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  • JOSEPHUS' WRITINGS - BOOK 13, CH. 16
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    HOW ALEXANDRA BY GAINING THE GOOD-WILL OF THE PHARISEES, RETAINED THE KINGDOM NINE YEARS, AND THEN, HAVING DONE MANY GLORIOUS ACTIONS DIED.

    1. SO Alexandra, when she had taken the fortress, acted as her husband had suggested to her, and spake to the Pharisees, and put all things into their power, both as to the dead body, and as to the affairs of the kingdom, and thereby pacified their anger against Alexander, and made them bear goodwill and friendship to him; who then came among the multitude, and made speeches to them, and laid before them the actions of Alexander, and told them that they had lost a righteous king; and by the commendation they gave him, they brought them to grieve, and to be in heaviness for him, so that he had a funeral more splendid than had any of the kings before him. Alexander left behind him two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, but committed the kingdom to Alexandra. Now, as to these two sons, Hyrcanus was indeed unable to manage public affairs, and delighted rather in a quiet life; but the younger, Aristobulus, was an active and a bold man; and for this woman herself, Alexandra, she was loved by the multitude, because she seemed displeased at the offenses her husband had been guilty of.

    2. So she made Hyrcanus high priest, because he was the elder, but much more because he cared not to meddle with politics, and permitted the Pharisees to do every thing; to whom also she ordered the multitude to be obedient. She also restored again those practices which the Pharisees had introduced, according to the traditions of their forefathers, and which her father-in-law, Hyrcanus, had abrogated. So she had indeed the name of the regent, but the Pharisees had the authority; for it was they who restored such as had been banished, and set such as were prisoners at liberty, and, to say all at once, they differed in nothing from lords. However, the queen also took care of the affairs of the kingdom, and got together a great body of mercenary soldiers, and increased her own army to such a degree, that she became terrible to the neighboring tyrants, and took hostages of them: and the country was entirely at peace, excepting the Pharisees; for they disturbed the queen, and desired that she would kill those who persuaded Alexander to slay the eight hundred men; after which they cut the throat of one of them, Diogenes; and after him they did the same to several, one after another, till the men that were the most potent came into the palace, and Aristobulus with them, for he seemed to be displeased at what was done; and it appeared openly, that if he had an opportunity, he would not permit his mother to go on so. These put the queen in mind what great dangers they had gone through, and great things they had done, whereby they had demonstrated the firmness of their fidelity to their master, insomuch that they had recieved the greatest marks of favor from him; and they begged of her, that she would not utterly blast their hopes, as it now happened, that when they had escaped the hazards that arose from their [open] enemies, they were to be cut off at home by their [private] enemies, like brute beasts, without any help whatever. They said also, that if their adversaries would be satisfied with those that had been slain already, they would take what had been done patiently, on account of their natural love to their governors; but if they must expect the same for the future also, they implored of her a dismission from her service; for they could not bear to think of attempting any method for their deliverance without her, but would rather die willingly before the palace gate, in case she would not forgive them. And that it was a great shame, both for themselves and for the queen, that when they were neglected by her, they should come under the lash of her husband's enemies; for that Aretas, the Arabian king, and the monarchs, would give any reward, if they could get such men as foreign auxiliaries, to whom their very names, before their voices be heard, may perhaps be terrible; but if they could not obtain this their second request, and if she had determined to prefer the Pharisees before them, they still insisted that she would place them every one in her fortresses; for if some fatal demon hath a constant spite against Alexander's house, they would be willing to bear their part, and to live in a private station there.

    3. As these men said thus, and called upon Alexander's ghost for commiseration of those already slain, and those in danger of it, all the bystanders brake out into tears. But Aristobulus chiefly made manifest what were his sentiments, and used. many reproachful expressions to his mother, [saying,] "Nay, indeed, the case is this, that they have been themselves the authors of their own calamities, who have permitted a woman who, against reason, was mad with ambition, to reign over them, when there were sons in the flower of their age fitter for it." So Alexandra, not knowing what to do with any decency, committed the fortresses to them, all but Hyrcania, and Alexandrium, and Macherus, where her principal treasures were. After a little while also, she sent her son Aristobulus with an army to Damascus against Ptolemy, who was called Menneus, who was such a bad neighbor to the city; but he did nothing considerable there, and so returned home.

