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the nation was radically divided as to sacred things The old stern puritan was now in the ascendant. On his side were the swaying mob, always found with the flowing tide. But on the other hand were those who saw life from another standpoint. Hellenism was under a cloud, but the temperament that made the Hellenist was there, and it was a temperament that was in fierce disagreement with that of the puritan, however the matter was cloaked or hidden by other things. And this is to be so to the end, when in their fatal divisions is to be found the common ruin of them all.
46. But meantime it is in its awakening we see the new-born nation. And after all its history is not entirely that of its rulers, any more than that of many another country. It is in Zechariah that we really get the best epitome of the people in their character as a whole. It is in his writings we see them in their faith, in their conduct, and in their fortunes. Thus we read : “ These are the things that ye shall do: Speak, ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates; and let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord.”
“And the word of the Lord of Hosts came unto me saying, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts : The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the House of Judah joy and gladness and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts: It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities : and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of Hosts : I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts : In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even
kas the Holherefore Hoe people antes e lily toho ni come
shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you.”* Thus his song of triumph. All very different to their past, when it had been anything for a leader simply to bring them deliverance from the very terrors of existence. The blessings of simple peace was all they asked. We read the horrors of the times passed through in some of the beautiful psalms of this period. How exquisite the cry, "Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then I would fly away and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from this windy storm and tempest."† And what more pathetic than the reproach of those who had forsaken the faith of their fathers and became traitors to their race? (12) “ For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it; neither was it he that hated me, that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him : But it was thou, a man, mine equal, my guide, and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the House of God in company. How vividly is conjured up the early scene when the good High Priest Onias III. was first treacherously supplanted by his own brother Jason, and a little later was to be foully murdered by his kinsman Menelaus, also supplanter of Jason. And then the scathing indictment (21): “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.”
Probably this, and many like psalms, were written , whilst these terrible days were still unforgettable; like
a terrible tempest just passed through; when the ship is safely docked, and when the present is bright, as we gather from the triumphant exultation (22): “ Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee; He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” And then the closing anathema : “ But
* Zech. viii. 16-23.
Thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction; bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in Thee."
47. And the great fortunes of the Jews at home are reflected in the many parts of the world where we find the Jews as colonists. In Egypt in particular they had become very numerous. In Isaiah xix. 18 we read : “In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of Hosts : one shall be called the City of Destruction.” We have referred to the murder of Onias III. This was to have important consequences in the ultimate development of the Jewish religion, as well as no small influence on the Christian religion that was to follow it. On the death of Onias his son, also named Onias, fled to Egypt. Trouble in Canaan, and Egypt usually proved a welcome and accessible haven of refuge. Here he was honourably received by Ptolemy, the king. And the temple at Jerusalem being wholly given up to the worship of strange gods, he sought the permission of Ptolemy, readily granted, to build a new temple at Heliopolis, where once more he might establish the true worship of his people. In this new temple and its subsequent fortunes is the sidelight to many a future problem. The very justification for its building he professed to find in the next verse. (19) “ In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar in the border thereof to the Lord.” If any man has been single-eyed in his purpose, it would seem to be this Onias in thus building a new temple. In Jerusalem the worship of Jehovah was dead, and the Jews there were for burying it for good and all. Its resurrection there was little short of the miraculous. But revived, and this Egyptian temple became an evil thing in their eyes, and the later Judean party, as voiced by Josephus, saw it built by Onias, not because he would worship his God as did his people in the past, but because he was evilly inclined to his brethren in Jerusalem. And we find
incheid his Onias, no party,
very name of
or the Gir equivalent of it to be either se
this difference echoed in the very name of the city itself. In the final revised Canon we find it is in the City of Destruction where this temple is built. But not so in the earlier Septuagint-i.e. Alexandrian or Egyptian copies. Here we find “ Achares,” or “Asedek," as the term used which make it to be either the City of the Sun, the equivalent of the received name Heliopolis, or the City of Righteousness, as its local worshippers would call it. But such euphemistic name, whether City of Destruction or City of Righteousness, would depend on the point of view of the writer. No doubt two considerations swayed these colonial Jews : on the one hand they did not wish to be involved in the never ending danger and quarrels of their Palestinian brethren, and on the other they found no little satisfaction in the magnificent successes of the Maccabees and the increased consequence it brought them as well. Perhaps, on the whole, they associated themselves with their brethren in Canaan, though it has ever been the policy of this people to identify themselves with the country of their adoption. Their great citizens learnt to make themselves valuable to the masters they served, who knew that, their word given, and their fidelity could be relied upon. The sanctity of an oath was an essential part of their religion, and it was probably accentuated by their hate of the Greeks, notoriously lax, with whom to differ became the chief article of their faith. And more to-day it is their pride :-." He that sweareth to his hurt and changeth not.” Thus we find them faithful in their allegiance, even when it ran somewhat counter to the interest of their own people. For example, it is in this very family of Onias we are to find the Jewish generals the last to forsake the crumbling dynasty of the Ptolemies. In such matters every colony was a law unto itself, nor had they any constitution to give effect to a common policy. The nearest approach to united action was when Caligula later on in his madness would have had his statue erected in their temples, and be worshipped as a god both at Heliopolis and Jerusalem. This outraged the deepest feelings of every Jew throughout the Empire, and it is almost certain that the great proconsuls simply dared not enforce the emperor's edict. The whole Jewish world was in flames, and probably it was this incident which opened the eyes of both to the power that was behind this great race. But the unity amongst them was but for a moment. It was their dissensions which were permanent, and which, when the great struggle came, spelt their ruin total and complete.
48. After the thirty years of glorious rule which we have recorded, Hyrcanus died, and was succeeded by his son Aristobulus, who assumed the title of king. His reign was the briefest. He seems to have had more heart than many of this family, for having starved his mother to death because she was treacherous to him as king, and assassinated his brother, he had the grace soon after to die in an agony of remorse.
He was followed by his younger brother, Alexander Jannaeus, who in those days even was a monster of cruelty. The party of the Pharisees were now altogether in arms against him, and with the people behind them, succeeded in driving him out of power. A freak of fortune reversed the positon, and he wreaked a most terrible vengeance on them. “Nay, his rage was grown so extravagant that his barbarity proceeded to a degree of impiety; for when he had ordered eight hundred to be hung upon crosses in the midst of the city, he had the throats of their wives and children cut before their eyes, and these executions he saw as he was drinking and lying down with his concubines.”
On his death his eldest son, Hyrcanus II., succeeded him as High Priest, but the real power was left in the hands of his mother. She, on the advice of her dying husband, who had realized his mistake in quarrelling with the Pharisees, now made them her friends, and under their aegis ruled well for nine years. But this far from suited the proud spirit of