Page images
PDF
EPUB

The, unlawful marriage which this prince contracted with Herodias, was the cause of his ruin. For that ambitious woman, out of the pride of her heart, not being able to bear that her brother Agrippa, the son of Ariftobulus, and nephew of Antipas, should be advanced to the throne, and excel her in splendor, dignity, and power; compelled, in a manner, her husband to go to Rome, and get the like honour and preferment for himself (f). But Agrippa countermined him, by giving Caligula, who was then emperor, just reason of suspecting his loyalty to him (&); lo that instead of making him king, he banished him to Lyons, and afterwards to Spain. This Herod built or repaired some cities, as Sephoris (b), which he named Tiberins in honour of Tiberius , and another in Perca, which was by him called Fulias, in memory of Julia the daughter of Auguftus. He enjoyed his Tetrarchy forty-three years. .

As for his brother Philip, who was Tetrarch of Ituræa, and Trachomitis, mention is made of him only in St. Luke (i). It is true that St. Matthew and St. Mark (k) speak of one Philip, the brother of Herod; but, as hath been already observed, Josephus gives us reason to doubt, whether this was Philip the Tetrarch, or another Herod, that had also the name of Philip (1). This historian represents Philip as a meek, just, and peaceable prince; and therefore Jesus Christ was wont to retire into his dominions, in order to secure himself against the insults and attacks of the Jews (m). He also built or beautifyed and enlarged some cities, as Paneas for instance, to which he gave the name of Cæfarea (n), (and which is commonly called Cæfarea Philippi (6), that it may thereby be distinguished from another Cæfarea or Turris Stratonis, which lay on the sea-coast ;) Bethsaida was likewise enlarged by him, and named Julias. He reigned thirty-seven years; and as he died without issue, Tiberius annexed his dominions to Syria. It remains now to give some account of the grandsons of Herod the Great, as far as is requisite for the understanding of some parts of the New Testament. Of the grandsons of

s ARISTOBULUS, who was put to death by his fa

ther's orders, left behind him two sons, of whom across e reato mention is made in the Acts of the Apostles and the history of Jofephus. The first of them was Agrippa surnamed the Great, the son of Mariamne, a princess of the Asmonean race: to him Caligula gave the kingdom of Judea, Idumæa, and Samaria, with the Tetrarchy of Antipas, which was approved of and confirmed by the emperor Claudius, who moreover added to his dominions the territories which had belonged to Philip. (). This is the fame Agrippa who in the Afts is named Herod the king (9), and who, to please the Jews, killed James the son of Zebedee with the sword, and cast St. Peter into prison. Like his grandfather, he was cruel, effeminate, and impious ; and he met also with the same -unhappy end, for he was smitten by the hand of God for his crimes (o).

After (f) Joseph. Antiq. l. xviii. Co 9.

(8) Id. Ibid. (h) Joseph. Antiq. 1. xviii. c. 3.

i) Luke iii. 1. (k) Matth. xiv. 3. Mark vi. 17. - (1) Joseph. Antiq. I. xviii. c. 6. (m) Id. Ibid., (n) Jofeph. Antiq. l. xviii. c. 3. (6) Matth. xvi. 13. () Joseph. Antiq. l. xviii, c. 9. & de Bell. Jud. I. ij. c. S. (9) AEts xii, 1.

(r) Ibid. c. 23,

hereof, mit was plof Chal

After his death, which occasioned great joy to all his people, Judea became again a province to the Roman empire, and was governed by Curpidius Fadus ; the son of Agrippa being then too young to be entrusted with the government of a kingdom (s). The other son of Aristobulus was Herod king of Chalcis, commonly known by the name of Claudius's favourite; from whom he obtained the privilege of chusing and deposing the high-priests.(t), together with the charge of the temple, and the holy treasure; though, in other respects, he had no manner of authority or power in Judea. We find no mention at all of him in fcripture.

After the decease of Herod king of Chalcis, Agrippa the Younger, the fon of Agrippa the Great, was put in poffeffion of that little kingdom ; the fituation whereof, historians are not well agreed about. The most probable opinion is, that it lay between Libanus and Antilibanus. To this prince was likewise committed the keeping of the temple, the holy treasure, and the priefly garments. Before this Agrippa it was that St. Paul made that noble defence for himself which we read in the xxvith chapter of the Axis of the Apostles ; where he is always stiled king, either upon the account of his being king of Chalcis, as he actually was, or else because he had a great power in Judea, though he was not invested with the supreme authority, since we find that it was in the hands of governors appointed by the Romans, as Feftus, Felix, Albinus, and Gessius Florus (u). The last of whom was the occasion of those grievous disturbances and troubles in that province, which in the end proved the cause of its total ruin and destruction. Agrippa is well known in history by his criminal, or, at least, his too free conversation, with Berenice, the daughter of Agrippa the Great, and consequently his own sister, which before had been the wife of Herod king of Chalcis, his uncle, and was after married to Polemo king of Cilicia (x), whom she soon forsook, being drawn away by her immoderate and excessive lust. This is the same with him in the Acts of the Apostles (y). Agrippa was the last king of Herod's race. In what year he died is uncertain : Some imagine that he lived till the time of Trajan. Thus much we know, that he survived his country, and endeavoured to prevent the fall of it by his wise counsels, and prudent administration (2). But the time appointed for the destruction of that impenitent people was come; . they were now become their own enemies, contriving, as they did, their own ruin, by repeated feditions, and continual revolts.

