صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

may serve as a larger comment on our Saviour's Prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem.”l

In testimony of the accuracy and correctness of Josephus in respect to historical narration, we have in addition to the opinions of many of the most learned on the subject, that of the well known Scaliger, who speaking of Josephus, says—“He might confidently

affirm, that he was the most careful and correct of all “ Writers, that not only in the Jewish affairs, but in “all foreign matters, more credit may be placed upon “ his testimony than upon all the Historians of Greece “ or Rome.

Upon the whole it must be allowed that the writings of Josephus are of very considerable importance, not merely as they form the only Jewish History now extant; but as the events they record were witnessed by an author, who was zealous of the honour of his Country, and entertained throughout the whole of his life the greatest veneration and regard for the Temple, its Worship, and all the peculiarities of the Mosaic Law: an Author who has, with singular care, although quite unintentionally; so illustrated the predictions of Christ, that Jerome has called him, and with considerable reason, “a Christian Writer."

[ocr errors]

1 Dissertation on the Prophecies, vol. ii. p. 326.

2 Diligentissimus και φιλαληθεστατος omnium Scriptorum de quo nos hoc audacter dicimus, non solum in rebus Judaicis, sed etiam in externis tutius illi credi quam omnibus Græcis et Latinis Historicis.-Jos. Scal.

We may most securely rely, says Bishop Porteus, on every thing he tells us respecting the siege of Jerusalem; and nothing can more completely demonstrate the truth of our blessed Lord's predictions than the uncorrupt, impartial, and undesigned testimony given to their completion by this justly celebrated Historian.-Lect. XX,

CHAPTER I.

ORIGIN OF THE ROMAN POWER IN JUDEA, WITH ITS

CONTINUANCE TO THE TIME OF THE DESTRUCTION *

OF JERUSALEM....THE CHARACTER OF TITUS,

The Jewish Nation, on its return from the Babylonish Captivity, continued under the protection of Persia till the time of Alexander ; after which period it became tributary to the Kings of Egypt and Syria, according as their respective influences preponderated : when at length, Antiochus Epiphanes · by reducing these countries, brought Judea under his dominion.' The extreme rigour and severity which he impiously exercised over the Jewish people, so embittered their subjection to his yoke; that being tempted to express unusual demonstrations of joy at the false rumour of his death, they brought upon themselves his high resentment: and carrying a powerful army with him against Jerusalem, he took it by storm.

The cruelties and excesses which he there committed, were so oppressive and extensive in their nature; that the inhabitants were driven to seek refuge from the violence of his fury, into the secret recesses of

caverns

The Prophecies of Daniel and Ezekiel referred to him, and all the predicted abominations were accomplished by his wicked and licentious actions. Vide Dan. vi. 21, 25.-viii. 10, 25.-xi, 28, &c. and xü. 1, &c.—Also Ezek. chapters xxxviii. xxxix.

caverns and the holes of rocks. The religious rites were now trampled down, the Temple stripped of its riches, and the altars profaned by the grossest indignities; so that the public worship was discontinued till A. C. 167, when Matthias, a Priest eminent for his piety and resolution, having collected an army of six thousand men, undertook to free Judea from the oppression of a foreign yoke, and restore the worship of the God of Israel; but being very old when he began this important and arduous work, he did not live to see its completion. At his death Judas Maccabæus succeeded to the command of the army; and after a short time, having purified the Temple and re-established the true worship; defeated the Syrians in several engagements, and driving them out of Judea, transmitted the authority lie had acquired to his own family, who continued to retain it for many years.3

Judas

1 “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a

Nation, even to that same time.” Dan. xii. 1.-Vide i Maccabees, chapters i. to vii. and Dan. vii. 21, 25.

