A mm lot~m
The Baldwm Lbrary
STORIES FROMA JEWISH HISTORY
MOURNING OF MORDECAI AND THE JEWS
Esther I 13
STORIES OF THE
WARS OF THE JEWS
FROM THE BABYLONISH CAPTIVITY,
TO THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM BY TITUS.
1W. J. (. 21.
)VITH FORTY-FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS.
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW.
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
P ref ate.
E works which I have chiefly consulted
in compiling the following sketch, have
been (in addition to the Holy Scrip-
tures) the books of the Apocrypha, Josephus'
Wars of the Jews, the elaborate writings of
Prideaux, and a small volume on the history of
the Hebrews, published some years ago in India.
There is no history more fraught with interest,
or conveying more important lessons, than that
of God's chosen nation. There are no annals
which display instances of more heroic courage,
faith, and self-devotion,--alas of darker apostasy
and crime,-than those of the descendants of
May the reader rise from the perusal of this
brief sketch with a deeper sense of the mercy and
justice of God, as revealed in His dealings to-
wards His people; and a fervent prayer for the
hastening of that day when the Lord's gracious
promise shall be fulfilled:-
"I will pour upon the house of David, and
upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of
grace and of supplications ; and they shall look
upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall
mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only
son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one
that is in bitterness for his first-born. I am
returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst
of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called, A
city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of
hosts, The holy mountain."
L. L. 0. E.
R the sins of His people the Lord had
stricken Jerusalem, and given up Judea
into the hands of the heathen. The
judgments of God had first fallen on the kingdom
of the ten tribes; as they had been foremost in
the sin of idolatry, so they had first met its
awful punishment. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria,
had attacked Samaria (724 B.c.), and after a siege
of nearly three years had taken the city, and
carried Israel into captivity, with Hoshea its
The punishment of the kingdom of Judah had
been for some time deferred. While such monarchs
as the pious Hezekiah and the faithful Josiah had
sat on the throne of their ancestor David, God's
mercy had guarded Jerusalem from her foes; but
since the time of these virtuous rulers, tyrants
had arisen, who set not God before their eyes;
princes and people had combined to break the
laws of the Almighty, and despise the counsel of
the Most High. The vine which the Lord had
brought from Egypt, and had planted and watered
with such tender care, had brought forth the
wild grapes of rebellion and idolatry. The man-
date had not gone forth, Out it down, why
cumbereth it the ground ?" but the Lord had said
in His anger, I will take away the hedge thereof
and it shall be eaten up; and break down the
wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down. And
I will lay it waste" (Isa. v. 5, 6). In 606 B.C.,
Nebuchadnezzar carried captive to Babylon some
of the most illustrious of the children of Judah,
and subjected Jehoiakim their king to his power.
In 599 B.c., the Assyrian monarch besieged and
took Jerusalem, then under the sway of Jehoiachin,
and led into bondage that prince and the chief of
his people. In 588 B.c., the work of retribution
was completed. Zedekiah, the last king of Judah,
was taken, a miserable, blinded prisoner, to
Assyria; the temple and palaces of Jerusalem
were given to the flames, her walls were razed to
the ground, and the mourning exiles from Judea,
by the waters of Babylon, hung their harps on
the willows, and wept.
But though the Lord chastened his people,
they were not given over to destruction. At the
period at which the following sketch of Jewish
history commences, that prophecy which had,
seventy years before, been uttered by the inspired
Jeremiah was on the point of fulfilment: Thus
saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accom-
plished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform
My good word toward you, in causing you to
return to this place. For I know the thoughts
that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts
of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected
end" (Jer. xxix. 10, 11). As a mighty despot
had been the instrument, in God's hand, to
chastise a rebellious race, so another powerful
monarch was now appointed by Providence to
raise the fallen, to restore the exiles; as a
"shepherd," to gather together the dispersed
flock of the Lord.
I. THE RETURN FROM BABYLON, ... ... ... ...13
II. THE HISTORY OF ESTHER, ... .... ... ... 26
III. CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF ESTHER, ... ... 37
IV. THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH, ... ... ... ... 44
V. ALEXANDER THE GREAT, ......... ... ... 54
VI. JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT, .. ... ....... 65
VII. JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA, ... ... ... .. 76
VIII. VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS, ...... ... ... 86
IX. THE DEATH OF JUDAS MACCABEUS, ... ... ........ 99
X. REIGNS OF JONATHAN. SIMON, AND JOHN HYRCANUS, ... 104
XI. STRIFE BETWEEN THE ASMONEAN PRINCES, ... ... 115
XII. REIGN OF HEROD THE GREAT, ...... ... ... 128
XIII. THE BIRTH OF THE MESSIAH, ... ... ... ... 139
XIV. DEATH OF HEROD. ... ...... ... ... 148
XV. THE DEATH OF THE MESSIAH, ... ... ... ... 157
XVI. HEROD AGRIPPA, ......... ... ... ... 161
XVII. COMMENCEMENT OF WAR, ... ... ... ... ... 168
XVIII. SIEGE OF JOTAPATA.-FALL OF JERUSALEM, ... ... 177
XIX. CONCLUSION, ... .. ... .. .. ... ... 190
THE RETURN FROM BABYLON.
The Decree of Cyrus-First Caravan Starts-Foundation of the Temple
Laid-Samaritans Oppose-Ezra Heads the Second Caravan-Ezra
N the first year of the reign of Cyrus, the
Lord stirred up the spirit of that king,
probably through the influence of the
aged Daniel, to issue throughout his vast domin-
ions the following proclamation:-
"Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord
God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of
the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him
an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who
is there among you of all His people ? his God be
with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which
14 THE RETURN FROM BABYLON.
is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God
of.Israel (He is the God), which is in Jerusalem.
And whosoever remaineth in any place where he
sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with
silver, and with gold, and with beasts, beside the
freewill offering for the house of God that is in
Great was the joy of the faithful Jews, who
throughout their long captivity had been waiting
and watching for the fulfilment of the prophecies
made to their fathers, when at length the pros-
pect opened to them of return to their beloved
country. Doubtless they recalled the prophecies
of Jeremiah and Isaiah, and especially that one,
uttered by the latter above one hundred and
seventy years previously, in which the Lord
called their deliverer by his name, saying of
"Cyrus, he is my shepherd, and shall perform all
my pleasure : even saying to Jerusalem, Thou
shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation
shall be laid."
The proclamation of the king sounded through
the land like a trumpet-call, to gather together
the exiles of Judea, and large numbers hastened
to Babylon to make preparations for their journey.
It was a second Exodus, a second release from
THE RETURN FROM BABYLON. 15
foreign bondage, to seek the land of promise.
But it was not by the whole of the children of
the captivity that the opportunity of returning to
Judea was embraced with patriotic zeal. Ruined
dwellings and wasted plains, a city without temple
and without walls, offered few attractions to such
as regarded the country of strangers as a home.
Many shrank from the hardships of the journey,
and the dangers which they must expect to en-
counter; many who had formed ties in Baby-
lonia, felt bound by them to that land. The
Jewish exiles were an emblem of those who, in
all ages of the world, hear the call of conscience
and religion. While some turn their faces to-
wards a heavenly Zion, willing to leave all, and
suffer all here, so that they may but find an
inheritance above, the greatest number pre-
fer present comforts to future blessings; their
hearts cling to the pleasures of the world;
they are too fearful, too busy, too rich, or too
gay, to cast in their lot with the people of
The first return caravan was organized and
directed by Zerubbabel, the grandson of King
Jehoiachin, and by Jeshua, a grandson of the
last high priest, Jozadak. The number of
16 THE RETURN FROM BABYLON.
those who joined them was about 50,000, in-
cluding above 7000 servants of both sexes. Be-
fore they departed, Cyrus
Caused to be restored
to them the most valu-
able of the sacred uten-
sils which had been car-
Sried away from Jeru-
"salem by Nebuchadnez-
SE zar; thousands of ves-
sels of silver and gold
-- were now again to be
LAVER devoted to the service of
the sanctuary. Zerubbabel was also intrusted
with large contributions
^7 towards the expense of
Rebuilding the temple,
S from the Jews who re-
Smained in Babylonia.
Many and sad must
have been the partings
when that vast caravan
CANDLESTICK set out on its journey to
the Holy Land! The voice of blessing and of
prayer was heard, as those who stayed, behind
exchanged their last words of friendship with
THE RETURN FROM BABYLON. 17
those who were ready to depart. Anxious and
loving eyes watched the long line of pilgrims,
with their laden asses and camels, slowly disap-
pearing in the distance; and the hopes and
prayers of their brethren followed the brave band
who first returned to the home of their fathers.
On reaching Palestine the caravan repaired at
once to Jerusalem, which was found in a state of
ruin and desolation. Before the travellers sepa-
rated to seek habitations for themselves, they
raised a large sum by voluntary contributions to-
wards the rebuilding of the temple. They then
employed themselves in securing dwellings for
ALTAR OF BURNT-OFFEIRINO.
their families; and at the ensuing feast of taber-
nacles again repaired to Jerusalem, where sacri-
fices were offered on an altar erected on the ruins
of the temple. After this the people applied
18 THE RETURN FROM BABYLON.
themselves zealously to the necessary preparations
for the restoration of that edifice. In a year
from the departure from Babylon these prepara-
tions were sufficiently advanced to allow of the
great work being commenced, and the foundations
of the second temple were laid amidst the noise
of trumpets, cymbals, and shouting! But many
CYMBALS AND TRUMPETS.
of the priests and aged men, whose hair had
grown white during the captivity-those who
had seen the temple of Solomon when it stood in
its glory and beauty-wept with a loud voice at
the mournful recollection of the past, 535 B.c.
