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unusual among mankind, and with which he was now afflicted, came upon him ; for Herod had caused such things to be made, which were contrary to the law, of which he was accused by Judas and Matthias ; for the king had erected over the great gate of the temple a large golden eagle, of great value, and had dedicated it to the temple. Now, the law forbids those that propose to live according to it, to erect images* or representations of any living creature. So these wise men persuaded [their scholars) to pull down the golden eagle ; alleging that, “although they should incur any danger, which might bring them to their deaths, the virtue of the action now proposed to them would appear much more advantageous to them than the pleasures of life; since they would die for the preservation and observation of the law of their fathers; since they would also acquire an everlasting fame and commendation; since they would be both commended by the present generation, and leave an example of life that would never be forgotten to posterity; since that common calamity of dying cannot be avoided by our living so as to escape any such dangers ; that therefore it is a right thing for those who are in love with a virtuous conduct, to wait for that fatal hour by such a behaviour as may carry them out of the world with praise and honour ; and that this will alleviate death to a great degree, thus to come at it by the performance of brave actions, which bring us into danger of it ; and, at the same time, to leave that reputation behind them to their children, and to all their relations, whether they be men or women, which will be of great advantage to them afterward."
3. And with such discourses as this, did these men excite the young men to this action; and a report being come to them that the king was dead, this was an addition to the wise men's persuasions; so in the very middle of the day, they got upon the place, they pulled down the eagle and cut it into pieces with axes, while a great number of the people were in the temple. And now the king's captain, upon hearing what the undertaking was, and supposing it was a thing of a higher nature than it proved to be, came up thither, having a great band of soldiers with him, such as was sufficient to put a stop to the multitude of those who pulled down what was dedicated to God: so he fell upon them unexpectedly, and as they were upon this bold attempt, in a foolish presumption rather than a cautious circumspection, as is usual with the multitude, and while they were in disorder, and incautious of what was for their advantage; so he caught no fewer than forty of the young men, who had the courage to stay behind when the rest ran away, together with the authors of this bold attempt, Judas and Matthias, who thought it an ignominious thing to retire upon his approach, and led them to the king. And when they were come to the king, and he had asked them if they had been so bold as to pull down what he had dedicated to God? “Yes, (said they,) what was contrived, we contrived, and what hath been performed, we performed it, and that with such a virtuous courage as becomes men; for we have given our assistance to those things which are dedicated to the majesty of God, and we have provided for what we have learned by hearing the law; and it ought not to be wondered at, if we esteem those laws which Moses had suggested to him, and were taught him by God, and which he wrote and left behind him, more worthy of observation than thy commands. Ac
• That the making of images, without an intention to worship them, was not unlaw. ful to the Jews, see the note on Antiq. b. viii. chap. vii. & 5.
cordingly, we will undergo death, and all sorts of punishment which thou canst inflict upon us, with pleasure, since we are conscious to ourselves that we shall die, not for any unrighteous actions, but for our love to religion.” And thus they all said, and their courage was still equal to their profession, and equal to that with which they readily set about this undertaking. And when the king had ordered them to be bound, he sent them to Jericho, and called together the principal men among the Jews ; and when they were come, he made them assemble in the theatre, and because he could not himself stand, he lay upon a couch, and enumerated the many labours that he had long endured on their account, and his building of the temple, and what a vast charge that was to him, while the Asamoneans, during the hundred and twenty-five years of their government, had not been able to perform any so great a work for the honour of God, as that was; that he had also adorned it with very valuable dona. tions, on which account he hoped that he had left himself a memorial, and procured himself a reputation after his death. He then cried out, these men that had not abstained from affronting him, even in his life-time, but that, in the very day-time, and in the sight of the multitude, they had abused him to that degree, as to fall upon what he had dedicated, and in that way of abuse had pulled it down to the ground. They pretended, indeed, that they did it to affront him ; but if any one considered the thing truly, they will find that they were guilty of sacrilege against God therein."
