The history of the Jews and Romans



Soon after Demetrius had been carried into captivity Trypho deserted Antiochus, who had now reigned four years. He usurped power, which he basely abused; and Antiochus Soter, brother of Demetrius, raised a force against him and drove him away to Apamea, where he was put to death, his term of power having lasted only three years. Antiochus Soter then attacked Simon, who successfully resisted, established peace and ruled in all for eight years. His death also was the result of treachery, his son-in-law Ptolemy playing him false. His son Hyrcanus became high-priest, and speedily ejected the forces of Ptolemy from the land. Subduing all factions, he ruled justly for thirty-one years, leaving five sons.

The eldest, Aristobulus, purposed to change the government into a kingdom, and placed a diadem on his own head; but his mother, to whom the supremacy had been entrusted, disputed his authority. He cast her into prison, where she was starved to death; and next he compassed the death of his brother Antigonus, but was soon attacked by a painful disease. He reigned only one year. His widow, Alexandra, let his brothers out of prison and made Alexander Janneus king.

His reign was one of war and disorder. With savage cruelty he repressed rebellion, condemning hundreds of Jews to crucifixion. While these were yet living, their wives and children were slain before their eyes. His life was ended by a sickness which lasted three years, and after his death civil war broke out between his two sons, Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, in which great barbarities were committed. The conflict was terminated by the intervention of the Romans under Scarus. The two brothers appealed to Pompey after he came to Damascus; but that Roman general marched against Jerusalem and took it by force.

Crassus next came with Roman troops into Judea and pillaged the Temple, and then marched into Parthia, where both he and his army perished. Then Cassius obtained Syria, and checked the Parthians. He passed on to Judea, fell on Tarichaea, and took it, and carried away 3,000 Jewish captives.

A wealthy Idumean named Antipater, who had been a great friend of Hyrcanus, and had helped him against Aristobulus, was a very active and seditious man. He had married Cypros, a lady of his own Idumean race, by whom he had four sons, Phaselus and Herod, who afterwards became king, and Joseph and Pheroras; and a daughter, Salome. He cultivated friendship with other potentates, especially with the king of Arabia, to whom he committed the care of his children while he fought against Aristobulus. But when Caesar had taken Rome, and after Pompey and the senate had fled beyond the Ionian Sea, Aristobulus was set free from the bonds in which he had been laid.

Caesar resolved to send him with two legions into Syria to set matters right; but Aristobulus had no enjoyment of this trust, for he was poisoned by Pompey's party. But Scipio, sent by Pompey to slay Alexander, son of Aristobulus, cut off his head at Antioch. And Ptolemy, son of Menneus, ruler of Chalcis, took Alexander's brethren to him, and sent his son Philippion to Askelon to Aristobulus's wife, and desired her to send back with him her son Antigonus and her daughters; the one of whom, Alexandra, Philippion fell in love with and married her ; though afterwards his father, Ptolemy, slew him and married Alexandra.

Now, after Pompey was dead, and after the victory Caesar had gained over him, Antipater, who had managed the Jewish affairs, became very useful to Caesar when he made war against Egypt, and that by the order of Hyrcanus. He brought over to the side of Caesar the principal men of the Arabians, and also Jamblicus, the ruler of the Syrians, and Ptolemy, his son, and Tholomy, the son of Sohemus, who dwelt at Mount Libanus, and almost all the cities, and with 3,000 armed Jews he joined Mithradates of Pergamus, who was marching with his auxiliaries to aid Caesar.

Antipater and Mithradates together won a pitched battle against the Egyptians, and Caesar not only then commended Antipater, but used him throughout that war in the most hazardous undertakings and finally, at the end of that campaign, made him procurator of Judea, at the same time appointing Hyrcanus high-priest. Antipater, seeing that Hyrcanus was of a slow and slothful temper, made his eldest son, Phaselus, governor of Jerusalem; but committed Galilee to his next son, Herod, who was only fifteen, but was a youth of great mind, and soon proved his courage, and won the love of the Syrians by freeing their country of a nest of robbers and slaying the captain of these, one Hezekias.

Thus Herod became known to Sextus Caesar, a relation of the great Caesar, who was now president of Syria. Now, the growing reputation of Antipater and his sons excited the envy of the principal men among the Jews, especially as they saw that Herod was violent and bold, and was capable of acting tyrannically. So they accused him before Hyrcanus of encroaching on the government, and of transgressing the laws by putting men to death without their condemnation by the sanhedrin. Protecting Herod, whom he loved as his own son, from the sanhedrin when they would have sentenced him to death, Hyrcanus aided him to flee to Damascus, where he took refuge with Sextus Caesar. When Herod received the kingdom, he slew all the members of that sanhedrin excepting Sameas, whom he respected because he persuaded the people to admit Herod into the city, and he even slew Hyrcanus also.

Now, when Caesar was come to Rome, and was ready to sail into Africa to fight against Scipio and Cato, Hyrcanus sent ambassadors to him, desiring the ratification of the league of friendship between them. Not only Caesar but the senate heaped honours on the ambassadors, and confirmed the understanding that subsisted. But during the disorders that arose after the death of Caesar, Cassius came into Syria and disturbed Judea by exacting great sums of money. Antipater sought to gather the great tax demanded from Judea, and was foully slain by a collector named Malichus, on whom Herod quickly took vengeance for the murder of his father. By his energy in obtaining the required tax, Herod gained new favour with Cassius.





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