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This verifies that passage in holy scripture, which declares, "that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men."
Onias, the sovereign pontiff of the Jews, had neglected to send Ptolemy the usual tribute of twenty talents, which his predecessors had always paid to the kings of Egypt as a testimonial of the homage they rendered to that crown. The king sent Athenion, one of his courtiers, to Jerusalem, to demand the payment of the arrears, which then amounted to a great sum; and to threaten the Jews, in case of refusal, with a body of troops, who should be commissioned to expel them from their country, and divide it among themselves. The alarm was very great at Jerusalem on this occasion, and it was thought necessary to send a deputation to the king, in the person of Joseph, the nephew of Onias, who, though in the prime of his youth, was universally esteemed for his prudence, probity, and justice. Athenion, during his continuance at Jerusalem, had conceived a great regard for his character, and as he set out for Egypt before him, he promised to render him all the good offices in his power with the king. Joseph followed him in a short time, and on his way met with several considerable persons of Celosyria and Palestine, who were also going to Egypt, with an intention to offer terms for farming the great revenues of those provinces. As the equipage of Joseph was far from being so magnificent as theirs, they treated him with little respect, and
Dan. iv. 17.
A. M. 3771. Ant. J. C. 233. Joseph. Antiq. I. xii. c, 3. et 4.
considered him as a person of no great capacity. Joseph concealed his dissatisfaction at their behaviour, but drew from the conversation that passed between them, all the circumstances he could desire, with relation to the affair that brought them to court; and without seeming to have any particular view in the curiosity he expressed.
When they arrived at Alexandria, they were informed that the king had taken a progress to Memphis, and Joseph was the only person among them, who set out from thence, in order to wait upon that monarch, without losing a moment's time. He had the good fortune to meet him, as he was returning from Memphis, with the queen and Athenion in his chariot. The king, who had received impressions in his favour from Athenion, was extremely delighted at his presence, and invited him into his chariot. Joseph, to excuse his uncle, represented the infirmities of his great age, and the natural tardiness of his disposition, in such an engaging manner, as satisfied Ptolemy, and created in him an extraordinary esteem for the advocate who had so effectually pleaded the cause of that pontiff. He also ordered him an apartment in the royal palace of Alexandria, and allowed him a place at his table.
When the appointed day came for purchasing, by auction, the privilege of farming the revenues of the provinces, the companions of Joseph in his journey to Egypt, offered no more than eight thousand talents for the provinces of Celosyria, Phenicia, Judea, and Samaria. Upon which, Joseph, who had discovered, in the conversation that passed between them in his presence, that this purchase was worth double the sum
they offered, reproached them for depreciating the king's revenues in that manner, and offered twice as much as they had done. Ptolemy was well satisfied to see his revenues so considerably increased; but being apprehensive that the person who proffered so large a sum, would be in no condition to pay it, he asked Joseph what security he would give him for the performance of his agreement? The Jewish deputy replied, with a calm air, that he had such persons to offer for his security on that occasion, as he was certain his majesty could have no objections to. Upon being ordered to mention them, he named the king and queen themselves; and added, that they would be his securities to each other. The king could not avoid smiling at this little pleasantry, which put him into so good an humour, that he allowed him to farm the revenues without any other security than his verbal promise for payment. Joseph acted in that station for the space of ten years, to the mutual satisfaction of the court and provinces. His rich competitors who had farmed those revenues before, returned home in the utmost confusion, and had reason to be sensible, that a magnificent equipage is a very inconsiderable indication of merit.
* King Demetrius died, about this time, in Macedonia, and left a son, named Philip, in an early state of minority; for which reason his guardianship was consigned to Antigonus, who, having espoused the mother of his pupil, ascended the throne, and reigned for the space of twelve years. He was magnificent in
Justin. 1. xxviii. c. 3. Dexipp. Por.
* A. M. 3772. Ant. J. C, 232. phyr. Euseb.
promises, but extremely frugal in performance, which occasioned his being sirnamed Doson.>
Five or six years after this period, Seleucus Callinicus, who for some time had continued in a state of captivity in Parthia, died in that country, by a fall from his horse. Arsaces had always 'treated him as a king during his confinement. His wife was Laodice, the sister of Andromachus, one of his generals, and he had two sons and a daughter by that marriage. He espoused his daughter to Mithridates, king of Pontus, and consigned Phrygia to her for her dowry. His sons were Seleucus and Antiochus; the former of whom, sirnamed Ceraunus, succeeded him in the throne.
We are now arrived at the period wherein the republic of the Acheans begins to appear with lustre in history, and was in a condition to sustain wars, particularly against that of the Lacedemonians. It will, therefore, be necessary for me to represent the present state of those two republics; and I shall begin with that of the Acheans.
CHARACTER OF ARATUS, WHO DELIVERS SICYON FROM TYRANNY. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ACHEANS.
THE republic of the Acheans a was not considerable at first, either for the number of its troops, the immen
This name signifies in the Greek language, "one who will give ;" that is to say, a person who promises to give, but never gives what ho promises.
A. M. 3778. Ant. J. C. 226. Justin. 1. vil. c. 8. Athen, p. 153.
Polyb. 1. viii. p. 125-130.
sity of its riches, or the extent of its territory, but deriv. ed its power from the great reputation it acquired for the virtues of probity, justice, love of liberty; and this reputation was very ancient. The Crotonians and Sibarites adopted the laws and customs of the Acheans, for the reestablishment of good order in their cities. The Lacedemonians and Thebans had such an esteem for their virtue, that they chose them, after the celebrated battle of Leuctra, to arbitrate the differences which subsisted between them.
The government of this republic was democratical, that is to say, in the hands of the people. It likewise preserved its liberty to the times of Philip and Alexander; but under those princes, and in the reigns of those who succeeded them, it was either in subjection to the Macedonians, who had made themselves masters of Greece, or else was oppressed by cruel tyrants.
It was composed of twelve cities, all in Peloponnesus, but together not equal to a single one of considerable rank. This republic did not signalize herself immediately by any thing great and remarkable, because, amongst all her citizens, she produced none of any distinguished merit. The sequel will discover the extraordinary change a single man was capable of introducing among them, by his great qualities. After the death of Alexander, this little state was involved in all the calamities inseparable from discord. The spirit of patriotism no longer prevailed among them, and each city was solely
These twelve cities were Patræ, Dyma, Phara, Trites, Leontiam, Egira, Pellene, Egium, Bura, Ceraunia, Olenus, Helice.