AN ABSTRACT OF JEWISH HISTORY FROM THE REIGN
OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT TO THE ASCENSION OF HEROD
(See Book I. ch. 8.)
The political connection of the Grecian world, and, with it, the conflict with Hellenism, may be said to have connected with the victorious progress of Alexander the Great through the then known world (333 b.c.).1 It was not only that his destruction of the Persian empire put an end to the easy and peaceful allegiance which Judĉa had owned to it for about two centuries, but that the establishment of such a vast Hellenic empire. as was the aim of Alexander, introduced a new element into the world of Asia. Everywhere the old civilisation gave way before the new. So early as the commencement of the second century before Christ, Palestine was already surrounded, north, east, and west, with a girdle of Hellenic cities, while in the interior of the land itself Grecianism had its foothold in Galilee and was dominant in Samaria. But this is not all. After continuing the frequent object of contention between the rulers of Egypt and Syria, Palestine ultimately passed from Egyptian to Syrian domination during the reign of Seleucus IV. (187-175 b.c.). His successor was that Antiochus IV., Epiphanes (175-164), whose reckless determination to exterminate Judaism, and in its place to substitute Hellenism, led to the Maccabean rising. Mad as this attempt seems, it could scarcely have been made had there not been in Palestine itself a party to favour his plans. In truth, Grecianism, in its worst form, had long before made its way, slowly but surely, into the highest quarters. For the proper understanding of this history its progress must be briefly indicated.1. We do not here discuss the question, whether or not Alexander really entered Jerusalem. Jewish legend has much to tell of him, and reports many supposed inquiries on his part or discussions between him and the Rabbis, that prove at least the deep impression which his appearance had made, and the permanent results which followed from it.
After the death of Alexander, Palestine passed first under Egyptian domination. Although the Ptolemies were generally favourable to the Jews (at least of their own country), those of Palestine at times felt the heavy hand of the conqueror (Jos. Ant. xii. 1. 1). Then followed the contests between Syria and Egypt for its possession, in which the county must have severely suffered. As Josephus aptly remarks (Ant. xii. 3. 3), whichever partly gained, Palestine was 'like a ship in a storm which is tossed by the waves on both sides.' Otherwise it was a happy time, because one of the comparative independence. The secular and spiritual power was vested in the hereditary High-Priests, who paid for their appointment (probably annually) the sum of twenty (presumably Syrian) talents, amounting to five ordinary talents, or rather less than 1,200l.2 Besides this personal, the country paid a general tribute, its revenues being let to the highest bidder. The sum levied on Judĉa itself has computed at 81,900l. (350 ordinary talents). Although this tribute appears by no means excessive, bearing in mind that in later times the dues from the balsam-district around Jericho were reckoned at upwards of 46,800l. (200 talents), the hardship lay in the mode of levying it by strangers, often unjustly, and always harshly, and in the charges connected with its collection. This cause of complaint was indeed, removed in the course of time, but only by that which led to far more serious evils.2. Comp. Herzfeld, Gesch. d. Volkes Isr, vol. ii. passim, but specially pp. 181 and 211.
The succession of the High-Priests, as given in Nehem. 12:10, 11, 22, furnishes the following names: Jeshua. Joiakin, Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan,3 Jonathan, and Jaddua, who was the contemporary of Alexander the Great. After the death of Jaddua, we have the following list:4 Onias I. (Jos. Ant. xi, 8. 7), Simon I. the Just5 (Ant. xii. 2. 5), Eleazar, Manasseh (Ant. xii. 4. 1), Onias II., Simon II. (Ant. xii. 4. 10), Onias III., Jason (Ant. xii. 5. 1), Menelaus, and Alcimus (Ant. xii. 9. 7), with whom the series of the Pontiffs is brought down to the Maccabees. Internal peace and happiness ceased after the death of Simon the Just (in the beginning of the third century b.c.), one of the last links in that somewhat mysterious chain of personages, to which tradition has given the name of 'the Great Assemblage,' or 'Great Synagogue.'63. I have placed Johanan (Neh. xii. 22) before Jonathan, in accordance with the ingenious reasoning of Herzfeld, ii. p. 372. The chronology of their Pontificates is almost inextricably involved. In other respects also there are not a few difficulties. See Zunz, Gottesd. Vortr. p. 27, and the elaborate discussions of Herzfeld, whose work, however, is very faulty in arrangement.
4. Happily no divergence exists as to their succession.
5. Some Christian and all Jewish writers assign the designation of 'The Just' to Simon II. This is directly contrary to the express statement of Josephus. Herzfeld (i. 377) appeals to Abhoth i. 2, 3, Men. 109 b, and Jer. Yoma vi. 3, but immediately relinquishes the two latter references as otherwise historically untenable. But surely no historical inference - for such it is - from Ab. i. 2, 3 is worth setting against the express statement of Josephus. Besides, Zunz has rightly shown that the expression Qibbel must not be to closely pressed, as indeed its use throughout the Perek seems to indicate (Gottesd. Vortr. p. 37, Note).
6. Of this more in the sequel. He is called hlwdgh tsnk yry#m which however does not seem necessary to imply that he was actually a member of it.
Jewish legend has much that is miraculous to tell of Simon the Just, and connects him alike with events both long anterior and long posterior to his Pontificate. Many of these traditions read like the outcome of loving, longing remembrance of a happy past which was never to return. Such a venerable form would never again be seen in the Sanctuary (Ecclus. 1. 1-4), nor would such miraculous attestation be given to any other ministrations7 (Yoma 39 a and b; Jer. Yoma v. 2; vi. 3). All this seems to point to the close of a period when the High-Priesthood was purely Jewish in spirit, just as the hints about dissensions among his sons (Jer. Yoma 43 d, at top) sound like faint reminiscences of the family - and public troubles which followed. In point of fact he was succeeded not by his Onias8 who was under age, but by his brother Eleazar, and he, after a Pontificate of twenty years, by his brother Manasseh. It was only twenty-seven years later, after the death of Manasseh, that Onias II. became High-Priest. If Eleazar, and especially Manasseh, owned their position, or at least strengthened it, by courting the favour of the ruler of Egypt, it was almost natural that Onias should have taken the opposite or Syrian part. His refusal to pay the High-Priestly tribute to Egypt could scarcely have been wholly due to avarice, as Josephus suggests. The anger and threats of the king were appeased by the High-Priest's nephew Joseph, who claimed descent from the line of David. He knew how to ingratiate himself at the court of Alexandria, and obtained the lease of the taxes of Cœle-Syria (which included Judĉa), by offering for it double sum previously paid. The removal of the foreign tax-gatherer was very grateful to the Jews, but the authority obtained by Joseph became a new source of danger, especially in the hands of his ambitious son, Hyrcanus. Thus we already mark the existence of three parties: the Egyptian, the Syrian, and that of the 'sons of Tobias' (Ant. xii. 5. 1), as the adherents of Joseph were called, after his father. If the Egyptian party ceased when Palestine passed under Syrian rule in the reign of Antiochus III. the Great (223-187 b.c.), and ultimately became wholly subject to it under Seleucus IV. (187-173), the Syrian, and especially the Tobias-party, had already become Grecianised. In truth, the contest now became one for power and wealth in which each sought to outbid the other by bribery and subserviency to the foreigner. As the submission of the people could only be secured by the virtual extinction of Judaism, this aim was steadily kept in view by the degenerate priesthood.7. It deserves notice that in these same Talmudic passages reference is also made to the later entire cessation of the same miracles, as indicating the coming destruction of the Temple.
