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priestle, who wahe title of kinh Captivity.or, and from

piness; after having had the administration of all public affairs, both in church and state, for the space of twentynine years, he paid the debt of nature, leaving the highpriesthood and sovereignty to his eldest son Judas Aris. tobulus, who was the first that took upon him, in a formal manner, the title of king (by putting a diadem on his head) since the Babylonish Captivity.

Hyrcanus was a most excellent governor, and from his prudent management, obtained more privileges to the Jews than they had ever enjoyed since their captivity by the Babylonians. He was a strict preserver of justice, a man of distinguished probity and virtue, and directed his conduct with such prudence and impartiality in all matters of a public nature, that he justly acquired the general esteem of the people whom he governed; so that he lived respected, and died lamented.

CHAP. XV.

Aristobulus succeeds his father Hyrcanus in the government of

Judea. He imprisons his mother and three of his brethren, the former of whom he causes to be starved to death. He makes war with the Ituræns, whom he subdues, and brings over to the Jewish religion. He causes his brother Antigonus

by his others. Ideath.

der of his mother, so affects his mind and body that he dies miserably, after having reigned only one year. He is succeeded by his brother Alexander Jannæus, who releases his other two brothers from confinement, the elder of whom he causes to be put to death. He lays siege to Ptolemais, but abandons the enterprize. He enters into a treaty with Ptolemy Lathyrus, the expelled king of Egypt, but proving perfidious, Ptolemy engages his army, defeats him, and lays waste a great part of his territories. He forms an alliance with Cleopatra (the mother of Ptolemy) queen of Egypt. He marches into Cælo-Syria, and takes Gadara, with the fortress of Amathus, but is afterwards defeated by Theodorus, the son of Zeno, prince of Philadelphia. He lays ! siege to Gaza, which, by the treachery of Lysamachus, he VOL. iji.

sa by one life. A cip of whom sista

reduces, puts all the inhabitants to the sword, and totally destroys the place. He returns to Jerusalem, and is insulted by his subjects, who enter into an open rebellion against him. He marches against the Ammonites and Moabites, whom he subdues, and makes them become tributary. He is capitally defeated by one Thedas, an Arabian prince, and narrowly escapes with his life. A civil war takes place between him and his subjects, the latter of whom apply to Demetrius Euchcrus, king of Damascus, for assistance. Demetrius accordingly enters Judea with a considerable army, and engaging Alexander obtains a complete victory. Alex. under flies, with his scattered forces, to the mountains for safety, where, being joined by a great number of those Jews who were in arms against him under Demetrius, the latter, fearful that the rest may do the like, retircs into Syria. Alexander, having taken eight hundred of his rebellious subjects, prisoners, carries them to Jerusalem, where he orders them all to be crucified, and their wives and children massacred before their faces. He dies at the siege of Ragaba, but, previous to his death, gives a political piece of advice to his queen, who, in consequence thereof, is afterwards settled in the supreme government of the nation.

ON the death of Hyrcanus, his eldest son Aristobulus succeeded him both in the high-priesthood and sovereiguty, and, putting a diadem on his head, assumed the title and dignity of king. He was naturally of a very cruel and suspicious disposition, and, therefore, began his reign with acts that would have been disgraceful to the basest of human beings. He had, indeed, a particular regard for his next brother, whose name was Antigonus, and, therefore, admitted him to some share in the gov. ernment; but his mother, whom he considered as his rival in the sovereignty (Hyrcanus having bequeathed to her all that was in his power to leave) he ordered into close confinement, and his three younger brethren (for Ilyrcanus had five sons in all) he consigned to the same fate. So horribly cruel and unnatural was he, that he actually starved his mother to death in the prison he had placed her in, and (as will appear hereafter) from some malignant and groundless insinuations, sacrificed the life of his favorite brother Antigonus.

A short time after Aristobulus had been seated on the throne of Judea, he engaged in a war with the Ituræans,* and having subdued the greater part of the country, he compelled the inhabitants to become proselytes to the Jewish religion, in the same manner as his father had done to the Idumeans. While he was on this expedition he was taken exceeding ill, and being obliged to return to Jerusalem, left his brother Antigonus in Ituræa, with orders fully to complete the business he had so success. fully begun. Antigonus strictly obeyed bis brother's orders, and, after thoroughly completing the work, returned in triumph to Jerusalem, just at the time when the people were celebrating the feast of the Tabernacles.

As soon as Antigonus entered the city, the first thing he did was to enquire after the welfare of his brother; and understanding that he was still exceeding ill, he immediately repaired to the temple, attended by his guards (all of whom, as well as himself were dressed in armor just as they had come from the wars against the Ituræ. ans) in order to supplicate heaven for the restoration of his brother's health.

