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apostacy took place, the service of the temple was neglected, and Jason abandoned him. self, without remorse, to all the impieties and absurdities of paganism.
He did not, however, long enjoy his ill-acquired dignity. Having sent his brother Menelaus with the usual tribute to Antiochus, the former took the opportunity of supplanting Jason, in the same manner that he had supplanted Onias. Having offered for the high-priesthood three hundred talents more than his brother had given, he easily obtained it, and returned, with his new commission, to Jerusalem. He soon got himself a strong party ; but Jason, proving too powerful, forced Menelaus and his adheronts to retire to Antioch. Here, the better to gain their point, they acquainted Antiochus, that they were determined to renounce their old religion, and wholly conform themselves to that of the Greeks, which so pleased the tyrant, that he immediately gave them a force sufficient to drive Jason out of Jerusalem, who thereupon took refuge among the Ammonites.
Menelaus being thus freed from his rival, took care to fulfil his promise to the king. with regard to the apostacy, but forgot to pay the money he had promised. At last be was summoned to Antioch, and finding nothing but the payment of the promised suin would do, sent orders to his brother Lysimachus, to convey to him as many of the sacred utensils, belonging to the temple, as could be spared. As these were all of gold, the apostate soon raised a sufficient sum from them, not only to satisfy the king, but also to bribe the courtiers in his favour. But his brother Oujas, who had been all this time confined at Antioch, getting intelligence of the sacrilege, made such bitter complaints, that an insurrection was ready to take place among the Jews at Antioch. Menelaus, in order to avoid the impending danger, bribed Andronicus, governor of the Menelaus, in Onias. This produced the most vehement complaints, as soon as Antiochus returned to the capital (he having been absent for some time, in order to quell an insurrection in Cilicia), which, at last, ended in the death of Andronicus, who was executed by the King's order. By dint of money, however, Menelaus still found means to keep up his credit, but was obliged to draw such vast sums from Jerusalem, that the inhabitants, at last, massacred his brother Lysimachus, whom he had left governor of the city in his absence. Antiochus soon after took a journey to Tyre, upon which the Jews sent deputies to him, both to justify the death of Lysimachus, and to accuse Menelaus of being the author of all the troubles which had happened. The apostate, however, was never at a loss while he could procure money,
By means of this powerful argument, he pleaded his cause so effectually, that the deputies were not only cast, but put to death ; and this unjust sentence gave the traitor a complete victory over all his enemies, that from thenceforth he commenced a down-right tyrant. Jerusalem was destitute of protectors, and the sanhedrim, if there were any zealous men among them, were so much terrified, that they durst not oppose him, though they evidently saw that his design was finally to eradicate the religion and liberties of his country.
In the mean time Antiochus was taken up with the conquest of Egypt, and a report was, some how or other, spread, that he had been killed at the siege of Alexandria. At this news the Jews imprudently showed some signs of joy, and Jason, thinking this a proper opportunity to regain his lost dignity, appeared before Jerusalem at the head of 1000 resolute men. The gates were quickly opened to him, by some of his friends in the city ; upon which, Menelaus retired into the citadel
, and Jason, minding nothing but his resentment, committed the most horrid butcheries. At last he was obliged to leave both the city and country, on the news, that Antiochus was coming with a powerful army against him ; for that prince, highly provoked at this rebellion, and especially at the rejoicings the Jews had made on the report of his death, had actually resolved to
punish the city in the severest manner. Accordingly, about 170, B. C. having made himself master of the city, he behaved with such cruelty, that within three days they reckoned no fewer than 40,000 killed, and as many sold for slaves. In the midst of this dreadful calamity, the apostate, Menelaus, found means, not only to preserve himself from the general slaughter, but even to regain the good graces of the king, who, having, by his means, plundered the temple of every thing valuable, returned to Antioch in a kind of triumph. Before he departed, however, he put Judea under the government of one Philip, a barbarous Phrygian ; Samaria, under that of Andronicus, a person of a similar disposition ; and left Menelaus, the most hateful of all the three, in possessiou of the high-priesthood.