8. Or as he is designated in the Talmud; Chonyi, Nechunyah, and even Nechunyon. Onias is a Grecianised form - itself a significant fact.
The storm did not, indeed, break under the Pontificate of Simon II., the son and successor of Onias II., but the times were becoming more and more troublous. Although the Syrian rulers occasionally showed favour to the Jews, Palestine was now covered with a network of Syrian officials, into whose hands the temporal power mainly passed. The taxation also sensibly increased, and, besides crown-money, consisted of a poll-tax, the third of the field-crops, the half of the produce of trees, a royal monopoly of salt and of the forests, and even a tax on the Levitical tithes and on all revenues of the Temple.9 Matters became much more worse under the Pontificate of Onias II., the son and successor of Simon II. A dispute between him and one Simon, a priest, and captain of the temple-guard,10 apparently provoked by the unprincipled covetousness of the latter, induced Simon to appeal to the cupidity of the Syrians by referring to the untold treasures which he described as deposited in the Temple. His motive may have been partly a desire for revenge, partly the hope of attaining the office of Onias. It was ascribed to a super-natural apparition, but probably it was only superstition which arrested the Syrian general at that time. But a dangerous lesson had been learned alike by Jew and Gentile.9. In 1 Macc. x. 29-33; Jos. And. xii;3. 3; xiii, 2. 3. In view of these express testimonies the statement of Ewald (Gesch. d. V. Isr. vol. iv. p. 373), to the effect that Palestine, or at least Jerusalem, enjoyed immunity from taxation, seems strange indeed. Schürer (u.s.p. 71) passes rather lightly over the troubles in Judĉa before Antiochus Epiphanes.
10. Herzfeld rightly corrects 'Benjamin' in 2 Macc. iii. 4. Comp. u. s. p. 218.
Seleucus IV. was succeeded by his brother Antiochus IV., Epiphanes (175-164). Whatever psychological explanation may be offered of his bearing - whether his conduct was that of a madman, or of a despot intoxicated to absolute forgetfulness of every consideration beyond his own caprice by the fancied possession of power uncontrolled and unlimited - cruelty and recklessness of tyranny were as prominently his characteristics as revengefulness and unbounded devotion to superstition. Under such a reign the precedent which Simon, the Captain of the Temple, had set, was successfully followed up by no less a person than the brother of the High-Priest himself. The promise of a yearly increase of 360 talents in the taxes of the country, besides a payment of 80 talents from another revenue (2 Macc. iv. 8, 9), purchased the deposition of Onias III. - the first event of that kind recorded in Jewish history - and the substitution of his brother Joshua, Jesus, or Jason (as he loved to Grecianise his name), in the Pontificate.11 But this was not all. The necessities, if not the inclinations, of the new High-Priest, and his relations to the Syrian king, prescribed a Grecian policy at home. It seems almost incredible, and yet it is quite in accordance with the circumstances, that Jason should have actually paid to Antiochus a sum of 150 talents for permission to erect a Gymnasium in Jerusalem, that he entered citizens of Antioch on the registers of Jerusalem, and that on one occasion he went so far as to send a deputation to attend the games at Tyre, with money for purchasing offerings to Heracles! And in Jerusalem, and throughout the land, there was a strong and increasing party to support Jason in his plans, and to follow his lead (2 Macc. iv. 9, 19). Thus far had Grecianism already swept over the country, as not only to threaten the introduction of views, manners, and institutions wholly incompatible with the religion of the Old Testament, but even the abolition of the bodily mark which distinguished its professors (1 Macc. i. 15; Jos. Ant. xii.5. 1).11. The notice in Jos. Ant. xii. 5. 1 must be corrected by the account in 2 Macc. Comp. Herzfeld, u. s.
But the favor which Antiochus showed Jason was not of long duration. One even more unscrupulous than he, Menelaus (or, according to his Jewish name, Onias), the brother of that Simon who had first excited the Syrian cupidity about the Temple treasure, outbade Jason with Antiochus by a promise of 300 talents in addition tho the tribute which Jason had paid. Accordingly, Menelaus was appointed High-Priest. In the expressive language of the time: 'he came, bringing nothing worthy of the High-Priesthood, but having the fury of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a savage beast' (2 Macc. iv. 25). In the conflict for the Pontificate, which now ensued, Menelaus conquered by the help of the Syrians. A terrible period of internal misrule and external troubles followed. Menelaus and his associates cast off every restraint, and even plundered the Temple of some of its precious vessels. Antiochus, who had regarded the resistance to his nominee as rebellion against himself, took fearful vengeance by slaughter of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and pillage of the Temple. But this was not all. When checked in his advance against Egypt, by the peremptory mandate of Rome, Antiochus made up for his disappointment by an expedition against Judĉa, of which the avowed object was to crush the people and to sweep away Judaism. The horrors which now ensued are equally recorded in the Books of the Maccabees, by Josephus, and in Jewish tradition.12 All sacrifices, the service of the Temple, and the observance of the Sabbath and of feast-days were prohibited; the Temple at Jerusalem was dedicated to Jupiter Olympus; the Holy Scriptures were searched for and destroyed; the Jews forced to take part in heathen rites; a small heathen altar was reared on the great altar of burnt-offering - in short, every insult was heaped on the religion of the Jews, and its every trace was to be swept away. The date of the final profanation of the Temple was the 25th Chislev (corresponding to our December) - the same on which, after its purification by Judas Maccabee,13 its services were restored, the same on which the Christian Church celebrates the dedication of a better Temple, that of the Holy Ghost in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.12. Besides Talmudic and Midrashic notices, we here refer to that most interesting and ancient Megillath Taanith, or 'Rolls of Fasts,' of which a translation is given in Appendix VI. The passages bearing on this period are collected in Derenbourg, Hist. de la Palestine, pp. 59-63, although his reference to that on the 28th of Adar is at least open to controversy.
13. The designation 'Maccabee' was originally given to Judas (1 Macc. ii. 4, 66; iii. 1; v. 24, 34). The name was, like that of Charles Martel, probably derived from bqm, or in Chaldee )bqm, a hammer. Comp. Josippon ben Gorion, iii, 9. 7 (ed. Breithaupt, p. 200) - only that he writes the name with a k, and not a q.
