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peaceans, would savete. Then Hercome
of these Galilean insurgents to be rounded up and destroyed. And they proved doughty antagonists. They refused to be affrighted by his assaults, but met him in arms; for their skill was that of warriors, but their boldness was that of robbers. But it did not avail, and Herod's genius and forces proved too much for them, and they were routed and dispersed. But their final conquest was a matter of time, for they had caves and fastnesses in the precipices of craggy mountains which were not to be approached from any side save by winding pathways, very narrow, which it was impossible to master. Then, as a counterstroks he let down by ropes from above men in chests who, thus getting a footing, were able to make good their position, and then overcome and burn them out of their retreats. Then Herod made proclamation that he would save those who delivered themselves up peaceably, but not one of them came willingly to him. And those taken preferred death to captivity. And one old man, a father who had seven children who wished to accept Herod's offer, ordered them to leave the cave; and standing at its mouth slew them one by one as they went out. And though unable to save them, Herod was witness of the whole scene and, wrung with compassion, begged him to spare his children. But he did not relent, but only reproached Herod on the lowness of his descent, and slew his wife as well; and when he had thrown their dead bodies down the precipice he hurled himself after them and so made end. Such these robbers that Josephus held in contempt.
Also affairs were going ill with the Parthians. This re-acting on the fortunes of Antigonus, after a short reign of some three years he also succumbed to Herod, backed as he was by the power of Rome. Captured, he was sent prisoner to Anthony, who at first proposed keeping him prisoner against his triumph; but finding the goodwill the people bore him, regarded him as a danger, and resolved forthwith to execute him, which he did by beheading. This dishonourable death he inflicted that he might lessen the influence of his memory amongst the nation, and that they might be brought to more favourably regard Herod, who was now to be their king.
And so the Maccabees quit the stage. Herod holds his crown by the gift of the Romans, but otherwise is independent. It has been but a change of dynasty for the Jews, if they will so regard it.
But that is a very open question.
THE FOUSE OF HEROD,
| 51. THUS established, we are soon to see Herod as King of the Jews. His career was a phenomenal success even for those days. We have seen that it was the pride of his father that he was of bluest Babylonian blood, and in this pride Herod equally shared. And his life was to be devoted to making his dominions as magnificent as possible. Until age and infirmities overtook him he proved himself a great monarch. With accession to power one of his first acts was to marry Mariamne, the daughter of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, who had so vigorously opposed him. She was gloriously beautiful, and he was desperately in love with her; and he made her brother, also famed even as far as Rome for his personal charms, the High Priest of the Temple. Unhappily, soon after the youth was drowned, a mishap attributed by some to his machinations. Having regard to his undoubted passion for his wife at this time, this is not as probable as otherwise it might have been. And the story of his love might well make the subject of a great tragedy. He was ever infatuated, but malicious whisperings and poisonous suggestion did their work only too well, and distrust too soon divided. And she spurned his advances, scorned his words of affection. And he,
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now beseeching return of love, now in fury at her cold disdain, in evil moment is persuaded by those who hate her, to do her to death. He is never afterwards altogether the same, and proves a veritable Blue Beard or Henry VIII. anticipate, and marries eight more wives, many of whom come to untimely ends. He was one of the notable successes of the world. He was confirmed by Augustus in the whole of the Maccabean kingdom of Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Peraea, and Idumaea, but he had not exactly happy domestic life. Perhaps the greatest blot on his fame in these early days was his murder of poor old Hyrcanus, his father's friend, and who had loved him as his own son. But in those faction-ridden times it may well have been he was never safe as long as any possible rallying cry was left to people so intolerant of rule. Any trifle served as excuse for the wildest turbulence, and any puppet served as a popular leader against authority. No doubt a section of the nation chafed exceedingly at their loss of liberty; but really, when did a people use liberty worse, or less deserve to be free? The worst government is better than no government, or government by factions in eternal feud. But Herod was a strong man, and for a time against its will his country had rest. And he did his utmost to deserve well of his subjects. From his tributory cities he had a great revenue, and the temple also continued to receive contributions from the faithful all over the world. And they were many. There was hardly a city now of any importance that had not its contingent of this race. A cradle never empty, they solved the problem of population by seeking their fortunes in every land. “And this great wealth above all he lavished on Jerusalem and its citizens. How he rebuilt the Temple on a scale of superlative grandeur is well known; and in times of famine, his ordinary resources exhausted, he sold the very gold and silver ornaments of his palaces that he might buy corn from Egypt to satisfy their necessities. And he would further ingratiate himself with his subjects. With the greatest pomp and magnificence, which would have left in ecstacies the rabble of any other city, having built a grand amphitheatre, he would there celebrate games after the manner of the Greeks. In music and song, in arena and circus, he would have contestants of the greatest renown. He offered huge prizes to attract the "fancy' from the whole then civilized world. In vain. In these contests the competitors took part naked, and he is instantly up against that stern puritan strain which will have none of such things. One recollects how, in our youth, the ballet was regarded with the same horror by some of our forbears, who saw in the theatre an annex of the brothel and a half-way house to hell. And he is trying to please a people who above all will not be pleased. Vain is his piping, his singing in the market-place. They will have no favour of a master calling himself their king. They are not to be danced and sung out of their passion for liberty. It is liberty they desire; above all, liberty to serve their God as in the days of their fathers. And these shows are an abomination to the Lord. And the recollection is hardly yet dead of the glorious singing on another occasion, truly glorious, when Simon officiated for his people before the altar of their own Jehovah. And we can hear that wonderful sixty-eighth psalm thundered forth by thousands of excited and exultant throats : “Let God arise. Let His enemies be scattered. Let them also that hate Him flee before Him." And so on, every line reverberating with wild but glorious emotion. And now they are to be pandered to and tickled and soothed with these cursed songs of the Gentiles, their shows, and their vile suggestions. Away with them; and they decline to be pacified.
52. And Herod dead, and the succession of his son Archelaus causes the wildest commotion. “We will not have this man to reign over us." By constitutional means and unconstitutional means they oppose him. They send a deputation to Rome, and pray to be made a Roman province rather than delivered over to his rule. In the country itself there are wild risings and defiance of all authority. Augustus, after patient hearing of both sides, confirmed him in his kingdom. This was followed by further violent outbreaks, which for a time almost threatened the imperial rule itself. In these ten thousands of disorders we see as leading spirit Judas of Galilee. He was son of that Hezekias whose capture by Herod when a youth had brought him so much renown. Like his father, Judas was a strong man, and was the founder of the fourth party which was to play all-important part in the subsequent politics of the Jews. Recalling both the history of David and of the Maccabees, and realizing what resolution could do, he made an assault upon the palace at Sepphoris, in Galilee, and seized the arsenal and treasure in it, and made himself terrible to all men. His success was such that he aspired to the royal dignity itself, and no honour was deemed too great for his fortunes. From the antipathy of Josephus to him and his family, and his excessive indignation at his temerity in claiming to be king, it would seem that he was rather of the House of David than the House of Aaron, from whom alone, according to the notions of Josephus, all honours were to be traced. “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah.” True! but who the proud priest to concede the pre-eminence? And the time came when his house, the royal house of David, had declined in importance. In the very promise of its restoration we have evidence of how lowly its estate had become. “In that day will I raise the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof. And I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in days of old.” * And in the Maccabees of the same priestly house we trace a rival and enemy to his family. In inchoate state, the doctrine of the “Messiah” found favour with the Pharisees, who found all promises fulfilled in the great Judas and his successors. That any signs were to be found in any other would-be Christ they resolutely denied. We can thus understand how this remnant of a royal line,