Containing the Interval of 82 years.
From the death of Judas Maccabeus to the Death of Queen Alexandra.
How Jonathan took the government after his brother Judas; and how he, together with his brother Simon, waged war against Bacchides.
1. By what means the nation of the Jews recovered their freedom when they had been brought into slavery by the Macedonians, and what struggles, and how great battles Judas, the general of their army, ran through, till he was slain, as he was fighting for them, hath been related in the foregoing book: But after he was dead, all the wicked, and those that transgressed the laws of their forefathers, sprang up again in Judea, and grew upon them, and distressed them on every side. A famine also assisted their wickedness, and afflicted the country, till not a few, who, by reason of their want of necessaries, and because they were not able to bear up against the miseries that both the famine and their enemies brought upon them, deserted their country, and went to the Macedonians. And now Bacchides gathered those Jews together who had apostatized from the accustomed way of living of their forefathers, and chose to live like their neighbours, and committed the care of the country to them; who also caught the friends of Judas, and those of his party, and delivered them up to Bacchides, who, when he had, in the first place, tortured and tormented them at his pleasure, he, by that means at length killed them. And when this calamity of the Jews was become so great, as they had never had experience of the like since their return out of Babylon, those that remained of the companions of Judas, seeing that the nation was ready to be destroyed after a miserable manner, came to his brother Jonathan, and desired him that he would imitate his brother, and that care which he took of his countrymen, for whose liberty in general he died also; and that he would not permit the nation to be without a governor, especially in those destructive circumstances wherein it now was. And when Jonathan said, that he was ready to die for them, and was indeed esteemed no way inferior to his brother, he was appointed to be the general of the Jewish army.
2. When Bacchides heard this, he was afraid that Jonathan might be very troublesome to the King and the Macedonians, as Judas had been before him, he sought how he might slay him by treachery: But this intention of his was not unknown to Jonathan, nor to his brother Simon; but when these two were apprized of it, they took all their companions, and presently fled into that wilderness which was nearest to the city; and when they were come to a lake called Asphar, they abode there. But when Bacchides was sensible that they were in a low state, and were in that place, he hasted to fall upon them with all his forces, and pitching his camp beyond Jordan, he recruited his army: But when Jonathan knew that Bacchides was coming upon him, he sent his brother John, who was also called Gaddis, to the Nabatean Arabs, that he might lodge his baggage with them until the battle with Bacchides should be over, for they were the Jews friends. And the sons of Ambri laid an ambush for John, from the city Medaba, and seized upon him, and upon those that were with him, and plundered all that they had with them: They also slew John, and all his companions. However, they were sufficiently punished for what they now did by John’s brethren, as we shall relate presently.
3. But when Bacchides knew that Jonathan had pitched his camp among the lakes of Jordan, he observed when their Sabbath day came, and then assaulted him, as supposing that he would not fight because of the law [for resting on that day]: But he exhorted his companions [to fight]; and told them, that their lives were at stake, since they were encompassed by the river, and by their enemies, and had no way to escape, for that their enemies pressed upon them from before; and the river was behind them. So after he had prayed to God to give them the victory, he joined battle with the enemy, of whom he overthrew many: and as he saw Bacchides coming up boldly to him, he stretched out his right hand to smite him, but the other foreseeing and avoiding the stroke, Jonathan with his companions leaped into the river, and swam over it, and by that means escaped beyond Jordan, while the enemies did not pass over that river; but Bacchides returned presently to the citadel at Jerusalem, having lost about two thousand of his army. He also fortified many cities of Judea, whose walls had been demolished, Jericho, and Emmaus, and Bethoron, and Bethel, and Tinma, and Pharatho, and Tecoa, and Gazara, and built towers in every one of these cities, and encompassed them with strong walls, that were very large also, and put garrisons into them, that they might issue out of them and do mischief to the Jews. He also fortified the citadel at Jerusalem more than all the rest. Moreover, he took the sons of the principal Jews as pledges, and shut them up in the citadel, and in that manner guarded it.
4. About the same time, one came to Jonathan, and to his brother Simon, and told them, that the sons of Ambri were celebrating a marriage, and bringing the bride from the city Gabatha, who was the daughter of one of the illustrious men among the Arabians, and that the damsel was to be conducted with pomp, and splendour, and much riches: So Jonathan and Simon thinking this appeared to be the fittest time for them to avenge the death of their brother, and that they had forces sufficient for receiving satisfaction from them for his death, they made haste to Medaba, and lay in wait among the mountains for the coming of their enemies; and as soon as they saw them conducting the virgin, and her bridegroom, and such a great company of their friends with them, as was to be expected at this wedding, they sallied out of their ambush, and slew them all; and took their ornaments, and all the prey that then followed them, and so returned, and received this satisfaction for their brother John from the sons of Ambri; for as well those sons themselves, as their friends, and wives, and children, that followed them, perished, being in number about four hundred.
5. However, Simon and Jonathan returned to the lakes of the river, and abode there: But Bacchides, when he had secured all Judea with his garrisons, returned to the King; and then it was that the affairs of Judea were quiet for two years. But when the deserters, and the wicked, saw that Jonathan, and those that were with him, lived in the country very quietly, by reason of the peace, they sent to King Demetrius, and excited him to send Bacchides to seize upon Jonathan, which they said was to be done without any trouble, and in one night’s time; and that if they fell upon them before they were aware, they might slay them all. So the King sent Bacchides, who, when he was come into Judea, wrote to all his friends, both Jews and auxiliaries, that they should seize upon Jonathan, and bring him to him; and when, upon all their endeavours, they were not able to seize upon Jonathan, for he was sensible of the snares they laid for him, and very carefully guarded against them, Bacchides was angry at these deserters, as having imposed upon him, and upon the King, and slew fifty of their leaders: Whereupon Jonathan, with his brother, and those that were with him, retired to Bethagla, a village that lay in the wilderness, out of his fear of Bacchides. He also built towers in it, and encompassed it with walls, and took care that it should be safely guarded. Upon the hearing of which, Bacchides led his own army along with him, and besides took his Jewish auxiliaries, and came against Jonathan, and made an assault upon his fortifications, and besieged him many days; but Jonathan did not abate of his courage at the zeal Bacchides shewed in the siege, but courageously opposed him. And while he left his brother Simon in the city to fight with Bacchides, he went privately out himself into the country, and got a great body of men together of his own party, and fell upon Bacchides’s camp in the night time, and destroyed a great many of them. His brother Simon knew also of this his falling upon them, because he perceived that the enemies were slain by him, so he sallied out upon them, and burnt the engines which the Macedonians used, and made a great slaughter of them. And when Bacchides saw himself encompassed with enemies, and some of them before, and some behind him, he fell into despair, and trouble of mind, as confounded at the unexpected ill success of this siege. However, he vented his displeasure at these misfortunes upon those deserters who sent for him from the King, as having deluded him. So he had a mind to finish this siege after a decent manner, if it were possible for him so to do, and then to return home.
6. When Jonathan understood these his intentions, he sent ambassadors to him about a league of friendship and mutual assistance, and that they might restore those they had taken captive on both sides. So Bacchides thought this a pretty decent way of retiring home, and made a league of friendship with Jonathan, when they sware that they would not any more make war one against another. Accordingly he restored the captives, and took his own men with him, and returned to the King at Antioch; and after this his departure he never came into Judea again. Then did Jonathan take the opportunity of this quiet state of things, and went and lived in the city Michmash; and there governed the multitude, and punished the wicked and ungodly, and by that means purged the nation of them.
How Alexander [Bala], in his war with Demetrius, granted Jonathan many advantages, and appointed him to be high priest, and persuaded him to assist him, although Demetrius promised him greater advantages on the other side. Concerning the death of Demetrius.
1. Now in the hundred and sixtieth year, it fell out that Alexander, the son of Antiochus Epiphanes, (1) came up into Syria, and took Ptolemais, the soldiers within having betrayed it to him, for they were at enmity with Demetrius, on account of his insolence, and difficulty of access; for he shut himself up in a palace of his that had four towers, which he had built himself, not far from Antioch, and admitted nobody. He was withal slothful and negligent about the public affairs, whereby the hatred of his subjects was the more kindled against him, as we have elsewhere already related. When therefore Demetrius heard that Alexander was in Ptolemais, he took his whole army, and led it against him: he also sent ambassadors to Jonathan, about a league of mutual assistance and friendship, for he resolved to be before hand with Alexander, lest the other should treat with him first, and gain assistance from him: And this he did out of the fear he had, lest Jonathan should remember how ill Demetrius had formerly treated him, and should join with him in this war against him. He therefore gave orders that Jonathan should be allowed to raise an army, and should get armour made, and should receive back those hostages of the Jewish nation whom Bacchides had shut up in the citadel of Jerusalem. When this good fortune had befallen Jonathan, by the concession of Demetrius, he came to Jerusalem, and read the King’s letter, in the audience of the people, and of those that kept the citadel. When these were read, these wicked men and deserters, who were in the citadel, were greatly afraid, upon the King’s permission to Jonathan to raise an army, and to receive back the hostages: So he delivered every one of them to his own parents. And thus did Jonathan make his abode at Jerusalem, renewing the city to a better state, and reforming the buildings as he pleased, for he gave orders that the walls of the city should be rebuilt with square stones, that it might be more secure from their enemies. And when those that kept the garrisons that were in Judea saw this, they all left them, and fled to Antioch, excepting those that were in the city Bethsura, and those that were in the citadel of Jerusalem, for the greater part of these was of the wicked Jews and deserters, and on that account these did not deliver up their garrisons.
2. When Alexander knew what promises Demetrius had made Jonathan, and withal knew his courage, and what great things he had done when he fought the Macedonians, and besides what hardships he had undergone by the means of Demetrius, and of Bacchides, the general of Demetrius’s army, he told his friends, That “he could not at present find any one else that might afford him better assistance than Jonathan, who was both courageous against his enemies, and had a particular hatred against Demetrius, as having both suffered many hard things from him, and acted many hard things against him: If therefore they were of opinion, that they should make him their friend against Demetrius, it was more for their advantage to invite him to assist them now than at another time.” It being therefore determined by him and his friends to send to Jonathan, he wrote to him this epistle: “King Alexander to his brother Jonathan, sendeth greeting: We have long ago heard of thy courage, and thy fidelity, and for that reason have sent to thee, to make with thee a league of friendship and mutual assistance. We therefore do ordain thee this day the high priest of the Jews, and that thou beest called my friend. I have also sent thee, as presents, a purple robe, and a golden crown, and desire, that now thou art by us honoured, thou wilt in like manner respect us also.”
3. When Jonathan had received this letter, he put on the pontifical robe at the time of the feast of tabernacles, four years after the death of his brother Judas, (2) for at that time no high priest had been made. So he raised great forces, and had abundance of armour got ready. This greatly grieved Demetrius when he heard of it, and made him blame himself for his slowness, that he had not prevented Alexander, and got the good-will of Jonathan, but had given him time so to do. However, he also himself wrote a letter to Jonathan, and to the people; the contents whereof are these: “King Demetrius to Jonathan, and to the nation of the Jews, sendeth greeting: Since you have preserved your friendship for us; and when you have been tempted by our enemies, you have not joined yourselves to them; I both commend you for this your fidelity, and exhort you to continue in the same disposition, for which you shall be repaid, and receive rewards from us: for I will free you from the greatest part of the tributes and taxes which you formerly paid to the kings my predecessors, and to myself; and I do now set you free from those tributes which you have ever paid; and besides, I forgive you the tax upon salt, and the value of the crowns which you used to offer to me: (3) and instead of the third part of the fruits [of the field], and the half of the fruits of the trees, I relinquish my part of them from this day: And as to the poll-money, which ought to be given me for every head of the inhabitants of Judea, and of the three toparchies that adjoin to Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, and Perea, that I relinquish to you for this time, and for all time to come. I will also, that the city of Jerusalem be holy and inviolable, and free from the tythe, and from the taxes, unto its utmost bounds: And I so far recede from my title to the citadel, as to permit Jonathan your high priest to possess it, that he may place such a garrison in it as he approves of for fidelity and good-will to himself, that they may keep it for us. I also make free all those Jews who have been made captives and slaves in my kingdom. I also give order, that the beasts of the Jews be not pressed for our service: And let their Sabbaths, and all their festivals, and three days before each of them, be free from any imposition. In the same manner, I set free the Jews that are inhabitants of my kingdom, and order that no injury be done them. I also give leave to such of them as are willing to list themselves in my army, that they may do it, and those as far as thirty thousand; which Jewish soldiers, wheresoever they go, shall have the same pay that my own army hath: and some of them I will place in my garrisons, and some as guards about mine own body, and as rulers over those that are in my court. I give them leave also to use the laws of their forefathers, and to observe them; and I will, that they have power over the three toparchies that are added to Judea; and it shall be in the power of the high priest, to take care that no one Jew shall have any other temple for worship but only that at Jerusalem. I bequeath also, out of my own revenues, yearly, for the expences about the sacrifices, one hundred and fifty thousand [drachmæ]; and what money is to spare, I will that it shall be your own. I also release to you those ten thousand drachmæ which the kings received from the temple, because they appertain to the priests that minister in that temple. And whosoever shall fly to the temple at Jerusalem, or to the places thereto belonging, or who owe the King money, or are there on any other account, let them be set free, and let their goods be in safety. I also give you leave to repair and rebuild your temple, and that all be done at my expences. I also allow you to build the walls of your city, and to erect high towers, and that they be erected at my charge. And if there be any fortified town that would be convenient for the Jewish country to have very strong, let it be so built at my expences.”
4. This was what Demetrius promised, and granted to the Jews, by this letter. But King Alexander raised a great army of mercenary soldiers, and of those that deserted to him out of Syria, and made an expedition against Demetrius. And when it was come to a battle, the left wing of Demetrius put those who opposed them to flight, and pursued them a great way, and slew many of them, and spoiled their camp; but the right wing, where Demetrius happened to be, was beaten; and as for all the rest they ran away; but Demetrius fought courageously, and slew a great many of the enemy; but as he was in the pursuit of the rest, his horse carried him into a deep bog, where it was hard to get out, and there it happened, that upon his horse’s falling down, he could not escape being killed; for when his enemies saw what had befallen him, they returned back, and encompassed Demetrius round, and they all threw their darts at him; but he being now on foot, fought bravely, but at length he received so many wounds, that he was not able to bear up any longer, but fell. And this is the end that Demetrius came to, when he had reigned eleven years, (4) as we have elsewhere related.
The friendship that was between Onias and Ptolemy Philometor; and how Onias built a temple in Egypt like to that at Jerusalem.
1. But then the son of Onias the high priest, who was of the same name with his father, and who fled to King Ptolemy, who was called Philometor, lived now at Alexandria, as we have said already. When this Onias saw that Judea was oppressed by the Macedonians, and their kings, out of a desire to purchase to himself a memorial and eternal fame, he resolved to send to King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra, to ask leave of them that he might build a temple in Egypt like to that at Jerusalem, and might ordain Levites and priests out of their own stock. The chief reason why he was desirous so to do was, that he relied upon the prophet Isaiah, who lived above six hundred years before, and foretold, that there certainly was to be a temple built to Almighty God in Egypt by a man that was a Jew. Onias was elevated with this prediction; and wrote the following epistle to Ptolemy and Cleopatra: “Having done many and great things for you in the affairs of the war, by the assistance of God, and that in Celesyria and Phenicia, I came at length with the Jews to Leontopolis, and to other places of your nation, where I found that the greatest part of your people had temples in an improper manner, and that on this account they bare ill-will one against another, which happens to the Egyptians by reason of the multitude of their temples, and the difference of opinions about divine worship. Now I found a very fit place in a castle that hath its name from the country Diana; this place is full of materials of several sorts, and replenished with sacred animals; I desire therefore that you will grant me leave to purge this holy place, which belongs to no master, and is fallen down, and to build there a temple to Almighty God, after the pattern of that in Jerusalem, and of the same dimensions, that may be for the benefit of thyself, and thy wife, and children, that those Jews which dwell in Egypt may have a place whither they may come and meet together in mutual harmony one with another, and he subservient to thy advantages; for the prophet Isaiah foretold, that there should be an altar in Egypt to the Lord God: (5) And many other such things did he prophecy relating to that place.”
2. And this was what Onias wrote to King Ptolemy. Now any one may observe his piety, and that of his sister and wife Cleopatra’s, by that epistle which they wrote in answer to it; for they laid the blame and the transgression of the law upon the head of Onias. And this was their reply: “King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra to Onias, send greeting: We have read thy petition, wherein thou desirest leave to be given thee to purge that temple which is fallen down at Leontopolis in the Nomus of Heliopolis, and which is named from the country Bubastis; on which account we cannot but wonder that it should be pleasing to God to have a temple erected in a place so unclean, and so full of sacred animals: But since thou sayest that Isaiah the prophet foretold this long ago, we give thee leave to do it, if it may be done according to your law, and so that we may not appear to have at all offended God herein.”
3. So Onias took the place, and built a temple, and an altar to God, like indeed to that in Jerusalem, but smaller and poorer. I do not think it proper for me now to describe its dimensions, or its vessels, which have been already described in my seventh book of the wars of the Jews. However, Onias found other Jews like to himself, together with priests and Levites, that there performed divine service. But we have said enough about this temple.