But the relentless persecution, which searched for its victims in every part of the land, also called forth a deliverer in the person of Mattathias. The story of the glorious rising and final deliverance of the country under the Maccabees or Asmonĉans, as they are always called in Jewish writings,14 is sufficiently known. Only the briefest outline of it can here be attempted. Mattathias died before it came to any actual engagement with the Syrians, but victory after victory attended the arms of his son, Judas the Maccabee, till at last the Temple could be purified and its services restored, exactly three years after its desecration (25 Chislev, 165 b.c.). The rule of the Jewish hero lasted other five years, which can scarcely be described as equally successful with the beginning of his administration. The first two years were occupied in fortifying strong positions and chastising those hostile heathen border-tribes which harassed Judĉa. Towards the close of the year 164 Antiochus Epiphanes died. But his successor, or rather Lysias, who administered the kingdom during his minority, was not content to surrender Palestine without a further contest. No deeds of heroism, however great, could compensate for the inferiority of the forces under Judas' command.15 The prospect was becoming hopeless, when troubles at home recalled the Syrian army, and led to a treaty of peace in which the Jews acknowledged Syrian supremacy, but were secured liberty of conscience and worship.14. My)nm#x. Josephus (Ant. xii. 6. 1) derives the word from Asmonœus, the great grandfather of Mattathias. Others derive it from the word Mynm#h ('princes' in A.V. Ps. 68:31).
15. The Syrian force is said to have amounted to 100,000 footmen, 20,000 horsemen, and 32 war-elephants (1 Macc. vi. 30).
But the truce was of short duration. As we have seen there were already in Palestine two parties - that which, from its character and aims, may generally be designated as the Grecian, and the Chasidim (Assideans). There can be little doubt that the latter name originally in the designation Chasidim, applied to the pious in Israel in such passages as Ps. 30:5 (4 in our A.V.); 31:23 (A.V. 24; 37:28). Jewish tradition distinguishes between the 'earlier' and the 'later' Chasidim (Ber. v. 1 and 32 b; Men. 40 b). The descriptions of the former are of so late a date, that the characteristics of the party are given in accordance with views and practices which belong to a much further development of Rabbinical piety. Their fundamental views may, however, be gathered from the four opening sentences of the Mishnic Tractate 'Abhoth,'16 of which the last are ascribed to Jose the son of Joezer, and Jose the son of Jochanan, who, as we know, still belonged to the 'earlier Chasidim.' These flourished about 140 b.c., and later. This date throws considerable light upon the relation between the 'earlier' and 'later' Chasidim, and the origin of the sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Comparing the sentences of the earlier Chasidim (Ab. i. 2-4) with those which follow, we notice a marked simplicity about them, while the others either indicate a rapid development of Rabbinism, or are echoes of the political relations subsisting, or else seems to allude to present difficulties or controversies. We infer that the 'earlier' Chasidim represented the 'pious' in Israel - of course, according to the then standpoint - who, in opposition to the Grecian party, rallied around Judas Maccabee and his successor, Jonathan. The assumption of the High-Priestly dignity by Jonathan the Maccabee, on the nomination of the Syrian king (about 152), was a step which the ultra orthodox party never forgave the Asmonĉans. From that period, therefore, we date the alienation of the Chasidim - or rather the cessation of the 'earlier' Chasidim. Henceforth, the party, as such, degenerated, or, to speak more correctly, ran into extreme religious views, which made them the most advanced section of the Pharisees.17 The latter and the Sadducees henceforth represented the people in its twofold religious direction. With this view agrees the statement of Josephus (Ant. xiii.5. 9), who first mentions the existence of Pharisees and Sadducees in the time of Jonathan, and even the confused notice in Aboth de Rabbi Nathan 5, which ascribes the origin of the Sadducees to the first or second generation of Zadok's disciples, himself a disciple of Antigonus of Socho, which would bring the date to nearly the same time as Josephus.16. We regard the opening sentence of Abhoth as marking out the general principles and aims of the so-called 'Great Assembly.'
17. A somewhat analogous change, at least of theological opinions, distinguishes the later from the earlier 'Puritans.' Theological schools which are partly political in their early history often degenerate either into political partisans or else into extreme sectaries, as either one or the other of their rationes vivendi ceases.
From this digression, necessary for the proper understanding of the internal relations in Judĉa, we return to the political history. There was another change on the throne of Syria. Demetrius, the new king readily listened to the complaints of a Jewish deputation, and appointed their leader, Alcimus (Jakim or Eljakim) High-Priest. At first the Chasidin were disposed to support him, as having formerly filled a high post in the priesthood, and as the nephew of José the son of Jazer, one of their leaders. But they suffered terribly for their rashness. Aided by the Syrians, Alcimus seized the Pontificate. But Judas once more raised the national standard against the intruder and the allies. At first victory seemed to incline to the national side, and the day of the final defeat and slaughter of the Syrian army and of Nicanor their general was enrolled in the Jewish Calendar as one on which fasting and mourning were prohibited (the 13th Adar, or March). Still, the prospect was far from reassuring, the more so as division had already appeared in the ranks of the Jews. In these circumstances Judas directed his eyes towards the new Western power which was beginning to overshadow the East. It was a fatal step - the beginning of all future troubles - and, even politically, a grave mistake, to enter into a defensive and offensive alliance with Rome. But before even more temporary advantage could be derived from this measure, Judas the Maccabee had already succumbed to superior numbers, and heroically fallen in battle against the Syrians.
The war of liberation had lasted seven years, and yet when the small remnant of the Asmonĉan party chose Jonathan, the youngest brother of Judas, as his successor, their cause seemed more hopeless than almost at any previous period. The Grecian party were dominant in Judĉa, the Syrian host occupied the land and Jonathan and his adherents were obliged to retire to the other side Jordan. The only hope, if such it may be called, lay in the circumstances that after the death of Alcimus the Pontificate was not filled by another Syrian nominee, but remained vacant for two years. During this time the nationalists must have gained strength, since the Grecian party now once more sought and obtained Syrian help against them. But the almost passive resistance which Jonathan successfully offered wearied out the Syrian general and led to a treaty of peace (1 Macc. ix. 58-73).In the period which followed, the Asmonĉan party steadily increased, so that when a rival king claimed the Syrian crown, both pretenders bade for the support of Jonathan. He took the side of the new monarch, Alexander Balas, who sent him a crown of gold and a purple mantle, and appointed him High-Priest, a dignity which Jonathan at once accepted.18 The Jewish Pontiff was faithful to his patron even against a new claimant to the crown of Syria.19 And such was his influence, that the latter, on gaining possession of the throne, not only forgave the resistance of Jonathan, but confirmed him in the Pontificate, and even remitted the taxation of Palestine on a tribute (probably annual) of 300 talents. But the faithlessness and ingratitude of the Syrian king led Jonathan soon afterwards to take the side of another Syrian pretender, an infant, whose claims were ostensibly defended by his general Trypho. In the end, however, Jonathan's resistance to Trypho's schemes for obtaining the crown for himself led to the murder of the Jewish High-Priest by treachery.18. The Pharisees never forgave this. It is quite true that this plea for their opposition to the Asmonĉans is for the first time reported during a later reign - that of John Hyrcanus I. - and that it was then ostensibly based on the ground of Hyrcanus' mother having been a captive of war. But see our remarks on this point further on.
