Page images
PDF
EPUB

committed to their command; and when they were come she made the following speech to them : “I believe you are not unacquainted that my husband was desirous Izates should succeed him in the government, and thought him worthy se to do. However, I wait your determination; for happy is he who receives a kingdom, not from a single person only, but from the willing suffrages of a great many." This she said in order to try those that were invited, and to discover their sentiments. Upon the hearing of which they first of all paid their homage to the queen, as their custom was, aud then they said, that “ they confirined the king's determination, and would submit to it; and they rejoiced that Izates's father had preferred bin before the rest of his brethren, as being agreeable to all their wishes; but that they were desirous first of all to slay his brethren and kinsinen, that so the government might come securely to Izates; because, if they were once destroyed, all that fear would be over which might arise from their hatred and envy to him." Helena replied to this, as that she returned them their thanks for their kindness to herself, and to Izates; but desired that they would however defer the execution of this slaughter of Izates's brethren till he should be there himself and give his approbation to it." So since these men had not prevailed with her, when they advised her to slay them, they ex. horted her at least to keep them in bonds till he should come, and that for their own security; they also gave her counsel to set up some one whom she could put the greatest trust in, as a governor of the kingdom in the mean time. So queen Helena complied with this counsel of theirs, and set up Monobazus, the eldest son, to be king, and put the diadem upon his head, and gave him his father's ring, with its eignet; as also the ornament which they call Sampser, and exhorted him to administer the affairs of the kingdom till his brother should come ; who came suddenly, upon his hearing that his father was dead, and succeeded his brother Monobazus, who resigned up the government to him

3. Now during the time Izates abode at Charax-Spasini, a certain Jewish merchant, whose name was Ananias, got among the women that belonged to the king, and taught them to worship God according to the Jewish religion. He, moreover, by their means, became known to Izates, and persuaded him in like manner to embrace that religion ; he also, at the earnest entreaty of Izates, accompanied him when he

was sent for by his father to come to Adiabene ; it also happened, that Helena, about the same time, was instruct. ed by a certain other Jew, and went over to them. But when Izates had taken the kingdom, and was come to Adiabene, and there saw his brethren and other kinsmen in bonds, he was displeased at it ; and as he thought it an instance of impiety either to slay or imprison them, but still thought it an hazardous thing for to let them have their liberty, with the remembrance of the injuries that had been offered them, he sent some of them and their children for hostages to Rome, to Claudius Caesar, and sent the others to Artabanus, the king of Parthia, with the like intentions.

4. And when he perceived that his mother was highly pleased with the Jewish customs, he made haste to change, and to embrace them entirely; and as he supposed that he could not be thoroughly a Jew unless he were circumcised, he was ready to have it done. But when his mother under-stood what he was about, she endeavoured to hinder him from doing it ; and said to him, that " this thing would bring him into dangers; and that, as he was a king, he would thereby bring himself into great odium among his subjects, when they should understand that he was so fond of rites that were to them strange and foreign ; and that they would never bear to be ruled over by a Jew.” This it was that she said to him, and from the present persuaded him to forbear. And when he related what she had said to Annanias, he confirmed what his mother had said, and when he had also threatened to leave him, unless he complied with him, he went away from him, and said, that "he was afraid lest such an action being once become public to all, he should himself be in danger of punishment, for having been the occasion of it, and having been the king's instructor in actions that were of ill reputation; and he said, that he might worship God without being circumcised, even though he did resolve to follow the Jewish law entirely, which worship of God was of a superior nature to circiumcision. He added, that God would forgive him, though he did not perform the operation, while it was omitted out of necessity, and for fear of his subjects.” So the king at that time complied with these persuasions pf Annanias. But afterwards, as he had not quite left off his desire of doing this thing, a certain other Jew that came out of Galilee, whose name was Eleazar, and who was esteemed very skilfull in the learning

of his country, persuaded him to do the thing ; for as he entered into his palace to salute him, and found him reading the law of Moses, he said to him, “ Thou dost not con-, sider, o king, that thou unjustly breakest the principal of those laws, and art injurious to God himself, by omitting to be circumcised; for thou oughtest not only to read them, but chiefly to practice what they enjoin thee. How long wilt thou continue uncircumcised? But if thou hast not yet read the law about circumcision, and dost not know how great impiety thou art guilty of by neglecting it, read it now.” When the king had heard what he said, he delayed the thing 'no longer, but retired to another room, and sent for a surgeon, and did what he was commanded to do. He then sent for his mother, and Ananias his tutor, and informed them that he had done the thing; upon which they were presently struck with astonishment and fear, and that to a great degree, lest the thing should be openly discovered and censured, and the king should hazard the loss of his kingdom, while his subjects would not bear to be governed by a man who was so zealous in another religion ; and lest they should themselves,run some hazard because they would be supposed the occasion of his so doing. But it was God * himself who hindered what they feared from taking effect : for he preserved both Izates himself, and his sons, when they fell into many dangers, and procured their deliverance when it seemed to be impossible, and demonstrated thereby,

that the fruit of piety does not perish as to those that have wegard to him, and fix their faith upon him only. But these events we shall relate hereafter.