While the work proceeded, the Samaritans
manifested a desire to aid in it, and to claim a
community of worship in the new temple to be
erected to the Lord. Their offers were declined
by the Jews; and the people of the land, irritated
by the refusal, did all in their power to weaken
THE RETURN FROM BABYLON. 19
their hands, and hinder them from proceeding
with the building. An unscrupulous use of
money and influence amongst the officers of
government, enabled these adversaries of the
Jews to raise such obstructions that the work
was at length altogether suspended. For about
fifteen long years the faith and the patience of
the people of Judah were thus tried. They
gradually lost heart for the work, and were dis-
posed to believe that the set time for it had not
yet arrived. The zeal of many waxed cold; and,
absorbed in the care of providing for their own
security and comfort, the Jews were in danger of
forgetting the sacred duty which they had at first
so earnestly sought to perform.
From this apathy they were roused in the
second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, by
the stirring words of the prophet Haggai. "Is it
time," he exclaimed to the people, "for you to
dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie
waste ? Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Consider
your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring
wood, and build the house; and I will take plea-
sure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord."
The call was not uttered in vain. Filled with
fresh zeal, Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the people
20 THE RETURN FROM BABYLON.
hastened to resume the work of building, 520 B.C.
Amidst the difficulties and discouragements which
beset them, they were still cheered by animating
messages delivered to them by Haggai. The
temple gradually rose, far inferior, indeed, in
splendour to that erected in the days of Israel's
L- q -L t
THE SECOND TEMPLE.
great king, when gold was abundant, and silver
so plentiful that it was counted as the stones of
the earth; but a gracious promise was given that
the glory of the latter house should excel that of
the first, for the DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS should
THE RETURN FROM BABYLON. 21
come to it, the presence of the Messiah should
honour it, and in this place will I give peace," *
said the Lord of hosts to his people.
The renewal of the work roused afresh the
opposition of the adversaries of the Jews. Tatnai,
the Syrian governor, sternly demanded of the
builders by whose command they were re-erecting
the ruined walls of their temple. The Jews
pleaded the authority of the decree of Cyrus,
and Tatnai referred the question to King Darius
for decision. The result was happy, for after
some search the decree in favour of the Jews was
discovered. It not only authorized the erection
of the temple, but directed the local government
to afford assistance and supplies. These supplies
the Jews had not hitherto ventured to claim, but
Darius commanded that they should be given.
Under the impulse thus imparted, the work pro-
ceeded with spirit, and four years afterwards it
was completed, 516 B.c. The dedication was
celebrated with great solemnity and joy; and the
people flocked to the courts of the Lord, to per-
form again with thanksgiving and rejoicing the
rites of their holy faith.
The Jews were now restored to their own land,
SIHaggai ii. 9.
22 THE RETURN FROM BABYLON.
but they were under tribute to the Persians, and
subject to the general control of the princes of
that people. They were allowed the free exercise
of their religion and laws, and were ruled by a
governor of their own nation, or by the high
priest when no such governor was appointed.
With regard to religion, the fearful lesson taught
by the desolation of the land, the destruction of
the temple, and the captivity of the people, had
greatly cured the Jews of that tendency to
idolatry which had brought on them such misery
and ruin. But the inherent corruption of the
human heart, restrained in one point, broke out
in others; there are few more humbling lessons of
man's infirmity and the sinfulness of his nature,
than may be gathered from the history of the Jews.
It does not appear that the people suffered
further molestation during the long reign of
Darius; and his son and successor, Xerxes, seems
to have regarded them with favour. This mon-
arch was succeeded, in 464 B.C., by Artaxerxes
Longimanus, in whose reign the Jews proceeded
to rebuild Jerusalem on a regular plan, and to
surround it with a wall, as will appear in a fol-
Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the first leaders in the
THE RETURN FROM BABYLON. 23
restoration, had by this time been gathered to
their fathers, and confusion and disorder were
spreading widely amongst the Jews at Jerusalem.
Light was the danger which they had encoun-
tered from the enmity of the people of the land,
compared with that which they now experienced
from too close alliances with them. Many broke
the laws of their God by marrying heathen wives;
some even of the princes and of the priests were
guilty of this act of disobedience. A reformer
was urgently needed, who should have wisdom to
judge and firmness to act; and such a reformer
was found in Ezra the priest, who headed the
second large body of exiles, who returned from
Babylonia to Judea, 457 B.c.
Armed with the authority of the Persian king,
and intrusted with large offerings to the temple,
including valuable contributions from the monarch
himself, Ezra prepared for his journey. The bank
of the river Ahava was the gathering-place for the
people. There Ezra pitched his tent, and there
he proclaimed a solemn fast, that the travellers
might unite in supplication to the Almighty for
protection on their dangerous way. As the band
of pilgrims bound for Jerusalem included tender
women and helpless children, and was ill provided
24 THE RETURN FROM BABYLON.
for defence against an enemy in the probable
event of an attack, some thoughts were enter-
tained of requesting a military escort from the
king. But Ezra had declared before Artaxerxes
his firm faith in the power and goodness of God,
and the noble-minded Jew shrank from making a
petition which might seem to imply distrust of
the Almighty's providential care. Ezra would
not lean on an arm of flesh, but with prayer and
fasting he committed himself and his people to the
protection of the Most High.
In safety the second body of exiles returned to
the holy city. Having deposited in the temple
the treasures with which he had been intrusted,
Ezra applied himself with earnest zeal to the
arduous work of reformation. The discoveries
made by him of the guilt and corruption prevail-
ing amongst God's chosen people, filled Ezra with
grief and shame. He felt that the greatest of
evils is sin; the greatest of dangers, that of forfeit-
ing the protection of the Almighty by trespassing
against him. In deep sorrow of heart Ezra rent
his garments, and, falling on his knees, with tears
confessed before the Lord the sins of those whom
divine mercy had restored to their land. "0 my
God, I am ashamed, I blush to lift up my eyes to
THE RETURN FROM BABYLON. 25
thee!" exclaimed the leader of the backsliding
Jews; "for our iniquities are increased over our
head, and our transgression is grown up unto the
The blessing of the Lord whom he supplicated
rested upon the efforts of Ezra to bring back the
erring to the paths of righteousness. With re-
pentance and weeping the Jews returned to their
God; order was again restored; and the heathen
wives were put away.
Let us now retrace a little the course of history,
to consider some events of great interest and im-
portance which occurred at the court of Persia,
between the periods of the return of the first and
second bands of exiles to the land of Judea.
PRINCIPAL CONTEMPORANEOUS EVENTS.
536-457 B.C. B.c.
Hippias banished from Athens......................... 510
Tarquins banished from Rome.......................... 509
Xerxes invaded Greece............... ............... 481
THE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
The Jewish Maiden The Conspiracy Discovered- Haman's Plot A
Mourning Nation-The Golden Sceptre-The Queen's Banquet.
RTAXERXES,* or, as he is termed in the
Scriptures, Ahasuerus, sat on the throne
of Persia. Lord of the widest kingdom
which then existed upon earth-a kingdom which
extended from India to Ethiopia, and comprised a
hundred and twenty-seven provinces-the will of
the monarch was the law to which many nations
were constrained to bow. Ahasuerus possessed
neither the wisdom nor the self-command requisite
in one to whom power so vast is intrusted. He
chose for his chief favourite and minister Haman,
Archbishop Usher supposed Ahasuerus to be Darius; Scaliger con-
tends that Xerxes is described under that name; but both Prideaux and
Josephus regard Ahasuerus as identical with Artaxerxes, who began to
reign 464 B.c.
THE HISTORY OF ESTHER. 27
an Amalekite, a man of unbounded cruelty and
pride, and dismissed his own queen for venturing
to disobey a capricious command given to her by
her husband, when he was probably under the
influence of wine.
In choosing another partner of his state to fill
the place of the dethroned Queen Vashti, the des-
pot sought for no higher qualification than that of
personal attractions. But the Almighty Disposer
of events guided the choice of the monarch.
SITE OF SHUSHAN OR SUSA.
In the palace of Shushan was a certain Jew,
named Mordecai, of the tribe of Benjamin. With
a father's care he had reared Esther, a young
orphan maiden, a relative of his own. The Jew-
ess was possessed of exquisite beauty; amongst
28 THE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
the fair she was the fairest; Ahasuerus saw her,
loved her, and raised the beauteous captive to the
rank of the queen of Persia.
Her elevation appears to have had no effect in
changing the character of this daughter of Abra-
ham. In the palace of Ahasuerus, surrounded by
luxury and pomp, Esther preserved her faith to
the God of her fathers, though by the charge of
Mordecai she kept her nation and kindred secret
from the king. While placed in a position far
above that of her early benefactor, the young
queen still rendered to Mordecai the dutiful
obedience of a daughter. Through her the Jew
made known to Ahasuerus a secret plot to assas-
sinate him, which had been made by two of his
chamberlains. The conspirators suffered the
punishment of death, but he to whose timely
warning the king owed the preservation of his
life, sat day after day in the gate of the royal
palace, unrewarded and neglected.
Through this gate passed Haman, the proud
favourite of the Persian monarch. As he moved
on with a stately step amongst the courtiers and
servants of the king, every head, save one, was
bowed down before him-all did him obeisance
save one! That one was Mordecai, the bold, un-
THE HISTORY OF ESTHER. 29
,i -" 9'- I -
: '' I'
S. ;' I ill 'M -
compromising Jew, who scorned to pay any mark
of respect to him who was the enemy of his faith
, [ ,
of respect to him who was the enemy of his faith
30 THE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
-to him who belonged to the guilty tribe doomed
by a just God to destruction.
