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(25.) Herod's Murder of the Infants at Bethlehem. This fact, though not mentioned by Josephus, is quite consistent with the ambitious, sanguinary, and cruel character which he ascribes to that monarch; it was admitted by Celsus, one of the bitterest enemies of Christianity, who lived towards the close of the second century; and is expressly mentioned by Macrobius, a heathen author, who lived towards the end of the fourth century. "When Augustus," says he, "had heard, that among the children under two years old, whom Herod, the king of the Jews, had ordered to be slain in Syria, his own son was also put to death, he said, 'It is better to be Herod's hog than his son.'”—Cum audivisset inter pueros quos in Syria Herodes rex Judæorum infra bimatam jussit interfici, filium quoque ejus occisum, ait, Melius est Herodis porcum esse, quam filium. Saturn. l. ii. c. 4.*
(26.) Particulars respecting John the Baptist and Herod. Thus Josephus informs us, agreeably to the Sacred Historian, (Mat. ii.), that Herod the Great reigned over all Judea for about thirty-seven years, and left the kingdom to his son Archelaus, (Ant. 1. xvii. c. 8.); and he also bears witness to the piety, zeal, and murder of John the Baptist.* Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great by Malthace, and Tetrarch of Galilee and Peræa, which produced a revenue of 200 talents a year. (Josephus, Ant. l. xvii. c. 13. § 4.) He married the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia, whom he divorced in order to marry Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, who was still living. Aretas, to revenge the affront which Herod had offered his daughter, declared war against him; and vanquished him after an obstinate engagement. This defeat Josephus assures us, (Ant. 1. xviii. c. 7.) the Jews considered as a punishment for the death of John the Baptist. Having gone to Rome to solicit the title of king, he was accused by Agrippa with carrying on a correspondence with Artabanus king of Parthia, against the Romans, and was banished by the emperor Caius to Lyons, and thence to Spain, where he and Herodias died in exile. (Josephus, Ant. 1. xviii. c. 2.)†
(27.) The life and character of our Lord. See Suetonius, (in Claud. c. 25.) Pliny the younger, (Epist. 1. x. ep. 97.), Ælius Lampridius, (in vit. Sever. c. 29, 43. apud Hist. August. Script. vol. i. pp. 278, 290.), Josephus, (Ant. 1. xviii. c. 3. § 3.) *
(28.) His crucifixion under Pontius Pilate. An account of this fact was transmitted to the emperor by Pontius Pilate, (Euseb. Eccl. Hist. 1. ii. c. 2.); to which both Justin Martyr, (Apol. prima, pp. 62, 72. edit. Benedict.), and Tertullian, (Apologia, c. 21.), appealed for its truth, in their public apologies for the Christian religion, which were presented either to the emperor and senate of Rome, or to magistrates of public authority and great distinction in the empire. Tacitus also, speaking of the Christians, says, (Annal. 1. xv. c. 44.), that the author of that name (or sect) was Christus, who, in the reign of Tiberius, was punished with death, as a criminal, by the procurator Pontius Pilate.' Auctor nominis
• Comprehensive Bible, Introd. p. 59.
+ Idem, Note on Acts xii. 21.
ejus Christus, qui Tiberio imperante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat. See also Josephus, (Ant. 1. xviii. c. 3. § 3.) *
(29.) The earthquake and miraculous darkness which attended it. Omitting the supposed attestation of this fact by Phlegon, whose testimony is cited by Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius, and also the supposed mention of it by Thallus, who is cited by Julius Africanus, it is to be remarked, that Tertullian, (Apol. c. 21.), in his Apology for the Christians, which was addressed to their heathen adversaries, expressly says, 'At the moment of Christ's death, the light departed from the sun, and the land was darkened at noon-day; which wonder is related in your own annals, and is preserved in your archives to this day;' and both the darkness and earthquake are expressly recognised, and mentioned as facts, by that acute adversary of Christianity, Celsus. Origen, cont. Cels. 1. ii. § 55. p. 94. *
(30.) The miserable death of Herod'Agrippa. Josephus (Ant. 1. xix. c. 8. § 2.) says that this was upon a day in which games were exhibited in honour of Claudius; and that, as Herod did not rebuke this impious flattery, he was seized with a severe pain in his bowels, which terminated his existence in five days. †
(31.) The miracles of our Lord, which are admitted by Jewish writers in the Talmuds, and Toledoth Jesu, (see Dr. Gregory Sharp's Defence of Christianity, pp. 40-48.) and enemies of Christianity, as Celsus and the emperor Julian. See Lardner's Heathen Testimonies, ch. xviii. xlvi.* 7. Allusions and references to things, persons, places, manners, customs, and opinions, &c., perfectly conformable to the statements of the most authentic records that remain.