4. Now it came to pass that the Alexandrian Jews, and those Samaritans who paid their worship to the temple that was built in the days of Alexander at mount Gerizzim, did now make a sedition one against another, and disputed about their temples before Ptolemy himself, the Jews saying, that, according to the laws of Moses, the temple was to be built at Jerusalem; and the Samaritans saying, that it was to be built at Gerizzim. They desired therefore the King to sit with his friends, and hear the debates about these matters, and punish those with death who were baffled. Now Sabbeus and Theodosius managed the argument for the Samaritans, and Andronicus, the son of Messalamus, for the people of Jerusalem; and they took an oath by God and the King to make their demonstrations according to the law; and they desired of Ptolemy, that whomsoever he should find that transgressed what they had sworn to, he would put him to death. Accordingly the King took several of his friends into the council, and sat down, in order to hear what the pleaders said. Now the Jews that were at Alexandria were in great concern for those men, whose lot it was to contend for the temple at Jerusalem; for they took it very ill that any should take away the reputation of that temple, which was so ancient and so celebrated all over the habitable earth. Now when Sabbeus and Tlteodosius had given leave to Andronicus to speak first, he began to demonstrate out of the law, and out of the successions of the high priests, how they every one in succession from his father had received that dignity, and ruled over the temple; and how all the Kings of Asia had honoured that temple with their donations, and with the most splendid gifts dedicated thereto: But as for that at Gerizzm, he made no account of it, and regarded it as if it had never had a being. By this speech, and other arguments, Andronicus persuaded the King to determine, that the temple at Jerusalem was built according to the laws of Moses, (6) and to put Sabbeus and Theodosius to death. And these were the events that befel the Jews at Alexandria in the days of Ptolemy Philometor.
How Alexander honoured Jonathan after an extraordinary manner, and how Demetrius, the son of Demetrius overcame Alexander, and made a league of friendship with Jonathan.
1. Demetrius being thus slain in battle, as we have above related, Alexander took the kingdom of Syria; and wrote to Ptolemy Philometor, and desired his daughter in marriage; and said it was but just that he should be joined an affinity to one that had now received the principality of his forefathers, and had been promoted to it by God’s providence, and had conquered Demetrius, and that was on other accounts not unworthy of being related to him. Ptolemy received this proposal of marriage gladly; and wrote him an answer, saluting him on account of his having received the principality of his forefathers; and promising him, that he would give him his daughter in marriage; and assured him that he was coming to meet him at Ptolemais, and desired that he would there meet him, for that he would accompany her from Egypt so far, and would there marry his child to him. When Ptolemy had written thus, he came suddenly to Ptolemais, and brought his cousin Cleopatra along with him; and as he found Alexander there before him as he desired him to come, he gave him his child in marriage, and for her portion gave her as much silver and gold as became such a King to give.
2. When the wedding was over, Alexander wrote to Jonathan the high priest, and desired him to come to Ptolemais. So when he came to these kings, and had made them magnificent presents, he was honoured by them both. Alexander compelled him also to put off his own garment, and to take a purple garment, and made him sit with him in his throne; and commanded his captains that they should go with him into the middle of the city, and proclaim, that it was not permitted to any one to speak against him, or to give him any disturbance. And when the captains had thus done, those that were prepared to accuse Jonathan, and who bore him ill-will, when they saw the honour that was done him by proclamation, and that by the King’s order, ran away, and were afraid lest some mischief should befal them. Nay King Alexander was so very kind to Jonathan, that he set him down as the principal of his friends.
3. But then, upon the hundred and sixty-fifth year, Demetrius, the son of Demetrius, came from Crete with a great number of mercenary soldiers, which Lasthenes the Cretian brought him, and sailed to Cilicia. This thing cast Alexander into great concern and disorder when he heard it; so he made haste immediately out of Phenicia, and came to Antioch, that he might put matters in a safe posture there before Demetrius should come. He also left Apollonius Daus (7) governor of Celesyria, who coming to Jamnia with a great army, sent to Jonathan the high priest, and told him, That “it was not right that he alone should live at rest, and with authority, and not be subject to the King: that this thing had made him a reproach among all men, that he had not yet made him subject to the King. Do not thou therefore deceive thyself, and sit still among the mountains, and pretend to have forces with thee; but if thou hast any dependence on thy strength, come down into the plain, and let our armies be compared together, and the event of the battle will demonstrate which of us is the most courageous. However, take notice, that the most valiant men of every city are in my army, and that these are the very men who have always beaten thy progenitors; but let us have the battle in such a place of the country where we may fight with weapons, and not with stones, and where there may be no place whither those that are beaten may fly.”
4. With this Jonathan was irritated; and choosing himself out ten thousand of his soldiers, he went out of Jerusalem in haste, with his brother Simon, and came to Joppa, and pitched his camp on the outside of the city, because the people of Joppa had shut their gates against him, for they had a garrison in the city put there by Apollonius; but when Jonathan was preparing to besiege them, they were afraid he would take them by force, and so they opened the gates to him. But Apollonius, when he heard that Joppa was taken by Jonathan, took three thousand horsemen, and eight thousand footmen, and came to Ashdod, and removing thence, he made his journey silently and slowly, and going up to Joppa, he made as if he was retiring from the place, and so drew Jonathan into the plain, as valuing himself highly upon his horsemen, and having his hopes of victory principally in them. However, Jonathan sallied out, and pursued Apollonius to Ashdod; but as soon as Apollonius perceived that his enemy was in the plain, he came back and gave him battle: but Apollonius had laid a thousand horsemen in ambush in a valley, that they might be seen by their enemies as behind them: which when Jonathan perceived, he was under no consternation, but ordering his army to stand in a square battle array, he gave them a charge to fall on the enemy on both sides, and set them to face those that attacked them both before and behind: And while the fight lasted till the evening, he gave part of his forces to his brother Simon, and ordered him to attack the enemies, but for himself, he charged those that were with him to cover themselves with their armour, and receive the darts of the horsemen, who did as they were commanded; so that the enemies horsemen, while they threw their darts till they had no more left, did them no harm, for the darts that were thrown did not enter into their bodies, being thrown upon the shields that were united and conjoined together, the closeness of which easily overcame the force of the darts, and they flew about without any effect. But when the enemy grew remiss in throwing their darts from morning till late at night, Simon perceived their weariness, and fell upon the body of men before him; and because his soldiers shewed great alacrity, he put the enemy to flight: And when the horsemen saw that the footmen ran away, neither did they stay themselves, but they being very weary, by the duration of the fight till the evening, and their hope from the footmen being quite gone, they basely ran away, and in great confusion also, till they were separated one from another, and scattered over all the plain. Upon which Jonathan pursued them as far as Ashdod, and slew a great many of them, and compelled the rest, in despair of escaping, to fly to the temple of Dagon, which was at Ashdod, but Jonathan took the city on the first onset, and burnt it, and the villages about it; nor did he abstain from the temple of Dagon itself, but burnt it also, and destroyed those that had fled to it. Now the entire multitude of the enemies that fell in the battle, and were consumed in the temple, were eight thousand. When Jonathan therefore had overcome so great an army, he removed from Ashdod, and came to Askelon: And when he had pitched his camp without the city, the people of Askelon came out and met him, bringing him hospitable presents, and honouring him; so he accepted of their kind intentions, and returned thence to Jerusalem with a great deal of prey, which he brought thence when he conquered his enemies: But when Alexander heard, that Apollonius, the general of his army, was beaten, he pretended to be glad of it, because he had fought with Jonathan his friend and ally against his directions. Accordingly he sent to Jonathan, and gave testimony to his worth; and gave him honourary rewards, as a golden button, (8) which it is the custom to give the King’s kinsmen; and allowed him Ekron, and its toparchy, for his own inheritance.
5. About this time, it was, that King Ptolemy, who was called Philometor, led an army, part by the sea, and part by land, and came to Syria, to the assistance of Alexander, who was his son-in-law: And accordingly all the cities received him willingly, as Alexander had commanded them to do, and conducted him as far as Ashdod; where they all made loud complaints about the temple of Dagon, which was burnt, and accused Jonathan of having laid it waste, and destroyed the country adjoining with fire, and slain a great number of them. Ptolemy heard these accusations, but said nothing. Jonathan also went to meet Ptolemy as far as Joppa, and obtained from him hospitable presents, and those glorious in their kinds, with all the marks of honour. And when he had conducted him as far as the river called Eleutherus, he returned again to Jerusalem.
6. But as Ptolemy was at Ptolemais, he was very near to a most unexpected destruction; for a treacherous design was laid for his life by Alexander, by the means of Ammonius, who was his friend: And as the treachery was very plain, Ptolemy wrote to Alexander, and required of him that he should bring Ammonius to condign punishment, informing him what snares had been laid for him by Ammonius, and desiring that he might he accordingly punished for it. But when Alexander did not comply with his demands, he perceived that it was he himself who laid the design, and was very angry at him. Alexander had also formerly been on very ill terms with the people of Antioch, for they had suffered very much by his means; yet did Ammonius at length undergo the punishment his insolent crimes had deserved, for he was killed in an opprobrious manner, like a woman, while he endeavoured to conceal himself in a feminine habit, as we have elsewhere related.
7. Hereupon Ptolemy blamed himself for having given his daughter in marriage to Alexander, and for the league he had made with him to assist him against Demetrius; so he dissolved his relation to him, and took his daughter away from him, and immediately sent to Demetrius, and offered to make a league of mutual assistance and friendship with him, and agreed with him to give him his daughter in marriage, and to restore him to the principality of his fathers. Demetrius was well pleased with this ambassage, and accepted of his assistance, and of the marriage of his daughter. But Ptolemy had still one more hard task to do, and that was to persuade the people of Antioch to receive Demetrius, because they were greatly displeased at him, on account of the injuries his father Demetrius had done them: Yet did he bring this about; for as the people of Antioch hated Alexander on Ammonius’s account, as we have shewed already, they were easily prevailed with to cast him out of Antioch; who thus expelled out of Antioch, came into Cilicia. Ptolemy came then to Antioch, and was made King by its inhabitants, and by the army; so that he was forced to put on two diadems, the one of Asia, the other of Egypt: But being naturally a good and a righteous man, and not desirous of what belonged to others, and besides these dispositions, being also a wise man in reasoning about futurities, he determined to avoid the envy of the Romans, so he called the people of Antioch together to an assembly and persuaded them to receive Demetrius; and assured them, That “he would not be mindful of what they did to his father in case he should he now obliged by them; and he undertook that he would himself be a good monitor and governor to him; and promised that he would not permit him to attempt any bad actions; but that, for his own part, he was contented with the kingdom of Egypt.” By which discourse he persuaded the people of Antioch to receive Demetrius.
8. But now Alexander made haste with a numerous and great army, and came out of Cilicia into Syria, and burnt the country belonging to Antioch, and pillaged it; whereupon Ptolemy, and his son-in-law Demetrius, brought their army against him, (for he had already given him his daughter in marriage), and beat Alexander, and put him to flight; and accordingly he fled into Arabia. Now it happened in the time of the battle, that Ptolemy’s horse, upon hearing the noise of an elephant, cast him off his back, and threw him on the ground; upon the sight of which accident, his enemies fell upon him, and gave him many wounds upon his head, and brought him into danger of death, for when his guards caught him up, he was so very ill, that for four days time he was not able either to understand or to speak. However, Zabdiel, a prince among the Arabians, cut off Alexander’s head, and sent it to Ptolemy; who recovering of his wounds, and returning to his understanding on the fifth day, heard at once a most agreeable hearing, and saw a most agreeable sight, which were the death, and the head of Alexander; yet a little after this his joy for the death of Alexander, with which he was so greatly satisfied, he also departed this life. Now Alexander, who was called Balas, reigned over Asia five years; as we have elsewhere related.
9. But when Demetrius, who was styled Nicator, (9) had taken the kingdom, he was so wicked as to treat Ptolemy’s soldiers very hardly, neither remembering the league of mutual assistance that was between them, nor that he was his son-in-law and kinsman, by Cleopatra’s marriage to him, so the soldiers fled from his wicked treatment to Alexandria, but Demetrius kept his elephants. But Jonathan the high priest, levied an army out of all Judea, and attacked the citadel at Jerusalem, and besieged it; it was held by a garrison of Macedonians, and by some of those wicked men who had deserted the customs of their forefathers. These men at first despised the attempts of Jonathan for taking the place, as depending on its strength; but some of those wicked men went out by night, and came to Demetrius, and informed him, that the citadel was besieged; who was irritated with what he heard, and took his army, and came from Antioch against Jonathan. And when he was at Antioch, he wrote to him, and commanded him to come to him quickly to Ptolemais: Upon which Jonathan did not intermit the siege of the citadel, but took with him the elders of the people, and the priests, and carried with him gold, and silver, and garments, and a great number of presents of friendship, and came to Demetrius, and presented him with them, and thereby pacified the King’s anger. So he was honoured by him, and received from him the confirmation of his high priesthood, as he had possessed it by the grants of the kings his predecessors. And when the Jewish deserters accused him, Demetrius was so far from giving credit to them, that when he petitioned him that he would demand no more than three hundred talents for the tribute of all Judea, and the three toparchies of Samaria, and Perea, and Galilee, he complied with the proposal, and gave him a letter confirming all those grants; whose contents were as follows: “King Demetrius to Jonathan his brother, and to the nation of the Jews, sendeth greeting: We have sent you a copy of that epistle which we have written to Lasthenes our kinsman, that you may know its contents. King Demetrus to Lasthenes our father, sendeth greeting: I have determined to return thanks, and to shew favour to the nation of the Jews, which hath observed the rules of justice in our concerns. Accordingly I remit to them the three prefectures, Apherima, and Lydda, and Ramatha, which have been added to Judea out of Samaria, with their appurtenances: As also what the kings my predecessors received from those that offered sacrifices in Jerusalem; and what are due from the fruits of the earth, and of the trees, and what else belongs to us; with the salt pits, and the crowns that used to be presented to us! Nor shall they be compelled to pay any of those taxes from this time to all futurity. Take care therefore that a copy of this epistle be taken, and given to Jonathan, and be set up in an eminent place of their holy temple.” And these were the contents of this writing. And now when Demetrius saw that there was peace every where, and that there was no danger, nor fear of war, he disbanded the greatest part of his army, and diminished their pay, and even retained in pay no others than such foreigners as came up with him from Crete, and from the other islands. However, this procured him ill will and hatred from the soldiers; on whom he bestowed nothing from this time, while the kings before him used to pay them in time of peace as they did before, that they might have their good will, and that they might be very ready to undergo the difficulties of war, if any occasion should require it.
How Trypho, after he had beaten Demetrius, delivered the kingdom to Antiochus, the son of Alexander, and gained Jonathan for his assistant: And concerning the actions and embassies of Jonathan.
1. Now there was a certain commander of Alexander’s forces, an Apanemian by birth, whose name was Diodotus, and was also called Trypho, took notice the ill-will the soldiers bare to Demetrius, and went to Malchus the Arabian, who brought up Antiochus, the son of Alexander, and told him what ill-will the armies bare Demetrius, and persuaded him to give him Antiochus, because he would make him King, and recover to him the kingdom of his father. Malchus at the first opposed him in this attempt, because he could not believe him, but when Trypho lay hard at him for a long time, he over-persuaded him to comply with Trypho’s intentions and entreaties. And this was the state Trypho was now in.
2. But Jonathan the high priest, being desirous to get clear of those that were in the citadel of Jerusalem, and of the Jewish deserters, and wicked men, as well as of those in all the garrisons in the country, sent presents and ambassadors to Demetrius, and entreated him to take away his soldiers out of the strong holds of Judea. Demetrius made answer, That after the war, which he was now deeply engaged in, was over, he would not only grant him that, but greater things than that also: and he desired he would send him some assistance; and informed him that his army had deserted him. So Jonathan chose out three thousand of his soldiers, and sent them to Demetrius.
