The Personal History of Herod


The Two Worlds in Jerusalem


It is an intensely painful history, in the course of which Herod made his way to the throne. We look back nearly two and a half centuries to where, with the empire of Alexander, Palestine fell to his successors. For nearly a century and a half it continued the battle-field of the Egyptian and Syrian kings (the Ptolemies and the Seleucidae). At last it was a corrupt High-Priesthood—with which virtually the government of the land had all along lain—that betrayed--Israel--’s precious trust. The great-grandson of so noble a figure in Jewish history as Simon the Just (compare Ecclus. 1.) bought from the Syrians the High-Priestly office of his brother, adopted the heathen name Jason, and sought to Grecianise the people. The sacred office fell, if possible, even lower when, through bribery, it was transferred to his brother Menelaus. Then followed the brief period of the terrible persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes, when Judaism was all but exterminated in Palestine . The

 glorious uprising of the Maccabees called forth all the national elements left in Israel, and kindled afresh the smouldering religious feeling. It seemed like a revival of Old Testament times. And when Judas the Maccabee, with a band so inferior in numbers and discipline, defeated the best of the Syrian soldiery, led by its ablest generals, and, on the anniversary of its desecration by heathen rites, set up again the great altar of burnt-offering, it appeared as if a new Theocracy were to be inaugurated. The ceremonial of that feast of the new dedication of the Temple when each night the number of lights grew larger in the winter’s darkness, seemed symbolic of what was before Israel . But the Maccabees were not the Messiah; nor yet the kingdom, which their sword would have restored—that of Heaven, with its blessings and peace. If ever, --Israel-- might then have learned what Saviour to look for.

The period even of promise was more brief than might have been expected. The fervour and purity of the movement ceased almost with its success. It was certainly never the golden age of Israel—not even among those who remained faithful to its God—which those seem to imagine who, forgetful of its history and contests, would trace to it so much that is most precious and spiritual in the Old Testament. It may have been the pressure of circumstances, but it was anything but a pious, or even a happy thought of Judas the Maccabee, to seek the alliance of the Romans. From their entrance on the scene dates the decline of Israel’s national cause. For a time, indeed—though after

 varying fortunes of war—all seemed prosperous. The Maccabees became both High-Priests and Kings. But party strife and worldliness, ambition and corruption, and Grecianism on the throne, soon brought their sequel in the decline of morale and vigour, and led to the decay and decadence of the Maccabean house. It is a story as old as the Old Testament, and as wide as the history of the world. Contention for the throne among the Maccabees led to the interference of the foreigner. When, after capturing Jerusalem, and violating the sanctity of the Temple, although not plundering its treasures, Pompey placed Hyrcanus II. in the possession of the High-Priesthood, the last of the Maccabean rulers was virtually shorn of power. The country was now tributary to Rome, and subject to the Governor of Syria. Even the shadow of political power passed from the feeble hands of Hyrcanus when, shortly afterwards, Gabinius (one of the Roman governors) divided the land into five districts, independent of each other.

But already a person had appeared on the stage of Jewish affairs, who was to give them their last decisive turn. About fifty years before this, the district of Idumaea had been conquered by the Maccabean King Hyrcanus I., and its inhabitants forced to adopt Judaism. By this Idumaea we are not, however, to understand the ancient or Eastern Edom, which was now in the hands of the Nabataeans, but parts of Southern Palestine which the Edomites had occupied since the Babylonian Exile, and especially a small district on the northern and eastern boundary of Judaea, and below Samaria.  After it became Judaean, its administration was entrusted to a governor. In the reign of the last of the Maccabees this office devolved on one Antipater, a man of equal cunning and determination. He successfully interfered in the unhappy dispute for the crown, which was at last decided by the sword of Pompey. Antipater took the part of the utterly weak Hyrcanus in that contest with his energetic brother Aristobulus. He soon became the virtual ruler, and Hyrcanus II. only a puppet in his hands. From the accession of Judas Maccabaeus, in 166 b.c., to the year 63 b.c., when Jerusalem was taken by Pompey, only about a century had elapsed. Other twenty-four years, and the last of the Maccabees had given place to the son of Antipater: Herod, surnamed the Great.

The settlement of Pompey did not prove lasting. Aristobulus, the brother and defeated rival of Hyrcanus, was still alive, and his sons were even more energetic than he. The risings attempted by them, the interference of the Parthians on behalf of those who were hostile to Rome, and, lastly, the contentions for supremacy in Rome itself, made this period one of confusion, turmoil, and constant warfare in Palestine. When Pompey was finally defeated by Caesar, the prospects of Antipater and Hycanus seemed dark. But they quickly changed sides; and timely help given to Caesar in Egypt brought to Antipater the title of Procurator of Judaea, while Hycanus was left in the High-Priesthood, and, at least, nominal head of the people. The two sons of Antipater were now made governors: the elder, Phasaelus, of Jerusalem; the younger, Herod, only twenty-five years old, of Galilee. Here he displayed the energy and determination which were his characteristics, in crushing a guerilla warfare, of which the deeper springs were probably nationalist. The execution of its leader brought Herod a summons to appear before the Great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem, for having arrogated to himself the power of life and death. He came, but arrayed in purple, surrounded by a body-guard, and supported by the express direction of the Roman Governor to Hyrcanus, that he was to be acquitted. Even so he would have fallen a victim to the apprehensions of the Sanhedrin—only too well grounded—had he not been persuaded to withdrawn from the city. He returned at the head of an army, and was with difficulty persuaded by his father to spare --Jerusalem--. Meantime Caesar had named him Governor of Coelesyria.

