READING HALL "THIRD MILLENNIUM LIBRARY"

 

 

ROME AND THE MEDITERRANEAN. 218-133 BC

CHAPTER XVI

SYRIA AND THE JEWS

I

SYRIA UNDER SELEUCUS IV

 

THE realm to which Seleucus IV Philopator succeeded, as a man of about thirty years old, in 187 bc was no longer the great empire over which his father had ruled before the war with Rome. But it covered the whole of Syria and Palestine, with Cilicia still attached to it on the west, Mesopotamia, Babylonia and the nearer regions of Iran on the east. A careful government, re-organizing this smaller dominion, might still make it a formidable power, when the effects of the disastrous war with Rome had been repaired. But for the moment the only sound policy was to abstain from expensive adventures, and so order the finances of the kingdom, that it might bear the crushing indemnity to be paid to Rome. So far as we can see, Seleucus IV dealt with the situation prudently. If the kingdom was to recover power and prestige, such an inglorious period of quiet and recuperation was the necessary first stage. With the resources still remaining to the house of Seleucus, it would not have been too late, even now, to build up a solid power, provided the government could go on without interruption in resolute hands. That proviso was not to be fulfilled. The rule of Seleucus IV himself was to be cut short by assassination. After that set-back able and active kings were still to come—Antiochus Epiphanes, Demetrius I, Antiochus VII Sidetes—but each new work of restoration was to be frustrated by new confusion, and after the untimely death of Antiochus VII there was no salvation for the kingdom any more. The recurring confusion was brought about by quarrels within the kingdom— within the royal house—fomented and sustained by outside powers, Egypt or Pergamum, while in the background stood the sinister figure of Rome, always supporting the elements of disruption.

The chief task of Seleucus IV, as has just been said, was to replenish the treasury of the kingdom against the drain of the Roman indemnity. It was with the passage of the ‘exactor’ that his subjects in recollection associated his reign (Daniel XI, 20). But he obviously also kept in careful touch with what was happening in the other states of the Hellenistic east, maintained friendly relations with the Achaean League, gave his daughter in marriage to Perseus of Macedonia (177 bc), and at one time, we are told, was even on the point of leading an army across the Taurus, to mix in the wars of Asia Minor, but wisely thought better of it. One significant action on his part was an innovation in the royal nomenclature. He called his son Demetrius. The practice of the dynasty hitherto would have made his eldest son bear the name Antiochus, and his second son that of Seleucus. According to the view taken in this chapter, Demetrius was the elder son of Seleucus IV; it was the younger son who was called Antiochus. The name Demetrius was one of the royal names in the house of Antigonus. It was indeed the name of a possible successor to the Macedonian throne when the son of Seleucus was born in 187/6 bc. Unquestionably the introduction of this name into the Seleucid dynasty was meant as a declaration that the house of Seleucus had Antigonid blood, and might, in the event of the issue of Philip V failing, claim a right to the Antigonid inheritance. Since Demetrius the son of Philip was killed in 181, and Philip’s elder son, Perseus, was begotten of a bourgeois mother, the name may have been given to the little Seleucid prince, instead of some other original name, when Philip was seen to have no fully qualified issue. In any case the child Demetrius had to be sent as a hostage to Rome, in place of the king’s brother Antiochus, who had gone as hostage for his father Antiochus III. Just so the Macedonian Demetrius, the Antigonid prince of bluest blood, had been sent to Rome as hostage for his father in 194. When the exchange took place we do not know; it is only certain that when Seleucus was killed in 175, the boy Demetrius was in Rome, and Antiochus, the boy’s uncle, was residing in Athens, where the office of hoplite general had been conferred upon him.

There was always the possibility of trouble with Egypt so long as Ptolemy Epiphanes lived, since a party at the Ptolemaic court was in favour of Egypt trying issues again with the Seleucids on the field of battle, for the recovery of Coele-Syria, whenever a favourable occasion offered. But when Ptolemy Epiphanes died at the age of 28 in 181—by poison, it was asserted—the government of Egypt passed into the hands of Seleucus’ sister, Cleopatra I, as queen-regent for her infant son, Ptolemy VI Philometor, and the party for maintaining peace with Syria came securely into power in Alexandria, for the rest of Seleucus’ reign.

Seleucus Philopator was assassinated in 175 b.c. by his chief minister Heliodorus. This man probably belonged to one of the great Graeco-Macedonian families of the Seleucid kingdom, since he was a syntrophos of the king’s, that is, had been one of the boys brought up at court with the royal children. That he had, as minis­ter, shown special interest in the economic prosperity of the kingdom may be indicated by the memorial of gratitude which a body of merchants belonging to the Syrian Laodicea (Latakieh) put up in his honour at Delos.

 

II

ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES

 

When Seleucus had been murdered, there were three princes of the royal house who might claim the diadem. There was the legitimate heir, the elder son of Seleucus, the boy Demetrius, detained as a hostage in Rome; there was the younger son, Antiochus, still a baby in Syria; and there was the late king’s brother, Antiochus, now probably about forty, living in Athens. The plan of Heliodorus was apparently to proclaim the baby Antiochus as king, and rule himself in the child’s name. That would give him the substance of power without such provocation to public sentiment as his formally assuming the diadem would have been. But as soon as the news of Seleucus’s death reached Athens, Antiochus, the child’s uncle, made ready to seize the inheritance. Without a force at his disposal, it might have been impossible for him to overthrow the usurper in power, had not at this moment the king of Pergamum come forward to conduct him to Syria with a Pergamene army. Eumenes II may have re­garded it as a clever move in his political game, when there was a danger of Rome becoming hostile to him, to put as his neighbour on the Seleucid throne a king upon whose goodwill he could count. Or it is possible that a hint may have come to Eumenes from Rome, since Antiochus, after his long residence in Rome as a hostage, had friends amongst the Roman aristocracy, and it may have been believed in Rome that Antiochus as king of Syria would be subservient to their desires. A broken inscription found at Pergamum (is believed to be the copy of a decree passed by the Athenian people, thanking Eumenes for having set their late general upon the throne of his fathers.

Evidently when Antiochus had once appeared in Syria with a Pergamene force the country soon rallied to him. Heliodorus probably had little support and disappeared. We are not told that Antiochus put him to death. In fact it has been conjectured, on the strength of a passage in Athenaeus, that Heliodorus’ latter years were spent in literary leisure in some Greek city, and that he gave his memoirs to the world. The more formidable opposition which Antiochus had to encounter was probably from those who held that the baby Antiochus, or the boy Demetrius, had a better title to the throne, and were disposed to look upon the uncle as a usurper. The Xvay in which he is spoken of in the book of Daniel—‘a contemptible person upon whom had not been conferred royal majesty,’ who ‘shall come in unawares and seize the kingship by guile’—is probably not due entirely to the abhorrence excited later on by Antiochus’ assault on the Jewish religion, but echoes things already said in Coele-Syria at the beginning of his reign. Possibly in this region the opposition to him was also combined with a movement for bringing back Ptolemaic rule. Our scrappy data indicate that it required a good deal of dexterity and intrigue on the part of Antiochus for him to establish his position in Syria, but that he did get the better of the opposing elements. According to the view taken in this chapter, he did not in the first instance displace his nephew, the baby Antiochus, but assumed by his side the position of king-regent, much as Antigonus Doson had done in Macedonia beside the infant Philip V. The coins which bear the legend ‘Of King Antiochus’ and show the portrait of a child, seemingly of not more than four or five years, whose resemblance to Seleucus is striking, may be regarded as coins issued in the first years of the new reign. Other coins with the same legend, but with the portrait of Antiochus the uncle, which seem to belong to the time between 175 and 170, may have been issued concurrently with the coins of the baby-king, or the coinage may at first have borne the head of the baby, and the uncle may later on have substituted his own. Cuneiform documents from the first year of Antiochus to the year 169 have in their dating ‘Antiochus and Antiochus kings’.

So many attempts have been made to describe the singular character of Antiochus IV from our documentary data that not much need be said here. Energy we can see and ability, possibly some peculiar charm of manner, but a bonhomie which often concealed a hostile design, a Bohemian curiosity to experience life in its diverse kinds, an unconventional familiarity which delighted in playing practical jokes upon solemn dignitaries, yet a ready interest in intellectual discussion, which made Antiochus an ardent adherent of the Stoic philosophy at the beginning of his reign, but a promising convert for the Epicurean philosopher Philonides of Laodicea, later on. Above all, the theatrical vein was strongly marked: Antiochus IV loved pageantry and the imposing external of things. It seemed to him capital fun to institute in Antioch an office closely copying the aedileship he had known in Rome, and himself play the part of aedile with all the proper accessories. How far his philhellenic passion was a serious appreciation of what was valuable in Greek culture, how far a delight in its beautiful out­side, we cannot know. We can believe that in the vehement following of his caprices, his intolerance of control, he was essentially a tyrant in spite of all his republican freedom of manners. It was his theatrical vein, no doubt, which made him find pleasure in being recognized as a god. His name on his coins in the later years of his reign has a title attached to it—an innovation in Seleucid coinage: he is described as Epiphanes or Theos Epiphanes ‘God Manifest’, a title which had been given in Egypt to his brother-in-law, Ptolemy V. Yet his policy of unifying the kingdom by promoting a common Hellenistic culture was not without a sane purpose. One may only observe here how a new develop­ment of civic life in the cities of the kingdom is shown by the bronze coinage which many of them now begin to issue with the head of the king, and the assumption of a new name, Antioch, or Seleuceia or Epiphaneia.

 

III

THE JEWISH FACTIONS

 

When Coele-Syria passed in 200 bc from the Ptolemies to the Seleucids), the little Jewish state on the hills of Judaea acquired, by its geographical position, new importance. It was now close to the frontier between the two realms, just above the coast-road, the main line of communication between Syria and Egypt. For the Seleucid king it was thus both an important point in his defences and also a weak point, should the Jews be drawn, by old memories or by intrigues directed from Egypt, to side with Ptolemy.