    4. About this time news was brought that Tigranes, the king of Armenia, had made an irruption into Syria with five hundred thousand soldiers, (45) and was coming against Judea. This news, as may well be supposed, terrified the queen and the nation. Accordingly, they sent him many and very valuable presents, as also ambassadors, and that as he was besieging Ptolemais; for Selene the queen, the same that was also called Cleopatra, ruled then over Syria, who had persuaded the inhabitants to exclude Tigranes. So the Jewish ambassadors interceded with him, and entreated him that he would determine nothing that was severe about their queen or nation. He commended them for the respects they paid him at so great a distance, and gave them good hopes of his favor. But as soon as Ptolemais was taken, news came to Tigranes, that Lucullus, in his pursuit of Mithridates, could not light upon him, who was fled into Iberia, but was laying waste Armenia, and besieging its cities. Now when Tigranes knew this, he returned home.

    5. After this, when the queen was fallen into a dangerous distemper, Aristobulus resolved to attempt the seizing of the government; so he stole away secretly by night, with only one of his servants, and went to the fortresses, wherein his friends, that were such from the days of his father, were settled; for as he had been a great while displeased at his mother's conduct, so he was now much more afraid, lest, upon her death, their whole family should be under the power of the Pharisees; for he saw the inability of his brother, who was to succeed in the government; nor was any one conscious of what he was doing but only his wife, whom he left at Jerusalem with their children. He first of all came to Agaba, where was Galestes, one of the potent men before mentioned, and was received by him. When it was day, the queen perceived that Aristobulus was fled; and for some time she supposed that his departure was not in order to make any innovation; but when messengers came one after another with the news that he had secured the first place, the second place, and all the places, for as soon as one had begun they all submitted to his disposal, then it was that the queen and the nation were in the greatest disorder, for they were aware that it would not be long ere Aristobulus would be able to settle himself firmly in the government. What they were principally afraid of was this, that he would inflict punishment upon them for the mad treatment his house had had from them. So they resolved to take his wife and children into custody, and keep them in the fortress that was over the temple. (46) Now there was a mighty conflux of people that came to Aristobulus from all parts, insomuch that he had a kind of royal attendants about him; for in a little more than fifteen days he got twenty-two strong places, which gave him the opportunity of raising an army from Libanus and Trachonitis, and the monarchs; for men are easily led by the greater number, and easily submit to them. And besides this, that by affording him their assistance, when he could not expect it, they, as well as he, should have the advantages that would come by his being king, because they had been the occasion of his gaining the kingdom. Now the eiders of the Jews, and Hyrcanus with them, went in unto the queen, and desired that she would give them her sentiments about the present posture of affairs, for that Aristobulus was in effect lord of almost all the kingdom, by possessing of so many strong holds, and that it was absurd for them to take any counsel by themselves, how ill soever she were, whilst she was alive, and that the danger would be upon them in no long time. But she bid them do what they thought proper to be done; that they had many circumstances in their favor still remaining, a nation in good heart, an army, and money in their several treasuries; for that she had small concern about public affairs now, when the strength of her body already failed her.

    6. Now a little while after she had said this to them, she died, when she had reigned nine years, and had in all lived seventy- three. A woman she was who showed no signs of the weakness of her sex, for she was sagacious to the greatest degree in her ambition of governing; and demonstrated by her doings at once, that her mind was fit for action, and that sometimes men themselves show the little understanding they have by the frequent mistakes they make in point of government; for she always preferred the present to futurity, and preferred the power of an imperious dominion above all things, and in comparison of that had no regard to what was good, or what was right. However, she brought the affairs of her house to such an unfortunate condition, that she was the occasion of the taking away that authority from it, and that in no long time afterward, which she had obtained by a vast number of hazards and misfortunes, and this out of a desire of what does not belong to a woman, and all by a compliance in her sentiments with those that bare ill-will to their family, and by leaving the administration destitute of a proper support of great men; and, indeed, her management during her administration while she was alive, was such as filled the palace after her death with calamities and disturbance. However, although this had been her way of governing, she preserved the nation in peace. And this is the conclusion of the affairs of, Alexandra.

