Sivut kuvina

allusioks to the Pharisees, in the book which Gentiles believe divine, and the subsequent explanations in their various commentaries, cannot fail to engender this spirit. But the Hebrew should guard against imbibing it, because the view is false in many of its bearings. It is very difficult, when we only possess histories written by Gentiles in a liberal and friendly spirit, and containing so much with 'which we can fully sympathize, to realize that on some points as Hebrews, our opinions must form themselves, and not be guided by those of the historian. The Pharisees is one of these—on which we must reflect and exercise our own judgment. The Rabbinical historian would unhesitatingly pronounce them saints, as little less holy or inspired than the prophets themselves ;--the Gentiles, as cruel, prejudiced bigots, hiding the most fearful vices ur der the mask of extremest sanctity. Both are probably wrong.

The Pharisees were but men, liable to all the failings of humanity ; but their religion, even if carried beyond the law, was honest and sincere. The laxity and indifference of the multitude compelled a greater degree of strictness; they were forced to raise around them a wall of exclusiveness, lest they too should fall. They beheld the awful evils creeping steadily amidst all ranks, and was it strange that they should have encouraged an unsocial spirit, and held themselves aloof? They beheld foreign manners and customs destroying the nationality of their people and land; that the law of their God, which they justly held supreme, was disregarded ; and was it unnatura. that they should seclude themselves, proud of their spiritual superiority-or that their attachment to their land and Temple should increase in passionate intensity, as they beheld it so ofton trampled upon and desecrated by foreigners? That a want of charity, of humility, of forbearance, marked their religion, might be; nay, in that terrible period it could scarcely be otherwise. Party spirit even then had dried up the channels of social affection, and the spirit of love and meekness which the religion of Moses taught, could not be realized in the popular tumults and crimes for ever raging round them. Individuals there were, no doubt, combining the pure spirit and loving mind with the outward ceremonial; but in this brief sketch we can only generalize. Still, spite of their faults--spite of the too rigid, too exclusive notions, which, if indeed they had existence, originated simply from the fear of being too lax, and

sharing the indifference and infidelity of too many of their fellows, the Pharisees must be regarded with veneration as the preservers of the law.

Now should the Zaddikim, or righteous, be passed unnoticed. Of these men we shall find no notice in the Talmudical writers, because they were opposed to much which that party considered of equal sanctity and obligation with the written law of God. But in an historical sketch, which, to be correct and useful, must be perfectly impartial, untinged by any individual feeling, we cannot refrain from noticing them, and in a very different spirit to the abhorrence with which they are generally regarded. However mistaken might have been some of their notions, however impossible to follow the law of the Eternal, without some regard to the useful practical explanations of the Elders; still that they were as sincere and zealous as their opponents, cannot be doubted. These differing views aided materially in the preservation of the law, although the dissensions appeared to, and in fact did, increase the internal miseries and quarrels of Judea.

Given up as they were to their own imaginations, their divine nature--apparently utterly lost in the dominion of evil passions—we seem to read but of anarchy and sin, more fearful than any which had come before, and increasing to a climax which compelled the chastisement so long deferred. But if with a faithful heart and unshrinking eye, we look within this rolling tumult-if we look beneath the stormy waves of dissension and hate and wrath-we trace in the very elements that increased our miseries, those of our final preservation. We behold but the workers of evil, for wickedness ever comes uppermost; but the faithful hearts, the enduring martyrs, the good, the true, are invisible in history, as in daily life, even as the still calm depths of the ocean, whose waves are in tumult and in storm. Never was the divinity of virtue entirely extinct, either in man or nations; and we may rest content and satisfied, that even in the midst of the blackened annals on which our eyes must rest, there was virtue and spirituality, and truth, sincerity, and zeal; and that there will be these to the end of time--invisible in history, invisible in life, but working on silently and unceasingly, even to themselves, towards the purity, and elevation, and preservation of the religion of the Lord. Nor are such workers confined to one party or one creed. Outwardly, cach will condemn each; but inwardly, they work together.

[blocks in formation]

HYRCANUS's quiet surrender of his authority was not of long continuance. Urged on by Antipater, the father of Herod, he again took the field; and after various alternations of success and defeat, both brothers appealed to Pompey, the Roman general;—first by commissioners, and then, by command, in person.

Each produced defenders; but many of the nation came to protest against both, as having illegally changed the form of government from the supremacy of the High Priest to that of king; a charge sufficient to confirm our idea that, from the death of Alexander, the former office had completely merged in the latter. The representatives of neither party, however, had much weight. Pompey decided as was best for his own and the Roman interest, only so far favoring Hyrcanus, as to tempt Aristobulus to resume hostilities; convinced that so doing would only prove his weakness, make him prisoner to Pompey, and eventually cause the whole nation to submit; and his prognostics were correct, with the sole exception of a remnant of Aristobulus's faction, who threw themselves into the Temple, valiantly resolved to defend it to the last.

