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Josephus: Jewish Antiquities, Book 12

Sections 154 - 286

Translated by William Whiston (1737). A few spellings have been changed. See key to translations for an explanation of the format.


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[4.]   [154] G   After this Antiochus made a friendship and league with Ptolemaeus, and gave him his daughter Cleopatra to wife, and yielded up to him Coele Syria, and Samaria, and Judaea, and Phoenicia, by way of dowry. [155] And upon the division of the taxes between the two kings, all the principal men framed the taxes of their several countries, and collecting the sum that was settled for them, paid the same to the [two] kings. [156] G   Now at this time the Samaritans were in a flourishing condition, and much distressed the Jews, cutting off parts of their land, and carrying off slaves. This happened when Onias was high priest; [157] for after Eleazar's death, his uncle Manasseh took the priesthood, and after he had ended his life, Onias received that dignity. He was the son of Simon, who was called The Just: [158] G   which Simon was the brother of Eleazar, as I said before. This Onias was one of a little soul, and a great lover of money; and for that reason, because he did not pay that tax of twenty talents of silver, which his forefathers paid to these things out of their own estates, he provoked king Ptolemaeus Euergetes to anger, who was the father of Philopator. [159] Euergetes sent an ambassador to Jerusalem, and complained that Onias did not pay his taxes, and threatened, that if he did not receive them, he would seize upon their land, and send soldiers to live upon it. When the Jews heard this message of the king, they were confounded; but so sordidly covetous was Onias, that nothing of things nature made him ashamed.

[160] G   There was now one Joseph, young in age, but of great reputation among the people of Jerusalem, for gravity, prudence, and justice. His father's name was Tobias; and his mother was the sister of Onias the high priest, who informed him of the coming of the ambassador; for he was then sojourning at a village named Phicola, where he was born. [161] Hereupon he came to the city [Jerusalem], and reproved Onias for not taking care of the preservation of his countrymen, but bringing the nation into dangers, by not paying this money. For which preservation of them, he told him he had received the authority over them, and had been made high priest; [162] G   but that, in case he was so great a lover of money, as to endure to see his country in danger on that account, and his countrymen suffer the greatest damages, he advised him to go to the king, and petition him to remit either the whole or a part of the sum demanded. [163] Onias's answer was this: That he did not care for his authority, and that he was ready, if the thing were practicable, to lay down his high priesthood; and that he would not go to the king, because he troubled not himself at all about such matters. Joseph then asked him if he would not give him leave to go ambassador on behalf of the nation. [164] G   He replied, that he would give him leave. Upon which Joseph went up into the temple, and called the multitude together to a congregation, and exhorted them not to be disturbed nor affrighted, because of his uncle Onias's carelessness, but desired them to be at rest, and not terrify themselves with fear about it; for he promised them that he would be their ambassador to the king, and persuade him that they had done him no wrong. [165] And when the multitude heard this, they returned thanks to Joseph. So he went down from the temple, and treated Ptolemaeus's ambassador in a hospitable manner. He also presented him with rich gifts, and feasted him magnificently for many days, and then sent him to the king before him, and told him that he would soon follow him; [166] G   for he was now more willing to go to the king, by the encouragement of the ambassador, who earnestly persuaded him to come into Egypt, and promised him that he would take care that he should obtain every thing that he desired of Ptolemaeus; for he was highly pleased with his frank and liberal temper, and with the gravity of his deportment.