    ENDNOTE

    (1) This Alexander Bala, who certainly pretended to be the son of Antiochus Epiphanes, and was owned for such by the Jews and Romans, and many others, and yet is by several historians deemed to be a counterfeit, and of no family at all, is, however, by Josephus believed to have been the real son of that Antiochus, and by him always spoken of accordingly. And truly, since the original contemporary and authentic author of the First Book of Maccabees (10:1) calls him by his father's name, Epiphanes, and says he was the son of Antiochus, I suppose the other writers, who are all much later, are not to be followed against such evidence, though perhaps Epiphanes might have him by a woman of no family. The king of Egypt also, Philometor, soon gave him his daughter in marriage, which he would hardly have done, had he believed him to be a counterfeit, and of so very mean a birth as the later historians pretend. (2) Since Jonathan plainly did not put on the pontifical robes till seven or eight years after the death of his brother Judas, or not till the feast of tabernacles, in the 160th of the Seleucidm, 1 Macc. 10;21, Petitus's emendation seems here to deserve consideration, who, instead of "after four years since the death of his brother Judas," would have us read, "and therefore after eight years since the death of his brother Judas." This would tolerably well agree with the date of the Maccabees, and with Josephus's own exact chronology at the end of the twentieth book of these Antiquities, which the present text cannot be made to do. (3) Take Grotius's note here: "The Jews," says he, "were wont to present crowns to the kings [of Syria]; afterwards that gold which was paid instead of those crowns, or which was expended in making them, was called the crown gold and crown tax." On 1 Macc. 10:29. (4) Since the rest of the historians now extant give this Demetrius thirteen years, and Josephus only eleven years, Dean Prideaux does not amiss in ascribing to him the mean number twelve. (5) It seems to me contrary to the opinion of Josephus, and of the moderns, both Jews and Christians, that this prophecy of Isaiah, 19:19, etc., "In that day there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt," etc., directly foretold the building of this temple of Onias in Egypt, and was a sufficient warrant to the Jews for building it, and for worshipping the true God. the God of Israel, therein. See Authent. Rec. 11. p. 755. That God seems to have soon better accepted of the sacrifices and prayers here offered him than those at Jerusalem, see the note on ch. 10. sect. 7. And truly the marks of Jewish corruption or interpolation in this text, in order to discourage their people from approving of the Worship of God here, are very strong, and highly deserve our consideration and correction. The foregoing verse in Isaiah runs thus in our common copies, "In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan," [the Hebrew language; shall be full of Jews, whose sacred books were in Hebrew,] "and swear to the Lord of hosts; one" [or the first] "shall be called, The City of Destruction," Isaiah 19:18. A strange-name, "City of Destruction," upon so joyful occasion, and a name never heard of in the land of Egypt, or perhaps in any other nation. The old reading was evidently the City of the Sun, or Heliopolis; and Unkelos, in effect, and Symmachus, with the Arabic version, entirely confess that to be the true reading. The Septuagint also, though they have the text disguised in the common copies, and call it Asedek, the City of Righteousness; yet in two or three other copies the Hebrew word itself for the Sun, Achares, or Thares, is preserved. And since Onias insists with the king and queen, that Isaiah's prophecy contained many other predictions relating to this place besides the words by him recited, it is highly probable that these were especially meant by him; and that one main reason why he applied this prediction to himself, and to his prefecture of Heliopolis, which Dean Prideaux well proves was in that part of Egypt, and why he chose to build in that prefecture of Heliopolis, though otherwise an improper place, was this, that the same authority that he had for building this temple in Egypt, the very same he had for building it in his own prefecture of Heliopolis also, which he desired to do, and which he did accordingly. Dean Prideaux has much ado to avoid seeing this corruption of the Hebrew; but it being in support of his own opinion about this temple, he dare not see it; and indeed he reasons here in the most injudicious manner possible. See him at the year 149. (6) A very unfair disputation this! while the Jewish disputant, knowing that he could not properly prove out of the Pentateuch, that "the place which the Lord their God shall choose to place his name there," so often referred to in the Book of Deuteronomy, was Jerusalem any more than Gerizzim, that being not determined till the days