19. The story, however, differently told by Josephus (Ant. Xiii. 4. 3). I have followed the account in 1 Macc., which is generally regarded as the more trustworthy, though I am not without misgivings, since Josephus evidently had the Book of Maccabees before him.
The government of Judĉa could not, in these difficult times, have developed upon one more fitted for it than Simon, an elder brother of Judas Maccabee. His father had, when making his dying disposition, already designated him 'as the man of counsel' among his sons (1 Macc. ii. 65). Simon's policy lay chiefly in turning to good account the disputes in Syria, and in consolidating such rule as he had acquired (143-135 b.c.). After the murder of his brother by Trypho, he took part of the Syrian claimant (Demetrius) to whom Trypho was opposed. Demetrius was glad to purchase his support by a remission of all taxation for all time to come. This was the first great success, and the Jews perpetuated its memory by enrolling its anniversary (the 27th Iyar, or May) in their Calendar. An even more important date, alike in the 'Calendar' (Meg. Taan. Per. 2) and in Jewish history (1 Macc. xiii. 51), was the 23rd Iyar, when the work of clearing the country of the foreigner was completed by the Syrian party. The next measures of Simon were directed to the suppression of the Grecian party in Judĉa, and the establishments of peace and security to his own adherents. To the popular mind this 'Golden Age' described in glowing language in 1 Macc. xiv. 8-14, seemed to culminate in an event by which the national vanity was gratified and the future safety of their country apparently ensured. This was the arrival of a Roman embassy in Judĉa to renew the league which had already been made both by Judas Maccabee and by Jonathan. Simon replied by sending a Jewish embassy to Rome, which brought a valuable shield of gold in token of gratitude. In their intoxication the Jews passed a decree, and engraved it on tables of brass, making Simon 'their High-Priest and a Governor forever, until there should arise a faithful prophet;' in other words, appointing him to the twofold office of spiritual and secular chief, and declaring it hereditary (1 Macc. xiv. 41-45). The fact that he should have been appointed to dignities which both he and his predecessor had already held, and that offices which in themselves were hereditary should now be declared such in the family of Simon, as well as the significant limitation: 'until there should arise a faithful prophet,' sufficiently indicate that there were dissensions among the people and opposition to the Asmonĉans. In truth, as the Chasidim had already had been alienated, so there was a growing party among the Pharisees, their successors, whose hostility to the Asmonĉans increased till it developed into positive hatred. This antagonism was, however, not grounded on their possession of the secular power, but on their occupancy of the Pontificate, perhaps on their combination of the two offices. How far their enmity went, will appear in the sequel. For a time it was repressed by the critical state of affairs. For, the contest with the Syrians had to be once more renewed, and although Simon, or rather his sons, obtained the victory, the aged High-Priest and two of his sons, Mattathias and Judas, fell by the treachery of Ptolomĉus, Simon's son-in-law.
The Pontificate and the government now developed upon the only one of Simon's sons still left, known as John Hyrcanus I. (Jochanan Horkenos,20 Jannai21), 135-105 b.c. His first desire naturally was to set free his mother, who was still in the power of Ptolomĉus, and to chastise him for his crimes. But in this he failed. Ptolemy purchased immunity by threatening to kill his captive, and afterwards treacherously slew her. Soon after this a Syrian army besieged Jerusalem. The City was reduced to great straits. But when at the Feast of Tabernacles the Syrian king not only granted a truce to the besieged, but actually provided them with what was needed for the services of the Temple, Hyrcanus sought and obtained peace, although the Syrian councillors urged their king to use the opportunity for exterminating Jerusalem. The conditions, though hard, were not unreasonable in the circumstances. But fresh troubles in Syria gave a more favourable turn to affairs in Judĉa. First, Hyrcanus subjected Samaria, and then conquered Idumĉa, whose inhabitants he made proselytes by giving them the alternative of circumcision or exile. Next, the treaty with the Romans was renewed, and finally Hyrcanus availed himself of the rapid decay of the Syrian monarchy to throw off his allegiance to the foreigner. Jewish exclusiveness was further gratified by the utter destruction of Samaria, of which the memorial-day (the 25th Marcheshvan, November) was inserted in the festive 'Calendar' (Meg. Taan. Per. 8).22 Nor was this the only date which his successors added to the calendar of national feasts.2320. The derivation of the name Hyrcanus, or in Rabbinical writings Horqenos, proposed by Grätz (Geesch. d. Juden. vol. ii. p. 55), and supported by Hamburger (Real. Encycl. für Bibel u. Talmud, sect ii. p. 421, note 15) is untenable, in view of the fact, that not a few Rabbinical authorities bore the same name (comp. Ab. ii. 8; Sanh. 68 a). It could not, therefore, the victory of Hyrcanus 'over Cendebœus, the Hyrcanian.'
21. The name Jannai is supposed to have been an abbreviation of Jochanan. Many Rabbinic teachers of that name are mentioned. Derenbourg (Hist. de la Palest. p. 95) regards it as an abbreviation of Jonathan, but his reasoning is not convincing.
22. According to Jer. Soath ix. 13, and Sot. 33 a, a 'Bath Qol,' or Heavenly Voice, issuing from the Most Holy Place, had announced to Hyrcanus, while officiating in the Temple, the victory of his sons at Samaria. Josephus (Ant. xiii. 10. 7), assigns on this ground to Hyrcanus the prophetic, as well as the priestly and royal, title.