Haman was not a man to forgive that which
he looked upon as an insult. Boiling with rage,
he determined that not only should Mordecai ex-
piate his offence with his life, but that the whole
of his race should be swept away by one act of
indiscriminate vengeance. The arbitrary temper of
Ahasuerus, and his blind confidence in his wicked
minister, too well seconded the bloody designs of
Haman. This unprincipled favourite succeeded
in obtaining from the despot a decree for the
extermination of the Jewish people throughout
all of his extensive dominions. Neither age nor
sex were to be spared; the babe was to be
slaughtered in the arms of its mother, and the
spoil of the murdered victims was to be the prey
of the merciless Haman! A time was actually
fixed upon by lot for the perpetration of the
horrible massacre, but, by the providence of
God, the lot fell upon a distant day. Their con-
sciences untroubled by a sense of their enor-
mous guilt, Ahasuerus and Haman sat down
to feast and to drink, while all Shushan was
startled by the fearful decree that was to destroy
a peaceful nation from the face of the earth !
THE HISTORY OF ESTHER. 31
When Mordecai heard of the king's command-
ment, he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth
with ashes, and went out into the midst of the
city, and cried with a loud and bitter cry. And
in every province into which the king's decree
came, there was great mourning amongst the Jews,
and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many
lay in sackcloth and ashes. Esther heard of the
deep distress of Mordecai, though, secluded as she
was in the royal apartments, she seems not to
have been fully aware of its cause. She sent
Hatach, the king's chamberlain, to Mordecai, and
received through him a copy of the dreadful
decree, and a charge to go herself to the despot,
and make supplication for her persecuted people.
This message threw the young queen into great
perplexity and distress. For thirty days the
capricious monarch had expressed no wish to see
her, and to enter unbidden into his presence
exposed any intruder to the penalty of death, un-
less the monarch should extend his golden sceptre
in token of pardon and grace. Through the
medium of Hatach, Esther communicated her
difficulties and fears to Mordecai. But to the
resolute spirit of the Jew but one path appeared
open to his adopted daughter, and that was the
32 THE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
path of duty. Whatever might be the difficulty,
she must brave it; whatever might be the danger,
she must dare it He reminded Esther that it
was probably for this very purpose that she had
been raised to share the throne of Ahasuerus.
The reply of the queen showed her piety and
her obedience, and her resolution at all hazards
to intercede for her nation. She besought Mor-
decai to gather together all the Jews that were
then in Shushan, that they might plead for her
with that Almighty Ruler in whose hand are the
hearts of kings. She promised that at the end
of three days, which she would herself devote to
solemn prayer, she would appear before Ahasuerus,
concluding her message with the touching words,
"And if I perish, I perish "
The third day arrived, and the trembling Esther
prepared to redeem her promise. She put on her
royal apparel, the rich garments and glittering
jewels whose splendour seemed a mockery of the
fear and sorrow of her whom they adorned. And
so Esther ventured into the presence of the despot,
not armed with great natural courage, but leaning
on that invisible Protector who can give strength
to the weak and heroism to the fearful. Aha-
suerus beheld his beauteous queen, and all his
TIE HISTORY OF ESTHER. 33
I 'I ,,: '.
affection towards her revived : he held out his
golden sceptre, and perceiving that no light,
(S i) 3
ESTHER APPEARING BEFORE KING AHASUERIWS
affection towards her revived: he held out his
golden sceptre, and perceiving that no light
motive could have induced her to brave the peril
34 TIE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
of death, What wilt thou, Queen Esther ?" he
cried; "and what is thy request? It shall be
given to thee to the half of the kingdom."
Notwithstanding the relief which the young
Jewess experienced at the first peril being happily
past, she was not yet prepared to disclose the
secret of her race, hitherto carefully concealed.
She confined herself to a request that the king
and Haman should that day attend a banquet
which she had prepared.
The request was instantly granted; the monarch
and his favourite appeared at the feast; and again
Ahasuerus gave a gracious promise to his queen-
"What is thy request ? even to the half of the
kingdom it shall be performed." Again Esther
sought a brief delay. She entreated her lord to
come with Hainan to another banquet on the
morrow, and promised that she then would declare
the subject of her anxious desires.
Haman left the presence of the queen glad,
and with a joyful heart. Honoured as no other
subject had been honoured, the spirit of the
Amalekite was lifted up with pride. He ap-
proached the gate at which Mordecai still sat.
Surely now the firmness of the Jew will give way;
he will yield reverence at last to one who has so
THE HISTORY OF ESTHER. 35
fearfully shown his disposition to revenge, and his
power to gratify it. No! Mordecai stoops not,
and the tyrant passes on, full of rage against one
whom he may kill, but whom he cannot conquer.
On what a slight thread hangs human happiness,
when such a breath can destroy it! Haman had
all that the world could give, but one evil passion,
like a viper in the breast, poisoned in a moment
every spring of enjoyment. He went to his home
a miserable man-so miserable, that he was con-
strained to publish to others what was humiliating
to himself. Haman called for his friends, and
Zeresh his wife, and told them of the glory of his
riches, the multitude of his children, the favour
of his sovereign, and the repeated invitations with
which Esther the queen had honoured him; clos-
ing all with this striking confession of the vanity
of earthly greatness-" Yet all this availeth me
nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting
at the gate of the king "
Zeresh appeared a meet counsellor for so un-
principled a man as her husband. She and her
friends assured Haman that the object of his hate
could be easily destroyed, without waiting for the
day appointed for the massacre. "Let a gallows
be made fifty cubits high," said they, "and to-
36 THE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai
may be hanged thereon; then go thou merrily
unto the banquet."
The wicked counsel pleased Haman, and he
caused the gallows at once to be made.
CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
Persian Records-Malice Defeated-Pleading of Esther-Punishment
of Haman-Triumph of the Jews.
HAT night King Ahasuerus could not
sleep. Those peaceful slumbers which
the meanest of his subjects could enjoy,
fled from the eyelids of the monarch. It does
not appear, however, that the rest of the despot
was destroyed by any thought of the thousands
of innocent families doomed by his caprice to de-
struction. Unable to obtain sleep, the king
ordered that the book of records should be brought
and read before him; and as he listened to the
account of the events of his reign, the conspiracy
of his servants, and the means by which the dan-
gerous plot had been discovered, were brought
to the remembrance of the monarch.
38 CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
"What honour and dignity hath been done to
Mordecai ?" said the king.
There is nothing done for him," was the
"Who is in the court ?" asked Ahasuerus.
"Behold, Haman standeth in the court," an-
swered his servants.
"Let him come in," said the king.
Now Haman had come into the outer court to
procure from his master an order to hang Mor-
decai on the lofty gallows which had been erected.
Full of his evil design, he presented himself before
What shall be done to the man whom the
king delighteth to honour?" said Ahasuerus, ad-
dressing his favourite.
Now Haman thought in his heart, "To whom
would the king delight to do honour more than
to myself?" and eager to obtain the most distin-
guished mark of royal favour, to which his ambi-
tious, presumptuous heart could aspire, Haman
replied to his lord, "Let the royal apparel be
brought which the king useth to wear, and the
horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown
royal which is set upon his head: and let this
apparel and horse be delivered to one of the king's
'- ' ''
,r-' ': F -,-w
, ._ ,I,
THE BOOK OF RECORDS.
40 CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
most noble princes, that they may array the man
withal that the king delighteth to honour, and
bring him on horseback through the street of the
city, and proclaim before him, 'Thus shall it be
done to the man whom the king delighteth to
Then Ahasuerus said to Haman, Make haste,
take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said,
and do even so to Mordecai the Jew. Let no-
thing fail of all that thou hast spoken."
What must have been the feelings of Haman
on receiving this most unexpected command,
which he dared not for an instant dispute What
must have been the torment of his soul when he
led through the city his intended victim, crowned
and royally apparelled, and proclaimed aloud to
wondering crowds, that the despised and per-
secuted Jew was one whom the king delighted to
honour Doubtless Mordecai received this singu-
lar reward as a token of good from the King of
kings, as a sign that his prayers had been heard
by Him who can give beauty for ashes, the oil of
joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the
spirit of heaviness.
His hateful commission executed, Haman hur-
ried back to his home, mourning and with his face
CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF ESTHER. 41
covered. He found little consolation there from
those who on the preceding day had encouraged
him in the path of crime. "If Mordecai be of
the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast
begun to fall," said Zeresh and her friends unto
Haman, "thou shalt not prevail against him, but
shall surely fall before him."
And while they were yet talking to Haman,
the king's chamberlains arrived, and hastened to
bring him to the banquet, to which he had been
invited by the queen.
Then at the feast Esther at length made known
to Ahasuerus the grief that weighed upon her
heart, and pleaded with earnest eloquence for her
own life and the lives of her nation; "For we
are sold," she exclaimed, "I and my people, to
be destroyed, to be slain, to perish!"
"Who is he," cried the astonished king, "that
durst presume in his heart to do so ?"
Then Esther replied, "The adversary and
enemy is this wicked Haman."
The king's indignation knew no bounds.
Thoughtlessly he had signed the decree, little
dreaming that it could possibly compromise the
safety even of his beloved Esther! Haman saw
the rising anger of his master, and, in an agony of
42 CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF ESTHER.
terror, made supplication for his life to the queen.