[167] When Ptolemaeus's ambassador was come into Egypt, he told the king of the thoughtless temper of Onias; and informed him of the goodness of the disposition of Joseph; and that he was coming to him to excuse the multitude, as not having done him any harm, for that he was their patron. In short, he was so very large in his encomiums upon the young man, that he disposed both the king and his wife Cleopatra to have a kindness for him before he came. [168] G   So Joseph sent to his friends at Samaria, and borrowed money of them, and got ready what was necessary for his journey, garments and cups, and beasts for burden, which amounted to about twenty thousand drachmae, and went to Alexandria. [169] Now it happened that at this time all the principal men and rulers went up out of the cities of Syria and Phoenicia, to bid for their taxes; for every year the king sold them to the men of the greatest power in every city. [170] G   So these men saw Joseph journeying on the way, and laughed at him for his poverty and meanness. But when he came to Alexandria, and heard that king Ptolemaeus was at Memphis, be went up thither to meet with him; [171] which happened as the king was sitting in his chariot, with his wife, and with his friend Athenion, who was the very person who had been ambassador at Jerusalem, and had been entertained by Joseph. As soon therefore as Athenion saw him, he presently made him known to the king, how good and generous a young man he was. [172] G   So Ptolemaeus saluted him first, and desired him to come up into his chariot; and as Joseph sat there, he began to complain of the management of Onias: to which he answered, "Forgive him, on account of his age; for thou canst not certainly be unacquainted with this, that old men and infants have their minds exactly alike; but thou shalt have from us, who are young men, every thing thou desirest, and shalt have no cause to complain." [173] With this good humour and pleasantry of the young man, the king was so delighted, that he began already, as though he had had long experience of him, to have a still greater affection for him, insomuch that he bade him take his diet in the king's palace, and be a guest at his own table every day. [174] G   But when the king was come to Alexandria, the principal men of Syria saw him sitting with the king, and were much offended at it.

[175] And when the day came on which the king was to let the taxes of the cities to farm, and those that were the principal men of dignity in their several countries were to bid for them, the sum of the taxes together, of Coele Syria, and Phoenicia, and Judaea, with Samaria, [as they were bidden for,] came to eight thousand talents. [176] G   Hereupon Joseph accused the bidders, as having agreed together to estimate the value of the taxes at too low a rate; and he promised that he would himself give twice as much for them: but for those who did not pay, he would send the king home their whole substance; for this privilege was sold together with the taxes themselves. [177] The king was pleased to hear that offer; and because it augmented his revenues, he said he would confirm the sale of the taxes to him. But when he asked him this question, Whether he had any sureties that would be bound for the payment of the money? he answered very pleasantly, "I will give such security, and those of persons good and responsible, and which you shall have no reason to distrust." [178] G   And when he bid him name them who they were, he replied, "I give thee no other persons, O king, for my sureties, than thyself, and this thy wife; and you shall be security for both parties." So Ptolemaeus laughed at the proposal, and granted him the farming of the taxes without any sureties. [179] This procedure was a sore grief to those that came from the cities into Egypt, who were utterly disappointed; and they returned every one to their own country with shame.

[180] G   But Joseph took with him two thousand foot soldiers from the king, for he desired he might have some assistance, in order to force such as were refractory in the cities to pay. And borrowing of the king's friends at Alexandria five hundred talents, he made haste back into Syria. [181] And when he was at Ascalon, and demanded the taxes of the people of Ascalon, they refused to pay any thing, and affronted him also; upon which he seized upon about twenty of the principal men, and slew them, and gathered what they had together, and sent it all to the king, and informed him what he had done. [182] G   Ptolemaeus admired the prudent conduct of the man, and commended him for what he had done, and gave him leave to do as he pleased. When the Syrians heard of this, they were astonished; and having before them a sad example in the men of Ascalon that were slain, they opened their gates, and willingly admitted Joseph, and paid their taxes. [183] And when the inhabitants of Scythopolis attempted to affront him, and would not pay him those taxes which they formerly used to pay, without disputing about them, he slew also the principal men of that city, and sent their effects to the king. [184] G   By this means he gathered great wealth together, and made vast gains by this farming of the taxes; and he made use of what estate he had thus gotten, in order to support his authority, as thinking it a piece of prudence to keep what had been the occasion and foundation of his present good fortune; and this he did by the assistance of what he was already possessed of, [185] for he privately sent many presents to the king, and to Cleopatra, and to their friends, and to all that were powerful about the court, and thereby purchased their good-will to himself.

