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tions for their support that he was elected their perpetual president; and this man has been denominated the last independent sovereign of Judea—and the hapless people, burdened with his idolatry and sins—as if he were one of them!
Who that reflects upon his reign alone, can associate for one moment the blessed promises of the prophets with the kingdom of Judea between the return from captivity and their final dispersion ?
The very sending his two sons to Rome for education, was a measure directly contrary to the law of Moses. Nor did it proceed only from his anxious desire to conciliate the Romans. Herod was seldom actuated by but one motive. Looking upon the sons of Mariamne as his successors, he probably hoped that their Roman education would effectually remove all national prejudices, and render them able assistants in his ardent desire to Romanise his subjects, and gradually do away with all those remnants of that ancient superstition which excluded them from the conquests and ambition of other nations. The Jews, as a nation, were never in greater danger of becoming amalgamated with other countries, than in the reign of Herod; but still the God of their fathers watched over them, preserving them for the sake of His changeless word, as His chosen people still ; interfering, not visibly, indeed, because of their awful crimes, but making even their threatening chastisement the means of their preservation.
The law issued by Herod, decreeing that thieves should be sold into slavery out of the country, is another manifestation of his anxiety to adopt every measure for the denationalising of Judea; and from its direct disobedience to the law of Moses, was so obnoxious to the
Jews, as to annul their rising gratitude for the rebuilding of the Temple. Nor was his last public act, the placing a large golden eagle over the great gate of the Temple, less offensive. It was torn down by two valiant youths, who were unhappily apprehended, and fell victims to his revenge. The horrible disease under which he laboured increased his sanguinary propensities. Execution after execution followed, till scarcely a family was spared the agony of bereavement
His last barbarous order, that all the principal families of the nation should be seized, shut
up in the Hippodrome, and murdered the instant of his own death, that he might ensure a general mourning, was happily disregarded, and the victims spared.
And with such a command died Herod, misnamed the Great, in the second year of the Christian era, and after a reign of thirty-four years as undisputed monarch.
He has been termed the last independent sovereign of Judea: but even in this brief survey, we have seen enough to convince us that the Jewish people were never further from national independence than in his reign ; that though a strong party of the people still remained zealous and earnest in the national cause, yet the extreme laxity of the Mosaic code, the fearful innovations adopted from heathen and foreign customs, the close intimacy with the Greeks and Romans, must have presented fearful temptations to the people generally, and hastened that day of destruction and dispersion, which the eye of Omniscience saw, could alone preserve His holy law from annihilation, by its complete amalgamation with the surrounding nations.
GENERAL SKETCH CONTINUED FROM THE DEATH OF
HEROD TO THE WAR.
For nine years the throne of Judea was occupied by Archelaus, the son of Herod and his sixth wife, Malthæ, a Samaritan. Little of national interest occurred during that period except a constant reference to Rome (for the .claims of Archilaus were disputed by his brother, Herod Antipas-repeated insurrections of the Jewish people, and, in consequence, numberless executions and the increasing power of the Romans within Judea, who overspread the country, and ruled with such despotic hand, as to cause innumerable adventurers to spring up, collecting daring bands around them, who, either as robbers or fanatics, increased the wretchedness of the people. Archelaus appears to have neither possessed nor exercised any kingly power. In fact, we can scarcely regard him either as a Hebrew, or a Hebrew king. His marriage with Glaphyra, the widow of his brother Alexander, and the mother of children by him, was in direct disobedience to the law of Moses, and consequently very obnoxious to the people; and, so completely were himself and his kingdom in the power of the Romans, that the emperor would not even allow him the title of king, recognising him simply as Ethnarch of Judea. In the tenth
of his reign, he was suddenly summoned to Rome, and thence
banished to Vienne in Gaul, and all his estates confiscated. From that hour, though one or other noble Hebrew was continually rising, with claims to the sovereignty, Judea sunk into a Roman province, dependent on the prefecture of Syria, with a subordinate administration of its own in a Roman governor, generally of the equestrian rank-and recognised in history as Procurator of Judæa.
Coponius, Marcus Ambivius, Valerius Gratus, and Pontius Pilate, successively enjoyed this office. During the reign of Caligula, we again read of the Jews being persecuted for their religion. That emperor, anxious to be universally acknowledged as a god, was furious that a nation of captives (for such the Jews actually were) should dare to worship other than himself, treated them with even more severity than any other of his subjects. In Rome, Syria, and Egypt, the nation felt the effects of the imperial tyranny; but its only effect was to draw them yet closer together, and increase the value of that sacred religion, which both foreign and native princes, seemed so determined to undermine.
In Alexandria, their sufferings equalled the previous cruelties of Antiochus Epiphanes. The Roman Prefect of the period was Flaccus Aquilius, whose tyrannical oppressions even surpassed those of the Emperor himself. He was the first to deny the Jews their rights of citizenship; and this without the smallest provocation on their part. Two quarters of the city were occupied by Jews, though many were also scattered about the other parts. Without any given reason, they were ordered to remove into a district so small, that they were compelled to spread along the sea-shore, and take refuge even in
the cemeteries.* Their homes were pillaged, the contents of their magazines and shops publicly divided ; pestilential disorders, from the heat and famine of their cooped-up abodes, broke out most fearfully, and, when rendered desperate by their condition, they left their assigned quarter—a general massacre ensued. The sword and club, fire, scourging, suffocation, all were employed against them. Neither man, woman, nor child escaped; and this continued, until, at length, the arrest of Flaccus, by order of the Emperor, put an end, in a measure, to these atrocities. In Babylon also there were persecutions, whose origin our readers will find in the authorities so often quoted, Josephus and Milman. In Judea images were raised all over the country, and an edict issued to place the statue of Caligula in the Temple of Jerusalem. Once more the national spirit was aroused. Thousands of the Hebrews of either sex, and every rank and age, unarmed, and clad in sackcloth and ashes, traversed the land, solemnly protesting their intention to sacrifice their lives rather than consent to this awful profanation of their Temple. Petronius, an upright and humane man, sought to dissuade them from their resolution, urging the power of the Emperor, the submission of other nations, and the horrors of war.
“ We have no thoughts of war," was their unanimous reply; “but we will submit to be massacred rather than thus infringe our Law:" and they fell with their faces to the ground, boldly offering their throats to the sword.
The humanity of Petronius delayed the execution of
* Will not this remind us of a modern persecution ? Alas! the History of the Jews can scarcely ever be considered Past.