3. Now the people of Antioch hated Demetrius, both on account of what mischief he had himself done them, and because they were his enemies also on account of his father Demetrius, who had greatly abused them, so they watched some opportunity, which they might lay hold on, to fall upon him. And when they were informed of the assistance that was coming to Demetrius from Jonathan, and considered at the same time that he would raise a numerous army, unless they prevented him, and seized upon him, they took their weapons immediately, and encompassed his palace in the way of a siege, and seizing upon all the ways of getting out, they sought to subdue their King. And when he saw that the people of Antioch were become his bitter enemies, and that they were thus in arms, he took the mercenary soldiers which he had with them, and those Jews who were sent by Jonathan, and assaulted the Antiochians; but he was overpowered by them, for they were many ten thousands, and was beaten. But when the Jews saw that the Antiochians were superior, they went up to the top of the palace, and shot at them from thence; and because they were so remote from them by their height, that they suffered nothing on their side, but did great execution on the others, as fighting from such an elevation, they drove them out of the adjoining houses, and immediately set them on fire, whereupon the flame spread itself over the whole city, and burnt it all down. This happened by reason of the closeness of the houses, and because they were generally built of wood. So the Antiochians, when they were not able to help themselves, nor to stop the fire, were put to flight. And as the Jews leaped from the top of one house to the top of another, and pursued them after that manner, it thence happened that the pursuit was so very surprising. But when the King saw that the Antiochians were very busy in saving their children, and their wives, and so did not fight any longer, he fell upon them in the narrow passages, and fought them, and slew a great many of them, till at last they were forced to throw down their arms, and to deliver themselves up to Demetrius. So he forgave them this their insolent behaviour, and put an end to the sedition: and when he had given rewards to the Jews out of the rich spoils he had gotten, and had returned them thanks, as the cause of his victory, he sent them away to Jerusalem to Jonathan, with an ample testimony of the assistance they had afforded him. Yet did he prove an ill man to Jonathan afterward, and broke the promises he had made: and he threatened that he would make war upon him, unless he would pay all that tribute which the Jewish nation owed to the first kings [of Syria]. And this he had done, if Trypho had not hindered him, and diverted his preparations against Jonathan, to a concern for his own preservation: for he now returned out of Arabia into Syria with the child Antiochus, for he was yet in age but a youth, and put the diadem on his head: and as the whole forces that had left Demetrius, because they had no pay, came to his assistance, he made war upon Demetrius, and joining battle with him, overcame him in the fight, and took from him both his elephants and the city Antioch.
4. Demetrius, upon this defeat, retired into Cilicia: but the child Antiochus sent ambassadors, and an epistle to Jonathan, and made him his friend and confederate, and confirmed to him the high priesthood, and yielded up to him the four prefectures which had been added to Judea. Moreover, he sent him vessels, and cups of gold, and a purple garment, and gave him leave to use them. He also presented him with a golden button, and styled him one of his principal friends, and appointed his brother Simon to be the general over the forces, from the ladder of Tyre unto Egypt. So Jonathan was so pleased with these grants made him by Antiochus, that he sent ambassadors to him, and to Trypho, and professed himself to be their friend and confederate, and said he would join with him in a war against Demetrius, informing him that he had made no proper returns for the kindnesses he had done him; for that when he had received many marks of kindness from him, when he stood in great need of them, he, for such good turns, had requited him with further injuries.
5. So Antiochus gave Jonathan leave to raise himself a numerous army out of Syria and Phenicia, and to make war against Demetrius’s generals; whereupon he went in haste to the several cities, which received him splendidly indeed, but put no forces into his hands. And when he was come from thence to Askelon, the inhabitants of Askelon came and brought him presents, and met him in a splendid manner. He exhorted them, and every one of the cities of Celesyria, to forsake Demetrius, and to join with Antiochus; and in assisting him, to endeavour to punish Demetrius for what offenses he had been guilty of against themselves; and told them, there were many reasons for that their procedure, if they had a mind so to do. And when he had persuaded those cities to promise their assistance to Antiochus, he came to Gaza, in order to induce them also to be friends to Antiochus; but he found the inhabitants of Gaza much more alienated from him than he expected, for they had shut their gates against him; and although they had deserted Demetrius, they had not resolved to join themselves to Antiochus. This provoked Jonathan to besiege them, and to harass their country; for as he set a part of his army round about Gaza itself, so with the rest he over-ran their land, and spoiled it, and burnt what was in it. When the inhabitants of Gaza saw themselves in this state of affliction, and that no assistance came to them from Demetrius, that what distressed them was at hand, but what should profit them was still at a great distance, and it was uncertain whether it would come at all or not, they thought it would be prudent conduct to leave off any longer continuance with him, and to cultivate friendship with the other, so they sent to Jonathan, and professed they would be his friends, and afford him assistance; for such is the temper of men, that before they have had the trial of great afflictions, they do not understand what is for their advantage, but when they find themselves under such afflictions, they then change their minds, and what it had been better for them to have done before they had been at all damaged they choose to do, but not till after they have suffered such damages. However, he made a league of friendship with them, and took from them hostages for their performance of it, and sent these hostages to Jerusalem, while he went himself over all the country, as far as Damascus.
6. But when he heard that the generals of Demetrius’s forces were come to the city Cadesh with a numerous army, (the place lies between the land of the Tyrians and Galilee), for they supposed they should hereby draw him out of Syria in order to preserve Galilee, and that he would not overlook the Galileans, who were his own people, when war was made upon them, he went to meet them, having left Simon in Judea, who raised as great an army as he was able out of the country, and then sat down before Bethsura, and besieged it, that being the strongest place in all Judea; and a garrison of Demetrius’s kept it, as we have already related. But as Simon was raising banks, and bringing his engines of war against Bethsura, and was very earnest about the siege of it, the garrison was afraid lest the place should be taken of Simon by force, and they put to the sword, so they sent to Simon, and desired the security of his oath, that they should come to no harm from him, and that they would leave the place, and go away to Demetrius. Accordingly he gave them his oath, and ejected them out of the city, and he put therein a garrison of his own.
7. But Jonathan removed out of Galilee, and from the waters which are called Gennesar, for there he was before encamped, and came into the plain that is called Asor, without knowing that the enemy was there. When therefore Demetrius’s men knew a day before hand that Jonathan was coming against them, they laid an ambush in the mountain, who were to assault him on the sudden, while they themselves met him with an army in the plain: which army when Jonathan saw ready to engage him, he also got ready his own soldiers for the battle as well as he was able; but those that were laid in ambush by Demetrius’s generals being behind them, the Jews were afraid lest they should be caught in the midst between two bodies, and perish, so they ran away in haste, and indeed all the rest left Jonathan, but a few there were, in number about fifty, who staid with him, and with them Mattathias the son of Absalom, and Judas the son of Chapseus, who were commanders of the whole army. These marched boldly, and like men desperate, against the enemy, and so pushed them, that by their courage they daunted them, and with their weapons in their hands, they put them to flight. And when those soldiers of Jonathan, that had retired, saw the enemy giving way, they got together after their flight, and pursued them with great violence; and this did they as far as Cadesh, where the camp of the enemy lay.
8. Jonathan having thus gotten a glorious victory, and slain two thousand of the enemy, returned to Jerusalem. So when he saw that all his affairs prospered, according to his mind, by the providence of God, he sent ambassadors to the Romans, being desirous of renewing that friendship which their nation had with them formerly. He enjoined the same ambassadors, that, as they came back, they should go to the Spartans, and put them in mind of their friendship and kindred. So when the ambassadors came to Rome, they went into their senate, and said what they were commanded by Jonathan the high priest to say, how he had sent them to confirm their friendship. The senate then confirmed what had been formerly decreed concerning their friendship with the Jews; and gave them letters to carry to all the kings of Asia and Europe, and to the governors of the cities, that they might safely conduct them to their own country. Accordingly as they returned, they came to Sparta, and delivered the epistle which they had received of Jonathan to them; a copy of which here follows: “Jonathan the high priest of the Jewish nation, and the senate, and body of the people of the Jews, to the ephori and senate, and people of the Lacedemonians, send greeting: If you be well, and both your public and private affairs be agreeable to your mind, it is according to our wishes. We are well also. When in former times an epistle was brought to Onias, who was then our high priest, from Areus, who at that time was your king, by Demoteles, concerning the kindred that was between us and you, a copy of which is here subjoined, we both joyfully received the epistle, and were well pleased with Demoteles and Areus, although we did not need such a demonstration, because we were satisfied about it from the sacred writings, (10) yet did not we think fit first to begin the claim of this relation to you, lest we should seem too early in taking to ourselves the glory which is now given us by you. It is a long time since this relation of ours to you hath been renewed; and when we, upon holy and festival days, offer sacrifices to God we pray to him for your preservation and victory. As to ourselves, although we have had many wars that have compassed us round, by reason of the covetousness of our neighbours, yet did not we determine to be troublesome either to you, or to others that were related to us; but since we have now overcome our enemies, and have occasion to send Numenius, the son of Antiochus, and Antipater, the son of Jason, who are both honourable men belonging to our senate, to the Romans, we gave them this epistle to you also, that they might renew that friendship which is between us. You will therefore do well yourselves to write to us, and send us an account of what you stand in need of from us, since we are in all things disposed to act according to your desires.” So the Lacedemonians received the ambassadors kindly, and made a decree for friendship and mutual assistance, and sent it to them.
9. At this time there were three sects among the Jews, who had different opinions concerning human actions; the one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, and the other the sect of the Essens. Now for the Pharisees, (11) they say that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate, and some of them are in our own power, and that they are liable to fate, but are not caused by fate. But the sect of the Essens affirm, that fate governs all things, and that nothing befalls men but what is according to its determination. And for the Sadducees, they take away fate, and say there is no such thing, and that the events of human affairs are not at its disposal, but they suppose that all our actions are in our own power, so that we are ourselves the causes of what is good, and receive what is evil from our own folly. However, I have given a more exact account of these opinions in the second book of the Jewish War.
10. But now the generals of Demetrius being willing to recover the defeat they had had, gathered a greater army together than they had before, and came against Jonathan; but as soon as he was informed of their coming, he went suddenly to meet them, to the country of Hamoth, for he resolved to give them no opportunity of coming into Judea, so he pitched his camp at fifty furlongs distance from the enemy, and sent out spies to take a view of their camp, and after what manner they were encamped. When his spies had given him full information, and had seized upon some of them by night, who told him the enemy would soon attack him, he, thus apprised before-hand, provided for his security, and placed watchmen beyond his camp, and kept all his forces armed all night; and he gave them a charge to be of good courage, and to have their minds prepared to fight in the night-time, if they should be obliged so to do, lest their enemies designs should seem concealed from them. But when Demetrius’s commanders were informed, that Jonathan knew what they intended, their counsels were disordered, and it alarmed them to find that the enemy had discovered those their intentions; nor did they expect to overcome them any other way, now they had failed in the snares they had laid for them, for should they hazard an open battle, they did not think they should be a match for Jonathan’s army, so they resolved to fly; and having lighted many fires, that when the enemy saw them they might suppose they were there still, they retired. But when Jonathan came to give them battle in the morning in their camp, and found it deserted, and understood they were fled, he pursued them, yet he could not overtake them, for they had already passed over the river Eleutherus, and were out of danger. So when Jonathan was returned thence, he went into Arabia, and fought against the Nabateans, and drove away a great deal of their prey, and took [many] captives, and came to Damascus, and there sold off what he had taken. About the same time it was, that Simon his brother went over all Judea, and Palestine, as far as Askelon, and fortified the strong holds; and when he had made them very strong, both in the edifices erected, and in the garrisons placed in them, he came to Joppa, and when he had taken it, he brought a great garrison into it, for he heard that the people of Joppa were disposed to deliver up the city to Demetrius’s generals.
11. When Simon and Jonathan had finished these affairs, they returned to Jerusalem, where Jonathan gathered all the people together, and took counsel to restore the walls of Jerusalem, and to rebuild the wall that encompassed the temple, which had been thrown down, and to make the places adjoining stronger by very high towers; and besides that, to build another wall in the midst of the city, in order to exclude the market-place from the garrison which was in the citadel, and by that means to hinder them from any plenty of provisions; and moreover, to make the fortresses that were in the country much stronger, and more defensible, than they were before. And when these things were approved of by the multitude, as rightly proposed, Jonathan himself took care of the building that belonged to the city, and sent Simon away to make the fortresses in the country more secure than formerly. But Demetrius passed over [Euphrates], and came into Mesopotamia, as desirous to retain that country still, as well as Babylon; and when he should have obtained the dominion of the upper provinces, to lay a foundation for recovering his entire kingdom; for those Greeks and Macedonians who dwelt there frequently sent ambassadors to him, and promised, that if he would come to them they would deliver themselves up to him, and assist him in fighting against Arsaces, (12) the King of the Parthians. So he was elevated with these hopes, and came hastily to them, as having resolved that, if he had once overthrown the Parthians, and gotten an army of his own, he would make war against Trypho, and eject him out of Syria; and the people of that country received him with great alacrity. So he raised forces, with which he fought against Arsaces, and lost all his army, and was himself taken alive, as we have elsewhere related.
How Jonathan was slain by treachery; and how thereupon the Jews made Simon their general and High Priest: what courageous actions also he performed, especially against Trypho.
1. Now when Trypho knew what had befallen Demetrius, he was no longer firm to Antiochus, but contrived by subtilty to kill him, and then take possession of his kingdom; but the fear that he was in of Jonathan was an obstacle to this his design, for Jonathan was a friend to Antiochus, for which cause he resolved first to take Jonathan out of the way, and then to set about his design relating to Antiochus; but he judging it best to take him off by deceit and treachery, came from Antioch to Bethshan, which by the Greeks is called Scythopolis, at which place Jonathan met him with forty thousand chosen men, for he thought that he came to fight him; but when he perceived that Jonathan was ready to fight, he attempted to gain him by presents and kind treatment, and gave order to his captains to obey him, and by these means was desirous to give assurance of his good-will, and to take away all suspicions out of his mind, that so he might make him careless and inconsiderate, and might take him when he was unguarded. He also advised him to dismiss his army, because there was no occasion for bringing it with him when there was no war, but all was in peace. However, he desired him to retain a few about him, and go with him to Ptolemais, for that he would deliver the city up to him, and would bring all the fortresses that were in the country under his dominion; and he told him that he came with those very designs.
2. Yet did not Jonathan suspect any thing at all by this his management, but believed that Trypho gave him this advice out of kindness, and with a sincere design. Accordingly he dismissed his army, and retained no more than three thousand of them with him, and left two thousand in Galilee, and he himself, with one thousand, came with Trypho to Ptolemais: But when the people of Ptolemais had shut their gates, as it had been commanded by Trypho to do, he took Jonathan alive, and slew all that were with him. He also sent soldiers against those two thousand that were left in Galilee, in order to destroy them: but those men having heard the report of what had happened to Jonathan, they prevented the execution, and before those that were sent by Trypho came, they covered themselves with their armour, and went away out of the country. Now when those that were sent against them saw that they were ready to fight for their lives, they gave them no disturbance, but returned back to Trypho.
3. But when the people of Jerusalem heard that Jonathan was taken, and that the soldiers who were with him were destroyed, they deplored his sad fate, and there was earnest inquiry made about him by every body, and a great and just fear fell upon them, and made them sad, lest now they were deprived of the courage and conduct of Jonathan, the nations about them should bear them ill-will; and as they were before quiet on account of Jonathan, they should now rise up against them, and by making war with them, should force them into the utmost dangers. And indeed what they suspected really befel them; for when those nations heard of the death of Jonathan, they began to make war with the Jews, as now destitute of a governor; and Trypho himself got an army together, and had an intention to go up to Judea, and make war against its inhabitants. But when Simon saw that the people of Jerusalem were terrified at the circumstances they were in, he desired to make a speech to them, and thereby to render them more resolute in opposing Trypho when he should come against them. He then called the people together into the temple, and thence began thus to encourage them: “O my countrymen, you are not ignorant that our father, myself, and my brethren, have ventured to hazard our lives, and that willingly, for the recovery of your liberty; since I have therefore such plenty of examples before me, and we of our family have determined with ourselves to die for our laws, and our divine worship, there shall no terror be so great as to banish this resolution from our souls, nor to introduce in its place a love of life, and a contempt of glory. Do you therefore follow me with alacrity whithersoever I shall lead you, as not destitute of such a captain as is willing to suffer, and to do the greatest things for you; for neither am I better than my brethren that I should be sparing of my own life, nor so far worse than they as to avoid and refuse what they thought the most honourable of all things, I mean, to undergo death for your laws, and for that worship of God which is peculiar to you; I will therefore give such proper demonstrations as will shew that I am their own brother; and I am so bold as to expect that I shall avenge their blood upon our enemies, and deliver you all, with your wives and children, from the injuries they intend against you, and, with God’s assistance, to preserve your temple from destruction by them, for I see that these nations have you in contempt, as being without a governor, and that they thence are encouraged to make war against you.”
4. By this speech of Simon’s, he inspired the multitude with courage, and as they had been before dispirited through fear, they were now raised to a good hope of better things, insomuch, that the whole multitude of the people cried out all at once, that Simon should be their leader; and that instead of Judas and Jonathan his brethren, he should have the government over them; and they promised that they would readily obey him in whatsoever he should command them. So he got together immediately all his own soldiers that were fit for war, and made haste in rebuilding the walls of the city; and strengthened them by very high and strong towers; and sent a friend of his, one Jonathan, the son of Absalom, to Joppa, and gave him order to eject the inhabitants out of the city, for he was afraid lest they should deliver up the city to Trypho, but he himself stayed to secure Jerusalem.