On the murder of Caesar, and the possession of Syria by Cassius, Antipater and Herod again changed sides. But they rendered such substantial service as to secure favour, and Herod was continued in the position conferred on him by Caesar. Antipater was, indeed, poisoned by a rival, but his sons Herod and Phasaelus repressed and extinguished all opposition. When the battle of Philippi placed the Roman world in the hands of Antony and Octavius, the former obtained Asia. Once more the Idumaeans knew how to gain the new ruler, and Phasaelus and Herod were named Tetrarchs of Judaea. Afterwards, when Antony was held in the toils of Cleopatra, matters seemed, indeed, to assume a different aspect. The Parthians entered the land, in support of the rival Maccabean prince Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus. By treachery, Phasaelus and Hyrcanus were induced to go

 to the Parthian camp, and made captives. Phasaelus shortly afterwards destroyed himself in his prison, 5 while Hyrcanus was deprived of his ears, to unfit him for the High-Priestly office. And so Antigonus for a short time succeeded both to the High-Priesthood and royalty in Jerusalem. Meantime Herod, who had in vain warned his brother and Hyrcanus against the Parthian, had been able to make his escape from Jerusalem. His family he left to the defence of his brother Joseph, in the inaccessible fortress of Masada; himself fled into Arabia, and finally made his way to Rome. There he succeeded, not only with Antony, but obtained the consent of Octavius, and was proclaimed by the Senate King of Judaea. A sacrifice on the Capitol, and a banquet by Antony, celebrated the accession of the new successor of David.

But he had yet to conquer his kingdom. At first he made way by the help of the Romans. Such success, however, as he had gained, was more than lost during his brief absence on a visit to Antony. Joseph, the brother of Herod, was defeated and slain, and Galilee, which had been subdued, revolted again. But the aid which the Romans rendered, after Herod’s return from Antony, was much more hearty, and his losses were more than retrieved. Soon all Palestine’, with the exception of Jerusalem, was in his hands. While laying siege to it, he went to Samaria, there to wed the beautiful Maccabean princess Mariamme, who had been betrothed to him five years before.  That ill-fated Queen, and her elder brother Aristobulus, united in themselves

 the two rival branches of the Maccabean family. Their father was Alexander, the eldest son of Aristobulus, and brother of that Antigonus whom Herod now besieged in Jerusalem; and their mother, Alexandra, the daughter of Hyrcanus II. The uncle of Mariamme was not long able to hold out against the combined forces of Rome and Herod. The carnage was terrible. When Herod, by rich presents, at length induced the Romans to leave Jerusalem, they took Antigonus with them. By desire of Herod he was executed.

This was the first of the Maccabees who fell victim to his jealousy and cruelty. The history which now follows is one of sickening carnage. The next to experience his vengeance were the principal adherents in Jerusalem of his rival Antigonus. Forty-five of the noblest and richest were executed. His next step was to appoint an obscure Babylonian to the High-Priesthood. This awakened the active hostility of Alexandra, the mother of Marimme, Herod’s wife. The Maccabean princess claimed the High-Priesthood for her son Aristobulus. Her intrigues with Cleopatra—and through her with--Antony--—and the entreaties of Mariamme, the only being whom Herod loved, though in his own mad way, prevailed. At the age of seventeen Aristobulus was made High-Priest. But Herod, who well knew the hatred and contempt of the Maccabean members of his family, had his mother-in-law watched, a precaution increased after the vain attempt of Alexandra to have herself and her son removed in coffins from--Jerusalem--, to flee to Cleopatra. Soon the jealousy and suspicions of Herod were raised to

murderous madness, by the acclamations which greeted the young Aristobulus at the Feast of Tabernacles. So dangerous a Maccabean rival must be got rid of; and, by secret order of Herod, Aristobulus was drowned while bathing. His mother denounced the murderer, and her influence with Cleopatra, who also hated Herod, led to his being summoned before--Antony--. Once more bribery, indeed, prevailed; but other troubles awaited Herod.

When obeying the summons of Antony, Herod had committed the government to his uncle Joseph, who was also his brother-in-law, having wedded Salome, the sister of Herod. His mad jealousy had prompted him to direct that, in case of his condemnation, Mariamme was to be killed, that she might not become the wife of another. Unfortunately, Joseph told this to Mariamme, to show how much she was loved. But on the return of Herod, the infamous Salome accused her old husband of impropriety with Mariamme. When it appeared that Joseph had told the Queen of his commission, Herod, regarding it as confirming his sister’s charge, ordered him to be executed, without even a hearing. External complications of the gravest kind now supervened. Herod had to cede to Cleopatra the districts of Phoenice and Philistia, and that of Jericho with its rich balsam plantations. Then the dissensions between Antony and Octavius involved him, in the cause of the former, in a war with Arabia’, whose king had failed to pay tribute to Cleopatra. Herod was victorious; but he had now to reckon with another master. The battle of Actium decided the fate on

Antony, and Herod had to make his peace with Octavius. Happily, he was able to do good service to the new cause, ere presenting himself before Augustus. But, in order to be secure from all possible rivals, he had the aged Hyrcanus II. executed, on pretence of intrigues with the Arabs. Herod was successful with Augustus; and when, in the following summer, he furnished him supplies on his march to Egypt, he was rewarded by a substantial addition of territory.

