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an active and enterprizing disposition, slie deemed it most prudent to keep in a private station.
Alexandra was well skilled in the arts of government, and had abilities equal to the greatest undertakings. She augmented the militia to the full complement, kept two armies of regular troops, and had a considerable body of foreign auxiliaries in constant pay; so that by these means she became powerful at home, and formidable to the neighboring nations.
But notwithstanding this prudent management, Alexandra was little more than a mere tool in the hands of the Pharisees; for though she had the name of sovereign, the administration of all public affairs was conducted at their discretion. The queen was very rigid in her religious principles, and entertained a high degree of veneration for the Pharisees, on account of the reputed sanctity of their lives. By a plausibility of conduct, they so far insinuated themselves into her favor, as to engross all the privileges and powers of sovereignty, and secure to themselves all the lucrative commissions and distinguished employments, leaving the queen to provide for the expenses and encounter the cares and difficulties of government.
The Pharisees having obtained this power, and kpow. ing that their conduct would not be impeached by Alexandra, proceeded to acts both of a tyrannical and a cruel nature. The first thing they did, was to abolish the decree which had been made by John Hyrcanus (father-inlaw of the queen) against their traditionary constitutions. They next released all the prisoners, and recalled all the exiles, who had been concerned with them in the late civil wars; after which they demanded justice of the queen against all those, at whose instigation and advice the eight hundred rebels had been crucified in Jerusalem.
The infatuated queen readily complied with every request made by the Pharisees; in consequence of which they exhibited articles of impeachment against one Di. ogenes, a poted confidant of the late king, whom they condemned and executed. They proceeded in like manner against several others, and, under the pretext of justice, put all those to death who were so unfortunate as to ineur their displeasure. At length the leading men among them who had been the late king's friends and adherents, seeing no likelihood of there being an end to such persecutions, and not knowing how soon they themselves Inight become victims to the rage of the Pharisees, went in a body to the queen, with Aristobulus, her younger son, at the head of them, to remonstrate against such proceedings.
The adherents of Aristobulus, having obtained an audience of the queen, laid before her their grievances in the most pitiable and affecting manner, while Aristobulus manifested by his countenance the abhorrence he entertained of the public measures. They represented to her that, in the utmost extremity of danger, they had preserved an uniforın loyalty to their late sovereign, who had generously rewarded their services; and therefore earnestly begged, that since they had escaped the perils of war, they might not be sacrificed to the malevolence and treachery of their domestic enemies. They told her, that if their persecutors would proceed no farther in their sanguinary purpose, they would, from a respect to their superiors, suppress future complaints on what had been already perpetrated. They observed, that to countenance the declared enemies of her deceased consort, at the ex. pence of his approved friends, would be a severe reproach upon her honor; and Aretas, the Arabian king, and several other bostile princes, would enjoy a peculiar pleasure in hearing that she had driven from her court those men who had once been so powerful that their very names had formerly struck a terror into their enemies. They concluded by saying, that if she was determined to yield every consideration to the ambition of the Pharisees, and that no regard was to be paid to their past services, they had only one request to make, and that was that they might be permitted to retire into the different fortresses of the kingdom, where they would terminate a miserable existence, honorably sharing the common calamities which seemed to await the friends of the deceased king.
These expostulations greatly embarrassed the queen, who, for some time, knew not how to act, being fearful, if she should give countenance to the petitioners, she might
obtain the ill-will of the Pharisees, of whom she continually stood in dread. At length, however, she resolved on complying with their last request, and therefore ordered them to retire to the several garrisons and places of strength throughout the kingdom; but with this restriction, that they should not enter Hyrcania, Alexandria, or Macheras, because in those places she had deposited her jewels and other valuable treasures.
While affairs were in this situation, Alexandra received intelligence that Tigranes, king of Armenia, had marched with a considerable army into Syria, and that his design was to penetrate into Judea. In consequence of this alarming intelligence the queen immediately dispatched ambassadors to Tigranes with considerable presents, hoping thereby to procure his friendship and avert the impending danger that threatened her dominions. The ambassadors found bim laying close siege to Ptolemais, which, after some time, he reduced. Being introduced to Tigranes in form (for he was a man of great pride and state) they were very favorably received: he readily accepted their presents, assuring them of his good inclina. tions, and said he considered himself highly honored by the queen's sending an embassy to him at so great a distance. But the true reason of all this civility was, his having received advice that Lucullus, the Roman general, had entered Armenia, and was putting the country under military contributions; so that he was obliged immediately to draw his forces from Ptolemais, and return with all expedition in order to take the necessary measures for the better security of his own dominions.
