Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Galileans to resist an extraordinary taxation imposed by Cyrenius, the Roman Governor of Syria. Josephus does not mention the fate of Judas himself; but it is probable that it was the usual one of the insurgents against the

murders of men, which sometimes fell on those of their own people (by the madness of these men towards one another, while their desire was that none of the adverse party might be left), and sometimes on their enemies; a famine also coming upon us, reduced us to the last degree of despair, as did also the taking and demolishing of cities; nay, the sedition at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down by their enemies' fire. Such were the consequences of this, that the customs of our fathers were altered, and such a change was made as added a mighty weight toward bringing all to destruction, which these men occasioned by thus conspiring together; for Judas and Sadduc, who excited a fourth philosophic sect among us, and had a great many followers therein, filled our civil government with tumults at present, and laid the foundation of our future miseries by this system of philosophy, which we were before unacquainted withal; concerning which I shall discourse a little, and this the rather, because the infection which spread thence among the younger sort, who were zealous for it, brought the public to destruction." (Then follows a description of the doctrines of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.) "But of the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy, Judas the Galilean was the author. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man Lord; and since this immoveable resolution of theirs is known to a great many, I shall speak no further about that matter; nor am I afraid that any thing I have said should be disbelieved, but rather fear that what I have said is beneath the resolution they shew when they undergo pain; and it was in Gessius Florus's time, [about A. D. 65,] that the nation began to go mad, with this distemper, who was our procurator, and who occasioned the Jews to go wild with it by the abuse of his authority, and to make them revolt from the Romans; and these are the sects of Jewish philosophy." Antiq. xviii. 1.

"Under his (Coponius's) administration it was that a certain Galilean, named Judas, prevailed with his countrymen to revolt; and said they were cowards if they would endure to pay a tax to the Romans, and would, after God, submit to mortal men as their Lords. This man was a teacher of a peculiar sect of his own, and was not at all like the rest of those their leaders." War ii. 8.

Josephus finished writing his Antiquities in the 13th year of Domitian, A. D. 94.

[ocr errors]

Romans, since we find soon afterwards that the taxation was universally submitted to, and that his two sons, James and Simon, were crucified under the procuratorship of Tiberius Alexander.

The account which we have of Judas the Galilean comes from Josephus, who, being himself a noble and a conservative, disliked all attempts at insurrection and innovation; yet through his angry comments it is easy to perceive that Judas was a man of great talent, and that he left a deep impression on the minds of his countrymen; for he is characterized as being not only the leading revolter against the Romans, but also the head of a fourth philosophic sect, which occasioned the alteration of the customs of Moses, and, though agreeing with most of the pharisaic notions of religion, had an inviolable attachment to liberty, saying that God was to be their only ruler and lord. Judas was therefore both a political and religious reformer; and as his sentiments spread extensively among the Galileans, these provincials came to be looked upon with suspicion by the Romans for their disaffection to the tribute, and by the other Jews for their liberalism or heresy in religion.

Even before the time of Judas, the Jews had begun to allow themselves free discussion on the subject of their religion. The system of Moses, intended for a secluded people, was found to be inconsistent, in many points, with the spirit of the age, when they were forced into continual contact with other nations. From the restoration of the laws of Moses by Maccabæus, all the efforts of the strict Mosaic party were unable to stop the influx of the customs and notions of the Greeks, and to prevent the admixture of Gentile philosophies with the law and the prophets. As early as in the priesthood of Jonathan Apphus, [B. C. 161,] the Jews were divided into three principal sects of Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes, of which the latter, consisting chiefly of the lower ranks, presents a remarkable picture of simplicity and moral purity, tinctured by the austere spirit of monachism. The principles of benevolence, morality, and religion, being implanted in the nature of man, it is natural that some of those combinations for common objects which men love to form together, should be directed to the

cultivation and advancement of these principles. Hence there have frequently been seen, in different ages of the world, societies attempting to exhibit schools of perfect virtue, and to attain the highest possible degrees of temperance, benevolence, and piety. In the Essene sect we see an example of such a society influenced by a religion of Monotheism, and by the national literature already described. The condition of the three sects, and especially of the Essenes, forms such an interesting and important feature in the Jewish history at the period we are now arrived at, that it is worth while to transcribe the accounts of them given by Josephus and Philo.

