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only a national one. To throw together every notice of the Hebrew women our history will present, which will prove their social and domestic positions, their mental capabilities, their responsibilities: all which will convince us that ancient and modern Judaism is the same. There is not the division which the caviller or the ignorant have raised up between them.
between them. Let us not then be charged with a change in our style and subject if the present notices read more like historical memoirs than the homespeaking essays of the characters of Scripture. We leave to our Seventh and Last period the conclusions to which the history of our Sixth will lead us—the moral and religious lesson which, even from History and its imperfectly sketched personages, may still be learned. Even did it give us no other mention of woman than the wife of Jannæus, we should possess enough to satisfy us, that we need no other than our own religion for our earthly elevation and our spiritual hope.
The Idumæan dynasty was on the ascendant, the Asmonæan on the decline; yet the people still turned to the remaining scions of their native princes, with such constancy and affection, that Herod, though politically triumphant, felt that his claim to Judea would not be recognised by the multitudes, unless he associated with him, one whose pure Asmonæan blood, enhanced by her engaging youth, and extraordinary beauty, would win for him yet more strongly than his own power, the suffrages of the whole people of Judea.
In the person of the hapless Mariamne was represented, not the Asmonæan line alone, but the claims of both brothers, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. Alexander, the son of the latter, married Alexandra, the daughter of the former: and their children, in consequence, inherited the claims and right of both. But this was no longer the age for legal succession, or the recognition of native sovereigns. The people, indeed, still clung to the laws and prejudices of their fathers; and still loved the descendants of those valiant men who had once saved them from oppression—but Judea was no longer a kingdom—the Jews no longer a people. The divisions between brother and brother, had opened a path to the all-conquering Romans. The line of David, in whom alone the promised monarchy could be restored, had long since passed away: and in this period of Jewish
history, between the return froni Babylon and the final captivity, we can but trace the gradual yet certain advancement in national iniquity, prophesied by Moses and every other ulterior prophet; when, notwithstanding the faithful obedience, spirituality, and love of individuals (ten, perhaps, in every thousand), God could not withdraw His avenging arm-leaving to that other and brighter world, in His presence, to distinguish “ between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth Him not.”
The most powerful impetus to this progression in iniquity, originated in too close a connexion, and too blind an attachment in Hyrcanus, for Antipater, an Idumæan by birth, and a Jew by adoption and semblance. Idumæa had ouly lately been united to Judea, and its inhabitants, by the representation of John Hyrcanus the first, won over as proselytes to Judaism. The family of Antipater, therefore, were not Hebrews. Herod, entitled the last king of the Jews, had no national right to the title; for he was a stranger and, by his actions, a very doubtful proselyte. There was, indeed, evil enough in Israel before the ascendancy of the Idumæan family; but not that utter disregard to nationality, that complete blending with Rome, that intimate association and adoption of its peculiar characteristics, as in the reign of Herod; whose insidious policy to lessen Jewish nationality—that no allegiance to the King of Heaven might interfere with the acknowledgment of his kingdom upon earth-opened the wide gate of utter destruction, for his hapless people. The web of misery flung by Vespasian and Titus over the miserable Jews, Herod's own hand originally wove.
The gallant son of Aristobulus, Alexander, had been murdered; and his widow and orphan children found protection with the powerful friend of Hyrcanus, the Idumæan Herod; whose father, Antipater, had fallen a victim to the hatred of the Jewish faction. Herod appears to have regarded Alexandra and her children only as the near relations of Hyrcanus, whose party he always pretended to befriend. As the widow and children of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, whose claims and struggles for independent sovereignty the Idumæans had always so powerfully and perseveringly resisted, we inight suppose they would be objects rather of enmity than of protection. Affection for the person, and gratitude for the favours of Hyrcanus, there could have been none in the hearts of either Antipater or Herod; they supported him simply because his indolent and confiding disposition placed all the actual power in their hands. With Aristobulus they knew this could not be; for he was, according to Josephus, "an active man, and one of a great and generous soul;" and the only means - to increase their own power, they felt, was to decrease his. When, however, Aristobulus and Alexander were both murdered, and the sole representative of that younger Asmonæan branch (except the children of Alexander) was Antigonus, who, notwithstanding his casual bravery and occasional success, appears to have possessed but little of the Asmonæan spirit, it became an act of policy to unite himself with the youthful representatives of both the brothers;—and Herod acted accordingly.
Mariamne could not have been, at this time, much above fourteen or fifteen years old, that is, granting she was the senior of her brother Aristobulus, who, four years afterwards, is said to have only just completed his seventeenth year. The fierce and jealous passion which afterwards characterised Herod towards his young wife, does not appear to have been excited at the time of their betrothal. He might have been attracted by her exceeding beauty; but the character of the man, allows the supposition, that at that period, when all his ambition was to aggrandise and secure his own power for the future, as well as for the present, he would equally have made this connection, had the grand-daughter of Aristobulus and Hyrcanus been as ugly as sin, instead of lovely as virtue and innocence could make her. Happy indeed would it have been for her, had she not been thus lovely, and the connection remained one of policy alone!
At the time of their betrothal, Mariamne knew little of Herod, save as one of the most gallant, most enterprising men of the day. She had been educated in perfect seclusion with her brother; kept apart, as much as possible, from the fearful confusions and crimes of the state ; and though she had not as yet been called upon to put away the thoughts and habits of youth, and come forward in all the early maturity of Eastern womanhood, --still it is not unlikely that she was willing and contented to receive Herod as her destined husband. He could be as winning, as attractive, and as gentle, as he could also be terrible in severity and rage.
We read enough of his taste for the arts, his expansive intellect, the magnificent scale of his architectural, and other civil improvements, to believe that he was not solely the monster of passion and cruelty which his later