It is scarcely possible here to enter fully into this subject, which would require a separate volume for the discussion; and as evidence of the truth of this position is to be found in almost every page of the Comprehensive Bible, the reader is respectfully referred to that work. It may, however, be proper, in illustration of the argument, briefly to advert to the following striking particulars:
Thus, without the aid of learning, any man who can barely read his Bible, and has but heard of such people as the Assyrians, Elamites, Lydians, Medes, Ionians, and Thracians, will readily acknowledge that they had Asshur, Elam, Lud, Madai, Javan, and Tiras, grandsons of Noah, for their respective founders, as detailed in Gen. x.§
In Gen. xlvi. 34, we read that "every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians ;" and from the fragments of Manetho, preserved in Josephus and Africanus, it appears that hordes of marauders, called hycassos, or shepherd kings, whose chief occupation, like the Bedouin Arabs of the present day, was to keep flocks, made a powerful irruption into Egypt, which they subdued, and ruled, by a succession of kings, with great tyranny for 259 years. Hence the persons, and even the very
Comprehensive Bible, Introd, p. 59.
+ Idem on Mat. xiv. 1.
✰ Note on Acts xii. 21.
name of shepherds, were execrated, and held in the greatest odium by the Egyptians.
Again from the history recorded in Genesis xlvii, and from Diodorus Siculus (lib. i.), we learn that the land of Egypt was divided into three parts: one belonged to the Priests, (ver. 22, 26.); a second was the King's (which appears to have been the land of Rameses or Goshen, ver. 11;) the remainder was the subjects'; and Joseph, having purchased the land of the people (ver. 19, 20), restored it, on the condition of their paying a fifth part of the produce to the King, beyond which he appears to have had no demand.†
In the account of the embalming of Jacob, it is stated, that "forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days." (Gen. 1. 3.) Now we learn from the Greek historians, Herodotus, (l. ii. cap. 85, 86,) and Diodorus Siculus, (lib. i. cap. 91–93,) that the time of mourning was while the body remained with the embalmers, which Herodotus says was seventy days. During this time the body lay in nitre, the use of which was to dry up all its superfluous and noxious moisture and when in the space of thirty days this was sufficiently effected, the remaining forty, the time mentioned by Diodorus, were employed in anointing it with gums and spices to preserve it, which was properly the embalming. This sufficiently explains the phraseology of the text.*
It appears from Jud. vii. 1, that Jerubbaal had become the surname of Gideon. He is accordingly mentioned by Sanchoniathon, (apud Eusebius, Præpar. 1. i.) who lived in the reign of Ithobal, king of Tyre, and consequently a little after the time of Gideon, by the name of Jerombalus, a priest of Jevo, i. e. Jehovah.*
In Ezra vii. 14, we read of the seven counsellors' of Artaxerxes, king of Persia. Now from profane history we learn that seven princes of Persia having conspired against and slain the usurper Smerdis, and thus made way for the family of Darius, which afterwards filled the throne, the Persian kings of this race had always seven chief princes as their counsellors, who possessed peculiar privileges, were his chief assistants in the government, and by whose advice all the public affairs of the empire were transacted. The names of these counsellors are given in the parallel place of the book of Esther, ch. i. 14. See Prideaux, sub an. 521.*
In Esther iv. 11, it is stated, " that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death," &c. and Herodotus informs us, that ever since the reign of Deioces, king of Media, for the security of the king's person, it was enacted, that no one should be admitted into his presence, but that if any one had business with him, he should transact it through the medium of his ministers.*
The state of Palestine also, in the times of the New Testament
• Comprehensive Bible, in loco.
+ Note on Gen. xlvii. 26.