Though the Jews suffered exceedingly under these tyrannical governors, they were still reserved for greater calamities. - About 168, B.C. Antiochus, having been inost severely mortified by the Romans, took it into his head to wreak his vengeance on the unhappy Jews. For this purpose he dispatched Apollonius, at the head of 22,000 men, with orders to plunder all the cities of Judea, to murder all the men, and sell the women and children for slaves. Apollonius, accordingly, came with his army, and, to outward appearance, with a peaceable intention"; neither was he suspected by the Jews, as he was superintendant of the tribute in Palestine. He kept himself inactive till the next sabbath, when they were all in a profound quiet, and then, on a sudden, commanded his men to arms.
Some of them he sent to the temple and synagogues, with orders to cut in pieces all whom they found there ; whilst the rest, going tlırough the streets of the city, massacred all that came in their way, the superstitious Jews not attempting to make the least resistance, for fear of breaking the sabbath. He next ordered the city to be plundered and set on fire, pulled down all their stately buildings, caused the walls to be demolished, and carried away captive about 100,000 of those who had escaped the slaughter. From that time, the service of the temple was totally abandoned, that place having been quite polluted, both with the blood of "multitudes, who had been killed, and in various other ways. The Syrian troops built a large fortress on an eminence in the city of David, fortified it with a strong wall and stately towers, and put a garrison in it, to command the temple over against which it was built : so that the soldiers could easily see, and sally out upon all those who attempted to come into the temple, so of whom were continually plundered and murdered by them, that the rest, not daring to stay any longer in Jerusalem, fled for refuge to the neighbouring nations.
Antiochus, not yet satiated with the blood of the Jews, resolved either totally to abolish their religion, or destroy their whole race. He therefore issued out a decree, that all nations, within his dominions, should forsake their old religion and gods, and worship those of the king, under the most severe penalties. To make his orders more effectual, he sent overseers into every province, to see them strictly put in execution ; and as he knew the Jews were the only people who would disobey them, special directions were given, to have them treated with the utmost severity. Atheneas, an old and cruel minister, well versed in all the pagan rites, was sent into Judea. He began by dedicating the temple to Jupiter Olympius, and setting up his statue on the altar of burntofferings. Another lesser altar was raised before it, on which they offered sacrifices to that false deity. All who refused to come and worship this idol, were either massacred, or put to some cruel tortures, till they either complied or expired under the hands of the executioners. At the same time, altars, groves, and statues, were raised every where through the country, and the inhabitants compelled to worship them, under the same severe penalties ; while it was instant death to observe the sabbath, circumcision, or any other institution of Moses.
At last, when vast numbers had been put to cruel deaths, and many more had saval
their lives by their apostacy, an eminent pricst, named Mattạthias, began to signalize himself by his bravery and zeal for religion. He had, for some time, been obliged to re : tire to Modin, his native place, in order to avoid the persecution which raged at.Jerusalen. During his recess there, Apelles, one of the king's officers, came to oblige the inhabitants to comply with the above-mentioned orders. By him, Mattathias and his compazious were addressed in the most earnest manner, and had the most ample promises maile hem of the king's favour and protection, if they would renounce their religion. Bit Mattathias answered, that though the whole Jewish nation, and the whole world, were to conform to the king's edict, yet both he and his sons would continue faithful to their God to the last minute of their lives. At the same time, seeing one of his countrymen just going to offer sacrifices to an idol, he fell upon hiin and instantly killed him, agreeable to the law of Moses, in such cases. Upon this, his sons, fired with the same, zeal, killed the officer and his men, overthrew the altar and idol, and, running about the, city, cried out, that those who were zealous for the law of God should follow them ; by which means, they quickly saw themselves at the head of a numerous troop, with, whom they soon after withdrew into some of the deserts of Judea. They were followed, by many others, so that, in a short time, they found themselves in a condition to resist their enemies ; and having considered the danger to which they were exposed, by their. scrupulous observance of the sabbath, they resolved to defend themselves, in case of an attack upon that day, as well as upon any other.
" In the year 167, B. C. Mattathias finding that his followers daily increased in number, began to try his strength, by attacking the Syrians and apostate Jews. As many of these as he took he put to death, but forced a much greater number to fly for refuge into fo-, reign countries ; and having soon struck his enemics with terror, he marched from city, to city, overturned the idolatrous altars, opened the Jewish synagogues, made a diligent search after all the sacred books, and caused fresh copies of them to be written ; he also caused the reading of the scriptures to be resumed, and all the males, born since the persccution, to be circumcised. In all this he was attended with such success, that he had extended his reformation through a considerable part of Judea, within the spaçe of one year ; and would, probably, have completed it, had he, not been prevented by death.