5. But Trypho removed from Ptolemais with a great army, and came into Judea, and brought Jonathan with him in bonds. Simon also met him with his army at the city Adida, which is upon an hill, and beneath it lie the plains of Judea. And when Trypho knew that Simon was by the Jews made their governor, he sent to him, and would have imposed upon him by deceit and treachery; and desired him, if he would have his brother Jonathan released, that he would send him an hundred talents of silver, and two of Jonathan’s sons as hostages, that when he shall be released, he may not make Judea revolt from the King, for that at present he was kept in bonds on account of the money he had borrowed of the King, and now owed it to him. But Simon was aware of the craft of Trypho, and although he knew that if he gave him the money he should lose it, and that Trypho would not set his brother free, and withal should deliver the sons of Jonathan to the enemy, yet because he was afraid that he should have a calumny raised against him among the multitude as the cause of his brother’s death, if he neither gave the money, nor sent Jonathan’s sons, he gathered his army together, and told them what offers Trypho had made; and added this, that the offers were ensnaring and treacherous, and yet that it was more eligible to send the money and Jonathan’s sons, than to be liable to the imputation of not complying with Trypho’s offers, and thereby refusing to save his brother. Accordingly, Simon sent the sons of Jonathan, and the money; but when Trypho had received them, he did not keep his promise, nor set Jonathan free, but took his army, and went about all the country, and resolved to go up afterward to Jerusalem by the way of Idumea, while Simon went over against him with his army, and all along pitched his own camp over against his.
6. But when those that were in the citadel had sent to Trypho, and besought him to make haste, and come to them, and to send them provisions, he prepared his cavalry as though he would be at Jerusalem that very night, but so great a quantity of snow fell in the night that it covered the roads, and made them so deep that there was no passing, especially for the cavalry. This hindered him from coming to Jerusalem; whereupon Trypho removed thence, and came into Celesyria, and falling vehemently upon the land of Gilead, he slew Jonathan there, and when he had given order for his burial, he returned himself to Antioch. However, Simon sent some to the city Basca to bring away his brother’s bones, and buried them in their own city Modin; and all the people made great lamentation over him. Simon also erected a very large monument for his father, and his brethren, of white and polished stone, and raised it a great height, and so as to be seen a long way off, and made cloisters about it, and set up pillars, which were of one stone a-piece; a work it was wonderful to see. Moreover, he built seven pyramids also for his parents, and his brethren, one for each of them, which were made very surprising, both for their largeness and beauty, and which have been preserved to this day: and we know that it was Simon who bestowed so much zeal about the burial of Jonathan, and the building of these monuments for his relations. Now Jonathan died when he had been high priest four years (13) and had been also the governor of his nation. And these were the circumstances that concerned his death.
7. But Simon, who was made high priest by the multitude, on the very first year of his high priesthood set his people free from their slavery under the Macedonians, and permitted them to pay tribute to them no longer; which liberty and freedom from tribute they obtained after an hundred and seventy years (14) of the kingdom of the Assyrians, which was after Seleucus, who was called Nicator, got the dominion over Syria. Now the affection of the multitude towards Simon was so great, that in their contracts one with another, and in their public records, they wrote, “in the first year of Simon, the benefactor and ethnarch of the Jews;” for under him they were very happy, and overcame the enemies that were round about them, for Simon overthrew the city Gazara, and Joppa, and Jamina. He also took the citadel of Jerusalem by siege, and cast it down to the ground, that it might not be any more a place of refuge to their enemies when they took it, to do them a mischief, as it had been till now. And when he had done this, he thought it their best way, and most for their advantage, to level the very mountain itself upon which the citadel happened to stand, that so the temple might be higher than it. And indeed, when he had called the multitude to an assembly, he persuaded them to have it so demolished, and this by putting them in mind what miseries they had suffered by its garrison, and the Jewish deserters, and what miseries they might hereafter suffer in case any foreigner should obtain the kingdom, and put a garrison into that citadel. This speech induced the multitude to a compliance, because he exhorted them to do nothing but what was for their own good: So they all set themselves to the work, and levelled the mountain, and in that work spent both day and night without any intermission, which cost them three whole years before it was removed, and brought to an entire level with the plain of the rest of the city. After which the temple was the highest of all the buildings, now the citadel, as well as the mountain whereon it stood, were demolished. And these actions were thus performed under Simon.
How Simon confederated himself with Antiochus Pius, and made war against Trypho; and a little afterward, against Cendebeus, the general of Antiochus’s army: As also, how Simon was murdered by his son-in-law Ptolemy, and that by treachery.
1. (15) Now a little while after Demetrius had been carried into captivity, Trypho his governor, destroyed Antiochus, (16) the son of Alexander, who was also called the God, (17) and this when he had reigned four years, though he gave it out that he died under the hands of the surgeons. He then sent his friends, and those that were most intimate with him, to the soldiers; and promised that he would give them a great deal of money if they would make him King. He intimated to them that Demetrius was made a captive by the Parthians; and that Demetrius’s brother Antiochus, if he came to be King, would do them a great deal of mischief, in way of revenge for their revolting from his brother. So the soldiers in expectation of the wealth they should get by bestowing the kingdom on Trypho, made him their ruler. However, when Trypho had gained the management of affairs, he demonstrated his disposition to be wicked; for while he was a private person, he cultivated a familiarity with the multitude, and pretended to great moderation, and so drew them on artfully to whatsoever he pleased, but when he had once taken the kingdom, he laid aside any farther dissimulation, and was true Trypho, which behaviour made his enemies superior to him, for the soldiery hated him, and revolted from him to Cleopatra, the wife of Demetrius, who was then shut up in Seleucia with her children. But as Antiochus, the brother of Demetrius, who was called Soter, was not admitted by any of the cities on account of Trypho, Cleopatra sent to him, and invited him to marry her, and to take the kingdom. The reasons why she made this invitation were these: That her friends persuaded her to it, and that she was afraid for herself, in case some of the people of Seleucia should deliver up the city to Trypho.
2. As Antlochus was now come to Seleucia, and his forces increased every day, he marched to fight Trypho; and having beaten him in the battle, he ejected him out of the upper Syria into Phenicia, and pursued him thither, and besieged him in Dora, which was a fortress hard to be taken, whither he had fled. He also sent ambassadors to Simon the Jewish high priest, about a league of friendship and mutual assistance: Who readily accepted of the invitation, and sent to Antiochus great sums of money, and provisions, for those that besieged Dora, and thereby supplied them very plentifully, so that for a little while he was looked upon as one of his most intimate friends; but still Trypho fled from Dora to Apamia, where he was taken during the siege, and put to death, when he had reigned three years.
3. However, Antiochus forgot the kind assistance that Simon had afforded him in his necessity, by reason of his covetous and wicked disposition, and committed an army of soldiers to his friend Cendebeus, and sent him at once to ravage Judea, and to seize Simon. When Simon heard of Antiochus’s breaking his league with him, although he were now in years, yet, provoked with the unjust treatment he had met with from Antiochus, and taking a resolution brisker than his age could well bear, he went like a young man to act as general of his army. He also sent his sons before among the most hardy of his soldiers, and he himself marched on with his army another way, and laid many of his men in ambushes in the narrow valleys between the mountains; nor did he fail of success in any one of his attempts, but was too hard for his enemies in every one of them. So he led the rest of his life in peace, and did also himself make a league with the Romans.
4. Now he was the ruler of the Jews in all eight years, but at a feast came to his end. It was caused by the treachery of his son-in-law Ptolemy; who caught also his wife, and two of his sons, and kept them in bonds. He also sent some to kill John the third son, whose name was Hyrcanus; but the young man perceiving them coming, he avoided the danger he was in from them, (18) and made haste into the city [Jerusalem], as relying on the good will of the multitude, because of the benefits they had received from his father, and because of the hatred the same multitude bare to Ptolemy, so that when Ptolemy was endeavouring to enter the city by another gate, they drove him away, as having already admitted Hyrcanus.
Hyrcanus receives the high priesthood, and ejects Ptolemy out of the country. Antiochus makes war against Hyrcanus, and afterwards makes a league with him.
1. So Ptolemy retired to one of the fortresses that was above Jericho, which was called Dagon: But Hyrcanus having taken the priesthood that had been his father’s before, and in the first place propitiated God by sacrifices, he then made an expedition against Ptolemy; and when he made his attacks upon the place, in other points he was too hard for him, but was rendered weaker than he by the commiseration he had for his mother and brethren, and by that only, for Ptolemy brought them upon the wall, and tormented them in the sight of all, and threatened that he would throw them down headlong unless Hyrcanus would leave off the siege. And as he thought that so far as he relaxed as to the siege and taking of the place, so much favour did he shew to those that were dearest to him by preventing their misery, his zeal about it was cooled. However, his mother spread out her hands, and begged of him that he would not grow remiss on her account, but indulge his indignation so much the more, and that he would do his utmost to take the place quickly, in order to get their enemy under his power, and then to avenge upon him what he had done to those that were dearest to himself; for that death would be to her sweet, though with torment, if that enemy of theirs might but be brought to punishment for his wicked dealings to them. Now when his mother said so, he resolved to take the fortress immediately; but when he saw her beaten, and torn to pieces, his courage failed him, and he could not but sympathize with what his mother suffered, and was thereby overcome. And as the siege was drawn out into length by this means, that year on which the Jews used to rest came on, for the Jews observe this rest every seventh year, as they do every seventh day; so that Ptolemy being for this cause released from the war, (19) he slew the brethren of Hyrcanus, and his mother; and when he had so done, he fled to Zeno, who was called Cotylas, who was then the tyrant of the city Philadelphia.
2. But Antiochus being very uneasy at the miseries that Simon had brought upon him, he invaded Judea in the fourth year of his reign, and the first year of the principality of Hyrcanus, in the hundred and sixty-second olympiad. (20) And when he had burnt the country, he shut up Hyrcanus in the city, which he encompassed round with seven encampments; but did just nothing at the first, because of the strength of the walls, and because of the valour of the besieged, although they were once in want of water, which yet they were delivered from by a large shower of rain, which fell at the setting of the Pleiades. (21) However, about the north part of the wall, where it happened the city was upon a level with the outward ground, the King raised an hundred towers of three stories high, and placed bodies of soldiers upon them, and as he made his attacks every day, he cut a double ditch, deep and broad, and confined the inhabitants within it as within a wall; but the besieged contrived to make frequent sallies out, and if the enemy were not any where upon their guard, they fell upon them, and did them a great deal of mischief, and if they perceived them, they then retired into the city with ease. But because Hyrcanus discerned the inconvenience of so great a number of men in the city, while the provisions were the sooner spent by them, and yet, as is natural to suppose, those great numbers did nothing, he separated the useless part, and excluded them out of the city, and retained that part only which were in the flower of their age, and fit for war. However, Antiochus would not let those that were excluded go away, who therefore wandering about between the wails, and consuming away by famine, died miserably; but when the feast of tabernacles was at hand, those that were within commiserated their condition, and received them in again. And when Hyrcanus sent to Antiochus, and desired there might be a truce for seven days, because of the festival, be gave way to this piety towards God, and made that truce accordingly: And besides that, he sent in a magnificent sacrifice, bulls with their horns gilded, (22) with all sorts of sweet spices, and with cups of gold and silver. So those that were at the gates received the sacrifices from those that brought them, and led them to the temple, Antiochus the mean while feasting his army; which was a quite different conduct from Antiochus Epiphanes, who, when he had taken the city, offered swine upon the altar, and sprinkled the temple with the broth of their flesh, in order to violate the laws of the Jews, and the religion they derived from their forefathers; for which reason our nation made war with him, and would never be reconciled to him: But for this Antiochus, all men called him Antiochus the Pious, for the great zeal he had about religion.
3. Accordingly, Hyrcanus took this moderation of his kindly; and when he understood how religious he was towards the Deity, he sent an ambassage to him, and desired that he would restore the settlements they received from their forefathers. So he rejected the counsel of those that would have him utterly destroy the nation, (23) by reason of their way of living, which was to others unsociable, and did not regard what they said. But being persuaded that all they did was out of a religious mind, he answered the ambassadors, That if the besieged would deliver up their arms, and pay tribute for Joppa, and the other cities which bordered upon Judea, and admit a garrison of his, on these terms, he would make war against them no longer. But the Jews, although they were content with the other conditions, did not agree to admit the garrison, because they could not associate with other people, nor converse with them; yet were they willing, instead of the admission of the garrison, to give him hostages, and five hundred talents of silver; of which they paid down three hundred, and sent the hostages immediately, which King Antiochus accepted. One of those hostages was Hyrcanus’s brother: but still he broke down the fortifications that encompassed the city: And upon these conditions Antiochus broke up the siege, and departed.
4. But Hyrcanus opened the sepulchre of David, who excelled all other kings in riches, and took out of it three thousand talents. He was also the first of the Jews that relying on this wealth, maintained foreign troops. There was also a league of friendship and mutual assistance made between them: Upon which Hyrcanus admitted him into the city, and furnished him with whatsoever his army wanted in great plenty, and with great generosity, and marched along with him when he made an expedition against the Parthians; of which Nicolaus of Damascus is a witness for us; who in his history writes thus: “When Antiochus had erected a trophy at the river Lycus, upon his conquest of Indates, the general of the Parthians, he stayed there two days. It was at the desire of Hyrcanus the Jew, because it was such a festival derived to them from their forefathers, whereon the law of the Jews did not allow them to travel.” And truly he did not speak falsely in saying so; for that festival, which we call Pentecost, did then fall out to be the next day to the Sabbath. Nor is it lawful for us to journey, either on the Sabbath day, or on a festival day. (24) But when Antiochus joined battle with Arsaces, the King of Parthia, he lost a great part of his army, and was himself slain: and his brother Demetrius succeeded in the kingdom of Syria, by the permission of Arsaces, who freed him from his captivity, at the same time that Antiochus attacked Parthia, as we have formerly related elsewhere.
How, after the death of Antiochus, Hyrcanus made an expedition against Syria, and made a league with the Romans. Concerning the death of King Demetrius, and Alexander.
1. But when Hyrcanus heard of the death of Antiochus, he presently made an expedition against the cities of Syria, hoping to find them destitute of fighting men, and of such as were able to defend them. However, it was not till the sixth month that he took Medaba, and that not without the great distress of his army: After this he took Samega, and the neighbouring places; and besides these, Shechem, and Gerizzim, and the nation of the Cutheans, who dwelt at the temple which Alexander permitted Sanballat, the general of his army, to build, for the sake of Manasseh, who was son-in-law to Jaddua the high priest, as we have formerly related; which temple was now deserted two hundred years after it was built. Hyrcanus took also Dora, and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, (25) and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befel them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.
2. But Hyrcanus the high priest was desirous to renew that league of friendship they had with the Romans: Accordingly he sent an ambassage to them: and when the senate had received their epistle, they made a league of friendship with them, after the manner following: “Fanius, the son of Marcus the pretor, gathered the senate together on the eighth day before the ides of February, in the senate house, when Lucius Manlius, the son of Lucius, of the Mentine tribe, and Caius Sempronius, the son of Caius, of the Falernian tribe, were present. The occasion was, that the ambassadors sent by the people of the Jews, (26) Simon the son of Dositheus, and Apollonius the son of Alexander, and Diodorus the son of Jason, who were good and virtuous men, had somewhat to propose about that league of friendship and mutual assistance which subsisted between them and the Romans, and about other public affairs, who desired that Joppa, and the havens, and Gazara, and the springs [of Jordan], and the several other cities and countries of theirs, which Antiochus had taken from them in the war, contrary to the decree of the senate, might be restored to them; and that it might not be lawful for the King’s troops to pass through their country, and the countries of those that are subject to them: And that what attempts Antiochus had made during that war, without the decree of the senate, might be made void; and that they would send ambassadors, who should take care that restitution be made them of what Antiochus had taken from them, and that they should make an estimate of the country that had been laid waste in the war; and that they would grant them letters of protection to the kings, and free people, in order to their quiet return home. It was therefore decreed, as to these points, to renew their league of friendship and mutual assistance with these good men, and who were sent by a good and a friendly people.” But that as to the letters desired, their answer was, that the senate would consult about that matter when their own affairs would give them leave, and that they would endeavour for the time to come, that no like injury should be done to them: and that their pretor Fanius should give them money out of the public treasury to bear their expences home. And thus did Fanius dismiss the Jewish ambassadors, and gave them money out of the public treasury; and gave the decree of the senate to those that were to conduct them, and to take care that they should return home in safety.
3. And thus stood the affairs of Hyrcanus the high priest. But as for King Demetrius, who had a mind to make war against Hyrcanus, there was no opportunity nor room for it, while both the Syrians, and the soldiers, bare ill will to him, because he was an ill man. But when they had sent ambassadors to Ptolemy, who was called Physcon, that he would send them one of the family of Seleucus, in order to take the kingdom, and he had sent them Alexander, who was called Zebina, with an army, and there had been a battle between them, Demetrius was beaten in the fight, and fled to Cleopatra his wife, to Ptolemais, but his wife would not receive him. He went thence to Tyre, and was there caught, and when he had suffered much from his enemies before his death, he was slain by them. So Alexander took the kingdom, and made a league with Hyrcanus, who yet, when he afterward fought with Antiochus, the son of Demetrius, who was called Grypus, was also beaten in the fight, and slain.
How upon the quarrel between Antiochus Grypus, and Antiochus Cyzicenus, about the kingdom, Hyrcanus took Samaria, and utterly demolished it; and how Hyrcanus joined himself to the sect of the Sadducees, and left that of the Pharisees.
