Page images
PDF
EPUB

dorus, the son of Zeno, prince of Philadelphia, had deposited all his treasure. This place he likewise reduced, and possessed himself of all the riches of Theodorus; but the latter, falling on him by surprize, as he was returning from the conquest, totally routed his army, slew ten thousand of his men, and not only recovered his treasures, but likewise obtained a considerable booty by Alexander's baggage, which, from the danger that threatened him, he was obliged to leave in the field of battle.

Alexander, however, was far from being discouraged at this misfortune. The next year he marched with his forces over the river Jordan, and after taking several neighboring places, laid siege to Gaza, with a design, if he took it, severely to punish the inhabitants, in revenge for their having formerly solicited Ptolemy to assist them in repulsing him. Apollodotus, who commanded the town, made a gallant defence, and from his courage and conduct, the army of Alexander nearly escaped being totally destroyed. He one night made an intrepid sally, at the head of ten thousand men, on the camp of the enemy, wbo, (supposing Ptolemy had come to the relief of the besieged) were greatly disconcerted, and in their confusion many were slain; but when day-light discovered their mistake, they immediately rallied, and charged Apollodotus with such fury, that great numbers of his men were slain, and he, with the rest, obliged to fly with all expe. dition into the city.

Notwithstanding this defeat, together with being threat: ened with a famine, the people of Gaza were determined to encounter all difficulties rather than submit to the enemy; and they were encouraged to persist in this resolution by Aretas, an Arabian prince, who had promised to come, at the head of a large body of forces, to their assistance. But before his arrival the place was reduced, owing to the base treachery of Lysimachus, brother to Apollodotus, who, envying the credit and esteem which his brother had gained in the defence of the place, first murdered him, and then treacherously delivered up the city to Alexander.

As soon as Alexander entered the city, he gave full license to his soldiers to kill, plunder and destroy all that fell in their way, so that the most dreadful scene of bar. barity took place that can be conceived. The inhabitants, finding they were to have no quarter, stood upon their defence, and sold their lives at so dear a rate, tbat in the general carnage Alexander lost nearly as many of his own men as he killed of the enemy. Some of the inhabitants set fire to their own houses that they might not be plundered by the troops of Alexander; and some went even so far as to kill their wives and children, rather choosing that they should die in freedom than live in bondage. The senators who were in council when Alexander entered the city, fled to the temple of Apollo for sanctuary, in which they were all cruelly put to death, and the temple reduced to ashes. In short, the whole was one continued scene of the most horrid destruction and barbarity, and before Alexander left the place he had the horrid satisfaction of seeing this ancient and famous city reduced to utter ruin and desolation.

During these transactions some material revolutions took place in the court of Syria; the first of which was the death of Antiochus Gryphus, who was assassinated by one Horaclean, (a principal officer of his army) in the twenty-ninth year of his sovereignty, and forty-fifth of his age. He was succeeded in the government by his son Seleucus, who, soon after his accession, engaged in a war with his uncle Antiochus Cyzicenus, whom he de. feated in battle, and afterwards put to death. After the decease of Cyzicenus, bis son Antiocbus, surnamed Eu. sebes, being greatly beloved by the people, was crowned king of Arad. He immediately declared war against Seleucus, whom he defeated and drove out of Syria. Seleucus fled to Cilicia, and notwithstanding he was received in the most friendly manner by the people, who readily admitted him as their sovereign, yet he treated them with great tyranny, and laid on them the most oppressive taxes, at which they were so incensed that they set fire to the palace, and he and his attendants perished in the flames; so that Antiochus Eusebes was left sole monarch of the Syrian empire. --But to return to Alexander.

After the destruction of Gaza, Alexander returned with his forces to Jerusalem, where he found things in a very

It was a custom

and lemon-trees, vriest,

different situation to what he had expected, for the people, being incensed at his conduct, were ripe for an open rebellion, of which they very soon gave him a demonstrative instance. It happened, soon after his return, to be the time for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, during which it was a custom among the Jews to carry in their hands branches of palm and lemon-trees. While Alexander was offering the usual sacrifices as high-priest, the people, who were assembled in the temple, had the insolence to throw citrons at him, and to make use of very opprobrious language, telling him he was a slave, and unworthy to go up to the holy altar to offer solemn sacrifices.