But he who had shown no mercy found none in
his hour of need. Those who had not dared to
oppose him in his power, were now eager to
hasten his downfal. One of the chamberlains
who was present told the incensed monarch of
the gallows fifty cubits high, erected by Haman
"Hang him thereon !" cried the king. The
just command was instantly obeyed, and the
wretched Haman was cut off in his wicked career
by the very death which he had designed for
It was less easy to revoke the murderous order
which had already been proclaimed, by reason of
that law of the Medes and Persians, which made
royal decrees irrevocable. But Ahasuerus did all
that he could do to counteract the evil effects of
his own sinful compliance. A decree was published
throughout the land, permitting the Jews to de-
fend themselves against any enemy that might
dare to attack them. The result was the com-
plete triumph of the persecuted race over all
whom hatred induced to attempt to execute the
king's first decree. Mordecai was raised to high
power, and his fame spread throughout all the
CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF ESTHER. 43
provinces; the Jews had rest, and peace, and
favour; and an annual feast was appointed in
commemoration of the great deliverance which
the Lord had wrought for his people, through the
instrumentality of a feeble woman !
THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH.
Nehemiah's Petition-Building the Wall-Reading of the Scriptures--
Nehemiah Reforms Abuses.
ANY years had passed since the events
recorded in the last chapter had taken
"place. Ahasuerus was dead, and Ar-
taxerxes his son reigned on the throne of Persia.
Ezra had for about ten years been pursuing his
labours at Jerusalem, when the Lord raised up
another leader for his people in the court of
Nehemiah, one of the Jewish exiles, held the
responsible office of cup-bearer to King Arta-
xerxes. He was a devout servant of God, and
an earnest and devoted patriot. Amidst the
splendours of a royal palace, his thoughts recurred
often to his suffering brethren at Jerusalem, and
THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMiAII. '45
ardently did he desire the prosperity of the city
These feelings were kindled into a warmer
glow by the report which Nehemiah received
from some of his countrymen who had returned
from Judea. From them he heard that the rem-
nant of the people that were left in Zion were in
great affliction and reproach; that the wall of
Jerusalem lay in ruins; that its gates had been
burned with fire; and that aid from their breth-
46 THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH.
ren beyond the Euphrates was urgently needed
by the Jews in the city.
This aid Nehemiah was anxious to give, but
felt apprehensive of difficulties in the way; not
the difficulty of quitting the pleasures and luxu-
ries of the magnificent palace in which he held
so honourable a place, but that of obtaining the
consent of his royal master to his departure for
the land of Judea. It is said that the nearest
way to reach any heart is through Heaven; such
had been the experience of Esther, such now was
the experience of Nehemiah. Fervently and
humbly he entreated the Lord to give him favour
in the sight of the king.
The anxiety which oppressed the noble Jew,
expressed itself in his countenance, when, in
accordance with his office, he placed the wine-cup
in the hand of Artaxerxes. The king noticed his
servant's look of depression, and inquired its cause.
Let the king live for ever," replied Nehemiah;
why should not my countenance be sad, when
the city, the place of my father's sepulchres, lieth
waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with
Then said the king to him, "For what dost
thou make request ?"
THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH. 47
Nehemiah silently lifted up his heart in prayer
ere he made his reply to the monarch :-" If it
please the king, and if thy servant have found
favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me
unto Judah, unto the city of my father's sepul-
chres, that I may build it."
Artaxerxes received the petition with favour.
He not only permitted the departure of Nehemiah,
but provided for him an escort, and gave him letters
to the officers of government on the other side of
the Euphrates, 457 B.C. It is from the year in
which the Persian monarch issued his decree, per-
mitting the rebuilding of Jerusalem, that is dated
the commencement of the weeks of prophetic
years, at the close of which the Lord Jesus was
crucified (Dan. ix. 25).
Nehemiah soon found, on his arrival at Jerusa-
lem, that his position there would be one of great
difficulty, requiring both judgment and courage.
The enemies of the Jews, especially Sanballat the
Horonite, and Tobiah the Ammonite, were pos-
sessed of power, cunning, and the most deter-
mined resolution to prevent the rebuilding of the
It was in the stillness of night that a single
horseman, accompanied by a few attendants on
48 THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH.
foot, passed out through the gate of the valley.
Thoughtfully he rode on where in ancient and
happier times the bulwarks of Jerusalem had
stood. He gazed sorrowfully on the blackened
ruins over which the Assyrian conquerors had
passed. But it was not to mourn in unavailing
woe over the desolation of his country tnat Nehe-
miah made that midnight survey. That which
was ruined he resolved to repair, and, with the
blessing of God, to encircle the city once more
with a protecting wall
By his words, and yet more by his example,
Nehemiah animated his countrymen to exertion.
The circuit of Jerusalem was portioned out to the
most zealous of the people, and each in his own
division set heartily to work. In vain Sanballat
and Tobiah tried to discourage the builders by
representing their patriotic efforts as rebellion
against Persia. In vain, time after time, they
endeavoured to entice Nehemiah into a village,
that they might deprive the Jews of him who was
the life and soul of their undertaking. "I am
doing a great work, so that I cannot come down,"
was Nehemiah's answer to their insidious pro-
posals. A yet deeper snare was laid. Nehemiah
was warned of a plot to assassinate him, and was
THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH. 49
urged to fly to the temple. But again the brave
leader's self-devotion defeated the schemes of his
enemies. "Should such a man as I flee ?" he
exclaimed ; "and who is he that being as I am,
would go into the temple to save his life ?"
The adversaries tried the effect of mockery
and scorn. As they viewed the unceasing labours
of the builders, Will they," cried Sanballat,
"revive the stones out of the rubbish that is
burned ? "If a fox come up," rejoined the
insolent Tobiah, "he shall even break down their
stone wall." But notwithstanding this hatred
and scorn, the wall rose higher and higher. Then
the bitter adversaries of the Jews resolved to use
weapons more formidable than words, and con-
spired to attack the builders. The peril was
great, but Nehemiah and his followers were equal
to the occasion. A watch was kept both by
night and by day ; they that builded the wall,
and they that bare burdens, each with one hand
wrought in the work, and with the other grasped
a weapon for defence. Nehemiah, ever on the
watch against the foe, changed not his garments,
but lay down night after night in his daily attire,
prepared to start up at the first sound of danger.
He kept a trumpeter at his side, and said to the
50 THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH.
ANCIENT BUILDING TOOLS.
nobles and the people, "The work is great and
large, and we are separated one far from another;
in what place therefore that ye hear the sound of
the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us : our God
shall fight for us !"
By the indefatigable exertions of these devoted
men, in the short space of fifty-two days the wall
was completed. The enemies were cast down
and discouraged, for they perceived that this work
was of God.
And so, in the midst of a world that despises
and hates them, God's people, through all genera-
tions, pursue the work that is given them to do;
THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH. 51
with one hand, as it were, armed to fight against
besetting sins and inward corruptions, the other
busily engaged in works of piety and love. He
that will not fight, is unworthy to labour; he
that will not labour is unprepared to fight. It is
they who, through faith, conquer sin and self,
that are found most zealous in every good work.
The liberality of Nehemiah was equal to his
S activity and courage. With free hospitality he
daily entertained at his own table a hundred and
fifty of the Jews. This, and other expenses,
Nehemiah defrayed from his own purse, refusing
to draw from the people even the allowances due
to his office. This generous conduct strengthened
his influence, and enabled him with more bold-
ness to denounce and crush a hateful system of
usury which prevailed at this time amongst the
richer Jews, who took advantage of the wants of
their brethren, to take from them their lands, and
even their freedom. Nehemiah induced his country-
men to enter into a solemn covenant with the Lord
-a covenant to obey all the law, to refrain from
marriages with the heathen, to bring due offer-
ings to the temple, and to keep the Sabbath holy.
A reverence was shown for the Scriptures, which
was one of the most encouraging signs of reviv-
52 THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH.
ing religion. A pulpit of wood was erected in
one of the streets of Jerusalem, and from this, from
morning till noonday, Ezra the priest read aloud
from the book of the law of Moses. The multi-
tude of listeners was immense; all the people
gathered themselves together as one man to
hearken to the word of the Lord. When Ezra
opened the book in the sight of this vast crowd,
all reverently stood up to listen. When he blessed
the Lord the great God, a loud, fervent Amen
burst from the dense mass of the people, thou-
sands of hands were lifted up towards heaven, and
then the multitudes of Judah bowed their heads
and worshipped with their faces to the ground.
After some time spent in labours for his country,
Nehemiah returned to the court of Persia, having
received only leave of temporary absence. But
the disorders which again crept in amongst the
backsliding Jews necessitated a second journey to
Jerusalem, 434 B.c. Notwithstanding the strict
law which forbade the entrance of Ammonites and
other heathens into the temple, the high priest
Eliashib, being allied to Tobiah, had actually pre-
pared for him a chamber in the courts of the
house of the Lord! The Sabbath was by many
disregarded ; the wine-press was trodden, burdens
THE JEWS UNDER NEHEMIAH. 53
carried, and merchandise sold on the day that was
holy to God. The Levites were neglected, their
dues were unpaid, and again some of the Jews
had fallen into the grievous sin of intermarrying
Nehemiah suppressed these disorders with a
firm and judicious hand, strengthening himself
by prayer, and supported in all his difficulties
and labours by the consciousness of the presence
of that Almighty Being whom he was humbly
endeavouring to serve.
Decemvirs banished from Rome ...................... 449
Battering-ram invented ............................... 441
ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
Murder of Joshua-A Temple raised on Mount Gerizim-Battle of Issus-
Siege of Tyre-The White Robe Procession-Murder of Darius.
E now lose the sure guidance of the sacred
writings, and must pursue our way by
the dimmer light of uninspired history.
" The two books of the Maccabees," writes Dr.
Gray, "were certainly composed after the succes-
sion of prophets had ceased among the Jews." Of
the first book he observes, It was probably writ-
ten by a contemporary author, who had witnessed
in part the scenes which he so minutely and graphi-
cally describes;" and of the second book, which
contains the account of Heliodoros and the martyr-
dom of the seven brethren, this writer remarks,
"The fathers in general cite the book as a useful
history, but not as of authority in points of doctrine."
