Imatges de pÓgina

whole army, but one sword and one lance, and not one weapon of steel. . But David, their second king, made war with advantage. He took the city of Salem, afterwards so celebrated under the name of Jerusalem, and then the Jews began to make some figure on the borders of Syria. Their government and their religion took a more august form. Hitherto they had not the means of raising a temple, though every neighbouring nation had one or more. Solomon built a superb one, and reigned over this people about forty years.

Not only were the days of Solomon the most flourishing days of the Jews; but all the kings upon earth together could not exhibit a treasure approaching Solomon's. His father David, whose predecessor had not even iron, left to Solomon twenty-five thousand six hundred and forty-eight millions of French livres in ready money. His fleets, which went to Ophir, brought him sixty-eight millions per annum in pure gold, without reckoning the silver and jewels. He had forty thousand stables, and the same number of coachhouses, twelve thousand stables for his cavalry, seven hundred wives, and three hundred concubines. Yet he had neither wood nor workmen for building his palace and the temple: he borrowed them of Hiram king of Tyre, who also furnished gold; and Solomon gave Hiram twenty towns in payment. The commentators have acknowledged that these things need explanation, and have suspected some literal error in the copyers, who alone can have been mistaken.

On the death of Solomon, a division took place among the twelve tribes, composing the nation. The kingdom was torn asunder, and separated into two small provinces, one of which was called Judah, the other Israel,-nine tribes and a half composing the Israelitish_province, and only two and a half that of Judah. Then there was between these two small peoples a hatred, the more implacable as they were kinsmen and neighbours, and as they had different religions; for at Sichem and at Samaria they worshipped Baal'-giving to God a Sidonian name; while at Jerusalem they worshipped 'Adonaï.'




Sichem were consecrated two calves; at Jerusalem, two cherubim-which were two winged animals with double heads, placed in the sanctuary. So, each faction having its kings, its Gods, its worship, and its prophets, they made a bloody war upon each other.

While this war was carrying on, the kings of Assyria, who conquered the greater part of Asia, fell upon the Jews, as an eagle pounces upon two lizards while they are fighting. The nine and a half tribes of Samaria and Sichem were carried off and dispersed for ever; nor has it been precisely known to what places they were led into slavery.

It is but twenty leagues from the town of Samaria to Jerusalem, and their territories joined each other; so that when one of these towns was enslaved by powerful conquerors, the other could not long hold out. Jerusalem was sacked several times; it was tributary to kings Hazael and Razin, enslaved under Teglat-phael-asser, three times taken by Nebuchodonosor, or Nebuchodon-asser, and at last destroyed. Zedekias, who had been set up as king or governor by this conqueror, was led, with his whole people, into captivity in Babylonia; so that the only Jews left in Palestine were a few enslaved peasants, to sow the ground.

As for the little country of Samaria and Sichem, more fertile than that of Jerusalem, it was re-peopled by foreign colonies, sent there by Assyrian kings, who took the name of Samaritans.

The two and half tribes that were slaves in Babylonia and the neighbouring towns for seventy years, had time to adopt the usages of their masters, and enriched their own tongue by mixing with it the Chaldean: this is incontestable. The historian Josephus tells us, that he wrote first in Chaldean, which is the language of his country. that the Jews acappears quired but little of the science of the magi: they turned brokers, money-changers, and old-clothes men; by which they made themselves necessary, as they still do, and grew rich.


Their gains enabled them to obtain, under Cyrus,

the liberty of re-building Jerusalem; but when they were to return into their own country, those who had grown rich at Babylon, would not quit so fine a country for the mountains of Colesyria, nor the fruitful banks of the Euphrates and the Tigris, for the torrent of Cedron. Only the meanest part of the nation returned with Zorobabel. The Jews of Babylon contributed only their alms to the rebuilding of the city and the temple; nor was the collection a large one; for Esdras relates, that no more than seventy thousand crowns could be raised for the erection of this temple, which was to be that of all the earth.

The Jews still remained subject to the Persians; they were likewise subject to Alexander; and when that great man, the most excusable of all conquerors, had, in the early years of his victorious career, begun to raise Alexandria, and make it the centre of the commerce of the world, the Jews flocked thither to exercise their trade of brokers; and there it was that their rabbis at length learned something of the sciences of the Greeks. The Greek tongue became absolutely necessary to all trading Jews.