To the reign of Seleucus Philopator belongs the first incident we hear of in the conflict between the Jews and the Seleucid government, and Heliodorus plays a principal part in it. It was connected with the financial exigencies of the government which marked this reign. Heliodorus visited Jerusalem in person, and made an attempt to enter the Holy of Holies and confiscate some of the treasure stored in the Temple. The attempt was frustrated. Our only account of the incident comes from the Second Book of Maccabees, which declares that Heliodorus was met in the Temple by angels who scourged him severely and drove him out. It is easy to rationalize the story, if it is worth while doing so. Indeed the rationalization began at the time, since the opponents of the High Priest told the government that it was a fraud got up by him, to defeat the government demand.

If the religious and nationalist revolt in Judaea was provoked by the interference of the Seleucid government, that interference was itself brought about by happenings in the Jewish high-priestly state which we can only imperfectly trace. Various kinds of quarrel had been going on there. The High Priest was Honya III, called by the Greeks Onias. ‘A certain Simon’, II Maccabees tells us, ‘of the tribe of Benjamin, who held the office of prostates of the Temple, quarrelled with the High Priest about the control of the city’s market’. What functions belonged to the prostates of the Temple nobody knows, though scholars conjecture with probability that he had something to do with the Temple treasury. In these quarrels one of the most powerful families in the Jewish community was involved, the house of Tobiah. We hear of a Tobiah at Jerusalem in the fifth century. Nehemiah calls him an ‘Ammonite’, yet he is allied with Eliashib the High Priest and has a chamber reserved for his use in the Temple. In the third and second centuries members of the family are found holding the position of chieftains in the Ammonite country, and one may conjecture that the family already had possessions there in the days of Nehemiah, and that it was this which caused Nehemiah to fix the opprobrious description of ‘Ammonite’ upon his adversary. Evidently Tobiah was regarded by the Jerusalem aristocracy of the time as an eminent member of the Jewish community, and the name is a distinctly Jewish one (‘Yahve is good’). It is of course possible that Tobiah had a mixture of Ammonite blood, or was of proselyte origin.

The Zeno papyri have revealed to us a ‘Tubias’ ruling in the Ammonite country under Ptolemy II a hundred years before the time with which we are now concerned. Galleries and chambers hewn out of the rock are still to be seen in Transjordania, over one of which the name ‘Tobiah’ is inscribed in Hebrew characters. They show us a stronghold of chiefs of the house of Tobiah in Hellenistic times: it may be the place indicated in one of the papyri by the name ‘Birta of the Ammanitis’ (birta is the Aramaic for ‘fortress’); or it may be the strong­hold which Josephus calls a baris, another way apparently of graecizing the same Aramaic word. In the latter part of the third century one of the Tobiad family, called Joseph, had amassed great riches as a farmer of taxes for the Ptolemaic government in Palestine. In the days of Seleucus IV the family was itself divided by quarrels; a younger member of it, ambitious and violent, called Hyrcanus, was at daggers drawn with his brothers. Josephus tells us that the ‘sons of Tobias’ were partisans of Menelaus (the brother of Simon the prostates) and in Wars, 1, 31, he attributes to them the action which the Antiquities and II Maccabees ascribe to Menelaus. This has led some scholars to believe that Simon and Menelaus were themselves of the Tobiad house, though our text is rather against the supposition.

The father of Onias, the preceding High Priest Simon II, is said by Josephus to have sided with the elder sons of Joseph the Tobiad against Hyrcanus. Hyrcanus withdrew into the Ammonite country and established a power there by raiding the Arabs. He built the cave-fortress which Josephus, as we have seen, calls a baris. One would conjecture that he copied, or enlarged, the fortress of his ancestor Tobiah in this region. Yet he deposited large sums of money in the Temple at Jerusalem for safe-keeping, and Onias is found earnestly protecting this deposit from spoliation. The High Priest would therefore seem to be now favourable to Hyrcanus and against the bulk of the Tobiad family. According to Josephus, Onias ‘drove the sons of Tobiah out of the city’. It was Simon the prostates, according to II Maccabees, who instigated the Seleucid government, through his suggestions to Apollonius, the governor of Coele-Syria, to lay hands on the Temple treasure, and brought about the visit of Heliodorus.

At Jerusalem the intervention of the Seleucid government, after Antiochus Epiphanes had occupied the throne, was again brought about by the contentions which divided the Jewish people. Personal strife between the leaders was now complicated by a religious struggle between those who wished to introduce Hellenistic culture and those who stood by traditional custom and law. The initiative in the attempt to hellenize Jerusalem was not taken by Antiochus; it was taken by a certain section of the Jews themselves, and the interference of Antiochus was directed to carry through a process already begun. Probably there was yet a third kind of quarrel, that between the partisans of the Seleucid king and the partisans of Ptolemy. There were still those who regretted the former rule and took their cue from Egypt. How all these different quarrels worked in together, we cannot precisely say; it looks as if those faithful to the old religion tended to be drawn into the pro-Egyptian and anti-Tobiad camp, and regarded the High Priest Onias as their leader.

After the death of Seleucus IV we hear no more of Simon the prostates. Onias now has another antagonist—his own brother, Jason, whose Greek name probably represented the Hebrew name Yeshua (Jesus). Jason had gone over to the hellenizing camp, and is soon found associated with Menelaus the brother of Simon. By the promise of a larger tribute he induced the Seleucid government to establish him as High Priest in the place of his brother. No doubt Antiochus would be delighted to further the desire of the Jewish Hellenizers. Jerusalem under Jason was converted into a Greek city. Its citizens ‘were registered as Antiochenes’, which probably does not mean that they were given the citizenship of Antioch the capital, but that Jerusalem itself became another of the many Antiochs. The chief horror to the faithful was the institution of the gymnasium, essential to every Greek city, where the young men, even priests, exercised naked and formed bodies of epheboi who wore Greek hats. No doubt, in order to judge the attitude of the faithful fairly, it has to be remembered that when a tradition, like that of the Jewish people, combines elements of great spiritual and moral value with indurated conventions and taboos, it is not easy for contemporaries to distinguish clearly the valuable elements from the merely conventional ones. The tradition presents itself as a single structure, and if its authority is repudiated in regard to the conventional parts there is a real danger of the valuable parts also being weakened. It is noteworthy that in the modern East, orthodox Mohammedans have till recently attached great importance to the traditional headdress being worn, and European hats have been regarded with abhorrence. The Turkey of today, like the Jewish Hellenizers of 175 bc, has thrown over all those parts of the Islamic tradition which seem useless conventions, discarding the fez: it remains to be seen how far the rest of the Islamic tradition will continue unimpaired. That heathen worships were admitted into Jerusalem, even under Jason, seems improbable; but a sacred embassy of Jews was sent to take part in the pentaeteric festival of Herakles (Melkart) at Tyre.

Antiochus IV had his anxieties soon directed to his southern frontier. Before 172 his sister Cleopatra I, the queen-regent of Egypt, died and the power was seized by two creatures of the palace, Eulaeus and Lenaeus, both of barbarian and servile antecedents. Cleopatra’s pacific policy was abandoned, and the war­party at Alexandria gained the ascendant, the party which wanted to fight to get back Coele-Syria. Antiochus’ envoy, Apollonius, sent to Alexandria to represent him at the enthronement ceremony of the young king Ptolemy VI Philometor, who was now fourteen or fifteen, brought back a report of the designs of the Egyptian court so disquieting that Antiochus moved south with a force as far as Joppa to encounter a possible invasion. From Joppa he paid a visit to Jerusalem and was welcomed by the High Priest Jason with torchlight processions. It did not yet come to actual war between Syria and Egypt, and Antiochus returned north.

At Jerusalem a new rift occurred—personal rivalry within the dominant Hellenistic party. Menelaus, the brother of Simon the prostates intrigued at court and got himself made High Priest by royal decree instead of Jason (170/169 bc). Jason took refuge in the Ammonite country, where Hyrcanus the Tobiad no longer ruled. Soon after the accession of Antiochus IV, Hyrcanus had felt his position desperate—the new government would not tolerate an independent aggressive power in Transjordania—and had committed suicide. Menelaus, according to II Maccabees, did not even belong to the tribe of Levi; he was, as we have seen, a Benjamite. His tenure of the High Priesthood was a flagrant violation of the Law. A Greek officer of the king’s was installed, probably with a small force, in the citadel of Jerusalem to the north of the Temple.

In the winter of 170—69 Antiochus was in Cilicia, where trouble had occurred because the cities of Tarsus and Mallus resented being assigned as an appanage to the king’s concubine Antiochis. In his absence the government of Syria was in the hands of a certain Andronicus, who had also, no doubt, charge of the boy-king Antiochus, son of Seleucus IV. Andronicus now, apparently, put him out of the way. The crime excited great popular indignation in Antioch, and the uncle on his return declared that he had had no part in it. He put Andronicus to death. Whether Antiochus IV was really innocent we shall never know. It seems certain that Andronicus would not have committed the crime unless he had believed that he was doing Antiochus a service which would be counted in his favour.

In the account given by II Maccabees of the execution of Andronicus, after Antiochus’ return from Cilicia, not a word is said of the infant king. The crime of Andronicus, for which the people rise in indignation and Antiochus sheds tears of pity, is the murder of the High Priest Onias III. There is no reason to doubt that Andronicus did cause Onias to be assassinated about the same time that he murdered the infant king; but the Jewish writer, it is now commonly recognized, attaches to the murder of Onias the sentiments, or show of sentiments, which were really called forth in the people and in Antiochus IV by the murder of the royal child.

