« PreviousContinue »
my lady [Livia] ; which, when thou readest, I know that “ Herod will punish Salome, as plotting against him.” Now this pretended letter of Salome's to her lady was composed by Antipater, in the name of Salome, as to its real meaning, but in the words of Acme. The letter was this : “ Acme “ to king Herod. I have done my endeavour that nothing “ that is done against thee should be concealed from thee. " So, upon my finding a letter of Salome written to my “ lady against thee, I have written out a copy, and sent it " thee; with hazard to myself, but for thy advantage. The
reason why she wrote it was this, that she had a mind to 6 be married to Sylleus. Do'thou therefore tear this letter “ in pieces, that I may not coine into danger of my life.” Now Acme bad written to Antipater himself, and informed him that, in compliance with his command, she had both herself written to Herod, as if Salome had laid a sudden plot entirely against him, and had herself sent a copy of an epistle, as coming from Salome to her lady. Now Acme was a Jew by birth, and a servant to Julia, Cæsar's wife; and did this out of her friendship for Antipater, as having been corrupted by him with a large present of money, to assist in bis pernicious designs against his father and his aunt.
8. Hereupon Herod was so amazed at the prodigious wickedness of Antipater, that he was ready to have ordered him to be slain immediately, as a turbulent person in the most important concerns, and as one that had laid a plot not only against himself, but against his sister also, and even corrupted Cæsar's own domestics. Salome also provoked him to it, beating her breast, and bidding him kill her, if he could produce any credible testimony that she had acted in that man
Herod also sent for his son, and asked him about this matter, and bid him contradict it if he could, and not suppress any thing he had to say for himself; and, when he had not one word to say, he asked him, since he was every way caught in his villany, that he would make no farther delay, but discover his associates in these his wicked designs. So he laid all upon Antiphilus; but discovered nobody else. Hereupon Herod was in such great grief, that he was ready to send his son to Rome to Cæsar, there to give an account of these his wicked contrivances. But he soon became afraid, lest he might there, by the assistance of his friends, escape the danger he was in : so he kept him bound as before, and sent more ambassadors and letters [to Rome] to accuse his son and an account of what assistance Acme had given him in his wicked designs, with copies of the epistles before-medtioned
Concerning the disease that Herod fell into, and the sedition
which the Jews raised thereupon; with the punishment of the seditious.
1. Now Herod's ambassadors made haste tu Rome; but went as instructed before hand, what answers they were to make to the questions put to them. They also carried the
epistles with them. But Herod now fell into a distemper, vinnand made his will, and bequeathed his kingdom to (Antipas)
his youngest son; and this out of that hatred to Archelaus and Philip, which the calumnies of Antipater had raised against them. He also bequeathed a thousand talents to Cæsar, and five hundred to Julia, Cæsar's wife, to Caesar's children, and friends and freed-men. He also distributed among his sons and their sons, his money, his revenues, and his lands. He also made Salome his sister very rich, because she had continued faithful to him in all his circumstances, and was never so rash as to do him any harm: and as he'despaired of recovering, for he was about the seventieth year of his age, he grew fierce, and indulged the bitterest anger upon all occasions; the cause whereof was this, that he thought himself despised, and that the nation was pleased with his misfortunes; besides which, be resented a sedition which some of the lower sort of men excited against him, the occasion of wbich was as follows:
2. There was one Judas, the son of Saripheus, and Matthias, the son of Margalothus, two of the most eloquent men among the Jews, and the most celebrated interpreters of the Jewish laws, and men well beloved by the people, because of their education of their youth; for all those that were studious of virtue, frequented their lectures every day. These men, when they found that the king's distemper was incurable, excited the young men that they would pull down all those works which the king had erected contrary to the law of their fathers, and thereby obtain the rewards which the law will confer on them for such actions of piety; for that it was truly on account of Herod's rashness in making such things as the law had forbidden, that bis other misfortunes, and this distemper also, which was so unusual among mankind, and with which he was now afflicted, came upon him : for Herod had caused such things to be made, which were contrary to the law, of which he was accused by Judas and Matthias ; for the king had erected over the great gate of the temple a large golden eagle, of great value, and had dedicated it to the
temple. Now the law forbids those that propose to live according to it, to erect images * or representations of any living creature. So these wise men persuaded [their scholars] to pull down the golden eagle; alledging, That “although “ they should incur any danger, which might bring them to " their deaths, the virtue of the action now proposed to “ them, would appear much more advantageous to them than " the pleasures of life; since they would die for the preser66 vation and observation of the law of their fathers; since " they would also acquire an everlasting fame and commen" dation ; since they would be both commended by the pre
sent generation, and leave an example of life that would
never be forgotten to posterity ; since that common cala" mity of dying cannot be avoided by our living so as to es“ cape any such dangers; that therefore it is a right thing $6 for those who are in love with a virtuous conduct, to wait “ for that fatal hour by such a behaviour as may carry them 66 out of the world with praise and honour; and that this will « alleviate death to a great degree, thus to come at it by the “ performance of brave actions, which bring us into danger " of it; and at the same time, to leave that reputation be" bind them to their children, and to all their relations, whe66 ther they be men or women,
which will be of
advan" tage to them afterward.”
