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    July 2, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. The Scepter Departs from Judah” The Signs of the Times 28, 27, pp. 4, 5.


    IN the year 130 B. C., the king of Syria was slain in a battle with the Parthians. Then John Hyrcanus, the high priest of the Jews, “took the advantage of the disturbances and divisions that thenceforth ensued ... to make himself absolute and wholly independent. For after this, neither he nor any of his descendants owned any further dependence on the kings of Syria; but thenceforth wholly freed themselves from all manner of homage, servitude, or subjection to them.”—Prideaux. And thus the government of the new independent country of Judea was merged in the high priests in succession, the high priest being the head of both religion and the State.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.1

    In the year 129 B. C., this same high priest conquered the Idumeans,—Edomites,—and “reduced them to this necessity, either to embrace the Jewish religion or else to leave the country, and seek new dwellings elsewhere.” They chose to adopt the Jewish religion rather then be driven from their country. But under such circumstances they were as much Idumeans as before, except only in the forms of worship. About the year 128 B. C., Hyrcanus sent an embassy to Rome “to renew the league of friendship they had with the Romans.” “And when the Senate had received their epistle, they made a league of friendship with them,” and “decreed” “to renew their league of friendship and mutual assistance with these good men, and who were sent by a good and friendly people.”—Josephus.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.2

    In the year 106 B. C., Aristobulus, the eldest son of John Hyracanus, regularly succeeded to the high-priesthood, and, being also the head of the State, resolved “to change the government into a kingdom,” and “first of all put a diadem on his head, four hundred and eighty-one years and three months after the people had been delivered from Babylonish slavery, and were returned to their own country again.”—Josephus. This piece of worldly ambition opened among the Jews the flood-gates of jealousy, strife, assassination, and domestic war, which evils were, if possible, more indulged than among the nations around.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.3

    After Aristobulus, Alexander Janneus reigned; and after him his widow, Alexandra. While Alexandra was queen, Hyrcanus, the eldest son of Janneus, was high priest. At the court there was a shrewd and ambitious Idumean, Antipater by name. He studiously gained the ascendant over Hyrcanus. This he did in the hope that when Hyrcanus should become king at the death of his mother, he himself would virtually rule the kingdom. However, when the time actually came, Antipater saw all his plans upset by the revolt of Aristobulus II., the brother of Hyrcanus. For Hyrcanus was defeated in a battle, and was obliged to resign to Artistobulus the office of high priest and king. Yet Antipater did not despair; he immediately set on foot, and persistently wrought an intrigue to replace Hyrcanus upon the throne.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.4

    Under the Roman Power.

    Such was the condition of affairs in Judea when Pompey came into Syria of Damascus. To Pompey at Damascus came ambassadors from both Hyrcanus and Aristobulus—Antipater the Idumaean on behalf of Hyrcanus, and more for himself. Also there came ambassadors from the people to make representations against both Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, and to plead that the kingship be abolished and the governorship be only in the high priest as such. Pompey heard them all; but deferred the decision until he should arrive in Judea. By the time that Pompey reached Judea, Aristobulus had taken a course greatly to offend him. But Pompey coming to Jerusalem, Aristobulus repented and went out to meet him, and offered to receive him into the city and give him money. But the partisans of Aristobulus would not accept this arrangement. They stationed themselves at the temple and prepared for a siege.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.5

    The siege of the temple was promptly begun by Pompey; but he was obliged to spend three months of hard work and fierce fighting before it was taken. However, when the temple was finally taken, Pompey refrained from plundering it of its wealth or of anything, though he passed into the most holy place within the veil. Judea was now held in subjection, and laid under tribute, to the Roman power, from which she never escaped except by annihilation.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.6

    “Now the occasions of this misery which came upon Jerusalem were Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, by raising a sedition one against the other; for now we lost our liberty, and became subject to the Romans, and were deprived of that country which we had gained by our arms from the Syrians, and were compelled to restore it to the Syrians. Moreover the Romans exacted of us, in a little time, above ten thousand talents [about $12,000,000]; and the royal authority, which was a dignity formerly bestowed on those that were high priests by the right of their family, became the property of private men.”—Josephus.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.7

    “Pompey committed Coele-Syria, as far as the river Euphrates and Egypt, to Scaurus with two Roman legions, and then went away to Cilicia, and made haste to Rome.” Joppa, Gaza, and other coast towns were added to the province of Syria, which was the cause of that province’s reaching to Egypt. Thus the Euphrates was made by Pompey the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.8