The old High Priest had resided in Antioch, probably since he had been supplanted by Jason. There was evidently a risk of his being assassinated in Antioch by Jews of the opposite faction, since he had taken sanctuary in the precinct of Apollo at Daphne. When Menelaus came to Antioch in the winter of 170/69, during the absence of the king in Cilicia, in order to explain why the excessive tribute he had promised was in arrears, he contrived to persuade Andronicus that Onias should be put out of the way. The High Priest was induced to come out of sanctuary, and was instantly killed. To the faithful he was the true Anointed of the Lord, the ‘Messiah’ who had been cut off (. The business of the tribute from Jerusalem made trouble. Menelaus in outbidding Jason had promised more than he could raise without despoiling the Temple. While he was away in Antioch, his brother Lysimachus, whom he had left in command, laid hands on some of the Temple’s golden furniture. This provoked rioting in which Lysimachus was killed. The court was disposed to hold Menelaus responsible for the disorder, and the insurgent people sent envoys to accuse Menelaus before the king, when the king was at Tyre. But Menelaus succeeded in bribing a courtier, Ptolemy, son of Dorymenes, who had the king’s ear. Menelaus was re-established in power by the royal arm.


IV.

THE EGYPTIAN WAR AND THE MACCABAEAN REVOLT

 

In the summer of 169 it really did come to war between Syria and Egypt. Under the hare-brained direction of Eulaeus and Lenaeus an army was mustered to invade Palestine. Then Antiochus, who had intelligence of what was afoot, struck first. He had already sent his minister of finance, the unsavoury Heracleides, to convince the Senate, by argument or bribery, that Egypt was the aggressor, as indeed it was. Heracleides must have appeared in Rome in the early summer of 169; Rome for the moment had its hands full with the Macedonian War; for Antiochus there was scope for independent military action against Egypt. He met the Egyptian invading army before they had traversed the desert which separates Egypt from Syria, and drove it back in headlong rout. Then Antiochus invaded Egypt. The great marshals of Alexander, Perdiccas and Antigonus, had failed in the attempt to get through the frontier defences of Egypt; Antiochus the Great had been defeated by Ptolemy Philopator on the Syrian edge of the desert; no army-leader had invaded Egypt from Syria since Alexander had done so, 163 years before. Antiochus possessed himself of the frontier fortress, Pelusium, by some ruse which Polybius considered discreditable. Then he moved up the Nile to Memphis, the natural road for an invader. The Alexandrian court was panic-stricken, and the young Ptolemy tried to escape by sea. Antiochus had the good luck to capture him. The Alexandrian people showed some spirit in this crisis. They put the king’s younger brother, to be known 24 years later as Ptolemy Euergetes II, upon the throne and gave him ministers more efficient than the ex-slaves of the late regime. This afforded Antiochus the opportunity of posing as the champion of the legitimate king, whom he held in his hands at Memphis. Jerome, following Porphyry, tells us that Antiochus had himself crowned as a Pharaoh by traditional Egyptian rites at Memphis. This would have been inconsistent with his professed support of the rights of Ptolemy Philometor. It would also have been a dangerous provocation of Rome, which would hardly consent to see Egypt and Syria united under a Seleucid. Yet with a man of the character of Antiochus the temptation to have the ancient and mysterious ritual of a Pharaonic coronation performed upon him, while he was in Memphis as a conqueror, may have been too strong for considerations of consistency or fear of Rome to deter him.

From Memphis Antiochus moved down upon Alexandria, and the city manned its defences. Ambassadors from Athens, the Achaean League, and various other Greek states, who happened to be in Alexandria at the time, met Antiochus near Sai’s and en­deavoured to mediate. Soon the Syrian army cut off Alexandria from Egypt, but its communications by sea remained open. An embassy came from Rhodes, to make a fresh attempt at mediation. In view of the danger to all Hellenic and Hellenistic states from Rome, it was felt desirable that the quarrel between Syria and Egypt should be brought to an end. Antiochus professed himself ready to make peace, so soon as the Alexandrians would re­admit the lawful king of Egypt, Ptolemy Philometor. He did not continue to press the siege of Alexandria. Towards the end of 169 he withdrew from Egypt, leaving Ptolemy Philometor king in Memphis and the younger Ptolemy king in Alexandria. The withdrawal, when he seemed to have made himself master of Egypt and when Alexandria was feeling the distress of the siege, is strange. But he certainly hoped that Egypt would remain paralysed by the rivalry of the two brother kings. He kept a garrison in Pelusium.

At Jerusalem, during the time when Antiochus was in Egypt, fresh troubles had occurred. A false rumour ran through Palestine that Antiochus was dead. Immediately Jason returned from Transjordania with a band, broke into Jerusalem and began putting the adherents of Menelaus to the sword. No doubt he had a good proportion of the people on his side, yet Menelaus, helped perhaps by the government troops in the citadel overlooking the Temple, succeeded ultimately in repelling the raid. To Antiochus it naturally meant that the people of Jerusalem, a vital point in his frontier defences, was on the side of Ptolemy. On his return from Egypt, in the latter part of 169, he turned aside to beat down the disaffected people under the High Priest of his appointment. Some blood flowed in the streets, but the outrage which most cut the faithful to the heart was that Antiochus entered into the Holy of Holies, and carried off a quantity of gold and silver vessels from the Temple. No angels appeared to protect the House of the Lord.

In the following winter the plans of Antiochus met with a reverse. The two brothers in Egypt agreed to unite against their uncle. Philometor returned to Alexandria, and it was settled that they should rule Egypt together as joint-kings. This inevitably brought back Antiochus and a Syrian army into Egypt in the spring of 168. The Ptolemaic kingdom was in no condition to offer an effectual resistance. Ptolemy Macron, the governor of Cyprus, went over to Antiochus and admitted his forces into the island. Envoys from the brother kings had in vain tried to come to an agreement with Antiochus before he crossed the frontier. He had demanded the formal cession of Pelusium and Cyprus to the house of Seleucus. Once more his army marched from the frontier to Memphis; once more from Memphis down upon Alexandria. Then came the celebrated scene when in Eleusis, a suburb of Alexandria, Antiochus was met by Popillius Laenas, the representative of Rome. The conquest of Macedonia had at last set Rome’s hands free. Antiochus had to evacuate com­pletely both Egypt and Cyprus. The ‘ships of Kittim had come against him, and he was grieved and returned’.

If Antiochus must see Egypt once more an independent power, it was the more urgent that the south of Palestine should be solidly organized as a Seleucid province. It was in 167 that he took the momentous step of trying to suppress the religious peculiarities of the Jews and recast their forms of worship after the Greek type. It probably seemed to him that, if the party amongst the Jews most stubbornly devoted to the Jewish religious eccentricities was also the party which had leanings to the house of Ptolemy, then, surely, to carry the process of hellenization right through would be to establish in control at Jerusalem those loyal to Seleucid rule. Of course he had no conception what the significance of the Hebrew religion really was: he did not know what he was about.

The policy of Antiochus to unify his kingdom on the basis of a common Hellenic culture clashed at Jerusalem with another tradition unlike any other in the world. Already since the days of Jason, Jerusalem had been called Antioch and had adopted many of the characteristics of a Greek town. But the old religious rites had been continued in the Temple, and no other god set up there beside Yahweh. The hellenization up to this point had been carried out voluntarily by a part of the Jewish people: the extension of the process which displaced Yahweh for Zeus Olympios and Dionysus was forced upon the Jews by Antiochus. The first move was that Apollonius, commander of the Mysian mercenaries, appeared with a force before the city, but concealed his hostile intentions till he got a footing within, when he chose the occasion of a Sabbath-day to set his troops upon the multitude. Many of the population were sent off into slavery. A new fortress was constructed to hold Jerusalem in check. The site chosen was that of the old ‘city of David’ to the south of the Temple hill, in those days still high ground separated from the Temple hill by a depression, though later changes have left no elevation here discernible today. Elaborate fortifications were built and a considerable force of Gentile soldiers established as a permanent garrison. It is this fortress which our Greek texts call the akra.

Then the hellenization of the public religion was carried through by force. Yahweh was perhaps identified with Dionysus; in any case it was to Zeus Olympios that the Temple was re­dedicated. Similar measures were taken in regard to the Samaritans; the temple of Yahweh on Mount Gerizim was also declared a temple of Zeus Xenios or Zeus Hellenios. The Jewish books represent the Samaritans as gladly falling in with the king’s policy, and Josephus gives what purports to be a petition from the Samaritans to Antiochus, themselves asking for the conversion of their temple. This may, as has been supposed, be a Jewish forgery, but one would imagine a hellenizing party to have existed amongst the Samaritans, as amongst the Jews. If there was also a body of faithful amongst the Samaritans, our Jewish sources do not allow us to hear anything of it. At Jerusalem an image of Zeus Olympios was set up in the Temple, which, there is reason to conjecture, may have displayed the features of Antiochus himself, disguised with a beard. It was explained to the Jews in their own tongue that this was Baal Shamin, ‘the Lord of Heaven’. The king’s ordinance made it penal to carry out the Law, to circumcise children, to possess the books of the Law, or to refuse to eat pig’s flesh. On December 21th, 167 bc. the pagan festival of‘lights’ which celebrated the rebirth of the sun, a Greek altar was erected upon the old altar in the Temple court (perhaps the ‘abomination of desolation’). The ‘sacrifice and oblation,’ which had daily maintained the connection between Yahweh and his people, ceased.

We have therefore now what we have not had hitherto, a definitely religious persecution. In the first phase of the persecution, the faithful endured martyrdom. If the government forces attacked them on the Sabbath-day, they would offer no resistance. The story of the Seven Brethren martyred for their fidelity became later on the model for the martyrologies of the Christian Church. The second phase began when a number of the faithful banded themselves together for a counter-attack and resolved that they would fight in self-defence even on the Sabbath. That phase was initiated by a priest, Mattathiah, of the house of Hashmon, whose family possessions were in the little town of Modiin.