writers, as implied or expressed in their writings, exactly coincides with the accounts of contemporary writers. Thus it is stated that it was divided into three principal parts, Judæa, Samaria, and Galilee ;* that it was then subject to the Romans, but had formerly been governed by its own kings;† that a Roman governor resided at Jerusalem; that the Jews enjoyed the free exercise of their religion, but were deprived of the absolute power of life and death; that the temple was then standing, and was annually visited by a great number of Jews, who were scattered abroad in different parts of the world; that two religious sects, the Pharisees and Sadducees, bore the chief sway among the Jews; the former, by teaching a mechanical religion, deceiving and tyrannizing over the people; and the latter, who adopted an Epicurean philosophy, being supported by the principal characters of the nation; these, and many other circumstances, agree most exactly with the accounts of Josephus, and other historians.§
Among other instances may be mentioned the murder of some "Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices." (Luke xiii. 1.) Now the Galileans are frequently mentioned by Josephus as the most turbulent and seditious people, being upon all occasions ready to disturb the Roman authority. And though it is uncertain to what event our Lord refers; it is probable that they were the followers of Judas Gaulonitis, who opposed paying tribute to Cæsar and submitting to the Roman government. A party of them coming to Jerusalem during one of the great festivals, and presenting their oblations in the court of the temple, Pilate treacherously sent a company of soldiers, who slew them, and mingled their blood with their sacrifices.' Jos. Ant. 1. xviii. ||
Again, Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, is termed by our Lord a "fox;" (Luke xiii. 42.); and he is described by Josephus as a crafty and incestuous prince, with which the character given him by our Lord, and the narratives of the Evangelists, exactly coincide.||
Nay, by the most undesigned coincidence, the accounts of the Evangelists agree in some of the most minute particulars with Josephus.
Thus, we read in St. Luke, ch. iii. 14, that "the soldiers likewise demanded of him (John the Baptist) saying, And what shall we do." The Evangelist does not say, στρατιωται, soldiers, but στρατευομενοι, men actually under arms, or marching to battle. Now, as we learn from Josephus that Herod was at this time engaged in war with Aretas, a king of Arabia, Michaëlis concludes, that these military men were a part of Herod's army, then on its march from Galilee, which must of necessity have passed through the country where John was baptizing. ||
Again, in the account of the execution of John, by order of Herod, (Mar. vi. 27.) it is said, that " the king sent an executioner," σEKOV\A*Josephus, Ant. 1. xiii. c. 18; Bell. l. ii. c. 9; 1. iii. c. 2, 4, and notes in the Comprehensive Bible on Mar. 1. 39; John 7.1; Acts 8. 5.
+ Josephus, Ant. 1. xx. c. 7, &c. and note on Acts 25. 1.
✰ See a confirmation of these particulars respecting the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Introduction to the Comprehensive Bible, pp. 82, 83.
7p, properly a sentinel. Now, as we learn from Josephus, (Ant. 1. xviii. c. v. § 1, 2.) that Herod was at this very time engaged in the war with Aretas king of Arabia, in consequence of Herod having divorced his daughter in order to marry Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; and as this event occurred at an entertainment given at the castle of Macharus, while his army was on its march against his father-in-law; we are furnished with an additional reason why a speculator, or sentinel, should have been employed as an executioner; and are thus enabled to discover such a latent and undesigned coincidence as clearly evinces the truth of the evangelical narrative. See Bp. Marsh, Lectures, P. v. pp. 78-82, and Horne's Introduction, vol. i. pp. 101, 102.*
In Acts xxiii. 5, St. Paul says of Ananias, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest." Now soon after the holding of the first council at Jerusalem, Ananias, son of Nebedenus, was deprived of the high priest's office, for certain acts of violence, and sent to Rome, whence he was afterwards released, and returned to Jerusalem. Between the death of Jonathan, who succeeded him and was murdered by Felix, and the high priesthood of Ismael, who was invested with that office by Agrippa, an interval elapsed in which this dignity was vacant. This was the precise time when St. Paul was apprehended; and the Sanhedrin being destitute of a president, Ananias undertook to discharge the office. It is probable that Paul was ignorant of this circumstance. See Michaelis, Introd. vol. i. pp. 51-54.*
8. To this it may be added, that the names still borne by places, and traditions respecting many of them, still current on the spot, tend further to confirm the reality of the facts detailed in the Scriptures.
It is true, the geography of the Sacred writings presents many difficulties, occasioned by the changes which Canaan has undergone, especially for the last 2000 years. Many of the ancient towns and villages have had their names so totally changed that their former appellations are no longer discernible-several lie buried under their own ruins, and others have been so long destroyed, that not a vestige of them remains. Many of the towns were small, and we may rationally conclude, slightly built; and consequently have perished more than 2000 years ago. It would therefore be useless to look for such places now; though in many instances, their ancient names have been preserved, and their sites identified. Several towns even in England, mentioned by Casar and other writers, are no longer discernible: several have changed their names, and not a few their situation. On these accounts it is very difficult to ascertain the precise situation of many places mentioned in Joshua; but this cannot affect the truth of the narrative. Some of the principal cities in the universe, as Babylon and Troy, are not only reduced to ruins, but so completely
Comprehensive Bible in locis.