ALEXANDER THE GREAT. 55
After the time of Nehemiah, Judea ceased to
form a distinct government, and was joined to the
satrapy of Syria. Its internal government was,
however, in the hands of its own high priests, and
the civil power thus annexed to this office made
it an object of great ambition, and unhappily gave
rise to disgraceful contests.
On the death of Eliashib, 413 B.C., his son
Joiada or Judas succeeded to the dignity of high
priest. After he also had been removed by death,
a wicked dispute arose between two of his sons,
Johanan and Joshua, as to which should fill the
sacred office. Johanan, like another Cain, slew
Joshua in the inner court of the temple, and the
holy place was polluted with blood shed by a
Bagoses, the satrap of Syria, hearing of this
horrible crime, came to Jerusalem to take account
of it. On his going into the temple to examine
the spot where Joshua had been killed, the priests
would have hindered his entrance, as no Gentile
was permitted to cross the sacred threshold.
"What! am I not more pure than the dead
carcass of him whom ye have slain in the temple ? "
exclaimed the indignant satrap; and after rebuk-
ing the Jews for suffering the house of their God
56 ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
to be thus defiled, he imposed upon them, as a
punishment, a heavy tax upon the lambs that
were offered in sacrifice.
The nation at this time had fallen into a grievous
state of coldness and formality in religion. The
priesthood were worldly and corrupted, and looked
upon the services of the temple as a weariness,
unwilling to perform even the smallest without
some earthly reward. But there were yet faith-
ful ones left in the land-those who feared the
Lord, and spake often to each other, and feared
the name of the Holy One of Israel. They shall
be Mine," said'the Lord by the prophet Micah, "in
that day when I make up My jewels, and I will
spare them as a man spareth his own son that
Of such appears to have been the next high
priest, Jaddua, who succeeded his father, Johanan,
341 B.C. This faithful servant of God endeavoured
to follow in the steps of Nehemiah, expelling his
own brother Manasses for marrying the daughter
of Sanballat, the Cuthite governor of Samaria.
Manasses then repaired to his wife's father, and
the Samaritans availed themselves of the presence
of a member of the pontifical family to erect a
temple of their own upon the Mount Gerizim, of
ALEXANDER THE GREAT. 57
which Manasses was made high priest. This
measure greatly widened the breach between the
Jews and the Samaritans; the rivalry of the two
nations increased the bitter antipathy which had
long existed between them.
The period at length arrived when the Jews
were to exchange the yoke of Persia for that of
another foreign nation. The winged leopard of
Grecia, beheld in vision by Daniel, was now to
follow the Assyrian lion and the bear of Persia;
the kingdom of brass, as the prophet had foretold
to Nebuchadnezzar, was to succeed to the king-
dom of silver. Alexander the Great, king of
Macedon, at the head of his Greeks, in a great
victory at Issus crushed the power of the Persian
Darius, which he afterwards completely destroyed.
The conqueror marched into Syria after his
victory, summoned its various nations to yield
submission, and laid siege to the city of Tyre, a
place of great strength and importance, 332 B.C.
Tyre was a stronghold of superstition and idola-
try. Celebrated for her commerce, her merchants
were princes, her traffickers the honourable of the
earth. But the destruction of this idolatrous
city had been foretold centuries previously, both
by the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. "I will cast
58 ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
thee to the ground, I will bring thee to ashes
_____- upon the earth, in the
sight of all them that be-
hold thee," had been the
message of the Lord while
yet Tyre stood in her
"strength and beauty, with
Snoone to makeher afraid.
And now the prophecy
TYRE. was literally though un-
consciously fulfilled by Alexander. With ex-
treme difficulty, but with
a perseverance which
overcame every obstacle,
Sthe great Macedonian
.seized upon the mighty
City. He mercilessly
Burned it to the ground,
".and destroyed or en-
slaved its people. Invain
ALEXANDER THE GREAT. had the Tyrians called
upon their idols, prayed to the deaf ears that
could not hear, sought help of the hands that
could not save! Eight thousand of the un-
fortunate citizens fell in the sack of the town,
and were buried beneath its ashes; and two
-=, :-- -
I T t I ke
,.-_ --. N.- 4 ,
BATTLE OF.-:o I--
.-- -__-. , -
.... ... -- ;-_ 7:,-_ -_ =--_ --- _-.__'..._
- ;A- -L- O- -.US .
i-Z. -: -- _.- : '-' .---
--:- : -- -- '-' : 't %
BATTLE OF IBSUS.
60 ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
thousand were barbarously crucified by order of
the stern Alexander.
And now the conqueror, flushed with success,
turned his march towards Jerusalem. Terror and
alarm spread through that city. The Jews, faith-
ful in their allegiance to Persia, had refused to
supply the enemy of King Darius with the pro-
visions which he had demanded for the sustenance
of his army. This had greatly irritated Alexander,
whose spirit was little able to brook such opposi-
tion to his despotic will. As soon as the ruin of
Tyre was complete, the fierce conqueror therefore
advanced upon Jerusalem, with intention to punish
its people for daring to disobey his commands.
In the extremity of their danger, Jaddua and
his countrymen threw themselves on the protec-
tion of their God. They implored his succour in
their distress, and their prayers were heard and
In a vision of the night Jaddua was directed
to go out and meet Alexander dressed in the gor-
geous robes of his office, and attended by a com-
pany of the priests, and all the people in white
garments. They were not to draw the sword or
lift the spear, but go forth to the destroyer of
Tyre with no protection but that of the invisible
ALEXANDER THE GREAT. 61
arm of Jehovah stretched out to defend them.
Jaddua obeyed the command, and on the next day
left Jerusalem in the manner directed.
The white-robed procession slowly mounted a
hill which commanded a prospect of the country
around them. Doubtless many a heart trembled,
and many a cheek grew pale with fear, when a
cloud of dust in the distance showed the ap-
proach of the terrible foe! Alexander's army
drew nearer and nearer, the sunlight flashing
from their weapons. Would not these weapons
soon be dimmed in the blood of their unarmed,
unresisting victims ?
Once more the Lord showed his irresistible power
over the hearts of men. No sooner did Alexander
see the high priest, followed by the people, ad-
vancing towards him, than, as if struck by sudden
awe, he hastened forward to meet the procession,
and, to the astonishment of his own troops, did
obeisance to the venerable Jaddua. While all
stood amazed at this most unexpected conduct on
the part of the offended conqueror, Parmenio, who
was one of his friends, ventured to ask him the
reason of it, and to inquire why he, whom every
one adored, should pay such adoration to a
62 ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
Alexander answered that it was not to him, but
to the God whom Jaddua served, that he paid
adoration; for that when he had been in Mace-
donia, meditating the war against Persia, which
had been since so successfully begun, he had be-
held in a dream this very high priest arrayed in
such a dress as that which he now wore, who bade
him pass boldly into Persia, promising that God
should be his guide, and bestow upon him victory
and success. Then turning to the high priest
Jaddua, Alexander cordially embraced him, and
entered Jerusalem in his company, where the
proud conqueror of Persia offered sacrifices to the
God of Jacob.
Jaddua having shown to Alexander the pro-
phecies in which his triumphs were predicted, the
king of Macedon left Jerusalem assured of that
success which followed his arms. He called the
Jews together before his departure, and graciously
bade them ask of him whatever they might desire.
They petitioned that they might be permitted the
free exercise of their religion and laws, and be
exempted from taxes every seventh year, during
which they neither sowed nor reaped, but left the
land to enjoy her Sabbaths, according to the com-
mandment of God.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT. 63
To all this Alexander graciously acceded; but
when similar petitions were offered by the Samari-
tans, who had merited well of the Macedonian
monarch, by sending the supplies which the Jews
had refused, Alexander returned a courteous
but evasive reply, deferring compliance till,
at some future period, he should have leisure
fully to inform himself on the subject of their
Alexander then pursued his victorious career.
Darius, after a defeat at Arbela, fled towards
Bactria, but was traitorously murdered by Bes-
sus, one of his own nobles. Alexander reached
the summit of power and pride. But he who
was the lord of many nations was the slave of
his own sinful passions: Alexander conquered his
outward foes, but not the more dangerous ones
within. Intoxicated with vainglory, he fancied
himself to be more than man. Addicted to in-
temperance, in a drunken revel he killed his own
friend Clitus, and by his wild excesses shortened
his own existence. This extraordinary man died
in the prime of his days and the zenith of his
power, 323 B.c., leaving the vast empire which
his prowess had subdued to be split into various
kingdoms, and to be made the object of fearful
64 ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
strife and bloodshed amongst his contending gene
Peloponnesian War began................................... 431
Retreat of the 10,000 Greeks................................... 401
Death of Socrates................................ ...... 400
Battle of Leuctra ..................................... ... 71
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT.
Jerusalem Taken-The Soothsayer and the Archer-Profanity of Ptolemy
Philopater-Persecution of the Jews-Judea Wrested from Egypt.
N the first division of Alexander's empire,
Syria devolved to Laomedon, and Egypt
to Ptolemy Soter. Between them a
war arose, and its result
was that all the provinces
of Laomedon submitted to
Ptolemy. The Jews alone,
faithful to the oath which
they had taken to the de-
feated ruler, refused to
bend to the conqueror. -
Ptolemy marched against.
Jerusalem, which, being
now strongly fortified, PTOLEMY 8TER.
66 JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT.
might have held out against him, but that the
Jews, from a scrupulous regard to the sanctity of
the Sabbath, would not at this period defend
themselves on that holy day, 320 B.C. Ptolemy
did not treat the Jews with great severity; for,
though he sent a large number of them into
Egypt, it was rather as colonists than bondsmen.