Mattathiah had cut down a renegade Jew who was about to offer sacrifice before the king’s officer in Modin and had slain the officer himself. After that he had fled with his five sons into the wilderness, where they formed the nucleus of a band which eluded capture, made descents upon the country towns and villages and killed hellenizing Jews. The little band grew continually as the ‘godly’ (the Chasidim) gathered to them. Mattathiah himself died soon after this new phase began (166/5 bc); but his sons, the five brethren of the house of Hashmon (the Hasmonaean family, as it is commonly called), continued to lead the nationalist bands. The third brother, Judah (Judas), was the best soldier and had the military command. His surname Maccabaeus is generally explained as meaning ‘hammer’ (makkabah), but there are linguistic difficulties about this supposition. It has recently been suggested that the name was an allusion to Isaiah LXII, 2, and meant ‘the naming of the Lord.’

Encounters between the nationalist bands and local forces of the Seleucid government in Palestine went successfully for the nationalists. They are reflected in the battles fought by Judas against Apollonius and against Seron. No doubt the history of the Jewish war of independence shows that whenever the strength of the Seleucid realm was seriously put forth against the Jewish bands these were worsted in the encounter. We must not indeed conceive the Jews of those days as like the Jews of Medieval Europe, an unwarlike people given to sedentary pursuits and the handling of money. It was the policy of the Christian Roman Empire which barred to the Jews the profession of arms, and produced the type commonly regarded in later times as Jewish. The Jews of Palestine in the second century bc were not distinguished by any marked aptitude for trade and finance. Even at the end of the first century a.d. Josephus could write, ‘We are not a commercial people’. In Palestine the main occupation of the Jewish people was agriculture and stock-breeding. Jews were also in demand as good soldiers; we hear of a Jewish garrison in Upper Egypt in the fifth century bc: the Ptolemies settled Jewish military allotment-holders in different parts of the country; Antiochus III had done the same in Asia Minor. Ptolemy Philometor and Cleopatra III, later on, had armies commanded by Jewish generals. To picture the bands of Judas Maccabaeus we should not think of the Jews of medieval and modern times, but of people more like the fierce monotheistic ghazis of the Indian frontier—Afghans and Pathans. Against such desperate fighters, filled with the flame of a religious enthusiasm, it may well be that the government troops, recruited amongst the hellenized Syrians or half-blood Macedonians of the Seleucid realm, were often broken, even when they had a marked superiority of numbers. Yet the government’s command of numbers and equipment was such that the Jewish bands could not stand against the king’s forces when a really large army was put in the field. ‘With heaven it is all one, to save by many or by few,’ Judas is represented as saying to his followers. Yet, if one had to take victory in battle as the index of Divine favour, one would have to say that in Palestine, in the second century bc, as so often elsewhere, heaven was on the side of the large and well-equipped battalions.

 

V.

THE BOOK OF DANIEL

 

It was probably in 166 bc, when the godly still had to see their religion suppressed by the heathen power, when they were still helpless to rid the Temple of the abominations which polluted it, when the days of darkness and tribulation still continued, even though certain zealots among the people had taken the sword in hand and here and there driven back the persecuting power, that the Book of Daniel was given forth. Copies of it began to pass from hand to hand among the godly. It was the work, they believed, of a prophet who had lived in Babylonia some 370 years before. How was it that no one had heard of the writing till now? The writing itself gave the answer: it had been concealed by Divine command till the critical moment when its message was needed. The earlier part of the book, consisting of a series of stories which showed Daniel and his companions faithful to their religion in the face of the power of heathen kings, had perhaps been in circulation earlier; the stories, at any rate, may have been popular stories before the days of Antiochus; but the latter part, consisting of visions in which the course of the world during recent centuries, so far as it affected Israel, was set forth either in symbolical imagery or in the oracular utterance of angel interpreters, is fixed by its contents to the short period between the beginning of the religious persecution and the recovery of the Temple.

It portrayed the Greek rule as the fourth heathen rule to which the people of God had been subjected since the Babylonian captivity. For some traditional reason, probably, the scheme had to make four kingdoms. Since, as a matter of fact, there had been three only—Babylonian, Persian, Graeco-Macedonian— the Persian had to be divided into two, a Median and a Persian proper, though in chapter VIII the writer shows that he is aware of their practical identity by making both Media and Persia typified by a single emblematic animal, the two-horned ram. The Greek kingdom in its power of crushing and destroying is the most terrible of all, as we can well understand it was from the standpoint of the godly, who saw Hellenism dissolve the old national traditions in a way neither Babylon nor Persia had done. And in the Greek Kingdom, evil had been ultimately concentrated in the Satanic figure of Antiochus Epiphanes, the ‘little horn,’ who in his claim to deity had exalted himself against the God of gods, had caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease, and had set up in the Temple an image of Baal Shamin, whose name the writer represents by a phrase which for ‘Baal ’ substitutes ‘Abomination’ and, for Shamin, Shomem ‘Desolation.’

But the book is one of consolation in so far as it tells the godly that all that has happened falls within a divine scheme, pre-ordained long ago, a scheme which makes the deliverance near at hand. The tribulation is to last only three years and a half, ‘a time, times, and a dividing of time.’ In the eleventh chapter a survey is given of recent history, so far as it concerned the Jews, from the days of Alexander to the present moment. The utterance is oracular in that no names are given: the Seleucid kings are indicated by the term ‘king of the north’ and the Ptolemies by the term ‘king of the south’, but the events are described with sufficient particu­larity to be easily recognizable. Up to the point when the ‘king of the north’ institutes the worship of a strange god and sets a garrison of heathen in the akra, the account follows actual history; then it carries on the story, as the writer imagined that the sequel would be, a forecast which the real course of events did not follow, except in this, that the religious tribulation came to an end in the near future, and the old worship in the temple was restored. Ptolemy, the writer anticipates, will begin a new war of revenge and Antiochus will once more come south with an immense force, military and naval. The Seleucid armies will sweep across Southern Palestine, across Judaea, though the Edomites and people of Transjordania will escape complete destruction. Once more Antiochus will overrun Egypt and possess himself of vast booty. ‘ But tidings from the East and North will trouble him’—the Parthian peril. He will return to Palestine to meet the new enemy, slaughtering as he goes. ‘And he shall plant the tents of his pavilion between the sea and the Holy Mount of Delight,’ and there, somewhere in the Philistine plain, north of Gaza,‘ he shall come at last to his end, and none to help him.’ His end will be a supernatural act of God: ‘without hand,’ the writer had said earlier in the book, ‘shall he be broken.’

The book seems to have been written when the first successes of the Hasmonaean brethren had brought encouragement. The faithful indeed are still falling ‘by sword and by flame, by captivity and by despoilment,’ but Daniel is represented as predicting that ‘they shall be helped with a little help; and many shall join themselves to them in guile’. The last phrase perhaps refers to those who under terror of chastisement by the Hasmonaean bands insincerely professed adherence to the godly.

The book of Daniel is perhaps the earliest document of that extensive ‘apocalyptic’ literature which continued to be produced throughout the next three centuries by Jews and, at the end of that time, by Christians. The Jewish apocalypses are all pseudonymous: they profess to be the work of some prophet in the remote past, which had been concealed till the actual moment. They differ from the older Hebrew prophecy in giving a formal scheme of world-history: a succession of epochs are distinguished in the fight between good and evil up to the final triumph of good and the coming of the kingdom of God. It is likely that we may see here the influence of Persian Zoroastrianism. The chief importance of this literature in the development of Hebraic religion is that it spread amongst the Jews a new belief in a life after death for the individual—whether that life was held to be a spiritual discarnate existence or a resurrection of the body or a combination of both— and in a Divine cosmic event as the consummation of human history. Rabbinic Judaism, which paid little regard to the apocalyptic literature, retained from that literature a firm belief in personal immortality and in a ‘world to come,’ while the Christian attitude to the world is essentially marked by hope. We can hardly doubt that it was the martyrdoms of the faithful under the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes which first made the belief in a future life vivid and important amongst the Jews. In Daniel, whilst there is as yet no announcement of a general resurrection, the belief is expressed that the martyrs who have not received their reward here, and the sinners who have not been duly punished, will be raised again at the last day, for joy or pain. ‘Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and to everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever’. In no earlier writing of the Hebrew scriptures had the belief in a future life been quite so clearly uttered.

 

VI.

ANTIOCHUS IN THE EAST.

THE HASMONAEANS

 

Antiochus Epiphanes in the spring of 165 had not moved any considerable forces against the Jewish bands. He was preparing to use his military strength in another direction. Since his father had recovered the Eastern provinces forty years before, the Parthian power had grown to menacing proportions. Probably Persia too had already broken away from the Seleucid realm under native rulers. Parthia was ruled at this time by the sixth Arsaces, Mithridates I (171 to 138 bc). He had conquered the northern region of Media about Rhagae, though Southern Media with the royal city, Ecbatana, was still held by the Milesian Timarchus as governor for the Seleucid king. We do not hear of any immediate danger of a Parthian attack: Mithridates was busy rather in the East, conquering at the expense of the Greek rulers of Bactria. But it was obvious that the rise of such a power in Iran made it a vital necessity for the Seleucid house to strengthen its position in the frontier provinces of the East. In the spring of 165, accordingly, Antiochus set forth with the main force of his kingdom for the countries beyond the Euphrates and Tigris. He left Judaea in an uneasy condition. Jerusalem itself no doubt seemed secure, and Menelaus probably continued to act as High Priest in the hellenized Temple. But the rebel bands, led by the Hasmonaean brethren, were at large, and adherents of the government in out­lying places were liable to be suddenly overrun by wild fighters, charged with religious passion, bursting upon them out of the wilderness.

It is probable that to Antiochus the Jewish trouble seemed a small enough affair compared with the huge Parthian menace in the East. Some modern scholars speak sarcastically of the Jewish books which represent the events in Judaea as the things of central importance in the world and pretend that Antiochus’ chief preoccupation was the ill-success of the local government forces in dealing with Jewish bands. No doubt, from the point of view of Antiochus, the Jewish books greatly exaggerate the importance of events in Judaea, just as from the point of view of the Persian King, we may believe, the Greek books greatly exaggerated the importance of the battle of Marathon. In regard to the influence destined to be exerted upon the subsequent history of mankind, the Greek books and the Jewish books were right. Of all that was happening in the kingdom of Antiochus, the events in Judaea were by far the most important in their consequence for the mind of man in ages to come.