Thus have we brought down the history of Herod and his posterity, to the downfall of the Jewish commonwealth, which happened in the 70th year of the Christian æra, and 40 years after it had been foretold by Icfus Christ.

To finish the account of the state of the Jewish Of those Tews who nation as far as it relates to the New Teitament, were dispersed in seve. it will be necessary to speak of the Jews that were ral parts of the world. dispersed in several parts of the earth. There were great numbers of

them (s) Jofeph. Antiq. 1. xix. C. 7. : (t) Id. ibid. I. xx. C. 1. (u) Joseph. Antiq. I. XX. C. 8, 9.

(*) Id. ibid. c. 5. (y) Acts xxv. 13,

(z) Joseph, de Bello Jud. I. ii. p. 3, & 24... Vol. III.

the day of Pentet together front this be as it walto

them in Greece, and all the other parts of the Roman Empire, which had at that time no other bounds, but those of the then known world. It is of the Jews dispersed among the Gentiles, that the Jews of Jerusalem speak, in the seventh chapter of St Jolin's gospel (a). Jesus Christ likewife seems to allude to them, when he faith, he hath yet other sheep (6); without excluding nevertheless the Gentiles, who were also to enter into his sheepfold, or to be admitted into his church. Let this be as it will, some of the disperíed Jews were inet together from all parts of the world at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, after our Saviour's ascen. fion (i). It was then the critical time, in which the Jews openly professed they were in expectation of the coming of the Messiah, God moreover ordered it so, (that they should now be at Jerusalem) to the intent that the miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost might be made known to all nations, in order to convince them of the divine mission of Jesus Christ, and the truth of the Christian religion.

To there dispersed Jews it was that St. James and St. Peter wrote their epistles; the former to those of the twelve tribes which were scattered throughout the world ; the latter to those in particular that were in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. We may judge of the prodigious number of them by what king Agrippa the Elder wrote to the emperour Caligula, to dissuade him from setting up the statue of Jupiter in Jerusalem, and from ordering that he himself should be worThipped there as a god (d). “ Jerusalein, faith he, is the metropolis not « only of Judea, but of many other colonies that have been planted from 6 thence. In the neighbouring parts there are abundance of them, as 6 in Ægypt, Phænicia, Upper and Lower Syria, Pamphylia, Cilicia, and « feveral parts of Asia, as far as Bithynia and Pontus : And so in Europe, - Thessaly, Boeotia, Macedonia, Ætolia, Athens, Argos, Corinth, and the a better part of Peloponnesus. And not only the continent, but the " ifands also of most eminent note, are filled with Jewish plantations ; as 66 Eubæa, Cyprus, Crete; to say nothing of those beyond the Euphrates."

These words of Philo give a great light to the second chapter of the A&ts. And that the case was the same even in the time of Josephus, áppears froin the speech which Agrippa the Younger made to the Jews, with a design to persuade them not to engage in a war against the Romans; where, among other arguments, he offers this, that “the Jews, " who were scattered over the face of the whole earth, would be involved in « their ruin (e)." These dispersions of the Jews were owing to particular occasions and causes (f), but they were undoubtedly the effect of the wonderful wisdom of God, who thereby gave the Apostles an opportunity of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, because the Jews, who were mixed with, and resided among them, professed to be in expectation of the Meliah. It cannot moreover be questioned, but that this

dispersion

Petter part of Peloponcedonia, Ætolia, and Pontus : Andim qilicia, and

(a) John vii. 35

(6) Id. x. 16. (c) Acts ij. 5, &c. d) Vid. Philonis Legationem ad Caium, p. 16. le Joseph. de Bello Jud. I. ii. c. 16. *

id You may see an account of the several dispersions of the Jews, and the causes and occalions of them, in the famous ilir. Balaage's biftory of the Jews.

difperfion did very much contribute towards the preserving the body of the Jewish nation, as a lasting monument of the truth of Christianity; since very few of them survived their country, and, such as then remained, were almost entirely destroyed and cut off by the emperor Adrian afterwards.