23. These are the 15th and 16th Sivan, the 16th Adar, and the 7th Iyar. Comp. the Meg. Taan.
But his reign is of the deepest importance in our history as marking the first public contest between the great parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and also as the turning-point in the history of the Maccabees. Even the coins of that period are instructive. They bear the inscription: 'Jochanan, the High-Priest, and the Chebher of the Jews; 'or else, 'Jochanan the High-Priest, Chief, and the Chebher of the Jews.'24 The term Chebher, which on the coins occurs only in connection with 'High-Priest,' unquestionably refers, not to the Jewish people generally, but to them in their ecclesiastical organisation, and points therefore to the acknowledgment of an 'Eldership,' or representative body, which presided over affairs along with and under the 'High-Priest' as 'Chief.'25 In this respect the presence or absence of the word 'Chebher,' or even mention of the Jews, might afford hints as to the relationship of a Maccabee chief to the ecclesiastical leaders of the people. It has already been explained that the Chasidim, viewed as the National party, had ceased, and that the leaders were now divided into Pharisees and Sadducees. By tradition and necessity Hyrcanus belonged to the former, by tendency and. probably, inclination to the later. His interference in religious affairs was by no means to the liking of the Pharisees, still less to that of their extreme sectaries, the Chasidim. Tradition ascribes to Hyrcanus no less than nine innovations, of which only five were afterwards continued as legal ordinances. First, the payment of tithes (both of the Levitical and the so-called 'poor's tithe') was declared no longer obligatory on a seller, if he were one of the Am ha-Arets, or country people, but on the buyer.26 Complaints had long been made that this heavy impost was not paid by the majority of the common people, and it was deemed better to devote the responsibility on the buyer, unless the seller were what was called 'neeman,' trusted; i.e., one who had solemnly bound himself to pay tithes. In connection with this, secondly, the declaration ordered in Deut. 26:3-10 was abrogated as no longer applicable. Thirdly, all work that caused noise was forbidden during the days intermediate between the first and the last great festive days of the Passover and of the Feast of Tabernacles. Fourthly, the formula: 'Awake, why sleepest Thou, O Lord' (Ps. 44:23), with which, since the Syrian persecution, the morning service in the Temple had commenced, was abolished. Fifthly, the cruel custom of wounding the sacrificial animals on the head was prohibited and rings fastened in the pavement to which the animals were attached (Jer. Maas. Sh. v. 9; Jer. Sot. ix. 11; Tos. Sot. 13; Sotah 48 a). The four ordinances of Hyrcanus which were abolished referred to the introduction in official documents, after the title of the High-Priest, of the expression 'El Elyon' - the Most High God; to the attempt to declare the Syrian and Samaritan towns liable to tithes (implying their virtual incorporation) while according to an old principle, this obligation only applied when a place could be reached from Judea without passing over heathen soil; to the abrogation by Hyrcanus of a former enactment by Jose ben Joezer, which discouraged emigration by declaring all heathen soil defiled, and which rendered social intercourse with Gentiles impossible by declaring vessels of glass capable of contracting Levitical defilement (Jer. Shabb. 1. 4; Shabb.14 b) - and which was re-enacted; and, lastly, to the easy terms on which the King had admitted the Idumĉans into the Jewish community.24. Schürer (Neutest. Zeitg. p. 113) does not give this inscription correctly. Comp. Levy, Gesch. d. Jud. Munzen, pp. 52, 53. See especially Madden. 'Coins of the Jews,' pp. 74-81, where all the varieties of inscription are given.
25. We dismiss the fanciful readings and explanations of the word rbx by De Saulcy and Ewald. But I cannot agree with Schürer in applying it to the people as a whole. Even the passage which he quotes (Ber, iv. 7, with which the corresponding Gemara should be compared), proves that the word is not used loosely for the people, but with reference to their ecclesiastical nexus. Comp, also Meg. 27 b.
26. Comp. 'Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Time of Christ,' pp. 233, 234.
From all this it is not difficult to from an idea of the relations between Hyrcanus and the Pharisees. If Hyrcanus had not otherwise known of the growing aversion of the Pharisees, a Sadducean friend and councillor kept him informed, and turned it to account for his party. The story of the public breach between Hyrcanus and the Pharisees is told by Josephus (Ant. xiii. 10. 5, 6), and in the Talmud (Kidd. 66 a), with only variations of names and details. Whether from a challenge thrown out to the Pharisees (according to the Talmud), or in answer to a somewhat strange request by Hyrcanus, to point out any part of his conduct which was not in accordance with the law (so Josephus), one of the extreme section of the Pharisees,27 at a feast given to the party, called upon Hyrcanus to be content with secular power, and to resign the Pontificate, on the ground that he was disqualified for it, because his mother had been a captive of war. Even the Talmud admits that this report was calumnious, while it offered a gratuitous insult to the memory of a really noble heroic woman, all the more unwarrantable that the Pontificate had, by public decree, been made the case if the charge now brought had been other than a pretext to cover the hostility of the Chasidim. The rash avowal was avenged on the whole party. In the opinion of Hyrcanus they all proved themselves accomplishes, when, on being questioned, they declared the offender only guilty of 'stripes and bonds.' Hyrcanus now joined the Sadducees, and although the statement of the Talmud about the slaughter of the leading Pharisees is incorrect, there can be no doubt that they were removed from power and exposed to persecution. The Talmud adds this, which, although chronologically incorrect, is significant, 'Jochanan the High-Priest served in the Pontificate eighty years, and at the end of them he became a Sadducee.' But this was only the beginning of troubles to the Pharisaic party, which revenged itself by most bitter hatred - the beginning, also of the decline of the Maccabees.27. Josephus calls him Eleazar, but the Talmud (Kidd. 66 a) Jehudah ben Gedidim, for which Hamburger would read Nedidim, the sect of 'the solitaries,' which he regards as another designation for the extreme Chasidim.
Hyrcanus left five sons. To the oldest of them, Aristobulus (in Hebrew Jehudah),he bequeathed the Pontificate, but appointed his own widow to succeed him in the secular government. But Aristobulus cast his mother into prison, where she soon afterwards perished - as the story went, by hunger. The only one of his brothers whom he had left at large, and who, indeed, was his favourite, soon fell also a victim to his jealous suspicions. Happily his reign lasted only one year (105-104 b.c.). He is described as openly favouring the Grecian party, although, on conquering Iturĉa, a district east of Lake of Galilee,28 he obliged its inhabitants to submit to circumcision.28. By a curious mistake, Schürer locates Iturĉa north instead of east of the Lake of Galilee, and speaks of 'Jewish tradition' as drawing such a dark picture of Aristobulus. Dr. S. must refer to Josephus, since Jewish tradition never named Aristobulus (Neuest. Zeitg. p. 118).
On the death of Aristobulus. I., his widow, Alexandra Salome, released his brothers from prison, and apparently married the eldest of them, Alexander Jannĉus (or in Hebrew Jonathan), who succeeded both to the Pontificate and the secular government. The three periods of his reign (104-78 b.c.) seem indicated in the varying inscriptions on his coins.29 The first period, which lasted eight or ten years, was that in which Jannai was engaged in those wars of conquest, which added the cities on the maritime coast to his possessions.30 During the time Salome seems to have managed internal affairs. As she was devoted to the Pharisaic party - indeed one of their leaders, Simeon ben Shetach, is said to have been her brother (Ber.18 a) - this was the time of their ascendency. Accordingly, the coins of that period bear the inscription, 'Jonathan the High-Priest and the Chebher of the Jews.' But on his return to Jerusalem he found the arrogance of the Pharisaic party ill accordant with his own views and tastes. The king now joined the Sadducees, and Simeon ben Shetach had to seek safety in flight (Jer. Ber. vii. 2 p. 11 b). But others of his party met a worse fate. A terrible tragedy was enacted in the Temple itself. At the Feast of Tabernacles Jannai, officiating as High-Priest, set the Pharisaic custom at open defiance by pouring the water out of the sacred vessel on the ground instead of upon the altar. Such a high-handed breach of what was regarded as most sacred, excited the feelings of the worshippers to the highest pitch of frenzy. They pelted him with the festive Ethrogs (citrons), which they carried in their hands, and loudly reproached him with his descent from 'a captive.' The king called in his foreign mercenaries, and no fewer than 6,000 of the people fell under their swords. This was an injury which could neither be forgiven nor atoned for by conquests. One insurrection followed after the other, and 5,000 of the people are said to have fallen in these contests. Weary of the strife, Jannai asked the Pharisaic party to name their conditions of peace, to which they caustically replied, 'Thy death' (Jos. Ant. xiii. 13. 5). Indeed, such was the embitterment that they actually called in, and joined the Syrians against him. But the success of the foreigner produced a popular revulsion in his favour, of which Jannai profited to take terrible vengeance of his opponents. No fewer than 800 of them were nailed to the cross, their sufferings being intensified by seeing their wives and children butchered before their eyes, while the degenerate Pontiff lay feasting with abandoned women. A general flight of the Pharisees ensued. This closes the second period of his reign, marked on the coin by the significant absence of the words 'Chebher of the Jews.' the words being on one side in Hebrew, 'Jonathan the king,' and on the other in Greek, 'Alexander the King.'29. For the coins of that reign comp. Madden, u. s. pp. 83-93. I have however arranged them somewhat differently.