When about to appear before Augustus, Herod had entrusted to one Soemus the charge of Mariamme, with the same fatal directions as formerly to Joseph. Again Mariamme learnt the secret; again the old calumnies were raised—this time not only by Salome, but also by Kypros, Herod’s mother; and again Herod imagined he had found corroborative evidence. Soemus was slain without a hearing, and the beautiful Mariamme executed after a mock trail. The most fearful paroxysm of remorse, passion, and longing for his murdered wife now seized the tyrant, and brought him to the brink of the grave. Alexandra, the mother of Mariamme, deemed the moment favorable for her plots—but she was discovered, and executed. Of the Maccabean race there now remained only distant members, the sons of Babas, who had found an asylum with Costobarus, the Governor of Idumaea, who had wedded Salome after the death of her first husband. Tired of him, as she had been of Joseph, Salome denounced her second husband; and Costobarus, as well as the sons of Babas, fell victims to Herod. Thus perished the family of the Maccabees.

The hand of the maddened tyrant was next turned against his own family. Of his ten wives, we mention only those whose children occupy a place in this history. The son of Doris was Antipater; those of the Maccabean Mariamme, Alexander and Aristobulus; another Mariamme, whose father Herod had made High-Priest, bore him a son named Herod (a name which other of the sons shared); Malthake, a Samaritan, was the mother of Archelaus and Herod Antipas; and, lastly, Cleopatra of Jerusalem bore Philip. The sons of the Maccabean princess, as heirs presumptive, were sent to Rome for their education. On this occasion Herod received, as reward for many services, the country east of the Jordan, and was allowed to appoint his still remaining brother, Pheroras, Tetrarch of Peraea. On their return from Rome the young princes were married: Alexander to a daughter of the King of Cappadocia, and Aristobulus to his cousin Berenice, the daughter of Salome. But neither kinship, nor the yet nearer relation in which Aristobulus now stood to her, could extinguish the hatred of Salome towards the dead Maccabean princess or her children. Nor did the young princes, in their pride of descent, disguise their feelings towards the house of their father. At first, Herod gave not heed to the denunciations of his sister. Presently he yielded to vague apprehensions. As a first step, Antipater, the son of Doris, was recalled from exile, and sent to Rome for education. So the breach became open; and Herod took his sons to Italy, to lay formal accusation against them before Augustus. The wise counsels of the Emperor restored peace for a time. But Antipater now returned to Palestine, and joined his calumnies to those of Salome. Once more the King of Cappadocia succeeded in reconciling Herod and his sons. But in the end the intrigues of Salome, Antipater, and of an infamous foreigner who had made his way at Court, prevailed. Alexander and Aristobulus were imprisoned, and an accusation of high treason laid against them before the Emperor. Augustus gave Herod full powers, but advised the convocation of a mixed tribunal of Jews and Romans to try the case. As might have been expected, the two princes were condemned to death, and when some old soldiers ventured to intercede for them, 300 of the supposed adherents of the cause were cut down, and the two princes strangled in prison. This happened in Samaria, where, thirty years before, Herod had wedded their ill-fated mother.

Antipater was now the heir presumptive. But, impatient of the throne, he plotted with Herod’s brother, Pheroras, against his father. Again Salome denounced her nephew and her brother. Antipater withdrew to Rome’; but when, after the death of Pheraras, Herod obtained indubitable evidence that his son had plotted against his life, he lured Antipater to Palestine, where on his arrival he was cast into prison. All that was needed was the permission of Augustus for his execution. It arrived, and was carried out only five days before the death of Herod himself. So ended a reign almost unparalleled for reckless cruelty and bloodshed, in which the murder of the Innocents in Bethlehem formed but so trifling an episode among the many deeds of blood, as to have seemed not deserving of record on the page of the Jewish historian.

But we can understand the feelings of the people towards such a King. They hated the Idumaean; they detested his semi-heathen reign; they abhorred his deeds of cruelty. The King had surrounded himself with foreign councillors, and was protected by foreign mercenaries from Thracia, Germany, and Gaul.  So long as he lived, no woman’s honour was safe, no man’s life secure. An army of all-powerful spies pervaded Jerusalem —nay, the King himself was said to stoop to that office.  If pique or private enmity led to denunciation, the torture would extract any confession from the most innocent. What his relation to Judaism had been, may easily be inferred. He would be a Jew—even build the --Temple--, advocate the cause of the Jews in other lands, and, in a certain sense, conform to the Law of Judaism. In building the --Temple--, he was so anxious to conciliate national prejudice, that the Sanctuary itself was entrusted to the workmanship of priests only. Nor did he ever intrude into the--Holy Place--, nor interfere with any functions of the priesthood. None of his coins bear devices which could have shocked popular feeling, nor did any of the buildings he erected in --Jerusalem-- exhibit any forbidden emblems. The Sanhedrin did exist during his reign, though it must have been shorn of all real power, and its activity confined to ecclesiastical, or semi-ecclesiastical, causes. Strangest of all, he seems to have had at least the passive support of two of the greatest Rabbis—the Pollio and Sameas of Josephus—supposed to represent those great figures in Jewish tradition, Abtalion and Shemajah.  We can but conjecture, that they preferred even his rule to what had preceded; and hoped it

 might lead to a Roman Protectorate, which would leave Judaea practically independent, or rather under Rabbinic rule.

