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Behold your house is left unto you desolate. For say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the
name of the Lord." Mat. xxiii. 27.
In illustration of this passage, I shall quote another from Josephus, whose history is the best commentary on the words of our Lord; "The affairs of the Jews continually grew worse, and the country was filled with robbers and impostors, who deceived the people. But many of these Felix daily apprehended and put to death; and in the number Eleazer, the son of Dineas, who commanded a body of robbers. Felix had also an enmity against Jonathan the high-priest, who frequently admonished him to manage the Jewish affairs with more equity and wisdom, he having been the person who advised Cæsar to appoint him as procurator of Judea. So Felix planned a scheme to get rid of a man, who was become so very troublesome to him. For this reason he prevailed on a person named Doras, one of Jonathan's most intimate friends, and a native of Jerusalem, to betray Jonathan to the robbers, to be murdered by them, promising him for this large sums of money. With this offer Doras complied; and he brought the robbers upon his friend in the following manner. Some of the robbers went up to Jerusalem, under pretence of worshipping God, with daggers under their garments.
There they slew Jonathan, the assassins having mingled with the multitude which accompanied him in public. This murder being left unpunished, the robbers after that ascended to the feast without any apprehension, having weapons as before concealed under their clothes. There mingling with the crowd, they slew some who were their enemies; others whom they were hired to slay. And this they did not only in other parts of the city, but some also in the temple. For even in that sacred place they had the audacity to massacre; nor did they think that they were committing impiety. But I am of opinion that on this account, God, who hates impiety, has demolished our city; and regarding the temple as no longer a pure habitation for himself, brought upon us the Romans, and exposed it and the city to purifying fire, and ourselves with our wives and our children to slavery, wishing that we might learn virtue from our calamities." Antt. lib. 20. c. 8. § 5.
In the beginning of the next chapter the same writer continues, "The emperor having been informed of the death of Festus, sent Albinus to be præfect in Judea, and the king (meaning Agrippa) took away the high-priesthood from Joseph, and bestowed that dignity upon the son of Ananus, who was also named Ananus. This younger Ananus, now made high-priest, was
fierce in his temper, and exceedingly daring*. He was, moreover, of the sect of the Sadducees, who above all other Jews are cruel in their judi, cial sentences. This being the character of Ananus, and thinking he had a fit opportunity, because Festus was dead, and Albinus was yet on the road, he calls a council of judges; and bringing before them James, the brother of him who is called Christ, and some others, he accused them with being transgressors of the law, and
*This Ananus paid the price of his cruelty and guilt towards James, for he was in his turn murdered, and that by the very men whom he probably suborned to murder the apostle. His body being denied the rite of interment, which to the Jews was more terrible than death, was exposed to be the food of dogs and wild beasts. When Josephus speaks of his death, he places his character in a very different light; and says that he was one of those, on whose account Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, and that virtue itself wept over his unhappy fate. See J. W. lib. 4. c. 5. § 2. I can not well account, why Josephus should thus speak of a man, who had imbrued his hands in the blood of the christians, and whom he represents on that account as fierce in his temper, and exceedingly daring. Did a change take place in the character and views of Ananus? He might possibly become sensible of the guilt, which he incurred in putting James to death, and repent. Such repentance was not un
common in those days. The conversion of Saul was an instance of the same kind.
delivered them up to be stoned. But the most equitable men of the city, and those who were most accurate in the knowledge of the laws, were grievously offended at these proceedings, They, therefore, sent privately to the king, entreating him to send orders to Ananus no more to attempt such things. And some went away to meet Albinus, who was coming from Alexandria, and reminded him that he had no right to appoint a council without his authority. Albinus, approving of what they said, wrote to Ananus in much anger, threatening to punish him for what he had done; and king Agrippa took· away from him the high-priesthood, after he had enjoyed it three months, and put in Jesus, son of Damneus."
In this passage it is stated, that the Sadducees were more severe than other Jews in the administration of justice; and that this severity led Ananus, who was one of them, to pass upon James and others the sentence of condemnation. This is true, and exactly accords with the account given of that sect in the Acts of the Apos tles. There we are led to conclude, that the Sadducees opposed the apostles with more violence than the Pharisees, because they taught what that sect denied, a life to come, and the resurrection of the dead; and for the truth of
their doctrine appealed to the resurrection of Jesus.
In this passage we may further remark the very great caution with which Josephus censures the conduct of Ananus, and vindicates the innocence of James and his fellow-sufferers. He does not himself pass this censure on their unjust judge, or apply any epithet which merely marks his own disapprobation, but puts it in the mouth of others. "The most equitable men of the city, and those who had the most accurate knowledge of the laws, were grievously offended at this measure*, and they privately send messengers complaining of it to Albinus." The historian too calls in the testimonies of the præfect and of Agrippa, to prove the injustice and violence of the act; the former of whom writes to Ananus with much anger; the latter deprives him of his priesthood on account of it.
It appears, moreover, from this passage, that the advocates of spiritual judaism, or, as we should say, of christianity, were at this time become very strong even among the principal men
* Όσοι δε εδοκούν επιεικεςάτοι των κατα την πόλιν είναι, και τα περι τους νόμους ακριβεις, βαρεως ηνεγκαι
Ant. lib. 20. c. 9.