« السابقةمتابعة »
with her children, and some other near relations who pretended to assist him with their interest at the Augustan court, when their real design was to obstruct his confirmation, and to accuse him, to the emperor, of the massacre of his subjects, lately committed in the temple.
When Archelaus was come to Cæserea, he was met there by Sabinus, Augustus's intendant of Syria, who was hastening into Judea to take care of the rich legacies which Herod had bequeathed to that emperor. He had, however, been dissuaded by Varus, in his way thither, from undertaking any thing further till the emperor's wil! was known, and Archelaus confirmed in his kingdom; so that he had been prevailed upon, by that Syrian governor, to stay in that city till he received further orders from Rome. He staid, however, no longer there than till Varus was returned to Antioch, his capital; after which, he went immediately to Jerusalem, lodged himself at the royal palace, and summoned the king's treasurers to give an account, and to put him in possession of, those treasures; but as these had orders from Archelaus not to part with them till his return, they refused to deliver them to Sabinus, alleging, they would preserve them for Augustus till they received further directions from him. By this time Archelaus and his retinue were arrived at Rome; and among those whom the subtile Salome had brought with her, to oppose his elections, was Antipas, another of Herod's sons, whom that monarch had appointed his successor by his first will, and whom she designed to set up against his brother, under pretence that it was of greater validity than his second.
Not long after, the restless Jews had made a new insurrection in Jerusalem, which was, however, suppressed by Varus's speedy arrival from Antioch, and the punish ment of the ringleaders; but, upon his return to Antioch, having left Sabinus with a Roman legion to keep that metropolis in awe, this general, seeing himself superior to the Jews, made a bold push upon the fortresses of the city, and the treasures of the Herodian family, with a design to convert them to his own use. He chose, however, a wrong time for such an attempt, and the Jews who came thither to the approaching feast of pentecost quickly divided themselves into three bodies, one of which besieged him and his troops in the royal palace, whilst the other two went and possessed themselves, the one of the Hippodrome, and the other of the temple, and on the east and north sides of it; so that he was inclosed on every side, and in danger of being overpowered by the Jews. These were the more exasperated against him, because he had forced his way into the treasury of the temple, and brought away four hundred talents out of it, besides other rich plunder which his soldiers had carried off in spite of all their opposition.
These two actions, therefore, could not but highly exasperate the Jewish nation, and make them double their vigour against him. Accordingly, whilst one part was taken up in undermining the palace, another was endeavouring to cause a defection from the Roman general, by promising another amnesty and free leave to march off unmolested, to as many as should leave the place. They added the like promise to Sabinus, upon the same conditions, and assured the Roman troops, that they had no other design in taking up arms but to free themselves from the tyrannic yoke of the Herodian family. Sabinus would have gladly embraced the offer, but the injuries he had done the Jews would not permit him to rely on their promise, so that he chose rather to wait for the reinforcement he expected from Varus. During this time' new troubles were raised in other parts of Judea; among others, two thousand valiant veterans of the late king, who had been discharged from the service, assembled themselves in a body, and fell upon Archelaus's forces, commanded by his nephew Archiabus; but this young general, not daring to face them upon equal terms, knowing,
them to be old experienced soldiers, went and secured himself, as well as he could, in some fortresses, and other places of difficult access.
Ezechias, a captain of a gang of banditti whom Herod had, with much difficulty, caught, and put to death, with about forty of his troops, had left a son, named Judas, who, seeing now the country labouring under a kind of civil war, took this opportunity to revenge his father's death; and, having got together a band of the most desperate free-booters at Sephoris, a city in Galilee, after several incursions into the king's dominions, forced, at length, into the royal armoury, where he equipped his men cap-a-pe, and from thence into the treasury of every place where he came, and, being once furnished with men, arms, and money, injected terror into the whole province, and plundered all he could come at; and so successful was he for some time, that he began to aim at the supreme power, whence he is thought, not without good grounds, to have been the same which is mentioned by St. Luke under the name of Theudas.