    As the cause of Hyrcanus had been represented throughout by Antipater the Idumaean, he succeeded in so gaining the favor of Pompey and the Romans that he sustained confidential relations with them and with Pompey’s successor in the East, Gabinius, who “settled the affairs which belonged to the city of Jerusalem, as was agreeable to Antipater’s inclination.”—Josephus.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.9

    When Gabinius “came from Rome to Syria as commander of the Roman forces,” there was in his army a young officer named Mark Antony. In Judea young Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, had “suddenly got together ten thousand armed footmen and fifteen hundred horsemen, and fortified Alexandrium, a fortress near Coreae, and Macherus, near the mountains of Arabia.” In subduing the revolt of Alexander, Antony and Antipater were brought into such relationship that a firm friendship was established between them, and which in after years, out of a curious combination of events wholly undreamed of now by either of them, had a positive bearing upon one of the most significant occurrences in the world’s history.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.10

    In the Roman civil war, 49-47 B. C., Cesar was obliged to follow Pompey to Egypt, and to war in Egypt and the East. While Cesar was in Egypt, Antipater the Idumean became of great service to him; for he and Mithridates, king of Pergamus, were chiefly instrumental in bringing Egypt into complete subjection to Cesar. And when they had taken ..., and in a severe engagement had subdued “the whole Delta,” “Mithridates sent an ... of this battle to Cesar, and openly declared that Antipater was the author of this ... and of his own preservation, insomuch that Cesar commended Antipater then, and made use of him all the rest of that war in the most hazardous undertakings; he also happened to be wounded in one of these engagements. However, when Cesar, after some time, had finished that war and was sailed away from Syria, he honored Antipater greatly, and confirmed Hyracanus in the high-priesthood, and bestowed on Antipater the privilege of ... of Rome, and freedom from taxes everywhere.”—Josephus.SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.11

    The Decree of the Roman Senate

    And when one came to Cesar with accusations against Hyrcanus and Antipater, hoping to have himself put in their places, again “Cesar appointed Hyrcanus to be high priest, and gave Antipater what principality he himself should choose, leaving the determinations himself; so he made him procurator of Judea. He also gave Hyrcanus leave to raise up the walls of his own city, upon his asking that favor of him; for they had been demolished by Pompey. And this grant he sent to the consuls of Rome, to be engraven in the capitol. The decree of the Senate was this that follows:—SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.12

    “Caius Cesar, consul the fifth time, hath decreed: That the Jews shall possess Jerusalem, and may compass that city with walls; and that Hyrcanus, the son of Alexander, the high priest and ethnarch of the Jews, retain it, in the manner he himself pleases; and the Jews be allowed to deduct out of their tribute, every second year the land is let (in the sabbatic period), a corus of that tribute; and that the tribute they pay be not let to farm, nor that they pay always the same tribute.”SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.13

    Antipater the Idumaean “was in great repute with the Idumaeans also; out of which nation he married a wife, who was the daughter of one of their eminent men, and her name was Cypros, by whom he had four sons—Phasael, and Herod, who was afterward made king, and Joseph, and Pheroras, and a daughter named Salome.”SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.14

    Antipater made Phasaelus, his eldest son, governor of Jerusalem and the places that were about it, but committed Galilee to Herod, his next son, who was then a very young man; for he was but twenty-five years of age. But as he was a youth of great mind, he presently met with an opportunity of signalizing his courage. For, finding there was one Hezekiah, a captain of a band of robbers, who overran the neighboring parts of Syria with a great troop of them, he seized him and slew him, as well as a great number of the other robbers that were with him, for which action he was greatly beloved by the Syrians. For when they were very desirous to have their country freed from this nest of robbers, he purged it of them; so they sung songs in his commendation in their villages and cities, as having procured them peace and the secure enjoyment of their possessions. And on this account it was that he became known to Sextus Cesar, who was a relative of the great Cesar, and was now president of Syria.”SITI July 2, 1902, page 4.15

    Cesar spent the time till the autumn of 47 setting things in order in Egypt and the East, then he returned to Rome, where, in 44, he was murdered. Then within two years Octavius Cesar and Mark Antony held the world under their power; and to Antony there fell the task of gathering from the wealth of Asia the enormous sum of $170,000,000 for the payment of the troops.SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.1

    This need and greed of Antony for money stood Herod of Judea in good stead. For when ambassadors from all parts met Antony in Bithynia, among them “the principal men of the Jews came to accuse” Herod and his brother Phasaelus, and to charge that tho “Hyrcanus had indeed the appearance of reigning, these men had all the power. But Antony paid great respect to Herod, who was come to him to make his defense against his accusers, on which account his adversaries could not so much as obtain a hearing, which favor Herod had gained of Antony by money.”—Josephus.SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.2

