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he had a nature vastly beneficent; but when any one looks upon the punishments he inflicted, and the injuries he did, not only to his subjects, but to his nearest relations, and takes notice of his severe and unrelenting disposition there, he will be forced to allow, that it was brutish, and a stranger to all humanity; insomuch, that these men suppose his nature to be different, and sometimes at contradiction with itself: but I am myself of another opinion, and imagine that the occasion of both these sorts of actions was one and the same; for being a man ambitious of honour, and quite overcome by that passion, he was induced to be magnificent, wherever there appeared any hopes of a future memorial, or of reputation at present; and as his expences were beyond his abilities, he was necessitated to be harsh to his subjects, for the persons on whom he expended his money were so many, that they made him a very bad procurer of it: and because he was conscious that he was hated by those under him, for the injuries he did them, he thought it not an easy thing to amend his offences, for that was inconvenient for his revenue, he therefore strove on the other side to make their ill-will an occasion of his gains. As to his own court, therefore, if any one was not very obsequious to him in his language, and would not confess himself to be his slave, or but seemed to think of any innovation in his government, he was not able to contain himself, but prosecuted his very kindred and friends, and punished them as if they were enemies; and this wickedness he undertook out of a desire that he might be himself alone honoured. Now for this my assertion about tbat passion of his, we have the greatest evidence, by what he did to honour Cæsar and Agrippa, and his other friends; for with what honours he paid his respects to them who were his superiors, the same did he desire to be paid to himself; and what he thought the most excellent present he could make another, he discovered an inclination to have the like presented to himself. But now the Jewish nation is by their law a stranger to all such things, and accustomed to prefer righteousness to glory; for which reason that nation was not agreeable to him, because it was out of their power to flatter the king's ambition with statues or temples, or any other such performances. And this seems to me to have been at once the occasion of Herod's crimes as to his own courtiers and counsellors, and of his benefactions as to foreigners and those that had no relation to him,
C H A P. VI.
An embassage of the Jews in Cyrene and Asia to Cæsar, con
cerning the complaints they had to make against the Greeks: with copies of the epistles which Cæsar and Agrippa wrote
to the cities for them. § 1. Now the cities ill treated the Jews in Asia, and all those also of the same nation which lived in Lybia, which joins to Cyrene, while the former kings bad given them equal privileges with the other citizens; but the Greeks affronted them at this time, and that so far as to take away their sacred money, and to do them mischief on other particular occasions. When therefore they were thus afflicted, and found no end of their barbarous treatment they met with among the Greeks, they sent ambassadors to Cæsar on those accounts; who gave them the same privileges as they had before, and sent letters to the same purpose to the governors of the provinces, copies of which I subjoin here, as testimonials of the ancient favourable disposition the Roman emperors had towards us.
2. “ Cæsar Augustus, high-priest, and tribune of the peo“ ple, ordains thus: Since the nation of the Jews hath been “ found grateful to the Roman people, not only at this “ time, but in time past also, and chiefly Hyrcanus the high 6 priest, under my * father Cæsar the emperor, it seemed “ good to me and my counsellors, according to the sentence “ and oath of the people of Rome, that the Jews have liber
ty to make use of their own customs, according to the law “ of their fathers, as they made use of them under Hyrcanus “ the high-priest of Almighty God; and that their sacred
money be not touched, but be sent to Jerusalem, and that « it be committed to the care of the receivers at Jerusalem : " and that they be not obliged to go before any judge on the “ Sabbath-day, nor on the day of the preparation to it, af“ ter the ninth hour : But if any one be caught stealing their
holy books, or their sacred money, whether it be out of " the synagogue, or public school, he shall be deemed a sa. “ crilegious person, and his goods shall be brought into the
public treasury of the Romans. And I give order, that the “ testimonial which they have given me, on account of my
* Augustus here calls Julius Cæsar his father, though by birth he was only his uncle, on account of his adoption by him. See the same, Antiq. B. XIV. ch. xiv. sect. 4.
* This is authentic evidence, that the Jews, in the days of Augustus, began to prepare for the celebration of the Sabbath at the ninth hour on Friday, as the tradition of the elders did, it seems, then require of them.
“ regard to that piety which I exercise towards all mankind, " and out of regard to Gaius Marcus Censorinus, together " with the present decree he proposed in that most eminent 56 place which hath been consecrated to me by the commu
nity of Asia at Ancyra. And if any one transgress any
part of what is above decreed, he shall be severely pu“ nished.” This was inscribed upon a pillar in the temple of Cæsar.
3. “ Cæsar to Norbanus Flaccus, sendeth greeting : Let " those Jews, how many soever they be, who have been Ks
used, according to their ancient custom, to send their sa“ cred money to Jerusalem, do the same freely.” These were the decrees of Cæsar.
4. Agrippa also did himself write after the manner following, on behalf of the Jews : “ Agrippa, to the magistrates,
senate, and people of the Ephesians, sendeth greeting : I “ will that the care and custody of the sacred money that is
carried to the temple at Jerusalem be left to the Jews of
Asia, to do with it according to their ancient custom; and “ that such as steal that sacred money of the Jews, and fly to
a sanctuary, shall be taken thence and delivered to the 66 Jews, by the same law that sacrilegious persons are taken " thence. I have also written to Sylvanus the pretor, that
no one compel the Jews to come before a judge on the 66 Sabbath-day.”
