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all things were properly regulated, came to Jericho, ac companied by his two sons, Mattathias and Judas. Ptolemy, the son of Abubus, who had married one of his daughters, was governor of the place, they therefore took
their residence with him ; but he was a very wicked ambitious man, and had formed a scheme to get the government of Judea for himself. In order to accomplish this he made a suinptuous entertainment under the pretence of honouring his guests; but while they were rejoicing in his apparent hospitality, he caused them lo be assassinated. Ptolemy made imme. diate application to the king of Syria, promising that he would deliver Judea into his liands, if he would fur. nish him with an arnıy: he also sent to Gazara, and offered great rewards to those who would kill John, and dispatched others to take possession of Jerusalem. John was apprised of Ptolemy's proceedings, and put those to death who attempted to destroy him: he then hastened to secure the holy City and Temple, and used every measure to secure the safety and peace of the people. Ptolemy finding his plot defeated, fled to Philadelphia, till such time as the army from Antiochus, should arrive : what became of him afterwards is una certain.
There were great lamentations in Judea on account, of the death of Simon, who was universally beloved ; for he was a man of piety, bravery, honour, and huma, nity, and a great benefactor to his country.
His noble acts deservedly gained him the esteem of the people; but the advantages he procured for them would have been more permanent if he had not put them. as he did under the protection of the Romans ; for having by the aid of the Lord once more recovered the land of Judah from subjection to earthly monarchs,
their strength * was to sit still, and trust to the protection of their heavenly King, bending their whole attention to the preservation of their law, and the practice of moral virtues.
THE GOVERNMENT OF JOHN IIYRCANUS.
ANTIOCHUS, being informed of the death of Simon, besieged Judea, and the inhabitants were on the point of perishing with famine. Hyrcanus was therefore obliged to make a disadvantageous treaty; in a short time after, Antiochus and his whole army were cut off in one night by the Parthians, whose country they invaded. Demetrius then recovered the kingdom, but still persisting in his tyranny and vices, his subjeets soon rebelled; Alexander Zabina, pretending to be the son of Alexander Balas, laid claim to the crown, and defeated him, on which Demetrius fled to Ptolemais, where his wife Cleopatra then resided; but she ordered the gates to be shut against him, and he fell into the hands of his enemies, who first made him prisoner, and then put him to death. Zabina by this means ascended the throne, and reigned over one part of the kingdom, while Cleopatra governed the rest ; but shortly after, Seleucus, who was the eldest son of Demetrius, by this queen, resumed the kingdom, and was slain by the cruel hands of his own mother, after he had reigned one year. Antiochus Grypus, his brother, a very young prince, was then placed on the throne: he, with the assistance of Ptolemy Physcon, king of Egypt, van. quished Zabina, who shut himself up in Antioch: but the inhabitants being informed that he intended to steal a heathen idol for the sake of the gold, drove him away, and, after wandering from place to place, he was * Isai. xxx. 7.
at length put to death. Antiochus Grypus, being grown to years of maturity, began to take upon him. self the authority as well as name of king: this his mother would not submit to, she therefore prepared a cup of poison, and offered it to him when he came in hot from hunting ; but being apprised of her design, he obliged her to drink it herself, and so put an end 1.0 the life of this wicked woman. Grypus, having settled his affairs in peace and security, reigned several years without any disturbance.
During these divisions, Hyrcanus shook off the Syrian yoke, greatly enlarged his dominions, and made himself wholly independent. He subdued Sechem, the chief seat of the sect of the Samaritans, and destroyed their temple, which Sanballat had built. He also conquered the Idumeans, and obliged them all to embrace the Jewish religion; and from that time they were incorporated into the Jewish church, and at length lost the name of Idumeans or Edomites, and were called Jews.
Hyrcanus sent ambassadors to Rome to renew the league which Simon his father had made with the senate, and at the same time to complain of the oppressive behaviour of the Syrian kings. Upon which the senate de. creed, that all the places which had been taken from them should be restored, and reparation made, and that the Syrian kings should have no right to march their armies through the Jewish territories. Ambassadors were sent from Rome to see this decree put in execution,
The behaviour of the Romans in this instance was very honourable, and any other nation might have gloried in their protection and interposition ; but, when we consider the Jews as the peculiar people of God, they sink in our esteem for thus humbling themselves to heathens.
Hyrcanus, Hyrcanus, being much increased in power and riches, sent his two sons, Aristobulus and Antigonus, to be. siege Samaria: which, after a victorious siege, they took, and entirely destroyed, and even caused trenches to be dug every way across it, so that it might never be rebuilt. This was not done out of hatred to the sect of the Samaritans, for none of them dwelt here, Alexander the Great having expelled them as we formerly read.
In acknowledgment of the friendship of the Romans, Hyrcanus sent the next year ambassadors with a golden cup
and a shield of immense value; upon which they issued another decree to ratify and confirm the former.
After the conquest of Samaria, Hyrcanus became master of all Judea, Galilee, and several other places in the country round about, and was one of the greatest princes of the age in which he lived: none of the neighbouring princes dared to molest him ; but the latter end of his reign was disturbed by internal commotions in his government, occasioned by disputes between the Pharisees and Sadducees, from which the Romans could not shield him.
Hyrcanus died the next year after these disturbances; and, having had the administration of public affairs both in church and state for twenty-nine years, left the high-priesthood and sovereignty to his eldest son, Judas Aristobulus.
John Hyrcanus was an excellent governor and commander, and Israel was in a very flourishing state during his administration ; but still they were in obscurity, when considered as the peculiar people of God. They were indeed victorious and successful over their encmies, for the LORD was still merciful to them, in remembrance of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and his faithful servant David, and therefore would not suffer the heathen to dispossess them: but his mercy was exercised only in the ordinary dispensations of pro
vidence, vidence, and we cannot wonder that they were distressed in those instances, in which they could not have been relieved without a miraculous interposition in their favour.
In the reign of Hyrcanus, Jesus, the son of Sirach, a Jew of Jerusalem, going into Egypt and settling there, translated out of Hebrew into Greek, for the use of the Helenistical Jews, the book of Jesus his grandfather, which is the same we have in our Bibles under the title of Ecclesiasticus. The ancients call it the treasury of all virtue, supposing it to contain maxims leading to every virtue. It was originally written in Hebrew, about the time that Onias, the second of that name, was highpriest at Jerusalem.
Hyrcanus left five sons: Aristobulus, Antigonus, and Alexander, were the three first; the name of the fourth is unknown, but the fifth we are told was called Ab. salom.
JUDAS ARISTOBULUS MADE PRINCE AND HIGH
PRIEST OF THE JEWS.
· ARISTOBULUS succeeded his father. He put a royal ctiadem on his head, and assumed the title of king; this he had no right to do, as he was net of the lineage of David: but he paid no regard to the nature of the Jewish constitution, for he was a man of a most imperious, ambitious, and cruel temper. He cast his own mother into prison, and starved her to death; and caused his favourite brother to be executed on an unjust suspicion ; but no sooner was the last fact conmitted, than he severely repented, and his conscience felt the bitterest pangs of remorse for all his cruel deeds. He had for some time been afflicted with a distemper, which