant, polluting his hands with the blood, even of his mother, and one of his brothers, keeping the rest closely confined during his reign, which, however, was but short. He was succeeded, in 105, by Alexander Jannæus, the greatest conqueror, next to king David, that ever sat on the Jewish throne. He was hated, however, by the Pharisees, and once in danger of being killed in a tumult, excited by them; but having caused his guards to fall upon the mutinous mob, they killed six thousand of them, and dispersed the rest. After this, finding it impossible to remain in quiet in his own kingdom, he left Jerusalem, with a design to apply himself wholly to the extending of his conquests; but while he was busied in subduing his foreign enemies, the Pharisees raised a rebellion at home. This was quashed in the year 86, B. C. and the rebels were treated in the most inhuman manner. The faction, however, was, by this means, so thoroughly quelled, that they never dared to lift up their heads as long as he lived; and Alexander, having made several conquests in Syria, died about 79, B. C.
The king left two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, but bequeathed the government to his wife Alexandra, as long as she lived; but as he saw her greatly afraid, and not without reason, of the resentment of the Pharisees, he desired his queen, just before his death, to send to the principal leaders of that party and pretend to be entirely devoted to them; in which case, he assured her, that they would support both her, and her song after her, in the peaceable possession of the government. With this advice the queen complied, but found herself much embarrassed by the turbulent Pharisees, who, after several exorbitant demands, would, at last, be contented with nothing less, than the total extermination of their adversaries, the Sadducees. As the queen was unable to resist the strength of the pharisaic faction, a most cruel persecution immediately took place against the Sadducees, which continued for four years; until, at last, upon their earnest petition, they were dispersed among the several garrisons of the kingdom, in order to secure them from the violence of their enemies. A few years after this, being seized with a dangerous sickness, her youngest son Aristobulus collected a strong party, in order to secure the crown to himself; but the queen, being displeased with his conduct, appointed her other son Hyrcanus, whom she had before made high-priest, to succeed her also in the royal dignity. Soon after this she expired, and left her two sons competitors for the crown. The Pharisees raised an arinyagainst Aristobulus, which almost instantly deserted to him; so that Hyrcanus found himself obliged to accept of peace upon any terms, which, however, was not granted, till the latter had abandoned all title both to the royal and pontifical dignity, and contented himself with the enjoyment of his peculiar patrimony, as a private person.
But this deposition did not extinguish the party of Hyrcanus. A new cabal was raised by Antipater, an Idumean proselyte, and father of Herod the Great, who carried off Hyrcanus inte Arabia, under pretence that his life was in danger if he remained in Judea. Here he applied to Aretas, king of that country, who undertook to restore the deposed monarch, and, for that purpose, invaded Judea, defeated Aristobulus, and kept him closely besieged in Jerusalem. The latter had recourse to the Romans, and having bribed Scaurus, one of their generals, he defeated Aretas, with the loss of seven thousand of his men, and drove him quite out of the country. The two brothers next
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 leave 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 fled to Jerusalem, with a design 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 arms 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 Rome, 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 demolished, 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 new fell under a set of domincering lords. ·
Soon after this, Aristobulus found means to escape from his confinement at Rome, and raised new troubles in Judea, but was again defeated and taken prisoner; his sen 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 Juden, by Marc Anthony, in 40, B. C.; was fully established on the throne, by the taking of