of David, Antiq. B. VII. ch. 13. sect. 4, proves only, what the Samaritans did not deny, that the temple at Jerusalem was much more ancient, and much more celebrated and honored, than that at Gerizzim, which was nothing to the present purpose. The whole evidence, by the very oaths of both parties, being, we see, obliged to be confined to the law of Moses, or to the Pentateuch alone. However, worldly policy and interest and the multitude prevailing, the court gave sentence, as usual, on the stronger side. and poor Sabbeus and Theodosius, the Samaritan disputants, were martyred, and this, so far as appears, without any direct hearing at all, which is like the usual practice of such political courts about matters of religion. Our copies say that the body of the Jews were in a great concern about those men (in the plural) who were to dispute for their temple at Jerusalem, whereas it seems here they had but one disputant, Andronicus by name. Perhaps more were prepared to speak on the Jews' side; but the firstraying answered to his name, and overcome the Samaritans, there was necessity for any other defender of the Jerusalem temple. (7) Of the several Apollonius about these ages, see Dean Prideaux at the year 148. This Apollonius Daus was, by his account, the son of that Apollonius who had been made governor of Celesyria and Phoenicia by Seleueus Philopater, and was himself a confidant of his son Demetrius the father, and restored to his father's government by him, but afterwards revolted from him to Alexander; but not to Demetrius the son, as he supposes. (8) Dr. Hudson here observes, that the Phoenicians and Romans used to reward such as had deserved well of them, by presenting to them a golden button. See ch. 5. sect. 4. (9) This name, Demetrius Nicator, or Demetrius the conqueror, is so written on his coins still extant, as Hudson and Spanheim inform us; the latter of whom gives us here the entire inscription, "King Demetrius the God, Philadelphus, Nicator." (10) This clause is otherwise rendered in the First Book of Maccabees, 12:9, "For that we have the holy books of Scripture in our bands to comfort us." The Hebrew original being lost, we cannot certainly judge which was the truest version only the coherence favors Josephus. But if this were the Jews' meaning, that they were satisfied out of their Bible that the Jews and Lacedemonians were of kin, that part of their Bible is now lost, for we find no such assertion in our present copies. (11) Those that suppose Josephus to contradict himself in his three several accounts of the notions of the Pharisees, this here, and that earlier one, which is the largest, Of the War B. II. ch. 8. sect. 14, and that later, Antiq. B. XVIII. ch. 1. sect. 3, as if he sometimes said they introduced an absolute fatality, and denied all freedom of human actions, is almost wholly groundless if he ever, as the very learned Casaubon here truly observes, asserting, that the Pharisees were between the Essens and Sadducees, and did so far ascribe all to fate or Divine Providence as was consistent with the freedom of human actions. However, their perplexed way of talking about fate, or Providence, as overruling all things, made it commonly thought they were willing to excuse their sins by ascribing them to fate, as in the Apostolical Constitutions, B. VI. ch. 6. Perhaps under the same general name some difference of opinions in this point might be propagated, as is very common in all parties, especially in points of metaphysical subtilty. However, our Josephus, who in his heart was a great admirer of the piety of the Essens, was yet in practice a Pharisee, as he himself informs us, in his own Life, sect. 2. And his account of this doctrine of the Pharisees is for certain agreeable to his own opinion, who ever both fully allowed the freedom of human actions, and yet strongly believed the powerful interposition of Divine Providence. See concerning this matter a remarkable clause, Antiq. B. XVI. ch. 11. sect. 7. (12) This king, who was of the famous race of Arsaces, is bethused to call them; but by the elder author of the First Maccahere, and 1 Macc. 14:2, called by the family name Arsaces; was, the king of the Persians and Medes, according to the land but Appion says his proper name was Phraates. He is language of the Eastern nations. See Authent. Rec. Part II. also called by Josephus the king of the Parthians, as the Greeks p. 1108. (13) There is some error in the copies here, when no more than four years are ascribed to the high priesthood of Jonathan. We know by Josephus's last Jewish chronology, Antiq. B. XX. ch. 10., that there was an interval of seven years between the death of Alcimus, or Jacimus, the last high priest, and the real high priesthood of Jonathan, to whom yet those seven years seem here to be ascribed, as a part of them were to Judas before, Antiq. B. XII. ch. 10. sect. 6. Now since, besides these seven years interregnum in the pontificate, we are