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nation is forsaken of God; but abide awhile and behold his great power, how he will torment thee and thy seed. Though put to death by men, we have hope in God, to be raised up again by him. As for thee, thou shalt ha
no resurrection to life.” When all were dead but the
youngest, Antiochus offered him wealth and honours if he would submit, and he exhorted the mother thus to counsel her only surviving son. But she said to the youth: "Fear not this tormentor, be worthy of thy brethren, and take thy death; that I may receive thee in mercy with them again." The young man could scarcely wait for her to finish before he replied: "I will not obey the commandment of the king; but I will obey the Law given unto our fathers by Moses.” They both died courageously, mother and son, under treatment more cruel than the others had suffered.
When Antiochus had left Judea, Mattathias, the priest, who had lain concealed with a band of followers in the mountains, came forth, and collected a small army of faithful Jews, resolved to fight to the last for liberty to worship God according to their own consciences. They went through the cities of Judea, collected all the copies of the Law, circumcised all the uncircumcised children, pulled down the foreign altars, cut off all apostates who fell into their hands, slaughtered their persecutors wherever they came, and caused religious service to be again performed in the synagogues. The aged Mattathias died in the midst of this campaign, and left his sons to carry on the war. The eldest, Judas Maccabæus, took command of the increasing army, bearing a standard on which was inscribed, “Who is like unto thee among the gods, O Jehovah ?" He defeated the forces of the Syrian king, and took Jerusalem out of their hands, one hundred and sixty-five years before Christ. He purified the temple, and dedicated it anew to the God of Israel, with songs and citberns, harps and cymbals, oblations and sacrifices, for eight days. Rabbis say they found but one bottle of pure oil in the temple, sufficient for one day only; but by a miracle it kept the lamps burning eight days. In commemoration of this joyful event, they ever after observed a festival of eight days, during which Hallelujahs were daily sung in the temple. It was called the Feast of Lights; because, in whatsoever country an Israelite happened to be on that occasion, he lighted his house with lamps, one for each member of the family, and kept them burning all night. If very poor, he was bound to beg oil for the purpose, or sell his garments to obtain it.
The first account of intercourse between Jews and Romans occurs in the time of Judas Maccabæus, who sent ambassadors to Rome, to strengthen his power by alliance. He and his brothers were successively invested with the dignity of High Priests and Rulers of the nation; and the dignity descended in the line of his family, called Asmonean, or the Illustrious. Civil war finally broke out between two brothers concerning succession to the throne; and the bitterness of these internal dissensions was greatly increased by the wrangling of two hostile sects, the Pharisees and Sadducees. One of the contending brothers called the Romans to his aid; and for three months Jerusalem was besieged. The Jews availed themselves of the precedent established by Mattathias, and no longer scrupled to defend their lives on the Sabbath. But they put such literal construction on his words, that they deemed it unlawful to exert themselves unless their lives were actually attacked. Any preparations for defence were considered à desecration of the holy time. Pompey, having ascertained this fact, ordered his troops not to assault them on the Sabbath, but to spend the whole day placing batteringrams against the walls of Jerusalem, and bringing up engines of war in readiness for the attack.
The Holy City was captured by the Romans, sixty-three years before Christ, on the very day kept as an anniversary fast, in commemoration of the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar. When the sacred building was seized by Roman soldiers, priests went on offering prayers and sacrifices, though in the general confusion their own blood mingled freely with the blood of sacrifices. Pompey found much money, and valuable utensils of gold and silver; but he left them all to be applied to the sacred uses for which they were dedicated. He even ordered the temple to be cleansed, and worship to be performed there as usual. In this he acted according to the general policy of Romans, who always endeavoured to conciliate conquered nations by allowing them the free exercise of their religion. But he greatly offended the Jews by going into the Holy of Holies, which they deemed it profanation for any one, ex: cept their own High Priest, to do. That it should have been entered by a Gentile, seemed to them a more grievous calamity than anything which had happened during the siege; and all Pompey's subsequent misfortunes were by them attributed to this audacious offence against the God of Israel.