    The Antony in Cilicia there came again “a hundred of the most potent of the Jews to accuse Herod and those about him, and set the men of the greatest eloquence among them to speak.” But “when Antony had heard both sides at Daphne, he asked Hyrcanus who they were that governed the nation best. Hyrcanus replied, ‘Herod and his friends.’ Hereupon Antony, by reason of the old hospitable friendship he had made with his father [Antipater], ... made both Herod and Phasaelus tetrarchs, and committed the public affairs of the Jews to them, and wrote letters to that purpose.”—Josephus.SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.3

    Antony went with Cleopatra to Alexandria, B. C. 41. Fulvia, his wife, died in the spring of 40. Antony’s giddy infatuation with the voluptuous queen of Egypt was fast estranging him from Octavius and the Roman people. The matter was patched up for a little while by the marriage of Antony and Octavia, the sister of Octavius, B. C. 40; and “the triumvirs returned to Rome to celebrate this union.”—Duruy.SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.4

    Troubles of Herod.

    In the same year, at the instance of a certain Antigonus, the Parthians made an incursion into Judea, gained possession of Jerusalem, and captured Hyrcanus and Phasaelus, with many of their friends. But Herod with his betrothed, with some of his family and a number of his friends, accompanied by a strong guard, all escaped and made their way to Petra in Idumaea. Thus by means of the Parthians, Antigonus obtained the power in Judea. He cut off the ears of Hyrcanus so that, being maimed, he could not, according to the law, hold the high-priesthood. Phasaelus being imprisoned, and knowing he was devoted to death, “since he had not his hands at liberty,—for the bands he was in prevented him from killing himself thereby,—he dashed his head against a great stone, and thereby took away his own life.”SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.5

    Herod shortly went from Idumaea to the king of Arabia, and from there to Egypt, stopping first at Pelusium. There the captains of the ships befriended him and took him to Alexandria, where Cleopatra received him and entertained him; “yet was she not able to prevail with him to stay there, because he was making haste to Rome, even though the weather was stormy, and he was informed that the affairs of Italy were very tumultuous and in great disorder.”SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.6

    Having through violent storms, severe reverses, and much expense, reached Rome, “he first related to Antony what had befallen him in Judea,” and how “that he had sailed through a storm, and contemned all these terrible dangers, in order to come, as soon as possible, to him who was his hope and only succor at this time.”SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.7

    This account made Antony commiserate the change that had happened in Herod’s condition. And, reasoning with himself that this was a common case among those that were placed in such great dignities, and that they are liable to the mutations that come from fortune, he was very ready to give him the assistance that he desired; and this because he called to mind the friendship he had had with Antipater; because Herod offered him money to make him king, as he had formerly given it to him to make him tetrarch; and chiefly because of his hatred to Antigonus, for he took him to be a seditious person and an enemy to the Romans.SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.8

    Cesar [Octavius] was also the forwarder to raise Herod’s dignity, and to give him his assistance in what he desired, on account of the toils of war which he had himself undergone with Antipater his father in Egypt, and of the hospitality he had treated him withal, and the kindness he had always shown him, as also to gratify Antony, who was very zealous for Herod.SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.9

    So the Senate was convocated; and Messala first and then Atratinus, introduced Herod into it, and enlarged upon the benefits they had received from his father, and put them in mind of the goodwill he had borne to the Romans. At the same time they accused Antigonus, and declared him an enemy, not only because of his former opposition to them, but that he had now overlooked the Romans, and taken the government from the Parthians. Upon this the Senate was irritated; and Antony informed them further that it was for their advantage in the Parthian War that Herod should be king. This seemed good to all the senators, and so they made a decree accordingly.SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.10

    When the Senate was dissolved, Antony and Cesar went out of the Senate house with Herod between them, and with the consuls and other magistrates before them, in order to offer sacrifices, and to lay up their decrees in the capital. Antony also feasted Herod the first day of his reign. And thus did this man receive the kingdom, having obtained it on the one hundred and eighty-fourth Olympiad [July, 40 B. C], when Cneius Domitius Calvinus was consul the second time, and Caius Asinius Pollio the first time.”—Josephus.SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.11

    And thus when Herod, a full-blooded Idumaean, had become king of Judea, the scepter had departed from Judah, and a lawgiver from between his feet; and the time was at hand when Shiloh should come, to whom the gathering of the people should be.SITI July 2, 1902, page 421.12

    [The End.]

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