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frontier of Israel, between the inheritance of the half tribe of Manasseh on the other side of the Jordan, and the territory of Damascus.
A distemper obliged Aristobulus to return from Iturza to Jerusalem, and to leave the command of the army to his brother Antigonus, to make an end of the war he had begun. The queen and her cabal, who envied Antigonus the king's favour, took the advantage of his illness, to alienate the king against him by false reports and vile calumnies. Antigonus soon returned to Jerusalem, after the successes by which he had terminated the war. His entry was a kind of triumph. The feast of the tabernacles was then celebrating. He went directly to the temple with his guards, completely armed as he had entered the city, without giving himself time to change any part of his equipage. This was made a crime with the king; who, otherwise prejudiced against him, sent him orders to disarm himself, and come to him as soon as possible; conceiving, if he refused to obey, it was a proof of some bad design; and in that case he gave orders that he should be kil led. The person sent by Aristobulus was gained by the queen and her cabal, and told him the order quite differently; that the king desired to see him completely armed as he was. An.. tigonus went directly to wait on him; and the guards who saw him come in his arms, obeyed their orders, and killed him.
Aristobulus, having discovered all that had passed, was violently affected with it, and inconsolable for his death. Tormented with remorse of conscience for this murder, and that of his mother, he led a miserable life, and expired at last in the highest grief and despair.
REIGN OF ALEXANDER JANNEUS, WHICH CONTINUED
SALOME, the wife of Aristobulus *, immediately after his death, took the three princes out of the prison, into which they had been put by her husband. Alexander Jannæus, the eldest of the three, was crowned. He put his next brother to death, who had endeavoured to deprive him of the crown. As for the third, named Absalom, who was of a peaceable disposition, and who had no thoughts but of living in tranquillity as a
*A. M. 3899. Ant. J. C. 105. Joseph. Antiq. xiii. 20, Id. de bel Jud. 1. 3.
private person*, he granted him his favour, and protected him during his whole life. No more is said of him, than that he gave his daughter in marriage to the youngest son of his brother Alexander, and that he served him against the Romans at the siege of Jerusalem, in which he was made prison. er, 42 years after, when the temple was taken by Pompey.
Whilst all this passed, the two kings of Syria, of whom Grypus reigned at Antioch, and Antiochus of Cyzicum at Damascus, made a cruel war upon each other, although they were brothers. Cleopatra, and Alexander the youngest of her sons, reigned in Egypt, and Ptolemy Lathyrus the eldest in Cyprus. Alexander Jannæus, some time after he returned to Jerusalem, and had taken possession of the throne, had set a good army on foot, which passed the Jordan, and formed the siege of Gadara. At the end of ten months having made himself master of that city, he took several other very strong places, situated on the other side of the Jordan; but not being sufficiently upon his guard in his return, he was beat by the enemy, and lost 10,000 men, with all the spoils he had taken, and his own baggage. He returned to Jerusalem in the highest afflic tion for this loss, and the shame with which it was attended. He had even the mortification to see, that many people, instead of lamenting his misfortune, took a malignant joy in it; for, from the quarrel of Hyrcanus with the pharisees, they had always been the enemies of his house, and especially of this Alexander; and, as they had drawn almost the whole people into their party, they had so strongly prejudiced and inflamed them against him, that all the disorders and commotions, with which his whole reign was embroiled, flowed from this source.
†This loss, great as it was, did not prevent his going to seize Raphia and Anthedon, when he saw the coast of Gaza without defence, after the departure of Lathyrus. Those two posts, that were only a few miles from Gaza, keep it in a manner blocked up, which was what he proposed when he attacked them. He had never forgiven the inhabitants of Gaza, for calling in Lathyrus against him, and giving him troops, which had contributed to his gaining the fatal battle of Jordan, and he earnestly sought all occasions to avenge himself upon them. As soon as his affairs would permit, he came with a numerous army to besiege the city. Apollodorus, the governor of it, defended the place a whole year with a valour and prudence †A. M. 3904. Ant. J. C. 1oo.
* Joseph. Antiq. xiv. 8.
† A. M. 3906. Ant. J. C. 98.
that acquired him great reputation. His own brother Lysimachus could not see his glory without envy; and that base passion induced him to assassinate the governor. That wretch afterwards associated with some others as bad as himself, and surrendered the city to Alexander. Upon his entrance, it was thought by his behaviour and the orders he gave, that he intended to use his victory with clemency and moderation. But as soon as he saw himself master of all the posts, and that there was nothing to oppose him, he gave his soldiers permission to kill, plunder, and destroy; and immediately all the barbarity that could be imagined was exercised upon that unfortunate city. The pleasure of revenge cost him very dear; for the inhabitants of Gaza defended themselves like 'men in despair, and killed almost as many of his people as they were themselves. But at length he satiated his brutal revenge, and reduced that ancient and famous city to an heap of ruins; after which he returned to Jerusalem. This war employed him a year.