4. But the people, on account of Herod's barbarous temper, and for fear he should be so cruel as to inflict punishment on them, said, “ What was done, was done without their approbation, and that it seemed to them that the actors might well be punished for what they had done.” But as for Herod, he dealt more mildly with others [of the assembly;] but he deprived Matthias of the high priesthood, as in part on occasion of this action, and made Joazer, who was Matthias' wife's brother, high priest in his stead. Now it happened, that during the time of the high priesthood of this Matthias, there was another person made high priest for a single day, that very day which the Jews observed as a fast. The occasion was this : this Matthias the high priest, on the night before that day, when the fast was to be celebrated, seemed in a dream,* to have conversation with his wife; and because he could not officiate himself on that account, Joseph, the son of Ellemus, his kinsman, assisted him in that sacred office. But Herod deprived this Matthias of the high priesthood, and burnt the other Matthias, who had raised the sedition, with his companions, alive. And that very night there was an eclipse of the moon.t
• This fact, that one Joseph was made high priest for a single day, on occasion of the action here specified, that befell Matthias, the real high priest, in his sleep, the night before the great day of expiation, is attested to both in the Mishna and Talmud, as Dr. Hudson here informs us. . And indeed, from this fact, thus fully attested, we may confute the pretended rule in the Talmud here mentioned, and endeavoured to be excused by Reland, that the high priest was not suffered to sleep the night before that great day of expiation ; which watching would surely rather unfit him for the many iinportant duties he was to perform on that sole.on day, than dispose him duly to perform them. Nor do such Talmudical rules, when unsupported by better evidence, much less when contradicted thereby, seem to me of weight enough to deserve that so great a man as Reland should spend his time in endeavours at their vindication.
+ Tbis eclipse of the moon (which is the only eclipse of either of the luminaries mentioned by our Josephus in any of his writings) is of the greatest consequence for the determination of the time for the death of Herod and Antipater, and for the birth and entiro 5. But now Herod's distemper greatly increased upon him after a severe manner, and this by God's judgment upon him for his sins; for a fire glowed in him slowly, which did not so much appear to the touch outwardly, as it augmented his pains inwardly; for it brought upon him a vehement appetite to eating, which he could not avoid to supply with one sort of food or other. His entrails were also exulcerated, and the chief violence of his pain lav on his colon; an aqueous and transparent liquor also had settled itself about his feet, and a like matter afflicted him at the bottom of his belly. Nav, farther, his privy-member was putrified, and produced worms; and when he sat upright, he had a difficulty of breathing, which was very loathsome, on account of the stench of his breath, and the quickness of its returns ; he had also convulsions in all parts of his body, which increased his strength to an insufferable degree. It was said by those who pretended to divine, and who were endued with wisdom to foretell such things, that God inflicted this punishment on the king, on account of his great impiety; yet was he still in hopes of recovering, though his afflictions seemed greater than any one could bear. He also sent for physicians, and did not refuse to follow what they prescribed for his assistance, and went beyond the river Jordan, and bathed himself in the warm baths that were at Callirrhoe, which, besides their other general virtues, were also fit to drink; which water runs into the lake called As. phaltitis. And when the physicians once thought fit to have him bathed in a vessel full of oil, it was supposed that he was just dying; but upon the lamentable cries of his domestics, he revived ; and having no longer the least hopes of recovering, he gave order that every soldier should be paid fifty drachmæ; and he also gave a great deal to their commanders, and to his friends, and came again to Jericho, where he grew so choleric, that it brought him to do all things like a madman; and though he were near his death, he contrived the following wicked designs. He commanded that all the principal men of the entire Jewish nation, wheresoever they lived, should be called to him. Accordingly, they were a great number that came, because the whole nation was called, and all men heard of this call, and death was the penalty of such as should despise the epistles that were sent to call them. And now the king was in a wild rage against them all, the innocent as well as those that had afforded ground for accusations ; and when they were come, he ordered them to be all shut up in the hippo. drome,* and sent for his sister Salome, and her husband Alexis, and spoke thus to them : “ I shall die in a little time, so great are my pains; which death ought to be cheerfully borne, and to be welcomed by all men; but what principally troubles me is this, that I shall die without being lamented, and without such mourning as men usually expect at a king's death. For that he was not unacquainted with the temper of the Jews, that his death would be a thing very desirable, and exceedingly acceptable to them; because during his lifetime they were ready to revolt from him, and to abuse the donations he had dedicated to God; that it was therefore their business to resolve to afford him some alleviation of his great sorrows on this occasion; for that, if they do not refuse him their consent in what be desires, he shall have a great mourning at his funeral, and such as never