Antiochus left his infant son, Antiochus, in Syria, when he departed for the East. A certain Lysias, who had the rank of Kinsman, was to act for the king in Syria during his absence and no doubt have charge of the little prince. Of Antiochus IV’s campaigns in the East we have only fragmentary knowledge. His first advance apparently was into Armenia, which under his father had been governed by Artaxias (a man probably of Persian race) as satrap for the Seleucid king. After Magnesia Artaxias had declared himself independent. Before the Seleucid power Artaxias now once more bowed, and was left, on his submission, to go on governing Armenia. It is conjectured that the giving of the name Epiphaneia to Ecbatana indicates the tem­porary presence of Antiochus in the Median capital. We hear of him in Babylonia, where an older Greek city, one of the Alexandrias, was restored as another Antioch. It is now perhaps that the satrap Numenius, who governed Mesene (Basra) for the Seleucid, fought a battle with the Persians. Then we hear of him in Elymais, the hill-country of Khuzistan, where his father had come to grief in an attempt to despoil some native shrine. Antiochus Epiphanes likewise made an attempt to rob a temple of Nanaia in this region. He was repelled by the natives, but, unlike his father, escaped with his life. It was after this that he developed some illness which seems to have affected his mind. Polybius mentions a story that, as a punishment for the outrage he had done the goddess, he became supernaturally deranged. At Gabae in Media (Ispahan) he died in the midst of his plans, in the spring or summer of 163 bc. Before his death, he had, according to I Maccabees, appointed a man of his entourage, Philip, to be regent during the minority of Antiochus V. If this is true, he must have become dissatisfied with Lysias and intended to replace him.

Whilst Antiochus had been in the East, Lysias had attempted, amongst other things, to suppress the Jewish bands. In the summer of 165 (?) a more substantial army, commanded by Nicanor and Gorgias, under the orders of the governor of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, who was now Ptolemy son of Dorymenes, came down the Philistine coast, in order to enter Judaea from the west. While, however, a detachment under Gorgias made its way up through the hills, Judas Maccabaeus fell upon its camp at Emmaus and put both sections of the government army to flight. Evidently the Jewish bands, under a guerilla leader like Judas, were a more formidable enemy than the court of Antioch had supposed. In the following year (summer, 164) Lysias himself came south with a force in order to ascertain what the situation required. He moved round to the south of Jerusalem, to Bethsur, whence the approach to the city was more open and easy, and was soon satisfied that a larger army was necessary to clear Judaea of the bands. His expedition had been probably more a recon­naissance than a regular attack, but its arrest at Bethsur was represented in the national memory as another great victory, ‘Lysias himself escaped by shameful flight’.

The result of the reconnaissance was a signal change of policy on the part of the court. It seemed possible that the tiresome labour of annihilating the bands, which the Seleucid king no doubt could do when he put forth his full power, might be saved, if the court agreed to a compromise: Menelaus to continue High Priest, but the faithful to be admitted to live in Jerusalem, side by side with the Hellenizers, and the Temple to be restored to the worship of Yahweh according to the traditional Law: no more religious persecution. Accordingly the Hasmonaean brethren with their bands were allowed to re-enter the city. The emblems of pagan worship were cleared out of the Temple; it was purified from the defilement; a new stone altar was built on the place of the pagan one. On December 25, 164 bc, the house of Yahweh was dedicated anew—the same day of the year on which the pagan worship had been instituted three years before. The date, as has been said, was that of the pagan festival celebrating the moment when the daylight begins again to increase; and the Jews have continued from that time to this day to observe it as a festival, but with a new memorial meaning—the ‘Feast of the Dedication of the House,’ ‘Chanukkath hab-bayyith,’ ‘Encaenia’. Yet the Greek-speaking Jews also kept up the old name for it, the ‘feast of lights’ and made an evening illumina­tion by lamps part of its celebration, which originally had typified the increase of daylight after the shortest day.

The prediction of Daniel that the tribulation would last three years and a half was thus singularly verified. The godly had now secured in Jerusalem what they had been fighting for—toleration of their religion. The compromise required that they should on their side give toleration to the Hellenizers in Jerusalem. That they would not do. Besides, they had not yet secured toleration for the scattered colonies of their brethren in the Gentile towns of Idumaea and Transjordania, who were exposed to the hostility of the heathen populations. The Hasmonaean bands were therefore still active in 163, but their task was now to storm the towns in which isolated bodies of Jews were persecuted, massacre the heathen population, and bring the rescued companies of Jews back in triumph to Jerusalem. Psalm 68 is perhaps the song composed for such a triumphal return of Judas from Transjordania: ‘Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led thy train of captives....The Lord said “I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring them again from the deep of the sea, that thou mayest dip thy foot in blood, that the tongue of thy dogs may be red through the same.”

In Jerusalem there was anything but peace between the two parties. The Hasmonaeans fortified the ‘hill of Zion’ (he. the Temple hill with the old citadel to the north of the Temple) with walls and towers as a fortress in opposition to the akra, where the government garrison continued to act as a refuge for the Hellenizers. It was not a situation which the Seleucid could allow to continue. Then came the sudden death of Antiochus Epiphanes in 163. This secured a respite for the Jewish nationalists. For it became at once a question whether Lysias could hold his position as regent for the boy-king, Antiochus V Eupator, in opposition to Philip, whom Antiochus had nominated on his deathbed, and who might momently return to Syria at the head of an army. Lysias had for a while to leave the Jews alone. Also the present governor of Coele-Syria, Ptolemy Macron, the man who had governed Cyprus for King Ptolemy in 168, in contrast to the former governor of Coele-Syria, Ptolemy son of Dorymenes, was friendly to the Jews and advocated a policy of conciliation.

But in 162 the garrison of the akra was being hard pressed, and the Hellenizers sent a bitter cry to Antioch for deliverance from the intolerance of the godly. Lysias was forced to do something, and he directed a really adequate force against Judaea, complete with elephants, led by himself and the boy-king. The army moved again round Judaea and advanced from the south. The Has- monaeans had fortified and garrisoned Bethsur to hold the road. Lysias left it invested and moved on to attack Jerusalem itself. In vain the bands of Judas flung themselves against the royal army: at Beth-zachariah they were decisively beaten back. Bethsur had to capitulate. It was only the fact that Philip had at last actually reached Syria which saved the nationalists from utter suppression. A new peace of compromise was arranged. The old religion was to continue unmolested, and an amnesty was to be granted the Hasmonaean brethren; but the nationalist fortress on the Temple hill was dismantled; the government garrison continued to hold the akra, a new military governor, Hegemonides, was appointed for southern Palestine, and the Temple ritual was to include a burnt-offering for the Seleucid king. Menelaus was removed to be tried in Northern Syria and was there put to death. It was now, probably, that the High Priesthood was conferred upon a man of proper Aaronic descent, Eliakim, who nevertheless belonged to the hellenizing party and had incurred pollution by pagan practices in the days of the persecution. He bore, together with his Hebrew name, the Greek name Alcimus, similar in sound. If he was now appointed, the Hasmonaean chiefs must soon have prevented him from officiating. It may have been now also that the son of Onias III, himself called Onias, who at his father’s death had been, according to Josephus, an infant, fled to Egypt, where he was allowed by Ptolemy to build a Temple and institute a cult of Yahweh at Leontopolis, modelled on the Temple and cult of Jerusalem, which continued till ad 73.

On Lysias’ return to Northern Syria he found Philip with the forces brought back from the East, ready to fight for the chief power in the kingdom. In the conflict Lysias had the better of it, and Philip took refuge with Ptolemy Philometor in Egypt. Lysias, as regent for Antiochus Eupator, had secured his position against the immediate peril; but there were still circumstances to make him uneasy. Many remembered that the legitimate heir to the throne was the young Demetrius, far away in Rome. An aunt of both Demetrius and Antiochus Eupator, Antiochis, was residing in Antioch at the time with her daughter. She had been the wife of Ariarathes IV, king of Cappadocia, and was the (putative) mother of the reigning king Ariarathes V. Her, too, Lysias for some reason felt to be dangerous to his supremacy, and he had both her and her daughter assassinated. Soon after his return from Judaea to Antioch in 162, the mission sent from Rome to regulate the affairs of the East, headed by Gnaeus Octavius, was in Syria. They had come by way of Cappadocia and had naturally been urged by King Ariarathes to put down the murderer of his mother. As has been narrated elsewhere, Octavius was assassinated in Laodicea by a Syrian Greek in a burst of fanatical patriotism.

Lysias did what he could, by giving Octavius funeral honours and by sending ambassadors to Rome, to turn aside the displeasure of the Romans. Rome reserved its judgment. When Demetrius, now a young man of twenty-five, begged the Senate to allow him to return to Syria and assert his claim to the throne, the Senate re­fused. Then, without the permission of the Senate, helped by his experienced friend, the historian Polybius, Demetrius escaped from Rome and reached Syria by way of Lycia. It seems probable that even if the Senate as a whole had no cognizance of Demetrius’ venture, Polybius had reason to know that it was not unwelcome to some of his powerful friends in the Roman aristocracy, though discretion forbade him to divulge this when later on he wrote his account of the affair.

 

VII.