[186] G   This good fortune he enjoyed for twenty-two years, and was become the father of seven sons by one wife; he had also another son, whose name was Hyrcanus, by his brother Solymius's daughter, [187] whom he married on the following occasion. He once came to Alexandria with his brother, who had along with him a daughter already marriageable, in order to give her in wedlock to some of the Jews of chief dignity there. He then supped with the king, and falling in love with an actress that was of great beauty, and came into the room where they feasted, he told his brother of it, and entreated him, because a Jew is forbidden by their law to come near to a foreigner, to conceal his offence; and to be kind and subservient to him, and to give him an opportunity of fulfilling his desires. [188] G   Upon which his brother willingly entertained the proposal of serving him, and adorned his own daughter, and brought her to him by night, and put her into his bed. And Joseph, being disordered with drink, knew not who she was, and so lay with his brother's daughter; and this did he many times, and loved her exceedingly; and said to his brother, that he loved this actress so well, that he should run the hazard of his life [if he must part with her], and yet probably the king would not give him leave [to take her with him]. [189] But his brother bid him be in no concern about that matter, and told him he might enjoy her whom he loved without any danger, and might have her for his wife; and opened the truth of the matter to him, and assured him that he chose rather to have his own daughter abused, than to overlook him, and se him come to [public] disgrace. So Joseph commended him for this his brotherly love, and married his daughter; and by her begat a son, whose name was Hyrcanus, as we said before. [190] G   And when this his youngest son showed, at thirteen years old, a mind that was both courageous and wise, and was greatly envied by his brethren, as being of a genius much above them, and such a one as they might well envy, [191] Joseph had once a mind to know which of his sons had the best disposition to virtue; and when he sent them severally to those that had then the best reputation for instructing youth, the rest of his children, by reason of their sloth and unwillingness to take pains, returned to him foolish and unlearned. [192] G   After them he sent out the youngest, Hyrcanus, and gave him three hundred yoke of oxen, and bid him go two days' journey into the wilderness, and sow the land there, and yet kept back privately the yokes of the oxen that coupled them together. [193] When Hyrcanus came to the place, and found he had no yokes with him, he contemned the drivers of the oxen, who advised him to send some to his father, to bring them some yokes; but he thinking that he ought not to lose his time while they should be sent to bring him the yokes, he invented a kind of stratagem, and what suited an age older than his own; [194] G   for he slew ten yoke of the oxen, and distributed their flesh among the labourers, and cut their hides into several pieces, and made him yokes, and yoked the oxen together with them; by which means he sowed as much land as his father had appointed him to sow, and returned to him. [195] And when he was come back, his father was mightily pleased with his sagacity, and commended the sharpness of his understanding, and his boldness in what he did. And he still loved him the more, as if he were his only genuine son, while his brethren were much troubled at it.

[196] G   But when one told him that Ptolemaeus had a son just born, and that all the principal men of Syria, and the other countries subject to him, were to keep a festival, on account of the child's birthday, and went away in haste with great retinues to Alexandria, he was himself indeed hindered from going by old age; but he made trial of his sons, whether any of them would be willing to go to the king. [197] And when the elder sons excused themselves from going, and said they were not courtiers good enough for such conversation, and advised him to send their brother Hyrcanus, he gladly hearkened to that advice, and called Hyrcanus, and asked him whether he would go to the king, and whether it was agreeable to him to go or not. [198] G   And upon his promise that he would go, and his saying that he should not want much money for his journey, because he would live moderately, and that ten thousand drachmas would be sufficient, he was pleased with his son's prudence. [199] After a little while, the son advised his father not to send his presents to the king from thence, but to give him a letter to his steward at Alexandria, that he might furnish him with money, for purchasing what should be most excellent and most precious. [200] G   So he thinking that the expense of ten talents would be enough for presents to be made the king, and commending his son, as giving him good advice, wrote to Arion his steward, that managed all his money matters at Alexandria; which money was not less than three thousand talents on his account, [201] for Joseph sent the money he received in Syria to Alexandria. And when the day appointed for the payment of the taxes to the king came, he wrote to Arion to pay them. [202] G   So when the son had asked his father for a letter to the steward, and had received it, he made haste to Alexandria. And when he was gone, his brethren wrote to all the king's friends, that they should destroy him.