Some time after the people affronted him in the most heinous mannert. At the feast of the tabernacles, whilst he was in the temple, offering a solemn sacrifice in quality of highpriest, upon the altar of burnt-offerings, they threw lemons at his head, calling him a thousand injurious names, and amongst the rest giving him that of slave; a reproach which sufficiently argued that they looked upon him as unworthy of the crown and pontificate. This was an effect of what Eleazar had presumed to advance, that the mother of Hyrcanus had been a captive. These indignities enraged Alexander to such a degree, that he attacked those insolent people in person, at the head of his guards, and killed to the number of 6000 of them. Seeing how much the Jews were disaffected in regard to him, he was afraid to trust his person any longer to them, and used foreign troops for his guard, whom he caused to come from Pisidia and Cilicia. Of these he formed a body of 6000 men, that attended him every where.
When Alexander saw the storm which had rose against him a little appeased by the terror of the revenge he had taken for it, he turned his arms against the enemy abroad. After having obtained some advantages over them, he fell into an ambuscade, wherein he lost the greatest part of his army, and escaped himself with great difficulty. At his return to Jerusalem, the Jews, incensed at his defeat, revolted against him.
* A. M. 3907. A. M. 3909. A. M. 3910.
Ant. J. C. 97.
Ant C. 95.
Joseph. Antiq. xiii. 21.
| A. M. 3912. Ant. J. C. 92.
They flattered themselves, that they should find him so much weakened and dejected by his loss, that they should find no difficulty in completing his destruction, which they had long desired. Alexander, who wanted neither application nor valour, and who besides had a more than common capacity, soon found troops to oppose them. A civil war ensued between him and his subjects, which continued six years, and occasioned great misfortunes to both parties. The rebels were beaten and defeated upon many occasions.
Alexander having taken a city wherein many of them had shut themselves up, carried 800 of them to Jerusalem, and caused them all to be crucified in one day. When they were fixed to the cross, he ordered their wives and children to be brought out, and to have their throats cut before their faces. During this cruel execution, the king regaled his wives and concubines in a place from whence they saw all that passed; and this sight was to him and them the principal part of the entertainment. Horrid gratification! This civil war, during the six years that it lasted, had cost the lives of more than 50,000 men on the side of the rebels.
Alexander, after having put an end to it, undertook many other foreign expeditions with very great success. Upon his return to Jerusalem, he abandoned himself to intemperance and excess of wine, that brought a quartan ague upon him †, of which he died at three years end, after having reigned 27.
He left two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus; but he decreed by his will, that Alexandra his wife should govern the king. dom during her life, and choose which of her sons she thought fit to succeed her.
REIGN OF ALEXANDRA, THE WIFE OF ALEXANDER JANNEUS, WHICH CONTINUED NINE YEARS.
ACCORDING to the advice of her husband ‡ Alexandra submitted herself and her children to the power of the pharisees, declaring to them that in doing so she only conformed to the last will of her husband.
By this step she gained so much upon them, that forgetting their hatred for the dead, though they carried it during his life
* A. M. 3918. Ant. J. C. 86. †A. M. 3825. Ant. J. C. 25. A M. 3926. Ant. J. C. 78. Joseph. Antiq. xiii. 23, 24. et de bell. Jud. 1. 4.
as far as possible, they changed it on a sudden into a respect and veneration for his memory; and instead of the invectives and reproaches they had always abundantly vented against him, nothing was heard but praises and panegyrics, wherein they exalted immoderately the great actions of Alexander, by which the nation had been aggrandized, and its power, honour, and credit, much augmented. By this means they brought over the people so effectually, whom till then they had always irritated against him, that they celebrated his funeral with greater pomp and magnificence than that of any of his predecessors; and Alexandra, according to the intent of his will, was confirmed sovereign administratrix of the nation. We see from hence, that a blind and unlimited conformity to the power and will of the pharisees stood with them for every kind of merit, and made all failings, and even crimes, disappear as effectu. ally as if they had never been; which is very common with those who are fond of ruling.
When that princess saw herself well established, she caused her eldest son Hyrcanus to be received as high-priest: he was then near 30 years of age. According to her promise, she gave the administration of all important affairs to the pharisees. The first thing they did was to repeal the decree, by which John Hyrcanus, father of the two last kings, had abolished all their traditional constitutions, which were afterwards more generally received than ever. They persecuted with great cruelty all those who had declared themselves their enemies in the preceding reigns, without the queen's being able to prevent them; because she had tied up her own hands, by putting herself into those of the pharisees. She had seen in her husband's time what a civil war was, and the infinite misfortunes with which it is attended. She was afraid of kindling a new one; and not knowing any other means to prevent it, than to give way to the violence of those revengeful and inexorable men, she believed it necessary to suffer a less, by way of precaution against a greater evil.
What we have said upon this head may contribute very much to our having a right sense of the state of the Jewish nation, and of the characters of those who governed it.
The pharisees always continued their persecutions* against those who had opposed them under the late king. They made them accountable for all the faults and cruelties with which
* A. M. 3931. Ant. J. C. 73. Joseph. Antiq. xiii. 24. et de bell. Jud. 1, 4.