DEMETRIUS SOTER

 

Demetrius landed in the Phoenician Tripolis, probably in the early autumn of 162. The population of Syria quickly rallied to him. The army abandoned the cause of Lysias and Antiochus Eupator, and put the boy-king to death on a hint conveyed from Demetrius, before the new king had met his unfortunate cousin. But beyond the Euphrates Timarchus, the favourite of Antiochus Epiphanes, declared himself independent and assumed the style of Great King in Babylonia and Media. It was important for Demetrius to induce Rome to accept the.fait accompli and recognize him as king. Simultaneously Timarchus was busy at Rome to gain the support of the Republic for his claims. Rome hesitated to commit itself. It was not yet prepared to recognize Demetrius, for it preferred to see a weakling on the Syrian throne, and Demetrius was inconveniently able and enterprising: it gave Timarchus verbal recognition, but no material help. But the disapproval of Rome entailed real disadvantages for Demetrius. It led the king of Cappadocia, Ariarathes V, to reject the hand of Demetrius’ sister, so that, instead of the two courts standing together for independence, the relations between them became hostile.

Demetrius had soon to deal with the thorny Jewish question. In the spring of 161 a deputation of hellenizing Jews, headed by Alcimus, presented themselves, appealing again for protection against the Hasmonaeans. Alcimus also claimed for himself the High Priesthood which he had held for a moment the year before. The Hasmonaeans on their side saw how the ill-will of Rome towards Demetrius could be turned to account. In 161 they entered for the first time into diplomatic relations with the Western Power. An embassy went from Jerusalem to Rome and concluded with the Senate a treaty, by which they got a qualified promise of Roman help and friendship, in the event of their being attacked by another power. The treaty was one of those concluded by the Senate, without ratification by the people, and therefore less binding. Doubts have been thrown upon its existence on the ground that to recognize the Jewish state as an independent power would have been a casus belli between Rome and Demetrius, and that, as a matter of fact, Rome let the Hasmonaeans go down before Demetrius without giving them any help. These objec­tions have no force in view of the fact that Rome behaved in just the same way in regard to the rebel Timarchus. It recognized him as king, but allowed him to fall before Demetrius unassisted. The Senate had indeed no intention of intervening by armed force in Syria: it desired only to embarrass Demetrius, and that it did by giving countenance to his enemies.

Demetrius was not the man to deal slackly. His general Bacchides at the head of an adequate force established Alcimus as High Priest in Jerusalem and left troops in the country to support his authority. Alcimus was at first welcomed by the godly, as a man of the house of Aaron, though opposed, of course, by the Hasmonaean brethren and their partizans. If therefore during the last five years the terms Hasmonaean and Chasidim (‘godly’) have coincided in their application, from now onwards a rift between them begins. Yet Alcimus soon forfeited the good­will of the godly by his conduct, and the Hasmonaean bands again overran the country, putting Hellenizers to the sword.

While Bacchides was conducting operations in Judaea, Timarchus was advancing from the East. He obtained the alliance of Artaxias of Armenia, who had once more renounced his allegiance to the Seleucid. In the winter of 161/0, Demetrius went east to close with the rebel. The Greek cities beyond the Euphrates eagerly espoused his cause. Timarchus had made him­self hated, and before the lawful king of the old house his power broke up. He was captured and met with a rebel’s death. The capital city of Babylonia, Seleuceia on the Tigris, received the victor with acclamations as Demetrius Soter, ‘the Saviour.’ In the summer of 160 envoys of Demetrius met in Rhodes the Roman commission dispatched to the East under Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. Gracchus, from old acquaintance in Rome, was friendly to Demetrius and recognized him as king. After this it was hard for the Senate to refuse recognition, so that when, in the autumn of 160, another embassy from Syria appeared in Rome, bringing the assassin of Octavius and a golden crown, formal recognition was at last given.

In the same year (160) a fresh force had been sent to crush the Jewish revolt, under Nicanor, commandant of the elephant corps. Nicanor, however, allowed himself to be surprised by Judas at Adasa, near Beth-horon, on the 13th of Adar (March 160) and fell in the mellay. ‘Nicanor’s Day’ was observed thenceforward by the Jews as an annual day of joy; Nicanor’s head was cut off and hung up in the Temple. It was the last victory of Judas.

With Demetrius on the throne such a success was transient. A month later Bacchides was again in Judaea with an army which made resistance hopeless. Judas with a handful of zealots tried the desperate chance of a battle, and he fell fighting (battle of Elasa, April 160). This might have been the end of the Jewish revolt, had the Seleucid government continued to be in firm hands. Things seemed to have gone back to the status quo. On the govern­ment side the same toleration was given to the Jewish religion that had been given before the unwise attempt of Antiochus IV, but politically the Jewish state had to acquiesce in being subject to the Gentile government. Alcimus continued to be High Priest, which meant toleration also for the Hellenizers. The Gentile garrison still held the akra and the countryside was kept quiet by a system of fortresses. Bacchides, however, failed to capture the three surviving Hasmonaean brethren, who took to the wilderness with a part of their bands. The eldest, John, soon fell into the hands of an Arab tribe, who put him to death: the second brother, Simon, and the youngest, Jonathan, remained.

A year after the battle of Elasa, Alcimus died of a paralytic stroke, and the place of High Priest seems to have been left for a time unfilled. In 157/6 bc Bacchides made an attempt to follow up the two Hasmonaean brothers beyond Jordan. When he found the difficulties of the enterprise, he was alienated from the Hellenistic Jews who had urged him to it, and came to the conclusion that it would be better to have a modus vivendi with the Hasmonaean brothers which would allow them to reside in Judaea, though not in Jerusalem. Jonathan therefore established himself by government permission in Michmash. This was a relaxation of its grasp on the part of the Seleucid government— the first concession after the drastic measures of 160; and it afforded the Hasmonaean brothers the opportunity for a fresh start after their prostration. From this point the Hasmonaean power grows bit by bit, till Judaea becomes an independent principality under a Hasmonaean High Priest. The relaxation was no doubt due to the increasing difficulties which surrounded Demetrius as his reign continued. During the latter part of it Jonathan, we are told, was, from his headquarters in Michmash, ‘rooting the ungodly out of Israel’; that is to say, the toleration of Hellenizers in the Jewish country towns had ceased, and the Hasmonaean bands were beginning again, no doubt with the sympathy of the bulk of the population, to dominate Judaea outside Jerusalem.

Demetrius Soter had evidently some of the qualities of a great ruler—energy and high courage. But he seems to have been deficient in the gift of conciliating men. How far it was his fault that by 150 bc his three neighbour kings were his enemies—Attalus II of Pergamum, Ariarathes V of Cappadocia and Ptolemy Philometor of Egypt—we cannot be sure. It may be that any really strong king in Syria would have excited the ill-will of each of those three powers, as well as that of Rome. The court of Pergamum had put Antiochus Epiphanes on the throne and probably felt its interests prejudiced when the family of Antiochus Epiphanes was replaced by the representative of the elder line.

It was also sensitive to any attempt of the king of Syria to regain the influence in Asia Minor which his house had lost after Magnesia, and this was precisely what Demetrius might seem to be trying to do when he interfered in the rivalry between Ariarathes V and his brother Orophernes for the Cappadocian throne. Attalus supported Ariarathes and Demetrius Orophernes. Since Demetrius’ candidate was worsted in 156 and had to take refuge in Antioch, the king of Cappadocia was Demetrius’ enemy. Even Orophernes Demetrius failed to attach to himself personally; he had not long been a refugee in Syria before he tried to create, or use, a popular movement, in order to oust Demetrius from the throne of Syria: he was himself, through his mother, a grandson of Antiochus the Great. Demetrius interned him after that in Seleuceia: he might still be useful for the purpose of intimidating Ariarathes. Ptolemy Philometor had been friends with Demetrius in Rome, but when in 155/4 Demetrius made an attempt to get possession of Cyprus, Ptolemy too became hostile.

Nor was Demetrius more successful in conciliating his own subjects in Syria. He became unpopular with the populace of Antioch. Here again the fault may not have been altogether his. The Greek or hellenized population of Syria was of very degenerate fibre: perhaps Demetrius had good enough reason to despise them, and his contempt will have been more bitter, inasmuch as his schemes for regenerating the kingdom must have required some good quality in the human material, and he saw them fail for want of that. At any rate, he could not conceal his contempt, and his subjects hated him for it. Demetrius withdrew from their contact into the seclusion of a castle he built himself near Antioch. More and more he sought escape from the bitterness of his spirit in wine. But he may still have maintained intellectual interests with chosen associates: the philosopher Philonides of Laodicea, who had converted Antiochus Epiphanes to Epicureanism, continued to receive marked attentions from Demetrius.

The trouble was that all the neighbour powers and Rome desired to see some one contemptible on the Syrian throne. And the king of Pergamum ingeniously produced the contemptible person required—a youth called Balas whom he had discovered in Smyrna, and who showed a remarkable resemblance to Antiochus Epiphanes. Attalus declared that he was in fact a son of the late king. He was given the name of Alexander and already some time between 158 and 153 Attalus placed the young man close to.the Syrian frontier in Cilicia, as a threat to Demetrius. Heracleides, the finance minister of Antiochus Epiphanes, now a refugee in Asia Minor, took Alexander to Rome. Heracleides had the death of his brother Timarchus to avenge and was experienced in the way to bribe Roman senators. The Senate, as desirous as Attalus to see a weakling on the Syrian throne, actually in the winter 153/2 gave Alexander recognition. Before the summer of 152 was out Alexander had got a footing in Ptolemais, where he had Ptolemy in support close at hand, and could threaten Demetrius from the troublous region of Palestine.

Demetrius was now really hard beset. It was urgent for him to get all whom he could on his side. The Hasmonaean brothers found themselves in a position to secure a great advance in power, not by any new effort or victory of their own, but by the necessities of the two rivals for the Seleucid throne, who bid against each other for their support. Demetrius began by ordering the hostages given by Jonathan to be restored to him and authorizing Jonathan to levy troops as an ally of the king. The fortified posts established by Bacchides over Judaea were abandoned, with the exception of Beth-sur, which was a place of refuge for hellenizing Jews. Jonathan took full advantage of this order of the king’s, but he felt no obligation of loyalty if Alexander offered him something better. This Alexander soon did by conferring on Jonathan the High Priesthood with the rank of ‘Friend.’ On the Feast of Tabernacles in October 152, Jonathan officiated in Jerusalem as High Priest for the first time—‘High Priest,’ as Wellhausen has called him, ‘ by the grace of Balas.’ Then Demetrius sought to outbid Alexander by larger concessions. The letter however, given in I Maccabees X, which professes to embody these concessions, can hardly be the translation of any real document, so that we are not in a position to say precisely what the new concessions of Demetrius were. In any case Jonathan thought it good policy to adhere to Alexander. Though he might be the son of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Jews would be happier under a worthless creature of this kind than under Demetrius whose hand they had felt.