[203] But when he was come to Alexandria, he delivered his letter to Arion, who asked him how many talents he would have (hoping he would ask for no more than ten, or a little more); he said he wanted a thousand talents. At which the steward was angry, and rebuked him, as one that intended to live extravagantly; and he let him know how his father had gathered together his estate by painstaking, and resisting his inclinations, and wished him to imitate the example of his father: he assured him withal, that he would give him but ten talents, and that for a present to the king also. [204] G   The son was irritated at this, and threw Arion into prison. But when Arion's wife had informed Cleopatra of this, with her entreaty, that she would rebuke the child for what he had done, (for Arion was in great esteem with her,) Cleopatra informed the king of it. [205] And Ptolemaeus sent for Hyrcanus, and told him that he wondered, when he was sent to him by his father, that he had not yet come into his presence, but had laid the steward in prison. And he gave order, therefore, that he should come to him, and give an account of the reason of what he had done. [206] G   And they report that the answer he made to the king's messenger was this: That "there was a law of his that forbade a child that was born to taste of the sacrifice, before he had been at the temple and sacrificed to God. According to which way of reasoning he did not himself come to him in expectation of the present he was to make to him, as to one who had been his father's benefactor; [207] and that he had punished the slave for disobeying his commands, for that it mattered not Whether a master was little or great: so that unless we punish such as these, thou thyself mayst also expect to be despised by thy subjects." Upon hearing this his answer he fell a laughing, and wondered at the great soul of the child.

[208] G   When Arion was apprised that this was the king's disposition, and that he had no way to help himself, he gave the child a thousand talents, and was let out of prison. So after three days were over, Hyrcanus came and saluted the king and queen. [209] They saw him with pleasure, and feasted him in an obliging manner, out of the respect they bare to his father. So he came to the merchants privately, and bought a hundred boys, that had learning, and were in the flower of their ages, each at a talent apiece; as also he bought a hundred maidens, each at the same price as the other. [210] G   And when he was invited to feast with the king among the principal men in the country, he sat down the lowest of them all, because he was little regarded, as a child in age still; and this by those who placed every one according to their dignity. [211] Now when all those that sat with him had laid the bones Of the several parts on a heap before Hyrcanus, (for they had themselves taken away the flesh belonging to them,) till the table where he sat was filled full with them, [212] G   Tryphon, who was the king's jester, and was appointed for jokes and laughter at festivals, was now asked by the guests that sat at the table [to expose him to laughter]. So he stood by the king, and said, "Dost thou not see, my lord, the bones that lie by Hyrcanus? by this similitude thou mayst conjecture that his father made all Syria as bare as he hath made these bones." [213] And the king laughing at what Tryphon said, and asking of Hyrcanus, How he came to have so many bones before him? he replied," Very rightfully, my lord; for they are dogs that eat the flesh and the bones together, as these thy guests have done, (looking in the mean time at those guests,) for there is nothing before them; but they are men that eat the flesh, and cast away the hones, as I, who am also a man, have now done." [214] G   Upon which the king admired at his answer, which was so wisely made; and bid them all make an acclamation, as a mark of their approbation of his jest, which was truly a facetious one. [215] On the next day Hyrcanus went to every one of the king's friends, and of the men powerful at court, and saluted them; but still inquired of the servants what present they would make the king on his son's birthday; [216] G   and when some said that they would give twelve talents, and that others of greater dignity would every one give according to the quantity of their riches, he pretended to every one of them to be grieved that he was not able to bring so large a present; for that he had no more than five talents. And when the servants heard what he said, they told their masters; [217] and they rejoiced in the prospect that Joseph would be disapproved, and would make the king angry, by the smallness of his present. When the day came, the others, even those that brought the most, offered the king not above twenty talents; but Hyrcanus gave to every one of the hundred boys and hundred maidens that he had bought a talent apiece, for them to carry, and introduced them, the boys to the king, and the maidens to Cleopatra; [218] G   every body wondering at the unexpected richness of the presents, even the king and queen themselves. He also presented those that attended about the king with gifts to the value of a great number of talents, that he might escape the danger he was in from them; for to these it was that Hyrcanus's brethren had written to destroy him. [219] Now Ptolemaeus admired at the young man's magnanimity, and commanded him to ask what gift he pleased. But he desired nothing else to be done for him by the king than to write to his father and brethren about him. [220] G   So when the king had paid him very great respects, and had given him very large gifts, and had written to his father and his brethren, and all his commanders and officers, about him, he sent him away. [221] But when his brethren heard that Hyrcanus had received such favours from the king, and was returning home with great honour, they went out to meet him, and to destroy him, and that with the knowledge of their father; for he was angry at him for the [large] sum of money that he bestowed for presents, and so had no concern for his preservation. However, Joseph concealed the anger he had at his son, out of fear of the king. [222] G   And when Hyrcanus's brethren came to fight him, he slew many others of those that were with them, as also two of his brethren themselves; but the rest of them escaped to Jerusalem to their father. But when Hyrcanus came to the city, where nobody would receive him, he was afraid for himself, and retired beyond the river Jordan, and there abode, but obliging the barbarians to pay their taxes.