2 He was the head of the Asmonean family, which was afterwards called the Maccabi, from his bearing on his standards the letters M. C. B. I. being the initials, according to our translation, of the Hebrew words signifying “Who is like unto thee among the Gods, Oh Jehovah ?”-Exod. xv. 11.. In the same manner that the Romans embroidered their S. P. Q. R. upon their standards. 3 “ How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the

transgression of desolation, to give both the Sanctuary and the Host to be “ trodden under foot ? And he said unto me-Unto two thousand and three “ hundred days; then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed.” Dan. viii. 13, 14. “ And they offered Sacrifice according to the Law upon the new Altar ofi “ burnt offerings which they had made. Look at what time and what day “ the heathen had profancd it, even in that was it dedicated with songs

and citherns, and harps and cymbals.” 1 Mac. iv. 53, 54.

Now,” says Josephus," it so happened that these things were done on * the very same day on which their divine worship had fallen off, and was

“ reduced

Judas and his brethren were so successful by their valour and conduct in asserting the liberty of their country, that in a short time they not only recovered its independence, but regained almost all the possesşions of the twelve Tribes; destroying at the same time the Temple on Mount Gerizim, in Samaria :1 but they and their successors were continually engaged in wars, in which, though generally victorious, they were sometimes defeated, and their country as often oppressed. Aristobulus was the first of the Maccabees who assumed the name of King, which he did, A. C. 107.2 His reign, however, was but of short continuance, leaving only sufficient time to mark the cruelty of his disposition, by starving his mother to death, murdering the eldest and imprisoning the three younger of his brethren. At his decease he was succeeded by

his

" reduced to a profane and common use, after three years' time; for so it “ was that the temple was made desolate by Antiochus and continued so “ for that space of time.” Antiq. 12, vii. 6.

The Jewish Altar, if not the Temple, were by Judas Maccabæus dedicated anew, and an annual festival instituted in commemoration of the event, This is the feast of Dedication mentioned by St. John (X. 22) instituted in remembrance of this circumstance, and consequently could not (as ințimated by some writers) relate to that of either of the former temples; which indeed were celebrated at different seasons of the year.

1 The Samaritans differed in many points of their religion from the Jews, in consequence of which they obtained permission from Alexander the Great to build a Temple for the service of the God of Israel on Mount Gerizim; and pretended that it was the only place in which God was pleased to be worshipped; because from thence had been pronounced the blessings annexed to the observance of the Law of Moses. This Temple was built by Manasseh 400 A, C.-Vide Priddeaux's Connection.

The Samaritans espoused the cause of Antiochus Epiphanes, and carried their apostacy so far, as to petition him to cause this Temple, which they pretended had never been dedicated to any particular Deity; to be from that time consecrated to the worship of Jupiter Hellepius. Antiq. 12, v. 5.

2 Antiq. 13, xi. 1.

his second brother Alexander Jannæus, whose reign of twenty-seven years was characterised by many acts of wanton barbarity ; when, at length, falling a sacrifice to intemperance, he left the government to his wife Alexandra; a woman of great abilities, but whose declining age was harassed by the revolt of her youngest son Aristobulus, who took up arms to exclude his brother Hyrcanus from the succession. Unable finally to arrange the succession to the Crown, both parties, after their mother's death, applied to the Romans for their powerful support: it happened also at the 'same time that Pompey was returning from the East into Syria, when both these brothers applied to him, by their Delegates, for his protection and patronage. Pompey conceiving this to be a favourable opportunity for reducing Palestine, in common with the neighbouring nations, under the Roman power; ordered the Brothers to appear in person before him, promising, upon an investigation of the circumstances, to determine with candour on the side of justice. On his arrival at Damascus the cause was brought to a hearing before him : Hyrcanus urged his claim by virtue of his birthright, and Aristobulus answered it by endeavouring to prove him unable, from deficiency in intellect as well as activity, to govern or direct the State. The Jews also pleaded their dissatisfaction to be governed by any but the High Priest of the God they worshipped; and avowed their dislike to the exercise of a Regal power. Pompey perceiving the unjust and violent designs of Aristobulus, postponed his decision till after his return from Arabia; in the mean time Aristobulus suspecting his intentions, availed himself of this opportunity to collect an army to establish himself in the government; Pompey, apprised of these measures, hastened the exe

cution

« السابقةمتابعة »