The defection of the Jews gave Palestine to Alexander. Demetrius fought to the end. He sent two of his sons, Demetrius and Antiochus, to Cnidus to be out of the way of danger. Ptolemy dispatched a force from Egypt under an Athamanian prince, Galaestes, to support Alexander. Probably Pergamene and Cappadocian forces penetrated into Syria from the north. Some of Demetrius’ own generals went over to the enemy. The populace of Antioch rose against him. In the final battle Demetrius fell, fighting to his last breath, pierced with many wounds (summer 150). Alexander Balas became king of Syria and Babylonia.

 


VIII.

ALEXANDER BALAS AND EGYPT

 

It was a sign of the subordination to Egypt which marked the new state of things in Syria that Alexander seems to have resided more in Ptolemais than in Antioch. Ptolemy Philometor gave Alexander his daughter Cleopatra to wife. (She is distinguished among the many Cleopatras as Cleopatra Thea.) There was a great wedding at Ptolemais (150/49) to which the king of Egypt came in person. Among the honoured guests was the High Priest Jonathan, wearing the purple which the Gentile king had conferred upon him. He was advanced to a higher degree— from the order of ‘Friends’ to that of ‘First Friends.’ He was also appointed strategos and meridarches of Judaea, governor of the country in the service of the king. The hellenizing Jews might raise a bitter cry that they were being thrown over by the government—they who under the king’s fathei' had been the party loyal to the court and had suffered persecution from their countrymen. So indeed they were: the house of Hashmon had become for good the dominant power in the Jewish state.

Cleopatra Thea bore Alexander a son who was given the name Antiochus. As a king, Alexander proved hopelessly frivolous and incompetent. The administration of the kingdom was left mainly to his minister Ammonius. At Antioch, in the king’s absence, the power was in the hands of two military leaders who had deserted the cause of Demetrius, Diodotus and Hierax. The son of Demetrius who had remained in Syria, Antigonus, they put to death. We get indications how, with the weakening of the royal power in Syria, the Greek cities more and more acted as independent states.

It was probably in the spring of 147 when it became known that the boy Demetrius had set foot in Northern Syria or Cilicia with an army of Cretan mercenaries under the Cretan Lasthenes. Since Demetrius was only 14 at most, Lasthenes must have been the real director of operations. Alexander had to go north to defend Antioch against the legitimate king. In the south of the kingdom there was fresh confusion. A new governor of Coele-Syria, Apollonius, established himself on behalf of King Demetrius. It at once came to fighting between Apollonius, who held the coast, and the High Priest of Jerusalem. Jonathan took Joppa, Azotus (Ashdod) and Ascalon. At Azotus he burnt the temple of Dagon over the heads of the fugitives who had crowded into it. Alexander, hearing of these exploits, raised Jonathan to the highest order, that of ‘Kinsman,’ and assigned him the city of Ekron as a personal possession.

Ptolemy Philometor thought the moment come to intervene. He came up from the south with a large army, leaving garrisons in the coast-cities as he went. Diodorus and Josephus (possibly drawing from Polybius) say that his original intention was to support his son-in-law Alexander against Demetrius; I Maccabees says that he came with the purpose of overthrowing Alexander. Quite probably he did not disclose his intentions and may even have left it to future events to determine his line. He will almost certainly have intended in any case to recover Coele-Syria for his house. When Ptolemy had the chief coast-cities as far as Seleuceia in his hands, he declared against Alexander, whom he accused of having plotted to assassinate him. He offered the hand of Cleopatra (whom he now had with him) to Demetrius. Alexander fled to Cilicia, and Ptolemy entered Antioch. Had he followed the wish of the people of Antioch, he would now have assumed himself the diadem of Syria, as well as of Egypt; but he was too prudent to offer such provocation to Rome. He persuaded Antioch to receive the boy Demetrius as king. Alexander meantime had got together an army in Cilicia and was once more in Northern Syria. The combined forces of Ptolemy and Demetrius engaged him on the river Oenoparas. They were completely victorious, but Ptolemy received a wound of which he died a few days later—not however before he had been shown the severed head of his late son-in-law (early summer 145).

By the death of Ptolemy the Egyptian occupation came to an end. Demetrius II reigned as Demetrius Nicator Theos Philadelphus. But the boy was in no position to restore order in the distracted kingdom. His Cretan soldiery drove the Syrian Greeks to desperation. Jonathan saw the opportunity for fresh acquisitions. When Demetrius came south, Jonathan presented himself before him at Ptolemais. Demetrius agreed to accept 300 talents down in discharge of the annual tribute from Judaea, and allowed the Jews to annex three toparchies on the north which had belonged to Samaria. Jonathan was put in the order of ‘First Friends’ of the new king. There remained indeed the government garrison in the akra. Probably it was a condition of the concessions of Demetrius that the Jews should cease to press the siege. For the moment the relations between Demetrius and the Jews were friendly. A Jewish force was sent to form part of the royal guards in Antioch, and helped to massacre the people when they broke out against the Cretan tyranny.

The revolt of the Syrian Greeks against Demetrius II found within a few months of his accession a leader in Diodotus, a man of Apamea, already mentioned as a military leader. Diodotus put forward the infant son of Alexander as king (before October 143) with the style Antiochus Theos Epiphanes Dionysos (Antiochus VI). Diodotus himself assumed the name of Tryphon. With the infant he soon entered Antioch in triumph. The kingdom was now held partly by Tryphon, partly by Demetrius—Tryphon with his headquarters in Antioch, master of the Orontes valley, Demetrius with his headquarters in Seleuceia, master of most of the seaboard and of the provinces beyond the Euphrates. The division gave further opportunity to the Jews. Jonathan transferred his allegiance to Antiochus Dionysos: he was made a ‘Kinsman,’ and his elder brother Simon was made king’s strategos for the whole of Coele-Syria without Phoenicia. This enabled the Hasmonaean chief to use government forces for furthering the aggrandizement of his own house. He replaced the government garrison in Bethsur by a Jewish one, and fortified Adida, which commanded the road from Joppa to the Judaean upland. There is no reason to doubt the statement of I Maccabees that Jonathan about this time sent another Jewish embassy to Rome to renew the friendship which had been contracted under Judas. Experience may have shown him that material help was not to be hoped for, but the friendship of Rome had value by increasing prestige in Syria. Tryphon thought by a surprise stroke to check the growth of the Hasmonaean power. When Jonathan was with him in Ptolemais, separated from his main body of troops, Tryphon seized his person. Simon at once assumed command at Jerusalem, and the Jews ex­pelled the Gentile population from Joppa, settling Jewish families in their place. Tryphon had not forces which would enable him to penetrate on to the upland and relieve the garrison in the akra, now almost at starvation point. But, keeping Jonathan with him as he moved east of the Jordan, he there put him to death (143/2 ?).

 

IX.

THE NEW JEWISH STATE

 

In 142 Tryphon took the step of dethroning the boy-king, Antiochus Dionysos, and establishing himself as sovereign, to the exclusion of the house of Seleucus as a whole. He assumed the title basileus autokrator, and started a new Era on his coins. His murder of Jonathan had made the Jews his enemies, and Simon now offered Demetrius the support of the Jewish forces. Demetrius was glad enough to purchase that by fresh concessions. He renounced, on behalf of the Seleucid monarchy, all claims to arrears of tribute and all claims to tribute in the future. The Jews were to be allowed to fortify their city. Nothing now remained to make their independence complete except the garrison in the akra. And the garrison at last surrendered. In May 141 bc the Jewish nationalists entered the akra ‘with praise and palm­branches, and with harps and with cymbals, and with viols and with hymns and with songs.’ ‘The yoke of the heathen was taken away from Israel.’

Already in the year before (April 142 to March 141) the Jewish state had started a new Era as independent. Simon reigned as High Priest, but it was felt by the religious that his title lacked that Divine authorization which had belonged to the old line terminated in Onias III. There was no prophet to declare the will of the Lord. It was hardly a substitute that Simon’s brother had been instituted by King Alexander Balas. An appointment by the people, gathered in formal assembly at Jerusalem, might seem the next best thing. And this took place in September 140. The High Priesthood was conferred provisionally upon the house of Hashmon—‘until there should arise a faithful prophet.’ Simon’s official title seems to have been ‘High Priest and General and Prince of the People of God’.

When in 145 bc Demetrius had allowed the Jews to annex three toparchies of Samaria, a new movement of expansion had begun. In the days of Judas it had been a question of concentrating the scattered colonies of Jews in Jerusalem: now it was a question of extending the frontiers of the Jewish domain. Simon, as we have just seen, had taken possession of Joppa, and a few months later what had been done in Joppa was done in Gazara (Gezer). Early in Simon’s reign, according to I Maccabees, he sent to Rome the third Jewish embassy of which we know, bearing a shield of gold. Rome still showed itself willing to give the Jews all that its authority in the East, unaccompanied by military help, could do. I Maccabees inserts what purports to be a letter in their favour sent to the principal monarchies and city-states of the Near Eas.