[223] At this time Seleucus, who was called Soter, reigned over Asia, being the son of Antiochus the Great. [224] G   And [now] Hyrcanus's father, Joseph, died. He was a good man, and of great magnanimity; and brought the Jews out of a state of poverty and meanness, to one that was more splendid. He retained the farm of the taxes of Syria, and Phoenicia, and Samaria twenty-two years. His uncle also, Onias, died [about this time], and left the high priesthood to his son Simeon. [225] And when he was dead, Onias his son succeeded him in that dignity. To him it was that Areus, king of the Lacedaemonians, sent an embassage, with an epistle; the copy whereof here follows:

[226] G   "Areus, king of the Lacedaemonians, to Onias, sendeth greeting. We have met with a certain writing, whereby we have discovered that both the Jews and the Lacedaemonians are of one stock, and are derived from the kindred of Abraham. It is but just therefore that you, who are our brethren, should send to us about any of your concerns as you please. [227] We will also do the same thing, and esteem your concerns as our own, and will look upon our concerns as in common with yours. Demoteles, who brings you this letter, will bring your answer back to us. This letter is four-square; and the seal is an eagle, with a dragon in his claws."

[228] G   And these were the contents of the epistle which was sent from the king of the Lacedaemonians. But, upon the death of Joseph, the people grew seditious, on account of his sons. For whereas the elders made war against Hyrcanus, who was the youngest of Joseph's sons, the multitude was divided, [229] but the greater part joined with the elders in this war; as did Simon the high priest, by reason he was of kin to them. However, Hyrcanus determined not to return to Jerusalem any more, but seated himself beyond Jordan, and was at perpetual war with the Arabians, and slew many of them, and took many of them captives. [230] G   He also erected a strong castle, and built it entirely of white stone to the very roof, and had animals of a prodigious magnitude engraved upon it. He also drew round it a great and deep canal of water. [231] He also made caves of many furlongs in length, by hollowing a rock that was over against him; and then he made large rooms in it, some for feasting, and some for sleeping and living in. He introduced also a vast quantity of waters which ran along it, and which were very delightful and ornamental in the court. [232] G   But still he made the entrances at the mouth of the caves so narrow, that no more than one person could enter by them at once. And the reason why he built them after that manner was a good one; it was for his own preservation, lest he should be besieged by his brethren, and run the hazard of being caught by them. [233] Moreover, he built courts of greater magnitude than ordinary, which he adorned with vastly large gardens. And when he had brought the place to this state, he named it Tyre. This place is between Arabia and Judaea, beyond Jordan, not far from Essebonitis. [234] G   And he ruled over those parts for seven years, even all the time that Seleucus was king of Syria. But when he was dead, his brother Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, took the kingdom. [235] Ptolemaeus also, the king of Egypt, died, who was besides called Epiphanes. He left two sons, and both young in age; the elder of which was called Philometor, and the youngest Physcon. [236] G   As for Hyrcanus, when he saw that Antiochus had a great army, and feared lest he should be caught by him, and brought to punishment for what he had done to the Arabians, he ended his life, and slew himself with his own hand; while Antiochus seized upon all his substance.