The son and successor of this king was a great
patron of learning, and spared no expense in pro-
curing curious books for his famous library in
Alexandria. He caused the Hebrew Scriptures
to be rendered into Greek; and this important
translation still exists under the name of the
Septuagint, from the tradition that seventy per-
sons were employed in completing it.
Not only did Ptolemy avail himself of the
services of the Jews as regarded literature-some
of them were also enlisted in the army of the
Egyptian ruler. An anecdote is related of one
who had the courage openly to reprove the super--
stition of the idolatrous soldiery amongst whom
he was serving.
This man, whose name was Mosullum, was
noted for his valour, and famous for his singular
skill in archery. As, on one occasion, he was tra-
velling towards the Red Sea with his companions,
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT. 67
a certain soothsayer, who accompanied the band,
commanded an instant halt. Mosullum demanded
his reason for the delay.
Look ye," answered the foreteller of events;
"behold that bird before us. If that bird stands,
ye are to stand; if he rises and flies on, go for-
ward; if the bird takes his flight the contrary
way, you must all return back again."
The Jew, without speaking another word, fitted
an arrow to the string, and let fly at the bird,
which, the next moment, fell fluttering in death
to the ground. Furious indignation was instantly
excited amongst the superstitious beholders against
the author of so daring an act. But Mosullum
opposed calm reason to the folly of those who put
faith in omens. How could that poor creature,"
said he, pretend to foreshow us our fortune,
that knew nothing of its own? If this bird
could have foretold good or evil to come, it would
have kept out of this place for fear of being slain
by the arrow of Mosullum the Jew."
Onias, the first high priest at Jerusalem, having
died, 300 B.c., was succeeded by Simon his son,
who, from the holiness of his life and the right-
eousness of his actions, was surnamed Simon the
Just This good man completed the canon of
68 JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT.
the Scriptures; and the Old Testament, as it has
been handed down to us, was in its perfect form
received by the Jews. Simon died 291 B.C., and
Onias succeeded to the high priesthood.
Egypt, to which, as has been seen, Judea was
at this period subject, was ruled by a succession
of sovereigns, who all bore the title of Ptolemy.
A remarkable instance of the reverence with
which the monarchs to whom the Jews were
tributary often regarded the religion which those
Jews professed, was shown
.' by Ptolemy Euergetes, in the
.i ,,i i ,i, ,,,'ii'i' \ .
'I 2;i '-"', year 245 B.C. On returning
f rom a successful expedition,
S' this king of a most idolatrous
S nation chose to take his way
S through Jerusalem, and there
render thanks to the God of
PTOLEMY EUERGETES. Israel for the victories he had
obtained over Syria. We thus see that the light
of truth, confided to the Jews, shed a partial
radiance over the nations by which they were
A young Jew, named Joseph, nephew of the
high priest Onias, rose high in the favour of
Ptolemy Euergetes. He was admitted to the
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT. 69
office of receiver-general in the provinces of Ccele-
Syria, Phcenicia, Judea, and Samaria; and, like
his great countryman of the same name, acquitted
himself with such wisdom and prudence, that he
won and kept for many years the confidence of
the king of Egypt.
In 216 B.C., Simon, second high priest of that
name, succeeded his father Onias, who had been
a weak and covetous old man, intent upon no-
thing so much as amassing treasure for himself.
It was well that one of a nobler character had
now entered upon so important an office, for a
time of great difficulty was near, when the Jews
would especially require
courage and strong faith
in their leader.
mounted the throne of :'
his father. This young
man was stained with
the darkest crimes: he '
was the murderer of his
mother and his brother,
and subsequently proved
himself a barbarous per- PTOLEMY PRILOPATER
sector. He, however, appeared disposed in the
70 JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT.
earlier part of his reign, to render, as his father
had done, honour to the great God of Israel. He
visited Jerusalem, offered sacrifices to the Lord,
and presented valuable gifts to the temple. Per-
haps the conscience of this wicked prince was not
altogether silent, and he thought by his oblations
to appease that great Being who is of purer eyes
than to behold iniquity.
But Ptolemy was not contented with viewing
the outside of the beautiful temple raised to
Jehovah; he was resolved to visit the sanctuary,
to tread that Holy of holies into which none but
the high priest was permitted to enter, and that
only on the day of atonement. This raised an
outcry all through the city. Simon opposed the
entrance of the profane king into the holy temple;
he declared to him the law which forbade it; but
Ptolemy was disposed to regard no law but that
of his own capricious will. Disregarding the ex-
postulations of the high priest, and the distress
and horror expressed in the countenances of the
Levites, he pressed into the inner court, and was
about to enter the sanctuary, when the wicked
king was suddenly struck with such a terror
and confusion of mind, that he was utterly un-
able to proceed, and he was carried half dead
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT. 71
out of the place which an invisible Power pro-
Rage and hatred swelled in the heart of the
disappointed monarch. He had been conquered
by fear, and he now sought to cover his mortifi-
cation by revenge upon the worshippers of the
omnipotent Jehovah. On his return to his capi-
tal-Alexandria-Ptolemy at once degraded all
the Jews, who were living there in great numbers,
and commanded that each should be branded with
the mark of an ivy-leaf-the badge of Bacchus
the god of wine, whom this miserable idolater
worshipped. All who refused to receive this dis-
graceful mark were ordered to be put to death;
but such as sacrificed to the false gods were to
enjoy equal privileges with the Macedonians, the
original founders of the city. Of the many thou-
sands of Jews who were in Alexandria, only three
hundred persons were found base enough to for-
sake their God to win the favour of the king.
Enraged at the firmness of the majority, Ptolemy
resolved to punish not only the Jews in Alex-
andria, but those who dwelt in any part of his
dominions. He sent orders that all who were in
Egypt should be sent to the capital in chains.
There, it is said, that a great multitude of victims
72 JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT.
being thus gathered together, the tyrant shut
them up in the hippodrome, a large place without
the city used for horse-races and games, and ap-
pointed a certain day in which they were all to
be destroyed by elephants.
Crowds assembled on this day to witness the
horrible spectacle; but the king had sat up so
late on the previous night at a drunken revel,
that he slept on that morning beyond the hour
which had been fixed upon for the show. Noth-
ing could be done in his absence: the massacre
was deferred till the morrow; and again on the
morrow a similar cause occasioned a similar delay.
During all this time the Jews, shut up in the
hippodrome, ceased not by earnest, humble prayer
to implore that mercy from God which they could
not hope for from the tyrant.
On the third day the king took his seat to
behold the fearful execution. Multitudes hastened
with barbarous eagerness to the spot, to see their
unhappy fellow-creatures torn limb from limb,
for no other crime than that of holding fast their
holy faith. The huge elephants were brought
forth, maddened with frankincense and wine, that
they might with more rage execute the king's
vengeance upon his innocent subjects.
ALEXAN-ORA --- --- -- ^ : ^ -
74 JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT.
But no sooner were the fierce animals let loose,
than, neglecting their intended victims, they broke
bounds, and furiously rushed upon the crowds
assembled to view the execution! The air was
filled with loud shrieks and cries, the multitudes
fled in dismay; but many were trampled under
foot, many were destroyed by the savage ele-
phants. Ptolemy, a witness of the terrible scene,
dared no longer oppose his puny strength to the
irresistible power of Israel's God; he dared no
longer persecute the Jews, who were so manifestly
protected by Heaven. He revoked all his de-
crees against them, and loaded them with favours
and gifts, 216 B.C.
The tyrant Philopater
died, 205 B.C., while yet
7 ,' in the prime of his man-
S hood; and as his title
devolved on a little child,
Antiochus the Great, king
Sof Syria, soon succeeded in
wresting Judea and other
ANTIOCHUS THE GREAT. crown. The Jews by no
means regretted this change of masters. They
willingly rendered up their strongholds to Anti-
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF EGYPT. 75
ochus; and on his advancing to Jerusalem, the
priests and elders went forth in procession to
meet him, and received him with gladness. They
had little reason, indeed, to uphold the cause
of their Egyptian tyrants.
Beginning of the first Punic War............................. 264
Second Punic War........................................ 218
Battle of Canna........ ........ ................... 216
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA.
The Bright Horseman-The Temple Profaned-The Image of Jupiter-
The Mother and her Seven Sons.
NTIOCHUS the Great died, 187 B.C., and
Seleucus Philopater succeeded. It is
during the reign of this monarch that
some remarkable events are said to have occurred,
as related in the book of the Maccabees.
Simon, a Benjamite, having been appointed
governor of the temple, some disputes arose be-
tween him and Onias, who was high priest at the
time. Finding that he was unable to prevail
against him whom the Jews regarded as their
lawful chief, Simon fled to Apollonius, the gover-
nor of Coele-Syria and Palestine, under King
Seleucus, and informed him that great treasures
were laid up in the temple at Jerusalem. This
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA. 77
account, as was probably intended, excited the
cupidity of the king, and Heliodoros his treasurer
was despatched to seize upon the coveted wealth.
Heliodoros arrived at Jerusalem, and was cour-
teously received by Onias. The treasurer declared
to him the purpose of his journey, and asked him
whether the report were true that much gold was
to be found in the temple.
Onias replied that there was indeed money
laid up there for the relief of widows and orphans,
but earnestly expostulated against any attempt
to carry away from the temple the treasure com-
mitted to his trust.
Heliodoros had, however, received the positive
commands of the king, and was resolved to carry
them into execution.
The high priest was in the deepest distress;
and his horror and indignation at the intended
robbery and sacrilege were shared by the priests
and the people. Women, girded with sackcloth,
mourned in the streets; the priests prostrated
themselves before the altar-all, lifting up their
hands, implored the Lord to keep safe and sure
that intrusted treasure which they were them-
selves unable to defend.