told, Antiq. B. XX. ch. 10., that Jonathan's real high priesthood lasted seven years more, these two seven years will make up fourteen years, which I suppose was Josephus's own number in this place, instead of the four in our present copies. (14) These one hundred and seventy years of the Assyrians mean no more, as Josephus explains himself here, than from the sara of Seleucus, which as it is known to have began on the 312th year before the Christian sara, from its spring in the First Book of Maccabees, and from its autumn in the Second Book of Maccabees, so did it not begin at Babylon till the next spring, on the 311th year. See Prid. at the year 312. And it is truly observed by Dr. Hudson on this place, that the Syrians and Assyrians are sometimes confounded in ancient authors, according to the words of Justin, the epitomiser of Trogus -pompeius, who says that "the Assyrians were afterward called Syrian." B. I. ch. 11. See Of the War, B. V. ch. 9. sect. 4, where the Philistines themselves, at the very south limit of Syria, in its utmost extent, are called Assyrians by Josephus as Spanheim observes. (15) It must here be diligently noted, that Josephus's copy of the First Book of Maccabees, which he had so carefully followed, and faithfully abridged, as far as the fiftieth verse of the thirteenth chapter, seems there to have ended. What few things there are afterward common to both, might probably be learned by him from some other more imperfect records. However, we must exactly observe here, what the remaining part of that book of the Maccabees informs us of, and what Josephus would never have omitted, had his copy contained so much, that this Simon the Great, the Maccabee, made a league with Antiochus Soter, the son of Demetrius Soter, and brother of the other Demetrius, who was now a captive in Parthis: that upon his coming to the crown, about the 140th year before the Christian sets, he granted great privileges to the Jewish nation, and to Simon their high priest and ethnarch; which privileges Simon seems to have taken of his own accord about three years before. In particular, he gave him leave to coin money for his country with his own stamp; and as concerning Jerusalem and the sanctuary, that they should be free, or, as the vulgar Latin hath it, "holy and free," 1 Macc. 15:6, 7, which I take to be the truer reading, as being the very words of his father's concession offered to Jonathan several years before, ch. 10:31; and Antiq. B, XIII. ch. 2. sect. 3. Now what makes this date and these grants greatly remarkable, is the state of the remaining genuine shekels of the Jews with Samaritan characters, which seem to have been (most of them at least) coined in the first four years of this Simon the Asamonean, and having upon them these words on one side, "Jerusalem the Holy ;" and on the reverse, "In the Year of Freedom," 1, or 2, or 3, or 4; which shekels therefore are original monuments of these times, and undeniable marks of the truth of the history in these chapters, though it be in great measure omitted by Josephus. See Essay on the Old Test. p. 157, 158. The reason why I rather suppose that his copy of the Maccabees wanted these chapters, than that his own copies are here imperfect, is this, that all their contents are not here omitted, though much the greatest part be. (16) How Trypho killed this Antiochus the epitome of Livy informs us, ch. 53, viz. that he corrupted his physicians or surgeons, who falsely pretending to the people that he was perishing with the stone, as they cut him for it, killed him, which exactly agrees with Josephus. (17) That this Antiochus, the son of Alexader Balas, was called "The God," is evident from his coins, which Spanheim assures us bear this inscription, "King Antiochus the God, Epiphanes the Victorious." (18) Here Josephus begins to follow and to abridge the next sacred Hebrew book, styled in the end of the First Book of Maccabees, "The Chronicle of John [Hyrcanus's] high priesthood;" but in some of the Greek copies," The Fourth Book of Maccabees." A Greek version of this chronicle was extant not very long ago in the days of Sautes Pagninus, and Sixtus Senensis, at Lyons, though it seems to have been there burnt, and to be utterly lost. See Sixtus Senensis's account of it, of its many Hebraisms, and its great agreement with Josephus's abridgement, in the Authent. Rec. Part I. p. 206, 207, 208. (19) Hence we learn, that in the days of this excellent high priest, John Hyrcanus, the observation of the Sabbatic year, as Josephus supposed, required a rest from war, as did that of the weekly sabbath from work; I mean this, unless in the case of necessity, when the Jews were attacked by their enemies, in which case indeed, and in which alone, they then allowed defensive fighting to be lawful, even on the sabbath day, as we see in several places of Josephus, Antlq. B. XII. ch. 6. sect. 2; B. XIII. ch. 1. sect. 2; Of. the War, B. I. ch. 7. sect. 3. But