He was not the only one that aimed at the crown, during these troublesome times. There started up another, named Simeon, a person of a comely stature, well esteemed by the Jews, and sufficiently conceited to think himself worthy of it. He had been employed, by Herod, in affairs of great importance, with credit. As soon, therefore, as he appeared at the head of a party, the people saluted him king of the Jews; and he, to shew his zeal against the two rival sous of his late master, led his men directly to Jericho, where they set the royal palace, a rich and stately building, in flames. He proceeded to do the like to several others, giving his men the whole plunder of them. But, happily for that country, Gratus, Archelaus's general, or, according to Tacitus, Varus, the Syrian governor, fell suddenly upon them, and, whilst they fought with more courage than skill, gave them a total overthrow; and Simeon was caught in his flight in some narrow defile, and, being brought to the general, had his head immediately struck off. Whilst these were plundering and burning the royal palaces in one part of the country, another gang was doing the same in another, particularly that of Amatha on the Jordan, built, probably, by Herod, for the benefit of the hot waters which that city was famed for, and took its name from.
But the most desperate and dangerous of all those seditious gangs (for they raged in every place, like an epidemic disease) was that of Athronges, heretofore an obscure shepherd, of no merit and worth, but what he challenged from his gigantic stature and brutish stoutness. At length, after many bloody and desperate exploits, the mock monarch fell into the hands of Archelaus, after his return into Judea. One of his brothers was taken by Gratus, and another by Ptolemy. The last surrendered himself upon good conditions, and so the whole gang was dispersed. But all this while the whole country was in a flame from fresh insurrections, as well as from that of the Jews against Sabinus, whilst the Herodian competitors were waiting, at Rome, for the emperor's decision.
By this time, Varus, being apprised of the danger of Sabinus and his legion, took the road to Judea, at the head of his other two legions, which were all that he had then in Syria, and with four troops of horse, and some foot, which he had got from the neighbouring tetrarchs. He ordered their rendezvous at Ptolemais, where he received some fresh auxiliaries, besides fifteen hundred more which the king of Arabia sent him to Berytus, more out of hatred to the Herodian family, than love to the Romans. With part of his army Varus marched towards Samaria, whilst the rest, under the command of his son, made an inroad into that part of Galilee which was nearest to Ptolemais This last, having put to flight all that opposed him, went and took Sephoris, sold all the inhabitants by auction, set fire to that noble city, and reduced it into an heap of rubbish. His father, on the other hand, passed by Samaria, because he
heard that it had no hand in the Jewish insurrections, and marched straight to Jerusalem. In his way, he suffered his Arabian troops to plunder and burn several villages and fowns, such as Arus, because it belonged to Ptolemy, a friend of Herod, Sampho, and Emmaus; this last, in revenge of the slaughter which Athronges had made of the Romans near that place, but the inhabitants of it, foreseeing the storm, had timely for.. saken it. Whilst this was doing without the city, the besiegers, who were just going to storm the palace, having heard of Varus coming with such a force, raised the siege, and marched off in a fright; upon which, the besieged came forth, with the grandchildren of Herod, to compliment him on his arrival, and to thank him for his timely help. Sabinus was the only one who did not follow their example, but stole away, privately, towards the sea. Varus gave a very severe reprimand to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for their late hostilities against the Roman legion; but was soon appeased when he was apprised, that they neither had an hand in it, nor were able to hinder it, being themselves pent up by those foreign Jews who were come to the feast, and had begun the tumult. However, as he thought it expedient to make a severe example of the ringleaders of it, he sent some of his troops through the whole kingdom, with orders to make a strict search after them, and bring them prisoners to him. Upon their return they brought a vast number of these wretches, two thousand of whom he caused to be crucified, and released the rest.