It was also under the government of Herod, that Hillel and Shammai lived and taught in Jerusalem:  the two, whom tradition designates as the fathers of old.  Both gave their names to schools whose direction was generally different—not unfrequently, it seems, chiefly for the sake of opposition. But it is not correct to describe the former as consistently the more liberal and mild.  The teaching of both was supposed to have been declared by the Voice from Heaven (the Bath-Qol) as the words of the living God; yet the Law was to be henceforth according to the teaching of Hillel.  But to us Hillel is so intensely interesting, not merely as the mild and gentle, nor only as the earnest student who came from Babylon to learn in the Academies of Jerusalem; who would support his family on a third of his scanty wages as a day labourer, that he might pay for entrance into the schools; and whose zeal and merits were only discovered when, after a severe night, in which, from poverty, he had been unable to gain admittance into the Academy, his benumbed form was taken down from the window-sill, to which he had crept up not to lose aught of the precious instruction. And for his sake did they gladly break on that Sabbath the sacred rest. Nor do we think of him, as tradition fables him—the descendant of David, possessed of every great quality of body, mind, and heart; nor yet as the second Ezra, whose learning placed him at the head of the Sanhedrin, who laid down the principles afterwards applied and developed by Rabbinism, and who was the real founder of traditionalism. Still less do we think of him, as he is falsely represented by some: as he whose principles closely resemble the teaching of Jesus, or, according to certain writers, were its source. By the side of Jesus we think of him otherwise than this. We remember that, in his extreme old age and near his end, he may have presided over that meeting of Sanhedrin which, in answer to Herod’s inquiry, pointed to Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah.   We think of him also as the grandfather of that Gamaliel, at whose feet Saul of Tarsus sat. And to us he is the representative Jewish reformer, in the spirit of those times, and in the sense of restoring rather than removing; while we think of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, in the sense of bringing the Kingdom of God to all men, and opening it to all believers.

And so there were two worlds in Jerusalem, side by side. On the one hand, was Grecianism with its theatre and amphitheatre; foreigners filling the Court, and crowding the city; foreign tendencies and ways, from the foreign King downwards. On the other hand, was the old Jewish world, becoming now set and ossified in the Schools of Hillel and Shammai, and overshadowed by Temple and Synagogue. And each was pursuing its course, by the side of the other. If Herod had everywhere his spies, the Jewish law provided its two police magistrates in Jerusalem, the only judges who received remuneration.  If Herod judged cruelly and despotically, the Sanhedrin weighed most deliberately, the balance always inclining to mercy. If Greek was the language of the court and camp, and indeed must have been understood and spoken by most in the land, the language of the people, spoken also by Christ and His Apostles, was a dialect of the ancient Hebrew, the Western or Palestinian Aramaic. It seems strange, that this could ever have been doubted.  A Jewish Messiah Who would urge His claim upon Israel in Greek, seems almost a contradiction in terms. We know, that the language of the Temple and the Synagogue was Hebrew, and that the addresses of the Rabbis had to be targumed into the vernacular Aramaean—and can we believe that, in a Hebrew service, the Messiah could have risen to address the people in Greek, or that He would have argued with the Pharisees and Scribes in that tongue, especially remembering that its study was actually forbidden by the Rabbis?

Indeed, it was a peculiar mixture of two worlds in Jerusalem: not only of the Grecian and the Jewish, but of piety and frivolity also. The devotion of the people and the liberality of the rich were unbounded. Fortunes were lavished on the support of Jewish learning, the promotion of piety, or the advance of the national cause. Thousands of votive offerings, and the costly gifts in the Temple, bore evidence of this. Priestly avarice had artificially raised the price of sacrificial animals, a rich man would bring into the Temple at his own cost the number requisite for the poor. Charity was not only open-handed, but most delicate, and one who had been in good circumstances would actually be enabled to live according to his former station.  Then these Jerusalemites—townspeople, as they called themselves—were so polished, so witty, so pleasant. There was a tact in their social intercourse, and a considerateness and delicacy in their public arrangements and provisions, nowhere else to be found. Their very language was different. There was a --Jerusalem-- dialect,  quicker, shorter, lighter (Lishna Qalila).  And their hospitality, especially at festive seasons, was unlimited. No one considered his house his own, and no stranger or pilgrim but found reception. And how much there was to be seen and heard in those luxuriously furnished houses, and at those sumptuous entertainments! In the women’s apartments, friends from the country would see every novelty in dress, adornment, and jewellery, and have the benefit of examining themselves in looking-glasses. To be sure, as being womanish vanity, their use was interdicted to men, except it were to the members of the family of the President of the Sanhedrin, on account of their intercourse with those in authority, just as for the same reason they were allowed to learn Greek.  Nor might even women look in the glass on the Sabbath.  But that could only apply to those carried in the hand, since one might be tempted, on the holy day, to do such servile work as to pull out a grey hair with the pincers attached to the end of the glass; but not to a glass fixed in the lid of a basket; nor to such as hung on the wall.  And then the lady-visitor might get anything in Jerusalem; from a false tooth to an Arabian veil, a Persian shawl, or an Indian dress!

While the women so learned Jerusalem manners in the inner apartments, the men would converse on the news of the day, or on

politics. For the Jerusalemites had friends and correspondents in the most distant parts of the world, and letters were carried by special messengers, in a kind of post-bag. Nay, there seem to have been some sort of receiving-offices in towns, and even something resembling our parcel-post.  And, strange as it may sound, even a species of newspapers, or broadsheets, appears to have been circulating (Mikhtabhin), not allowed, however, on the Sabbath, unless they treated of public affairs.

