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The historian has himself supplied us with some proofs of a direct intercourse. He gives an account which is confirmed by the first book of Maccabees, which represents a king of Sparta to have written to Onias, the high priest of the Jews, professing to be descended from Abraham, and claiming the friendship of the Jews; the king is called Darius and Areus in the book of Maccabees *. The letter was probably addressed to Onias the first, who was a contemporary of the sovereign referred to t, and not, as Josephus states, to Onias, the son of Simon ..
The ambassadors sent by Jonathan to Rome and Sparta, about 144 years before Christ, addressed themselves to the Spartans as to the allies of the Jews, they alluded to the letter before mentioned as sent to Onias, and expressed sentiments of amity towards the Lacedemonians, which seem to have been well received, and to have been registered in public records g. It appears that two or three years after, upon the death of Jonathan, the Lacedemonians sent to renew the treaty of friendship with Simon*. Hyrcanus received honours from the Athenians, and a decree was made by them in his favour of
* i Maccab. xii. and Usher.
+ Scaliger, Animad. in Euseb. p. 139, and Seneca Isagog. lib. iii. p. 340. I Antiq. Lib. xii. c. 4.
Maccab. xii. 1-22. xxiv. 22.
On the Intercourse which subsisted between
the Romans and the Jews, and on the Means of Information which the former possessed.
The Romans do not appear, at any early period of their history, to have had immediate and direct intercourse with the Jews, nor did any circumstance then exist which can be supposed to have led to a communication.
Clement of Alexandria, however, states that Numa, the second king of the Romans, supported some doctrines which must have been originally derived from the Hebrew revelation. He
appears indeed to have enacted a law grounded on a reverence for the divine nature, similar to what prevailed among the Jews, and which directed, that no one should attempt to express the ineffable name of God. . Neither were external representations of the Deity allowed; and for near two centuries from the time of the building of the city, there was no image of any deity, either in
sculpture or painting *. Suidas speaks of an old Tuscan writer, who described the creation in the order which Moses has laid down, representing the six days as six thousand years of
The Jews, who, in their decline, and amidst the distraction of parties, courted the protection of foreign powers, being desirous to withdraw themselves from subjection the Syrian kings, turned to the Romans for assistance.
One of the first accounts which we have of an intercourse between the Romans and the Jews, is that of Judas Maccabæus., who, after his victory over Nicanor, about 160 years before Christ, sent the first embassy which took place between the two nations, requesting the Romans, who had manifested a generous detestation of tyranny, to make a league with them, and to interpose in their favour with Demetrius, who harassed them: Eupolemus, the son of John, and Jason, the son of Eleazar, being employed on this occasion. The treaty was ratified by the senate, and written on tables of brass, the ori
• August. de Civit Dei, lib. iv. c. 31.
ginal being deposited in the capitol *. Before the ambassadors returned, Judas was dead. The league was confirmed to Jonathan, and having been written on brass, was carried to Jerusalem, and read before all the people t. It was afterwards renewed to Hyrcanus.
Pompey, when engaged in a war with Tigranes, had formed an alliance with a party of the Jews by the agency of Scaurus; upon his arrival at Damascus, he received a present from Aristobulus, the second brother of Hyrcanus, of a golden vine of five hundred talents, which Strabo inentions, and which Josephus professes to have seen in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus ..
This great conqueror having, by the assistance of a party in Jerusalem, introduced his army into the city, and taken possession of the temple, manifested his respect for the Jews and their religion, for, though he entered into the sanctuary, he did not carry off the sacred vessels, nor the treasure of two
· Macc. viii. xvii. Joseph. Antiq. xii. c. 10. 9. 6. vol. 1.
+ 1 Macc. xiv. 16. 40. Joseph. lib. xiii. c. 5. 9. 8. lib. xiii. c. ix. 2. Ed. Hudson.
1 Lib. xiv. c. 3. de Bel. Jud. lib. i. c. 6.