This being made known to the enemies of Antigonus, (among whom his sister-in-law the queen was one of the most inveterate) they immediately repaired to the king, telling him it was high time to look to himself; that his brother was gone into the temple in a dress far from becoming a private man; and that, in all probability, it

his armed soldiers, and, by force of arms, divest him of the sovereignty.

Aristobulus did not give credit to all that was reported

part, bdiately should put od

foundation for a part, he determined to provide for his own safety. He immediately sent a messenger to his brother, with orders that he should put off his armor,

* The country of Ituræa, where these people dwelt, was a part of Cælo-Syria, situated to the north-east of Judea, and lying between the inheritance of the half tribe of Manasseh beyond the river Jor. dan, and the territories of Damascus. Philip, one of Herod's sons, was tetrarch of Iturea when St. John the Baptist first entered upon bis publie mitiistry.

en sus he distas in

and come to him, concluding that if, pursuant to'his orders, he came unarmed, there was no mischief intend. ed; but that, if he did otherwise, there might be some. thing in what had been suggested to him. As a necessary precaution, however, before he dispatched the messenger to Antigonus, he placed his guards in a subterraneous passage that led from the palace to the temple, and through which his brother was to come to the king's apartment, ordering them, that if they saw him unarmed they should let him pass, but if otherwise, they should instantly fall on him and put him to death.

These orders being given in the presence and hearing of the base and perfidious queen, she prevailed with the messenger (whom Aristobulus sent to bid his brother come unarmed) to tell Antigonus that the king, being informed of his having a beautiful suit of armor which he had brought with him from the wars, was desirous of seeing it, and, therefore, required that he would come to him fully equipped in his martial dress. Antigonus, not suspecting any treachery, immediately left the temple, and proceeded towards the palace completely armed, in obedience (as he thought) to the king's commands. But as soon as he came to the place where the guards were posted, they, seeing him dressed in his armor, obeyed their orders, by immediately falling on him and putting him to death.

When Aristobulus heard of the death of Antigonus, he began seriously to repent of his cruelty in having given orders for taking away his life. The reflection of having lost a good brother, brought to his remembrance the barbarous murder of his mother, and his conscience flew in his face for both at the same time. The horrors of his mind increased the distemper of his body; and so great were both, that he could find no ease for the one, nor any cure for the other. After languishing a short time in this dreadful and irremediable state, during which he expressed the most bitter accusations against himself, he at length died in the utmost agonies, just one year after he had obtained the sovereignty of Judea.*

* Josephus tells us that the distemper of Aristobulus (after re. flecting on the murders of his mother and brother) was increased by

Aristobulus was succeeded on the throne by his brother Alexander Jannæus, who had been kept in prison during the whole of the late reign; but on the decease of Aris. tobulus, his widow Soloma released bim and his other two brothers from their confinement, and Alexander, being the eldest, she advanced to the regal dignity.

Alexander had not long been seated on the throne before he discovered that the elder of his two brothers had formed a design of supplanting him in the sovereignty. But this design he soon rendered abortive, by ordering him to be immediately put to death. The other brother, whose name was Absalom, being of a quiet and peaceable disposition, he took into his favor and protec. tion, and having no farther emulation than that of leading a private life, he provided for him in a manner suitable to the dignity of the brother of a king.

Alexander, being now fully established on the throne of Judea, resolved to make war with the people of Ptolemais. He accordingly marched with his forces from Jerusalem for that purpose; and meeting with the army of the enemy in the way, a desperate battle ensued, in which Alexander proved victorious, having killed great numbers, and obliged the rest to fly to Ptolemais for refuge. Alexander, however, pursued his conquest,

a violent vomiting of blood; after which he relates the following incident. That as an attendant was conveying some of the blood away in a vessel, he spilt a part of it on the very spot where Antigonus had been slain, and where the stains of his blood were still to be perceived. The spectators, imagining this to be the effect of design, and intended as an oblation to the manes of the deceased prince, so loudly expressed their surprize as to be overheard by the king, who instaotly inquired the cause; but as he became anxious to be informed, the people about him were the more desirous of concealing it. However, by the force of threats and entreaties, he at length prevailed on them to tell him; but his desire was no sooner complied with, than, shedding abundance of tears, and fetching a deep sigh, he broke out into the following exclamation : “ The all-seeing power “ hath detected my iniquity, and my brother's murder hath called 6 down the vengeance of heaven upon me. How long shall I hold “ that life which is forfeited to the blood of a mother and a brother? “ Rather, why do I not expire on a sudden than thus yield my life " drop by drop, as if the severest punishment was inadequate to my “ guilt ?" Soon after uttering these words he gave up the ghost.

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