Of course, it is difficult accurately to determine which of these things were in use in the earliest times, or else introduced at a later period. Perhaps, however, it was safer to bring them into a picture of Jewish society. Undoubted, and, alas, too painful evidence comes to us of the luxuriousness of Jerusalem at that time, and of the moral corruption to which it led. It seems only too clear, that such commentations as the Talmud gives of Is. iii. 16-24, in regard to the manners and modes of attraction practised by a certain class of the female population in Jerusalem, applied to a far later period than that of the prophet. With this agrees only too well the recorded covert lascivious expressions used by the men, which gives a lamentable picture of the state of morals of many in the city, and the notices of the indecent dress worn not only by women, but even by corrupt High-Priestly youths. Nor do the exaggerated descriptions of what the Midrash on Lamentations  describes as the dignity of the Jerusalemites; of the wealth which they lavished on their marriages; of the ceremony which insisted on repeated invitations to the guests to a banquet, and that men inferior in rank should not be bidden to it; of the dress in which they appeared; the manner in which the dishes were served, the wine in white crystal vases; and the punishment of the cook who had failed in his duty, and which was to be commensurate to the dignity of the party—give a better impression of the great world in Jerusalem.

And yet it was the City of God, over whose destruction not only the Patriarch and Moses, but the Angelic hosts—nay, the Almighty Himself and His Shekhinah—had made bitterest lamentation.  The City of the Prophets, also, since each of them whose birthplace had not been mentioned, must be regarded as having sprung from it.  Equally, even more, marked, but now for joy and triumph, would be the hour of Jerusalem’s uprising, when it would welcome its Messiah. Oh, when would He come? In the feverish excitement of expectancy they were only too ready to listen to the voice of any pretender, however coarse and clumsy the imposture. Yet He was at hand—even now coming: only quite other than the Messiah of their dreams. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become children of God, even to them that believe on His Name.


But the favor which Antiochus showed Jason was not of long duration. One even more unscrupulous than he, Menelaus (or, according to his Jewish name, Onias), the brother of that Simon who had first excited the Syrian cupidity about the Temple treasure, outbade Jason with Antiochus by a promise of 300 talents in addition to the tribute which Jason had paid. Accordingly, Menelaus was appointed High-Priest. In the expressive language of the time: he came, bringing nothing worthy of the High-Priesthood, but having the fury of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a savage beast (2 Macc. iv. 25). In the conflict for the Pontificate, which now ensued, Menelaus conquered by the help of the Syrians. A terrible period of internal misrule and external troubles followed. Menelaus and his associates cast off every restraint, and even plundered the Temple of some of its precious vessels. Antiochus, who had regarded the resistance to his nominee as rebellion against himself, took fearful vengeance by slaughter of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and pillage of the Temple. But this was not all. When checked in his advance against Egypt, by the peremptory mandate of Rome, Antiochus made up for his disappointment by an expedition against Judaea, of which the avowed object was to crush the people and to sweep away Judaism. The horrors which now ensued are equally recorded in the Books of the Maccabees, by Josephus, and in Jewish tradition.  All sacrifices, the service of the Temple, and the observance of the Sabbath and of feast days were prohibited; the Temple at Jerusalem was dedicated to Jupiter Olympius; the Holy Scriptures were searched for and destroyed; the Jews forced to take part in heathen rites; a small heathen altar was reared on the great altar of burnt-offering—in short, every insult was heaped on the religion of the Jews, and its every trace was to be swept away. The date of the final profanation of the Temple was the 25th Chislev (corresponding to our December)—the same on which, after its purification by Judas Maccabee, its services were restored, the same on which the Christian Church celebrates the dedication of a better Temple, that of the Holy Ghost in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

But the relentless persecution, which searched for its victims in every part of the land, also called forth a deliverer in the person of Mattathias. The story of the glorious rising and final deliverance of the country under the Maccabees or Asmonaeans, as they are always called in Jewish writings, is sufficiently known. Only the briefest outline of it can here be attempted. Mattathias died before it came to any actual engagement with the Syrians, but victory after victory attended the arms of his son, Judas the Maccabee, till at last the Temple could be purified and its services restored, exactly three years after its desecration (25 Chislev, 165 b.c.). The rule of the Jewish hero lasted other five years, which can scarcely be described as equally successful with the beginning of his administration. The first two years were occupied in fortifying strong positions and chastising those hostile heathen border-tribes which harassed Judaea. Towards the close of the year 164 Antiochus Epiphanes died. But his successor, or rather Lysias, who administered the kingdom during his minority, was not content to surrender Palestine without a further contest. No deeds of heroism, however great, could compensate for the inferiority of the forces under Judas command.  The prospect was becoming hopeless, when troubles at home recalled the Syrian army, and led to a treaty of peace in which the Jews acknowledged Syrian supremacy, but were secured liberty of conscience and worship.

But the truce was of short duration. As we have seen there were already in Palestine two parties—that which, from its character and aims, may generally be designated as the Grecian, and the Chasidim (Assideans). There can be little doubt that the latter name originally in the designation Chasidim, applied to the pious in Israel in such passages as Ps. xxx. 5 (4 in our A.V.); xxxi. 23 (A.V.24; xxxvii. 28). Jewish tradition distinguishes between the earlier and the later Chasidim (Ber. v. 1 and 32 b; Men. 40 b). The descriptions of the former are of so late a date, that the characteristics of the party are given in accordance with views and practices which belong to a much further development of Rabbinical piety. Their fundamental views may, however, be gathered from the four opening sentences of the Mishnic Tractate Abhoth 16 of which the last are ascribed to Jose the son of Joezer, and Jose the son of Jochanan, who, as we know, still belonged to the earlier Chasidim. These flourished about 140 b.c., and later. This date throws considerable light upon the relation between the earlier and later Chasidim, and the origin of the sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Comparing the sentences of the earlier Chasidim (Ab. i. 2-4) with those which follow, we notice a marked simplicity about them, while the others either indicate a rapid development of Rabbinism, or are echoes of the political relations subsisting, or else seems to allude to present difficulties or controversies. We infer that the earlier Chasidim represented the pious in Israel—of course, according to the then standpoint—who, in opposition to the Grecian party, rallied around Judas Maccabee and his successor, Jonathan. The assumption of the High-Priestly dignity by Jonathan the Maccabee, on the nomination of the Syrian king (about 152), was a step which the ultraorthodox party never forgave the Asmonaeans. From that period, therefore, we date the alienation of the Chasidim—or rather the cessation of the earlier Chasidim. Henceforth, the party, as such, degenerated, or, to speak more correctly, ran into extreme religious views, which made them the most advanced section of the Pharisees. 17 The latter and the Sadducees henceforth represented the people in its twofold religious direction. With this view agrees the statement of Josephus (Ant. xiii. 5, 9), who first mentions the existence of Pharisees and Sadducees in the time of Jonathan, and even the confused notice in Aboth de Rabbi Nathan 5, which ascribes the origin of the Sadducees to the first or second generation of Zadok’s disciples, himself a disciple of Antigonus of Socho, which would bring the date to nearly the same time as Josephus.