1. When Antiochus had taken the kingdom, he was afraid to make war against Judea, because he heard that his brother by the same mother, who was also called Antiochus, was raising an army against him out of Cyzicum, so he staid in his own land, and resolved to prepare himself for the attack he expected from his brother, who was called Cyzicenus, because he had been brought up in that city. He was the son of Antiochus that was called Soter, who died in Parthia. He was the brother of Demetrius, the father of Grypus, for it had so happened, that one and the same Cleopatra was married to two who were brethren, as we have related elsewhere. But Antiochus Cyzicenus coming into Syria, continued many years at war with his brother. Now Hyrcanus lived all this while in peace: For after the death of Antiochus, he revolted from the Macedonians, (27) nor did he any longer pay them the least regard, either as their subject, or their friend, but his affairs were in a very improving and flourishing condition in the times of Alexander Zebina, and especially under these brethren, for the war which they had with one another gave Hyrcanus the opportunity of enjoying himself in Judea quietly, insomuch that he got an immense quantity of money. However, when Antiochus Cyzicenus distressed his land, he then openly shewed what he meant. And when he saw that Antiochus was destitute of Egyptian auxiliaries, and that both he and his brother were in an ill condition in the struggles they had one with another, he despised them both.
2. So he made an expedition against Samaria which was a very strong city; of whose present name Sebaste, and its rebuilding by Herod, we shall speak at a proper time: But he made his attack against it, and besieged it with a great deal of pains; for he was greatly displeased with the Samaritans for the injuries they had done to the people of Marissa, a colony of the Jews, and confederate with them, and this in compliance to the kings of Syria. When he had therefore drawn a ditch, and built a double wall round the city, which were fourscore furlongs long, he set his sons Antigonus and Aristobulus over the siege, which brought the Samaritans to that great distress by famine, that they were forced to eat what used not to be eaten, and to call for Antiochus Cyzicenus to help them, who came readily to their assistance, but was beaten by Aristobulus; and when he was pursued as far as Scythopolis by the two brethren, he got away: So they returned to Samaria, and shut them again within the wall, till they were forced to send for the same Antiochus a second time to help them, who procured about six thousand men from Ptolemy Lathyrus, which were sent them without his mother’s consent, who had then in a manner turned him out of his government. With these Egyptians Antiochus did at first over-run and ravage the country of Hyrcanus after the manner of a robber, for he durst not meet him in the face to fight with him, as not having an army sufficient for that purpose, but only from this supposal, that by thus harassing his land he should force Hyrcanus to raise the siege of Samaria; but because he fell into snares, and lost many of his soldiers therein, he went away to Tripoli, and committed the prosecution of the war against the Jews to Callimander and Epicrates.
3. But as to Callimander, he attacked the enemy too rashly, and was put to flight, and destroyed immediately; and as to Epicrates, he was such a lover of money, that he openly betrayed Scythopolis, and other places near it, to the Jews, but was not able to make them raise the siege of Samaria. And when Hyrcanus had taken that city, which was not done till after a year’s siege, he was not contented with doing that only, but he demolished it entirely, and brought rivulets to it to drown it, for he dug such hollows as might let the water run under it; nay, he took away the very marks that there had ever been such a city there. Now a very surprising thing is related of this high priest Hyrcanus, how God came to discourse with him: For they say, that on the very same day on which his sons fought with Antiochus Cyzicenus, he was alone in the temple, as high priest, offering incense, and heard a voice, That “his sons had just then overcome Antiochus.” And this he openly declared before all the multitude upon his coming out of the temple; and it accordingly proved true: And in this posture were the affairs of Hyrcanus.
4. Now it happened at this time, that not only those Jews who were at Jerusalem and in Judea were in prosperity, but also those of them that were at Alexandria, and in Egypt and Cyprus; for Cleopatra the Queen, was at variance with her son Ptolemy, who was called Lathyrus, and appointed for her generals Chelcias and Ananias, the sons of that Onias who built the temple in the prefecture of Heliopolis, like to that at Jerusalem, as we have elsewhere related. Cleopatra intrusted these men with her army; and did nothing without their advice, as Strabo of Cappadocia attests, when he saith thus, “Now the greater part, both those that came to Cyprus with us, and those that were sent afterward thither, revolted to Ptolemy immediately; only those that were called Onias’s party, being Jews, continued faithful, because their countrymen Chelcias and Ananias were in chief favour with the queen.” These are the words of Strabo.
5. However, this prosperous state of affairs moved the Jews to envy Hyrcanus; but they that were the worst disposed to him were the Pharisees, (28) who are one of the sects of the Jews, as we have informed you already. These have so great a power over the multitude, that when they say any thing against the King, or against the high priest, they are presently believed. Now Hyrcanus was a disciple of theirs, and greatly beloved by them. And when he once invited them to a feast, and entertained them very kindly, when he saw them in a good humour, he began to say to them, That “they knew he was desirous to be a righteous man, and to do all things whereby he might please God, which was the profession of the Pharisees also. However, he desired, that if they observed him offending in any point, and going out of the right way, they would recall him back and correct him.” On which occasion they attested to his being entirely virtuous; with which commendation he was well pleased. But still there was one of his guests there, whose name was Eleazar, a man of an ill temper, and delighting in seditious practices. This man said, “since thou desirest to know the truth, if thou wilt be righteous in earnest, lay down the high priesthood, and content thyself with the civil government of the people.” And when he desired to know for what cause he ought to lay down the high priesthood? the other replied, “We have heard it from old men, that thy mother had been a captive under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes.” (29) This story was false, and Hyrcanus was provoked against him; and all the Pharisees had a very great indignation against him.
6. Now there was one Jonathan, a very great friend of Hyrcanus’s, but of the sect of the Sadducees, whose notions are quite contrary to those of the Pharisees. He told Hyrcanus, That “Eleazar had cast such a reproach upon him according to the common sentiments of all the Pharisees, and that this would be made manifest if he would but ask them the question, What punishment they thought this man deserved? for that he might depend upon it, that the reproach was not laid on him with their approbation, if they were for punishing him as his crime deserved.” So the Pharisees made answer, that he deserved stripes and bonds, but that it did not “seem right to punish reproaches with death.” And indeed the Pharisees, even upon other occasions, are not apt to be severe in punishments. At this gentle sentence, Hyrcanus was very angry, and thought that this man reproached him by their approbation. It was this Jonathan who chiefly irritated him, and influenced him so far, that he made him leave the party of the Pharisees, and abolish the decrees they had imposed on the people, and to punish those that observed them. From this source arose that hatred which he and his sons met with from the multitude; but of these matters we shall speak hereafter. What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say, that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers. And concerning these things it is that great disputes and differences have arisen among them, while the Sadducees are able to persuade none but the rich, and have not the populace obsequious to them, but the Pharisees have the multitude on their side. But about these two sects, and that of the Essens, I have treated accurately in the second book of Jewish affairs.
7. But when Hyrcanus had put an end to this sedition, he after that lived happily, and administred the government in the best manner for thirty-one years, and then died; (30) leaving behind him five sons. He was esteemed by God worthy of three of the greatest privileges, the government of his nation, the dignity of the high priesthood, and prophecy; for God was with him, and enabled him to know futurities; and to foretel this in particular, that as to his two eldest sons, he foretold that they would not long continue in the government of public affairs: whose unhappy catastrophe will be worth our description, that we may thence learn how very much they were inferior to their father’s happiness.
How Aristobulus, when he had taken the government, first of all put a diadem on his head, and was most barbarously cruel to his mother and his brethren; and how, after he had slain Antigonus, he himself died.
1. Now when their father Hyrcanus was dead, the eldest son Aristobulus, intending to change the government into a kingdom, for so he resolved to do, first of all put a diadem on his head, four hundred eighty and one years and three months after the people had been delivered from the Babylonish slavery, and were returned to their own country again. This Aristobulus loved his next brother Antigonus, and treated him as his equal, but the others he held in bonds. He also cast his mother into prison, because she disputed the government with him, for Hyrcanus had left her to be mistress of all. He also proceeded to that degree of barbarity, as to kill her in prison with hunger; nay, he was alienated from his brother Antigonus by calumnies, and added him to the rest whom he slew; yet he seemed to have an affection for him, and made him above the rest a partner with him in the kingdom. Those calumnies he at first did not give credit to, partly because he loved him, and so did not give heed to what was said against him, and partly because he thought the reproaches were derived from the envy of the relaters. But when Antigonus was once returned from the army, and that feast was then at hand when they make tabernacles to [the honour of] God, it happened that Aristobulus was fallen sick, and that Antigonus went up most splendidly adorned, and with his soldiers about him in their armour, to the temple, to celebrate the feast, and to put up many prayers for the recovery of his brother, when some wicked persons, who had a great mind to raise a difference between the brethren, made use of this opportunity of the pompous appearance of Antigonus, and of the great actions which he had done, and went to the King, and spitefully aggravated the pompous shew of his at the feast, and pretended that all these circumstances were not like those of a private person; that these actions were indications of an affection of royal authority; and that his coming with a strong body of men must be with an intention to kill him; and that his way of reasoning was this, That it was a silly thing in him, while it was in his power to reign himself, to look upon it as a great favour that he was honoured with a lower dignity by his brother.
2. Aristobulus yielded to these imputations, but took care both that his brother should not suspect him, and that he himself might not run the hazard of his own safety; so he ordered his guards to lie in a certain place that was under ground and dark, (he himself then lying sick in the tower which was called Antonia), and he commanded them, that in case Antigonus came in to him unarmed, they should not touch any body, but if armed, they should kill him; yet did he send to Antigonus, and desired that he would come unarmed: But the Queen, and those that joined with her in the plot against Antigonus, persuaded the messenger to tell him the direct contrary: how his brother had heard that he had made himself a fine suit of armour for war, and desired him to come to him in that armour, that he might see how fine it was. So Antigonus suspecting no treachery, but depending on the good will of his brother, came to Aristobulus armed, as he used to be, with his entire armour, in order to shew it to him; but when he was come at a place which was called Strato’s Tower, where the passage happened to be exceeding dark, the guards slew him; which death of his demonstrates, that nothing is stronger than envy and calumny, and that nothing does more certainly divide the good will and natural affections of men than those passions. But here one may take occasion to wonder at one Judas, who was of the sect of the Essens, and who never missed the truth in his predictions; for this man, when he saw Antigonus passing by the temple, cried out to his companions and friends, who abode with him as his scholars, in order to learn the art of foretelling things to come, (31) “That it was good for him to die now, since he had spoken falsely about Antigonus, who is still live, and I see him passing by, although he had foretold he should die at the place called Strato’s Tower that very day, while yet the place is six hundred furlongs off, where he had foretold he should be slain; and still this day is a great part of it already past, so that he was in danger of proving a false prophet.” As he was saying this, and that in a melancholy mood, the news came that Antigonus was slain in a place under ground, which itself was called also Strato’s Tower, or of the same name with that Cesarea which is seated at the sea. This event put the prophet into a great disorder.
3. But Aristobulus repented immediately of this slaughter of his brother; on which account his disease increased upon him, and he was disturbed in his mind, upon the guilt of such wickedness, insomuch that his entrails were corrupted by his intolerable pain, and he vomited blood: at which time one of the servants that attended upon him, and was carrying his blood away, did, by divine providence, as I cannot but suppose, slip down, and shed part of his blood at the very place where there were spots of Antigonus’s blood there slain, still remaining; and when there was a cry made by the spectators, as if the servant had on purpose shed the blood on that place, Aristobulus heard it, and inquired what the matter was? And as they did not answer him, he was the more earnest to know what it was, it being natural to men to suspect that what is thus concealed is very bad: So upon his threatening, and forcing them by terrors to speak, they at length told him the truth; whereupon he shed many tears, in that disorder of mind which arose from his consciousness of what he had done, and gave a deep groan, and said, “I am not therefore, I perceive, to be concealed from God, in the impious and horrid crimes I have been guilty of, but a sudden punishment is coming upon me for the shedding the blood of my relations. And now, O thou most impudent body of mine, how long wilt thou retain a soul that ought to die, in order to appease the ghosts of my brother and my mother? Why dost thou not give it all up at once? And why do I deliver up my blood drop by drop to those whom I have so wickedly murdered?” In saying which last words he died, having reigned a year. He was called a lover of the Grecians; and had conferred many benefits on his own country, and made war against Iturea, and added a great part of it to Judea, and compelled the inhabitants, if they would continue in that country, to be circumcised, and to live according to the Jewish laws. He was naturally a man of candour, and of great modesty, as Strabo bears witness, in the name of Timagenes; who says thus: “This man was a person of candour, and very serviceable to the Jews, for he added a country to them, and obtained a part of the nation of the Itureans for them, and bound them to them by the bond of the circumcision of their genitals.”
How Alexander, when he had taken the government, made an expedition against Ptolemais, and then raised the siege out of fear of Ptolemy Lathyrus; and how Ptolemy made war against him, because he had sent to Cleopatra to persuade her to make war against Ptolemy, and yet pretended to be in friendship with him, when he beat the Jews in the battle.
1. When Aristobulus was dead, his wife Salome, who, by the Greeks, was called Alexandra, let his brethren out of prison, (for Aristobulus had kept them in bonds, as we have said already), and made Alexander Janneus King, who was the superior in age, and in moderation. This child happened to be hated by his father as soon as he was born, and could never be permitted to come into his father’s sight till he died. The occasion of which hatred is thus reported: When Hyrcanus chiefly loved the two eldest of his sons, Antigonus and Aristobutus, God appeared to him in his sleep, of whom he inquired, which of his sons should be his successor? Upon God’s representing to him the countenance of Alexander, he was grieved that he was to be the heir of all his goods, and suffered him to be brought up in Galilee. (32) However, God did not deceive Hyrcanus, for after the death of Aristobulus, he certainly took the kingdom; and one of his brethren, who affected the kingdom, he slew; and the other, who chose to live a private and quiet life, he had in esteem.
2. When Alexander Janneus had settled the government in the manner that he judged best, he made an expedition against Ptolemais; and having overcome the men in battle, he shut them up in the city, and sat round about it, and besieged it; for of the maritime cities there remained only Ptolemais and Gaza to be conquered, besides Strato’s Tower, and Dora, which were held by the tyrant Zoilus. Now while Antiochus Philometor, and Antiochus, who was called Cyzicenus, were making war one against another, and destroying one another’s armies, the people of Ptolemais could have no assistance from them; but when they were distressed with this siege, Zoilus, who possessed Strato’s Tower, and Dora, and maintained a legion of soldiers, and on occasion of the contest between the Kings, affected tyranny himself, came and brought some small assistance to the people of Ptolemais; nor indeed had the kings such a friendship for them, as that they should hope for any advantage from them. Both those kings were in the case of wrestlers, who finding themselves deficient in strength, and yet being ashamed to yield, put off the fight by laziness, and by lying still as long as they can. The only hope they had remaining was from the kings of Egypt, and from Ptolemy Lathyrus, who now held Cyprus and who came to Cyprus when he was driven from the government of Egypt by Cleopatra his mother: So the people of Ptolemais sent to this Ptolemy Lathyrus, and desired him to come as a confederate, to deliver them, now they were in such danger, out of the hands of Alexander. And as the ambassadors gave him hopes, that if he would pass over into Syria, he would have the people of Gaza on the side of those of Ptolemais; as also they said, that Zoilus, and besides these the Sidonians, and many others, would assist them, so he was elevated at this, and got his fleet ready as soon as possible.
3. But in this interval Demenetus, one that was of abilities to persuade men to do as he would have them, and a leader of the populace, made those of Ptolemais change their opinions; and said to them, That “it was better to run the hazard of being subject to the Jews, than to admit of evident slavery by delivering themselves up to a master; and besides that, to have not only a war at present, but to expect a much greater war from Egypt, for that Cleopatra would not overlook an army raised by Ptolemy for himself out of the neighbourhood, but would come against them with a great army of her own, and this because she was labouring to eject her son out of Cyprus also; that as for Ptolemy, if he fail of his hopes, he can still retire to Cyprus, but that they will be left in the greatest danger possible.” Now Ptolemy, although he had heard of the change that was made in the people of Ptolemais, yet did he still go on with his voyage, and came to the country called Sycamine, and there set his army on shore. This army of his in the whole, horse and foot together, were about thirty thousand, with which he marched near to Ptolemais, and there pitched his camp: But when the people of Ptolemais, neither received his ambassadors, nor would hear what they had to say, he was under a very great concern.
4. But when Zoilus, and the people of Gaza, came to him, and desired his assistance, because their country was laid waste by the Jews, and by Alexander, Alexander raised the siege for fear of Ptolemy: And when he had drawn off his army into his own country, he used a stratagem afterwards, by privately inviting Cleopatra to come against Ptolemy, but publicly pretending to desire a league of friendship and mutual assistance with him; and promising to give him four hundred talents of silver, he desired that, by way of requital, he would take off Zoilus the tyrant, and give his country to the Jews. And then indeed Ptolemy, with pleasure, made such a league of friendship with Alexander, and subdued Zoilus: but when he afterward heard, that he had privily sent to Cleopatra his mother, he broke the league with him, which yet he had confirmed with an oath, and fell upon him, and besieged Ptolemais, because it would not receive him. However, leaving his generals with some part of his forces, to go on with the siege, he went himself immediately with the rest to lay Judea waste; and when Alexander understood this to be Ptolemy’s intention, he also got together about fifty thousand soldiers out of his own country; nay, as some writers have said, eighty thousand. (33) He then took his army, and went to meet Ptolemy; but Ptolemy fell upon Asochis, a city of Galilee, and took it by force on the Sabbath day, and there he took about ten thousand slaves, and a great deal of other prey.