30. According, on the second series of coins, which date from his return to Jerusalem, and breach with the Pharisees, we have on the reverse the device of an anchor with two cross-bars.
The third period is marked by coins which bear the inscription 'Jehonathan the High-Priest and the Jews.' It was a period of outward military success, and of reconciliation with the Pharisees, or at least of their recall - notable of Simeon ben Shetach, and then of his friends - probably at the instigation of the queen (Ber. 48 a; Jer. vii. 2). Jannai died in his fiftieth year, after a reign of twenty-seven years, bequeathing the government to his wife Salome. On his death-bed he is said to have advised her to promote the Pharisees, or rather such of them as made not their religiousness a mere pretext intrigue: 'Be not afraid of the Pharisees, nor of those of Zimri, and seek the reward of Phinehas' (Sot. 22 b). But of chief interest to us is, that this period of the recall of the Pharisees marks a great internal change, indicated even in the coins. For the first time we now meet the designation 'Sanhedrin.' The Chebher, or eldership, had ceased as a ruling power, and become transformed into a Sanhedrin, or ecclesiastical authority although the latter endeavoured, with more or less success, to arrogate to itself civil jurisdiction, at least in ecclesiastical matters.3131. Jewish tradition, of course, vindicates a much earlier origin for the Sanhedrin, and assumes its existence not only in the time of Moses, David, and Solomon, but even in that of Mordecai! (Comp. Buxtorf, Lex. Chald. Talmud col. 1514.)
The nine years of Queen Alexandra's (in Hebrew Salome) reign were the Golden Age of the Pharisees, when heaven itself smiled on a land that was wholly subject to their religious sway. In the extravagant language of the Talmud (Tann. 23 a, second line from top): 'In the days of Simeon ben Shetach, the rains came down in the nights of fourth days,32 and on those of the Sabbaths, so that the grains of corn became like kidneys, those of barley the stones of olives, and lentils like gold dinars, and they preserved a specimen (dogma) of them for future generations to show them what disastrous result may follow upon sin.' That period of miraculous blessing was compared to the equally miraculous dispensation of heaven during the time that the Temple of Herod was building, when rain only fell at night, while the morning wind and heat dried all, so that the builders could continue their work without delay.33 Queen Salome had appointed her eldest son, Hyrcanus II., a weak prince, to the Pontificate. But, as Josephus puts it (Am. xiii. 16. 2), although Salome had the title, the Pharisees held the real rule of the country, and they administered it with the harshness, insolence, and recklessness of a fanatical religious party which suddenly obtains unlimited power. The lead was, of course, taken by Simeon ben Shetach, whom even the Talmud characterises as having 'hot hands' (Jer. Sanh. vi. 5,34 p. 23 b). First, all who were suspected of Sadducean leaning were removed by intrigue or violence form the Sanhedrin. Next, previous ordinances differing from Pharisaical views were abrogated, and others breathing their spirit substituted. So sweeping and thorough was the change wrought, that the Sadducees never recovered the blow, and whatever they might teach, yet those in office were obligated in all time coming to conform to Pharisaic practice (Jos. Ant. xviii. 1.4; Tos Yoma i. 8).32. In quoting this passage, Derenbourg (u. s. p 111) and Schürer leave out these words. [They are omitted in the corresponding account of this story in Vayy. R. 35, ed. Warsh. p. 54 a; in Siphré, ed. Friedmann, p. 80 a; also in Siphra, ed. Weiss, p. 110 d, where the whole connected is very much as in Vavy. R.] Yet the words are, in one sense, most significant, since these fertilising rains, descending on these two nights when it was specially forbidden to go out, since on them innumerable demons haunted on the air (Pes. 112 b, line 10 from the bottom), indicated an exceptional blessing. The reason why these two nights are singled out as dangerous is, that Chanina b. Dosa, of whom Rabbinic tradition has so many miracles to relate, conceded them to the hurtful sway of Agrath bath Machlath and her 18 myriads of Angels. See App. 13 In view of this, M. Derenbourg's explanatory note would seem to require to be modified. But, in general, rain even on the night before the Sabbath was regarded as a curse (Vayy. R. 35), and it has been ingeniously suggested that the twy(ykr in the Midrash must be taken in the sense in which that word is explained in Taan. 6 a, viz. as the ordinary time of rain. Why the night before Wednesday and Friday night are represented as left in the power of hurtful demons might open an interesting field for speculation.
33. This notice is followed by the somewhat blasphemous story of the achievements of Choni (Onias) hammeaggel, to which reference will be made in the sequel.
But the Pharisaic party were not content with dogmatical victories, even though they celebrated each of them by the insertion in the Calendar of a commemorative feast-day. Partly, 'to discourage the Sadducees,' partly from the supposed 'necessities of the time, and to teach others' (to make an example; Siphré on Deut.), they carried their principles even beyond their utmost inferences, and were guilty of such injustice and cruelty, that, according to tradition, Simeon even condemned his own innocent son to death, for the sake of logical consistency.35 On the other hand, the Pharisaic party knew how to flatter the queen, by introducing a series of ordinances which protected the rights of married women and rendered divorce more difficult.36 The only ordinance of Simeon ben Shetach, which deserves permanent record, is that which enjoined regular school attendance by all children, although it may have been primarily intended to place the education of the country in the hands of the Pharisees. The general discontent caused by the tyranny of the Pharisees must have rallied most of the higher classes to the party of the Sadducees. It led at last to remonstrance with the queen, and was probably the first occasion of that revolt of Aristobulus, the younger son of Salome, which darkened the last days of her reign.35. Comp. also Sanh. 46 a.