Josephus says, (War ii. ch. 7,) "For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of whom are the Pharisees, of the second the Sadducees, and the third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline, are called Essenes. These are Jews by birth, and they cherish mutual love beyond other men. They reject pleasure as evil; and they look upon temperance and a conquest over the passions as the greatest virtue. There prevails among them a contempt of marriage; but they receive the children of others, and educate them as their own, while yet tender and susceptible of instruction. They do not indeed abolish the marriage institution, as being necessary to perpetuate the succession of mankind; but they guard against the immodesty of the women, who, they think, in no instance preserve their fidelity to

one man.

"The Essenes despise riches, and are so liberal as to excite our admiration. Nor can any be found amongst them who is more wealthy than the rest; for it is a law with them, that those who join their order should distribute their possessions among the members, the property of each being added to that of the rest, as being all brethren. They deem oil as a pollution, and wipe it off, should any inadvertently touch them, for they think it an ornament to be plain, and always to wear white apparel. They appoint stewards to superintend the common interests; and these have no other employment than to consult the good of each member without distinction.

"This sect is not confined to one city, but many of them dwell in every city, and if any of their sect come from

other places, what they have lies open for them, just as if it were their own; and they go in to such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them. For which reason they carry nothing with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them, for fear of thieves. Accordingly there is, in every city where they live, one appointed particularly to take care of strangers, and to provide garments and other necessaries for them. But the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are in fear of their masters. Nor do they allow of the change of garments, or of shoes, till they be first entirely torn to pieces, or worn out by time. Nor do they either buy or sell any thing to one another; but every one of them gives what he hath to him that wanteth it, and receives from him again in lieu of it what may be convenient for himself: and although there be no requital made, they are fully allowed to take what they want of whomsoever they please.

"And as for their piety towards God, it is very extraordinary; for before sun rising they speak not a word about profane matters, but put up certain prayers which they have received from their forefathers, as if they made a supplication for its rising. After this, every one of them is sent away by their curators, to exercise some of their arts wherein they are skilled, in which they labour with great diligence till the fifth hour. After which they assemble themselves together again into one place; and when they have clothed themselves in white veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water. And after this purification is over, they every one meet together in an apartment of their own, into which it is not permitted to any of another sect to enter; while they go, after a pure manner, into the dining-room, as into a certain holy temple, and quietly set themselves down; upon which the baker lays them loaves in order; the cook also brings a single plate of one sort of food, and sets it before every one of them; but a priest says grace before meat, and it is unlawful for any one to taste of the food before grace is said. The same priest, when he hath dined, says grace again after meat and when they begin and when they end, they praise God, as him that bestows their food upon

them; after which they lay aside their (white) garments, and betake themselves to their labours again till the evening; then they return home to supper, after the same manner; and if there be any strangers there, they sit down with them. Nor is there ever any clamour or disturbance to pollute their house, but they give every one leave to speak in their turn; which silence, thus kept in their house, appears to foreigners like some tremendous mystery, the cause of which is that perpetual sobriety they exercise, and the same settled measure of meat and drink that is allotted to them, and that such as is abundantly sufficient for them.

"And truly as for other things, they do nothing but according to the injunction of their curators: only these two things are done among them at every one's own free will, which are, to assist those who want it, and to shew mercy; for they are permitted of their own accord to afford succour to such as deserve it when they stand in need of it, and to bestow food on those that are in distress; but they cannot give any thing to their kindred without the curators. They dispense their anger after a just manner, and restrain their passion. They are eminent for fidelity, and are the ministers of peace; whatsoever they say also is firmer than an oath: but swearing is avoided by them, and they esteem it worse than perjury; for, they say, that he who cannot be believed without (swearing by) God is already condemned. They also take great pains in studying the writings of the ancients, and choose out of them what is most for the advantage of their soul and body; and they inquire after such roots and medicinal stone as may cure their distempers.

"But now if any one hath a mind to come over to their sect, he is not immediately admitted, but he is prescribed the same method of living which they use for a year, while he continues excluded; and they give him a small hatchet, and the forementioned girdle, and the white garment. And when he hath given evidence, during that time, that he can observe their temperance, he approaches nearer to their way of living, and is made a partaker of the waters of purification: yet is he not even now admitted to live with them; for after this demonstration of his fortitude, his temper is tried two years

« AnteriorContinuar »