[5.]   [237] About this time, upon the death of Onias the high priest, they gave the high priesthood to Jesus his brother; for that son which Onias left [or Onias IV.] was yet but an infant; and, in its proper place, we will inform the reader of all the circumstances that befell this child. [238] G   But this Jesus, who was the brother of Onias, was deprived of the high priesthood by the king, who was angry with him, and gave it to his younger brother, whose name also was Onias; for Simon had these three sons, to each of which the priesthood came, as we have already informed the reader. [239] This Jesus changed his name to Jason, but Onias was called Menelaus. Now as the former high priest, Jesus, raised a sedition against Menelaus, who was ordained after him, the multitude were divided between them both. And the sons of Tobias took the part of Menelaus, [240] G   but the greater part of the people assisted Jason; and by that means Menelaus and the sons of Tobias were distressed, and retired to Antiochus, and informed him that they were desirous to leave the laws of their country, and the Jewish way of living according to them, and to follow the king's laws, and the Greek way of living. [241] Wherefore they desired his permission to build them a Gymnasium at Jerusalem. And when he had given them leave, they also hid the circumcision of their genitals, that even when they were naked they might appear to be Greeks. Accordingly, they left off all the customs that belonged to their own country, and imitated the practices of the other nations.

[242] G   Now Antiochus, upon the agreeable situation of the affairs of his kingdom, resolved to make an expedition against Egypt, both because he had a desire to gain it, and because he contemned the son of Ptolemaeus, as now weak, and not yet of abilities to manage affairs of such consequence; [243] so he came with great forces to Pelusium, and circumvented Ptolemaeus Philometor by treachery, and seized upon Egypt. He then came to the places about Memphis; and when he had taken them, he made haste to Alexandria, in hopes of taking it by siege, and of subduing Ptolemaeus, who reigned there. [244] G   But he was driven not only from Alexandria, but out of all Egypt, by the declaration of the Romans, who charged him to let that country alone; according as I have elsewhere formerly declared. [245] I will now give a particular account of what concerns this king, how he subdued Judaea and the temple; for in my former work I mentioned those things very briefly, and have therefore now thought it necessary to go over that history again, and that with great accuracy.

[246] G   King Antiochus returning out of Egypt for fear of the Romans, made an expedition against the city Jerusalem; and when he was there, in the hundred and forty-third year of the kingdom of the Seleucids, he took the city without fighting, those of his own party opening the gates to him. [247] And when he had gotten possession of Jerusalem, he slew many of the opposite party; and when he had plundered it of a great deal of money, he returned to Antioch.

[248] G   Now it came to pass, after two years, in the hundred forty and fifth year, on the twenty-fifth day of that month which is by us called Chasleu, and by the Macedonians Apellaeus, in the hundred and fifty-third Olympiad, that the king came up to Jerusalem, and, pretending peace, he got possession of the city by treachery; [249] at which time he spared not so much as those that admitted him into it, on account of the riches that lay in the temple; but, led by his covetous inclination, (for he saw there was in it a great deal of gold, and many ornaments that had been dedicated to it of very great value,) and in order to plunder its wealth, he ventured to break the league he had made. [250] G   So he left the temple bare, and took away the golden candlesticks, and the golden altar [of incense], and table [of shew-bread], and the altar [of burnt-offering]; and did not abstain from even the veils, which were made of fine linen and scarlet. He also emptied it of its secret treasures, and left nothing at all remaining; and by this means cast the Jews into great lamentation, [251] for he forbade them to offer those daily sacrifices which they used to offer to God, according to the law. And when he had pillaged the whole city, some of the inhabitants he slew, and some he carried captive, together with their wives and children, so that the multitude of those captives that were taken alive amounted to about ten thousand. [252] G   He also burnt down the finest buildings; and when he had overthrown the city walls, he built a citadel in the lower part of the city, for the place was high, and overlooked the temple; on which account he fortified it with high walls and towers, and put into it a garrison of Macedonians. However, in that citadel dwelt the impious and wicked part of the [Jewish] multitude, from whom it proved that the citizens suffered many and sore calamities. [253] And when the king had built an idol altar upon God's altar, he slew swine upon it, and so offered a sacrifice neither according to the law, nor the Jewish religious worship in that country. He also compelled them to forsake the worship which they paid their own God, and to adore those whom he took to be gods; and made them build temples, and raise idol altars in every city and village, and offer swine upon them every day. [254] G   He also commanded them not to circumcise their sons, and threatened to punish any that should be found to have transgressed his injunction. He also appointed overseers, who should compel them to do what he commanded. [255] And indeed many Jews there were who complied with the king's commands, either voluntarily, or out of fear of the penalty that was denounced. But the best men, and those of the noblest souls, did not regard him, but did pay a greater respect to the customs of their country than concern as to the punishment which he threatened to the disobedient; on which account they every day underwent great miseries and bitter torments; [256] G   for they were whipped with rods, and their bodies were torn to pieces, and were crucified, while they were still alive, and breathed. They also strangled those women and their sons whom they had circumcised, as the king had appointed, hanging their sons about their necks as they were upon the crosses. And if there were any sacred book of the law found, it was destroyed, and those with whom they were found miserably perished also.