5. He then tried to take Sepphoris, which was a city not far from that which was destroyed, but lost many of his men; yet did he then go to fight with Alexander; which Alexander met him at the river Jordan, near a certain place called Saphoth, [not far from the river Jordan], and pitched his camp near to the enemy. He had however eight thousand in the first rank, which he styled Hecatontomachi, having shields of brass. Those in the first rank of Ptolemy’s soldiers also had shields covered with brass: But Ptolemy’s soldiers in other respects were inferior to those of Alexander, and thereupon were more fearful of running hazards; but Philostephanus, the camp-master, put great courage into them, and ordered them to pass the river, which was between their camps: Nor did Alexander think fit to hinder their passage over it, for he thought, that if the enemy had once gotten the river on their back, that he should the easier take them prisoners, when they could not flee out of the battle: In the beginning of which, the acts on both sides with their hands, and with their alacrity, were alike, and a great slaughter was made by both the armies; but Alexander was superior, till Philostephanus opportunely brought up the auxiliaries to help those that were giving way; but as there were no auxiliaries to afford help to that part of the Jews that gave way, it fell out that they fled, and those near them did not assist them, but fled along with them. However, Ptolemy’s soldiers acted quite otherwise; for they followed the Jews, and killed them, till at length those that slew them pursued after them, when they had made them all run away, and slew them so long, that their weapons of iron were blunted, and their hands quite tired with the slaughter; for the report was, that thirty thousand men were then slain. Timagenes says they were fifty thousand. As for the rest, they were part of them taken captives, and the other part ran away to their own country.
6. After this victory, Ptolemy over-ran all the country; and when night came on, he abode in certain villages of Judea, which when he found full of women and children, he commanded his soldiers to strangle them, and to cut them in pieces, and then to cast them into boiling caldrons, and then to devour their limbs, as sacrifices. This commandment was given, that such as fled from the battle, and came to them, might suppose their enemies were cannibals, and eat men’s flesh, and might on that account be still more terrified at them upon such a sight. And both Strabo and Nicolaus [of Damascus] affirm, that they used these people after this manner, as I have already related. Ptolemy also took Ptolemais by force, as we have declared elsewhere.
How Alexander, upon the league of mutual defense which Cleopatra had agreed with him, made an expedition against Coelesyria, and utterly overthrew the city of Gaza; and how he slew many ten thousands of Jews that rebelled against him: Also concerning Antiochus Grypus, Seleucus, Antiochus Cyzicenus, and Antiochus Pius, and others.
1. When Cleopatra saw that her son was grown great, and laid Judea waste, without disturbance, and had gotten the city of Gaza under his power, she resolved no longer to overlook what he did, when he was almost at her gates; and she concluded, that now he was so much stronger than before, he would be very desirous of the dominion over the Egyptians; but she immediately marched against him, with a fleet at sea and an army of foot on land, and made Chelcias and Ananias the Jews generals of her whole army, while she sent the greatest part of her riches, her grand-children, and her testament, to the people of Cos. (34) Cleopatra also ordered her son Alexander to sail with a great fleet to Phenicia; and when that country had revolted, she came to Ptolemais; and because the people of Ptolemais did not receive her, she besieged the city: But Ptolemy went out of Syria, and made haste unto Egypt, supposing that he should find it destitute of an army, and soon take it, though he failed of his hopes. At this time Chelcias, one of Cleopatra’s generals, happened to die in Celesyria, as he was in pursuit of Ptolemy.
2. When Cleopatra heard of her son’s attempt, and that his Egyptian expedition did not succeed according to his expectations, she sent thither part of her army, and drove him out of that country; so when he was returned out of Egypt again, he abode, during the winter, at Gaza, in which time Cleopatra took the garrison that was in Ptolemais by siege, as well as the city: And when Alexander came to her, he gave her presents, and such marks of respect as were but proper, since under the miseries he endured by Ptolemy, he had no other refuge but her. Now there were some of her friends who persuaded her to seize Alexander, and to over-run and take possession of the country, and not to sit still and see such a multitude of brave Jews subject to one man. But Ananias’s counsel was contrary to theirs, who said, That “she would do an unjust action if she deprived a man that was her ally of that authority which belonged to him, and this a man who is related to us; for, said he, I would not have thee ignorant of this, that what injustice thou dost to him will make all us that are Jews to be thy enemies.” This desire of Ananias’s Cleopatra complied with, and did no injury to Alexander, but made a league of mutual assistance with him, at Scythopolis, a city of Celesyria.
3. So when Alexander was delivered from the fear he was in of Ptolemy, he presently made an expedition against Celesyria. He also took Gadara, after a siege of ten months. He took also Amathus, a very strong fortress belonging to the inhabitants above Jordan, where Theodorus, the son of Zeno, had his chief treasure, and what he esteemed most precious. This Zeno fell unexpectedly upon the Jews, and slew ten thousand of them, and seized upon Alexander’s baggage: Yet did not this misfortune terrify Alexander, but he made an expedition upon the maritime parts of the country, Raphia, and Anthedon (the name of which King Herod afterwards changed to Agrippias), and took even that by force; but when Alexander saw that Ptolemy was retired from Gaza to Cyprus, and his mother Cleopatra was returned to Egypt, he grew angry at the people of Gaza, because they had invited Ptolemy to assist them, and besieged their city, and ravaged their country. But as Apollodotus, the general of the army of Gaza, fell upon the camp of the Jews by night, with two thousand foreign, and ten thousand of his own forces, while the night lasted, those of Gaza prevailed, because the enemy was made to believe that it was Ptolemy who attacked them; but when day was come on, and that mistake was corrected, and the Jews knew the truth of the matter, they came back again, and fell upon those of Gaza, and slew of them about a thousand: But as those of Gaza stoutly resisted them, and would not yield for either their want of any thing, nor for the great multitude that were slain, for they would rather suffer any hardship whatever, than come under the power of their enemies, Aretas, King of the Arabians, a person then very illustrious, encouraged them to go on with alacrity, and promised them that he would come to their assistance; but it happened, that before he came, Apollodotus was slain, for his brother Lysimachus envying him for the great reputation he had gained among the citizens, slew him, and got the army together, and delivered up the city to Alexander, who, when he came in at first, lay quiet, but afterward set his army upon the inhabitants of Gaza, and gave them leave to punish them: So some went one way, and some went another, and slew the inhabitants of Gaza; yet were not they of cowardly hearts, but opposed those that came to slay them, and slew as many of the Jews; and some of them, when they saw themselves deserted, burnt their own houses, that the enemy might get none of their spoils; nay some of them, with their own hands, slew their children, and their wives, having no other way but this of avoiding slavery for them; but the senators, who were in all five hundred, fled to Apollo’s temple (for this attack happened to be made as they were sitting), whom Alexander slew; and when he had utterly overthrown their city, he returned to Jerusalem, having spent a year in that siege.
4. About this very time Antiochus, who was called Grypus, died. (35) His death was caused by Heracleon’s treachery, when he had lived forty-five years, and had reigned twenty-nine. (36) His son Seleucus succeeded him in the kingdom; and made war with Antiochus, his father’s brother, who was called Antiochus Cyzicenus, and beat him, and took him prisoner, and slew him. But after a while Antiochus, (37) the son of Cyzicenus, who was called Pius, came to Aradus, and put the diadem on his own head; and made war with Seleucus, and beat him, and drove him out of all Syria. But when he fled out of Syria, he came to Mopsuestia again, and levied money upon them; but the people of Mopsuestin had indignation at what he did, and burnt down his palace, and slew him, together with his friends. But when Antiochus, the son of Cyzicenus, was King of Syria, Antiochus, (38) the brother of Seleucus, made war upon him, and was overcome, and destroyed, he and his army. After him, his brother Philip put on the diadem, and reigned over some part of Syria; but Ptolemy Lathyrus sent for his fourth brother Demetrius, who was called Eucerus, from Cnidus, and made him King of Damascus. Both these brothers did Antiochus vehemently oppose, but presently died; for when he was come as an auxiliary to Laodice, Queen of the Gileadites, (39) when she was making war against the Parthians, and he was fighting courageously, he fell, while Demetrius and Philip governed Syria, as hath been elsewhere related.
5. As to Alexander, his own people were seditious against him; for at a festival which was then celebrated, when he stood upon the altar, and was going to sacrifice, the nation rose upon him, and pelted him with citrons [which they then had in their hands, because] the law of the Jews required, that at the feast of tabernacles every one should have branches of the palm-tree and citron-tree; which thing we have elsewhere related. They also reviled him, as derived from a captive, (40) and so unworthy of his dignity, and of sacrificing. At this he was in a rage, and slew of them about six thousand. He also built a partition wall of wood round the altar, and the temple, as far as that partition within which it was only lawful for the priests to enter, and by this means he obstructed the multitude from coming at him. He also maintained foreigners of Pisidiæ and Cilicia, for as to the Syrians, he was at war with them, and so made no use of them. He also overcame the Arabians, such as the Moabites, and Gileadites, and made them bring tribute. Moreover, he demolished Amathus, while Theodorus (41) durst not fight with him; but as he had joined battle with Obedas, King of the Arabians, and fell into an ambush, in the places that were rugged, and difficult to be travelled over, he was thrown down into a deep valley, by the multitude of the camels, at Gadara, a village of Gilead, and hardly escaped with his life. From thence he fled to Jerusalem, where, besides his other ill success, the nation insulted him, and he fought against them for six years, and slew no fewer than fifty thousand of them. And when he desired that they would desist from their ill-will to him, they hated him so much the more, on account of what had already happened; and when he had asked them what he ought to do, they all cried out, That “he ought to kill himself.” They also sent to Demetrius Eucerus, and desired him to make a league of mutual defense with them.
How Demetrius Eucerus overcame Alexander, and yet in a little time retired out of the country for fear of the Jews: As also how Alexander slew many of the Jews, and thereby got clear of his troubles. Concerning the death of Demetrius.
1. So Demetrius came with an army, and took those that invited him, and pitched his camp near the city Shechem; upon which Alexander, with his six thousand two hundred mercenaries, and about twenty thousand Jews, who were of his party, went against Demetrius, who had three thousand horsemen, and forty thousand footmen. Now there were great endeavours used on both sides; Demetrius trying to bring off the mercenaries that were with Alexander, because they were Greeks, and Alexander trying to bring off the Jews that were with Demetrius. However, when neither of them could persuade them so to do, they came to a battle, and Demetrius was the conqueror, in which all Alexander’s mercenaries were killed, when they had given demonstration of their fidelity and courage. A great number of Demetrius’s soldiers were slain also.
2. Now as Alexander fled to the mountains, six thousand of the Jews hereupon came together [from Demetrius] to him, out of pity at the change of his fortune: Upon which Demetrius was afraid, and retired out of the country; after which the Jews fought against Alexander, and, being beaten, were slain in great numbers in the several battles which they had: And when he had shut up the most powerful of them in the city Bethome, he besieged them therein; and when he had taken the city, and gotten the men into his power, he brought them to Jerusalem, and did one of the most barbarous actions in the world to them; for as he was feasting with his concubines, in the sight of all the city, he ordered about eight hundred of them to be crucified, and while they were living he ordered the throats of their children and wives to be cut before their eyes. This was indeed by way of revenge for the injuries they had done him; which punishment yet was of an inhuman nature, though we suppose that he had been never so much distressed, as indeed he had been, by his wars with them, for he had by their means come to the last degree of hazard, both of his life and of his kingdom, while they were not satisfied by themselves only to fight against him, but introduced foreigners also for the same purpose: nay at length they reduced him to that degree of necessity, that he was forced to deliver back to the King of Arabia the land of Moab and Gilead, which he had subdued, and the places that were in them, that they might not join with them in the war against him, as they had done ten thousand other things that tended to affront and reproach him. However, this barbarity seems to have been without any necessity, on which account he bare the name of a Thracian (42) among the Jews; whereupon the soldiers that had fought against him, being about eight thousand in number, ran away by night, and continued fugitives all the time that Alexander lived; who being now freed from any farther disturbance from them, reigned the rest of his time in the utmost tranquillity.
3. But when Demetrius was departed out of Judea, he went to Berea, and besieged his brother Philip, having with him ten thousand footmen, and a thousand horsemen. However, Strato the tyrant of Berea, the confederate of Philip, called in Zizon, the ruler of the Arabian tribes, and Mithridates Sinax, the ruler of the Parthians, who coming with a great number of forces, and besieging Demetrius in his encampment, into which they had driven them with their arrows, they compelled those that were with him by thirst to deliver up themselves. So they took a great many spoils out of that country, and Demetrius himself, whom they sent to Mithridates, who was then King of Parthia; but as to those whom they took captives of the people of Antioch, they restored them to the Antiochians without any reward. Now Mithridates, the King of Parthia, had Demetrius in great honour, till Demetrius ended his life by sickness. So Philip, presently after the fight was over, came to Antioch, and took it, and reigned over Syria.
How Antiochus, who was called Dionysus, and after him Aretas, made expeditions into Judea: As also how Alexander took many cities, and then returned to Jerusalem, and after a sickness of three years died: and what counsel he gave to Alexandra.
1. After this, Antiochus, who was called Dionysus, (43) and was Philip’s brother, aspired to the dominion, and came to Damascus, and got the power into his hands, and there he reigned: But as he was making war against the Arabians, his brother Philip heard of it, and came to Damascus, where Milesius, who had been left governor of the citadel, and the Damascens themselves, delivered up the city to him: yet because Philip was become ungrateful to him, and had bestowed upon him nothing of that in hopes whereof he had received him into the city, but had a mind to have it believed that it was rather delivered up out of fear than by the kindness of Milesius, and because he had not rewarded him as he ought to have done, he became suspected by him, and so he was obliged to leave Damascus again; for Milesius caught him marching out into the Hippodrome, and shut him up in it, and kept Damascus for Antiochus [Eucerus], who hearing how Philip’s affairs stood, came back out of Arabia. He also came immediately, and made an expedition against Judea, with eight thousand armed footmen, and eight hundred horsemen. So Alexander, out of fear of his coming, dug a deep ditch, beginning at Chabarzaba, which is now called Antipatris, to the sea of Joppa, on which part only his army could be brought against him. He also raised a wall, and erected wooden towers, and intermediate redoubts, for one hundred and fifty furlongs in length, and there expected the coming of Antiochus; but he soon burnt them all, and made his army pass by that way into Arabia. The Arabian King [Aretas] at first retreated, but afterward appeared on the sudden with ten thousand horsemen. Antiochus gave them the meeting, and fought desperately; and indeed when he had gotten the victory, and was bringing some auxiliaries to that part of his army that was in distress, he was slain. When Antiochus was fallen, his army fled to the village Cana, where the greatest part of them perished by famine.
2. After him Aretas (44) reigned over Celesyria, being called to the government by those that held Damascus, by reason of the hatred they bare to Ptolemy Menneus. He also made thence an expedition against Judea, and beat Alexander in battle, near a place called Adida, yet did he, upon certain conditions agreed on between them, retire out of Judea.
3. But Alexander marched again to the city Dios, and took it; and then made an expedition against Essa, where was the best part of Zeno’s treasures, and there he encompassed the place with three walls; and when he had taken the city by fighting, he marched to Golan and Seleucia: and when he had taken these cities, he, besides them, took that valley which is called the valley of Antiochus, as also the fortress of Gamala. He also accused Demetrius, who was governor of those places, of many crimes, and turned him out: And after he had spent three years in this war, he returned to his own country, when the Jews joyfully received him upon this his good success.
4. Now at this time the Jews were in possession of the following cities that had belonged to the Syrians and Idumeans, and Phenicians: At the sea side, Strato’s Tower, Apollonia, Joppa, Jamnia, Ashdod, Gaza, Anthedon, Raphia, and Rhinocolura; in the middle of the country, near to Idumea, Adora, and Marissa; near the country of Samaria, mount Carmel, and mount Tabor, Scythopolis, and Gadara; of the country of Gaulonites, Seleucia, and Gabala; in the country of Moab, Heshbon, and Medaba, Lemba, and Oronas, Gelithon, Zara, the valley of the Cilices, and Pella; which last they utterly destroyed, because its inhabitants would not bear to change their religious rites for those peculiar to the Jews. (45) The Jews also possessed others of the principal cities of Syria, which had been destroyed.