This treatment enraged Alexander to such a degree, that he immediately left the temple, and ordering bis soldiers to fall on the people, no less than six thousand were instantly put to death. After this he caused the court of the priests (in which stood the altar and temple) to be surrounded with a wooden partition, to prevent the people from coming near him while he was officiating as high-priest; and, to secure his person against all future attempts, (not daring to trust to his own countrymen) he took guards into his pay from Pisidia and Cilicia, the number of whom amounted to six thousand.

Having by these means, in some measure, put a stop to the tumults at home, Alexander marched with his forces in pursuit of new conquests, and in a short time reduced most of the principal places belonging to the Moabites and Ammonites, whoin he obliged to enter into articles for being tributary to him and his successors. After this Alexander resolved to make another attempt to reduce the strong fortress of Amathus, and for that purpose marched with his forces towards the place; but Theodorus, being apprized of his intentions, and not choosing to hazard a contest with him, removed all his treasure, and withdrew the garrison before his arrival; so that Alexander, finding it in a defenceless state, and uninhabited, immediately laid it in ruins.

The next expedition Alexander took was against Thebas, one of the Arabian kings, who had encamped with a considerable army near Gadara, which afforded the

most advantageous situations for ambuscades. In this place Alexander was attacked by surprize, and being driven into a valley of considerable depth, the greater part of his army was cut to pieces, and it was with the utmost difficulty himself escaped falling a sacrifice.

This defeat greatly added to the hatred which the Jews had already conceived against Alexander, who no sooner returned with the remains of his army to Jerusalem, than they immediately flew into an open rebellion against him. In consequence of this a civil war commenced that continued for six years, during which, in most encounters, Alexander had the advantage of his subjects, and (according to Josephus) in the course of that time no less than 30,000 Jews were put to death.

Alexander, now reflecting on the state of affairs, began to be exceeding uneasy, being conscious to himself that repeated conquests over his subjects must necessarily weaken him against the power of the common enemy. He therefore determined to decline all farther endeavors to bring his subjects to obedience by the force of arms, and to adopt the more gentle methods of argument and persuasion. But this change of conduct served only to encrease the popular enmity; and, upon his asking the people one day what conduct they would wish him to pursue, whereby he might give them satisfaction and procure their friendship and esteem, they, with one voice, replied, “ That he should cut his own throat, for upon no 6 other terms would tbey be at peace with him; and well 6 it would be (they said) considering the great mischiefs 6 he had done them, if they would be reconciled to him, 66 even after he was in his grave.”

In short, the people would not hearken to any mode of accommodation whatever; but, on the contrary, were uni. versally determined to oppose Alexander with all their might, and, if possible, do themselves justice by force of arms. To effect this, they sent deputies to Demetrius Euchærus, who was then king of Damascus, requesting that he would send them succors to oppose their sovereign, and promising him, should they succeed, to invest him with the most distinguished privileges.

at he show esteem, em satisfac.

In conformity to this request Demetrius marched with a considerable army into Judea, where being joined by that of the Jews, he encamped in the neighborhood of Sichar, the whole number of his forces amounting to 3000 horse, and 40,000 foot. Alexander marched against this formidable army with only one thousand horse, six thousand mercenary foot, and about ten thousand Jews, who still maintained their allegiance. While the two armies were encamped within sight of each other, they both made use of the same kind of means to take advantage, and encrease their strength. Demetrius endeavored to induce Alexander's mercenaries to desert and join him; and Alexander was equally solicitous to gain over the Jews in the army of Demetrius, but neither party was able to prevail. At length a desperate battle took place, which was supported with great courage and resolution for some time, when victory declared in favor of Demetrius. All the foreign troops of Alexander were lost to a man, and the greatest part of his other forces were so miserably broken, that he was obliged to fiy with them for shelter to the adjacent mountains.

The event of this victory, however, was contrary to the expectations of both kings; for six thousand of the Jews, who had fought against Alexander, being now moved to compassionate his sufferings, fled to, and joined their king, in the mountains, whither he had retreated for refuge. This circumstance proved exceedingly alarming to Demetrius, who, apprehending that the rest of the Jews in his army might follow the example of those who bad deserted, and being content with the first advantage he had gained, abandoned all thoughts of continuing the war; and, drawing off his forces, retired into Syria, leaving the Jews to combat with their king without his assistance, · After the departure of Demetrius, the Jews continued to prosecute the war against Alexander, and in most encounters that took place the latter was victorious, notwithstanding which he could not, by any means whatever, bring them to listen to terms of accommodation. At length, however, he came to a decisive battle with them, cutting off the greater part, and obliging the rest to fly for safety to a place called Bethome, which was fortified

« PreviousContinue »