After Alexander's death, this people continued subject in Jerusalem to the kings of Syria, and in Alexandria to the kings of Egypt; and when these kings were at war, this people always shared the fate of their subjects, and belonged to the conqueror.

From the time of their captivity at Babylon, the Jews never had particular governors taking the title of king. The pontiffs had the internal administration, and these pontiffs were appointed by their masters: they sometimes paid very high for this dignity, as the Greek patriarch at Constantinople pays for his at present.

Under Antiochus Epiphanes they revolted: the city' was once more pillaged, and the walls demolished.

After a succession of similar disasters, they at length obtained, for the first time, about a hundred and fifty years before the christian era, permission to coin money, which permission was granted them by Antiochus Sidetes. They then had chiefs, who took the

name of kings, and even wore a diadem. Antigonus was the first who was decorated with this ornament, which, without the power, confers but little honour.

At that time the Romans were beginning to become formidable to the kings of Syria, masters of the Jews; and the latter gained over the Roman senate by presents and acts of submission. It seemed that the wars

in Asia Minor would, for a time at least, give some relief to this unfortunate people; but Jerusalem no sooner enjoyed some shadow of liberty than it was torn by civil wars, which rendered its condition under its phantoms of kings much more pitiable than it had ever been in so long and various a succession of bondages.

In their intestine troubles, they made the Romans their judges. Already most of the kingdoms of Asia Minor, Southern Africa, and three-fourths of Europe, acknowledged the Romans as their arbiters and mas


Pompey came into Syria to judge the nations and to depose several petty tyrants. Being deceived by Aristobulus, who disputed the royalty of Jerusalem, he revenged himself upon him and his party. He took the city; had some of the seditious, either priests or pharisees, crucified; and, not long after, condemned Aristobulus, king of the Jews, to execution.

The Jews, ever unfortunate, ever enslaved, and ever revolting, again brought upon them the Roman arms. Crassus and Cassius punished them; and Metellus Scipio had a son of king Aristobulus, named Alexander, the author of all the troubles, crucified.

Under the great Cæsar, they were entirely subject and peaceable. Herod, famed among them and among us, for a long time was merely tetrarch, but obtained from Antony the crown of Judea, for which he paid dearly; but Jerusalem would not recognise this new king, because he was descended from Esau, and not from Jacob, and was merely an Idumæan. The very circumstance of his being a foreigner caused him to be chosen by the Romans, the better to keep this people in check.

The Romans protected the king of their nomination with an army; and Jerusalem was again taken by assault, sacked and pillaged.

Herod, afterwards protected by Augustus, became one of the most powerful sovereigns among the petty kings of Arabia. He restored Jerusalem, repaired the fortifications that surrounded the temple, so dear to the Jews, and rebuilt the temple itself; but he could not finish it, for he wanted money and workmen. This proves that, after all, Herod was not rich; and the Jews, though fond of their temple, were still fonder of their money.

The name of king was nothing more than a favour granted by the Romans; it was not a title of succession. Soon after Herod's death, Judea was governed as a subordinate Roman province, by the proconsul of Syria, although from time to time the title of king was granted, sometimes to one Jew, sometimes to another, for a considerable sum of money, as under the emperor Claudius, when it was granted to the Jew Agrippa.

A daughter of Agrippa was that Berenice, celebrated for having been beloved by one of the best emperors Rome can boast. She it was who, by the injustice she experienced from her countrymen, drew down the vengeance of the Romans upon Jerusalem. She asked for justice, and the factions of the town refused it. The seditious spirit of the people impelled them to fresh excesses. Their character at all times was to be cruel; and their fate, to be punished.

This memorable siege, which ended in the destruction of the city, was carried on by Vespasian and Titus. The exaggerating Josephus pretends, that in this short war more than a million of Jews were slaughtered. It is not to be wondered at, that an author who puts fifteen thousand men in each village, should slay a million. What remained, were exposed in the public markets; and each Jew was sold at about the same price as the unclean animal of which they dare not eat.

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