5. After this, King Alexander, although he fell into a distemper by hard drinking, and had a quartan ague, which held him three years, yet would not leave off going out with his army, till he was quite spent with the labours he had undergone, and died in the bounds of Ragaba, a fortress beyond Jordan. But when his Queen saw that he was ready to die, and had no longer any hopes of surviving, she came to him weeping, and lamenting, and bewailed herself, and her sons, on the desolate condition they should be left in; and said to him, “To whom dost thou thus leave me, and my children, who are destitute of all other supports, and this when thou knowest how much ill will thy nation bears thee?” But he gave her the following advice, “That she need but follow what he would suggest to her, in order to retain the kingdom securely, with her children, that she should conceal his death from the soldiers till she should have taken that place; after this, she should go in triumph, as upon a victory, to Jerusalem, and put some of her authority into the hands of the Pharisees, for that they would commend her for the honour she had done them, and would reconcile the nation to her; for he told her, they had great authority among the Jews, both to do hurt to such as they hated, and to bring advantages to those to whom they were friendly disposed, for that they are then believed best of all by the multitude when they speak any severe thing against others; though it be only out of envy at them. And he said that it was by their means that he had incurred the displeasure of the nation, whom indeed he had injured. Do thou, therefore, said he, when thou art come to Jerusalem, send for the leading men among them, and shew them my body, and, with great appearance of sincerity, give them leave to use it as they themselves please, whether they will dishonour the dead body by refusing it burial, as having severely suffered by my means, or whether, in their anger, they will offer any other injury to that body. Promise them also that thou wilt do nothing without them in the affairs of the kingdom. If thou dost but say this to them, I shall have the honour of a more glorious funeral from them than thou couldst have made for me: and when it is in their power to abuse my dead body, they will do it no injury at all, and thou wilt rule in safety.” (46) So when he had given his wife this advice, he died, after he had reigned twenty-seven years, and lived fifty years within one.
How Alexandra, by gaining the good will of the Pharisees, retained the kingdom nine years, and then having done many glorious actions, died.
1. So Alexandra, when she had taken the fortress, acted as her husband had suggested to her, and spake to the Pharisees, and put all things into their power, both as to the dead body, and as to the affairs of the kingdom, and thereby pacified their anger against Alexander, and made them bear good will and friendship to him; who then came among the multitude, and made speeches to them, and laid before them the actions of Alexander, and told them, that they had lost a righteous King; and by the commendation they gave him, they brought them to grieve, and to be in heaviness for him, so that he had a funeral more splendid than had any of the kings before him. Alexander left behind him two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, but committed the kingdom to Alexandra. Now as to these two sons, Hyrcanus was indeed unable to manage public affairs, and delighted rather in a quiet life; but the younger, Aristobulus, was an active and a bold man; and for this woman herself, Alexandra, she was loved by the multitude, because she seemed displeased at the offences her husband had been guilty of.
2. So she made Hyrcanus high priest, because he was the elder, but much more because he cared not to meddle with politics, and permitted the Pharisees to do every thing; to whom also she ordered the multitude to be obedient. She also restored again those practices which the Pharisees had introduced, according to the traditions of their forefathers, and which her father-in-law, Hyrcanus, had abrogated. So she had indeed the name of the Regent, but the Pharisees had the authority; for it was they who restored such as had been banished, and set such as were prisoners at liberty, and, to say all at once, they differed in nothing from lords. However, the Queen also took care of the affairs of the kingdom, and got together a great body of mercenary soldiers, and increased her own army to such a degree, that she became terrible to the neighbouring tyrants, and took hostages of them: And the country was entirely at peace, excepting the Pharisees; for they disturbed the Queen, and desired that she would kill those who persuaded Alexander to slay the eight hundred men; after which they cut the throat of one of them, Diogenes: and after him they did the same to several, one after another, till the men that were the most potent came into the palace, and Aristobulus with them, for he seemed to be displeased at what was done, and it appeared openly, that if he had an opportunity, he would not permit his mother to go on so. These put the Queen in mind, what great dangers they had gone through, and great things they had done, whereby they had demonstrated the firmness of their fidelity to their master, insomuch that they had received the greatest marks of favour from him: And they begged of her, that she would not utterly blast their hopes, as it now happened, that when they had escaped the hazards that arose from their [open] enemies, they were to be cut off at home by their [private] enemies, like brute beasts, without any help whatsoever. They said also, that, if their adversaries would be satisfied with those that had been slain already, they would take what had been done patiently, on account of their natural love to their governors; but if they must expect the same for the future also, they implored of her a dismission from her service; for they could not bear to think of attempting any method for their deliverance without her, but would rather die willingly before the palace gate, in case she would not forgive them. And that it was a great shame, both for themselves, and for the Queen, that when they were neglected by her, they should come under the lash of her husband’s enemies; for that Aretas, the Arabian King, and the monarchs, would give any reward if they could get such men as foreign auxiliaries, to whom their very names, before their voices be heard, may perhaps be terrible: But if they could not obtain this their second request, and if she had determined to prefer the Pharisees before them, they still insisted, that she would place them every one in her fortresses; for if some fatal demon hath a constant spite against Alexander’s house, they would be willing to bear their part, and to live in a private station there.
3. As these men said thus, and called upon Alexander’s ghost for commiseration of those already slain, and those in danger of it, all the bystanders brake out into tears. But Aristobulus chiefly made manifest what were his sentiments, and used many reproachful expressions to his mother, [saying], “Nay, indeed, the case is this, that they have been themselves the authors of their own calamities, who have permitted a woman, who, against reason, was mad with ambition, to reign over them, when there were sons in the flower of their age fitter for it.” So Alexandra, not knowing what to do with any decency, committed the fortresses to them, all but Hyrcania, and Alexandrium, and Macherus, where her principal treasures were. After a little while also, she sent her son Aristobulus with an army to Damascus against Ptolemy, who was called Menneus, who was such a bad neighbour to the city; but he did nothing considerable there, and so returned home.
4. About this time news was brought that Tigranes, the King of Armenia, had made an irruption into Syria with five hundred thousand soldiers, (47) and was coming against Judea. This news, as may well be supposed, terrified the Queen, and the nation. Accordingly they sent him many and very valuable presents, as also ambassadors, and that as he was besieging Ptolemais; for Selene the queen, the same that was also called Cleopatra, ruled then over Syria, who had persuaded the inhabitants to exclude Tigranes. So the Jewish ambassadors interceded with him, and entreated him that he would determine nothing that was severe about their Queen, or nation. He commended them for the respects they paid him at so great a distance, and gave them good hopes of his favour. But as soon as Ptolemais was taken, news came to Tigranes, that Lucullus, in his pursuit of Mithridates, could not light upon him, who was fled into Iberia, but was laying waste Armenia, and besieging its cities. Now, when Tigranes knew this, he returned home.
5. After this, when the Queen was fallen into a dangerous distemper, Aristobulus resolved to attempt the seizing of the government; so he stole away secretly by night, with only one of his servants, and went to the fortresses, wherein his friends, that were such from the days of his father, were settled; for as he had been a great while displeased at his mother’s conduct, so he was now much more afraid, lest, upon her death, their whole family should be under the power of the Pharisees; for he saw the inability of his brother, who was to succeed in the government: nor was any one conscious of what he was doing but only his wife, whom he left at Jerusalem with their children. He first of all came to Agaba, where was Galestes, one of the potent men before mentioned, and was received by him. When it was day the Queen perceived that Aristobulus was fled; and for some time she supposed that his departure was not in order to make any innovation; but when messengers came one after another, with the news that he had secured the first place, the second place, and all the places, for as soon as one had begun they all submitted to his disposal, then it was that the Queen and the nation were in the greatest disorder, for they were aware, that it would not be long ere Aristobulus would be able to settle himself firmly in the government. What they were principally afraid of was this, that he would inflict punishment upon them for the mad treatment his house had had from them: So they resolved to take his wife and children into custody, and keep them in the fortress that was over the temple. (48) Now there was a mighty conflux of people that came to Aristobulus from all parts, insomuch that he had a kind of royal attendants about him; for in a little more than fifteen days he got twenty-two strong places, which gave him the opportunity of raising an army from Libanus, and Trachonitis, and the monarchs; for men are easily led by the greater number, and easily submit to them. And besides this, that by affording him their assistance, when he could not expect it, they, as well as he, should have the advantages that would come by his being King, because they had been the occasion of his gaining the kingdom. Now the elders of the Jews, and Hyrcanus with them, went in unto the Queen, and desired, “That she would give them her sentiments about the present posture of affairs, for that Aristobulus was in effect lord of almost all the kingdom, by possessing of so many strong holds, and that it was absurd for them to take any counsel by themselves, how ill soever she were, while she was alive, and that the danger would be upon them in no long time.” But she “bid them do what they thought proper to be done; that they had many circumstances in their favour still remaining, a nation in good heart, an army, and money in their several treasuries, for that she had small concern about public affairs now, when the strength of her body already failed her.”
6. Now a little while after she had said this to them, she died, when she had reigned nine years, and had in all lived seventy-three. A woman she was who shewed no signs of the weakness of her sex, for she was sagacious to the greatest degree in her ambition of governing: and demonstrated by her doings at once, that her mind was fit for action, and that sometimes men themselves shew the little understanding they have by the frequent mistakes they make in point of government; for she always preferred the present to futurity, and preferred the power of an imperious dominion above all things, and in comparison of that had no regard to what was good, or what was right. However, she brought the affairs of her house to such an unfortunate condition, that she was the occasion of the taking away that authority from it, and that in no long time afterward, which she had obtained by a vast number of hazards and misfortunes, and this out of a desire of what does not belong to a woman, and all by a compliance in her sentiments with those that bare ill-will to their family, and by leaving the administration destitute of a proper support of great men: And indeed her management, during her administration while she was alive, was such, as filled the palace after her death with calamities and disturbance. However, although this had been her way of governing, she preserved the nation in peace. And this is the conclusion of the affairs of Alexandra.
(1) This Alexander Bala, who certainly pretended to be the son of Antiochus Epiphanes, and was owned for such by the Jews and Romans, and many others, and yet is by several historians deemed to be a counterfeit, and of no family at all, is, however, by Josephus believed to have been the real son of that Antiochus, and by him always spoken of accordingly. And truly since the original contemporary and authentic author of the first book of Maccabees (10:1) calls him by his father’s name, Epiphanes, and says he was the son of Antiochus, I suppose the other writers, who are all much later, are not to be followed against such evidence, though perhaps Epiphanes might have him by a woman of no family. The King of Egypt also, Philometor, soon gave him his daughter in marriage, which he would hardly have done, had he believed him to be a counterfeit, and of so very mean a birth as the later historians pretend.
(2) Since Jonathan plainly did not put on the pontifical robes till seven or eight years after the death of his brother Judas, or not till the feast of tabernacles in the 160th of the Seleucide, 1 Maccab. 10;21, Petitus’s emendation seems here to deserve consideration, who instead of after four years since the death of his brother Judas, would have us read, and therefore after eight years since the death of his brother Judas. This would tolerably well agree with the date of the Maccabees, and with Josephus’s own exact chronology at the end of the twentieth book of these Antiquities, which the present text cannot be made to do.
(3) Take Grotius’s note here: “The Jews, says he, were wont to present crowns to the kings [of Syria]; afterwards that gold which was paid instead of those crowns, or which was expended in making them, was called the crown gold, and crown tax.” On 1 Maccab. 10:29.
(4) Since the rest of the historians now extant give this Demetrius 13 years, and Josephus only 11 years, Dean Prideaux does not amiss in ascribing to him the mean number 12.
(5) It seems to me, contrary to the opinion of Josephus, and of the moderns, both Jews and Christians, that this prophecy of Isaiah, 19:19, &c., In that day there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, &c. directly foretold the building of this temple of Onias in Egypt, and was a sufficient warrant to the Jews for building it, and for worshipping the true God, the God of Israel, therein. See Authent. Rec. II. p. 755. That God seems to have soon better accepted of the sacrifices and prayers here offered him than those at Jerusalem, see the note on ch. 10. § 7. And truly the marks of Jewish corruption or interpolation in this text, in order to discourage their people from approving of the worship of God here, are very strong, and highly deserve our consideration and correction. The foregoing verse in Isaiah runs thus in our common copies, In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan [the Hebrew language; shall be full of Jews, whose sacred books were in Hebrew], and swear to the Lord of hosts. One [or the first] shall be called the city of destruction, Isaiah 19:18. A strange name, city of destruction! upon so joyful an occasion, and a name never heard of in the land of Egypt, or perhaps in any other nation. The old reading was evidently the city of the sun, or Heliopolis; and Onkelos, in effect, and Symmachus, with the Arabic version, entirely confess that to be the true reading. The Septuagint also, though they have the text disguised in the common copies, and call it Asedek, the city of righteousness; yet in two or three other copies the Hebrew word itself for the sun, Acheres or Thares, is preserved. And since Onias insists with the King and Queen, that Isaiah’s prophecy contained many other predictions relating to this place besides the words by him recited, it is highly probable that these were especially meant by him; and that one main reason why he applied this prediction to himself, and to his prefecture of Heliopolis, which Dean Prideaux well proves was in that part of Egypt, and why he chose to build in that prefecture of Heliopolis, though otherwise an improper place, was this, that the same authority that he had for building this temple in Egypt, the very same he had for building it in his own prefecture of Heliopolis also, which he desired to do, and which he did accordingly. Dean Prideaux has much ado to avoid seeing this corruption of the Hebrew; but it being in support of his own opinion about this temple, he durst not see it; and indeed he reasons here in the most weak and most injudicious manner possible. See him at the year 149.
(6) A very unfair disputation this! while the Jewish disputant, knowing that he could not properly prove out of the Pentateuch, that the place which the Lord their God should choose to place his name there, so often referred to in the book of Deuteronomy, was Jerusalem any more than Gerizzim, that being not determined till the days of David, Antiq. B. VII. ch. 13. § 4, proves only, what the Samaritans did not deny, that the temple at Jerusalem was much more ancient, and much more celebrated and honoured than that at Gerizzim, which was nothing to the present purpose. The whole evidence, by the very oaths of both parties, being, we see, obliged to be confined to the law of Moses, or to the Pentateuch alone. However, worldly policy and interest and the multitude prevailing, the Court gave sentence, as usual, on the stronger side, and poor Sabbeus and Theodosius, the Samaritan disputants, were martyred, and this, so far as appears, without any direct hearing at all, which is like the usual practice of such political courts about matters of religion. Our copies say, that the body of the Jews were in a great concern about those men, (in the plural), who were to dispute for their temple at Jerusalem, whereas it seems here they had but one disputant, Andronicus by name: Perhaps more were prepared to speak on the Jews side; but the first having answered to his name, and overcome the Samaritans, there was necessity for any other defender of the Jerusalem temple.
(7) Of the several Apollonii about these ages, see Dean Prideaux at the year 148. This Apollonius Daus was, by his account, the son of that Apollonius who had been made governor of Celesyria and Phenicia by Seleucus Philopater, and was himself a confidant of his son Demetrius the father, and restored to his father’s government by him, but afterwards revolted from him to Alexander, but not to Demetrius the son, as he supposes.
(8) Dr. Hudson here observes, that the Phenicians and Romans used to reward such as had deserved well of them, by presenting to them a golden button. See ch. 5. § 4.
(9) This name Demetrius Nicator, or Demetrius the Conqueror, is so written on his coins still extant, as Hudson and Spanheim inform us; the latter of whom gives us here the entire inscription, King Demetrius the God, Philadelphus Nicator.
(10) This clause is otherwise rendered in the first book of Maccabees, 12:9, For that we have the holy books of scripture in our bands to comfort us. The Hebrew original being lost, we cannot certainly judge which was the truest version, only the coherence favours Josephus: But if this were the Jews meaning, that they were satisfied out of their Bible that the Jews and Lacedemonians were of kin, that part of their Bible is now lost, for we find no such assertion in our present copies.
(11) Those that suppose Josephus to contradict himself in his three several accounts of the notions of the Pharisees, this here, and that earlier one, which is the largest, Of the War B. II. ch. 8. § 14, and that later, Antiq. B. XVIII. ch. 1. § 3, as if he sometimes said they introduced an absolute fatality, and denied all freedom of human actions, is almost wholly groundless; he ever, as the very learned Casaubon here truly observes, asserting, that the Pharisees were between the Essens and Sadducees, and did so far ascribe all to fate or divine providence as was consistent with the freedom of human actions. However, their perplexed way of talking about fate or providence, as over-ruling all things, made it commonly thought they were willing to excuse their sins by ascribing them to fate, as in the Apostolical Constitutions, B. VI. ch. 6. Perhaps under the same general name some difference of opinions in this point might be propagated, as is very common in all parties, especially in points of metaphysical subtilty: However, our Josephus, who in his heart was a great admirer of the piety of the Essens, was yet in practice a Pharisee, as he himself informs us, in his own Life, § 2. And his account of this doctrine of the Pharisees is for certain agreeable to his own opinion, who ever both fully allowed the freedom of human actions, and yet strongly believed the powerful interposition of divine providence. See concerning this matter a remarkable clause, Antiq. B. XVI. ch. 11. § 7.
(12) This King, who was of the famous race of Arsaces, is both here, and 1 Maccab. 14:2, called by the family name Arsaces, but Appian says, his proper name was Phraates. He is here called by Josephus the King of the Parthians, as the Greeks used to call them, but by the elder author of the first book of Maccabees, the King of the Persians and Medes, according to the language of the eastern nations. See Authent. Rec. Part II. p. 1108.