Mattathias was succeeded by his son Judas, surnamed Maccabeus, the greatest unin-, spired hero of whom the Jews can boast. His troops amounted to no more than six, thousand men, yct, with these, he quickly made himself master of some of the strongest fortresses of Judea, and became terrible to the Syrians, Samaritans, and apostate Jews. In one year, he defeated the Syrians in five pitched battles, and drove them quite out of, the country; after which, he purified the temple, and restored the true worship, which had been interrupted for three years and a hall. Only one obstacle now remained, viz. the Syrian garrison above mentioned, which had been placed over against the temple. and which Judas could not, at present, reduce. In order to prevent them from interrupting the worship, however, he fortified the mountain, on which the temple stood, with an high wall and strong towers round about, leaying a garrison to defend it; making some additional fortifications, at the same time, to Bethzura, a fortress at about twenty miles distance.
In the mean time, Antiochus, being on his return from an unsuccessful expedition in Persia, received the disagreeable news, that the Jews had, all to a man, revolted, defeated his generals, driven their armies out of Judea, and restored their antient worship. This threw him into such a fury, that he commanded his charioteer to drive with the utmost speed, threatening utterly to extirpate the Jewish race, without leaving a single Burson alive. These words were scarcely uttered, when he was seized with a violent
pain in his bowels, which no remedy could cure or abate. But notwithstanding this violent shock, suffering himself to be hurried away by the transports of his fury, he gave orders for proceeding, with the same precipitation, in his journey. But while he was thus hasiening forward, he fell from his chariot, and was bruised by the fall, that his attendants were forced to put him into a litter. Not being able to bear even the motion of the litter, he was forced to halt at a town called Tabir, on the confines of Persia and Babvionia. Here he kept his bed, suffering inexpressible torments, occasioned chiefly by the vermin, which bred in his body, and the stench, which made him insupportable, even to himself. But the torments of his mind, caused by his reflecting on the former actions of his life; surpassed, by many degrees, those of his body. Polybius, who, in his account of this prince's death, agrees with the Jewish historians, tells us, that the uneasiness of his mind grew, at-last, to a constant delirium, or state of madness, by reason of several spectres and apparitions of genii or spirits, which he imagined were continu
reproaching him with many wicked actions, of which he had been guilty. At last, having languished for some time in this miserable condition, he expired, and by his death freed the Jews from the most inveterate enemy they had ever known,
Notwithstanding the death of Antiochus; however, the war was still carried on against the Jews; but through the valour and good conduct of Judas, the Syrians were constantly defeated; and in 163, B. C. a peace was concluded upon terms very advantageous to the Jewish nation. This tranquillity, however, was of no long continuance ; the Syrian generals renewed their hostilities, and were attended with the same ill success as before. Judas defeated them in five engagements, but in the sixth, was abandonod by all his men, except eight hundred, who, together with their chief, were slain in the year 161, B. C. : The news of the death of Judas threw his countryinen into the utmost consternation, and seemed to give new life to all their enemies. He was succeeded, however, by his brother Jonathan, who conducted matters with no less prudence and success than Judas had done, till he was treacherously seized and put to death by Tryphon, a Syrian usurper, who shortly after murdered his own sovereign. The traitor immediately prepared to invade Judea, but found all his projects frustrated by Simon, Jonathan's brother. This pontiff repaired all the fortresses of Judea; and furnished them with fresh garrisons ; took Joppa and Gaza ; and drove out the Syrian garrison from the fortress of Jerusalem; but was, at last, treacherously murdered by a son-in-law, named Ptolemy, about 135, B. C.
Simon was succeeded by his son Hyrcan, who not only shook off the yoke of Syria, but conquered the Samaritans, demolished their capital city, and became master of all Palestine, to which he added the provinces of Samaria and Galilee ; all which he enjoyed till within a year of his death, without the least disturbance without, or internal discord.