Hyrcanus, a descendant of Judas Maccabæus, was left at the head of affairs in Judea. Thenceforth, Roman governors and soldiers resided there, and the country paid tribute to its conquerors; but the people were unmolested in their peculiar customs, and ecclesiastical affairs were managed by their own priesthood. About thirty-five years before Christ, Herod the Great was appointed chief ruler. He was a Jew by birth, and married to a descendant of the illustrious house of Judas Maccabæus. But in order to in. gratiate himself with the Romans, he devoted himself to their interests, and in many things acted contrary to Jew. ish laws; urging in excuse that he was compelled to do
He dissolved the national council of elders, and appointed high priests and removed them, without any regard to the rules of succession. He built temples in
. Grecian style, placed statues in his palaces, and adopted many Roman customs. For these reasons, many of his subjects reproached him with being a half Jew. Yet he had a very strong party in his favour, and many believed him to be the promised Messiah, on account of his power and magnificence. The temple built in Ezra's time had stood about five
hundred years. Being in the strongest part of Jerusalem, and well fortified, the inhabitants were accustomed to take refuge there in time of war. It had consequently suffered much by violence, as well as by gradual decay. Herod rebuilt it on a larger scale, and surrounded it by four courts rising above each other, like terraces. The lowest was called the Court of the Gentiles, because individuals of all nations were there admitted indiscriminately; but an inscription on the railing, both in Hebrew and Greek, warned them to proceed no further. The temple was of white marble, richly ornamented with gilding. It was constructed on a model similar to that of Solomon, but was much larger, and some say more magnificent. Forty-six years were expended in the completion of it.
The numerous historical changes, briefly alluded to in preceding pages, produced effects on the religious character and opinions of Jews, which it is necessary to explain. Before the captivity in Babylon, Hebrews had lived almost entirely apart from other nations, being insulated by their peculiar customs, their prejudice against commerce, and their total ignorance of foreign literature. But in Babylon they did not reside in a district by themselves, as they had done in Egypt, in the time of Joseph. They were scattered through the whole length and breadth of the land, and mixed with all classes of people for more than half a century. The devout among them doubtless adhered to Mosaic regulations with the tenacity characteristic of their
But no efforts of the old could effectually guard rising generations from the new ideas with which they came in contact on every side. The strength of this foreign influence is implied by the fact that they lost their language in the process. The original dialect of Abraham was the Chaldean, spoken in Babylon. When he removed to Palestine, he was made familiar with the language of Canaan. ites, called by the Greeks Phænician. This, with some modifications, became the vernacular tongue of his descendants, and from them called Hebrew. But when they were carried to Babylon fourteen hundred years after Abraham, they heard the Chaldean language spoken all around them, and were obliged to use it in their daily intercourse with others. Thus the young people, who grew up in a foreign land, acquired a mixed language, called the Aramæan, with which they returned from exile. When Ezra copied their ancient writings, he wrote Hebrew words in Chaldean characters. The old language was understood by the aged, and by the learned; but when the Law of Moses was read in the synagogues, it was necessary for an interpreter to explain it to the populace in the new dialect. From that time henceforth Hebrew ceased to be spoken, and existed only as a written, or dead language.
The whole tendency of Hebrew teaching was to inculcate implicit faith in the laws and doctrines revealed by Moses. Intellect, having nothing to do, did not wake from its lethargy. On every subject there was but one question to be asked: Has Moses so commanded? Where there is no progress, there are no sects; accordingly there appears to have been no collision of opinions until after the return from exile; and even when minds began to exert a little freedom, they did it very timidly, covering their innovations with professions of allegiance to their lawgiver.
The first separation was between Jewish and Samaritan worshippers of the same God. Jews indignantly refused assistance from Samaritan neighbours, in building the second temple, because they were not Israelites by descent, and because their religion was mixed with many foreign adulterations. This occasioned a rancorous feeling, and induced the Samaritans to do all they could to hinder the building of the temple. They called Ezra an impostor, who was guilty of sacrilege in writing the Law of Moses in Chaldean letters, and of unjust partiality toward the descendants of David, in the books he compiled and wrote. But when Palestine submitted to Alexander the Great, they renewed their efforts to effect a civil and ecclesiastical alli
a ance with Judea. For that purpose, the Governor of Samaria married his daughter to a brother of the Jewish High Priest. This matrimonial alliance out of their own tribes