Having given an account of the Jewish nation, properly Concerning so called, it will not be amiss to give an abstract of the the Samarihistory of the Samaritans, who were a branch of the Jews, tans. and of whom mention is often made in the New Testament. The Samaritans were so called from Samaria (8), which formerly was the capital of a country of the same name, as it was also of the kingdom of the ten tribes : Omri king of Israel, by whom it was built, gave it that name, because he bought the hill, on which it stood, of one Semer or Samar (b). One would be apt to think, by what Josephus says, that Samaria and Sichem were one and the same city, since that historian places Sichem on mount Gerizim, and calls it the capital of the Samaritans (i). But the most exact Geographers Inake Samaria and Sichem to have been two different cities. This being of little moment, we shall spend no time in examining it. What is certain is this, that Sichem is the same with Sichar in the gospel (k); the alteration of the name being occafioned,

either by changing the letter M into an R, agreeably to the different i dialects of the Jews and Samaritans, as the learned have observed ;

or else by way of reproach, because the Hebrew word Sichar, according as it is written and pointed, signifies several scandalous and ignominious things, viz. a liar, mercenary, drunkard, sepulchre. We have spoken already of the schism of the ten tribes, which was the first rise of the extreme aversion the Jews had for the Samaritans, Samaria being the metropolis of the kingdom of Israel, and set up, in a manner, as a rival to Jerusalem. Samaria stood firm, for a considerable time, against the repeated and violent assaults of Benhadad king of Syria ; but was, at last, entirely destroyed by Salmaneser king of Assyria, when he carried away the ten tribes captive (1). It seems, nevertheless, to have risen again out of its ruins, since we read that the Samaritans got leave from Alexander the Great, to build a temple upon mount Gerizim (m), because from thence had been pronounced the blessings annexed to the observance of the law of Moses (n). It became subject to the kings of Egypt or Syria, till it was besieged and taken by Johannes Hyrcanus, the high-priest of the Jews (); who defaced and laid it waste to that degree, that (to use Josephus's (0) words) “ there was not the least mark left of any build"ing that had ever been there.” It was afterwards wholly rebuilt, and considerably enlarged by Herod the Great, who gave it the name of Sebafte, that is, Augusta, and who built therein a temple in honour of

Cæsar

(3) · Kings xvi. 24. & 2 Kings xxiii. 19.
(b) 1 Kings, ubi fupra. The Hebrew name of it is Schomeron.
(i) Joseph Antiq. 1. 11. sub finem.

(k) John iv. 5.
(?) 2 Kings xvii.

(m) Anno 3668. Joseph. Antiq. I. 11. 6. 8. (x) Deut. xi. 29. xxvii. 12.

(0) Anno 3869. (P) Joseph. Antiq. 1. xiii. 18.

Cæsar Augustus (9). Lastly, as it was united with the kingdom of Ju dea, it became with it a province of the Roman empire.

The origin of the Samaritans is well known ; and the account which the scripture gives us of it is undoubtedly to be preferred before that which we meet with in the Samaritan Chronicle (r), for this is manifeftly. a new-fangled and spurious work, and therefore deserves no credit. Josephus agrees in this particular with the sacred writings (s).

The Samaritans were a mixture of such Jews as remained in the land, when the ten tribes were carried away captive; or of those that afterwards returned thither upon several occasions; as likewise of those idolatrous people, which were transplanted thither by Salmaneser, and are known by the general name of Cathæans (t). These brought their gods along with them, and highly provoked the true and great God to indignation against them for the worship they paid to these idols ; whereu pon God, to punish them for their idolatry, and to keep the rest of the inhabitants from following their example, sent lions among them, which dem voured several of shem. But they having been informed (as Josephus (u) tells us) by an oracle, that this punishment, which he calls a plague, was brought upon them, because they did not worship the true God; they fent commiffioners to the king of Assyria, with a petition, that he would be pleased to send thein fome of the priests that were carried away captive with the Israelites, to teach them the worship of the true God, whom they called the God of the land. Which having been granted, they cealed to be infelted with lions, but continued ftill to be idolaters ; fearing the Lord, and serving withal their graven images. Thus there came to be among the Samaritans a mixture of religions as well as of nations. It cannot exactly be determined how far the ancient inhabitan's of Samaria were concerned in this way of worship; but it is very probable, that they embraced the religion of their conquerors, as people are naturaily apt to do (x). And that even before this time they had not been entirely free from idolatry, as is plain from Jeroboam's golden calves (y), and the scriptures reproaching them upon that score. What helped morcover to spread the infection, was their neighbourhood to Syria, the kings whereof had great power in Samaria (z). It is however generally supposed that their worship was reformed by Manaffeh, whom Sanballat made high-priest of the temple of Gerizim (a). At least it is certain that Manasseh, who was the brother of Jaddus the high-priest of the temple at Jerusalem, was very zealous for the law of Moses, though he had married a frange woman, Jofephus tells us that several Jews, whose case was the same with Manaileh's, withdrew to Gerizim ; from whence we may infer, that, bating these marriages, they observed in other respects the law of Moses. He further testifies, that the Samaritans kept the fabbatical year, and desired of Alex

ander

(9) Joseph. Antiq. xv. 12. & de Bello Jud. I. i. c. 16. . (r) Reland. Differt. de Samarit. p. 14, 17.

() Joftph. Antiq. 1. 9. C. 14. " () 2 Kings xvii. (2) Joteph. Antiq. 1. ix. 14.

(x) 2 Kings xvii. 29, &c. V) i Kugs xii. 26.

(2) Reland de Samarita. p. 6, 7, (a) Joi. Antiq. l. xi. c. 8.

« PreviousContinue »