His reign was no less remarkable, on the account of his great wisdom and piety at honie, than his conquests abroad. He was the first, since the captivity, who bad assumed the roval title, and he raised the Jewish nation to a greater degree of splendor, that it had ever enjoyed since that time. The author of the fourth book of the Maccabees also informs us, that in hin those dignities were centred, which never met in any other perso!!, oamely, the royal dignity, the high-priesthood, and the gift of prophecy : but the instances given of this last are very equivocal and suspicions. The last year of his reign, however, was imbittered by a quarrel with the Pharisees, and which proceeded such a length, as was thought to have shortened his days. Hyrcan had always been a great friend to that sect, and they had hitherto enjored the most honourable employments in the state ; but, at length, one of them named Eleazar, took it into his head to question Hyrcan’s legitimacy, alleging, that his mother had formerly been a
slave, and, consequently, that he was incapable of enjoying the high-priesthood. This report was credited, or pretended to be so, by the whole sect, which irritated the highpriest to such a degree, that he joined the Sadducees, and could never afterwards be reconciled to the Pharisees, who therefore raised all the troubles and seditions they could, during the short time he lived.
Hyrcan died in 107, B. C. and was succeeded by his eldest son Aristobulus, who conquered Iturea, but proved a most cruel and barbarous tyrant, polluting his hands with the blood, even of his mother, and one of his brothers, keeping the rest closely confined during his reign, which, however, was but short. He was succeeded, in 163, by Alexander Jannæus, the greatest conqueror, next to king David, that ever sat on the Jewish throne. He was hated, however, by the Pharisees, and once in danger of being killed in a tumult, excited by them; but having caused his guards to fall upon the mutinous mob, they killed six thousand of them, and dispersed the rest. After this, finding it impossible to remain in quiet in his own kingdom, he left Jerusalem, with a design to apply himself wholly to the extending of his conquests ; but while he was busied in subduing his foreign enemies, the Pharisees raised a rebellion at home. This was quashed in the year 86, B. C. and the rebels were treated in the most inhuman manner. The faction, however, was, by this means, so thoroughly quelled, that they never dared to lift up their heads as long as he lived ; and Alexander, having made several conquests in Syria, died about 79, B. C.
The king left two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, but bequeathed the government to his wife Alexandra, as long as she lived ; but as he saw her greatly afraid, and not without reason, of the resentment of the Pharisees, he desired his queen, just before bis death, to send to the principal leaders of that party, and pretend to be entirely devoted to them ; in which case, he assured her, that they would support both her, and her sons after her, in the peaceable possession of the government. With this advice the queen complied, but found herself much embarrassed by the turbulent Pharisees, who, after several exorbitant demands, would, at last, be contented with nothing less, than the total extermination of their adversaries, the Sadducees. As the queen was unable to resist the strength of the pharisaic faction, a most cruel persecution immediately took place against the Sadducees, which continued for four years ; until, at last, upon their earnest petition, they were dispersed among the several garrisons of the kingdom, in order to secure them from the violence of their enemies. A few years after this, being seized with a dangerous sickness, her youngest son Aristobulus collected a strong party, in order to secure the crown to himself; but the queen, being displeased with his conduct, appointed her other son Hyrcanus, whom she had before made high-priest, to succeed her also in the royal dignity. Soon after this she expired, and left her two sons competitors for the crown. The Pharisees raised an army against Aristobulus, which almost instantly deserted to him ; so that Hyrcanus found himself obliged to accept of peace upon any terms, which, however, was not granted, till the latter had abandoned all title both to the royal and pontifical dignity, and contented himself with the enjoyment of his peculiar patrimony, as a private person.
But this deposition did not extinguish the party of Hyrcanus. A new cabal was raised by Antipater, an Idumean proselyte, and father of Herod the Great, who carried off Hyrcanus into Arabin, under pretence that his life was in danger if he remained in Judea. Here he applied to Aretas, king of that country, who undertook to restore the deposed monarch, ard, for that purpose, invaded Judea, defeated Aristobulus, and kept him closely besieged in Jerusalem. The latter had recourse to the Romans, and having bribed Scaurus, one of their generals, he defeated Aretas, with the loss of seven thousand of his men, and drove bim quite out of the country. The two brothers next