From this digression, necessary for the proper understanding of the internal relations in Judaea, we return to the political history. There was another change on the throne of Syria. Demetrius, the new king readily listened to the complaints of a Jewish deputation, and appointed their leader, Alcimus (Jakim or Eljakim) High-Priest. At first the Chasidin were disposed to support him, as having formerly filled a high post in the priesthood, and as the nephew of José the son of Jazer, one of their leaders. But they suffered terribly for their rashness. Aided by the Syrians, Alcimus seized the Pontificate. But Judas once more raised the national standard against the intruder and the allies. At first victory seemed to incline to the national side, and the day of the final defeat and slaughter of the Syrian army and of Nicanor their general was enrolled in the Jewish Calendar as one on which fasting and mourning were prohibited (the 13th Adar, or March). Still, the prospect was far from reassuring, the more so as division had already appeared in the ranks of the Jews. In these circumstances Judas directed his eyes towards the new Western power which was beginning to overshadow the East. It was a fatal step—the beginning of all future troubles—and, even politically, a grave mistake, to enter into a defensive and offensive alliance with Rome. But before even more temporary advantage could be derived from this measure, Judas the Maccabee had already succumbed to superior numbers, and heroically fallen in battle against the Syrians.

The war of liberation had lasted seven years, and yet when the small remnant of the Asmonaean party chose Jonathan, the youngest brother of Judas, as his successor, their cause seemed more hopeless than almost at any previous period. The Grecian party were dominant in Judaea, the Syrian host occupied the land and Jonathan and his adherents were obliged to retire to the other side Jordan. The only hope, if such it may be called, lay in the circumstances that after the death of Alcimus the Pontificate was not filled by another Syrian nominee, but remained vacant for two years. During this time the nationalists must have gained strength, since the Grecian party now once more sought and obtained Syrian help against them. But the almost passive resistance which Jonathan successfully offered wearied out the Syrian general and led to a treaty of peace (1 Macc. ix. 58-73). In the period which followed, the Asmonaean party steadily increased, so that when a rival king claimed the Syrian crown, both pretenders bade for the support of Jonathan. He took the side of the new monarch, Alexander Balas, who sent him a crown of gold and a purple mantle, and appointed him High-Priest, a dignity which Jonathan at once accepted.  The Jewish Pontiff was faithful to his patron even against a new claimant to the crown of Syria. 19 And such was his influence, that the latter, on gaining possession of the throne, not only forgave the resistance of Jonathan, but confirmed him in the Pontificate, and even remitted the taxation of Palestine on a tribute (probably annual) of 300 talents. But the faithlessness and ingratitude of the Syrian king led Jonathan soon afterwards to take the side of another Syrian pretender, an infant, whose claims were ostensibly defended by his general Trypho. In the end, however, Jonathan’s resistance to Trypho’s schemes for obtaining the crown for himself led to the murder of the Jewish High-Priest by treachery.

The government of Judaea could not, in these difficult times, have developed upon one more fitted for it than Simon, an elder brother of Judas Maccabee. His father had, when making his dying disposition,

 already designated him as the man of counsel among his sons

(1 Macc. ii. 65). Simon’s policy lay chiefly in turning to good account the disputes in Syria, and in consolidating such rule as he had acquired (143-135 b.c.). After the murder of his brother by Trypho, he took part of the Syrian claimant (Demetrius) to whom Trypho was opposed. Demetrius was glad to purchase his support by a remission of all taxation for all time to come. This was the first great success, and the Jews perpetuated its memory by enrolling its anniversary (the 27th Iyar, or May) in their Calendar. An even more important date, alike in the Calendar (Meg. Taan. Per. 2) and in Jewish history (1 Macc. xiii. 51), was the 23rd Iyar, when the work of clearing the country of the foreigner was completed by the Syrian party. The next measures of Simon were directed to the suppression of the Grecian party in Judaea, and the establishments of peace and security to his own adherents. To the popular mind this Golden Age described in glowing language in 1 Macc. xiv. 8-14, seemed to culminate in an event by which the national vanity was gratified and the future safety of their country apparently ensured. This was the arrival of a Roman embassy in Judaea to renew the league which had already been made both by Judas Maccabee and by Jonathan. Simon replied by sending a Jewish embassy to Rome, which brought a valuable shield of gold in token of gratitude. In their intoxication the Jews passed a decree, and engraved it on tables of brass, making Simon their High-Priest and a Governor forever, until there should arise a faithful prophet; in other words, appointing him to the twofold office of spiritual and secular chief, and declaring it