At length, after much dispute between the different members of the Herodian family, who endeavoured, each of them, to get Augustus on their own side, he decided the controversy so as to convince the world of his friendship both to Herod and to his offspring. He bestowed the half of the kingdom on Archelaus, under the title of ethnarch, or governor of a nation, and backed it with a promise, that he would give him that of king as soon as he had heard that he had rendered himself worthy of it. This part, or ethnarchy, contained Judea, Propria, Idumca, and Samaria; but he exempted this last of one fourth part of their taxes, in consideration of their peaceable behaviour during the late troubles in Judea and Galilee, Josephus reckons the whole yearly revenue of this new ethnarchy to have amounted to six hundred talents. The remainder of Herod's kingdom was divided between his other two sons, Philip and Antipas, the former of whom had the regions of Batanea, Trachonitis, and Auranitis, to which Cæsar added that part of Galilee which had formerly belonged to Zeusdorus, which, alone, amounted to about one hundred talents a year. The latter had the greatest part of Galilee, and the countries beyond Jordan amounting to two hundred talents a year. Salome had, for her share, besides half a million of silver, the cities of Jamnia, Azotus, and Phasaelis, to which Augustus added that of Ascalon. The rest of Herod's legacies, particularly the fifteen hundred talents which he had bequeathed to him, he generously distributed between his other relations, his grandsons, and two virgin daughters, whom he married to Pheroras's sons, reserving for himself only a few of his moveables, not so much for their value, as out of regard to the memory of his deceased friend.
The first year of the reign of Archelaus proved peaceable enough; but the people, at length, both Jews and Samaritans, being tired with his tyrannical reigu, joined in a petition to Augustus against him, which had no sooner reached him, than he sent an agent of his into Judea, without any other letter, to fetch the Jewish ethnarch to him. Archelaus, though warned, as well as the incestuous Glaphyra, by some portending dreams, mentioned at length by Josephus, had given so little heed to them, that Cæsar's messenger found him in the height of his mirth when he came to acquaint him with his orders, and obliged him to hasten with him to Rome. Upon their arrival there, Augustus, with his usual equanimity, heard both the charge and the defence; after
which, he condemned Archelaus to be banished to the city of Vienne, in Gaul, or Dauphine, and all his goods to be confiscated. Judea, by this sentence, being reduced to a province of the empire, was ordered to be taxed, and Cyrenius, the then governor of Syria, and a man of consular dignity, was sent thither to see it executed; after which, having sold Archelaus's palaces, and seized up on all his treasure, he returned to Antioch, leaving the Jews in no small ferment upon the account of this new tax.
Coponius, the Roman general of horse, and governor of Judea under Cyrenius, had accompanied him in that expedition; and his presence, as well as the good effices of Joazar, the then high-priest, had, for a while, kept the nation under some restraint, till Judas, the Gaulonite, and one Saducus, a turbulent Pharisee, set it again into a flame. This pretender took upon him to condemn this taxing as slavish, idolatrous, and inconsistent with their duty to God, the only sovereign who could claim any homage or allegiance from the children of Abraham. The war being thus kindled within and without, was followed by a grievous famine, and this by a pestilence, all which ended, at length, in the total ruin of that rebellious and unhappy nation, which was owing to the ambition of this upstart sect or faction. After the death of their leader they distinguished themselves by the name of Zealots, and, under that specious title, committed the most unheard of cruelties, and carried their violence even into the very temple.
All this while the Samaritans had not forgot their old grudge against the Jews, though they had been so long quiet. Cyrenius was scarce gone out of Judea before they began to hatch new mischiefs against them they waited till the next approaching feast of the passover, which on the eve of, a number of them, having privately slipt into the temple, strewed the galleries, and other places of resort, with dead men's bones; so that the priests, on the next morning, finding that sacred place polluted, were forced to put a stop to the solemnity; which indignity obliged them to be more cautious for the future, to guard the avenues from all such insults.
It was about this time that our Lord visited Jerusalem, and had that conversation with the Jewish rabbies which we recorded in the preceding chapter.