5. “ Marcus Agrippa, to the magistrates, senate, and peo“ ple of Cyrene, sendeth greeting: The Jews of Cyrene have “ interceded with me for the performance of what Augustus “ sent orders about to Flavius, the then pretor of Libya, and " to the other procurators of that province, that the sacred
money may be sent to Jerusalem freely, as hath been their
custom from their forefathers, they complaining that they « are abused by certain inforıners, and under pretence of
taxes which were not due, are hindered from sending them, " which I command to be restored without any diminution
or disturbance given to them: And if any of that sacred
money in the cities be taken from their proper receivers, “ I farther enjoin, that the same be exactly returned to the “ Jews in that place."
6. “ Caius Norbanus Flaccus, proconsul, to the magistrates “ of the Sardinians, sendeth greeting: Cæsar hath written to me,
and commanded me not to forbid the Jews, how many soever they be, from assembling together according to the
custom of their forefathers, nor from sending their money is to Jerusalem: I have therefore written to you, that you
may know that both Cæsar and I would have you act ac“cordingly."
7. Nor did Julius Antonius the proconsul write otherwise : " To the magistrates, senate, and people of the Ephesians, “ sendeth greeting; as I was dispensing justice at Ephesus,
on the ides of February, the Jews that dwell in Asia de“ monstrated to me, that Augustus and Agrippa had permit" ted them to use their own laws and customs, and to offer " those their first-fruits which every one of them freely of• fers to the Deity on account of piety, and to carry them in “a company together to Jerasalem without disturbance. • They also petitioned me, that I would confirm what bad “ been granted by Augustus and Agrippa by my own sanc“ tion. I would therefore have you take notice, that accor" ding to the will of Augustus and Agrippa, I permit them
to use and do according to the customs of their forefathers 66 without disturbance."
8. I have been obliged to set down these decrees, because the present history of our own acts will go generally among the Greeks; and I have hereby demonstrated to them, that we have formerly been in great esteem, and have not been prohibited by those governors we were under from keeping any of the laws of our forefathers; nay, that we have been supported by them, while we followed our own religion, and the worship we paid to God: and I frequently make mention of these decrees, in order to reconcile other people to us, and to take away the causes of that hatred which unreasonable men bear to us. As for our* customs, there is no nation which always makes use of the same, and in every ci. ty almost we meet with them different from one another; but natural justice is most agreeable to the advantage of all men equally, both Greeks and Barbarians, to which our laws have the greatest regard, and thereby render us, if we abide in them after a puré manner, benevolent and friendly to all men: on which account we have reason to expect the like return from others, and to inform them that they ought not to esteem difference of positive institutions a sufficient cause of alienation, but [join with us in) the pursuit of virtue and probity, for this belongs to all men in common, and of itself alone is sufficient for the preservation of human life. I now return to the thread of my history.
* The remaining part of this chapter is a remarkable one, as justly distin. guishing natural justice, religion, and morality, from positive institutions in all countries, and evidently preferring the former before the latter, as did the true prophets of God always under the Old Testament, and Christ and his Apostles always under the New; whence our Josephus seems to have been at this lime nearer Christianity than were the Scribes and Pharisees of his age, who, as we know from the New Testament, were entirely of a different opinion and practice.
Ilow upon Herod's going down into David's sepulchre, the sedi
tion in his family greatly increased. § 1. As for Herod, he had spent vast sums about the cities, both without and within his own kingdom: and as he had before heard that Hyrcanas, who had been king before him, had opened David's sepulcbre, and taken out of it three thousand talents of silver, and that there was a much greater number left behind, and indeed enough to suffice all his wants, he had a great while an intention to make the attempt; and at this time be opened that sepulchre by night and went into it, and endeavoured that it should not be at all known in the city, but took only his most faithful friends with him. As for any money, he found none, as Hyrcanus had done, but that furniture of gold, and those precious goods that were laid up there, all which he took away. However, he had a great desire to make a more diligent search, and to go farther in, even as far as the very bodies of David and Solomon; where two of his guards were slain, by a flanie that burst out upon those that went in, as the report was. So be was terribly affrighted, and went out, and built a propitiatory monument of that fright he had been in, and this of white stone at the mouth of the sepulchre, and that at a great expence also. And even * Nicolaus his historiographer makes mention of this monument built by Herod, though he does not mention his going down into ihe sepulchre, as knowing that action to be of ill repute; and many other things he treats of in the same manner in his book; for he wrote in He. rod's lifetime, and under bis reign, and so as to please him, and as a servant to him, touching upon nothing but what tended to his glory, and openly excusing many of his noto. rious crimes, and very diligently concealing them. And as he was desirous to put handsome colours on the death of Mariamne, and her sons, which were barbarous actions in the king, he tells falsehoods about the incontinence of Marianne, and the treacherous designs of his sons upon him; and thus he proceeded in his whole work, making a pompous encomi
* It is here worth our observation, how careful Josephus was as to the discovery of truth in Herod's history, since he would not follow Nicolaus of Damascus himself, so great an hlstorian, where there was great reason to suspect he flattered Herod; which impartiality in history Josephus here solemnly professes, aod of which impartiali he has given more demonstrations than almost any historian whomsoever: But as to Herod's taking great wealth out of David's sepulchre, though I cannot prove it, yet do I strongly suspect it from this very history.