then it must be noted, that this rest from war no way appears in the First Book of Maccabees, ch. 16., but the direct contrary; though indeed the Jews, in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, did not venture upon fighting on the Sabbath day, even in the defense of their own lives, till the Asamoneans or Maccabees decreed so to do, 1 Macc. 2:32-41; Antiq. B. XII. ch. 6. sect. 2. (20) Josephus's copies, both Greek and Latin, have here a gross mistake, when they say that this first year of John Hyrcanus, which we have just now seen to have been a Sabbatic year, was in the 162nd olympiad, whereas it was for certain the second year of the 161st. See the like before, B. XII. ch. 7. sect. 6. (21) This heliacal setting of the Pleiades, or seven stars, was, in the days of Hyrcanus and Josephus, early in the spring, about February, the time of the latter rain in Judea; and this, so far as I remember, is the only astronomical character of time, besides one eclipse of the moon in the reign of Herod, that we meet with in all Josephus; the Jews being little accustomed to astronomical observations, any further than for the uses of their calendar, and utterly forbidden those astrological uses which the heathens commonly made of them. (22) Dr. Hudson tells us here, that this custom of gilding the horns of those oxen that were to be sacrificed is a known thing both in the poets and orators. (23) This account in Josephus, that the present Antiochus was persuaded, though in vain, not to make peace with the Jews, but to cut them off utterly, is fully confirmed by Diodorus Siculus, in Photiua's extracts out of his 34th Book. (24) The Jews were not to march or journey on the sabbath, or on such a great festival as was equivalent to the sabbath, any farther than a sabbath day's journey, or two thousand cubits, see the note on Antiq. B. XX. ch. 8. sect. 6. (25) This account of the Idumeans admitting circumcision, and the entire Jewish law, from this time, or from the days of Hyrcanus, is confirmed by their entire history afterward. See Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 8. sect. 1; B. XV. ch. 7. sect. 9. Of the War, B. II. ch. 3. sect. 1; B. IV. ch. 4. sect. 5. This, in the opinion of Josephus, made them convert of justice, or entire Jews, as here and elsewhere, Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 8. sect. 1. However, Antigonus, the enemy of Herod, though Herod were derived from such a proselyte of justice for several generations, will allow him to be no more than a half Jew, B. XV. ch. 15. sect. 2. .But still, take out of Dean Prideaux, at the year 129, the words of Ammouius, a grammarian, which fully confirm this account of the Idumeans in Josephus: "The Jews," says he, are such by nature, and from the beginning, whilst the Idumeans were not Jews from the beginning, but Phoenicians and Syrians; but being afterward subdued by the Jews, and compelled to be circumcised, and to unite into one nation, and be subject to the same laws, they were called Jews." Dio also says, as the Dean there quotes him, from Book XXXVI. p. 37, "That country is called Judea, and the people Jews; and this name is given also to as many others as embrace their religion, though of other nations." But then upon what foundation so good a governor as Hyrcanus took upon him to compel those Idumeans either to become Jews, or to leave the country, deserves great consideration. I suppose it was because they had long ago been driven out of the land of Edom, and had seized on and possessed the tribe of Simeon, and all the southern parts of the tribe of Judah, which was the peculiar inheritance of the worshippers of the true God without idolatry, as the reader may learn from Reland, Palestine, Part I. p. 154, 305; and from Prideaux, at the years 140 and 165. (26) In this decree of the Roman senate, it seems that these ambassadors were sent from the "people of the Jews," as well as from their prince or high priest, John Hyrcanus. (27) Dean Prideaux takes notice at the year 130, that Justin, in agreement with Josephus, says, "The power of the Jews was now grown so great, that after this Antiochus they would not bear any Macedonian king over them; and that they set up a government of their own, and infested Syria with great wars." (28) The original of the Sadducees, as a considerable party among the Jews, being contained in this and the two following sections, take Dean Prideaux's note upon this their first public appearance, which I suppose to be true: "Hyrcanus," says be, "went over to the party of the Sadducees; that is, by embracing their doctrine against the traditions of the eiders, added to the written law, and made of equal authority with it, but not their doctrine against the resurrection and a future state; for this cannot be supposed of so good and righteous a man as John Hyrcanus is said to be. It is most probable, that at this time the Sadducees had gone no further in the doctrines of that