« PreviousContinue »
died; whose son Antiochus succeeded him in the kingdom, and in his hatred to the Jews also.
5. So this Antiochus got together fifty thousand footmen, and five thousand horsemen, and fourscore elephants, and marched through Judea into the mountainous parts. He then took Bethsura, which was a small city ; but at a place called Bethzacharias, where the passage was narrow, Judas met him with his army. However, before the forces joined battle, Judas's brother Eleazar, seeing the very highest of the elephants adorned with a large tower, and with military trappings of gold to guard him, and supposing that Antiochus himself was upon him, he ran a great way before his own . army, and, cutting his way through the enemies' troops, he got up to the elephant; yet could he not reach him who seemed to be the king, by reason of his being so high; but still he ran his weapon into the belly of the beast, and brought him down upon himself, and was crushed to death, having done no more than attempted great things, and showed that he preferred glory before life. Now he that governed the elephant was but a private man; and had he proved to be Antiochus, Eleazar had performed nothing more by this bold stroke than that it might appear he chose to die, when he had the bare hope of thereby doing a glorious action; may, this disappointment proved an omen to his brother (Judas) how the entire battle would end. It is true that the Jews fought it out bravely for a long time, but the king's forces being superior in number, and having fortune on their side, obtained the victory. And when a great many of his men were slain, Judas took the rest with him, and fled to the toparchy of Gopha. So Antiochus went to Jerusa-, lem, and stayed there but a few days, for he wanted pro. visions, and so he went his way. He left indeed a garrison behind him, such as he thought sufficient to keep the place, but drew the rest of his army off, to take their winter quarters in Syria.
6. Now after the king was departed, Judas was not idle; for as many of his own nation came to him, so did he gather those that had escaped out of the battle together; and gave battle again to Antiochus's generals at a village called Adasa; and being too hard for his enemies in the battle, and killing a great number of them, he was at last himself slain also. Nor was it many days afterward, that his brother John had a plot laid against him by Antiochus's party, and was slain by them.
CHAP. II. Goncerning the successors of Judas, who were Jonathan, and
Simeon, and John Hyrcanus. 8 1. WHEN Jonathan, who was Judas's brother, succeeded him, he behaved with great circumspection in other respects, with relation to his own people ; and he corroborated his authority by preserving his friendship with the Romans. He also made a league with Antiochus the son. Yet was not all this sufficient for his security; for the tyrant Trypho, who was guardian to Antiochus the son, laid a plot against him; and, besides that, endeavoured to take off his friends, and caught Jonathan by a wile, as he was going to Ptolemais to Antiochus, with a few persons in his company, and put him in bonds, and then made an expedition against the Jews ; but when he was afterward driven away by Simeon, who was Jonathan's brother, and was enraged at his defeat, he put Jonathan to death.
2. However, Simeon managed the public affairs after a courageous manner, and took Gazara, and Joppa, and Jamnia, which were cities in the neighbourhood. He also got the garrison under, and demolished the citadel. He was afterward an auxiliary to Antiochus against Trypho, whom he besieged in Dora, before he went on his expedition against the Medes; yet could he not make the king ashamed of his ambition, though he had assisted him in killing Trypho; for it was not long ere Antiochus sent Cendebeus his general with an army to lay waste Judea, and to subdue Simeon: yet he, though he were now in years, conducted the war as if he was a much younger man. He also sent his sons with a band of strong men against Antiochus, while he took a part of the army himself with him, and fell upon him from : another quarter : he also laid a great many men in ambush in many places of the mountains, and was superior in all his attacks upon them; and when he had been conqueror after so glorious a manner, he was made high-priest, and also freed the Jews from the dominion of the Macedonians, after an hundred and seventy years of the empire (of Seleucus.)
3. This Simeon also had a plot laid against him, and was slain at a feast by his son-in-law Ptolemy, who put his wife and two sons into prison, and sent some persons to kill Jobing
who was also * called Hyrcanus. But when the young man was informed of their coming beforehand, he made haste to gei to the city, as having a very great confidence in the people there, both on account of the memory of the glorious actions of his father, and of the hatred they could not but bear to the injustice of Ptolemy. Ptolemy also made an attempt to get into the city by another gate, but was repelled by the people, who had just then admitted of Hyrcanus; so he retired presently to one of the fortresses that were above Jericho, which was called Dagon. Now when Hyrcanus had received the high-priesthood, which his father had held before, and had offered sacrifice to God, he made great haste to attack Ptolemy, that he might afford relief to his mother and brethren.