36. Comp. Derenbourg, pp. 108, 109.
Salome died (in the beginning of 69 b.c.) before the measures proposed against Aristobulus could be carried out. Although Hyrcanus II. now united the royal office with the Pontificate, his claims were disputed by his brother Aristobulus II., who conquered, and obliged his brother to abdicate in his favour his twofold dignity. To cement their reconciliation, Alexander the son of Aristobulus married Alexandra the daughter of Hyrcanus. They little thought how ill-fated that union would prove. For already another power was intriguing to interpose in Jewish affairs, with which it was henceforth to be identified. Alexander Hannai had appointed one Antipas, or Antipater - of whose origin the most divergent accounts are given37 - to the governorship of Idumĉa. He was succeeded by a son of the same name. The dissension between the two Asmonĉans seemed to offer the opportunity for realising his ambitious schemes. Of course, he took the part of the weak Hyrcanus as against the warlike Aristobulus, and persuaded the former that he was in danger of his life. Ultimately he prevailed on him to fly to Aretas, King of Arabia, who, in consideration of liberal promises, undertook to reinstate Hyrcanus in the government. The Arab army proved successful, and was joined by a large proportion of the troops of Aristobulus, who was not shut up within the fortified Temple-buildings. To add to the horrors of war, a long famine desolated the land. It was during its prevalence that Onias, reputed for his omnipotence in prayer, achieved what procured for him the designation 'hammeaggel' - the 'circle drawer.'38 When his prayer for rain remained unanswered, he drew a circle around him, declaring his determination not to leave it till the Almighty had granted rain, and that not in drops, nor yet in desolating floods (which successively happened), but in copious, refreshing showers. It could serve no good purpose to reproduce the realistic manner in which this supposed power of the Rabbi with God is described (Taan. 23 a). But it were difficult to say whether this is more repugnant to feelings of reverence, or the reported reproof of Simeon ben Shetach, who forbore to pronounce the ban upon him because he was like a spoilt child who might ask anything of his father, and would obtain it. But this supposed power ultimately proved fatal to Onias during the siege of Jerusalem by Hyrcanus and Aretas.39 Refusing to intercede either for one or the other of the rival brothers, he was stoned to death (Ant. xiv. 2. 1).37. According to some (Ant. xiv. 1. 3), he was of noble Jewish, according to others, or heathen and slave descent. The truth lies probably between these extremes.
38. It almost seems as if this repugnant story were a sort of Jewish Imitation of the circle which Popilius Lĉnas drew around Antiochus Epiphanes, bidding him decide, ere he left it, whether or not he would comply with the demand of the Romans.
39. Both Josephus and the Talmud (Sotah 49 b) give an account, though in different version, of the manner in which the besieged sought a supply of sacrifices from the besiegers.
But already another power had appeared on the scene. Pompey was on his victorious march through Asia when both parties appeal to him for help. Scaurus, whom Pompey detached to Syria, was, indeed, bought by Aristobulus, and Aretas was ordered to raise the siege of Jerusalem. But Pompey quickly discovered that Hyrcanus might, under the tutelage of the cunning Idumĉan, Antipater, prove an instrument more likely to serve his ulterior purposes than Aristobulus. Three deputations appeared before Pompey at Damascus - those of the two brothers, and one independent of both, which craved the abolition of the Asmonĉan rule and the restoration of the former mode of government, as we understand it, by the 'Chebher' or Eldership under the presidency of the High-Priest. It need scarcely be said that such a demand would find no response. The consideration of the rival claims of the Asmonĉans Pompey postponed. The conduct of Aristobulus not only confirmed the unfavourable impression which the insolent bearing of his deputies had made on Pompey, but sealed his own fate and that of the Jewish people. Pompey laid siege to Jerusalem. The adherents of Hyrcanus surrendered the City, but those of Aristobulus retired into the Temple. At last the sacred precincts were taken by storm amidst fearful carnage. The priests, who were engaged in their sacred functions,40 and who continued them during this terrible scene, were cut down at the altar. No fewer than 12,000 Jews are said to have perished.40. According to Josephus, it was on the Day of Atonement; according to Dio Cassius, apparently on a Sabbath. Comp. the remarks of Derenbourg on these conflicting statements (u. s. p. 117, note).
With the taking of Jerusalem by Pompey (63 b.c.) the history of the Maccabees as a reigning family, and, indeed, that of the real independence of Palestine, came to an end. So truly did Jewish tradition realise this, that it has left us not a single notice either of this capture of Jerusalem or of all the subsequent sad events to the time of Herod. It is as if their silence meant that for them Judĉa, in its then state, had no further history. Still, the Roman conquerer had as yet dealt gently with his prostrate victim. Pompey had, indeed, penetrated into the most Holy Place in contemptuous outrage of the most sacred feelings of Israel; but he left the treasure of the Temple untouched, and even made provision for the continuance of its services. Those who had caused the resistance of Jerusalem were executed, and the country made tributary to Rome. But Judĉa not only became subject to the Roman Governor of Syria, its boundaries were also narrowed. All the Grecian cities had their independence restored; Samaria was freed from Jewish supremacy; and the districts comprised within the so-called Decapolis (or 'ten cities') again obtained self-government. It was a sadly curtailed land over which Hyrcanus II., as High-Priest, was left Governor, without being allowed to wear the diadem (Ant. xx. 10). Aristobulus II. had to adorn as captive the triumphal entry of the conquerer into Rome.4141. The captives then brought to Rome and sold as slaves became the nucleus of the Jewish community in the imperial city.
The civil rule of Hyrcanus as Ethnarch must from the first have been very limited. It was still more contracted when, during the Proconsulate of Ganinius (57-55 b.c.),42 Alexander, a son of Aristobulus, who had escaped from captivity, tried to possess himself of the government of Judĉa (Ant. xiv. 5. 2-4). The office of Hyrcanus was now limited to the Temple, and the Jewish territory, divided into five districts, was apportioned among five principal cities, ruled by a council of local notables (aristoi). Thus, for a short time, monarchical gave place to aristocratic government in Palestine. The renewed attempts of Aristobulus or of his family to recover power only led to fresh troubles, which were sadly diversified by the rapacity and severity of the Romans. The Triumvir Crassus, who succeeded Gabinius (55-53 b.c.), plundered the Temple not only of its treasures but of its precious vessels. A new but not much happier era began with Julius Cĉsar. If Aristobulus and his son Alexander had not fallen victims to the party of Pompey, the prospects of Hyrcanus and Antipater might now have been very unpromising. But their death and that of Pompey (whom they had supported) changed the aspect of matters. Antipater not only espoused the cause of the victor of Pharsalus, but made himself eminently useful to Cĉsar. In reward, Hyrcanus was confirmed as Pontiff and Ethnarch of Judĉa, while Antipater was made a Roman citizen and nominated Epitrophos, or (Roman) administrator of the country. Of course, the real power was in the hands of the Idumĉan, who continued to hold it, despite the attempts of Antigonus, the only surviving son of Aristobulus. And from henceforth Cĉsar made it part of his policy to favour the Jews (comp. the decrees in their favour, Ant. xiv. 10).42. Comp. the masterly survey of the state of matters in Syria and Judĉa in Marquardt, Handb. d. Rom. Alterth., vol. iv. pp. 247-260.