3. And with such discourses as this did these men excite the young men to this action; and a report being come to them that the king was dead, this was an addition to the wise men's persuasions; so, in the very middle of the day, they got upon the place, they pulled down the eagle, and cut it into pieces with axes, while a great number of the people were in the temple. And now the king's captain, upon hearing what the undertaking was, and supposing it was a thing of a higher nature than it proved to be, came up thither, having a great band of soldiers with him, such as was sufficient to put a stop to the multitude of those who pulled down what was dedicated to God: so he fell upon them unexpectedly, and as they were upon this bold attempt, in a foolish presumption rather than a cautious circumspection, as is usual with the multitude, and while they were in disorder, and incautious of what was for their advantage; so he caught no fewer than forty of the young men, who had the courage to stay behind when the rest ran away, together with the authors of this bold attempt, Judas and Matthias, who thought it an ignominious thing to retire upon his approach, and led them to the king. And when they were come to the king, and he had asked them if they had been so bold as to pull down what he had dedicated to God? “ Yes, said they) what was " contrived, we contrived, and what had been performed,
* That the making of images, without an intention to worship them, was not anlawful to the Jews, see the note on Antiq. B. VIII. ch. vii. sect. 5. Vol. I.
we performed it, and that with such a virtuous courage as " becomes men; for we have given our assistance to those 5 things which were dedicated to the majesty of God, and
we have provided for what we have learned by hearing the " law; and it ought not to be wondered at, if we esteemi " those laws which Moses had suggested to him, and were " taught him by God, and which he wrote and left behind “ him, more worthy of observation than thy commands. Ac“ cordingly we will undergo death, and all sorts of punish
ment which thou canst inflict upon us, with pleasure, since
we are conscious to ourselves that we shall die, not for any “ unrighteous actions, but for our love to religion.” And thus they all said, and their courage was still equal to their profession, and equal to that with which they readily set about this undertaking. And when the king had ordered them to be bound, he sent them to Jericho, and called together the principal men among the Jews; and when they were come, he made them assemble in the theatre, and because he could not himself stand, he lay upon a couch, and “ enu. “ merated the many labours that he had long endured on " their account, and his building of the temple, and what a " vast charge that was to bim; while' the Asamoneans, dur" ing the hundred twenty-five years of their government, “ had not been able to perform any so great a work for the " honour of God as that was : that he had also adorned it “ with very valuable donations; on which account he hoped " that he had left bimself a memorial, and procured bimself
a reputation after his death. He then cried out, that these
men had not abstained from affronting him, even in his “ life-time, but that in the very day-time, and in the sight of " the multitude, they had abused him to that degree, as to “ fall upon what he had dedicated, and in that way of abuse, “ had pulled it down to the ground. They pretended, in“ deed, that they did it to affront him; but if any one, con.
sidering the thing truly, they will find that they were guilty of sacrilege against God therein."
4. But the people, on account of Herod's barbarous tem. per, and for fear he should be so cruel as to inflict punishment on them, said, “ What was done, was done without " their approbation, and that it seemed to them that the ac“ tors might well be punished for what they had done." But as for Herod, he dealt more mildly with others (of the assem. bly); but he deprived Matthias of the high-priesthood, as in part on occasion of this action, and made Joazar, who was Matthias's wife's brother, high-priest in his stead. Now it bappened that during the time of the high-priesthood of this Matthias, there was another person made high-priest for a single day, that very day which the Jews observed as a fast. The occasion was this : This Matthias the high-priest, on the night before that day, when the fast was to be celebrated, seemed, in a dream, * to have conversation with his wife ; and because he could not officiate himself on that account, Joseph, the son of Ellemus, his kinsinan, assisted bim in that sacred office. But Herod deprived this Matthias of the highpriesthood, and burnt the other Matthias, who had raised the sedition; with his companions, alive. And that very night there was an eclipse of the moon.f
5. But now Herod's distemper greatly increased upon him after a severe manner, and this by God's judgment upon him for his sins; for a fire glowed in him slowly, which did not so much appear to the touch outwardly, as it augmented his pains inwardly; for it brought upon him a vebement appetite to eating, which he could not avoid to supply with one sort of food or other. His entrails were also exulcerated, and the chief violence of his pain lay on his colon; an aqueous and transparent liquor also had settled itself about his feet, and a like matter afflicted him at the bottom of his belly. Nay, farther, his privy-member was putrified, and produced worms; and when he sat upright, he had a difficulty of breathing, which was very loathsome, on account of the stench of his breath, and the quickness of its returns: he had also convulsions in all parts of his body, which increased his strength to an insufferable degree. It was said by those who pretended to divine, and who were endued with wisdom to foretel such things, that God inflicted this punishment on the king, on account of his great impiety; yet was he still in hopes of re
* This fact, that one Joseph was made high-priest for a single day, on occasion of the action here specified, that befel Matthias, the real high-priest, in his sleep, the night before the great day of expiation, is attested to both in the Mishna and Talmud, as Dr. Hudson here informs us. And indeed, from this fact, thus fully attested, we may confute that pretended rule jo the Talmud here mentioned, and endeavoured to be excused by Reland, that the high-priest was not suffered to sleep the night before that great day of expiation; which watching would surely rather unfit bim for the many important duties he was to perform on that solemn day, than dispose him duly to perform them. Nor do such Talmudical rules, when unsupported by better evidence, much less when contradicted thereby, seem to me of weight enough to deserve that so great a man as Reland should spend his time in endeavours at their vindication.
+ This eclipse of the moon (which is the only eclipse of either of the lumina. ries mentioned by our Josephus in any of his writings,) is of the greatest consequence for the determination of the time for the death of Herod and Antipater, and for the birth and entire chronology of Jesus Christ. It happened March 13th, in the year of the Julian period 4710, and the 4th year before the Chris. tiap æra.
See its calculation by the rules of astronomy, at the end of the Ask tronological Lectures, edit. Lat. page 451, 452.