4. So he laid a siege to the fortress, and was superior to Ptolemy in other respects, but was overcome by him as to the just affection she had for his relations;] for when Ptolemy was distressed, he brought forth his mother and his brethren, and set them upon the wall, and beat them with rods in every body's sight, and threatened, that, unless be would go away immediately, he would throw them down headlong; at which sight Hyrcanus's commiseration and concern were too hard for his anger. But his mother was not dismayed, neither at the stripes she received, nor at the death with which she was threatened; but stretched out her hands, and prayed her son not to be moved with the injuries that she suffered to spare the wretch; since it was to her better to die by the means of Ptolemy, than to live ever so long, provided he might be punished for the injuries he had done to their family. Now John's case was this; when he considered the courage of his mother, and heard her entreaty, he set about his attacks; but when he saw ber beaten, and torn to pieces with the stripes, he grew feeble, and was entirely overcome by his affections. And as the siege was
• Why this John, the son of Simeon, the high-priest, and gover. nor of the Jews, was called Hyrcanus Josephus no where informs us ; nor is he called other than John, at the end of the first book of the Maccabees. However, Sixtus Senensis, when he gives us an epitome of the Greek version of the book here abridged by Josephus, or of the chronicles of this John Hyrcanus, then extant, assures us that he was called Hyrcanus, from his conquest of one of that name. See Authent Rec. Part i. p. 207. But of this youn. ger Antiochus, see Dean Aldrich's note here.
delayed by this means, the year of rest came on, upon which the Jews rest every seventh year, as they do on every seventh day. On this year, therefore, Ptolemy was freed from being besieged, and slew the brethren of John, with their mother, and fed to Zeno, who was called Cotylas, who was the tyrant of Philadelphia.
5. And now Antiochus was so angry at what he had suffered from Simon, that he made an expedition into Judea, and sat down before Jerusalem, and besieged Hyrcanus; but Hyrcanus opened the sepulchre of David, who was the richest of all kings, and took thence about three thousand talents in money, and induced Antiochus, by the promise of three thousand talents, to raise the siege. Moreover, he was the first of the Jews that had money enough, and began to hire foreign auxiliaries also.
6. However, at another time, when Antiochus was gone upon an expedition against the Medes, and so gaye Hyrcanus an opportunity of being revenged upon him, he immediately made an attack upon the cities of Syria, as thinking, what proved to be the case with them, that he should find them empty of good troops. So he took Medaba and Samea, with the towns in their neighbourhood, as also Shechem and Gerizzim; and besides these she subdued] the nation of the Chutheans, who dwelt round about that temple which was built in imitation of the temple at Jerusalem; he also took a great many other cities of Idumea, with Adoreon and Marissa.
7. He also proceeded as far as Samaria, where is now the city Sebaste, which was built by Herod the king, and encompassed it all around with a wall, and set his sons, Aristobulus and Antigonus over the siege; who pushed it on so hard, that a famine so far prevailed within the city, that they was forced to eat what never was esteemed food. They also invited Antiochus, who was called Cyzinecus, to come to their assistance; whereupon he got ready, and complied with their invitation, but was beaten by Aristobulus and Antigonus; and indeed he was pursued as far as Scythopolis by these brethren, and fled away from them. So they returned back to Samaria, and shut the multitude again within the wall; and when they had taken the city, they demolished it, and made slaves of its inhabitants. And as they had still great success in their undertakings, they did not suffer their zeal to cool, but marched with an army as far as Scythopolis, and
made an incursion upon it, and laid waste all the country that lay within Mount Carmel.
8. But then, these successes of John and of his sons made them to be envied, and occasioned a sedition in the country, and many there were who got together and would not be at rest till they broke out into open war, in which war they were beaten. So John lived the rest of his life very happily, and administered the government after a most extraordinary manner, and this for thirty-three entire years together. He died, leaving five sons behind him. He was certainly a very happy man, and afforded no occasion to have any complaint made of fortune on his account. He it was who alone had three of the most desirable things in the world, the government of the nation, and the high-priesthood, and the gift of prophecy. For the Deity conversed with him, and he was not ignorant of any thing that was to come afterward; insomuch that he foresaw and foretold that his two eldest sons would not continue masters of the government; and it will highly deserve our narration, to describe their catastrophe, and how far inferior those men were to their father in felicity.
CHAP. III. llow Aristobulus was the first that put a diadem about his
head, and, after he had put his mother and brother to death, died himself, when he had reigned no more than a year.
§ 1. For after the death of their father, the elder of them, Aristobulus, changed the government into a kingdom, and was the first that put a diadem upon his head, four hundred seventy and one years, and three months, after our people came down into this country, when they were set free from the Babylonian slavery. Now, of his brethren he appeared to have an affection for Antigonus, who was next to him, and made him his equal; but for the rest, he bound them, and put them in prison. He also put his mother in bonds, for her contesting the government with him ; for John had left her to be the governess of the public affairs. He also proceeded to that degree of barbarity, as to cause her to be pined to death in prison.
2. But vengeance circumvented him in the affair of his brother Antigonus, whom he loved, and whom he made his