 hereditary (1 Macc. xiv. 41-45). The fact that he should have been appointed to dignities which both he and his predecessor had already held, and that offices which in themselves were hereditary should now be declared such in the family of Simon, as well as the significant limitation: until there should arise a faithful prophet sufficiently indicate that there were dissensions among the people and opposition to the Asmonaeans. In truth, as the Chasidim had already had been alienated, so there was a growing party among the Pharisees, their successors, whose hostility to the Asmonaeans increased till it developed into positive hatred. This antagonism was, however, not grounded on their possession of the secular power, but on their occupancy of the Pontificate, perhaps on their combination of the two offices. How far their enmity went, will appear in the sequel. For a time it was repressed by the critical state of affairs. For, the contest with the Syrians had to be once more renewed, and although Simon, or rather his sons, obtained the victory, the aged High-Priest and two of his sons, Mattathias and Judas, fell by the treachery of Ptolomaeus, Simon’s son-in-law.

The Pontificate and the government now developed upon the only one of Simon’s sons still left, known as John Hyranus I. (Jochanan Horkenos, 20 Jannai 21 ), 135-105 b.c. His first desire naturally was to set free his mother, who was still in the power of Ptolomaeus, and to chastise him for his crimes. But in this he failed. Ptolemy purchased immunity by threatening to kill his captive, and afterwards treacherously slew her. Soon after this a Syrian army besieged Jerusalem. The City was reduced to great straits. But when at the Feast of Tabernacles the Syrian king not only granted a truce to the besieged, but actually provided them with what was needed for the services of the Temple, Hyrcanus sought and obtained peace, although the Syrian councillors urged their king to use the opportunity for exterminating Jerusalem. The conditions, though hard, were not unreasonable in the circumstances. But fresh troubles in Syria gave a more favourable turn to affairs in Judaea. First, Hyrcanus subjected Samaria, and then conquered Idumaea, whose inhabitants he made proselytes by giving them the alternative of circumcision or exile. Next, the treaty with the Romans was renewed, and finally Hyrcanus availed himself of the rapid decay of the Syrian monarchy to throw off his allegiance to the foreigner. Jewish exclusiveness was further gratified by the utter destruction of Samaria, of which the memorial day (the 25th Marcheshvan, November) was inserted in the festive Calendar (Meg. Taan. Per. 8).  Nor was this the only date which his successors added to the calendar of national feasts.

But his reign is of the deepest importance in our history as marking the first public contest between the great parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and also as the turning point in the history of the Maccabees. Even the coins of that period are instructive. They bear the inscription: Jochanan, the High-Priest, and the Chebher of the Jews; or else, Jochanan the High-Priest, Chief, and the Chebher of the Jews.  The term Chebher, which on the coins occurs only in connection with High-Priest unquestionably refers, not to the Jewish people generally, but to them in their ecclesiastical organisation, and points therefore to the acknowledgment of an Eldership or representative body, which presided over affairs along with and under the High-Priest as Chief.  In this respect the presence or absence of the word Chebher or even mention of the Jews, might afford hints as to the relationship of a Maccabee chief to the ecclesiastical leaders of the people. It has already been explained that the Chasidim, viewed as the National party, had ceased, and that the leaders were now divided into Pharisees and Sadducees. By tradition and necessity Hyrcanus belonged to the former, by tendency and, probably, inclination to the later. His interference in religious affairs was by no means to the liking of the Pharisees, still less to that of their extreme sectaries, the Chasidim. Tradition ascribes to Hyrcanus no less than nine innovations, of which only five were afterwards continued as legal ordinances. First, the payment of tithes (both of the Levitical and the so-called poor’s tithe) was declared no longer obligatory on a seller, if he were one of the Am ha-Arets, or country people, but on the buyer.  Complaints had long been made that this heavy impost was not paid by the majority of the common people, and it was deemed better to devote the responsibility on the buyer, unless the seller were what was called neeman trusted; i.e., one who had solemnly bound himself to pay tithes. In connection with this, secondly, the declaration ordered in Deut. xxvi. 3-10 was abrogated as no longer applicable. Thirdly, all work that caused noise was forbidden during the days intermediate between the first and the last great festive days of the Passover and of the Feast of Tabernacles. Fourthly, the formula: Awake, why sleepest Thou, O Lord (Ps. xliv. 23), with which, since the Syrian persecution, the morning service in the Temple had commenced, was abolished. Fifthly, the cruel custom of wounding the sacrificial animals on the head was prohibited and rings fastened in the pavement to which the animals were attached (Jer. Maas. Sh. v. 9; Jer. Sot. ix. 11; Tos. Sot. 13; Sotah 48 a). The four ordinances of Hyrcanus which were abolished referred to the introduction in official documents, after the title of the High-Priest, of the expression El Elyon’—the Most High God; to the attempt to declare the Syrian and Samaritan towns liable to tithes (implying their virtual incorporation) while according to an old principle, this obligation only applied when a place could be reached from Judea without passing over heathen soil; to the abrogation by Hyrcanus of a former enactment by Jose ben Joezer, which discouraged emigration by declaring all heathen soil defiled, and which rendered social intercourse with Gentiles impossible by declaring vessels of glass capable of contracting Levitical defilement (Jer. Shabb. 1. 4; Shabb. 14 b)—and which was re-enacted; and, lastly, to the easy terms on which the King had admitted the Idumaeans into the Jewish community.