Then, as is related, there appeared before
78 JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA.
Heliodoros* a horse, on which sat a terrible rider,
arrayed in bright armour of glittering gold; and
beside him glorious beings, who, with scourges,
sorely chastised the mortal who had dared to
by the vision, Heliodoros fell to the ground, thick
darkness seemed to surround him, and he was
it right to remind him, that in such parts of Jewish history as are not drawn
HELIODOROS DilIVEN PBOM THE TEMPLE.
profane the sanctity of the temple. Overpowered
by the vision, Heliodoros fell to the ground, thick
darkness seemed to surround him, and he was
In giving this and other such stories to the reader, the authoress thinks
it right to remind him, that in such parts of Jewish history as are not drawn
from the sacred records (as in all other very ancient writings), such a mist
often lies on the boundary which divides fact from fiction, that it is almost
impossible to define it.
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA. 79
carried, fainting and almost dying, from the trea-
sury which he had impiously entered.
Seleucus was succeeded, in 175 B.c., by his
brother Antiochus Epi-
phanes, one of the most .
base and cruel tyrants that
ever disgraced a throne. :'
As soon as he was settled \ '
in the kingdom, Jason, the '.. '
unworthy brother of Onias,
by underhand means con-
trived not only to induce ANTIOCHUS EPIPANEB.
the monarch to let him supplant his brother, but
to banish Onias to Antioch, where this good man
was subsequently murdered.
Jason was now high priest, and the use which
he made of his power was such as might have
been expected from his treacherous mode of ob.
training it. Honour, patriotism, religion were all
sacrificed to his desire to retain the favour of the
king. He erected a gymnasium for games, after
the fashion of the Greeks, whom he sought in all
things to imitate. Jason did all in his power to
induce his countrymen to abandon the customs
of their fathers, to break their covenant with
God, and to conform to the manners of the
80 JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA.
heathen. The services of the temple were aban-
doned, and corruption spread amongst the people.
Retribution soon overtook the wicked Jason,
and as he had meted to another it was measured
to him again. His brother Menelaus supplanted
him in the same manner that he had supplanted
Onias, and succeeded to his title and his power,
more than emulating him in his impiety and
Jason was not disposed easily to yield up his
ill-acquired dignity. Taking recourse to arms,
in 171 B.c., he marched with a thousand men
against his own city, took possession of Jerusalem,
drove Menelaus to seek shelter in its castle, and
committed great cruelties on such of the citizens
as he deemed the partizans of his brother.
The just chastisements of the Almighty were
now descending upon his backsliding people.
Antiochus hearing of what had occurred, and
deeming that the whole Jewish nation had re-
volted, hastened to Jerusalem with his forces,
and slew in the devoted city no fewer than four
thousand persons. As many were sold as slaves.
Conducted by the impious Menelaus, Antiochus
forced his way into the temple, plundered it of
vast treasures, and polluted the altar of God by
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA. 81
offering on it a sow, which was held in abomina-
tion by the Jews. Well might the miserable
descendants of Abraham think that the Almighty
whom they had forsaken, had utterly forsaken
them now; that His mercy had left them for
ever; and that, after so many deliverances, they
were finally given up for their sins to destruc-
But there were yet amongst the Jews those
who clung to the faith of their fathers, and rested
with earnest hope on the promises given through
the prophets. Jerusalem still was the guardian
of the light of Truth in a world that lay in dark-
ness, and neither the powers of earth nor hell
could prevail to quench it.
Dark and fearful, indeed, was the cloud of
tribulation which rested upon Jerusalem. An-
tiochus, not contented with his late fearful
cruelties, sent Apollonius, his general, to wreak
yet further vengeance on the city of David.
After having slain great multitudes of the people,
and sent away ten thousand captives, Apollonius
plundered the town, set it on fire, and demolished
the wall. The daily sacrifices ceased in the
temple; Jerusalem was deserted. Officers were
appointed to compel the miserable Jews to sacri-
82 JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA.
fice to idols. The Samaritans consented to receive
an image of the false god Jupiter into their
temple on Mount Geri-
zim; and another, to
the horror of all true
children of Abraham,
was placed in the
temple of Jerusalem !
i In this period of
awful trial, glorious
saints and noble mar-
tyrs were found ready
IMAGE OF JUPITER. rather to suffer unto
death than to deny the God whom they adored.
Such a spirit of devotion as that which had sup-
ported Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, when
the fiery furnace glowed before them, animated
still the faithful servants of the Lord.
An example of noble constancy was given by
Eleazar, an aged scribe, who was urged by his
persecutors to break the law of Moses. The
noble old man was scourged to death, bravely
enduring to the end.
A mother and her seven sons were brought
before Antiochus, and threatened with the most
fearful tortures should they disobey his unlawful
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA. 83
commands. One and all this devoted family
preferred death to apostasy. The mother, with
refined cruelty, was made to witness the dying
agonies of her sons. Far from weakening their
courage by tears and lamentations, the Jewish
matron exhorted her children to keep faithful to
their God, cheering them in that awful hour by
hopes of a joyful resurrection. Faith and strength
from above supported these glorious martyrs.
One of the young men exclaimed, as he stretched
forth his hands for the torture, "These I had
from Heaven, and for His laws I despise them,
and from Him I hope to receive them again !"
One after another, six of the sons closed their
eyes in death, committing their souls to their
Creator. One only, the youngest, remained, and
even the tyrant appears to have been touched
with some compassion for his tender years, for
he promised the youth with oaths to make him
a rich and happy man, if he would turn from the
laws of his fathers. When the young Jew refused
to hearken to his offers, the king bade the mother,
already bereaved of so many children, use her
endeavours to save the last by counselling sub-
mission and obedience.
But she, strong in faith, addressed her son in
84 JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA.
the Hebrew language, conjuring him, even by his
love to her who had borne him, to endure any
amount of suffering rather than sin. "Fear not
this tormentor," she cried; but being worthy
of thy brethren, take thy death, that I may
receive thee again in mercy with thy brethren."
While his mother was yet speaking these
words, the noble youth turned to the executioners.
"Whom wait ye for?" he exclaimed; "I will
not obey the king's commandment, but I will
obey the commandments of the law that was
given unto our fathers by Moses. And thou,"
he continued, looking at the tyrant, "shalt not
escape the hands of God. For we suffer because
of our sins; and though the living God be angry
with us a little while for our chastening and
correction, yet shall He be at one with His ser-
vants. But thou, 0 godless man be not lifted
up without a cause, or puffed up with uncertain
hopes, lifting up thy hand against the servants of
God, for thou hast not yet escaped the judgment
of Almighty God, who seeth all things. For our
brethren who now have suffered a short pain, are
dead under God's covenant of everlasting life;
but thou, through the judgment of God, shall
receive just punishment for thy pride. But I,
JUDEA UNDER THE YOKE OF SYRIA. 85
as my brethren, offer up my body and life for
the laws of my fathers, beseeching God that He
would speedily be merciful unto my nation."
The tyrant, enraged at the fearless words' of
the youth, put him to death by tortures more
dreadful even than those that his brothers had
endured; and then the devoted mother, faithful
unto death, and under a trial more terrible than
death, followed her glorious sons by the same
brief and bloody path, to the haven of eternal
rest prepared for those who, like them, count
God's service as dearer than life.
The dying prayer of the young martyr had
been heard. The Lord was preparing a deliver-
ance for his persecuted people.
The Jews, quiet and peaceful as they had
shown themselves to be under the sway of their
rulers-Assyrian, Persian, and Egyptian-had at
length been goaded beyond their power of endur-
ance; or rather, the Almighty having compassion
on their sufferings, was pleased again, as in the
days of old, to raise up for them mighty de-
205-170 B.C. B.C.
Battle of Zama .............. .... ................. ... 202
Sparta subdued by the Romans ......................... 194
VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS.
Rising of the Jews-Martyrs to the Law-Apollonius Defeated-Seron
Defeated-Lycias Defeated-The Temple Cleansed-Death of Epi-
phanes-Siege of Bethsura-Exploit of Eleazar-The Temple Besieged.
HE noble family of the Asmoneans, so
called from Asmoneus, one of its ances-
tors, was amongst the most distinguished
in Judea, and dwelt at this period in the town of
Modin. At the head of this family was Mattathias,
the father of five noble sons, Joanan, Simon, Eleazar,
Jonathan, and the illustrious Judas, surnamed
Deeply did Mattathias mourn over the oppression
of his people, and the desecration of the altar of his
God; and he heard with emotions of indignation
that the king's officers had come to his own town,
to compel all to sacrifice to the gods of the heathen.
VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS. 87
Mattathias being a person of great influence,
the emissaries of Antiochus spared no pains to
induce him, by many promises, to give an ex-
ample of submission. But the brave old Jew
answered with a loud voice, "Though all the
nations that are under the king's dominion obey
him, and fall away every one from the religion
of his fathers, yet will I and my sons walk in the
covenant. God forbid that we should forsake
the law and the ordinances We will not hearken
to the king's words, to go either to the right
hand or the left."
When Mattathias had concluded his declara-
tion, there came a renegade Jew, in the sight of
all, to sacrifice at the altar at Modin. Filled
with indignation and inflamed with zeal, Matta-
thias, like another Phinehas, rushed forward and
slew him on the altar; then turning on the com-
missioner, him he also slew, and pulled down the
altar to the ground !
This was indeed drawing the sword and throw-
ing away the scabbard! Mattathias exclaimed,
Who is zealous for the law and maintaineth
the covenant, let him follow me !" and leaving
all that he possessed, he fled into the mountains
with his sons, where they were joined by num-
88 VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS.
bers of the faithful and brave, who were ready,
like themselves, to yield up their lives rather than
A touching example of obedience to the law
of God was given by a large band of Jews who,
with their wives and little ones, had fled into the
wilderness to escape the persecutions of the king.