5. But as to Helena, the king's mother, when she saw that the affairs of Izates's kingdom were in peace, and that her son was an happy man, and admired among all men, and even among foreigners, by the means of God's providence over him, she had a mind to go to the city Jerusalem, in order to worship at that temple of God which was so very famous among all men, and to offer her thank-offerings there. So she desired her son to give her leave to go thither: upon which he gave his consent to what she desired very willing

* Josephus is very full and express in these three chapters, ij. iv. and v. in observing how caref::lly divine providence preserved this Izates, king of Adiabene, and his sons, while he did what he thought was his bounden duty, notwith-tanding the stronge. i political new 4 yee to the contrary.

ly, and made great preparation for her dismission, and gave her a great deal of money, and she went down to the city Jerusalem, her son conducting her on her journey a great way. Now her coming was of very great advantage to the people of Jerusalem; for whereas a famine did oppress them at that time, and many people died for want of what was necessary to procure food withall, queen Helena sent some of her servants to Alexandria with money to buy a great quantity of corn, and others of them to Cyprus to bring a cargo of dried figs. And as soon as they were come back, and had brought those provisions, which was done very quickly, she distributed food to those that were in want of it, and left a most excellent memorial behind her of this benesaction, which she bestowed on our whole nation. And when her son Izates was informed of this famine, he sent great sums of noney to the principal men in Jerusalem. However, what favours this queen and king conferred upon our city Jerusalem shall be farther related hereafter.*

* This farther account of the benefactions of Izates, and Helena, to the Jerusalem Jews, which Josephus bere promises, is, I think no where performed by him in his present works. But of this terrible famine itself in Judea, take Dr. Hudson's note here:-" This," says he, “is that famine foretold by Agabus, Acts, xi. 28, which bar pened when Claudius was consul the fourth time; and not that other which happened when Claudius was consul the second time, and Cae ina was his colleague, as Scaliger says upon Eusebius, page 174.Now when Josephus bad said, a little afterward, chap. v. 2. that “ Tiberius Alexander succeeded Cuspius Fadus as proCurator," he immediately subjoins, that “under these procurators, there happened a great famine in Judea.” Whence it is plain, that this famine continued for many years, on account of its duration under those two procurators. Now Fadus was not sent into Judea till after the death of Agrippa, i. e. 'towards the latter end of the fourth year of Claudius; so that this famine foretold by Agabus, happened upon the 5th, 6th, and 7th years of Claudius, as says Valesius on Euseb. ii. 12. Of this famine also, and queen Helena's supplies, and her monument, see Moses Chorenensis, page 144, 145. where it is observed in the notes, that Pausanias mentions that ber monument also.

CHAP. II. How Artabanus, the king of Parthia, out of fear of the secret

contrivances of his subjects against him, went to Izates, and was by him reinstated in his government; as also how Bardanes, his son, denounced war against Izates.

8 1. But now Artabanus, king of the Parthians, perceiving that the governors of the provinces, had framed a plot against him, did not think it safe for him to continue among them, but resolved to go to Izates, in hopes of finding some way for his preservation by his means, and, if possible, for his return to his own dominions. So he came to Izates, and brought about a thousand of his kindred and servants with him, and met him upon the road, while he well knew Izates, but Izates did not know him. When Artabanus stood near him, and in the first place worshipped him, according to the custom, he then said to him: "O king, do not thou overlook me thy servant, por do thou proudly reject the suit I make thee; for as I am reduced to a low estate, by the change of fortune, and of a king am become a private man, I stand in need of thy assistance. Have regard, therefore, unto the uncertainty of fortune, and esteem the care thou shalt take of me to be taken of thyself also; for if I be neglected, and my subjects go off unpunished, many other subjects will become the more insolent towards other kings also.” And this speech Artabanus made with tears in his eyes, and with a dejected countenance. Now as soon as Izates heard Artabanus's name, and saw him stand as a supplicant before him, he leaped down from his horse immediately, and said to him, "Take courage, 0 king, nor be disturbed at thy present calamity, as if it were incurable; for the change of thy sad condition shall be sudden; for thou shalt find me to be more thy friend and assistant than thy hopes can promise thee; for I will either reestablish thee in the kingdom of Parthia, or lose iny own.”

2. When he had said this, he set Artabanus upon his horse, and followed him on foot, in honour of a king whom he owned as greater than himself; which, when Artabanus saw, he was very uneasy at it, and sware by his present fortune and honour, that he would get down from his horse,

« PreviousContinue »