sect than to deny all their unwritten traditions, which the Pharisees were so fond of; for Josephus mentions no other difference at this time between them; neither doth he say that Hyrcanna went over to the Sadducees in any other particular than in the abolishing of all the traditionary constitutions of the Pharisees, which our Savior condemned as well as they." [At the year.] (29) This slander, that arose from a Pharisee, has been preserved by their successors the Rabbins to these later ages; for Dr. Hudson assures us that David Gantz, in his Chronology, S. Pr. p. 77, in Vorstius's version, relates that Hyrcanus's mother was taken captive in Mount Modinth. See ch. 13. sect. 5. (30) Here ends the high priesthood, and the life of this excellent person John Hyrcanus, and together with him the holy theocracy, or Divine government of the Jewish nation, and its concomitant oracle by Urim. Now follows the profane and tyrannical Jewish monarchy, first of the Asamoneans or Maccabees, and then of Herod the Great, the Idumean, till the coming of the Messiah. See the note on Antiq. B. III. ch. 8. sect. 9. Hear Strabo's testimony on this occasion, B. XVI. p. 761, 762: "Those," says he, "that succeeded Moses continued for some time in earnest, both in righteous actions and in piety; but after a while there were others that took upon them the high priesthood, at first superstitious and afterward tyrannical persons. Such a prophet was Moses and those that succeeded him, beginning in a way not to be blamed, but changing for the worse. And when it openly appeared that the government was become tyrannical, Alexander was the first that set up himself for a king instead of a priest; and his sons were Hyrcanus and Aristobulus." All in agreement with Josephus, excepting this, that Strabo omits the first king, Aristobulus, who reigning but a single year, seems hardly to have come to his knowledge. Nor indeed does Aristobulus, the son of Alexander, pretend that the name of king was taken before his father Alexander took it himself, Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 3. sect. 2. See also ch. 12. sect. l, which favor Strabo also. And indeed, if we may judge from the very different characters of the Egyptian Jews under high priests, and of the Palestine Jews under kings, in the two next centuries, we may well suppose that the Divine Shechinah was removed into Egypt, and that the worshippers at the temple of Onias were better men than those at the temple of Jerusalem. (31) Hence we learn that the Essens pretended to have ruled whereby men might foretell things to come, and that this Judas the Essen taught those rules to his scholars; but whether their pretense were of an astrological or magical nature, which yet in such religious Jews, who were utterly forbidden such arts, is no way probable, or to any Bath Col, spoken of by the later Rabbins, or otherwise, I cannot tell. See Of the War, B. II. ch. 8. sect. 12. (32) The reason why Hyrcanus suffered not this son of his whom he did not love to come into Judea, but ordered him to be brought up in Galilee, is suggested by Dr. Hudson, that Galilee was not esteemed so happy and well cultivated a country as Judea, Matthew 26:73; John 7:52; Acts 2:7, although another obvious reason occurs also, that he was out of his sight in Galilee than he would have been in Judea. (33) From these, and other occasional expressions, dropped by Josephus, we may learn, that where the sacred hooks of the Jews were deficient, he had several other histories then extant, (but now most of them lost,) which he faithfully followed in his own history; nor indeed have we any other records of those times, relating to Judea, that can be compared to these accounts of Josephus, though when we do meet with authentic fragments of such original records, they almost always confirm his history. (34) This city, or island, Cos, is not that remote island in the Aegean Sea, famous for the birth of the great Hippocrates, but a city or island of the same name adjoining to Egypt, mentioned both by Stephanus and Ptolemy, as Dr. Mizon informs us. Of which Cos, and the treasures there laid up by Cleopatra and the Jews, see Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 7, sect. 2. (35) This account of the death of Antiochus Grypus is confirmed by Appion, Syriac. p. 132, here cited by Spanheim. (36) Porphyry says that this Antiochus Grypus reigned but twenty-six years, as Dr. Hudson observes. The copies of Josephus, both Greek and Latin, have here so grossly false a reading, Antiochus and Antoninus, or Antonius Plus, for Antiochus Pius, that the editors are forced to correct the text from the other historians, who all agree that this king's name was nothing more than Antiochus Plus. (37) These two brothers, Antiochus and Philippus are called twins by Porphyry; the fourth brother was king of Damascus: both which are the observations of Spanheim. (38) This Laodicea was a city of Gilead beyond