The fugitives were pursued, and the forces of
Antiochus came up to them at a place where
they had taken refuge in a cave. Philip, the
leader of the soldiers, endeavoured to induce the
Jews to come forth and make submission, but
this they firmly refused to do. He then attacked
them, and the day being the Sabbath, the Jews,
scrupulously observant of the law which com-
mands that day to be kept holy, neither stopped
up the mouth of their cave nor raised a weapon
against their foes. Let us die all in our inno-
cence," they exclaimed; and thus all-men,
women, and children-were slain unresisting by
Mattathias and his followers were greatly
grieved on receiving tidings of this cruel mas-
sacre. In full debate, after due deliberation,
they came to the decision that self-defence is
lawful on the Sabbath; and that, if attacked by
VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS. 89
the foe on that day, they would fight for their
lives and their laws.
Mattathias, and the brave Jews whom he had
gathered around him, now leaving their fastnesses
in the mountains, went to various cities of Judea,
throwing down the idol altars, and driving the
enemy before them. But the aged hero was soon
worn out by the fatigues of warfare. He felt
that the time of his departure was drawing nigh,
and gathering his five sons around him, Matta-
thias gave them his dying exhortation.
He reminded them of the saints of old, whose
faith had been crowned with success; he bade
them give their lives for the covenant of God,
and remember that they who trusted in Him
never should be overcome. He appointed Judas,
his third son, to be the leader, and Simon the
counsellor of the patriots; and so, bestowing on
his children his parting blessing, Mattathias
yielded up his soul to his God. Truly the hoary
head is a crown of glory, when it is found in the
way of righteousness.
Then Judas, called Maccabeus from the motto
on his standard, Who is like unto Thee amongst
the gods, O Jehovah!" (the initials of which in
Hebrew form the word Maccabi), succeeded to
90 VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS.
the authority of his father. There appear to
have been no petty jealousies between the noble
sons of a glorious sire; they were united by a
better tie than even that of blood-fellowship in
a holy cause.
Judas proved himself a bold and able com-
mander, a hero treading in the steps of Joshua,
Gideon, and David. With a force not exceeding
six thousand men, he took the field against the
large, well-disciplined armies of Antiochus, com-
manded by warriors of renown.
His first great triumph was gained over Apol-
lonius, whose sword the victor wore to the end
of his life. Judas then made head against Seron,
"a prince of Syria, who came to attack him with
"a mighty host. Maccabeus was then command-
ing a mere handful of men, and some of his com-
panions, disheartened at the fearful disparity of
numbers, came to their chief and said, How
shall we be able, being so few, to fight against so
great a multitude and so strong, seeing we are
ready to faint with fasting?"
"With the God of heaven," replied the hero,
"it is all one to deliver with a great multitude
or a small company; for the victory standeth not
in the multitude of a host, but strength comet
VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS. 91
from Heaven. We fight for our laws and our
lives, wherefore, the Lord himself will overthrow
these men before our face !"
The result of the battle was the complete
triumph of the Jews, who overcame and pursued
This victory made the name of Judas renowned
through all the neighboring states, and it was
speedily followed by others. Army after army
was sent against him, and fled in broken masses
before the conquering sword of him who trusted
in the strength of the Omnipotent.
One of these engagements was with Lycias, a
nobleman who acted as regent of Syria during
the absence of its king. Lycias, with a force of
sixty-five thousand choice infantry and five thou-
sand horsemen, was met by Judas Maccabeus at
the head of ten thousand men. When the Jewish
leader beheld the immense host before him, before
he closed in battle, he had recourse to the power-
ful weapon of prayer.
Blessed art Thou, O Saviour of Israel !" he
cried, who didst quell the violence of the mighty
man by the hand of Thy servant David, and gavest
the host of strangers into the hands of Jonathan,
the son of Saul, and his armour-bearer! Shut up
92 VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS.
this army in the hand of Thy people Israel, and
let them be confounded in their power. Cast
them down with the sword of them that love
Thee, and let all that know Thy name praise
Thee with thanksgiving."
The supplications of Judas were heard. The
Lord God of Israel fought for His people, and the
vast Syrian host fled in confusion before them.
Then said Judas and his brethren, Behold,
our enemies are discomfited; let us go up to
cleanse and dedicate the sanctuary."
With what joy and thanksgiving must the
valiant deliverers have been welcomed in Jeru-
salem, which they had freed from the oppressor!
Judas and his band of heroes proceeded at once
to the temple; but when they saw the sanctuary
desolate, the altar profaned, the gates burned
down, and herbage growing in the courts once
trod by the feet of so many worshippers, they
rent their clothes, and cast ashes on their heads,
and fell with their faces to the ground.
But Judas, like Nehemiah, did not content
himself with lamentations over the desolation
which he saw-he zealously set himself to repair
and to reform. He chose priests of blameless
lives to cleanse the polluted sanctuary, pull down
VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS. 93
the altar which the heathen had profaned, and
build up another in its place. He also appointed
warriors to fight against the Syrian garrison,
which still held a fortress which had been erected
by Apollonius to overlook the temple. New holy
vessels were made for the sanctuary, the lamps
again were lighted and sacrifices offered, and,
with joy and exultation, songs of praise, and the
music of harps and cymbals, the conquerors re-
turned thanks for victory in the temple of the
Lord of hosts.
By the command of Judas Maccabeus, high
walls, strengthened with towers, were raised
around the sacred building, to protect it from
future attack, and a garrison was appointed to
guard it, 164 B.c.
When Antiochus, who was on his way from
Ecbatana to Babylonia, heard how the Jews had
defeated Lycias, recovered the temple of Jeru-
salem, pulled down his idols, thrown their altars
to the ground, and restored the pure worship
of Jehovah, he was enraged to the utmost pitch
of fury. He commanded his charioteer to
double his speed, that he might the sooner
arrive in Judea to execute a fearful revenge.
He threatened to make Jerusalem one vast
94 VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS.
grave for the nation that had dared to defy his
But the tyrant's hour was come. He was now,
according to the prophetic words of the young
martyr whom he had slain, to receive the just
punishment of his pride. Antiochus Epiphanes
was smitten with a most horrible and loathsome
disease. Yet, hatred struggling against physical
pain, he endeavoured to pursue his course, till
his chariot being overturned, the king was so
sorely injured by the fall, that it was necessary
to carry him in a litter to Tabce, a town on the
confines of Persia and Babylonia.
Here the miserable tyrant endured tortures
more intolerable than any that he himself had
inflicted, and was forced openly to acknowledge
them to be God's retribution for his impiety and
cruelty. His reason at length gave way beneath
them, spectres appeared to haunt him, and this
enemy of God and of his people expired at length
in the greatest agonies both of body and mind.
Meanwhile Judas gained victory after victory.
He defeated the people of Edom, Bean, and Am-
mon; took Gazer, with the towns belonging to
it; won a great triumph over a vast host, under
a leader named Timotheus; and subdued the
VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS. 95
cities of the country of Galaad. He smote
Hebron, and passed through Samaria; turned to
Azotus, in the land of the Philistines; and when
he had levelled their altars, and burned their
carved images with fire, he returned back in
triumph to Judea.
Antiochus had been succeeded by his son of
the same name, to which was added that of
Eupator. The king being too young to assume
the reins of power, Lycias took the government
into his own hands. The regent raised an enor-
mous army to crush the forces of Judas. A
hundred thousand foot soldiers, twenty thousand
horse, thirty war elephants, and three hundred
chariots were gathered together, and headed by
the young monarch in person, who laid siege to
the town of Bethsura.
Judas collected his forces, far inferior in number
to those of the enemy, and falling upon the Syrians
by night, put the camp into confusion, and re-
treated on break of day, without suffering loss by
his bold exploit, while many of the enemy were
When the rising sun shed its full light on the
glittering ranks of the host of Antiochus, the
opposing armies closed in fierce battle. In the
96 VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS.
fight, Eleazar, a brother of Judas, sacrificed his
life in a desperate attempt to kill the young king
of Syria. Seeing an immense elephant, adorned
with gorgeous harness, and supposing that the
monarch himself must be upon it, Eleazar furi-
ously fought his way up to the spot, slaying all
who opposed him, and thrusting his weapon into
the elephant, was crushed to death by its fall.
The Jews, perhaps discouraged by the loss of
Eleazar, fell back before the overwhelming hosts
of Syria, and made good their retreat to Jerusalem.
Bethsura then surrendered to Lycias, but upon
From thence Antiochus Eupator marched to
Jerusalem, where he laid siege to the sanctuary,
which Judas, as before related, had fortified in
case of attack. The Jews were now in extreme
peril, those who defended the temple being in
the utmost distress for want of provisions. In-
struments for casting stones, darts, and slings, and
other formidable weapons of war, were brought
against the handful of men who made their des-
pprate stand within the wall which had been
raised to guard the temple. Famine stared them
in the face, and their only alternative seemed to
be to perish by hunger or the sword.
VICTORIES OF JUDAS MACCABEUS. 97
S* ___ '''-
BALISTA, FOR THROWING STONES.
But man's extremity is God's opportunity.
Lycias received tidings that Philip, a favourite of
the late king, and appointed by him guardian of
his successor, had seized upon Antioch, and set
up his own power in opposition to that of the
regent. Lycias found it necessary at once to
make peace with the Jews, that he might be at
liberty to march himself against this dangerous
rival. He therefore proposed honourable and ad-
vantageous terms, which were accepted by Judas.
The hero was recognized both by the king and
the regent as the ruler of Judea; and from this