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RISE OF CHRISTIANITY. 529
THE RISE AND SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY, AND THE FALL
OF JUDAISM.—FROM THE ACCESSION OF HEROD THE
GREAT TO THE END OF THE ANTONINE PERIOD.
A.D. 37 TO A.D. 393.
"And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set npa kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left (or delivered) to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."— Daniel ii., 44.
"For thus saith the Loan Of Hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all Nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord Of Hosts."—Ilaggai ii., 6, 7.
TBS GENERAL DESIRE Foil THE UNION OF THE WORLD, PREPARED TOR, BUT NOT SATISFIED BT
THE EXPIRE—EPOCH OF CHRISTIANITY—STATE OP THE HOLT LAND REION OF HEROD
THE GREAT—MASSACRE OF HIS OPPONENTS —PLOT AND CONDEMNATION OP ANTIPATER—
JCD.SA—DEPOSED AND BANISHED ANTIPAS, TETRARCH OF GALILEE - TI1K TETRAROH
PHILIP—HEROD AORIPPA I.—HEROD AORIPPA II.—STATE OF JUDJiA UNDER THE
HIS VOYAGE TO ROME, FIRST IMPRISONMENT, AND ACQUITTAL—DOUBTFUL JOURNEY
TO THE WEST — HIS FINAL IMPRISONMENT AND MARTYRDOM—JUP.EA AGAIN
SLAUGHTER OF THE SAMARITANS DEVASTATION OF GALILEE, PEU.tA, AND IDUM.EA
—DEATH OF NERO—CONDITION OF JERUSALEM — THE ZEALOTS AND ASSASSINS THE
II>U M.KAN BANDITS —FATE OF ANTIPAS, ANANUS, AND ZAOHABIAS THE SON OF
THE DEFENCE —HORRORS OF THE SIEGE CAPTURE OF BEZETHA AND ANTONIA —
BURNING OF THE TEMPLE AND DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM—FINAL JEWISH WAR UNDER HADRIAN —BUILDING OF ALIA CAPITOLINA—THE CHRISTIANS UNDER THE; VOL. III. M M
FLAVIAN EMPERORS—TBI SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA—ST. JOHN AED IBE KIHB APOSTLES—TRAJAN: LETTER OP PLINT: MARTYRDOM OP IGNATIUS—THE CHMSTUI
APOLOGISTS—PERSECUTION OP AUBELIU8 JUSTIN MARTYR AND POLTCARP—EAAIYBA
OP LION AND V1ENNE— IRKNiUS—CHRISTIANITY AT THE DEATH OP COMMODCS.
In reading the annals of the emperors of Rome, we cannot but often pause to ask how it was that so large a portion of the civilized world acquiesced in their domination. No political system has ever held its ground for long, unless it has had a foundation in the feelings, wishes, and wants of a great portion of mankini The yearning for unity, the aspiration after concord and co-operation for the good of all mankind, can cast a delusive halo around tie projects of universal empire, or discover a sense in the dream of "the solidarity of the peoples." To such sentiments Augustus and Vespasian successfully appealed: such hopes lightened the yoke of a Nero and a Commodus. The universal prevalence of such ideas in the age of the Caesars is attested by a mass of heathen, Jewish, and Christian testimonies. The state of the world itself,—with its civilization carried to the highest point of ripeness and corruption, its philosophy displaying the very exhaustion of human wisdom, its barbarian tribes struggling to be born into mighty nations,—declared that, if the lesson were true that was taught to the king of Babylon, "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will," now was the time for His interposition. Nor was the want more pressing than the preparations to satisfy it were complete. The nations that formed the wide field of ancient civilization, grouped around the great inland sea which made their communication easy, had been conducted through the experiments of patriarchal royalty and republican freedom, cultivated by the resources commanded by mighty monarchs or created by the genius of liberty, till they were united under the empire of Borne, and that empire subjected to one will, not only that a universal empire might prepare the way for the messengers of the King of kings, but that the experiment of political union on worldly principles might have a fair trial. Such was the external aspect of a world waiting for its King: its moral and spiritual want of a Saviour may be summed up in the pregnant utterances of the Apostle Paul:—" For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe :"—" We have proved, both Jews and Gentiles, that all are under sin: that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." How that promise, which it had been the whole purpose of the history
A.D. 37.] REIGN OF HEROD THE GREAT. 531
of the Jews to preserve for the whole world, was now fulfilled,— how it began to eclipse its own shadow among the Jews, and to satisfy the yearnings of the Gentiles,—to relate this from the historical, and not from the theological point of view, is the arduous but inviting subject of this chapter. In appealing to his readers for that indulgent sympathy which he most of all needs in this portion of his work, the author feels that he is most likely to secure it if he asks them to join him in the invocation:—
"So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
The Scriptures themselves introduce us to Christianity, as to Judaism, from a purely historical point of view; and we have now to look back to the state of Palestine at the epoch when it was made the scene of the advent of the Saviour of the World.