The growth of the Jewish power depended upon events in the surrounding world. In the weakness of the Seleucid government since the last days of Demetrius I the Jewish state had continuously advanced: now once more a strong king was to take up the Seleucid inheritance, and the Jewish state fell back into complete subjection. In Babylonia, as we have seen, Tryphon had been unable to supplant the old royal house: there Demetrius II was recognized as king. But in 141 the province had been wrested from him by a stronger foe—the Parthian. A cuneiform document shows Mithridates I entering in triumph the capital of Babylonia, Seleuceia on the Tigris, in the early days of July, 141. The expedition of Demetrius II to the East, which seems so odd when a good part of Syria was still held by Tryphon, is explained by the necessity of recovering the eastern provinces which were an essential support of the Seleucid power. In 140 Demetrius crossed the Euphrates to engage the Parthian invaders. He seems to have been successful in expelling them from the province. When, however, the following year (139) he pressed the Parthian retreat and advanced on to the Iranian plateau, ne was taken prisoner by Mithridates. Although kept in confinement, he was treated as a prince a daughter of the the Parthian king’s to wife. It was convenient for Mithridates to have the legitimate king of Syria in his hands, as a piece to play, should occasion arise.

This left Tryphon for a moment sole king in Syria, but on the news of Demetrius’ capture, his brother Antiochus set foot quickly in Syria and took up the task of restoring Seleucid authority in the land.

Antiochus VII Euergetes, nicknamed Sidetes, was the last strong representative of the old royal house. At the beginning of his reign (before the spring of 138) he was only about 20. He married, as her third husband, Cleopatra Thea, his captive brother’s wife. The power of Tryphon melted away. The boy Antiochus VI, whom he had kept in his hands since his dethronement in 142, he put to death in 138. Within a month or two he was himself captured by Antiochus VII and compelled to commit suicide.

The new king soon had the Jewish question in hand. According to I Maccabees he had written to Simon, before he landed in the kingdom, confirming the concessions already made and granting the new right to coin money. When he was established in Syria he began to regulate the Jewish position. He did not demand again the tribute which had been remitted for the territory which the Jews had occupied by authorization of the Seleucid government—Judaea and the three Samarian toparchies—but he did demand tribute for the places which Simon had taken possession of with a high hand—Joppa and Gazara and the akra. This brought about new conflicts between the Seleucid forces and the Jews. A detachment sent by Antiochus in 138 to invade Judaea was defeated by Simon’s two sons, John Hyrcanus and Judas. For more than three years after this Antiochus left the Jews unassailed: he had no doubt enough to do elsewhere. Then in the February of 134 Simon was assassinated at a feast by his son­in-law, Ptolemy, while the old High Priest was heavy with wine. Ptolemy had intended to seize the chief power in the Jewish state, but he was forestalled by John Hyrcanus, who swiftly possessed himself of Jerusalem and was installed as High Priest in his father’s room.

John had hardly entered upon his office when Antiochus VII dealt the blow which had been impending since 138. It was again seen that when the strength of the Seleucid kingdom was concentrated and resolutely used, the Jewish state was no match for it. The Jewish bands were soon driven from the field. Joppa, Gazara, and other recent conquests of the Jews, were reoccupied by Seleucid forces. In vain Hyrcanus sent an appeal to Rome, Rome would still give nothing but words. A senatus consultum preserved by Josephus reaffirms the friend­ship subsisting between Rome and Jerusalem, and declares that Antiochus is to give back the places occupied and not invade Jewish territory. Antiochus saw that the thunder was without a thunderbolt. He went forward in disregard of Rome. Soon Jerusalem was subjected to a regular siege. The spring and summer of 135 had fallen within a Sabbatic year, so that corn supplies in the spring of 134 were shorter in the city than at ordinary times. After a siege of more than a year, during which Jerusalem suffered the extremities of famine, it had to surrender. Many of the king’s councillors now urged him to complete the work of his predecessor, Antiochus Epiphanes, and exterminate the turbulent people. Antiochus VII refused. He did not even reimpose the tribute which had been remitted. He gave back to the Jews, probably in order to conform so far with the expressed will of Rome, the places which the Jews had conquered beyond the frontiers of Judaea—Joppa, Gazara and the rest. But he insisted on the Jews paying tribute for these, and also on their paying a war indemnity of 500 talents. The High Priest had to give hostages—his own brother for one—and the fortifications of Jerusalem were demolished. Antiochus VII was willing to conciliate the Jews by marks of respect to their religion: during the siege he had even sent animals for sacrifice into the city on the Feast of Tabernacles (October 134). But politically the Jews were to be, as before, a people subject to the house of Seleucus. It may well have seemed at that moment that the last few years of independence under a Hasmonaean High Priest had been a transient episode.

Having restored the kingdom in Syria, Antiochus VII set himself to restore it in the eastern provinces. A victorious campaign in 130 seemed to make him master of Babylonia and Media. In the winter or early spring of 129, however, his camp was sur­prised by the Parthians, and he fell on the field. The last attempt of the house of Seleucus to restore its authority had failed. A cuneiform document of June 130, is the last we have from Babylonia, which gives in its dating the name of a Seleucid king.

But in 129 Demetrius II was back in Syria, for the Parthians, when hard pressed, had set him free to create a diversion in his brother’s rear. Demetrius was quite incapable of continuing the strong government of his brother. After the death of Antiochus VII the final disintegration of the kingdom set in. Demetrius quarrelled with Egypt, and his brother-in law, Ptolemy VII, sent into Syria a protege of his own, who claimed to be Alexander son of Alexander Balas, to fight with Demetrius for the throne. Antioch accepted him, while Demetrius apparently held his own in Phoenicia and Palestine. Cleopatra Thea was established in Ptolemais and was little disposed to have her futile second husband back again in exchange for Antiochus VII. After suffering a defeat at Damascus which made his position insecure even in the south, Demetrius attempted to escape by ship from Tyre, but was assas­sinated when on the point of sailing (126/5).

After this there were almost always rival kings fighting over what remained of the Seleucid inheritance. Alexander II, whom the Antiochenes nicknamed, in Aramaic, Zabinas, ‘the Bought One,’ was swept away by Antiochus VIII Grypus, a son of Demetrius II and Cleopatra Thea, in 123/2. Then the son of Cleopatra Thea by Antiochus VII, Antiochus IX, nicknamed Cyzicenus, entered the field, and the struggle between princes of the two branches of the royal house was protracted into the next generation. These men who called themselves kings and bore the old dynastic names of the house of Seleucus and the house of Antigonus—Seleucus, Antiochus, Demetrius, Philip—were little better than captains of bands, who dominated now one region, now another, and preyed on the unhappy country. In this break­up of the royal authority, the Greek cities of Syria acted more and more as independent states and went to war, or made alliance, with each other on their own account. Local native chieftains, Syrian or Arab, set up principalities of their own in the less hellenized districts. Two native peoples became considerable powers—the Nabataeans and the Jews.

Up to the death of Antiochus VII his fresh subjugation of the Jews held good. A Jewish contingent, commanded by the High Priest, formed part of the army with which he marched to the East. But when Antiochus fell in Iran, his work in Judaea was all undone. John Hyrcanus once more assumed the position of an independent prince, striking bronze coins which bear in Hebrew the legend ‘Jehohanan the High Priest and the Commonwealth of the Jews.’ Hyrcanus did not yet, as his son Jannai Alexander did, assume the title of ‘King’ conjointly with that of ‘High Priest.’ Two processes have to be traced in the Jewish state from the acquisition of independence to the end of the reign of Jannai Alexander—one is the growing alienation between the ruling Hasmonaean house and the party of strict religion, and the other is the process of territorial expansion. Both these processes had begun before the death of Jonathan. Under John Hyrcanus came the definite breach between the Hasmonaean High Priest and the religious sect, who had been called Chasidim in the days of Judas Maccabaeus, but who now perhaps began to be known by the name ‘Pharisees,’ ‘those who separate themselves.’ The occasion of the breach is obscured for us in Rabbinic legend. But it is possible to see in the Jewish apocalyptic literature traces of the abhorrence with which the godly had come to regard the Hasmonaean priesthood.

The other process of territorial expansion, which had begun with the acquisition of the three Samarian toparchies and the seizure of Joppa and Gazara, was continued on a more ambitious scale by John Hyrcanus. He pushed forward the Jewish frontiers east and north and south. Beyond Jordan he conquered Medaba. On the north he subjected the Samaritans. The rival Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim he destroyed: it was never rebuilt, only the site remained a holy one for the Samaritans and their Passover lambs continued to be killed there. On the south Hyrcanus began the subjugation of the Idumaeans and took possession of Adora and Marissa. In the case of the conquered Idumaeans a step was taken which, so far as we know, was something quite new. The heathen population was not driven out, as it had been at Joppa and Gazara, but compelled to embrace Judaism and undergo circum­cision. Henceforward the Idumaeans formed religiously one people with the Jews; their forcible incorporation brought a century later its terrible revenge, when the Jewish people were subjected to the iron despotism of the Idumaean Herod. In the last days of Hyrcanus the Jews laid siege to the Greek city of Samaria. Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, who had some power in the neighbouring region, attempted to relieve the city. He overran the Jewish territory for a time, but was defeated by the Jewish forces under two sons of the old High Priest (108). A story which reached Josephus and is reproduced in a distorted form in the Rabbinic books, tells us that while Hyrcanus was ministering in the Temple a supernatural intimation was given him of this victory, before the news of it reached Jerusalem. When Samaria fell the Jews turned the water-courses over its site, so as to obliterate all traces of the hated city. Shortly before this, another important Greek city, Scythopolis (Beth-shan), which commanded the passage of the Jordan south of the Sea of Galilee, had passed by voluntary surrender into the power of the Jews.

Hyrcanus died in 104 bc. It was under his son Jannai Alexander that the two processes just spoken of reached their final stage; the conquests of Jannai made the new Jewish kingdom roughly co-extensive with the kingdom of David, and the enmity between the Hasmonaean king and the Pharisees reached a pitch of savagery which caused the Pharisees to suffer worse atrocities at the hands of the Jewish High Priest, the great-nephew of Judas Maccabaeus, than the religious had suffered during the great tribulation at the hands of the pagan king, Antiochus Epiphanes.

 

CHAPTER XVII

THRACE