From all this it is not difficult to from an idea of the relations between Hyrcanus and the Pharisees. If Hyrcanus had not otherwise known of the growing aversion of the Pharisees, a Sadducean friend and councillor kept him informed, and turned it to account for his party. The story of the public breach between Hyrcanus and the Pharisees is

 told by Josephus (Ant. xiii. 10. 5, 6), and in the Talmud (Kidd. 66 a), with only variations of names and details. Whether from a challenge thrown out to the Pharisees (according to the Talmud), or in answer to a somewhat strange request by Hyrcanus, to point out any part of his conduct which was not in accordance with the law (so Josephus), one of the extreme section of the Pharisees, at a feast given to the party, called upon Hyrcanus to be content with secular power, and to resign the Pontificate, on the ground that he was disqualified for it, because his mother had been a captive of war. Even the Talmud admits that this report was calumnious, while it offered a gratuitous insult to the memory of a really noble heroic woman, all the more unwarrantable that the Pontificate had, by public decree, been made the case if the charge now brought had been other than a pretext to cover the hostility of the Chasidim. The rash avowal was avenged on the whole party. In the opinion of Hyrcanus they all proved themselves accomplishes, when, on being questioned, they declared the offender only guilty of stripes and bonds. Hyrcanus now joined the Sadducees, and although the statement of the Talmud about the slaughter of the leading Pharisees is incorrect, there can be no doubt that they were removed from power and exposed to persecution. The Talmud adds this, which, although chronologically incorrect, is significant, Jochanan the High-Priest served in the Pontificate eighty years, and at the end of them he became a Sadducee. But this was only the beginning of troubles to the Pharisaic party, which revenged itself by most bitter hatred—the beginning, also of the decline of the Maccabbes.

Hyrcranus left five sons. To the oldest of them, Aristobulus (in Hebrew Jehudah), he bequeathed the Pontificate, but appointed his own widow to succeed him in the secular government. But Aristobulus cast his mother into prison, where she soon afterwards perished—as the story went, by hunger. The only one of his brothers whom he had left at large, and who, indeed, was his favourite, soon fell also a victim to his jealous suspicions. Happily his reign lasted only one year (105-104 b.c.). He is described as openly favouring the Grecian party, although, on conquering Ituraea, a district east of Lake of Galilee, he obliged its inhabitants to submit to circumcision.

On the death of Aristobulus. I., his widow, Alexandra Salome, released his brothers from prison, and apparently married the eldest of them, Alexander Jannaeus (or in Hebrew Jonathan), who succeeded both to the Pontificate and the secular government. The three periods of his reign (104-78 b.c.) seem indicated in the varying inscriptions on his coins.  The first period, which lasted eight or ten years, was that in which Jannai was engaged in those wars of conquest, which added the cities on the maritime coast to his possessions. During the time Salome seems to have managed internal affairs. As she was devoted to the Pharisaic party—indeed one of their leaders, Simeon ben Shetach, is said to have been her brother (Ber. 18 a)—this was the time of their ascendency. Accordingly, the coins of that period bear the inscription, Jonathan the High-Priest and the Chebher of the Jews. But on his return to Jerusalem he found the arrogance of the Pharisaic party ill accordant with his own views and tastes. The king now joined the Sadducees, and Simeon ben Shetach had to seek safety in flight (Jer. Ber. vii. 2 p. 11 b). But others of his party met a worse fate. A terrible tragedy was enacted in the Temple itself. At the Feast of Tabernacles Jannai, officiating as High Priest, set the Pharisaic custom at open defiance by pouring the water out of the sacred vessel on the ground instead of upon the altar. Such a high-handed breach of what was regarded as most sacred, excited the feelings of the worshippers to the highest pitch of frenzy. They pelted him with the festive Ethrogs (citrons), which they carried in their hands, and loudly reproached him with his descent from a captive. The king called in his foreign mercenaries, and no fewer than 6,000 of the people fell under their swords. This was an injury which could neither be forgiven nor atoned for by conquests. One insurrection followed after the other, and 5,000 of the people are said to have fallen in these contests. Weary of the strife, Jannai asked the Pharisaic party to name their conditions of peace, to which they caustically replied, Thy death (Jos. Ant. xiii. 13. 5). Indeed, such was the embitterment that they actually called in, and joined the Syrians against him. But the success of the foreigner produced a popular revulsion in his favour, of which Jannai profited to take terrible vengeance of his opponents. No fewer than 800 of them were nailed to the cross, their sufferings being intensified by seeing their wives and children butchered before their eyes, while the degenerate Pontiff lay feasting with abandoned women. A general flight of the Pharisees ensued. This closes the second period of his

 reign, marked on the coin by the significant absence of the words Chebher of the Jews. the words being on one side in Hebrew, Jonathan the king and on the other in Greek, Alexander the King.

The third period is marked by coins which bear the inscription Jehonathan the High Priest and the Jews. It was a period of outward military success, and of reconciliation with the Pharisees, or at least of their recall—notable of Simeon ben Shetach, and then of his friends—probably at the instigation of the queen (Ber. 48 a; Jer. vii. 2). Jannai died in his fiftieth year, after a reign of twenty-seven years, bequeathing the government to his wife Salome. On his deathbed he is said to have advised her to promote the Pharisees, or rather such of them as made not their religiousness a mere pretext intrigue: Be not afraid of the Pharisees, nor of those of Zimri, and seek the reward of Phinehas (Sot. 22 b). But of chief interest to us is, that this period of the recall of the Pharisees marks a great internal change, indicated even in the coins. For the first time we now meet the designation Sanhedrin. The Chebher, or eldership, had ceased as a ruling power, and become transformed into a Sanhedrin, or ecclesiastical authority although the latter endeavoured, with more or less success, to arrogate to itself civil jurisdiction, at least in ecclesiastical matters.