We have followed the history of the Jews in the Holy Land down to the appointment of Herod, the son of Antipater, as king of Judaea by the favour of Antony (b.c. 40), and the capture of Jerusalem and the extinction of the Asmonaean dynasty in the year B.c. 37, which marks the commencement of the reign of Herod, misnamed The Great.* Thus far he had played the part of a successful adventurer, who had allowed no scruples of principle, nor any restraints of his professed religion to impede his favour with his powerful patrons at Alexandria and Rome. But the prize thus gained had to be defended against the opposition and revenge of priests and people, the greater part of whom had been favourable to Antigonus; and Herod plunged into that sea of blood in which it is hardly a figure of speech to say that he bathed every day of his reign. He began by punishing the whole Sanhedrin with death, for their resolution in defending the city, except the two great Rabbis, Shemeiah and Abtaleon, who had advised a capitulation; and most of the chief adherents of Antigonus shared their fate. The property of the slain repaid Antony for the services of the Roman army, and delivered Jerusalem from its licence. Hyrcanus now returned from his captivity in Parthia; but the mutilation he had suffered from Antigonus forbade his resuming the high-priesthood; and even Herod dared not, as an Idumeean, assume the sacred office; so he conferred it upon an obscure Babylonian priest, named Ananel. Upon this Alexandra, the mother of Aristobulus and Mariamne, did not scruple to send the portraits of both to Antony, with a purpose which indicates the hold that Greek vices had taken upon the Jews. To avert the danger, Herod hastened to set up Aristobulus, then a youth of sixteen years old, in place of Ananel; and we have seen how the popular applause which greeted the young Asmonsean was avenged by his murder (b.c. 35).* Ananel was now replaced in the high-priesthood, and the renewed complaint which Alexandra made to Cleopatra was rendered harmless by the bribes and personal influence of Herod with Antony, who, when the Jewish king obeyed his summons to Laodicea, treated him with the highest distinction, and added Coele-Syria to his dominions. Herod, however, had been so doubtful of his reception, that he had left orders with his brother Joseph, to whom he committed the government of Jerusalem, to put Mariamne to death on the news of any evil to himself. The secret was betrayed by Joseph, and Alexandra easily persuaded her daughter to take measures for securing the kingdom, even at the price of becoming Antony's mistress. He suspicions which Herod's sister Salome hastened to instil into his mind, were roused to fury when Mariamne, in her fond folly, betrayed her knowledge of the fatal order, which Herod naturally supposed that love alone could have extracted from Joseph. Her charms saved her from instant death, but Joseph was executed, and Alexandra imprisoned with every indignity. Some years later, when Antony set out on his expedition against Parthia, Cleopatra, on her return from escorting him on his journey, visited Herod at Jerusalem. The wily king was as firm in resisting her fascination as her enmity, and he is said to have been only dissuaded by his friends from changing, probably, the current of events by her assassination (b.c. 34). He afterwards made war upon the Arab king Malchus, to enforce the tribute claimed by Cleopatra; and the very act, by which he gratified her and Antony, saved him from taking a part in the final war with Octavian. Meanwhile, though at first successful in the Arabian war, Herod was involved in a great defeat by the treachery of the Egyptian general, Athenion; and a terrible earthquake, which overthrew many cities of Judwa, with the loss of 30,000 lives, emboldened Malchus to put Herod's ambassadors to death. But a signal vengeance was exacted for the outrage, and Herod returned from his victory to prepare for meeting Octavian at Rhodes, The aged Hyrcanus now ended the vicissitudes of his eighty years of life by a judicial murder, on the
* Sec pp. 180-1.
B.C. 31.] DEATH OF MARIAMNE. 633
charge of a treasonable correspondence with the Arabian king. The government was entrusted by Herod to his brother Pheroras; his mother, sister, and children were secured in the fortress of Massada; and Mariamne was placed, with her mother, in that of Alexandrion, under the care of Soemus, with the same fatal orders formerly given to Joseph.
Herod might well doubt his reception by the conqueror, whose hard heart was not likely to be won by flattery. His profound knowledge of human nature adopted a very different tone. He boldly avowed his attachment to Antony, who might have succeeded by following his advice, to put Cleopatra to death, and devote all his resources to the war. Since Antony had adopted a course more fatal to himself, more advantageous to his conqueror, the fidelity which would have saved him was the earnest of that which was ready to repay the clemency of Octavian. Such devotion struck an answering chord in the heart of Caesar's avenger; and the impulse of generosity and policy was quickened by the presents which Herod offered. Restored to his throne, the Jewish king afterwards confirmed his favour with Caesar by entertaining him magnificently at Ptolemais, providing for the wants of his army, and making him a present of eight hundred talents. His reward was the restoration of the towns hitherto separated from his kingdom, which now included the whole dominions of the Asmonseans, uniting the five divisions of Judaea, Samaria, and Galilee, on the west of Jordan, Peraea, on the east of that river, and Idumaea, in the south. But this fulfilment of Herod's ambition was followed by another and a darker domestic tragedy. Mariamne, who had once more extracted from her guardian the secret of her intended fate, met Herod's return with coldness, and at length upbraided him with his cruelty to her relatives. Urged on again by Salome, he caused Mariamne to be tried for adultery with Soemus; and she was convicted on a confession extorted from her eunuch by the rack. The strange invectives with which her mother assailed her, as she passed to execution, for unfaithfulness to so affectionate a husband, could not shake her firmness, and the death of Mariamne was worthy of the last descendant of the heroic Mattathias. The terrible remorse which dogged her murderer by night and day drove him into a dangerous fever. While he lay ill at Samaria, he had the satisfaction of punishing a new attempt which Alexandra made to seize the government, and her execution was followed by many others.
After these things, the course of Herod's cruelty was somewhat