Jordan. However, Porphyry says that this Antiochus Pius did not die in this battle; but, running away, was drowned in the river Orontes. Appian says that he, was deprived of the kingdom of Syria by Tigranes; but Porphyry makes this Laodice queen of the Calamans; - all which is noted by Spanheim. In such confusion of the later historians, we have no reason to prefer any of them before Josephus, who had more original ones before him. This reproach upon Alexander, that he was sprung from a captive, seems only the repetition of the old Pharisaical calumny upon his father, ch. 10. sect. 5. (39) This Theodorus was the son of Zeno, and was in possession of Areathus, as we learn from sect. 3 foregoing. (40) This name Thracida, which the Jews gave Alexander, must, by the coherence, denote as barbarous as a Thracian, or somewhat like it; but what it properly signifies is not known. (41) Spanheim takes notice that this Antiochus Dionysus [the brother of Philip, and of Demetrius Eucerus, and of two otbsrs] was the fifth son of Antiochus Grypus; and that he is styled on the coins, "Antiochus, Epiphanes, Dionysus." (42) This Aretas was the first king of the Arabians who took Damascus, and reigned there; which name became afterwards common to such Arabian kings, both at Petra and at Damascus, as we learn from Josephus in many places; and from St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:32. See the note on Antiq. B. XVI. ch. 9. sect. 4. (43) We may here and elsewhere take notice, that whatever countries or cities the Asamoneans conquered from any of the neighboring nations, or whatever countries or cities they gained from them that had not belonged to them before, they, after the days of Hyrcanus, compelled the inhabitants to leave their idolatry, and entirely to receive the law of Moses, as convert of justice, or else banished them into other lands. That excellent prince, John Hyrcanus, did it to the Idumeans, as I have noted on ch. 9. sect. 1, already, who lived then in the Promised Land, and this I suppose justly; but by what right the rest did it, even to the countries or cities that were no part of that land, I do not at all know. This looks too like unjust persecution for religion. (44) It seems, by this dying advice of Alexander Janneus to his wife, that he had himself pursued the measures of his father Hyrcanus. and taken part with the Sadducees, who kept close to the written law, against the Pharisees, who had introduced their own traditions, ch. 16. sect. 2; and that he now saw a political necessity of submitting to the Pharisees and their traditions hereafter, if his widow and family minded to retain their monarchical government or tyranny over the Jewish nation; which sect yet, thus supported, were at last in a great measure the ruin of the religion, government, and nation of the Jews, and brought them into so wicked a state, that the vengeance of God came upon them to their utter excision. Just thus did Caiaphas politically advise the Jewish sanhedrim, John 11:50, "That it was expedient for them that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not;" and this in consequence of their own political supposal, ver. 48, that, "If they let Jesus alone," with his miracles, "all men would believe on him, and the Romans would come and take away both their place and nation." Which political crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth brought down the vengeance of God upon them, and occasioned those very Romans, of whom they seemed so much afraid, that to prevent it they put him to death, actually to "come and take away both their place and nation" within thirty-eight years afterwards. I heartily wish the politicians of Christendom would consider these and the like examples, and no longer sacrifice all virtue and religion to their destructive schemes of government, to the bringing down the judgments of God upon themselves, and the several nations intrusted to their care. But this is a digression. I wish it were an unseasonable one also. Josephus himself several times makes such digressions, and I here venture to follow him. See one of them at the conclusion of the very next chapter. (45) The number of five hundred thousand or even three hundred thousand, as one Greek copy, with the Latin copies, have it, for Tigranes's army, that came out of Armenia into Syria and Judea, seems much too large. We have had already several such extravagant numbers in Josephus's present copies, which are not to he at all ascribed to him. Accordingly, I incline to Dr. Hudson's emendation here, which supposes them but forty thousand. (46) This fortress, castle, citadel, or tower, whither the wife and children of Aristobulus were new sent, and which overlooked the temple, could be no other than what Hyrcanus I. built, (Antiq. B. XVIII ch. 4. sect. 3,) and Herod the Great rebuilt, and called the "Tower of Antonia," Aatiq. B. XV. ch. 11. sect. 5.

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