Coponius was, soon after this feast, succeeded by Ambivius, in whose governor-ship Salome died, and bequeathed her three cities mentioned a little higher, together with the fine grove of palm-trees planted by Archelaus, and all her vast treasure, not to either of her nephews, who still held their small toparchies, but to the empress Julia. er, as Josephus affects to call her, Livia. Ambivius, after a short time, was succeeded by Annius Rufus; and Augustus died at Nola, in Campania, and was succeeded by Tiberius, after the latter had been somewhat above two years admitted into the copartnership of the empire. From this period must the fifteenth year of Tiberius, mentioned by the evangelist, be taken. Tiberius, upon his coming to the empire, recalled Rufus, and sent Valerius Gratus into Judea, who was the fourth Roman governor or procurator of it, and continued in that government eleven years. About five years after his being entered into it, he deposed the high-priest Ananus, or Annas, in the fifteenth year of his pontificate, and raised Ishmael, the son of Fabus, to that dignity. Being soon after displeased with his choice, he took it from Ishmael on the next year, and gave it to Eleazar, the son of Ananus, whom he had lately deposed. Eleazar, in a year's time, was forced to resign, and was succeeded by Simon, the son of Canith, who, within the compass of another year, was turned out, and Joseph, surnamed Caiaphas, and son-in-law to Annas above-mentioned, was put in his room; so uncertain and venal was that dignity become by this time.
Gratus himself was soon after recalled, and succeeded by Pontius Pilate, a person who exceeded all his predecessors in injustice, extortion, and cruelty; and so
thoroughly wedded to his own interest, that he was capable of the vilest actions to promote that favourite end. He made his whole administration, according to Josephus, one continued scene of venality, rapine, tyranny, and wickedness, delivering innocent men, without trial or condemnation, to torture and to death, and practising every species of detestable cruelty.
We hinted, a little higher, that the other sons of Herod had still kept possession of their toparchies, notwithstanding Archelaus's deposition and banishment; it will be, therefore, very proper here to give some further account of them before we enter into a new and different scene. They had, each of them, settled themselves the best they could in their small territories. Antipas, better known by the name of Herod, who had the country of Galilee, began with rebuilding the city of Sephoris, which had, but a little before, been reduced to ashes, by the son of Varus, by a strong wall and towers, so that it became the bulwark, and one of the best cities of that canton; and as he had been successful enough to ingratiate himself with the new emperor, he built another, a fine city, on the northern banks of the lake of Gennezareth, and called it Tiberias, in honour of him, and from thence that lake came to be called the sea of Tiberias. His brother Philip followed his example, and raised the village of Bethsaida, on the opposite end of the same lake, into a magnificent city, and called it, likewise, Julias, and gave the name of Cæsarea to Paleas, the place where the Jordan had its spring head, after he had greatly enlarged and beautified it. During this time came out that edict of Tiberius, which obliged all Jews and Egyptians to depart from the city of Rome, or, according to another, out of the territories of Italy.
Hitherto, Judea, though in a violent ferment, on account of the late tax, and some other tumults which the Romans had appeased by main force, had not, however, broke into such a violent and universal flame as it did after the coming of Pilate. It was this governor, whose fierce, obstinate, and cruel temper hastened on those seditions and revolts which did not end but with the total extirpation of the Jewish state. His predecessors had, hitherto, wisely forborne to bring the Roman standards into the city, because their bearing the images of men and living creatures made them to be had in abomination by the Jews. But Pilate, who thought it beneath him to shew them the same complaisance, ordered his troops, which were to winter in that metropolis, to enter it in the night with those standards covered, and caused them, on the next morning, to be displayed. This new and shocking sight put the whole city into an uproar; they went to him, in a body, to Cæsarea, where he then was, and begged of him that they might be removed to some other place; but were answered that he could not comply with their request, without glancing an affront on the emperor. As they stood stiff in their petition, and he, in his denial, six whole days, five of which the former had continued prostrate on the ground before his palace, night and day; he, at length, came out to them, as with design to give them audience, and, being mounted on his tribunal, which he had reared in the circus, gave the signal to some of his troops, whom he had conveniently posted, to fall on them, and to murder all that should not immediately depart, and who instantly came out and surrounded them. The Jews, however, far from being terrified at so horrid a perfidy, meekly held out their necks to those butchers, telling them and the governor, that the loss of their lives was nothing so terrible to them as the violation of their laws; and Pilate, who expected nothing less than such a passive constancy in that turbulent nation, was so moved at it, that he, at length, granted their request, and ordered the standards to be removed out of their metropolis.
But as he seems to have been wholly bent upon mortifying the Jewish nation, he soor resumed his usual course. A project came next into his head to set up a number of