[257] When the Samaritans saw the Jews under these sufferings, they no longer confessed that they were of their kindred, nor that the temple on Mount Gerizzim belonged to Almighty God. This was according to their nature, as we have already shown. And they now said that they were a colony of Medes and Persians; and indeed they were a colony of theirs. [258] G   So they sent ambassadors to Antiochus, and an epistle, whose contents are these: "To king Antiochus the god, Epiphanes, a memorial from the Sidonians, who live at Shechem. [259] Our forefathers, upon certain frequent plagues, and as following a certain ancient superstition, had a custom of observing that day which by the Jews is called the Sabbath. And when they had erected a temple at the mountain called Gerizzim, though without a name, they offered upon it the proper sacrifices. [260] G   Now, upon the just treatment of these wicked Jews, those that manage their affairs, supposing that we were of kin to them, and practised as they do, make us liable to the same accusations, although we be originally Sidonians, as is evident from the public records. [261] We therefore beseech thee, our benefactor and Saviour, to give order to Apollonius, the governor of this part of the country, and to Nicanor, the procurator of thy affairs, to give us no disturbance, nor to lay to our charge what the Jews are accused for, since we are aliens from their nation, and from their customs; but let our temple, which at present hath no name at all be named the Temple of Zeus Hellenius. If this were once done, we should be no longer disturbed, but should be more intent on our own occupation with quietness, and so bring in a greater revenue to thee." [262] G   When the Samaritans had petitioned for this, the king sent them back the following answer, in an epistle: "King Antiochus to Nicanor. The Sidonians, who live at Shechem, have sent me the memorial enclosed. [263] When therefore we were advising with our friends about it, the messengers sent by them represented to us that they are no way concerned with accusations which belong to the Jews, but choose to live after the customs of the Greeks. Accordingly, we declare them free from such accusations, and order that, agreeable to their petition, their temple be named the Temple of Zeus Hellenius." [264] G   He also sent the like epistle to Apollonius, the governor of that part of the country, in the forty-sixth year, and the eighteenth day of the month Hecatombaeon.

[6.]   [265] Now at this time there was one whose name was Mattathias, who dwelt at Modin, the son of John, the son of Simeon, the son of Asamonaeus, a priest of the order of Joarib, and a citizen of Jerusalem. [266] G   He had five sons; John, who was called Gaddis, and Simon, who was called Matthes, and Judas, who was called Maccabaeus, and Eleazar, who was called Auran, and Jonathan, who was called Apphus. [267] Now this Mattathias lamented to his children the sad state of their affairs, and the ravage made in the city, and the plundering of the temple, and the calamities the multitude were under; and he told them that it was better for them to die for the laws of their country, than to live so ingloriously as they then did.