(13) There is some error in the copies here, when no more than four years are ascribed to the high priesthood of Jonathan. We know by Josephus’s last Jewish chronology, Antiq. B. XX. ch. 10, that there was an interval of seven years between the death of Alcimus, or Jacimus, the last high priest, and the real high priesthood of Jonathan, to whom yet those seven years seem here to be ascribed, as a part of them were to Judas before, Antiq. B. XII. ch. 10. § 6. Now since, besides these seven years interregnum in the pontificate, we are told, Antiq. B. XX. ch. 10, that Jonathan’s real high priesthood lasted seven years more; these two seven years will make up fourteen years, which I suppose was Josephus’s own number in this place, instead of the four in our present copies.
(14) These 170 years of the Assyrians mean no more, as Josephus explains himself here, than from the æra of Seleucus, which, as it is known to have began on the 312th year before the Christian æra, from its spring in the first book of Maccabees, and from its autumn in the second book of Maccabees, so did it not begin at Babylon till the next spring, on the 311th year. See Prid. at the year 312. And it is truly observed by Dr. Hudson on this place, that the Syrians and Assyrians are sometimes confounded in ancient authors, according to the words of Justin the epitomiser of Trogus Pompeius, who says, That “the Assyrians were afterward called Syrians.” B. I. ch. 11. See Of the War, B. V. ch. 9. § 4, where the Philistines themselves, at the very south limit of Syria, in its utmost extent, are called Assyrians by Josephus, as Spanheim observes.
(15) It must here be diligently noted, that Josephus’s copy of the first book of Maccabees, which he had so carefully followed, and faithfully abridged, as far as the 50th verse of the twelfth chapter, seems there to have ended. What few things there are afterward common to both, might probably be learned by him from some other more imperfect records. However, we must exactly observe here, what the remaining part of that book of the Maccabees informs us of, and what Josephus would never have omitted, had his copy contained so much, that this Simon the Great, the Maccabee, made a league with Antiochus Soter, the son of Demetrius Soter, and brother of the other Demetrius, who was now a captive in Parthia, that upon his coming to the crown, about the 140th year before the Christian æra, he granted great privileges to the Jewish nation, and to Simon their high priest and ethnarch, which privileges Simon seems to have taken of his own accord about three years before. In particular, he gave him leave to coin money for his country with his own stamp; and as concerning Jerusalem, and the sanctuary, that they should be free, or, as the vulgar Latin hath it, holy and free, 1 Maccab. 15:6, 7, which I take to be the true reading, as being the very words of his father’s concession offered to Jonathan several years before, ch. 10:31, and Antiq. B. XIII. ch. 2. § 3. Now what makes this date, and these grants, greatly remarkable, is the state of the remaining genuine shekels of the Jews with Samaritan characters, which seem to have been (most of them at least) coined in the first four years of this Simon the Asamonean, and having upon them these words on one side, Jerusalem the holy, and on the reverse, In the year of freedom, 1, or 2, or 3, or 4, which shekels therefore are original monuments of these times, and undeniable marks of the truth of the history in these chapters, though it be in a great measure omitted by Josephus. See Essay on the Old Test. p. 157, 158. The reason why I rather suppose that his copy of the Maccabees wanted these chapters, than that his own copies are here imperfect, is this, that all their contents are not here omitted, though much the greatest part be.
(16) How Trypho killed this Antiochus, the epitome of Livy informs us, ch. 55, viz. that he corrupted his physicians or surgeons, who falsely pretending to the people that he was perishing with the stone, as they cut him for it, killed him, which exactly agrees with Josephus.
(17) That this Antiochus, the son of Alexader Balas, was called the God, is evident from his coins, which Spanheim assures us bear this inscription, King Antiochus the God, Epiphanes the Victorious.
(18) Here Josephus begins to follow, and to abridge the next sacred Hebrew book, styled in the end of the first book of Maccabees, the Chronicle of John [Hyrcanus’s] high priesthood, but in some of the Greek copies, the fourth book of Maccabees. A Greek version of this chronicle was extant not very long ago in the days of Santes Pagninus, and Sixtus Senensis, at Lyons, though it seems to have been there burnt, and to be utterly lost. See Sixtus Senensis’s account of it, of its many Hebraisms, and its great agreement with Josephus’s abridgement, in the Authent. Rec. Part I. p. 206, 207, 208.
(19) Hence we learn, that in the days of this excellent high priest John Hyrcanus, the observation of the Sabbatic year, as Josephus supposed, required a rest from war, as did that of the weekly Sabbath from work; I mean this, unless in the case of necessity, when the Jews were attacked by their enemies, in which case indeed, and in which alone, they then allowed defensive fighting to be lawful, even on the Sabbath-day, as we see in several places of Josephus, Antiq. B. XII. ch. 6. § 2; B. XIII. ch. 1. § 3; Of the War, B. I. ch. 7. § 3. But then it must be noted, that this rest from war no way appears in the first book of Maccabees, ch. 16, but the direct contrary; though indeed the Jews, in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, did not venture upon fighting on the Sabbath-day, even in the defence of their own lives, till the Asamoneans or Maccabees decreed so to do, 1 Maccab. 2:32-41; Antiq. B. XII. ch. 6. § 2.
(20) Josephus’s copies, both Greek and Latin, have here a gross mistake, when they say, that this first year of John Hyrcanus, which we have just now seen to have been a Sabbatic year, was in the 162nd olympiad, whereas it was for certain the second year of the 161st. See the like before, B. XII. ch. 7. § 6.
(21) This heliacal setting of the Pleiades, or seven stars, was, in the days of Hyrcanus and Josephus, early in the spring, about February, the time of the latter rain in Judea: and this, so far as I remember, is the only astronomical character of time, besides one eclipse of the moon in the reign of Herod, that we meet with in all Josephus, the Jews being little accustomed to astronomical observations, any farther than for the uses of their kalendar, and utterly forbidden those astrological uses which the heathens commonly made of them.
(22) Dr. Hudson tells us here, that this custom of gilding the horns of those oxen that were to be sacrificed is a known thing, both in the poets and orators.
(23) This account in Josephus, that the present Antiochus was persuaded, though in vain, not to make peace with the Jews, but to cut them off utterly, is fully confirmed by Diodorus Siculus, in Photius’s extracts out of his XXXIV. book.
(24) The Jews were not to march or journey on the Sabbath, or on such a great festival as was equivalent to the Sabbath, any farther than a Sabbath-day’s journey, or 2000 cubits, see the note on Antiq. B. XX. ch. 8. § 6.
(25) This account of the Idumeans admitting circumcision, and the entire Jewish law, from this time, or from the days of Hyrcanus, is confirmed by their entire history afterward. See Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 8. § 1; B. XV. ch. 7. § 9; Of the War, B. II. ch. 3. § 1; B. IV. ch. 4. § 5. This, in the opinion of Josephus, made them proselytes of justice, or entire Jews, as here and elsewhere, Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 8. § 1. However, Antigonus, the enemy of Herod, though Herod were derived from such a proselyte of justice for several generations, will allow him to be no more than an half Jew, B. XIV. ch. 15. § 2. But still, take out of Dean Prideaux, at the year 129, the words of Ammonius a grammarian, which fully confirm this account of the Idumeans in Josephus: “The Jews, says he, are such by nature, and from the beginning, whilst the Idumeans were not Jews from the beginning but Phenicians and Syrians; but being afterward subdued by the Jews, and compelled to be circumcised, and to unite into one nation, and be subject to the same laws, they were called Jews.” Dio also says, as the Dean there quotes him, from book XXXVI. p. 37, “That country is called Judea, and the people Jews; and this name is given also to as many others as embrace their religion, though of other nations.” But then upon what foundation so good a governor as Hyrcanus took upon him to compel those Idumeans either to become Jews, or to leave their country, deserves great consideration. I suppose it was because they had long ago been driven out of the land of Edom, and had seized on and possessed the tribe of Simeon, and all the southern parts of the tribe of Judah, which was the peculiar inheritance of the worshippers of the true God without idolatry, as the reader may learn from Reland, Palestine, part I. p. 154, 305; and from Prideaux, at the years 140 and 165.
(26) In this decree of the Roman senate, it seems, that these ambassadors were sent from the people of the Jews, as well as from their prince or high priest John Hyrcanus.
(27) Dean Prideaux takes notice at the year 130, that Justin, in agreement with Josephus, says, “The power of the Jews was now grown so great, that after this Antiochus they would not bear any Macedonian King over them, and that they set up a government of their own, and infested Syria with great wars.”
(28) The original of the Sadducees, as a considerable party among the Jews, being contained in this and the two following sections, take Dean Prideaux’s note upon this their first public appearance, which I suppose to be true: “Hyrcanus, says he, went over to the party of the Sadducees, that is, by embracing their doctrine against the traditions of the elders, added to the written law, and made of equal authority with it, but not their doctrine against the resurrection and a future state, for this cannot be supposed of so good and righteous a man as John Hyrcanus is said to be. It is most probable, that at this time the Sadducees had gone no farther in the doctrines of that sect than to deny all their unwritten traditions, which the Pharisees were so fond of; for Josephus mentions no other difference at this time between them; neither doth he say that Hyrcanus went over to the Sadducees in any other particular than in the abolishing of all the traditionary constitutions of the Pharisees, which our Saviour condemned as well as they.” [At the year 108.]
(29) This slander, that arose from a Pharisee, has been preserved by their successors the Rabbins to these later ages: for Dr. Hudson assures us, that David Gantz in his chronology S. Pr. p. 77, in Vorstius’s version, relates that Hyrcanus’s mother was taken captive in mount Modiith. See ch. 13. § 5.
(30) Here ends the high priesthood, and the life of this excellent person John Hyrcanus; and together with him the holy theocracy, or divine government of the Jewish nation, and its concomitant oracle by Urim. Now follows the profane and tyrannical Jewish monarchy, first of the Assamoneans or Maccabees, and then of Herod the Great, the Idumean, till the coming of the Messiah. See the note on Antiq. B. III. ch. 8. § 9. Hear Strabo’s testimony on this occasion, B. XVI. p. 761, 762. “Those, says he, that succeeded Moses continued for some time in earnest, both in righteous actions and in piety; but after a while, there were others that took upon them the high priesthood; at first superstitious and afterward tyrannical persons. Such a prophet was Moses, and those that succeeded him, beginning in a way not to be blamed, but changing for the worse. And when it openly appeared that the government was become tyrannical, Alexander was the first that set up himself for a King instead of a priest; and his sons were Hyrcanus and Aristobulus.” All in agreement with Josephus, excepting this, that Strabo omits the first King Aristobulus, who reigned but a single year, seems hardly to have come to his knowledge. Nor indeed does Aristobulus, the son of Alexander, pretend that the name of King was taken before his father Alexander took it himself, Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 3. § 2. See also ch. 12. § 1 which favour Strabo also. And indeed, if we may judge from the very different characters of the Egyptian Jews under high priests, and of the Palestine Jews under kings, in the two next centuries, we may well suppose, that the divine Shechinah was removed into Egypt, and that the worshippers at the temple of Onias were better men than those at the temple of Jerusalem.
(31) Hence we learn, that the Essens pretended to have ruled whereby men might foretell things to come, and that this Judas the Essen, taught those rules to his scholars; but whether their pretences were of an astrological or magical nature, which yet in such religious Jews, who were utterly forbidden such arts, is no way probable, or to any Bath Col, spoken of by the later Rabbins, or otherwise, I cannot tell. See Of the War, B. II. ch. 8. § 12.
(32) The reason why Hyrcanus suffered not this son of his whom he did not love to come into Judea, but ordered him to be brought up in Galilee, is suggested by Dr. Hudson, that Galilee was not esteemed so happy and well cultivated a country as Judea, Matthew 26:73; John 7:52; Acts 2:7, although another obvious reason occurs also, that he was farther out of his sight in Galilee than he would have been in Judea.
(33) From these, and other occasional expressions, dropped by Josephus, we may learn, that where the sacred hooks of the Jews were deficient, he had several other histories then extant, but now most of them lost, which he faithfully followed in his own history: Nor indeed have we any other records of those times, relating to Judea, that can be compared to these accounts of Josephus, though when we do meet with authentic fragments of such original records, they almost always confirm his history.
(34) This city or island Cos, is not that remote island in the Egean sea, famous for the birth of the great Hippocrates, but a city or island of the same name adjoining to Egypt, mentioned both by Stephanus and Ptolemy, as Dr. Hudson informs us. Of which Cos, and the treasures there laid up by Cleopatra and the Jews, see Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 7, § 2.
(35) This account of the death of Antiochus Grypus is confirmed by Appian, Syriaca p. 132, here cited by Spanheim.
(36) Porphyry says, that this Antiochus Grypus reigned but 26 years, as Dr. Hudson observes.
(37) The copies of Josephus, both Greek and Latin, have here so grossly false a reading, Antiochus and Antoninus, or Antonius Plus, for Antiochus Pius, that the editors are forced to correct the text from the other historians, who all agree that this King’s name was nothing more than Antiochus Pius.
(38) These two brothers, Antiochus and Philippus, are called twins by Porphyry; the fourth brother was King of Damascus: Both which are the observations of Spanheim.
(39) This Laodicea was a city of Gilead beyond Jordan. However Porphyry says, that this Antiochus Pius did not die in this battle, but running away was drowned in the river Orontes. Appian says, that he was deprived of the kingdom of Syria by Tigranes; but Porphyry makes this Laodice Queen of the Calamans: All which is noted by Spanheim. In such confusion of the later historians, we have no reason to prefer any of them before Josephus, who had more original ones before him.
(40) This reproach upon Alexander, that he was sprung from a captive, seems only the repetition of the old Pharisaical calumny upon his father, chap. 10. § 5.
(41) This Theodorus was the son of Zeno, and was in possession of Areathus, as we learn from § 3 foregoing.
(42) This name Thracida, which the Jews gave Alexander, must, by the coherence, denote as barbarous as a Thracian, or somewhat like it; but what it properly signifies is not known.
(43) Spanheim takes notice, that this Antiochus Dionysus [the brother of Philip, and of Demetrius Eucerus, and of two others] was the fifth son of Antiochus Grypus; and that he is styled on the coins, Antiochus Epiphanes Dionysus.
(44) This Aretas was the first King of the Arabians who took Damascus, and reigned there: Which name became afterwards common to such Arabian kings, both at Petra and at Damascus, as we learn from Josephus in many places, and from St. Paul, 2 Cor. 11:32. See the note on Antiq. B. XVI. ch. 9. § 4.
(45) We may here, and elsewhere, take notice, that whatever countries or cities the Asamoneans conquered from any of the neighbouring nations, or whatever countries or cities they gained from them, that had not belonged to them before, they, after the days of Hyrcanus, compelled the inhabitants to leave their idolatry, and intirely to receive the law of Moses, as proselytes of justice, or else banished them into other lands. That excellent prince, John Hyrcanus, did it to the Idumeans, as I have noted on chap. 9. § 1, already, who lived then in the promised land, and this I suppose justly; but by what right the rest did it, even to countries or cities that were no part of that land, I do not at all know. This looks too like unjust persecution for religion.
(46) It seems by this dying advice of Alexander Janneus to his wife, that he had himself pursued the measures of his father Hyrcanus, and taken part with the Sadducees, who kept close to the written law, against the Pharisees, who had introduced their own traditions, chap. 16. § 2, and that he now saw a political necessity of submitting to the Pharisees, and their traditions hereafter, if his widow and family minded to retain their monarchical government, or tyranny over the Jewish nation: Which sect yet, thus supported, were at last in a great measure the ruin of the religion, government, and nation of the Jews, and brought them into so wicked a state, that the vengeance of God came upon them to their utter excision. Just thus did Caiaphas politically advise the Jewish sanhedrim, John 11:50, That it was expedient for them that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not; and this in consequence of their own political supposal, ver. 48, that, If they let Jesus alone, with his miracles, all men would believe on him, and the Romans would come and take away both their place and nation. Which political crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth brought down the vengeance of God upon them, and occasioned those very Romans of whom they seemed so much afraid, that to prevent it they put him to death, actually to come and take away both their place and nation within 38 years afterwards. I heartily wish the politicians of Christendom would consider these and the like examples, and no longer sacrifice all virtue and religion to their pernicious schemes of government, to the bringing down the judgments of God upon themselves, and the several nations intrusted to their care. But this is a digression. I wish it were an unseasonable one also. Josephus himself several times makes such digressions, and I here venture to follow him. See one of them at the conclusion of the very next chapter.
(47) The number of 500,000, or even 300,000, as one Greek copy, with the Latin copies, have it, for Tigranes’s army, that came out of Armenia into Syria and Judea, seems much too large. We have had already several such extravagant numbers in Josephus’s present copies, which are not to he at all ascribed to him. Accordingly I incline to Dr. Hudson’s emendation here, which supposes them but 40,000.
(48) This fortress, castle, citadel, or tower, whither the wife and children of Aristobulus were now sent, and which overlooked the temple, could be no other than what Hyrcanus I. built, Antiq. B. XVIII ch. 4. § 3, and Herod the Great rebuilt, and called the Tower of Antonia, Antiq. B. XV. ch. 11. § 5.