Meantime Antipater had, in pursuance of his ambitious plans, appointed his son Phasael Governor of Jerusalem, and Herod Governor of Galilee. The latter, although only twenty-five years of age, soon displayed the vigour and sternness which characterised his after-career. He quelled what probably was a 'nationalist' rising in Galilee, in the blood of Ezekias, its leader, and of his chief associates. This indeed secured him the favour of Sextus Cĉsar, the Governor of Syria, a relative of the great Imperator. But in Jerusalem, and among the extreme Pharisaic party, it excited the utmost indignation. They foresaw the advent of a foe most dangerous to their interests and liberty, and vainly sought to rid themselves of him. It was argued that the government of the country was in the hands of the High-Priest, and that Herod, as Governor of Galilee, appointed by a foreign administrator, had no right to pronounce capital punishment without a sentence of the Sanhedrin. Hyrcanus yielded to the clamour; but Herod appeared before the Sanhedrin, not as a criminal, but arrayed in purple, surrounded by a body-guard, and supported by the express command of Sextus Cĉsar to acquit him. The story which is related, though in different version, and with different names, in the Talmud (Sanh. 19 a), and by Josephus (Ant. xiv. 9. 3-5), presents a vivid picture of what passed in the Sanhedrin. The appearance of Herod had so terrified that learned body that none ventured to speak, till their president, Shemajah (Sameas), by his bold speech, rallied their courage. Most truly did he foretell the fate which overtook them ten years later, when Herod ruled in the Holy City. But Hyrcanus adjourned the meeting of the Sanhedrin, and persuaded Herod to withdraw from Jerusalem. His was, however, only a temporary humiliation. Sextus Cĉsar named Herod Governor of Cœle-Syria, and he soon appeared with an army before Jerusalem, to take vengeance on Hyrcanus and the Sanhedrin. The entreaties of his father and brother induced him, indeed, to desist for the time, but ten years later alike Hyrcanus and the members of the Sanhedrin fell victims to his revenge.
Another turn of affairs seemed imminent when Cĉsar fell under the daggers of the conspirators (15 March, 44), and Cassius occupied Syria. But Antipater and Herod proved as willing and able to serve him as formerly Cĉsar. Antipater, indeed, perished through a court - or perhaps a 'Nationalist' plot, but his murderers soon experienced the same fate at the hands of those whom Herod had hired for the purpose. And still the star of Herod seemed in the ascendant. Not only did he repel attempted inroads by Antigonus, but when Antonius and Octavianus (in 42 b.c.) took the place of Brutus and Cassius, he succeeded once more in ingratiating himself with the former, on whom the government of Asis devolved. The accusations made by Jewish deputation had no influence on Antony. Indeed, he went beyond his predecessors in appointing Phasael and Herod tetrarchs of Judĉa. Thus the civil power was now nominally as well as really in their hands. But the restless Antigonus was determined not to forego his claim. When the power of Antony was fast waning, in consequence of his reckless indulgences, Antigonus seized the opportunity of the incursion of the Parthians into Asia Minor to attend the great object of his ambition. In Jerusalem the adherents of the two parties were engaged in daily conflicts, when a Parthian division appeared. By treachery Phasael and Hyrcanus were lured into the Parthian camp, and finally handed over to Antigonus. Herod, warned in time, had escaped from Jerusalem with his family and armed adherents. Of his other opponents Antigonus made sure. To unfit Hyrcanus for the Pontificate his ears were cut off, while Phasael destroyed himself in prison. Antigonus was now undisputed High-Priest and king. His brief reign of three years (40-37 b.c.) is marked by coins which bear in Hebrew the device: Matthatjah the High-Priest, and in Greek: King Antigonus.
The only hope of Herod lay in Roman help. He found Antony in Rome. What difficulties there were, were removed by gold, and when Octavian gave his consent, a decree of the Senate declared Antigonus the enemy of Rome, and at the same time appointed Herod King of Judĉa (40 b.c.). Early in the year 39 b.c. Herod was in Palestine to conquer his new kingdom by help of the Romans. But their aid was at first tardy and reluctant, and it was 38, or more probably 37, before Herod could gain possession of Jerusalem itself. Before that he had wedded the beautiful and unhappy Mariamme, the daughter of Alexander and granddaughter of Hyrcanus, to whom he had been betrothed five years before. His conquered capital was desolate indeed, and its people impoverished by exactions. But Herod had reached the goal of his ambition. All opposition was put down, all rivalry rendered impossible. Antigonus was beheaded, as Herod had wished; the feeble and aged Hyrcanus was permanently disqualified for the Pontificate; and any youthful descendants of the Maccabees left were absolutely in the conqueror's power. The long struggle for power had ended, and the Asmonĉan family was virtually destroyed. Their sway had lasted about 130 years.
Looking back on the rapid rise and decline of the Maccabees, on their speedy degeneration, on the deeds of cruelty with which their history soon became stained, on the selfishness and reckless ambition which characterized them, and especially on the profoundly anti-nationalist and anti-Pharisaic, we had almost said anti-Jewish, tendency which marked their sway, we can understand the bitter hatred with which Jewish tradition had followed their memory. The mention of them is of the scantiest. No universal acclamation glorifies even the deeds of Judas the Maccabee; no Talmudic tractate is devoted to that 'feast of the dedication' which celebrated the purging of the Temple and the restoration of Jewish worship. In fact such was the feeling, that the priestly course of Joiarib - to which the Asmonĉans belonged - is said to have been on service when the first and the second Temple were destroyed, because 'guilt was to be punished on the guilty.' More than that, 'R. Levi saith: Yehoyaribh ["Jehovah will contend"], the man [the name of the man or family]; Meron ["rebellion," evidently a play upon Modin, the birthplace of the Maccabees], the town; Mesarbey ["the rebels," evidently a play upon Makkabey] - (masar beitha) He hath given up the Temple to the enemies.' Rabbi Berachjah saith: 'Yah heribh [Jehoiarib], God contended with His children, because they revolted and rebelled against Him' (Jer. Taan. iv. 8, p. 68 d, line 35 from bottom).43 Indeed, the opprobrious designation of rebellion, and Sarbaney El, rebels against God, became in course of time so identified with the Maccabees. that it was used when its meaning was no longer understood. Thus Origen (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. vi. 25) speaks of the (Apocryphal) books of the Maccabees as 'inscribed Sarbeth Sarbane El' (=tbrs l) ynbrs), the disobedience, or rebellion (resistance) of the disobedient, or rebels, against God.44 So thoroughly had these terms become identified in popular parlance, that even the tyranny and cruelty of a Herod could not procure a milder judgment on the sway of the Asmonĉans.43. Comp. Geiger, Urschrift, p. 204; Derenbourg, p. 119, note.
44. Comp. Geiger, u. s. p. 205, Note, Hamburger, u. s. p. 367. Various strange and most unsatisfactory explanations have been proposed of these mysterious words, which yet, on consideration, seem so easy of understanding. Comp. the curious explanations of Grimm, Ewald, and others, in Grimm's Exeget. hand. zu d. Apokryphen, 3te Life. p. xvii. Derenbourg (Hist. de la Palest. pp. 450-452) regards sarbhd as a corruption for safarbhd, and would render the whole by 'Book of the family of the Chief (r#) of the people of God.'
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