[268] G   But when those that were appointed by the king were come to Modin, that they might compel the Jews to do what they were commanded, and to enjoin those that were there to offer sacrifice, as the king had commanded, they desired that Mattathias, a person of the greatest character among them, both on other accounts, and particularly on account of such a numerous and so deserving a family of children, would begin the sacrifice, [269] because his fellow citizens would follow his example, and because such a procedure would make him honoured by the king. But Mattathias said he would not do it; and that if all the other nations would obey the commands of Antiochus, either out of fear, or to please him, yet would not he nor his sons leave the religious worship of their country. [270] G   But as soon as he had ended his speech, there came one of the Jews into the midst of them, and sacrificed, as Antiochus had commanded. At which Mattathias had great indignation, and ran upon him violently, with his sons, who had swords with them, and slew both the man himself that sacrificed, and Apelles the king's general, who compelled them to sacrifice, with a few of his soldiers. He also overthrew the idol altar, and cried out, [271] "If," said he," any one be zealous for the laws of his country, and for the worship of God, let him follow me." And when he had said this, he made haste into the desert with his sons, and left all his substance in the village. [272] G   Many others did the same also, and fled with their children and wives into the desert, and dwelt in caves. But when the king's generals heard this, they took all the forces they then had in the citadel at Jerusalem, and pursued the Jews into the desert; [273] and when they had overtaken them, they in the first place endeavoured to persuade them to repent, and to choose what was most for their advantage, and not put them to the necessity of using them according to the law of war. [274] G   But when they would not comply with their persuasions, but continued to be of a different mind, they fought against them on the sabbath day, and they burnt them as they were in the caves, without resistance, and without so much as stopping up the entrances of the caves. And they avoided to defend themselves on that day, because they were not willing to break in upon the honour they owed the sabbath, even in such distresses; for our law requires that we rest upon that day. [275] There were about a thousand, with their wives and children, who were smothered and died in these caves; but many of those that escaped joined themselves to Mattathias, and appointed him to be their ruler, [276] G   who taught them to fight, even on the sabbath day; and told them that unless they would do so, they would become their own enemies, by observing the law [so rigorously], while their adversaries would still assault them on this day, and they would not then defend themselves, and that nothing could then hinder but they must all perish without fighting. [277] This speech persuaded them. And this rule continues among us to this day, that if there be a necessity, we may fight on sabbath days. [278] G   So Mattathias got a great army about him, and overthrew their idol altars, and slew those that broke the laws, even all that he could get under his power; for many of them were dispersed among the nations round about them for fear of him. He also commanded that those boys which were not yet circumcised should be circumcised now; and he drove those away that were appointed to hinder such their circumcision.

[279] But when he had ruled one year, and was fallen into a distemper, he called for his sons, and set them round about him, and said, "O my sons, I am going the way of all the earth; and I recommend to you my resolution, and beseech you not to be negligent in keeping it, [280] G   but to be mindful of the desires of him who begat you, and brought you up, and to preserve the customs of your country, and to recover your ancient form of government, which is in danger of being overturned, and not to be carried away with those that, either by their own inclination, or out of necessity, betray it, [281] but to become such sons as are worthy of me; to be above all force and necessity, and so to dispose your souls, as to be ready, when it shall be necessary, to die for your laws; as sensible of this, by just reasoning, that if God see that you are so disposed he will not overlook you, but will have a great value for your virtue, and will restore to you again what you have lost, and will return to you that freedom in which you shall live quietly, and enjoy your own customs. [282] G   Your bodies are mortal, and subject to fate; but they receive a sort of immortality, by the remembrance of what actions they have done. And I would have you so in love with this immortality, that you may pursue after glory, and that, when you have undergone the greatest difficulties, you may not scruple, for such things, to lose your lives. [283] I exhort you, especially, to agree one with another; and in what excellency any one of you exceeds another, to yield to him so far, and by that means to reap the advantage of every one's own virtues. Do you then esteem Simon as your father, because he is a man of extraordinary prudence, and be governed by him in what counsels be gives you. [284] G   Take Maccabaeus for the general of your army, because of his courage and strength, for he will avenge your nation, and will bring vengeance on your enemies. Admit among you the righteous and religious, and augment their power."

[285] When Mattathias had thus discoursed to his sons, and had prayed to God to be their assistant, and to recover to the people their former constitution, he died a little afterward, and was buried at Modin; all the people making great lamentation for him. Whereupon his son Judas took upon him the administration of public affairs, in the hundred forty and sixth year; [286] G   and thus, by the ready assistance of his brethren, and of others, Judas cast their enemies out of the country, and put those of their own country to death who had transgressed its laws, and purified the land of all the pollutions that were in it.

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