After three months' struggle, during which the cessation of warfare on the Sabbath had given the Romans their only advantage, the Temple was taken, and twelve hundred of the Jews slain. Amongst them were several priests, who, engaged în sacrifices and other services of the Temple at the moment of the assault, never moved from the altar, nor faltered in the performance of a single rite, but fell murdered where

they stood firm and undaunted, and truly warriors of the Lord.

The faction of Hyrcanus were amongst the most furious in the massacre of their countrymen, painfully proving the fearful effects of party spirit, and how completely nationality must at this period have been lost. Hyrcanus was nominated High Priest and Prince of the country, on condition of his submitting to the Roman government, paying tribute, making no effort to increase his territories, and never to resume the crown. The dignity was thus merely nominal, the independence of the country at an end, and Judea little more than a province of Rome.

Aristobulus and his children, his sons, and two daughters, were carried captives to Rome. Alexander, one of these sons (and afterwards the father of Mariamne and Aristobulus), escaped on the journey to Rome, and returned to Judea.

The desecration of the Temple by Pompey, in profaning its most sacred precincts, excited towards him the utmost hatred of the Jews—a hatred which caused them to behold his gradual decline with satisfaction, and wherever they were scattered, they simultaneously swelled the ranks of his rival Julius Cæsar.

From this period, in all the internal troubles of Judea, we read of her appealing to the Romans for assistance; the never-failing method of kingdoms being entirely subjected by the party to whom they appeal. Hyrcanus did not enjoy his authority in peace-Alexander, the elder son of Aristobulus, above alluded to, raised a considerable force, and made every preparation for re-obtaining the possessions of his father. Gabinius, pro-consul of Syria, called in by Hyrcanus, made head against him, and compelled him to surrender his fortresses. Aristobulus himself, and his younger son, soon after escaped from Rome, and headed another revolt against Hyrcanus, but with worse fortune; the former, severely wounded, was sent back in chains to Rome—Antigonus, through the intercession of his mother, obtained his release.

The form of government was then altered by Gabinius, proving the very small portion of dignity or independence which the nominal prince retained. Hyrcanus had had nothing to do with the revolts ; but we find him deprived entirely of the royal kuthority-and five senates, or sanhedrins, established at Jeru.

civil war.

salem, Jericho, Gadara, Amatheus, and Sepphoris. This government continued till ten years afterwards, when Cresar restored Lyrcanus to his former power.

Though his arms were defeated, the spirit of Alexander, in whom all the courage, enterprise, and chivalry of the Asmonæans appeared to have centred, was still unsubdued. The moment Gabinius had drawn off his forces, intent on the conquest of Egypt, Alexander reappeared, drove the few remaining Romans into a strong position on Mount Gerizim, and there besieged them-courageously met Gabinius, who had returned on hearing of the revolt, valiantly gave him battle at the head of 80,000 men, and, though again defeated by the irresistible Roman arms, and compelled to take flight, bore with him his unconquered spirit still. Both he and his father, however, fell victims to the Roman

Cæsar bad given Aristobulus his freedom, and cominanded him to create a diversion in Palestine in his favor. The adherents of Pompey poisoned the unfortunate prince on his journey. Alexander, who was levying soldiers in Judea for the assistance of Cæsar, was seized at Antioch by Scipio, the friend of Pompey, and beheaded. Antigonus was, therefore, the only scion of the family of Aristobulus remaining. Hyrcanus retained the sovereignty in name, Antipater in power.

Winning the favor of Cæsar in his Egyptian wars, Antipater, while he demanded and received the re-establishment of the High Priesthood for Hyrcanus, obtained for himself all the rights of a Romar. citizen, and the procuratorship of the whole of Judea. Soon after, presuming still more on the incapacity of the feeble prince whom he pretended to befriend, and on the friendship of the Romans, he made his eldest son, Phasael, governor of Jerusalem, and his younger, Herod, governor of Judea. This is the first mention of a character so intimately blended with the fortunes of the Jewish people. The brevity of our present sketch will not permit us even to attempt a delineation of the shrewd and sagacious policy, and unfailing enterprise, with which this extraordinary man made his way through the most adverse factions, both Jewish and Roman, to the supremacy of Judea, and to the intimate friendship of all the contending heads of Rome. Julius Cæsar, Mark Antony, Lepidus, and, finally, Augustus Cæsar- -men whose views were never the same, were yet brought over by Herod's indomitable will, to befriend and

« EdellinenJatka »