Some time after this Alexandra being seized with a dangerous illness, Aristobulus thought it a favorable opportunity for him to carry into execution the design he had long formed of supplanting his brother Hyrcanus, both in the priesthood and sovereignty, the former of which he then enjoyed, and the latter must of course fall to him on the death of his mother. Having communicated his design to his wife (whom with his children he left in Jerusalem) he one night privately left the city, attended only by one servant; and, having visited all the castles in which his father's friends had been placed in garrison, he in the
course of fifteen days, secured to his interest twenty of those fortresses, and thereby, in a manner, made himself master of the rest of the strength of the kingdom.
On the day after Aristobulus left Jerusalem his absence was known by Alexandra, who, however, did not entertain any idea of his intentions, till she was informed that several fortresses had submitted to him; for, when one place had accepted his proposals, the example was readily followed by the rest.
As soon as the queen and her party received intelli. gence of the proceedings and success of Aristobulus, they were thrown into the greatest consternation, judging him, from his great abilities, and naturally aspiring disposition, to be a man qualified to succeed in the enterprize he had undertaken ; and they were farther alarmed by the dreadful apprehension that they should be called to a severe account for the barbarities they had exercised upon his friends. The first step Hyrcanus and his adherents took was, to seize the wife and children of Aristobulus, whom they confined under a strong guard in the citadel next the temple. They then repaired to the queen, requesting that she would give them directions what farther measures they should pursue at so critical a juncture. They informed her of the great power of Aristobulas, and told her that though their situation was desperate, and ruin likely to ensue, yet they would not, by any means, act without her concurrence. She replied, that the state of her mind and body rendered her wholly incapable of the eares of government, which she resigned entirely to their management; adding, that there was no deficiency either of men or money. Soon after having said this, Alexandra gave up the ghost, in the 73d year of her age, and ninth of her reign, leaving all her wealth and possessions, to. gether with the sovereignty, to her son Hyrcanus.
In the mean time Aristobulus was become exceeding powerful, and such prodigious numbers of people flocked to him from all quarters, that he had got together a considerable army. The inhabitants of Mount Libanus, Trachonitis, and other neighboring places, were readily inclined to support his party, from the expectation of the advantages they should derive, hy assisting in the estab
lishment of a new king, who, they had reason to expect, would remove that tyranny and cruelty which had been exercised in the late reign.
Hyrcanus, by the advice of his friends, determined, if possible, to reduce the usurper by force, for which purpose he left Jerusalem at the head of a considerable body of forces, and the two armies met on the plains of Jeri. cho. The necessary preparations were made on both sides to determine the contest by the sword; but just as they were ready to engage, the greater part of Hyrcanus's forces deserted and went over to Aristobulus. In consequence of this the two brothers entered into a treaty of accommodation, the terms of which were that Hyrcanus should make a resignation of the crown and high-priesthood to Aristobulus, who was to allow him the privileges, honors, and dignity, to which he had a right by virtue of his relationship to the king. This agreement was ratified in the temple, in the presence of the people, after which Aristobulus retired to the palace, and Hyrcanus to the apartments which had been before occupied by his brother.
Hyrcanus was naturally a very quiet and peaceable man, and an admirer of ease and retirement; so that his resignation of the crown was not so great a grievance to himself as it was to many of his friends, particularly one named Antipater, who had long entertained a violent hatred against Aristobulus. Antipater was a native of Idumæa, and, in point of family and wealth, one of the most considerable men of the country. He told Hyrcanus that so long as he continued in Judea his life would be in danger, and that he had no other choice left but either to reign or die; and therefore advised him to make his escape to Aretas king of Arabia, and with him to stipulate for the assistance of forces to enable him to recover his kingdom.
The natural timidity of Hyrcanus's temper made him not listen to the advice of Antipater with that liveliness which might have arisen from a man of a more aspiring disposition, though at the same time he did not make any absolute refusal. Antipater, however, was determined if possible to carry his point, and therefore did that for Hyrcanus which he could not have done for himself. He im
VOL. iii, K